Crisosto Apache is originally from Mescalero, New Mexico, on the Mescalero Apache reservation, and currently lives in the Denver area with their spouse. They are Mescalero Apache, Chiricahua Apache, and Diné (Navajo) of the Salt Clan, born for the Towering House Clan. They hold an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and are an Assistant Professor of English. Crisosto’s debut collection is GENESIS (Lost Alphabet). Their second collection is Ghostword (Gnashing Teeth Publications). They are also the Associate Editor of The Offing Magazine, and their profile can be seen on the website at crisostoapache.com.
Ghostword is my second poetry book from Gnashing Teeth Publications, released in November 2022. Ghostword was inspired by the modernist Japanese writer Akutagawa Ryunosuke’s book, A Fool’s Life (Eridonos Publishers). A Fool’s Life was the last book Ryunosuke wrote before he committed suicide. The publication contains fifty-three entries, with which my book loosely conversates. Though Ryunosuke’s book emphasizes a kind of erasure, my book seeks the opposite, a search for belonging & validation.
Crisosto Apache draws powerfully on his Mescalero Apache language and culture and, guided along the way by touchstone sparks from the Japanese writer Akutagawa Ryunosuke, creates a singular journey out of “emotional burial and systemic abuse.” Where Akutagawa encounters erasure, “Gazing up at them everything was forgotten,” in Crisosto Apache’s hands, everything is remembered and confronted, and, though filled with ash, these poems are testament to struggle, survival, and, x, the mysterious light of existence. — Arthur Sze, author of The Glass Constellation
A powerful personal journey of reflection and response. In lyric vignettes inspired by Akutagawa Ryunosuke’s A Fool’s Life, Crisosto Apache creates an original portrait of a mythic and myth-making protagonist confronting the memories, language, and figures that haunt and inhabit his Ghostword – a stunning collection. – Chip Livingston, author of Crow-Blue, Crow-Black, and Museum of False Starts
Do you write in more than one genre? Poetry is the genre where I have more publications. Though I have written a few reviews and personal entries from my blog, that is not to say I will experiment with other forms. Right now, I am testing my narrative skills and slowly adding content for a memoir. The memoir will focus on my challenges as a gay Native American individual overcoming a binary colonial existence, as well as my perseverance. This approach in a narrative topic is one where I emphasize soul searching through past written journals and voice recordings. I also use sketches from old notebooks to spark a larger conversation about the memory of my life’s journey. Vaguely expressing some of these concepts through my poetry, where I want to explore moments more specifically and with reverence. Much of the writing I do always have something to do with my identity as a Native American or Indigenous person, a person impacted by colonialism, intergenerational transmission of historical trauma, binary implications and marginalization, assimilation & acculturation, prejudice as part of the 2S-LGBTQI+ identity, and so much more. My work seeks to place perspective and self-determination upon many intersectional aspects of my identity. Exploration of many of these concepts will always be an ongoing challenge. One I hope to resolve within my spirit as a creative person.
Tell us about your writing process: Writing starts at a moment of discovery and connection to what ideas come my way. I am always jotting down ideas or concepts for my writing. I keep those ramblings in an organized folder system on my computer, where each folder is categorized with the theme or concept in mind. Periodically I go through these folders in no order and begin to expand on the various concept and themes. I will also try to find reading material that will help me expand my thought process and conceptual content for each of the folders.
What are you currently working on? Having a writing project lined up is a good thing. Perspective projects give me something to look forward to. I am finishing up my third manuscript, called isness. The concept behind this manuscript is poems that represent the “meaningfulness” of the poem in a state of presence or moments. What the poem is “about” in a state of existence as it “exists” without retribution or containment. The work in isness at times feels complicated because of how poetry or art is defined by “others.” What I choose to exemplify in this manuscript is a concept where the poem is a poem that is about what the poem is about in a state of “meaningfulness,” presence, or moment.
How long did it take you to write your first book? The composition of my first book GENESIS (Lost Alphabet, 2018), took about one year and a half to complete as a viable manuscript. The rest of the time, until its publication, was focused on revision. The revision of the first book is still happening. Once my contract runs out, I want to find another publisher to relaunch a revised version. There is so much I learned during the process of my first book. This brings me to the publication of my second book Ghostword (Gnashing Teeth Publication, 2022). The concept for this book has had a long journey which I explain in depth in the Preface of the book.
What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? Writing front the perspective of the opposite sex sometimes is a challenge, as well as writing in another persona. There are instances in my writing where I do write in other personas. In my book Ghostword there are several poems where I try to utilize the persona of my mother. Over the years, she and I had many conversations and exchanged stories, so I was able, through these stories, to get a good sense of her perspective. My poem “11. Dawn” is an example where I use my mother’s persona. The story is about a moment when I was a child when she and my father were seeking legal custody of me and my younger brother. I was about ten years old, and my brother was about eight. At the time, I did not know she would sleep in her car across the street where my father was renting a house in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was not an easy time for either of my parents because they both were from different reservations. My father was a member of the Navajo Nation on a small checkerboard section called Tó hajiileehé (trans., where the water comes from), and my mother was from the Mescalero Apache Tribe, both located in New Mexico. Eventually, my father agrees to have my brother, and I live with my mother on the Mescalero Apache Reservation. The day we arrive at my mother’s reservation was so vivid. The look on the mother’s face when she saw the both of us enter the playground where she worked. She was employed with the tribal children’s daycare at the time.
Another poem where I use my mother’s persona is “4. Saltwell”. This is a poem about my mother as a child. She lived with her mother on a remote part of the reservation called Whitetail, which was very far from the main tribal community and main road. Whitetail was the area on the reservation where the Chiricahua Apache settled once they were released as prisoners of war in 1886 from St. Augustine, Florida. Many of the Apache band remained in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and the remaining member moved to Whitetail on the Mescalero Apache Reservation. As a child, my mother sometimes was left alone at her mother’s house in Whitetail. She would hitch a ride to the main road and head towards an area of the reservation called Salt Well, where her grandparents lived. She often stayed with her grandparents in Salt Well. This poem is about one moment when she traveled from Whitetail to Salt Well as a child. The journey took her all afternoon because the traffic was minimal that day from Whitetail. She eventually got a ride and arrived at her grandparent’s house at dusk. Experimenting with persona allows me to explore different situations and perspectives, adding a specific depth to the poem and or story. It takes me out of my head and voice, which is necessary to tell good stories.
What kind of research do you do? The research I do for my writing depends on the project. In my first book GENESIS (Lost Alphabet), the research investigated specific indigenous historical moments, such as in my poem, “K‘us tádini tsąąbi’ +2: [38 Necks +2]”. The poem is a list poem paying tribute to the 38 Dakota hanged by President Lincoln’s Executive Order on December 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota. This event is still considered the largest mass hanging in American History. In GENESIS, the tread of the book focused on the nine months in utero in 1970-71, where I investigated current events of the time. What I found out was the expansion of space exploration, lunar launches, and nuclear/atomic testing, which became part of the thread of the book, along with what my mother was experiencing while carrying me for those nine months. In Ghostword (Gnashing Teeth Publishing), much of the research the book focused on was the modernist writer Ryayunosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927) and his last manuscript, A Fools Life (Eridonos Press) and a few of his short stories. The last manuscript is integral to Ghostword because of the unfettered conversation I have with each of the fifty-three entries and the few selected stories. I had to do some background investigation about the concepts and references in each entry and try to pair the same concept for my conversation but interject my own experience of “belonging,” whereas Akautagawa’s voice in each entry focused on “erasure.” This manuscript took many years to complete through constant rewriting and revision. Each entry of my versions went through meticulous examinations to figure out how I was going to balance out a kind of likeness, which was more difficult than I anticipated. I am glad and relieved to know I am not struggling now to have this book exist for people to access in the world.
How do our readers contact you?
Email: email@example.com (serious inquiries only)
Publisher’s website: https://gnashingteethpublishing.com/books/ghostword/
Instagram: @ crisosto_apache
Meghan Joyce Tozer is a writer, music historian, and lyric soprano born and raised outside Boston, Massachusetts. After earning a B.A. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, she moved to California to pursue a M.M. in voice performance and a Ph.D. in Musicology from UC Santa Barbara. Now she lives among the redwoods in San Francisco’s East Bay with her husband, their two young children, and their dog. Her debut novel, Night, Forgotten, came out in November 2022 and is available now wherever books are sold.
Night, Forgotten (published November 1, 2022): Night, Forgotten is “an artfully crafted story… that will leave readers gasping” (Library Journal), a poignant and page-turning psychological thriller about a young woman whose life changes in an instant, perfect for fans of “grip lit” like GONE GIRL and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN.
Much of Meghan’s public writing has appeared under the pen name Emily Lindin, including her annotated middle school diary: UnSlut: A Diary and a Memoir (Lerner, 2015). As the founder of The UnSlut Project, she’s advocated for survivors of sexual assault and abuse on platforms such as ABC with Katie Couric, CNN, The Doctors, Al Jazeera America, NPR, and at dozens of high schools and universities around North America.
Do you have any advice for new writers? Create boundaries around your writing time, and treat it as nothing less than sacred.
How long did it take to get Night, Forgotten published? Exactly five years. I wrote the first draft during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November 2017. The idea was to kick myself in the pants, and it worked. After countless drafts, working with two editors, and sharing the manuscript with a handful of “sensitivity” readers, I traditionally published Night, Forgotten on November 1, 2021, with W by Wattpad Books.
Where do you write? I do my best work by myself, surrounded by nature. At least once a year, I give myself a writing retreat at a remote cabin, where I can follow the creative spirit without distractions or interruptions. But most days, I write at home in my study, looking out to the redwood trees.
Where to Buy / Contact Info:
@meghanjoycetozer on Instagram
@EmilyLindin on Twitter
D.P. Lyle is the Amazon #1 Bestselling; Macavity and Benjamin Franklin Award-winning; Edgar(2), Agatha, Anthony, Shamus, Scribe, and USA Today Best Book(2) Award-nominated author of 22 books, both fiction and non-fiction.
Dr. Lyle hosts the Crime Fiction Writer’s Blog and the Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction podcast series. He has worked with many novelists and with the writers of popular television shows such as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Diagnosis Murder, Monk, Judging Amy, Peacemakers, Cold Case, House, Medium, Women’s Murder Club, 1-800-Missing, The Glades, and Pretty Little Liars.
Do you write in more than one genre? I write both fiction and non-fiction. In the latter category, I have three reference-type books on forensic science and three in my Q&A series, where I take story questions from writers and explain the needed science and show how it might be used in their story. I have two older thriller series (Dub Walker and Samantha Cody) and two active ones (Jake Longly and Cain/Harper). The Jake books are comedic but still deal with serious crimes filtered through Jake’s quirky brain. The Cain/Harper series is darker, and these stories are more true thrillers.
What brought you to writing? I grew up in the south where they won’t feed you if you can’t tell a story. Southern storytelling’s a great tradition that goes back centuries and has created many of the great names in literature. I grew up around people (family, friends, classmates) who could spin a yarn and I could do so myself. But writing a tale is a different animal. Twenty five years ago, I took a couple of writing classes at the University of California, Irvine, joined a pair of writing groups, and began writing. Took a while, and a lot of words, but finally it all worked out.
Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I have a sound-proofed music studio/media room/office where I do most of my writing. Or I’m out in the pavilion we have off our kitchen. I don’t avoid distractions, I need them. If it’s quiet, my mind wanders so I always have the TV or music on. Helps me concentrate. I was the same in med school. I had to have music to study.
Tell us about your writing process: My first few books were outlined but the past dozen or so I avoided that. I simply have a few scenes in mind and start the story and see where it goes. I like that much better. More fun, and more creative, I think. I write the first draft fast and avoid any major editing during that process. I might clean up a few plot things along the way, but I wait for the second draft to begin any real editing. In other words, get the story on paper, then fix it. You can edit garbage but you can’t edit a blank page. All that said, I use Scrivener, which I love, so I usually know and make notes on the next few chapters/scenes while I’m writing—as they come to mind—but I don’t do a complete outline. Rather, planning the next few scenes as I go along is part of the writing process for me.
What is the most challenging part of your writing process? The first draft. The heavy lifting. I love the editing process. It’s where the story really takes shape and becomes publishable. After the first draft, you know all your characters, how they think, what they say, and what they do. So, when you begin the re-writes the characters come alive and the interactions among them are more realistic.
How long did it take you to write your first book? Two and a half years. Then another decade that included four changes of title, four changes of location, and a change in protagonist. And 27 re-writes. The only things that stayed the same were the bad guy and the basic story. I published other stuff along the way but finally after 10 years this story became STRESS FRACTURE, my first Dub Walker book.
Do your protagonists ever disappoint you? Not really. I like my main characters even with all their flaws and quirks. Sometimes they do stupid things, at least things I wouldn’t do, but that’s part of who they are. My series characters are “set in their ways” to some extent but the other characters in a given story are fair game for creating interesting folks. I love minor characters as they can be so much fun to write and add to any story. A great example is the movie NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. The minor characters here are amazing and add so much depth and flavor to the tale.
Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? Sure. I think virtually all stories do. The key, I think, is that the subplots should support and not distract from the main story. They add depth and texture, but should not take over the story or, conversely, seem to be simply tacked on. Subplots can help a story in many ways, including revealing character, creating complications and stress for the protagonist (or villain), as well as adding backstory, mood, and richness to the story.
Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? Both. I prefer to create small towns and more rural locations that are completely made up. Other times I create made up places in real settings. Maybe an office building, a bar/restaurant, a house or neighborhood, whatever, and place it in a real location. Map apps come in handy here. My Dub Walker series is set in around my hometown, Huntsville Alabama. In these stories, I use many real places but I also make up toters. Some of the made up ones are actually real places that I have altered in some way.
What is the best book you have ever read? That’s a tough one. Several that always stuck in my mind are Verne’s JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, Hemingway’s THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, Steinbeck’s IN DUBIOUS BATTLE, Forsyth’s THE DAY OF THE JACKAL and Puzo’s THE GODFATHER. Then there’s Elmore Leonard’s RIDING THE RAP and James Lee Burke’s BLACK CHERRY BLUES.
Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? My next Jake Longly book, CULTURED, is coming in May, 2023 and my latest Cain/Harper story, TALLYMAN just came out in August 2022. So now, I’m working on the next books in each of these series.
Do you have any advice for new writers? Read—read—read, write—write—write, repeat. Writers must read—-a lot. And not just in their genre but rather in many other genres. Consider this a broader education in storytelling as any reading will help you write a better story.
How do our readers contact you? The best way is through my website: dplylemd.com. That will connect you to my books, my blog, my podcasts, and my old radio show.
The heading is my life in a nutshell. It’s my birthday, so I’m taking a break from the usual routine to tell you a little bit about me and answer two questions posed by fellow authors—who tried to stump me—they failed.
If you don’t already know, I’m an enrolled descendant of the Karuk Tribe of California. Combining police, private investigator, and corporate experience, I have about forty years of investigative experience. Earning a BA – History from California State University – Hayward took me a dozen years of poor scholarship. Nearly four decades later, I returned to school at Las Positas College. I took a break to earn an MFA-Creative Writing Program from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, before finishing an AA in English from Las Positas.
I was fortunate to conduct and manage thousands of investigations throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. After forced retirement, I kept my investigative skills honed by volunteering as an investigator at the San Leandro, California, Police Department.
I want to begin with a shout-out to an incredible mentor, Ramona Ausubel. Ramona was one of my mentors at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is a fantastic author, and her latest novel THE LAST ANIMAL is the People Magazine Book of the Week. PRE-ORDER NOW!
Besides writing, my passion was long-distance motorcycle riding on my 2001 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic—my first scooter was a 1959 or 60 Honda 50 (I got stopped for drag racing on it). My sixty-year biker life ended last year when an accident left me with several broken bones—it wasn’t the first time.
Shelley Riley asks: What inspired you first to start telling tall tales? I’m not one of those who has been writing all their life. I was about to turn sixty-seven when the most incredible place I ever worked, PALM, was bought out, and the layoffs began. I ran security and investigations and got advance notice of pending layoffs. Near the end, my name came through.
Feeling strong and unprepared to retire, I began an unsuccessful job search. I learned all about age discrimination. I had sworn never to enter a Senior Center until a writing class was offered. I falsely believed it would help my stellar resume, so I signed up.
To my surprise, it was a fiction writing class. Amazingly, I fell in love with writing and gave up looking for any other type of work. I have two stand-alone novels, and Book One in the New Liberty – A Hector Miguel Navarro series comes out in a few weeks.
Michael A. Black asks: Your writing of dialogue in your books is fresh and realistic, yet it also moves the story along. What tips would you give to other writers for writing convincing and authentic dialogue? I learned early on that I had to leave out the normal jibber-jabber that occurs in our everyday conversations. However, dialogue has to seem natural and to the point, adding to the plot and character development. When I began writing, I included a lot of unnecessary chit-chat. With rewriting and the help of Critters, I started writing more explicit dialogue—there has to be a reason. I ask myself: Why am I writing this? I cut, reevaluate, and rewrite if the conversation is unclear or without purpose. Occasionally, the dialogue seems to wander. When this happens, I’m laying the groundwork for a future event or character development of someone not in the conversation.
I try to add a touch of humor at least once in each chapter, helping humanize my characters.
May will be busy as New Liberty is released, and I will be doing readings and book signings. I hope you can join me at one or more events.
1. 5/9/2023 – New Liberty release – available for pre-order
2. 5/10/2023 – I will moderate the Upstate South Carolin Sisters-in-Crime Mystery Book Club. Michael A. Black with be discussing Chimes at Midnight.
3. 5/13/2023 – Las Positas College Literary Festival – Book signing with local and indigenous authors. Tommy Orange is the keynote speaker. It’s FREE!
4. 5/18/2023 – Barnes & Noble, El Cerrito, 6:00 – 7:330 – Book signing with Lisa Towles
5. 5/20/2023 – NorCal Spring Author Showcase, Orinda Books, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. – I will read and sign
6. 5/272023 Barnes & Noble, Dublin – 1:00 – 3:00 Book signing.
7. 5/28/2023 – Barnes & Nobel, Walnut Creek – 2:00 – 4:00 p.m Book signing
You can find me at:
California Writers Club – Mt. Diablo
Crime Writers of Color
Sisters-in-Crime – NorCal
Sisters-in-Crime – Colorado
Sisters-in-Crime – Coastal Cruisers
Mystery Writers of America – NorCal
If you can, pop over to Lois Winston’s blog. Her guest today has the initials: GDC.
Links for my books:
The Mona Lisa Sisters
Robbers and Cops
New Liberty -Book 1 in the Hector Miguel Navarro Series
Hayden is the author of the popular Harry Bronson and Aimee Brent mystery series. Her books have hit the Pennsylvania Top 40, the B&N Top 10, and the Kindle Best Seller Lists. Her works have been finalists for the Agatha, LCC, Silver Falchion, and Reader’s Choice Awards.
Her angel/miracle series are International Best Sellers.
Hayden is also a popular speaker. She presents workshops, has spoken to clubs, and major cruise lines have hired her to speak while cruising worldwide. From October 2006 to October 2007, Hayden hosted Mystery Writers of America’s only talk show, Murder Must Air.
Kuyuidokado, Nevada’s Paiute’s chief councilman, is murdered.
When reporter Aimee Brent arrives at the reservation, she stumbles upon secrets—secrets that could lead to her death. It’s up to Aimee to unravel them before more people fall victim to the grand scheme of That Last Ghost Dance.
Do you write in more than one genre? Yep, I most definitely do. In addition to thrillers, mysteries, and suspense, I’ve done children’s books to honor my grandkids. When my first grandson was little, I entertained him by telling him stories, most of which I made up. Then it dawned on me, why not write them down and publish them so he’d have something to hold on to? I also do a series of inspirational stories, true accounts about people who have experienced a miracle or an angel in their lives. I’ve also done paranormal, how-to, young adult, and others. But my love remains with the mystery and the inspirational genre.
What brought you to writing? That’s something that’s always been in my blood. I was born to tell stories. My latest release, That Last Ghost Dance has a bit of a different answer. For some reason or the other, I’ve always been fascinated by the American Natives. I recently had my DNA done, and I found out I’m mostly Native American! History has shown us how much they have suffered, and I wanted to honor them. That Last Ghost Dance is set in the Paiute’s Pyramid Lake Reservation, and the book was released in November 2022, Native American Month.
What is the most challenging part of your writing process? Having confidence in myself. I write something and feel it will not hold the readers’ interest. That’s when I turn to my readers. I send them what I’ve written and ask for their honest opinion. When they tell me all’s going well, and they’re eager to read the rest, then I’m free to continue writing with confidence. Weird, eh?
How long to get it published? My story is an overnight success story. I wrote my first novel, and wide-eyed with anticipation and hope, I sent it out to make the rounds. Ten years later, it found a home. Yep, my overnight success only took ten years! My question for that is: self-pub, where were you back then?
We hear of strong-willed characters. Do yours behave or run wild? My two favorite series that I write are the Harry Bronson Thrillers Series and the Aimee Brent. I find both of them to be strong-willed. So much so that they take me down these rabbit holes that bring tears to my eyes as I write about their experiences. I feel their pain and sorrow. I feel threatened when they are threatened. But I also feel their joy and love. I root for their success and, at times, wonder if they will succeed.
Do your protagonists ever disappoint you? I wouldn’t exactly say disappoint me. Instead, they intrigue me. They put themselves in such dangerous situations that I don’t know how they’ll get out. However, in my latest, That Last Ghost Dance, one of my major characters makes a terrible mistake that not only disappoints me but also sends Aimee spiraling down. I tried to fix his mistake, but at this point, it seemed unfixable, and my heart ached for Aimee.
Do you have subplots? If so, how do you weave them into the novel’s arc? I strongly believe in subplots. We, humans, have more than one thing at a time going on. Why wouldn’t our characters? My subplots are stories themselves that need to be told and developed. Each subplot stems from the character’s point of view and is therefore incorporated into the main plot line. Like the main story, the subplots have crises and tensions that directly affect the plot and characters.
Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I am definitely a pantser. From the beginning, I know how the story will begin and end. But I have no idea how I’ll get there. Sometimes, the person I thought was guilty isn’t. That, of course, surprises me, which in turn, I believe will surprise the reader. I love the thrill of not knowing what’s going to happen next. Of course, this means that I often have to go back and foreshadow something, re-write a scene, or face that dreadful writer’s block. But I don’t mind. I do, however, advise aspiring authors to outline so they won’t have to face all the problems we pantsers encounter.
What kind of research do you do? Firsthand when possible. Visit the place, take lots of pictures, and make important contacts. For example, for That Last Ghost Dance, I visited the reservation and met folks who would be willing to answer the multitude of questions that would arise as I wrote the story. I believe that by being there, I can capture the place’s atmosphere.