Category Archives: Interviews

KLAW TV Interview

Hey there! Just a quick post to let you know that my interview with Kitsap Literary Artists and Writers for local access TV station BKAT is live on YouTube. You can watch it here:

Looks like I’m about to strangle the interviewer, doesn’t it? Well, you should watch it to find out if I do 🙂  Interviewer Mark Miller went a tad off script, which made things interesting, and I had a blast (even though I was fighting an epic case of allergies that day…)

 

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The Writer’s Chatroom


February 19, 2017 4:00p-6:00p Pacific time
The Writers’ Chatroom

Join me online today at The Writer’s Chatroom from 4-6pm (PST) as I answer questions and riff with attendees at this great venue! Click on the link above, then “Enter Chatroom.” Sign in as a guest with whatever name you want people to call you and that’s it! (you don’t have to give out your email address). And, as an added bonus I’m giving away a print copy of one of my books to one lucky attendee (winner’s choice) 🙂

Hope to see you there!


New Interview

I’m being interviewed on mystery author Carmen Amato’s stellar blog. Stop by and leave a comment–I’d love to see you there. And here’s a big plus, if you enjoy strong female characters, try her Emilia Cruz police procedural series set in Acapulco, Mexico–I have a feeling you’ll end up with a new favorite author!

http://carmenamato.net/mystery-author-dv-berkom/

Happy weekend!


New Interview

Today I’m on the hot seat in the Interview Room over at Terry’s Place–the questions aren’t your usual fare and I had waay too much fun answering them. Stop by and say hello and find out what kind of lingerie my characters like to wear… 🙂

 


Awesome Authors–Yvonne Hertzberger

photo of the authorWelcome back to Awesome Authors! My guest today is the lovely epic fantasy author Yvonne Hertzberger. Yvonne and I met a couple of years back as minions of the inimitable death star blog known as Indies Unlimited. She shared her gruel with me which should tell you something about her–Yvonne has got to be the nicest person on the planet, bar none. I don’t think I’ve ever read a negative word from her about anyone. And THAT’S rare, especially online where people tend to hide behind their anonymity. Since I’m firmly in the “mean people suck” camp, knowing Yvonne has been quite a breath of fresh air. Here’s her bio:

(From the author): Yvonne Hertzberger lives in Stratford, Ontario with her spouse, Mark. She calls herself a late bloomer as she began writing at the ripe age of 56. Her Fantasy/ Magic Realism trilogy, ‘Earth’s Pendulum’ has been well received and she is working on a new novel not related to the trilogy. She loves to sing, garden and spend time with like-minded people and family.

 DV: Welcome, Yvonne! Thank you for being here today 🙂 Tell us a bit about yourself.

YH: I was born in Holland, a ten minute bike ride outside of Gouda – you know, where they make that famous cheese – at home in a house with a thatched roof. The property was across a narrow street from a canal. You can’t get much more Dutch than that. 😀 I was able to go back and see that house in 1974 and met the couple that bought it from my father in 1950 before we emigrated to Canada.

Now I live with my other half in a tiny brick cottage built in 1883, in Stratford, Ontario. He has his office at the back of the house and I have my writing nook at the front, because he likes music and I need silence to write. It’s perfect.

I love to sing and belong to the Stratford Concert Choir, which gets invited to sing in England and other venues in Europe. Unfortunately I can’t afford to go with them but I hope some of the luster rubs off on me anyway. I also love to garden and of course read.

“…my characters made it very plain they weren’t finished…”

DV: We have something in common–my heritage is Dutch, as well 😀 What made you decide to become a writer? Why did you choose epic fantasy as a genre?cover for Back from Chaos

YH: That was almost a fluke. I was seeing a therapist for a bit who wanted me to journal. When I told him that wasn’t really my cup of tea he challenged me to “Write anything. Just write”. I banged out a couple of short stories and began what I thought would be another. However my characters made it very plain they weren’t finished with it. It ended up becoming a trilogy and I ended up calling myself a writer.

DV: Your books are part of a series called Earth’s Pendulum—currently a trilogy (Back from Chaos, Through Kestrel’s Eyes, The Dreamt Child). Do you envision more books in the series or are you contemplating a different path?

