Thursday, May 10, 2012

Maps of Fate – Interview with Reid Lance Rosenthal

Welcome back Reid…You are always fun to have here at KP
  Great to be back with you Mary! Thanks for the re-invite and howdy to all your great followers here at

You are a rancher – with more than one ranch! And now you have taken on a sixteen book fiction series and a smaller, but daunting, three book non-fiction series. How do you find the time?
Time? Sleep? How do you spell those words? Are they in the dictionary? This author thing is like taking on a second full-time career and job. Time, energy, and focus are needed to run and operate the ranches, particularly when spread out over long distances and in the current economic climate.  Fortunately I love that business too, and it affords me the unique ability to intertwine my passions and love of the land with a vocation. Ironically, it also gives me great fodder for writing backdrop, scenes, and of places in which the action of the novels transpire.
I have found additional purpose and energy (not that I have ever lacked either) in writing – a long held goal. Love it! And, though the Land for Love and Moneynon-fiction volumes, and Threads West series are wholly separate categories, they, and the ranching, all flow from and generate the same power. They are all of the land, which is my home and the root of my energy. And, the land is the stage upon which me, all of us, and the characters who live in the pages of my novels line dance in our fleeting moment of existence, to then be replaced by the shoulder taps of successive generations.
Wonderfully put.
You mentioned, writing was a long held goal of yours. How did your wish to pen these stories arise?
Many is the night I would huddle under the blankets at the age of 6 or so until my early teens – when I no longer had to hide my odd-hour insatiable reading habit – dim light of the flashlight I had snatched from the kitchen tool bagfading and flickering as morning approached. I eagerly turned pages of the books, once in a while poking my head out to study the approaching light from the East, filled with youthful resentment that my reading time was coming to an end for another night. It was that time, around the age of nine, in fact, that I vowed to myself that, I, too would write novels, spin stories, furrow the brows of readers with empathy for the characters, and transport them into the arc of the tale. It just might be where I picked up my night owl habits, too!
The Threads West, An American Saga series has been “incubating” in my mind for thirty years. A convergence of events, not the least of which is my belief in those troubled times that the touchstone of American’s history, and the courage and passion of her people is our true guide post to the future.

I too huddled under the blankets at an early age to read…which lead me to writing at night since the voices wouldn’t shut up.
Which authors did you most like? Did they influence you? Did they play a role in your selection of genre?
I have been influenced by many great authors. Crane and Hemingway, whose detailed descriptions of scenes and circumstances have always enthralled me. Leon Uris, whose brilliant schemes of converging life threads has had a major effect on the presentation in my novels, the gritty west of McMurtry, and Max McCoy’s dazzling dedication to historical context.
You could say the genres of Romance, Historical Fiction, and Western chose me, and I chose them. A mutual love affair, no pun intended. I muse at times about this tremendous gift these men have given me without ever knowing it. I wonder if—should I be so lucky as to enjoy even a modicum of their great and well deserved success—if readers of Threads West will read these books and make promises to themselves about writing their own novels. I surely hope that kind of energy springs from my work. And so, threads will once again converge. There is a symmetry to it all that appeals to me. Writers inspire each other. No doubt about it!
What fuels that creative flow? Do you have a favorite reading — writing snack?
Oxygen is the basic! But, elk, chocolate, and coffee are the primary food groups in my opinion. Everything else is a derivative. I would hasten to add that “chocolate” is relegated to that fine dark European chocolate, or my favorite, which are Nestle’s semi sweet morsels. I am staring at an oversized yellow bag of them as I write this, occasionally slurping down sweet tidbits between paragraphs (and sippin’ on the day’s twentieth cup of java). It’s a fine day indeed when the local grocery store has bags of semi-sweets on sale.
I think chocolate is a food staple…at least for me…lol
With ranches to run, and so many books on your plate over the coming years, how do you organize your writing? What is your “system”?
Every author has their own system. Some use detailed outlines. There is now organizational and editing software. Others use story boards – some very elaborate. I don’t write detailed outlines nor do I use story boards. I have been writing these books in my head for decades. My outline for a book is one single page, the titles of the chapters listed on the left, and editing status on the right.  The characters tell me their stories. Like the simple scribe I am, I merely write them. They rely on me only to portray the setting, to create the stage of mood that flows from and embodies the scene.  I follow their dictates in the twists and turns of the story line which remains always true to the basic center of the yarn, but will absolutely deviate in sexy, delightful, frightful, and deliciously unanticipated ways, just as life does.
Characters, of course, are key ingredients to any tale, of any genre, whether true, half true, or pure fiction. When one is writing historical fiction, the characters must be true to their time. It’s almost as if the writer needs to step into a portal and catapult themselves backwards through the years. The characters must be authentic, and in my humble opinion, their inner and external conflicts, ambitions, passions and interactions, have to engender every possible emotion – whether beads of perspiration and quivers from a hot, steamy scene, or tears over a tragic event.
As for the rest of my “system”, I am laughing. Truth be known, I dictate because I can’t type. Actually I can type about 100 words per minute. Unfortunately, that includes ten typos (at least) per line. I am also not a big fan of spell check. It is the big paw, little keyboard syndrome. Also, I spend so much time traveling between ranches, or in locations without power that recording thoughts for later use became a necessity in my teens. The prehistoric full-size cassette recorders of the 70s were quite something. Good ones were the size of small briefcase.  Then along came the micro-cassette recorders.  If I was in heaven then, the current digital technology is pure nirvana.
In the “old” days—up to two years ago, I would dictate and give the tapes to my staff to transcribe. With the voice recognition systems this step is eliminated.  I dictate, the software types (what a pleasure!) I print the hard copy, fax the first edits to them shortly after, and poof! —we have a draft! I think this system works well for me because I am so used to “writing and composing” via speech over almost forty years. I can express myself in a stream of consciousness, almost like real conversation. Other than edits, and perhaps twenty pages of the book, Threads West was entirely written using this system. The entirety of Maps of Fate was written using voice recognition. Matter of fact, significant portions of both books were written while guiding the one-ton truck through the beautiful wild and remote stretches of the West that lie between our ranches! I must admit to occasional breaks in the machine scribed drafts that exclaimed, “Oh, damn, was that a cop?” or “Hey, how about using a blinker, you moron!”
You are tooooooo funny. I’m a pantster…I write by the seat of my pants…but I usually have the characters telling me what to write.
Tell us about the characters in Maps of Fate. There are a number of very different personalities that enter the story.
Maps of Fate not only reacquaints readers with the characters from Europe and American they met and apparently have come to love and follow, but introduces new characters – a cruel, tortured renegade, his innocent, traumatized, not yet a woman captive, a brash young warrior, his strong beautiful wife and their friends in a tribe of the Oglala Sioux, and an older black couple – slaves – courageous, but fearful, grabbing the brass ring of history and setting the sails of their lives for freedom.

I try hard to write from the perspective of each character. We are all shades of gray. Universal energies affect and are felt by everyone. In the worst of us there is a redeeming quality. In the best of us there is a dark facet. But, we are all Americans and it is together as a people that this country was built. It is the threads of disparate lives from uncommon social origins, locations, and backgrounds that made this nation great. Hence the name of the series.
I’m delighted to report – and a HUGE thank you to our readers, that Maps of Fate was a #1 best seller in a number of categories and genres (Western, Western Romance, Historical Fiction, Women of the West, Historical Romance, etc.) within hours of its release on April 17thThreads West rose back into best seller positions, too! Maps has done very well, and maintained best seller status in many of those categories – which obviously fluctuate. As I write this we are embarking on special Mother’s Day Special – marking down both the Kindle and Nook e-books from $9.99 to $3.99 for Threads West and $4.99 for  Maps of Fate – but only until after Mother’s Day! Our iPad books are available, too!
I and the publishers were approached months back by the American Veterans Co-Op Foundation, parent of many Vet Organizations. They asked if I would help with fundraising, honored me with an invite to be part of their annual Veteran’s Day Telethon, and asked if we would donate a portion of book sales to their Organizations, which create housing, jobs and start-up costs for Vets and new Veteran-owned businesses. It took one nano second for me to say YES!
Our Veterans are the firewall between us, and in the current turbulent times, all else on the planet. They are the guardians of our safety, the protectors our freedom, and the defenders of the American spirit. I’m delighted to have been asked to assist. We did one event several weeks ago. I’m looking forward to special events we have jointly planned with this great outfit over Memorial Day, and being part of their National Telethon on Veteran’s Day, November 11th, this year.
This is a wonderful thing to do Reid. Congratulations with your many endeavors and I’m sure your books will sky rocket to the top, as these have.
I truly appreciate the opportunity to blog here again, Mary. I hope you and your readers have snagged a grin or two! I will look forward to our next get together!
You bet you will be back…for each book you write…lol It was great to see what all you are into and up to these days.
For those you haven’t read Reid’s books, he has donated two of each title to give away to four lucky commenters. So leave a comment and you might receive a print copy of Threads West or Maps of Fate.
From Chapter-Prophecy
She felt the fire in the smooth caress of his fingertips as they traced across her breast, lingered on her erect and pulsing nipple, then continued down her hips and came to rest lightly, longingly on the concave valley of smooth belly between her hips. The smell of him, and of them, mingled with the fragrance of sun-baked sage.
Her heart pounded, a strange tingling heat permeated her loins, and she could feel the blush in her face. This was a feeling she’d never known, could never imagine, could barely absorb on so many levels. She swept a soft palm over the cords of muscle in his arm. She was consumed by a desperate wanting, a deep primal need which overrode her butterfly fear of the unknown. She gasped, her hips writhing involuntarily as he lowered himself gently onto her. A momentary stab of pain and then overwhelming pleasure mixed cum laude and enveloped her being as he slowly, carefully, began to sink into her.
She groaned, a muffled cry equally grounded in passion, trepidation, and longing. He stopped, tenderly brushed a calloused thumb slowly across her forehead and down her cheek and looked deep into her eyes, “Am I hurting you?”
She felt tears well in the corners of her eyes, bit her lip and shook her head, her full answer to him in the ever-tighter wrap of her arms around his shoulders, the increasing bend of her knees, and the firm plant of her heels against the muscular flesh of his buttocks, drawing him in.
“Don’t stop,” she moaned, “Oh God, please don’t stop.”
From Chapter-Surprised
Sarah stood stupefied. She felt the tremor in her knees and the sweat of fear and heat dribble down from her temples in grimy streaks on her face. Dust, smoke from burning canvas and gray puffs of gunpowder residue rendered everything ghost-like and surreal and softened the apparitional shapes of bodies and wounded who were strewn in haphazard positions. The guttural whoops of the attackers, screams of petrified and dying horses, shouts in English, moans of pain, and the sounds of gunshots echoed between the wagons.
Sarah held the Sharps in one hand, breech open, ready for loading and stared in shocked disbelief. The scene was incomprehensible. Through the haze which enveloped the wagons she saw the shadowy figures of Mac, Reuben, and Johannes sprinting to the breach where the wagons of the train had not quite completed their defensive circle. In that gap, Zeb, a knife in each hand, and two other men from the train, struggled in mortal combat with an increasing number of lance- and tomahawk-wielding invaders. Reuben and Mac each carried two rifles. Johannes had his carbine in one grip and a pistol in the other. His saber scabbard slapped against his leg as he ran.
Sarah saw him look over his shoulder, and could barely make out his shout, “Behind us!”
Johannes wheeled ghostlike in the brownish-gray cloud that enveloped the conflict, took calm steady aim and fired once from the Colt. The rider of the horse bearing down on the three was jerked violently backwards by the impact of the .44 caliber slug, somersaulted backward over the rear of his horse and lay unmoving, barely discernible in the ground swell of dust. Sarah’s eyes quickly searched the nearby wagons. Jacob had disappeared.
“Sarah, load the damn rifle!” Rebecca’s frantic voice shouted above the din.
Jolted back to reality, Sarah tried to control the trembling which had overtaken her body, jammed the cartridge into the Sharps with shaking fingers, then handed the long gun to Rebecca who, in turn, gave her the rifle she had just discharged. Rebecca turned, rested the receiver and forestock over the lip of the wagon front as a rest, and began to swing the bead of the muzzle of the re-armed weapon as she found a target.
Without looking back, Rebecca commanded in a loud voice, “Inga, reload! Be quick about it!”
Pressed against the side of the wagon box, Sarah fumbled in the saddlebag draped over the wagon wheel for the next round. She heard a whisper in the air, almost the sound a small bird makes on a calm and peaceful evening in the stillness just before dark, and then a sudden, hollow resounding thud. A woman’s voice screamed in pain and terror.
Mary’s Review
I have read both of these books and they are, IMHO the best historical western adventure romance I have read. Reid did a great job weaving the lives of the characters together as history became part of America. The adventure is awesome and the romance outstanding. I fell in love with the characters in Threads West and was frustrated when the first book ended. I wanted to read more about these characters coming to America from all over the world. As Reid said…the melting pot of America…which he did a fantastic job with the total aspect of the books. Maps of Fate, carried the characters from Threads West, forward west. He added a few new characters to the story and wove them with the characters already heading west. I can say I went through many emotions in these books, they pull at your heart strings and also make you smile. Reid’s books are an easy read and I couldn’t put Threads West down. Maps of Fate…the same thing, but it was a longer book and I couldn’t stay up all night and finish it. I know if you like romance, history, adventure and western, you have it in these great books.
Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
 Reid L. Rosenthal is fourth generation land and cattle.  He owns interests in sixteen ranches in three western states and Canada.  His long-standing devotion to wild and remote places and to the people–both past and present–who leave their legend and footprint upon the American West is the inspiration and descriptive underpinning of all of his writing.
This passion fuels each novel in the widely acclaimed historical romanceseries,Threads WestAn American Saga. The first novel of the eight part saga has been compared to McMurty’sLonesome Dove.  Each ensuing book unfolds the riveting tale of an emerging nation, an evolving west, and the land forged personalities of the driven men and women whose American spirit built a great nation.  The western landscape fuses personalities from uncommon origins, and weaves lives into generational tapestries of lust, duplicity, enmity, love and triumph.  Threads West is the tale of America and her spirit.  “It is your story,” Reid whispers. Then, raising his voice to match his passion, deep tones booming, he reminds us, “This is the ongoing story of us.
Other Links:  Book 2 – Maps of Fate video trailer
Book 1 – Threads West video trailer
Audios for the first 3 chapters (Done by Reid)

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Threads West  or Maps of Fate 
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