Monday, November 23, 2015

Thank You, Osiris...

I'm very sad to say that I've had to put down my best furry friend.

This is about the only place I know of, where I can talk about it like I need to. Want to. Have to. He was so much more than just "my pet cat". Some will understand, others won't, but that's okay.

My husband found him when he was a baby. Still had blue eyes. They had a rat eating insulation at his work, so he was instructed to put up a live trap. The first night, he set it up and the next morning came in to find a orange, spitting ball of fur. That was Osiris. The next day, hubs caught his sister. We didn't keep her for very long. That's another story entirely.

But my husband found him shortly before we started dating. So I knew him when he was a little fluff ball, too.

He was 15 years old when we put him down.

He moved everywhere with us. We moved from Arizona to Alaska, we brought him on the plane and the car trip from Anchorage airport to our new home. Then, when we left Alaska, he went with us, too. He and Gir were in the truck with us. Hubs had built them a special box that was behind the cab, extended out to give them a place to sleep as well as kitty box accessible. When we stopped to eat, drink or rest, they ate and drank, too. Osiris didn't like it much, he stayed in back, complaining the whole way, but he was with us. No matter what. Gir loved the trip, though and because she was there, I think it made him more adventurous at times. He didn't want to be shown up by a girl.

Fifteen years. That is a very, very long time. We loved him, we spoiled him. Just like we spoil Gir.

There were so many times I've been sad, depressed, not wanting to get out of bed and face the world, and he was there with me. Curled up against me, letting me cry into his fur and purring the whole time. He never judged. He knew when I was sad, and would just be near me. When I knew he wasn't doing well, when he was sick, I babied him like he was a kid. He couldn't drink water from the tap, it made him sick. So we bought a filter right away. Near the end, he didn't have the energy to eat the dry food, so we fed him canned. He would just meow when he was hungry, follow us to the kitchen and eat.

He was my best, furry friend. I miss him horribly. Our hearts are broken. Our house is too quiet. Gir keeps calling for him and won't leave my side and curls up next to hubs when he's home. We definitely have a hole in our lives that will take a lot of time to heal. Everyone who met him, liked him right away, even fell in love with him right away. So many people. All it took was one pet of that super soft fur.

All you had to do was look at him and he'd purr, even when he was curled up, asleep on the bed. He gave the best hugs and loved to give you his belly to rub.

I'm going to miss him very, very much.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Fantasy Book Reviewers...

Of course, with Book Two being out now, I find I have more time. That and grandkidlet is in daycare. Hooray!

More time = more posts. I hope!

So back to the topic.

I'm looking for reviewers for book two, Veritas. It is preferable if you have read book one, Adversarius. It's sort of a pre-requisite.

With that being said, if you would like to review book two, but have not read book one, I'll happily supply it.

In the past, I have asked for reviews and have offered up the book for free. I'm still willing to do that. I don't mind. But if you're just looking for a free e-book, hey, I don't mind that either. If you are truly interested in my books and don't have pocket change to buy a ton of e-books, please contact me. I am not looking to get rich, here. I've had this story in my head for well over 20 years now. (20 years!!!) I want to share it with everyone.

You're talking to a person who subscribes to BookBub to find the free deals. I have a whole series of books waiting to be read because I'm only missing one or two. If I find a series I REALLY like, I try to reach out and find out if someone can lend it to me.

I'm not a penny-pincher. Okay, well, I am. I honestly just don't have cash to throw out to get books I want to read. People don't understand that my family lives paycheck to paycheck. One bad week of sickness, we're pretty much S. o. L.

I truly understand those who can't afford books. Again, drop me a private message, we'll work something out.

Again. Back to the topic.

In the meantime, if you are honestly willing to do a review, please leave me a comment and I'll get you a copy of either book two or both of the books to get you up to speed. But PLEASE leave a REVIEW! Okay. Thanks. You can go about your business now.

Have an awesome rest of your week, everyone!


Contact me: Paridzule (dot) keep (at) gmail (dot) com.

Friday, October 23, 2015

This Is It...


::Throws confetti::

I know my "slap-you-upside-the-head-with-a-brand-new-book" marketing strategy needs some work, but I am an instant gratification girl. It took every ounce of patience I had to work on polishing up book two for release!! I deserve a freaking medal.

But that is not what this post is about. Today, I am pleased to announce that Book Two, Veritas, is LIVE!

The post you saw earlier today was written late last night as I worked hard to get it up and out there.

So far, the book is available at the links below:

Kobo     Scribd     Inkterra     Amazon     iTunes/iBooks

It will be coming soon to Barnes and Noble for the Nook. I went with a different site, other than Smashwords, this time around. Draft2Digital sends it off to many other places. Of course, I posted it on Amazon as well for the Kindle.

Please, share the links. Many people have been anxiously awaiting book two and I'm happy to finally have it out!

Plus, you get two posts from me in one day.


The Sword of Damocles...

I know you have all heard the mythological story of the Sword of Damocles.

