Monday, February 8, 2016

A Character Interview with Hannah from HANNAH: BRIDE OF IOWA plus a conversation with author P.A. Estelle!

Today we're bringing something different to Writing in the Modern Age in the form of a character interview.  These character interviews, now and in the future, should prove to be very enlightening for all of us. 
We have the pleasure of meeting Hannah Brown, a character from Hannah: Bride of Iowa. 

We'll get a chance to talk to the author, P.A. Estelle, in a bit, but now we have on the stage...Hannah! 


Marie Lavender:  Hello, Hannah.  Please have a seat.

Character Hannah Brown:  Hello, Marie. Thank you.  It's a pleasure to be here.  

Marie:  We're going to start out with some simple questions, okay? 

Hannah:  All right.

Marie:  So, what is your occupation? Are you any good at it?  Do you like it?

Hannah:  I never worked outside the home.  I did work in the fields on my parent’s farm.

Marie:  I see.

So, tell us...what is your family like?

Hannah:  My parents were the most wonderful people in the world.  My father, though, worked his fields from sun up to sun down, and sometimes, when hard times hit, he worked for other farmers.  But in the evenings he talked and laughed and played his guitar and sang some songs.  My mother was a loving and compassionate woman…..until my father died.  She seemed to die with him.  

Marie:  So sorry to hear that. :(  

Let's try a different question. What did your childhood home look like?

Hannah:  We had a small farm in Little Valley, New York.  It consisted of twenty acres and we grew corn.  

Marie:  All right. 

Do you have any hobbies? What do you enjoy doing? 

Hannah:  I didn’t have any hobbies.  My pa taught me to play the guitar and I enjoy that very much.

Marie: Nice! So, what is your greatest dream, Hannah?


Hannah: I went to Iowa to be a mail order bride to Samuel Morrison.  He has a three-year old daughter, Lizzie.  My dream is to be a wonderful wife and mother to them.


Marie:  I have no doubt that will happen. :) 


Let's try another question.  


What kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?


Hannah: A secret that I carry is what stops me.  If found out, I could lose everything I have come to love.


Marie:  Well, I have to admit I'm intrigued, but I see this causes you a lot of pain and I respect your privacy. 


Let's move to a different question.


Who was your first love? 


Hannah:  Samuel Morrison. 


Marie: Ooh, I love a good romance! ;) 


So, tell us. What's the most terrible thing that ever happened to you, Hannah?


Hannah:  Jed Sleuter.  He is the man my ma married after pa died.


Marie:  I sense there's a story there... 




Let's try something else, shall we?




What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved that dream, why not?


Hannah: All of my dreams died when my pa died.  It is amazing what happens to innocence when something like that happens.  


Marie: Again, I am so sorry for your loss. :( 


(Pats her guest's hand.)


Who is your role model, Hannah?


Hannah:  My ma.  Even in her state of near death, she saved my life! 


Marie: Okay. Let's try a different question.


Is there someone you pretend to like but really dislike?


Hannah:  There was a man in Iowa that I met when Samuel and I were going home.  I tried to be polite, but he scared me.  I would find out just what kind of horrible man he is when he kidnaps me.


Marie:  How horrible! I'm sorry that happened to you. :( 


So, what is your deepest desire, Hannah? 


Hannah: That Samuel never finds out about my deception. 


Marie: All right. What is your greatest fear?


Hannah:  That he does!  


Marie:  I'm sure everything will work out.


Well, it looks like we're running out of time, Hannah. Thank you for visiting us today.


It was so interesting getting to know you.  (Waves at her guest as he heads off the stage.) Now, let's shift over and get the author's perspective.  We have P.A. Estelle on the stage today! Can I just call you Penny?


Hi, Penny! 

Author Penny Estelle:  Hello! It's so nice to be here!

(Smiles.) Welcome back to Writing in the Modern Age!

So, we just got to talk the female main character from your story...Hannah.  Quite an interesting character. Can you tell us a little about her? 

Penny:  She is a girl that at a young age was dealt a bad hand.  She did what she had to do. 

Marie:  All right. 

Let's try a different question. 

What are your character's greatest strengths?

Penny:  She has great strength of character, is loving, and will all she has to give to the right person.

Marie:  Certainly admirable! 

So, what are her greatest weaknesses?

Penny:  I’m trying to think of a weakness she possesses and am coming up with nothing.

Marie:  Well, she is keeping a big secret... ;)

So, what's a positive quality that your character is unaware he or she has?

Penny:   Her self-worth and honesty.

Marie:  All right. Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?

Penny:   Readers will fall in love with her.  She is everything good in a person.  Something we all strive to be!

Marie:  Certainly!

Well, now that we have a real taste of Hannah Brown, we have a few questions for you as well as the author.

What first gave you the idea for Hannah: Bride of Iowa?

A group of authors came to me and asked if I would be interested in a project that would have a mail order bride for every state.  These brides will all be connected some way to a prequel that happens in Massachusetts.  A textile fire makes these women unemployed so a matchmaker steps in and offers them a chance to become mail order brides.  I jumped at the chance and since I was born in Iowa, that’s the state I grabbed.

Wow, that's great!

So, what is your writing style like, Penny? Are you a pantster or a plotter

Both.  I start a story with very little plotting – I just need characters, but when I’m into it about 4 or 5 chapters, I go into plotting mode. 

Nice! Isn't it wonderful how the muse works?

All right. I'm throwing this one in for our aspiring writers. 

Did you come across any specific challenges in writing Hannah: Bride of Iowa, or getting it published? What would you do differently next time?

Penny:  Choosing Iowa was an easy choice as I have a million cousins that live there.  I could go to aunts and uncles and my own mom for research.

Challenges - Ugh!  The story had to be 35,000 – 45,000 words.  I’m not used to that.  I had to keep checking to see if I was under or over.  Working with this many authors was also different.  Truth be told, these authors have more of a following than I do and I was worried my story wouldn’t hold up….BUT, I’m happy to say I kept right up with the big dogs!  We all self-pubbed our stories and put them on KU for starters. All were priced the same.  It was a wonderful project and I would do it again in a second!

Marie: I see. Yes, word count can be a problem sometimes. 

But, I'm so glad it worked out for you! This sounds like a great series!

It was such a pleasure having you on Writing in the Modern Age again, Penny. We hope you can come back sometime soon!

Penny:  Thank you for having me here.

Marie:  Of course! :)

Readers, here is a blurb for Hannah: Bride of Iowa.

Hannah, Bride of Iowa is book twenty-nine in the unprecedented 50-book American Mail-Order Brides series. 

Samuel Morrison, a farmer from Iowa, is in need of a wife and a mother for Lizzie, his three-year old daughter. He reads an article from Massachusetts advertising mail order brides. He writes to the agency stating he’s looking for a partner who will work by his side and, hopefully, come to care for him and be a loving mother to Lizzie. Hannah Brown responds to his letter. Though she doesn’t say too much about herself, Samuel decides to take a chance and asks her to come to Iowa. This woman is everything he wants in a wife and more -- or so he thinks. Hannah has a secret that, if revealed, could devastate their future. If Hannah tells Samuel, will he send her away? She could lose all she’s come to cherish. Is Hannah willing to take that chance? 

Rated PG/Sweet (some language, kissing, all intimacy behind closed doors)  

Here is an excerpt from the book. 

The man who greeted her was fairly short in stature with gray sideburns and an upper lip and chin covered with stubble. He wore a dirty floppy-brimmed hat and his body was lean and muscular for an older man. His arms and face were dark and leathery from the sun. His clothes looked clean, though they were ripped in a few areas, but the distasteful smell that so many men had, was absent from this man. 

“Howdy. What can I do for you, ma’am?’ 

Maddie jumped down from the wagon and approached the man. “Mr.?” 


