NOTE: Commentary is made as a private citizen and not as Regional Coordinator for Silent No More or Leader of Rachel's Hope, unless otherwise stated.

Friday, May 30, 2014

I Am What I Write?

Last night my wonderful publisher, Helping Hands Press,
released Volume II - Savage Sojourner - of my Grave Obsessions series.  

Now don't freak out!  I know the post title says "I Am What I Write", but that doesn't mean I'm a psychopath ... Maybe a little like Keegan (I sometimes have faith struggles) or Sister Bernadette (sometimes I don't). I am, however, akin to the title of the series - without the Grave (well, maybe just a little grave).

One would think after Volume II I would sit back and relax for awhile, and trust me, I wish I could - but Detective Keegan won't let me (that's cute, Patti ... blame the character).  She has propelled me well into Volume III.  She was anxious to learn if she changed careers, and angry with the direction I chose to take her (take THAT Keegan....that's what you get for not letting me rest!). She's also not pleased that I placed her into another heart wrenching situation that has already resulted in predawn sob-fests for both of us.  Yikes!  Looking back at what I just wrote, I probably should change the first paragraph. Maybe I am psycho or closer to how fellow authors, Murray Pura and William Tasch described me:  "Another Sybil" or "Dr. Jekyll & Patti J. Smith".

Seriously, writing by the seat of my (our) pants is a wonderful experience...not knowing what will show up on the page from one minute to the next.  I have no clue when I'll finish this volume, but next week I leave on a New Orleans vacation with my husband and father.  I already agreed to leave my laptop at home (gasp!), so I will either embark on another marathon writing session until Wednesday or try to figure out a way to camouflage my laptop....(it's a large mirror honey,'s condensed cosmetics....WAIT!  I know!!!! ...  It's a travel ironing board!). 

Stay tuned and have a blessed day!!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Appointment

Today was one of those days ...

My dad gave up his driver's license a few weeks ago, so I'm chauffeuring him around in his van.  He cancelled his insurance and I added the van to mine.  The last step was to add my name to the registration.  Of course, that's one of the few things you cannot accomplish online through the DMV website.  "No problem!", I said to myself, "I'll just make an appointment. We'll be done in no time!"

We arrived a few minutes before the appointed time and gasped at the line that formed from the door, all the way around the corner.  Is this the only DMV office in California????  I approached a security guard (used for crowd control and meting out justice for line jumpers), and asked where to go if we had an appointment. He said, "Line B".  

We entered the overcrowded building, grateful Line B had only three people ahead of us.  Now,  I'm all for excellent customer service,  but I swear the woman at the appointment window was a long lost relative of the three people ahead of us. Twenty minutes later we reached the window.  I handed her the paperwork, and she gave me two forms.  "Once you fill these out, go to Line A".  Line A?????  I HAD AN APPOINTMENT!  Not wanting to face the wrath of the inside security guard (probably used to restrain people like me that are told to go to line A), I bit my tongue, grabbed the overused clipboard and dad and I sat down on a hard bench, where lo and behold, a mother and four kids were waiting.  At least the mother was.  The kids were screaming and running around, the mother just sitting there and smiling.  Ever hear of the word QUIET or SIT DOWN?  

I quickly finished the forms and dad and I wandered over to line A.  No one was there!  Woo Hoo!  Another woman called us up, and I was sure this would be the last step.  She smiled a wicked smile and like a school teacher, circled two boxes I had missed.  "You need to fix these and return to Line A."  ARGHHHHHH! Those two boxes needed a few numbers, and that's all.  I could have fixed it in three seconds but NOOOOO.  So I grabbed the ratty clipboard, escorted dad to a seat, then scurried back to Line A while filling out the stupid boxes.  Reaching the window, I felt victorious. This should be it....  I HAD AN APPOINTMENT AFTER ALL.

She took the forms, wrote something on them and stapled a piece of paper on top. It said J-010 and she uttered the unbelievable words...."Just look at the display board for your number to come up."  WHAT???????   I  HAD AN APPOINTMENT!

I joined my dad in the crammed waiting area - everyone was staring intently at the display board, mentally willing their number to pop up.  Okay, it shouldn't be much longer....I HAD AN APPOINTMENT.

