Archive | October 2016

Kimberly J. Dalferes-Humorous It Is!

kim-dalfries   Kimberly “Kimba” J. Dalferes ––a former Justice Department official whose publications, until recently, focused on criminal and juvenile justice issues. Then a transformation took place she let her humorous side come to the surface and her writing became funny!

I definitely believe Kimba has achieve in her writing what Erma Bombeck said, “Hook ’em with the lead. Hold ’em with laughter. Exit with a quip they won’t forget.” 

This seems to be a good overall life goal, don’t you think? 

Yes, I do agree Kimba. Thank you for joining us on Authors Visits today. We wanted our readers to know more about you and your writing and books. 

Tell me how each book: Crazy Southern Irish Girl, I was In Love With a Short Man Once and Magic Fishing Panties came about.

shortman-ebook-final-final-cover-december-2015My first book, I Was In Love With a Short Man Once, was inspired, in part, by my nana’s apple pie recipe. Nana was a great cook, and like most cooks of her era, almost all of her masterpieces were created from scratch. That woman was no friend of Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines. In particular, Nana made the most amazing apple pies. Serious stuff of legends. The problem is that no one ever wrote down her recipes or techniques. Nana left this world with the instructions for creating this most treasured of family desserts tucked away securely in her minds’ memory vault. We’ve tried for years, but no family member can recreate Nana’s flaky crust and tart yet sweet and juicy filling. This got me to thinking about stories from my life that I would like to make sure are remembered and handed down. Consequently, many of the stories in Short Man are from my childhood or young adult life.

This first book also came about because I wanted to leave something behind for my son Jimmy. Jimmy is an only child and until he was ten years old it was mostly just the two of us. There are stories about his birth, the time he came home with a rabid bat, and how he got a concussion at the White House that I found myself needing to commit to written form.

Now those are definitely stories worth writing down.

magicfishingpantiesebookfinal-final-cover-september-2015My second book, Magic Fishing Panties, came about by very different inspirations. Whereas Magic Fishing Panties is a humorous essay collection similar in structure to Short Man, many of the stories are inspired by my gal pals. When I earned my membership card to Club 50, I became acutely aware of the importance of the women in my life. I would be forever lost without my gal pals. Magic Fishing Panties, in a way, is a love letter to all the women in my life, both near and far.

What did you find most interesting as you wrote each story?

Stories from my childhood always surprise me. I’ve found myself remembering the most interesting details: the smell of my nana’s White Shoulders perfume. The rough scrape of my Grandpa’s beard stubble when he gave me a hug. The feel of the hot gritty sand under my feet at a south Florida beach. I’ve recalled in great detail the homes of my childhood and even penned an entire story about my GeeGee’s house entitled Peas Behind the Washer.

It’s also interesting to see the life lessons that have sometimes emerged as I’ve worked through the story development process. For example, when I began to write the story about getting a tattoo, I had no idea it would evoke the challenges faced by those who stay behind when our loved ones go off to war. Now I know that doesn’t sound like a very funny tale, but I hope the essay title – Exposed Temptations – entices the reader to want to find out how the Hubs reacted to my newly inked hip upon his return from overseas.

Does humor come easily to you when you are writing?

Yes and no. Humor writing is a funny thing (pun very much intended). One person’s belly laugh is someone else’s not so much. Because I write nonfiction, my writing tends to be based upon observation and personal experiences. I “collect” story ideas at odd moments. For example, I wrote and entire essay about being stuck on a Northern Virginia city bus in a blizzard based on my Facebook postings during the ordeal. Recently, after perusing the back-to-school sales at the local mall with my husband, I was inspired to write an essay about the five types of male shoppers. I think the humor part comes easy in that perhaps I view the world through a kind of quirky lens. I remember Eddie Murphy once noting that comedians are wired differently as compared to most people. Comedians see the ridiculous in very mundane situations and then play out in their minds how things could turn out differently. An Elvis song playing in the background at the big box store might cause a humorist to wonder: what would Elvis buy at Walmart? What would happen if Elvis lost his toddler at the mall? What would it be like to have Elvis as your sales clerk at check-out?

What is a typical day of writing like for you?

 

my-writing-officeWell, for one thing, it’s usually dark outside. I have a day job, so most of my writing is relegated to any free time I might have in the evenings or occasionally on weekends down on the dock at the lake house. I keep a folder of story assignments and inspirations or ideas on the desktop of my computer. The process that often works best for me is to create a story outline, fill in the observations, and then work the essay into a cohesive story arc. I come back to Erma Bombeck often here: Hook ’em with the lead. Hold ’em with laughter. Exit with a quip they won’t forget. I even have this quote posted on my website.

Some people may not know but you are a fisherwoman. Tell us about your Sitka fishing.

Back in 2005, the women in our family stomped our collective feet and demanded that we be allowed to tag along on the annual “boys-only” Alaska fishing trip. We had heard so many wonderful stories from the boys: husbands; fathers; brothers; and sons all blissfully sharing tales of beautiful Alaska. We gals wanted a shot at the glory. The push-back was in fun, but a little serious too: there would be no girly girls allowed. We would be expected to pull our own weight, be down on the dock at o’dark thirty – no time for hair or make-up, manage our own poles, and basically “woman-up.” The boys never expected us to survive more than one trip. Well game on/fish on! I’m happy to report that eleven years later we gals are still going strong. We’ve seen some amazing sights: breaching humpbacks, pods of killer whales, sea lions the size of VW Bugs. I’ve felt the distinctive tug of an Alaskan kind salmon on the line and the thrill of landing a 35 pounder. It just goes to show you, if you tell a strong southern Irish gal she can’t do something, you better get out of her way.

noles-fishing-in-alaska-2012       kim-lucky-fishing-hat

Dalferes is a contributing writer for Smith Mountain Laker Magazine which publishes her humor column, Dock Tale Hour. Her freelance work has been featured in The Roanoke Times.

You have a new book out, Crazy Southern Irish Gal. I understand  this book it dishes on a wide variety of topics. You have woven what may appear to be dissimilar themes into a tapestry that invokes your life’s motto: live out loud, laugh often, and ‘occasionally’ drink tequila.

kd_crazyirishgal2_coverfinalYes, from days of my youth spent blissfully on the shores of Florida’s beaches to menopause and empty nests. Together, these books offer descriptive and colorful essays on subjects such as getting a tattoo in midlife, unique uses for kitty litter, handling a rabid bat, public speaking gone wrong, and naked hot-tubbing in Vegas. Dalferes skillfully weaves what at first glance may appear to be dissimilar themes into a tapestry that invokes her life’s motto: live out loud, laugh often, and ‘occasionally’ drink tequila.

These are delightful books that our readers will enjoy reading.

Thank you so much for coming to visit. Keep us posted on new books releasing.

Be sure and get in touch with Kimberly “Kimba” Dalferes, kimba@kimdalferes.com,http://www.kimdalferes.com she would love to hear from her readers.

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Running on Red Dog Road

drema-portrait   Drema Hall Berkheimer, author of Running on Red Dog Road
And Other Perils of An Appalachian Childhood
visits with us today. If you haven’t read her book you have missed a wonderful time remember your own childhood.

Drema what has been the biggest surprise to you in writing your book?

How hard it was. Physically, spiritually, and creatively hard. If I’d known that before I started, I might have taken up mountain climbing instead. Writing RUNNING ON RED DOG ROAD and Other Perils of an Appalachian Childhood exacted a merciless toll. Gut punched, I needed to catch my breath. I didn’t write a word for over two years. I gave out, but I never gave up. Somewhat battered, I finally managed to drag myself over the finish line— after six years (or was it seven?) the book was finished.

I didn’t understand why this writing thing was so painful. My childhood was happy. No one so much as raised a voice to me, much less a hand. It was a puzzle. Then I realized that all the family I wrote about were dead, except for me.

Robert Frost said, No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. If that is true, I did him proud, because I, who never cried, shed buckets as I unearthed my Appalachian kin, long dead and gone on to Glory, and buried them again. Once again I mourned them, this time from a place of gratitude. With tears, yes, but also with joy.

No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. Frost continued. Surely there couldn’t be any more surprises. After all, I knew the stories of my life because I lived them. No surprises there. But I was wrong. I was surprised again and again as I dredged seventy-year-old memories up from the murky past. Some lost detail would resurface—eyebrows that squirmed like wooly worms, buttons shaped like daisies, a gypsy skirt swirling red and purple and magenta. Something that added authenticity. Something I didn’t even know I knew. And then it turned out I did. I find one of the daisy buttons in Grandma’s button jar. A friend tells me she remembers that gypsy skirt. Hair on my neck prickles each time.

What is the one thing you enjoy most about writing?

Sometimes I think I don’t enjoy writing at all—I enjoy having written.  Writing is a bloody process, best suited for those who are drawn to self-flagellation while sipping a bile-colored kale drink like the one I have for breakfast every morning. People like you and me. Someone told me writers are divided into planners and pantsters, the latter being seat-of-the-pants types. I have a friend who is a planner. He spends months, years, planning. He makes graphs and pie charts and pages of character bios and scene sketches. He talks about reliable and unreliable narrators and points of view and the merits of first person or third. My eyes film like a lizard’s just thinking about it. I ask how his book is going. He claims he’s working on it.

I am not a planner, but that’s most likely a fault, so don’t mistake this for bragging about it. I sit down and peck out a first line. More lines follow. Some are okay. Some I cut or tweak all the goody out of them and have to go back and untweak. My husband says that’s because I don’t know when I’m finished. I grudgingly admit to that possibility. But now and again, there’s a line I fall in love with. Head over heels. Where did that come from, I wonder, looking admiringly at my perfectly ordinary fingertips. I’ve heard an altered state of mind is experienced by many, maybe even most, writers—not all the time, but on occasion. Once I saw a shirt that said, “I don’t write, I just take dictation.” That’s when your muse is sitting on your shoulder whispering precisely the right word or punchy sentence in your ear. It can neither be bidden nor forbidden. It just is. That’s the one thing I enjoy most.

What author do you like to read?

I’ve been immersed in memoir, so I’ll name just a few of the many on my list. I have read and reread Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and use a quote from her book in mine. I love the raw simplicity of Maya Angelou. I relate to Homer Hickam’s Coalwood series, because they’re books about growing up in the same West Virginia region and era as I did.  I’m an admirer of Mary Karr. Next on my list is  J. D. Vance’s  brilliant NYT bestseller, Hillbilly Elegy.

Tell me about your book.

red-dogrrdrfinalcover-197x300Sure, but first let me explain what red dog is. Mining companies piled trash coal in a slag heap and set it ablaze. The coal burned up, but the slate didn’t. The heat turned it rose and orange and lavender. The dirt road I lived on was paved with that sharp-edged rock. We called it red dog. Grandma said, Don’t you go running on that red dog road. But I do.

Gypsies, faithhealers, hobos, moonshiners, and snakehandlers cavort through my life in 1940s West Virginia after my father is killed in the coal mines and my mother goes off to work as a Rosie the Riveter during World War II, leaving me in the hands of devout Pentecostal grandparents. Grandpa, a retired coal miner turned evangelist, preaches hellfire and salvation while Grandma sews my piano recital dress from a surplus silk parachute and tries to keep Uncle Ed from drinking the rubbing alcohol, all the while praying I don’t fall into disgrace. Celebrating hardships, humor, and heroics of life in small-town West Virginia as seen through the eyes of a precocious and somewhat irreverent little girl, it is a journey of life and death—of searching for my own truths while coming of age in a multi-generational family of saints and sinners whose lives belie their own stereotypes. RUNNING ON RED DOG ROAD and Other Perils of an Appalachian Childhood was released in April by Zondervan, a HarperCollins Company. It is a living, breathing history of a bygone time and place.

And a red dog road runs through it.

drema-child                                                          dreama-children

What’s next for you?

All the stories I’d left untold compelled me to start another red dog road book. It will cover the same time period and characters as the original, so it will be a companion book rather than a sequel. The working title is STILL RUNNING ON RED DOG ROAD, More Appalachian Tales I Meant to Tell You.

What do you do for fun?

My husband and I have kept a boat at Lake Texoma for over thirty years. It’s a great boat, with all the comforts of home, an escape from life in the big city. So, of course I go to the lake. Wait, actually I don’t. I used to, but I don’t anymore—at least not often. I stay home. I answer interesting questions from interesting editors. I host Salon Quatre, a quartet of award-winning writing friends who have met at my house monthly for eight years, my favorite day of the month. I visit with friends and talk with old classmates and with children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren scattered about the country. And remember, I still have a book to write. I’m telling myself it will be fun.

Thank you Drema for visiting with us today.

Susan, thanks for allowing me to share some of my journey with your Southern writers and readers. I want them to know it is never too late to make a dream come true. Impediments are mere bumps in the road. Use them as stepping stones to reach your possibilities. Many may say you can’t. Dismiss them all. Only one may say you can. Believe that one.

I’ve read your book and found it delightful, full of wonderful people, people I wish I would have known. I must tell you, I did shed tears and laughter reading this book, for it brought back to my memory wonderful times in my own childhood and the precious people that were once a part of my life that are now gone.

 

Be sure and visit Dream she would love to hear from you.

dremagirl@aol.com
dremahallberkheimer.com
http://www.dremahallberkheimer.com/im-just-sayin/
https://www.facebook.com/drema.berkheimer
 

Once A Judge–Goldstein-Now Author

authorphoto_debrahgoldstein  Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Should Have Played Poker (A Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery) that just released in April and the book, Maze in Blue.

Are you still a sitting judge?

No. Although I remained a sitting federal Admaze-in-blueministrative Law Judge after my first book, Maze in Blue, was published. I decided to step down from the bench and pursue my passion – writing.

 

Do you
draw from the cases you have presided over? 

At this point in my writing, I haven’t felt comfortable drawing from the cases I presided over, but I occasionally use bits and pieces from my past experiences for scenes or steal characteristics from people I have met during my legal career.

For example, in my first published story, Legal Magic, two lawyers think a courtroom is empty.  Suddenly, they hear the voice of the judge who is to hear the case fill the courtroom like God speaking on the mountain. Looking around, they realize the judge is lying down behind rather than sitting at his bench. This exact scenario happened to me when, as a litigator, I appeared in front of a judge who injured his back, but wanted to continue hearing his docketed cases until the date of his scheduled surgery.  Because he couldn’t sit, he placed a cot behind the bench and held court lying down.  Eerie as the actual experience was, it was a perfect scene to incorporate into a story.

I think that is probably the most unusual thing I’ve heard a judge do, and I agree, it is eerie but funny. Might make a good trilogy!

What has been the biggest surprise to you in writing a novel?

The biggest surprise is actually hearing the characters’ voices – especially if I start veering from where they think the story should go.

Has developing plots and scenes been easier for you because of your experience?

For me, plots and scenes grow out of my imagination spurred from chance encounters, overhearing a conversation, reading a news headline or almost anything enhanced by my various life experiences. My legal experience is especially helpful in fleshing out twists that involve courtrooms or issues of law.  It makes it possible for me to avoid common fictional legal mistakes and to know odd things that might move a story along.

