Tag Archives: author interviews

Interview With Carolyn Wilkins, Author of “Melody for Murder”

I had the privilege of working on Melody for Murder with Pen-L Publishing, and it was a thoroughly delightful book. I loved the main character, Bertie, and all the trouble she gets herself into trying to help others. You can find my review of the book on amazon.com at this link.

I’m thrilled to share this interview with the author, Carolyn Wilkins. Welcome, Carolyn!

new author photo copy

Tell me about your latest project.

My latest project is a murder mystery.  It is the sequel to my current book Melody for Murder, which comes out with Pen-L Publishing in June. The series features Bertie Bigelow, an African American choir director and amateur sleuth who lives on the South Side of Chicago.  At this point I’m most of the way through the second draft of the sequel to Melody and hope to have something ready to submit to Pen-L by the end of the summer.

MFM Cover fb size

Click on the cover to purchase from amazon.com.

What role, if any, did books, writing, and reading play in your childhood?

My whole family loves to read and write.  My mother is a wonderful storyteller, and my father, a lawyer by profession, wrote poetry, skits and song parodies for fun.  As long as I can remember I’ve written stories, songs, and poems.  However, I didn’t take myself seriously as an author until I published Tips for Singers in 2008.

 What is your writing practice, your writing routine?

I try to write every day.  Sometimes when things are really busy at work or I am on the road, this doesn’t always happen.  But I’ve noticed that my writing flows much better when I am able to maintain a consistent daily routine.  If possible, I try to write in the morning before my brain gets too cluttered up with other things.

I will say, however, that I am also to some degree a seasonal writer, meaning that I write a lot more during vacations when I do not have to teach.

Who are you reading now?

Of course, I read murder mysteries, lots of them.  I just finished Vertigo 42 by Martha Grimes and before that Prime Time by Hank Philippi Ryan.  Today I will treat myself to Dennis Lahane’s latest – Live By Night.   I also enjoy well written and briskly paced nonfiction – Eric Larson (The Devil in the White City) is a master.  Before the summer is out I will read his newest book about the sinking of the Lusitania as well.

What are three of your all-time favorite books? Why do you love those?

This is such a hard question!  There are so many great books out there, and I have a hard time picking favorites.  Three books that had a profound impact on me as a writer are:

 Roots by Alex Haley

After I finished my singing textbook, I decided to write a memoir about my grandfather, who was appointed Assistant Secretary of Labor by President Eisenhower in 1954.  At the time, he was the highest ranking African American in government.  As it turned out, he had a very rough time in the Labor Department and ended up resigning his post abruptly after only 3 years.  Haley’s seminal book about discovering his family’s hidden past was a big influence.

 When Death Comes Stealing by Valerie Wilson Wesley

This book was one of the first mysteries I read that had an African American female protagonist.  At the time (1994), this was revolutionary!  I’ve read every one of her books since.  Two other authors who inspired me in this regard are – Eleanor Taylor Bland (the Marty MacAllister series) and  Barbara Neely (the Blanche series).  All three of these series were huge for me because they showed me it was possible to write traditional mysteries with black characters.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

The granddaddy of all mysteries!  I grew up reading Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and Amanda Cross as a kid.  Maybe if I hadn’t, I would not be writing mysteries now.

How do you balance “building a writing platform” and the actual writing to set on that platform?

With difficulty!  Right now, because Melody for Murder is coming out June 1, I am spending a lot of time on the web and in person promoting it.  But hopefully, once I get the book launched I’ll be able to focus more on writing the sequel.  My best advice on this is to put aside quality time for your creative work (in my case, the early morning hours) and do my social media stuff later in the evening.

 What is a typical day like for you?

When I am teaching, I try to get up at six so that I can meditate, exercise, and write a bit before breakfast.  That way, if I am too tired to do anything when I come home from work that night, at least I will have accomplished something.

Now that it’s summer, I can be a bit more relaxed. In addition to my writing, I try to make time for playing and practicing music, visiting friends, and having time to just vegetate.

