Welcome to my world and beyond...

A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: August 26, 2012

Last full week of August--nearly in the books. Hope everyone had a good week.  For anyone who doesn't know, Six Sentence Sunday is a bloghop--one of the friendliest ones in existence. Participants post six sentences of their writing, then the fun begins. Participants hop from blog to blog, sharing opinions, critiques and encouragement.  We know what a solitary pursuit writing is--and Six Sentence Sunday is a great way to meet other writers and take a break from our solitude. Complete rules and a sign up form are at the site here.

This week, returning to ATNS.  Marissa, playing hide and seek with her toddler-Gavin, has just experienced a blinding light and a disorienting noise while hiding behind a shrub. Her last sensations were falling, intense pressure, a hard landing, and blackness.

"She opened her eyes, then blinked hard, trying to get her bearings. Sharp cold stung any exposed skin and seeped through her clothing; she shivered.  A quick survey did nothing to clear her confusion—bare metal walls, rusted in places, with nothing to indicate where she was. The same with the floor beneath where she lay. A panicked thought of Gavin had just begun to form when it was brought to an abrupt end."

That's it for this week's snippet.  Any and all comments are received with gratitude and graciously acknowledged.

Have a great week, :-)


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Thank you For the Circus, Reldon...

Today,  a pillar of the community died. He was 92 years old.  He did a lot of things, and most of them involved giving back to the community in which he lived. His list of accomplishments and generosity is long.

But, for all the things he did, his legacy--in my eyes, is how many children's lives he touched with the simple act of giving them the circus.

When I was a child, a right of passage always occurred at the end of the sixth grade school year.  The date for the field trip to Pittsburgh to see the Shrine Circus was announced.  Every sixth grader in the school district was invited to attend; it was a gift  to us, celebrating our graduation from grade school (as we called it then) and moving on to the big Jr.Sr. High School the following autumn.  Reldon and his wife, Hattie, saw to it--that we each got to experience the big top.  And none of us spent a dime to do it.

Somehow, it was so appropriate...marking the end of one stage of childhood--where we'd still enjoy the circus.  By the end of the following year, we'd all be teenagers and far too mature for anything so childish.

It was May of 1972.  Big yellow school buses lined up in front of the school on a Saturday morning. The number of students attending numbered nearly 300.

The day was a really big deal. A HUGE deal in fact.  I can't really recall a lot of the circus details. But I vividly remember seeing the tall buildings of Pittsburgh come into view as we neared the northside. 

That was pretty exciting to me, and no doubt, exciting to many of the other sixth graders.

Our school district, 40 years ago, was still mainly a farming community.  What wasn't farms was rural anyhow, save for the small town up the street from the school, and one area a bit more affluent on the western edge of the district. 

The day came and went, and the thrill with it.  Years came and went, relegating my circus memories to somewhere far in the back reaches of my mind.  Still, I never forgot.

When my younger son was in middle school, he and Reldon's grandson became the best of friends.  I knew it was the kind of friendship that would endure for a lifetime.  

The group of friends spent so much time together, it was  inevitable that I would cross paths with Reldon. It happened  when he was well past 80 years old.  He didn't know me from Adam, but the day presented an opportunity for me to strike up a conversation with him. 

I thanked him for the trip to the circus. He seemed briefly confused. I delved into greater detail about the sixth grade, the buses, seeing Pittsburgh, how grateful I was, and that I had never forgotten it, and "Thanks for the circus."

He seemed taken aback.  He had given so much to so many, it must have been hard to keep track of it all--or maybe, he just wasn't the kind of person who even tried to keep track. He just gave for the simple act of giving.  I suspect the latter.

But, a little bit later, I heard him talking to his daughter, mother of my son's friend.  He said, "You see that girl over there?" I saw him point my way. "She thanked me for the circus." 

The image of his smile when he spoke to his daughter is imprinted in my mind.  It's a lesson I never want to forget.

Reldon didn't give us the circus for the recognition, or even for the thank-yous.  But, when a thank you came his way, and even though it took decades for him to have it said to him, it touched his heart. That moment in time, the joy he had so generously given to others, came back and revisited him. 

Remember little kindnesses...even if it's years later.  If you feel gratitude, voice it.

Rest in peace, Reldon.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Writing Tools: The Writer's Diet

"Owly" over at "Letter Go" found a really useful writer's tool. The Writer's Diet

Visitors to the page paste in up to 1,000 words of their work, and it then generates feedback based on word usage. It targets specific areas of writing--namely, verbs, nouns, prepositions, adjectives/adverbs, and it/this/that/there.  It's meant to help a writer get rid of unnecessary words.

My personal opinion?  It is helpful. Not a panacea for writing ills, but a tool in the writer's arsenal.  It's a new set of eyes on the things a writer is blind to: his own work. It highlights things that might be bettered if changed--or eliminated.

You don't have to register, and it's free. You might find it useful--you might think it's a waste of time. Either/or, here's the link:  The Writer's Diet Test When the results come back, remember to scroll down to see the highlighted words in your text. It's easy to miss since it's below screen level until you scroll down.

The disclaimer on the website:

ATTENTION USERS: Please note that the Writers Diet Test is an automated feedback tool, not an assessment tool. The test identifies some of the sentence-level grammatical features that most frequently weigh down academic prose. It is not designed to judge the overall quality of your writing — or anyone else's.

Happy dieting ;-)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: August 19, 2012

Six sentence Sunday is a great, weekly bloghop.  Talented participants post six sentences (or very close to that number) of a current writing project to share with their readers.  Then the fun begins--visiting blogs on the list and commenting on other six sentence posts.  It's a great way to meet other writers, get feedback, and help others by visiting their posts, lending ideas and support.

You can visit the list of participants by clicking here at Sixsunday.com  

My post this week is from my WIP, ATNS, where I've skipped a few paras of a hide and seek game Marissa is playing with her two year old son. It's her turn, and this is what happens:

"Marissa ducked behind a clump of mountain laurel, then stumbled in pain.  Her ears began to pound, and from above, there was a blinding beam of blue light.  The drumming noise was disorienting—seeming to come from everywhere. She couldn’t think, couldn’t see, the light so bright it forced her to shut her eyes. A feeling of pressure was followed by her body shifting, tumbling…falling. Thud.  Blackness."

What happened? Any comments and criticisms will be received with gratitude and graciously acknowledged.

Please, visit other sixers...and join in the fun.  :-)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday: August 12, 2012

Welcome to another Six Sentence Sunday post. SSS is a blog hop that anyone can join.  Participants link their blog to the main site here at SixSunday.com which is also the site for signing up--and entering your name on the linkylist so that you can be found by other sixers.  The rules for posting are on the site.

Join in the fun. The Six Sunday is a great group of writers!

This week, I'm back at my WIP, ATNS.  Marissa has just begun to dream--dreams that seems to come in memory form.  This dream bridges the last actual memory she has before two years of her life became a gap of nonexistence.  Her hope is that the dreams will lead to the answer of her missing years.

Any comments or criticisms of this description of hide and seek  will be greatly appreciated and graciously acknowledged.  Have a great week--and happy reading.

Chapter1: Abduction

“Go, Gavin!  Run…hide!  Ten… nine… eight… seven… I’m almost ready to come and get you! Seven…six…five…”

Giggles came from behind a permanently mounted grill where the two- year old stood, no doubt sure he was invisible. Above him,  puffy cotton clouds drifted in an endless expanse of azure sky.

Marissa laughed and then winked at her friend. “I love playing hide and seek, don’t you, Tammy?” She looked the opposite direction of where Gavin, wide-eyed  and giggling, hid in plain sight. “Four…four…three and a half…three…two… one… ready or not…here I come!”

Monday, August 6, 2012

Next Big Thing Challenge

 M.L. Falconer  , a wonderful writer, recently participated in the Next Big Thing Challenge.  This is a fun way for writers to connect and learn a little about each other.  Writing can be such a solitary pursuit--it's nice to take these breaks.

M.L. is not only a talented writer, but a super nice person, as well. Go on over--click on his name above,  visit him and check out some samples of his writing.  And say hello while you're there. :-)

I was fortunate that he thought of me when it came time to select other participants to pass the torch to.

The rules of this challenge are simple:
  • Answer the 10 NBTC questions below
  • Spread the fun and tag 5 awesome people to participate.
So, here we go!
1.) What is the title of your book/WIP?  "Across the Night Sky"

2.) Where did the idea for the book come from? Straight from my head..from a brain that developed on a steady diet of Star Wars, Star Trek, Love Story, Lost in Space, The Waltons, Starman, Cinderella, and The Sound Of Music.  My husband likes to tease me that it's Star Wars meets Little House on the Prairie ;-)

3.) What genre would your book fall under? Fiction. *blush* I really can't neatly place it in a box.   It has  fantasy elements...and romance...  and mainstream fiction.  And much of it takes place on a number of worlds across the galaxy.  So, I could add scifi elements to the list, too. And...Aurthurian legend.  No box fits. :-)

4.) What actors would you choose for your characters to play in a movie rendition? Scott Elrod, maybe, or Souleymane Sy Savane. Will Smith--but, he might actually be too old for the part.  And if I could cast Dwayne Johnson (the Rock) but have him learn Ralphe Fiennes's acting skills, perfect. Marissa I see as Michele Monahgan.   Abraxum is (and I am so sure about this one) Michael Clark Duncan.  I want to add that Dante's Prayer would play in snippets throughput the movie, and The Calling's "Wherever You Will Go" would play at the end when theatergoers are already crying. :-))

5.) What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? Homeless and delusional, Marissa Kradel struggles to grasp reality, get back on her feet,  and get visitation of her four year old, without slipping into the fantastical belief that her dreams of an alien abduction and love born across the night sky are the answer to  two missing years of her life and her missing newborn child.

And. lol, I really don't think I can do this without writing a run on sentence! 

6.) Is your book published or represented? Neither.

7.)  How long did it take you to write? The first, very, very rough draft took 4 months--150,000 words. Unfortunately I knew nothing about the nuts and bolts of writing.  (I now know a little).    The first draft was written between October of 2005 and February of 2006. :-)  It is the first in a series--or could stand alone.  The characters were talking to me after I finished the ATNS--they wouldn't shut up. I was compelled to continue with the series.  So I rolled right on. I didn't slow until about midway through the third book.   During my first editing pass--and after a professional editor had read ATNS (one of those "winds of fortune" things that she was a friend of a friend--she liked the story, but was critical of all my overwriting), I had to learn what overwriting was.  Oh my. I immediately sliced out 30,000 very unnecessary words.  And yes. You read that right. A professional editor viewed my very, very rough draft--and I had no idea just how rough  it was. *still embarrassed*.   My mom kept telling me to send the first book to a publisher. I finally did, in 2008.  It took 3 months to get my first rejection letter.  I was undaunted, but also completely disorganized, very scatterbrained about what I was doing, and had made no advances toward learning technique or even the most basic things necessary to be published. All the while, the ebook revolution was swirling, changing the publishing landscape faster than I could get my feet settled. I promised my mom I'd get it published, and looked into Lulu. It was to have been her Christmas gift in 2010--a signed print copy--"to my biggest fan". But mom died in November of 2010. I also lost my job that year.  I spent the next 7 months, unemployed, searching for a job in my field, and writing. I wrote a half a million words while I was unemployed and struggling through my grief. And I went into serious sponge mode--interacting with the online writing community. I absorbed. 

If you read my six sentence Sunday posts, you know that not too far back, I reached an epiphany about my writing. And I've returned to the original book--a deeply emotional choice, and have begun to edit it (again).  But this time, I'm armed with a lot more knowledge about the writing craft. Part of this edit is bolstering one of the two concurrent story-lines in ATNS.  And, reminding myself that giving up passion in lieu of technique is a deathknell to a writer.  And, since the bolstering involves new writing. I had to include this whole long spiel to explain why I started writing it in 2005 and am still writing it in 2012. :-)

8.) What other books in your genre would you compare it to? I can't list a single book that answers that question--and I've given it lots of thought. I know that somewhere down the road, I will need to figure this out. 

9.) Which authors inspired you to write this book?  Colleen McCullough. Yes. bitterweet. And Ray Bradbury and Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Erich Segal... William Shakespeare and Rosemary Sutcliff .  Shakespeare and Sutcliff  probably a bit more than the others. The love, the hurt, the loss and longing.  The politics, the intrigues, the treachery, the honor and duty.  

10.) Tell us anything else that might pique our interest in your book. Hmm...well, the whole book is written as two story lines. One is the here and now.And the other storyline takes place in her dreams. The reader has to figure out if she  is crazy, or if her dreams really are memories. 

Now to pass the “Next Best Thing Challenge” on to other writers (the rules state to five--but I've been a rebel all my life ;-)whom I'd love to learn more about  Here, I have to just put this out there. There isn't an author with whom I interact that I wouldn't like to know more about. And I think my online "community" of writers are all awesome. Really. Having said that, if you're reading this, and you'd like to participate on your own blog, just leave me a comment--and a link so I can find my way to your blog and read about you and your WIP. :-)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Six Sentence Sunday August 5, 2012

Hope everyone had a good week. It's August already! Time is flying.

Six Sentence Sunday--for anyone who doesn't know, is a blog hop. Participants post six sentences from a piece of their writing.  Participants then visit other participants by clicking on their links on the linkylist, or clicking on their photos on comments following posts.  Be sure to sign up at, and link to the official Six Sentence Sunday .

This week, back to my WIP, ATNS.  Homeless, Marissa, has just gorged herself on four (took your advice, Jess Shira ) hotdogs she dug out of a trashcan behind a restaurant. She is settling down for the night in a crumbling old factory--feeling fortunate to have roof over her head.

This snippet is a bit long, but I'm wrapping up her waking hours.  Next week I'll be shifting into her dream sequence.

"She lay down on her bed, no more than pile of rags—old coats and a tattered blanket.  Gazing out the now shut window, as her eyes adjusted to the deepening night, the few brightest stars appeared.  Looking at them, she was overcome with hope.

Maybe this time.  Maybe Rayanne was right.  Gavin, her missing baby, a job, respect, looking in a mirror without seeing shame staring back.  Her life.  Maybe this really was the start of getting it back.  “Please…if there is a god--and  and you’re  listening, help me find my way back to the world of the sane.”

Her eyes grew heavy.  Survival was hard work.  Her breaths became even and deep, and any tension left in her body escaped as she relaxed into sleep."

All comments and criticisms accepted with gratitude. 

Have a good week, all. :-)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Book Review: Bridging The Gaps by Kate Warren


Bridging The Gaps by Kate Warren

A timeless tale of love, pain, humor, and alcohol...

Ellen Pritchard thinks the world is over now that her husband has left her. If only that were the case. Instead she's forced to confront her fears and find who she is all over again while dealing with troublesome teenagers, an alcoholic son, and a man from her past who just might offer a second chance for both of them if Ellen can find the courage to take it.

With her eldest daughter and a group of unforgettable friends to lean on, Ellen will learn that "that which does not kill us" is life, and love is always worth the risk."

From the back of the book: 

Meet Ellen:
Ellen is forty-eight years old, a little on the chubby side, and has just been left by her husband of twenty-five years for his younger (and blonder) girlfriend of six months, a girlfriend Ellen didn't know about and who doesn't know that the new man in her life is still married.
Meet Ellen's Kids:
Stephanie, the oldest, is trying to find a balance between offering support to her mother and striking out on her own; DJ (Doug Jr.) is a college student whose grades are slipping in part because of his being too fond of alcohol, and who spends his spare time lusting after his dad's girlfriend; Matt and Melanie are fifteen-year-old twins--Matt spends most of his time keeping his head down and going with the flow as best he can, while Melanie dreams of getting their parents back together and starts sneaking around with an older boy.
Meet Doug:
Doug is a jerk, but jerks have feelings too.
You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll probably want to beat the heck out of Doug. 

Set in the fictional small town of Troy Falls, Wisconsin, Bridging The Gaps features a cast of warm and humorous supporting characters and follows Ellen through the mire of divorce, the rekindling of old friendships, and the realization that "that which does not kill us" is life.


Now, my review:

In the opening pages, we meet Ellen Pritchard.  And her life has just fallen apart. Her high school sweetheart husband of over two decades--father of her four children, has just left her for a much younger woman. This is her story.

Not only is it Ellen's story, but like in real life--divorce affects many more than just the couple calling it quits. It's the story of everyone involved.

Her children--two young adults and 15 year old twins, each grapple with the whys, blame, and denial.

Ellen lives in a small town where everyone knows everyone. And she has a wonderful group of friends--wacky and sweet, who support her emotionally as she climbs her way through the many stages of standing back up and finding her life. And nudge her toward rediscovering Henry, a man from her past--decades ago.

This book was generously sprinkled throughout with bits of life--the triumphs, the tragedies, the joys, fears and disappointments. Everyone has them. They all cause gaps in our lives. And if we aren't careful, we won't take a chance that can build bridges across those gaps.

Warren has well developed characters who behaved quite properly. They displayed more morals than many of the characters I've recently read. The pacing is steady. And her voice made me think of classic writers such as Jane Austen.

Good book, has the heart of "The Steel Magnolias", and Ellen Pritchard's hometown sometimes felt like Mayberry RFD.


About the author:  Kate Warren's prose shows her intelligence, but even more so, the sense of family and community  instilled in her while growing up. As a writer from a large family living in small town America, her values come though in her words.  They are tempered by the wisdom learned through life--that sometimes bad things happen to good people, and vice-versa.
Her life is very busy:  She has been married for 13 years; is the mother of three sons--all on the autism spectrum, and one daughter. She squeezes in precious writing time between being wife, mom,, and extreme advocate for her sons--assuring they receive the best education possible.
Admittedly, I am so lacking writing this Bio.  Kate is an amazing person--we've not yet met in the real world but I've had  online interaction with her for some time. I've read excerpts of her writing on her blog, and was not surprised at just how good her book was.

And Kate has this wonderful sometimes dry, sometimes deadpan kind of humor. I urge you to read her Bio on her website to learn more about her--and get a feel for the wonderful author she is.

Author Kate Warren


Where you can find Bridging the Gaps for sale: