Posted in promo, writing inspiration

Billy and Tracy, the inspiration behind the characters

When I wrote Chrome Pink Billy was just Rae Lynne’s bossy older brother.

He’s had a few bit parts in other books, but I never really stopped to think about who he was as a character.

Working on Red Steel, I had to learn more about who Billy Grimes really was. What made him tick. Why did he act and react they way that he did? Somethings were obvious as they tied in with Rae Lynne’s story, especially their mother leaving when they were so young. What else would affect him, carve him into the person he is?

My youngest son, Blake is a volunteer firefighter. A few months ago, knowing I was going to be working on Red Steel, I asked him about giving a workshop for my writer’s group on being a firefighter and first responder. As he spoke, I got a clearer picture of my character Billy Grimes and he became my muse for Billy.

I often use my friends and family to help me better understand my characters. One of the fun things about writing is taking a little bit from people you know and throwing all those bits and pieces into a blender on high and add in a stray thought or idea and wham, you have a character. I tease Blake about being the muse for Billy, I think he’s okay with the idea but then, he’s not read the book (insert evil laugh).

There is a lot about Billy Grimes that fits my son, but he is still a fictional character. There are other times that one of my other sons or one of their friends gives me an idea for the character. While Blake is definitely the body type for Billy Grimes…okay y’all, no drooling over my baby son, he’s married and she’s crazy, just ask her, she’ll tell you…there are things about my son I don’t want to know and things I can’t know because he probably doesn’t know them about himself. That is one of the powers of fiction, being able to know your character’s thoughts, desires and deepest fears. So, while Blake may have inspired Billy Grimes, please do not confuse the character with the real-life person. As his wife will tell you, Blake is no gourmet cook and while he may be great at taking care of his family, the one who is always trying to feed everyone is his wife Katelynn.

Katelynn asked me if she was in any of my books. It’s funny, I didn’t make a conscious choice to fashion Tracy Harrell after Blake’s wife but after she asked me, I thought about the character and realized without even trying, Billy’s love interest was a lot like my daughter-in-law. She’s tough, beautiful with that Katherine Hepburn girl next door quality, and she’ll go toe-to-toe with Billy, law enforcement, her boss and her family. She is a no non-sense woman, a reporter, which is really close to what Katelynn does since she is an awesome photographer (check out her website at ). Tracy is a modern woman who has had to work hard and fight to get where she is. She doesn’t back down. So, yes Katelynn, you really are in my book.

Billy is a bit of a lady’s man, all the women old and young seem to have a crush on him except Tracy and his friend Brenda, the paramedic whom they teasingly call Blade. While Tracy is attracted to Billy, she isn’t going to give him a chance. If he wants her, he’ll have to work for it. Blade is in love with her husband while she thinks Billy is a charmer, she doesn’t pay his flirting any mind. Billy likes them more because they are immuned to his charms.

So there you have it, my inspiration behind my characters for Red Steel.

A special Thank you to Hello Honey Photography for allowing me to use the photos of Blake and Katelynn for this blog.

Posted in my books, promo

Cover Reveal for Red Steel and Winner of Free Book Announced

Thank you to everyone who chimed in with suggestions for the cover of my new book “Red Steel.” I took your suggestions and I hope you like what I decided. The winner of the Free Book is Diana Andrews! Congratulations DEE!!

I’m happy to announce that the proofs should be ready this week and the books will be ready for purchase by the end of February!! I am so excited about this book. It was a lot of fun to write.

Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview

Chatting with Alison Paul Klakowicz

Welcome Alison Paul Klakowicz to Creekside Cafe. I guess I should say, welcome home.

Alison: Yes, I was born and raised in Beaufort County, North Carolina. My family lived in Aurora from my birth until we moved to Washington when I was nine-years-old. My parents grew up in the Aurora area (Campbell’s Creek and Core Point).

Sherri: I used to hang out at Campbell’s Creek a lot. I remember running through fields and tromping through the woods.

It’s good to have you with us today. Join me for a cup of coffee. I understand you are addicted to it to.

Alison: Yes, COFFEE!

Sherri: You call Beaufort County home but its not your home at the moment.

Alison: I lived in Washington until I left for East Carolina University following graduation from Washington High School. Upon graduation from ECU, I moved back to Washington for a few years and worked as a reporter for Washington Daily News and then was employed with Beaufort Co DSS (Department of Social Services) which was the start of a career in human services. I moved to Wilmington and went on to work in the mental health field for several years. I moved to Fayetteville, ten years ago and worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor for North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and earned a master’s degree from Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A few years ago, I choose to leave my career in human services to focus solely on my creative pursuits.

Sherri: Are you writing full-time, now?

Alison: I am currently marketing my children’s book which takes a lot of time and energy. I started a podcast in May 2018 called Hodge Podge on Anchor

( to promote my writing and record my journey in pursuing my dreams and to inspire others to do so. I am now dabbling in the blogging world:

Sherri: I’d love to hear more about your podcast. How did you get started doing the podcast?

Alison: So, my husband came home one day last spring and told me I needed to start a podcast. I thought he was crazy. But there was a new, easy way to podcast from an app on Anchor right from your phone. I downloaded the app, hit record and the rest is history.

Sherri: It sounds like you’re busy. Are you married, have children? Does this effect your writing?

Alison: I married my Green Beret and Philadelphia born and bred (cheesesteak lover) husband, Adam, nine years ago. We have one son, Mak, who is seven and in the first grade. He is our pride and joy. We are a military family. My debut children’s book, Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck, was inspired by my son’s infatuation with monster trucks when he was a toddler and he would tell me every day he wished I drove a Big Red Monster Truck. So, YES. It has affected my writing… through inspiration.

Sherri: You mentioned a variety of careers, tell us how they have influenced your writing.

Alison: I’ve loved storytelling and reading books and poetry all my life. I developed a love of writing in high school when I was on the staff and Co-editor of my high school literary magazine. I went on to major in English at ECU 24 years ago. Loved studying poetry and creative non-fiction. From there, I spent some time as a newspaper reporter. I absolutely loved meeting people and talking to them about their stories. Feature writing was always my joy. Because I had a knack for listening to others and empathy for their life successes and struggles, I found myself in the helping profession. I learned so much about the people and world around me.

Sherri: How long have you been writing?

Alison: 27 years

Sherri: So, since you were born? What genre do you write?

Alison: I have a deep love of historical fiction and the supernatural. I have several manuscripts I’ve worked on over the years that I hope to complete and publish. All based on and inspired by my deep-set Eastern North Carolina roots.

Sherri: Do you have plans to write any other genre in the future?

Alison: I want to do it all! I also enjoy writing poetry.

Sherri: What is your latest project?

Alison: My focus at this time is Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck!

Sherri: What do you most enjoy about writing?

Alison: I love the art of storytelling. I believe we all have a story inside us.

Sherri: Even though writing is our passion, there are still aspects of it we dread. What do you despise about writing?

Alison: My inept attention span. I have a hard time sitting still and have so many ideas that it is difficult for me to concentrate on one thing!


Sherri: I’m not sure when you would find the time, but do you have any hobbies or interests besides writing? Do these show up in your writing?

Alison: I love gardening, being outdoors, bird watching, and pier sitting on the Pamlico River.

Sherri: If you are like most writers, you were a reader first, who are your favorite authors/genres?

Alison: I enjoy so many different types of genres. Good writing and storytelling does not follow one sect. Some recent favorite novels I’ve read are “Chasing the North Star” by Robert Morgan, “Where the Crawdad’s Sing” by Delia Owens, Suzanne Adair’s North Carolina influenced colonial mysteries, “Girl in Translation” by Jean Kwok and “Children of Blood and Bone” by Tomi Adeyemi.

Sherri: Alison, I’ve had a lovely time chatting with you. Before we go, give our readers a little insight into who you are.

Alison: I am a mother, military spouse, proud native North Carolinian, lover of the underdog, a fish out of water living in the Sandhills of NC, storyteller and lover of life. I’m tomato sandwiches and Duke mayonnaise.

Instagram: @alisonklak

Twitter: @KlakowiczAlison

Facebook: @mommysbigredmonsteryruck and @hodgepodgebyalisonklakowicz @nautigulcustomwoodart

Posted in Book Review

Darkness Lane by Tom Kies

Tom Kies’ Geneva Chase mystery, Darkness Lane is a real, gritty tale of a reporter’s life. Geneva is a bit of an anti-hero. She is an alcoholic and a bit of a narcissist, often choosing her own comforts over those of others. Yet, when her daughter’s friend goes missing, she becomes emotionally involved and puts her own life at risk to learn what has happened to the girl.
Darkness Lane explores organized crime, drug and human trafficking, our worship of celebrities and the impact of big business on our economy. We become immersed in the relationship of Geneva with her ward, Caroline. The sometimes role-reversal of mother and daughter, and proof, that family isn’t about DNA but about who you’re willing to risk everything for.
Tom gives the reader some hard facts but he tempers it with emotion and character that rounds this story out into a satisfying read.
Thrown back into being a crime reporter, Geneva gets tangled in two big stories. When the two intertwine, she uses players from one to help solve the other. But is she not seeing the whole picture? What details has she missed? Could this lapse be due to her alcohol consumption or the stars in her eyes? Could her life be the price she has to pay for her mistakes or will her daughter be the one who pays the price?
If you are looking for a good, crime thriller with intense characters and real criminal activity, check out Darkness Lane. But I warn you, you won’t be able to put it down.