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.

Sunday, November 30, 2014



Twas' the night before Christmas, with laptop in tow,
I sit by the window that looks out on the snow.
With the family all tucked in, I have quiet to write
a couple of chapters before I call it a night.

The ticking I hear from the grandfather clock
is a deadline reminder which brings writer's block.
The words are all floating around in my brain,
and I can't seem to catch them, I'm going insane!

The screen of my laptop continues to shine,
it may as well flash a “vacancy” sign.
Maybe spiked coffee would help in my plight,
as my keyboard awaits my fingers to light.

The beverage, though tasty, fails to produce,
the screen remains blank, this is mental abuse!
The tick-tock continues; I stand up in defeat,
I hear a strange noise, so I slow my retreat.

Then all of a sudden a vision appears,
if it isn't a sleigh pulled by eight cute reindeer!
Here comes Santa himself, now I know I'm insane,
I have to be dreaming, or the coffee's to blame.

With a sweet jolly voice, he starts to speak,
assuring me things aren't really that bleak.
He says, "No need to panic, the words will come soon,
you're focused too much on the deadline that looms.

Just look through that window, embrace what you see,
take it all in, from that block you'll be freed".
He dismantles the clock before fading from sight, and
says, “Merry Christmas, now sit down and write!”
Merry Christmas & God Bless!
Patti J. Smith
aka Gridiron Granny

Welcome Marilynn Dawson to "An Author Speaks"!

Marilynn grew up in a solid Christian home, coming to Christ at the age of 7. She has been actively involved in Church life since age 10, including activities such as joining her Mom and sister in singing special numbers, choir, teaching Sunday School, leading Sunday School open session, planning Sunday School lessons, and more. Marilynn attended both public and private schools growing up. She attended North Island Community College on Vancouver Island and Trend College in Kelowna, obtaining certificates in receptionist work and Comptia A+ computer repair.Throughout her life, Marilynn has written poetry and published a few of them in the American Poetry Anthology(two issues). She currently does freelance work for a technical blog in Alberta. She's also written numerous unpublished articles on end-time eschatology and the news, written unpublished short stories, word studies and more. Marilynn lives with her two teenagers, cat and gerbils, in Kelowna BC Canada. Her day job sees her fix computers, program cash registers, and engage in multimedia for her church. In the evenings and on weekends she's a soundtech helping with various events through the year from funerals to workshops to concerts and weddings. Marilynn sings in the choir, holding down the tenor section, and sang on her church's praise teams for several years as an alto or tenor substitute.

Author of "Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey", "Mom's Little Black Book: Godly Advice for the High School Graduate", “Practical Thoughts on Becoming an Author”, "Dressed for Eternity" and "A Year in Prayer With Jesus".

What five words describe you?
  Determined, stubborn, creative, worshipper, fix-it
What are you working on at the minute?  What is it about?

I'm currently working on a small booklet (46 pages so far) offering a series of Sunday School lessons and celebration of the Harvest.  It will be useful both for Thanksgiving focus as well as for Halloween replacement activities depending on where you live and what your church is doing around those times.

 What is the hardest thing about writing?

Getting word out that my writing exists.  Most authors are willing to pay for publicity, but all mine is free, so that adds to the effort required to let people know you exist.

 Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

Leave the section you are currently working on.  Do a quick review of where you've come so far, and review your intentions for where you want to go with your writing project.  Just like doing an exam in school, if you couldn't answer one question, the advice was to answer other questions and then come back to it, so it is with writer's block.  Writing about another section in your book will free your mind regarding the section where you're stumped, and may even contribute to a slight re-write of that section because ideas came to you while working on another area of the book.  This advice is helping my daughter whenever she gets stumped on her first novel.

 Where would your dream location be for writing?

My dream location would be overlooking the ocean.  I grew up beside the ocean and miss it greatly.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I read my reviews, although I haven't received too many yet.  I've been told not to respond to them and so far I've listened to that advice whenever the review is negative.  There are actually times when negative reviews will cause others to pick up a book just to see what the negativity was about.  So those can work in reverse to what the reviewer intended.

