Tag Archives: writing

The Walls Inspire


Denver Woman’s Press Club

For the life of me, I can’t figure out how a building can lend so much inspiration and ambiance to a program. This was the case this past weekend when Filter Press publisher Doris Baker and I presented our program at the Denver Woman’s Press Club in Denver. The topic, Kid Lit: Tools, Trends, and Markets, was challenging and could have taken off down any number of paths. As it was, it became a magical mix of history oozing from the historic little structure surrounded by high-rise office buildings a block from the state’s capitol, and the lively conversation among professional writers who came to learn and share. Our talk went overtime, but nobody seemed to care.

Like a rich dessert, the topic of trends was saved for last. Everybody wants to hear about them, although by nature, they are here today and gone tomorrow. Doris and I referred heavily on a list of “Top 10 Trends in Children’s Books for 2013” from David Allender and the editors at Scholastic Books. In a nutshell, here they are:

1. Bullying – every child will face or witness the effects of bullying at some point in their lives. I pointed out that author James Howe has switched from writing about talking animals in his YA (Young Adult) Bunnicula series to his latest title about bullying called The Misfits. As a successful author, he obviously saw a need and filled it.
2. Science Fiction – Dystopia (yes, I looked it up) is a make-believe place or situation, wherein the state of living is very bad, because of scarcity, tyranny and terrorism. This topic remains timely with an updated raw new edge to it. I pointed out the continued popularity of an old standard, Madelaine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time.
3. Intriguing Nonfiction – Biographies (yesssss!!) have always been a kids’ staple, and more are on the way. It was an easy slam dunk to mention the value of “Now You Know Bios” from Filter Press at this point.
4. Novels-in-Cartoons – Graphic novels are booming. I was skeptical, but was assured there are some really fine works out there in this genre. I quoted a January 6 Denver Post article that said basically the same thing.
5. Kid Lit on the Screen – We all know that name recognition can make book sales skyrocket when the story reaches the big screen. Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games are all the rage. There are bound to be more.
6. War – An ever-timely topic, this one has been evident with attention to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
7. Tough Girls – Who can resist girls with bows and arrows after the Hunger Games hit the screen. More powerful female characters will appear, although I personally hope some of them show up in biographies.
8. Survival Stories – These topics continue in popularity. Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet is still popular.
9. Spotlight on Diversity – Kids want to see themselves in the novels they read, and publishers are embracing their individuality, and are adding more contemporary settings.
10. Nature Runs Amok – Eco-thrillers pick up on stories straight from the newspapers. With names like tsunamis, Katrina, and Sandy, plenty of topics are ripe for publication. This subject is wide open.

There you have it. We added our own comments and sidebars to the nucleus of this list. Adults are reading more YA books. Somebody in the audience asked about animals … where are they? What about the horse stories treasured by girls? They appear to be absent, at least in the above list. Look around and draw your own conclusions. For instance, I don’t see any signs of anything western. However, I bet a good steam punk adventure would get somebody’s attention.

During times of uncertainty, the only given is CHANGE. Trends constantly change. Watch them carefully, but don’t be blinded by their supposed importance.

Coming soon: Sunday, February 17, 2013 – 3-5 p.m. – Denver Woman’s Press Club – Salon Series – “Almost Famous: Crafting Characters from Colorado’s Past” with biographers Joyce B. Lohse and Kimberly Field.

Joyce B. Lohse,


Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Western history, Writing Life


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Regrouping in Winter

Blue Goose

The Blue Goose - a favorite neon sign cowboys would try to ride back in the Yellowstone glory days

January has always been a time for me to clean out my desk and my brain as I turn the calendar and make plans for a new year. How timely that the Denver Woman’s Press Club invited Cynthia Morris to coach a group of us through the process of focusing on plans and writing notes to hold ourselves accountable for ideas which will make 2012 Our Best Writing Year Ever. The regrouping, re-evaluating, and re-purposing continues as the calendar begins to fill, and I begin to feel the creative juices flowing once again. Watch for magazine articles, presentations, and inclusion in a history compilation coming up very soon.

In the meantime, the search for fun continues during my quest for ways to reach out and touch Western history. The Western National Stock Show provided a step back into cowboy and cowgirl culture and an up close visit with some of the most beautiful livestock around. It was the perfect time to duck into Denver’s Buckhorn Exchange, established in 1893, for a truly decadent meal and a cold beer. Our heads swiveled to take in all of the artifacts surrounding us from the days when Buffalo Bill elbowed his way to the bar, which, by the way, boasts the #1 liquor license in Colorado. Vegetarians be warned. Animal heads of all sorts cover the walls, gazing with glassy eyes upon diners enjoying carnivorous delicacies from the menu. The third element of historic fun in the dead of Colorado winter can be found at the annual Post Card Show at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. The search is on for new images for future projects and re-purposed old ones, specifically an e-book from my original self-published book, A Yellowstone Savage. As my mental batteries recharge, everything is reevaluated. Useless baggage be gone as I move forward unencumbered with a new outlook and a clean(er) desk.

