Thursday, October 19, 2017

October Meeting

Our October meeting is Saturday, the 21st at Blue Umbrella Books, 2 Main Street, Westfield, MA.
A few Wordsmiths have contacted me to let me know they will be unable to attend. A few others who were unable to attend last time will be there this time.

Melissa Volker has come down with a virus so her discussion is postponed, Here's hoping she will be feeling better soon! I work in a medical office and we've been seeing a lot of upper respiratory virus lately. Thankfully it passes in a week or so- rest, fluids...and lots of good books to curl up with!

Looking forward to seeing as many of you as can make it!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

National Novel Writing Month

Hi all.

I know some of you expressed interest in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) at last month's meeting. That said, I wanted to let you know I'm hosting an info session on Friday (20th) to talk about NaNoWriMo and answer any questions you might have. It'll be at 6 o'clock at Blue Umbrella Books. Or you can catch me after the meeting on the 21st.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

In Which I Gush

I just want to take a minute this evening to thank the WhipCity Wordsmiths who are a cohesive, collaborating, cooperative, competent, group of writers, authors and others who jump right in with both feet to promote the literary arts in this community (and surrounding communities, too, when called upon!)

When Artworks of Westfield, Inc. opted to sponsor an event during the upcoming PumpkinFest I was called upon to book the authors for the Art & Authors portion of the plan. As soon as I put the word out that we were looking for authors I had responses- all Wordsmith members. When Shawn Flynn realized he was already booked elsewhere on the 14th he contacted me and recommended an author acquaintance of his who readily agreed to take his place when I emailed her. We had five authors, originally, and then Geri Johnson expressed interest and we had room so she was onboard as well.

To get that kind of enthusiastic response on fairly short notice- and to have so much solid talent signed on is nothing short of amazing. I am incredibly thankful to our authors who will be with Kelly and me on the 14th, and also thankful to the authors who expressed regrets at being unable to attend because they too were previously booked elsewhere. The support and camaraderie of this group is beyond belief!

So, please excuse me for gushing this evening when I say "Thank you so much!" to all of our authors for putting their hearts and souls not only into their writing but into volunteering, making themselves available, jumping onto the bandwagon,...for everything you do in addition to having taken WhipCity Wordsmiths as a group and making it your own.

Also, a special thank you to author Melissa Volker who is always there when I need her. Our late night messages back and forth always cheer me up. She has gone above and beyond for the Wordsmiths by volunteering to speak at our next meeting. And for stepping up to fill a gap in the Ghost Stories LIVE! permanent cast and agreeing to read on October 28th despite a previous engagement in eastern MA that day that she will have to leave early from. I owe her so much for all she does I'll be in her debt for the rest of my natural life!

Bill Westerlind has also been terrific, masterminding the events that Artworks of Westfield, Inc. will be sponsoring during PumpkinFest allowing me a walk-through of the Old Town Hall to preview the author space, for his enthusiasm and support of local authors and everyone else involved in this event. His quick responses to texts, messages, and emails have been most helpful.

I also should thank Andrew Curran for sending me his book and other writings which I am thoroughly enjoying. He has so much energy and talent!

Considering we've only just come together for the first time as a group this past month, we're already making things happen- and I'm grateful to each and every one of you for being the totally amazing, creative, I go again! You're the best and the highest praise I can give you is to say I am proud to call each and every one of you a WhipCity Wordsmith!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Writing Again

After spending most of this year revamping the interior text layout of ALL my previous books, and updating the covers to make the books look much more polished and professionally published, and then creating 7 smaller volumes of Christmas stories (3 stand alone novellas- The Winter Solstice Ball, A Major Production and The Red Velvet Suit and 4 small collections by type of story- Family, Inspirational, Past and Present- Christmas With the Family, Christmas Inspirations, Christmases Past and Christmases Present), and then doing two stand alone novellas for Halloween- The Girl With the Ivy Tattoo and The Magic of Cross and Crowe, plus totally redoing a 9-12 year-old age group chapter book (Isabel's Initiation) and another novel geared toward new adults (The Unwilling Witch) that had previously been published under a pseudonym, also both suitable for Halloween, I am finally buckling down and getting back to writing new stuff. I think I've basically written only some ghost stories this year and put together some story anthologies of already written material. Oh, and then I put together the mother/daughter creepy story anthology Disturbing also which is a collection of fourteen of my ghost and horror stories, and five of Kelly's ghost and supernatural/paranormal stories. This should be available at Pumpkin Fest on the 14th also.

Well, I did finish writing the second novella in Bending Birches, but it was mostly written so that really shouldn't count as something new since it took less than a weekend to complete.

The sequel to Black Knight, White Rook has been percolating in my brain pan for a little while now. On Sunday, the first of October, my favorite month, I began writing it. I've averaged about 5,100 words a day (yeah, that includes working 8-5 at my regular job, coming home, eating dinner, and then writing until 11:30PM the past two nights.) I'm satisfied with the direction the book is going. Already a lot has happened. The characters are about a year and a half older than they were in the last book. Romney and Ivy have a fourteen month old daughter. Ezra's about to start kindergarten. And a group of disgruntled black arts practitioners in Castleton has begun a reign of terror on the Black King and his White Queen and their family (and friends).In the first and second books Ivy has grown into her destined role as Queen, and she continues to grow and evolve in this book. But we'll also see more of Romney as King because he is furious about his family being endangered by this group. He's grown up among these people and now he's crossing swords with them. He has always thought of them as friends, but they are now his enemies. It's not an easy job being king, as he's finding out in this book.

I have a Nano novel to write starting November 1st, so I hope to get this one written before the end of the month! October is busy with an author appearance at Pumpkin Fest on the 14th, an author event for the official launch of Out on October 21st followed by the next meeting of the writer's group WhipCity Wordsmiths when the author event is over. I need to write a new ghost story this month for Ghst Stories LIVE! which will be held on October 28th. I'm also helping put together a second Ghost Stories LIVE! anthology in time for that event.

Busy bee me!

Oh, a few months ago I was driving through town and saw our infamous mechanical clock tower open at high noon (I believe I wrote about that previously.) The clock tower inspired a novel idea by the time I pulled into my driveway less than fifteen minutes later. Well, I made several false starts on that novel, but beginning on November 1st, I will finally be writing that werewolf (lycanthrope, actually) novel as my NaNo novel. Let's see if I can write The Clockmaker's Son in 30 days or less!! I love a good writing challenge!!

It feels so good to be writing again!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

October is Almost Here!

By the end of this coming weekend October will be upon us!
There has definitely been a shift in the air today. Last night I walked out of a meeting at 8:30PM into 82 degrees humid heat! Ugh! Tonight, there's a crisp coolness to the air and a breeze with an 18 degree drop in the temperature compared to last night! The still green leaves on the oaks are rustling as I type this with the kitchen windows open, but I had to close the door as it was too cold sitting here with the breeze coming through the door.

October 14th is the Fall Family Festival/Pumpkin Fest event downtown. I want to thank the Wordsmiths who contacted me about table space for this event in the old Town Hall- Kelly, Sandy, Geri, and Sonia. We'll also have Connie Bombaci from CT with us (courtesy of Shawn Flynn who suggested her in his stead as he was already engaged on the 14th for another event.

For this event, Kelly and I collaborated and created a co-authored book of tales that we titled Disturbing. I've been self publishing Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales and Ghost Stories since 2015. My stories have Miss Peculiar's byline. Kelly has chosen to call herself Miss Spectyr (her choice of spelling). It was fun picking stories, many of them unpublished, for this volume which features the eerie eyes of our linden tree in the front yard gazing back at the reader from the cover. Had to hunt through a gazillion photos on the computer to find this shot- it's creepy...and disturbing!

On October 21st I'll be at Blue Umbrella at 2PM to discuss my somewhat different vampire novel, Out. In Central Europe, vampires have been being outed (involuntarily and then voluntarily) over an eight year or so span. A man whom Irina has had a crush on since childhood has come out as a vampire- but that hasn't swayed how she feels about him any, despite her father being a member of the anti-vampire group the Silver Sword Society. Irina works for Dimitra Chernova, a late night talk show hostess who has a reputation for provoking her guests and putting them on the spot. That's about all I will say here about the book except that it's a romance, a social commentary on intolerance toward certain groups, and a smidge of horror.

Immediately after the author event at Blue Umbrella will be the WhipCity Wordsmith's October meeting. Melissa Volker will be leading a talk on how authors need to engage their audience at read-ins and author events to increase interest in the book and make more sales. I probably could use her advice prior to the meeting, but I'll do my best- and then learn some more from her afterwards for the next event!! Be sure to bring your periodic table element notes so you can write during the meeting!

On October 24th, Kelly, Melissa, and I will be on Bob Plasse's Tuesday morning radio program on WSKB 89.5FM broadcast from Ely Hall at Westfield State University. I have no clue what we'll be talking about but I'm sure some of it will be about books!! If Kathleen Palmer is thrown into the mix it ought to be a crazy morning! I've known Bob since my 13 years working behind the counter at Conner's, Inc at 34 Elm Street.