“Mr. Slim, I…” 

“No Mr., just Slim.” 

"Slim, I need to get a train ticket to Pennsylvania. The ticket was more than I had anticipated. I find I must sell my mule and wagon.” 

The man stepped to one side looking passed her at the rickety wagon and old white mule. “Can’t use ‘em.” He turned to walk back into the livery, dismissing her. 

“Sir, please!” She ran in front of him, blocking his way. “I have no family left and no place to turn. I’m supposed to go stay with cousins I’ve never met and I can’t even get there.” Tears welled up in her eyes and her lower lip quivered. Maddie swallowed a lump of emotion so she could speak. “Sal is all I have left in this world. I can’t just leave her uncared for.” 

Surprise, or maybe fear, registered on the old man’s face. He held up his hands and took a step backwards. “Now, little lady, there ain’t no need to take on so. You need to calm yourself right down. Thing is I just ain’t got no money for that old bag of bones.” 

Tears slipped from her eyes, making dirty paths down her cheeks from the dust of the night’s ride to Jamestown. She didn’t care. “Mr. ...I mean, Slim, you don’t have to pay me. Sal doesn’t have much time left on this earth and she doesn’t eat much. She wouldn’t be any bother at all.” The last few words were muttered as a fresh wave of tears fell.

Purchase Links:

Amazon Universal link:


Readers, don't forget to pick up a copy of P.A. Estelle's awesome book!

About Penny Estelle:

I write for all ages, from the early reader to adults.  My books range from pictures books for the little ones, to fantasy, time-travel adventures for ages 9 to 13. I also write adult stories, including a family drama and contemporary, paranormal and historical westerns romances, under P. A. Estelle. 

I was a school secretary for 21 years.  My husband and I moved to our retirement home in Kingman, AZ, on very rural 54 acres, living on solar and wind only. 

Author Links:

Penny's Books:

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Author's Bookshelf: David Chandler

We're bringing something a bit different to Writing in the Modern Age today. Awhile back, I had an idea for a new feature and I reached out to some author colleagues to see if they'd like to participate. I thought it might be nice to show readers a few books that have inspired authors. You might find it enlightening, and at least be able to answer the age old question, "What the heck do authors read?"



Writers are readers too! Most authors love to collect books for their vast personal libraries. The written word is fascinating to us, and many newer authors as well as those in the past have helped to shape who we are today. 

Without further ado, our guest today is David Chandler, a talented dystopian, horror, dark fantasy and sci-fi author. Won't it be interesting to hear about a few books that have inspired him on his writing and publishing journey? Or some he recently read, and what he thinks about them?



Sounds pretty awesome to me. So, take it away, David!



1. Fool Moon (The Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher




Could a werewolf be loose in Chicago? Common sense says no. The grisly evidence says yes. So does Harry Dresden. And with his weird connections, he should know.


David's Thoughts:


Jim Butcher is an amazing author. I like the idea of a magic user living in urban Chicago solving crime and working hand-in-hand with the authorities. It's sort of different. 


2. Night Life (Nocturne City) by Caitlyn Kittredge




The first book in a thrilling, addictive new series by a talented new voice in dark fantasy. Welcome to Nocturne City, where werewolves, black magicians, and witches prowl the streets at night…
Among them is Luna Wilder, a tough-as-nails police officer whose job is to keep the peace. As an Insoli werewolf, Luna travels without a pack and must rely on instinct alone. And she's just been assigned to find the ruthless killer behind a string of ritualistic murders―a killer with ties to an escaped demon found only in legend…until now.
But when she investigates prime suspect Dmitri Sandovsky, she can't resist his wolfish charms. Pack leader of a dangerous clan of Redbacks, Dimitri sends her animal instincts into overdrive and threatens her fiercely-guarded independence. But Luna and Dimiri will need to rely on each other as they're plunged into an ancient demon underworld and pitted against an expert black magician with the power to enslave them for eternity…


David's Thoughts:


This novel was okay, though I don't know if I would name a female werewolf "Luna", but I suppose that is neither here nor there. Luna Wilder is a detective, with an attitude going around insulting people unnecessarily, which took away from the premise of the story. 


3. It by Stephen King




“A landmark in American literature” (Chicago Sun-Times)—Stephen King’s #1 national bestseller about seven adults who return to their hometown to confront a nightmare they had first stumbled on as teenagers…an evil without a name: It.

Welcome to Derry, Maine. It’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real.

They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But the promise they made twenty-eight years ago calls them to reunite in the same place where, as teenagers, they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city’s children. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that terrifying summer return as they prepare to once again battle the monster lurking in Derry’s sewers.

Readers of Stephen King know that Derry, Maine, is a place with a deep, dark hold on the author. It reappears in many of his books, including Bag of Bones, Hearts in Atlantis, and 11/22/63. But it all starts with It.

“Stephen King’s most mature work” (St. Petersburg Times), “It will overwhelm you… to be read in a well-lit room only” (Los Angeles Times).


David's Thoughts:


Stephen King was always one of my favorite authors. Though he can be a little too long-winded in his descriptions, he will always be the master of horror. This was especially frightening, childhood friends reuniting to fight off Pennywise, the Clown...a representative of everything they feared.

4. Teeth of Beasts (Skinners) by Marcus Pelegrimas



Twilight fans hungering for more vampire/werewolf drama can look forward to Skinners.”
 —USA Today

There are werewolves in the subways! Teeth of Beasts, Marcus Pelegrimas’s third dark, violent, action-packed Skinners paranormal adventure, is a must for Jim Butcher and Laurell K. Hamilton fans, for Halo aficionados, and for anyone who loves a good, gory, supernatural story that creeps under the skin. Bram Stoker Award-winner Jonathan Maberry calls Pelegrimas’s series “A hell of a lot of fun,” and the latest chapter goes to glorious new extremes, with vampires, shapeshifters, savage inhuman beasts, and all manner of terrifying things that go bump in the night.


David's Thoughts:


I read the novel a few times, and at first, I thought it was a vampire novel, but I had to read it a few times just to get the general idea of the story arc. It was pretty good overall.

5. Cold Days (The Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher



After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad. Because he is no longer Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard.

He is now Harry Dresden, Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. After Harry had no choice but to swear his fealty, Mab wasn’t about to let something as petty as death steal away the prize she had sought for so long. And now, her word is his command, no matter what she wants him to do, no matter where she wants him to go, and no matter who she wants him to kill.

Guess which Mab wants first?

Of course, it won’t be an ordinary, everyday assassination. Mab wants her newest minion to pull off the impossible: kill an immortal. No problem there, right? And to make matters worse, there exists a growing threat to an unfathomable source of magic that could land Harry in the sort of trouble that will make death look like a holiday.

Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent the annihilation of countless innocents, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own…His soul.


David's Thoughts:


Jim Butcher does it again. In this story arc, Harry Dresden is murdered, but brought back to life in another realm (I guess you could call it that). I thought it was another masterpiece. In fact, I'm still not done reading it.  


Thank you, David!


And here is a little about David's latest book, The Hunter's Moon

Book Blurb:


Colorado college detectives Malenski and Reinhart investigate the brutal slayings of two college students at an abandoned resort, which leads them into the research of Doctor Walter Gorman--a world-renowned microbiologist and genetics researcher working for an anti-terrorist task force in the United States Government. Gorman was in charge of a research project that involved the usage of the retrovirus S-12. The virus was designed to force the human body to produce a certain type of white blood cells, enhancing the immune system. But after exposing the virus to two lab assistants, Gorman later discovered that there was more to his research than he thought.


About the Author:

David Chandler has been writing contemporary science fiction and fantasy since elementary school. He is currently working on a novel series called Men of Renown. He is living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Thanks for letting us take a peek at your author's bookshelf, David! It was a pleasure having you here! :)