If not, here it is in a nutshell:

Sword hanging over a man's head by a very thin strand. One tiny jolt and POW! Dead.

Yep, you know it.

I had my very own SoD hanging over my head this past month.

I missed my own, personal deadline for Book Two of my trilogy, Veritas.


I just hit the button. I just submitted it online and should all go well, it will be available within 72 hours. Give or take a few as I am writing this late at night.

I have so much going on right now. Online classes, part-time retail work, babysitting a two year old, editing for one project and helping another writing project get off the ground... I know, I'm a glutton for punishment.

OH! And I've been listening to the audio files for the audiobook of Adversarius! It is amazing! And I cannot wait to share it all with you when it is done.

All right. I will be back soon with links to Book Two. And after I've had plenty of coffee.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Author Interview: Jill Nojack...

Hey everyone. First of all, my DEEPEST, most SINCERE APOLOGIES!!!! I was supposed to have this interview up yesterday and completely dropped the ball.

Had it been posted yesterday, it would have been the day before the release of Jill's book on Kindle Scout, "The Familiar", which I gave a raving review for. I mean, I seriously laughed out loud at the descriptives of Cat. How can I not give that a five star rating?

Anyway, again. I'm sorry. But here is the interview. At the end, one lucky commenter will win a digital copy of her book. So please, don't forget to comment! At least say hello.

And now, here's Jill!

1. What was your favorite genre to read growing up? Is this the genre you currently write in?

Jill: When I was a kid, I had no idea there were "genres". I just thought there were "books", and I tended to read whatever anyone put down in my vicinity. I read Lit Fic, SciFi, Fantasy, Westerns, Horror, Historical Romance, Classics—If it got near me, it got read.

As I got into my teens, I tended toward things that made me think about the world. Some favorites from my early teens were Bless the Beasts and the Children, The Cowboys, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Those clearly aren't related to what I write. I wish I could write books like those, but my brain doesn't work that way. The older I get, the more it just wants to have fun. Nothing beats writing Fantasy/Paranormal for that.

2. What sort of atmosphere do you need to write?

Jill: I run a bubble bath, strap my Toughbook (a water-resistant laptop) to my book holder, and soak while I write. De-stressing in a hot bath with the wifi turned off is just about heaven for my creativity.
 When I'm being good about writing, I usually end up in the tub in the morning before work and again in the evening to relax after work. I can get in a couple of good hours of writing or editing that way.

Obviously, I don't only write in the bath. That would make me a freak. A really pruney freak.
But I do need absolute quiet and long periods of time with no interruptions to get into the flow.

3. What is your all time favorite book?

Jill: It depends on the day. I can stick to one option of you let me choose my favorite series. Because that would be Discworld.

4. Who is your all time favorite character that is not your own?

Jill: I have to pick one? Just one? That's not even possible.

I can, however, keep the list short. Brienne of Tarth and Tyrion Lannister are my most recent favorites; I think most people would recognize them. Granny Weatherwax (Discworld Series) is a long term contender, as are Charlie Nightlinger (The Cowboys) and Jellybean Bonanza (Even Cowgirls Get The Blues). I think the thread of consistency there is that each of these characters is heroic despite being an outsider. I think most of them would also be considered eccentric in some way. I love me some eccentric.

5. Who is your favorite character of your own creation?

Jill: My current favorite character is Natalie in the Bad Tom series. She can be a royal pain, and she really doesn't care. She's bawdy, confident, eccentric, and a powerful witch who both the good guys and the bad guys grudgingly admire. Plus, she has this really cool red vintage purse that I suspect may be bigger on the inside.

She's a small character in the first book in the Bad Tom series, but she becomes more important in the second book. In fact, I find myself having to pull her back because she has a tendency to want to take the stage away from the main characters.

6. When did you decide to become a writer?

Jill: In second grade. I wrote  a poem, and my teacher said it was "precocious". Not only did I learn a new, fancy, exciting word, but I got to have my piece of writing stuck to the wall in a place of honor during Open House with a big gold star on it. I remember looking at it and thinking that I must be good at this writing thing. I haven't stopped imposing that view on others since.

7. Why do you write?

Jill: I'm not really engaged in life unless I'm doing something creative. Of course, the problem with creating things is that it doesn't feel finished until you share it with someone. It doesn't matter if it's music or painting or writing, I'm just following that urge inside me that's been there as far back as I can remember to make things that didn't exist until I thought of them.
8. What’s the worst thing someone has ever said about your work?

Jill: There's a review of one of my books out there that basically says it's the most boring book the reviewer has ever read. And I am quite sure it is legitimate. I continue to improve as a writer with every book and every review because I learn from all of them.

9. What inspires you to write when you hit a block?

Jill: I don't have writer's blocks. I just have laziness. When I put my butt in my chair, I can write. Every time. However, I often avoid it because it's hard work.

I don't enjoy the initial writing process, but I love to edit it all into the finished product. Once I'm into the editing, I stop avoiding it and start enjoying it. That's when the magic happens.

10. What advice would you pass on to new authors/young authors?

Jill: Find people who are mean and nasty and way better at this than you are. Those people—not your friends and family—should be your beta readers. That is how your writing will improve. I am lucky in that I know people who absolutely delight in saying vicious things to me, but I am always on the lookout for more.

11. What is the best thing someone has said about your work?

Jill:  I was over the moon when one of my beta readers gave me a fantastic compliment after completing tearing apart the first draft of the Familiar. She said that she hates books written in First Person Present Point of View (POV), but that I did it so well she didn't notice the much-despised POV until she was already about a third of the way through it. I think that is the very definition of good writing—that you shouldn't notice the writing, only the story.
12. And last, but not least, something really random: Motorcycle or SUV?

Jill: Why am I always expected to choose?  I want it all!

I rode a motorcycle in my younger days as my primary transport for about a year, but they just aren't a good option in Ohio. Plus, a cross country trip might be a bit more than I'd want to do with the wind bashing at me for hours on end. The best of all possible worlds would be a motorcycle mounted on the back of an SUV. On a boat. A really big boat so I could take my motorcycle and SUV around the world.

Yep. Now I'm thinking about it. It's a goal. Please buy my book because I need a motorcycle on an SUV on a boat.

Jill, I have to say, I think we could be great friends! Discworld? Tyrion Lannister? Uh, heck yeah!

Okay everyone, here is the link to buy her book, an excerpt from her book and where to find Jill Nojack:

Book blurb:
Sometimes a cat has to man up.
Tom has been mostly cat for a long time, but when the witch who enslaved him dies, he has one last chance to become a man again and maybe to find love, too. He just needs to tell Cassie, a sensible girl who knows nothing about the witchy business all around her, that he's trapped in the body of the kitten she cuddles at night. But cats aren't known for their conversational skills, and a powerful warlock is determined to take Cassie for himself. To make things worse, Tom is rapidly running out of lives.

Book Excerpt:

BACK WHEN HER SKIN was smooth and her lips were juicy as ripe berries, Eunice did the nasty with the devil. And she loved it. If she hadn't, I wouldn't be lurking in the dark, twitching the tip of my tail, trying to keep an eye on what the old witch is up to. Everyone knows spells cast during the Black Moon aren't illuminated by the Goddess's light.

The candle flames bob toward the ritual grounds. I track their yellow-orange trails through Corey Woods into the clearing where the scuffling of witches' feet has worn a ring of bare earth in the new spring grass. Tonight, the coven within a coven that is loyal to Eunice gathers. Four witches. One perversely devoted warlock. And me; a small, black, feline familiar. I know better than to get too close. I know what will happen, what always happens, the same way it's happened across all the years. Why singe my whiskers?
The witches extinguish their candles when the circle is complete. Their black-robed figures are an inkier spot in the midnight. From where Eunice stands in her position of power, an even blacker tendril snakes toward the others, making the gloom appear gray in comparison. It weaves a net around the chanting witches, bending as it goes, to trace the outline of their bodies until the threads pull tight. I hear the dull thuds as all but the warlock lose consciousness and hit the ground. Protected by her favor, he moves closer to his priestess until they are cocooned together by the magic. The ebony tornado enfolds them as it swirls into the sky. The wind howls.

And then, exactly as it always happens, it happens. A bright purple orb of light streaks from the heavens and explodes inside the funnel, dispersing the darkness and tossing Eunice and the warlock backward as easily as a twister tosses a scarecrow. For a moment, they loll like turtles on their backs, their limbs waving in the air that still sizzles with violet static as the lightning dissipates.

When they recover their wits, the man flaps his palms at spots where the arcs of power ignited his robe. Eunice sits up, raises her head, and screams her rage at the retreating brightness. The year, the chant, the participants, each of them changes, but it doesn't matter. Someone powerful doesn't want her spell to be cast.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Author bio:
Kindle Scout winning author Jill Nojack is a writer, musician and artist. She has rarely managed to make a living from the pursuit of her creative endeavors. Instead, she's a corporate drone who stays up late to indulge her passion for writing, making music, and drawing/painting.

Way back in the long ago, Jill romped through a degree in English. She followed it up with a Master's degree in Sociology. During her time at University, she served on the staff of the school's literary magazine. She eventually stepped in to the editor's role, where she made every effort to look like she knew what she was doing.

When she isn't exploring her creative side, Jill enjoys laughing too loud and long in public and talking about herself in third person. She resides in the great American Midwest with a long-suffering  cat.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Readers can become my friend on my personal page on Facebook. I don't have a separate author page. For people who prefer I don't see their Facebook posts (because I might be a weird stalker—I mean, I'm not saying I am, but you never know), I allow followers on my personal page.

I almost never tweet because I just can't talk that short, but I can be found here: - @indieheart

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Okay, don't forget to leave a comment for you chance to win a digital copy of Jill's book! Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Friday Funnies and Fantasy Art...


It's Friday!

I'm probably at work when this posts.

And I have to work on Saturday.


