Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Of Bicycles and Carriage Bells

Island Idylls: Stories of growing up in the Virgin Islands.

Tomorrow is my birthday so I thought I'd share a story about a birthday present I got when I was about 9 years old.

My sister, Erva, had gotten a brand new Reighley bicycle for her birthday or Christmas so of course I wanted one. On the morning of my birthday my father presented me with a bike he proudly declared he had built from the wrecks of three other bikes. It was clean and painted and looked like new. It even had a basket, which Erva's didn't, and handlebar breaks. But I was terribly disappointed, it wasn't NEW, as in bought at a store. Of course now I realize that bike was very special, my father had taken a great deal of time to MAKE it for me. How precious is that?

Anyway... at that time on St. John, 1959, bicycles had to be inspected and licensed at the police station. Once inspection was passed and a small fee paid, you got a real metal license plate (small) that hung off the back of the seat or was attached to a bracket on the rear fender.

Dad decided I needed to be responsible for getting it licensed, even though I have a vague recollection of Mom thinking I might not be old enough to handle this important task. He won, and off I went, riding my bike to the police station, which was just a few blocks away from our Mobil gas station/garage in Cruz Bay.

One of requirements - besides good breaks - for passing inspection was that there had to be a bell to warn people to get out of the way or to let vehicles know you were in their near proximity. Dad, being Dad, decided to attach a model T-Ford carriage bell in my basket. I could easily reach over the handlebars press down the plunger and a loud BING-BONG could clearly be heard, even above the noise of a Jeep!

When I got to the police station and proudly presented my bike for inspection, Captain Jergens, a tall slender black man with class and dignity, said, "Dis bell ain't de right kind. It mus' be a bell on the handlebar, one you push wid your tumb."

My bike had failed inspection. I was devastated and rode back to garage in tears. When I explained what had happen Dad became indignant. We loaded me and my bike in the jeep and drove to the police station where Dad explained to Captain Jergens that he wanted his daughter's bell to be heard. A weak bbrring-bbrring was not not his idea of a bell, "But this," he said, pressing down the plunger, BING-BONG, "will be let people know she's there."

Inspection was approved, I got my license, and me and my bike rode happily around Cruz Bay.


Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful that I've had another year on this wonderful planet. 
Here's to being hopeful that I'll have another one!
What are you thankful for? Did you ever have a parent make you a present for Christmas or your birthday? How old were you when you learned to ride a bike? Have you ever heard of licensing bicycles?

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Love That Disturbs by Medeia Sharif, Being Thankful

I'm pleased to say I've read a number of Medeia Sharif's books. Her stories have given me a glimpse into Muslim families and their lives. What I have discovered is that they are no more different than any other family. Families that are Christian, Jewish, or agnostic (put any label on family that you want) also battle alcoholism, drug addiction, peer pressure, or a host of other issues.

Medeia simply tells these stores from a Muslim point of view, a point of view that in this day and age is strongly needed and, by this reader, appreciated.

Now, in her latest novel, A LOVE THAT DISTURBS, she is tackling another difficult issue, one I am sure that has touched many families.

Evernight Teen, June 17, 2016
Purchase from Amazon (merchant sites will be updated on the author's site)

Maysa Mazari is alarmed by her mother’s talk about arranged marriage. As a hijab-wearing Pakistani-American, she wants to find love on her own. Her judgmental Muslim clique has protected her from racist taunts, although the leader is turning on her as Maysa strays from the group because of her attraction to Haydee.

Haydee Gomez is a former gang member and juvenile detention student. Now living with a clean-cut aunt, she wants to turn her life around, even though one person will never let her forget her roots—Rafe, her abusive pimp. Haydee attempts to pull away from a life of prostitution when she develops feelings for Maysa, although Rafe isn’t willing to give her up too easily.

