Author Meet & Greet!

Welcome to Author Meet & Greet

Here, you will have an opportunity to meet authors and learn a little more about them.

You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with them through their social media links (if they choose to share them) and purchase their works.

The 4 most current author interviews will be posted here. Older ones may be found under the Archive: Author Meet & Greet on the front page.



So, without further ado,

let’s get to know our 36th Meet & Greet Author:

Amanda McNeill

Name: Amanda McNeill

Pseudonym: I use my name, either Amanda McNeill or A. Ramsay McNeill

Genre(s): Life Sketches is dystopian and the sequel will be too. The Haven Trilogy is mystery/paranormal, but not paranormal with zombies, vampires, etc.

Titles/Year of Publication:

Life Sketches – 2011

Oracle and Infinite Chain – 2015.

The last book of the trilogy, Link, will be published later this year…I hope.


Rodney and I live in rural Prophetstown and have been married for 45 years. I have been the assistant director of two small public libraries. No, I did not get a lot of reading done. Library work is not what the public thinks it is or even what library boards think it is…curse them! I started writing in 1976 because I realized that if I ever wanted to write, I had to set priorities. Looking back, I discovered I could live my life or I could let my life live me. Sounds noble, doesn’t it? Practical? Someone still has to throw some slop on the table.

A music major in college, but three of my profs advised me to find something else to do and some place else to do it. That may be one reason I write…

Why do you write in the genre you do?

I started writing dystopian fiction because I was royally pissed off at the government at the time. It’s so easy to write. Listen to the news and extrapolate a possible or even probable future. It’s like sounding the alarm. Strip the blinders from the eyes of the public and force the masses to wake up. I hope my two mysteries make people think too.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

I’m 65. I’m mostly retired from my “real job” but as a writer, I never have to retire. I believe that through my writing, I’ve developed a deeper, personal philosophy. I’ve been exposed to exceptional persons I’d never have met had I not started writing. I even have two programs. I never imagined I’d be speaking to persons who have actually shown up to hear what I have to say about getting off your butt (technically “on” one’s butt) and putting pencil to paper or fingers to keyboard.

I’m no longer the proverbial shy wall flower. I’m a real gasbag. Through my writing I have made changes in my community. Even though I’m not popular in certain circles, I’m much happier. I’m doing what I wanted to do since I was in the seventh grade. All I had to do was show up. I’m doing something that many persons only talk about. Granted my first book was so bad that I recycled it, but I feel Life Sketches has merit and I’m proud of my first self-published effort.

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I rejoice that we still have bookstores of any type. We live in dark and difficult times. The free expression of ideas will never be eradicated, but it may be forced underground. Life Sketches takes place in a totalitarian society. The only information and entertainment was what the government provided. We should celebrate that for the moment we have access to a world of ideas.

What do you hope readers will take away from your work?

I write to make people think. Some years ago I was in a critiquing group. There were several very fine writers, one who couldn’t write a grocery list, and one who had some excellent story concepts but never developed them sufficiently. She was critiquing the first chapter of LS, in which I wrote that “Simon was observing his life sketchers as they created life.” “You can’t say that,” she said. “What will people think?”

I want my work to ignite a spark in my readers that makes them question where our society is going. I hope I’m doing more than telling a story. I hope they consider how far we are from the nightmare world I’ve created. Why are we moving in that direction and how do we stop it? Too many of us coast through life oblivious to what our nation is losing.

How much does personal experience play in your work?

The Haven Trilogy is populated with person I’ve known in my “real job.” I’ve woven them together with some of my experiences and some which are total fabrication. The Universe has blessed me with have so many extraordinary persons in my life. I feel I’ve known more than my share of bad-asses too.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book?

I just keep writing until I’m done. Two years ago I wanted to have something to show at a class reunion. I was working on Haven, but I knew I wouldn’t have it done in time for the reunion, and it was already too long to publish. Earlier in the year I had read all three books in The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. Eureka! Make Haven into a trilogy! I took the material I had, found satisfactory place to end books one and two with a minimum of rewriting, and had them in my hot, little hands a day before the reunion! Whew! But I’m still working on three.

