Carla interviews Sandy Kelly, author of ‘Up the Creek Without A Saddle’

Hi, Carla Roma here! I recently spotted Sandy Kelly at a live music bar in downtown Calgary and followed her into the bathroom.

Carla: Sorry, I know everyone is told not to corner a writer in the bathroom, but this is the first chance I’ve had to chat with you when you’re not either up dancing or involved in a conversation with all your friends at the table.

Sandy: Ha! Not to worry… it’s actually publishers and agents you’re not supposed to follow into the bathroom. Writers are pretty much fair game! And you’re right – when I drive in from my little town to enjoy an evening of live music, fine wine and fun friends in the city, I’m rarely sitting quietly alone. Unless I’m in the bathroom, of course!

Carla: What’s the best part for you – the music, the wine or the friends?

Sandy: Hmmm… hard pressed to choose a favourite from that list, but I do love the energy that fills everyone up when they’re enjoying live music – indie music, in particular. My friends and I especially love a jam-session when a bunch of independent musicians come together to share their love of music and originality. It’s magic.

Carla: Is that why you have enjoyed participating in the Bandit Creek series? Is it like a jam-session of writing for you?

Sandy: Absolutely! You take a bunch of independent writers who are working hard on their own craft and then mix them all together to follow their own story lines from the same quirky little town of Bandit Creek. Stir in pretty much every literary genre imaginable, add a hefty dose of talent and a generous helping of support… and you have a perfect recipe for a unique and successful series. It’s magic.

Carla: Your story, Up the Creek Without a Saddle, sounds pretty playful.

Sandy: I consider it a ‘Bandit Creek-lite’! My story is one of the last few in a long and diverse story list. The Banditoes have taken readers on such a journey, from mystery to erotica, from children’s fiction to other worlds. I wanted to create something light-hearted and a little goofy. Up the Creek Without a Saddle plunks a very wealthy young woman into Bandit Creek and into the arms of a handsome rancher who believes he is coming to the aid of a beautiful, but poverty-stricken damsel in distress. The story pokes fun at what happens when a simple misunderstanding brings two people together. And when they start telling little white lies in an effort to stay together.

Carla: Sounds fun – thanks for the bathroom chat. It’s time to hit the dance floor again!

Carla interviews Vivien Harben, author of ‘Thief of Hearts’

Hello, I’m Carla Roma. All you Bandit Creek fans hold on tight because we are racing towards our next release. Just like all the others that have preceded it, Vivien Harben’s book Thief of Hearts promises all the fun, spice and adventure we have come to love from all the Bandit Creek Books. Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Vivien to have a quick chat about her book. Here’s what she had to say.

Carla: Hi Vivien, I’m so glad we have this chance to sit down and chat. Can we talk?

Vivien: Hey Carla, you know we can always talk. In fact getting me to talk is never our problem, it’s getting me to stop that is the challenge.

Carla: (laughing) Too right! Before we get into Thief of Hearts I wanted to ask you what made you want to write books?

Vivien: I have always wanted to write ever since my grandmother used to come and read us bedtime stories. I loved the pictures words evoke in your mind as you travel through any story. In fact I recently found one of my first books, written when I was 5…colored construction paper stapled together with lines of squiggles running neatly across the paper.

Carla: Sounds like a great read!! What was the story about?

Vivien: Well a princess of course!!! Then when I finally tried using letters I started writing fables, the one I finished was “Why Hippo was Green”.

Carla: And so why was Hippo Green?

Vivien: He rolled in the grass of course!!

Carla: Now about Thief of Hearts what can you tell me about where the idea came from to write it?

Vivien: I have always heard the saying “write what you know”. So some of this story comes from very personal experience. I myself was in, survived and overcame a very abusive relationship. It is always a challenge to overcome adversary but to come out the other side still open to and willing to risk loving someone again; well that is real life for me. I wanted something sweet to come out of something dark.

Carla: That is quite intense and remarkable that you can still think that way after what you’ve been through.

Vivien: We should never be defined by the dark hard times we may endure. Rather we should grow from them to try to make our outlook more positive than it was before.

Carla: So how come the hero comes from South Africa? Where’s the connection?

Vivien: I have family that lives there and every chance I get I go back to Africa because that continent draws me like no other. I think I’m still trying to find Harry the Green Hippo! When I can, I like to sneak Africa into my writing just because I love it so much, makes things a little more mysterious too.

Carla: Well you wrote and self-published another book as well. Was Africa in that one?

Vivien: No, Border Passions is an English historical romance. Africa didn’t really fit there. But Bandit Creek? That’s a different story, pardon the pun, isn’t it? After all EVERYTHING HAPPENS IN BANDIT CREEK.

Carla: It certainly does. So Vivien, thanks for your time. I know you have to get back to work.

Vivien: You’re welcome, Carla! It was nice chatting with you.

Carla: So readers, there it is. Our next installment in the Bandit Creek series is ready to roll. Hopefully you too can see the good come from amongst the ashes of something bad. Stay tuned for my next interview and I think we really know after all our books: Everything does happen in Bandit Creek!

Carla Roma Interviews A.M. Westerling

Hi Carla Roma here, enjoying a frosty glass of lemonade in A.M. Westerling’s garden. It’s a hot prairie summer day and even though we’re in the shade of a couple of huge poplars, I need all the coolant I can get. <winks>

Astrid: <walks up with the pitcher of lemonade and sits down> Ha ha, I heard you Carla! Would you like more?

Carla: <holds up glass>. Yes please. And is it okay if I call you Astrid? A.M. sounds so, um, stuffy.

Astrid: Of course. I’m using my initials because I thought my name would get so long otherwise. <pours lemonade> So this is a recipe from my ancient Betty Crocker cook book. You know, the one I’ve had since I got married. It’s my go to cook book. She has recipes for everything!

Carla: <takes a sip> Delicious, thanks. So let’s get started with the interview. Why don’t you tell our audience how we met?

Astrid: Sure thing. In yoga class. I looked over during one particularly long downward dog and there was Carla looking back at me. I think we were both wondering how much longer we’d have to hang out, so to speak. <laughs>.

Carla: <rolls eyes> Yeah, I remember that class. Brutal. We were holding the poses for way longer than 5 breaths. I think the instructor forgot to count.

Astrid: But we survived. Barely. <grins>. And yoga has taught me to listen to my body, which stands me in good stead with my writing.

Carla: How so?

Astrid: <shrugs> Not to force it. If I’m in the zone, I go for it. But if the writing’s not coming smoothly, I’ll put it away and do other writing related activities, like research, or catching up with social media, or even just read another book. It’s always good to see how other authors do things. And if I absolutely can’t get past it, I’ll go for a walk. That’s always good for inspiration.

Carla: How long have you been writing? And what inspired you to start writing in the first place, anyway? And I’ll have some more of that lemonade, please! <holds out glass while Astrid pours>

Astrid: I first realized that being an author was something I could actually accomplish when I attended a romance writing seminar given by two of our Bandit Creek authors, Louise Behiel and C.J. Carmichael. Shortly after that, in October of 2004, I joined CaRWA and I’ve been following the dream ever since. And the reason I started to write? Simple. I got tired of reading books and thinking “How did THIS ever get published?” <chuckles> I really thought I could do better so I sat down at the keyboard and started. Nike has it right when they say “Just do it”!

Carla: And where did you get the idea for your Bandit Creek story, “Bootleg My Heart”? Interesting title, by the way.

Astrid: I’m a NASCAR fan. My husband and I regularly attend the race in Las Vegas.

Carla: NASCAR? As in left, left straight, left, left straight? Stock car racing? That NASCAR? <grins>

Astrid: <nods> Yeah, that NASCAR. Hot cars and cute drivers, what’s not to like! I’ve wanted to do a prohibition era story every since I discovered the roots of NASCAR lie in the bootlegging drivers of that time. They’d fix up their cars and race against each other to see who was the fastest. And, of course, to get away from the federal prohibition agents.

