Books by Melissa Bowersock

Sunday, December 16, 2018

New Release: Ghost Walk Audio Book

And now for something completely different...


I'm happy to announce the release of Ghost Walk as an audio book! Ghost Walk was, of course, the first book in the series where Sam and Lacey first met and started working together, and narrator Laura Wilson does an excellent job of projecting all the wonder, excitement and tension of that time. If you haven't met Sam and Lacey yet, this is the chance to do so in a way that's alive and immediate. If you have been following Sam and Lacey's adventures, this is a way to revisit the original story in a fresh and different dimension. Let's go back two years to that fateful beginning...

Lacey Fitzpatrick is an ex-LAPD detective with an axe to grind. Tainted by the betrayal of her drug-dealing cop boyfriend, she's on a quest to prove to herself--and the world--that she's still a competent crime-fighter. In order to do that, she teams up with Sam Firecloud, a half-Navajo man who communicates with ghosts. With his talent and her research, they tackle troubling unsolved crimes, but their latest case is the toughest. They have to solve a murder--where no record of a murder even exists. Can Sam glean enough information from the victim's ghost to unravel the mystery, and can Lacey convince the authorities that the murder actually happened?

Ghost Walk has been garnering recognition and awards since it was first published, including:

2017 Finalist New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards
2018 B.R.A.G.Medallion Honoree
2018 Chill With A Book Readers' Award, Chill Premier Award, Chill Awards: PB Special Award

And the reviews from satisfied readers continue to come in: 

This is a well paced, well written book with characters you won't forget and is a wonderful start to a great series. If you like paranormal elements in your mysteries, you really need to check this series out.

This story grabbed me from the very beginning.I will definitely be reading more of this series, and from this author.

Enjoyed the well written paranormal book. I have now read all in this series which I seldom do.

I loved this book.

Great read!!!

I loved this book so much that I immediately purchased Book 2, Skin Walk!

This is the 1st book I've read by this author and I will definitely read more!!

I've read 10 of these 'Walk'er novels, and am pleased to discover there are a few more in the series. You will not be disappointed.

Can't wait to read the others in this series.

This is one of my favourite paranormal mysteries.

Up there with household names in detective fiction. Very much enjoyed this.

The eBook for Ghost Walk is always only 99 cents on Amazon. 

Stay tuned for audio versions of the rest of the books in the series. Next up: Skin Walk!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Self-Publishing Children's Books

Mrs Kangaroo's New BabyI know many people who have written, or want to write, children's books, but then may not know how to get them out there into the hands of waiting children. My particular experience started after my parents passed away and I was going through their files. My father was an artist and my mother was a teacher, actually almost direct opposites in temperament, so I was surprised and excited to find the layout of a children’s book written by my mother and illustrated by my father. It was very obvious the little project had never seen a publisher, so I determined to publish it for them.
Because the story was short and simple, appealing to younger children, I chose an 8”x10” paperback format for it — easier for small hands to hold, and the layout my parents had designed fit perfectly. Since the original work was done back in the 1950s, my parents had done a literal cut and paste — typing up the text on a typewriter, cutting the lines out with scissors and pasting or taping them onto the mat boards where my dad had drawn the illustrations. Lucky for me, the glue and tape held on after all these years, so it was easy for me to see exactly how they envisioned the set-up of the book.
Mrs Kangaroo's InteriorMy father had rendered the full-color cover for the book (above), and had hand-lettered the title. It was a simple matter for me to scan the painting into a jpg and add my mother’s name in a coordinating color and font style. I uploaded it to CreateSpace in the resolution required (at least 300 dpi) and created a back cover out of another painting my father did. (Since this original post, CreateSpace has announced they are closing, and KDP is taking over the self-publishing of paperbacks as well as eBooks.)
I scanned in all the old interior drawings and cleaned them up. It wasn’t hard to get rid of the small stains and smudges they had gathered over time and make them look like brand new. I used Paint Shop Pro, but there are several free image programs (like Gimp) that will work just as well. It was an easy matter to add the text without the laborious cutting and pasting, and I thought about how amazed my parents would be to see this way of making their old project new for the digital age.
I did end up putting each drawing and its related text on its own page rather than the three-to-a-page layout in the image above. I wanted each drawing to fill the page, and with a book this short, there was no reason to crowd the pages. The finished book was 24 pages long, just right for small minds at bedtime.
Because some of the story’s drawings were in color, I chose the color option for the interior, which unfortunately pushed the price up to $9.99, but I felt it was worth it. Interestingly enough, I was talking to a friend about this, and he suggested I remove the color and do the book as a coloring book! I thought that was a terrific idea, and I did that at a later date, not replacing this book but adding a new version of it. Not only did it cut the cost of the book, but it made it more “interactive,” in an old-fashioned and fun way. Because I also have hundreds of pencil drawings that my father did of various animals, both domestic and wild, I plan to do another themed coloring book without any story at all.
The great thing about children’s books is that they can be simple, fun and require much less gnashing of teeth than a 100,000-word novel. I would venture to say that many parents and/or grandparents might have ideas for stories like this, and it’s not that difficult to do. If you don’t know an illustrator or can’t find one within your budget, there are a lot of royalty-free images available on the web. Let your imagination run wild. You never know what you can create until you try. And your children (or grandchildren) will thank you.
Originally published by Indies Unlimited on April 7, 2015.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

New Release: Karma Walk

Just in time for Christmas! Got your shopping done? Tree trimmed? Ready to curl up by the fire with a cup of cocoa, a warm afghan and a good book? Here's your chance. I'm happy to announce the release of Karma Walk, Book 15 of the Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud Mystery Series. 

Here's the skinny:

Abe Sydlowski was a cop in Long Beach, California, and had a long, distinguished career—until he died. Now his ghost is appearing at a beach he used to patrol, and his brothers of the shield want to know why. Lacey Fitzpatrick and medium Sam Firecloud are called in but get one surprise before they even start. Daniel, Sam’s fourteen-year-old son, wants to work with them. When the trio goes to investigate, they find not one ghost, but two. Who is the young girl whose spirit haunts the beach with Abe, and what’s the connection between the two?

Sound intriguing? It is! And to celebrate, Karma Walk will be only 99 cents through December 9, 2018.   

If you're not yet familiar with Sam and Lacey, Ghost Walk, the award-winning Book 1 of the series, is always only 99 cents. 

Friday, November 30, 2018

"Wanna Be in My Book?" Contest Winners

A couple weeks ago, you may recall, I opened up a contest to (1) find nicknames for prostitute ghosts in my latest book, Bordello Walk and (2) the three winners would be IN my book; I will be using their real names as the real names of the prostitutes. Well, the time has come to announce the winners. I chose the names based on how closely they fit with the characters I was dreaming up, because you know, the story is the thing. So without further ado...


The winners are:

Michelle "Mai Oui" Schulter
Julianne "Shorty" Stewart
K.S. "Cookie" Brooks

The book is progressing and the characters are starting to come into focus. As you may have guessed, all three of these "soiled doves" come to unfortunate endings, but leave it to Sam and Lacey to bring them some vindication and salvation. In the meantime, our intrepid paranormal investigators will discover the shadowy underworld of Jerome, Arizona, during its heyday in the wild West. 

Bordello Walk (Book 17) should be out early next year, but in the meantime, Karma Walk (Book 15) will be released very soon, and Mystery Walk (Book 16) will follow, probably in January. I'm hoping the audio book of Ghost Walk (Book 1) will be available before Christmas. Is this too much Sam and Lacey? I hope not, because there's more to come!

Stay tuned!

Monday, November 26, 2018

That Boring Writing Research

Most of us writing fiction need to do at least some research. While we're making up characters, making up story lines, we do want the story to be as authentic as possible, ergo research. We may have to research an area, a city, some history. I don't know how many writers enjoy this aspect of our craft; it's not my favorite, but it is a necessity. Sometimes it's boring, or a slog through pages of history that don't apply. But sometimes, it's fun...

Recently I got an idea for a new book in my paranormal series, the Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud Mystery Series. The idea involves the ghost-hunting partners investigating a haunting problem in the tiny town of Jerome, Arizona. Never heard of it? Not to worry; most haven't. It was a mining town in the 1800s, collapsed when the mines ran out, and was barely a ghost town for decades. Then it was rediscovered by the artsy crowd who have now given it a second life. Still tiny by modern standards--the population is roughly 500--it is, however, crowded with... ghosts. 

Like any town that existed during the old West days, it had its share of lawlessness, gunfights, murders, suicides and fatal accidents. Added to that, though, were the consequences of being a mining town: cave-ins and explosions, robberies and murders, drugs and alcohol, prostitution and sickness. In 1903, the New York Sun called Jerome the "wickedest town in the west." The decades of being an anything-goes free-for-all resulted in a lot of ghosts. Lots. Of. Ghosts.

In order to do proper research, I decided I needed to take a Ghost Tour of Jerome. I know; it's a tough job, but some writer's got to do it.

My husband and I joined a small group in Jerome at dusk. It was mid-November and cold as hell. Jerome sits halfway up a mountain and there was a cold wind. Our guide gave us each a flashlight and a "ghost meter," some gadget that measures electrical activity. 