 Where can we buy your books?
Currently I have a "Twelve Days of Christmas" Book Sale
My books may be found at a variety of locations online.  The short answer is simply to offer a link to an updated list on my website:  Here you can choose to buy from locations you're most comfortable with, and after reading the book you bought, leave a review.
How can we keep up with you?  Blog, Facebook, etc......

Author's Den:

Friday, November 28, 2014

We Need to Talk

It happens to all of us. We wake up feeling uneasy. We shrug it off, crawl out of bed and begin our day.  Unfortunately, that feeling stalks us every second, minute and hour. No matter what we do we can't seem to shake it. Pressure is building up behind the weakening dam in our eyes that is threatening to rupture, releasing torrents of tears.

In my case, those days are a direct result of focusing on all the chaos life brings and not giving myself enough quiet time with God.  I believe that feeling is a message from Him saying,  "We need to talk".   




Thursday, November 27, 2014

Welcome I.O. Kirkwood to "An Author Speaks"!

~Wordsmith ~Storyteller ~Alternate historian ~Metal junkie

In between bouts of banging her head, blogging, and twittering, she's also the author of "Subatomic Revolt," volume 2 in Mike Lynch's No Revolution Is Too Big series.

What five words describe you?
The five words that best describe me are tenacious, passionate, witty, curious, and loyal.

What are you working on at the minute? What is it about?
I’m working on volume 3 of the Needless series and I’ve just managed to overcome a terrible case of writer’s block. Volume 3 is the middle volume and I got stuck right at the midpoint of the story. Middles have always been my biggest hurdle. I was starting to panic when Verity, the main character, started whispering to me about how I needed to take my panic and the stress I was feeling and feed it into her story. She’s feeling pretty overwhelmed herself: she’s fighting game demons that are reaching into her world through a game system called the Holobox. One of her friends is missing, another she managed to help rescue, but now she’s watching evil creatures called ‘wights’ sneak into her every day world. That’s quite a load to carry because there’s this book that calls her by name as the heroine who is going to save the day. Verity put my life into perspective.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from
your most recent book?

I was looking for pictures of Verity and the actress who most reminded me of her was Katie Holmes though I could definitely see Emma Watson or Jennifer Lawrence in the role. Verity is complex. She’s very sweet, but she’ll kill a demon on a dime with no questions asked. She loves her mother and even her step father, but she feels more like a lab experiment than their child. She wants friends, but she’s used to going it alone. Life is very difficult for Verity and the actress would need to be able to convey Verity’s strength and vulnerability.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Tam Lin by Pamela Dean would be my pick. The premise is built on the Ballad of Tam Lin, a Scottish work about a young woman who falls for a doomed knight errant. Tam Lin has been enchanted by the Faery Queen and will be sacrificed as a tithe to Hell if the woman who loves him and carries his child doesn’t pull him from his horse on All Hallows Eve. She must hold him tight and not let him go until he completes many transformations. Only then will he be free. Pamela Dean wrote a very relevant and contemporary story based on this ballad and I have read it many times. Just talking about it makes me want to read it again.

What is the hardest thing about writing?
Plotting is the hardest part for me. I need the structure, but I’m what writers call a “pantser” at heart. I have The Needless series plotted out right through the end but only the major points. I know each character gets a volume. I know what their basic issues are and the types of events they need to experience to intensify internal conflicts, but the characters reveal themselves to me as I go. I have to back track and put stuff in and that drives me crazy because then I have to make sure everything else fits. Near the end of a story, I’m about fit to lose my mind as I read through several times to make sure there aren’t any inconsistencies or unintentionally loose ends.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
I just went through this so here’s what I did. First, I panicked. Then I tried to force myself to write. I think we can all agree that only works to a certain point. Then I looked at everything I had to do, including all my deadlines for the metal music magazine, my series, and my life, and I broke down and cried because I was so overwhelmed. Once I got over myself, I got out an agenda, broke everything down into manageable bits, assigned them due dates, and just plugged away. There are so many things that can cause writer’s block and feeling like a failure isn’t going to help. I hate letting people down. I have to learn how to say no to other writers with awesome projects. I just want to do everything, and I think this quote best describes my dilemma: “You can do anything you want, you just can’t do everything you want.”

