Friday, June 30, 2017

Oh the Frustrations!

It's Friday night and I've spent about 45 minutes trying to launch a post and ... nothing! White blocks instead of text, text without color, text in black instead of white.

I've had enough of this .. good night!

About 30 Days in Existence- Group Update

WhipCity Wordsmiths has reached 30 days since inception.

Although I was just joking around when I put up a post on facebook saying that I should start a writers group (something I hadn't even been considering at the time) I began getting inquiries about the group within moments of the post's appearance and people wanting to join. This gave me pause and I quickly had to reconsider. I'd been asked several times but declined. I have RA so working full time and writing in all my spare times more or less consumes all my energy. But Kelly agreed to help, so we discussed it some more and decided that we could start a different kind of writers group with one meeting a month and a blog where members stay connected and every member can post.

I couldn't use the name I'd used in the original post because after researching it I found it was a registered trademark of a library related thing, so I kicked around alternative names. I came up with all sorts of names but decided against KeyPunchers, PenPushers and anything with the name Westfield in it. I've always liked that I live in the Whip City (Westfield once being a leading manufacturing center of whips back in the day), so I crammed the words together and then realized I didn't want the word writers in the name either, so came up with wordsmiths because writers and authors are artisans of literary works. We use words to craft our stories. Thus, WhipCity Wordsmiths became the name of the group.

As soon as it had an official name, Kelly and I had Shawn Flynn (The Kitty Who Rescued Me After I Rescued Him)on board. I don't know whether he was serious or not but he wanted to be VP so that's what he is. Basically the VP steps up to run the group should I be unable to. Shawn is very personable and outgoing with a great smile- a terrific public face for the group whereas I am full of bright ideas but a quiet, more reserved person by nature, as is Kelly.

The Mike Walsh (Eddie's Method, The Wizard's Return, Just Some Old Man, etc.) joined from his home in VT. His roots lie in Westfield and his enthusiasm for the group extends all the way up into the Northeast Kingdom.

Fourth member was Bethany Almeida, Kelly's former college roomie and best friend who has written a novel (unpublished at this time and fan fiction, etc.). Bethany is currently working toward her PhD in Bioengineering at Brown U. in Providence, RI. She's my extended family daughter.

Next came Wayne Weatherwax (author, Artworks Westfield), Bill Westerlind (book reviewer, aspiring writer, Artworks Westfield), and Lindsay Stenico (new writer about to be published).

With the membership growing rapidly by word of mouth, I contacted some author friends to invite them to join. Soon, Judith 'Sandy' Sessler (The Travel Kids series, The Legacy of Aidan McManus, etc), Rhonda Boulette (Flitten Kitten Fairytails, T's Adventures on Bear Paw Ridge series), Melissa Volker (Delilah of Sunhats and Swans, Anabelle Lost, Hidden, etc.), and the real Kate Anderson (Hospital Hill, Shadows On The Ward, and publisher) signed up.

We have a dozen members in less than 30 days without an official word about the group having been released yet- that's pretty amazing!

Official word that the group has been formed and is accepting memberships will go out in mid-July Right now people are taking vacations, spending time with their families during school breaks, traveling, having fun and relaxing. They have other things on their minds than joining a writers group. Jessica does have a sign and applications available in Blue Umbrella Books, and if members want to post about the group on their facebook and other social media platforms that would be fine.

Meanwhile, I'm glad to see members posting on the blog and hope it continues. It will keep the 12 of us connected while we wait for September to arrive.

I've put out some ideas what I want from the group and welcome members ideas- this is an us group not a me group so feel free to throw ideas out here on the blog and we'll hash out what we're going to do at the first meeting.

I think, when we have our first meeting, I want everyone to come to the meeting and bring their favorite word- I think most of you now know my favorite word is butterscotch! What's yours? (Okay, I have a lot of favorite words and you probably do, too...but just pick one!)

Thus ends the month of June...

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Author Interviews

    Many of the people in this group have heard me suggest that they get interviewed by Fiona McVie. For those that do not know her, she is someone that has been interviewing authors from all over the world for some time now.
   Soon she will have her four thousands interview. That is a large accomplishment for her since she holds down a full time job and has a family. Because of that she has graciously allowed me to interview her for that event.
   I am not going to give anything away here but the interview will surprise you when it gets posted. If you haven't had a chance to interview with her you should. Her reach in the field is an international one and it never hurts to get your name out there. If you are interested in interviewing with her let me know.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Writing to Music

I was wondering how many of us write to music?

Sometimes, when Kelly and I are writing at the kitchen table, she'll have Pandora on and we'll listen to Irish music while we work on our current projects.

In the past, I've listened to all sorts of music while writing. I like Irish, Gaelic, French, Italian (Zucchero is a favorite of both Kelly and me), and South American. I've listened to classical and classic rock while writing. I like Louis Armstrong and Peggy Lee. Sometimes the music sets the mood. Sometimes the music is background that helps me focus on what I'm feeling while I write.

Next question- how many of you sing along while you're writing? It's amazing to me how the brain can do three or more things at one time- allow you to sing to a familiar song, follow a train of thought, and type the words of that train of thought as you're belting out the words of the song you're listening to (without typos!) And maybe you're thinking about other things simultaneously, like what to make for dinner, calculating when the wash needs to be transferred to the dryer, or when you're going to find time to run out and put gas in the car because you've been driving around on fumes and have an appointment or meeting tomorrow.

Sometimes writers really flex their brains!

When I'm driving in my car on the way to work, on the way home, while running errands, or whatever-I listen to all kinds of music on CDs, never the radio. The radio annoys me with its constant interruptions so it's kind of pointless in my car other than the fact that it's connected to the CD player. While driving and listening, ideas for stories often come into my head and the little spiders in my brain start busily weaving story webs upon which characters dangle waiting to be set into motion by the movement and flow of their unique story.

I don't think there's a writer anywhere who can turn off the flow of creativity. There's no main switch you can throw to halt it. Even when there's a power outage (writer's block), it's like there's a little generator thrumming in the background providing the energy a writer needs to move forward again and reconnect to the grid in their brain. This is usually when contact with other authors and writers becomes an asset because the little generator within the stalled writer/author can draw power from the creative energy authors and writers exude when in contact with one another.

I attended a writer's coffeehouse once. I was late arriving, but the moment I walked through the door it was as if I walked through a shimmery curtain into a ion-charged atmosphere that danced across my skin and worked its way inside, flipping switches and lighting me up.

Anyway-these are today's thoughts.

The final thought is that as a member of Artworks Westfield I have become acquainted with some talented local musicians. I'm thinking that it would be cool to have a group write-in, maybe during the January doldrums, with an acoustic guitarist playing, or a violinist, fiddler, keyboard player, rhythmic drummer, piper (my brother-in-law has a whole collection of recorders and wind instruments he plays) or whatever...just to see what sort of inspiration strikes when writing meets music.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Just An Odd Aside

Tomorrow is Kelly's birthday. She used to have from scratch chocolate cupcakes, but then decided she liked angel food cake (my traditional birthday cake since I was a kid) better. So, this morning I baked the cake. When it comes out of the oven you have to flip it upside down and let it cool before taking it out of the pan. Well- we usually balance the pan on canned goods, except we eat more fresh vegetables these days and I finally pitched the vastly outdated canned veggies during a cupboard cleanout sometime shortly after my April birthday- so we just had three cans of fruit (that no one will eat but still have good dates on them), but no can to support the middle of the cake except a small can of tomato sauce. There ensued a search for the right height prop to boost the can's height to support the center of the cake pan (the tube). Well, the right height object turned out to be a paperback copy of Laura by Vera Caspary that was in a stack of books on the dining room table!

That leads me to this burning question- what is the strangest thing that you have put a book to good/not so good use for?

Sunday Ramblings

I've been sidelined the past two weeks with a huge RA flare, and while I still have numerous aches I am beginning to come out of that foggy funk that accompanies a flare and leaves me unable to focus on anything and too fatigued to do much but sit in a chair and stare into space (while visions of stories dance in my head) feeling frustrated and disappointed that these flares come more often and I'm NSAID intolerant, which means there is very little I can take to knock down the inflammation. I'm also allergic to prednisone. And I absolutely refuse to use opioids because I do not like how messed up they make me feel- I have this thing about mental clarity.

Anyway-while I've been doing a little bit to get this group up and running, I really need to give a huge nod to our webmaster, Kelly, who has been pouring her heart and soul (and IT/HTML skills) into putting up the member bios and then creating the new Gallery page, which is still a work in progress as she doesn't have clear images of all members book covers yet, but what she does have she's done a great job with! The books are shown alphabetically by title and some may have older version covers. If your book has a new cover or your book is on the gallery page with a place holder label because she doesn't have an image, you can send her a good scan or picture of the new cover or your book's cover to and she'll swap it out/put it up. She was scanning covers from my collection of local author books so I might have older covers in my collection. Anyway- if a public viewer says, "Oh, I heard Delilah of Sunhats and Swans is a good book they would find the image in the books with titles that start with D. Or, hey, Kelly has a new book called Teleport out- I saw it on facebook" you'd find that under T. Some of us are known by our book titles (like I'm known as Miss Peculiar although only 4 of my 25 books have Miss Peculiar in the title. Wouldn't it be cooler if I was known as Talon...another series with 4 books in it so far about a frosty Medical Examiner/Coroner who is also a smokin' hot grim reaper and his volatile relationship with his portal who is much more than he's realized she is). Anyway- Kudos to Kelly for creating the Gallery page. And yes, she has added a link to Blue Umbrella Books where many of us have books on the local author shelf and where many of us also hold author events thanks to Jessica Martin's wholehearted support of the literary arts- and we'll also be holding meetings in her open floor space soon! I have made attempt #6 at starting the novel about the clockmaker inspired by seeing the mechanical clock tower near the twin bridges open at high noon one Saturday this past May. I am starting with the ending this time and working from there.

I did feel well enough to go downtown for a little over an hour yesterday for Busker's Day and the Summer Reading Kickoff sponsored by the library. I sat under the Artworks Westfield tent chatting with Artworks and WhipCity Wordsmith member Wayne Weatherwax about various subjects such as transportation museums we've visited, how to fly a helicopter and the upcoming airshow. Then I risked life and limb to cross the street to the green (there really is green grass on the green which surprised me- from the street you just see concrete) On the green I visited with authors Melissa Volker (another WhipCity Wordsmith member) and author Tom Deady who were sharing a table. I have Melissa's books in my local author library, but wanted to meet Tom and check out his books. His book Haven just won a Bram Stoker Award. I have read some Stephen King in the past from Salem's Lot through Tommyknockers, although I skipped It because of Pennywise (clown phobia). I thought John would enjoy Haven, and possibly Kelly, too, and I figured I'd read it also. So I took home both of his books he had for sale, and gave him a copy of Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume I as a hello, nice to meet you gift.(I gave Melissa Kelly's marked up proof copy of Teleport so she could check that out, plus my one and only young adult novel Medea and my one and only young reader book Halloween Story, both self published under the pen name Victoria Bell, because she writes young adult and I value her opinion since it's really not a genre I normally write. These are stories I wrote for Kelly in elementary and middle school that she's read over and over again through the years. I then headed back across the street with photographer Danny Nason and hiked up the street to where Runtz Mini Hot Dogs was set up in the empty lot. Marion and Chip where there playing their guitars. I grabbed a soda then headed back to Main Street to visit Jessica at Blue Umbrella Books. Holy moly! She really was wearing a dress as Wayne had said earlier! She looked summery! I hung out for a few more minutes under the Artworks tent with Tom Sawyer (musician) and Andrew Surprise, then had a brief talk with Cheryl Crowe as we headed to our cars. By the time I got home it felt good to put my feet up. Revere, of course, took the opportunity to settle on my chest for a catnap- and I took a brief nap, too, until Kelly got home from her day at the East Windsor and Branford Trolley Museums.

After dinner, after doing as much editing as I could take of my own novel, The Victoria Wayfarer Investigation, I cracked open Tom Deady's Eternal Darkness and began reading at about 10:40PM (never a good time to begin reading a creepy book, but what the hey, it was summoning me and when a book calls to me, I usually obey its command!). twelve-oh-two AM I had to force myself to put a sticky note bookmark between the pages and close the covers and go to bed so I could get up before 8AM to have breakfast with Kelly before she went off to the trolley museum to be a motorman today. If I lived in a world where I made the rules and I had no other responsibilities I would have been up reading all night! What I've read so far I've liked. I'll read more tonight because I really don't mind reading creepy stuff late at night-it doesn't give me nightmares.) The only thing that has bothered me about the book so far are the flies...I've never seen anything like it before! Bugs creep me out! (But it is a cool idea, and I am always one to appreciate a creative and cool idea!)

I also exchanged text messages with my friend Patrice who now lives in FL last night while assembling Mike Brenner's five connected trolley stories into one binder (in the correct order) in preparation for doing some editing for him (Kelly will also help him out with this first time writing project). She and I talked about writing. I've always thought that she has a compelling story to share in her. She just needs to buckle down and start writing it. One of these times I will convince her that this is the path she needs to take.

Now, I'm going to go back to writing for another hour before Kelly gets home from the museum and dinner needs to be put on the table. Then there'll probably be some more writing happening after dinner, between ironing scrubs for the week, and some reading before bed.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Book Gallery

We now have a book gallery!

This page is reachable from the top bar. It provides cover images of members' books. Each is clickable and will bring you to Amazon (if applicable).

Note, I've still got a lot of placeholders going on. This just means I didn't have a convenient copy available for scanning today. If you'd care to help me out and send over a decent quality scan or photo, it'd be appreciated. Else wise, I'll be scouring the web at some point, probably not until Monday.

I think I also have some older edition covers. Those can be upgraded to new pictures upon request. It'd be nice if said pictures were kindly provided.

Okay, I've sunk enough time into this for today. Good night and wishing you all a good weekend.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

How Do I Get Ideas?

For me, ideas can literally come from anything and everything.

I can be listening to a song, half listening to conversation around me, or just a simple thought that I had.

However, lately I've noticed that they enjoy coming to me at times when I am doing something that involves me having to use my hands. For example, doing the dishes, when I'm listening to music, taking a shower, when I'm out and about and can't whip out my laptop. And they always appear in the form of, movie clips. Have you ever watched a movie and then sometime passes when all of sudden you're discussing a certain scene that happened and you can picture it perfectly like you just saw it yesterday?  That's how ideas come to me, in movie clip  form.

But the weird thing is, and I'm not sure if any other writers experience this or not, but when I'm hit with an idea, it's not the entire thing. It's just a snippet.

Like really? You can't indulge me with just a little more information.

Here's an example:

I was doing this dishes and listening to some music, because why would a writer need her hands after all? Anyway, I was minding my own business when all of sudden this random guy comes to mind. I'm 18 years old so at first I brushed off as nothing, if anything I was just daydreaming so I wouldn't bore myself as I did the dishes. But as I keep listening to this song, I see that I'm looking up at him and we're in a school hallway. Suddenly he's smiling down at me and I get this feeling that someone just poured ice water down my back. The longer I stared up at him, his smile twisted into a smirk and I felt like if I didn't leave then something bad was going to happen.

It was in that instant that I wasn't just day dreaming, no...someone was telling me a snippet of their story.

Because when I get an idea, to me, it's not a random, it's the characters revealing their story to me. I see it as they are people themselves who were looking for someone to write their story down for the world to read. So it's  privilege to be able to write their story, that I was chosen to write it.

And it's the best thing in the world, I absolutely love it. I wouldn't trade it for anything else.


-Lindsay Stenico

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


I wish I knew where my ideas came from....

Some of them I can trace. Others, not so much so. Some come from dreams. These tend to be more abstract and in need of polish, especially as they like to contradict themselves. (It made sense while I was asleep! I swear it did!)

Others come from real life, like when I write about trolleys. I take a bunch of things I know about keeping a piece of vintage transit running and wrap a story around it.

Then there's Teleport. That one I know exactly where it came from. One afternoon at work, I was listening to two of my colleagues talk. One asked the other, "What if teleportation was real?" My instant reaction? It wouldn't be good. So, that night I wrote a short story to that end. A few months later, it developed into a novella during NaNoWriMo. Now, some two and a half years on, its finally going through the last stages of editing and should be available soon.

As for the rest? Who knows. They start with a sentence. Then, suddenly, there's a paragraph and I have characters and they're chatting away, wanting things from me. (No one ever warns you going in how needy characters are. Why isn't there a disclaimer on this whole writing business?)

Sometimes, all you have to do is open your ears and listen. There's a story out there. Claim it.

Where Ideas Come From

I can't speak for every writer/author, only from my own experience on the subject of where my story/book ideas come from.

I was bored yesterday so began writing a short story. The idea originated from my home life. My husband is a TV junkie- when he's not on the computer he's lying on the couch watching TV. He doesn't have a social life. He doesn't have any friends. He doesn't belong to any groups or clubs. His social isolation has grown since he's been unemployed despite my efforts to get him to go to the gym and get out of the house once in awhile. He lost his Dad and doesn't talk to his brother all that much.

When we eat dinner, I've noticed that his side of conversations is all movie and TV show related, and he talks as if the characters are real people he knows. It's kind of disturbing, and a little creepy how he has lost touch with reality, and TV has become his reality.

So, my story originated from that real life experience. It's about a woman around my age whose mother has passed away. Her parents had retired to Florida. Her father comes north for the funeral and he talks about all sorts of people and goings on. She's relieved he'll have friends when he returns to Florida.

Later she visits him during a four day weekend, hoping to meet his friends and make sure he's fine. At lunch, it begins to dawn on her that all his friends are TV characters from reality TV shows that he's become addicted to, and he really has limited contact with real people in his retirement community.

Other story ideas develop from a blurb I read in the newspaper or a magazine. Sometimes ideas blossom from something I see or hear at work, at home, in a store, or when I'm out in the community. Often though, I have no real clue where ideas come from. I can just sit down at the computer with nothing in mind and begin typing and the story creates itself as I go, more often than not taking strange twists and turns along the road.

A mechanical clock tower in town inspired a story that has, so far, been started four times, and I'm still not happy with the beginning, so my brain has been kicking around the idea of starting the story at the end and then going back to the beginning and seeing if that will work better for me.

Usually though it's that a character comes into my mind and begins telling me his or her story. The Archetypes novels began one night at the kitchen table when I was sitting across from Kelly. My daughter has always been different from her peers. I didn't park her in front of a TV or even let her listen to the radio when she was growing up. I chose movies and shows on DVD (many of them BBC programs) for her to watch. We listened to music on CD from many different cultures, but primarily Irish music, Italian music, South American music and Scottish/Gaelic music. We danced in the kitchen. We colored. We read together. We did projects and crafts. We had picnics at the airport and watched the planes come and go. We took road trips into the hilltowns and Berkshires to view the scenery. So- she is different from her peers who grew up watching TV and playing sports. She used my cellphone in high school, for emergencies. She didn't have a Gameboy or PlayStation until middle school. She had a massive library since infancy, and still loves books and will need a library when she buys her own home to shelf all her books. She got her first computer in 2006, her own cellphone in 2009 when she went off to college. She's that's where Amanda Pennington originated from, and Benjamin 'Beans' Carter (Rex). Amanda is burying her bioengineer/scientist/geneticist/doctor father and it strikes her that she is different, that her best friend Beans is different also...and that leads her to a discovery that rocks her world.

I just started writing the story without really knowing where it was going or what was going to happen. Every night after work I would sit down and write some more- and it linked itself to a short story called Crossing Swords about two powerful, wealthy families locked in a violent feud over their passion for collected ancient and antique bladed weapons. The son of one family and the daughter of the other fall in love and he's kidnapped, tortured and going to be murdered. Scarlett saves Thaddeus and they become fugitives from both their families. They eventually have a little boy they call Tiger Rex. Well...Scarlett and Thaddeus are Benjamin's parents...only they've been dead since he was a baby and he was raised by foster parents and the Rex name has been dropped, but he has some mementoes from the Rexes still, but he doesn't associate himself with the Rex family. Anyway- Amanda and Beans go on and have a son they name Tiger. So, the short got blended into the novel but only after the novel was started with no great plot or plan in just developed that way.

So sometimes an idea comes from a previous idea

I have always been more a listener and an observer than a talker. Words jump out at me, images stay with me. I draw on those words and images when I'm writing.

My characters are for the most part purely fictional. However, there are three characters who are taken directly from real life. My late button mentor friend who passed away at age 91 in 2015, began appearing as a character in short stories in late 2014 or early 2015. Pauline loved my holiday stories every Christmas and stories I shared with her, bringing her print copies off the computer when I visited her in South Windsor, CT, leaving them with her so she could enjoy them after our visits. She taught me and Kelly a lot about buttons, and gave us a lot of buttons from her collection (extras) to enhance our collections. She never wanted anything in return. The only thing I knew she might accept from me for all her generosity and kindness was literary immortality. I wrote her into a story called The Weeping Angel, which was the name of a bookshop in the story. She comes into the store to buy historical romance novels, something the real Pauline enjoyed reading. I wrote the story, dropped it off on Sunday and didn't say a word about what I'd done. Monday night I received a phone call from her- she was sort of laughing and crying at the same time when she asked, "I need to ask you something. Is that me? In the story, is that woman me?" and I had to confess, that yes, it was. I had been a little worried that she wouldn't like seeing herself fictionalized in a story, but she loved it! She was very touched and amused and thrilled.

I ended up writing a story called An Intangible Gift, for her as the time for her to think about hospice neared. I wanted to give her that gift- the gift of immortality and explain why, but I couldn't just sit down in her living room and say, this is my gift to you for all you've done for me as my surrogate Mom the past 13 years. In the story the character based on me visits her friend and brings her a story in which the character promises her aging friend literary immortality and tells her why. It is so she will never lose her, so she will hear her voice through the character in every story she writes her into and always feel close to her. She will keep her alive in these characters she creates based on her.

Pauline called me after reading An Intangible Gift to tell me thank you, that she was going to put this story in her safe deposit box because it meant so much to her.

I'm sort of rambling on here- but this is where story ideas come from, and it also demonstrates the power of words and what can be accomplished with them. Pauline passed from this life knowing that I would keep her spirit alive by creating characters based on her life, the stories she told me about growing up on a farm and everything she experienced in 91 years of life. She always had wonderful stories, like my grandfather had always had, too. Her voice will be speaking to me every time I write her into a story. The last time she appeared was in Christmas Cakes, a holiday story. She is there, and the house in the story is the house she lived in only set in a different town, but it is the house familiar to me where I visited her and was the recipient of her love and friendship for years.

Ideas come from outside and from within when you write. A writer draws from everything they ever have heard, seen and experienced. Bits and pieces are woven together to make new images and ideas. From them emerge new characters and stories. It's an ongoing process.

People ask- where do you get your ideas from? I reply from everywhere, everyone, and everything.
I am a processor of everything I experience and from all that input I produce stories and books by tapping into an internal engine called Imagination.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

How Do You Come Up With Your Ideas?

As I was walking around the office building parking lot today, loosening my joints after sitting at my desk for hours on end, I thought about the book I am currently reading and how I'll approach my review.

That thought stimulated the next line of questioning ... how do my author friends approach their next short story or book?

That question morphed into an observation about my book review writings ... maybe this is real writing after all! I take my book reviews very seriously.

When I share my thoughts and observations with my friends on Goodreads and Facebook about the books I've read, it truly feels like creative writing. I must tell a story about a story without spoilers or revelations that will ruin the experience for potential readers. Regurgitating a book's plot like a grade school book report in my view is not a book review at all but you would be amazed how many book reviewers follow that format.

I purposely include some bits and pieces of a story in my reviews, mentioning character's names and places, relationships and perspectives and snippets of the plot but the bulk of my missives are about my relationship to the book and the author's ability to engage me with characters that come alive and feel like they are part of my everyday life. The best books are those that I hate to finish because I know those beloved characters will be gone, like a lost friend, a forbidden love!

For me, the quality of a literary adventure is all about feelings and emotions they evoke in me. Which circles me back to my morning thoughts about my next review.

I'm on page 204 of Delilah of Sunhats and Swans by Melissa Volker. The emotional descriptors that come to mind thus far include comforting, insightful, whimsical, nostalgic, compassionate, longing, profound, prophetic, mystic, spiritual, ethereal ... Delilah feels like everything and nothing at the same time. She is playful and serious, kind but full of hurt. At times Delilah feels like the mystical wisp of a kindred specter and at other times a simple, pragmatic eighteen year old woman far to insightful and sage for her young age. Sometimes I am certain Delilah is supernatural spirit and other times I feel the intense pain for her mortal flesh and bones ... it feels really nice so far! 

The beginning of my next review!

Membership Cards are in the Mail

Last night I wrote up a statement of purpose for the group, and a few brief lines from Kelly and me (and I even spelled camaraderie correctly on the first attempt!!). The membership cards had arrived during a thunderstorm. After a little experimenting with a labeler we scrapped that idea and I hand wrote member's names on their cards in silver Sharpie. (Plain cards will also be available.)

We're moving forward, coming together! I love it! Everyone has so much enthusiasm!

I'm also happy to see members posting here- diving right in with both feet!

You guys are awesome!

I just wanted to say thank you to Susan for inviting me to join the WhipCity Wordsmith group!  This is very exciting.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy To See Member Activity on the Blog

I was happy to find posts by Wayne and Bill on the blog. This is what I want to find, that members are communicating with one another. Although the group hasn't officially been launched yet, there are 11 members. Kelly has diligently added bios for each member on the members page. To view the members page members have to go into the blog like members of the public do by typing the URL in the browser on their computer. This should bring up the blog with the blue background (hard to miss!). You should be able to click on the members page and view the biographies that way. Changes or additions as your experiences and successes occur over time can be emailed to Kelly and she will update your bio.

Members have restricted access to the blog which means you can write a post and you can edit your own posts and make changes (remember to hit the Update button on the top right side after you make changes or edits!) To respond to a post you can write a comment, or write a new post in response. Please be respectful of one another.

Kelly and I are administrators of the blog. If you find something disrespectful, distasteful, improper, offensive, derogatory, inflammatory (I'll stop here as I'm sure you get the idea!) please contact Kelly or me and we will look at it and remove it if it is inappropriate for the group. This is a writer's group so please stay on topic.

In response to Bill's concern that he is not a writer per se I will say this- he is a book reviewer and writes book reviews. Authors live in dread of reviews- a good review can make an author ecstatic while a bad review can plunge them into the pit of despair where they can wallow in that mire of self doubt we all deal with at one time or another, and sometime quite often. Maybe Bill can discuss how he got into reviewing books on goodreads and what he looks for and what he hates seeing in books (I have a whole list of stuff that turns me off when I'm reading a book and, like Kelly, I read with a pen in hand making corrections as I go.) I'm hoping Bill can give us some insights from his experience as a book reviewer. And maybe we can get him writing something other than dry forms!

As I've said before- we've all got something to bring to the table and share. Variety is the spice of life. Listening to other writers can open windows and doors in your own imagination and lead to places you haven't explored or even known existed. Also, if you have any problems or writing woes there will be a chance to obtain advice, insights, guidance, and do some brainstorming and problem solving. Slogging through writer's block? Let's kick around crazy ideas and maybe something will spark.

This group will be a net, a trampoline, a launching pad, a platform, a base, a diving will be whatever you want it to be because all members have a voice and a hand in molding the group.

Like Mike Walsh often says to me- have fun!

The best teachers I ever had were not afraid to show their passion for their subjects. They made learning interesting and fun. They drew the students in and we all carried something away with us at the end of class. I want everyone to carry something away with them each time we meet, and even from the blogs we share here.

Therefore- I'm happy to see members beginning to post!

Member Profiles

Hello and welcome, everyone.

I just wanted to put out a quick FYI on member profiles. Right now, your profile is coming directly from your application. If you'd like it changed in any way, just let me know ( or IM me through facebook).

If you have a website, blog, facebook page, etc, that you'd like linked to your profile, let me know and I'll add it. See Melissa, Lindsay, or Mike's profile for an example of the hyperlinking.

You'll notice that mine and my mom's profiles have writing genres and enjoys reading section. In my head, this seems like a nice idea because 1) we'll get to see what kind of things our fellow members write and 2) we'll have some idea of what we like to read and maybe who might be a good beta reader for our work. Let me know what you think.

Bold Marketing or Grossly Misleading?

I finished Behind Her Eyes by Sara Pinsborough last week and posted my review on Goodreads today ...3.5 Stars rounded down to 3 Stars.

It was a tantalizingly dark and mysterious real life, thriller ... until it wasn't! The story is a paranormal, supernatural thriller, a fact that is mentioned nowhere in the marketing materials. Even Goodreads, the gigantic online book recommendation, sharing and reviewing community, doesn't shelve it in the paranormal genre until number 33 of 2,560 top shelves.

A marketing ploy? An omission by design to attract more readers and avoid being pigeon-holed in a less marketable genre?

My feelings were very mixed at the end. I felt so deceived and manipulated that I am doubtful I'll read any of her other works. 

How do you think your books should be marketed?

This Is a Very New Experience For Me!

By making an entry here am I officially a blogger? If so, this is living proof that old dogs can indeed learn new tricks!

I am kind of giddily excited and anxiously nervous at the same time about this group. Understand that I am NOT a writer like you folks. I am a book reviewer, a social media hack and a communicator of all things dry and boring in the corporate world. My nervousness stems from being in a new and different element with a very different set of expectations.

My management of an investment portfolio (my retirement account!) forces me to keep abreast of the comings and goings on Wall Street so my writing can be as bone dry as Form 10Q or Form 10K filings or as dreadfully voluminous as an IPO Prospectus.

Bear with me. I'll do my very best!

Finally Submitted my own Membership Application to Webmaster

I finally buckled down and completed my own membership application which I've emailed to Kelly. She will be replacing her cheeky little bio of me with the one I've written for myself in the near future on the Members page (although I kind of liked hers- much less wordy than my own!)

Member Lindsay Stenico's Interview

You can read WhipCity Wordsmith member Lindsay Stenico's interview with Fiona McVie at

Lindsay is a recent graduate of Westfield High, anticipating the start of her freshman year at Westfield State University this fall. Lindsay is in the process of publishing her first novel, The Assignment, and is working on her second book. Lindsay had previously published The Assignment on wattpad.

Congratulations, Lindsay! We're so very proud of her and anticipate more great things from her in the future!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Chat With Mike Walsh

When I got home from the Southwick Public Library's Local Author Fair I sent a message to author and member Mike Walsh who resides in VT. I know him because he's a local "boy" who'd grown up in Westfield and we know some mutual people.

We got to discussing WhipCity Wordsmiths which is still in its formative phase. Our messaging conversation moved to what sort of group this would be. Some groups are positively intimidating to new and young writers. Oher groups are so full of big egos there's hardly any room to maneuver never mind exploring, discovering, and learning something. Yes, I want group members to share what they are doing, share how they are doing it (self publishing, traditional publishing, online or blog publishing,or some hybrid version of publishing or not yet publishing ) but I don't want one single person sitting around tooting his or her own horn throughout the entire meeting looking for minions to polish their ego. I want all members to participate and give something to the group.

I want a group that is more relaxed, with members who are comfortable with one another, supportive of one another, encouraging and willing to offer information, advice, etc. as stated in other posts here.

So, our group is not going to be the home of egos as big as Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloons.

This group is for writers/authors of all levels and skills who want to hang with other writers and grow in their craft. So my response to Mike agreeing that humongous ego has no place in a writer's group was- "Writers and authors who enjoy what they do, do it wholeheartedly, and, though they may not be perfect yet, still keep writing and growing, following their path in life, having fun and loving the people they meet along their journey!" is what I want for this group.

When I am with other authors I feel energized and inspired to write, to continue on doing what I love to do. I might be having a bad day, but just sitting for a few minutes to talk to someone who shares my passion makes me feel so much better.

There are all kinds of writers with all sorts of personalities, but we all share one common trait and that is the desire to write. We all won't agree on everything, but differences are what make us each unique writers. We don't have to agree- we just have to love what we do, and respect others who work equally hard at their craft and not think that we're better than anyone else. We are who we are- and we all have readers who love what we do to enlighten them, educate them, entertain them, and amaze them.

So, here it is hung on the blog  Be proud of who you are and what you do, but please don't be insufferable. :)

Friday, June 16, 2017

It's Okay to Play with Words

Last night my facebook status was It's Okay to Play With Words.

I love words. I love how they can be put together in alliterative runs. I love how they can rhyme. I love how they can evoke strong emotions. I love how they can soothe and comfort.

I do not love how they can be used to wound and hurt, but as in everything, it is a part of what words can do and how we use them.

Kelly and I have always had this way of talking to one another using uncommon and large words. It drives her father crazy. We like words like ubiquitous and swarf. As we speak our brains are running through a mental thesaurus so that we substitute every ordinary word for something that means the same but doesn't get used as often in these modern times of using acronyms and abbreviations for everything we text.

Authors should flex their vocabulary muscles to amp up their writing. Everything in this world has been dumbed down, but what is the point of that? So we can all be simpletons merely able to understand very basic language?

There is beauty and variety in the written language. It's the careful choice of words and phrases that makes ones writing powerful and thought provoking, and not just drivel that passes as good writing. Good writing should leap off the page and make the reader sit up and take notice. It should also be subtle and wend its way through the readers conscious mind, evoking feelings, empathy for characters. A considered selection of just the right words can bring a reader to tears. I have literally sobbed while reading certain books. I've also experiencing the thrill of adventure and the chase. The Count of Monte Cristo is an epic novel, but it draws you in and takes you on a rollicking ride as revenge is carefully plotted and played out.

Even as I was recently proofreading Kelly's next novel, Teleport, I was running through the thesaurus in my head. Like her, I hate to find the same word more than twice in a paragraph- it's repetitive and makes my teeth grind, so when I saw a word appear for the third time in a single paragraph I went back and blue penciled in suggested alternate words that would elevate the paragraph from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Learning to proofread your own work and find all the places that could be made better by not repeating the same word multiple times, by replacing words to make lines read more smoothly, etc., is a difficult discipline to acquire, but it's necessary if you want to grow as a writer and you want to keep your readers coming back for more of your work.

I never dumb down my books. Brains actually like to be challenged. We have computers in our heads that are far more complex and powerful than any manmade machine. We use very little of our gray matter in actuality. Flex it a little, be creative, learn some new words and use them in context- don't be afraid of playing with words.

For a fun thing to do when you're bored- write a sentence and then do your best to make it a better, stronger sentence. Here's an example- The gray cat was sleeping in the blue chair. Bumping it up a notch or two I can make that same sentence read like this- The silver tabby curled up like a fiddlehead fern while enjoying a catnap in the cozy back corner of the well worn cerulean armchair. Maybe it's still not the absolute best sentence it can be, but it gives the reader a better descriptive image, paints a picture in the mind's eye of a gray tabby catching some Zzzs in a comfortable old chair.

Writers/Authors, I challenge you to play with your words!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

We've Hit 10!

Welcome to new members Bill , Wayne  and Lindsay!

I'll be working on a more definitive description of the group and whatnot in the near future. This weekend is the first Local Authors Fair at the Southwick Public Library, so I'm preparing for that event. And editing three of my own novels now that I've finished the edits/proofreading of Kelly's second novel, Teleport which will be coming out soon.

And I discovered something interesting about my office manager's son- he'd started writing a novel years ago, but set it aside. Guess what I'm doing? You bet! I'm encouraging him to dig that baby out and getting back to work on it!

Which reminds me- I know two more people who might be interested...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Now we are 8

The group now numbers 8 members!

There are three or four other people Kelly and I have reached out to that we're waiting to hear back from.

I am not limiting membership at this time and would welcome out-of-state authors/writers (at present we have 3 OOS members) who may not have a local group for support. There will be a local meeting held once a month beginning in September, but writers/authors at a distance will be kept in the loop via the blog, and maybe if there's someone tech savvy enough to set it up, via live facebook or YouTube or something. That's an area I don't know anything about so someone else would have to leap into the void and work on that.

Anyway- welcome to WhipCity Wordsmiths Mike, Shawn, Bethany, Wayne, Sandy, and Melissa. If you have a Google account and have been added by Kelly as an author on the blog please feel free to post- but keep it related to writing, please. You can post about your books, your current project, local events for writers, writing tips, etc. Toot your own horn- you have a members bio on the members page, but feel free to talk about yourself a bit. It's a good way to get to know one another better- to get a feel for where we're all coming from and where we all want to go with our shared passion for the written word!

A Pastiche ala S. Holmes

 This was one of my last writing efforts in the old Westfield Writers Group.
My Pastiche didn't realize I could write one but here it is.
Mrs. Hudson was in the midst of a scurryfung rushing to prepare the house for the daily parade of visitors at 221B Baker Street. Having Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson as residents had its disadvantages including a lot of unannounced visitors. Checking the Hallway she spied an old worn overcoat. A quick glance showed a mighty tear right where the armscye was located. Having work as a tailorless she knew how to affect a quick repair before Holmes notes it is missing.
It was bad enough putting up with the constant traffic in and out unannounced, but Holmes habit of letting his Dysania overule his desire to leave his bed in the mornings and made it hard for her to know when to have his breakfast and tea ready for Him.
The door opened and Dr. Watson arrived with a grin clutching what appeared to be a telegram. As he hurried upstairs he shouted a greeting to Mrs. Hudson and said dont worry I will awaken him. Her muffled vocable response was unintelligible to Watson as he reached the doorway of Holmes flat.
Opening the door Watson notices the fire is low and needs attending,using the poker and a shovel or two of coal puts everything right to start the day. Holmes!Holmes! he shouts are you up yet come out of the bed Mrs Hudson is already in a dither about your breakfast and now she must prepare for the two of us. A muffled response from Holmes clearly indicates he is everything but up and awake.
Lighting his pipe Watson notices something is askew at the front window. A closer examination reveals that one of the muntins has separated from the glass pane causing an air leak and draft. Using his hand to measure the damage it appears to be just about a purlicue in length or about 13cm. A call to the local window Glassure will quickly fix that, he would remind Mrs. Hudson on the way out to call in the Glassure.
Shortly there is a noise on the stairs and a knock on the door. A young man says: Mr. Holmes? Watson says he's just arrising I will give it to him. The young man does not wait for a reply or tip but quickly leaves. Watson examines the plain envelope which contains no writting on either side. It is sealed and across the seal is a lipstick stained mark covering the flap.
Watson yells to Holmes a messenger has just left the most peculiar envelope for you, blasted thing has absolutely no indication who or where its is from. Holmes still struggling to overcome his morning dysania finally sits upright and swings his legs onto the floor.
Watson he calls out I am ravishingly hungry this morning please tell Mrs. Hudson to prepare a double rasher of bacon and extra tea with this mornings breakfast as soon as shes able. Also tell her your wants if you not already eaten. Watson drops the letter on the side table and walks to the door. He hears Mrs Hudson and a neighbor in a busy tittle but is unable to descern what is being said. Finally he shouts down to Ms Hudson Holmes breakfast desire and she mumbles a reply.
Returning to the side table Watson again examine the envelope. Walking over to the gas light he turns it up high and holds the envelope in front of the light. No lettering or notepaper appears to be in the envelope, but a thin band of something is there, what could it be? Walking into to Holmes's bedroom Watson being a trained doctor notices Holmes left hand has a very distinct rasceta type crease just below his palm. Holmes I have told you before sleeping with your hand all askew like that prevents proper circulation of the blood and is not good for your health let alone use of your hand when needed. Holmes simply replies; yes Watson so you tell me but the hand functions quite normally .
Holmes finally succumbs to the start of the day and dons his Dressing gown and heads to the living area of his flat. He just sits down as Mrs Hudson scurries into the room with the desired breakfast and important morning tea, dropping the morning edition of the times on the table as well.
Reaching for the Tea Holmes lets out a satisfied sigh of contentment. Watson turns to Mrs Hudson and asks what was that morning tittle I heard with the neighbor earlier? Mrs Hudson replies the neighbor is all up in arms seems her oldest daughter has run off with the fish mongers boy and no one knows where they are.
Harumph says Watson I should have never asked! what poppy cock that! Mrs. Hudson turns and leaves miffed that her shared gossip was not better received.
Watson do sit down and have some of this great bacon and tea dont worry about Mrs. Hudson she is quite used to us both you know. Holmes then turns to the morning Times and starts reading the postings most closely. But Watson interjects Holmes I say what about this damable envelope dropped by the messenger who scurried away before I could even tip him a penny or two? How does one expect to know what business this is about. I can discern no writing anywhere about the damable thing it is a quandery no doubt.
Fetch me the envelope that so abuses your interest Watson. Holmes examines the envelope, puts it down and pours himself his second cup of tea. Holmes again picks up the envelope and placing it under his nose taking a deep smell of it, then turning it over he minutely inspects the lipstick stained seal on the flap. Opening the envelope reveals a small strip of cloth. His eyebrows raise in thought and he places the envelope on the table and crosses the room to the fireplace mantel.
Slowly he fills his pipe with tobacco from his slipper shape tobacco pouch, Lighting his pipe he sits in his favored chair and contemplates what he has just viewed. Silently he again returns to the morning times and quickly scans the most newsworthy items in this mornings edition.
Watson sits quietly observing Holmes seeming disinterest in the mysterious envelope. Suddenly Holmes says; Watson please shout down to Mrs Hudson that shortly Inspector Lastrad from the Yard will be coming for a visit and have some tea and scones ready for us, and an additional tea cup. Watson goes to the door and shouts down to Mrs Hudson Holmes instructions her reply as before was a mondegreen to his hearing, but he assumes it was understood.
Finally Watson turns to Holmes and says I am at a loss to know how you know Lastrad will be here shortly and what about that damable envelope! I dare say I cant fathom any of this Holmes. Holmes replies I saw you clutching a telegram whence you arrived Watson pray what does it have to do with the envelope. Watson sighs and says I got it early this morning from my wife Mary. She arrived at her mothers house safely and will stay a fortnight, so it looks as if I am again at your disposal.
Shortly loud steps are heard at the entry and ascending the staircase. Watson that will be Lestrad let him in please. Watson at the door says welcome Lastrad we were expecting you, have some Tea and scones will you? Lestrad looking surprised responds, glad for the Tea its right cold outside, but how did you know it was me. Holmes told me sometime ago you would appears shortly and here you are.
Gentlemen all is now falling into place. Watson since you are free for the next fortnight I suggest you prepare to join Inspector Lestrad and myself on a little adventure.
Both Lestrad and Watson looked shocked and questioningly to Holmes.
Its really Elementary my dear friends. This morning a messenger delivered this envelope and left suddenly. Watson here has been sore abused by me while waiting your arrival and for a indication of what this envelope means. Its really quite simple my friend.
The envelope contained no writing but was sealed with a lipstick impression used by the author to seal its contents. That seal because of its unusual visible philtrum on the upper lip gave me a clue to its sender. You remember I have done several monographs on perfumes,poisons, tobaccos as well as lipstick. The lipstick image displayed a uniquely shaped philtrum that I know came from a certain individual who was a prior client. Contained within the envelope was a small snood or ribbon of a particuler type of Tartan cloth.
That cloth is of Clan Cathcart which is located just south of Glasgow in Scotland. No other clan uses that distinctive pattern. It is an old celtic clan sign originally associated with a Fort on a river. Clan Cathcart is deeply involved in the maritime trade, and this mornings Times had some articles of interest on problems within the Cathcart business. Since they use Lloyd's as their Insurer I was assured the Lloyd's has probably already contacted Scotland Yard to ask for assistance. It appears the Grand Dame of Clan Cathcart needs our assistance and would prefer no one else know of our involvement.
So here we are all assembled ready to venture forth. If we hurry we can catch the noon express to Glasgow and begin our adventure. Watson tell Mrs Hudson we will be gone for some time and will send her a telegram when we expect to return . Lestrad I see you kept your cab awaiting downstairs, have you already a valise? Good then lets be off.
The Games a foot!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

For Inspiration- here is My Muse (personified)


My muse lies sprawled on a chaise, drunk as a lord and giddy, unable to get up. The yellow sun glares down on his head making his longish, wind-blown hair look shot through with fiery highlights so that he seems like a bright, liquid flame in a brazier.