We went to several places that have recorded ghostly sightings--the Catholic church, a little park/garden next door, the red light district, what used to be the mortuary, the site of an explosion during the mining days. I took pictures at all of these, but never saw anything unusual in any of my pics. Boo hoo. However, one man (Bob) in our group did. He took a picture down an alleyway next to the old mortuary, and when we all looked at it later, we saw--yes--there was something weird there. 

See those light streaks at the bottom of the pic? There was nothing there, at least not in our dimension. And see that broad white swoosh above the columns of the fence? We don't know what that was, but none of us saw it in real time. That's me (silver hair) and my husband (green jacket) walking ahead of Bob's wife, and it looks like the thing flew right over our heads. I was particularly struck at the way the swooshie thing was so blurred, yet the columns of the fence were perfectly sharp and clear. It wasn't as if Bob had moved the camera, and it wasn't any reflection of light. We don't know what it was, but it was interesting to see it show up on the picture. 

Interesting enough to spur me on to start my new book. I'm already on Chapter 3, and going great guns. The working title is Bordello Walk. We'll see if that holds. 

Meanwhile, the audio version of Ghost Walk is very close to done. We just have a few tweaks to make, then it goes into the production process. I still hope to have it out by Christmas. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"Wanna Be in My Book?" CONTEST

I am getting ready to start writing Book 17 of the Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud Mystery Series, and this book will have the pair investigating ghosts in an old bordello in Jerome, Arizona. If you're not familiar, Jerome is an old mining town with a sordid past, plenty of fodder for the paranormal investigators. This case, however, will have them dealing with not one, not two, but three ghosts--all prostitutes from a bygone era.

Here's where you come in. I'm looking for names for these three ghosts. If you'd like me to use your name in my book, think of a nickname for the character (remembering she was a prostitute) and leave a comment on my Author Facebook page (not my personal page, please). I will choose the best 3 nicknames that fit the characters, and will use your names as their real names. How fun is that? 

I'll keep the contest open through the end of November, so put your thinking caps on and come up with a really catchy, cool, cute, bawdy nickname. I'll announce the winners on December 1, 2018.

Your character awaits!

If you're not yet familiar with Sam and Lacey, Ghost Walk, Book 1 of the series, is always only 99 cents, and it's won a bunch of awards. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Author Interview: Cindy

Today I’m sitting down with my friend Cindy to talk about her new book. The title is Can Anyone Tell Us Why? -- An intriguing title for a very complex subject.  

 MJB: Give us a brief overview of the book.  

 C:  Yes, this is a Spiritual tools book for positive change  towards more checks and balance in ourselves as well as government, corporate and the country and world as a whole  since we’ve been evolving into this Power and Greed era for several decades now. And it escalated in the Bush era that took America down into one of the worst recessions since the 1920-30s depression. And it took 8 years to slowly climb out by looking at the past and putting checks and balances back into play. It was a slow crawl but we did it and now we seem to be sliding back. I have always been in tune to God and he’s inspired me to write since I was young.  And he inspired me to take notes on a form of a balance scale system 20 years ago. Then he started to show me the imbalances in the world and dictated his desires for change. So this book is about balance and equality thru checks and balance using some of the tools in this book to give us ideas on how to reconnect to God to analyze where we are as an individual or family unit and the country as a whole if we are to survive as a balanced great country again.  I call the Holy trinity God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit Creator for simplicity to recognize we are all created from one source and are meant to live and create thru Creator to be the best we can. Not conquer and divide like were seeing now. Too many honor and worship  money more than Creator which created  this unbalanced mess were in, because we see the lopsidedness of power and greed which is  starving and  destroying mankind. There is too much judgement, greed and division because too many people worship money more than Creator and it shows in so many ways of immaturity, anger and self-entitlement issues that is strangling many and will take  us down  again. You cannot have the vast imbalances in money and society and expect God’s acceptance, this is part of the negative turmoil and its effects. It’s time to become more responsible and less judgmental in actions and words because these are transitional times of change. Leave judgement up to Creator; that’s his job. Remember Y2K when we all thought and felt it was the end of the world, well it was, but not what was propagandized toward us. It was end times for transitioning out of the power, greed and corruption era and honoring God and equality for all of his people. God will judge and separate those that are not on board. And as you see there are too many that are not and unfortunately still stuck in power or want control thru money which is way out of balance and tilting us towards destruction or some form of fascism if we don’t wake up and demand positive change from leaders or demand them to step down since that’s our constitutional right if they're not working for all of we the people. I quote the constitution and some biblical passages that prove these points.    