Carla: Hmm, who knew.

Astrid: Anyway, it’s a fun era. So innocent in a lot of ways yet with a dark side. I plan on writing another story set in that period, especially now that I’ve done the research.

Carla: I can’t wait to read this one! Especially after reading Alyssa’s “Prohibited Passion.”

Astrid: <nods> This story has one of Alyssa’s characters, Patrick Sheridan, the Irish gangster. It was fun working with her to get everything to jive. Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading “Bootleg My Heart” as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Carla: Can’t wait!

You can connect with A.M. Westerling at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Carla Interviews The ‘Fool’s Gold’ Anthology Authors

Hi, I’m Carla Roma and welcome to the Powder Horn Saloon – home to country music and cold beer in Bandit Creek, Montana. I’m seated beside Trip Williams, one of the seven writers whose short stories comprise the Fool’s Gold Anthology to be released April 1, 2012. I recognized Alyssa Linn Palmer and Victoria Chatham from previous interviews, but Trip introduced me to Louise Behiel, Julie Rowe, Sheila Seabrook, and Brenda Sinclair.

Carla: Hello everyone. I’m delighted to meet with you today.

Cotton: <bartender approaches table> I turned the music down as Trip requested. Just wave if you folks want a second round. 

Carla: Thank you, Cotton. <bartender saunters back behind bar> Let’s get started, shall we? Now, today you’re sharing April Fool’s jokes that you’ve pulled on someone or been caught by yourself. Shall we start with Victoria? 

Victoria: Years ago I worked in a bookstore in England. A new title on the history of transvestism came in. I composed a letter, supposedly from the publisher, congratulating my boss on purchasing ‘this new and exciting social treatise’. He called friends and family, asked my colleagues if they were responsible. I carried on working, and somehow he missed me altogether. His wife came in later, took one look at the letter, and said ‘Oh, that’s Victoria’. It took awhile to live that one down, but he had to admit he’d been fooled. <chuckles> 

Carla: What about you, Brenda? 

Brenda: Unlike Victoria, I was on the receiving end. Several years ago, The Red Deer Advocate printed a front page story about the City of Red Deer issuing special bags for collecting doggie poop – blue for boy dogs and pink for girl dogs – and I read most of the darn thing, totally annoyed at the idea, until I caught on I was reading an April Fool’s story. I felt rather silly. <chuckles and smiles> 

Trip: I got caught by a newspaper item, too, Brenda. About six years ago, we had a winter packed with heavy snowfalls late into the season.  The sides of my driveway were piled to five feet and the snow kept coming. Unfolding the morning Sun, I was beside myself! The city declared that all streets in front of homes were now the responsibility of homeowners to keep clear. I was spitting mad and would not stand for this! By 9:00, I had written letters to my MLA and Alderman. This, I would not tolerate! At lunch I was informed it was April 1st.  Man, did I feel stupid. Laughing at myself, I could only hope the recipients of my letters found the same humor in them as well. <everyone laughs and sips their beer>

Carla: I travel the world, avoiding cold weather, preferring to lie on a sunny beach. But then I meet with friends for a ski week in Switzerland every year. <chuckles and shakes her head> Whose next? How about you, Sheila?

Sheila: We “sent” 12 employees to a conference at $500/person and stuck the requisition in a stack of paperwork for approval. Our boss marched out of his office, face sweating, hair on end, and told us we couldn’t spend this much money without head office approval or he was going to get fired. When we told him we’d already paid with the company credit card, he looked ready to have a heart attack. Finally we yelled, “April Fool’s Day!” and his chin hit his chest.

Carla: Six thousand dollars! No wonder he almost had a heart attack. <joins laughter> Alyssa, what happened to you?

Alyssa: A friend of mine once blogged about learning he was a father, from a relationship he’d had nine years prior. Of course I believed him, since it wasn’t something anyone would joke about. And later that day, he owned up: it was only a joke. I’d never been so annoyed. I still can’t believe anyone would joke about such a thing.

Carla: Men aren’t always the most sensitive beings on earth.