Oh well, doesn't mean we can't have a laugh and an 'oooh!', right? Right!

So here, with the disclaimer that I don't know who the artist is on some of these because honestly Pinterest is evil with all of it's Fantasy art goodness.... Art!

Oh! This one is done by Pat Presley under concept art.

Sadly, no idea...

Again, no idea, but I love this steam punk dragon.

And now the funnies. And because people tell me I am uh... a cat person, I suppose, that I don't post dogs and it's unfair. I love dogs, too! I just don't own one, but here's some dogs thrown in for good measure.

Hope you all have a great weekend, even if you work like me!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Just Chillin'...

Hey my internet peeps!

Hope you all had a good week. I'm taking some time to just kick back, relax and well, who am I kidding. I'm getting in some stuff while the baby takes a nap.



I have another purpose today. I wanted to let you all know that September 14th, I will be doing an author interview with Jill Nojack, author of  the Kindle Scout selected book, "The Familiar", the first in the Bad Tom Series. She's also the author of the Fae Unbound series and has a story in "The Riot Girls"collection.

She has a website here.

Anyway, I am super excited to have her on my blog! There is always a possibility of a giveaway, so be prepared to leave a comment. It isn't that hard, these days, just have to click on the I'm not a Robot thingy, right?


See you all soon and have a wonderful rest of your week. Hopefully I won't forget the Friday Funnies and Fantasy Art tomorrow. Hmm... better do that now.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Book Review: The Familiar by Jill Nojack...

Title: The Familiar

Author: Jill Nojack

Publisher: Kindle Press

File Size/Book Length: 1100 kb/186 pages


Purchase: Amazon

(This book was a Kindle Scout selection. Due to my nomination for the book, I received a free digital copy when it was accepted for publication. This did not influence my review in any way. Trust me. that's another post for another time.)


Sometimes a cat has to man up.
Tom has been mostly cat for a long time, but when the witch who enslaved him dies, he has one last chance to become a man again and maybe to find love, too. He just needs to tell Cassie, a sensible girl who knows nothing about the witchy business all around her, that he's trapped in the body of the kitten she cuddles at night. But cats aren't known for their conversational skills, and a powerful warlock is determined to take Cassie for himself. To make things worse, Tom is rapidly running out of lives.

My thoughts:

Oh. My. God. First of all, I was hooked from the moment I read the excerpt on Kindle Scout. I had my doubts, but this is a review of the book, not Kindle Scout.

Anyway. Be aware, I may give away spoilers without meaning to, so continue on at your own risk.

This book was light, it was funny, it was just the right amount of humor and a little dark, too. Cassie's grandmother is a wicked witch in every sense of the word. Tom is a warlock who is also a cat. With exactly nine lives. Cassie is a sweet girl, naive as she may be about the witch world, she catches on quickly. And then there is creepazoid man, who keeps trying to get to Cassie, her grandmother's shop and other things.

Jill Nojack wrote a very good book. There were times when I tried not to snort with laughter and wake up hubs. She's got Cat down pat with his cute little quirks and furry feline-ness. The characters are well developed, there is a good story in all of this and because it is the first in a series, it certainly leads up to the next very well. I feel bad for Cassie and Tom, and the things they're about to go through, but if this book was any indicator, they're going to be a good team.

My rating:

Five out of Five Skull and Crossbones.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Author Interview: Steve Bargdill

Hey everyone! As promised, here is my author interview with Steve Bargdill, author of 'Wasteland' series and 'Banana Sandwich'. After the interview, (yes, you have to scroll down!) are excerpts and links to his work. Images are throughout!

Without further ado, Steve Bargdill!

  1. Please tell us a little known fact about you.

When I was thirteen, I was really upset that Santa Claus was not real. I mean, I had known for a long time he wasn’t real, but at thirteen I thought the world was at a loss because he wasn’t real. That Christmas Eve, I snuck out of the house at around midnight and left candy canes and tree ornaments on people’s doorsteps and doorknobs. And I got caught. On my way home, I heard my parents calling out my name, searching for me. I tried to sneak back into the house without getting caught, but of course that didn’t happen.

  1. What was your favorite genre to read growing up? Is this the genre you currently write in?

Oh most definitely fantasy. The Shannara series. Terry Brooks’ Magic Kingdom: Sold. And okay, I hate to admit it, but I picked up my mom’s romance books by Roseanne Bittner. I still remember the novel Wyoming Woman, which is ironic because I grew up in Ohio, and then moved to Wyoming. And I even wrote to Roseanne Bittner—my one and only fan letter. She wrote back and really encouraged me to keep writing. My dad collected antique books, so I also read things like The Hardy Boys Mysteries and The Pickwick Papers and all the Tarzan novels by Burroughs when I was like ten. Then there was some Louis Lamoure thrown in for good measure.

I read the poems of Langston Hughes in high school too, and had no idea what he was writing about, except I knew his writing was gorgeous. My high school English teacher introduced me to James Thurber, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Jack London.

