Michael K. Edwards – Spirits of Idaho

He grew up on farmland in the Magic Valley before earning a degree in biology from Idaho State University, and then did research on potato variety development in Aberdeen before moving to a position in factory automation with Lamb-Weston. After moving with his family to Kennewick, Washington in 1992, he returned to Idaho with his wife following his retirement where they’ve lived in Meridian since 2010.

Just Launched

In the enigmatic mountain town of Copper Creek, Rachael Greystone must trust her abilities as a Comanche Spirit Talker to uncover long-buried secrets that will ultimately decide her fate, as well as that of the entire town.

Rachael Greystone has denied having special abilities since childhood, insisting it was all superstition. However, superstition doesn’t explain the woman in a long white dress along a lonely stretch of mountain road – particularly when Rachael stops and finds a necklace by the roadside and the woman vanishes before she can return it. That was before Jason Coleman hires her to restore the historic Coleman Theater as part of his plan to revitalize the gold mining town his great-great-grandfather founded. But there are forces in the valley that resist change…

Available on Amazon.

Meet the Author

The timing is great to meet this author whose website address says it all: spiritsofidaho.com.

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I usually write in the morning. I get my best ideas for the next chapter at night before bed.

Do you have any patterns or rituals associated with your writing time?

I drink lots of coffee.

What do you do when you hit a wall with your writing?

I usually work on something else for a while, and then go back when I feel inspired.

Do you plan your book in advance (plotting and outlining) or are you a “discovery writer” (AKA “writing into the dark”)? Or are you somewhere in between?

I usually have a general plan in mind, but it changes over time and re-writes. Once I get a good start, I have a spreadsheet that I use to keep track of chapters, characters, events and a timeline. One important column is purpose of chapter. Sometimes I realize that I have already fulfilled that purpose in another chapter.

What’s the last book you read that made you go “wow!”?

I recently read Beulah by Christi Nogle.

What book or author do you find yourself recommending and why?

I really don’t have a favorite author. I used to read a lot of Stephen King, but he had a season for his best books.

What’s on your To Be Read pile?
  • Beyond the Veil by Nicky Shearsby
  • Mark of a Demon by Desponia Kemeridou
  • The Ghost Manuscript by Kris Frieswick
What advice do you have for readers?

If you start reading a book and give it a good chance, but it hasn’t grabbed your attention, unless it is a textbook, drop it.

What author, past or present, would you wish to have a long conversation with? Why?

Shirley Jackson. I read The Haunting when I was in high school and it has haunted me ever since. She could create a mood without jump scares or blood and murder.

Do you have early memories of reading or writing you’d like to share?

I had two high school teachers that encouraged me to go into writing. At that time, I did mostly humor. I actually started college to become a writer, but changed majors.

What books and/or authors have most influenced you as an author?

I think, by far, Shirley Jackson. But King’s earlier books (The Shining, IT, The Stand) were also good. For example, IT was more about kids growing up than a monster.

What do you most enjoy about being a writer? What do least enjoy about being a writer?

I most enjoy the writing. It is challenging and creative. The least I enjoy is trying to sell the thing.

What would you tell a new writer?

Keep after it and don’t give up. I was 70 years old when I started the first novel. I really had no intention of selling it, I think I just wanted to see if I could. Finding a publisher was the hardest.

Brad Mathews

He’s written 14 novels, mostly in the mystery and thriller genres. He’s also published two fantasy novels and is working on a third. Meet Brad Mathews.

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I’m a morning person. If I have a specific plan for what happens next in the story, I build up to that and then immediately reread the pages to get a feel for overall flow. I do all my writing on my desktop computer.

Do you have any patterns or rituals associated with your writing time?

I need a room with no distractions. Typically, I eat a light breakfast and sit down with a drink to get started for the day.

What do you do when you hit a wall with your writing?

All writers hit walls either as writer’s block or lack of motivation. I like to prepare myself a day or two in advance for when I plan to write. If I don’t feel the story, I usually have some other ideas for blog commentary to keep my mind working.

Do you plan your book in advance (plotting and outlining) or are you a “discovery writer” (AKA “writing into the dark”)? Or are you somewhere in between?

It changes with every book. Sometimes I will do either a loose overall plot outline and sometimes I let the story lead me. Being surprised by the characters and where the story goes is always invigorating, but starting with a general idea, even for sections of the story, helps keep the plot moving.

What’s the last book you read that made you go “wow!”?

The Steven Kinder trilogy by fellow Idaho author Bernard K. Finnigan blew me away. Finnigan manages to write about interdimensional aliens in a way that obeys established laws of physics while perfectly illustrating the abilities of his characters and aliens. He uses lots of pop culture references, which always elicit grins.

What book or author do you find yourself recommending and why?

I am a huge Star Wars nerd and constantly recommend many of the novels to fellow fans. Timothy Zhan is a prominent name in the Star Wars universe.

What’s on your To Be Read pile?

There’s always another Star Wars novel or whatever I find interesting at the library.

What advice do you have for readers?

Read everything you find interesting and expand your reach, especially if you don’t particularly agree with the author or characters’ viewpoints. 

What author, past or present, would you wish to have a long conversation with? Why?

Mark Twain. Everyone already knows his most famous of quotes, but the way he states his views sparks creativity in me. Engaging with that kind of vibrant personality in a one-on-one setting would be a blast.

Do you have early memories of reading or writing you’d like to share?

I started at about age 13, when I wrote a story for an assignment. I easily tripled the word count quota and found the exercise enjoyable. I remember late nights reading my stories to friends when I was still trying to find my voice.

What books and/or authors have most influenced you as an author?

I used to read a lot of Stephen King, Tony Hillerman, and James Patterson. Hillerman’s description of setting is exceptional, and King’s mastery of technical style has always been something I’ve aspired to.

What do you most enjoy about being a writer? What do least enjoy about being a writer?

I think the most common maxim applies. I most enjoy writing and I least enjoy promotion. Many authors hate talking about themselves, and I don’t ever want to come across as a salesman in social interactions.

What would you tell a new writer?

Write. Read. Develop your voice. And don’t let anyone, including yourself, tell you that you can’t.

Find Brad Mathews online:

Bonnie Schroeder

You’ll find her books in the Women’s Fiction section, which she defines thusly: [it] is generally defined as stories about a woman solving her own life problems. No Knight in Shining Armor shows up to rescue her—she does the work herself.

She just recently released her third title, Turn Back the Clocks.

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I am really disorganized, and despite common advice to the contrary, I don’t write every day—life just gets in the way. I try to get in an hour in the morning, while my brain is still fresh, but that doesn’t always happen. If I do manage to write a few pages in the morning, then I can go back in and edit later in the day. I’m a very slow writer—it took me over five years from start to finish with the new one—but I tell myself it gives the project time to “mellow.” Sometimes, I almost believe myself.

Do you have any patterns or rituals associated with your writing time?

I like to warm up with a couple of handwritten pages in my journal, then re-read the last pages I wrote on the manuscript. That gets the engine running.

What do you do when you hit a wall with your writing?

I take a break! Sometimes an overlong one, I confess. I read, email my writing friends, brainstorm the next weird thing I can put in the story. Generally one or more of these techniques gets me going again.

Do you plan your book in advance (plotting and outlining) or are you a “discovery writer” (AKA “writing into the dark”)? Or are you somewhere in between?

Great question! I used the “Snowflake Method” for all three of my published novels. It eases me into the planning process, all the way from a one-sentence summary to a spreadsheet detailing each and every scene. Of course, the project goes through a zillion revisions along the way to a finished novel, but it keeps me focused. 

Now, with my WIP, I am totally “pantsing” it, making it up as I go along. It’s exciting and scary, and I’ve sent some mighty disconnected pages to my critique group, but so far I’ve kept them engaged, so I guess it’s working.

What’s the last book you read that made you go “wow!”?

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, for one. Such an interesting story, with wonderful, relatable characters I rooted for all the way along. A woman scientist in America in the 1950’s faces multiple challenges, including rampant sexism (she’s mistaken for a clerical employee in one poignant scene.) I felt her angst and admired her courage. And there’s a dog! Always a plus for me.

Also Stephen King’s Fairy Tale. There’s a dog in that one too, along with multiple, sometimes camouflaged, characters from my childhood fairy tales.

What book or author do you find yourself recommending and why?

Stephen King’s On Writing for one, along with Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.

I am also a fan of Craig Johnson’s Longmire books and have read every one, some twice. He is a master class in how to write a series without overburdening each book with backstory. The books are violent, but they’re also funny and inspiring, and darned interesting. I would love to know his plotting process, because it is seamless from one book to the next.

What’s on your To Be Read pile?

