Category Archives: war

10 QUESTIONS FOR…J.L. Smith, “Reporting for Doodie”


Author interview with  J.L. Smithheadshot2jpugh_book_0308_fnl_front

Reporting For Doodie is my first book and I am very excited about the reviews it’s been getting!  I also do a lot of freelance writing for various business owners.  I grew up in a very small town in Pennsylvania, but felt the fire inside and had to break loose!  I left the small town at an early age and never looked back (except to visit my siblings).  Now I live in paradise…Long Beach, CA…and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else!  It has everything and I love it!

1.    Tell us about your latest book.

My book is entitled “Reporting For Doodie:  One Grandmother’s Story of Commitment, Frustration and Unwavering Love”.  

What would you do if you were a (suddenly) single grandmother and both your daughter and son-in-law were deployed at the same time, leaving you as primary caregiver for your 2-year old grandson?  You’d do exactly what I did…Report for Doodie!

So many events inspired this book…some happy, some frustrating, some sad…but all life-changing.  My story starts with one incredibly funny incident that served as an epiphany to share my story.  This was not the first time I was “Reporting for Doodie”, but it was the first time I was doing it all alone.  Or so I thought…I discovered a secret vault filled with friends I never knew I had.  Sadly, I also lost a few along the way.

I found myself in the midst of an unexpected divorce, facing the possible loss of my home and making a major career change, when someone, somewhere took a look at my proverbial “plate” and thought…”there’s a little corner of her plate that isn’t taken, she needs a toddler to care for…oh, and at the same time, let’s throw in a rarely-heard-of medical condition to make her life even more interesting”.

I hope readers enjoy my account of how this beautiful child saved me from myself and how I used ‘The Secret” to channel the inner strength my mother gave me…all compliments of the U.S. Military.

2.    How did you get started as a writer?

My mother instilled the love of the written word in me, particularly through the words of Erma Bombeck; readers of my book have been comparing my style to hers…the ultimate compliment!!

So many events inspired this book…some happy, some frustrating, some sad…but all life-changing.  My story starts with one incredibly funny incident that served as an epiphany to write the book I had always dreamed of.

3.    What does a typical day look like for you?

Up early…write anything…go to my ‘day job”…back home to write some more!

4.    Describe your desk/workspace.

Home office in one of my bedrooms.  White board on the wall that lists all my projects and their deadlines.  A “vision board” right in front of me with pictures (or other documents) depicting what I want…and will get…out of life!

5.    Favorite books (especially for writers)

Again…anything and everything written by Erma Bombeck.  Also enjoy the teachings of “The Secret”.  Anything that entertains me or makes me think.  That was the goal with my current book…making people laugh, cry and really think…and it’s been successful at doing that!

6.    Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

My book was inspired by an incident that happened with my grandson…he ran out the front door of my house – in front of all my neighbors – with my vibrator in his hand yelling: “Gramma…toy…BRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!

I got myself on the Oprah Winfrey Show with one well-crafted email.  They contacted me by phone within 3 hours and days later I was in Chicago for the taping of a segment on inspirational self-reinvention stories.

I got my first tattoo at the age of 50.  I was just separated from my husband, had reinvented myself – inside and out – and feeling fabulous at 50!!  I was visiting my siblings in PA and decided to get a tattoo on the back of my neck.  It means “life and birth” because I felt reborn.  I also drug my 2 brothers and my sister (who is 65) along with me and made them get their first tattoos too…what a day!

7.    Favorite quote

Now that’s a tough one…couldn’t name just one…but some of my favorites are scatters throughout my book.

8.    Best and worst part of being a writer

Best part:  being able to express yourself.

Worst part:  there aren’t enough hours in the day to write everything I want to!

9.    Advice for other writers

Follow your dream…don’t give up.  Everyone has a story inside them…just let it out!  When I got the first copy of my book – in draft form – I began shaking.  I’ll never forget that feeling!

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

Again, I must revert to the vibrator story…it was included in Redbook Magazine recently in their embarrassing stories section.  Can you imagine????

Also, when writing my book on my new laptop, I lost the entire book – twice – with no backup due to computer problems.  I guess the third time really is the charm.  I think it’s because as time elapsed while recreating it, the best ending came about with my son-in-law back from Iraq safely. 

Where can people buy your book?

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Lloyd Lofthouse, “My Splendid Concubine”


Author interview with Lloyd LofthouseConcubineCoverTwoOn5-6-09_editeLowResAUTHORPhotoOneOn5-7-09_ed

Lloyd Lofthouse earned a BA in journalism after fighting in Vietnam as a U. S. Marine. He then taught English and journalism in the public schools by day and for a time worked as a maitre d’ in a multimillion-dollar nightclub by night. He now lives near San Francisco with his wife, Anchee Min, and they have a second home in Shanghai, China.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

      I will let the reviewers and judges tell you about “My Splendid Concubine”.

2009 San Francisco Book Festival Winner – Honorable Mention in General Fiction

2008 London Book Festival Winner – Honorable Mention in Fiction

“Packed cover to cover with intriguing characters and plot, a must read for historical fiction fans and a fine addition to any collection on the genre”  –  Midwest Book Review

“If even half of Lofthouse’s narrative is true, it’s a stunning work that enmeshes imperialism, modernity, miscegenation and plain old desire in a sweaty matrix of destruction and painful birth.” – City Weekend Magazine

“Those who are interested in unconventional romances with an out-of-the-ordinary setting will find plenty to enjoy.”  

    – Historical Novels Review

“Hart’s struggles adapting to Chinese culture, always feeling the pull and force of his Victorian British background, are compelling. His relationships with his concubine and his concubine’s sister are poignant—the novel is as much a study of the complexities of love as it is anything else. A powerful novel …”

                   – Judge of 2008 Writer’s Digest Self Published Book Awards

“Lofthouse eloquently weaves together historical facts into the lives and emotions of his characters … here is a story that will help you understand how one period can change the direction of the future—all for the love of a single woman.”

                    – Peter N. Jones, Great New Books

2. How did you get started as a writer?

After Vietnam and the United States Marines, I went to college on the GI Bill. During my first year in college, Ray Bradbury visited and I attended his lecture. Listening to Bradbury motivated me to write. I signed up for a creative writing class the next semester. That was in 1968 and 1969.  I haven’t stopped writing.

3. What’s a typical day like for you?

I spent the first hour or two exercising before going to my office and getting started. The first few hours are spent on the Internet replying and sending e-mails in addition to doing what I can to promote my writing.  I wrote and post poems, articles and post previews on Websites like Authors Den for the next two books I plan to publish.

4. Describe your workspace.

My workspace is a hundred square foot office on the ground floor of our hillside home. The computer sits in front of a window.  The view is of trees—many trees. I built bookshelves against three walls. There are two filing cabinets. Art hangs on the walls. Chinese woodcarvings collected while on research trips to China sit on top the bookshelves.

5. Favorite books?

The list is long. This is a sample:

Lord of the Rings

Interview with the Vampire

Memoires of a Geisha

all of James Lee Burke’s books

all of Patrick O’Brian’s books

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you:

1. I came back from Vietnam combat with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and cannot sleep without a weapon of some kind near-at-hand. If the crickets outside the house stop chirping, I wake alert.

2. For several years, I was a maître in a multi-million dollar nightclub and gained a nickname from the other employees. They called me “Disco Lloyd”.  A friend, who was also a school counselor, told me I was an introvert extrovert and switched back and forth depending on the situation.

3. I don’t mind trekking into the mountains in winter when the snow is hip deep and few hikers are around. I also like to ski in blizzards since the slopes are empty and you don’t have to wait in lines.

7. Favorite quote?

“You can fool some of the people most of the time and most of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”  I believe Abraham Lincoln said this.

8. Best and worst part of being a writer?

I enjoy the right brain activity that takes place while writing the rough draft of a novel. The left-brain activity necessary to edit and revise is a tedious, necessary pain that many writers seem to avoid.

9. Advice to writers?

Writing is about story and craft, so never stop learning how to write because the competition is fierce. If you love to tell stories, never give up the dream that others around the world will read your writing one day.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

I started writing in 1968. By 1973, I had earned a BA in journalism. For seven years in the 1980s, I drove more than a hundred miles each week to attend a writing workshop out of UCLA. Most of the writers in that workshop ended up published. Marjorie Miller, the instructor, eventually believed my work was ready and connected me with a big name agent.

That novel was about Vietnam. I came back from that war with PTSD. I sweated ink to write that story. However, at the time, no one was publishing Vietnam since the market was glutted with that topic and the reading public wasn’t buying. The agent dropped me once he couldn’t place my work. However, decades later, A Night at the Well of Purity, a chapter from that novel, was a finalist for the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards.

I started an MFA at Cal Poly, Pomona and finished it a decade later at another university.  Almost every step I have taken since 1968 was done to improve my writing.

I spent thirty years in the classroom as an English and journalism teacher. My students won state and regional awards in poetry, short stories and in journalism. The school paper I was advisor for won international recognition five years in a row.

For most writers that refuse to quit, writing turns into a painful labor of love. That is what it has been for me.

Where can people buy your book or learn more about you?

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Julie Hawkins, civil war novelist


Author interview with Julie HawkinsBlue_sweatersellsheet_cover

A Beckoning Hellfire is my first novel. I have had many articles, songs, and poems published, and have worked as a writer and editor for several publications. I presently reside in Horn Lake, Mississippi (just across the border from Memphis) with my husband.

1. Tell us about your book.

My novel is about a young man from North Alabama who discovers on Christmas Eve, 1862, that his father was killed at the Battle of Fredericksburg. Driven by revenge, duty, and honor, he enlists with the Confederate cavalry. Soon after arriving in Virginia, however, he discovers that the life of a cavalryman isn’t as glamorous and chivalrous as it is made out to be. He is hurled from one battle to the next, and in the process, learns about his own mortality, motives, and loyalties.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I have been a writer ever since I can remember. I began with diaries, worked my way up to journals, and expanded to articles, short stories, and picture books.

3. What’s a typical day like for you?

A typical day for me starts with a work-out regimen, followed by a walk with my dachshund puppy, Dixie. Once she’s down for a nap, I’m free to spend several hours writing, conducting research, and surfing the web. I usually take a few hours out after that, and then proofread what I wrote that afternoon.

4. Describe your workspace.

My workspace is wonderful. It is quiet, peaceful, and has plenty of light. The only drawback is that it is upstairs. In the summer it gets too hot up there, so I migrate downstairs and set up shop on the dining room table. Most of the time this works, even though I have to share the space with my husband, who is definitely not a neat freak!

5. Books you recommend (especially for writers)

Besides the basics (a good dictionary, a thesaurus, and the Elements of Style), I recommend 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing, by Gary Provost, Keys to Great Writing, by Stephen Wilbers, and Edit Yourself: A Manual for Everyone Who Works With Words, by Bruce Ross-Larson.

6. Tell us 3 interesting things about you.

I consider myself to be a Coloradoan, even though I live in Mississippi, and am originally from the Midwest. I love to travel, to see and experience new things, and to learn about innovative ideas. I am an avid pet lover: our family includes five dogs, three cats, two birds and tropical fish, and this is downsized from what we previously had.

7. Favorite quote?

“Dreams come true, without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.” – John Updike

8. Best and worst part of being a writer?

The best part of being an author is meeting interesting people and receiving notoriety. The worst part is the isolation that it requires.

9. Advice for writers?

Never give up! You will never fail unless you quit trying.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

Due to my novel, my husband became curious about his genealogy. In the process, he discovered that his great-great grandfather was a translator for the Cherokee Indians during the Civil War, and was enlisted as a Confederate soldier.

Where can people buy your book?

A Beckoning Hellfire is available on, Barnes and,,, and Please check out my website at My blog is