YH: That’s an interesting question, mostly because I don’t know the answer. I have a couple of ideas that could expand the series, one of which is a prequel, but at the moment it isn’t calling to me. So, until it does I’ll follow my muse in a different direction.

DV: Tell us about your latest book, The Dreamt Child. What was your favorite part about writing it?

cover for The Dreamt ChildYH: The third book [The Dreamt Child] was both easier and harder to write. My world had already been created and some of the characters were back. But I knew this would complete the story and so I had to make sure that I didn’t go way off track.

One of the returning characters was Merrist. In the second book [Through Kestrel’s Eyes] he was less important but in this one he became a major protagonist, along with the seer Liannis. So he had to change and grow quite a bit. Characters are, I think, my strong point, so it was fun having him go from a devoted, immature hired man, loving Liannis but not expecting to be involved with her, to her equal and partner in all aspects. The boy had to become a man.

Merrist has one peg leg. He lost the leg as a result of a battle injury in the second book. So one of my favourite scenes deals with what happens when he is caught by the bad guys and they take away his wooden leg and throw him in a dungeon-like cell. They taunt him with it and hang it where he can see it but not reach it, making it swing and clack against the wall. His fear that they will break it and leave him helpless makes him even more endearing.

I still let my characters show me where they want to go but have a beginning, a few key scenes
and an end in mind.

DV: Do you outline or are you more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer? How long does it take you to finish a novel?

YH: When I began I was a total pantser. My characters led me around pretty much by the nose for the first book. With each book that became more balanced by a plan of where I needed to go. I still let my characters show me where they want to go but have a beginning, a few key scenes and an end in mind. Each book seems to become more planned and less spontaneous.

DV: Interesting. I’ve found that to be true, as well. What are you working on now?

YH: The story I am presently working on is quite different from the trilogy. The setting is much more primitive. It has fewer characters and looks like it will be a stand-alone. The idea for it came to me in a dream. That’s quite unusual for someone who rarely remembers her dreams. Since I remember it so vividly I decided there must be a reason. It will be a grittier story but still a cross between Magic Realism and Fantasy, just as the trilogy is, depending on how you define those. Because I want to stay somewhat close to the dream, and also want to make it even better than my previous work, it is proving to be challenging.

“Recent changes lead me to believe that self-published authors will gain respectability, and that the largest trad publishing houses, in contrast, will lose it.”

DV: Ooh. That sounds intriguing! Dream books are such a gift.
Give us a ‘day in the life’ of author Yvonne Hertzberger.

YH: Oh, boy. It’s not terribly exciting, I’m afraid. My books are much more interesting than I am. After shower, coffee and a bite to eat I spend most of the morning catching up on e-mails and networking. I love the friends I’ve made on-line and the way we support each other on this writing journey. It’s also nice to see some personal tidbits, too. On the days that I get some real writing done it usually happens in the afternoon. I don’t sit for hours at a time but tend to take frequent breaks, getting a coffee, looking for a snack, picking beans in my garden. But I still view these things, not so much as diversions or distractions, as thinking time. Mark and I watch the news over dinner and most evenings are spent watching TV, spending time with a few close friends, or, if I’m lucky, playing with my sixteen month old grandson. When he’s around nothing else gets done and I don’t care. He lights up my life.

DV: I like the frequent breaks thing and calling it thinking time. I’d have to agree. In light of the huge changes in traditional as well as self-publishing, where do you see the industry heading?cover for Through Kestrel's Eyes

YH: I am much more optimistic about this than I used to be. Recent changes lead me to believe that self-published authors will gain respectability, and that the largest trad publishing houses, in contrast, will lose it. The result will be a greater balance. We will begin to see more Indie books reviewed by major publications. The other part of this is that Indie writers will find themselves under pressure to get their work properly edited and formatted before publishing, so that the dross that has contributed to the stigma against self-publishing will drastically diminish. I have no idea if that will help me, personally, but it is good for the industry in general.

“Knowing what I know now I have no desire to be trad published.”

DV: 🙂 What made you decide to go indie rather than traditional?