Your main character in Melody for Murder, Bertie, is a choir director. I sense that you are also a music teacher and have a musical background. How much of you and your background is reflected in Bertie?

A great deal of my own background went into Bertie’s character. I am a singer, a piano player, and a choir directer. Both my mother and I have taught music in the Chicago City College system, so that part of Bertie’s story came easy for me. Of course, I also took many liberties – my experience as a teacher was considerably less exciting than Bertie’s.

What do you think is Bertie’s biggest flaw? Did you plan that, or did it evolve as you wrote?

I think Bertie’s biggest flaw is also her most endearing trait. She is, as she tells one of the characters in my book, “an inveterate optimist.” She always sees the best in people and tends to plunge into situations that a more cynical individual would regard with greater caution. This quality gets her into lots of trouble – bad for Bertie but good for readers, as it keeps the plot humming.

To some degree I planned this. But her personality also evolved and clarified itself during the writing process.

The city of Chicago is almost a secondary character in Melody. What do you love the most about that city and why did you chose to set your story there?

Often when you read books about Chicago, they take place Downtown or on the North Side, which have a very different feel. When I wrote my book, I wanted to give the reader a taste for a part of the city that is often overlooked. As I was born and raised on the South Side, it is also the part of the city that I know best.

I loved that Bertie has tea every morning instead of coffee. I’m also one of those rare people who doesn’t care for coffee. What about you? Coffee or tea?

I have to say I’m a tea person. I will drink the occasional cup of coffee, as Bertie does in the book. However, when I am at home relaxing, I (just like Bertie) prefer to put the kettle on.

The cover for your book is wonderful. Pen-L does consistently great covers for their books, but I’m wondering how much you already knew what you wanted it to look like and how much came from your publisher?

Didn’t Pen-L do a fantastic job?! When we first discussed the cover, I sent them jpegs of other covers for music-themed mysteries. But the cover Pen-L came up with is better than any of them – it is truly eye-catching.

What is the best wisdom you have to share with other writers?

First of all, be stubborn! Believe in yourself and in the value of your work.  Lock in your writing time and do not allow it to be interrupted.  Don’t let other people, whether they are friends, family, or book professionals, discourage you.

Second of all, be flexible. Be willing to receive and at least consider criticism that is given from a place of being supportive.  Read and study the work of authors you admire for tips, and always be ready to revise your story one more time.

Check out Melody for Murder at Pen-L Publishing’s web site, and you can sample a chapter for free!

And you can watch Carolyn’s book launch concert at this link through YouTube.

You can find Carolyn on Facebook, on Twitter, and at her web site.

Other books by Carolyn:

Hi Resolution TRMU copy

dnw cover photo


Author Interview: Lily Iona MacKenzie

Welcome to Lily Iona MacKenzie for this special guest post and author interview feature.

Pen-L Publishing will be publishing Lily Iona MacKenzie’s novel Fling! in July 2015. 

Fling_fullcover_Crop_4-20-15[3] copy

Click on the cover for more information from Pen-L Publishing.

  1. Tell me about your latest project.

It’s hard to describe a “latest project” since I’m usually working on more than one thing simultaneously. I’m revising my novel Bone Songs that will be published in 2016. I’ve just completed another novel whose focus is a young version of the main character in another novel of mine, Freefall: a Divine Comedy. And I have several short stories in process.

  1. What role, if any, did books, writing, and reading play in your childhood?

When I was 13, I started a diary, but I was afraid someone would see what I had written, so I used a coded language that I can’t remember. I would love to see those pages again so I would have a better sense of my writing self at that age. I didn’t start keeping a diary again until I was in my mid-20s and going through a deep depression. The writing was my attempt to understand what was happening. I began then to journal daily not only about what I was thinking and feeling but also recorded my nightly dreams. I’ve continued this practice ever since, learning much about myself in the process. I feel the keeping in close contact with my dreams has fed my writing and enriched my imagination.

