Monthly Archives: September 2012
“Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Storm Warning)”
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to meet author Lynn Hallbrooks via the “WeWrite” Tribe on Triberr. I was immediately taken back by her wonderful personality and genuine desire to assist fellow writers. She is also half of the amazing writing team, David McKoy and Lynn Hallbrooks authors of Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Storm Warning). I was fortunate enough to be granted an interview with this dynamic duo.
Tell us a little about your background; how you both got started as writers and what made you decide to collaborate?
David McKoy: I was born in Dallas, Texas. Not long afterwards, we moved to Irving, Texas. In third grade, it was reported that I had a 12th grade reading level. By fourth or fifth grade, when writing, I was missing words, adding words and/or stringing words together that didn’t make sense. However, I excelled in Spelling. In Math, I transposed numbers. After more testing, it was discovered that I had a form of dyslexia. To some degree, it affects my organizational skills, so outlines are difficult for me. Despite all of this, I wrote some extracurricular poems and song lyrics while I was in High School.
I have a passion for history, in particular, Military History. While in Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) in High School, I was privileged to be taught by a few Vietnam Veterans. Their stories were not of glory – they kept it real. That combined with my own family history, I decided to delay enlist in the Navy.
While serving the U.S. Navy, I travelled around the world and learned a lot of hard life lessons. That, along with my collateral jobs in the Navy, led me to my current position of Security Officer (et al). I was part of a FEMA contract in 2005 which gave me an even greater insight into the security field. I was even moved to keep a personal journal.
Due to my security credentials, I prefer to stay out of the public limelight. That is why I defer most of the public relations to Lynn. It was a bright day when Lynn and I connected through mutual friends. Lynn has supported me through some troublesome times. So when she decided to change her life goals, I felt it was my turn to support her.
Lynn Hallbrooks: I was born in Elmira, New York. I was told that I was bit of a rebel. I wouldn’t stay put. I was either climbing on something or taking off for the neighbors’ house. I truly have no recollection of any of this. I do remember going to first grade in Mesquite, Texas…barely. Going through my school records, I can tell I loved to read…I got an Eager Beaver Reader Award. In High School, I wrote some short stories and poems outside of the assigned class work. I was in what could be considered ‘Honors English’. At my father’s urging I joined the JROTC, where I indirectly met David – he was in a grade ahead of me. Soon after graduation, I went into the U.S. Air Force where I learned the basics of how to be a Coding Specialist.
As a result of that training, I continued my career for the next twenty odd years. On occasion, I would do a few articles for career related journals. I didn’t seriously consider making writing a career until about three years ago. By that point, I had been working in the Health Information, aka Medical Records, field for over thirty years. I was really in need of a change, so I took a giant leap of faith and crossed over to writing. This was in part because of being inspired by a friend, Eddie Beesley, who authored Lucky Enough. As I followed his adventures of being an author, I thought, “I could do this”. After several discussions, David encouraged me to give being a writer a shot. As it turned out, all the ideas I had kind of hit a stone wall. Hearing this David said, “Well I’ve had these ideas running around in my head…,” David’s ideas seemed the most viable one for publishing. So a partnership was born.
You’ve obviously done very well as a team. Is it true that you both live in separate towns? How do you make the writing process work? What does your writing practice look like? (i.e. do you meet and work together? or write individually? does one do most of the researching? etc)
David McKoy: Thank you for your kind words. Yes we do live in separate towns. I use pen and paper to write. As I mentioned earlier, outlines are a problem for me. I write out the ideas as they come to me and review tactics to see if they are plausible. Sometimes, books or movies inspire a certain scene. Mainly I “keep it simple silly”. Then I match it up to the team. As for research, I have a basic library of Military History and Weaponry. I also have books by Glenn Beck, Richard Marcinko, and John Weisman in addition to a collection of Soldier of Fortune Magazines. My video library of war movies also helps out.
Lynn Hallbrooks: Yes, we do live in different cities within Texas. David mails me the stories he handwrites. I type them out. We talk on the phone a whole lot to hash out any issues as well as brainstorm. David knows his way around weapons and warriors but when it comes to doing on-line research, that falls to me.
Tell us a little about “Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Storm Warning) and where you found your inspiration.
David McKoy: Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Storm Warning) follows the adventures of a fictional CIA Special Operations team. The book begins with them being assigned a reconnaissance mission, which ultimately goes terribly wrong. The rest of the book delves into what went wrong and why.
The general premise came about from several ideas that I had from about ten years prior to beginning to write out the story. I was inspired in part by the ideals and writings of Glenn Beck and Richard Marcinko.
Lynn Hallbrooks: I’m glad these characters and ideas live in David’s head. *grins* – Seriously, our book is a mixed genre of Military/War and Politics. Members of the team, Call Sign: Wrecking Crew, are former Military Special Forces that get embroiled in a political firestorm.
What are your outlooks on writing and life?
David McKoy: Personally, I found that life can be very frustrating at times. I noticed writing has become really good stress/anger management therapy. Otherwise my television would have bullet holes in it because of the current political environment. Recent events have made me question what has happened to America since the time of the Founding Fathers. I thought our country was supposed to be run by Representatives of the People…meaning the Majority.
Belinda, if I may, I’d like to share a little something of my current frustrations. As an American, I am appalled by what I have heard about the recent terroristic events on American soil, 11 September 2012 and how our Lead Representatives have responded to the matter. However, I am not surprised. After all I predicted much of this would happen when writing our first book. In it I created a president who is above board much the same as George Washington and Ronald Reagan. One only has to read the book to see what happens to him and why. Are there more like him to take office? Will evil reign supreme or will good people say “enough”? Will they rise up and begin to take back their Country? All of this is in our future – both in book form and real life.
Lynn Hallbrooks: I look on writing as a job that takes time and dedication. An author has to often work around all the other things going on in their life. For me, that means taking advantage of every possible quiet moment when working on writing projects. This is not always an easy thing. I currently live with my friends and their children, my Godchildren. They are a very active family. So quiet time is a very precious commodity, thus I have no time to watch or listen to talk shows or keep up with current events, outside of Social Media, like David.
What do you like/dislike about the writing industry?
David McKoy: I dislike what in my humble opinion amounts to a political polarity among publishers. I could be wrong but I see more liberal leanings than conservative. Not only that, if a book will not make the publisher big bucks, it is not even considered. Of course there are rare exceptions…if a person is famous such as Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin then his or her Conservative leaning is overlooked for sake of garnering money.
Lynn Hallbrooks: I like, that as a rule, authors are willing to help out fellow authors. I dislike that many outside of the writing world have misconceptions about how ‘well off’ authors are. I’ve run across many authors who do not see a penny for their published works, yet they go on writing. Now you know what I mean about dedication.
What is on the horizon for both of you? Will there be a sequel to “Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Storm Warning)”?
David McKoy: Currently, I am either working on re-writes on book two or writing out thoughts in order to complete book three. There may possibly be more books but time will tell about that.
Lynn Hallbrooks: It is my sincere hope that we can get book two, working title, “Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Mount Up)”, published and out the proverbial door by the end of this year.
Where can we find your work? (Links) (as many as you like…I don’t limit the number ~ it’s all about you so I want to promote as much as possible!)
David McKoy: Belinda, I bow to my partner, Lynn on this one.
Lynn Hallbrooks: Belinda, it just so happens that I have been inspired to create a list for just such an occasion. *smiles sweetly*
Places where “Call Sign: Wrecking Crew (Storm Warning)” can be found for purchase in alphabetic order:
Other Places our book is located:
David McKoy: Now you see why I turned it over to Lynn. My mind boggles at all the places where our book can be found. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today. If anyone wishes to contact us, our e-mail addresses are on our website. Ha, bet you didn’t think I knew that did you, Lynn?
Lynn Hallbrooks: *Playfully bats at David’s arm* Yes, I knew you did. Belinda, thank you for taking the time to have your audience get to know us. We would love for them to visit our website and sign our guest book. We even have a place to say how you found us.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank both David and Lynn for sharing a bit about themselves and their wonderful work! Please stop by their various links and say hello!
“The only way you can
write the truth is to
assume that what you
set down will never be read.
Not by any other person,
and not even by yourself at
some later date.
Otherwise you begin
You must see the writing
as emerging like a long scroll of
ink from the index finger of
your right hand; you must
see your left hand erasing it.”
Sandra is such a wonderful author as well as being a wife, mom, owner of a small publishing company and a truly inspirational person.
I recently had the pleasure to interview Sandra about her writing and life.
Tell us a little about yourself and your work.
I grew up a farm kid in southern Manitoba. My parents encouraged us to read early and to stretch our boundaries. My grandparents had a small library, chock full of the classics, I was reading Kipling, Sewell, Twain, et al, in grade school – loved them! My favorite stories where oddly enough, the scary, thrilling, and mysterious ones. Okay, I was a bit of an odd child; which explains why I write in these genres now. I love to entertain, and I would come up with stories to scare my younger siblings. “Oh I know; what a horrible child – I’ve heard it all before. Really, it was all in good fun, and not one of them suffered any long-term effects. LOL”
Spurred on by my English teachers, these stories became written work which started to pile up in my locker. Every June, I would toss them because I didn’t believe people would consider them more than a lark. I ended up working at a large campus library while I attended university and afterward, I was responsible for the production of written material in the majority of my positions [mission statements, practices and procedures for ISO manuals, grant applications etc...].
Flash forward a couple decades later; I managed an Applied Behavioral Analysis team where my past writing experience became a huge asset. When we relocated, I was hired by my city’s Community Services to run a preschool literacy program for ‘at risk’ and ‘low-incidence’ children in our community. I have a son with special needs and saw a gap between my understanding of children on the spectrum and the general publics’ understanding. I decided to change this by writing a story about a child with autism, after which, my fabulous husband encouraged me to write at least one of the thousand story ideas I’d told him over the years. This was how Black Loon Lake came to print.
What does your writing practice look like? How has this practice changed from when you first started?
I carry a notebook with me everywhere, I also have a journal on my nightstand, so when I come up with a story idea, I draft character descriptions, setting, etc… then plot a loose outline. I’m a slow writer, and I conduct a lot of research before I “pants” the details or begin writing in earnest. I write something 6 out of 7 days a week for at least 30 minutes. During the week, I do have a routine of sorts – and will write for 2 – 4 hours a day, minimum. When I first began writing stories, I was much younger and I would go off where no one could find me and write for hours. As a parent, disappearing acts are impossible, so I use the time while they are in school to focus on my work.
You wear several hats, you are a mom, an author and also run a small publishing company, Purple Birch Publishing.Tell me a bit about how you manage to juggle everything?
Wow I sound busy! LOL Loose routines help. I say loose because our lives are unpredictable and I have to be flexible enough to go with the flow some days. I try to get all my errands/chores/dinner prep done within the first 2 hours of dropping of the kids at school. My Crockpot is my best friend! This leaves me 3 hours to write, read or conduct research. I find arriving an hour early at my children’s school, to be productive; while I wait in my vehicle, I read or write notes. It helps me to focus, there’s no distractions, no computer, no unwashed laundry etc… just me and my books. It’s amazing how much you can get done in a week. I’ve just begun using Audio books, and I will ‘read’ a book while I run my errands or do housework – it’s awesome!
In the evening, I’ll write, read or tend my administration. I try to get a good night’s sleep during the week because by Friday night, I’m bagged! My advice; make a plan, keep it real – not too crazy, stagger what needs to be done on certain days, and don’t sweat the small stuff. So you’ve got dust bunnies the size of a cat under your bed – big deal! They’ll still be there tomorrow
Where do you find your inspiration?
My inspiration can come from anywhere, or anything. I’ve had life experiences which have provided inspiration, ideas can flow from dreams, nightmares, or something I’ve read in the news. A conversation with a friend or an encounter at my local Starbucks may plant the seed of a story. I keep a notebook with me – so if an idea strikes, I write it down. If it still looks good in a week, I loosely plot it, make a list of items to research and get to work.
What is your outlook on writing and life?
Be flexible – be open. Life is unpredictable, you have to be malleable if it throws you a curve – if not; you may miss out on a great opportunity. It’s my belief writing has to be viewed the same way. If you’re too entrenched in the dos and don’ts, and it can squash creativity. If you’re passionate about what you do, you’ll be successful – period. You may not make a ton of cash, you may not have a large readership BUT you’ll be doing what you love. What better definition of success is there?
What do you like/dislike about the writing industry?
I loathe the marketing; it feels a little like spamming to me. There’s no magic bullet, you have to put yourself out there even if you’re a true introvert [like me]. I’m not one to jump up and down, wave my hands in air, and shout “look at my book, look at my book”, I’m more the “I’ve written a book, here’s where to find it; I hope you enjoy it. Have a great day!” LOL
I LOVE the writing, the research and developing friendships with like-minded individuals. I’ve met some of the best people because I chose to put words on paper. The camaraderie and generosity of the Indie world is amazing. It’s my comfort zone when I encounter a bump in the road. Some of my connections will be life-long, and that’s a great feeling.
Where can we find your work?
I will be placing my work in Amazon Select program soon. Therefore, my titles will be found exclusively on their site:
Black Loon Lake [thriller/horror novella]by the way…the kindle version is currently free [in case anyone is curious].
The World According to August: One Good Friend [picture book]
Thank you for this opportunity Belinda, you’re such a talent yourself, it’s been an honor to be here. All the best to you and your followers!
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Sandra for taking time out of her busy schedule to share with us. Please check out Sandra’s website www.authorslcoelho.com
“You learn from music, from watching great athletes at work — how disciplined they are, how they move. You learn these things by watching a shortstop at work, how he concentrates on one thing at a time. You learn from classic music, from the blues and jazz, from bluegrass. From all this, you learn how to sustain a great line without bringing in unnecessary words.”
You wake up one morning and something just isn’t quite right. You open the drapes and what you see confuses and astonishes you….you have woken up in a different decade. When have you woken up? Is it 50 years ago, or 50 years in the future? What do you witness? Describe what happens next.
Get creative and have fun!
Contemporary abstract artist Danielle Davis is a brilliant artist whose work evokes a feeling of serenity while engaging one’s intellect and spirit. I recently had the wonderful opportunity to interview Danielle and gain insight on what motivates and inspires this amazing artist.
“Abstract painting is a visual language that communicates our broader reality, inspiring understanding, connection, and exploration of subject. Color, form, and movement are presented as an exploration of how we relate to ourselves and the world through our senses. Themes presented in my work come from direct observation and point of view, and are expressed in abstract forms, reflecting a larger perspective: absolutes are the questions themselves.”
~ Danielle Davis
Tell us a little about yourself and your work…
I have always had a creative personality and was encouraged to explore it during childhood. It’s been with me ever since. The head space of seeing things, taking them and creating something entirely new to express an idea is a staple of my psychology from that early cultivation and freedom to indulge in it. I have explored a variety of styles, in the end it was always painting that I connected with most. Over the years it has been the constant and creatively speaking my one true love. There is something magic to me in the hand-craft of a brush or knife that always, along with whatever the piece is discussing/showing includes that touch of living humanity. An art piece is so much more than just what it appears to be. An expression of so many things that are connected to it’s every part. For me it really is a unique language that bridges the gap between the known and unknown.
Though actually creating art has been a constant, the selling of it has not. Over the years I would go on and off with spurts of small shows and private sales but a couple years ago I hit a point where it just clicked and I realized a thread that existed in my works. A larger statement I wanted to build from. As a result, I began to develop solid goals and I have worked on developing them. It’s been extremely fulfilling so far and I am excited to keep moving forward!
What does your average creative/work day look like?
Busy to say the least. I actively create new work so each day, first thing – I work on the piece or series I am involved in. Secondly, I take an allotted time to sketch new ideas, experiment with styles or research for future projects. It’s very important to me that those two items are done ‘every’ single day. Creativity is like a muscle in my opinion. It needs to be exercised the same way an athlete trains for a sport to maximize its results. I sell the majority of my own work,which, entails maintaining my own website and social media sites, so time is set aside for updating pages, networking, answering inquiries, taking care of any sales etc. I also dedicate an hour each day researching sales/marketing and a bit of additional time to journal how I could incorporate what I’ve learned that day into my own plans. Basically, I like to keep a healthy steady flow of both creative and business activity each day.
As an artist, what inspires and motivates you?
The bulk of my work is a study of understanding through ourselves and the world around us in the purest ways possible, so I am inspired by countless things. From the extremely large, down to the smallest details. Mainly I am drawn to looking at how things work or appear, what makes them tick and what that could mean. Getting to that place for me requires a great deal of silent time. Isolation while I am developing things is a key aspect of my work. Experimentation is another integral part. Just seeing something isn’t enough, a firmer ground of understanding always leads to a question so exploring the unknown in a more open way is just as important. I am motivated by the idea of evolving. That is the grand goal for me. My art is a manifestation of that.
What is your outlook on art and life?
Art to me is the greatest communicator. Each style and work its own unique language. I have a great appreciation for all things creative. I look at creating and viewing in very different ways though. As an artist, I am extremely systematic and disciplined as a creator. I have very specific processes and boundaries for each work. I do not run as a very free spirit when I create. For me it’s definitely a discipline I consider an extension of my personal growth. As much as it is art, it is also part of my processing the understanding of the world. I save the open side for the planning but very confined in my actual constructing the pieces. Things must be just so and if something isn’t working I could very well scrap the whole thing and begin again. As a viewer I am opposite. I love to swim in the works I am seeing and can get any number of things from them for myself as well as seeing things in it from the artist’s point of view. Art fulfills many sides of life for me. A teacher as well as a student.
I am more keen on certain arts than others as a fan. I love anything eccentric. Eccentricity is a virtue and many arts people find strange (even for the art world) I seem to just adore. I love the guts that strange beauty reveals. I go for the internal effect it can have on me. Paintings I love for that special connection I have. It’s amazing to explore the works of other painters and view the world through their eyes. I love sculpture, again with the adoration of hand-crafting. I like works with a raw edge to them and am more drawn to work that doesn’t look mass-produced. I want to see the soul in it, feel the earth that brought it to life. I want to know its art. Not just a product being passed around the marketplace to end up in an eventual landfill, but art that reaches inward and converses with my conciseness. Something to be treasured. That idea is one of the reasons I love graphite artwork especially. In an image the talent of the artist can have it looking so precise, so real you could think it is a photograph. but in person you can see it’s graphite. The soul of it shows the life in the hand-craft hand in hand with the perfection of a realistic human eye view. It’s intensely beautiful. Art should be beautiful. The beauty should come from a place far away from superficial aesthetics and remind you that you are alive.
I suppose I feel the same about life. Careful when constructing to reach a certain balance or goal and free as the day is long to explore, adventure and experience anything that reminds me I am alive.
What is the most memorable response you have had with regards to your work?
All my favorite responses are from those who feel affected or connect to the work in a personal sense. For me knowing something has sparked something in someone or resonated with them in a personal way is like a handshake with the universe. An affirmation of life. I have had some not so great memorable responses too. Some have a difficult time seeing through a lens that isn’t mapped out for them. In those cases though, something had them looking at art they are not usually inclined to view so there is something guiding them toward it. I see that as a positive even if they are not able to touch that place at present and recognize it. They are on an open path.
Where can we find your work?
My artwork is always available directly through me on my website at:
With special suggestion to check out Galri-Montaj: http://galrimontajnouvel.com/2013/10/29/danielle-davis/ where I have recently exhibited series available exclusively for them, all of which I am very proud of.
I would like to take the time to thank Danielle for sharing with us a little about her life and art. Please stop by her links to see more of her brilliant work!
“Writing a first draft is like groping one’s way into a dark room, or overhearing a faint conversation, or telling a joke whose punchline you’ve forgotten. As someone said, one writes mainly to rewrite, for rewriting and revising are how one’s mind comes to inhabit the material fully.” ~ Ted Solotaroff