October 8, 2019

A Conversation with Author, John Migacz

For the next few months, I plan to feature various authors and writers in interview-styled posts. Writers will find some jewels of helpful information within these interviews, and readers, I hope, will find their next "To Be Read" book.

In 2007, an ad for a writers conference sponsored by the South Carolina Writers' Workshop led me to the Greenville chapter of SCWW (now SCWA). I'd been looking for a local writing group for two years and was thrilled to discover one existed where I lived. At the time, John Migacz led the Greenville chapter, so I met him and a lot of great writers through that one ad. To my relief, John wrote speculative fiction, so there was at least one person in the group who understood fantasy. Today, we have several. Because John writes in several genres, many of you may find your next book to read in his list of publications.

John Migacz

John Migacz was drawn at an early age to stories of action, adventure and inspiration, so he began searching for an outlet for his overactive imagination. Misguided youthful exuberance interrupted this pursuit as he volunteered for the US Army, where he served with the 198th Infantry Brigade in Vietnam. After detours into the fields of photography, painting, and film making, he discovered his passion for writing during his tenure as a computer administrator for a major telecommunications firm. John has written novels in several genres including Romance, Mystery, SciFi, and Speculative Fiction, as well as numerous short stories and essays. He is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Georgia Romance Writers, and the South Carolina Writers Association.


What are you working on?

Currently I’m working on the third book in my SciFi trilogy The Dieya Chronicles, and also on an anthology of Dieya Chronicles short stories. I bounce back and forth as the muse shoves me around. I’ve veered into other genres as well and there are other books cooking in the back of my head. People have a TBR (To Be Read) list of books, I have a TBW (To Be Written) list. Some are concrete in my mind and others are just nebulous in the scattered fog of my brain.

How does your book differ from others in its genre?

It doesn’t. I once took umbrage when someone disparaged my books as being merely “space opera.” After throttling my impulse to throttle him, I realized with the popularity of Star Wars, Star Trek, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc., I was in good company. I don’t wish to examine the “human condition,” I just want to point out how much fun it is.

Why do you write what you do?

I began writing after reading a number of disappointing, uninspiring books. Declaring, “I can do better than that piece of junk,” I gave writing a try. I had read mostly scifi/fantasy novels at that time, so my first novels were in that genre. After reading a time-travel novel by an author named Nora Roberts I realized that in all my works there is a constant thread of romance. I focused on that genre and wrote a pure contemporary romance trilogy—Blind Love, Boundless Love, Binding Love—featuring three strong women who overcome physical and mental disabilities. The interaction between people is what I find most interesting. Though the characters are acting only in my head, they are real when I write about them. For my second romance novel, a side character from the first novel demanded her own book. She forced me to sit down and tell her story, all the time yapping in my ear about what to write.

How does your writing process work?

There are two types of writers, pantsers and plotters. I am fully a pantser. I sit down and write by the seat of my pants. Most times the characters lead me in the direction they want to go. In one of my novels, I conceived a character who would be the lovable mentor of my protagonist — turns out he was the evil bad guy. Who knew?

At times a word someone says will fill my head with an idea and off to the keyboard I go. I’ve been known to react to an idea my wife has mentioned over dinner and leave my full plate to go write. 

I’d like to say that as a disciplined person I sit down every day at a scheduled time to write a scheduled section. I’d like to say that, but I won’t. I’m like a two-year-old who gets distracted by a new toy. I’m currently painting a twenty-eight-foot mural on my basement wall. Why? Re-read the third sentence in this paragraph.

After forays into painting, photography, and film school, writing is a cheap way to release my creative side. I can create galaxies and fill them with incredible worlds — or destroy them all with the evil backspace key.

God I love writing…

How do I find your books?

I have a website, John Migacz, where you can find the links to purchase them on several sites including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


October 1, 2019

A Conversation with Author, Robert Lamb

For the next few months, I plan to feature various authors and writers in interview-styled posts. Writers will find some jewels of helpful information within these interviews, and readers, I hope, will find their next "To Be Read" book.

In 2008, I co-chaired the SCWW Writing Conference. My primary role involved lining up the agents, editors, and authors for our faculty. I met Robert Lamb that year when he agreed to serve on our faculty. He's a journalist, teacher, and author, so you might want to pay attention to what he has to say.

Robert Lamb

Born in South Carolina, Robert grew up in Augusta, graduated from the University of Georgia, served in the Navy, and then began a career in journalism, last with The Atlanta Constitution. After 20 years in journalism, Robert switched to Academia, first at Clemson, then at the University of South Carolina. His first novel, Striking Out, was nominated for the PEN/Hemingway Award. His second novel, Atlanta Blues, blipped briefly on the bestseller list and was named by the Sumter newspaper as “one of the three best novels of the year by a Southern writer—and maybe the best.” He followed these with A Majority of One, about a clash between religion and the Constitution over book censorship, and Tell Tchaikovsky the News about the regenerative powers of rock ’n’ roll. He's won the 2009 S.C. Fiction Project and an Excellence in Storytelling Award. Now retired, Robert writes full-time, is married, and has four sons.

What are you working on?

I’m between writing projects, devoting much time in trying to get my latest novel published. Working title (it has had several) is All That Blood Can Tell. It’s a story of recovery from the collateral damage of a suicide in the family, especially a psychological condition called “frozen grief.”

How do your books differ from others in their genre?

To my complete surprise,  four of my novels have been about my life experiences as lived by a semi-fictional me named Benjamin Blake. They tell you to write what you know; I’ve certainly done that. Blake’s not always the protagonist. But in 20 years in journalism, one can live through a lot of dramatic incidents as a reporter/feature writer/columnist/weekly newspaper owner. Atlanta Blues came from all that. In truth, though, my novel ideas came from a variety of sources; a mere (but impassioned) admission by a hostess at a party was the seed of A Majority of One. A love of music was the origin of And Tell Tchaikovsky the News.

The idea for my latest, All That Blood Can Tell, came when I learned, through a friend’s travails, about generational family therapy in psychology, which posits that families, like individuals, have psychological profiles and that memory plays a crucial role in the therapy. Blood explores the importance of remembrances in recovering from a traumatic psychic wound. All That Blood Can Tell focuses on the interplay between the protagonist’s inner life and outer life, connecting the then and now.

Why do you write what you do?

For better or worse, the literary novel is the only genre that deeply interests me, probably because it is about the Human Condition and because I’ve had a lifelong interest in human behavior. I’m not nearly as interested in what happened as why it happened—and the consequences.

How does your writing process work?

Over the five or six novels I’ve written, my writing process has changed little. I aim for 1,000 words a day, write from 8 to noon, then begin the next day by reading over what I wrote the day before. For beginning writers, I hasten to add that I was a bit more methodical in writing my first novel. Here’s why: I knew how to write long before I knew how to write a novel. So I set out to learn the how-to of novel writing: things like where to start, point-of-view, keeping the reader’s interest, avoiding adverbitus (i.e. all those words ending in “ly), etc., and, most important, writing not only to be understood, but so that you can’t be misunderstood. 

And in case you wondered, I still consider my writing a work-in-progress, an internship, an adventure.

How do I find your books?

I maintain a now and then site at Robertlamb.net and most of my books are on Amazon.com, though a couple, particularly a longish story titled “Ghosts,” are on Smashwords.


 Robert Lamb's website book page



September 24, 2019

A Conversation with Author, Brenda Bevan Remmes

For the next few months, I plan to feature various authors and writers in interview-styled posts. Writers will find some jewels of helpful information within these interviews, and readers, I hope, will find their next "To Be Read" book.

I personally know many of the featured authors, as is the case with today's guest, Brenda Remmes. I met Brenda while serving on the Board of Directors for South Carolina Writers' Workshop (SCWW). Brenda and I, with a third director, undertook the task of updating the bylaws for the organization. I, also, had the honor of participating on a writing panel at the South Carolina Book Festival in 2015.


Brenda Bevan Remmes

Brenda Bevan Remmes grew up in a family of characters and story tellers. Brenda transferred these skills to her jobs in health education at the medical schools of  UNC-Chapel Hill and USC-Columbia.  After discovering in a family attic a barrel of letters and pictures that dated back to 1827, Brenda began accumulating family stories she’d heard over the years and wrote a narrative history of the Eugene and Maude McBride Dabbs family, Everything Happens at the Crossroads, self-published in 2008. Brenda has also published in Newsweek, Pee Dee Magazine, The Caroliniana, The Petigru Review,  Serving up Memory ,What I Wish I Could Tell You,  Wild, Wonderful ‘n Wacky, South Carolina Cackalacky,  and on a more serious nature,  Studies in Communication Science. 

She became a convinced Quaker in 1976.  In 2008, she joined the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop group in Camden, SC, and began her first novel, The Quaker CafĂ©, published by Lake Union Publishing in 2014. It has sold over 140,000 copies to date.  Her second novel, Home to Cedar Branch, was published in 2016 and her third novel, Mama Sadie went to press in 2018.

What are you working on?

I am currently working on her fourth novel, The Ghost at Fern Park Plantation. I am breaking with my first three novels and deciding to take a different turn and write a ghost story.  Having been brought up in a family where ghosts are part of our annual experiences and beliefs, I wrote an abbreviated version of a story that my mother told me in Wild and Wacky.  A fellow writer read it and told me I should turn it into a novel.  After some thought, I decided to do just that. 

How does your book differ from others in its genre?

 While each of my novels can be read as stand-alone novels, the first three all take place in a small Quaker community in northeastern North Carolina where Quakers settled in the late 1700s.  Based in present time, they tell the stories of how the history of this small town continues to influence the lives of those who live there today. As Faulkner has so aptly said, “The past is not dead.  It’s not even past.”

Why do you write what you do?

I write because I enjoy writing and I enjoy telling stories that entertain people. I think every writer wants to believe that they’re presenting an ethical dilemma that causes the reader to reflect on the decisions each character makes.  I hope I do that. My first novel reflects on past indiscretions and its consequences, the second on providing sanctuary within a religious community and the third on environmental issues in rural areas. These issues are woven around individual  challenges within their own lives and some humor. After all, we all hope to be able to laugh just a bit at our own dilemmas.

How does your writing process work?

For me, afternoon writing is difficult to do although my mind tends to race at night when I’m trying to fall asleep—a complaint common among writers. I write better in the mornings, and usually work on something from around 8 a.m. until 1 or 2 when I get lunch and go to the YMCA. Do I sit and stare out of the window a lot?  Oh yes.  Sometimes it’s helpful, and other days I’m lucky to get a paragraph or two written.  I am, however, totally indebted to and dependent on the feedback from my writing critique group in Camden.  They have been essential to me in revising and launching my books.

How do I find your books?

My novels are available in paperback, kindle or audio on request at your local bookstore, online at Amazon.com or through Brenda’s website at brendaremmes.com. Her first, self-published book, Everything Happens at the Crossroad, can be read for free online or found in select South Carolina Libraries.