October 28th is the next edition of Ghost Stories LIVE! at Blue Umbrella, a recurring ghost story telling/performance art event hosted by Russell Atwood and Pugsley, the Fiendish Ghost. This will mark the one year anniversary at Blue Umbrella for this event. I've been fortunate enough to be a cast member since last October. I enjoy writing new ghost stories to read. Russell put together an anthology last year, and I'm hopeful there will be a second anthology this year! Kelly and Melissa have also participated in Ghost Stories LIVE! for which they've also written and read new ghost stories. It's a great event, gaining in popularity.

What else is happening in October? It's the perfect time of year for cemetery crawls (Kelly and I are taphophiles who like to photograph old cemeteries), visiting haunted houses to chase ghosts, dancing with witches, chasing werewolves across the fog-shrouded moors, hunting vampires, and so forth. Whatever it is that you like to do in the fall...even if it's jump into a humongous pile of crisp, brightly colored leaves, and then go back inside to toast your toes before a crackling fire while sipping apple cider or hot chocolate- well, enjoy!

Flawed Periodic Table

Unfortunately I failed to scrutinize the periodic table attached to your homework assignment (preparing for the October writing at the meeting). I just chose a nicely tinted version. Kelly was looking at it last night and realized that it's flawed. However, it's just an example. If you go online and Google Periodic Table there are plenty of them out there to help you choose and element and come up with reasons why you and that element are a close match.

If you didn't receive your advance paperwork for October's writing assignment in the meeting it will be coming via snail mail shortly with the next newsletter.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

September 23rd Meeting Notes

Today was the inaugural meeting of the WhipCity Wordsmiths, a group for writers/authors. The meeting was held at 3PM at Blue Umbrella Books in downtown Westfield, an indie bookshop that hosts author events, pop-up shops, and meetings regularly. They are a strong supporter of the arts in Westfield and we're lucky to have Blue Umbrella in our community!

The meeting began with a long distance phone call from Wordsmith/author Mike Walsh from the Northeast Kingdom (northern VT). Mike called to wish me luck with launching the group and to show his support for his fellow Wordsmiths. It was incredibly thoughtful of him to call...and we'll work hard to find a way to connect him via Skype or facebook live or whatever means we can at the October meeting.

Susan moderated the inaugural meeting, reviewing the statement of purpose/mission and welcoming the 16 people in attendance today. A half dozen or so more had contacted Susan or Kelly prior to the meeting to express regrets for not being able to attend- and that is fine. That's what this blog is for, to keep us connected when we can't be together in person.

After reviewing the expectations and other general information, like how the WhipCity Wordsmiths have a valuable resource we can tap into in the non-profit group Artworks of Westfield, Inc. (a group that supports all the arts and culture in Westfield) and a brief discussion about the upcoming Fall Family Festival/Pumpkin Festival (where authors have an opportunity to promote their books and do readings) we went around the table introducing ourselves and giving brief biographies as to who we are and what we've done or hope to accomplish in the field of writing.

We discussed how no one should feel inadequate because they haven't published anything or haven't even really written anything yet. This group is for writers at all levels and is a source that can be tapped for feedback, help, support, encouragement, coping with writer's block, dealing with feelings of frustration and self doubt, for bolstering self confidence, for finding the writer within and channeling it outward into print. Melissa spoke up and told the group that no one should begin a sentence with, "I don't know if this is any good or not," or "I'm not sure I did this right..." There is no right or wrong, there may be good and bad, but put it out there anyway. You cannot move forward as a writer if you take hesitant steps.

Writing is a craft. Very few can pick up a pen and write beautiful and profound things instantly. It's a skill that is honed over time. You have to have the desire to write within you. If you have that desire burning within you then you need to let it out. It may scorch and burn the paper at first, but from the ashes of those first written words there will arise a phoenix in its own good time.

And that is where the support of people who have that same burning passion comes into play. Writing is a rather solitary art form. Most of the time very few people see an article, a chapbook of poetry, a novel, an anthology, a song lyric being written and developed- they only see the finished product, and even then they have to commit to reading the words before they can experience the art of the written word employed in its creation. It's very different from watching an artist paint a picture. It's different from watching a sculptor chisel a form from a block of marble, or a metal sculptor weld pieces of metal together into a new form. The literary arts require a reader to commit to reading a book and react to it cerebrally and viscerally. We'll touch upon how to draw the reader into your work at a future meeting.

Favorite words were brought to the meeting, written on an index card, or written on a card at the meeting if the member was new (there were three new members who joined this afternoon, and one that had joined this morning). The cards were folded and put into Kelly's deadman's hat, jumbled up and then passed around. Wordsmiths were given 5 minutes to write whatever they wanted, including their selected word from the hat in whatever way they wanted.

We went around the table and read what we had written. It was interesting and amazing to hear what can be done in five minutes with a word drawn from a hat. It shouldn't have been so surprising since we have a group loaded with talent, but still, you never know what will come out of a writing prompt! Well done!

Melissa Volker talked a bit about author readings and will expand upon the topic of how to amp up an author reading at the next meeting. She will be next month's moderator.

Ironically the next WhipCity Wordsmiths meeting is scheduled for Saturday, October 21st at 3PM, one hour after my author event for the launch of Out, my new vampire novel. But, Melissa has already planted a seed in my brain, so this reading should be better than previous ones.

Sandy Sessler contributed a box of MaMa Cakes mini cupcakes as refreshment at the meeting which was much appreciated! Yummy X 10!!!

Russell Atwood filled us in on Pumpkin Fest, what's happening at Blue Umbrella that day, the next Ghost Stories LIVE! event on Saturday, October 28th in the evening. Russell is also working on a new Ghost Stories LIVE! anthology with new ghost stories contributed by Melissa Violker, Justin Baillargeon, Kelly Buffum, and Susan Buffum.

Glen Ebisch will be doing a talk on current women mystery writers at 2PM at Blue Umbrella Books on October 28th. I was at his history of the mystery genre and really learned a lot! If you're able to attend, please do so!

The meeting concluded with some socializing. Some members had to leave, but other stayed and chatted, catching up on what's new.

Overall, the meeting was well attended, and everyone participated and offered something, which is how the group is supposed to work.

Members in attendance today were Susan Buffum, Kelly Buffum, Patty Wright, Sandy Sessler, Joyce Collins, Judith Foard-Giucastro, Guiseppe Giucastro, Lynnmarie May, Melissa Volker and Lex Volker, Lindsay Stenico, Andrew Curran, Glen Ebisch, Susan Foley, Richard Rubin, and Russell Atwood.

New members today include Patty Wright, Richard Rubin, Susan Foley, Judith Foard-Giucastro and her husband Guiseppe Giucastro.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Wordsmith member Wayne Weatherwax's wife Sally who will be undergoing another surgery and recovery and rehab. We wish her all the best.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September Meeting Reminder

I am the Queen of the Auxillary Brain- the "brain" being little pieces of paper habitually residing in my pockets with reminders of things I mustn't forget.

There was a sticky note in my pocket when I got home from work this afternoon to remind me to post a reminder about Saturday's first official meeting of the WhipCity Wordsmiths. I am both excited and nervous. I'm not much of a public speaker. I'm a writer. The outline of the meeting I mailed out looks intimidating, but looks can be deceiving. I breeze through things pretty fast, and am not immune to constant interruptions (I work like that every day!). Anyway, I had the note to remind everyone about the meeting at 3PM at Blue Umbrella Books, 2 Main Street, Westfield, MA on Saturday, September 23rd, in my pocket. Too bad I didn't write myself another note not to forget my phone that was charging in the smaller kitchen at work- I went home without it. John (my husband) gave me a lift and on the way we encountered photographer Danny Nason snapping some pics of gorgeous mums at Pignatare's Farm stand on East Mountain Road- where we've been buying our fresh veggies every summer since we moved here in 1989 (from the haunted house in West Side.) So, grabbed my phone and charger, came home and...

...had a brainstorm! I figured it was time for a mother/daughter anthology to happen. I had started putting some ghost stories together, and Kelly has been writing some for Ghost Stories LIVE!. So, together, we've put together an anthology of our ghost and other weird and disturbing stories. I am Miss Peculiar, and she is Miss Spectyr, but we haven't quite agreed on a title for the collection yet, but hope to have it available at the October 14th Fall Family Festival and Pumpkin Carving Event where she and I will be among the local authors offering books for sale, and maybe doing some readings in the former Carson Center/Old Town Hall opposite the green. Judith "Sandy" Sessler and Sonia Ellis, two more of Westfield's fabulous authors will also be at this event with their books. We also are lucky to have CT author Connie Bombaci and her therapy dog, Judea. Connie has a book about her previous dog and talk about what she and Judea do as well as her book. She's an acquaintance of Shawn Flynn's. Shawn graciously connected us so I could offer her a chance to come to Westfield for this event.

Want to know a few curious and interesting facts? Three of the WhipCity Wordsmiths live in the same neighborhood on the same street! Two sets of Wordsmiths are mother and daughter. Two Wordsmiths are sisters. Four Wordsmiths are involved or have been involved with Ghost Stories LIVE!, a recurring event at Blue Umbrella Books that will next take place on October 28th. Four Wordsmiths are members of Artworks of Westfield, Inc. One Wordsmith is President of Friends of the Westfield Athenaeum. One Wordsmith has just started college at another Wordsmith's alma mater. All together, members of WhipCity Wordsmiths have written over 100 books!

I'm sure I could come up with even more facts, but it's getting late- the tree frogs are singing their lullaby with a cricket chorus as backup, with the occasional trill of a mockingbird and the rhythmic hooting of a great horned owl. The greenwood at night is alive with the sounds of natural music!

What was my point here? Oh, right! See you all (as many of you as can make it), plus visitors, observers, and maybe a drop-in author- who knows- on Saturday!

Hey! Don't forget to bring your favorite word on the card that was in your last newsletter mailing! (Bring your imagination too, tuck it in your back pocket on your way out the door!)

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Got your attention? Hi all. I have been out of the loop for a few weeks working on so many different projects ... life is fun but man oh man it can be fast!

Anyway, I am settling back into a routine of tempered normalcy. For some background about me for the folks new to the group and for the rest of the folks who don't know much about me, I serve as the President of the Friends of the Westfield Athenaeum (that's a library!). Did you know the Athenaeum is NOT a public library? Well, it is public in access of course but it is not entirely publicly funded. The city does provide some funding but the library is not a city department ... confusing yes? An endowment provides a large chunk of the operating budget. The Friends group raises funds to support the many FREE programs and services offered by the Athenaeum. No Friends? No Museum Pass Program, no Rosetta Stone Language program, no Children's & Adult Summer Reading programs, no Adobe Creative Cloud SaaS program, no books for the Boys & Girls Reading Clubs ... you get the message. The Friends recently contributed $40,000 to the library renovation project. The group is very important to the health of the Athenaeum and I feel very strongly about the importance of libraries so ... I contribute lots of time and energy.

I am also involved in the ArtWorks of Westfield Inc. organization. We want to bring more arts and culture to the city. We are young and steadily finding our way. There is so much artistic talent in and around this city ... you are all examples of the mountains of creativity in the area. ArtWorks is a work in progress that will be a smashing success (think Easthampton City Arts) once we ramp up and gain some operational traction. Good things happening in Westfield.

I work full time as a business development analyst and manage an investment portfolio that one day will allow me to retire and focus on the fun stuff in life.

Back to FAKE NEWS! The Friends of the Westfield Athenaeum group is sponsoring a special speaking engagement called Sniffing Out Fake News! on Thursday September 28th at 6:30pm in the Lang Auditorium at the Athenaeum. Dr. Kyle Moody, Assistant Professor in Communications Media, Fitchburg State University is the featured speaker. He has been doing these talks for several months in eastern and central MA, mostly at public libraries.

Admission is FREE, thanks to The Friends, but seating is limited so registration is recommended. If I don't see you at our inaugural WhipCity Wordsmith gathering, perhaps I'll see you at Sniffing Out Fake News!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Revisions Can Be Daunting, but They're Necessary

In late May 2015, I self-published my 2014 Nano novel, Medea, which was an extended version of a Halloween story I'd written for Kelly when she was in middle school. Since she had grown up and was graduated from college and already in the work force by 2014, I grew the story up to her new age level- so it went from middle grades/high school level to young adult/new adult/adult level.

Of course I'd known nothing about self publishing when I tackled the project. CreateSpace offered two free copies of your Nano novel in 2014, and extended the deadline of the offer to the end of May 2015. For years my family had been pressuring me to publish something. So, I jumped onto CreateSpace and created the novel- and it totally sucked the first time around. To be honest, even with Kelly's help, it wasn't much better the second time around after cover color revisions so the reader could actually see my name (I hadn't realized I had color options for backgrounds and fonts-duh!) Kelly had put headers in and page numbers, but the interior was sloppy- the text not justified so it was all over the place down the sides of the pages. The spacing was too close, the chapter headers were bold and size 14 which was acceptable, but started at the top of the page, which according to Writer's Digest judges is a no-no. Chapters must start about halfway down the page- or so I was told when my self-published novel submissions were critiqued. I did a lot of things wrong, but the judges enjoyed the stories-and that year (2015) that was all that mattered to me, that W.D. judges liked the stories. I could fix all the cover issues and interior layout issues they found fault with- but I would have thrown in the towel if they'd hated the stories!

Medea was published under a pseudonym. It's languished in the background for two and a third years. All my other books- both novels and story collections- have all gotten more interesting covers with text you can see and read easily and some have new images on the covers because now I am taking some of my own photographs and using them instead of using stock images CreateSpace offers. All of these books have also had interior layout revisions- and believe me, I've studied a lot of book interiors to figure out what looks best. I was also chastised for not having an author photo by W.D.- I was like, who the hell wants to look at me? They're supposed to read the story, but evidently readers have some curiosity about what the author looks like. I took a hundred selfies and use the one I like best- so I will be eternally fifty-seven- end of story there.

I have grown in leaps and bounds as a self-published author. Whereas it used to take me days to put a book together, now it takes me at most, two hours, depending on how pokey the CreateSpace website is on any particular day. I have the entire interior text file ready to upload, the back cover text written, and the image I want to use chosen. I simply plug it all in in the correct places, and then fiddle with the background, box, and font colors until I'm happy and the book looks appealing to me, like something I would snag off the shelf and dive into.

The most tedious part of the whole process remains the revisions. Ugh! I have some editing and proofreading help still living at home in Kelly, but I tackled the Medea mess on my own. It took four days to slog through the currently 195 page book. At 55,000+ words it just makes it to the novel classification level. Flipping through the book I grabbed as my proofreading/editing copy, the pages are literally awash in blue Flair markings and scribbles. When doing a revision I want to do it right the first time through and not have to go back to fix things like continuity errors, grammar goof ups, and punctuation issues (always a thorn in my side!)

I thought everything was fine when I uploaded the file for the revised book in June of 2015. WRONG! I have been through the self-publishing self-educational mill and I'll be recycling all earlier versions of the book. It's going to be self-published under my real name and have a new title when it's finally finished. Victoria Bell is no more. She's retired from writing. I'm carrying on.

The big lessons I've learned is that no matter how many times you've read your story, manuscript, novel, etc. you need to step back, put it aside, and then read it again because there are imps at work screwing with your hard work. Your eyes get tired. Your brain sees what you think you wrote, not what you actually did write. Read your work with fresh eyes and a rested brain and be prepared to groan and roll your eyes a hundred thousand times. Have a pen in hand with a full ink reservoir. Suck it up and get the revisions done. You'll be a better person for doing it- and a much better writer, too.

Envision yourself as a writing warrior. The blue pen is your sword. Wield it judiciously, not foolishly. Misspelled words, grammar errors, punctuation issues, continuity mix-ups- these are your enemies who will challenge your power as a writer. Strike them down with the Sword of Revision! The words remaining on the battlefield are your story, your victory. Your name on the cover is your banner- you are the champion of what you have written. You can be proud of your win.

No one likes going into battle with their own manuscript, but if you can't afford an editor and or proofreader, it's a necessary fight because if your book doesn't look good, it reflects negatively on you because it's your name on the cover and no one else's.

When you're done, high fives to you all around! (That's where the camaraderie of your writing peers comes in because your friends and family who do not write will never understand what it is like to be a writer, but other writers will completely understand and support you.)

Monday, September 4, 2017

It's WhipCity Wordsmiths Launch Month!

Well- here it is four days into September, and nineteen days until group launch day! I'm both excited and nervous as I never in a gazillion years thought I'd be starting a writer's group. We have a great group of writers and authors with a wide variety of experience and backgrounds. It ought to make for interesting meetings!

I'm looking forward to the 23rd of September. If anyone reading this post is interested in becoming a member, please feel free to attend the meeting and complete your membership application then. People interested in joining, but who are on the fence about it, are also welcome to come and observe, and participate if you decide this group is for you.

 If you're looking for a structured group that writes to prompts and then sits around critiquing one another's work...well, there will be just a little bit of that going on. If that's all you want to do, there are plenty of groups like that in the area because western MA is rich in writers and always has been. We'll do some writing, but we'll also do some mentoring, and have discussions about publishing- traditional routes and self publishing, agents- whether or not you need one, how to improve your manuscript so it looks as professional and polished as possible before you self publish or send it off for consideration, thinking outside the box, and a whole lot more. There will also be a chance to socialize with other writers and authors for mutual support and camaraderie. You can hook up with a beta reader who will give you feedback on your work before you proceed to self publish it or send it off into the publishing world. We'll share info about upcoming events where authors have a chance to showcase their work and meet and greet the public. We'll note any upcoming contests that might be worth entering also. Exposure is a keyword not only for well known authors but especially for local authors.

