Holiday Guest Author: Robert Krog

This holiday season, I’ve decided to promote some of my writer friends and ask some of the questions that folks ask me. Today’s guest/victim is:

Robert Krog

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First, a little something about Robert.

Robert is the author of the collection, The Stone Maiden and Other Tales, and the novella, A Bag Full of Eyes.  He has numerous short stories in various publications.  He is a native of Memphis, TN, and probably the most over-educated and inappropriately educated lawn care spray tech you’re likely to meet.  He is a regular author guest at various conventions in and close to the midsouth. His website is:


At what age did you start writing or know that you wanted to write? 

I started writing when I was thirteen, basing my stories largely on other books I had read, on movies and games, too.  I’d known for some time before that I wanted to be a writer, but had let the idea percolate.  I sat down at one of those old word processors/type writer machines that were in use in that day, a bulky thing with a small screen and a very large keyboard.  It printed from those reams of paper that had the perforated edges with holes in them.  The story was titled “Night Over Solate,” and it was terrible, though I didn’t realize it at the time.  I looked at it again a few years later and was very embarrassed by it.  I hid it away and swore never to reveal it, but have since taken it out and begun a serious rewrite.  It was a good idea, just executed poorly.

Stone Maiden Front Cover

Where do your ideas come from? 

As with most ideas come up with by young writers, mine were first very derivative, being based largely on other peoples’ stories and worlds rather than on ideas and characters of my own invention.  Nowadays, my ideas are a bit more original, insofar as there are any original ideas at all.  I wrote, and was so fortunate as to have published, a novella titled A Bag Full of Eyes, the germ for which was the phrasing my wife used every morning and evening on placing and removed her contact lenses.  She often says, “I’ll be just a minute, let me take my eyes out.”  It’s an innocuous enough action but a fascinating phrasing.  It sparked some fifteen thousand words.  Such things as that spark stories.  Why would anyone take eyes in and out at all?  Who would do such a thing?  A magical forensic expert might.  There’s a story.


Do you base your characters on people you know or know of? Family or celebrities? 

And what sort of person is this magical forensic expert?  I found the idea quirky that someone should remove the eyes of murder victims and place them into the eye sockets of investigators to replay their last visions, so I made the said expert a quirky character.  I named him Victor for reasons I do not now recall, gave him a singular, lanky, somewhat mournful, yet humorous appearance and a personality to match, perhaps like a character out of the Munsters or the Adam’s Family might have had.  He enters the story somewhat dignified and solemn but gradually reveals a rather silly and eccentric sense of humor.


Do you plot out your stories or just make it up as you go? 

Simultaneous with the character of Viktor I had to invent a plot to go with it.  I’d already decided on murder victims, a forensic expert, and an investigator.  Since I was using magic, I placed them in a fantasy setting.  Then, because I was annoyed at the time with glittering vampires, I made the murderer a more standard, non-glittering vampire.  That much of the story I had.  The motive for murder was simple, given the needs of the murderer, but I had no compelling plot beyond that.  I cast about for a time, going ahead and writing to introduce the situation and the characters without having any kind of clear conflict and resolution.  I usually start with a clearer sense of the conflict, a clear beginning and a clear end, and at least a sense of the middle.  On that occasion I had only so much.  I wrote, describing the tools and process for removing and implanting eyes.  Then I followed the character of the first murder victim, who turned out to be an elderly woman named Umma. Her vision had to go somewhere; I played with ideas and ended up giving her a large portion of the story.  In the process I introduced another villain and added a more nuanced and pleasing conflict than the straightforward one with which I had started.  I stopped at that point to take care and plot, reconciling the two conflicts so that both the original and new could be incorporated and resolved.  I usually do that, working through a combination of plotting and making it up as I go.


Which of your characters would you most like to meet in person? Which character of another author would you want to meet?

I like most of my characters, the heroes at any rate, though not all of my villains are unsympathetic characters.  The heroes are usually folks I’d admire if I met them in person.  I try to write folks who are like myself or others I know on our good days, living up to our ideals more than failing miserably like I do most days.   If they were real, and if I could meet just one of them, I would meet Clancy the Bronze Tiger from the soon to be published short story “See How Clever We Are” which will appear in Dreams of Steam Five from Dark Oak Press sometime in 2016.  Clancy takes an interesting dip into insanity and has a strangely wise way of looking at things for an antagonist.  If I could meet just one of some other author’s characters, I would choose to meet Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings.  He’s wise, and I could stand to borrow some wisdom.


Which of your stories/books/works do you consider the best?

I have two award winning stories out.  One of them is the above-mentioned novella, A Bag Full of Eyes.  The other is a short story titled “Eat Your Peas” which appears in the werewolf anthology Luna’s Children: Full Moon Mayhem.  I have an author friend who insists that none of my works have ever since measured up to my first, professionally-published story “Babies’ Breath.”   My wife’s favorite story of mine is one I wrote in high school, “Snowfall at Marci’s House,” which is a sweet story but hardly a masterpiece.  I have yet to write one of those.  Preference in fiction is a funny thing, and it’s funnier with authors.  I’m awfully proud of quite a few of my stories, and they are usually ones that fall flat with at least some of those who’s opinions I value most.  I wouldn’t have picked any of my nominated stories to win awards against the competition, and I consider my earlier work to be full of flaws in style that I have since attempted to correct.  As it stands, I tend to like my newer work better based on the idea that I’m communicating more smoothly by removing flaws in style, but when I look back and reread my work, I find that the one I like the most is “Thursday Morrow” from the Dark Oak Press anthology, Capes and Clockwork.   Something about that one really works, for me, at any rate.  “See How Clever We Are” is close though.


How much of you is in your characters?

There is a lot of me in my heroes, of course, but really, a lot more of people I admire.  My heroes are people doing things that would probably be pretty hard for me to do, things which are hard for them to do but which they do anyway, because they’re heroes.  And, of course, they succeed where I would probably fail, even if I tried.  There’s also a lot of me in my villains, because it’s easy to write the flaws one knows, though being as critical of others as anyone else, I suppose, I put a lot of the flaws I fancy I don’t have myself, but deplore in others into my villains too.


Who are your inspirations? 

As long as we are on people that I admire, who therefore inspire me, I’ve a long list. Starting with authors: Tolkien and C. S. Lewis are at the top, with Chesterton close behind.   Also: David Eddings, Robert Asprin, Tomie DePaola, and Shakespeare.  There are so many that inspire.  I’m missing a lot.  Among authors that I personally know, I find that H. David Blalock and S. P. Dorning inspire, but they aren’t the only ones.  Among non-authors, I had many story inspiring talks with my father, my mother, my pastor Fr. Guthrie, and several of my teachers and professors from high school and college, such as Br. Joel McGraw and Dr. William J. Murnane.


Is Writer’s Block ever a problem for you?  If so, how do you deal with it? 

Inspiration notwithstanding, I do get writer’s block from time to time, usually if I’m tired or worried.  Those types are easily enough handled by sleep and addressing that about which I am worried respectively.  Those problems being separately resolved, I am able to return to writing.  Occasionally, ideas just get stuck of themselves.  When this occurs, I switch tasks, working on another story, or I go do something that keeps my body busy and frees my mind.  Chores or work or exercise any one will usually do the trick.  Sometimes, I have to sleep on it.


If you could live the life of one of your characters, who would it be? 

This is a hard one.  Usually, my characters are put through a lot of difficult situations which I would not be up to handling.  I’m too clumsy, too full of doubt, too impatient to deal with the sorts of things my characters have to handle.  However, if living my character’s life means that I get to be that character, having that character’s strengths, I would want to be the nameless Sorcerer from “The Hand of Darden” in my collection The Stone Maiden and Other Tales.  He’s lived long enough to have made his mistakes and learned from them, garnering a fair amount of wisdom in the process. He’s powerful and wily enough to defeat almost any enemy, and though he is quite old, he’s hardy and has a lot of fun.


What is your latest project/release? 

I have two recent works out before the public.  My story, “The Ones Who remember,” appeared this past summer in Idolaters of Cthulhu from Alban Lake Publishing.  I co-edited Potter’s Field 5 from Alban Lake and my story “The Pauper’s Reaper” appears in it.  It also came out past summer.


What are you working on now? 

Dark Oak Press is republishing my collection The Stone Maiden and Other Tales.  It’s due out in early 2016, if all goes well.  There are three previously-unpublished stories in this third edition.  The new titles are “Gilbames the Unwise,” “A Fifty-Five Gallon Drum,” and “The Fortunate Few.”   The first is about a human warrior who must take up the slack of a demigod who fell into a well a thousand years ago while wrestling a demon-troll.  The second is about rednecks trying, with the help of a ceramic leprechaun, not to be evicted from their trailer.  The third is about a boy and girl falling in love while going separate ways on the day the Dead King is supposed to return and end their world.  I’m also hoping to have a screenplay based on my first professionally published story looked at seriously by local producer.  I have an epic fantasy novel close to completion.  I have two novellas also close to completion.  I’ve had three short stories accepted for publication in different anthologies due out later in 2016.  If things go as I hope, next year will be a good year.

Thanks Robert.  Checkout his website:


Holiday Guest Author: Kathleen Cosgrove

This holiday season, I’ve decided to promote some of my writer friends and ask some of the questions that folks ask me. Today’s guest/victim is:

Kathleen Cosgrove

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First, a little something about Kathleen.

Kathleen is a writer living in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, just a stone’s throw from Nashville. Rubbing shoulders with some of the most creative and talented people on earth has nourished and helped her grow as a writer.

She is best known for the unique voice she brings to all her writing. Her style of wit and humor along with snappy dialogue and offbeat characters have reviewers comparing her work to the likes of Janet Evanovich and Carl Hiaasen.

She can also be found on-stage in venues in and around Nashville reading her always funny and sometimes touching memoirs.


At what age did you start writing?

It’s funny because, I wrote my first novel when I was in the eighth grade. I most worked on it during biology class in school which could explain my failing grades but it was my attempt at some historical fiction. The first novel I ever read was, ”How Green Was My Valley,” a pretty hefty piece of literature for a young girl. The story and characters stayed with me for years and so by the time I was a teenager, I tried to write one of my own. I wish I still had it.  I wrote a few children’s short stories when my own children were young, but didn’t really begin in earnest until I was in my fifties.


Where do your ideas come from?

My ideas come to me when I’m writing, for the most part. Opening a Word Document and pressing the keys is the same as turning the keys on a car’s ignition. I will also get ideas taking long walks or drives. I don’t usually have the radio on or audio book going when I want to feel creative.

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Do you base your characters on people you know?

If you know my work, then you won’t be surprised to learn that most of the characters I create solely out of my own imagination. Those are the oddball characters that inhabit my novels. I love thinking them up out of pure ethos, breathing life into them and then giving them as many idiosyncrasies as I think the reader can stand.  Having said that, many of the main characters are based on characteristics of people I know.


Do your plot your stories or make them up as you go?

I plot them, but in a very nebulous way because once I start going in one direction, the characters take over the steering wheel and drive me down a road I didn’t know existed. I pull us all back but it’s a fight to the finish with those guys.


Do you listen to music when you write?

I cannot have any music or other background noise. It’s like static interference and messes up where my head needs to be to create. Like my own little zone where nothing else can live.


Which of your characters would you most like to meet and who of another author?

Of all the characters in my novels, I’d like to meet Rose, she’s a young police officer with a funny and bodacious attitude. In my short stories, it’s Sam Heart, a play off of the old Sam Spade novels by Dashiell Hammett. Of all of literature, then Jane Austen’s Mister Darcy of course.

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Which of your stories do you consider your best work? What are you working on right now?

My humorous essays are by far my favorite pieces of writing, the thing I am most proud of. I came to the genre fairly recently as far as writing, but have been a big fan of the genre for years reading David Sedaris’ collections and Bossy Pants by Tina Fey.  I’ve become so fond of writing them, and have accumulated so many, that I’m going to put them together in an anthology I’m titling, “The View From Under My Desk,” since my life begins with and is shaped by growing up in the “Duck and Cover,” years. It is my current work in progress although I do want to write another Maggie Finn novel. Two seems to be a weird place to leave it. I think trilogies worked well for Mario Puzo so, why not?

How much do you write each day/ week / month?  

I try to never have a zero writing day. I try to write or revise or edit something every day.


What book do you read over and over the most?   

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis is a novel I’ve read probably a half dozen times, maybe more. It’s technically Science Fiction because it’s a novel of time travel, but it’s so much more than that. It is clever and witty with some of the most endearing characters that stay with me from reading to reading.  I’ve gone through the Horatio Hornblower novels more than once, Sherlock Holmes’ adventures many times and I’m having a second go at Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens right now.


Is writer’s block ever a problem?     

Once when I felt like I had writer’s block my nine year old granddaughter advised I “bring in a mean girl.” It worked. I think adding any kind of conflict will get your brain busy trying to resolve it.


What would you advise aspiring authors?

I think every aspiring writer should know that they are going to hate what they write and think it’s no good and decide to give up. It probably will be no good at the beginning and that’s a good thing because we learn by trying, by making mistakes and by not being afraid to be awful and make mistakes. Also, writers groups, if you can find a good one, can be worth their collective weight in gold.


Do you read reviews?

 I do read the reviews and take the ones that are glowing and live off of them for days and the ones that are not so great, I try to learn from and see if the points are valid. If they’re just mean, I go and read bad reviews for Harry Potter or Moby Dick and then I feel much better.

Thanks Kathleen.  To find her website, click on the link below: