Monday, July 16, 2012

Jim Woods has a long list of writing accomplishments. He has published more than 400 articles in Outdoor Life, Popular Mechanics, Petersen's Hunting, Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Guns, Southern Outdoors, Western Outdoors, Gun Digest, and other national periodicals.

He’s a novelist and short-story author, with a long list of novels to his credit. When he’s not writing novels he edits other authors' novels and nonfiction book-length works under private arrangement. He conducts writing-technique workshops for authors' groups and writing conferences.

He’s worked as Editor, Editorial Director, Managing Editor, and Field Editor. He has worked as an engineering writer-editor in the aerospace/defense industry, and served, honorably, with the U.S. Navy, four years.

I don’t know about you all but I getting exhausted just listing some of Jim’s accomplishments. Oh and by the way he’s listed in WHO'S WHO IN AMERICA 58th Edition, 2004. So before I run out of room ;-) Let’s meet the man of the hour.

Welcome Jim, thank you for joining us this fine day. Please tell us what life is like in your spot on the planet.

Thank you, Cathy. My spot on the planet is southern Arizona, and it’s July. It’s hot, but just one of our 100 days of 100 degrees. (But it’s a dry heat!)

I understand Arizona's dry heat as I too live here. But hot is hot and lately it's just plain hot.

Before we get on to the serious stuff, your books for instance (like that’s why we’re here) let me ask you some of the fun questions asked of me in the past.

If you were a superhero, what would be your name and superpower?

In my comic book literary era, I liked Superman; the man could fly! I’d be him. My real superheroes were the western movie cowboys, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. I was to meet them both, professionally and socially, in later life but even as an adult I still was star-struck. I could be the guitar-strumming cowboy who ropes the outlaws and gets the girl.

What interview question have you never been asked that you’re dying to answer? Answer it now.


I was born in a grassy ditch alongside a deserted Arkansas dirt road, and life just got better from then because it could get no worse. I’m the second of eventually eight children spread over twenty years. With school and work I hardly knew my very youngest siblings and in fact didn’t really get to know them until we all were adults. I’m a current world traveler, a former big game hunter and always a writer. With these background bits forming me, I’ve come to depend on myself for most things and tend to be a bit short with people who demand service rather than offering it, and who are ready to place blame on others for their own setbacks or failures.

I’ve faced and emerged from some uncommon dangers. I rolled three vehicles on the highway; the only contributing influence was a zeal for speed. I detained and turned over two rogue biker/home invaders to the sheriff who didn’t come for two hours because of my remote location. After pursuing a wild boar across Texas with a pack of hounds, I wrestled and dispatched the boar by hand and a knife just to get a story for my magazine. Swimming in Australia, I didn’t recognize the shark bell, never having been exposed to such an alarm before. Finally I realized I had the entire ocean to my self and the crowd lined up on the beach was screaming at me. I got the message and swam ashore, and never saw the shark.

In Zimbabwe, I was handshake-close to being gored and/or trampled by a Cape Buffalo that turned on me when I became the hunted. And, I was taken prisoner by Cubans in Angola. For almost a day, until my release, my total concentration, and I have to admit, my fascination, was locked onto the muzzle end of a nasty-looking AK-47. The weapon was pointed my way by an equally nasty-looking camo-clad Cuban mercenary. It occurred to me his obvious tenseness in the situation could cause him to reflexively tighten his finger on the trigger, and I hoped he had been warned against allowing that to happen to the Americans.

Wow I’m breathless after all that . . . breathe . . . Okay let’s continue. It's always interesting to know what authors read. What are you reading these days?

I have four books open, three on Africa, one fiction and three nonfiction: Wilbur Smith’s latest novel, THOSE IN PERIL, moves away from his more familiar South Africa setting to East Africa, specifically Somalia. It’s a modern day story, released in 2011, dealing with the oil industry. THE OLD TRANSPORT ROAD, published in 1914, is a journal chronicling development of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and the country’s dependence on ox wagon commerce during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899. I discovered it when researching my recently complete novella. A third book, one less serious that I’m reading piecemeal, like when I have a half hour wait when taking my granddaughter to her orthodontist, is THE GARNER FILES, actor James Garner’s ghosted bio. The most serious book I’m reading concurrently with the others mentioned is FEARFUL HARD TIMES, a study of one of the more obscure Zulu Wars incidents.