 WhipCity Wordsmiths is much more than a sit around the table and write to prompts group. We're a network of people with a passion for writing and the written word in all its myriad forms. All members are expected to participate and bring something to the table at meetings. It's a member driven group- not a follow the leader group. You are each a unique, talented person with something to offer, windows to throw open in the minds of your fellow writers. We will all grow in our craft like beautiful flowers blooming and blossoming in the fertile soil of our collective imaginations!

Not only are we Wordsmiths, but we are local writers and authors who support local authors and writers at all levels in their craft.

We are the flint that will spark ideas and ignite creative fires!

See you on the 23rd of September at Blue Umbrella Books, 2 Main Street, Westfield, MA at 3PM.

Friday, August 25, 2017

August Musings as the Month Winds Down

I haven't posted much here and I apologize. I've been working on several projects I needed to get done- a little tweaking to Bending Birches and Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs. I wasn't happy with my first choice of fonts for the covers, so I pulled the books and changed the fonts to something easier to read. I also cleaned up a few things in the interior copy- I despise autocorrect! It does not know what word I want so it just changes my words on a whim or caprice. When you want the word confirm and it changes it to conform- uh, NO! Fixed it along with a few commas and missed or extra words- the usual stuff that gets past the review process. Now I'm more satisfied with those two books. Out went through four proof copies, multiple revisions and readings before I finally let it go out into the world...and I'm a little sick of reading it right now, so if anyone has the black cover version with the deep purple roses and smaller font (not all capitals) that is not the fourth proof copy, let me know if you find any errors!

Next, I want to thank Glen Ebisch who sent me his newest book, The Open Window, to read (and I will review it also) this week. I started reading it the other night and said, "Oh, my God! It's a fictionalized Westfield! It's my alma mater (WSU, where I majored in criminal justice and minored in English, graduating in 1980!) Weird coincidence! And- HOLY MOLY! One of my best friends at work is the twin sister of our Chief of Police's wife- so when I read about the Chief in the novel, I can't help but think of our real Chief! I know it's all fiction, but it's shaping up to be a fun read for me with its often just on the edge of familiar setting!

I did three beta reads this month. Two manuscripts went back to the authors with scribbles, comments and a few emojis over because I can't read anything and not mark pages up- my home library is full of big publisher brand novels that I've marked up the interiors of as I've read them. I'm not always right, of course- I am not a professional editor...I just have habits developed over years of fiddling around with my own stuff and now Kelly's I hope no one takes my OCDism seriously! What it ultimately boils down to is I LOVE to read what authors are writing, and I really thoroughly enjoyed all three books I was given the opportunity to beta read- I think they're wonderful, and in one instance, downright magical! I'm excited to know that all three books are in various stages of being published!

My current project is to finish my edits in Mike Brenner's trolley story collection so he can self-publish his book before the end of September. I have about 50 pages to go, so should get that done and the file sent back to him this weekend so he can add his copyright info, dedication, and author bio. Kelly is working on getting him just the kind of photo he wants for the front cover at the trolley museum.

Meanwhile, I have the August Wordsmiths newsletter to write and send out. It will have the September 23rd meeting agenda included. It looks intimidating- but it's totally not! There will be instructions in the newsletter what to bring. Kelly and I will be providing each member a folder, a white lined 8.5x11" pad, and a pen. Inside the folder will be something you'll need for the October meeting, which may take place on October 21st right after my author appearance for Out at Blue Umbrella. I need to firm that probability up first though. But I will be discussing Out at the bookstore on October 21st at 2PM-3PM and talking a little about vampire legend and lore and reading from the book. You can bring your fangs, but no biting!

Finally, does anyone have any idea how we can connect with long distance members at the upcoming meeting? I am woefully non-technical. I don't have a hi-tech phone. A member in VT would like to be "present" at the meeting- any ideas how we can do that? Thought I'd throw that out now so there's time to brainstorm.

The newsletter will be going out at the end of next week- probably on Friday the 1st.

Welcome Joseph Vass!

Just a word of welcome to Joseph Vass one of our newest members. Please check out his member info on the members page to learn more about him. Happy to have him in the group and we're looking forward to meeting him!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Welcome Andrew!

I'd just like to welcome Andrew Curran to WhipCity Wordsmiths. Andrew is our newest member and we're looking forward to meeting him!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Accident by Glen Ebisch

I received local author Glen Ebisch's email newsletter a couple of weeks ago in which he offered three free copies of one of his new books to the first three people who contacted him. I contacted him to invite him to become a WhipCity Wordsmith, which he did do. He filled out his application and emailed it back. And he sent copies of The Accident signed and personalized to Kelly and me. Kelly has taken hers with her on his current road trip out to Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York State. It's quiet here without her across the table from me every night, so I've been doing some reading. She took Sean Sweeney's Model Agent with her also, a book I've been reading, so I grabbed The Accident.

I didn't intent to stay up late last night but I had to finish the book. Yes, it's a page turner! Mystery/suspense with well drawn characters, red herrings, plot twists, a coastal Maine setting I felt entirely familiar with. Glen has written a taut novel with some psychological shadows playing through the background. I tend to ramble on, so will just say that I really enjoyed this book and absolutely couldn't put it down last night until I had reached the end. 5 stars and a snap! Highly recommended.

Once again, I reiterate- many of us are local authors. I am an avid supporter of local authors and have quite a collection of fantastic books written by them in my bookcase, and hope to add more. As I read the books I always try to post a review, because reviews matter to local authors. So, please, if you read a book by a local author, and there's a site, such as Amazon or goodreads where you can go to post a review, please take a few minutes and leave a review- even if it's just a couple of words- like Great book! Or, this author has a knack with characterization. Whatever you want to say- please say it and make the author's day.

Now I'm off to go post a review of The Accident for Glen...and I hope to add more of his books to my local author shelf in the near future!

Bravo! Well done! My heart is still pounding!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Conversation With Mike Walsh This Morning

This is an excerpt from a series of messages exchanged with Vermont author and former Westfield resident, Mike Walsh this morning-

Mike: Just sitting here remembering something that happened a couple of years ago. I was at a family gathering. The father of a fellow author was there. Their child had written six books and was proud of what they had done. The father looked at me and said, "She has tried this writing thing. She didn't do well with it, so it is time for her to move on to something else." I was flabbergasted with his comment. It is bad that most people feel that way. Namely, if you haven't made a lot of money at writing it is not worth doing it. I have never talked to the person about this. That author knows that she has done well in creating all of those stories and that is all that matters. This issue is something that all new authors have to learn to overcome. I was going to post this on the website but thought better of it. I don't want to discourage anyone. The fact that less than 5% of our population writes is important. Less than half of that number writes more than one book because of the superficial success measurements society puts on all of us. To write is to bare our souls to the world. It takes courage and commitment.

Susan: You should put this on the blog. Yes, it can be discouraging, but it's something authors have to deal with, and that is why groups in which authors support and promote one another's work is important. It keeps us from feeling so alone and hopeless in the world.

Here are some additional thoughts I've had since this morning.

I am the mother of an author. I have written for my daughter for her entire life. The greatest gift she's ever given me is her sitting down and writing stories for me. She began writing stories in first grade. They were better than the average first grader's work, which was pointed out to me by her teacher during a parent teacher conference. I had begun writing around that time myself, so I didn't think much of Kelly's ability to plot and write a story at that age. Her work wasn't always perfect. There is no writer living or dead who has ever sat down and written the perfect, flawless piece.

What I never did was say, oh, what are you wasting your time for? I encouraged her, supported her, and as she grew up we have grown together as writers and authors. She has self published two books. I am terribly proud of her. I would never dream of telling her it's time to try something else. She is a writer. It is in her blood and DNA. To squelch that would be akin to stepping on a pretty bug because it serves no visible purpose. EVERYTHING has a purpose. Musicians play the music that threads and resonated through their souls. Poets, authors, playwrights, screenwriters, blog authors....anyone who writes cannot NOT write. It is who they are.

Instead of discouraging creativity we should always make an effort to encourage it and nurture it. Most of the time creativity will not pay the bills, those boring routine but necessary jobs pay the rent and grocery bills and utilities. If a publisher gloms onto you and promotes the crap out of your work more power to you, but it's actually a very small percentage of authors who attain that lofty status. The rest of us labor away at what we love to do, pouring hearts and souls into our works and reaping extremely limited rewards, BUT, the greatest reward is following your dream and writing those books and getting them out there into the world.

And the best marketing tool is word of mouth. Who is better at promoting your work than you yourself? Your local author friends who also make author appearances. There are all kinds of writers in the world, and all kinds of readers. I always ask people who come to my table, what do you like to read. If it's not something I write, but it is something one of my author friends does write, I say, well, here's the name of a terrific author who writes books like that. I think you'll enjoy them. I may not have a sold a book, but I may have helped another author sell a book. I want to promote this idea of a network of authors and writers supporting one another and promoting one another's work.

And we should never discourage anyone with the guts to put pen to paper and write. I was a horrible writer when I first started writing. But I kept writing and my writing grew as I grew. I evolved and so did my ability to use words to evoke images and emotions. Never stifle the desire to write in anyone. Encourage, nurture, support, mentor, monitor and never forget, you were in that place once.

Another way to support other authors is to read their books and review them. You won't like every book, but always find something positive to say. If it's not your cup of tea, say, "Although this is not a genre I normally read I did find the authors ability to evoke images and emotions both poignant and provocative. If you like (insert genre here), then you're certain to enjoy this book." Keep it positive. Keep it simple. Keep it honest. Keep it in mind that your author friend will return the favor.

Well...I was just supposed to post that piece Mike had written to me this morning...and as usual, sit me down at the computer and I'll write forever!

Opportunity for a Literary Event

On October 14th, potentially from noon to ?, there is a fall Family Festival Day with a pumpkin carving event happening in downtown Westfield. With this event there is an opportunity to hold a literary arts event, possibly in the former Carson Center Building across from the green beside the church. There would be a small room available for authors. I'm putting feelers out now to find out if there is any interest among the authors in our group in having a table at the event to showcase your work? I need to get a general idea of how many authors would be interested so space can be planned. Email me at, or comment here on the blog where I'll see it. I would need to know by the first week of September at the latest. The festival is family oriented with the big event being pumpkin carving and decorating on the green, possibly buskers (musicians) playing at various locations downtown, art & photography for sale in the former Carson Center.

Any opportunity to get your books and yourself out there in front of the public helps promote and market your work, and earn new fans! And it's also been fun chatting with other authors during lulls and keeping up with one another in a relaxed and fun setting!

Think about October 14th and let me know if you're available and interested so I can set something up.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Welcome To Joyce Collins!

A word of welcome to Joyce Collins who joined WhipCity Wordsmiths today. We're happy to have her as a member. Joyce is interested in writing for genealogical projects, and writing about her travels. She's also interested in writing memoirs. Welcome!

Inaugural Meeting Scheduled- September 23rd

While this group was founded by Susan and Kelly (mother/daughter Westfield authors) around the beginning of July and this blog was set up for members to post on, we have not yet had an inaugural meeting, or any other sort of meeting. However, that has not deterred 16 writers/authors/reviewers from joining fairly quickly once word got out.

Today I had an opportunity to visit with Russell Atwood at Blue Umbrella Books at 2 Main Street, Westfield, MA. During the course of discussing a number of topics I mentioned I needed to see the store's schedule so I could book a first meeting date and time. Tom Deady has an author event on September 9th. Kelly and I have a button show on the 16th, our local button club is hosting so we need to be present since we provide breakfast and dessert at lunch, and usually host the annual auction. September 23rd was free so I grabbed that date and chose 3PM since most people have eaten lunch by then and have accomplished the majority of their weekend errands. The store is open until 6PM so we're generously booked from 3PM-6PM which should give us plenty of time to start this group rolling. A general notice that persons interested in joining but undecided, and those who are curious and want to see what the group is all about has been posted. They have been invited to come and observe and join, if they'd like to.

I was going to try to do an initial casual get together this month, but Kelly's taking off for Illinois, New York State, Pennsylvania and who knows where else doing a transportation (railroad, trolley and antique/vintage cars) this month, so she'll be out of town for two weekends, and people are still on vacation and preparing for college, so we'll have an opportunity to get to know one another at the inaugural meeting. Snacks and beverages will be provided. All I ask is that you bring a notebook and a pen, your favorite word, and your enthusiasm.

If you could drop me an email by September 16th to let me know if you can make it I'd appreciate it as I'd like to give Jessica a ballpark number of people who can attend so she'll have enough seats for us set up.

If you are unable to attend don't worry- I'll send a Meeting Summary by email or snail mail, and post it here on the blog, as well, so everyone stays connected and up-to-date and no one feels left out.

Bring your ideas to the meeting. We'll do a couple of fun writing things at this first meeting, but also come prepared to meet and greet one another with a brief bio and a short summary of your work.

Looking forward to seeing you on September 23rd, 2017 at 3PM at Blue Umbrella Books in Westfield!

Welcome Geri Johnson

Just want to post a word of welcome here to new member Geri Johnson. We're happy to have you with us!

Friday, August 4, 2017

One Inquiry So Far

We've had one inquiry so far from a person interested in what the group is all about. Right now we stand at 15 members. Just wondering what the rest of you feel in regards to the number of members- enough? Room for 5 more? Bear in mind that not everyone will be able to attend meetings, and some live at a distance so will not be at meetings, but are present here on the blog.

I'd appreciate your thoughts in regards to membership number.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Press Release = Advertising in Westfield

I sent a press release to the Westfield News last night and received a response letting me know that there is such a plethora of press releases swamping their office that the groups press release may not be published for "quite some time", however, I could contact sales and PAY for an AD, if I wanted it to appear "sooner." Needless to say, I opted out of paying for a press release to appear as an ad. I am not advertising anything. The group collectively has zero dollars because we do not collect dues.

I did post the piece about our current membership drive on several social media sites for FREE and am happy to see members sharing the posts that I've put up on various sites they belong to. As always, we are very supportive of one another. I'll look around for other places where they accept press releases without charging for them.

Meanwhile, everywhere I go I am spreading the word. Anyone know anyone in the English departments at the high school or WSU? I'm sure that there are other students, like our Lindsay, who have talent and might be interested in joining a supportive group that will help them grow and chase their dreams.

Any other ideas?

Monday, July 31, 2017

Beta Reading X 3

I'm currently beta reading for Ron Taylor, a friend of member Mike Walsh's, Melissa Volker one of our esteemed members, and Mike Brenner, Kelly's friend who surprised us both by sitting down and writing 5 rather amazing, connected trolley museum stories with paranormal elements that we're helping him clean up for possible publication. Mike lives in Minnesota and is reluctant to join, thinking he's not good enough- we're trying to convince him otherwise and sent him an honorary membership card hoping it would spark him to join...he hasn't joined yet.

I'm also still plowing through the 4th proof copy of Out which I really want to submit to By Light Unseen Media in Pepperell, MA- they do high quality vampire material, not Buffy the Vampire Slayer stuff or campy rehashes of what everyone else is doing. My vampire novel is a little different from the ordinary, although it is also partly a romance novel with a bit of horror, which I do not normally write.

Since May 31st I have been working on and self-publishing four books while feeling as if I haven't been doing much of anything at all. I've also been writing a little in between- and still I don't feel as if I've made any progress anywhere. I an satisfied that I have mastered using my own photographs on the covers of the five most recent books, not stock photos from CreateSpace. Now that I know what I'm doing I can dig into the photo archives on our computer from the probably thousands of pictures we've taken over the years, and find something suitable for future covers. I may revamp older covers again in the near future. It depends on just how ambitious I get.

I don't usually take vacation time until October, my favorite month, but even then, I tend to spend quiet time writing when I'm not having to go to work every day.

What's everyone doing this summer?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Book Review .... Beartown by Fredrik Backman

I finished Beartown by Fredrik Backman early this morning ... my head is still buzzing! What an extraordinary read. I highly recommend it!

My review is on Goodreads

Summer Projects

I have an acre of beta reading to do for three authors, but after feeling lousy since May, I decided to just work quietly on a couple of projects on my to-do list and get them done and out of the way. Therefore, Bending Birches, a conjoined pair of novellas have been completed, and that book is now available. By conjoined, I mean that they go together. Bending Birches, the first novella from which the book's title derives, can probably be read independently, but Seventh Year Itch needs to follow Bending Birches for it to be completely placed in context and understood. This book is in the 5x8 format.

Yesterday, I extracted all the cat, kitten, puppy, and dog stories I'd written from previous story collections and combined them into one book titles Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs. There is one previously unpublished story called Franklin, which is actually a ghost cat story and also a little foray into fantasy. I had it all put together last night, and after a number of technological glitches with the main computer, my HP Stream, CreateSpace, and my phone I finally got the cover photo uploaded. The photo is one of my favorites of Revere and Riley Beans, our cats. I've begun using my own photographs on the covers of my books when possible. So, now I am living with two cats with huge egos because they are on the cover a book! (Just kidding!)

Today, I managed to read a number of chapters in one book for Ron. I am into the second longer story in Mike B.'s five connected stories. And I just glanced through Melissa's sequel to The Thirteenth Moon and hope to begin it soon.

Kelly and I took time before lunch today to watch Sandy Sessler's May 23rd interview on WSKB 89.5FM on Bob Plasse's WOW It's Tuesday radio program on facebook. She was great and they were funny together. Kelly and I will be on his program, with Melissa Volker, on October 24th. Those of you who know me know that I'm not much of a talker, and Kelly is even less a talker than I am, so I'm not exactly sure how that will go, but I hope they have some good music to fill the gaps!!

Hoping to get a press release into the About Town column of the Westfield News about the WhipCity Wordsmiths. They have been curiously uncooperative about publishing anything related to me in the past...which could be because I'm not one who has had a whole lot of free time to constantly be out there promoting my work. I work for a living and write as a hobby (prolifically, evidently). When Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs is released this week I will have 14 story collections, 13 novels, 1 young adult/new adult novel, and one young reader chapter book out there- a total of 29 books, with #30 already written and in the fourth proof copy stage as I think about submitting it to a publisher, something I've been reluctant to do in the past because I don't like giving up control of my work (trying to read mass market published books lately infuriates me because they are so riddled with a variety of errors that should have been caught before going to the presses!) I am far from perfect, but using CreateSpace allows me to pull my books and make the corrections I need to make, and they put it right back out there. I wouldn't be able to do that with a publisher...and I don't know if I want to grind my teeth down with annoyance and frustration if someone else publishes one of my books and I find errors in it. That's just the way I am-unrealistically a perfectionist. (I probably need therapy, but I also see a lot of comments about readers not liking finding grammar, verb tense, continuity and other errors in the books they read, so I don't think it's just me.)

Anyway-two little projects quietly accomplished in the past week, some beta reading done today...and now it's time to get ready for the work week ahead...I wish I could work two days a week and write/read five days a week. I'd be a lot happier!

Also did some brainstorming at the kitchen table last night about some things WhipCity Wordsmiths can do in the future...we'll discuss them at a meeting and on the blog once things get formally rolling.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Welcome to author Glen Ebisch

I received local author Glen Ebisch's newsletter about his three (yes, that's 3) new books the other day. I've been to two of Glen's author events at Blue Umbrella Books in the past and thoroughly enjoyed his presentation and book discussions. Kelly and I are fans with several of his books on our library shelves already.

I asked if he'd be interested in joining the group and was delighted when he accepted. He promptly returned his membership application- so Wordsmiths, let's warmly welcome him into the fold! He's an intelligent man, a terrific writer, and he's possibly even more prolific than I am! (Although, as a group as a whole- we have produced an impressive body of writing among us!)There's lots more I could say, but it'll be fun for all of us to get to know him better.

Another recent addition to our membership is Westfield author Sonia Ellis (who lives on my street-which makes three Westfield authors residing on the same street- how many cities or towns can boast about that?)

Anyway- check out the membership page and the Book Gallery. Kelly has added Glen's and Sonia's bios and will be adding Glen's many books to the gallery as soon as she gets decent images of them. She's set placeholders for as many as she could find so. We also need an image of Sonia's book, but that shouldn't be too difficult to obtain!

Welcome to WhipCity Wordsmiths!

July Newsletter & Membership List Mailed

This morning I mailed out a brief July newsletter and a membership list to all members I have mailing addresses for- watch your mailbox!

WOW ... Lots of New Posts!

It was great to see so many new posts today!

Thursday, July 27, 2017


  Recently I have working with a friend of mine that I served with in the Army on his first book. Sandy Sessler was kind enough to edit it for him. He was real appreciative of her assistance. \
  I expect the edits to be completed soon. Because of that I am looking for beta readers to give him honest feedback on the story. The story is about how he became a journalist working in Appalachia after getting his degree.
   If you are interested in doing this leave me a comment or contact me at

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Partial Novels

I close my eyes, trying to focus and organize my thoughts. It's like trying to control chaos with a whip that keeps lashing back at me in the maelstrom.

I was searching for the sequel to a novella I wrote a few years ago when I came across a bright yellow binder in a file box. I plucked it out, opened it and was stunned to find it was 145 pages of the first version of Black Knight, White Rook, the sequel to Black King Takes White Queen. I remember writing the beginning, with Ivy in her crafting room, her eye drawn by a flash of white outside beyond the greenhouse window. When she investigates she sees an albino crow attacking what looks to her, at first, like a fallen slender tree. Her grandfather is out in the yard playing with his three-year old grandson, Ivy and Romney's little boy, Ezra. In moments, the tree moves, lifts its head and she realizes with horror that it is a huge serpent that the white rook is attacking and attempting to blind as its feathers are not spattered with the snake's blood. Ivy's wand is not close at hand She realizes that by the time she invokes the retrieval spell to summon her wand to her hand, and then invokes the death spell it will be too late for Ezra.

The novel starts with a bang and continues rather relentlessly as Ivy's black witch sister returns with her evil black warlock husband in tow. They are power hungry and determined to destroy the fragile peace Romney and Ivy's union in the first novel has brought about between black and white arts practitioners.

I wrote 145 typewritten pages of this novel before I realized that it wasn't quite the story I had envisioned, and was much darker and heart wrenching than I wanted the second book to be, although the one that was written afterwards that is published is pretty dark and difficult to read. In the pages in the yellow binder, Ivy's grandfather is slain. I didn't want that to happen in book two. This second novel is more about the rift between Ivy and her older sister Holly and how evil has rushed in to fill the growing void between them. Holly and her husband have kidnapped Romney and Ivy's son in this version, as well as Ivy. Ivy has managed to escape, as she does in the published version, but Ezra is still in Holly and Trowbridge's clutches.

There is a lot of good writing in those 145 pages that no one will ever read, specially in regards to the depth of Romney and Ivy's love for one another. But, with every novel I write, I pack as much as I can in every page, so, although I feel satisfied with the Black Knight, White Rook version that was published, my heart aches because this one was also very good.

I have other novels that I have written several versions of. The first novel in the Talon supernatural grim reaper series, I wrote the book four times. It was originally a series of four stories I wrote for Kelly for Halloween. Then I wrote a novel version of the four stories. In third person. Then I rewrote it, still in third person. I didn't like it because I felt it should be told from Bryce's point of view, how she experiences what happens in her life. So I wrote it again, and then one final time in which I removed some material which was then included in book two in the series, and added some additional material in book one that shows more of Bryce and Dr. Talon's developing yet still very volatile relationship, and Bryce's trying to wrap her head around the fact that the grim reaper has been on the periphery of her life since childhood, and while he was a terrifying figure, her dawning realization that he is and always has been her protector. Then comes her awareness that the grim reaper and Dr. Giles Talon are one and the same. It all had to be presented in a certain way-so the fourth revision hit the mark. But the other three versions are still sitting in binders in the dining room- still good stories, but not quite the right story written in the right way.

There were also several versions of the first Archetypes novel. Also good stories, but not quite the way I wanted it to be.

I don't want to throw these novels and partial novels away- they were each a labor of love, but I'm not quite sure what to do with them. If you're a writer then you know how much of yourself you put into everything that you write. It would be like throwing out a part of myself. So, I feel compelled to keep them least for the time being!

Maybe, if I go back and read some more in this unpublished novel I will find the inspiration to pen the third novel in the series (one or two, or even maybe three times, until I get it just right!).

I did eventually find the sequel partial novella to Bending Birches that I had been looking for. I'm currently working on finishing that story, Seventh Year Itch. The two novellas will then be combined in one book in the near future. Then, maybe I'll get back to finishing The Lakeside Manor Investigation since Kelly is anxiously awaiting that sequel since I'll be writing a few of her characters from her novel Parapsychology into this novel. 

I was just thinking that I should have a bookshelf for only partially written novels- a place to call their own where I could revisit them...I really don't have the heart to let them go.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Hate is the double barrelled gun of your eyes aimed at me!


To become aware is to be in anguish
For tis easier to be unaware within ourself.

To embrace another is to be able to Embrace yourself

The Getto

The street is quiet only the distant sounds of the city breaks the quiet hum
Trash and Garbage heaped here and there
reminds of those that do not care
Broken windows, doors and promises too
remind them of me and you!
The darkness returns again to shroud and hide societies forgotten ones again


Out of the foggy mist of my past
Reveals to me a person who cannot last
I wish that I might see hope for people; some like me
The bowels of my being I've rocked at last
To give me hope and forget whats past
Now the Sun is rising to the Horizon high
Bringing hope for all people like you and I

1975 Satellite Beach FL.

Cuban Refugees

I came to escape injustice
To the land of the Free
Yet I encountered injustice to my people and me
My land was raped by War
My people cast themselves from it shore
We hurried away to wait somemore
To once again return to our shore
One day soon we will return
to see our Cuba land of the Free

1975 Miami

Musing on Race Relations

I grew up in Florida in the mid 1950's. We had Jim Crow laws and policies in effect. White only drinking fountains, white only restrooms etc. The dividing line was Central Avenue bisecting the city from Tampa Bay on the East to the Gulf of Mexico on the West. If you were a person of color you  lived south of that imaginary border only. This change in my life happened at age nine when we moved from rural Connecticut to Florida.
I had been in integrated schools in New England and suddenly there were only White children in school,my neighborhood etc. Slowly over the next nine years of my life I saw my parents attitude change to conform to the segregated norms of the South.

I joined the U.S. Navy there at age 17 and went off to boot camp in Great Lakes,IL. Suddenly there were people of color in my Recruit company and Senior enlisted personnel of color.
This switch in upbringing would have some profound impacts on my views of America, The South and the Military which would become my career from 1964-1983.

In the 1970's the Army and Navy were experiencing racial tensions and riots at various Navy and Army installations. The Department of Defense (DOD) established a new inter-service school called DOD Race Relations Institute. I volunteered for this 11 week course which was followed up by a 6 week internship training at the Human Resources Management center in San Diego,CA. The following writings are from a small journal I kept of my experiences during this schooling and of a weekend we spent in the Cuban neighborhoods of Miami Fl.

Societies Degradation
Row after Row, Tier after Tier
Societies Degradation!
Cages,Cages, always Cages
Societies Shame!
Dirt here,Dirt everywhere
Societies Blame!
Bare,Dirty, Bars and Screens and Wall
Societies Child!
All heaped and pushed together in Steel, Concrete and Stone!
No today, No Tomorrow, only Forever
Societies Degradation!

The above was written after a visit to the Dade County Jail (locally called the stockade). We were given free access and allowed to talk to any and all inmates. My partner who was a U.S. Army Sergeant suddenly recognized one inmate who had recently been discharged from his Army Unit, here he was in Jail already.
After Graduation I spent the next 3 years as a Race Relations Education Specialist working in Alaska,
 and aboard the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower CVN-69 as part of the pre-commissioning crew.

It was a very enlightening 21 year career. When I entered the Navy in 1962 if you were a person of color that meant you worked either as a member of the Deck Force, Engineering, or asa a cook or Steward. If you were Phillapino you could only be a Steward. Women or WAVES were only allowed to be in Yeoman or Personnelman,  or  the Hospital corpsman ratings.

Thankfully over the years that all changed. Regardless of color or race anyone today can be in any specialty. The first Woman just recently applied to be a Navy SEAL and Woman officers have been serving aboard all types of ships, and even Submarines. Yes its a better Navy today for all.

finally another writing after my Miami experience in 1975 reads as follows

I Must Never Forget
I must Never forget what I have seen!
The wrongs left uncorrected
The people left without hope
The emotions I experienced
Those that shared with me their self
I must never forget that becoming aware I felt the anguish of ignorance and the pain of truth
Let my awareness always remind me of those who helped me to become aware
I must never forget that awareness needs always to be reinforced by looking into the past,present and future.
For awareness is all things, forsaking nothing.

I found this old notebook while sifting through far too many books I own to select some to be recycled. Glad it survived 42years of travel and storage.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


      As a writer we are always excited when we get feedback on our work. Yesterday, while my wife and I were at a Yard Sale I was surprised with some.
     It came from an author of children's books that I have worked with a couple of years ago. This person has read most of my books.
     This person just looked at me and said, " I love your writing style. Whenever I am reading one of your books I feel like we are sitting across a table from each other having a conversation over a cup of coffee."
     When I recovered I thank them for the compliment and told then that is one of the short comings of my writing. I write exactly as I speak.
     Times like that are what keeps as writer going. Knowing that someone has enjoyed what you have written is the greatest compliment someone can give you.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Mask at Ashley

It was the mask that called me to attention, halted my forward progress. So black and intricate, wrapped with exquisite precision around the head from front to back, a small equal splash of white at the edge on each side, the eyes lost somewhere in that amazingly seductive, majestic veil. The lines were crisp, the design mesmerizing as I stared up into the tree. Frozen.

We watched each other, at least I watched the mask. I sensed it watched me but I could not confirm eyes were behind that mask. It spied me with unflinching intensity; the svelte, sleek dirty yellow body positioned strategically about six feet above me. The high ground, a position of advantage.

Time felt stopped as we held our gaze, me, the mask, watching. Then came the small sequence of infinitesimal movements that precipitated the sudden bolt of action. The mask shifted its focus to my right, for just a second or two, low, apprehensively, anxiously then back to me. Testing, probing, exploring.

When I noticed the change in visual angulation of the mask, sensing the mask was watching something else besides me, I slowly reached for my pocket. The mask immediately perceived my movement, looked back to me from the previous focal point to my right, slightly in front of me, low to the ground. What was the mask so intently watching?

I refroze in place. We resumed our optical standoff. The mask looked on less intently now, perhaps a bit more relaxed and comfortable with the new normalcy of my presence, an acceptance of this new object of nature. To the mask, did I now appear to be as inanimate as the soil, rocks, branches and grass around me? Did my stillness invoke reassurance and safety?

The instant I felt our standoff had evolved into an understanding, the mask made its move. With grace and purpose and complete disregard for me, the mask darted from the tree to a small but sturdy and leafy stalk of vegetation slightly in front of me, to my right, about three feet tall.

Food. A meal. The standoff with the mask was all about food. Whatever was on that leafy, green sprig of summertime vegetation just off the gravel walkway was irresistible to the point where my presence would not detract the mask from snatching up that tasty little entomological morsel.

The black mask of the cedar waxwing lingered for just a second or two to secure his catch and off he went, his flight erratic, perhaps evasive, making his way to another tree further ahead closer to the water’s edge.

I never was able to retrieve the camera from my pocket in time to photograph this beguiling encounter with the mask but my memory will forever record yet another intriguing interaction with the natural world at the Ashley Reservoir!        

A Nod to Webmaster Kelly

I just want to thank Kelly for all the work she does on the blog. She is currently working on updating the Book Gallery page and has inserted placeholders for titles she doesn't yet have cover images for. We're having a scanner issue at the moment so several new titles are only in the gallery with place holders at this time.

If your cover art has changed (I am notorious for redesigning/revamping my covers- butterscotch receiving the latest updated cover-still awaiting a copy with new cover so it can be uploaded) and you want your new cover displayed in the gallery please send Kelly a quality image or get her a copy of your book to scan (returnable). We'd love to keep the book gallery up-to-date so viewers can see your work and link to your retail location and perhaps buy your book (-s).

Also, if there is any new info you want added to your bio on the Members page send it along to

Great job, Kelly!

Doing Something Different

I have more or less been the Queen of self-publishing and, truthfully,a control freak, because I do not trust other people with my work...therefore, I have had to take a really deep breath here when making the decision to shop my one and only vampire novel to a publisher who is not me. I am working on the 4th print proof copy, making what I hope will be the final revisions and tweaks (after just over 2 years of laboring over this one) before sending off a cover letter with synopsis and author bio, and first three chapters.

Writing has always been my hobby. I've shared my stories with family and friends and few others. It was only two years ago, after so much arm twisting that it finally broke something stubborn and self-protective within me that I began "leaking" my accumulated work into public places.

I think the public aspect started with Blue Umbrella Books with Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales Volume I and a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt in the store for Miss Peculiar's Curiosities. This led to an invitation to do Ghost Stories LIVE!...which I accepted (that first event was extremely nerve-wracking for me because I am not a public speaker, but I did thoroughly enjoy it once my reading was over and done with! I've since found it less traumatic to read in front of an audience and like coming up with new stories for the events because I've always liked a challenge.

I've made a few local author appearances, and people have now begun to recognize me...but more times than not I work all day, write all night, and miss a lot of opportunities to promote my books because of health issues and an essentially not very outgoing personality. I'm okay once I get to know someone, but I'm more of a thinker and doer than a talker and socializer.

But, I'm going to go out on a limb and pitch Out and see what happens. As they say, you won't know unless you try. I don't have nerves of steel, but after a smidge over two years, I have a relationship with the characters in this novel and feel an obligation not to fail them as their creator, so I am doing something different and not self-publishing this novel just yet.

If you want to read it, I can send it (to WhipCity Wordsmith members only as a beta read-message or email me if interested) as an attachment in its not quite up to my standards yet 4th incarnation. You probably heard me shouting in frustration when I began reading this proof copy this past Thursday night and found a little continuity issue in the very first chapter- it just took the rewording of one or two sentences to remedy, but it was like a chisel blow to my self-confidence just the same. Sometimes the littlest blows can open the largest cracks which in turn allows self doubt to invade a writer's psyche.

Sandy Sessler has the 3rd proof copy with all it's markings and yellow title. Green title (second proof) and red title (first proof) are practically unreadable with revisions, corrections, and tweaks, the green titled one especially!) The fourth cover is purple roses & title- which will be its final look if this all goes nowhere and I self-publish the book.

This all sounds both promising and grim- but the reality of being an author and writer is that there is often this duality of nature involved- the highs of having a project you love and have worked hard on and want to be successful with, and the lows of being consumed with self doubt, lack of self confidence, worries over the story not being as original and fresh as you hoped it would be, or not as good as you think it, sometimes, I guess, you need to climb up to the highest platform and take the leap into what looks like a very small rectangle of water far below and hope for a decent score in the end.

Friday, July 14, 2017

I Hate it When...

I hate it when I'm halfway through writing a novel and another story DEMANDS my attention and then TOYS with me after I start writing it and it says, well, maybe it would be better this way, so I start again and it turns out it's not the same story at all, so where did THAT come from? Why does my brain jump track in the middle of something and then lead me on a merry romp on two different yet similar lines?

I am plodding (or should that be plotting) my way toward my next goal of 30 books self-published which is way excessive by anyone's standards except mine. The Fairlawn Investigation and The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation just got their final tweaking, and in the case of Fairlawn, another cover image change to avoid copyright infringement, and a credit and info for the photo used on the cover of Victoria Wayfarer after diligently tracking it down via several searches to make sure I was getting it right. There was no copyright info available, so the URL and info I found will have to suffice as photo credit. And then Out needed a final cover other than just black with the word Out in red- so deep purple roses now grace its cover with purple font on black. It's a vampire romance but it's also different in that while some horrific things occur in the book it's more about self discovery and tolerance than anything else.

I touched upon that theme, tolerance, in Black King Takes White Queen and Black Knight, White Rook- where vastly different witchcraft and magic practitioners had to set aside their differences and work together to defeat a truly evil black witch. The work Romney and Ivy started in Black King Takes White Queen continues in Black Knight, White Rook even as they deal with more evil doers who seek to tear them apart and destroy them. It is still about learning to live together and to respect one another's differences while finding unity in individual strengths.

So, while I sit at my kitchen table feeling guilty because the book Kelly wants me to write, The Lakeside Manor Investigation, (it will include several characters from her novel Parapsychology) simmers on the back burner while Archer Mills and Cherry Forbes allow me to tease out their true story from a hundred miles of knotted plot- I can't help but think that this was how my 2015 NaNo novel, Life Skills, started- with a binder full of short stories that explored Remy Bryce and Lissa Beresford's relationship- all of them scraped once NaNo rolled around and their real story emerged- which turned out to be a surprise even to me since I had no idea what the book was going to be about- I just wrote and wrote and wrote for 23 days (weekdays after work and more or less all day and into the night on weekends), then spent the rest of the month editing and revising the novel.

I suppose this happens to every writer- stories leap frogging over stories being written. It's like having a hundred young children all vying for your attention, but it's the quiet child in the corner you really ought to notice, that's the one who really has the best story to tell. Just getting to that child can be a struggle, back to Archer and Cherry for now, while keeping an eye on that shadowy child holding her story close to the day I will reach her!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Predation on Alexander

The blur of black splashed across my peripheral vision. The squawking cries of the jay piqued my interest. They’re back, visiting the site of the atrocity, the scene of the crime, the marauders returning to the kill zone.

I live in what I consider a much gentrified, suburban section of Westfield where the manicured lawns are always green and plush from the incessant watering and the bushes and shrubs are meticulously trimmed and shaped. When I think of predation, images of wildebeests being mercilessly dragged to the ground by hungry lions or a zebra being ripped apart in a crocodile’s death roll immediately come to mind. Predation in Westfield? Oh yeah it happened, on Alexander!

Several weeks ago I got a text message from my wife that a bird brawl broke out in our front yard. Robins vs. Jays … not baseball, birds! The robins built a nest in the crab apple tree in our front yard. Awesome construction quality, very poor site selection … far too low in the branch, so low I could easily reach up and touch the nest standing directly beneath the bough. I sensed vulnerability.

The jays and robins were screaming at each other and my wife went outside to break up the fight. Robins defending their turf, protecting the little ones in the nest from what she perceived as the aggressive blue jays she speculated. After a brief respite however, the yelling and screaming started up again. Shriller tones, different intensity, and higher frequency of distress … the ravens had descended upon the tree, one in the tree above the nest, one at the nest’s edge. The young robins were hauled away like the flying monkeys scooping up Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I am certain the ending for the baby robins was considerable different than that of the Dorothy and her little dog!

Relative peace returned to our modest property of just under one acre surrounded by fairly dense woods that provide the illusion of country isolation when the foliage is plush. Despite the harsh realities of life and death playing out in the front yard, a pair of robins successfully nested under our deck off the rear of the house. The deck stands about twelve feet off the group and the nest location was perfect. Several years before, robins nested in the same location and successfully produced multiple generations of hatchlings. I watched the family of four baby birds grow to the point where half of their little bodies protruded above the top of the nest. Fledging was very near! All was well. Until it wasn’t.

One evening the birds were fine. The next morning the nest was on its side on the ground and no birds could be found except for a portion of a wing on the top step on the deck. Something struck during the night. Body parts marked the site of more predation.

Several weeks passed and to my surprise the robins are at it again, this time in the cone shaped dwarf spruce just outside our front door. I am unsure if it is the same couple who suffered the raven attack earlier in the season. This looks and feels like a great location to raise a new brood of American robins but … do the ravens know?

The flash of peripheral black I experienced while I sat in my office overlooking the front yard was a raven revisiting the robin’s nest in the crab apple tree plundered earlier in the spring. Did they expect the nest to be refilled? Can they sense the presence of baby robins someplace in the yard?

I’m concerned. It seems predation has taken up residence on Alexander this summer!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

First Mother/Daughter Author Appearance Booked

Back in April, Bob Plasse invited me to be on his radio program on a Tuesday morning along with author Melissa Volker. He accidentally double booked the date in June that we were going to appear as local authors, friends, and strong supporters of one another's work, as well as supporters of other local authors.

Since then some things have shifted in my life. Kelly has self-published two novels, becoming the new author in the house. And she and I have established this group for writers and authors here in Westfield that has its official kickoff rapidly approaching in September 2017.

Bob threw out some dates that he had openings available for. This morning , after he accepted my revised proposal that Kelly and I appear together on his show because we both write and we're spearheading this group, and both she and I have some books dealing with the paranormal and supernatural (I have two new paranormal books coming out later this month and she was kicking around the idea of a sequel to Parapsychology the other night), we settled on Tuesday, October 24th as the date of our joint appearance on his radio program.

It ought to be interesting as neither one of us is especially extroverted, but we're better when we're together than when we are not. I've known Bob since I worked behind the counter at Conner's Inc. (1996-2007), and we got reacquainted during Articulture in 2016.

I don't know if there are any other mother/daughter authors in Westfield, but with 29 novels and story collections between us, we're probably the most prolific (numbers 28 & 29 are being released simultaneously later this month, number 30 is in the print proof stage, and 31 is currently about half written). Anyone visiting the house would probably be overwhelmed by all the manuscripts lying around in file boxes and milk crates, not to mention the three file cabinets in the den...I know I feel that way at times! There are a few gaps here and there...but not enough yet!

Anyway- get up early on October 24th to catch us on Bob's radio program broadcast from my alma mater WSU (where Lindsay Stenico will be starting this fall!)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Dinner

I am late to the party on this one but I finally read The Dinner. You can check out my review on Goodreads.

Oh how I wish publishers would stop with the comparisons to Gone Girl to market books. STOP IT! But you already knew my feelings on this marketing ploy.

This was a nice little read that at the onset felt like an emotional exploration of the limits of parental morals when their children commit unlawful acts until it blossomed into a study of creepy, sinister psychopathology. Psychosis + nipping at the margin of morality = trouble!

With one hundred more pages and the drop of the Gone Girl comps this could have been a really great story for me. But is was good ...three stars!

Membership Drive Has Begun

I put the word out on facebook yesterday in a few places that WhipCity Wordsmiths is accepting applications for membership, with information that the applications are available at Blue Umbrella Books and via email by contacting Kelly at

We currently have 13 members.

I was wondering how much interest there would be in a very informal meeting on the lawn at Stanley Park on a Sunday afternoon in August? Bring a blanket, a chair, or whatever will keep you comfortable, a snack and a cold drink or two and we'll get to know one another and begin hashing out what we want and expect from this group and kicking around ideas for a local author book fair- or just talk about projects we're working on and whatnot.

I know there's tons of stuff going on this summer, but some of you have also expressed a desire to get things I'm throwing this idea out there.

Monday, July 3, 2017

   This is a story that I think many of you will enjoy.

    A few years ago I was co-hosting a blog-talk radio show with Gordon Osmond where we interviewed international authors weekly.
     If you are not familiar with Gordon, most people aren't, he was a Wall Street lawyer for thirty years, author of eight success full plays, author of six books, and a book reviewer on Book Pleasures. He also taught English in Brazil in his final years.
    During one of the interviews Gordon asked the author what genre her book was in. Her response was, " Non-fiction with some fiction thrown in." 
   At that point I lost it. My response was, " What? What? That is not possible."
   Gordon spent the rest of the interview holding back his laughter.
   It is my opinion that we need to understand our genre and our target audience. Without that we as authors will have no success at all.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Gone Girl ... a Red Flag Warning

The publishing world seems fixated on Gone Girl comparisons to market books! Have you noticed? Invariably however, at least for me, the comparison to the blockbuster novel by Gillian Flynn always ends in disappointment.

My latest experience with the Gone Girl marketing ploy was The Dinner by Herman Koch, a NY Times best selling novel that was recently made into a movie. Positioned as "A European Gone Girl ...", I finished the book this morning feeling, "so what is the big deal? Gone Girl this ain't!" Don't get me wrong, The Dinner is an interesting read, laced with darkness, a warped sense of mortality and an incessant undercurrent of mental illness, but far from extraordinary that is Gone Girl. Using Gone Girl as a branding mechanism raises expectations but in this case, The Dinner underdelivered relative to my heightened expectations. I think this marketing strategy hurts rather than helps an author.

Which brings me around to my thought about literary branding, merchandising and marketing. What do you find the most effective way to position your books in the marketplace? Do you think about your brand? Do you have a brand? Is marketing a consideration at all?