I scowl at him like a thunderhead from the chilly shadows of my den, seethe at his wasted brilliance while the keyboard lies stiff and cold beneath my cramped fingers. The blind eye of the monitor remains white, stares vacantly into the untidy corner where cobwebs as transparent as lies, yet as strong as good intentions, form nets in which to catch stray thoughts. They seem to drip dewy venom into the carpet for today all my thoughts are poisoned with despair and disgust.

Crumpling yet another sheet of paper in my impotent fist, I long for him to turn his wayward attention back to me. But, he is a fickle flame who follows his own whims. I cannot force him to come back inside, to be sober and diligent. I cannot make him come to me with feminine wiles. It rankles me that I must subjugate myself, lie prone and plead—make myself so utterly vulnerable, so terribly exposed. But ,only then will he deign to return to me bearing the gifts I yearn. How cruel he can be, yet how generous, too.

He speaks to me in French and Italian, the languages of my ancestry. His French is like silk, sibilant and sly. His Italian is alluring and embracing. His words are like knowing winks or inside jokes. Sometimes I understand him, sometimes I don’t and must simply trust. Blind faith.

I disparage him, it’s true, for I am resentful when he plays the fool and goes off on caprices. I cannot help but feel abandoned. I rely on him like a drug. I crave the rush. I am so useless on my own, so unproductive and dull.

He has no qualms about burning the midnight oil. There is no shame in him when he slips into my bed and whispers in my ear, his voice a caress that stirs me, awakens me. He comes and goes as he pleases and I rejoice at his every return as though some small part of me always doubts his reliability and I’ve been fearful of ever having him with me again.

However, it’s these times when I know he’s near, when he’s abstracted and playing games, that he frustrates me most. I can feel him like a breeze tickling my mind here and there. He is like a shower of sparks that cannot quite ignite a fire. He is sporadic drizzle that fails to saturate the soil. He is a drop of oil dissipating on the sea, leaving a gloss, but no real substance—spread too thin.

He is gorgeous when he is in full vigor! His voice resonates, he hits all his marks! His words flow like sparkling water, seamless! He radiates in recitation, is relentless. He has always been that way, always been one to spin a story complete, weave a whole tale start to finish. His arrogance is astonishing, and he is unabashed!

I almost worship him, almost adore him. He is my oldest companion, my truest friend. So, I should be able to forgive him his lapses, his sojourns, his absences, and disappearances. He always returns to me. I cannot believe he is ever with another. We are a pair, a duo, a partnership. We are mutually reliant, and always, just so, shall we be, will we remain.

Making Progress

We now have 7 members!
Applications can be emailed. Contact me at

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Note About Membership

Kelly is an Admin of this group. As we accept members, if you want a brief author bio put up on the Members page you can include the bio with the application (there is a small space allotted for a brief bio on the form, but if you want a more detailed bio on the page and a hyperlink to connect it directly to your own webpage, then Kelly can do that.

Members will be able to post on the blog once approved to do so. To post on the blog you will need a Google account. If you do not have one and do not want to get one, you can send what you want posted to Sue or Kelly and we'll put it on the blog for you.

I'll be working on an Information/Guidelines Article- this is an informal group, but because we will have members of all ages there will have to be certain restrictions as to what can be posted here (as in no erotica, graphic sex, derogatory, hateful, or potentially offensive subject matter/content-you can find other sites to post on if that's what you're writing/sharing.) You can post provocative, thought provoking subject matter, pushing the envelope and outside the box writing, but if a member finds a post insulting, disrespectful, upsetting, or offensive then they can request that it be removed without notifying the author of the post. A simple post of "such and such a post was removed for unallowable content" will be put up in its stead and I am not going to explain to you why-suffice it to say, if it has offended someone then it's going to disappear. That goes for anything I post as well because the rules apply to everyone..

Now, here is the most IMPORTANT thing- if you're going to get ticked off about having a post deleted and you retaliate by giving anyone connected to this group grief about it by any means whatsoever, be it another blog post, contacting a member by email or via their website, posting negative stuff on facebook or in a Tweet or by any other social media means- basically by any means whatsoever- then you will immediately be removed from membership and banned from the group because I will absolutely not tolerate any form of bullying or harassment from anyone in the group. If you can't live with this, then please don't apply for membership, you don't belong in this group.

This is a group for authors and writers who share a passion for the written word- not for those who commit slander, libel, spew hatred or intolerance. This is not a political group.

Creativity, a certain eccentricity, a dedication to the craft of writing, curiosity about writing, self publishing, acquiring an agent, submitting queries and manuscripts, polishing your work, offering gentle critiques are all allowed. Respectful debating is allowed, Sharing insights, information, tips, advice on writing and related topics is welcome. Writers/authors are a different breed of people. It's difficult for non-writers to understand that writing is an internal process. You can stand and watch an artist paint a canvas, a sculptor chisel out a form from a solid block of marble or wood. It's difficult to lean over an author's shoulder as they type on their keyboard, or write longhand on paper and see what's taking shape. It's art with words. The viewer is called a reader. A reader has to involve themselves with the art by reading the words, by following the story, by falling into the story and reading it to the end. Only then do they see the whole work. For the author- it's the creation of a place, a cast of characters who become very real to the writer, and a story through which the characters move and experience things both good and bad in the place that has been created.  Unless you're a beta reader, you can't see what the author/writer is producing until you read the finished book. Authors/writers have to have faith that they are producing a work of art that readers will enjoy.
50,00 brushstrokes, 50,000 chisel blows, 50,000 words...we all work at our art no matter what creative avenue we follow.

I happen to be an author/writer.

Applications Available for Membership

A simple Application form is available for membership consideration. I will have a local group that meets once a month and will post about these monthly meetings on the blog in case someone cannot attend, but if there are writers/authors in other localities interested in being a part of the WhipCity Wordsmiths (ie you have a friend in the group and you also write but you don't live in the area, or you don't have an author group near you and want to be a part of a group but other groups won't let you in, etc.) the group as a whole will consider all applications. Right now, it will be me and Kelly as we're the only two members. As each new member is added they will be included in the decision making process, with majority by vote deciding. When you complete your application and submit it, please be as thorough and honest as you can be. If you haven't published anything, that's fine. It you want to send a sample of your writing along with you application, fantastic. If you have absolutely no writing experience, but want to write because you have a passion for the written word, that's okay, too. I'm a pretty flexible person.

Applications can be obtained, at the moment, by contacting me by email at and requesting one. Applications can be sent as an email attachment, or via snail mail. If you want one by mail, please include a valid mailing address. I'll send the application and a stamped return address envelope.

There has been a surprising amount of interest in the group so I will continue moving forward, however I work full time and have my own writing projects to pay attention to, and an occasional event to attend. When I get everything all worked out and set up I expect the WhipCity Wordsmiths to be up and running in September. There are a lot of people taking vacations, traveling, involved in summer activities, etc. so I'm looking toward a first meeting after Labor Day. 

Membership is in its soft application stage- if you're interested and want to join, just let me know by email as previously stated. There is a membership card in the works as well...should have them in a week or so.

Friday, June 9, 2017


Have decided that there will be a membership card.

Now I need to create a brief application form for Member Info.

In progress...

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

I Am Not an Intimidating Person

When I attend local author events I usually have a handout with me showing the covers of all my books. I get incredulous looks from people and the often heard, "You've written all these books?"

Um-yes. I've written them and self published 24 months I've published 24 books, plus one young reader book, so actually 25 books in 24 months. And I have three additional novels nearly ready to be put out there in Book World.

I didn't write them all yesterday. I didn't write them all last year, or the year before. This is only a small part of a lifetime accumulation of written material that I have finally gotten off my butt and started doing something with. I've been writing for decades. I've only been self publishing for two years. That's what gives this a somewhat surreal aspect to people just discovering me. I am probably intimidating to them because ordinary people don't write much at all and cannot begin to fathom a human being writing so much (oh! If they only walked into my house and saw how much more there is to deal with! It's overwhelming to me, never mind to anyone else!)

I'm not an intimidating person. I am a highly productive person. A prolific writer since day one.

I am a very private person, almost reclusive, but I've stepped out from behind the rock of obscurity a few paces, especially in the past 14 months. I'm just a regular person who happens to write- a lot.
I have a crazy sense of humor, a dark side, a sentimental side. I'm a quiet person, but easily approachable. I like to listen to people's stories, hear them talk. I don't say much myself, but I am a good listener. I remember a lot. I sometimes write something from real life into a story or novel- it's a little game I've played with Kelly since I first started writing for her when she was 3 years old- find the thing from real life in the story. A few times I've written real people from my life into stories and novels (fictionalizing them, but they're still recognizable) I don't think anyone who has appeared in .the pages of one of my stories has ever not liked themselves- I'm not a mean or vindictive person. I like to have fun with my writing. I'm a serious writer/author, but I don't take myself all that seriously as a person. I don't have much in the way of an ego. I like to beta read for other local authors. I have no problem with an author emailing me a story out of the blue with a 'please read this and let me know what you think' attached. I'm happy to do it. I firmly believe that while writing is a solitary pursuit, preparing for publication should not be something one does without support. That's where other people who write and read come in handy. Feedback, gentle critique and guidance, ideas and suggestions...they should be welcomed and embraced by writers and authors because how else can you grown, learn, and improve. Every writer/author should have a network of trusted like-minded friends/acquaintances willing to be of assistance. In every profession there are colleagues and mentors- it should be no different for writers.

I've beta read for four local authors so far and have been honored to do so. Not everyone is fortunate enough to live with another writer for daily feedback, advice, critiques, etc. I happen to have a 25-year old daughter who has been writing since first grade when she wrote a story that floored her teacher- Harold, The Shoe. We mentor and support one another, writing at the kitchen table seated across from one another, reading each other's stories, proofreading and editing one another's work. Not every writer has a live-in support group.

In a nutshell- I have been writing since childhood. I've been an editor of a college literary magazine and contributing writer. I was first published in the real world in 1994, a children's story I'd written for Kelly (Monsters No More), then a personal memoir in a local literary/arts newspaper that no longer exists (Snow Dance), and in a magazine in the UK (Teddy Bear Review). There was also a real life story about our cat Marty who left our house shortly after we'd adopted him from my parent's yard downtown, who walked the 8 miles back to their house from one side of town to the other, even crossing a river to do so, in 6 days time-the story was published in an anthology of cat stories in the late 90's (More Uncommon Cats by Jim Guerin). I was editor of and a contributing writer for the Massachusetts State Button Society Bulletin (an annual 42-page magazine I put out with a little help from Kelly, but mostly singlehandedly) for 10 years. I've self published 25 books. That about sums up my experience as a writer/author.

So, you see- I'm just an ordinary person who enjoys her hobby/other job, one who strongly believes in supporting others who write and dare to pursue their dreams to be published authors. Writers are always welcome to come and sit at my kitchen table...and I want everyone to feel that same sense of welcome when they join WhipCity Wordsmiths. (Maybe I should have called it My Kitchen Table Writer's Group!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Hello and Welcome

This group is in the Evolving stage...

Basically, this will be a spiderweb on which author and writer spiders will be able to crawl and spin their stories and share info, tips, experiences, et cetera.

This group will have its home base here in my hometown of Westfield, MA where there will be a monthly meeting/get together for those who can attend. Not everyone who joins will be able to attend these meetings, so info will be shared here as to what took place, what was discussed, and so on and so forth.

I am a relaxed and easy going person who happens to be a rather prolific writer/author. I've been writing since I could sit upright at my desk and apply pencil to paper. I was in grade school. I cannot be anymore precise in pinpointing my emergence as an author, however, I can tell you that the song The Lion Sleeps Tonight was on the radio a lot at the time and it inspired my first story about a lion in a zoo who daydreams about his adventures in the jungle- if he could only escape from his cage. I probably called the story The Lion Dreams at Night, or something ridiculous like that, but hey, I was somewhere between 1st and 2nd grade at the time and didn't have the vocabulary I now have, nor the geographical knowledge that would have allowed me to scoff at a lion being in a jungle in the first place- a savannah or the Serengeti didn't come into my awareness until 6th grade social studies.

Anyway- if a meeting consists of a bunch of literary-minded individuals sitting around a table in the local indie bookshop, or at a flash meeting location TBA, drinking out of adult sippy cups and laughing about failed projects, undeveloped projects kicked into dark corners of their brains, and their latest rejection letter (okay, maybe a lot of laughter and a few tears of disappointment and the soothing of crushed spirits and the propping up of broken aspirations will happen, too)...when you get a group of writers and authors together, anything can and should happen. And hopefully, at the end we'll all walk out the door with a little bit of new knowledge, a little bit of ego polished shiny bright for the next foray into submissions and rejections, info about upcoming local author events, the acquisition of a volunteer beta reader, the quiet joy of having found a mentor, and a sense of being a part of a network of writers and authors at all levels. (There's a lot more I could add here but you can fill in the blanks for now.)

We are spiders on a web called WhipCity Wordsmiths- spinning tales is always allowed.

If you want to join and pass the rigorous scrutiny of the Membership Approval Team (which will be comprised of existing members, so right now the team consists of Kelly and me since we're the only members, but it will grow as membership grows) then you will be allowed to post on the blog. I, unfortunately, must retain the right to remove you from being able to post on the blog if I receive complaints or feel your post is out of line for this group which will have members of all ages, not necessarily 18 and over adults. I strongly believe in mentoring young writers and giving them guidance, support and the feedback they need to grow as writers.)

So...this all said...I'm still working on the master plan for the group, but you're more than welcome to contribute your two cents, or contact me about membership, by dropping me a few lines at 

This isn't about's about all of we.