Category Archives: Stuff about Writing

Things to do with how to write

Urushalon: Getting Along in Spite of Differences

A friend of mine writes scifi/fantasy. I always enjoy her stories and have contributed, in some small ways, to getting some of her titles to market. I love this duology because it focuses on a theme very near to my heart: Can’t we just find a way to get along? Stop by her Amazon page and see what else she is up to.

After I got the setting for the Urushalon duology nailed down to 1965 in Las Palomas, Texas, I started building the rest of the world and the backstory. The Eshuvani were on their way across the galaxy in a colony ship when something went wildly wrong, and they had to make an almost controlled crash landing on Earth in the 17th century.

They didn’t need long to figure out that Earth didn’t have the resources to repair the ship and that the humans weren’t ready for an alien first contact, so they scattered around the globe and holed up in enclaves to avoid interfering too much with human development.

Fast-forward to 1965 and that policy has bred some mistrust and mutual misunderstandings. The Urushalon duology deals with overcoming those hurdles. When I designed the world, I made the two races similar enough to have common ground but different enough to create sources of tension and conflict.


Eshuvani are generally taller and thinner than humans. They came from a lower gravity world, and while adapting to Earth, they’ve developed stronger musculature, but their strength is short-lived. Like an ambush predator, they’re capable of greater speed and strength than a human but only for a short time. In a contest of endurance, humans will win every time.


Eshuvani get waylaid by heavy emotions much more than humans. Humans find them too emotional, but Eshuvani think humans are aloof.


Although the Eshuvani colony ship couldn’t be repaired with the resources available on Earth, Eshuvani tech is still way beyond anything the humans have. Medicines that can heal quickly, communication devices that install on the edge of their collars, windows that darken on command, doors that open and close on command, and energy systems that don’t pollute the environment.


After seeing so many conflicts among humans over religion, the Eshuvani converted to the religions most like their own, but their approach is different, which led to a different set of values. They’ve maintained a functional monarchy and a social structure that requires lifetime commitment in many facets of life.

The Urushalon Arrangement

For the Eshuvani, this isn’t exactly their first rodeo. They’ve had first contacts with other races less advanced than they are, but they usually aren’t stuck living on the same planet. Although they don’t want to interfere too much with humanity, isolating themselves entirely will just create more problems in the long run.

To prevent total isolation, individual Eshuvani form a single urushalon relationship with a human. Sometimes they adopt the human, and sometimes the human adopts them. An urushalon is a particularly close friendship. The human gains some privileges in Eshuvani society, as if they’re blood relations of the urushalon. The relationship encourages better understanding between the races.

Hurdles to Getting Along

First Impressions and Other Snap Judgments

When we meet people for the first time, we observe how they dress, how they act, how they move, what they look like, what they sound like, and even the environment we meet them in. All that info collected in mere seconds goes into conclusions about the new people. Those first impressions can stick with us, coloring our opinions even when better information is available.

Those quick judgments can be handy. They can be part of our internal radar that alerts us to potential dangers. Sometimes, though, they’re overzealous and lead us in false directions.

To combat that, realize where the assumptions came from, and when better information is available, be willing to update those assumptions to fit reality.

In Urushalon 2: Into the Open, upon hearing that they’ll have to host a group of humans for a summit meeting, Pavwin, an Eshuvani captain, realizes that the people manning his station have a lot of misconceptions about humans. He asks Amaya, who’s more knowledgeable about humans, to provide better information.

Variations Are Infinite

Stereotyping is one of the major sources of misconceptions and false assumptions. Even within a racial or cultural group, there isn’t just one set of beliefs.

This even occurs in the bird world. I’ve had four cockatiels. Cute little critters, really, but none of them were even close in personality. Sijon was the grumpy old man. Lockheed was a shy sweetheart. Freebie was the social butterfly. Spot was the adrenalin junkie. Sure, they had some similar body language in response to emotions, but the personalities were totally different.

Then I had an African Grey named Masika. Anyone who knows about the red-tailed, gray-feathered parrots has heard about their reputation as expert talkers. They do sound effects and carry on miniature conversations with their humans. Some are even ordering themselves snacks and requesting music from the voice-activated personal assistants. Masika? Not a talker. Sure, she did sound effects and whistled a couple tunes, but only when no one was in the room to watch. Totally atypical African Grey.

In Urushalon 1: Like Herding the Wind, one of the human cops who works for Ed doesn’t like Eshuvani. At all. He has absolutely no use for them, but after meeting Amaya and watching the efforts of her staff to equip, train, and protect the humans, he has a change of heart. Not all Eshuvani are what he assumed them to be.

Do What You Can

No one can do everything but everyone can do something. We each have a part to play in the events we’re involved in. Giving room to someone who’s better at a skill is just as important as being ready to step forward and take the lead in matters we have more skill in. If we all play the part meant for us, we’ll all advance.

In Urushalon 2: Into the Open, Amaya has no experience and very little knowledge of how to interact with the Eshuvani nobility meeting with the human governors at her station, so she relies on Vadin, who grew up within that social level, to provide her with the information she needs. Later, when confronting the source of all their troubles turns into a shoot-out, she uses her superior marksmanship training to protect the others with her. This shows that the situation of her birth does not limit her skill or contribution.

Moving on from Here

We all use information we can quickly gather to make quick decisions about other people. That can be handy in many situations, but it can also get us in trouble because people are unique. Understanding the source of our assumptions can help us avoid Olympic-level conclusion jumping, particularly if we’re prepared to revise our assumptions when better information is available. This will lead to a better understanding of people.

By understanding others, we begin to know what strengths and weaknesses each of us has. We can offer our strengths to support another’s weakness and accept their strengths to support our own weaknesses.

Getting along with others who are very different from us is a skill like any other. Mastery only comes from knowledge and experience.

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Filed under Humanties for the Unbound Mind, My Bookshelf ~ Fiction, Stuff about Writing

Who I Am Yesterday finds Barnes & Noble, and a lot of new friends

Over the past month, I have been working towards a book signing arranged for me by Greta King, a magical marketing agent. My debut run at this activity was at Barnes and Noble on Black Lake Blvd in Western Olympia, Washington. Since my book is about caregiving and the things one must learn to live with a loved one with dementia, I chose to expand my influence.


I spent some time in the offices of Council on Aging in both Aberdeen and Olympia, and collected a substantial amount of literature about support groups, resources, and organizations. That collection followed me to the signing, and will become a permanent part of any signing or speaking engagement I secure in the future.

In addition, I put together a short resource guide that included several book titles, and links to sources of clothing, medical equipment, and care supplies. That guide is available here. My list of reading material includes the literature provided by the Council on Aging, along with links to acquire additional information. Even if SW Washington is not where you live, the list is broad enough it will provide a starting point to locate support closer to home.

My local newspaper also published a brief article about the event and something about my book.

For this event, Barnes and Noble used my resource list to locate titles within their store that might be of help. These became part of my display. The store management was very gracious and mentioned several times how happy they were to be a part of my mission to inform, to comfort, and to share.

Then, of course, the event. Yes, I sold a few books. The store will continue to stock my book, at least for a while. I also had a chance to talk with people who needed and wanted what I had to offer. One group of ladies had traveled to hear me speak and when they realized I was not speaking, asked for contact information so that they could invite me to speak to their group. They left well supplied with materials, a signed copy of my book, and a few answers I could offer based on my own experience.

Another lady stopped in mid-stride as she came through the door and announced she had just decided she needed a cup of coffee and had no idea why; until she saw my table. Again, after having a cup of coffee and reading through a few things, she left well supplied with information, and a signed copy of my book.

John McBride, from the office of the Lewis-Mason-Thurston Council on Aging, stopped by with his wife to get my autograph on the copy I had left with his office. From what I hear, both his office and Aberdeen may be contacting me about acquiring more copies for their people and to share. There are also hints of a speaking thing or two in the future.

I would say, all in all, the event was a success. I know I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the people that stopped to say hi and talk (or grab a bit of candy). I think I will be a welcome guest at the store in the future, and I have made contacts that may well expand my reach and my ability to share. Not a bad start; not bad at all.

Choose to Dance – find the way that clearly defines your needs as a caregiver, and the needs of the person being cared for – and dance to your own tune.



Filed under Caregiving Backstage, Stuff about Writing

Guest Post ~ Faith in Fiction

I’ve been really, really busy trying to push through a major portion of my manuscript on Job. It is going quite well. That means, of course, less time to spend here. But I have a plan! This week I have a guest blogger, Cindy Keopp. She is an author of science fiction/fantasy. As it happens, I am one of her beta readers. Recently, one of her novels has become available for preorder, Like Herding the Wind, Urushalon I. It is a lovely tale and I highly recommend it.

Faith is something that winds its way throughout Cindy’s tales. It is a part of her and her journey, and so it finds its way into her novels. I asked her to tell us about that.

Like Herding

Cindy Koepp:

I was tempted to write an analysis of all the reasons why writers are told to avoid explicit mentions of Christianity in their writing followed by an explanation of why I ignore those suggestions. The prohibition of faith in writing would have made an interesting addition to my blog series on the Hugo and Nebula winners, but I’ll keep that topic for another time.

Instead, I’d rather have a look at the reasons why faith features so prominently in so many of my stories. The most overtly Christian of my books, Remnant in the Stars, even has a character convert to Christianity partway through the tale.

Leaving out the matters of faith would have made some things much easier. I’ve gotten into intense “discussions” with a publishing expert on the issue, been accused of trying to shove my religion up everyone’s nose, and had folks who offered to review the book later refuse because of the religion issue. Had I kept religion out of it, I would have avoided that mess altogether, but I can’t do that.

Some writers eschew the anti-religion advice because they “write for the audience of One.” In other words, they say that they don’t care what other people think because they’re writing only to please God. That’s not me. I’m not half arrogant enough to think a perfect God is interested in what I wrote. The best I can do is hope He’s not majorly offended.

Likewise, I don’t believe my writing is inspired by God. I’m not simply His scribe, and this isn’t a new Gospel I’m working on. If God were writing these tales, they’d be much more perfect than anything I come up with on my own. I wouldn’t need an editor because God doesn’t make mistakes. Trust me. I need an editor.

I write to communicate what I think and feel. Often these stories help me work through difficult things I’ve had to face. Sometimes the stories help me relate funny things that have happened. My tales contain goofy jokes and a weird sense of humor because I have a weird sense of humor and tell goofy jokes. The stories deal with complex characters and situations because life is rarely simple. All the characters are dealing with their own problems and their own joys. They have their own goals, so most of the characters in my stories have their own character arcs.

Most importantly, they have their own beliefs. People are predisposed to believe in something. In my own personal adventures, I’ve found that people put their faith and confidence in something or someone, even if that someone is found in the mirror every morning. To leave faith out of the story is to create a character that is woefully lacking in a critical element.

That’s not to say that all my stories have strong religious tendencies. One, Mindstorm: Parley at Ologo, has only one reference to God in passing toward the end. Are those characters missing something critical? No, but the details about their personal beliefs were not necessary, so rather than clutter up the work with unneeded detail, I kept the info about the characters’ religions in my notes along with other factoids. At critical points in the story, though, the religious background of the character influenced the choices the character made even if the reader never got to know the motivation for the choice.

More frequently, though, the characters’ religion plays a more active role in the story. For some characters, their faith becomes a source of strength for them in adversity, a cause for hope when practical answers are elusive, a solace in the maelstrom of family and international politics, and a comfort in times of grief.

In my personal life, faith is all these things, and I’ve only just begun to explore what faith in God can bring.

Like Herding the Wind — A Mystery. A wounded path. An alien society with centuries of work to coexistent with humans, but someone isn’t happy with the progress made. Will the human-alien team find those responsible before another human dies? In the 1600s, an Eshuvani generation ship crash-landed in a farmer’s field in Germany. Unable to find the resources on Earth to fix their ship, the Eshuvani built enclaves and tried to let the humans develop without interference. Three hundred fifty years later, Eshuvani criminals start a crime wave in the Texas coastal town of Las Palomas. With police officers being injured and killed in the efforts to stop them, Sergeant Ed Osborn attempts to use his ties to the Eshuvani community to get help for his men, but the local leadership wants nothing to do with humans. Ed contacts his urushalon, Amaya Ulonya, the Eshuvani mother he adopted when he was a boy, and seeks her help. After the death of her partner, Amaya, the captain of a police and rescue team, finds more grief than joy in her current assignment. Amidst controversy, she arranges to spearhead the new Buffer Zone station between Las Palomas and the nearby Eshuvani enclave of Woran Oldue. She hopes the opportunity to help Ed train his people will help her bury the past. The indifference of the local administration leaves her with Ill-functioning equipment and inexperienced staff. It only gets worse when the attacks of an Eshuvani criminal grow personal. Amaya must get control of her grief to help Las Palomas or risk losing someone even more dear to her than her last partner.

Cindy Koepp is originally from Michigan. She moved to Texas as a child and later received a degree in Wildlife Sciences and teaching certification in Elementary Education from rival universities. Her recently concluded adventures in education involved pursuing a master’s degree in Adult Learning with a specialization in Training and Performance Improvement. Cindy has three published science fiction and fantasy novels, a serial published online, short stories in five anthologies, and a few self-published teacher resource books. When she isn’t reading or writing, Cindy spends time whistling with a crazy African Grey. Cindy is currently an editor with PDMI Publishing and Barking Rain Press as well as an optician at monster-sized retail store.

Cindy can be found — and further enjoyed at:

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My Journey with Job ~ Inspiration

This past week I have devoted time to prepare for the 30-day challenge known in writing circles as NanoWrimo. Or, National Novel Writing Month. As it happens there is also a site for nonfiction writers. I signed up for both, mostly because nonfiction inspires me, but the fiction site has better progress tracking devices. And easier communication between participants. In any case, I am going to make a concerted effort to develop the rough draft for the balance of my manuscript, Why Me?

Which brings me to the thoughts which have followed me about during this time of preparation. The first has to do with how we master, or remaster a skill or character attribute, or how we manage the time allotted for all our pursuits. For this I have my wood stove to thank. Many years ago I lived in Montana and wood stoves were an everyday part of life. In the morning you check the coals, stuffed the box and urged it to full flame, closed the door and forgot about it until early afternoon. Then you stuffed more wood in, closed the door and ignored it until bedtime. At that point you damped things down, and, well, in the morning you likely had nice hot coals to start all over. Easy. Well, maybe not.


My new home has a wood stove. It’s a monster of a thing that at full throttle can run me out of the house. But it, in combination with the softwoods of the Pacific Northwest, can be temperamental. It is not unusual to check the box in the morning to find a cold, half burned log resting in the grate. I have learned, after a bit of instruction from a neighbor, how to nurture my fire during the day so that it neither gets over excited with roaring flames seeking the free air above the roof line, nor dies a sudden death leaving me with cold, charred, logs.

Writing and research are a bit like that. If you want to contribute something of value in the world of nonfiction (or fiction), you need to nurture the flame. It is of no help to run off on a tangent exhausting yourself and ending up with pages of barely intelligible musings with no basis in facts or logic or anything slightly related to acceptable story structure. Nor can you afford to be so remote that passion for the subject dies a cold, charred death rotting away somewhere on your hard drive. Nanowrimo is the starter log for many writers, the initial flame that helps build the fire to a level that can be maintained by adding fuel and substance in a regular and productive manner.

That brings us to thought two, inspiration. Webster defines it as “something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create: a force or influence that inspires someone.” Yeah, that.

Some years ago when I was going through a particularly difficult time, my husband-to-be suggested that I look for a book to read. Not just any book, but something that was connected to the things I like to learn. I chose a book about Hatshepsut. Within a few days I was back on the phone chattering away about some correlations I had found between the information provided and something else I had tucked away from some other reference. In the middle of a conversation he started to laugh. Then he explained. Whatever had been depressing me was long gone. As soon as I was back in my own world the pull of research, the love of the hunt for knowledge, well, consumed me.

This past week that feeling has been growing again. As I begin to collect the references and support that I need to build my manuscript, the more I felt drawn into that special space where ideas begin to link, to spark, to grow into a fire. I do have a rather extensive library in my own home on many of the subjects that are dear to me, but some of the material does not include the latest findings or developments, and well, it certainly isn’t a university library. That requires time on the web seeking sources that carry weight or lead to something that does. Rather than grow weary of sorting through the fluff, I find myself having a wonderful time tracking down men and women who have thought similar thoughts, who have been closer to source material, and who have developed worldviews close to or diametrically opposed to mine.

This is the thrill of creation. Taking the materials at hand and molding something unique that can be shared. I have received supportive commentary based on the first half or so of the manuscript. That is encouraging. Many folks that are familiar with my general thoughts on subjects related to Job do want to see me develop these into something cohesive. I do, of course, hope that others (even those that don’t know me personally) will find this work of value. In the meantime, I intend to enjoy the journey from scribbled notes, to polished manuscript.

Keep the flame burning.

