Connie Corcoran Wilson, Author of Laughing Through Life Chats About Finding Humor in the Midst of Tragedy

Meet Connie Corcoran Wilson

Connie Corcoran Wilson has published 10 books since 2003. “Hellfire & Damnation” ( came out in February, 2010. Her three volumes of true ghost stories of Route 66 (Ghostly Tales of Route 66, are out from Quixote and in E-book format from Quad City Press. Connie has been writing for pay since age 10 and taught writing at 6 IA/IL col.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Laughing Through Life is the book of funny essays and observations that critics have called “Erma-Bombeck-meets-David-Sedaris,” with hilarious results. You’ll find yourself nodding your head in recognition of many of the situations that a young mother, teacher and business-owner encountered while raising 2 children born 19 years apart (PTA membership from 1973 to 2010!). Connie’s adventures while covering the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns with press passes also will amuse—especially if you thought “W” was a bonehead. (If you are not a progressive, you might not laugh quite as heartily. Be warned.) Smile. Enjoy! Laugh through life with Ava & Elise Wilson, the author’s 2-year-old twin granddaughters, who provide a never-ending supply of funny anecdotes, (just when she thought it was safe to go back in the water.)

Coming to Amazon and Barnes and Noble soon!

I would like to welcome Connie Corcoran Wilson, author of Laughing Through Life to Emeraldfire’s Bookmark. Ms. Wilson was kind enough to write a guest post for me and here it is below in her own words:
“Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and  you weep alone.” (Solitude, st. I)
In 2003 my mother, then 94, began the long slow fade to black that comes for each of us. She was still of sound mind, but she had a series of small strokes which robbed her of the ability to play bridge (her passion), and it was quite clear to me, her youngest daughter, that she was fading fast. In fact, it had become clear to me that the end was near since Thanksgiving.

Later, nursing home personnel told me it was only my son’s  wedding and the festivities  that surrounded it that kept Mom alive six more months. I was hosting a “welcome to the community” party for the bride and groom. They had married in Matamoros and none of our Midwestern friends would be able to attend the ceremony, so a full-on party was planned, a mini-wedding reception, complete with gowns and cakes and flowers.

I carried in various outfits from the nearby shopping mall for mother to try on (over her strenuous objections that she could simply wear an old velour jogging suit I had once given her for Christmas). The preparations to bring her to the party, 60 miles away, for the evening, even though wheelchair-bound, were many and numerous. I even purchased  a giant 52″ TV screen (the pre-plasma behemoths) that would replay the actual ceremony in a continuous loop. Mom would be able to see her second (of four) grandchildren being married on this large television set, (contingent upon the store being willing to re-deliver the same TV set to my house after the party was over at no additional fee, which they agreed to do.)
I urged my sister to come with me to visit Mom on Mother’s Day in the nursing home where she had resided for 5 years (a necessity imposed by her need for constant medical monitoring for her 4-shots-a-day brittle diabetes.) My 4-years-older sister, who could often be as blank as the proverbial fart,  said, “Let’s wait until her birthday.”
 My mother’s birthday was May 31st.
 I remember saying to my completely oblivious older sister, “Kay, she won’t make it to May 31st.”
And she didn’t.
My mother died  May 2, 2003 and we buried her on May 4, 2003.   I had begun divesting of my businesses, my responsibilities, my very life, in order to be by her side to be able take care of her and, after that, to be able to take care of estate matters when she was gone—something I never really ever believed would actually happen before she hit 100, as my mother was an indomitable force. (My father died in 1986).
 I sold my two businesses (Sylvan Learning Center #3301 and the Prometric Testing Center), businesses I had founded, two months to the day before Mom died, on March 2, 2003.
 I remember asking her, on the final day of her life, as she received oxygen and faded  in and out of consciousness and I held her hand, witnessing her losing the battle that I had always felt  quite sure she would not lose until at least the ripe old age of 100, “What was the favorite city on Earth you ever visited?”
She was very weak, almost to the point of being unable to converse,  but she was lucid. She looked at me and said, “Anywhere your father was. And Iowa City.”
Mom died in Iowa City, where she had moved over some objections from her children at the age of 82, after an entire lifetime spent in the small northeast Iowa town of Independence, a life spent teaching kindergarteners while my father worked in the bank he had founded. She slipped away in the early hours of the morning to join her husband of five decades.
While my father’s death had come at a time when I was expecting a baby and had just launched a new business, my mother’s death came when I had dropped everything else in my life, primarily to care for her. In the process of doing so, I had severed ties with my entire support network of colleagues and co-workers and customers.
My husband, recently retired, was doing taxes for H&R Block. I was at home, alone, for long hours, in what seemed like a very cold house. I later learned that the furnace was broken; it took me the better part of a week wearing a parka and gloves in the house and seeing my own breath in front of me to convince my husband that there really was something wrong with the furnace. (It turned out that it was only blowing out cold air.)
What could I do to cheer myself up? Depression was one silly millimeter away?
I dug out the humor columns I had written for a local paper  in happier times, when I was a young mother, a young teacher, a budding entrepreneur. I added poetry sold, pictures, my lasagna recipe. (Nobody knew what to make of this book, when it was finished, and I imagined it only as a gift for friends and family, like those ubiquitous calendars that you  make as gifts at the holiday season.)  I fashioned anything I had ever sold  into my second book Both Sides Now. (A few of those columns have made their way, again, into Laughing through Life, but much more of the book is new or the product of online blogs for which I have written).
I found that, as I revisited the silly or the ridiculous or the happy times represented in those columns, my mood rose.  Eventually, I sent the columns and pictures off to be published. I did not know this at the time, but this marked the beginning of my “writing long” career. A lifetime hobby had turned into a time-consuming second career as a writer and publisher.
Without humor, for me there is no quality of life. And, in life, even in the grimmest of times, as limned recently in the movie “50/50” about a young man battling a life-threatening form of cancer, there can be humor in hardship.
Humor, to me, is as much what I am all about as weeping and gnashing of teeth.  I hope I can continue to see the humor in life, even when I am at my lowest and things seem most bleak. Humor will sustain me and lift me up, I hope, even on my own deathbed.
Maybe I’ll leave an epitaph that says, “I can’t be done yet. I still have checks left!”
And let us not forget these sentiments from someone far more eloquent than me:
“They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses;
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.”
                                   (Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longani)

– Connie Corcoran Wilson Author of Laughing Through Life
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May you read well and often


Benjamin Kane Ethridge, Author of Black and Orange Chats about why he writes Dark Fantasy

Meet Benjamin Kane Ethridge

Benjamin Kane Ethridge is the Bram Stoker Award winning author of the novel Black and Orange (Bad Moon Books 2010). Beyond that he’s written several collaborations with Michael Louis Calvillo, one of which is a extreme horror-comedy novella called Ugly Spirit, available soon. He also wrote a master’s thesis entitled, “CAUSES OF UNEASE: The Rhetoric of Horror Fiction and Film.” Available in an ivory tower near you. Benjamin lives in Southern California with his wife and two creatures who possess stunning resemblances to human children. When he isn’t writing, reading, videogaming, Benjamin’s defending California’s waterways and sewers from pollution. Drop by his site at or tweet him at @bkethridge, or Facebook him at
Synopsis from Goodreads: Forget everything you know about Halloween. The stories are distortions. They were created to keep the Church of Midnight hidden from the world. Every October 31st a gateway opens to a hostile land of sacrificial magic and chaos. Since the beginning of civilization the Church of Midnight has attempted to open the gateway and unite with its other half, the Church of Morning. Each year they’ve come closer, waiting for the ideal sacrifice to open the gateway permanently.

This year that sacrifice has come. And only two can protect it. Martin and Teresa are the nomads, battle-hardened people who lack identity and are forever road-bound on an endless mission to guard the sacrifice. Their only direction is from notes left from a mysterious person called the Messenger. Endowed with a strange telekinetic power, the nomads will use everything at their disposal to make it through the night alive. But matters have become even more complicated this year. Teresa has quickly lost ground battling cancer, while Martin has spiraled into a panic over being left alone. His mind may no longer be on the fight when it matters most… because ever on their heels is the insidious physical representation of a united church: Chaplain Cloth.

I would like to welcome Benjamin Kane Ethridge, author of Black and Orange to Emeraldfire’s Bookmark. Mr Ethridge was kind enough to write a guest post for me and here it is below in his own words: 
Why I write Fantasy o’ Dark
It happened much like a well-performed magic trick occurs. That is, I never saw it coming, never saw which hand manipulated what and created such a surprising outcome. When I started out to write stories I only desired to write fantasy and science fiction. I enjoyed horror immensely but that wasn’t what I was trying to do with my career. So I started submitting stories and receiving rejections. Submitted more, got rejected more. Submitted more, got an acceptance. Hold up though—this was fantasy, but it was pretty well grim subject material. I noted that and continued on. More submissions, more rejections, and then another acceptance. This one was straight up Horror. Unconsciously I think I wanted to replicate that first sale and it worked.
I got the picture and I’m sure you do now as well. My writing was most successful when I turned up that darkness dial. Thing was, I still wanted to write fantasy and science fiction. But all wasn’t lost because that such a combination is completely viable nowadays. The dark fantasy writer, probably more than the dark science fiction writer, but build a name and you can probably have it anyway you slice it.

So here I was, Benjamin Kane Ethridge, once open to everything speculative, but I’d not been defined. I’d become a Dark Fantasy writer. I have no shame in wearing the Horror badge or the Fantasy badge, but being called one or the other just isn’t at all honest. I write horrific, fantastical things, and that’s what I’ve become. For me this accident was like slipping and springing an oil well because it’s difficult to find your feet as a writer; there is much to read and much to write about and therein lies a decision for every upstart writer. Building a brand means putting your marbles in a particular basket, at least during the audience building stage.

The easiest thing to say was that I didn’t choose Dark Fantasy, it chose me, but that isn’t accurate. I came to a conclusion based on my past successes and my own personal tastes for storytelling, which is how I ended up pulling out free a scale-covered, fang-bearing rabbit from the magician’s hat.

– Benjamin Kane Ethridge Author of Black and Orange
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Coming to Amazon and Barnes and Noble soon!  

Amanda Dickson, Author of A Gentle Thief Chats about Writing About Characters Who Capture the Imagination

Meet Amanda Dickson:

Amanda Dickson is a radio announcer, author, newspaper columnist and speaker based in Salt Lake City. Amanda earned her B.A. in English and her Juris Doctorate at the University of Utah. She practiced law for a brief time before returning to her first love of radio. Amanda taught Mass Communication Law at the University of Utah, becoming a favorite professor among the students. Amanda published her first book in the fall of 2007, Wake Up to a Happier Life. Her second book, Change It Up, came out in October of 2009. Her new book, Friends For Life, is due out in January of 2012. Amanda is married and the step-mother of three children. She is also the indulgent mother of two children.

Synopsis from Media Guests: Maddie Johnson loved Shakespeare. Unlike everybody else she knew growing up, she seemed to understand him, enjoy him, more with every reading. It was partly because of this love that she drove from her home in rural Pennsylvania to college at Southern Utah University, home every summer to the Utah Shakespearean Festival. It was partly that, and partly the desire to get as far away as possible.

Maddie thought being in Utah would help her forget, that the stark beauty of the scenery and the power of the metaphor would be enough to clear her. They weren’t.

In her freshman year, she met and, after graduation, married a much older man, Robert Able, the first person Maddie had ever known who understood her love of Shakespeare.

At 21, Maddie felt too young to be married. At 23, she felt too young to be divorced.

Maddie was found dead on New Year’s Day, clutching a gun to her chest. Everyone assumed she committed suicide. Everyone except her father.

A Gentle Thief is Maddie’s story, and that of her father and the young attorney he hires who becomes devoted to him and the truth of his cause.

A Gentle Thief is a book nearly 20 years in the making, inspired by a case the author worked on while a lawyer.

Coming to Amazon soon!

I would like to welcome Amanda Dickson, author of A Gentle Thief to Emeraldfire’s Bookmark. Ms Dickson was kind enough to write a guest post for me and here it is below in her own words:

I was blessed in A Gentle Thief in that many of the characters are based on real people, people who had already captured my imagination, whose circumstances and bravery and drama so thoroughly grabbed my heart, that twenty years later, I find myself finally writing their story. As I began to bring their story to life in this novel, and to add other characters to the plot, I felt compelled to honor them, their lives, their struggle, in the only way I knew how – to write a narrative worthy of the heroic challenges they faced.

What makes these characters capture the imagination is the same for all characters who accomplish that feat – we can feel ourselves in them even as they face circumstances we cannot imagine. They are us, our sisters, our husbands, our friends, only they are confronted with a depth of challenge we have not personally known and hopefully will never know.

We are captivated by them, in part, because we want to know how we would handle it if life dealt us these unthinkable cards. These captivating characters don’t always rise to the occasion, as we might not always, but we learn from them. We might even love them. But in every case, if we writers do our jobs, we feel for them.

– Amanda Dickson Author of A Gentle Thief
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May you read well and often

Nova Sparks, Author of The Dome Chats about World Building

Meet Nova Sparks:

I love romance/paranormal urban fantasies. I write about real life situations in a fiction world.

Synopsis from Goodreads: What if you knew the exact date and time the world will end, what would you do? Sam Tucker was faced with that dilemma when he began getting visions of the Earth’s demise. Luckily for him, he was able to save his family and as many people as he could before the tragic event occurred, and he did so with the help of unknown visitors. With Earth now destroyed, Sam, his family and thousands of other lucky survivors must live the rest of their lives on a faraway planet in a Dome that simulates life on Earth. But Sam’s mind can’t seem to rest as a few questions arise. Why did the aliens save them? How did they know about Earth’s sure fate? And exactly what are they hiding?
Emma Tucker begged for an escape from her boring life but never in a million years did she think it would come at the destruction of Earth. Living on a new planet and finding it difficult to get rid of her rebellious habits, Emma finds herself making friends with a member of the alien race and it soon develops into an unexplainable love; a love that is more dangerous than she could ever imagine. While her father is searching for his own truths, she has no idea that she is stumbling on a truth of her own.

Told from the point of view of both Sam and Emma, author Nova Sparks takes readers on a journey to discover love, fate, faith, truth and the mystery of the DOME!

Coming to Amazon,  Smashwords and Barnes and Noble on November 30, 2011!

I would like to welcome Nova Sparks, author of the Dome trilogy to Emeraldfire’s Bookmark. Ms. Sparks was kind enough to write a guest post for me and here it is below in her own words:

Hello Everyone! My name is Nova Sparks and I’m a sci-fi urban fantasy romance author. The first book that I have available is called the DOME and is the first installment in the the DOME trilogy. The second installment, the DOMErevelation, will be made available November 30th! I’m super excited about that.

The DOME trilogy follows an all American family that are a few out of thousands of people that have been “rescued” from a crumbling Earth by aliens and taken to a distant planet to live in a Dome that simulates life on Earth. In my series, I have two main characters that alternate their points of view with each chapter. One is a thirty-seven year old man named Sam and the other his teenage daughter Emma.

One of the more challenging parts when writing this story was creating a very human and Earth like world that is the Dome on an alien planet. When I originally wrote this story, I wrote it as a treatment for a television show. When I was thinking about how the world inside the Dome would look, the first thing that came to mind was how much money would HBO be willing to spend creating a green screen world. I figured because I’m a newbie, HBO wouldn’t want to give out that much cash, so I decided that the Dome should look exactly like how a typical American suburban town looks.

The whole idea behind the Dome through the eyes of the Syrions (the host aliens on planet Syri) is that they wanted to create a “safe” place for the humans to live that will protect them from the hostile environment of their planet, but also have it not be an obvious alien environment.

The Dome was created by the Syrions (the aliens) to house 6,000 humans so there are thousands and thousands of houses with a front and back yard as far as the eye can see. The Dome constantly pumps oxygen and even has a fake sun and moon that appear whenever it is morning or night. In the morning, you can hear the automated sounds of dogs barking and birds chirping and at night you can hear owls and crickets.

The whole idea is to have the humans be as comfortable as possible and to feel unthreatened and welcomed on their new home planet. Little do they know, these aliens have a whole different plan for them.

The DOME is available for ebook on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble and is now on sale for 99 cents to celebrate the release of the DOMErevelation on November 30th! Take a journey with Sam and Emma as they learn to adapt to their new world while trying to discover the true intentions of their alien hosts. You will not be disappointed!

Thank you soooo much, Mareena for allowing me to guest post on your blog. I had a blast!

-Nova Sparks Author of the DOME (the DOME trilogy #1)
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May you read well and often

Kathryn Meyer Griffith, Author of The Heart of the Rose Chats About Why She Wrote The Heart of the Rose and Evil Stalks the Night

Meet Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Kathryn Meyer Griffith has been writing for nearly forty years and has published 14 novels and 7 short stories since 1984 with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press in the horror, romantic paranormal, suspense and murder mystery genres… and all 12 of her old books above (and two new ones) are being brought out again between June 2010 and July 2012 from DAMNATION BOOKS and ETERNAL PRESS again in print – and all in e-books for the first time ever! Learn more about her at or or or and!/profile.php?id=1019954486
Synopsis from Goodreads: Bronwyn is kind and resourceful, a healer ahead of her time who cares for her aging father and two young sisters. She can entrance a man with her sweet voice, the beauty of her face. She’s an impoverished peasant who lives in the dark, suspicious times of fifteenth-century England where such a woman is feared. Witches are believed to be everywhere, waiting to ensnare a powerful man…like Edward the Fourth of England, who comes across her one day singing in a tavern and makes her his mistress.

Edward’s powerful adversary, The Earl of Warwick, seeks to take over the throne of England. Bronwyn is torn between the two; one she loves, the other she loathes. One cherishes her, the other wants to possess and control her. As battle lines form, and the country is torn apart by political upheaval and bloody carnage, the two sides wrestle for the crown. Who will she end up with? When she’s condemned to burn as a witch, which man will save her and which will let her die?  

Coming to Amazon on 4 November 2010!

Synopsis from Goodreads: Twenty years ago psychic Sarah Summers fled from the evil that lurked in the woods behind her childhood home after it killed most of her family, but a nasty divorce and financial hardships forced her back when nothing else could. With her son, Jeremy, she returns to her grandmother’s dilapidated house and tries to begin a new life. She meets an eligible man, police detective, Ben, who falls for her, and she prays her fresh visions of bloodshed and death deep among the dark trees are not true. Then the murders begin again and Sarah is hurtled back into the same nightmare that has haunted her her whole life. The evil in the woods is awake again…and this time it wants her last remaining brother, her son…and her. With Ben’s and Jim’s help can she defeat it this time…and live? 

Coming out in July 2012!
I would like to welcome Kathryn Meyer Griffith, author of The Heart of the Rose and Evil Stalks the Night to Emeraldfire’s Bookmark. Ms Griffith was kind enough to write a guest post for me and here it is below in her own words:
Why I Wrote The Heart of the Rose
…and also Evil Stalks the Night
I started writing The Heart of the Rose after my only child, James, was born in late 1971. I was staying home with him, not working, and was bored out of my skin. I read a horrible historical romance one day and thought I can do better than that!

So I got out my old typewriter with the keys that stuck, my bottles of White-Out, carbon paper for copies, and started clicking away. I tentatively called the book King’s Witch because it was about a 15th century healer loved by Edward the Fourth who was falsely believed to be a witch. At the library (no computers or Internet back then) I did tedious research into that time in English history: the War of the Roses, the poverty and civil strife between the Red (Lancasters) and White Rose (Yorks); the Earl of Warwick and Edward the King. His brother Richard the Third. A real saga. Well, all that was big back then. I was way out of my league. Didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I just wrote. Reading that original version (a paperback released from Leisure books in 1985) now I have to laugh. It was pretty bad. All that archaic language I used (all the rage back in the 80’s). Yikes! But people, mainly women, loved it.

And so my writing career began. That was 40 years ago. It took me 12 years to get that first book published as I got sidetracked with a divorce, raising a son, and having to get a real job. Life, as it always seems to do, got in the way. The manuscript was tossed into a drawer and forgotten for a while.

Then one day years later I found it in my bottom drawer and decided to rewrite it; try to sell it. I bundled up the revised pile of printed copy pages, tucked it into an empty copy paper box and took it to the Post Office. Plastered it with stamps. I sent it everywhere The Writer’s Market of that year said I could. And waited. Months and months and months. In those days it could take up to a year or more to sell a novel, in between revising and rewriting to please any editor that would make a suggestion or comment. Snail mail took forever, too, and was expensive.

In the meantime, I wrote another book. Kind of a fictionalized look back at my childhood in a large (6 brothers and sisters) poor but loving family in the 1950’s and 60’s. I started sending that one out, as well. Then one day an editor suggested that since my writing had such a spooky feel to it anyway, why didn’t I just turn the book into a horror novel. Like Steven King was doing. Ordinary people under supernatural circumstances. A book like that would really sell, she said. Hmmm. Well, it was worth a try, so I added something scary in the woods in the main character’s childhood past that she had to return to and face in her adult life, using some of my childhood as hers. I retitled it Evil Stalks the Night and started sending it out. That editor was right, it sold quickly.

But right before it was to go to editing, the publisher, Towers Publishing…went bankrupt and was bought out by another publisher! The book was lost somewhere in the stacks of unedited slush in a company undergoing massive changes as the new publisher took over. I had a contract and didn’t know how to break it. Heaven knows, I couldn’t afford a lawyer. My life with a husband and son was one step above poverty at times. Back then I was so naïve. That was 1983 and that take-over publisher was Leisure Books.

As often as has happened to me over my writing career, though, fate seemed to step in and the Tower’s editor that had bought my book, before she left, told one of Leisure’s editors about it and asked her to try to save it. She believed in it that much.

Out of the blue, in 1984, when I had completely given up on the book, Leisure Books sent me a letter offering to buy Evil Stalks the Night! Then, miracle of miracles, my new editor asked if I had any other ideas or books she could look at. I sent her The Heart of the Rose and Leisure Books promptly bought that one in 1985, as well; labeling it, and asking me to sex it up some, as an historical bodice-ripper (remember those…the sexy knockoffs of Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss’s provocative novels?)! It wasn’t a lot of money for either. A thousand dollar advance and only 4% royalties on the paperbacks. But back in those days the publishers had a bigger distribution and thousands and thousands of the paperbacks were printed, warehoused and sent to bookstores. So 4% of all those books did add up.

So my career began. I sold ten more novels and various short stories over the next 25 years –as I was working full time and living my life. Some did well (my Zebra and leisure paperbacks) and some didn’t. Most of them, over the years, eventually went out of print.

And twenty-seven years later, when Kim Richards at Damnation Books contracted my 13th and 14th novels, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons and The Woman in Crimson, she asked if I’d like to rerelease (with new covers and rewritten, of course) my 7 out-of-print Leisure and Zebra paperbacks, including The Heart of the Rose – and I said a resounding yes!

Of course, I had to totally rewrite The Heart of the Rose for the resurrected edition because my writing when I was twenty-one was immature, unpolished and had been done on an electric typewriter, with lots of White-Out and carbon paper (I couldn’t afford copies), using snail mail; all of which didn’t lend itself to much rewriting. Then also in those days, editors told an author what to change and the writer only saw the manuscript once to final proof it. I also totally rewrote the book because, as was the style in the 1980’s, the prose was written in that old-fashioned prose using thees and ayes. The dialect of 15th century England. There were sex scenes I had to tone down. It was awful. So I modernized the language, cut all the redundant adjectives and adverbs and helped the characters to grow up a little (they were so dramatic). The Heart of the Rose-Revised Author’s Edition published by Eternal Press in November 2010 ( ), hopefully, then is a lot better book than it ever was in 1985. It should be…I have had thirty-nine more years of life and experiences to help make it a better book.

– Kathryn Meyer Griffith, author of The Heart of the Rose and Evil Stalks the Night
Visit my websites at, or my Myspace page at 

May you read well and often