I’m in a book club, so there is always at least one book at the top of the stack. We’re on summer break, and I confess I’m still working on last month’s—but, hey, it’s 600-plus pages long: Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead. It’s a fascinating dual storyline about a woman pilot in the early 20th century, alternating with a present-day actress portraying the pilot in a film.

After that I’m tackling Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. I loved-loved-loved Lincoln Highway, was lukewarm about Gentleman in Moscow, so I’m curious to read his earlier work.

What advice do you have for readers?

Read freely and widely. Be open to new genres, new books. Don’t follow the herd.

If you loved a book, post a review! It will sharpen your reading skills and help the author out. And if you didn’t like the book, still post a review—but be merciful.

And my 50-page rule—feel free to borrow it. If I’m not liking a book by Page 50, if I dread opening it, I give up. Life is too short, there are so many books to read, and everyone has a different set of standards. Forget what your English teacher told you! Put that one down, with zero guilt, and pick up the next one.

What author, past or present, would you wish to have a long conversation with? Why?

I would love to have a conversation with John Steinbeck. I’ve read his Working Days and read there that he, a Nobel Prize winner, had crushing doubts about the worth of his writing. How did he keep going?

Do you have early memories of reading or writing you’d like to share?

My first memories are of my mom reading the Sunday funnies to me—Brenda Starr, Nancy, L’il Abner. I yearned to be able to read for myself.

As for writing, in the fifth grade, for a class assignment, I wrote a little story about a cow that wanted to be a horse. Somewhere in those few pages was the message, “Be happy with who and what you are.” I guess. My teacher took me aside and told me I should think about being a writer when I grew up. How cool is that—to find your calling when you’re just ten years old! Her words became my North Star. I dedicated Mending Dreams to her. 

What books and/or authors have most influenced you as an author?

Margaret Mitchell—what a storyteller! What characters she created! Kurt Vonnegut’s books; I find myself repeating his “So it goes” observation at so many of life’s ironies. Also Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving. Again, two phrases come to mind in so many situations: “Keep passing the open windows” and “Sorrow floats.” If you’ve read the book, you’ll understand why.

What do you most enjoy about being a writer? What do least enjoy about being a writer?

I enjoy making stuff up. I am an inveterate storyteller, and I love taking an idea and crafting it into a story. I also enjoy mingling with other writers and sharing war stories, tragedies and triumphs. And I LOVE talking to readers, answering their questions and responding to their feedback, both good and (gasp) bad.

What I least enjoy? In a word—marketing. I am not a good salesperson.

What would you tell a new writer?

Read a lot, across different genres and different eras. Read the classics—they’re classic for a reason. Figure out why you like a book, and why you do not, so you can emulate one and avoid the other. Persist—if you have a vision, a story you want to tell, go for it. Don’t let criticism stop you, and don’t try to chase a current trend just because it’s, well, current. Trust your writer’s voice and vision.

Find Bonnie Schroeder online:

Rebecca Evans

She’s been in several anthologies and has co-edited a poetry collection in tribute to the life and achievements of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, when there are nine (available widely: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Bookshop.org, and via the publisher’s site, Moon Tide Press.

A memoir-in-verse, Tangled by Blood, is forthcoming (March 2023). This is a full-length collection, but delivered in a narrative format of three parts with a shifting point of view. 

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I’m a fairly systematic and disciplined human, but I try not to overstructure my writing habit. I find I’m more creative in the early morning, so I usually wake around four and spend an hour or two in my self-care and reflection routine. This includes gentle yoga, stretching, reading, journaling, morning prayers, puppies, and sitting in silence. After, I eat a hearty breakfast. Eggs. Every day. No matter. And then I cook a big breakfast for my sons and walk my Newfoundlands. 

By the time I settle in for writing, it’s around seven in the morning and I sit at my desk, I pull a Tarot card, I light a fig candle and some sage. I always write longhand first and then transfer to my computer. This early writing is generative and creative. I explore forms and song and methods and moods.

Continue reading “Rebecca Evans”

Margaret Koger

She’s a former teacher, librarian, and Poet in the Schools. Study of the interplay of nature and the economy during the settlement of the American West informs Maggie’s writing. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals online and in print.

She’s very active in the Treasure Valley writing community. Here (Soundcloud link) Ken Rodgers and Rebecca Evans quiz her about her writing methods and her advice for new authors

Her most recent publication is What These Hands Remember (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kelsay Books).