My writing reflects the totality of my life experiences rather than simply my legal career. This becomes clear if one analyzes the character of the protagonist, Carrie Martin.  She is a young corporate attorney whose father moved into the Sunshine Village Retirement Home because he has mild dementia. Although what happens to Carrie on the job never happened to me during my first legal job with a major corporation, I pulled upon that experience as the starting point to write about Carrie’s responsibilities, challenges and interaction with co-workers. In the same way, I used my mother-in-law’s reaction to the initial stages of Alzeheimers, research I did when a family member was considering moving into an assisted living facility and memories of my mother’s long term Mah Jongg game to make the story realistic.

poker  Your newest book, Should Have Played Poker, tell us where the idea came from.

Writers are always told to write what they know.  In my case, I started thinking of my relationship with my mother.  Unfortunately, it makes for a boring story to say my mother desperately wanted a daughter, loved me unconditionally, and encouraged me in everything I did.  Consequently, I decided to write the opposite of what I knew – a story about a woman whose mother abandoned her when she was a child and how that impacted her as she grew into adulthood. This concept opened up doors to the characters who helped raise her, her internal and external emotional ability or inability to relate to others, and her reaction to how her father’s dementia will eventually change their relationship.  The problem at this point was that Carrie’s life story was pretty heavy.  I needed a counterbalance for the story to be enjoyable for the reader.  As I thought about it, I remember the retirement home Mah Jongg players I used in my first published story, Legal Magic, and realized they would be the perfect comic foil for Carrie.  Once they came into the picture, the story flowed.

Tell us about your main characters in that book and how you chose them.

The main character in Should Have Played Poker is Carrie Martin, a twenty-nine-year-old corporate attorney who is precariously balancing her job and visiting her father in the Sunshine Village Retirement Home. After having abandoned her family twenty-six years earlier, her mother returns and leaves her with a sealed envelope and the knowledge she once considered killing Carrie’s father.  Before Carrie can discover what is in the envelope or why her mother returned, her mother is murdered at the retirement home where Carrie’s father lives.  When the detective assigned to her mother’s case, Carrie’s former live-in lover, doesn’t seem to be doing much, Carrie feels compelled to intervene in the investigation.  Needing help, she enlists the Sunshine Village Mah Jongg players to help her sleuth.  I chose to use the Mah Jongg players because each has a separate personality but together they come together as a family – something that is important to Carrie.

What is the one thing you enjoy most about writing?

The most fun of writing is creating a story that entertains readers, but while I enjoy the process of seeing a story unfold from my imagination, I also am having a blast interacting with readers and other authors.

What authors do you like to read?

Of all the questions you’ve asked me, this is the most difficult one to answer.  I love to read and read everything I can get my hands on, but that means I have no one favorite author. Recent authors whose books I have enjoyed include Kristen Hannah, Linda Rodriguez, Hank Phillippi Ryan, T.K. Thorne, Janet Evanovich, and Jane Mayer.

What’s next for Debra H. Goldstein?

For the next few months, I will be traveling and speaking to book clubs, libraries and other groups about Should Have Played Poker. I am in the process of revising a new book, One Taste Too Many, that I hope will find a home in 2017, and I recently signed a contract for a new short story to appear in Alfred Hitchcock Murder Magazine.

01-sw-cover-july-2016-rev There is an excellent interview article about you in Southern Writers Magazine’s July/August issue. An interesting excerpt to me was…“T wo days after graduating early from the University of Michigan, Debra H. Goldstein went to the Big
Apple with two goals: obtain a job in publishing and get on Jeopardy. “In case things didn’t work out while I pursued these goals, I spent each evening during the first
few weeks typing applications to enter law school in the fall”. If you would like to read the interview visit  http://www.southernwritersmagazine.com/subscribe.html and order the July/August 2016 edition. Or email annabelle@southernwritersmag.com and order it.

I read your book, Should Have Played Poker and enjoyed it very much as did my husband. Looking forward to your next book.

Thank you for visiting. 

Be sure and visit Debra Goldstein at http://www.debrahgoldstein.com/ she will be delighted to hear from you. If you want a good read, order her books.