I've published a book of short fiction on Amazon's Kindle store.

Find it HERE -- Just $4.99 USD

Saturday, June 29, 2013

An Author in Training - continued

Since I rarely had internet access on my quest, (remind me to get my next iPad with G-whatever-number), i'm finally back to blogging. i have some catching up to do, so tonight, I'm sending a blogging postcard from the California coast.

Leaving Santa Barbara the coast is rocky and irregular. Dotting the shoreline are a multitude of small, carved-out niche-harbors, their tiny, crescent-shaped  boulder beaches isolated from each other by jutting stone promontories and peninsulas. Here and there, an irregular, saw-toothed rock formation rises from the water, erosion's effect on ancient land strata.

The train runs along the edge of the cliff now, on one side a rock wall so near, i could reach out and touch the sandstone cliff, on the other a drop-off so near, so sheer, I can hear the surf pounding the shore–can see glassy green waves, curling and foaming toward the sand, before shattering into millions of shards of liquid sea glass.

Sprinkled along the sand are tiny humans, dwarfed by the grandeur of the sea and the shore. In pairs, groups, or solitary bliss, they swim, splash, and fish. Here and there, an occasional child or adult pauses in their activity to wave at the passing travelers. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Another Sample

  Wait! What was that sound? She heard something that sounded faint and far away, but at the same time bright and clear. She tried to locate its source, but it appeared to come from everywhere, and yet nowhere in particular. It seemed to have different components, some humming, buzzing, and whistling, some chime-like, others booming, swishing, or rasping. It all combined into something immense that flowed through her and made her feet want to move. What was it?

Suddenly, he was there—Shaddai, radiant and glorious, shining brighter than the morning sun. "You hear it." His words were not a question, but a statement. Eva nodded.

"I hear it, but what is it?"

"It is the music of the universe." He made a sweeping gesture with his hand that seemed to include all of creation. "The earth and everything in it, the heavens with the sun, moon, and stars, all worshiping me for who I am, and all praising me together for creating them. They rejoice with exuberance the fact that I spoke them into being."

"So everything in creation has a song of praise to you, and they all sing together?" Eva considered this for a moment. "Do I have a song, too? Can I sing with creation?" Eva shifted slightly. The song of creation still made her feet want to move.

Shaddai nodded. "Yes, your song will be added, and you will dance to the music of the universe, as well."

"Dance?" Eva was puzzled by this new word.

"Dance," Shaddai repeated. "Your feet want to move at the sound of creation's song, do they not? And your voice wants to burst forth. This is 'dance' and 'sing'! Follow their leading in the song and dance of worship."

Eva stood for a moment, still and listening. Then her feet began to move, and she ran, jumped, and stomped. Her entire body joined in, and she twirled, swayed, and flung her arms wide. Now a song bubbled up from the depths of her being, and poured from her lips, soaring high and clear, dropping to a low growl, chirping, whistling, and clicking her tongue. The song and dance built in intensity—faster and faster, higher and higher—until it reached a crescendo, and with one last, highest note, she dropped to her knees before Shaddai and pressed her forehead to the ground.

An Author in "Training" - I'm Baaaaack!

Hi, folks! Sorry about being MIA for a couple days. Amtrak has very limited internet services, so I had to grab a server for a few moments as we'd pass through a station. Not much time to be profound.

Then, when I got here,  I'd had 2 nights of little to no sleep before I left home (excitement) and 2 nights of "sleeping" on the train. I don't remember falling asleep here at my friend's house on Thursday night.

Now after a couple good nights' sleep and a day of  R&R, I'm going to post a couple pictures and an excerpt, and then I'll be ready to get to work. A few things that will be informing my writing:
a lighthouse
a cemetery
a debate
natural wonders
several conversations

Uploading a few photos and an excerpt, and then back to writing.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Where are we? If it's Wednesday, this must be Kansas....

Wednesday, June 19, 2:43 am

We're somewhere (in Kansas?) and we're stopped near some place with wi-fi.

On the move!

(Footnote: I was right! It was Newton, Kansas!)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

An Author in "Training" - 'Next Stop"

Galesburg, Illinois has free city wi-fi!

Just spent some time talking with a couple from Australia.

On the move!

An Author in "Training" - Almost Out

I'm at Union Station, Chicago. I finally found wi-fi. I'm almost out of battery power (5%). I'm almost out of time before I board the next train (to LA). I'm almost out of familiar territory. More later. My sister, Cindy, will be posting for me if I can't.

Gotta run! iVaya con Dios!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Daddy's Girl

Tomorrow is Father's Day, and I don't know if the day will ever get any easier.
The ads about "Buy Dad this," Give Dad that," hurt! I wish I could give him a gas gtill, or a silly card, or an ugly tie. But most of all, I wish I could give him a hug. Just a hug. Just one more hug. There are times my arms almost ache to wrap around him.

But I've been thinking the past few days, and I've realized that a couple of things I inherited from my dad (besides my narrow jaw and my terror in front of a crowd) are his love of travel and his enjoyment of a good story. Hmm...sound familiar?

And he loved his family.

And he loved God.

So I've decided that tomorrow I'm going to honor my dad by going to church and honoring God. Then I'll honor Dad by loving and enjoying his grandkids and great-grandkids (and his son-in-law).

Then, Monday, I'll honor him by getting up and packing for my train trip, and Tuesday, by going on the trip. (He loved trains, too.) I'll honor him by soaking up the sights and taking pictures and making friends and helping people in need.

But most of all, I'll honor him by finishing the book. Because another thing he loved was seeing me stretch to reach my potential.

So, Happy Father's Day, Dad!

This year, for your special day, I'm giving you a busy,motivated, happy, helpful, friendly, accomplished, confident woman—me! I know it's just what you've always wanted.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

An Author in "Training" - 'Til the Storm Passes By

Sometimes, you just need to find bedrock to hook your anchor into. Sometimes, for me, that bedrock is an old song. Last night, sitting in my basement, listening to the wind, the rain, and thethunder, two songs kept playing through my head. Today, as I look out on a fresh-washed world, I offer them to you, with any help you might find in them as you face whatever storms may be heading your way.

O, God Our Help In Ages Past

O, God our help in ages past
Our hope for years to come
Our shelter from the stormy blast
And our eternal home.

Beneath the shadow of thy throne
Still may we dwell secure
Sufficient is thine arm alone
And our defense is sure. 

Safe 'Til The Storm Passes By

In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face 
While the storm howls above me and there's no hiding place 
'Mid the crash of the thunder, precious Lord hear my cry, 
"Keep me safe til the storm passes by."   

'Til the storm passes over 
'Til the night is no more 
'Til the clouds roll forever from the sky 
Hold me fast, let me stand 
In the hollow of thy hand 
Keep me safe till the storm passes by. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Countdown

Less that a week to go now, and I'm getting butterflies. Mostly just excited butterflies, but still—jumpy tummy. My packing is mostly done, except for the things that I'll be using up to the last minute. I'm still paring my packing. I'm hoping to get it down to two bags and a purse. (So there, Mark!)

II'm not going to write much this evening, because we're battening down the hatches for what they say is going to be a doozy of a storm—sort of a straight-line hurricane—kind of a "tie down your cows" sort of night! (It's called a derecho, which is "right" in Spanish, but I don't see anything very right about it....)

Anyway, I'm including another sample to nibble on, and I'll be giving a small  "thank you" gift to the first ten people who comment on here after the storm has passed through Grant County. Let's see who's paying attention. :)

Now, "on with the show":

As she peered through the half-light that she would learn to associate with early morning, she heard Shaddai speak: "Sea life!"

Immediately, the sea began to roll and churn, as if the very water itself were coming to life. In the seeming chaos, Eva caught glimpses of bright and dull colors, flashes of silvery scales, a seeming tangle of fins and tentacles, skin and fur and membranes. Gradually, the confusion began to sort itself out into schools of salmon, pods of whales, clusters of ballooning jellyfish. A giant squid stretched and curled its arms before, with a slow, silent twirl, it gradually sank down into the water and out of sight. She caught only a momentary glimpse of the strange angler fish, with its huge mouth full of long, thorn-like teeth, and the odd, fleshy lure dangling between its eyes. Then it flicked its tail and dove straight down, headed for the dark landscape of the ocean floor where it would find its home.

In the dim light before sunrise, the surface of the ocean glowed with expanses of phosphorescent krill. Eva heard a loud splashing approaching from a distance. As she watched, hundreds of dolphins and sea lions appeared on the horizon, swimming through the sea of krill toward her, their bodies aglow with a film of the microscopic creatures. Breeching and diving, the warm blooded sea creatures seemed to perform an aquatic dance expressing a primitive joy and gratitude for their place in creation.

As the dancing water mammals passed beneath her and vanished in the distance, Eva heard Shaddai speak again. "Birds!" She couldn't have told you how it happened, but instantly the air around her was filled with hundreds—perhaps thousands—of birds of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Hawks and swallows swooped and dove over and under her, circled around her head, and swirled off into the distance. A flock of seagulls and a pair of eagles glided across the sky, rising and falling on the invisible streams of air. Several pelicans and a lone albatross flapped ungracefully past, somehow managing to avoid a collision with the couple dozen dainty, jewel-toned hummingbirds hovering inquisitively around her face.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Traveling Light

Last night at a graduation party, I saw a friend whom I hadn't seen for close to 10 years. She was very excited for me and had we talked for several minutes, when the topic changed to "Luggage," and I mentioned that I would be living for close to two weeks, out of two carry-ons. Shawn then told me about an article she had read, on a woman who attempted the challenge of living for a month on seven articles of clothing. Seven!

  • pair of jeans
  • pair of shorts
  • long sleeve shirt
  • short sleeve shirt
  • dress
  • sweater
  • jacket

That got me wondering about how light I could travel while I'm "in training," and I came home, took a look at the clothes I had laid out as potentially packable, and started "thinning the herd." I knew all along this day would come. After all, I have no checked luggage. As of last night, when it comes to outer wear (as opposed to underwear) I have no more than three pieces of any one item (ie., 3 tank tops. Today, I plan to see how it all fits.

That whole thing got me thinking about emotionally "traveling light." How often do I carry excess baggage?—Things that are uncomfortable? Things that don't fit anymore? Things that make me look old and tired? That's something I need to think about. Maybe it's time to jettison some of my emotional baggage.

How about you?

Friday, June 07, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Training at Home (part 4)

I have to say, you meet the nicest people when you're "training'! Tonight, it was Laura. Somehow, my Amtrak reservations had gotten garbled, with one ticket being sent to one email address, and the rest being sent to another. Laura (with her smiling voice) talked us through getting everything sent to one email address. Then she found me a direct dial number to the internet support department, so tomorrow I can call them direct (no computerized routiing system—thank you, Laura!) and see if they can combine the various emails and reservations into one coherent account.

So, thank you, Laura! If all the Amtrak employees are as nice and as helpful as you, I'm going to have  a wooonnnnderrrrfulllll time traveling by train. Like I said, you meet the nicest people on the train!

OK, a little business to take care of, then it's time for another sample. Here's the deal, agents, editors, and publishers like to hedge their bets. In other words, they want—if at all possible—to have a guarantee that a book is going to sell, before they ever offer the writer a contract.

So, here's how you can help.... If you are enjoying these samples, and you think you would buy the book if it were available, pleeeeeze leave a little note in the comment section where you say, "I'D BUY THE BOOK!" and your first name and last initial. And if you live in the U.S. or Canada, please include your state or province, or if you live elsewhere, the name of your country. No commitment. No obligation. Just that it's something you''re willing to consider. Thanks!

Now, on to the sample....

By the time they reached the tree line, Eva realized that this skill—walking—was something she could conquer, and she began to push herself to master it quickly. When they reached the edge of the clearing, and Aidan turned her to walk back the other direction, she gently pulled her hands from his and began to walk alone. Once or twice she fell, sitting suddenly with a soft flump on the cushion of grass, but she rapidly developed skill and confidence. Her steps lost their shuffling hesitancy, maturing into an energetic stride.

When Aidan saw her determination to learn, he began to show her variations on walking. He walked backward, hopped on one foot, jumped across the stream. Eva copied his moves, nervously at first, but with growing courage. Her favorite “trick,” though, was running. From the first time she saw Aidan flash past her, something responded deep inside. She wanted to move like that, too! Her first attempt at running brought a rush of pure joy she could scarcely have imagined. The air brushed her face as she rushed past it, and she could feel it lifting her long, copper-colored hair, making it flow and flutter behind her as she ran. The drumming of her heart and the impact of her feet on the ground connected her to all of creation around her in a manner she couldn’t explain, and in some way she felt even more alive.

The dogs charged from their places in the circle and bounded after her, tails waving and tongues lolling. They caught up with her, circled around her, rushed off the the stream for a drink, before racing back to her. They settled into a companionable trot, one dog on either side of her, as she jogged around the edge of the clearing.

Several pairs of birds, hawks and swallows included,  joined the impromptu procession, swooping, and diving, calling to their mates and to the other birds as they rode the air currents, their circle and curves weaving an intricate pattern in the sky over her head.

The entire family of cats—from calicos and civets to lions and cheetahs—sprinted from their places around the clearing as if to join the pursuit, although in reality they were grasping the opportunity to race madly around in circles for no apparent reason, ducking and dodging around each other and veering off inexplicably.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Angel Count (and Sample)

I want to take a moment to say "Welcome!" to my latest Angel in "Training", L.D. Thanks for letting me know you believe in what I'm doing.

And now, without further ado, another nibble:

+ + + + +  

Once again, Eva found herself soaring. This time, however, she was so high that, other than the unrelenting blackness around her, the only visible object was a small, blue and green disk. Since the focal point of all this so far had been earth, she assumed that this was once again true, and the disk must somehow be earth. From this distance, her planet glowed like a huge jewel. Eva sighed, overwhelmed by its beauty.

Gradually, as she hovered in the darkness, her attention was drawn to an interruption, visible in the corner of her eye. She turned and squinted into the darkness, trying to interpret what was taking place. With her back turned to the glowing earth, and Eva's eyes beginning to adjust, the objects reflected back just enough light from earth that she could make out what was happening—barely.

From every direction in the blackness, debris, particles, dust was drifting purposefully toward a collecting point near where she waited. When the material reached the gathering spot, it joined with the other debris in a slow, spiraling dance. More and more dust and debris collected, adding to the growing spiral, now winding itself tighter and tighter, drawing in every last particle.

Now the spiral began to spin faster and faster, shaping itself into an orb. The orb drew tighter in on itself, continuing to pick up speed, until it spun faster than her eye could register, and appeared to be standing still. Eva kept watching and soon, she noticed the center of the orb beginning to glow. While it spun faster and faster, and glowed brighter and brighter, Eva held her breath, awaiting...what? Just as she reached the conclusion that there was nothing more to see, a rumble and a roar came from the center of the spinning mass, and without further warning, the orb burst into flame.

The sun! Eva shaded her eyes and backed away from the intense heat. She glanced over toward the earth. It had glowed before, but now it was positively radiant. On the opposite side of the earth, the furthest possible from the sun, glowed a bright white disk—the moon, reflecting back the light the sun bestowed. Eva glanced around her at the unrelenting blackness, and found it relenting; surrendering to millions of tiny, pinpoint stars. She looked once more at earth. It was slowly revolving! As the globe rotated, every area of the planet received its share of the sun's light and heat. She watched as an area rotated from light to dark, and back to light. Evening and morning...the fourth day.

An Author in "Training" - Training at Home (part 3)

Yesterday, I stopped by the office of my friend, Mary Alice, just as she decided to go to lunch. So she took me with her. We went to the K Bistro, in Marion, since it's someplace she enjoys and I had never been. Good choice! It was easy to see why Mary Alice likes it. The food was delicious, with a lot of thought and creativity put into the making and presentation. one example would be the "S'more-tini," a dessert of (I believe) chocolate syrup, chocolate bar pieces, graham cracker pieces, and vanilla ice cream, served in a martini glass!

But what made the meal was our waitress, Robin. She was attentive without being obtrusive. She made suggestions without being pushy. She was friendly and conversational, without making it seem like she was butting into our conversation. And I loved her hair! With cornrows on the sides and curls on the top and down the back, I almost thought of it as a hairstyle inspired by the mohawk, but with a pretty, feminine attitude the mohawk could never have.

So if you go to K Bistro, ask for Robin. With her cute hair and cheery smile, someone should inform the chefs that it they want to get the most "presentation mileage" from their creations, they should always have Robin deliver the food to the table.

Thanks, Robin! I'll be back—with or without Mary Alice (although I doubt she'd turn it down)!

Saturday, June 01, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Training at Home (part 2)

I'm not giving a lot of details today, but the past few days have seen a group of individuals go above and beyond the call.

Thank you to:


Remember - pink is the new black!

An Author in "Training" - Oops!

Oh, no! I forgot to list my 18th angel! Sorry, M.D.! I haven't forgotten you! Love you!