The woman that manned the window was dealing with someone and it was taking forever.  She kept asking him for more information (why didn't he get sent back to line A?)  Twenty minutes later it appeared she was finishing up.  She gathered all the papers, smiled, then RIPPED THEM UP, starting all over again. Then she called over her supervisor for assistance.  They chatted for I swear thirty minutes  (okay, five). She reentered all the information into the computer and this time it must have been correct.  She took the guy's money and magically J-010 was on the reader board!  

We walked towards the window as if we were receiving an academy award!  We did it!  Thank you, thank you!  Then.....some scrawny kid squeaked in front of me complaining his number had not come up yet.  NOW WAIT A MINUTE!  I was just about to grab dad's cane and .... well, let's not get into that, when the woman told the line cutter he needed to wait like everybody else. (I love her!) Again, we handed over the  paperwork, she smiled, did a few things on the computer, asked for the fees and printed out our registration.  When she handed me the coveted document I winced, waiting for her to send us to another line for something. Nope! We were done....

Not hour an a half...WE HAD AN APPOINTMENT!?!?

From the DMV website:

Appointment System

Welcome to the DMV Appointment System. For faster service, please make an appointment before you visit a DMV office.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nine Months

May 28, 2013 … my last day in the work force.   I wasn't planning on retiring early, but my dad needed help caring for my mom who was suffering from dementia and cancer. We wanted her to stay home, close to the people and things she loved.

Last night I was hit with an epiphany: My mother carried me in her womb for nine months. I just happened to count the months from when I retired (May 2013) to when my mom passed (February 2014) … Nine months.

During her pregnancy, my mother built an everlasting bond with me. She experienced wondrous changes each month as I grew and she looked forward to the day she could hold me in her arms.

As my beautiful mother did for me, I was able to do for her. Leaving my job gave me the ability to care for her and strengthen our bond through countless hours of laughing, crying, reminiscing and sometimes just sitting silent together.

The only difference in our nine months was she lovingly said hello as the doctor placed me in her arms and I lovingly said good-bye as she was welcomed into God's.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Have a Seat: Clara Freeman!

Clara Freeman is a former nurse with over 30 years experience in Healthcare. A poet, freelance writer and inspirational author whose work, geared toward inspiring and motivating others, has been published in several magazines and anthologies. A mother of two, grandmother of six and a recent great grandma, Clara makes family a priority, but admits to being easily bribed by the allure of sunrises, sunsets and great conversations. 
Believing that her passion and purpose is a gift from God, Clara uses her voice to invoke possibility. She also shares personal stories of struggle and triumphs on a personal journey to wholeness in her eBook, “My Life Toward Authenticity-My Authentic Woman Story” available for purchase on   Clara is currently working on two books; a memoir and a romantic thriller and hopes to complete both projects by the end of the year.  To find out more about her writings and mentoring services, visit her blog at   

What inspired you to become a writer?  

My love for reading from kindergarten ‘See Spot Run’ to High School English Literature with Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, James Weldon Johnson and  so on. It was the connection and great love for expression I got from reading that fueled the fire in me to create. 

Which of your books do you consider your “pride & joy” Why?  

I self published a short book of poems in 1996, before the internet boom, called “Sometimes Home Is A Lonely Place” and I sold only about 500 copies, but it was my pride and joy because of the realness of people responses, which I felt validated for me the work I was trying to do during a time when I wasn’t quite sure about my creative focus.  

Do you have any preparation rituals before you begin to work? 

I start with Prayer for possibility upon awakening, which carries me into my computer room and the ambiance of solitude and the stillness of an early morning, accompanied by a great cup of coffee. 

If you had to come up with a book title to describe your life, what would it be?

God Knows Whose I Am” 

If you had the chance to have dinner with any author who would it be? 

Wow, so many great authors, living and dead. I would have wanted to break bread with the late Playwright, Lorraine Hansberry, just to be in the presence of her genius. 

We all have family, work and other obligations…how do you maintain balance 
while in the middle of a writing project? 

I’m all about family and my first priority is to my family, so I don’t usually have a problem with it. The reason I get up in the wee hours is so that I can step away from a project if I have to. 

What is one piece of advice that you received about writing that helped you the most? 

I’ve been blessed to have people who are encouraging in their mentorship of my work. But, the advice that stands out the most came from the late poet Gwendolyn Brooks at a time when I wasn’t sure about my path. She sent a card in response to work I’d sent to her. The card reads, in part; 
 “It’s obvious that you are committed to positives and will only say what you feel.  Keep “a-going”!   

Where can we purchase your books?   And how can we keep up with you? 

My motivational eBook, “My Life Toward Authenticity- My Authentic Woman Story” can be purchased at my Amazon author’s page:  or from Barnes & Noble Kindle Edition. You can also visit the following:

 Last, but not least…what and when is your next release?  

About three years ago, I started work on my Memoir and promptly announced it to the public- bad idea because I wasn’t prepared to write it. 
I can tell you that I have returned to complete what I’ve started and I’m also working on a suspense thriller with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. The book follows the protagonist from the mayhem of Las Vegas casinos to the main streets of Memphis, Tennessee, the birthplace of Blues and Rock & Roll. That’s all I’m going to say for now, but Im vowing to remain consistent and hope to have something tangible to share by the end of 2014.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Matter of Closure

There was an interesting discussion on the radio the other day about what adoptive parents go through when their child wants to contact the birth parent(s).  Having gone through that experience, I decided it was time I blogged about it.

My son was placed in foster care when he was six years old. On a Friday, his drug-addicted mother left him and his three year old sister in a run-down motel room, where they were living at the time, and she never returned. It took three days for those two frightened children to be discovered and during the three days they survived on food my son found in garbage cans. The abandonment was reprehensible, but it paled in comparison to the abuse they endured since birth.

Who could resist that face?!!!
To make a long story short, they were both released for adoption. Their social worker and counselors determined it was in their best interest they be placed separately due to a variety of circumstances. My ex-husband and I adopted Bobby and another family in Connecticut adopted his sister.  We arranged cross-country visits during summers and they maintained weekly contact by phone.

As with many children that have suffered abuse, he joined our family with severe emotional and behavioral problems that reached the point of his needing institutionalization for assaults and two suicide attempts.  I became so angry I started researching (before I had Internet) and found both biological parents.  His mother had moved to Michigan and his father was in Colorado.  I wanted to give them a piece of my mind but my intention was to ask if they would be willing to talk to my son.  I knew he needed closure in order to move forward.  Obviously they were both surprised to hear about the adoption, but willing to cooperate.  Thankfully both were clean and sober at that point.  (I also wanted to ask why they hadn't tried to find their children but as I said before, that wasn't my intention, anyway ... it was something they needed to explain to Bobby).

The calls were made under the supervision of Bobby's therapist at the residential treatment facility and it was recommended I not be present.  That day I was an emotional wreck...On one hand I was glad he would be able to get closure and hopefully make significant progress to come home, but on the other hand I was scared he would want to reunite with one or the other and not love me any more.   The calls worked, he made great strides emotionally and behaviorally. He had no intention of reuniting, whew!, and eventually came "home".   Although his parents continued contact for awhile, the letters and calls unfortunately diminished after a few months.

Visiting him in Michigan in 2009
after birth of our second
Seven years ago my son moved from here (California). After the birth of my first grandchild his girlfriend wanted to be closer to her family....coincidentally in Michigan. Once there he asked me if I could find out if his biological mom was still there.  The fear surfaced again...not just with him wanting to see her but having "that woman" part of my granddaughter's life.  To be honest I don't know if it was fear, jealousy or anger.  I did some research (thankfully it was easier via Internet) and she still lived in Michigan about a hundred miles away from Bobby.  He did visit and take my granddaughter, and after the visit he called me.  I fought tears as he said, "Mom, it was so sad, she looked so old and worn out from all the drugs. I'm so glad I have you!"

He hasn't visited her since, but just as Bobby needed closure
so many years ago, I needed some too. I carried a great deal
of anger, hate and resentment towards both of his biological parents.
I had to accept the fact that although they made some bad choices
and suffered the consequences, I had made bad choices too ... during my
"demon years". How dare I judge them?

I don't know if they ever reached out for God's mercy...I hope they have.
Regardless, it's my job to keep my side of the street clean, keep them in my
prayers and forgive ...

