Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Ring around the rosy, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes we all fall down . . .

That simple rhyme turns negotiator Claire Michaels’ current hostage situation into an international incident. Claire just wants to help get everyone out safely, but as the crisis escalates she realizes she’s dealing with an al-Qaeda operative who has the means to become another bin Laden¾with the potential to attack America. Claire has her own personal reasons for wanting to stop al-Qaeda, but time is slipping away as negotiations break down. Can she overcome her scars of the past in order to get the hostage out alive and possibly stop an assault on U.S. national security?

Navy SEAL Rafe Kelly is on leave to recover from a knee injury he suffered during his tour in Afghanistan and he doesn’t expect to be fighting terrorists on his home turf. But when he is taken hostage and his brother is kidnapped, Rafe teams up with a hostage negotiator in order to stay alive and get his brother back. The terrorist is always one step ahead of them, however, and the situation quickly turns from desperate to deadly. Will Rafe be able to save himself and his country without anyone he loves getting caught in the crossfire?

This is the back cover blurb for Julie's newest book. And, for everyone tuning in, this is the Author Inquisition with Julie Bellon. Hello Julie.

Julie: Hi. [smiles warmly]

Wow, Julie, this sounds like an exciting book! How long have you been writing?

Julie: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember and I even won first place in a second grade writing contest for my essay on why we should respect cows. I need to go look for that certificate. I think it would be fun to frame it!

That sounds like a fun contest. I recently explained to some first graders that there are different breeds or types of cows. They looked amazed. How many books do you have published, and are they all about cows?

Julie: I started to get serious about novel writing in 2002 and my first book was published in 2004. My new novel, All Fall Down just came out a month ago. It has nothing to do with cows, but it takes my published novel count to eight. I also have eight children. What does that say about me? Never mind. Don’t answer that.

All I have to say is, I feel bad for you if you get fourteen books published! Yikers! So, what’s your favorite bit of writing advice—don’t gauge family size by the amount of books you publish?

Julie: No, actually my favorite writing advice is to never give up. The only difference between a published author and an unpublished author is that one gave up.

I'm going to hold on to that tidbit. [taps finger to chin] Hmm. Eight books published in nine years. Do you have a favorite activity when not writing—or are you always writing?

Julie: That’s a hard one. I love to read, play with my kids, and travel. I can’t even choose between those three! Maybe I should just take a vacation where I can do all three and then I don’t have to choose.

It’s called, family vacation. Otherwise, it’s hard to do all three at once. Do I dare ask if you ever get the dreaded writers block?

Julie: Usually when I’m stumped I just write out the dialogue to the scene, then I can go back later and fill in the setting and anchors and such. It frees me a bit to just see the scene in my head, with my characters talking, and I write the conversation down. The rest of the scene seems to follow and my being stumped days are over!

So, if your characters say it, the rest will come. Interesting.
I love candy and my wastline is starting to show it. Do you snack when you write? If so, what?

Julie: Well, it depends on if I’m trying to be healthy or not. If I’m trying to be healthy I snack on baby carrots. If I’m off the wagon, I usually eat pretzels or York peppermint patties. Let’s just say that lately, I’ve been on a peppermint patty kick. I know, I know, it’s naughty. I’m working on it.

Ah, sometimes you’re naughty, and sometimes you’re nice. I feel a Christmas song coming. Do you write lyrics?

Julie: I write novels.

Are you published traditionally or Indie? If you’re an Indie author, what guided your decision to go indie?

Julie: Six of my books are traditionally published, and two are indie. I loved my traditional publishing experience, but there is a freedom in being indie that I also love. I think I have the best of both worlds!

It’s interesting that your latest book is about freedom. What do you write about--Cows--the military?

Julie: Enough with the cows. Sheesh! I write international romantic suspense with spies and military and all the good stuff. Some call it thriller. I would describe it as thrilling adventure with a dash of romance.

That does sound thrilling. What’s the best flavor of ice cream to eat while reading one of your novels?

