The Writer’s Handful with David (DA) Kentner


Mondays + Writers = finally something to look forward to.

Week eight of The Writer’s Handful welcomes David (DA) Kentner, the pen behind the wonderful interview and book series The Readers’ Writers. The series is published in newspapers all over the United States, and longer versions of these interviews are published on his site, DA Kentner: The Readers’ Writers. Clearly David is interested in all sorts of writers, readers, and books; these things keep him quite busy. So I am really pleased that he has a little bit of time to hang with us today and chat a bit.

Welcome David!

Did you write today? If yes, what? If no, why not?

I write, something, every day. Today it’s blog posts and then back to work content editing and doing rewrites for a nonfiction author extremely knowledgeable in his/her field, which doesn’t include writing. I was hired to help produce a more marketable book; a new venture for me, but one I’m really enjoying at the moment.

What’s the first thing (story, poem, song, etc.) you remember writing, and how old were you when you wrote it?

I was a toddler with a piece of paper and a box of crayons. I wrote a picture story on the floor while my mom typed an episode for a soap opera. Her dream was to become a script writer. Unfortunately, that never happened. She stopped writing to raise her family. I learned the alphabet and discovered a whole new avenue for storytelling. My first published pieces were a short story and a poem I wrote in high school. Nothing spectacular, and because I chose to pursue a different career path, it would be thirty-eight years before I tried being published again. That said, I never stopped writing. I have boxes of poems, song lyrics, and stories no one has ever seen, and that’s probably for the best.MeSanta

What are you reading right now?

Right at this moment, I’m not reading anything. I just finished Scott Blagden’s Dear Life, You Suck. It’s brilliant, though won’t be everybody’s cup of tea. I read constantly in order to select authors I’d like to interview for my column The Readers’ Writers. I’m a few weeks ahead, so I’m taking a short break from reading.

What’s the most important advice you ever received? (Writerly or otherwise.)

Harlan Carbaugh, my friend and life mentor, once said, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” He was talking about chainsaws at the time, but those words ring true in everything we do. When we take people, especially those we love, for granted, it shouldn’t be a shock when we wake up alone. The same holds true for whatever endeavors we attempt. In the case of writers, the moment an author assumes that whatever they publish will be accepted, and the author gets lazy, not pushing their limits and striving to produce a better story, the author is cheating their readers. It won’t be long before the readers go find a new ‘favorite’ author.

If your writing were an animal, what animal would it be? Because…

A platypus, maybe? On the surface, the poor platypus appears disjointed, a hodgepodge of evolution unsure of what it’s supposed to be. However, if we take the time to fully understand the story the animal has to tell, the reasons it has adopted its shape and methods of survival, we find a whole new way of looking at the world around us and accept that nothing needs to fit into the predetermined parameters of expectation. I think that’s how I view all writing, not just mine. I want to experience something new with every story I read or write. I want to be entertained, and I hope my stories entertain readers.



David Kentner, also known as DA Kentner and KevaD, is a prize and award-winning author currently wondering why his lawnmower has become his most determined nemesis. His greatest writing reward to date was when a reader who asked him to write a certain style of book, which became the suspense novel Whistle Pass, came up and hugged him, exclaiming how the reader “loved” the story. David lives with his wife Virginia outside Freeport, IL, and hopes to live long enough to run out of stories to tell. Which isn’t possible.


→David, thanks so much for this fine little conversation! As always, it is a delight sharing ideas with you. And to everyone, thanks for reading! -PMc←

On Need and the Single Digit Victory Sign ~ DA Kentner’s View From the Keyboard

DA (David) Kentner (aka KevaD) is one of those writers on the front lines of the battle to remind folks how important it is to keep reading. He is a regular contributor to the Freeport Journal Standard, and his column “The Readers’ Writers” is distributed nationwide. Recently, David took the time to share his view from the keyboard.

Kentner: My workspace reflects my work habits – contained calamity. This is my corner of our home, the back part of the living room, the room within a room. Here I can glance at my grandchildren or the memory of a beloved pet, ponder the hand that once carried the barn lantern, visualize the family that read by the oil lamp. The flag sat on my desk the years I was our city’s chief of police. Near it is the clock and plaque my staff presented me when I announced my retirement. The shelves are filled with reference books and novels I hope to read… someday.

Every morning I sit here to write. This is also the last place I sit before I go to bed. Sometimes day and night intertwine. That’s why there are four clocks, so no matter which way I turn I’ll know what time it is. The window just out of view helps me distinguish AM from PM.

I’m a writer. It’s what I do, what I love, what gives me life. Originally I wrote solely for my enjoyment. Then I was told I “needed” to be published. I hadn’t been aware I possessed that need, but bent to the idea. During my quest for publication a professional editor told me my skills weren’t good enough and I would never be published. Wrong answer. The gauntlet was at my feet. I picked up the challenge, and haven’t set the darn thing aside since.

Dozens of stories no one will ever see attest to the fact I still write for my sole enjoyment. But another persona sits with me in the chair now; a writer who takes pleasure in seeing his work in the hands of a reader, in the knowledge we brought a smile to a face or a tear to an eye. There will be some who won’t understand what I do. I write to write. For me, it’s not about profit in a bank account, it’s the profit of joy in my heart. It’s the kind word from a reader that he or she enjoyed one of my stories or an interview with a fellow author.

And it’s about giving that editor a single digit victory sign.

I think the best example of my character-driven style of writing is the short story “The Caretaker.” However, here’s a sneak peak at my current work in progress, “Hearts on a Paper Boat.”



Chapter One

Sometime between her first tear and the unexpected rain shower, the flags, the color guard in their white berets and gloves, the blue and brown uniforms of more law enforcement agencies than she could count grayed and blurred. Hannah Preston drew her knees to her chest and shivered in the grove of pines. It wouldn’t be long now. She closed her eyes to wall out the finality and hugged her legs as she had her teddy bear so many years ago in another life where the people she loved didn’t die.

Pop-op. Seven rifle shots masquerading as one reported across the cemetery, over the oats field, up the incline to her hiding place, and bore into her brain as if maggots after food. She gripped her elbows and compressed her body under the onslaught of agony rebounding from bone to bone inside her.

Pop-op. Seven more. She winced and shuddered.

Pop-op. The final volley of the twenty-one gun salute to a fallen brother officer drilled with dental precision through her ears, down her throat and into her belly. A fiery puddle of acid erupted and corroded what little desire remained to live another day.

Like a brass mourning dove, a solitary bugle wept Taps between the raindrops’ patter.

Hannah rested her forehead on her denim clad knees and clenched her jaw, but the chatter of her teeth drummed an erratic beat into her heart vying for a sustainable rhythm. A jolt of unchained sorrow and guilt ached down her spine and numbed every nerve, leaving only cold to ooze through her veins.


David, thank you for your View From the Keyboard. And thanks, too, for the work you do to keep readers reading and writers writing with your column, “The Readers’ Writers.” To read more, check out: And coming soon, the view from fiction and nonfiction writer Michael Downs and Scottish writer Craig Gilbert. PMc←

Beating Back Writer’s Block ~ Jack London’s View From the Keyboard

Last week the new students in the Fiction Writing Department of Columbia College Chicago gathered for their orientations and welcoming events. So many bright faces, so many eager new writers. I am excited to get the chance to work with them this next year.

A question came up more than once: “How do you get over writer’s block?” This might be a subject for a longer post another time, but for now, advice from Jack London:

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Thanks, Jack. Well said.

→Coming soon, Megan Stielstra’s View From the Keyboard, and that of DA Kentner (KevaD) as well. Thanks for reading. -PMc←