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  
Matthew 6:14-15

Present Day :)

I am so very blessed!!!!!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Ten Commandments for the Digital Age

“The digital highway is … a street teeming with people who are often hurting, men and women looking for salvation or hope.  By means of the internet, the Christian message can reach ‘to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).’  Keeping the doors of our churches open also means keeping them open in the digital environment so that people, whatever their situation in life, can enter, and so that the Gospel can go out to reach everyone.”
1: Be positive and joyful. Offer ‘digital smiles’ and have a sense of humour.
2. Strictly avoid aggression and ‘preachiness’ online; try not to be judgmental or polemical.
3. Never bear false witness on the internet.
4. Fill the internet with charity and love, always giving rather than taking.
5. Have a broad back when criticisms and insults are made – when possible, gently correct.
6. Pray in the digital world. Establish sacred spaces, opportunities for stillness, reflection and      meditation.
7. Establish connections, relationships and build communion.
8. Educate our young to keep themselves safe and to use the internet responsibly.
9. Witness to human dignity at all times online. We are well aware of the pervasive prevalence of pornography on the internet which can ‘pollute the spirit’.
10. Be a missionary, be aware that with the help of the internet, a message has the potential to reach the ends of the earth in seconds.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


My book,"Moments with God", includes an article written by the late Jim Benefield, LMFT, "Turning Your Lifelong Regrets into Immeasurable Graces". It was an integral part of my healing and I'm sure it will be the same for all who read it. I was honored he and his wife, Rosemary (a driving force in my devotional writing), graciously allowed me to use the complete article. The following is an excerpt:

Face Your Regrets

The first step to freedom from past regrets is to describe them in detail. Explain what you regret having lost in terms of past, present, and future opportunities. For example, “My life would have been so much better if I had not been adopted into this dysfunctional family,” or “If I had worked harder at my grades, I would have been able to go to the school of my choice.” Express your anger at yourself and at others. When you have finished expressing your anger, imagine yourself wrapping your regrets into “a package”. Then visualize yourself going into the Garden of Gethsemane and presenting your package of regrets to Jesus in his agony.

As you present this package of regrets to Jesus, He invites you to kneel down with Him and you hear Him say, “I will make something good of this.” And then you see Jesus do a very strange thing: He takes your package of regrets, and as he places them together with the multitude of regrets already before him in the garden, He pulls you close to Himself and begins to sob uncontrollably. As He sobs, you hear Him pray to His Heavenly Father. He sees that these regrets have seriously impeded a healthy trustful relationship between you and your Heavenly Father. His prayer to his Father is filled with compassion on your behalf.

You lean close to hear Him pray: “My dear Father, I know that you will refuse Me nothing. I bring you this child whose heartaches and disappointments have interfered with his ability to love and trust You. Father, he is your child, and I ask that You not hold this against him. He has been blinded by so much sorrow that all he sees is himself and his regrets. He doesn't see Us and our love for him. Heal the anger in his soul, and by your grace do not let him be dominated by self-loathing, resentments, hostility and unforgiveness towards himself and others.

Oh merciful and forgiving Father, touch him with the fire of your forgiveness and plunge this fire into the deepest recesses of his being, so that he is moved also to seek out forgiveness from You for those that have harmed him. Remove this bondage of hate and let him no longer be ruled by it. Remove the dismal outlook that he has for his future and fill him with hope and knowledge of Our love for him. Give him all that he needs so that he can receive forgiveness for himself and hold on to Your forgiveness as his most precious gift from You.

By the power that I have in You, I hereby declare this soul free from the destructive effects of the regrets of his past that he has not been able to let go. I declare him free from the harm that he has done to himself and others, and from the harm that others have done to him. Let healing flow into those who have been wounded by his actions and omissions, and when the time is right let there be reconciliation between them.

Place your hands over his heart and seal it with a confident faith in your provincial care for him. Let him see the regrets that he has clung to so tenaciously as “your branding mark” that will forever bind him to your love for all to see. As surely as the cattleman brands his steer for all to know its ownership, so let it be with him. Even as You have used my wounds of the crucifixion to draw mankind back to You, so let his wounds be joined with Mine, co-mingled with my suffering for the expiation of sin and the conversion of souls. Even as none of my suffering was wasted, do not let one morsel of his suffering go unused for your divine purpose.”

As Jesus prays, you notice that your package of anger and regrets is saturated with his tears and by droplets of the blood from the “sweat” of his brow. Jesus holds on to you even more tightly and concludes, “I thank you for receiving and honoring this prayer on (your name)'s behalf even as you receive and honor me.”


Monday, May 19, 2014


    My name is Grace, lover of books, keeper of secrets, editor, and cookie connoisseur. Being the youngest of four children has given me insight and passion for the people and activities which form the pattern of my day-to-day life. Dancing has given me a physical escape while writing allows me to put that passion into words. Being homeschooled, I've had the opportunity to step into a magical wardrobe before breakfast, go on covert missions in Wal-Mart, and chasse' to the Nutcracker. So allow me to share with you the stories and novels which color my dreams, quotes that ricochet in my mind, and characters that I hope you will love just as much as I do.

    What inspired you to become a writer?

    A few things, actually. My sister for one. I remember she dedicated one of the stories she wrote to me, and I remember thinking, "Someday, I'm gonna do that for her." But also, I've always loved storytelling, although I am one of the few authors who can say that I did not like reading growing up. I detested it. "Reading can be fun!" my mom would say. "It's like an adventure on every page." "It's like school on every page," I would respond. When I was given a book, all I saw was that there usually were no pictures, the font looked teeny-tiny, and the chapters were some thirty pages. But between seventh, eighth, and ninth grade, something just kind of clicked between me and books. It helped that I found a book I actually loved. My eldest brother gave me "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," and after that I couldn't get enough of books. I guess I just want to tell stories as well as the authors of whose books finally got through to me.

    Which of of your books do you consider your “pride and joy”? Why?

    Ooh, tough questions. If we are talking in general, out of all the stories I've ever written, I would have to say my pride and joy is a little work called "Essence of Hope." It's not published. It's not even finished. But I cherish that story above all the others. Why? Probably because I didn't get in it alone. My best friend and I came up with the initial concept of four siblings separated at birth and brought back together to save the kingdom. It has gone through many-a-draft since then and I have never forgotten it. Not for a moment.

    Do you have any preparation rituals before you begin to write?

    I think the procrastination ritual differs from one person to another. (I'm talking about with college essays, here.) For the creative writing process, it's a miracle when I can pull up one of my stories and write, which means I'm constantly in the "thinking about it" phase, writing down quotes, thinking about character backstories, how they would react, the bonds that form. Probably a good sixty percent of my writing ritual has to do with creating backstory. The past is just as fascinating to me as the present. When I do sit down to write, I make sure and always have a glass of water next to me, for when my hands need a break. Sometimes I put on movie soundtracks (my favorites are "Pirates of the Caribbean" and any of "The Lord of the Rings"). At any rate, though, once I sit down and really start hashing it out, there is not pulling me out of that world for at least a couple hours.

    If you had to come up with a book title to describe your life, what would it be?

    "Mace for Dinner and Other Stupid Stories".

    If you had a chance to have dinner with any author who would it be?

    Just because I could probably sustain a conversation with her, Jennifer L. Armentrout. She writes paranormal fantasy, both YA and adult genre. I would love to have a conversation with C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien, but I doubt I would be able to keep up with their philosophical minds or their Cambridge vocabulary. Hahaha! 

    We all have family, work and other do you maintain balance while in the middle of a writing project?

    With great difficulty. I wish I could say that I spend all my free time writing, but in truth I spend a lot of it trying to let air out of the vents, so to speak. If I'm in the middle of a writing project than I absolutely make time for it, but it is one of those things where I'm like, "Okay, after work I have to pull out some chicken for dinner; I need to do some laundry; I have to read that essay for class tomorrow... AND THEN I'll write." I find myself praying a lot for time to write, or the energy or something. My life is heavily dependent on prayer.

    What is the one piece of advice you received about writing that helped you the most?

    The greatest piece of advice came from a good friend who told me not to wait until tomorrow to make my dreams happen. He said that if I wait for the "perfect opportunity," it may pass me by, or everything else will. Seize the day, make it happen, don't wait until tomorrow, and above all keep God first.

    Where can we purchase your books and how can we keep up with you?

    All of my stories are available on or for Barnes and Noble Nook. and For whatever reason only the first four books in my one series are available for Nook. Sorry about that. You can keep up with me via my blog . That's where I do all of my updates for writing, stories, and of course the oh-so-fun blog post.

    Last, but not least.....What and when is your next release? Provide a brief synopsis....

    My next release should be in May, I believe, but don't quote me on that. I'm doing a collaborative project with about five other authors and each month we all write a new segment to the story, so whenever my turn comes along, I will put it on my blog. The story is called "Colony Zero". Very sci-fi and so much fun to write! It takes place several hundred years in the future. Genetic purification has made everyone on Earth physically perfect. No genetic defects. But there are some people who slip through the cracks, born blind, with Down Syndrome, etc. These people are rejected by society and shipped off to another planet called Colony Zero. A small team of specialists is sent there every decade to check on the "Zeroes," as they call them, although no one really expects the Zeroes to live. Well, on one particular mission, the team gets quite a shocker when they are taken captive by the Zeroes who are far from dying off.... Yeah, it's pretty fun. :-)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Out of the Ashes

Here in San Diego County, fires are coming at us from all directions. Visions of families and businesses evacuating, and ruins of homes that fell prey to the flames are flooding airwaves and the internet.  But through the weeds of tragedy blooms flowers of compassion.

Emergency responders are bravely and tirelessly risking their lives, and the press is working non-stop to keep us updated.  Friends and neighbors are reaching out to one another.  Doors are graciously opened to those displaced by evacuation; in fact, people are even going to ranches and animal shelters to foster animals in harms way. Most schools in the county are closed, which means working parents are faced with the unexpected expense of daycare  -- the YMCA announced they will provide FREE daycare and I'm sure there are other organizations out there doing the same.  

On the home-front, our phone has been ringing non-stop. Friends and family from all over have been calling to check on us, and we've had offers from friends in neighboring towns to stay with them until the danger passes.  

God's word is alive!  

'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; 
I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; 
I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 
naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; 
I was in prison, and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer 
Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, 
or thirsty, and give You drink? 'And when did we see 
You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?
 'And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' 
"And the King will answer and say to them, 
'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, 
even the least of them, you did it to Me.'     
(Matthew 25:35-40)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Father's Love

My eighty-six year old dad recently gave up his driver's license so I am now his full-time chauffeur. He had physical therapy yesterday and wanted to go to his bank and pharmacist as well. 

What he did on every stop is something I will hold in my heart forever.  He carried my recently released paperback "Moments with God" with him.  He told me he wanted to show it to everyone because he was so proud.

You might be wondering why I'm so emotional about this ... For decades I was his main source of embarrassment, not pride. (Detailed in "And God Still Loves Me", which is also an added feature in the paperback.)

And yes, it got me thinking again.  Our Father's love is the same.  He might not be pleased with some of our actions, but He loves us nonetheless.  When we                                               are repentant, our sins are forgiven ... We are given another chance to do it                                               right and make Him proud.  

     “The great thing to remember is that though our 
feelings come and go 
God's love for us does not."
- C.S. Lewis


Monday, May 12, 2014

Have a Seat ... Mark Venturini!

Mark Venturini is the author of the mid-grade fantasy novel, Whispers from Forbidden Earth.  Will you join him on a journey through the Place between Places, that fantastical place between here and there?  Perhaps you've seen a few of his shorter stories or flash fiction pieces over the years.  He lives in Southwestern PA, where he is happiest taking long walks with his wife, Kathy, and their dog, Bella.  He loves kayaking and backpacking through the back-country with close friends ... and of course reading fantasy.

What inspired you to become a writer?

Since high school, I’ve been interested in writing. I truly believe God gives everyone gifts and talents. It’s up to us whether we use them or not. I believe my talent is writing. I remember working a midnight shift many years ago. I was in my 20s. I pictured myself as an old man sitting on a rocker and wondering what if . . . what if I had tried, what if I had followed my dream. I’m 55 now and still following the dream I feel God has placed in my heart.

Which of your books do you consider your “pride and joy”? Why?

Actually, I have three short stories that I’m most proud of:
  • Away This is my first published flash fiction piece. I LOVE the challenge of writing flash fiction (Stories under 1000 words). This story touched so many emotions from my own personal life.
  • The Passing of Things The idea intrigued me: the passing of a wizard’s staff to the next generation. More than that though, I wanted the voice, the narration, to be powerful. I wanted the reader to feel the story.
  • Colony Zero – Volume 3 -- In the Midst of Sorrow This is my latest from Helping Hands Press. The whole Colony Zero premise is powerful: people who are less than whole shipped off to what amounts to a “leper colony” on another world. Colony Zero s a series of stories about acceptance and perseverance and hope. I loved exploring the lives of two characters: Lt. Christopher Ranson and Dr. William Riccon, their past and the demons each one carries.

Away and The Passing of Things have been republished in my short story compilation, Darker Passages, which is available on Amazon.  DARKER PASSAGES LINK

Do you have any preparation rituals before you begin to write?

No. For my short stories, if the muse strikes, I start writing. It usually starts with an image or a single phrase. For my first novel, Whispers from Forbidden Earth, I just winged it. It started as a short story that eventually grew to a novel. I don’t recommend this approach. It took many rewrites to get to the final story. For my sequel, I plotted out the basic premise, storyline, characters, etc. The writing is going a bit smoother with this approach. At least I know where I’m headed this time (lol).

If you had to come up with a book title to describe your life, what would it be?

It’s not Easy to be Me. Actually, that comes from a pop song from a few years back that is essentially my life boiled down to a few stanzas: Superman (It’s Not Easy) by Five for Fighting. I’ll admit that I’m the most insecure person out there when it comes to my writing and my dreams for the future. I’m also a perfectionist with some obsessive/ compulsive tendencies thrown in. Yeah, it’s tough sometimes. 

If you had a chance to have dinner with any author who would it be?

Neil Gaiman. I love his writing, along with the sense of humor and joy he always exhibits.

We all have family, work and other do you maintain balance while in the middle of a writing project?

That’s a tough one. Writing is only a piece of the puzzle, too. There’s the marketing/promotional aspect of this whole writing life as well. For me, it comes down to organization and prioritization. Any author with an outside job and a family must be able to multitask. In my day job, I’m a software engineer. I usually have two or more concurrent projects I’m working on, each with its own delivery date. Add to that my writing, and add again my family obligations. It gets crazy at times. Thank God, I have a very understanding and supportive wife.

What is the one piece of advice you received about writing that helped you the most?

Rejection is a part of the writing life. Develop a thick skin.

Where can we purchase your books and how can we keep up with you?

My books are available on Amazon. You can also find links on my blog and Facebook page.

Last, but not least.....What and when is your next release? Provide a brief synopsis....

Colony Zero – Volume 3 -- In the Midst of Sorrow: available on Amazon April 3, 2014

The first installment of my sequel to Whispers from Forbidden Earth should be out the first half of 2014.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Bit of Humor and Girl's Night Out

Just a few items I would like to share today that I hope will bring a smile to your face!

They Won't Show this on the Food Channel!  Last week I broke out in hives.  I didn't know what caused them but I was miserable.  I tried baking soda, calamine lotion, benadryl and any other home remedy I could get my hands on.  They were starting to spread to my face (oh no, not that!) so I decided to visit urgent care.  (Of course, I waited until my doctor's office was closed so had to pay through my itchy nose!).  Diagnosis:  I had made a wonderful meal for my husband, dad and uncle which included a beautiful salad with fresh, homemade bleu cheese dressing (I made a gallon of it!).  The dressing was sooooo delicious I ate three salads in two days. Well, as you all know, bleu cheese is made of mold, right?  Fresh bleu cheese is stronger than the bottled stuff, right?  Penicillin is made from mold, right? Now...guess who's allergic to penicillin? You got it! ME!  I had an allergic reaction to one of my best creations ever....and now the gallon of dressing sits in the refrigerator ... being enjoyed by everyone ... but me.  (But it does give me an idea for a possible salad serial killer book!)


Girls Night Out:

Although under the influence of a double dose steroid shot for my hives (which creates not-so-pleasurable mood swings), and still itching a little...I was not about to miss my planned GNO with my best friend, Susan ... a Q & A event with Melissa Manchester headlining, and an overnight stay at a casino/hotel.  The show was awesome (video clip follows) but spending time with Susan made it even more special. I was fortunate to meet her through her very first AA sponsor (Dottie B.).  Dottie passed a few years ago and you all know my mom passed in February.  I walked with Susan through her grief and she's walking with me through mine.  The GNO was our way to celebrate not just our friendship but our mothers.  I'm sure mom and Dottie were sitting together thinking, "Yep, those are our girls!  Singing along with Melissa, swaying to the music, acting like crazy ladies in the casino and freaking out over the Q & A moderator's shoes (you have to see them....they were unbelievable!).

Happy Birthday Mom, and Happy Mother's Day Mom & Dottie....we love and miss you!

We had front row seats which was great!  
In this clip she explains the birth of a song she wrote, then performs it.