 MJB:  Our country seems so out of control lately, and I think many of us today feel powerless to change things, except in very few ways (like voting). Do you offer ways in which people can take control of their own lives and, by extrapolation, the world around us?  

 C:  Yes, we are out of control and there’s so much anger and hatred because people are being manipulated and controlled through money and fear tactics whether they recognize it or not their souls do and it causes dis-ease to downright hatred and instead of connecting within spiritually too many allow others to tell them how to think, act or believe in God, truth and justice so they act out. We must take a stand by strengthening our connection to Creator from within so he can guide us into commonsense and right action by knowing we are interconnected and created by one source so judgement and separation will never work. We need to make term limits in all government jobs and remove those that do not work for we the people as a whole according to the constitution. This is why they don’t teach it anymore and are removing God from everything and we have corruption, money imbalance and school shootings, etc., because the powers to be have taken God--our protection-- and truth away. They are dumbing down kids in schools and want to take women, children and the elderlys' rights away all because of power and greed mongers who think they know how to run this country with their self-entitled control issues. We still haven’t addressed the 2007 banking and wall st. issues and now they are removing all the checks and balances again to rape and pillage again and we must say no. Let’s  stand up and vote for truth and demand all politicians  over 2-3 terms to step down and remove their high salaries and pension plans that they voted in and doesn’t compare to the work they produce or is fair to us since too many barely survive. Where is commonsense and integrity?  

 MJB: That's a lot to think about and process. What do you hope readers will gain from your book? What might they learn, experience? What tools might they take forward with them?  

 C:  They will learn a balance scales system they can apply to their life, work, goals and it needs to be enforced in government and corporate thru checks and balance, through healthy evaluations of what works and doesn’t work or needs removed, updated and balanced. There are helpful hints on building self-esteem and healthy emotional health. As well as pointing out facts that have taken us down and God-given suggestions to create more balance in more areas to make things run smoother and more efficient. There are quotes from the bible that show the demise of worshiping money more than Creator. There are several quotes from God-centered  leaders like Lincoln, Einstein and others who had vision of the demise of power and greed; as well as  our  constitutional rights to remove those in power, greed and corruption to recreate balance if we are to survive as a healthy nation again. It’s time for all of us to become more responsible in all that we do, think, and act upon to create more balance, not division. 

 MJB: These are very complex, knotty issues, and they seem to change a bit day by day as events unfold around us. Did writing this book help you to come to terms with what’s going on around you? Did setting this all down give you a handle on it, or did it seem overwhelming?  

 C:  It was both sides of this. In the beginning I was just taking notes and it wasn’t as bad and exciting to try to improve the quality of life for all. But as the years starting proving that this book is necessary and Creator's words were getting heavier, I realized it was  more than I anticipated and it was coming out at the right time.  But in the last 2 years it is amazing how spot-on it is and needs to be addressed now. It’s a heavy subject, but  it’s  also heavy times that we need to transition out of if we are to survive or the next negative crash from this false economy build-up again could push us over the edge  and possibly into a takeover. The division in the last 2 years is scary and pushing us towards fascism or End Times as we know it.   

 MJB: I know you’re deep into healing, both on a personal level and a world level. What do you do to keep yourself uplifted?  

 C:  I pray and meditate for world peace daily and guidance from God and ride my motorcycle, enjoy  Mother Nature and advocate for justice in scenarios I feel I can voice  my opinions for positive change.

  MJB:  This is a pretty heavy book to follow up on, but do you have plans to write more? Perhaps about other subjects?   

 C:  Yes, I  didn’t realize how heavy this book would be until it started coming together as I was continually guided to all these areas to touch on for all of us to see truth and  internally evaluate ourselves as well as media  and government to analyze and create positive change  for truth, fairness, and justice for all, not just the top 10 percenters who have most of the money and Why? You can’t take it with you and it only continues the imbalances. God is watching and cause and effect issues will be dramatic so this is why it's key to stay as spiritually centered in these corrupt times because if you’re with God then he has your back always. Yes, I hope to write a fun book on the many travels on my motorcycle someday but this book was heavy to organize and deal with editors so I will be taking that on for a while.   

MJB: Thank you, Cindy, for taking the time to talk about all these important issues. If people want to find out more about you or contact you, how could they do that?