YH: When I was close to finishing my first book I researched what it takes to become published. I learned that I would have more chance of winning a major lottery. Someone suggested I look into self-publishing “companies”. In spite of my research I still got caught by a vanity “assisted publisher”. While I will never see the return of the money they got from me it was still a good learning experience. Since I had never studied creative writing this was where I learned much of my craft. Since then I have reclaimed my rights and self-published. Knowing what I know now I have no desire to be trad published. I am a bit of a control freak. There is no way I will give that up when I will still be expected to do all of the “other” work myself anyway, such as editing, promoting and marketing. I may never become a “best seller” but I know that what I put out there is true to what it ought to be and is the best I am capable of.

DV: Good for you! (I also find painful/expensive learning experiences particularly effective…) What was the worst advice you ever received about writing? Best?

YH: The worst advice was given to me twice, by two separate, well-respected trad published authors. They told me my dialogue ought to be written the way we speak today. My story takes place in a pseudo-medieval society. I chose to make my dialogue more formal and a little old-fashioned sounding. I believe that it will work fifty or a hundred years from now as it stands. Had I taken that advice it would be obsolete in less than twenty as speech patterns evolve and change so quickly.

The best advice was by one of those same authors. He told me to rewrite the section he had read and critiqued in the first person. I think that was a good strategy for the second book.

DV: What advice would you give to new writers?

“Join support and information sites such as Indies Unlimited and The Book Designer.”

YH: Read voraciously, both in your chosen genre and in other genres. Learn all the “rules” so that you can choose when and how to break them and can do so with awareness and intent. Join support and information sites such as Indies Unlimited and The Book Designer. They are chock full of information and can become a wonderful place to receive support and make friends.

DV: If you could time travel (backward or forward), where would you go and why?

YH: Assuming that I will know then what I know now I would begin singing much sooner – say forty years sooner. My father told me I couldn’t sing worth a lick and it undermined my confidence to the point it paralyzed me. I love it so much and have discovered, to my joy, that he was wrong, so very wrong. Had I pursued it at that time I believe I’d be singing on stage on a regular basis.

DV: I’m so sorry, Yvonne. Parents can have such a huge impact on us—young or old. I’m glad you’ve found your voice 🙂 . Thank you for stopping by today–I enjoyed our talk!

YH: Thank you so much for inviting me for this chat. Each time I do one I find out something I hadn’t thought of before. They can be revealing in ways you’d never expect.

DV: And now for an excerpt from The Dreamt Child

BEGIN EXCERPT:

Still, he was a healer and could not let the man die. And he might need the man’s assistance later if he wanted to escape. By the time he had thought all this through he had already begun sending healing energy into the man’s leg to remove the festering and the pain. When he sensed that the wound was clean, and the man pain-free, he forced himself to stop. But he knew that, given time and energy, he could heal the man completely and help him walk again. Just not yet. He needed to rest.

The man groaned and opened his eyes before Merrist finally removed his hands. “Wha?”

Merrist reached for the bucket and held it so the man could drink, which he did with great gulps until Merrist pulled the bucket away and took another long draught himself, noting when he stopped that there was not much left. “Can you eat?” Merrist pulled the bowl within the man’s reach. “I’ll help you.” He broke off a chunk of bread and dipped it into the water to soften it. “Here.”

The man managed three bites, then lowered his head to the floor and tuned away. “No more.”

“Are you in pain?”

At that the man turned back to him, a slow look of surprise crossing his face. “Nah, it be gone.”

“Good, I have healed the wound and removed the pain. You will regain your strength, now.”

The look of surprise turned to awe, then puzzlement and lastly, disbelief. “Tha’ be na’ possible.”

“Yet, it is so.” Merrist waited for that to sink in then added, “I am a healer. I have examined your wound and I can restore your leg so you will walk again.”

The man roused himself so that he could reach his wound and began to probe it with great care, sending Merrist suspicious glances several times as he did so. “Where be th’ cut?”

“I healed it.”

The man pulled up the blood crusted leg of his trousers so that he could examine his leg more closely. Finding no cut and not even a scab he lowered himself back down, his energy spent, and gave Merrist a long, probing look. “You ha’ done this?”

“Yes.”

“An’ ye say ye c’n make me walk?”

“I can, though it will be difficult.”

“Wha’ sort o’ magic be this? Be it ev’l?”

“No, it is a gift from Earth. She has made me a healer.”

The man looked at Merrist again, as though trying to make up his mind. After several moments he said, “Then make me walk. If ye’ be false I lose nought.”

“I will, but I must ask something in return.”

When the man did not answer, his face darkening again with suspicion, Merrist added. “When I heal it weakens me. I need food and drink. Will you make certain that I drink the rest of the water and eat some of that bread and cheese?”

The man looked at the bowl. “I c’n do tha’.”

END EXCERPT

You can find out more about Yvonne by clicking on the links below:

Smashwords
Twitter
Facebook Author page
Amazon author page
Amazon. UK
Goodreads
Website/blog
LinkedIn


Awesome Authors–Peg Brantley

Peg Brantley photoToday’s Awesome Author is thriller/mystery writer Peg Brantley. I met Peg while swimming around in the Guppies (Great Unpublished) pond of the writers group Sisters in Crime and have heard great things about her work. She currently has 3 novels out: Red Tide, The Missings, and The Sacrifice. Glowing comments on her work include, “engaging characters,” “grabs you from the first page,” and “a definite page turner.” Hmmm. Sounds like an author to put on my TBR list… 😀

Bio (from the author): A Colorado native, Peg Brantley is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Colorado Authors’ League, and Sisters In Crime. She lives with her husband southeast of Denver. Peg’s third book, The Sacrifice, is a finalist for two 2014 Colorado literary awards.

DV: Welcome, Peg! Please tell us about yourself and your latest release.

PB: This is where I wish I could tell you about my fabulous past—reveal something notorious or incredibly brave. The truth is I’m only mildly interesting and that could be a stretch.

cover of The SacrificeTHE SACRIFICE was released at the end of 2013. I’ve had more than one reviewer say they were surprised they liked the book based on the back cover copy. Obviously that’s not where my strength lies. TS is about a man who lost his family and is working through associated depression, and a missing young girl and the religious cult she thinks of as her new family.

THE SACRIFICE was a finalist in one Colorado literary award presented last month, and a second literary award to be presented a few days before this blog post airs. I wrote a guest post at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers blog about what it felt like to lose.

DV: The novels you currently have available are stand-alone thrillers, correct? Have you considered writing a series?

PB: Well, bless your heart for asking. (No, I’m not from the south, but this really works here.)

cover and link for Red TideDue to reader’s requests (and because it’s really easy to do) RED TIDE and THE MISSINGS will be turned into the first two stories of a series set in Aspen Falls, Colorado. There was some carry-over of the characters between the books and I’m excited to spend more time with them.

And as luck would have it, readers (and a particular endorser) for THE SACRIFICE have encouraged me to continue the series with the characters I developed in those pages.

My goal will be to continue to write each novel as a stand-alone, with the added strength of a series and longer character development opportunities.

My challenge will be to write faster. Two series? Are you kidding me?

DV: LOL. Yeah, I know the feeling 🙂 When did you realize you were a writer?

PB: I think at some level I’ve always been a writer. But life and responsibilities made me more of a reader for a very long time. About ten years ago, family circumstances played a huge role in affording me both the time and opportunity to begin to learn the craft of writing when my bonus son suffered a stroke at a very young age. After we moved him back home for his recovery, I finally had the time to explore my writing options.

“After about eight years, I had blown my way through some horrible manuscripts and was finally beginning to produce something worth reading.”

DV: What was your road to indie publication like?

PB: My road was probably not too different from many others. Several years ago, indie or self-publication was not on the table for me. Vanity publishing, as much of it was at that time, had a horrible reputation for producing inferior products. I was determined to find an agent I could work well with and a publisher happy to take a chance on an unknown.

I took workshops, read books about writing, went to writer conferences, joined a critique group—all of those things we do to learn how to string together effective words.

After about eight years, I had blown my way through some horrible manuscripts and was finally beginning to produce something worth reading. That’s when a friend of mine, L.J. Sellers, encouraged me to jump in the game rather than to continue to sit on the sidelines like a good girl and wait. With her help, I learned the right way to put together a novel people enjoy.

DV: What is your process like? Do you write every day? Have a specific word count? Plotter or pantser?

PB: As much as I’d love to write every day, my life often has other things in store. However, yesterday while I was in the chair at my dentist’s office I was considering a character and particular plot-point in the manuscript I’m writing. I guess in a way, I do write every day.

Generally, I aim for 2000 words a day, and feel pretty good when I’m consistently hitting that target.cover and link for The missings

While I’m neither a plotter or a pantser, I do have to have a plan in mind. Crime fiction doesn’t leave a lot of room for going off the rails. For me, it’s a lot like taking a road trip. I know where my story is beginning and I have a good idea where it will end, with some planned stops along the way. What I do allow, just as on a road trip, are those little spur of the moment side trips. If they’re interesting and fit the flavor of the trip, I’ll explore them a little more. If they’re to some place boring and potentially confusing, I’m outta there.

If you’re interested in a little more detail, I wrote a post about it on my blog.

DV: Do you find you work better with or without deadlines?

PB: Deadlines, definitely. But deadlines I set. I work backward from a targeted publication date, including time for self-editing, beta readers, professional editing, endorsements, and cover and interior design. From there, I know when I need to have the first draft completed and how many words a day I need to write to meet the deadline.

“Next up on my list is to attend an autopsy.”

DV: How much research do you do when writing your books?

A lot! I’ve often thought being a fantasy or science fiction writer would be heaven. Not only are you making the story completely up, but you’re making everything about the world up as well. Everything.

I use Google, reference books, contacts and friendships. I’ve attended the Writers Police Academy and the Citizen Police Academy for my city. Next up on my list is to attend an autopsy.

DV: Which writers have influenced you and why?

PB: Oh, my. One of the things I admire about L.J. Sellers’s books is that she often takes a topical social issue and works it into the story. I’ve tried to do the same. Her writing is tight and spare while still providing just the right amount of description and emotion.

Dean Koontz can extend tension with fabulous skill, as well as say volumes in as few as eight words. The right eight words.

Michael Connelly builds layers and layers of character and drops them into some of the best plots ever.

DV: In light of the huge changes in the industry, where do you think publishing is headed?

PB: I think that for the first time in the history of publishing, it’s headed exactly where readers want it to go. Readers are in the driver’s seat, not publishing company CFOs.

Readers, with their new power, recognized rather quickly that they could find some wonderful new authors for very little financial investment, and scoffed at the old publishing models. Having said that, I believe they are rapidly tiring of some of the mindless slush pile garbage “authors” are throwing out simply to see what sticks, and can appreciate that the old publishing models took care of that gigantic pile that’s now available to everyone. Still, the cream will rise to the top as it always has, but this time, readers are in charge.

“I think that for the first time in the history of publishing, [publishing is] headed exactly where readers want it to go.”

DV: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

PB: I hope I’m still doing what I love—writing stories. But I’ll be thinner I’m sure. And better dressed.

DV: 😀 What advice would you give to new writers?

PB: If you can, find a good writers group and learn from them. Attend writer conferences, read books on craft. Treat this time as your college education.

It’s okay to write a story that needs work. We all do. It’s not okay to publish a story that needs work, at least if you want to make writing a career.

Read the books you love to read like crazy and then write and write and write some more.

Don’t quit. It’s only if you quit that you fail.

DV: What’s next for Peg Brantley?

PB: FLAME GAME will be out in late October (with a little luck) and then I’ll begin getting my characters in THE SACRIFICE in deep trouble once again.

Thanks, D.V., for allowing me to spend a little time with you and your readers. I’ve enjoyed it immensely.

DV: Thank you for stopping by, Peg! I’ll definitely be checking out your books. They sound like they’re right up my alley 🙂 (For more information about Peg and her work, I’ve included links at the end of the post.)

Below is an excerpt from THE SACRIFICE:

EXCERPT:

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Dia woke with a start and listened hard. She’d heard a noise. Where had it come from? What was it? There. A thump and voices. Outside. She pushed the light blanket off, pushed aside the mosquito netting and stepped to look out the window.
Pilar, Luis, and Hector were swaying and chanting. Sparks from the fire they stood around flew off into the night. What were they doing? If this was a Santeria ritual Dia wanted to be there.