What makes you not finish reading a book?

It’s rare that I don’t finish reading a book. I put a book aside when I can’t follow the thread and it isn’t making sense. Then it’s a waste of time. What I read has to make sense. I’ve read award-winning books that I wished I’d never started. I’ve read several that on completion, my reaction was, “That’s it? There’s no more to it than that?” I resent that I wasted my time.

Do you believe writing should be censored?

No censorship. Never. We must never allow ourselves to slide down that slippery slope (please pardon the cliché) for there will never be an end. Sure, there’s stuff I don’t like to see disseminated, but no doubt my own opinions and prejudices play a part in my judgment. Who would get to decide?

Pet peeves in reading others’ work?

I have no patience with someone who doesn’t have a thorough knowledge of the mechanics of writing or a writer who doesn’t have the necessary (I reiterate “necessary” meaning essential) reference materials, or someone who is too lazy to use them. This summer I read a story with a great concept, but the author didn’t know how to assemble it. I’ve read books that I felt needed editing and proof reading, only to find the author has thanked his editor and proof readers in the acknowledgements. That’s hard to take. It would have been so much better if the writer had enrolled in Fiction 101. Writing is hard work, and should be if it is to be done well.

My work can be found online through the usual places. Do not mix up my Life Sketches with the one that was written in 1929. I’m not that old! I have copies of Life Sketches at Book World in the Peru Mall, and the first two books in of The Haven Trilogy at Book World at the Northland Mall in Sterling. However, today (11/1/17) I heard on NPR that Book World is closing. So if you want my books, hurry! I also sell them out of the trunk of my car.

I will be at Book World at the Northland Mall for a book signing on December 9 from 1-4. There will be three other authors there too.

I will be at the Sterling Public Library on December 2 for an authors fair. Contact the library for information.

Amanda McNeill


Thank you so much, Amanda. It sure sounds like you have lots of great events coming up. I can’t believe that censorship still plays a part in our society today. I, like you, think it is indeed a slippery slope. Writers and comedians are the last frontier, huh? 🙂  Readers, please look into Amanda’s work, and if you live close, go and meet her in person!  A real live Meet and Greet!


Desiree Lafawn


Name: Desiree Lafawn

Genre(s) of your work:Romance – Fantasy & PNR

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Northwoods Magic, Northwoods Fairy Tales Book One

The Descent of Eve, A Glass Traveler Novella


Desiree lives in Northwest Ohio with her husband, two children, and two rowdy cats. She is a craft addicted, roller derby skating amateur foody who loves to enjoy a glass of chardonnay with a side of whatever snack the kids left untouched in the pantry, most likely goldfish crackers.


Why do you write in the genre that you do?

I love writing in fantasy and PNR because there are really no restrictions. I am not limited to reality and the boundaries of “this world.” Anything can happen if I create it.


How has writing changed/altered your life?

I have met so many amazing people and some of the current best friends. They encourage me every day to do and be better, and if I had not started this journey I would not have met them. I am pretty grateful for the entire experience.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

I have so many I don’t know how to even pick one or two! I love Laurell K Hamilton because she really pushes the boundaries of sexuality in her books without being gross or tacky. I love P Jameson because she is so versatile. Her characters are gritty, flawed and loveable, and she isn’t restricted by her genre. She writes shifter romance, but she makes her own rules. She also writes contemporary romance as well and I am excited to follow her journey and see what else she can do. I read a lot of Lynn Kurland and Nora Roberts as well. Ugh. I read A LOT. I could go on and on about this for sure.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

I hope that they enjoy my books! I also hope that for a little while, they enjoyed the world I created and want to visit it again. As someone who reads and rereads my favorites many times over, a reader who wants to reread my work would be the greatest compliment.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

We tend to write about what we know, so while my stories are purely fiction of course there are going to be elements of experience thrown in. The locations are places I have been and enjoyed, some characters share my hobbies and some have characteristics of people I have met in my life – even in passing. I think that is probably true of every writer – we are little sponges, we absorb a lot.

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

I am lucky to have a very good group of author friends and we motivate each other constantly. I am very easily distracted and can get derailed from a project at any given moment. We are always giving each other a hard time and there are a lot of chats that end with “aren’t you supposed to be writing? Get off the internet!” It’s great to have that kind of motivation, ha ha. I also have my best friend as a beta reader and if I take too long she verbally abuses me until I give her something to read 🙂


What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

In general I always try to finish something I started reading, but I think the biggest issue would be bad editing. There are ALWAYS going to be errors and I like to think I am pretty tolerant but if tense changes repeatedly to the point that I don’t know what is going on them I am not likely to keep reading.


Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

I know what I will and won’t read, but I am not a huge fan of censorship – especially for grown adults. Look at the banned and challenged classics book list!  I am all for proper classification, but censorship? Everyone has a different idea of what is appropriate for them, I think we can all decide for ourselves what we will expose ourselves to.


Where can people find you and your work?

Amazon author page –

Facebook –

Facebook Reader Group, Lafawnduh’s Lounge –


Thank you so much, Desiree. I have to admit, I had to look up what PNR meant! (paranormal romance). It sounds like you have a great time with other authors too — that’s sure a nice perk of writing, having other people to help along the way, even if it’s just FB’ing 🙂  Readers, please take a moment to check out Desiree’s work! Holidays will be here before you know it.


Keith E. Smith


Name: Keith E. Smith

Genre(s) of your work: Action/Thriller


Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

Black Chamber: Paradise Lost – 2016


Bio :

Keith E. Smith was born in the capital city of Kentucky, in the southeastern United States. From an early age he was taught how to use firearms, hunt, fish, and work with his hands. He’s been a construction worker, videographer, auto-mechanic, restaurant worker, and a guitarist in a rock band. He’s poured concrete, video-taped a gubernatorial election, laid sewer pipe, built bridges, bussed tables, cut tobacco and even sold insurance.

In the early 2000’s he began writing articles for a newspaper, and later went on to publish two non-fiction books. He is also a ghostwriter for a book writing company based in Texas.

His novel, Black Chamber: Paradise Lost, is an action-packed thriller that takes readers on a chilling journey into a dark world of conspiracy and violence.


Why do you write in the genre that you do? 

I have always been interested in action, military, spies and conspiracy type stuff. The first books I ever read, even comic books, were all on those topics. When I decided to write a novel, I naturally wanted to write an action thriller story, but with a twist. Typically, books in this genre usually have a main character who is former, or current, military; they’re almost always highly trained and skilled in all sorts of things. In short, they are usually a bad ass. I love those books, but I wanted my main character to be an every day guy who gets caught up in that world.


How has writing changed/altered your life? 

I convinced myself, for years,  that I could never be a writer. I had received no formal training of any kind and felt that I did not have what it takes. Of course, that was garbage and my desire finally overcame my fears and I wrote an article. It ended up being in a newspaper. That experience showed me that being a writer was not only within my reach, but that I was already a writer. I have written four books now, and more are on the way. Writing has completely transformed me and my life.


Who are your favorite authors and why?

Louis L’Amour- because he was a phenomenal story teller, and the way he wove facts into his fiction. Brad Thor- He is just a great action writer and his stories are very plausible.


What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

I love all bookstores. I do love independently owned bookstores the best.


What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

I hope that my readers learn things that they did not know before reading my book. Like one of my author heroes, Louis L’Amour, I put a lot of facts into my work, and I hope my books are as educational as they are entertaining. I also want to make people think. I want them to read my book and think, “Man, this could actually happen.”


How much does personal experience play in your written work?

I have a diverse background that really helps me to see things from different perspectives. That helps me a lot when writing. I also weave some of my own experiences into a story sometimes.


How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story? 

The entire time I am writing, I keep visualizing that book in my hands. There’s nothing like the feeling of investing hundreds and hundreds of hours into a work, and then it being completed and in your hands. It definitely keeps me going.