I remember reading One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovichby by Aleskandr Solzhenitsyn when I was sixteen, seventeen years old just cause. About a guy in a Russian prison camp, and the book was like thick. I mean in pages, but I just Googled it, and it’s only like 182 pages in the hardback, but in my mind I remember it as being a thousand pages all about a single day.

As a teenager though, I always came back to the fantasy genre. The Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy, Ender’s Game, and I remember some weird little novella thing about a guy being sucked into another dimension because dragons liked stories from our world and he had to go on a quest and there was a foul-talking dwarf and a damsel in distress…I don’t know. That could be just something I made up in my head still floating around all these years later.

As for the genre I currently write in: I don’t know. I don’t think I can be pigeon-holed like that. Wasteland certainly has fantasy and dystopian elements. Banana Sandwich is about a bi-polar pizza delivery driver. Breath: An American Story, a piece I’m working on right now,  I’d consider—if I had to label it—American Gothic. The Yellow Mountains of God, another in-process piece, is about a Lutheran pastor who kills a man in Appalachia. I Want an Indian is a collection of poetry, short stories, and personal essays in relation to Native Americans. The I Want an Indian writing is slow slow going though. It’s difficult to wrap my head around a culture of people I only am aware of from an academic point of view. With the anthology, I’m really trying to personalize my experience as an outsider looking in

In the past, I’ve written fantasy, but nothing I would feel comfortable putting out into the world to share. My first novel—which I will show no one because it is that awful—was/is a fantasy novel about a world stuck in an eternal winter, which, you know, how much more Narnia can I rip off, right?  

  1. What inspires you to write?

First and foremost, I want to entertain. I want to write a damn good story and have people walk         away going, “Wow, that was an awesome story!” That’s probably egotistical.

Beyond that, writing really helps me make sense of my personal life. Wasteland, I’d say is ninety percent fiction. The story takes place in the Nineties, in Columbus, Ohio, in a boarding house on Twelfth Avenue across from Ohio State University, down the street from a bar called Street Scene, and a coffee shop called Insomnia’s, and yeah I was in my twenties living in Columbus, Ohio in a boarding house on Twelfth Avenue…

It was a dark, confusing time in my life. Writing Wasteland was cathartic. And fifteen years later, I was still processing this information, this life experience that didn’t make any sense to me, but yet there it was smack in the middle of my life.

I mean, I never drove a cab, I never had stigmata, I never worked on a nuclear reactor, I never had a woman I loved die on me, I was never on mind-altering drugs, and all of that’s in Wasteland. I was just really lonely and really lost, and I think that is the ten percent of the book that is true, that inspired me to write the thing.

Banana Sandwich came out of a fifteen year off and on career delivering pizzas. In addition, I’ve known people that have really struggled with bipolarism, and I wanted to know more about how they dealt living with that particular disorder. The purpose of the book is mainly to bring awareness to that disorder.

Breath: An American Story comes out of dealing with my grandmother’s death and a conversation I had with a young college senior, and how she was considering a graduate degree, but her parents weren’t going to support her, and lots of personal questions with my wife about today’s economy, the demise of the American small town—how the so-called American Dream is playing out in today’s world.  Stuff that just doesn’t make sense for me, stuff that I think doesn’t make sense for a lot of people. And I really want to speak to that. I don’t think I answered any profound questions, but the people who have read early drafts, they’ve asked me, “How did you get my town so right?” Well, I didn’t get their town right, I got my hometown right, but what’s going on there, the lack of jobs, the take over of Main Street by large corporations, the minimum wage paying part-time employment opportunities, the dearth of higher education, the idea that we can still pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and everything will be okay—that stuff is going on everywhere. I wanted to address it.

  1. What sort of atmosphere do you need to write?

Authors all the time talk about their writing caves. What the hell is that? Seriously, I have two kids, a wife, a small three bedroom where you can hear everything, two part-time jobs, my home office is in a dank basement shared with the cat litter box.

The ideal atmosphere to write is when I have a pen and a piece of paper and five minutes. And       my six-year-old can be screaming, “Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad!” and my fourteen-year-old can be telling some crazy story that happened at school, and “Dad! Can I stay over at so-and-so’s house?” And trips to dance rehearsal and orchestra recitals and let’s go to Wal-Mart one more time, please because we need toilet paper—AGAIN.

When everyone is out of the house and it’s quiet, you bet your little butt I’m taking a nap.

My wife is incredibly supportive. Never mind she’s in school full-time as well, and oh yeah, did I mention she writes too?

When I was in graduate school, the University of Wyoming gave me a really nice office on the fourth floor of Hoyt Hall. It had a window that overlooked Prexy’s Pasture, and I could look out and watch the students rush from class to class. And I could go down the hall a ways and talk to Brad Watson who has written some awesome stories himself, or my next door office neighbor was poet and essayist David Romtvedt, and I was just surrounded by these amazing people.

I often imagine myself in that office writing. It’d be the perfect absolute perfect writing cave. I’d have some coffee going, a bit of music, I’d chat a bit with the other writers’ that reside in the             building, and I’d compose the all-time great American novel, bigger and better than The Great           Gatsby.

This, of course, never happened. I did a lot of homework. Finished off reading an entire book on spatial theory, and read The Rape of the Lock, and lots of pedagogy stuff too. And this kind of work, it’s enjoyable and good for me. But perfect writing environment? Doesn’t exist. It’s work, and it’s passion, and if you don’t have either, you’re not going to write.

  1. What is your all time favorite book?

This is an unfair question and I refuse to answer directly. It’s like asking a coffee addict what their favorite coffee is. Sure as hell isn’t Sanka Instant—but, you know, some days…Sanka Instant, I have that memory of dating my wife and meeting her parents, and that’s what they had in the house, and that instant coffee taste brings back that exact memory. How can I give up Sanka?

Can’t. Won’t do it.

I’ve read those crappy ten cent paperback books you get at library book sales because not a single patron is reading them, and you wonder how in the hell they even got published, yet here  I am reading them. So obviously I’m not the only one enjoying them.

So my favorite book? Right now? This instant? Moby Dick, because that’s what I’m reading right now.
  1. Who is your all time favorite character that is not your own.

This is just as an unfair question as the one that preceded it. Who is my all-time favorite character?    


I’ll be honest, I don’t have one.

Archie in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth—I like him because he just bumbles along. Things happen to him; he does not happen to things. The unnamed narrator in Amitav Ghosh’s Shadow Lines because though I’ve never been to India or London, the character thinks like me. Or, I think like him? Oscar Wao in The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao because he is pathetic and the antithesis to The Heart of Darkness—“beautiful” is the last word of the novel instead of “the horror.”

You know, seriously, I could keep going. How about Rose of Sharon in The Grapes of Wrath? That last scene, her husband left her, her baby died, and she finds a homeless man near death of starvation, and she literally nurses him back to life.

Or you know, Frodo who is confronted with an adventure so much bigger than himself, yet he goes forward. Dresden, because he’s fun. Harry Potter. Miss Havisham, Anne of Green Gables, Antonia, The Cat in the Hat, Leopold Bloom, Paddington Bear, Hamlet.

  1. Who is your favorite character of your own creation?

This question is by far easier! Sometime ago, I wrote a short story by the name of, “Neighborhood Mums,” and it was the first story I ever published. And the narrator, nameless, steps outside to walk his dog, and he notices the mums from his front flowerbed have been stolen. So, he goes through the neighborhood searching for these stolen flowers. And he’s this incredibly racist person. Hates everyone. Yet, and I can’t tell you anymore because then I give away the entire story.

But I like him because readers have either one of two reactions toward him. Either visceral hatred or complete utter love. But then too, the ones who hate him admit, reluctantly, that you have to like the guy. And the ones who love him admit, reluctantly, that he’s kind of an ass.

As a writer, if you can illicit that kind of reaction from your readers, one of hate and love at the same time, that’s an incredible feeling. I’ve had moments when I’ve made people literally cry after they’ve read something I’ve written, I’ve had people laugh out loud, and I’ve had people walk away shaking their heads. And those are all very good indicators that I’ve done my job as entertainer. But to illicit two opposite emotions in the same person at the same time about the same piece of writing—that’s pro-writer stuff.
But, if  you asked me how I managed that, how I created that on the page, I couldn’t tell you. Luck? Probably luck. I’d like to be able to do it again, for sure though.

  1. When did you decide to become a writer?

I have no idea. I have always written stories. I can’t remember a time I didn’t write. My wife tells this story about me, about us in Nebraska. We were living in a really crappy apartment. It was always cold, we were so incredibly poor, had a baby that was just a few months old, and we had the computer in the basement, and my wife tells me she remembers me down there typing away wearing a coat and fingerless gloves. I don’t remember that.

I mean, I remember splitting a McDonald’s Big Breakfast between the three of us, my wife selling blood for money, pawning our wedding rings almost on a weekly basis, freelancing for three newspapers, working all the time. There was a meat packing place I worked at; I’d push the cow carcasses off the trucks and into a refrigerated warehouse for processing. I mean, that stuff I remember, like dragging my daughter to an interview for a piece I was doing for one of the newspapers, and I had to take her ‘cause my wife was at work and I couldn’t afford a babysitter.

But writing in the basement with fingerless gloves? Yeah, no recollection, but that’s because writing is just something I’ve always done. No matter what. 

  1. Where are you from?

Originally, this little town: New Knoxville, Ohio. No one knows where it is at.  Because, you know, I mean small. My graduating class was eighteen people, and one was an exchange student. The next biggest town was St. Marys, and that town you may have actually heard of because it made NPR news a few summers back. Pollution problem with the lake. The lake has killed dogs and sent people, who thought it was okay to go swimming, to the hospital. I mean, back in the day, I’d start a fire in one of the shelter houses out by the lake, and sit there through the night listening to the water against the rocks, the crackle of the driftwood I had gathered for the fire—I mean, we’d all do that.

We moved back to St. Marys for a while about five years ago. My daughter had this white bathing suit and we took her to the lake beach. It was the last time we went. She came out of the water, and her bathing suit had turned brown, and we could never get it cleaned. It was shortly after that that they put up no swimming notices, then no fishing notices.  I worked at this small gas station convenient store third trick, and fishermen would come in and tell stories of catching fish with their organs on the outside of their bodies, or fish with a random third eyeball. I don’t know if those tales are true or not; they never made the news.

Now, when we go home to visit family, we drive past the lake to look at it, and those drives feel like funeral dirges.

  1. Why do you write?

I don’t know.

I mean, this is fundamentally a very different question than “What inspires me to write?” Lot’s of stuff inspires me. But I’m not sure why I write.

I know that when I don’t write, I get cranky. Like a smoker who doesn’t have his cigarette. The      coffee addict who decides one day just to quit caffeine.

If I had to give up writing, what would I do? Devote myself to Facebook, TV? I already do enough of that. Writing is what I do. Who I am.

  1. What’s the best piece of writing advice you have ever been given?

Go back to school; go to the University of Iowa. Got that advice from Patricia Wrede.

  1. What’s the worst thing someone has ever said about your work?

I got a two star review for one of the short stories included in Wasteland. The short story in question is Pills and Cigarettes, and it’s about a guy who is coming to terms with his sexuality, and if you read T.S. Eliot’s poem Wasteland, well a lot of that poem is about sex too. The headline on the comment is “when vanity publishing goes wrong.”

And the Amazon reviewer also wrote, “Bargdill did a serious disservice to Eliot with this title.”

I’m not sure why the person wrote what they did. It felt like they had an ulterior motive because in the review, the person says they read through the available free pages and didn’t like what they read, but bought it anyway, and the story only got worse from there. When I read that, I thought, well, if you didn’t like the first few pages, why did you even bother to buy the rest of it?

I was really angry after initially reading the review. I can take criticism, but I really wondered why they wrote what they wrote; it felt like a personal attack.

I had another Wasteland reader email me and tell me I needed Jesus in my life, and that if I wanted, they could help me with that. And I thought, did you read the book, because the whole thing is about redemption in a hopeless world.

  1. Has your writing ever been compared to another, famous author? If so, who?
Cormac McCarthy. I’ve read The Road and No Country for Old Men, and I don’t really see the comparison. Banana Sandwich, I was told, reads like the book Go Ask Alice, and I didn’t even know what that book was, but was written in the 1970s by Beatrice Sparks in the form of a diary of an anonymous teenage girl who gets caught up in drugs.

I find the comparisons ultimately humbling.

  1. What inspires you to write when you hit a block?
I don’t hit blocks. Authors all the time talk about writer’s block, and how it’s messing with their lives. The thing is, I teach writing and writer’s block doesn’t exist. It’s an excuse. I don’t remember who said it, but when you can’t create, you should simply then work.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. There are times when I stare at the blank page for hours, but I also know that is my subconscious working out problems. There are also periods of time, long stretches of not writing, but then that’s when I’m thinking about my next project, mulling it over. And I have my problem children. Yellow Mountains of God keeps stalling out, but only because the story keeps getting more complicated, and I keep struggling with it, keep working at it. The plot is there, and I could write it straight through, but if I didn’t allow myself to struggle with the writing, the story wouldn’t be any good. It’d be just okay. And I’m not about being just okay.

  1. What advice would you pass on to new authors/young authors?
The industry has really changed. I sent out my first pieces of writing when I was sixteen. At that time, you sent stuff out directly to publishers and or agents and hoped. There were official gate keepers back then. Now, publishing is in free-fall. Independent authors all over were making lots of money with Amazon, until recently when Amazon decided to change how it paid out royalties, and now these people have to find real 9 to 5 jobs. Writing is a penniless, thankless job. It’s difficult to get noticed, to gain an audience for your work. Don’t let Amazon or any publisher be your single point end game. Figure out who you are as a person. Don’t give up your day job. Don’t stop writing. Love what you do. Struggle willingly; it’s where inspiration comes from. Be thankful for every opportunity. Live passionately.

  1. What is the best thing someone has said about your work?
  1. And last, but not least, something really random:
~ What is your dream vacation?
To have one.
~ What’s your favorite alcoholic drink?
~ What is your favorite meal?
~ Motorcycle or SUV?
My wife won’t let me have a motorcycle.
~ Real books or eReader?

Steve, you're awesome! Thanks for such an engaging interview! As promised, links and excerpts below:

About Steve Bargdill

Steve Bargdill received his bachelor's in English with an emphasis in creative writing from the University of Iowa December 2012. Originally from Ohio, he has lived in Dayton, Columbus, Troy, St. Marys, and New Knoxville as well as West Branch Iowa, Lincoln Nebraska, Muncie Indiana, and currently lives in Laramie Wyoming with his wife and two children.

Since 1998, Steve has mainly worked in the pizza industry. However, he has also worked as a day laborer, a truck driver, and a beat reporter for a couple of newspapers. He has worked at grocery stores, gas stations, and convenient stores. As a teenager, his dad forced him to stack lumber, which built character. He recently earned his Master of Arts in English from the University of Wyoming in May 2015. Currently he teaches developmental writing at Great Bay Community College in New Hampshire.
He believes literature weaves through our everyday lives and that stories explain who we are as a society.

Links for Steve Bargdill:

Website     Blog     Goodreads     Facebook     Google+

Twitter: @stevebargdill

Jack had the perfect life until his wife died of brain cancer. Confused and lost, alone, Jack found himself living in a boarding house in Columbus, Ohio not knowing why or how he got there.
Told through six inter-related short stories, the reader is confronted with plagues, aliens, serial killers, and ageless fortune tellers. Cab drives through the middle of the night, burying the dead on Highway Eighty, hearing the voice of God in a foxhole, demons emerging from mirrors, and mysterious angels strung out on heroin.
Filled with drugs, sex, and cigarettes, Wasteland is loosely based off T.S. Eliot’s poem of the same name and takes you through the night streets of 1990s Columbus.
They whispered to each other, “Beautiful.”

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Christmas Carol Madison lives in a van and is bipolar schizophrenic. She’s in love with her coworker and decides maybe he’s worth getting her life together. She takes her medication. She visits regularly with her probation officer and therapist alike. Carol’s new path suggests normality and hope, a
college degree, a career, a family. But when she decides to be better, it is the city that goes insane: her ex-boyfriend murders her roommate. To fight back, she must decide how she to live her life.
“These nights are very dark. I hear all the sounds. My heart beat, the blood pulsing through my wrists, it is like the hollow echo broadcast from the rings of Saturn, empty and surging and crying out for someone to listen.”

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You can't order a pizza by banana phone. It can't be done. Pick up any banana and put it to your ear and you get dial tone. Simple as that. Just doesn't work. Now if you want to call Jupiter, a banana phone is your ticket. I knew a guy once who lined his hat with aluminum foil to stop the outer space transmissions from reaching his brain. Which is just crap. Everyone knows aluminum foil isn't going to do the trick. You got to use something like Adamantium, which you can't use anyway because it's a made-up comic book metal bonded to Wolverine's skeleton. Which brings me back to the banana phone, because Wolverine kind of looks like a banana if you think about it. I mean, his costume is yellow, right? And bananas are yellow, except for when they over-ripen. Then, they are black. And the only thing aluminum foil is going to block are the government transmissions—and those are boring anyway. They tell you to do stuff like mow the lawn, wash dishes, buy more stuff, rinse your mouth with fluoride fortified mouthwash. It's the outer space transmissions that are interesting. Once, I received instructions on how to build a warp drive for my van. And the line of work I'm in, that comes in real handy.
I used to work for this upscale pizza shop. They tried to be all fancy with artichoke and broccoli toppings. Those whole wheat and gluten free crusts. I quit because they always gave me crap about my piercings. Or maybe I was fired. Yeah, that's how it really went down. I was fired. So I went to work for this other pizza shop, but we don't do much except sit on the store steps smoking blunts and ordering delivery from Domino's. Jordan brought in a bunch of bananas one night too. He picked one up and put it to his ear and tried to order Domino's. But like I said, it can't be done because all you get is dial tone. What is truly annoying is when you go to the Wal-Mart in the middle of the night, and you're going through the produce section. Inevitably, there is that person wearing a bath towel as a dress and still in hair curlers, his butt crack hanging out like clothes on a line. They have that whole display stand of bananas. Normally, the bananas are still green. Those don't work. The yellow ones work fine, and when five or six bunches of yellow bananas all start ringing at the same time, you don't know which one to answer first. Sometimes, I put a banana to each ear and carry on a couple of conversations at one time, which is easier to do than you might think.
This is how it all started too. I was in the Wal-Mart examining cumquats because who the heck buys cumquats? Why does the Wal-Mart even have cumquats? It's the Nineties, and I don't know anyone who eats cumquats except total health nut freaks. I'm certainly not a health nut freak. Give me a good juicy medium rare steak any day. Baked potato with cheddar cheese, chives, and tons of sour cream: that is a meal. Not some deformed looking orange. I'm standing in the middle of the Wal-Mart produce section examining the cumquats, but in actual reality, I avoid as much eye contact with the guy wearing the towel. Then the bananas started ringing. I looked around searching for a hidden camera. I remember that show by Peter Funt in the Eighties, Candid Camera. I asked the towel-dress guy if he heard the bananas ringing. He didn't say anything to me. I asked again and he said ‘No.’
I heard them. All of them. I didn't know which one to pick up. I answered one, because what are you going to do, right? ‘Hello,’ I said, and they all stopped ringing.
Carol? This is Jupiter.’
I think maybe Jordan was teasing me when he tried to order Domino's from a banana phone. I like Jordan like chocolate syrup on vanilla ice cream, but sometimes, he can be an ass.