  1. What is your writing practice, your writing routine?

I try to write a minimum of one hour per day. I usually can fit in that amount of time, and I’ve produced an amazing amount of material over the years as a result: three poetry collections, one of which is published; four+ novels, two of which are on their way to being published, and I’m sure the other ones will as well; a short story collection; travel articles; reviews; memoir; and much more.

  1. Who are you reading now?

It’s hard to say because I always have so many books on my night stand. I love the Norwegian novelist Per Petterson and have read all of his books except the last one, which is now waiting for me. I recently finished Three Light Years by the Italian author Andrea Canobbio. Francine Prose had praised it highly in The New York Review of Books, and over all it lived up to the accolades. My husband and I will be spending a month in Italy this summer, so we read John Hooker’s The Italians, a wonderful overview of the country and its people. I intersperse fiction and non-fiction with poetry since that’s a genre I also write in. I’ve been impressed with Mark Strand’s Collected Poems and have been going through it. Always much more to read than I have time for!

  1. What are three of your all-time favorite books? Why do you love those?

I really can’t identify three favorite books. There are too many that I love. But I can say that certain novels had a profound effect on me at different stages of my life for various reasons. When I was working on my BA in English, I took a Modern American Novel class that did exactly what Lionel Trilling said such books should do: they read me as much as I read them. Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and his Light in August. Dreiser’s Sister Carrie. Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. And many more. Each book made me aware of elements of myself that were also manifested in the characters inhabiting the books.

Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude found me at a time when I needed a model for the magical realism approach that seems natural to me and inhabits much of my work. I LOVE that book and return to it often for inspiration.

In another mode, Roberto Bolano, a Chilean writer, has also inspired me. He diverges from the more familiar magical realist vein and creates his own genre. I’ve read most of his books now, and they create a world that seems like a parallel universe to ours. He also steps beyond the usual fiction boundaries, violating our expectations of how a novel should unfold or end. I’m always entranced by his work.

And I haven’t mentioned W.G. Sebald yet, another writer who died far too young. He’s another writer who invented a new genre, a hybrid novel form. Again, I’ve read all of his work, and I’m stunned by it.

I’m sorry that all of these authors are men when there are so many female authors I love as well, including Anne Enright. I’ll read anything she writes because of her sharp wit and illuminations of contemporary life.

  1. How do you balance “building a writing platform” and the actual writing to set on that platform?

Platform has become a hated word in my lexicon. I feel we writers have become cogs in the publishing machine instead of masters of it. Of course, we don’t have to create platforms, but most publishers wouldn’t work with us if we didn’t. So I now find myself stealing precious time from my writing to keep up with the demands of social networking, finding reviewers for my novel, writing blog posts, etc. In the last week, I haven’t had time to go near the various projects I’m working on. I’m clearly not doing very well in the balancing category.

  1. What is a typical day like for you?

I’m not sure I have a typical day. I teach freshman comp at the University of San Francisco, just one class a semester now. I also am vice president of the part-time faculty union. Those two responsibilities take a considerable bite out of my day. I’ve already mentioned the marketing demands I’m dealing with. Working out is essential for my mental and physical well being, so I ride a stationary bike for 45 mins each day. Three days a week I also do strength training at a gym. I love to cook and enjoy making healthful meals for my husband and myself. I also am a great tennis and baseball (SF Giants) fan, so I squeeze these activities into some days. The writing I fold into whatever spaces are left.

  1. What is the best wisdom you have to share with other writers?

Write. Rewrite. Write some more. Get feedback from respected editors. Revise, revise, revise. Keep writing.


Thank you, Lily, for sharing your writing life and journey with us. I can’t wait to read Fling!

You can find and follow Lily on Facebook, Twitter, and at her blog.

Writing Process Blog Hop

I’m thrilled to have been tagged in the Writing Process Blog Hop by wonderful author Jan Morrill. You can connect with Jan at all of these links.

If you move quickly, you can even click here to get in on a free copy of her new Haiku collection at amazon.com.

As a part of this blog hop, my job is to answer some specific questions about my writing process and then pass the next blog stop on to another blogger. Here are my answers to the questions.

1) What am I working on?