Finding themselves in danger from Maysa’s friends and Haydee’s pimp, it’s apparent their love disturbs everyone around them as they fight to stay together.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

Being Thankful

Today I'm thankful for
Our house doesn't face west, so we don't see too many. But occasionally we're out and about at the right time of day and get so see some pretty nice colors. I don't have any pictures of these expansive Texas sunsets, but I do have some from the Virgin Islands.
For your viewing enjoyment, here are a few.

What are you thankful for? Have you read any of Medeia's books? Do you have any on your TBR list? Sunsets or sunrises: do you have a preference? 

Monday, June 13, 2016

It's the Angela and Becca Show!

By now I bet most writers who cruise these blogs know about the thesaurus series written by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. If you haven't heard of them and their books or their sites Writers Helping Writers or One Stop for Writers you may look to see if you're living under rock.

Angela has been of tremendous personal help to me, being a mentor and friend, so I'm always happy to help spread the word about the latest endeavors these inspirational ladies are launching. Today it's all about the newest additions to the Thesaurus family.

Take it away ladies!


As we storytellers sit before the keyboard to craft our magic, we're usually laser-focused on the two titans of fiction: plot and character. Yet, there's a third element that impacts almost every aspect of the tale, one we really need to home in on as well: the setting.

The setting is so much more than a painted backdrop, more than a stage for our characters to tromp across during the scene. Used to its full advantage, the setting can characterize the story's cast, supply mood, steer the plot, provide challenges and conflict, trigger emotions, help us deliver those necessary snippets of backstory...and that's just scratching the surface. So the question is this: how do we unleash the full power of the setting within our stories?

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000046_00067]Well, there's some good news on that front. Two new books have released this week that may change the description game for writers. The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to City Spaces and The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces look at the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds a character might experience within 225 different contemporary settings. And this is only the start of what these books offer writers.

 In fact, swing by and check out this hidden entry from the Rural Setting Thesaurus: Ancient Ruins.
And there's one more thing you might want to know more about....

Becca and Angela, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their double release with a fun event going on from June 13-20th called ROCK THE VAULT.

At the heart of the Writers Helping Writers site is a tremendous vault, and these two ladies have been hoarding prizes of epic writerly proportions.

A safe full of prizes, ripe for the taking...if the writing community can work together to unlock it, of course.

Ready to do your part? Stop by Writers Helping Writers to find out more!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Origins, Question of the Month, and Being Thankful - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and moreOrigins is an every-once-in-a-while recurring post in which I delve into the history of a word or phrase.

Today's phrase is: Nothing to sneeze at.

I used this the other day in a comment I left on someone's blog. As soon as I did, I thought, "I wonder where that phrase came from?" And so now, after doing a bit of research, here I am with an explanation.

There was actually a time in 17th and 18th centuries, when it was considered polite to sneeze in good society. Of course good society consisted of the well to-do and aristocracy. So the more you sneezed, the more polite you were. But sneezes are involuntary and spontaneous, so how was a person supposed to sneeze politely on demand? Thus it was that snuff entered the scene. One could stuff a bit of snuff (which was finely ground tobacco) up one's nose and politely sneeze when one wanted to.

But being able to sneeze at will wasn't enough. One had to be able to sneeze for a reason. Sneezing became a part of the conversation among men, a way of showing one's disapproval or disregard over something said, or to express boredom.

The first written example of sneezing in this manner appeared in the 1806 novel, A Winter in London, by Thomas Skinner Surr.

“A word in your ear,” said his lordship: “Do you know, I have quite changed my mind about that business since I met the marquis. He tells me that it’s a sort of thing a young fellow of my expectations ought to sneeze at."

Thus, NOT to sneeze at something has come to mean that something is really worth while. The first written example of the phrase comes from the 1799 play Fortune's Frolic, by John Till Allingham.

“Why, as to his consent I don’t value it a button; but then £5000 is a sum not to be sneezed at.”

And there you have it, the history of sneezing in polite society.

I joined this monthly bloghop because answering thoughtful/challenging questions is one way to expand one's mind. Hosted by Michael D'Agostino at A Life Examined ,  the question this month is: 

Of all the places in the world that you haven't yet been to, where would you like to go next?

I've done some traveling, particularly around the U. S.

I've been to the Grand Canyon (camped at the Havasupai Indian Reservation twice) Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Death Valley. Been mountain climbing in the Rockies, seen the redwoods. I've seen the Grand Tetons, Bryce Canyon, and Carlsbad Caverns. I've visited places like Roswell, New York City, Washington D. C.(and the Smithsonian) San Francisco, and L. A. to name a few.

Since I live in Texas, I've explored the Alamo and the San Antonio River Walk, walked around Austin, been to Galveston and South Padre Island and driven across the state (north/south, east/west) more than once...

I've also had the opportunity to visit other islands in the Caribbean, St. Lucia, Antigua, Curacao, Puerto Rico, Barbados, St. Maarten/St. Martin. Plus, in 1970, went to Caracas, Venezuela.

Lastly, a few years ago, as some may remember, I went to the Netherlands and had a fabulous time.

Still, there's one place I'd dearly love to visit and spend a least a month or more. Scotland. Why Scotland? I have deep ancestral roots there and would like to go to the towns and villages where my ancestor was born and walk the streets he walked. I'm not sure, at this point in my life, if it will ever happen. Still, it's a dream and a nice one at that.

Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for sunshine. 
After all the rain and weeks (yes weeks) of overcast skies, it's nice to see blue again and stars at night.
What are you thankful for? What do you think about sneezing in polite society? Have you traveled anywhere special? Is there some place you'd like to go? If there's a word or phrase you'd like me explore for Origins, mention it in the comments!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

She's Baaack! IWSG and Being Thankful

Hello, it's me! (Shades of Todd Rundgren.) Yes, I'm back and I couldn't ask for a better day to return to blogging because I'm full of insecurity.

Posting the first Wednesday of every month, The Insecure Writer's Support Groupis  the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Let's give our co-hosts  a warm welcome! 
Murees Dupe, 
Alexia Chamberlynn, 
Chemist Ken, and Heather Gardner!

To my utter amazement I got done those things I wanted to get done, despite a few storms both physical (rain, hail etc.) and emotional.

In my last post I announced I was sending off my latest novel (The Bowl and The Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands) to my editor (I worked with Chrys Fey and she did a fine job) for final corrections and suggestions. Got those back and have plugged them in. Plus, my fabulous cover artist, Adrienne Saldivar, is working up a cover. I was totally stumped about what to do, but Adrienne has, yet again, come through with a concept I know I'm going to love.

Something else that happened is that I was interviewed by Andrea Milam (she's a free-lance writer and editor) for St. John Tradewinds a local St. John (Virgin Island) newspaper. Couldn't have happened at a better time!

So what do I have to be insecure about? Well see, it's like this . I'm going to have to ask people to help spread the word when it's cover reveal time and when the book is released. (Because it's a ghost story I'm aiming for October.) I'm also going to have to ask people if they'd be willing to review it.  Plus there's promoting, which means being prepared to write guest posts and maybe do interviews. Oh, and I still have to write an author's note, book blurb for the back jacket, get it formatted, make sure I've got all the right ISBNs and... and... try to remember what the heck I'm supposed to do next.

Mark Twain by GH Jones, 1850
So, my quote for today is from the one and only great Mark Twain. Yes, that's him as a lad. He's holding a printer's composing stick containing the letters SAM. He looks spunky, determined, and bit mischievous to me.

To succeed in life you need two things: ignorance and confidence. 

This could easily be changed to say: To succeed in writing you need two things: ignorance and confidence.

Therefore, even though I've gone through this process twice before, I'm still ignorantly confident of what it takes.

Being Thankful

Today I'm still thankful for RAIN!
During the month of May, traditionally our wettest month, we had over 10 inches! 
Year to date: over 23.
The river that runs through town is finally up and has even left it's banks a couple of times
(though not seriously.)
Yes, yes, yes. 
Very thankful for the rain, 
for the lush green the likes of which we haven't seen in 5 or 6 years,
for a yard busting at the seams with flowers, 
for the aquifers being recharged, 
for wells filling, 
for the river and creeks flowing.
What are you thankful for? Is there anything you're ignorantly confident about? Are you forging ahead to do something even though you're scared or... insecure? Any suggestions about what I should do when it comes to promoting? 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Taking a Break, An Announcement, and I'm a Winner (again!)

Co-hosting the A to Z Challenge and then May's IWSG has left me breathless. So... I'm taking the rest of this month off.

There are things I need to get done.
An Announcement

I've been quiet about my writing for some time, as I tend to hold my writing cards close to my chest. Suffice it to say, I'm at that stage where I'm about to send my latest book off to my editor, and to get a cover made. I need the rest of this month to get those things going.

Are you curious?
Here's one possible logline: In 1962, on an isolated Caribbean island, two 12 year-olds are haunted by a ghost seeking redemption.

Here's one possible tagline: Two kids and a ghost...A haunting tale from the Virgin Islands.

The Title: The Bowl and the Stone
A win!
I'm thrilled to say I won a copy of Parallels from Tamara Narayan.

What if the government tried to create the perfect utopia? Could a society linked to a supercomputer survive on its own? Do our reflections control secret lives on the other side of the mirror? Can one moment split a person’s world forever?

Exploring the fantastic, ten authors offer incredible visions and captivating tales of diverse reality. Featuring the talents of L.G. KeltnerCrystal CollierHart JohnsonCherie ReichSandra CoxYolanda RenĂ©eMelanie SchulzSylvia NeyMichael Abayomiand Tamara Narayan.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will expand your imagination and twist the tropes of science fiction. Step through the portal and enter another dimension!



Release date: May 3, 2016
$14.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 218 pages, Freedom Fox Press
Science Fiction/General ( FIC028000) and Fiction/Alternative History (FIC040000)
Print ISBN 978-1-939844-19-4 eBook ISBN 978-1-939844-20-0
Order through Ingram, Follett Library Resources, or from the publisher
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

“Pensive and manifold views into parallel earth not without a glimmer of hope.”
- Edi’s Book Lighthouse

Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for a little time off to move one step closer towards publishing my next book.

What are you thankful for? Are you taking a break any time soon? Won anything lately? How are you at writing tag and/or loglines? 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

IWSG, Cover Reveal, and Being Thankful

Posting the first Wednesday of every month, The Insecure Writer's Support Group, is  the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Let's give our co-hosts  a warm welcome! Stephen Tremp, 
Fundy Blue, Viola Fury, MJ Fifield,Loni Townsend, 
Susan Gourley, Stephanie Faris and 
Bish Denham (Yes, that's me co-hosting. If I lose my mind I'll blame on the A to Z Challenge!)

In an effort to keep these posts short I will be sharing a quote.

Albert Einstein at the age of three (1882)
Isn't this the cutest picture?

Today's quote is from:

Albert Einstein, no introduction needed.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.

Today I'm thrilled to help C. Lee McKenzie show off the cover of her latest book, 
You can read my review HERE.

Summary: When a wall of their cave hideout crumbles, three boys discover a skeleton, clutching a treasure map. They set off to trace the story of an old murder, but stumble into a modern crime, and confront ancient Chinese dragons.

Bio: C. Lee McKenzie is a 4 & 5 star reviewed author. Her greatest passion is writing for young readers. Sign of the Green Dragon is her third Middle Grade novel. Alligators Overhead and the sequel, The Great Time Lock Disaster were her first two. She has traditionally published four young adult novels: Sliding on the Edge, The Princess of Las Pulgas, Double Negative and Sudden Secrets

Want to Read Link: Goodread:

Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for COMPASSION

Kids compassion
I particularly like the last line.

What are you thankful for? Any thoughts on the quote from Einstein? Does it ring true for you like it does for me? Have you read Lee's latest or have it on you TBR list?