Where would your dream location be for writing?
A tree house! I would love to have my own little tree house hideaway where I could go to write. Either that or a portable office, say like one of those tiny homes that you can hitch to the back of a truck. I don’t need much space. I don’t need many things. If I have the basics to survive, my lap tap, and a pot of coffee, I’m good to go. It just has to be mine.

When creating characters, are they based on people in your life?
No. I base characters on pictures in magazines and qualities that I see around me. I have imaginary friends, a host of them, and they will appear in my stories as themselves, but they aren’t based on people that I can touch. Whether or not my characters live in alternate realities while I’m just a figment of their imagination is another matter all together. Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone was writing a best seller about my life in some parallel universe? That would be crazy.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I have only received one review from a high school friend who is so proud of me she’d be unable to give me a bad review. I don’t know how I’d react to a bad review. I’m terribly thin-skinned in some ways and very impervious in others. I review other people’s works on a regular basis, mostly albums and live performances. I try to be as constructive as possible in my assessment because artists put their hearts and souls into their work. I feel a responsibility to give them my full attention when I take apart what they’ve done to report to my readers. The most constructive reviews come from the 3-3.5 star ratings on a 5 star scale. That’s a solid mark, but there’s work that needs to be done and hopefully the reviewer has told me what worked and what didn’t. I’d read those reviews and higher. I’d just look at the 1-2.9 stars for the ratio. If the low marks are outnumbering the higher marks, then I need to figure out what I’m doing wrong without torturing my sensitive artist’s soul with every venom-dipped word. Seriously, there are people out there who get their jollies from stomping on hard-working artists. Those who can are doers, those who can’t are critics and the worst are those who are frustrated by their inability.

If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?
A musician, hahaha. I’d be the people I critique. Oh goodness. I’ve been in a band before as a vocalist. I’m not too shabby but I’ll stick to karaoke at this point. I have enough experience that I don’t feel like too much of a hypo-critic when I write a review of someone else’s performance. I love music, especially heavy and extreme metal music, and I have to give a thumbs up to all the musicians out there who are pretty much making the medicine that keeps me sane on a day to day basis. Music inspires me. I write and create to a soundtrack of In Flames, Battlecross, Allegaeon, Nile, King of Asgard, Meshuggah, Crimson Shadows, After the Burial, Revocation, Bloody Hammers, Our Last Enemy, and wow, the list just goes on. And throw some Evanescence in there too.

What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you in your writing career?
Be patient with yourself. Writing is an art and just like painting or dancing or playing an instrument, it takes years to achieve proficiency much less brilliance. Yes, everyone is supposed to know how to write, but not everyone is wired to write stories. I think that’s what trips up writers. We’re supposed to somehow have this writing thing down early on, but that’s not the reality. I've read just about everything Terry Pratchett has ever written and I must say, his later works far outshine his earlier ones. As a writer, you live your characters’ lives and to truly live another life, you must also live your own. You must grow and mature into a beautiful flower made of stories that is carefully weeded by craft and nourished by the fertilizer of all your traumas and triumphs. This flower represents the human condition because that is why writers write: to express the many facets of being human. So be patient, young I.O. For everything, there is a season.

Where can we buy your books?
The Needless e-books are available on,, and Just plug in I.O. Kirkwood in the site’s search engine and they’ll come up. I also have one paperback on those sites, No Revolution Is Too Big, to which I contributed one of the nine adventures.  There are eight other authors who contributed to that book and they each wrote fabulous stories.

How can we keep up with you? Blog, Facebook, etc......
You can go to my blog at and that will link you to my Facebook, Twitter, Google +, you name it. You can also put I.O. Kirkwood into a Google search engine to find me. I also write for so you can find me there. I look forward to hearing from everyone. If you want to give me a review and test how I’ll react, it’s only $0.99 to read one of my New Adult Fantasy volumes or the Science-Fiction volume (No. 2 – Subatomic Revolt). Post your review on and if you’re one of the first ten, I’ll be sure to include my reaction to your review in an upcoming blog post.

Thanks for having me!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Thursday, we will be expressing our gratitude for all of God's blessings, but how can we sincerely express gratitude if we are carrying resentments towards someone?  We can't.  So before the festivities begin, let's put ourselves in a quiet place with God and be freed from the negativity that is suppressing our thanksgiving by praying:

Father God, I choose, as an act of my will, to forgive (person's name) for (specific offense.) Father, I ask that you forgive (person's name) as well; and not hold these charges against him/her on my account. 

Father God, if there are any more stored up negative feelings in me towards (person's name), I ask that you cleanse me.  I will be open to replace these negative emotions with the fruit of your Holy Spirit.

Father, Your Holy Word tells us that we overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, and the word of our testimony. I now plead the blood of Jesus over this offense and over my unforgiveness. Lord, do not allow Satan to interfere with my testimony. 

Heavenly Father, I ask that you help me regain the ground that I gave up when I held onto these offenses. I ask that you take back this ground and no longer allow Satan to operate there. Give me wisdom to deal with this situation in the future.

Father, I ask that you heal now the wounded places in my soul. Heal my memory of those offenses so that I can look back on them realistically, knowing that You have healed me. Now Father, I ask that you bless (person's name) with Your abundant mercy.

Prosper him/her in every way: body, soul, and spirit. AMEN. 

(Prayer written by Mark Hargrave


My mom took me to the library from the time I was a baby.  I learned how to write my first name just so that I could get my first library card (which I still have, by the way).  Our library had a bus service on Saturdays that would take children to and from our public library all day long and I went every week.  I would go and come home with a stack of books that I couldn’t see over.  That is not an exaggeration.  That was before libraries placed limits on how many books you could check out.  It wasn’t unusual for me to check out twenty or thirty books at a time.  At first my mom would tell me that I shouldn’t check out so many because I wouldn’t be able to finish them.  She soon found that I usually made it all the way through the stack with time to spare.  My appetite for reading was voracious.  As a natural progression, my reading lead me to writing.  I was always thinking of stories and poems, always writing, always jotting down notes of ideas.  When I was in elementary school, I entered into the Young Authors contest every year.  That was my first experience in having my writing made into books.  As I grew up, life and its responsibilities got away with me.  I had so many unfinished writing projects that sometimes I would get discouraged from writing.  But never for too long because writing is so much a part of me.  I began a fictional romance in high school that I spent years rewriting and perfecting.  Finally, after twenty years, I finished it to a point where I could submit it to a publisher.  My synopsis was good, because it made the publisher wanted to read my story, but the story itself wasn’t what it needed to be.  That was my first rejection.  The criticism was constructive, but I am somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to my writing, so I took it hard.  I put that story away and haven’t looked at it since.  Perhaps one day I will go back and do it justice, but for now I am focusing on some of the millions of ideas that I get every day.
My books are in a few different genres because I have enjoyed writing in different ones.  All of them are borne out of love for God, my family and the written word.  I hope you will enjoy what I have written as much as I have enjoyed writing it.  Please let me know what you think of my website and/or my books.  I am always happy to connect with my readers.

                                                         What five words describe you?

                                        Detailed, quiet, devoted, introspective, honest

                                What are you working on at the minute?  What is it about?

I always have several projects going on at any time.  I am working on four main projects right now - the third book in my children's series about military aircraft, a Christian remarriage help book that ties into the Fruits of the Spirit and a Christian romance suspense novel, and the second book in my children's fiction series "The Almost Normal Adventures of Hannah and Rebekah" where Hannah and Rebekah find themselves in the year of 1793 at the first hot air balloon launch in America.

                      Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from
                                                               your most recent book?
Bailee Madison for Hannah and Hayley Nault for Rebekah

                           If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it
                                                                have been and why?

I never thought about that before.  I guess I would have to pick one of my favorite books from my childhood, Anna Sewell's "Black Beauty".  I would love to write a wonderful story that stands the test of time.
                                               What is the hardest thing about writing?

Making the time to write something every day.  Life is so busy sometimes that it can be difficult to make your writing a priority.

                                     Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

Since I am always working on more than one project at a time, I will just switch projects when I find myself getting stuck on one of them.  I also like to read and I find that getting into another author's story will sometimes help me with mine.

                                            Where would your dream location be for writing?

I would like to write something that takes place in Ireland.  It is some place that I always wanted to visit.

                                 When creating characters, are they based on people in your life?

I based my children's fiction book on two of my daughters.  I really like the differences in their personalities and how they work together.  For my work in progress fiction writing, I tend to base characters more on people that I would like to know with some bits and pieces of people that I already know.  I think of my characters as new friends.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you
have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I always read my reviews.  Good or bad, I want to know what my readers are saying.  I feel it helps me become a better writer.  I never respond to actual reviews, but I will respond to comments from my readers.  I take bad reviews hard since I am my own worst critic, but they serve to keep me grounded and make me work harder.  I just tell myself not to take it too personally and use it to motivate me.

                                                   If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?

I was an accountant before leaving that career to be a stay-at-home mom.  I love accounting and if I weren't taking care of my family and writing, I would go back to that career.

                          What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you in your
                                                                            writing career?

Write every day and push yourself to keep on writing.  There were many times when I let life get in the way of my writing.

                                                             Where can we buy your books?

My books are available through Amazon:

and also through Createspace:

                                          How can we keep up with you?  Blog, Facebook, etc......

Author Website:
Goodreads: D Nunley

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thankful and Blessed

Thanksgiving is a few days away which means my mind is in overdrive on those
things for which I am thankful.

Although this blog post has potential of being the longest in blogosphere history, I will refrain myself from expounding on everything.  (Now that’s something you can add to your “thankful” list!).

     My husband is my rock and I am very blessed.  Marriage is a series of ups and downs, and regardless of how bad the “downs” get, Michael is always there with unconditional love and constant encouragement.

     My dad and uncle who trust me enough to care for them.  They bring daily joy as well as entertainment.  I love hearing their life experiences (which may end up in a book someday).

    My mom who, although not here physically, continues to guide me with her example of faith and courage.

    My son and step-daughter, their spouses and children who are a source of great love and pride.

     My extended family of nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins that have consistently shown compassion and support.

    My friends who put up with me, “warts and all”, and are always there to offer their understanding and wisdom.

     My publisher and author friends who guide, teach and inspire me every day.
 My prayer is that I, in turn, do the same for all of them.

Most importantly, I am thankful for the love and mercy I receive from God each and every day.  I’m sure He watches me at times, shakes His head saying, “Patti, Patti, Patti” … But, hopefully, there are also times He smiles and says, “Good job”. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Another box was opened this week which held my grandmother's Bible.  In it were little articles she clipped from magazines and newspapers.  Below is a lovely poem written by Lula Lamme.  If I listen hard enough I can hear my grandmother reading it aloud. 

Who knows, it may be little things that pave our way to Heaven;
So few of us perform some gallant task to leaven
The load of others, but each of us may do
Some little thing each day,
Though it be only one kind word we say.
I'm sure God never meant the pathway to His throne
Should be trod by only those who for noble deeds are known.
I think those gathered will be there for many reasons,
Some who thought to praise their God for sunsets and for seasons.
Those who meekly bear what it is they must,
And murmur low, "They will be done", as plans crumble into dust,
And I think those "little people" of whom no one has ever heard,
May find they've built a stairway with each kindly word.

Friday, November 21, 2014


I was born in Philadelphia and grew up in the suburbs thereof.  As a child, I was into art and friends, sweets and shopping.  And I hated reading.  My grades were excellent, though teachers complained that I did not write complete sentences or explain my answers very well. As a teenager, my grades remained great, even though I had now also gained interest in sports, people-pleasing, God, and poetry.  Now I had softball and cheerleading, friends and youth group.  So any creativity I extended had to be brief. College was great, and a degree in elementary education made me read more.  The Freshmen Fifteen made me run more.  And though this was where I met my husband, Jeremy, we did not begin a relationship until I graduated.  So, graduation led to a teaching job (6th grade that first year) and a relationship led to a marriage in 1997.  A few years later, I moved to 2nd grade, and then down to kindergarten. What next? You guessed it.  Out of teaching to care for my own babies.  I now am the happy mama to Hannah, Christian, and Audrey. The funniest thing started happening toward the end of my teaching career.  I began writing children's books.  I felt I had some great ideas and liked keeping it short.  Another way of keeping it short? Contributing short devotions to God Stories. (You'll find me in vol. 3-7 thus far.)  As my children grew taller, my writing grew longer.  And so did the time I spent running.  They go together.  Running for hours gives one a lot of time to think.  What else are you going to do?  So I listened.  What did God want me to write?  Well, start the Angelmen series, and you will find out!  Happy reading to you!

What five words describe you?
God-loving mom who writes novels.
What are you working on at the minute? What is it about?
 I just sent back my second round of edits to my editor on Caedmon of the Angelmen (Book 3 in the Angelmen Series). I'm really excited about how that is turning out right now. After thinking so hard for the past few weeks, I'm going to reward myself by reading something fun. Then I will clean up a couple more of the Angelmen books so they are ready to submit. As far as writing, there is a prequel in the series I have not finished writing yet, so I will either see if I can turn that into something or work on one of the several other stand-alone novels I have begun.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Great question! In Asher of the Angelmen, my latest release, I picture Chris Pine (Captain Kirk from the most recent Star Trek movies) as Asher. He's probably a little old to play a high school student, but I could definitely see him as a charismatic football play
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Another fantastic question. I wish I would have written Les Miserables. The way Hugo incorporates important themes into such a compelling story is amazing. Character is also the most important aspect of a book to me, and you are hard-pressed to find better characters than in that book.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Writing is fun. I even love editing! The hardest part is trying to market and sell what I've written. I understand that my publisher can only do so much, but I am just not a salesperson.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
What works for me is to go for a run and look around or listen to what's around me. Most of my ideas have come while my blood was pumping on a long run. One time, while writing Asher, I knew I needed one more really exciting event. I went for a run and my asthma kicked in. So a bad run turned into a good idea. And let's just say that it isn't a coincidence that Asher is a runner/ running back.
Where would your dream location be for writing?
Ahh, let's dwell on this a little, shall we? I am a beach person. Let's find a private beach, just as the sun is dipping into twilight. (Since I'm dreaming, I will pause time while I write.) I will settle my feet into the cool sand with my laptop (which will be impervious to any possible sand damage) on my legs, and a light breeze will pet my arms and brush through my hair to make my blood flow smoothly through my veins. Now, I'm ready to write. (Thanks for that little vacation.)
When creating characters, are they based on people in
your life?
Never! I am terrified of someone finding out and not liking how they are portrayed. Also, you never know when a story will require you to kill someone off. If a real person ever went missing, I could suddenly become a suspect.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I haven't had too many reviews, and I really haven't had anything bad yet. So I am still youthfully innocent about them. I always read them, but I will only respond to them privately if it is from someone I know.
If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?
I was a teacher before I was a writer (6th grade, 2nd grade, kindergarten). I have trouble leaving that profession completely, especially when I work with my own three children. Recently, I had gone back to subbing for a year or so and really enjoyed it. I wouldn't mind either doing some more subbing or perhaps teaching at a college level. I also LOVE organizing things and have fantasized about starting a business to organize people's homes or classrooms.

 What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you in your writing career?
Read more. I have always been a slow reader, and so I didn't read a lot voluntarily. But lately, I have read some fantastic books. From them, I have learned all kinds of ways to create interest in my writing.

Where can we buy your books?


I recommend Amazon or Barnes and Noble at the following sites:



How can we keep up with you? Blog, Facebook, etc...…
My website has all kinds of information about my books and me - even sample chapters. That site is: