When I noticed today’s date and realized I didn’t have an artist or author lined up for this month. Again.
It’s true. Time really does fly when you are having fun, but also when you are preparing to publish your first novel. That’s right. I said it. I’m close to publishing the first novel in a series, and I’m freaking out.
Sure (beyond the GIF) in real life I look calm, perhaps a tad comatose, slug-like even but appearances aside, I’ve been busy editing (and freaking). Happily so.
My editors are a joy to work with. They’ve put up with me and my weirdness and made my book so much better! Which frankly is a miracle for which they should both achieve sainthood, or at least get a thank you in the acknowledgments and definitely a hug.
That said, I’m just going to beg off on this month’s interview (yes I know, “again”) and get this book business put to bed. Oh and believe me, when it becomes available online you will hear about it. Until then. . .
Stay tuned friends, art lovers, and Urban Fantasy bibliophiles and thanks for sticking with me.
In honor of World Book Day I figured I’d post about some of my favorite authors. When I was a kid, Stan Lee ruled my world, with the singular exception of anything Superman related. But one week of staying in bed with a superior case of chicken pox changed my reading habits forever.
I was bored, itchy, and cranky. My mom, God bless her soul, knew that if she didn’t do something soon I might drive her to drink. So with wisdom and kindness she handed me the complete collection of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. I read them all over the course of 36 hours, and a life time love affair with reading blossomed. A book worm was born!
Mom’s next gift, the Dune series by Frank Herbert, was an attempt to keep me happy a bit longer. It worked long enough to keep her sane until I went back to school and rediscovered the school library. From then on, if I didn’t have a book in my hand, there was one near by.
Piers Anthony was my go to author for the next few months, then Anne McCaffrey. Anthony’s Xanth series full of adventure, crazy creatures, relatable characters, and corny puns soothed my pre-teen angst. McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern with her strong female characters standing up to social injustice as well as facing down many physical dangers helped get me through those difficult years. I went on to read every series both of these authors had to offer, and there are more than a few.
As I matured, I moved into historical fiction with James Michener, James Clavell, and Victor Hugo. These three authors had a fabulous grasp on both the physical areas they wrote about and the historical details needed to bring their characters to life.
Michener’s books, usually single word titles based on the name of the area he wrote about (i.e. Hawaii, and Chesapeake) built clear pictures in my mind. They allowed me to travel without leaving my room, taught me a bit of the history and gave me a glimpse into the culture of the area while still telling a great story.
Clavell’s novel ‘Shogun’ was a made-for-TV mini-series before I discovered it. I watched it with my mom. I was young enough to be embarrassed by some of the steamier scenes but not so embarrassed that I didn’t want to read the book. I borrowed it from a friend the next week. My mom borrowed it from me after that. I remember being fascinated by Clavell’s take on Japanese culture, the Samurai, and the idea of ‘face’ or honor.
Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame transported me through time. They made me more socially aware, helped me reexamine my own motives, and the motives of those in power. Life changing? Yes, and I recommend them highly. These books all prompted me to write, and eventually become an English major in college. I learned about British and American Literature mostly, but later took some classes in Literature from around the world.
Now, many years later and battling chronic illness, I’ve settled into more entertaining reading. Books that take my mind off of the bad days full of aches, pains, and foggy brain. Authors such as Patricia Briggs , Lynsay Sands, and Molly Harper have made me laugh, cry, spit coffee, choke, and occasionally be super grateful for panty liners. Vampires, werewolves, & fae monsters, OH MY! Seriously, their worlds are just too fun.
Finally, there are a group of local authors to whom I owe so much, I’ll never be able to repay them adequately. They helped me get through the process of writing my own book. (The first in a series. It’ll be published soon but I’ll post about that later.) I’ve been honored to be in writers groups with them, and to have interviewed three of them for this blog: D. Andrew McChesney author of the Stone Island Sea Stories , Kate Poitevin author of the Tir Gaeltacht series, and Sue Eller author of the Emily Trace Mysteries. These three, as well as all those in the Tin Pencil writers group, have helped me get to this point. It’s exciting, unnerving, and amazing to be in such great company. If you get a chance, and want to support these terrific authors, check out their interviews or Google them and pick up a copy of their books. You won’t be sorry.
Happy World Book Day everyone!
Hello everyone! Because I’ve been blessed to meet so many wonderful artists and authors this year I thought I’d do a quick retrospective, in case you missed it.
Whether a sci-fi or fantasy writer, intuitive, abstract, impressionist, or illustration artist, all of my interviewees have one (maybe two) thing(s) in common: they are all wonderfully kind and talented people. Learning about these fantastic folks – artists and authors – was such a pleasure I’d like to thank them once again for interviewing with me. You all have broadened my world view and enriched my life. Much love and appreciation to my SquidandSquirrel friends and readers!
First up, our excellent authors:
Now for our amazing artists!
Check out fur suit maker and Multimedia artist Allison J. Wier
A co-op of potters, they started their own business and have expanded nicely. Consider taking a class at Urban Art Coop
Take a gander at pet portraitist Grace Fairchild, an artist with an eye for eyes.
Spend a moment Catching up with artist Kelly Loder’s “Emotion in Motion!”
And finally, enjoy The Many Layers Of Artist, Linnea Tobias
Thanks, once again, to all of the artists and authors who’ve interviewed with me, and kept in touch. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you all, and sharing your talents with the world. Blessings to you all.
~Mj (a.k.a. host of TheSquidandSquirrel)
Author of one novella, a gluten-free cookbook, and two installations of the Emily Trace mysteries, Sue Eller is everything you’d ever want an author to be: quirky, kind, creative, accomplished, and coffee dependent. A self-proclaimed nerd and Star Trek fan, she is fun-loving, intelligent, and a genuinely nice person.
I met Sue at a Spokane Authors & Self Publishers (S.A.S.P.) meeting where she is the current Vice President. Warm and welcoming to this newbie, we struck up a conversation and spoke of our various writing adventures. Of course this eventually lead to my picking up two of her books: ‘Meadowlark Madness’ and ‘Taming of the T-Bird’ – the Emily Trace Mysteries.
Set in the Pacific Northwest city of Spokane, young widow and newly licensed P.I. Emily Trace has many mysteries to solve. She’d like to find out who killed her husband, and why. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) her small business, E.T. Investigations seems to keep her a bit too busy, drawing strange clients dealing with even stranger circumstances.
Full of interesting characters, nerdy humor, pop culture references, action, adventure, and even a touch of romance, these books are fun to read. Almost as fun as interviewing this amazing author!
Keep reading to learn more about Sue Eller.
SnS: Sue, please give us a little background on yourself. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Sue: Well, my mom wrote short stories, and even sold a few. So writing was always in my life. As was reading. I grew up on a farm, the eldest of six kids, and the only entertainment besides each other was a black and white TV, or books. My dad loved westerns, and I thought the Mickey Mouse Club was okay, but mostly I read. My mom would take us all to the local library and I would come home with dozens of books at a time. I would devour them and go back for more.
To be honest, I’ve had delusions most of my life about being the next Arthur Conan Doyle, or Carolyn Keene, or Agatha Christie – without the whole murdering the husband thing, of course – but I actually went to school hoping to be a band instructor. I learned multiple instruments: guitar, keyboards, clarinet, saxophone, and violin, but I was told by an adviser that my dream of being a band teacher wouldn’t happen. He told me, “Women just don’t do that.” So I transferred to Whitworth College and switched my major to Chemistry. I minored in Math and French, and took an interest in computer science.
SnS: Wow, so when did you become serious about writing?
Sue: In 1994 I began writing short stories and articles for a weekly newspaper. After a while I purchased the paper and ran it for four years. It was a good education for me. It was fun, and I learned a lot. After that I wrote my first novella ‘Return From Armageddon‘ in 1991. It was published in 1992 as an audio-book by Books In Motion. In 2012 I released the hard copy and Kindle editions. It was later that same year that I published my first Emily Trace book, ‘Meadowlark Madness‘.
SnS: Okay, now I have to ask. Where did you get the idea for the plot of ‘Meadowlark Madness‘? It’s very unique.
Sue: Growing up on the Palouse, my grandmother would drive us kids to and from Spokane to shop. Every time, she would point out the meadowlarks singing in the fields. After a few times, I let my imagination wander and thought, “What if. . . What if those bird songs are fake? What if they are some sort of triggered sensor?” Somewhere between those thoughts and my love of Star Trek and aliens I dreamed up E.T. Investigations.
I wanted the hero of my book to have a name that coincided with E.T. for the pun factor, therefore Emily Trace was born. Emily Trace is very much like me, an alter ego of sorts. She is quirky, flawed, and totally addicted to coffee.
SnS: *LOL* There is nothing wrong with loving the java. 😉 So, did the plot for ‘Taming of the T-Bird‘ also come from a real life happening?
Sue: *Laughing* Yes, my husband Ray owned a T-Bird many years ago. He drove it to work and home every day, and every day it would die at the same spot. After a while of this, I began teasing him, saying that aliens must be to blame. The story evolved from that.
I wrote both books with two goals in mind. First, I purposely kept them clean. There is no graphic violence, explicit sex, or harsh language. I wanted it to be something pre-teens could read and enjoy. Second, I wanted to bring in themes that dealt with real life issues such as greed, family dysfunction, forgiveness, friendship, and the difficulties brought on by Autism. I have an autistic grandson, whom I love very much. I wanted my books to shed light on these issues, and one of my favorite moments was when a fan wrote to tell me that my book helped her to better understand an autistic family member.
SnS: That’s wonderful! Now, I’ve heard it said that some authors hear their characters voices in their heads, as if they are real. Are your characters real to you?
Sue: My characters are very real to me. Some of them were inspired by friends or family members. One, Emily’s first client, Archie ‘The Keeper of the Paints’ was inspired by Wile E. Coyote painting a tunnel that the Road Runner ran through. My Darla character, Emily’s temp. was a complete surprise. I imagined her as a typical teenager looking for a job, but she turned out to be a bit of a wise-goth. She’s a good foil for my nerdy main character Emily.
SnS: It seems that you and Emily have a lot in common. You both share a nerdy love of Star Trek. How long have you been a fan and who is your favorite character?
Sue: I’ve been hooked on Star Trek since September of 1966 when the first episode aired. Scotty and Bones were fun characters, but I thought Kirk was a sleaze. My sister loved Chekov, and I loved Spock. To me, Spock was the hero because no matter what, he was always intelligent, always in control. Plus, like me, he was a science nerd.
SnS: We’ve established your nerd credits for science and Star Trek, but I have it on good authority that you are nerdy in many ways. Can you tell me more about that?
Sue: Well, I enjoy Dr. Who, LOTR, and Harry Potter too. In fact I believe that the first page of “The Sorcerer’s Stone” is quite possibly the best first page ever written.
Because of my various fandoms, I’ve attended a few conventions like InCon and WorldCon. I dressed up with a Tom Baker (Dr. Who) scarf and hat for one of them. The other I dressed up as Professor Trelawny. That costume garnered a lot of attention, and a lot of people took pictures with me. It was fun. If you really want to understand the extent of my nerdiness though, you will have to come in and see my office.
**There is only one way to describe Sue’s office. Super cool & nerdy chaos. The space is filled with file cabinets, book shelves, and tables. Every surface is covered by computer tech., books, papers, action figures from many iconic films, and even a life-size sorting hat! The walls sport a large map of Middle Earth, a sepia print of Spock, a lovely painting done by her niece, a paper version of Emily Trace’s infamous bird clock, and a massive story board.
SnS: Wow, you weren’t kidding about being a nerd! How do you get any work done in here?
Sue: I don’t. I mostly work from my kitchen table. I’ve always been a busy person, being raised on the farm, going to school, then work and motherhood. It’s hard for me to sit still for any length of time so I get my best work done outside of my office.
SnS: When you say work, you aren’t kidding. Not only do you write, but you and your friend Kate Poitevin (previously interviewed by SnS) work together as editors, and you are Vice President of the S.A.S.P. Please tell us about editing, and how you got involved in the Spokane Authors and Self Publishers group.
Sue: My friend Kate and I began our adventure as editors 3 years ago, to fill a need by other authors. We offered a less expensive way to get their books a preliminary edit. We felt confident we could do this as we’d helped Kate’s dad edit his autobiography years earlier, and because of my experience editing for my newspaper.
I got involved with the S.A.S.P. in 2013 after taking part in a multi-author book signing at our local Hastings store. I met some local authors involved with the S.A.S.P. (one being Dave McChesney, also previously interviewed by SnS.) and they invited me to a meeting. At first I wasn’t certain I wanted to join the group, but I went again. After hearing more speakers, and making some friends, I decided to stay and have been there ever since.
SnS: Sounds like you have an extremely full schedule. When can we expect a new Emily Trace mystery?
Sue: I’m pleased to say that I plan on having my third Emily Trace mystery out later this year. The cover art is nearly complete, and I’ve been working on refining the story line.
SnS: Well, after reading your first two, I can’t wait to see your next installment! So where can fans find you on-line?
Walking into my first Spokane Authors and Self Publishers (or S.A.S.P..) meeting, I had two goals: 1) find like minded folks who might help inspire me to finish my own book, and 2) troll for an author to interview for this blog. The meeting went well enough that I plan to go back. I expected that it would, as my buddy D. Andrew McChesney, previously interviewed for this blog, had recommended it. What I didn’t expect was to find a “pot of gold”, in the form of Irish writer Kate Poitevin.
I noticed her book, among many, on a display table. The cover art suggested something I might be interested in, and the title hinted at adventure. Of course like any fantasy nerd, the moment I opened the book and found a map, I was hooked. Without extra copies on hand I was delighted to see that Kate herself was at the meeting. I made my way over and chatted her up a bit. She was kind, quirky, and cool. Thoroughly impressed, I ordered her book on-line as soon as I got home, and devoured it over the next two days.
“Saving Tir Gaeltacht” is a blend of Harry Potter-esque adventure, Irish myth, and Narnia Chronicles wisdom. In it, four siblings and one cousin are tasked with saving a kingdom and fulfilling a prophecy using skills none of them knew they possessed until accidentally stepping through a portal to another world.
Each child meets and bonds with a mythical creature who protects, guides, and teaches them how to survive in the magical land of Tir Gaeltacht. With many missteps, a few life lessons, and much humor, the children make their way across a vast land to meet a powerful enemy and fulfill their destinies.
Told from the perspective of a young bard, this story held my attention throughout (a feat within itself) and, upon finishing the last page, I decided I had to interview the author. As luck would have it, she agreed!
Mj: So Kate, tell me a little bit about yourself. Have you always been a writer?
Kate: My first home was a float house on Coeur d’Alene Lake. My dad used to be a tug boat captain, and loved the water. His side of the family were all boatmen and my mom’s were lumberjacks. Whether it’s that history, or my Celtic roots, I do enjoy plaid flannel 😉
On my first birthday, Dad bought The Boat Drive In. We lived in the attached apartment for almost three years until my parents bought the house my brother and I grew up in. I helped out in the kitchen of the Boat Drive In until the age of 14, when they sold it. I was in my late teens when I first met my husband to be, Jim. We both moved away to separate areas and lost track of each other for ten years. Then in the spring of 1978, we bumped into each other at a pub. We were married by February of 1979.
After that, I worked at Taco Time for a while. I also worked as a ceramics caster, and a binder in a print shop. Eventually Jim and I bought and ran a concession trailer called “Murphy’s Corner” for 12 years. Retired now, my husband and I both love boats and finally have a sailboat of our own to enjoy.
My first writing experience was early in our marriage. At that time, Jim worked for a company that had a monthly news letter and I was invited to write a short article. I guess people liked it because they kept asking me to contribute after that. It wasn’t until I was invited to visit a local writers group, “The Tin Pencil” in 2008, that I got serious about writing a book though. My friend Mallory Battista founded the group that encouraged and helped me to finish the book. She also designed my cover.
Mj: That was a good group then!
Kate: Yes, and it still is.
Mj: Your bio on the back of your book lists you as a writer, artist, and clan chief. The writer part is obvious. Can you explain the artist and clan chief part to me please?
Kate: It says artist on there? **I point it out to her** Well then, I must be an artist! Actually, I used to cast, fire, and paint ceramics. Maybe that’s why Mallory said that.
Mj: Looking around I see many fantasy castles and figurines. Did you make any of these?
Kate: Yes I did some of them, but I sold or gave most of my pieces away. I did win a prize for one. It’s not a fantasy piece though. **She walks across the room and retrieves a beautifully life like ceramic Wood duck.** I won a Peggy Award for this. It was actually surprising to me. I entered the contest only wanting a little light blue ribbon for best of category. I was shocked the morning after judging when my duck was missing from the shelf, until my boss asked me to accompany her to the winners table. I was thrilled to see a little blue ribbon. In fact, I was so engrossed with the ribbon, they had to point out the giant trophy sitting next to it!
Mj: **LOL** Apparently you can be very focused. So what is this about being a Clan Chief?
Kate: I joined the Irish Clan Cian (pronounced Kee-in) in 2000 and moved up through the offices: Tent Assistant, Convener, and Chieftan, until becoming Regional Chieftan. My region includes Eastern WA, Eastern OR, and all of Idaho.
My good friend, Chieftain Debbie Hinshaw, and I go to the Highland Games around the northwest, and help people find their Irish roots. We also get to bring new members into the clan. It can be hot and dirty, or cold and wet work, but the upside is that we get to spend weekends watching men in kilts.
Mj: Well that is very cool, but your bio also lists you as a Fantasy and Sci-Fi nerd. Is that true?
Kate: **Gives that dazzling smile** Oh yes, I am a total nerd. I became addicted to fantasy novels 35 years ago when Mom gave me my first fantasy novel, “Arrows of the Queen” by Mercedes Lackey. She didn’t “get it” but thought it was a cute story. I, however, was hooked! From that I moved on to the “Earthsea” series by Ursula K. Le Guin, and from there to anything by Terry Brooks, Terry Pratchet, J.K. Rowling, Tolkien, and Anne McCaffrey to name a few of my favorites. Oh and I’ve recently become obsessed with Dean Koontz’ “Odd Thomas” series. Never read horror, but picked it up and fell in love with Odd. Beyond that, I’ve always been a Star Trek / Star Wars nerd and I proudly admit to being a Whovian.
Mj: Ah, nice to meet yet another complete and total nerd. This immersion in nerdiness explains some of your own book, “Saving Tir Gaeltacht”. As does your Irish back ground, but can you tell me what inspired you to write it in the first place?
Kate: Well, it started out as a story for my grandchildren, Gabe, Taylor, Jordan, Zach, and Zayne. They are the stars of the story. I let them pick what their bond mates would be, and name them. Gabe, originally wanted a flying frog for his bond mate! I just didn’t know what to do with that, so I asked him to study some on mythical creatures. Thankfully he settled on the white stag.
In fact, many of the characters in my book are fictional representations of my actual family and a number of friends. I let them all pick a Celtic name, and tried to get their personalities right. My youngest daughter, Callie, is Kyla. Michelle is the lady warrior, Maeve. Son Kris is Declan, his wife, Josie is Molly.
Mj: So how close are the characters in relation to your grandkids? Are they a lot alike?
Kate: Yes, I tried very hard to make them see themselves. I never intended for this to be published, it was always just for them. I wanted to put in little family references so they would remember what they were like when that age. Zach and Zayne, who followed the story as it was written made sure that I had none of them do or say anything that the real one wouldn’t. In fact, one of my proudest moments was when a friend of mine finished reading the original draft and told me, “It wouldn’t matter if you changed the names of their characters. I would have known who they were just by how you wrote them.”
Mj: That’s a nice compliment! It really is a good read, but when can we expect a sequel?
Kate: Well actually, I am working on a prequel. It is Ronnie’s story. Ronnie was the dragon Jarth’s first bond mate, the one who helped create the prophecy, and set up certain safe guards for the young man who was to come after her.
Mj: Excellent! When can we expect to see this available?
Kate: As soon as I can finish it. I’m getting closer. The problem writers have is finding time!
Well, I for one, can not wait to read it! To order Kate Poitevin’s book, “Saving Tir Gaeltacht” just click on this link for a Kindle edition or paper back version. If you would like a signed copy, and live in the Spokane area, you can purchase it directly from Kate! Just drop her an e-mail at . . . firstname.lastname@example.org.