Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zenith #A2Zchallenge

Zenith is for height, the pinnacle, but in my little A2Z world it means today, the last day of the 30 day challenge, officially 26 days. At the beginning I honestly thought I was crazy to commit to even one blog post a week. After losing virtually all of the first quarter of 2015 to the day job, my writing schedule had really suffered. I was forced to suspend writing on Dance of Desire so I could finish Blame it On the Moon the fourth book in my Destiny Paramortals series. I hadn't expected the new job to hit my time or my creativity quite so hard. I got maybe 200 words in three months.

Now granted these posts aren't my best work, not that I'm a great blogger anyway, mostly because I spend too much time wanting it to be perfect awesome, meaningful or whatever. During the A-Z challenge I learned to have fun, to write a short blog on a theme, to make time to do it, though I didn't have as much as I wanted to visit some of the other blogs - time, the vast list of A2Zers, and slow internet kept that from happening but I did discover a few new authors, some cool travel blogs, and an extremely well researched, well-articulated and thought provoking blog, the brilly blog, by a courageous and impassioned lover of humanity, Angie Brill.  No matter if you agree with her or not, you have to respect these attributes.

I love the feeling of accomplishing something that stretched me out of my comfort zone. Until you try you don't know if you can, so just start. When I self published my first book, my mantra was "I can do this". And I did. Every single day of the 26.
Yay me!

Did you do the challenge? How did you do?

(this post was late due to my satellite being down until after I went to work today.)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for York #A2ZChallenge

I will be sad not to be visiting York again. There were so many things about the area that made it special. The narrow bustling streets and shops, the friendly shopkeepers. The quaint bar we went into and got quite happy. It was happy hour US time, anyway.

Then the bus took us to Yorkminster cathedral. I wish I could see it again. The windows, the atmosphere were beautiful, but what I remember was how everything stopped when the bells rang. Everyone, everything stopped and became one with the silence. It was stunning. And I couldn't exactly take a picture of that. 

After visiting the shops and the cathedral a few of us visited the Tavern in Coventry where I sang a few songs for the locals. The bar was fairly lively for it being near midnight. They bribed me with an empty bottle of Sheep Dip Scotch. No lie. It sits in my living room to this day. If you get the chance to see York, don't pass it up. It's quaint and beautiful.


Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for Workspace #A2Zchallenge

Isn't that just the neatest work area you ever saw? I can't seem to make that happen, :)

My workspace below on the right and that's a close in view of where I am actually working right now.

With my day job workload so heavy for six or seven months out of the year, I had to come up with a way to eek out the words to finish book 4 in the Destiny Paramortals series. It's a multi-level approach.

January through March this year were complete loss, then I opened my seasonal business in late March and took a hard look at where I could get time to write and how to accomplish it. I get up early but there's the dog and the hubster and breakfast and anything that can be done on the internet has to be done before 8 which is when my bandwidth is limited in speed and volume. Then once hub leaves to go do his maintenance at SBP, I review my last page of work and decide on my next move.

Then I head to the bathtub with my little 5x6" notebook and my smooth writing navy blue pen. This is where I do my critical thinking.

Who am I kidding? I just fill it with hot bubbly and the characters are standing there waiting to fill my head with the next scenes, the next book, or something new. I can usually brainstorm where the story is going or write forward for about 30 minutes (if the water's not too hot). I'd post a picture of that but it's not a fancy tub or tubdesk or whatever. Now, that gets me around 550-1000 words depending. Then I get out, get dressed for work and head out for my 40 minute drive to work.

Now I have to preface this by saying, it's a long rural drive with fairly straight roads and I can mostly do this without looking... So I spend the middle thirty minutes of the drive writing further on my scene. Sometimes I can accomplish 1500 words in these two little jots of time. If I don't, I can't count on getting anything done at work or when I get home because it's usually after 8 and I'm exhausted and there's the dog, and the hubster...
So this week using this system I've written (I think around 6000 words, 38 pages of small college ruled handwritten notes. More on how I organize those scenes, get them into Scrivener later.

Where do you do your writing?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for our Veterans


[If you don’t have time to read the rest of this blog, would you please help, by either:

VISITING one of the sites listed on my vets resources page or at 
DONATE to the organization of your choice.

GIVE a copy of Her First Knight to someone or purchase it on Amazon. From today through Memorial Day all royalties of Her First Knight for that period will go straight to one of the charities on my page. Depending on the price of the book, that should mean around $2.50 per book.

STEP OUTSIDE your comfort zone, out of the malaise that says, “surely someone else is doing that” and do something to help a vet —take them to an out of town doctor’s appointment. Help fill out paperwork. Give the family members a helping hand, your friendship.

Our veterans don’t want handouts but they should be able to expect a LOT for their service, least of all what they deserve, medical care, jobs, support for their families, and respect. They should wander the streets or succumb to PTSD, TBI, and depression and take their own lives.

Yes, the statistics say that every day at least 22 veterans take their lives. it’s surely more since the way deaths are reported in certain states, some are treated as accidents, etc. but we’re talking at least one an hour. Visit to find out more or the Shepherd Center  One of the best articles I’ve read lately was called Veterans Come Home to Unprepared Nation, a News21 report. Please take 5 minutes and read this article or any media you trust to see the extent of the need of this vast community. Share the information. The need of post 9/11 veterans is considered an epidemic, and the waste and corruption that contributed to it have set the process back exponentially.

Like Ridge Romano, the hero in my book, said, “Every company and person in this country who is able should be giving back to the men and women who have given their lives and their commitment to us.” All of us.

Please think of what you can do in this next month when we remember all of those we we've lost and those who serve.

Please DON'T STICK your head in the sand. For a great informative blog on this subject and ways you can help go here.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

U is for Us #A2Zchallenge

Us is a much bigger word than you think. When you think of 'us' who do you think of? More than one, right? those aligned with you? standing beside you, those around you? How far does that circle extend? Is it within your living room? on your job? in your church? your town, city, state?

Or do you consider US to be outside of that, more global? If you think of it as U.S. how do you think in terms of united? Are you united with those you call 'us'? or is it a closed group?

The word Community used to mean people caring for and watching out for and including those around them. Now, in most places it's merely the neck of the woods you live in, more of a physical designation. Wouldn't it be great if we could begin to think of 'US' as every living being on the planet. I fervently believe that every thing that lives was created, born, exists with a purpose. And if we think with a unified 'unity of mind' we can see it. If we look for it in ourselves and expect it in each person and each animal and in every living entity, it's obvious.

US is all. Everyone, everything matters. We(us) should unite in our fight against hate, hunger, destruction or harm of any living thing. 

Next time you say the word us or we - stop! Reflect on how you can include more, accept more, add more others to your US.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

T is for Travel #A2Zchallenge

Picture “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
― Mark TwainThe Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

S is for..... Scotland!!!! #A2Zchallenge

Well I've seen that. But on this trip I don't care if I've seen it or not, I'm just glad to be going back.

I have some property in Glencoe I wish I could visit but if not, I'll be happy with Inverness, St. Andrews, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Nairns, and ANYWHERE else they want to go. I'll do without sleep to make the most of every day while I'm there. And next time I won't wait eighteen years to go back.

Is there some where that calls to your heart? Is it your hometown? I feel like that as well. I miss D.C. even though it's changed so much since I left home years ago. Maybe it's a place totally unlike where you live. Do you wish you could visit or live there?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for the Queen #A2Zchallenge

Picture It's been a dream of mine to get back to Scotland. The first time I had just read the first two novels in the Outlander series and was carrying Voyager with me. Also with me was a summary of what our family had come up with for our Scottish and Irish genealogy, a William Wallace, several Elliotts, and Robert Campbell. Armed with everything scottish (I thought), I begged onto an eleven day senior trip to England and Scotland.

Our first day, we got stuck in St. Louis due to weather so we arrived a day late to London, which meant we had decisions to make -- remember I was with teenagers -- whether to go to St. Paul's Cathedral or go shopping. Not my choice to make but when the choices came again in Edinburgh, I opted for doing the Royal Mile by myself, in the drizzling rain. It was totally, delightfully memorable. Tells you my state of mind.

I love Scotland. It feels like I belong there. I'm absolutely serious. I cried all the way home. Waa-waa. Well, now I get to go back and this time my friend and I are going to take advantage of the airfare and see some of Ireland, since we both have some Irish heritage. Since we're going to both countries we have to figure out what's the best way to do the money. Carry some cash, debit, coins. Are there lots of exchanges like there were in London (as I remember but that was 18 years ago) and do we get our money changed in the states while the dollar is strong or wait?

I thought I might get to see the Queen but apparently she's not at Balmoral during the time we'll be traveling there. Too bad. I'd like to see Her Majesty's Spunkiness.

Have you been to the UK recently? What did you see?

If you're blogging as part of the #A2Zchallenge please leave your link in the comment and I'll return the visit.

Here are a couple of other blogs I've visited that were intriguing and stylistic design too.

Try a Little Tenderness
A Field Trip Life
Vanilla Blonde
Life in German

Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Preposterous #A2Zchallenge

Picture Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.

– Herman Melville

Yesterday  I saw an article on poverty which stated that the U.S. is a world leader in poverty and homelessness in children. Don't you find this preposterous? If you google poverty and homeless children why do we only see images of children in less developed countries? Maybe we're ashamed that this 'great' nation let's it's own children suffer while we go abroad to help others. Not that that's not admirable, but something must be done by the most "prosperous" country in the world to see that this comes to an end. We must each search our hearts for what we can do. Give to a charity, work or donate to food banks which are stretched beyond their means. Write your congressmen.

There's a Native American saying about walking a mile in someone else's shoes. To his credit, an American Senator tried to live on minimum wage for a month and admitted he could not. Why is he the only one speaking up?

There's a very big elephant in our living room. But this is too important to allow him to remain a secret. Children...families... are starving.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

M is for Music and Magic #A2Zchallenge


Music is the strongest form of magic.
                                Marilyn Manson

Whether you're musically inclined or not, you've probably experienced what singers and instrumentalists do, that special zone that transports you into another space. It is pure magic available to every one with minimal effort, just an intention to be present with the notes, the harmony, the musicality of the performance, and the beat.

It is pure bliss. I need to pick up my guitar and go there more often.


N is for Need #A2ZChallenge

THE NEEDS of veterans...

Her First Knight may look like a sexy book and it is, but the theme behind my Under-Cover Knights books is the need for more understand, involvement and support for our veterans who have given everything to protect us.

In Her First Knight, Ridge Romano is pursuing his dream of helping veterans. Ridge is a billionaire inventor, an ex-soldier who lost his brother to PTSD after he lost his legs in an IAD explosion in IRAQ. He is putting together a consortium which will take over much of the VAs medical care by private companies.

Buffy just sees a guy who would make a great cover model. They have to learn to understand each other's work and compromise to make their relationship work.

In my research I was surprised to learn that more than 22 veterans a day commit suicide. The number is probably low due to the way some states report the deaths. Veterans still struggle with care, transportation, funds, paperwork, etc. etc. and family support while dealing with injuries brought about by their service to US. We should do everything in our power to support and help them get their lives back.

Today a group of men, the @shepherdsmen will run 911 miles from NYC to Atlanta with a 22lb jacket on their backs to call attention to those brave men and women who have lost their battles with ptsd and TMI and other issues brought about by their service. Please tweet and support and even sponsor or donate to this important cause. 

Periodically I run Her First Knight as a fundraiser and all royalties go to the support of wounded veterans. If you have a story or an idea or link of how others can help please post it in the comments. And if you know of a resource that should be added to my veterans resources page, please contact me at or leave a comment.

There is a special meditation program info session on Friday at Shepherd Center in Winston Salem for vets. You can follow the @shepherdsmen or the @shepherdcenter, which specializes in injuries for vets and holistic medicine, and please visit to see how you can help or boost the morale of a veteran. Be there for our men and women of the service and not just in the jumbotron moments.

Hard Days Knight, ex-soldier Luc Larue's story about his passion for teens is #Free Friday 4/17

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

L is for Learning #A2Zchallenge blog

Anyone who's done any creative writing can tell you if you do it long enough, your process changes. Or maybe it adapts to your new knowledge of yourself, the introspection and acceptance of your own particular way of thinking and creating.

There are plotters, pantsers, plantsers or plotsers, or mini-versions in between. 

When I started writing, I grabbed a composition notebook, opened it and began. No pressure, just telling a story. Then I started studying the craft of writing, listening to traditional publishing workshops, learning the rules. And following them. And until I decided to Self-publish, my process suffered. I thought to "do it correctly" I had to plot my stories first. And so began the struggle.

But last year during another challenge - Nano - which I've done every year since 2008, I discovered my true process is to sit down and let the characters tell their story. It's terrifying. And it's bliss when I make myself sit there and write, whether it's in the tub on a small notebook, on a legal pad going down the road, on my MacAir or on an ipad. Just write. 

Have you had an epiphany like this? Maybe you're a plotter who's tried to go by the seat of your pants. Writing is an individual as, well... each individual. But writers write

Monday, April 13, 2015

K is for kaleidoscope #A2ZChallenge


Objects often have memories attached to them. I have an old blouse of my mother's I wear when I'm thinking about her, a mixing bowl I got from a friend which never fails to remind me of her. So many mundane treasures that someone might ask, "Why does she keep this old stuff around?"

But this little kaleidoscope holds very special meaning. In 2005, my girlfriend and I met in Pass Christian and stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast across the highway from the beach. We ate at a restaurant where they served the lightest most exquisite blueberry pancakes I'd ever eaten. 

We attended at craft fair in Bay St. Louis a couple miles down the road where I purchased the kaleidoscope and visited a darling little book store with rooms for different genres, including a children's room and a kitchen full of cookbooks. It was wonderful. Our last night there we drove along the coast road taking pictures of some of the B&Bs, one in particular, we sat outside looking into the wall of front windows at the couples having wine and laughing, with not a care in the world.

Two months later it was all wiped away. Everything but the memories and the gratitude that we were able to share so many good times in that area before Katrina.

     Do you have things that hold special memories for you? It's hard to let them go, isn't it?

If you're blogging with A2Z April Challenge, leave a comment and your link.

Make a special memory every day.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Justified #A2ZChallenge

Yeah, the TV show. I am so sad this week's episode will be the final final one. If Raylan's smiling like he is in the picture on the left, you'd better keep your hands above your waist.

I'll miss this show with its stellar acting and the depth of story, with every character displaying both good and bad characteristics. it gives an added dichotomy to watching each week, when you know you find yourself routing for Boyd, or even Sam Elliott's character because he loved Mary Steenburgen's character (though I was routing for Wynn Duffy in the fight with him that did her in.

Now what is going to happen this week? Who's going to be left standing at the end? Even Art says he'll come after Raylan if he goes out gunning for Boyd on his own so anything can happen?

Are you a Justified fan? I've heard several authors say it's the epitome of great turning points. For me it's the dialogue and emotion and over the top characters and I'm really going to miss it. But it's one of those shows that gets better every time you watch it, so I'll be ordering another season on DVD. If you haven't seen it, you're in luck with all great seasons to watch.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

I is for Introspection #A2Zchallenge

I love Dean Koontz' writing and to find this quote of his when I was introspecting ;) was cool.

“The heart is an artist that paints over what profoundly disturbs it, leaving on the canvas a less dark, less sharp version of the truth.”
― Dean KoontzForever Odd

It reminds me of other advice from some of the craft books, Hooked, by Les Edgerton in particular that say the more we delve into our own psyche as a person, the better our writing will be. 

I've been thinking about generosity lately. I have a few extremely generous friends in my life who mean a lot to me. They serve as examples in how I'd like to be. So this week I'm concentrating on ways I can be generous.

Do you have traits, like kindness, tenderness, empathy etc that you wish were more present in your life? You don't have to answer but think about it.

Please leave a comment if you're blogging the A-to-a April Challenge and I'll try to return the favor.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

G is for Glasgow #A2ZChallenge

PictureKelvingrove, Glasgow I'll be leaving the wilds of Louisiana for the beautiful Isle Scotland on August 24. My girlfriend and I have been dreaming of another trip to Scotland since I visited in 1998 and didn't want to come home.

In the early nineties, we got hooked on the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. We both have lots of Scottish and some Irish background, doesn't everyone? There's have a great great great? grandfather William Wallace and a mess of Elliotts, an infamous border raider clan. And the Campbells are represented in the Storm Lake series in Campbell Green with Mystic Campbell. "To say I love everything Scottish," to quote Tempe in Storm Crazy, "would be like saying Katrina dumped a bit of rain on New Orleans."

One of the most exciting parts of my trip will happen on my first day in Glasgow – I'll get to meet two dear friends, Michael J Malone and Bill Kirton who also happen to be writers - crime writers. I get a blissful kick just thinking about it. Sometimes the Internet is too cool to fathom, isn't it? 

I've yet to meet a couple of my other writer friends from Canada but one day... the great thing about conferences and regional events is the opportunities to network with friends that you've only met online.

Have you met special friends on the Internet that you have never met? 

If you're blogging with the A toZ Challenge leave a comment and I'll check yours out too.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Meditation and Reflection

What do you see when you watch yourself?

I have a problem with overeating. No, this isn't that much of a secret. It used to be. You might not know it if you looked at me.  I'm only about - at most - twenty-five pounds overweight and that's according to my husband who thinks one of my favorite anchors on TV is overweight. She's not.

However, this was not always the case. I was headed for a dire outcome until I scared myself into quitting quite by accident. Now I eat more healthy but I still binge, usually on better food. But I live with it, and I struggle with it. Now, I don't realize I've overeaten until it's too late. It's like someone outside of me takes over when I get too hungry - other times I'm able to control it or follow a plan. If I have a plan in place with frequent meals at hand, I'm usually good. But when I'm busy or under stress I tend to wait until I get too hungry and then order whatever and shovel it. This is a problem I haven't been able to understand until maybe today.

I've been listening to a free meditation series, going this month for two more days - Osho Meditations for Busy People from the Mentor Channel.  I heard something that made so much sense. Osho discussed getting outside yourself - watching yourself as you go through your day. He said, "Watch yourself eat slowly. I'm going to listen to it again but essentially he was saying learn to observe yourself so that you can stay more aware of what your body is doing - instead of allowing it to win. See what you're eating, how you're reacting to people and situations, be aware.

This is not an easy thing for a person who is as easily distracted as I am, nor is it when you are very busy with work or responsibilities, which is another reason why I keep coming back to meditation.  So I guess this is about the bliss of discovering something that could improve my life, and health. Awareness. I'll keep you posted.