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5 August 2011

Brainstorm - interview with Author Gordon A Kessler, and e-Reader Contest

I'm thrilled to have Gordon A Kessler as my special guest today as part of his Goddess Fish Promotions Blog Tour.

HL:  Welcome to my blog, Gordon.  Please make yourself at home, have some refreshment (put your feet up on the control panel if you like, it won’t damage it, ) help yourself to something refreshing from the auto-bar, and tell us a little more about yourself .

GK: Thank you for making me comfortable and for allowing me to guest on your blog.  It is indeed a pleasure.

Well, there are two things I like to do more than anything else: write novels and teach novel-writing.  I do a little of both.  When I write, I draw on life experiences from travel, adventures I've had, my time in the Marines and my many eclectic interests. I love mixing big thrills into a carefully-plotted story, along with well-drawn characters and subplots involving love interests.

I enjoy helping new and struggling novelists hone their skills and write great stories, as well. I conduct seminars and workshops throughout the year for writers of all levels, and I enjoy talking about writing with other writers nearly as much as I enjoy writing.

HL: Your stories sound just the sort of thing I like to read myself, Gordon - and it's great that you can pass on your experience and knowledge to upcoming writers. Please tell us about your latest release and what you think readers will enjoy about it

GKBrainstorm is a love story hidden inside a high-tech, sci-fi thriller. I believe readers enjoy my characters because of their depth and realism. They'll identify with the protagonists and find complex relationships while exploring cutting-edge technology and paranormal possibilities. Brainstorm is a real thrill-ride until the end, with the characters in jeopardy throughout the story.

HL:  That sounds an amazing novel, Gordon, great characters with depth, and complex relationships, combined with an edge-of the seat plot, must surely be a recipe for a winning story! So when did you start writing?

GKI started writing novels over twenty years ago as a kind of therapy, when I was going through a very difficult time both emotionally and financially. It served that purpose well. I became hooked after penning the very first page.

HL: Ah yes, writing is indeed very therapeutic.  I wonder how many of us can relate in varying degrees, to that scenario? What do you do for fun when not writing?

GK: I enjoy adventure, but I'm not the risk-taker I used to be.  No more jumping out of airplanes—but I do love to SCUBA, snow ski and sail. Above all else, however; I enjoy quiet time with friends and family—and my sweet little golden retriever, Jaz.

HL: Sounds a very successful combination, a touch of outdoors adventure and relaxing home life - and so many writers, including myself, are animal lovers.  Jaz sounds lovely. 

I'm always interested to know what comes first: the plot or the characters? Do you find as you write new characters come along? Do your main characters change and surprise you?

GKFor me characters come first.  Without great characters that readers can care for, there isn't much thrill in a thriller. The plot is always important, of course, but characters and plot work together—characters grow plot and plot grows characters—and it's fun watching them grow and change, because they're always full of surprises.  Readers like stories that surprise them; writers like it just as much when their stories surprise them, too.

HL:  I couldn't agree more, the reader has to be able to relate to the characters  - and when they surprise the writer as well as the reader, that's a real bonus! Do you listen to music when you write and if so, what kind of music – or do you find it  distracts you?

GKI listen to music only during the intense action scenes, otherwise, I do find it distracting.  The rhythm and beat of percussion instruments can really get me fired up. Just the right aggressive strings and brass will do the same. Listening to some of Bond's electric strings always invigorates and inspires me to write powerful action scenes. Japanese percussions will do the same.

HL: Yes, I agree, some types of music can certainly get one in the mood for action scenes!
It's often said that writing can be a lonely occupation. Do you have a support system? Do you have a writing community? What valuable lessons have you learned from them?

GKMy support system is a group of writers I've known for some time. I've formed several critique groups from my writing students over the years, and they're all my friends.  I was also a founder of the Kansas Writers Association over fifteen years ago and was their first president—and I'm back as president again this year.

I think the most valuable lesson I've learned from my writers is resiliency—they never stop. They have their dreams and they won't stop until they realize those dreams.  I hope I can help them in that endeavor.

HL: Sounds like a wonderful relationship all round. So what is your personal definition of success?

GK: Success, to me, is what I have.  I have dozens of close friends from writing and teaching over the years. That can't be measured in dollars. I think I'm respected for my views, and my help to them is considered valuable.  I also have three novels out there—all of them in eBook, as well as print. I couldn't ask for more...well, maybe a few more sales.

HL: *Grin* Oh yes, I think most of us can relate to that last one! Finally - is there any advice, as a new writer, that you were either given, or wish you had been given?

GK: I think the best advice I ever got was from my mentor Mike McQuay. He told me that, if you want to be a writer, be a writer—know what it takes, do what it takes, and if that's what you truly want to be, you'll be a writer.

Thanks again for allowing me to guest on your blog.  Please don't forget to check out my thrillers BrainstormJezebel and Dead Reckoning, all on sale during the blog tour for $.99 in eBook versions. If you want to know more about me and my writing, visit my website: www.GordonKessler.com and please check out the Brainstorm book trailer at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eDjWJFbRdI .  Happy reading.

HL: I'm certainly going to be checking those out. Thank you so much Gordon for that fascinating insight into your writing, and wishing you even more success in the future and many, many sales.

Gordon will be giving away the winner's choice of a basic Kindle, Kobo, Sony Reader or Nook to one randomly drawn commenter. Details at the bottom of this post.

You can also see Gordon's trailer below, after his excerpt.

The blurb:

In "Brainstorm", Gold Rush seems to be just another sleepy little Colorado community full of friendly, caring citizens, quaint cottages, and a sort of quiet peace, held gently by the picturesque mountains that surround it. However, something isn't right in Gold Rush, and early on a Monday morning Robert Weller awakens with a cautioning and insuppressible voice inside his head. He soon finds a secret behind every door, a motive with every glance, and a lie beneath every spoken word.

After meeting a strange but beautiful woman named Sunny who insists they were once lovers, people begin dropping dead around him and his world twists upside down as paramilitary teams hunt him, and his own wife and friends turn against him. Weller is thrown into the middle of a military mission to rescue thousands of the town's citizens from a plot to destroy the Free World.

Time is running out: Weller, Sunny and thousands of innocent citizens are facing nuclear devastation. Major “Jax” Jackson and a U.S. Air Force Para Rescue team are their only hope—but how can Jax and his PJs save them all, armed only with nonlethal weapons?


  “It’s time,” Major Lionel Jackson said and patted the back of Sunny McMaster’s hand. In the red night lighting inside their armored vehicle, her slender ivory hand seemed to glow, appearing remarkably delicate in his dark palm. But he knew it wasn’t fragile. “Ready?”

“God, yes,” she said, her voice determined and confident.

Jackson released Sunny’s hand, then turned to the forward viewfinder and pulled down the microphone attached to his helmet. “Lion Team, move out,” he said evenly, and the driver in front of Jackson cocked his head back and repeated the order over his shoulder.

The mission to rescue Sunny’s husband and several dozen other missing elite citizens thought to be held in Gold Rush, Colorado, began under presidential directive —regardless that the latest reconnaissance reports indicated it was a ghost town.

Their six Stryker vehicles set out quickly and without faltering like dark, single-minded ants on a sugar trail, churning down the gravel roadway leading to the small town ten miles away. A blue-white full moon hugged the ridge behind their boulder-littered staging area, its frosty radiance washing over the rocky cliff sides and the snaking passage before them.

Inside the leading personnel carrier, the man known to his military peers as the Black Lion once again turned in his seat toward Sunny. Major Jackson never dreamed he’d see this woman dressed in black fatigues and combat boots, her fiery-red hair pinned back and hidden under a helmet. What she’d worn the first time they met in Maui was quite different—a wedding dress. Jackson had been best man, and the ceremony was in his garden. That was fifteen years ago.

Sunny asked, “How ‘bout you, Jax? You ready?”

He knew she meant emotionally, not militarily. As he pushed his small microphone out of the way, he returned a thin smile. “We’re going to find Dan, Sunny,” he said. “I’m sure of it. We’re going to find him, and he’s going to be . . .” He hesitated, knowing okay or even alive was a promise he couldn’t keep. Instead, he simply repeated, “We’re going to find him.”

His words seemed to cause a tear to trickle from her eyes, and he grimaced, realizing she’d understood his indecisive pause.

Sunny looked away and wiped the moisture from her cheek. When she turned back with her jaw clenched, her eyes set hard on Jackson. Through the crimson glow inside the armored vehicle, she stared—face stone-like and expressionless—and Jackson did his best to hide his anxiety. She seemed to look through him, gazing at something just out of reach in the past. Her tears were gone, any redness in her eyes imperceptible in the red night lighting. In her face was a grittiness Jackson had seen in only a handful of men, the ones sure to become great soldiers. But the major wanted no part in making the beautiful redhead before him into a Kevlar-tough warrior. He wished he had another choice, but today Sunny could play an important role in bringing in her husband and saving dozens of lives.

People were disappearing. Scientists, surgeons and men and women of special abilities were vanishing from all over the world, particularly from the United States. Jackson hoped that at least one of those presumed abducted, Daniel McMaster, hadn’t become a traitor—that he wouldn’t have to kill his best friend.

Author bio:  Gordon A Kessler is a former US Marine parachutist, recon scout, and Super Squad team leader, with a bachelor's degree in creative writing.  He is a Master Instructor for Johnson County Community College, National Academy of Railroad Sciences, and the BNSF Railway.  He has taught novel writing for Butler County Community College, English Composition for Hutchinson Junior College and has previously indie-published the thriller novels Jezebel and Dead Reckoning, and a book about the novel-writing craft, Novel Writing Made Simple.  He is a founder and former president of the Kansas Writers Association and tries to stay connected to writers and the writing industry by doing speaking engagements at writers conferences and for writers organizations, and has  his own "The Storyteller" seminar in Wichita, Lincoln (Nebraska), Kansas City, and other Midwestern cities based on his Novel Writing Made Simple book.

His websites, www.WritersMatrix.com and www.indiewritersalliance.com are landing pages for writers to help them in their writing endeavors.

 Gordon will be giving away the winner's choice of a basic Kindle, Kobo, Sony Reader or Nook to one randomly drawn commenter on his tour.

 Tomorrow Gordon will be visiting
stop by and give him some support - the more comments you make the more chances you have of winning 
Contest ends 8th August and is open to all.