Where did she leave her shoes? Come on, Dia, she thought. You would think in this small room she wouldn’t lose anything. She dug around in her clothes bag. Nothing. Maybe if she stood on the deck it would be okay. She wouldn’t need shoes if she didn’t go down by the fire.

Dia padded barefoot to the door that led from the main area to the back deck and eased the screen open. She tried to be quiet, not because she was trying to be sneaky, but because she didn’t want to interrupt a religious ritual. Softly closing the door behind her, she moved to the edge of the deck where she could more clearly see and hear what was going on.
It was a ritual all right. But the words were different from any she’d ever heard before. She’d have to ask Pilar what they meant.

Luis held something in his hand and raised it over his head. Dia gasped out loud when she realized it was a dead rooster. The man spun in her direction, the firelight carving angry lines in his face as he looked at her.

“You! Leave at once!” The venom of the words stung Dia and pushed her back from the deck rail. She knew Luis had mostly just put up with her, but now he sounded like he hated her. She sought Pilar. Their eyes met and Dia could not understand the expression on her nanny-turned-friend’s face. Then Dia dropped her gaze down to what Pilar held in her hands.

My shoes.

END EXCERPT

You can learn more about Peg at her website or meet up with her on Facebook  or follow her blog. Her Amazon Author page is here.

 


Spotlight Series–James Radcliffe

photo of the artistToday I’m right stoked to  introduce you to indie artist/musician, James Radcliffe. I became aware of James after he connected with me here. I visited his award-winning blog and read a few posts, listened to a couple of his tracks and bought his album. His music struck me as ethereal and unlike anything I’d heard before, and I was interested in finding out more about him. Turns out he’s living the dream of creatives everywhere by making a living through his art. Here’s his bio:

James Radcliffe is a 100% listener-supported, independent artist based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He writes an award-winning blog that boasts over 4000 followers, and released a solo digital album in early 2014 priced at £5 that listeners now regularly choose to pay over £30 to download. Spotlight Series logo

He pretty much lives in his home studio, and will be releasing new music very shortly in a new and experimental way.

[Note from DV: James has just released a limited edition CD of his album. It can be found here.]

Some listener quotes:

Unapologetically, disarmingly, impossibly beautiful.

Haunting

…not just heard, but felt.”

STUNNING. BRILLIANT. It’s like an indie film for your soul.”

Genius.”

And now for the Spotlight questions (a sample and links to James’s work are below the short interview):

D: When did you first realize you were a musician?

J: Doing music has felt natural to me for as long as I can remember. I was in the school brass band and orchestra when I was a kid, and did my first solo performance when I was around 7. So there wasn’t really a: ‘bolt of lightning from the heavens now-I-am-a-musician’ kind of moment. It was much more prosaic than that. Music was just something that I did, like drawing with crayons, eating, or going to the toilet. It’s always been there.

D: What do you hope to convey through your music?

J: There is a feeling I get when I make music that I can’t express in any other way. Time stops and I totally lose any awareness of myself. It’s very ecstatic for me. It’s the closest I’ve ever been able to get to pure freedom.
The people who really connect with my stuff say that they have the same kind of experience when they listen, but this communication is not something that I consciously strive for. It’s more like a happy by-product of me doing what I love to do.

D: What’s your favorite part of working in a creative field? Least favorite?

J: I really love what I do. And I’m fortunate enough to make a living at it, so I don’t have to do anything that I don’t want to. I love the process of making art, I love sharing it, and I love connecting with the people who resonate with it. For me, there isn’t a downside.

D: Where do you see yourself in five years?

J: I don’t really think in those terms. I just focus on: each days practice; each little project. I am not working to some Masterplan here. My life is the Grand Experiment. 😉

I do whatever work has energy for the moment until it’s done. This approach seems to be working pretty well, and I like being surprised, so I’ll stick with it for now.

D: What would you like readers of this blog to know about you?

J: That I exist. That I am real. That my music is out there should they want it.
And that I am readily available thru my website should they want to connect with me.

The Blog: http://jamesradcliffe.com/
The Music: http://jamesradcliffemusic.com/album/i

James Radcliffe

 


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