National Novel Writing Month:

Write Nonfiction Now:

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Filed under Authored Works, My Journey with Job, Stuff about Writing ~ Tips and Tools

Book Review ~ Chirping your way through Twitter

How to Be Twittertastic by Jo Linsdell, $3.99US (Kindle)

Twitter. All the rage for “everybody” (really, over 1 billion users as of now) but still a mystery to many of us. How does one say something meaningful in 140 characters – or fewer? Does it matter, or is it just another way to grab time from an already overloaded schedule? Must I twitter?

Every so often I delve into the world of “things helpful to authors.” In this case, though, I think the information has a much broader interest level. Jo Linsdell’s new book, Twittertastic, is written for authors; however a huge portion of the material would also apply to anyone who wants to get something out of the Twitter experience.

Here are some of the subjects that Jo covers:

How to set up your profile and personalize it
Creating your network
Ideas for making the most out of the new features
Tweets- Types of content you can share
Retweets, hashtags, and other Twitter terminology made simple
Twitter etiquette- Dos and Don’ts of the Twitterverse
Time savers

Jo, in her usual manner of clarity and brevity, introduces the reader to the fundamentals of Twittering. How to set things up, how to find people of interest to follow, how to get yourself noticed, WHAT to tweet and where to find content. Also, as is her habit, she includes pages and pages of links and references to get you started on the “but where do I find?” part. You really DO want this one in Kindle format, those hyperlinks are terrific.

Jo also researches her books and provides the statistics and supporting content that drive home her points. For instance, tweets with images garner a 40% greater response from tweeters than text posts. Jo shows you where and how to find image content, how to upload and how to capitalize on it.

As I mentioned, I am greener than the newest newbie in this world of word-spurts, that’s why Jo’s explanation of #hashtags, @addresses and lists, as well as when and where to use what is so helpful. She makes it all seem so easy!

Why, you ask, should someone listen to this particular voice in the crowd of “social media experts?” Because Jo is an internationally bestselling author and illustrator. Each year she conducts PromoDay to bring writing industry people from around the world together. She also manages a blog specifically for Writers and Authors. I should also mention I count her as friend and colleague.

Jo’s Bio:

Jo Linsdell is a bestselling author and illustrator and internationally recognized marketing expert. She is also the founder and organizer of the annual online event “Promo Day” ( and the Writers and Authors blog (

To find out more about Jo and her projects visit her website

Here, then, are all the great places you can find Twittertastic (the first in a series of Social Media for authors).

And here are the places Jo hangs out:




Filed under Stuff about Writing ~ Tips and Tools

Second time around the block! What IS a writing process?

Image courtesy of Dan /

Image courtesy of Dan /







On the Writing Process

Well. What are the chances that I might be dinged for similar reasons almost at the same time? Perhaps it’s the season – you know, sinuses, allergies, other stuff that gets in your head and won’t let you think? So you say, “Sure! I can do that.” If you’re lucky you note it on some electronic calendar and hope you actually remember. I did. Remember that is.

One of my most precious friends, Rhonda, asked to do her the honor of joining a blog hop on my writing process. I found her through a brief mention by another lady I respect and adore, Ms. Kristen Lamb. (Who, by the way, is an uber blogger with writers as the focus). One visit to Rodalena and I was hooked forever. Her observations on life, love, cooking and everything else that can make sense to anyone of us, are each treasures to cherish. This is her rendition of how words make it to the page. So, yes, I am honored to join this blog hop and describe, as she did, a metaphor of sorts that describes me at my keyboard.

The problem, of course, is that my writing is a bit sporadic. I am at a time in my life when my career (something to do with numbers), and all the little ventures I managed to dabble in take up a great deal of my time. I have to admit, though, that when I am permitted those few hours of peace and quiet; when I bar the doors and refuse to respond to flashing lights, urgent messages and multiple emails, I do find myself in a zone. If I were choose a metaphor, I would choose that of a potter with my work a work of clay. Weather spun on a wheel, or carved on the face of a poured mold, it is the creation of something from a lump of information, or the shape of an idea that I enjoy most.

As most folks know my primary focus is nonfiction. This comes from years of research and observation. All of that information piles up in my computer somewhere until I sit down and begin the process of sorting through all of that to see what I can learn and what might be worth sharing with others. Then that information, needs to be molded into a cohesive “story” that is interesting, informs, and maybe even helps in some way. Sometimes those notes are conversations with myself. What worked, what didn’t, who helped and who seemed to make things worse and why? This is the process I used in writing my first book about learning how to cope with my husband’s dementia.

There are times when some ancient piece of literature that I wrote lingers in my files because “someday” I’ll make something of it. This is a carving exercise. Taking away the things that I questioned and now see far more clearly. Perhaps mellowing a stance that seemed so unmovable “then” and so naive now. Those bits that survive the test of time make it into the general process that becomes my working in progress.

I actually love the work of writing. But then I love reading. I find things I simply must share and things that I feel must have come from some other dimension. In any case, I build, and mold, trim, and spin again until I begin to see the shape of my creation. I hope that as more of my writing becomes available you will find humor, joy, remembrance, peace, healing and maybe even knowledge.

Now you get to meet three wonderful authors I have come to know and treasure.

Elizabeth Mueller, an author and an artist, knew that books couldn’t bite, but even though she never admitted, she was scared of them. What she didn’t know, was that one day books would be her career as a writer and an illustrator.

She started writing poetry when she was 9. Then there were stories when she was 11 that, well, are quite funny from her current perspective. It was her creative writing teacher in 12th grade that made her realize there was more to writing than life itself. That’s when she fell in in love with books.

She hasn’t stopped since, feverishly working to perfect the craft late into the night. She lives with her husband, five kids, a hyper dog, two cats, a turtle and a fish. Darkspell, a young adult Paranormal Romance, was her first novel.

You can find Elizabeth at:

Andrea Zug is an avid reader who loves the English language; which is a good thing when you are an author. She has been writing, mostly poetry, since grade school. While her husband was in Vietnam she started her first novel. He was wounded and sent home just three months after their daughter Michelle was born. Raising a family took precedence over writing and it was 2006 when that long abandoned manuscript was pulled out of mothballs. Lancer, Inc. was born. Her husband’s wounds were emotional as well as physical and her work with Lancer, Inc. became a form of therapy, a way to unlock buried trauma. Many of his experiences live within the pages of the series. They found that it helped him and it became their mutual passion to continue the series. Her latest book, Vengeance, takes the Lancers down a new road. Step into the world of Mike and Angela Lancer, Private Investigators…you might just like it there.

Cindy Koepp, a friend, my first editor, and a wonderful storyteller. After hatching years ago in a land very far away, Cindy tried to hide under a secret identity, but she finally gave that up and started openly telling people she was an alien capable of adopting many forms. To her surprise, with the exception of one class of elementary students, no one believed her. They assumed she was joking, thereby giving her the perfect cover story.

She spent 14 years mutating the minds of four-footers – that’s height, not leg count – but gave that up to study the methodology needed to mutate the minds of adult humans. In her off time, she writes about her adventures under the guise of telling science fiction and fantasy stories, records her blog articles, and reads wonderful books in exchange for editing help.


Filed under Stuff about Writing

2014 Writing Process Blog Hop

Copy (2) of IMG_0561So, I have this rather interesting case of sudden popularity. A few weeks ago one of my online friends contacted me and asked me to be part of a blog hop – then she disappeared on vacation and in the meantime another dear friend asked me a similar question, luckily for a different day. I am beginning to believe I am missing the gene that allows you to say “no” – even if I have no clue as to when or how I’ll make it happen. So, here I am writing about my writing, something I rarely do.

Today’s feature artist is Morgan Dragonwillow. She is the one that nabbed me for a post this week. I shall answer the questions as she presented them and do something a bit different next week. Morgan’s participation can be found here. You really should check it out. She is a sincere and sensitive lady and a truly inspired poet. I have found much of personal value in her work and she is a really nice lady to know.

What am I working on?

That is a touchy subject just now. Writing was on hold while I waded through another tax season as my “day job” is accounting. In any case, I have an open project updating my first book, Who I Am Yesterday, which is about coping with my husband’s dementia. Then I’m working on a piece he has wanted me to do for years (though he no longer remembers) about the Book of Job.

Then, recently, a friend of mine encouraged (dared?) me to join in a fiction writing challenge. I don’t do fiction. But, well, it was a friend. And I had fun! I kicked out about 20 flash fiction pieces in a month. They are all here under 30 Cubed or simply Fictional Adventures.

How does my work differ from others of the genre?

As writers we all like to believe that we have something unique to offer; and we do. No matter how homogenous modern technology makes us, we still have unique perspectives. My writing is supported by years (well, decades) of “people watching,” the trials and travails of mentoring in business and in life and the experience of being a caregiver. I deeply love science fiction-fantasy, but I also find history, philosophy and the sciences spellbinding. My hope is whatever cake I bake with this broad mixture is of interest to hungry readers looking for something a bit off the common path.

Why do I write what I do?

Published or not I have always written. I’m a pretty private person so sometimes working things out requires a conversation with my computer (or other more antiquated means) to sort things out, collect research, understand a new concept, or learn something new. I write because I am driven to organize thoughts. There came a time when other folks expressed an interest in what I was writing, and so an author was born.

How does my writing process work?

Well, that depends. If it is a nonfiction work that requires research I read. Lots. Take notes. Lots. Then store them in my Scrivener project folder. During a recent foray into fiction writing I basically sat down in front of a blank screen and, well, “went somewhere.” While I was describing “were” the story would take shape and eventually I would know who “I” was. When I write about being a caregiver I walk through the things that make things work, and the things that didn’t. Try to find the humor, and find the experiences that might help others. I guess writing for me is so much a part of who and where I am it takes all kinds of shapes.

Now, here are the lovely ladies that have been duly warned by be that they are next!

Megan Elizabeth Morales is a female who loves Star Trek, is a Netflix Junkie and loves Comic-Con. She’s a bit of a dreamer, isn’t she? One day when she was eight years old, she just started writing, and she’s never stopped since. She lives in Snohomish Washington with her parents, and is soon to be a 2014 high school graduate. She harnesses the powers of Epilepsy to expand her eccentric imagination in her novel she’s currently working on, and JK Rowling is her role model in the writing world. You can find her at a Red Robins, or at her home daydreaming about cheeseburgers, and scrolling on the computer looking at high heeled boots and regular heels.

Etta Jean was born in Sacramento, California and destined from birth to be a bard. She told tall tales while devouring the creative worlds of others until she finally had to create her own. She has seen both good and evil in her life, and her stories, like life, have no half measures. Her happy endings never come without cost, though, for she truly believes we can’t appreciate the good and the joy without the bad and the pain along the way. Her current haunt is a comfy house in her beloved hometown where she wrangles three feline fur-kids while constantly overbooking her calendar. If she’s not chained to her desk, she’s stomping through the scenery in search of equally fantastical photographs.

Lenora Rogers: The mother of three grown children, I live in Cullman, Alabama. My passion for history and the arts has driven me start all kinds of projects such as groups on Facebook and to create my own special place on a blog (, And with the success of that blog. With encouragement from some great friends, I decided it was time to take the next step a start writing a book. It is never too late to set goals for yourself and follow them. I found that with determination, hard work, persistence and a great support system, anything is possible to achieve. I am currently working on my first novel, The Haunting of Simone, with co writer Stacey Brewer.


Filed under Stuff about Writing

Reviews ~ The World Beyond Facebook

Virtual Book Tours, Effective Online Book Promotion from the Comfort of Your Own Home by Jo Linsdell, Available in Kindle for a special release price of $2.99. ($4.99 after the tour)

virtualbooktoursJo graciously asked me to provide a review of her new release as part of her book-tour-in-progress.  I have to admit I am quite honored and shall give her the full Alcove Treatment.  First the basics.

Virtual Book Tours are a great way to create a buzz for a new release, or to put life back into an older publication. This book takes you through everything you need to know to be able to set up and carry out a successful virtual book tour.

The book is divided into 4 main sections for easy navigation:

1) What is a Virtual Book Tour?
2) How to organise your own tour
3) Promoting a tour
4) Useful resources

You’ll find it packed with links, tips, and advice to help make your tour a hit.

I don’t often visit the world of writing on my blog.  Most of the writers I have interviewed were invited to contribute to a special interest of the time, such as research for books on science fiction or history or some other topic I was delving into.  Sometimes I just get excited about something I’ve found that really helps me as I work through my own writing.  Most of the time, I stick to building my platform and letting my fans and readers get to know me.  That process is rooted quite deeply in how a blog is managed.

I adore many of the friends I have made over the past couple of years as I have become more deeply involved in social media.  I probably spend far more time on Facebook than I should; it is, however, my main source of “outside world” contact.  Granted, that can be a bit skewed.  What I have noticed is that many of the places I visit, the groups that have included me in hopes of my contribution, and the pages that are created for various and sundry books, products, or people, have become overwhelmed with advertising.  Some of my most cherished groups have clamped down hard on hawkers and provided a day or a place to “hang out your shingle.” Then, the managers work hard to keep the communication as informative as possible.

Many marketing gurus in the book industry will tell you that blasting your new release in a dozen or more groups/pages in social media is looked on as spam and does more harm than good.  Sadly, I tend to ignore most of those announcements, focusing more on the informative chats and concentrating on building my network.  I must smile as I write this, because I almost missed a review on my own book with this inattention. So, where can you express yourself, tell people about your latest work, define for the world the thing you most want to say?  On your blog. There are books on how to structure a really successful blog, whether you want to sell books or not – and I will look at them in coming weeks.  Right now I want to talk about Jo Linsdell and her marvelous little book about tours.

Blogs are wonderful things if used to their greatest advantage.  I use mine as a quiet place to express my discoveries, share my wonder, and build an audience for the way I think and write.  In that process, it is often fun to entertain a guest.  This, of course, is what happens in a blog tour.  It is a time when you have someone in for tea (or coffee) and chat about a mutual interest.  Jo shows you how to use that chat to the best advantage of the host and the guest.

There are rules one should follow to be a good guest and a good host.  If you want to discuss some aspect of a work in progress, then you need to find blog hosts interested in your topic, the way you work, how you write, where your inspiration comes from.  As noted, I have invited guests to share their point of view on a number of topics.  It gives my blog life, draws traffic and, well, I usually learn something very interesting.

I learned a great deal from Jo’s book.  She will take you through all of the steps of organizing, managing, closing and analyzing a blog tour.  This little book is packed with page after page of links and references to help you find the blogs that fit you like a glass slipper.  There are even commercial resources you can take advantage of, if you don’t feel confident enough to manage the first tour on your own.

One of my favorite parts (since I’m so obsessive when it comes to organization) is how you think through the process of organizing.  What do you want to accomplish?  What is your goal for the tour in general?  (Don’t cop out here and say – “sell books.”)  Think about what is most important about your work.  Do you write fun youth fiction where the character grows?  Is it steampunk or scifi fantasy?  Do your characters portray historical personalities?  If you know where you are going, then you have a much better chance of picking effective blog hosts (ones that will actually welcome you) and you will know what type of blog posts you want.  Reviews are only one.  There are interviews (of you and your characters) or feature stories.  Jo knows I like to do book reviews, and that is what she asked of me.

As it happens, I also work with a small publishing company, and marketing is one of our highest priorities.  Her book has saved me hours of research combing through the internet.  All those feeble attempts to have volunteers help me dig up suitable blogs for tours for our authors became passé the moment I read her book.  For this I will be forever grateful!  People are busy and volunteers do have lives.

I think that Jo has addressed a really important aspect of the cyber world, and she has given clear and sound advice.  Exchanging ideas, progress, thoughts, and connections in a media that allows reflection and preparation has a very different flavor from the “buy me,” “like me,” freebie  hurly- burly of social media.  Don’t get me wrong: I believe that there is a place and time for marketing on the big network sites.  But I much prefer the path described by my friend and colleague, Jo Linsdell.

Here comes all the “where to find her and who she is!”


Jo Linsdell is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing expert. She is the founder and CEO of the Writers and Authors blog and the annual online event Promo Day. Learn more about Jo at

For more information about Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion from the Comfort of our own Home, please visit or contact

Some of the titles now available by Jo on Amazon are:

Children’s’ Books:  Out and about at the Zoo, A Birthday Clown for Archer (& Coloring book and in Spanish), Fairy May

Guides: Italian for Tourists: Pocket Edition, A Guide to Weddings in Italy

Social Media Links:

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube,
Goodreads, Amazon

Click to tweets:

Add Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home to your to-read list

Learn everything you need to know about virtual book tours in this book by best selling author Jo Linsdell

Must read book about organising virtual book tours! #Authors


Filed under My Bookshelf (and a movie or two), Stuff about Writing ~ Research Tools, Stuff about Writing ~ Tips and Tools

Dragons and Magic and Songs in the Wind

DeceptionsmToday we shall do something a bit on the lighter side of things.  Way back in March I posted a bit about how a writer finds a path between showing passion for their subject without getting pushy with the reader.  If you are truly passionate, you want to share the things you love so much and not overwhelm someone and chase them away.  I had asked Dianne Gardner to share a bit of her style in the process of writing her series, Ian’s Realm.  That article can be found here.

Well, here we are many months later and Dianne has become a fast friend and we’ve managed to get mixed up together in a number of projects.  I have read all of her books and novellas with the exception of Cassandra’s Castle.  Never fear, I have an advance copy sitting on my computer.

I find the series absorbing and rollicking good fun.  In fact, Ian kept me company into the wee hours of the morning during a recent hospital stay.  Add to a great story a truly talented artist and you have an irresistible mix. I have been invited to be one of Ian’s stops as Dianne showcases her anniversary edition of Deception Peak.  The book has undergone a complete remake with its new publisher, PDMI Publishing, LLC. Re-edited, re-mastered cover, maps, character reference charts and other great things make this not only a great story; it’s a collector’s item!  My duty in the ceremonies is to let Dianne talk a bit about what the future holds for Ian’s Realm.

My vision for the series!

When I began the Ian’s Realm Saga, the goal was to complete the three-book story arc and get it published. Simple undertaking (not!). Once the trilogy was completed something unsettle remained inside of me though, as if I hadn’t really written the whole story. There just wasn’t enough magic. The history was missing. And there wasn’t enough explained about the Meneks or the Kaemperns and their cults. Hence A Tale of the Four Wizards took shape, and a very loveable character named Silvio emerged. What happened to the old wizard in that first short story couldn’t be the end, and it wasn’t. You see him make a cameo appearance in The Dragon Shield (edited after the short stories were completed). There was more!

After Rubies and Robbers, I personally didn’t want to leave the Realm. I already missed Ian. But of course, I’ve already introduced plenty of dynamic personalities to carry on. Fast forward a few years and we have Ian’s daughter Cassandra.

Her story came from some real life events that occurred not long ago. I was helping a friend do some interesting research on her family tree which branched into Portuguese royalty at the turn of the century. The more I researched the more I got sidetracked until I discovered the last king of Portugal, Manuel II. Such a compelling story, I needed to write this young king into one of my characters and so enters Martim of Cassandra’s Castle. Cassie is one of my favorite tales and I’m not sure why.

Having had so much fun filming The Dragon Shield , it was time to make a trailer for Cassandra’s Castle, though the book won’t be out for a while. Our crew filmed at Fort Worden State park and Manresa Castle here in WA, and everyone was so excited about working together, we vowed to make a movie.

When I say crew I’m talking about a group of very talented, and experienced people. You can meet them on my website.

Currently, we’re writing the script, and making plans. I’m not sure how long the movie will take to film but we’re working toward that being our goal.

As far as other visions for the series? Anything! Like a piece of artwork I want to sculpt this story into 3D with audio and music (note the lovely music that Lexa Rose wrote with the lyrics to the songs of the Realm), audio narrative, a Boxed Set, a large coffee table edition with full color illustrations and gold leaf. We’ll see where this takes us, but it’s a project!

And that’s my friend, Dianne!  Full of never-ending energy and ever-growing ideas.  She left one thing out though, I really, really want to see Xylon and Promise dolls out by next Christmas…you’ll have to read to learn why.

So far the series includes: Deception Peak, Dragon Shield (scheduled to be re-released), Rubies and Robbers (also scheduled to be re-released), and four novellas about the wizards.  In process is Diary of a Conjurer and Cassandra’s Castle.

Now, for all the places you can find Ian, Abbi, and Dianne:

Ian’s Realm, the blog

Dianne’s Art Site (there is some amazing fine art here, folks).

Ian on Facebook

To Twitter to Dianne

And for goodness sake!  Don’t forget the launch party!


Filed under My Bookshelf ~ Fiction, Stuff about Writing ~ Tips and Tools

All Authors Blog Blitz ~ June 15th, 2013


During one of those unguarded moments scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook my eye was caught by the phrase, “this sounds like fun!”  Uh oh.  Weak moment – instant response – “Where do I find out about it?”  And so it went.  However, I did meet some really interesting people and now I am a guest blogger in places as far off as Wales and Australia.  My guest is from right here in the good ol’ U S of A. In fact from New York, I have Ms. Y Correa herself and here is her internet home: and

After getting all the rest of us up and running she was a bit stumped for her own piece, I asked her to post something about her current release, Marco Antonio & Amaryllis.  After all, there are several posts in the Alcove about historical fiction, a few on research, and a few things on what makes a good story when it’s wrapped around an event in history.  This is what she had to say.

Introducing Ms. Y Correa ~

9781301007493_frontcoverTruly, at heart I am a Paranormal Romance reader. I love all things Paranormal (Alright, maybe except for Vampires and Werewolves…!), yet I’ve also had a lifelong fascination for Historical Romance stories. More specifically Medieval times, Ancient Egyptian and Ancient Greek Mythology.

Those are eras that have always caught my attention. So, upon choosing a story to read, I tend to always lean to those genres.

My biggest issue had always been finding stories that combined all of those elements. They are incredibly hard to find.

I was born and raised in the state of New York, which is a melting pot of culture and diversity. Every day people interact with each other no matter what their race, creed and color. “Multicultural”, is simply a way of life. This is how I was raised – to appreciate everyone’s individuality and respect their differences.

The day I decided to write a story, for me, it was only natural that this every day diversity that I knew so well be incorporated into the story. This is how I developed my style of writing.

The day I started writing “Marco Antonio and Amaryllis”, I played on my own personal knowledge of the Spanish culture (being Hispanic myself), as well as a specific time in history.

Doing some research (which took no time at all) I came across the Anglo-Spanish war of 1585. During this time the English invaded Spain: and I thought to myself that this time in history would be ideal for writing an Interracial Medieval story.

I simply knew that if in THIS day and time there are so many interracial couples, they MUST have existed in that time as well. Only, in that time, it must have been frowned upon and taboo, as most people fear what they cannot understand.

Immediately, upon starting my venture, my natural affinity for the paranormal simply meshed into the story. I played on the beliefs of the people from that time. Many of them lived in perpetual fear of witch-craft and things of that sort.

Just like that, the story simply came to life and “Marco Antonio and Amaryllis” was born. The original manuscript had been written in Elizabethan English, however realizing that many people today have a hard time understanding that method of speech, I changed it to modern English while keeping the Medieval feel and content. There are some Spanish notes in the story, and those were written in Medieval Spanish. Our language too, has changed throughout the years.

Stories like the well know and admired classic “Romeo & Juliet” inspired me, as well as “The Romance of Tristan and Isolde”, “Stardust” the novel, was another great inspiration. Withal, I remained true to my roots and heritage and tried to portray the diversity of the people of that time as best I could.

It may seem odd, but as I was writing (much like it happened with all of my stories prior), my characters took on a life of their own. They came to thriving life, and it very much felt like they were the ones narrating the story to me, and I was the privileged individual whom they’d chosen to write their story.

Following is an Excerpt:

His focus returned to her. What cruelty life offered him, that his one true love was unattainable. Yet, obtaining her was his only conviction – his only mission and obsession. She was in fact the most beautiful woman he’d ever known both inside and out. She’d yet to fully be his. But he was certain, that one day, she would be his – totally and completely. He would fight for her until he exhaled his last breath. Even if that were the very cost.

However, for today, he’d be content (as he always was) with just looking at her from afar. Contemplate her beauty and know – in the depths of his soul – that this was a battle worth fighting.

“Altivo, stop! Para!”, digging his front hooves into the dirt Altivo came to a screeching halt. MarcoAntonio had been so preoccupied in his train of thought, that he’d barely realized that they’d arrived. His body slightly thrust forward with the abrupt stop. He leaped off his horse, checked his hip for his sword and took in hand his ebony shield. Even though it was the middle of the night, time and space was never to be trusted. Things lurked everywhere. In his experience, he knew that the most unexpected things could happen, at any given moment. It was always best to be prepared.

Unhinging a small sack from Altivo’s saddle, he tossed it lightly in his hand. These small jewels were what he used as pebbles, to toss at the balcony of her quarters. What use did he have for them anyway? He owned millions. Yet, he wanted none. So, why not use a precious stone to tap the window of his precious treasure…?

Tossing the first blood ruby, he called – his Spanish accent as natural as the air he breathed, “Psst!” no answer. He tossed another, this time an emerald, as green as the forest, “Psst! Amaryllis! I am here…”, he called out again in a strong whisper. He listened. He heard some rustling around.

The first thing that he caught a glimpse of was her hair as it came floating over the edge of the balcony wall, and grazed the ledge. Then her head leaned over, and she looked down….

There they were! Those eyes! That smile! Enough to melt even the coldest of hearts. Everything about her made his heart skip a beat. Her long luscious, silky hair, that was the perfect combination of fire and ice all neatly intertwined into the most vivid shades of red and gold. Her bright, sea blue eyes which seemed to carry the entirety of the ocean within them. The milky brilliance of her skin. The birthmark that was placed just above her lip, which seemed to be set in just the right spot to accent her lips and all of her beauty to perfection. Her body! That alone was enough to make any goddess jealous. She was not too thin: MarcoAntonio appreciated a woman that looked healthy. Amaryllis was just right, in every way. At least in his opinion.

“You are late…!”, she pointed out.

“Well, that may be true ma’ lady,”

“’Tis!”, she said in a teasing tone, then smiled again, “You cannot stay long. I’m being watched.”

“And?”, he replied with mockery lingering in his voice.

Amaryllis giggled a little, covering her mouth she tried her best to keep quiet. His wit always made her laugh. Then she quickly got serious, “MarcoAntonio, ’tis dangerous. You know this to be true. ‘Tis always a risk to visit me at these hours, my love.”

“And this is precisely why I love her so!”, he stated bravely as if he spoke to an audience, “Amidst everything, my beautiful lady, is always concerned for the well-being of her knight…. Knight, may I remind, ma’ lady!”

A knight, that appears to be looking for trouble, should our foes become aware of his scrambling.”

“Let them become aware!” he raised his voice, still with lightness and taunting sounding in it, “Should they come, I will slay them…!” he pulled his sword from his hip and began a little dance. Bouncing around, sword in hand, he swung it in the air as if he were fencing against the strongest of men, “I will give them a little of this! Then… a little of that!” He jumped in Altivo’s direction, “And my trusted steed, shall save me, and whisk me away into the darkness of night,” then he turned to look up at her, “of course, never, before first having valiantly saved, ma’ lady.”, then tossing his arm into a whirl in front of him, he bowed at her graciously.

Amaryllis giggled some more, covering her mouth with a hand, “You shall never change: will you?”

“Why should I, ma’ lady? If I change then I shall lose my most precious treasure… your love,

“Well, I suppose that is true, noble sir.”

“’Tis, ma’ lady.” and he smiled at her.

Now – my blogs are rather diverse in this case.  For Rachel Rippon I wrote a blog that was a bit biographical.  It tells a bit about my published book, “Who I Am Yesterday,” and described my work in progress “Why Me.”  You can find Rachael in all kinds of places, here are a few: (where the post will be).

My second blog was on a much lighter note.  Lucinda Elliot has a lovely lighthearted blog that talks of gothic tales and heroes that are allowed to have runny noses and heroines that are allowed to have some strength of character.  For her I wrote a bit about one of my favorite authors, Clive Cussler and his series starring Isaac Bell.  Staged in the early 20th century, this series has the type of characters I thought would be right at home in Lucinda’s world. A fan of Shakespeare and a citizen of Wales, she can be found on here: (where the post will be)

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Filed under My Bookshelf ~ Fiction, Stuff about Writing ~ Tips and Tools