What aspect of the writing process do you enjoy the most? What part of the process do you dread?

The high is the sudden intrusion in my mind of a potential plot and storyline. The low is finishing a story or novel. During work I can be frustrated or exhilarated or simply pleasantly busy, but when I write “The End” I’m completely worn out and somewhat saddened to be done. The Rx is to start the next one.

Would you tell us a little about your books? Please give us a little preview. Tempt us.

In nonfiction, I have a writing tutorial re-titled and published a second time; and a memoir of my world hunting experiences published three times under different titles. I have three current collections of short fiction. Every short story was generated to solidify the concept and characters to be transposed to a novel to come, someday. I have two novels published and a third in work. All three, THE OUTLANDER, ASSASSINATION SAFARI and GEMSTONE are set in South Africa, and my research has been with boots on the ground. Each novel features an American in South Africa as the primary character, and playing on my editorial background in guns and hunting magazines, each story includes use of firearms by those characters:

THE OUTLANDER is an American businessman in charge of his company’s satellite branch office in South Africa. He becomes the prime player in a murder for hire—the rewards being both money and sex—but the situation evolves into one of betrayal, kidnapping, blackmail, extortion, cover-up murders, and anxious flight through exotic countryside before culminating in revenge and retribution. This short novel is the centerpiece of the Champagne Books crime collection, GUNSHOT ECHOES.

In ASSASSINATION SAFARI, also by Champagne Books, an American becomes embroiled in South African white supremacist politics in the role of hit man. His day job income doesn’t permit as many safaris he would like, so he becomes susceptible to a proposal to become a paid assassin. His recruiter is a professional hunter by trade but also the clandestine leader of a white supremacist organization in post-Apartheid South Africa. Once reluctantly on board with the plan, enticed by hunting Africa’s most cunning quarry—man—my man stalks and studies his prey much as he would a trophy animal in the wild, locating where he roams and lays up and the confines of his territory. A subsequent assignment causes him conflict; the intended target is a friend. Once again the hunter must study his quarry’s habits and bring him to bag. He just didn’t count on the intervention by a determined investigative reporter.

GEMSTONE is fact-influenced fiction. Safari operators of the very early years, the literary and legendary “white hunters,” were isolated adventurers. The start of major changes from a cottage adventure trade to an industry of global influence can be traced to the mid 1960s. About that time a professional hunter in South Africa, revamped the fragmented safari business concept to include capture and relocation of huntable species, game ranching, worldwide marketing, and perhaps most importantly, creation of a professional organization whose creed was to foster conservation of wildlife resources and promote ethical and lawful hunting. Enter the fictional protagonist of GEMSTONE: The forward-looking prophecies of the real safari outfitter are transferred to a young American in South Africa in the 1950s. Jim Stone, as Gemstone Safaris, becomes the visionary force that builds the region’s modern-day safari industry. In so doing, his influence throughout the GEMSTONE saga is reflected in the economic, social, racial and political facets of the country. Like South Africa, the country, GEMSTONE, the novel, is a work in progress.

Which are your favorite books you have written and why.

I’ve written sixteen books in all, some in e-book but most in paper-print. My current favorite novel is ASSASSINATION SAFARI but I suspect GEMSTONE will move to the front, when I get moved to finish it. In nonfiction, it’s a tossup between my writing tutorial and my big-game hunting memoir, but since I’ve hung up my guns I re-read my own safari experiences regularly.

What can readers expect in the coming months? What are you working on now?

With GEMSTONE consuming most of my time, and that effort expected to continue for another year or so, I interrupted work on it with a couple of shorter works to keep my name in front of my publisher and my readers. The novella, SILVER SPOON, a modern day drug running story set primarily in Bolivia, is slated for release from Champagne Books early next year. The other novella that broke my concentration, OXWAGON, is a historical, circa 1900, set in colonial Africa. Unfortunately, it did not pique the interest of my publisher, so I’m pitching it elsewhere but I’m hopeful to see it available later this year.

If you could trade places with a secondary character in one of your books, who would it be and why?

In ASSASSINATION SAFARI, the bad guy is brought down by a newspaper reporter. I’d be him; a hero with a literary bent.

Why should readers read your books, what is it you Jim Woods have to offer them?

My unique strong suits are my passion for and knowledge of southern Africa. While on staff with Guns Magazine in 1983, I was presented with an invitation to an advertiser-subsidized safari to Zimbabwe. The sponsoring company, Zeiss Optics of Germany, wanted promotional coverage on a new line of riflescopes. What better way to get effective marketing press than to have well known gun writers favorably report on the products in the field? I was one of four national outdoors magazine writers asked along on the junket. Two years later, a similar invitation came from the South African Tourist Board. They wanted press coverage of the recreational opportunities in their much-maligned country, and planned on good press to counter their politically tarnished image at the time. I was one of seven international writers, three of whom were hunters, which included me, and four fishermen, participating in the event.

Those two fixes of Africa hooked me. I bragged on it too much and my wife declared the next time she would go too. Next time came the following year and we spent six weeks on our own budget—no more press promo free pass—driving through South Africa. We’ve been back several times since, once more to Zimbabwe, and several times to southern and central Africa. We even entertained the notion of immigrating to South Africa, but too many of my new friends there were bugging out for Canada, Australia and the U.S. We figured they might know something we didn’t, and dropped our plans to move there, but I’ll still go to experience the country again as a temporary explorer. But if I never return physically, I’ll continue to educate and entertain my readers with tales of the Dark Continent.

Thank you for joining us today Jim, now before we leave tell us where can you be found on the web? (Website, blogs, social network links)

Thank you. My pleasure. My personal website is

and my publishers are:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Spotlight J A Garland


Today’s In the Spotlight interview is with J.A. Garland.

J.A. is a full time firefighter in the state of California, an addicted trail runner, a connoisseur of all things cheese puff, and an author for BURST Books. When she isn't slogging through the obstacles at a mud run, you can find her hunched over her computer unleashing demons, vampires, and werewolves upon the world.

Please join me in welcoming J.A. Good morning J.A. grab a bowl of cheese puff and let us begin.

Yes, I'm a self professed cheese puff addict, but it's a little early -- even for me -- to partake. Check back in an hour, lol!

My first question is one maybe we’re all wondering, what does J.A. stand for?

Okay, so, J.A. stands for the first two initials of my name. "J" is for Jennifer and "A" is for Amy. When I heard the great news I was getting published, I had a 'closed door' meeting with my Division Chief. For those who don't know, those can either be a really good thing, or uh, a really painful thing. Turned out to be a good thing. He wanted me to know that because of certain clauses in my firefighting employment contract, it was in my best interest to use a pen name. But even without that, I would agree, it's wise to keep the two lives separate. So, the last name of Garland is just that, a pen name...the origins of which might or might not have to do with a great place to trail run...

What do people call you?

J.A. or Jennifer, what do people call me? Since I've been in the fire service for about 20 years, I've earned several nicknames. I'll share the PC ones, ha ha. When I'm being bossy, I'm called Captain, when I'm being tough, Jenzilla, because I'm short, J-Lo, and when I'm just 'being', Jen.

Okay Jen it is, I think I caught you on a good day so I’ll save the Jenzilla for another. Tell us Jen, a little about you, who is J.A. Garland? Your likes, pet peeves and such.

I like to exercise. Running is a personal fav, especially Mud Runs. If you haven't done one of those, you haven't lived. Mud, obstacles, beer, they are psycho fun! I've taken a spin at other working out options like kick boxing, P90x and Insanity, but I always seem to come back to running and old school weight lifting. For me, they have the best bang for my buck. Although, I do have a zombie run coming up, so you never know, I might have a new favorite workout!

I grew up with my own horses, dogs, goats, etc. so I feel I can classify myself as a pet lover. Unfortunately, with my busy schedule now-a-days, I can't have near as many animals as I'd like. I'm hoping to get a beagle when things slow down. Whenever that may be!

Pet peeves...well, you can't pick who you work with, and being on shift with at least 7 other firefighters for 72 hours straight per week for so many years, I'd like to think I've developed a tolerance for other peoples idiosyncrasies. That, or I've found really good hiding places at the fire station! See, being small does have its perks!

Reading. That's definitely a big part of who I am. I've been reading since forever. As far as genre, I started all over the spectrum. Louis L'amour's westerns, Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, Anne McCaffrey's Dragon Riders of Pern series, and L. Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth...they all appealed to me for different reasons. It was this love of reading that saved me when I hit middle school. My sister and I spent three hours each day riding school buses and sitting in shelters on the side of the road waiting for the connecting buses that would take us to and from town. During these periods of time, I would disappear into the worlds the authors had built. I remember once when a bus driver, (I shall call her Jaba the Hutt so you get the correct image) took away the current book I was reading. She told my mother Clan of the Cave Bear was smut, and completely inappropriate for someone my age. My mom, always the cool cat, laughed and said if I could read the words, then I was old enough to read the content. Besides, my mother knew if Jaba had bothered to ask, I would've told her I was an accomplished skimmer. Those racy chapters were of no interest to me yet, and as such, I barely glanced at them. But she didn't. So I light-sabered her in my mind until I was old enough to drive myself to school.

I'm also helplessly addicted to 'The Walking Dead', it's like chocolate covered cheese puffs. (Mmm, I might be on to something there).

I myself am a huge Walking Dead fan so we’re both happy today as it started up again last night. Okay back to you. I understand your first book is going to be released in September of this year, can you tell us a little bit (a sneak preview) of this book?

Yes, my first book, an urban fantasy called INSTINCT will be released September 3, 2012.

Lone wolf, Rory Archer, has never failed at a single mission. But then again, he’s never met a Halfling, either. Finding himself the hunted instead of the hunter, Rory unwinds a twisted trail leading back to Amber, a spirited Halfling with undeniable ties to his attackers.

Bound to vows initially forged out of necessity, Rory and Amber's relationship quickly surges into more than either of them had bargained on.

Scrambling to identify the mastermind behind their troubles before joining the casualty list himself, Rory is faced with doing the unthinkable, or watching Amber turn into a slave for his species.

What brings you write about such creatures?

I guess I've always wanted to believe there was some 'magic' in this world. So incorporating it into my books and characters just came naturally. Not that normal folks are boring or anything, lol, but you have to admit, super charged creatures are a lot of fun!

When did you first realize you were destined to be a writer? What inspired you?

One year for Christmas my parents bought my sister and I a state of the art Apple "green screen" computer. It was clunky and slow, but I was in love. I quickly learned how to program in DOS, and as the theme of my favorite books at the time, I made up fantasy games where the gamers' decisions would dictate their story. For example, "You come to a house in the woods. Do you knock on the door, or do you continue down the winding path toward the river?" If the gamer knocked on the door, a whole fantasy world would unfold inside of that house, but if they decided to go down the path, a headless horseman claimed their noggin as a souvenir. Game over.

As a full time firefighter and addicted trail runner when do you find the time to write?

I am very disciplined. Ha ha, seriously, it's a juggling game. I run early in the morning so there are no excuses, and I try to set aside time to write on my off-days. Some weeks it's easier said than done, but if I put it off for too long, I get crankier than normal.

What brought you to Burst Books?

I am one of those uber lucky people who are surrounded by great friends. One of which, is a sports editor. He read my manuscript and told me to go small press. He educated me about the EBook market and said it was the only way to fly. I wasn't totally sold, if you haven't noticed, I'm stubborn. I wanted one of those big NY print houses, right? (Ducking my publishers long reach right now, lol). I decided to appease him by sending my manuscript to two small presses that I'd researched a bit. The other one responded first, but I held out to hear from both. I'm glad I did, because when I heard from Champagne Book Group, which later created BURST Books for their SciFi/fantasy line, I knew they were right for me. They have open communication from top to bottom, great contracts, a wealth of supportive authors, amazing cover artists and caring mentors!

Can you tell us in your own words why we should read your book?

My writing style has been described as T.J. Hooker meets Twilight. I think that means I've got action, intrigue, and a splash of romance. If you're into that, you'll like my work.

Thanks Jen, Anything else you’d like to add?

I love getting and giving free things, as well as getting to know new people. If you

tell me about your favorite workout -- walking on the beach, hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro, snorkeling in the community pool, etc., I'll randomly select a winner who will receive a monogrammed coffee mug, tote bag, zombie soaps from AnaBanana, and a gift certificate for my book, INSTINCT.

Thanks for coming today -- I look forward to hearing from you!

J.A. Garland

"Where fantasy becomes reality."

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