Trip: Hey, I don’t agree with that.

Carla: You’re an exception, Trip. <smiles> Who’d like to share next?

Louise: I will. My department doesn’t play pranks on each other. One morning my office door was unexpectedly locked. I had a big presentation to finalize for the executive committee, and needed to work on my unnetworked desktop. But my secretary couldn’t find the key, so called maintenance.  He couldn’t open it either.  I steamed from both ears and sweat pooled everywhere. The key guru came but couldn’t open the door.  Panic overwhelmed me. Finally an hour later, my secretary dangled the key in front of me.  “April Fool’s” she yelled.  She’d been notified that morning the meeting was re-scheduled. <smiles and chuckles>

Carla: Julie, finish our interview off. What happened to you?

Julie: The best April Fool’s joke I’ve ever witnessed is one a good friend of mine played on her husband. My friends have four kids. The first two were planned, but #3 happened when the IUD failed and #4 happened when the condom failed. They decided he better have a vasectomy before #5 ‘happened’. April Fool’s day fell shortly before his surgery. She phoned him at work to say her period was late. His response: total silence. So, she went on to say she’d done a pregnancy test. It was positive. He broke his silence at that point with some very creative remarks, which I won’t repeat. Then he hung up. She called him back and as soon as he answered the phone said, “Honey, what day is today?” Then SHE hung up. <lots of smiles and laughter>

Carla: Thank you for sharing these wonderful pranks with me. And I look forward to seeing all of you again one day.

For more fun and famous April Fool’s jokes and pranks, please check out this website:
Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time.

Pick up a copy of the Fool’s Gold Anthology to be released on April 1, 2012 .

Carla Interviews Victoria Chatham about ‘Always A Lady’

Always a Lady by Victoria ChathamHello, Carla Roma here. I’m back in Bandit Creek again after a quick trip to England and, as always, I’m thrilled to meet up with one of my authors. Victoria Chatham is English, and I couldn’t think of a better place to chat with her than the Grey Rose Restaurant. Although this is a thoroughly modern setting, the walls are decorated with photographs of historical Bandit Creek, showing the old Powder Horn Saloon, Golden Nugget Hotel and many more. With a fresh pot of Earl Grey tea and a selection of fancy pastries at our disposal, I was looking forward to finding out why Victoria chose the period she did for her story.

Carla: What made you decide to set your story in 1907?

Victoria: There was a series on British TV called Upstairs, Downstairs. It ran for 68 episodes and I loved them all but particularly the first two series that covered the Edwardian era of 1903-1910. From the characters to the costumes, the story lines, the settings, it was classic. I just picked a year and went from there.

Carla: Lady Serena is well travelled for a woman of that time. Have you also traveled extensively?

Victoria: I’ve been to Spain several times, Singapore, New Zealand and San Francisco twice. But I’ve always been fascinated with the history of English and European women who, from the early 1700s to the early 1900s, traveled freely in what was then referred to as the Orient, which meant any country east of Europe. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu visited Turkey in 1717 and reportedly envied the freedom of nude bathers she observed in a Turkish baths. Lady Hester Stanhope, Lady Anne Blunt, Olympe Audouard and Jane Dieulafoy are a few of the many women who toured and lived in Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Mesopotamia, now Iraq, and Persia, now Iran. They were writers and artists, some were archaeologists and Lady Anne Blunt and her husband, Wilfrid, acquired pure Arab breeding stock for their Crabbet Park stud in England.

Carla: Is travel a thread you deliberately put in your novella because you can relate to her?

Victoria: Partly, but more because it has always intrigued me as to where and why people traveled. And remember, gold fields were like honey to a bee and drew people from all over the world. A gold mining town anywhere would have been a melting pot of all nationalities. I hoped to show a little of that with the different characters I introduced.

Carla: Do you think you would have enjoyed traveling like those women did?

Victoria: Not a chance! I like my creature comforts too much. And I can quite see why many of these ladies quickly got out of their corsets and into the comfort of whatever the local costume may have been.

Carla: So there was a strong precedent for Lady Serena casting off her corsets and belly dancing? Can you belly dance?

Victoria: Yes, and yes. I love belly dancing. It’s a terrific workout exercise and you don’t need a partner.

Carla: Do you share any of Lady Serena’s characteristics?

Victoria: Um, I have to say yes on that one. I’ve always been very strong willed and independent and I’m not particularly patient. But then, I’m a first born and a Virgo, so I come by it honestly.

Carla: What is it about Randolph that appeals to women? What makes him a good hero?

Victoria: He’s loyal, handsome, and in the true way of gentlemen, lets his wife be front and centre as her story was much more interesting. In this story anyway.

Carla: Aha! So there is going to be another story?

Victoria: I think so. I like the challenge of pairing a husband and wife team. I’m probably giving my age away, but I thoroughly enjoyed Dashiell Hammett’s Nick and Nora Charles characters in The Thin Man. And the Hart to Hart television series with Robert Wagner playing Jonathan and Stefanie Powers playing his wife Jennifer, so I think it’s a theme that has merit.

Carla: Last question. Can you give a hint as to what the next story will be about?

Victoria: Well, there always have been and, I suspect, always will be spies and Europe has always been intriguing, don’t you think?

Carla: And that’s all you’ll share?

Victoria: More tea?

Victoria Chatham’s Bandit Creek story, Always A Lady, debuts March 15th, on Amazon.com. In the meantime, you can link up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Carla Interviews Roxy Boroughs about ‘A Stranger’s Kiss’

I’m Carla Roma and I’m back in the always bustling, often mysterious town of Bandit Creek, Montana. I’ve been strolling around Lost Lake and reflecting on the many exotic places I’ve visited in my life. It’s within this smorgasbord of settings, that I first met some of our Bandit Creek authors. However, the locale of my initial encounter with Roxy Boroughs defines unusual. It was in St. John’s Newfoundland. In a Laundromat.

Roxy: You just had to mention that.

Carla: Come on, Roxy. Dish the dirt. What were you doing there?

Roxy: Laundry, of course. That was back in my acting days and I was in a children’s touring show. We traveled across Canada and the eastern part of the US performing tales from the Arabian Nights. Acting isn’t always glamorous, like you see on the Tonys or the Academy Awards. I was living out of a duffle bag and washing my own costumes. Now, here’s the real question. What the heck were you doing there?

Carla: If I told you it had something to do with a political figure and a blue dress, would you believe me?

Roxy: Maybe if we hadn’t been in Newfoundland.

Carla: But back to your story. I remember you kept your head down, sort of blocking everyone else out, and I couldn’t figure out why. Until I looked up and saw your image on the TV set they’d bolted to the wall.

Roxy: A few years earlier, I’d had a guest spot on the TV series, Degrassi Junior High. Forget glamor. Right when I’m in this coin wash, laundering my own costume, my episode comes on the television.

Carla: And that embarrassed you. Why?

Roxy: I guess it was because the line between the fantasy of TV and the reality of being a performer were blurred.

Carla: Fantasy versus reality. That theme resounds in your new Bandit Creek novella, A Stranger’s Kiss.

Roxy: Indeed. My heroine, Amy, has a big secret. To keep it she tells lies. She’s created an image for herself that doesn’t really exist.

Carla: And the hero, Sam, steps right into that world.

Roxy: Yes, he has his own agenda. He’s looking for the man who murdered his son, who turns out to be a person from Amy’s past. Her secrets impact his mission.

Carla: Sounds like a dark tale. Yet you’ve managed to weave in some humor. And, of course, hot sex.

Roxy: But no blue dresses. I’ll leave that to you, Carla.

Carla: ‘Nough said.

Roxy Boroughs’ Bandit Creek story, A Stranger’s Kiss debuts February 15th , on Amazon.com and Smashwords.com. In the meantime, let’s have a look at that Degrassi clip. And here’s an insider’s tidbit – there’s a Whoopee cushion on the seat Arthur invites Roxy to take.

To discover all of Roxy’s titles and link up with her on Twitter and Facebook, visit her website.

Carla Interviews Kymber Morgan About ‘Shafted’

Hi, I’m Carla Roma and welcome to Bandit Creek, a small town with a mountain of secrets. And I’ll bet Kymber doesn’t want me to tell one of hers, but since it’s pivotal to how we met, I’m going to anyway. There I was blasting along, enjoying the scenery you can only find on the back-country trails of Southern Alberta, when I glanced to my right and saw the front tire of a motor cross bike, same make as my own, spinning in the air. Curious I turned off the trail and that’s when I first saw Kymber flat on her back having dumped her bike.

Kymber: Oh sure you had to go there, didn’t you? Okay, but let’s make sure all the facts are out then. You forgot to mention it was the first time I ever rode one solo – and before you say a word – yes, I was trying to impress a man.

Carla: I wasn’t going to say a word about tall, dark and…

Kymber: Sure you weren’t, anyway I’d gotten all suited up, dug deep for the courage I’d had in spades the night before around the campfire – when it seemed like such a good idea – but only found enough to get myself in trouble.

Carla: How so?

Kymber: Well, I found enough to fire up the bike but not enough to think clearly when I popped the clutch and the thing took off like some kind of motorized bucking bronco – which wasn’t the worst part. You see, I’d started out in a large meadow with only one solitary tree in the middle, and yup you guessed it, not only did I run smack dab into it, I did it in front of the aforementioned man and his best friend. Next thing I knew I was lying in the grass with the bike on top of me still running and a good helping of egg on my face.

Carla: I’m thinking that’s about where I come in right?

Kymber: Sure is. So there I am staring up at the sky, hoping my goggles are big enough to hide my beet red face, when all of a sudden this neon pink helmet comes into my line of vision.

Carla: I loved that helmet.

Kymber: Yeah and the pink motor cross boots that matched were quite the thing too.

Carla: Still have those you know.

Kymber: And I still have the sign you made up for the back of my helmet that day. The one that read: ‘Danger Student Biker’.

Carla: (giggles) I forgot about that. Hey, so what ever happened to the guy?

Kymber: (winks) I married him.

Carla: No kidding, that’s awesome and if I remember right, he’s a bit of a handsome alpha type. Is he a source of inspiration for your stories?

Kymber: (smiles)

Carla: Okay I get it. No kiss and tell. So on another note then, as with many of the authors I’ve had the privilege of working with on the Bandit Creek project, your story isn’t just fun it’s unique. Where did the idea come from?

Kymber: Thanks, Carla, I take that as huge compliment and am very proud to be a part of this project. As for the idea, given the release date schedule, there’s a bit of a Valentine’s Day connection, so it started with ‘what if Cupid got out of control?

Carla:  You do have a tendency to go toward the more obscure mythological beings for your main characters, like Anteros in this one. Why is that?

Kymber: When it comes to mythology and legends, I prefer to borrow characters people don’t necessarily have preconceived notions about, particularly for a hero or heroine. I can have a lot of fun taking them places it would be hard to go with the more famous ones. This way the characters are free to develop as the story flows without being hemmed in.

Carla:  I also loved what you did with the supporting characters. I see Cupid and company in whole new light, especially the men, whew, and thanks for that by the way.

Kymber: (laughing) You’re welcome. I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

Carla: I did, and it’s been fun reminiscing about how we met. We had a lot of fun on the trail that day, well, once you got your bike back up on its wheels that is.

Kymber: (laughing harder) Yes, it has, and thanks to the warning on my helmet, at least the other riders out that day knew to keep their distance until I had a better handle on things.

Carla:  Happy to help anytime. Now before we end up too far down memory lane, I want to thank you for coming by, Kymber. It’s been great talking about both our ‘mudder’ days and your book SHAFTED which is coming out February 1, 2012 on Amazon.com and Smashwords.com. You can find out more about Kymber and her writing at www.kymbermorgan.com and if you have any questions for either us, please feel free to ask here. We’d be more than happy to answer.