What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

When it is obvious that the author did not research the facts. Fortunately, I have found that to be pretty rare.


Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

I do not believe anyone’s work should be censored. Whether it is a book, a song, or art.


Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

Not really. I think every writer should take the time to write the absolute best they can, and to put out the highest quality work they are capable of at that time.



Where can people find you and your work? 



Facebook Page:




Great interview, Keith – thanks so much. It sounds like you have a variety of past experiences from which to draw for your writing, and that always makes for a great reading. I agree that one of the most amazing things is actually holding the finished product – if that’s not motivation to write the next one, I don’t know what is! 🙂  Readers, please check into Keith’s books and social media! The holidays are fast approaching!



John Andrew Fredrick


Name: John Andrew Fredrick

Genre(s) of your work: comic literary fiction, film criticism

Titles/Year of Published Work(s):

The knucklehead chronicles (Full Court Press, 2008, London and Los Angeles)

The king of good intentions (Verse Chorus Press, Portland, Sydney, London, 2013)

The king of good intentions II (Rare Bird Books, Los Angeles, 2015)

Your caius aquilla (Rare Bird Books, 2017)

Fucking innocent:  the early films of wes Anderson (Rare Bird Books, 2017)


John Andrew Fredrick was born in Richmond, VA and raised and educated in Santa Barbara, CA.  He teaches writing in the English Department at California Lutheran University.  He is the frontman for longstanding indie pop band the black watch.  He lives in Los Angeles and London.

Why do you write in the genre that you do?

Because in a Hemingwayan sense you must write what you know—and I think at least that I know both the indie rock world and what works in comic fiction:  I have a real yen to make myself laugh first, then the reader.

How has writing changed/altered your life?

It made me into a scotch-o-holic for a spell there until my doctor ordered me to leave it out.  Creating characters you are rabid to run home to the computer to be with, as it were, staves off a bit of the unmitigated loneliness of the so-called writing life.  It got me a beautiful and absolutely bonkers Persian Abercrombie and Fitch model girlfriend for a year and a half—my first and last fictional groupie.  That was… interesting and dramatic.

Who are your favorite authors and why?

Nabokov because he is mad perfect, a master of the unforgettable phrase. Lorrie Moore because she slays me.  Martin Amis as well.  Henry James and Proust I am stunned by.  George Saunders on account of, well, who doesn’t love him?

What is your opinion of mainstream/corporate bookstores?

Even the lattes are corporate there.  Fuck that.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your work?

Whenever anybody hails me somewhere and says “You know, I really did laugh a lot, John” I am terribly humbled and thrilled and thrilled and humbled.  I hope they realize they themselves must be in on the joke (my narrators always-always mess with the reader) for the novels to work.

How much does personal experience play in your written work?

Wanting one’s trade secrets, wot?

How do you find the motivation to complete a book/story?

I’m like another of my heroes, Flaubert:  very jaded, very bored by most people, by life.

What makes you NOT finish reading a book?

A more interesting book.

Do you believe writing should be censored – that some topics should remain taboo?

I’m apolitical.  Last time I voted was against Reagan.  That didn’t work out now, did it?

Any pet peeves in writing? In reading others’ work?

The sort of fiction V.S. Naipaul described as “bringing news.”  So so so much MFA stuff!


Where can people find you and your work?

Me on the tennis court.  My work in indie bookstores and at    you can find the amazon page—I’m here in LA watching the World Series, hoping the Dodgers lose.  Am a Giants fan who lives a pop-up fly ball from Chavez Ravine!

John, I appreciate it! Thanks so much for sharing — both your answers and your humor. I see that the Astros won, so I guess you got your wish 🙂 If Chicago wasn’t part of it, I pretty much tune the whole series out! Readers, please take some time to look into John’s work — not ONLY his books, but his band, the black watch, as well. Good stuff!




  1. Hi Sue. Thank you for including me in this roundup of four writers. I read all the interviews with pleasure. The CWA includes so many interesting members. I enjoyed meeting my fellow interviewees via your blog.
    Susan Bass Marcus

    Liked by 1 person

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