Monthly Archives: August 2011

Mara Purl Interview – Segment #2

How did it come about that your book series was picked up by a large publishing house, and in what ways has that changed your work and your outlook?

The new publishing contract came about as a direct result of developing a following for my books. I write a novel series, the first four of which were published over the last five years with a small independent press. Like most small indie presses, it had no major distribution. But this period of time was tremendously useful because they gave me a lot of focus, and we all learned so much about my readers and how to connect with them. And of course, my writing kept improving.

The larger New York publishers are looking now not only for good writers, but for authors who know their audience, know how to connect with them, and are willing and able to market their own books. Some authors resent this, and feel they should be focusing only their writing. I feel, however, that the publishers today are acknowledging that we authors are the experts when it comes to our books and our readers. So now, working with this fantastic team of very experienced publishers, who do have major distribution, is a grand experience. I feel I’m with the publishers of my dreams. They “get” me, and they appreciate that I “get” how important it is for me to do effective marketing. Though much of what I’m doing now is along the same lines as what I’d been doing, there are two major differences. First, my books are entering the main stream of publishing, and everything about the books is in compliance with the many layers of industry standards. I love that sense of quality control. Second, it’s as though I’ve switched from piloting a tiny rowboat and rowing hard mostly on my own, to being on board a sleek, spacious sailing vessel with an experienced crew and plenty of wind in my sails.

What is your philosophy about research? Tell us about some of your research experiences, and how they have panned out and added new dimension to your stories. What surprises and serendipitous moments have you experienced?

For me, research is foundational to all my story-telling. I’ve often said that non-fiction is about facts, while fiction is about truth. By that I mean that fiction is a lens we can place over life’s issues to look more deeply into the layers and influences that make up human behavior. The situations in which characters find themselves and their particular personalities come from imagination. But the background against which they’re moving—world events, geography, topography, discovery, transportation, communication—the more accurately portrayed these elements are, the more “truth” we can actually see about how people respond.

As journalist, probably sixty or seventy percent of one’s work is research, before you get around to structuring and writing a piece. I was trained by experienced journalists and editors, especially when I worked for the Financial Times and the A.P. Then later, Louis L’Amour became one of my mentors, and I still love his stories and novels. If Louis says there’s a water hole twenty-two miles west of Sonora, either he saw it himself, or he spoke to the man who did. He was a voracious readers and a great lover of history. So he certainly encouraged my interest in research, and encourage me to use it in my fiction.

Quite often when I’m plotting a story segment, I read extensively about the region, or the type of situation I’ll be including. I did several months of research on seismology before writing about a fictitious earthquake. But my “fictitious” earthquake turned out to be prophetic, as a short time later the exact magnitude and location I’d written about did happen. Why? Because my research was detailed and gave me an accurate foundation.



Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Western Travel, Writing Life


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Mara Purl Visits During Her Virtual Tour

Milford-Haven Books

Milford-Haven Books

Mara Purl has spent the month of August on a virtual book tour to promote her recent work on her Milford-Haven novel series. Her piece entitled, When Hummers Dream, is currently available as an e-book for 99 cents from Her novel, What the Heart Knows, will be published in hardcover next month in September by BelleKeep Books in association with Midpoint Trade Books. If you just caught up with Mara’s virtual travels, or her work is new to you, Mara is a talented award-winning author/actress/musician who divides her time between her Los Angeles and Colorado Springs homes. You might know her for her role in the TV show, Days Of Our Lives, or playing a Japanese stringed instrument, the koto, on stage, or her series of novels. I have enjoyed many encounters with Mara through mutual involvement in Women Writing the West, and I have benefited from her valuable advice and warm friendship when our paths cross. Her insights about writing and the West are the result of solid experience and a passion for her craft. She will share some of those perspectives here in a series of three posts during the next three days.

PLEASE NOTE: As a thank you for your visit today, Mara would like to offer her new short-story “When Hummers Dream.” Her charming story, which has become a best-seller in the Kindle store, is a prequel to her upcoming novel “What the Heart Knows.” You may download it for your Kindle from for free until September 1. But in case you don’t have a Kindle, you may still download it for free from Mara’s publisher! Visit, then enter the password BKbonus. Enjoy!

I proudly present to you Mara Purl’s thoughts on writing.

Joyce & Mara

Joyce & Mara at UCLA 2009

THE INTERVIEW — Segment #1 —

You have a wide and varied background in the arts. You’ve been an actress on TV and otherwise, a musical performer at Lincoln Center, and you’ve learned the tango in South America! Tell us a little more about all that, other interesting endeavors, and how you became a writer.

Though I was born in the States—in New Haven, near Milford (more on that later)—I grew up in Tokyo, Japan and attended a school with students from forty countries. There’s no question this experience had a profound impact on me. For example, my favorite film is “Rashomon” not only because it’s a classic but because the story is presented from multiple points of view. I now write a novel-series told from the perspective of multiple characters.

Back in my school days, I was walking across the campus one day and was called into the Principal’s office. Worried about what I must’ve done wrong, I was surprised to learn I’d actually been scouted by NHK-TV, the national network. I auditioned and landed the part in a drama-series called “Teach Me English.” From then on for the next few years, twice a week I performed in this show, playing the part of a young girl who lived in Japan with her American family. I had to have the script memorized letter-perfect, because students were following along in workbooks at home. So it was both a drama and a teaching program.

The legacy of growing up in Japan, and also in a family of actors (my dad also grew up in the theatre, and attended Yale Drama School; my mom was a ballerina and performed on Broadway and in film; my sister became a well-known actress)—for me, lead to two specific things in my adult professional life. One is being a story-teller and performer comfortable with media like television, radio and theatre; the other is that I learned to play the classical Japanese harp, called the koto. Though this has never been the central focus of my career, it continues to be a golden thread that has woven its way through many years. I’ve recorded several CDs and have performed at Lincoln Center intermittently for thirty years.

Meanwhile, the writing has always been the focus in one form or another. I was a professional journalist for several years, and loved it. I was on staff in the New York bureau of the Financial Times of London, another multi-national experience. I worked on special assignment for the Associated Press, and freelanced for Rolling Stone and many other publications.

Much as I loved that chapter of my career, I felt compelled to return to creative writing and to performing, so I left New York and headed to Los Angeles, where I plunged into a challenging and wonderful time of acting on stage and television, and writing screenplays and teleplays. I felt excited, and very clear this was where I was supposed to be, and what I was meant to be doing. I think that sense of intuition is a very key part of being an artist.



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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in Western Travel, Writing Life


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Coming Soon: Mara Purl

Coming Soon – Tuesday, August 30th –we will visit with author Mara Purl regarding her popular Milford-Haven novel series. I am currently “on the road” attending to family business. My visit with Mara will take place on Tuesday, August 30th. Please check in then to learn about Mara, a fascinating, talented and creative personality, and her current projects.Joyce B. Lohse

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Posted by on August 12, 2011 in Writing Life


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Happy Colorado Day

Routt Cover

The story of the Routts and Colorado's Statehood

Not so long ago, every August 1st, Colorado celebrated “Colorado Day” in a big way. In the late 70s and early 80s, we closed our typography and graphics business mid-morning to watch a long parade full of horses and pioneers along Nevada Avenue in Colorado Springs. Crowds and decorations abounded for the celebration. Why? This excerpt from “First Governor, First Lady” offers an explanation.

“Undaunted by heavy criticism from the East, people of Colorado voted by a margin of 11,000 to ratify the constitution on July 1, 1876. Governor Routt certified the results and notified President Grant of the outcome. Statehood for Colorado was nearly complete.

“On July 4, 1876, Routt acted as master of ceremonies at a grand Independence Day celebration in Denver that went on for two days. After a parade through the city, the celebratory gathering of city officials and exuberant citizens assembled in a grove on the banks of the Platte River near the Colfax viaduct. As he addressed the crowd, Routt was handed a telegram from Representative Stephen Decatur, who was attending the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Carefully adjusting his wire-rimmed glasses, Routt read the words, ‘Are we a state?’ from the telegram.

“‘We are!’ was John Routt’s immediate and emphatic, booming reply to the throng, who sent up a great, deafening cheer. He continued to read aloud his reply as sent to the Exposition. ‘The Centennial State and the twenty thousand here assembled send joyful greetings to the sister States of the American Union represented at Philadelphia on this glorious Fourth. (signed) John L. Routt.’ With that response, Colorado achieved the pride and dignity of statehood.

“While Colorado was celebrating its status as the country’s newest state in 1876, it was also celebrating the centennial birthday of the country. The coincidence inspired Colorado’s nickname — the ‘Centennial State.’ On August 1, 1876, President Grant issued his proclamation of statehood officially making Colorado the nation’s thirty-eighth state. That day is known as Colorado Day and is celebrated as the state’s official birthday.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, to the great state of Colorado, and all gathered therein!

Joyce B. Lohse


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Posted by on August 1, 2011 in Denver history, Western history


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