Friday, October 12, 2012


My guest is best selling author, Julie Ann Walker. She looks more like one of those beautiful women who grace the cover of a book rather than the one who wrote it. Julie's degrees are in mathematics, and while I'm sure she's excellent with numbers, it's her flair with words and dialog that grabbed this reader. I thoroughly enjoyed the fresh perspective Julie brings to special ops fiction and a tough group of former military guys, Black Knights Inc, who ride Harleys and get the bad guys. Love these guys! 
Julie talks about her road to publication and the concept of the 10,000 hour rule.

I'm the world's worst when it comes to a touching story involving my journey to publication... 

I hear so many authors speak of their struggles, their setbacks and heartaches, which then makes the tales of their eventual victories so sweet I often find myself sitting on my hands for fear of shooting a crudely impulsive fist in the air.  "Huzzah!  After eight years and ten manuscripts, she finally sold!"  I LOVE those stories.  Everybody does.  Because there's nothing more satisfying than knowing through struggle, dedication, and perseverance, dreams do come true.

But for me, my writing career didn't come upon me after the requisite slog.  Quite the contrary, it was a freight train, barreling down the tracks under its own steam, with me just along for the ride.  Now, I must set you straight if you're getting the impression I'm some sort of prodigy.  For the record... I. Am. Most. Definitely. Not.  It may seem that way when you learn I won contests with the first manuscript I ever seriously submitted, I snagged an agent within two weeks of sending out query letters, and I signed a three-book deal within eight weeks of securing an agent.  But the truth of the matter is, I've written all my life.  Journaling.  Blogging.  I was the senior editor of my school newspaper.  I've been a dedicated pen pal, an amateur poet, and travel writer for my family vacations since I could put pen to paper.   In short, if I could string all those sentences and poems, ruminations and letters together, I'd probably have a catalog of over hundred books. 

So, though it may be true, I didn't suffer through the rejection letters and slush piles.  It's my contention the only reason that's the case is simply because I didn't attempt to publish until I already had hundreds of thousands of words under my belt.  In Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers, he discusses at length the concept of the 10,000 Hours Rule.  Put simply, the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.  And I'm here to tell you, if I haven't written a total of 10,000 hours in my life, I'm pretty darned close. 

Well, then the question becomes, how did I know I was ready for publication?  How did I know I'd practiced enough?  And the answer, as uninspiring and trite as it may sound, is that I didn't.  You see, all my life I considered my writing to be a hobby.  Something I did for my own pleasure and the pleasure of close friends and family.  My degrees are in mathematics, and I was very certain I would spend the rest of my days in the classroom, teaching fresh, young minds the wonders of Algebra and Calculus, the beauty of numbers and patterns and symmetry.  Then the unthinkable happened.  My husband lost his job and we were required to move across the country.  Teaching positions were scarce, and I found myself at loose ends. 

For entertainment, I sat down at my computer and decided to write down the first in a series of stories that'd been banging around in my head for years.  On a whim, I entered that story in a contest and you know the rest...

So, for those of you who dream of being a writer, I have one simple piece of advice.  Write.  Then write some more.  And after that, write some more.  And when you think you've been writing for about 10,000 hours, submit your work to the world.  According to my experience and according to Malcolm Gladwell, by then you should be ready.  See, it's just that simple.  Hahaha!

Thanks to Sia McKye for having me on today.  It was lovely.  Cheers, happy writing,  and happy reading!  

And before I leave you, I have a question... For those of you who love to read books, have you ever considered writing one?        


He Never Misses a Target…

Jake "the Snake" Sommers earned his SEAL codename by striking quickly and quietly - and with lethal force.  That's how he broke Michelle Carter's heart.  It was the only way to keep her safe - from himself.  Four long years later, Jake is determined to get a second chance.  But to steal back into Michelle's loving arms, Jake is going to have to prove he can take things slow.  Real slow...

She Aims to Make Him Beg…

Michelle Carter has never forgiven Jake for being so cliché as to "love her and leave her."  But when her brother, head of the Black Knights elite ops agency, ticks off the wrong mobster, she must do the unimaginable: place her life in Jake's hands.  No matter what they call him, this man is far from cold-blooded.  And once he's wrapped around her heart, he'll never let her go...

Julie Ann Walker is the USA Today and New York Times Bestselling Author of the Black Knights Inc. romantic suspense series. She is prone to spouting movie quotes and song lyrics. She'll never say no to sharing a glass of wine or going for a long walk. She prefers impromptu travel over the scheduled kind, and she takes her coffee with milk. You can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission. Look for the first two books in her fast-paced series: Hell On Wheels (August 2012) and In Rides Trouble (September 2012). 

For more information, please visit or follow her on Facebook  and/or Twitter. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2012


My guest is contemporary fiction author, Benjamin Berkley. Ben has written several legal non-fiction books but this is his fiction debut. He talks a bit about finding inspiration and weaving a story around factual happenings and fiction.

As for any novel, you need inspiration.  And that inspiration came many years ago when a beautiful, white haired older lady came into my office. Her name was Irene Opdyke and she had a story to tell. But as she spoke, I was mesmerized by her voice, her hand gestures and her eyes. She spoke so softly and calmly though I could feel the torture that she endured.

My Rabbi thought that I could assist Irene in negotiating a contract for her story about how she saved the lives of Jews while working as a housekeeper for a German commandant. Well, after a lot of legal wrangling, her book was published and the ABC show, 20/20 eventually did a story on Irene. And as a result of her story going public, Yard Vashem recognized her as a Righteous Gentile.   Several years ago, Irene passed away.  But her story survived.
And in 2010, shortly after the release of my last book, and wanting to transition from writing self-books to a novel, I began thinking about Irene.  Irene would be a character in my book and it would be her wisdom as one of the themes.

But I didn't want my book to be strictly historical.  I needed to make my story modern and contrast what happened in the concentration camps with a young person today who was going through her own struggles to survive.  And a few morning jogs later, the character of Danielle was born.

I love Danielle.  She is not based on anyone I know but I know her very well.  In my book, Danielle is raised by her grandmother and her Dad as her mother passed away when she was only three.  She is bright and opinionated and motivated to succeed.  But she always has to choose between herself and pleasing her father.
So now I had Irene whose story is told in the first person by her journal entries that she composed in the hospital where she convalesced after she was liberated from the Mauthausen Concentration Camp.  And Danielle is the young woman; closely approaching 30 and who has more bridesmaids dresses in her closet than diplomas on her wall.
But I needed a bridge.  A bridge between the past and the present.  And that character was Rose, Danielle’s maternal grandmother.  Rose lived around the corner from Danielle in a very similar looking apartment building in Jackson Heights, NY.  And when Danielle’s mother died, Rose was there to help her son in law raise Danielle.  As a result, a very special bond developed between Danielle and her Nana as Nana was always there.  And as a young girl, Danielle often turned to her Nana for comfort when she was scared.
So now you have the three main characters but I needed to weave a story, which took me about a year to research and write.  
My story is of survival, self-discovery, justice, and ultimately about love.


Benjamin Berkley

Danielle Landau knows she should feel lucky, but she can't feel anything but dread. Not only did she pass the New York Bar, but she married the man her father says is just right for her and lives in a fashionable new loft in Queens. But the man who seems like the perfect catch is a perfect nightmare at home. Jacob tries to control her career, her daily routine, and even what she eats. He ignores her desires and belittles her every chance he gets. Soon, Danielle doesn't recognize her husband or herself, and she struggles to find a way out.

As we follow Danielle on her journey of terror and recovery, we see her story intersect with the diary entries of a young girl from more than fifty years ago, and the full weight of the family's secrets becomes clear. This is a story of survival, self-discovery, justice, and ultimately about love.


Growing up in Long Beach, NY, young Ben Berkley was fascinated by daily black-and-white re-runs of the TV lawyer show Perry Mason. After getting a B.A. in Speech and Hearing from Adelphi University in Garden City, NY, Berkley earned his law degree from Western State University in Fullerton, CA.

Against My Will is Ben Berkley’s fifth book and debut novel. He is also the author of four self-help books: “My Wishes, Your Plan for Organizing Your Family’s Needs” (Sourcebooks, June, 2006) “The Complete Executor’s Guide” (Sourcebooks, June 2007) “Winning Your Social Security Disability Case” (Sourcebooks, February, 2008) and “Before You Say I Do Again, A Buyer’s Beware Guide to Remarriage.” (Frederick Fell Publishers, September 2009).

Berkley lives in southern California with his wife Phyllis and their cat Riley. He has two grown children and is always bragging about his most beautiful grandson and granddaughter. 

You find Ben on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Website.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Some dreams are in the nighttime  
And some feel like yesterday
But leaves turn brown and fade 
You long to say a thousand words
But seasons change… 
You dream again and scenes remain 
But seasons change…

People change...

The seasons are changing around us and we change with the seasons. Each season has it's beauty, if we but look. Even the stark landscape of winter, still...  

As brutal as summer was, I’m not really looking forward to winter and snow. I know we need it, but still, snow? Ice? Freezing temperatures? Breaking ice in the water troughs? Ugh.

I have SAM, a seasonally affected muse. She loves the changing of the seasons—especially fall and winter. She’s not too jazzed by summer unless it’s an early misty morn and sometimes when the full moon colors the landscape in silver and shadows. She loves rainy days and when the snow is falling and it’s cold my muse loves to come out and play.

We had our first light frost last night and had to turn on the heat for the first time. The muse is rubbing her hands in delight. I took a walk in the gorgeous sunshine and everywhere I looked autumn color was beginning to show. 

I thought I’d share some pictures (you can click on the pictures to enlarge) of the beauty that surrounds me as I walk the property.

This is a walk just down from my house.
There is still more green than fall colors but I can’t look anywhere on the ranch without seeing evidence that autumn is definitely here.
This is one of the barns.This one is beyond my back yard. We have a lot of oak and they turn late, so colors of 
other trees are just beginning to show back here. 

In my front yard the oak on the left is just beginning to color. At the end of my driveway you can see another one of our pastures and there are lots of walnut, dogwood, and other trees which tend to turn faster than the oaks.

I ran across a waterfall of red. The color was gorgeous. I like to walk here every fall just to see how it looks. Some years it has more yellow to the underside of the leaves other years it's a deep red, almost burgundy. It never fails to elicit a moment of awe as I see creation's splendor. A feast for the eyes and for the creative spirit within us.

In your writing, do the seasons effect what you write? Are there seasons that seem to create thousands of words? Or do the words wither up and blow away with brown leaves before the cold winter winds?

  • Do you have a SAM? A Seasonally Affected Muse?