Tuesday, May 28, 2013

An Interview with Author Christy Elkins

As part of an ongoing series highlighting new writing talent, here is the latest "Interview of the Imagination" with author Christy Elkins.   

The author of children's books such as Noah's Mark, The Seedling Heart and adult novels such as Parallel, Lilac Hill, and The Dusty Road. As always, the interviews start in a place of special meaning or significance to the author or their work.  So, on that ship of the mind let us set sail...

I caught up with author Christy Elkins in 1982, on the airy verandah at the back of her grandmother’s farm house, in Durant, Oklahoma.  As  we sip our glasses of iced tea there is the soft sound of her grandmother's voice crooning old hymns in a sweet voice accompanied by the grease crackling as she fries chicken for us. 
Tell me Christy, when you are not writing or being you, what is your work or activity?
I’ve been many things; a photographer, insurance agent, accountant, among others, but my latest role is home maker, and I must say I’ve never been happier.

When did you become an author? How did it develop, and what was your inspiration? 
I began writing when I was a young child.  I had a knack for “BS” as some might say.  It came in quite handy when I didn’t have time to finish book reports assigned.  However, becoming a published author came much later.  I had to move to a separate state, away from my older children and I thought I might go mad from missing them.  I wrote my first book (a children’s collection of poetry), to keep my sanity as well as pass the time until I could see them again.

What are some interesting events from your career as (the writer, Christy Elkins)?  Any bloopers?
Of course most books are trial and error, at the beginning.  However, my first two books were written in long hand, because I didn’t own a computer.  Once I became technologically advanced, I was over eager and published my first book without editing it.  YIKES…is all I have to say about that.  (Editors are worth their weight in gold, no doubt.)  

The aroma from the kitchen was almost as heavenly as the angelic voice we could hear, ever so softly, inside the house.  The breeze tousled a few flowers sunning and in the distance the cicada began to hum. 

What do you think your impact has been among members of your audience?  Your community? 
I can’t say that I recognize my impact on anyone in particular or on the community, but I have been very blessed by opportunities afforded me.  Because of my career choice, I have been able to be a part of some beautifully, rewarding projects, such as Noah’s Mark” and“For the Love of Zazell.  Both are works that I helped co-create and both benefit charitable organizations for children.  

I have read some of the reviews of your books and would say your readers definitely enjoy your books.  What would you have liked to do with your work if there was more time, money, wider support, funding, staff, etc.
Reach a broader audience.  I don’t have any delusions of being famous or rich, nor do I desire either one, but there is nothing more rewarding in a writing career than having readers.  People who take the time to read your work and then tell you, “Hey that was great; I want more!”

Where do you see yourself in the coming years?  Will Christy Elkins remain or transform within the book world or move on to something else?
Probably, fluffier with more wrinkles…age she’s a sneakin’ up on me.  As far as professionally, I think writing is just in my blood.  I will do this until the good Lord takes my breath away.  I have so many stories on the backburner right now, just waiting to be finished, and as my children grow, I hope to find more time to dedicate to my work.  Even as I mature I think my writing can only do the same.  Grow and become better and better with experience.

As a writer, what and who are your influences?   Where do you get your ideas?
Everything.   Sometimes, I feel like a humongous sponge, (maybe I can blame my weight on that alone).  Every person I meet, every situation I encounter develops me as a person and ads richness and fullness to my stories.  The more believable and relatable a story is the more enjoyable and likable it is to a reader.  

I also have some extremely crazy dreams and am fortunate enough to have encountered some pretty amazing writers, who have taught me some tricks of the trade, either by accident or instruction ally.  My dear friend, the very talented Maria Hammarblad, has really encouraged, motivated and baby sat me through some of my writing.   I can also add that I learned a great deal of technique from reading The Mound, by…oh, what was that lady's name?  Oh yes, the remarkable Marilyn Hudson and her fascinating son Cullan Hudson.

Readers often like to find authors similar in tone, subject, or style to another.  Who would most enjoy your work: readers of Stoker, Lovecraft, Shelley, King, Koonz, etc? 
Awww this is a brilliant questions with a cloudy answer.  I have so much trouble even identifying the genre of my books that I can’t possibly take a stab at who I might be like.  I know my children’s work is heavily influenced by the brilliant Shel Silverstein.  He was my all-time favorite when I was a child.  

My grown up reads are so different even from each other that I couldn’t possibly fathom an answer, but I can list some of my favorite author’s and maybe that could shine a little light on my style.  I really enjoy Mary Higgins Clark, Neal Shustermann, Suzanne Collins, Maria Hammarblad, Steven King, L.L. Bartlett, and Nancy Thayer, (to name a few).

When you write, do you require a special place, quiet, mood music, a favorite chair or sweater, etc.?
Time.   I think that is my biggest requirement.  I do enjoy a little background music and it is very mood specific.  I think I listened to two songs the entire time I wrote “Parallel”, “Sweet Jane” by the Cowboy Junkies & “Fade into You” by Mazzy Star.  I think I nearly drove my husband batty.

Who is Christy?  How similar are the two personas of author and Christy Elkins ?  In the real world, do you like sports or other pursuits?  On any given day where would someone find you and what would you be doing?
Christy Elkins is a very down to earth, yet sometimes quite disturbed person.  I am hardest on myself, both with work and just naturally.  I laugh easily, love deeply and try really hard to do what is right, most often to spite myself.  

I think I am a home body, but it’s because I have such an amazing family and am so satisfied by life, that there isn’t anywhere else I would rather be.  I love hanging out with my kids, my husband, our friends and family, (we host a lot of cookouts). I also enjoy fishing but I don’t hunt…watching something die just hurts my heart.

 What is the next big thing on your personal and professional agenda?
Personally:  Just to relax, be accepting of myself and really take the time to enjoy being home.  (We just moved back to Oklahoma from Texas).

Professionally:  Finishing a project!  I have probably a stack of at least five books just waiting to be born.  I would love to make that happen for at least one of them this year. 
Also, Silver Knight Publishing is releasing “Unchanged” very soon, (sometimes this summer hopefully).  It is an exciting Science-Fiction but not in the spaceship sense, more of a medical sci-fi, but it is full of action and diverse characters.  I am very excited and hope it is well received by readers.  Thank you so much Marilyn, for taking the time to visit with me.  I think the chicken is ready.  Let’s go inside....

Our interview at an end, the tea needing a refill, and the scent of the food a siren call, we left the shady porch.  Author Christy Elkins has a growing body of work and a fan base that is hungry for more from this down to earth but highly creative woman.  If you haven't read one of her books, I encourage you to do so and soon.  Her titles include works for children and books for the adult reader.  Don't put off the enjoyable things of life! 

Marilyn A. Hudson

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Bone War of McCurtain County

Having loved dinosaurs (who didn't?), imagined myself as an Indiana Jones of old bones, and strolling wide-eyed through various natural museums soaking in the fossilized remains of prehistoric giants, I was delighted when I received this book to read.  I simply thought it would be a academic type account of the finding of some rare bones in a overlooked corner of Oklahoma in the middle 1980's.   Appearances, and assumptions, can be mistaken.   The book is a complex, riveting, and rollar coaster ride through a vicious tug-of-war between corporate greed, individual capitalist endeavor, and academic snobbery. Author Russell Ferrell has uncovered a "Peyton Place" of real palentogological history!

Coming in at just over 400 pages, The Bone War of McCurtain County by Russell Ferrell (Rabelius Publishing, Waxahachie, Texas, 2013) , is a story of a "Backwoods Hillbilly and Choctaw Indian" as they battle for "treasure, truth and justice."    It the classic little guys facing the big guys over bones, rights, culture and values. The particular Golith of this battle include a corporation gobbling up everything in its path, and scientists who are petty and politicans who are shortshighted.  The Davids welding their slingshots of individualism are rockhounds Cephas Hall and Sid Love.  These forces clash and the ground shakes are these monoliths roar and battle for supremacy in an eerie replay of some prehistoric battle of those now only bones.   

A definite must read!  

A "Girl with a Book" Review for "Great2Read Books" 
[Book reviewed was a preview copy of the expanded edition, Rabelius Publishing, Waxahachie, Texas 2013 ISBN: 9780983355106]

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Steve Burt - Award Winning Author

Steve Burt, whose works have won three Ray Bradbury Awards and was a 2005 Bram Stoker Award winner, offers a feast of mayhem and mystery to cool down the summer. His works of the macabre include a striking short story collection: Odd Lot, Even Odder, Oddest Yet, and Wicked Odd. Not bad for a minister turned storyteller turned award winning author.

Most recently this multi-faceted man has added two novels to his credits. The exciting FreeK Camp and its followup FreeK Show. Soon, FreeK Accident will also make its appearance. Additionally, he has written popular inspirational collections, A Christmas Dozen and Unk's Fiddle with tales to warm the heart.

The stories FreeK Camp and FreeK Show are well written, swiftly pulling the reader deep into situations filled with tension, drama, and lives tossed into a maelstrom of the bizarre. They contain characters who could be people who are living just down the street or sitting beside you as you read this. The novels (FreeK Camp, FreeK Show) are thrill rides! The story of strangers who discover they share some out the ordinary talents and strengths come together when faced with a life and death situation. This sets the stage for some great storytelling. Add to this developing and unique characters, situations, surprising emotional depth and it makes the reader eager to discover what happens to them next. Burt delivers on all counts.

Definitely an author not to be missed this summer, winter, or anytime! The "Odd" story collections and the novels are small and compact enough to fit into a backpack or be crammed in that vacation suitcase. At times fantastic and horrific they squeeze the reader in a slow vice of emotion, fear and page turning anxiety. They retain a sense of awesome reality despite the extraordinary elements. Older elementary readers to most senior adult will find them equally gripping and addictive. Get "Odd" and a little "Freeky" this summer - you will not regret it.

His list of awards includes : Winner of Bram Stoker Award for Young Readers(tied Clive Barker 2004, runner-up to Harry Potter 2003), 3 Ray Bradbury Awards, the Benjamin Franklin Award(mystery/suspense). Also ForeWord Honorable Mention for Best Horror Book, Writer's Digest Honorable Mention for Best Inspirational Book, finalist for Audio Fiction Book of the Year, 7 honorable mentions in Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, Readers' Choice Award from The Storyteller Magazine, Editor's Choice Award from My Legacy Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul contributing author, Readers' Choice Award from Poetic Eloquence, Best Horror Story from Beyond the Moon magazine, Best Short Fiction Award from Ebbing Tide.

To Contact the Author:



Steve Burt

29 Arnold Place

Norwich, CT 06360

Books available from the author or on Amazon.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Anne Urne's Communion of Saints

A delightful journey into the heart of what it means to be human and wonder and seek for answers.  A rollicking journey of an "author aboard" when things go hilariously wrong.  A thought provoking look at how we perceive spiritual matters. Most of all a good read!

New Book Profiles Pentecostal Scholar

The life and influence of a British born clergy, educator, and author is the topic of the newest book from Norman author Marilyn A. Hudson. In Noel Brooks: A Life Shining and Burning, 1914-2006 Hudson explores the work and life of a man known widely as a true gentleman and scholar.

The Reverend Noel Brooks (1914-2006) was an English clergy, educator, and author who ministered in the Wesleyan Methodist, the Elim Pentecostal Church, The Bible Pattern Fellowship (and wrote a biography of the leader and well known revivalist, George Jeffreys) and in the Pentecostal Holiness Church in both Great Britain and North America. In the mid-1970’s he taught religion on the campus of what was then the Oklahoma City Southwestern College (now Southwestern Christian University). Over his life, he wrote numerous articles, many books, delivered countless lectures, and served as president of a small college in Bristol and one in Ontario.

Using letters, personal papers, unpublished manuscripts, interviews, examinations of numerous resources and analysis of the published writings of Brooks, the author presents an introduction to his life, work and the influences, which shaped his theology. This simple work seeks to examine some of the influences and explores, in their historical and social contexts, some of the major activities in the life of this man. “He was a scholar"noted Hudson, “whose life of spirituality, sacrifice, and insight, left a lasting impression on all who had the privilege to know the man or read his work.”

The book will be enjoyed by any who read biographies and a welcome addition for library collections on religious history, Pentecostalism, and related topics. The softbound, illustrated, 200-page book is available on Amazon.

Hudson is an educator and author with degrees in history and library and information studies from the University of Oklahoma. Her previous works include One Night Club and a Mule Barn: The First 60 Years of Southwestern Christian University, Elephant Hips Are Expensive, Those Pesky Verses of Paul: Women and the New Testament, and In Her Own Words: The Inspirational Poetry of Velma Terry, 1915-1999.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Small Book and Child Author Make Big Waves

List includes 100 individuals from across 10 professional fields that are making a difference in their communities and across the country!

(New York, NY) January 31, 2012 - In honor of Black History Month, seven year old, youth author/anti-bullying advocate LaNiyah Bailey has been recognized, as one of "TheGrio's 100: History Makers In The Making."

Released by theGrio.com, a division of NBC News, the list includes 100 African-American men and women who are writing the next chapter of American history.

Nominated by a team of experts, affiliates, and contributors from across the country, and members of TheGrio.com and NBC News editorial teams, "TheGrio's 100" shines a spotlight on the next generation of African-American history makers and industry leaders from 10 fields, including business, education, sports, science and the environment, media, service and activism, politics, health, pop culture and the arts.

"TheGrio's 100" was officially unveiled by TheGrio Executive Editor David A. Wilson earlier today. Individuals from "TheGrio's 100" will continue to be profiled on all platforms of NBC News including "NBC Nightly News," "Today," MSNBC, CNBC, and msnbc.com through the end of February.

"This year's list celebrates 100 honorees that possess a unique set of characteristics that separate them from the rest," said Wilson." TheGrio's 100 gives us the opportunity to shine a spotlight on individuals that are making a difference today, with the potential to make history in the future."

Joining notables such as Desiree Rodgers, Former Whitehouse Social Secretary, Multi-platinum Producer/Rapper Dr. Dre, Comedian Kevin Hart, House Representative Ms. Yvette Clarke, Rapper/Philanthropist Christopher 'Ludacris' Bridges, Singer Willow Smith, 'The Help' Actress Octavia Spencer, and other prestigious individuals on NBC's list; LaNiyah Bailey, who is best known for authoring a book at the age of six has inspired others to stand up to bullies and use their voice to be heard. This 7 year old, is doing the right thing and making a difference in the world!

Visit: http://www.thegrio.com/black-history to learn more about LaNiyah Bailey, and all other individuals on theGrio's 100 list.

About TheGrio.com

TheGrio.com, a division of NBC News, is a daily online news and opinion platform devoted to delivering stories and perspectives that reflect and affect African-American audiences. The video-centric interactive community is populated with both aggregated and original content on topics ranging from breaking news and politics to health, business, and entertainment.

About LaNiyah Bailey

Seven year old author/youth advocate, LaNiyah Bailey was introduced to the world by way of NPR Radio it was after she and her parents appeared on Michel Martin's show "Tell Me More." Broadcast in over 500 cities; it lead a world-wide discussion in support of President Barack Obama's anti-bullying initiative and the epidemic of Bulling in America, March 15, 2011. Shortly thereafter, her phone began ringing off the hook. Major media outlets such as CNN, FOX, NBC, BET, WGN, AOL, ABC, Huffington's Post and many others throughout the world; including London and Korea. They wanted to know more about this young girl's "inspiring courage" after she penned the highly-acclaimed children's book "Not Fat Because I Wanna Be" along with her mother LaToya "Toyiah Marquis" White and illustrator Laura PĂ©rez Ricaud.

The book detailed the story of fictional character Jessica. Jessica was bullied because of her weight which was caused by an underlying medical condition, which caused her to gain weight even though she was very, healthy and active. At such a young age Jessica had to endure some painful and unhappy times. Since the books release in March 2011, LaNiyah has been featured in magazines, interviewed on 100's of radio shows, blogs and TV shows. The book has garnered "5-star reviews" across the board and is currently in lesson plans in schools throughout the United States, London and Korea. Ms. Bailey recently, received what is a "dream come true" to her. She recently received a letter from the first lady of our nation. Mrs. Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama expressed her support in LaNiyah's efforts and appreciates that LaNiyah and her family is standing with her in her childhood obesity initiative and awareness.

Ms. Sharisse Horel

Media Relations


Seven year old, Author/Youth Advocate

LaNiyah Bailey

Saturday, January 21, 2012


The first comprehensive compilation of all that is strange for the state of Oklahoma, Cullan Hudson's Strange State: Mysteries and Legends of Oklahoma, continues as one of the best on the market for any state.

Well written, illustrated by the author (who is also a graphic artist) Strange State is filled with touches of wry wit and revealing both an open mind and a logical skepticism.

The book covers the entire gambit of strange, from reports of Bigfoot sightings (some possibly from the 19th century), to Hauntings, Lost Treasure, UFO's, Zombies and everything in between.

Available on Amazon, the book is perfect for paranormal, mystery, and folklore lovers.  

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Acrocanthosaurus The Bones of Contention by Russell Ferrell.  Subtitled  The True Story of Cephis Hall and Sid Love The Arkansas Hillbilly and the Choctaw Indian Who Outsmarted the Corporation and Saved the Dinosaur (Paperback)

After finishing the Russell Ferrell work Acrocanthosaurus: The Bones of Contention (Historical Dimensions, 2011) there is an instinctive desire to mutter a loud, "wow!" 

In 448 pages the author has packed a story whose complexity, importance, and historical value can only be described as 'epic.' In the story of how two intelligent and capable amateurs were finally able to prevail against corporate greed,intimidation, academic short-shortsightedness, research rivalries, and worse is an important lesson for everyone. The author so completely explains the history, processes, and meaning of events that, even a reader without any knowledge of southeast Oklahoma, dinosaurs, fossil hunting, or confusions of legal and political activity- can clearly understand the struggles chronicled. 

Cephis Hall and Sid Love - co-discoverers of the rare find - have to join the ranks of 20th century folk heroes. They battled the Weyerhaeuser Corporation of McCurtain County (OK), elitist academics and false accusations and raids by armed police. It was not an easy battle and it consumed the lives and best years of the main players. It ended finally, after many years, on a positive note but also one with a strong sense of what might have been.

This is a "must have" for anyone who has a scientific bent, anyone who enjoys an exploration of the depths of human stupidity,loves a controversial topic, corporate greed, political and legal shell games, and the hint of academic snobbery. It is a well written and produced softbound work and any library will be enriched by adding this title for its paleontology, Oklahoma history, twentieth century biography, and general 'good reads' collections.

Publisher: Historical Dimensions/Malloy Incorporated, 2011.
ISBN: 978-0-615-43814-6
Cost: $ 15.00 (approx.)
Description:  Softbound, illus., 448 p. 
Available from: Amazon.com

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Mound - Hudson & Hudson

The Mound is an exciting tale about the renovation of an old hotel, which holds many secrets. This haunting story draws you in to each dark corridor, as the spooky building literally comes alive. There were times during my read I found myself holding my breath, fearful of what might jump out around the next corner.

The Hudsons’ have a stimulating writing style, full of thrilling energy and cleverly spun history. Though there were times I found I needed a dictionary for a few of the words, this is only a reflection of my own limited education. This book is brilliantly constructed for those who love a fast paced, chilling story, with exhilarating action.

The Mound has it all, engaging characters, goose bumps, a battle scene and the satisfying sigh that comes at the end of a long journey. The high intensity of this story was impossible to walk away from and when the voyage was over, just like a few of the main characters, I felt changed somehow; victorious and extraordinarily invigorated.

---Author Christy Elkins