Joyce B. Lohse, 1/20/12


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Mara Purl Interview – Segment #3

Author/Actress/Musician Mara Purl

Author Mara Purl on Writing

Tell us about the importance of thin flip cell phones and Jimmy Choo shoes. I Googled the shoes … WOW, they are HOT!! [You could wear them, I could NOT!!!]

Oh, these are such fun stories! First, the shoes. I have a “hot” character named Cynthia. She’s social climber, a blond bombshell, and is convinced she can get anything she wants by wiggling her hips and batting her eyelashes. And most of the time, she’s right! Of course I think carefully about Cynthia’s wardrobe, and she has to have some “major” shoes.

To create the Cynthia character I draw on observation, imagination, and also some personal experience. When I was performing on Days Of Our Lives, all we women cast members had glamorous moments in the story. That’s part of the soap opera world. And part of that world is being photographed, both at events and in the studio. I’d bought some gloriously wicked black patent leather shoes with spike heels. I was about 6 foot 2 in these shoes, and they looked great in photos. Well, one year I was going to the Emmy Awards and decided to wear them. I only realized when we arrived at the auditorium and were faced by a huge staircase, that I really couldn’t walk in these things. My date had to help me “hop” up to the entrance. From then on, I labeled these my “shoes of death.”

Of course, some similar event will come up in Cynthia’s storyline. Meanwhile, I’ve established that she has a wonderful shoe collection. And I just kept seeing her in high-styled, colorful Jimmy Choo shoes. The thing is, he’s a huge name in fashion now, but my first novel is set in 1996. So I researched Jimmy Choo’s career. I was intrigued to discover he comes from a multi-generation lineage of cobblers in China, so you could say he was born with an innate knowledge of the foot and how to dress it. Imagine my delight when I discovered Jimmy’s first major success came when he was featured in Vogue Magazine in 1996! It’s just so perfect. Cynthia becomes one of the first glam-gals to own a pair of his shoes.

The cell phone story is similar, in that I have a wealthy young male character, Zack, and needed for him to have a cell phone. But unlike today, in 1996 most people didn’t yet have cell phones. Turns out, the first razor-thin flip phone hit the market in 1996, just in time for Zack to own one. They cost a small fortune at the time—and that, too, was perfect for this character.

What goals and challenges do you see for yourself in the future?

The Milford-Haven Novels will include twelve books, so I’ll be busy for a while! I’m also writing a short story as a prequel to each novel. So my goal is to write these novels, and to continue working with my new publishers and marketing team.

So that’s the “head” goal. But the “heart” goal is what’s really important. The real purpose in writing and marketing these books is to enroll women readers in a whole new realm of possibility for themselves. On one level, my novels are pure escapism. But on a deeper level, that “fiction lens” gives them a tool for looking into their own hearts. What, in our heart of hearts, do we want to create in our lives? Are we carving out time to fulfill our desires? If not now, when?

At my book events, we have such fun engaging in these conversations. We also have fun donating a percentage of sales to charities, because generosity is one of the keys to living a happy life. I’d like to create more and more opportunities for generosity and transformation. And to think, all this can begin with buying a book, taking it home and reading it! When a reader tells me my books have made a difference in her life—that’s when I know I’m fulfilling my purpose.

Thank you, Mara, for sharing your thoughts with us during an interesting and informative interview. Best of luck to you for much future success with your Milford-Haven novels, and beyond! — Joyce


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!


About Author Mara Purl:

  • Mara Purl was a performer on-camera and on-stage, with her regular character on Days Of Our Lives having been her starting point for soap opera.
  • Purl began her writing career as a journalist for the Associated Press, Rolling Stone, The Financial Times of London, Working Woman Magazine, and The Christian Science Monitor. A prolific fiction author, she also has written a play and several non-fiction books including Act Right: A Manual for the On-Camera Actor with actress Erin Gray.
  • Other Awards include: for radio, the New York Festivals Award; for her play Mary Shelley: In Her Own Words, the Peak Award; and for public service, Woman of the Year 2002 by the Los Angeles County Commission for Women.
  • Mara Purl is also an accomplished musician. Her instrument is the koto and she recorded and has played on the international stage with many noteworthy musicians including the works Sumahama recorded with Mike Love and the Beach Boys, Pathless Path recorded with Charles Lloyd, Koto Keys with Marilyn Harris, and Teiji Ito’s Watermill recorded with Grammy-winning musician Steve Gorn.
  • The hit song “Jet Laggin” she co-wrote with Marilyn Harris is in current release on the new CD Orphans.

Dianemarie (DM) Collins
DM Productions LLC

(623).825.9122 Ext. 2  –  Email:
Phoenix – Lake Tahoe – Reno

Mara Purl
Author – Actress – Motivational Speaker



Posted by on September 1, 2011 in Western Travel, Writing Life


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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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