Julie: Moose tracks. To honor my Canadian heritage.
I went to Alaska once as a child. They sold varnished moose droppings and called it, Moose Moose. [frowns skeptically] This doesn't have anything to do with that, does it?
Julie: No, no. It's vanilla ice cream with peanut butter cups and fudge swirls.

Okay then, that does sound tasty. Yum! Let’s end the interview with your favorite writer’s memory.

Julie: When I was doing research for my book All’s Fair I was put in contact with a Marine who was stationed in Iraq. His unit would gather around the computer after they’d come in from their missions of disarming IEDs along the roadsides and answer all my questions. (And I was seriously grateful for them and their patience.) One of the things they told me they missed from home was the candy, Skittles. I arranged for a Skittles for Soldiers food drive at all my book signings after the book came out, and was able to collect 900 lbs of food and hygiene items for our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just so our soldiers would know they weren’t forgotten and we appreciated them.

My most tender memory was having an older man come to one of my book signings, with an army cap on, who came to my table and could only grasp my arm for a minute while the tears rolled down his face. He finally got out the words, “Thank you. Thank you for remembering us.” I couldn’t do anything else but cry with him. I will always treasure that memory.

That is a sweet memory. Thank you, Julie. I’m sure you have more babies to write—I mean, novels to make—I mean [blushes], have a nice evening.

Julie: Thank you for the interview. It was fun! You can find out more about me at my bloghttp://ldswritermom.blogspot.com or my website www.juliebellon.com or you can follow me on Twitter: @juliebellon

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Thanks to the nice forest ranger.
Before my daughter moved to Illinois, I just had to take her and my son to the Tonto Natural Bridge. It’s a place I’ve been to several times over the years. There used to be more water seeping along the walls, and more moss growing there. Because of this, and the fact that the gnome movies by Disney were a big hit during my youth, I used to pretend that the gnomes lived at the bridge among the moss. It was the perfect place for them, if they existed.
Can you see the gnomes?

Looking down into the bridge.
Now it’s owned by the National Forest Service. They’ve done wonders in building paved paths and sprucing up the place, and although there isn’t nearly enough water flowing through it to keep the walls green, it’s still pretty grand.

The walk down into the bridge is new. The old path is in disrepair and closed off. The Ranger said that there is talk of restoring it. I’m not sure why they would though, since the current path, from the opposite side of the bridge is nice.
Third pool under the bridge.
A stream runs through the bridge and collects in three seperate pools. This is the third from the entrance. A friend and I took a dip in it as teens (before it was owned by the NFS), and I assure you that the water is cold enough to stop your heart.

Can you see my kids?
My daughter is near a brass memorial for someone who died at the bridge years ago, I don't remember how. There is a wide cave near the top (nearly a house length above my son). There used to be a log ladder going up to it, that was washed away during a flood. I went up there once and climbing the ladder was very scary! 
Going through the bridge.
I had fun watching my kids climb all over the place like I used to. This time I was happy staying toward the bottom and watching them. To the right is my son and daughter forging the trail along the slick rock to exit the bridge. There is (or used to be) a trail along the creek where you could climb back out. It was an easier path.
Going back up the current trail is a different story. For me, it was horribly reminiscent of walking up and out of the Grand Canyon. My kids, of course nearly ran up. Showoffs. The thing that kept me going is the seventy-year-old forest ranger coming up behind me with relative ease. Nothing makes a person feel as out of shape as having someone close to twenty years their senior accomplish the task easier.

That said, it was a wonderful experience and I would like to go again. The weather was nice and there were even a few fall colors. And, each time I go is a walk down memory lane.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


In honor of Veteran's Day, I'm posting an article that I wrote for the Desert Saints Magazine last year. I hope you enjoy it.

When we talk of freedom, the many wars we’ve suffered through in order to maintain our freedoms generally come to my mind. I ponder gratefully the many men and women who gave their lives so that we can better enjoy ours.

War isn’t new, however. We’ve been fighting for freedom since before the world began. What was the war in heaven all about if not our desire for freedom? We wanted bodies. We wanted to prove ourselves. We wanted the freedom to choose—and like the old adage, “freedom isn’t free,” neither are our choices. Just like in war, our freedom comes with a price.

With my freedom, I want to make choices that bring eternal happiness instead of just momentary pleasure, but sometimes it’s hard. The world today is a treacherous place to live—generally unrighteous—generally unhappy.

Being moral, and keeping the Ten Commandments is no longer considered by the world in general, to be a good thing. Honesty is not “in.” Chastity is old fashioned. Integrity is forgotten. Keeping the Sabbath day holy is almost unheard of by anyone outside of our faith. Using the Lord’s name in vain is common practice and widely accepted, and the mantra currently guiding the world seems to be, “it isn’t illegal if you don’t get caught.”

Satan is working overtime to destroy our freedoms. He never forgets that our unwise choices bind us to him a little at a time.

How then can we be righteous ourselves and raise a righteous generation to follow? How can we make a difference in the rising tide against us? The answer to these questions is almost as old as time itself. The Lord has not left us helpless, but has given us the roadmap to guide us safely home to Him. It’s interesting that this map, intended to keep us safe from the evils of the world, and to help us better enjoy our freedoms, is free, the only price being the surrendering of our “natural man.”

To keep our families and ourselves free from Satan’s influence, we must pray always. We must develop and continually increase our testimonies, we must read the Book of Mormon and our other scriptures, we must attend church regularly, and because we aren’t perfect, we must continually repent and strive to do better. The result of practicing these age-old principals is greater freedom and increased happiness.

We’ve worked hard since the war in heaven, striving to gain or maintain our freedom. Many have paid for this freedom with their lives or the lives of their loved ones. Since freedom isn’t free, and we pay for each choice we make—either by surrendering a part of our freedom and happiness, or by gaining further freedom and happiness—we must think more about those consequences.

Let’s make a difference in the world by making a difference in our families and in ourselves. Let us fight Satan’s war by acting righteously and unfurling the title of liberty in our hearts. We will strive continually to fight Satan’s influence, “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.”

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Interview with MARSHA WARD

Marsha Ward, founder of the American Night Writers Association, and multi-published western novelist has a new book coming out and has conscented to an interview. Marsha, how did you become interested in the Civil War?

Marsha: Author Robert Newton Peck once said that every historical writer has their favorite war. While his was the French and Indian War, mine turned out to be the Civil War. I don’t know what sparked my passion for it. It could have been reading some of historian Bruce Catton’s work, or Gone With the Wind, during high school. My interest certainly did not stem from a personal or family issue, since none of my relatives fought on either side. If they had, they’ve have been Union soldiers, and my characters fought for the South.

 That said, my current novels actually have post-Civil War settings, dealing with the aftermath of that great struggle, so they fit more in the classification of Western Migration novels, or Settling of the West.

 Tell us about your novels.

The Man from Shenandoah begins as Carl Owen returns from the Civil War to find the family farm destroyed, his favorite brother dead, food scarce, and his father determined to leave the Shenandoah Valley to build a cattle empire in Colorado Territory. Crossing the continent, Carl falls in love with his brother's fiancée while set to wed another girl, but he might lose everything if the murderous outlaw Berto Acosta has his way. Carl battles a band of outlaws, a prairie fire, blizzards, a trackless waterless desert, and his own brother-all for the hand of feisty Ellen Bates.


Ride to Raton continues from there: after losing the heart of his fiancée to his brother, James Owen leaves home to make a new life for himself. The turbulent world of post-Civil War Colorado Territory is fraught with danger and prejudice that increase his bitter loneliness as personal setbacks threaten to break him. Then James's journey brings him into contact with another wayfarer, beautiful young Amparo Garcés, who has come from Santa Fe to Colorado to marry a stranger. Through a twist of fate, their futures are changed forever when their lives are merged in a marriage of convenience. James and Amparo undertake a hazardous horseback trek over Raton Pass to Santa Fe, battling their personal demons, a challenging language barrier, and winter's raging storms.


My third novel, Trail of Storms, goes back to tell the tale of a peripheral character from the first novel. Jessie Bingham and her family flee post-Civil War Virginia after her sister suffers a brutal attack, and together endure a perilous trek to New Mexico Territory. When she hears her former sweetheart, James Owen, has taken a wife, Jessie accepts Ned Heizer’s marriage proposal on the condition they wait until journey’s end to wed. But then Jessie encounters James again . . . and he isn’t married now!


Spinster’s Folly is the fourth book in the series, and tells Marie Owen’s story. Marie lives in a land that is long on rough characters and short on fitting suitors. Her desire to get married before she winds up a spinster propels her into making hasty decisions that drive her into the arms of a sweet-talking predator, landing her in unimaginable dangers.
When is Spinster's Folly coming out?

Marsha: It's release dat is November 10th, just a few more days! (Dancing with anticipation!) You can find details on events regarding its release at:  https://www.facebook.com/events/333393153425853/

I've read most of your novels and they're very good. What kind of research did you do to make your books historically believable, and did you visit the locations where you set your novels?

Marsha: I read 150 books to research my first novel. Some I bought, but most came from the library. Over the years that I’ve been writing the series, I have been able to do some on-the-ground research, and I recently took a trip back East to visit Civil War battlefields and other areas in preparation to write my next book. I’ve also been amassing books on the Civil War in the last year. Lots of books!

 In the earlier years, I conducted several interviews with people familiar with the areas I wanted to learn about. Photographs were also helpful, as were the state guides produced as WPA projects during the Great Depression. I’ve found several very good online sources for research on my later books.

Are you a seat of the pants writer or do you outline your books carefully?

Marsha: I definitely write by the seat of my pants, once I have an idea for a story and know who my characters will be. I’m doing more planning now than I used to, though, so I don’t spend way too much time rewriting. However, I’ll never again write a complete synopsis early-on. That doesn’t work for me, because my brain then thinks I’ve already written the book.

While I’m writing, I make various charts and spreadsheets to help me analyze the number of occurrances of different points-of-view, and events within scenes. This helps the revision process go faster.

I now use a great writing software program called yWriter5, which allows me to focus on one scene at a time. This is important so that I don’t become daunted by the vastness of the project. A huge upside to using it is that the software is free!


That sounds very interesting. What is your writing schedule like?

Marsha: Very fragmented. I’m easily distracted, but when I’m white-hot in the initial draft, I can write for up to eight hours, broken up by short breaks. This is only possible because I live alone.
I wish I had a better schedule. Almost every writer I know wishes the same thing!


Writers hate this question, but why do you write?
Marsha: I write because I have something to say, I love language, and I want to express my passionate belief that good people can overcome adversity and evil.


What other things have you done in addition to your writing?

Marsha: Through the years I mothered my children, and then worked as a journalist, an educator, and in a retail store. I’ve also volunteered with several organizations, doing websites, newsletters, and a multitude of other chores.


How do you promote your books?

Marsha: I have a website and a couple of blogs, I’m active on Facebook and other social media venues, and I’m always looking for ways to let people know I’m an author, such as giving talks and networking with various groups. I find that word of mouth from enthusiastic readers drives the most sales, though.


Do you have any advice for anyone contemplating writing a Civil War novel?

Marsha: Do thorough research, keep accessible notes, then let the fingers loose.


How would you like to be remembered?

Marsha: As a kind person who could write a little.
Marsha, you are so humble! You will be loved and revered for ages into eternity for birthing the American Night Writers group known as ANWA, and for your loving nurture of so many wannabe writers like myself. AND, you better not even think of going anywhere any time soon! I can't even fathom what our group would do without you.
Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to do this interview.
Here are some links to get to know Marsha better - and to buy her books: