Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas!

While I'm blanching and steaming and roasting and toasting, here's my wish to all my friends who are celebrating Christmas 2016.

While I'm setting our table, calling the kids to bring those crackers I forgot to buy, deciding between cookies and pies for dessert, here's a song for all my friends who are celebrating Hanukah 2016.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

WEP December Challenge, Utopian Dreams

Our lovely hostesses are Denise Covey and Yolanda Yenee
What to play? Click HERE and find the Linky to other posts.

Utopian Dreams come in all shapes and sizes, but what better one to share with someone than perfect love. If only you'll love me, life will be a dream. 

Brandon didn't hear the faint knock on the door, but Lilly did, and her sharp bark alerted him to the visitor. She waddled to the entry and waited expectantly, dragging her tail across the floor. Brandon opened the door and faced the mirror image of himself.

The slump-shouldered, wispy- haired man, clutched a hat to his chest. He smoothed a few strands of white hair into place and waited until Brandon spoke.

"Bailey?" he had to search for his brother's name, but found it lodged behind some fifty years of trivia and television re-runs.

"It's me, all right." Bailey wiped his feet on the welcome mat and waited, but Brandon didn't invite him in.  Bailey looked away, rolling the brim of his hat then smoothing it again. "I came to tell you Lilly's dead."

Lilly cocked her head at the familiar syllables, and Brandon did a quick glance at her. Dead? And then it came to him. "Oh, yes. Lilly." He'd forgotten Bailey's wife's name was the same as his Spaniel and, for a moment, the reason he'd named all his dogs Lilly. "How'd that happen?"

"Heart. The doc said it sort of shriveled up."

Brandon dredged up the memory of the dark-eyed girl with the swishy pony tail and dove gray eyes. She'd captured the hearts of all the senior boys in the class of '56, but she only had those eyes on him, Brandon DeForest. Now he tried to imagine that young girl's heart wrinkled and contracted. Still.

"Condolences," Brandon said, wanting to be done with this conversation, but not knowing how to end it.

"She said she was sorry. I came to tell you that. She asked me to." When Brandon only nodded in silence, Bailey put his hat on and stepped away from the porch. "I'm sorry, too, if that matters anymore." At the sidewalk,  he turned and waved.

Brandon waited until his brother was out of sight, then he closed the door and leaned his back against it.  Lilly. They'd planned things together. They'd dreamed things together. They were the perfect couple. Once.

He opened the music cabinet and took out a well-worn record, blew across the black disc, then set it on the turntable. Lilly whined to be held, so he gathered her onto his lap and drummed his fingers in time to the song, his and Lily's song. Then, with his eyes closed, he dreamed again until the music stopped.

Life could be a dream, life could be a dream
Do, do, do, do, sh-boom

Life could be a dream (sh-boom)
If I could take you up in paradise up above (sh-boom)
If you would tell me I'm the only one that you love
Life could be a dream, sweetheart

Hello, hello again, sh-boom and hopin' we'll meet again

Monday, December 12, 2016

Late and Later

I'm late this morning with my Monday post for a couple of reasons. One, I stayed up last night to watch a cult movie that was filmed in Santa Cruz, my neighborhood. The Lost Boys was a 1987 vampire tale with Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Kiefer Sutherland, Jami Gertz, Corey Feldman, Dianne Wiest. I know the trailer looks grim, but this is one vampire movie you'll laugh through. Hoaky and fun. 

The second reason I'm late is about a little accident. It seems I've done in my right shoulder and to some extent my right hand and those five digits attached. I can only use that whole apparatus for a few hours before I have to stop, ice it, and down some pain killers. Long story. But I'm now in physical therapy and hoping for a quick recovery.  I'll be putting a lot of things on hold for a while, so I'm putting up the "Gone Fishing" sign until after Christmas.

The Princess of Las Pulgas is on sale for .99 for Christmas. Here's the coupon if you'd like to download it or share the sale. AU57U


I will post on Dec. 21 for the DECEMBER WEP, and I will try to get around to say Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and any other holiday you decorate for and celebrate--just a little slower than usual.

Quote of the Week: (tangential to my post!) "Men and women are like right and left hands: it doesn't make sense not to use both." Jeannette Rankin, America's first congresswoman

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

IWSG and How!

Thanks Ninja Alex

The awesome co-hosts for the December 7 posting of the IWSG will be Jennifer Hawes, Jen Chandler, Nick Wilford, Juneta Key, JH Moncrieff, Diane Burton, and MJ Fifield!

Talk about being insecure. Well, this IWSG post is the most insecure one I've ever done, but I wanted to test out something, and what better place than here among friends? That's what I kept telling myself. Anyway, in spite of my good common sense, I'm posting my idea this month. What you'll see is a work in progress with a rough draft of my first Instant Book. If you have some suggestions about how to use this as marketing tool or (Heaven Help Me!) how to create a video, I'd to hear them.

In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

Actually, in five years I hope to see two of my completed young adult novels published. To that end, last year I knuckled down and found an agent, Italia Gandolfo, then I sent her the two books. Now, of course, I'm waiting. But while I'm waiting, I'm finishing up my Alligators Overhead/Great Time Lock Disaster trilogy. So within that five years, I'd like to see these middle grade novels out as a package. That's the plan. Fingers crossed.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Holiday Kick Off with Lisa Cocca, #InkRipples, and Cookies

Well this is the last Featured Follower of 2016. I can't believe that the year is close to being over, but it will be an exciting end because Lisa Cocca is a good storyteller. I'm so happy to have her here for the month of December. 

Her book is Providence, and I've already read and reviewed it. If you want to find out more about Lisa, here's her WEBSITE. If you want buy her most excellent book, it's available on Amazon. With KindleUnlimited, you can read her story for free.  Email Connect peeps, she's offering a FREE signed paperback. 

Connect with Lisa on Facebook and Twitter 

#InkRipples is a monthly meme created by Kai StrandMary Waibel, and Katie L. Carroll. They post on the first Monday of every month with a new topic. They're all authors, but you don’t have to be to participate.

For about two decades, neighborhood did a spectacular Cookie Bake. I know what you're thinking. Everybody comes bearing a dozen or so special holiday cookies, and then swaps with everyone else--and a good time was had by all. Nope. Not even close.

Everyone came with three cookie recipes and all the ingredients. We started about 4 in the afternoon and wound up the last batches about midnight. In between, we drank wine, nibbled on a pot luck buffet and exchanged Cookie Bake stories. "Remember in '90 when we forgot the sugar cookies in the oven next door and smoke poured out the windows?"

Flour and sugar was involved in every part of the evening. And at the end we produced over 2,000 cookies and at least 30 different kinds. With the graying of the cookie bakers, the kids took over for a while, but then it was time to retire the tireless Cookie Bake. Now we have the memories, and each one is perfect, even the burnt sugar cookie night. 

Here I am ready to roll. It must be early in the evening because I'm not dusted with flour yet.

My neighbor and I are deep into the mixing here, and we're still smiling, so it's not midnight yet!

Quote of the Week:


Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving and Then What?

What comes after Thanksgiving? A hike, of course. If I'm thankful for anything is the chance to be out in a forest on a trail. And today was a perfect day for it. 

This is early with some overcast. No one on the trail this morning, except me.

I'm always on the lookout for poison oak and I never fail to find it. This little guy looks so sweet, but does it ever cause me suffering and itches galore if I touch it.

My shadowy selfie.

Rattlesnake grass. On a windy day, it gives you plenty of warning.

A bit sunnier as I head toward the coast.

A new pine sunning itself.

Dandelion looking up.

"The unquiet spirit of a flower
That hath too brief an hour." Ellen Mackay Hutchinson Cortizzoz

Along the trail there are always metaphors. Here's life's grand circle. Out of the dead stump a beautiful green bush thrives.

This is my last post about Gadget Girl and my November Featured Follower. It has been wonderful to share this author and her work with you. I hope you enjoyed meeting Suzanne and I hope you'll read and enjoy her books. Check out her AUTHOR'S PAGE

Congratulate the winner of Gadget Girl! Nicola at Burggraf's Blog is the lucky Email Connect follower.

Check back to find out who will be my December Featured Follower! Wow. The last author of the year already. 

Quote of the Week: “Trails are like that: you're floating along in a Shakespearean Arden paradise and expect to see nymphs and flute boys, then suddenly you're struggling in a hot broiling sun of hell in dust and nettles and poison oak…just like life.” 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thoughts about 2017 & Tara Tyler's Cradle Rock

Thoughts about 2017

For this past year, I've been thinking of retiring from blogging and writing. Yet, when I considered how many people I'd miss contacting each week, I couldn't. 
However, I have made a decision about how I'm going to blog. I always enjoy helping writers get the word out about their books, so I started my Email Connect, hoping that I could do that, but maybe even more effectively than with just a one time appearance on my blog. 

I realize that with this new plan I'll only be able to choose 12 authors each year, maybe only 11 because I'm going to take one month off for RandR and a bit of travel. But I hope the trade off--in depth and month-long support instead of a one-time blog post--will be worth their while.

For writers who aren't my Featured Follower of the Month, I'm always happy to 
  • do a Spotlight on my blog
  • add their book to Goodreads TBR
  • tweet
  • share on FB
  • visit other websites and comment
  • give Thunderclap support

In 2017, I'm hoping to write about other things besides books. I'd like to post on topics of interest to me and hopefully my readers. I'm working on that now, and am going to make a stab at it starting January.

I'd like to know what you think about my plan. I could use some feedback.
  • Hate it? 
  • Kind of like the idea, but not sure? 
  • Love it? 

Now, since it's still 2016 and I've not changed anything yet . . .

Tara Tyler has a new book out in December, and she here today to tell you all about it! It's all yours, Tara!

Add to your Goodreads TBR List
by Tara Tyler
Release Date: December 1, 2016

Welcome to the forest.
Gabe and his girlfriend Ona are headed in opposite directions for Spring Break. After finding out humans might be a real part of their history, Ona is determined to dig up evidence of them in the mysterious mountains at Camp Cradle Rock. Being a logical goblin, Gabe tries to talk her out of it, but there's just no reasoning with a stubborn ogress.

When Ona goes missing, Gabe and his friends fly to Cradle Rock to search for her and discover a village of trouble, igniting an age old war. His physical skills may be lacking, but Gabe won't give up. With the help of his diverse group of friends, he will find a way to save his girl and maybe all beastkind. Humans, bah!

And here's the book trailer! With sketches from my super fantastic inside illustrator, Laura Kramer.

Quote of the Week: The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance." Alan Watts, Philosopher and Writer

Monday, November 14, 2016

Email Connect Commercial & Double Negative

Commercial Announcement--This will not disappear in ten seconds, so don't fight it.

Email Connect (EC) is not a Newsletter. I have no news. 
"So what do you have?" 
"Thanks for asking." 

*A Featured Follower each month.
*Gifts and Giveaways. 
*Short, but hopefully helpful tips for writers and readers and other humans. (Next EC has some interesting stats on ads.)

Sign up today for your chance to win a digital copy of Gadget Girl by Suzanne Kamata, my Featured Follower in November. I'm reading it now and it's good!

I've been so neglectful of my Young Adult books lately, that I thought I'd give one a bit of press. So here's . . . the Story Behind Double Negative


#anT t# re#d #nd #nj#y # g##d st#ry? Wh#T #f y## c##ldn#t do th#t? W##ld y## b# fr#str#t#d? #ngry? S#cr#t#v#? 

You could probably figure out the message, but was it easy? Did it take a while to decipher the words, and when you did, did you forget all about meaning because you were picking through it so slowly you forgot where you were going? And what about the NO PRESSURE part? Did you ignore that?

Here's what it said:  Want to read and enjoy a good story? What if you couldn’t do that? Would you be frustrated? Angry? Secretive? Maybe act out with anger?

In 2010 I stumbled on an article that said in L.A. County 33% of the residents were illiterate or low-literate. That brought me up short. Wasn’t the inability to read an emerging nation issue? An issue in back-country regions of the U.S.? I guess not!

Bryant Doughtery is definitely Hutch. 
Hot and naughty. Lots of potential.

That article was the beginning of Double Negative. Hutch, then Fat Nyla and Maggie slowly evolved into the characters, then came Father Kerry, Moss and Meeker. All destined to play a part in a story about a kid who can’t read well enough to get through high school, but has the heart of a winner. All he needs is a pair of glasses and someone to believe in him.

Evernight Teen
"My life was going, going, gone, and I hadn't been laid yet. I couldn't go into the slammer before that happened." —Hutch McQueen.

Quote of the Week: "Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book." Anonymous

Monday, November 7, 2016

November Featured Follower & Our Heritage, #InkRipples

Meet Suzanne Kamata
The Write Game's Amazin Featured Follower for November

Buy on Amazon
Add to your TBR list on Goodreads

Aiko Cassidy is fourteen and lives with her sculptor mother in a small Midwestern town. For most of her young life Aiko, who has cerebral palsy, has been her mother's muse. But now, she no longer wants to pose for the sculptures that have made her mother famous and have put food on the table. Aiko works hard on her own dream of becoming a great manga artist with a secret identity. 

When Aiko's mother invites her to Paris for a major exhibition of her work, Aiko at first resists. She'd much rather go to Japan, Manga Capital of the World, where she might be able to finally meet her father,the indigo farmer. When she gets to France, however, a hot waiter with a passion for manga and an interest in Aiko makes her wonder if being invisible is such a great thing after all. And a side trip to Lourdes, ridiculous as it seems to her, might just change her life. 

And here's Suzanne

Suzanne Kamata was born and raised in Grand Haven, Michigan. She is most recently from Lexington, South Carolina, and now lives in Tokushima Prefecture, Japan with her husband and two children.

Her short stories, essays, articles and book reviews have appeared in over 100 publications including Real Simple, Brain, Child, Cicada, and The Japan Times. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize five times, and received a Special Mention in 2006. She is also a two-time winner of the All Nippon Airways/​Wingspan Fiction Contest, winner of the Paris Book Festival, and winner of a SCBWI Magazine Merit Award

This is how Gadget Girl begins. 

My father has blue hands. Or at least that’s what Mom tells me–one of the few facts I’ve been able to wring out of her. See, he’s the eldest sone of one of the last indigo producers in his village on the Japanese island of Shikoku His family has been growing indigo for generations–cuter, even–since back in the time of the shoguns.

“You were named after that plant,” Mom told me. “Ai means indigo. Ko means child.”
Indigo is my destiny.

Her next book arrives in 2017. The Mermaids of Lake Michigan.

Heritage is the #InkRipples topic for November

#InkRipples:a monthly meme created by Kai Strand, Mary Waibel, and Katie L. Carroll
Post on the first Monday of every month with a new topic. 

Thanks for the great gift, Mom and Dad.
And thanks for the heritage you passed on to me: the love of good food.

This is a cookbook filled with history and heritage of foods from the early immigrants to the U.S. Every time I make a dish, using this book, I learn more about the people who have helped shape our nation. 

Here's why pumpkins are so much a part of our Thanksgiving feasts. "For the early colonists pumpkin was often the difference between survival and starvation. It was fit for only the peasants, said Europe. But the Colonists soon overcame this prejudice, and pumpkin became an almost daily staple in the New World." 

Quote of the Week: "So long as you have food in your mouth,  you have solved all questions for the time being." Franz Kafka

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

IWSG Among Other Things

Brain Child of Alex J. Cavanaugh
The awesome co-hosts for the November 2 posting of the IWSG will be Joylene Nowell Butler, Jen Chandler, Mary Aalgaard, Lisa Buie Collard, Tamara Narayan, Tyrean Martinson, and Christine Rains!

I went back into my archives and found this post from 2011. Thing just don't ever change! Except the logo for IWSG is now different, and there's a question to answer each month. November's question is What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

The Insecure Writer, Me 2011

See these nails?  I stopped biting them just in time to save the fingertips and why? Because I'm an INSECURE WRITER; I need those fingers for the keyboard.

This is me when I was an INSECURE ACTRESS, biting my nails.  (Ignore the caption. Marilyn was always trying to get the spotlight away from me. I think she might have been more insecure than I was.)

I don't know which is worse, my insecurity on stage or what I'm enduring now. But I no longer look like the picture above. Here's a more recent one. 
Writer on the Verge . . . but of what?

Oh, I have me ups and downs. There have been days when I've seen myself with the Nobel prize for literature clutched in my nibbled fingers. I once thought I'd craft a Newberry Award acceptance speech just in case . . . you know the phone rang. But when a call came through on the day the award was decided, it was the vet telling me I could pick up Buffy.

This is my INSECURE WRITERS REJECTION week and I'm celebrating by joining the blog hop of other angst-filled-creative-finger nibblers. At last a support group.

Answer to the November Question: I like to be able to tell stories the way I want to. Writing is a control freak's best friend.

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Mysterious Moving Grave

What better story to tell this Halloween than one about a grave that moves! Don't miss out on the Rafflecopter entry. Take it away, Bish

Thanks for letting me haunt your blog, Lee! Today I’m going to share a scene that was removed from my book The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands. At then end, I’ll tell the “real” story.

Like any writer, I had to revise and edit The Bowl and Stone… a lot. I changed POV and tense more times than I care to admit. Whole chapters and scenes were ripped from the pages, each one tearing at my heart. But when three beta readers say the same thing, one has to take a serious look. This scene, along with others related to it, was removed because ultimately they made Sam and her best friend, Nick, look rather mean and petty, which is not what I intended. Here the friends are explaining about a grave they believe moves from place to place, to two tourist kids.


The Mysterious Moving Grave

     The two tourist kids were so annoying we had to tell them the story of the Mysterious Moving Grave. 
     "Once there was this really mean man," said Nick. "He was so mean nothing grew on his farm."
     "He was married," I continued, "and had three kids. He drank a lot and blamed them for his not being able to grow anything."
     "One night he got really drunk and went into a terrible rage. That's when he did it." Nick paused for effect.
     "Did what?" asked the thin, pale boy who looked like an albino salamander.
     "That's when he killed his wife and kids," he answered.
     "With a machete," I said.
     "Hacked all four of 'em to bits." Nick waved his arm like he was slicing something up. "Scattered their body parts all over his land. He thought it would make things grow."
     "Gross!" The girl covered her mouth with a hand and turned green as genip.
     "It gets better," I said. "He was caught and tried and they hung him right here at Gallows Point, which is where they hung all the criminals and pirates back then. Even though he was a bad man his brother wanted to bury him all proper, so he built him a small concrete tomb."
     Nick continued. "The problem is he's restless. He keeps getting out of his grave and wandering around Gallows Point with that machete, looking for the people who hanged him. People have heard him scraping his machete along the walls of the cottages, particularly the one you're staying in. And because he keeps climbing in and out of his grave, it keeps moving. Sometimes it's up near the road, sometimes closer to the genip tree."

The Real Story
Since we had to walk by the graveyard on an almost daily basis my best friend Jay and I kept tabs on a grave that appeared to move from the genip tree, up to the road, and back down to the tree. As children with prodigious imaginations, we made up all sorts of stories about it.

The truth is rather mundane. The grave did indeed appear to move, but not because a ghost was climbing in and out of the small concrete tomb. Back in the day the road past the graveyard was dirt and just wide enough for two Jeeps to pass. During the rainy season, usually the summer, the tall Guinea grass grew thickly along the side of the road, making the road appear narrower, making the grave look farther from the road. During the dry season, usually the winter, the grass died back, making the road appear wider, thus making the grave look closer to the road.

I don’t have any pictures of Jay and me as children. But here we are in our 20s in the windmill at Annaberg, a sugar plantation that has small but important role in The Bowl and the Stone.

OOOOooooooOOOOOOoooooo. Happy Halloween, everyone!

About the Book:

Pirates. Explorers. And spooky ghost hunters.

It’s 1962. Sam and her best friend, Nick, have the whole island of St. John, in the U. S. Virgin Islands, as their playground. They’ve got 240 year-old sugar plantation ruins to explore, beaches to swim, and trails to hike.

But when a man disappears like a vapor right in front of them, they must confront a scary new reality. They’re being haunted. By whom? And why? He’s even creeping into Nick’s dreams.

They need help, but the one who might be able to give it is Trumps, a reclusive hunchback who doesn’t like people, especially kids. Are Sam and Nick brave enough to face him? And if they do, will he listen to them? 

As carefree summer games turn into eerie hauntings, Sam and Nick learn more about themselves and life than they could ever have imagined.

About the Author

Bish Denham, whose mother’s side of the family has been in the Caribbean for over one hundred years, was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. She still has lots of family living there whom she visits regularly.

She says, “Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book. Columbus named the islands, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. The ruins of hundreds of sugar plantations, built with the sweat and blood of slave labor, litter the islands. Then there were the pirates who plied the waters. It is within this atmosphere of wonder and mystery, that I grew up. Life for me was magical, and through my writing I hope to pass on some of that magic.”

The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands, is her third book and second novel. You can find Anansi and Company: Retold Jamaican Tales and A Lizard’s Tail, at

Learn more about Bish:  Random Thoughts. Facebook. Twitter. Goodreads


Tomorrow is November 1 and that means my Email Connect Message will be going out. I have a new Featured Follower for the month, and some interesting stuff about Amazon algorithms and titles. Don't miss this one.

Quote of the Week: (In honor of election week!)  "There is nothing further away from Washington than the entire world." Arthur Miller.