  C: I have my email on my author page at and my book is on Amazon and I’m on Instagram.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A Writer’s Bane: The Disease’s of Apostrophe’s

I first began to notice it many years ago. Some people had trouble with its and it’s, a common confusion. But then it began to spread, like a cancer, across Facebook and Twitter, those bastions of common usage and colloquialism. When it began showing up in writers’ forums, I knew it was reaching epic proportions. The virulent, creeping Disease’s of the Apostrophe’s.
  • “I bought some DVD’s …”
  • “How many like’s can I get …”
  • “Where can I promote my book’s for Kindle…”
I get it when it comes to the its and it’s. Most possessives have an apostrophe, as in Pandora’s box or Burke’s law. But pronouns (which it is) don’t — like his, her and their. The apostrophe in it’s is because it’s a contraction (of it is), not because it’s a possessive case.
Of course the vast majority of possessives do use the apostrophe. My father’s house. A child’s plaything. Any noun or proper noun will use the apostrophe when it’s in a possessive case. But those first examples singled out above? Where’s the possessive in any of those? There are no possessives and there are no contractions, ergo … NO apostrophe needed.
Just because a word ends in s doesn’t mean it needs an apostrophe.
To add to the confusion, in possessive cases, the use of apostrophes changes with the number of objects. A singular object, my sister’s book, requires the apostrophe between the noun and the s. However, if I have 5 or 10 sisters, and they all have books, then it becomes my sisters’ books — apostrophe after the s (which signifies the plural).
Then the whole issue devolves into the murk when we use the possessive of a noun that ends in s. Mr. Jones’s car. Strunk and White, in their Elements of Style, insist that we always use the additional s, and the Chicago Manual of Style says either with or without is correct, but they prefer the additional s, as well. There are some arguments against that, however. I’ve seen some discussions that insist that Strunk and White wrote almost 100 years ago and so are a bit outdated, and that the second s is never needed. Others say it depends on how the word is spoken. If the second s is spoken, it’s necessary in the written word. Phonetically, if we’re saying Mr. Jones-es car, we need the second s. If we’re saying Mr. Jones car, then we don’t. This is one area where it seems to come down to personal style. My own preference is no second s (seems cleaner to me), but obviously I’m not the one making the rules here.
Now, is all that perfectly clear?
Just make sure you get your apostrophe’s in the right place’s, and make sure you really, really need them. Remember, if your word’s are not possessive’s or contraction’s, they don’t need apostrophe’s at all. Don’t fall victim to the Disease’s of Apostrophe’s.
[If you need a refresher on the basics of apostrophes, please see Cathy Speight’s article.]
Originally posted on Indies Unlimited  6/2/2015.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

New Release: Gangster Walk

Yes, it's that time again. I'm pleased to announce the release of Book 14 of the Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud Mystery Series, Gangster Walk.

Here's the scoop:

Technical whiz kid Cameron Gregory is one of the richest men in America, but even all his millions can’t relieve him of a menacing ghost. Only medium Sam Firecloud and his partner, Lacey Fitzpatrick, can do that. Hosted in Gregory’s luxurious Hudson Valley mansion, the paranormal investigators expect this job to be a piece of cake, but no one expects their research to lead them into the mysterious disappearance of a mobster kingpin from almost a hundred years ago.

Sound like fun? Come along and share in the opulent setting, the mystery and the discovery. The ebook is just 99 cents through October 21, 2018 .

If you haven't been introduced to Sam and Lacey yet, the first book in the series, Ghost Walk, is always priced at just 99 cents. The reviews just keep coming:

Great read; addictive series...
Fast-paced and intriguing...
I have every book in this great series... 
I cannot get enough of your books...
Great chemistry...
A great mix of paranormal and sleuthing...

Monday, October 8, 2018

Author Interview: Madlyn Harwell

Today I’m chatting with my friend Madlyn Harwell about her new book, It's Who I Am: One Hippie's Life Story.  Madlyn and I share the background of being Baby Boomers and children of the 60s, so although I’ve not read her book yet, I have a feeling I will resonate to a lot of it. So let’s dig in.

MJB: Madlyn, give us an overview of what your book covers. Where does it take us?

MH:  The book begins at the beginning of my life and goes right through to the present day.  It is mostly a compilation of the many adventures and travels of my life as I lived it as a Hippie, counter-culture child of the 60's.

MJB: A woman after my own  heart. When did you first decide to write your story down? Was it something you considered when you were experiencing all that you did, or did the notion only come to you later on?

MH:  Oh, no, I never thought about writing a book about my life as I was too busy living it!  But often when I would tell a story from my life to someone, I would often hear "you should write a book".  And so a few years ago I began to think that might not be a bad idea, and then it gradually became something I intended to do one day.  As I have friends from many different times of my life, and I don't really talk all that much about my past, I thought that people would like to know the whole of it, not just the pieces they have experienced with me.

MJB: Was it easy or difficult to write? Or perhaps did that change from episode to episode?

MH:  It was really quite easy to write this book.  I was an English major in college, and write a lot of emails, so I am used to writing on the computer, and I am a fast typist.  I had made a pretty complete outline of the book some time ago, so I followed that pretty closely.  I wrote it all in about three weeks, while I was recuperating from my gall bladder surgery, and got to spend a lot of time at home.  It would flow really smoothly.

MJB: Nothing like writing your life story to get through the boring healing time when you're not allowed to do anything active. Which reminds me, I’ve found writing to very often be therapeutic. Did you find that? Did writing your story change the way you view your life?

MH:  I just felt so good recalling all those fond memories of my past.  So often we are all so busy with our present lives, we don't have time to reflect backwards.  I found I was reliving those memories as I wrote of them, even the difficult ones, and I just renewed my understanding that truly I have been protected and blessed in my life.

MJB: Okay, I have to ask—did you change any names to protect the innocent (or guilty)? Did you “soften” any of the incidents, or just tell the pure, unvarnished truth?

MH:   I only used first names in my book, but they are the real first names of the people I wrote about.  I pretty much told it as it was, and I divulged things in this book that most of my close friends and relatives have never heard from me before.  I told the truth, but didn't embellish some things, just stated them if they were pretty sensitive.

MJB: Do you think the 60s were a formative time for you? Did they influence far past the end of the decade? If so, in what way?

MH:  I pretty much just lived it as I did, as the times called for.  I did what I wanted, and the culture was such that it allowed for that.  My ideas and beliefs from that time lasted far beyond the 60's, though I did modify my behavior as I got older and wiser, and times changed.  Inside, though, I don't really feel all that much different now than I did back then.  I'm still open to new experiences, am as curious about things as I ever was, and feel nothing can stand in my way if there's something I really want to do.

MJB: Looking back on your life, what person or event influenced you the most?

MH:  Certainly my Aunt Fran, who I wrote about in the book, was the most influential person in my life.  I feel she saved me in so many ways, and taught me all the really important lessons we need to learn in life.  She was an inspiration.  And then hooking up with my husband John, who as an equal in every way, was always just as willing as I was to have a new experience, and was daring, I was really able to live a lot of incredible adventures.  And it was he who taught me how to be a survivor, and made me strong.

MJB: Did you learn anything about yourself in writing this book?

MH:  I always knew I was the kind of person who did what I said I was going to do.  When I said a few years ago that I was going to write a book about my life, it seemed a monumental task that I wasn't sure I was really up to.  In actually writing and finishing this book, I discovered that I could tackle even the biggest challenges and be successful in accomplishing them.  Now that I've done this, have crossed off all the items on my Bucket List, I feel I can now really take it a day at a time, and just relish the remaining moments of my life better without a big to-do list hanging over my head.

MJB: Wow, how many people can say they've crossed off all the items on their Bucket List? Not many, I'm sure. What might readers find interesting in your story? What might surprise them?

MH:  I think readers will find the stories of my travels the most interesting and entertaining.  They will be surprised at the way I went about those travels, not as a tourist, but more as an adventurer.  I think the darker times of my life, and some of the things outside the law I did will certainly surprise many of them.

MJB: Ooh, sounds intriguing! If anyone reading this interview today was thinking of writing their own memoir, what words of wisdom would you share with them?

MH:  Mostly, be organized!  Spend a good deal of time thinking back over your life before you ever begin to write about it.  Taking some writing and journaling classes will help tremendously too.  And when you are ready, make yourself a detailed outline, so you can stay on track and remember all the things you want to write about.  And taking Melissa's Self-Publishing class is a MUST!

MJB: LOL, thanks for the plug. I know a memoir is a very personal thing, often times a magnum opus. Do you have any plans to write any more? Add to the story, or try your hand at fiction?

MH:  No, I think this is it as far as writing any books is concerned.  I may take some more writing classes just because I enjoy the inspiration that a class environment encourages, and I just like to write.  I just do not have the imagination required to write fiction, so that is out of the question.

MJB: If not writing, what’s next for you? What adventures do you have planned?

MH:  I still have the travel bug, and still like to take a couple trips a year.  In March next year I'm going to Ireland with my cousin, in the Fall going to the Oregon coast with a travel group, and also my husband and I plan to go to Pagosa Springs in Colorado to enjoy the hot springs.  I like to take day trips too, just hiking to new places with my best Arizona friend, or going with Camp Verde's Parks & Recreation dept. on their day van trips. I have a new 6-month old puppy, in addition to our other two dogs, and I am devoting quite a bit of time to training him, as he is pretty irrepressible. I still enjoy experiencing anything new, even if its just trying out a new recipe or going to a new restaurant, or taking a class on something new at OLLI.  Life itself still seems to me to be an adventure in all its aspects.

MJB: So, in other words, there's no sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch for you! Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Madlyn. If readers want to know more about you or contact you, how could they do that?

MH:  You can email me at:

Monday, October 1, 2018

Exciting News!

I'm excited to announce that I've now entered into production to create an audio book for Ghost Walk and, ultimately, all the books in the Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud Mystery series. The narrator is a woman, since the stories are all told from the perspective of Lacey, and I had several very compelling auditions by women who wanted the job. After much deliberation, I settled on the one I thought best personified Lacey, and I have just received and listened to the first chapter. I think it's going to be awesome! We have some tweaks to work out, but overall I'm very happy with it, and I think it's just going to get better as we go along. I think this will open up a whole new dimension to the series, and will really make Sam and Lacey come alive. 

Reportedly, it takes about 4-8 weeks to finish an audio book, so it'll be a bit before I can announce the format is available, but stay tuned and I'll shout it out when it's ready. I want to thank all my lovely readers for making the series such a success, and look forward to spreading Sam and Lacey's fame with the new format. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Author Interview: Carla Williams

Today I’m sitting down with newly published author Carla Williams to talk about her book, Wildcat Women: Narratives of Women Breaking Ground in Alaska’s Oil and Gas Industry. That’s quite a mouthful and very intriguing. Let’s find out more about it.

MJB: Can you give us a brief overview of the book?

CW: Thank you, Melissa, for interviewing me about my book. It’s an honor. The book includes narratives of fourteen women who worked on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and satellite oilfields in Alaska in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and even in recent years. My own recollections are also discussed. It is the first book written about oilfield women in Alaska.

MJB: It sounds fascinating. What prompted you to write about such an obscure and unknown part of our history? What was the inspiration behind it? And do you have any connection to any of these women?

CW: Yes, it was super fascinating to interview the women and hear their stories. I also worked on Alaska’s North Slope oil fields, and even though my camp durations were shorter than the fourteen women, I could relate to what they said. Male authors who have books about Alaska’s oil and gas industry did not understand what women went through day-to-day, so, of course, the female experience was represented differently in their books. I wanted to add more detail to what these male authors wrote about.

I worked with five of the women, but the others I knew only slightly or had never met.

MJB: What kind of research did you have to do?

CW: I gathered information from the University of Alaska library in Fairbanks where I rummaged through boxes of archived materials that had not been cataloged yet. I had some of my own reference materials, but I also found information on the internet, even though a lot of that information never made it into the book. I would read something, then try to figure out if the material was relevant to my book and if it was interesting enough. I went down a lot of rabbit holes, but I enjoyed the research. I didn’t want to bore people before they got to the book’s interview section, yet I thought it was important for people to understand the background of Alaska’s oil development, so I researched the accuracy of those sections as thoroughly as possible.

Photo by Mary Katzke, Affinity Films

MJB:  I think that's very often the case with research: we may do more than we need, but even if it's not used directly in the writing, it still informs the writing. 

With the #MeToo movement that’s currently going on, did you find any parallels with these women fighting for a place in a “man’s world”? Were there instances of discrimination, bullying, abuse?

CW: Yes, there are parallels, but there are also differences. For example, women working through the unions earned the same wages as the men, so many women working on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline received equal pay for equal work. Discrimination occurred by withholding promotions and stereotyping physical abilities. Bullying and abuse were not tolerated. Managers had hard deadlines and to meet those deadlines everyone had to work as efficiently as possible and that meant working together. Managers in that environment were often union guys that made people toe-the-line with just their presence. The oilfield land back then was private property and still is today, so managers could send a person on the first plane out and ban them from setting foot on the property again. People respected that authority. People didn’t want to lose their lucrative paying jobs.

MJB:  Aside from the gender issue, what kind of dangers and challenges did these woman face just in the normal course of their work?

CW: Most dangers were no different from what the men faced. There was the extremely cold weather and the entire area was under constant construction, so workers looked after each other. Since people worked so many weeks together in close quarters, they became more like a family, so they treated each other like family. However, some women who arrived early in the 70s faced remarkable challenges. When one woman asked where she could go to the bathroom, her foreman handed her a bucket with a lid and it was no joke. She carried the bucket back to camp on the bus to empty. It was obviously humiliating, but if she wanted to continue working, that’s what she had to do. Women improvised and just muscled their way through the obstacles.

MJB:  I recently vacationed in Alaska and the landscape is monumental. What extra challenges did these women have to deal with in this remote location?

CW: Loneliness was a challenge for some women, especially supervisors and managers who couldn’t fraternize with the crews. In the book, it’s mentioned a couple time where women did not feel comfortable going to the dining room to eat. If they walked into the dining room, 300 to 400 men would turn their heads in unison to stare. The first time it happened to me, I felt uncomfortable, but I kept going to the dining room and they eventually got used to me showing up. So, some women ate in their rooms and thus missed the camaraderie at meals. Privacy was another challenge. Having different roommates was disorienting. Some were respectful of space and some were tolerable. Camp bathrooms didn’t provide much privacy. Construction camp rooms were sometimes extremely hot or cold and so sleeping was a challenge. Ice and wind-blown snow blocked the small windows most of the year, but it really didn’t matter, because the North Slope is dark for six months a year, which is rough on the spirit. For many years, women’s Arctic clothing was nonexistent, so we wore boy sizes or just walked around in oversized clothing that we duct-taped to fit.

MJB:  I think of myself as being fairly adventurous, yet I don’t think I could ever have taken on a career like this. What might prompt a woman to do this sort of work? 

CW: I think once the book is read in its entirety, a person understands the motivation for women. Yes, money was a huge motivator, but there were other reasons.

MJB:  Do you have a favorite story out of all of those in your book?

CW: One of the reasons why I finished the book (it took eighteen years) and didn’t just remain sitting in my closet forever was because the stories are all interesting. I know how difficult it was for the women to talk about their experiences. It’s so personal and sharing with the world is not easy. Each interview has a different personality. I’ve read them many times, and I still love to read them. They make me laugh and make me proud. Of course, I edited ad nauseum for redundancy, but the final versions I think are fresh and unique.

I always laugh when I read Katie Cotten’s interview. Her written voice sparkles and vivid images pop out of her words. And, I am always amazed at Irene Bartee and how she manipulated the most powerful men in Alaska…she chewed them up and had them for dinner. For a short time, I worked with Irene on the North Slope Contractor’s Association, and I thought she was one of the most interesting people I had met in my life, so confident and intelligent. Her smoky voice was mesmerizing, like hypnotism. The final interview of Samantha George, which occurred in 2015, is interesting because of the dichotomy of her not really having many obstacles, but at the same time, she had met only one female electrician on the North Slope working in her field. How could that be…in 2015? Debora Strutz’s interview pulls at the heartstrings. Readers feel her emotion and the way she intertwines Alaska Native Inupiat culture into her piece is fascinating. I could say something unique about each of the interviews.

MJB:  What kind of inspiration are these stories to you? Did writing this book, and getting intimately involved in the stories, change your own perspective or world view?

CW: When I interviewed the women, many over 18 years ago, I immediately recognized the interviewees were special. I knew I had a solid book, even back then. However, as time passed, the inspiration grew even stronger. Many women I interviewed felt their story was not worth telling at the time and asked me why I wanted to interview them for a book. Most started the interview saying they really didn’t have much to talk about…they just worked on the North Slope and that was it. In the book, I quote Velma Wallis, an Athabascan author, who says in her book, Raising Ourselves, “How can you write about the storm if you are still in it?” Maybe the women felt they were still recovering from the storm and needed more years to reflect. My goal was to get their stories on tape before they passed away or forgot over time. Two of the women passed away just a few years after my interview, Irene Bartee and Norma Smith, so I was happy I got their recollections.   

Nobody back in the early days thought they were breaking norms or were special. We were all trying to survive and make money. In Alaska, at that time, a person could be a bank president if they wanted. Old money in Alaska really didn’t exist like it did in the Lower 48. There were a couple of old families around, but opportunities seemed limitless. It was very inspiring to people who maybe didn’t have a college education or grew up in poverty. They saw the opportunities and grabbed them. It wasn’t that hard, so it seemed normal.

Today, with the #MeToo movement, I think both women and men have different perspectives on pioneering women, whether it’s in the movie business or the oil and gas industry. Spoken words from women are important to a civil society and the words we use to describe experiences can spark not only our own inspiration, but others as well. The ordinary woman has had centuries of having her voice shut down or belittled. I wanted to celebrate the woman’s voice. I wanted to tell about how women worked in 50 below zero weather and about how they thought of themselves and what made them laugh inside. I wanted young women to understand that equal pay for equal work could be the norm today and it’s worth fighting for.

MJB: If readers want to find out more about you, how can they do that?

CW: There are two pages about me in the “About the Author” section of the book.

MJB: And if readers want to contact you, how do they do that?

CW: People can contact me through my publisher, the University of Alaska Press.