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I write for deadlines! A submission window or an upcoming writers group session sends me directly to my computer where I rewrite a shaky draft or fly off on a new idea as suggested by the muse of the day: a river nymph, a robin, or a stranger’s face—it just depends. I write in my office, where I’m surrounded by my husband Grove Koger’s collection of books. They inspire me to keep at it.

Continue reading “Margaret Koger”

Nancy Weston

With books running from mysteries to memoir, Nancy notes: “As I have matured, met people, had encounters, failures and triumphs and learned about life, I have filed away hundreds of interesting characters, events, encounters and sights. Now my mind fills with stories to share and my challenge is to select the one that is right to tell right now.”

Her works include:

  • Digger’s Izzy
  • Valley of Shadows
  • Ice in the Guise of Fire (published August 2022)
  • The Cruelty of Swallows (to be published later in 2022)

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

Not really.  I have a list of stories in my mind that I want to tell.  Once I find the one that inspires me at the moment, I pretty much devote myself to getting the outline, then a rough draft of the story.  Then I may set it aside and work on something else or do something entirely different than writing.  Once I come back to it, my mind is fresh and I read it again.  This helps a lot!  Once I get a complete story arc that I like, I get an edited copy for my beta readers.  While they read the manuscript, I take another break.  Once I get their feedback, I may mull over their commentary or not, but I don’t rush into the next draft.  Time is my best friend in the process.  Once I start work again, it is to complete a final draft of the work, although that may be many revisions later.  When I have a complete final draft, I send it to be edited again. 

Continue reading “Nancy Weston”

Genalea Barker

Genalea has an Associate’s Degree in English Literature and a deep-seated passion for stories which highlight mental health and body positivity. Her short fiction has been recognized by Idaho Creative Authors Network, Idaho Writers Guild, and Women on Writing. Select works have been published with Bookends Review, Grande Dame Literary, Gemini Magazine, and Writers in the Attic: Rupture.

Watch for these Young Adult Contemporaries:

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I’m a busy mom to four young children, so my “routine” is mainly to write whenever I have both the time and brain power to do so. Usually late at night after everyone is in bed, and occasionally during the school day when I only have my toddler at home with me. 

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Ellis “Skip” Knox

Ellis L. (Skip) Knox is a writer, medieval historian, and the creator of the fantasy world called Altearth, a place where magic is real, monsters roam the land, and the Roman Empire never fell.

His work includes several short stories published in online magazines as well as these intriguingly titled novels:

  • Goblins at the Gates
  • A Child of Great Promise
  • Into the Second World
  • The Signet Ring (released August 2022)
  • Mad House

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I have a study with my books, computer, and table. I write four days a week (I’m retired), usually for two to four hours.

Continue reading “Ellis “Skip” Knox”

Christi Nogle

Horror. Dark science fiction. Weird fiction. Literary realism. These are the realms author Christi Nogle travels. She’s published one novel, Beulah — set in a fictional small town in Idaho, loosely based on Buhl and Emmett.

Her short stories have appeared in over fifty publications including PseudoPod, Escape Pod, Vastarien, Nightscript, and Dark Matter Magazine

Beginning in early 2023, she’ll have three short story collections released: The Best of Our Past, the Worst of Our Future (horror), Promise (dark science fiction and futuristic fantasy), and One Eye Opened in That Other Place (weird fantasy).

[Ed.: Update 2023-02 – Bram Stoker Award® Nominee]

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I like to write in the evenings, usually in the living room with my dogs resting beside me. If it’s nice out, I also like to write on the patio with the dogs playing in the yard. There are a lot of writing-related tasks like submissions, editing, working on critiques for writers, and I usually do these in the morning in my home office.

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E. G. Moore

A vibrant and engaged author of YA and middle grade books from northern Idaho, E. G. has published two books, both middle grade novels:

  • Rowdy Days of Dom Sanders, a historical murder mystery
  • Moon Daughter Rising, a Native American mythology fantasy

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I have seasons of writing routines, mostly dictated by my roles as mother, wife, and worker. I often spend a lot of time developing bits and bobbles of the story mentally before I sit down to write it. Usually I write late at night in spurts, tucked away either in my office or my bedroom with a hot tea and chocolate. I also try to have at least two writing retreats per year. The pandemic put a damper on that, but when I do those, I write like crazy to finish a draft usually. It’s hard to get a lot of work done in one setting at home with three kiddos who need me, so this is a golden opportunity to feel like I really accomplished something.

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