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?

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Additional insights from The Weird World of Words

Here are some other things I learned this afternoon that should be interesting to writers/authors/readers/reviewers/etc. while breezing through Mitchell Symons' The Weird World of Words A Guided Tour-

"John Milton used 8,000 different words in Paradise Lost."

"The average reader can read 275 words per minute."

"The vocabulary of the average person consists of 5,000 to 6,000 words." (So, if you're hearing the same thing from someone over and over again, you probably are.)

"The nine words: the, of, and. to, it. you, be, have, and will make up a quarter of all the words used in English."

"Accommodate is the most misspelled word in English."

"Strengthlessness, eighteen letters long, is the longest word in the English language with just one (repeated) vowel."

"The only fifteen-letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable."

"Just 1,000 words make up 90 percent of all writing."

Fascinating fact because for many of us this has a local connection- "Dr. Seuss invented the word nerd for his 1950 book If I Ran The Zoo."

"Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words."

And because you've probably always wondered about this, "Aphthongs are silent letters (in words such as the 'k' in know and the 'p' in psychology.)

And, bear with me here, a little history of where it's from:

Ever wonder about the words blog and blogger? Here's the history in a nutshell:  "It was an American blogger-one John Barger- who set the blog rolling when he started what he called a 'weblog' in 1997 on the basis that he was 'logging the web.' Almost immediately, another American (Peter Merholz) broke the word 'weblog' into 'we blog' and later just 'blog.' From blog to blogger was inevitable."

So- always play with your words and have fun- you're a writer or author, after all! No license is required to have fun with words!

That word

I was reading  Mitchell Symons' The Weird World of Words A Guided Tour this afternoon and found the word I needed a few days ago when I couldn't think of the word I wanted. Here is a quote from the book: "The word lethologica describes the state of forgetting the word you want."

I suffer from lethologica quite often. My lexicologist has prescribed me a thesaurus and a dictionary. All writers should seek the help of a professional lexicologist when they are having trouble word finding.

Delilah of Sunhats and Swans

I finished Delilah of Sunhats and Swans last week. Great little story that left me with a warm feeling of peace and contentment. My review is on Goodreads.

Musing on a Friday Afternoon!

"It's not the heat it's the humidity" is the saying that comes mind as I walk around the parking lot of my office building, working towards my daily movement (steps!) goal. My conversation with a fellow book reader and reviewer helped distract me from the sweat running down the center of my back and the discomfort of the heavy, sticky air pasting my hair to my scalp. Did I mention that I detest heat and humidity? Suffering the indignity of both at the same time drives me crazy.

But this is not a weather report or a message to the meteorological complaint department. This is about reading books and talking about books and how books can bring different people, even complete strangers, together. This is about my call of distraction today.

Kelli and I were strangers. We met on Goodreads. She lives in Norwell, MA, attended UMass-Amherst, and is a prolific book reviewer.

I spend a lot of time on Goodreads, maybe too much. Coincidentally enough I went to UMass-Amherst albeit over a decade earlier, drank my share of really, really cheap beer at the Blue Wall and equally have a love affair with the coast of Maine.

I was introduced to Kelli through mutual Goodreads friend Lisa from the CT shore. I don't remember why but I was afraid of Kelli. Maybe it was her sharp tongue or superior whit. I read her reviews and watched her vehemently defend her positions on books and authors. Maybe it was not fear at all. Perhaps it was intimidation. Yes, that's it. She intimidated me even though we had not one iota of interaction. So if we never met or interacted in any way, then I am intimidating myself right?

Lisa, from somewhere in CT, one of the shore towns I think, highly recommended I befriend Kelli on Goodreads. I did. Now we talk once a week about books and the folks who write them. We critique the plot, dig into the language and the flow of the story, poke at the believably of the tale and share our relationship with the characters.

Nothing personal my literary friends but somethings, often times really, we question the author's judgement, challenge the story-line and walk away with some very strong opinions about the books we read that we share on Goodreads

The power of books and the people who write them can bring total strangers together to not only discuss your creations but forge lasting and enduring friendships centered around your written words.

Thank goodness for the authors in the world!