I have several projects in the air right now. Book 3 in the Cats in the Mirror series is in the final stages of my own revisions/editing, and “Miss Fatty Cat’s Revenge” will be heading to a professional editor sometime in the next week or so. The cover art is already complete, so it is down to more of the final touches and formatting/production process at this point. It is well on schedule to release in September of 2014, if not a bit sooner for fans of the series. While that book is with the editor, I will be refocusing on an adult book called “At The Corner Of Magnetic And Main” that is set here in Eureka Springs. An editor at Delacorte/Random House had been interested enough to want to read the full manuscript, but the time frame for that exclusive has run out. In April I’ll be talking with a couple of smaller houses to see if there is any interest from them. I also want to start work on adapting a picture book manuscript into a middle grade book. “The Brave, Frail, and Delicate Princess” has been in and out of my desk drawer for years, and that’s the direction it seems to be headed at the moment.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

If we stick with the books that are published, the middle grade Cats in the Mirror series, I would have to say that I’m not aware of any other alien cat books like them out there at any age level. Certainly alien cats are nothing new, but mine are based so specifically on my real cats and have photos of them throughout the books. I did quite a lot of research on what is available before I committed to self-publishing the series, and I think they are quite unique. The reader enters the world of the cat like in the Warriors books, but there is a whole science fiction element and the ultimate struggle that Kimba and Hiro face between loyalties to their loved humans and the obligation to their cat family.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I rarely sit down and decide “I’m going to write about book about X.” Over many years as a freelance writer, I just learned to jump on the ideas and subjects that come to me each day. My first book, “Why Kimba Saved The World,” evolved over a few years. The story ran around in my head and kept getting bigger and bigger. Living with Kimba provided ideas daily. Once during the process I just sat down for three hours and thought about “what ifs” for the story. That brought it to where it is now and developed her one story into a whole series of stories and characters. The idea of “Magnetic And Main” slapped me upside the head, and I had it outlined and the first scene written in 24 hours. Doing an adult book was not in my plan at the time, but you have to jump on those inspirations when they come. At least write them down. Writer’s block in not a problem for me. Having the time and energy to write everything I’d like to is the problem.

4) How does your writing process work?

I’m not big on serious outlining, but I do like to know where the story is going. I usually write in scenes, like a movie. I know X is going to happen, and I know X is going to happen, but I’m not always sure how all of that is going to end up at Y or the whys and motivations for it all. Once I have some framework done, I go back and fill in the pieces and adapt what now needs to be changed. With “Miss Fatty Cat’s Revenge,” I found I needed to make lots of adjustments because when it came right down to it the “why” for some of the characters didn’t end up being what I thought it would. I don’t think I’ve ever written anything straight through from start to finish. Even articles and short stories or contest essays are more a piecemeal process.

Getting that first draft down is like pulling teeth for me. As Dorothy Parker says: “I hate writing. I love having written.” I have to make myself sit down, and I time my writing sessions or set a word count/scene goal. For “Vacation Hiro” I actually went away on a retreat for several days. I knew exactly what was going to happen in the story, but getting it typed up was giving me trouble. I held up in a rental condo through our time share system for four days and just pounded it out–that good old 5,000-6,000 words a day. Then I was very happy because it was all there and ready to mess with. Revising and editing and making the story better is the reward, not to mention having the actual book in your hand to share with an excited reader.

Well, I hope you learned a little bit about me as a writer. Now I tag my friend Cat McMahon of Cat’s Stories. She has her writing fingers in several different pies.

Here’s a little bit about Cat:

Author of the Road Trip Photo Adventure Series, Cat McMahon is a wordsmith who enjoys outdoor discovery, culinary exploration, her cats, and making memories with her family; she lives in the craggy wilderness off the slopes of the Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwest USA.


Here’s where you can find her!

Link to her website:
Links to her books:
Click here to see this book at amazon.com.

Click here to see this book at amazon.com.

Click here for this book at amazon.com.

Click here for this book at amazon.com.

Links to her other websites:
Be sure to check out both Jan and Cat and their wonderful blogs!










Top 10 Author Interview With I Read Indie Blog

Just taking a quick second on this icy and snowy day here in Eureka Springs to share a quick author interview I did with I Read Indie’s blog as a part of their Arkansas Authors feature. Mandy had 10 Top Pick questions for me. Click here to read the interview at her site. I have also copied just my answer section below. Hope you are all staying safe and warm wherever you are today.

Top 10 With Meg Welch Dendler
1. fav movie/actor/actress? I love, Love, LOVE movies and watch between 150-200 a year. I don’t know how I could pick one favorite. I lean toward romance and drama and unknown indie movies–no psycho killers or blow up movies. “Moulin Rouge” is an all-time favorite. If I run across “Grosse Pointe Blank” I will stop and watch every time. Favorite actor would probably be Matt Damon. My daughters call him my “boyfriend.” I love Ewan McGregor and Idris Elba as well. Emma Thompson is one of my favorite actresses because she is so amazingly talented, but she can also write award-winning screenplays and be silly on the red carpet.
2. fav song/singer? I love Bruno Mars and “Locked Out of Heaven,” but I’m also a big fan of all things disco and 80’s music like Bon Jovi and Aerosmith.
3. fav place you would love to visit? I would love to go back to Italy. I was there once with a whirl-wind high school tour program, but I’d love to be able to go more into the countryside and visit where I want to outside of touristy stuff.
4. one item you cannot live without? My computer! As a writer I can’t imagine having to write and edit long-hand. Argh! I am on my computer at least half of my waking hours. When the internet goes down I feel like I’m on a desert island.
5. who would you like to meet?(dead or alive) Jane Austen. She’s a writer, and I’m an uber-fan.
6. fav hobby? Watching movies. I don’t know if that really qualifies as a hobby, but it is what I do with my spare time so it will have to count.
7. guilty pleasure? Watching the TV show “Chopped.” It makes me so happy in my soul to hear Ted Allen give the opening rules. I had gallbladder surgery over the summer, and I spent a couple of weeks in bed before and after it just watching “Chopped” and “House Hunters.”
8. fav author and/book? Since I was a young girl I have loved Anne McCaffrey. Her Dragonrider series is fantastic, and I have a stuffed gold dragon that sits on my computer to inspire me. Her other books focusing more on psychic abilities are great too.
9. do you collect anything? Oh yes, I collect Disney mini-plush toys. I worked at a Disney Outlet store for a few months and started picking up a few favorites here and there. I think I’m up to about 80 of them now. My cat Kimba (the heroine of my Cats in the Mirror series) loves to capture them and carry them around the house while she sings about her conquest. I wake up to find a few outside my bedroom door every morning.
10. pet peeve? Saying “less” when you should say “fewer,” but it’s a battle that will never be won. Give it 30 years and the word fewer will be obsolete. I was raised by a grammar ninja, so I notice things others don’t, but I know I still make mistakes.


Author Interview of Meg at Missy Frye’s Web Site

One special part of my blog tour was to do an author interview with award-winning writer Missy Frye for her web site. Missy and I had connected on twitter, but we had the chance to meet and chat at the Ozark Creative Writer’s Conference in October here in Eureka Springs. I love the fact that Missy asked me very specific questions about my writing life and journey (usually you just get a set of pre-fab questions). Follow this link to read the whole interview.

Here’s her fun final question:

MF: If you could jump into a book, and live in that world … which would it be?
MWD: “The Dragonriders of Pern,” without question. I’ve been reading Anne McCaffrey’s books since I was 10. I love that world and her dragons and fire lizards and heroes. I can’t believe they have not pulled off making a movie out of the first books. I have a stuffed gold dragon “Ramoth” that keeps me company when I write. Kimba has pulled it behind my computer monitor to sleep with her these days, but I know she’s there. Together, they inspire me.


Kimba with Ramoth and many others in her nest behind my monitor. I never know who she’ll drag back there.


Book Review & Author Interview at Magnolia Blossom’s Blog

Wow! I think this is the most detailed book review “Why Kimba Saved The World” has gotten so far. Reviewer Bud Scott broke it down into several categories and commented on each section. I thought it was funny that he assumed the book would be about a giant cat saving the world based on the cover. That’s the first time I’ve gotten that feedback! Click here to visit Magnolia Blossom’s blog and read the whole review and detailed interview with me.

In concluding the review and interview, the web site says:

“The Bestowing of the Blossoms…
It certainly looks like Meg Dendler’s book ‘Why Kimba Saved the World’ was the  cat’s meow for reviewer Bud Scott as it earned a total of 88 out of 100 points giving it a very strong 4.85 (and a wee little bit more) blossom rating. That’s an exceptional thing to say about a book that, because it wasn’t actually written for the ‘older’ set so to say, kept the attention of the reviewer well enough that he not only has said he’ll recommend it to others and that he was able to see the personalities of the cats shine through. We are so pleased that Meg asked The MBR to review her book, Why Kimba Saved the World and hope that you, Kind Reader, will check it out for yourself – especially if you know of a child who might enjoy it. What’s more – perhaps you could get a copy and donate it to your local school’s library! Wouldn’t that be a wonderful way to not only spread the love for reading to our youth but also to shine a bright light on a terrific writer for an age group that is in sore need of some quality, high interest books!”
Be sure to click on the link and give their blog some traffic and read the whole book review, as well as other book reviews at the site. I’m always so grateful for the book lovers who agree to review independent and self-published books!

Author Interview with Arkansas Authors Web Site

As a part of my blog tour and my wonderful relationship with the Arkansas Authors web site, a two-part interview with me is currently being featured at their site. Click here to read the whole thing. You can also find “Why Kimba Saved The World” in their Book Spotlight section and available for sale. They are even featuring my book on the home page today!

This site is a fantastic resource for authors from Arkansas, but also for readers who just want to find great books. The site will be offering a holiday buying guide as well. Stop by, read the interview, and check out their other authors and books as well.

Here’s one of the interview questions, but be sure to go to www.arkansasauthors.com for the full interview.

What drove your decision to self-publish?

I did send the manuscript for “Kimba” out to a few publishing houses and agents over a couple of years. Sometimes you have to wait months, and they want it to be exclusive. It’s an arduous process. Many big publishing houses are closed, and agents are hesitant to take on an unknown writer. You never hear back from most of them. They want you to get your platform set and have a fan base first. It’s rather like needing to be in the union to get a job, but you can’t get a job unless you are in the union. The nature of self-publishing has changed so much in the last few years that I started to explore that. As I met some agents/publishers through conferences and got real feedback, they all liked the story but didn’t feel it was right for them. I just wanted to go forward and get the book out there. It is a ton of work to be your own publisher, but it gets the job done instead of just sitting on manuscripts and waiting for answers.

Great New Review and Interview

I’m so grateful for my new twitter-connection friend The Styling Librarian and the great new review she gave to “Why Kimba Saved The World.” This blog also includes a wonderful interview with me about my favorite animal-based stories. Click on this link to read her comments and follow her blog too. She recommends fantastic books, and I’m thrilled to be included in her list.

Guest Blog Post at Candysraves.com

I’m trilled to have a guest blog up at Candysraves.com today! It is an interview with me about being a writer and “Why Kimba Saved The World.” You can see the interview at Candysraves.com, or it is copied below as well. Thank you, Candy, for helping to get the word out about “Kimba!”

Guest Post by Meg Welch Dendler, Author of Why Kimba Saved the World

Tell us about yourself…

I spent 15 years working with young children, 10 of those as a classroom teacher. I have been writing since I was a little girl and have always wanted to be a full-time author. For many years I did freelance work while I was teaching and raising my daughters. Now writing has my full attention.

What genera do you write and why?

My current series is for middle grade readers, roughly ages 8-12. That is an age group that I really loved working with as a teacher, and this story was perfect for sharing with them. But I will freely admit that I have lots of adults who love the book and read it right along with their kids.

Tell us about your book…

“Why Kimba Saved The World” is about a pampered house cat who wishes she could be wilder and have more freedom, until she suddenly learns that she is really part of an alien race and has a whole huge destiny and big adventures expected of her. It’s exciting at first, but she has some life-changing choices to make about what is important and where her loyalties lie.

What was your inspiration for this book?

The main character is based on one of the cats in our house, Kimba. I had grown up with the idea that cats might just be aliens — my mom read lots of science fiction — so it wasn’t much of a stretch to wonder if that was true of Kimba too. Later books in the series will focus on different characters and how each deals with their own challenges in coming to terms with their alien heritage.

Do you have a favorite character and why that one?

Kimba is definitely my favorite because she is based on the real cat that is mine out of the clowder of cats we have at home. When we found Kimba and her sister Hiro at only a day or so old, we already had four cats. That’s a lot of cats! Kimba is just wild and crazy and totally nutty and an independent cat. She’s my favorite. As I write this, she is sleeping on a chair next to me in a pile of stuffed toys. She’s a real character. The cat on the cover of the book is an actual photo of her.

Did you find anything particularly difficult in writing this book?

When I first started writing it, I hoped to have something for an even younger age group — very early readers. But that is limiting for the vocabulary you can use, the length of the story, and technical things like that. As it progressed, I just knew I had to kick it up a notch and hope that those younger kids who are still developing their reading skills will have someone who is willing to read it aloud to them.

What project(s) are you currently working on?

Right now, I am very focused on writing the second book in the series, “Vacation Hiro.” I really want to have that published next spring so I can take both books with me to the fairs and festival in 2014. That is one of the great things about self-publishing. Once you have the text ready to go, getting it into print format can be done in a couple of months.

Right after that, I will be publishing an unrelated book called “At The Corner of Magnetic and Main” that is for a bit older reader and follows the spiritual journey of a young woman who is having trouble moving on from her life here on earth to what lies ahead. That manuscript is in the hands of some much trusted friends and colleagues right now for their feedback and critique.

Do you have any interesting writing quirks you want to tell us about?

I will freely admit to being quirky. I think most writers are! Writing a first draft is hard for me. Just getting it out of my head and onto the paper for some reason is very frustrating. So I reward myself with breaks. If I write a chapter or a certain amount of words, then I can take a break for 10 minutes and play Zoo World on Facebook, or something like that. My office is also filled with my collection of Disney mini-plush characters. I have about 75 of them right now. They watch me write, and that makes me very happy. Kimba has pulled 10 of them down onto her special chair today for her nap. I don’t mind sharing them with her.

Do you have any advice for writers out there?

Write, and then write some more. If you have a book in your head, go for it! But also be sure to get input from people around you that you respect. Join a critique group. Go to conferences. Sometimes I get the best idea on how to tweak a story or “bling” it up some just by listening to others talk about their work. And pay an editor if you are self-publishing. Pay someone to help you make the best cover you can. If it doesn’t look professional in the end, it won’t matter how good your story is. Make it great!

Where can we find you?

My website and my blog are at www.megdendler.com. I am on Twitter @kimbababy and on Facebook at Meg Dendler, Author (there’s a link at my website). You can sign up to follow my blog and get my newsletter. I’m also active on Goodreads and have a YouTube channel with fun videos. I’m in production right now on a series of videos where I read “Why Kimba Saved The World” aloud one chapter at a time and will share fun photos and “behind the scenes” stories. That should be up soon.

And of course we have to know, where can we find your book?

“Why Kimba Saved The World” is available in paperback and ebook through Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com. You can also get signed paperback copies directly from me through PayPal right at my web site. I’m happy to personalize it and add a matching bookmark just for fun.

About the Author:
Meg Welch Dendler is a former teacher with a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. While over a decade as a freelance writer gave her the chance to interview individuals as diverse as the Archbishop of Cape Town and Sylvester Stallone, in 2010 Meg set her focus on publishing several books for young readers that she had been working on for years. Meg is thrilled to be sharing her first book, “Why Kimba Saved The World,” with young readers worldwide. In this first book of the Cats in the Mirror series, feisty house cat Kimba learns that she is really part of an alien race and has to pick sides between her loyal human family and her feline destiny. The second book, “Vacation Hiro,” is already in the works. Meg and her family (including four cats and her dog Max) live at 1,400 feet in the Ozark mountains on what they call Serenity Mountain, just outside of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Visit her at www.megdendler.com for more information about upcoming books and events.


Author Interview With Book Club Reading List

I’m thrilled to have another interview posted, this time with the Book Club Reading List web site. 482 people recommended it on their Facebook pages. Who knows what that means in real life, but Kimba and I are happy for whatever attention we can get for our new book! I should add that we would love to Skype with any children’s book club that is reading “Why Kimba Saved The World” for free. The text of the interview is pasted below. Enjoy!

Author Interview – Meg Dendler

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What inspired you to write this book?

I have been writing for years, but this particular story was inspired by the real life Kimba. She is such a kook and is constantly into something. I love her beyond reason in that way that only crazy cat ladies can truly understand. As a child, I had heard a story about cats being aliens and communicating through mirrors with cats on earth, so it didn’t take much for me to start imagining Kimba being a part of that. She and her sister, Hiro, spent the first few months of their lives living in our bathroom, so I just let my thoughts about what they might be up to in there when we were gone run wild.

What topics in your book or background do you think book clubs would find interesting?

“Why Kimba Saved The World” is a children’s book, but I have had many adults read it and be just as interested in Kimba and the choices she has to make. We all have things we want to be free from, to feel independent, but that freedom comes with challenges of its own. It’s not always all we thought it would be. What if that freedom meant hurting someone else? Kimba’s decisions echo the same ones we all face in our lives.

Tell us about your career outside of writing and how it influences your writing.

I spent many years working with and later teaching young children — preschool, kindergarten, and early elementary. I have been certified to teach in two states and hold a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Language Arts and Reading were always my specialties and favorite parts of the curriculum. I always spent way too much money on books when I went to teaching conferences and loved reading them aloud in class and at home to my own daughters. Any time I am working on a book, I try to think about how it would be received by a child just listening to it — not yet able to read it him or herself. For a book like “Why Kimba Saved The World,” it is important to walk that line between the child being able to read it independently and an even younger child listening to it aloud and being absorbed by the characters.

Describe your style of writing?

I consistently lean toward third person omnipotent, the outside source who knows what everyone is thinking and sees all as the narrator. It isn’t that I went through different ways of presenting the text and ended up with that one, it is just what is comfortable for me as a writer. Both the sequel “Vacation Hiro” and an unrelated book “At The Corner of Magnetic and Main,” which I am working on now, have that same style. I also test my text against that read aloud-ability scale that I mentioned earlier. I read paragraphs out loud and edit them when it doesn’t flow well or I find myself naturally using a different word or phrasing than what I originally wrote. I helps me catch mistakes in the text too.

Which authors have inspired you?

I am very blessed to have a mother who loves books. When I was in elementary school, bedtime stories included T.H. White’s “The Once And Future King,” “Watership Down,” and Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders series. She continued to read aloud to me long past when I was an independent reader, and that is so important. It allowed me to “read” books that were still a bit beyond me but had amazing vocabulary and stories. We also had all of the Wizard of Oz books (by Baum and his daughter), the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, Beverly Cleary, Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, and Madeline L’Engle. After reading “A Wrinkle in Time,” I insisted that everyone begin calling me Meg (my nickname at the time was Molly), and it stuck. It’s probably not surprising to hear that “Socks” was one of my very favorite books growing up. I read it dozens of times. As a teacher, I grew to love newer authors like Don and Audrey Wood, Lois Lowry, and Jean Craighead George. When I tried to read aloud “Charlotte’s Web” to a group of first graders a couple of years ago, I couldn’t make it through the part where Charlotte dies without crying. To say out loud that she was all alone at the end was so heartbreaking. Now that’s great writing!