A Great Year!

Another year has almost come to a close, thank goodness. I usually have a positive outlook on life but the past couple of years have made it more difficult. 2021 has proven to be much better than ’20 though! With that in mind, I am going to close 2021 out with a listing of the positive things that happened through the year. These are not in chronological order, but in the order that they pop into my head.

Here goes…
  • Comet Leonard will pass by earth for the first time in 80,000 years. You will be able to see this distant comet in the low western sky at sunset this weekend (December 18-21, 2021) . It is just a little bit of fuzz, but the astronomer who discovered it just found it early in January of this year. Way to go Mr. Leonard!
  • I moved! After 21 years in our house in Colorado, my husband and I sold our house and headed to the Arizona desert. So far? We love it. I won’t miss the cold and snow. The heat in the summer here? It is HOT!
  • My daughter got engaged. She has found an incredible guy and they will be married in 2022. Yikes! I have a wedding to help plan!!
  • I built an awesome snowman with my 23 year old son in the backyard. We both felt like kids again. I recommend snowman building to cheer up any day.
  • Since moving to Arizona we have visited Biosphere 2, Mt Lemmon Observatory, Reid Park Zoo, Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tohono Chul Botanical Gardens (they have an amazing brunch!), hiked many trails in Catalina State Park, and so much more!! There is so much to explore here and we plan to see and do everything.
  • We are having a house built so it is fun watching that slowly become a home.
  • I’ve picked up sketching again. I’ll post a few of my drawings when I have something I’m not too embarrassed by. haha. I’m no Rembrandt, but I can make a bird look like a bird.
You may be wondering at this point, “What about writing??”

The writing scene has been fantastic! I found Fresh Starts (Pikes Peak Writers first anthology) in our local bookstore, The Tattered Cover. Thank you for carrying it!! In about 3 months the second anthology, Dream, will come out. Myself and the editors spent the last few months furiously reading over 150 submissions that have now been trimmed to the final 27 authors. We will announce who they are right after the first of the year. We are expecting to publish sometime in March.

My personal writing has also been amazing this year. I am working on the edits for my first book, Murder in Sulpher Gulch, and I have several short stories in submission. I’m anxiously waiting for a reply. I’ll tell you, writing is not for the faint of heart. Well, the writing part isn’t so bad, but the waiting is tough. 🙂

Now that I am at the close of this post, I see that 2021 was a pretty wonderful year! With that in mind, I predict that 2022 will be be another great year for my family and I.

I hope life in your circle of family and friends shines brightly throughout 2022 as well!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

It’s HERE!

Fresh Starts, Cover Image

After nearly three years in the making, FRESH STARTS, Tales from Pikes Peak Writers, has finally hit the shelves. What a privilege it has been working with all of the authors and editors. It has been a long road to see this come to fruition and what a journey it was!

Publishing this anthology was a first for PPW so the editorial team had to create everything from submission forms and layouts, to cover design and contracts. Life derailed a couple of editors and a couple of new faces joined us. All in all, every bump was worth it.

This is a beautiful book. The cover design intriguing. The stories amazing. I hope you dive into it, and if you do please leave a review so everyone will know how fantastic this book is.

Until then, here is a little more about FRESH STARTS

After the fires are out, the smoke has cleared, the divorce is over, the widow has stopped wearing black, the sun has risen, the monsters are dead, the world is saved (or destroyed!), the storm has calmed, and the trouble is over…
…what do you do next?
We can’t promise only happy endings. Just that moment when you pick yourself up out of the wreckage and find the strength to begin anew.

Praise for FRESH STARTS:

One powerhouse of an anthology! From Josh Clark’s delightful NOLAN’S BUCKET LIST: SNOW DAYS to C.E. Barnes’ hilarious SIR GEORGE AND THE DRAGON, these tales are sorely needed lights in the darkness. The mix of stories and poems is a refreshing twist on traditional anthologies. Congratulations, Pikes Peak Writers, on your first anthology. Looking forward to many more. ~Darby Karchut, Award Winning Author of the Del Toro Moon series.

“FRESH STARTS bursts with wonderful stories that showcase exciting new literary voices! Very highly recommended!” –Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of V-WARS and INK

Who are we?

Thirty authors from all over the United States, plus India and Germany, had their work published in this first ever anthology from Pikes Peak Writers. Their stories, poems, and essays will move your soul, make you smile, or set your thoughts reeling.

Morgen Leigh, Terry Odell, Michael Chandos, Marilyn K. Moody, Harper Barrow, Gwynne Stanker, Lily Lapin, T. R. Kerby, Bill May, Laura Mahal, CS Simpson, Bowen Gillings, Kendra Griffin, Nikia Hunt, Tushar Jain, Josh Clark, C.E. Barnes, Sarah Reilly Pancoast, Lizz Bogaard, Denise Talamantez, Tami Veldura, Katie Day, Stephanie Amedeo, Shelley Kitchura Nelson, Karen Albright Lin, David Stier, Ian Neligh, Megan E. Freeman, Jere Ellison, Debbie Maxwell Allen, Kathie Scrimgeour (Project Manager), Jamie Ferguson (Editor & Layout Design), Lou J Berger (editor), Jenny Kate (Marketing director & Editor), Josh Clark (Cover).

A New Look

There are times when you have to open your closet and take a look at your wardrobe. You know what it’s like. When your closet bulges with outdated blouses that should have been retired with your patchwork bellbottoms. How about your great-grandmother’s fur coat that smells like an old shoe? That time arrived for me today, and the wardrobe I was looking at was my website. I haven’t done any major work on my site for over 4 years so I spent the day doing a little bit of revamping, and reconstructing.

I am not a graphic designer, nor a webpage designer. My budget doesn’t allow me to hire a professional so I hit the DIY easy button. Well, it wasn’t overly easy. Most of my time was spent trying to figure out how to work through WordPress’ templates and customizations.

More work is still in store, but for now, I hope you like my new wordrobe…no, wait…wardrobe…HA!…website!

In the end, I think it came out pretty nice.

What do you think?

It’s a Cover!

Can life get any better than this?

I can finally brag about having a book coming out. Although the stories are not my own, I am proud to have been the Project Manager with an amazing group of writers and editors.

FRESH STARTS will be available on April 9th.

Read more about this anthology on PPW’s website.

Upcoming Anthology

I am so excited!

Why?

In early April I will finally see over two years of hard work come to light. TALES FROM THE PEAK: FRESH STARTS is going to be published!

FRESH STARTS – A Quick History

In October of 2017 I went to a meeting with Pikes Peak Writers to talk about possibly publishing an anthology with stories, poetry, and memoirs written by members of PPW. What I didn’t realize was that I would raise my hand and volunteer to lead this project.

I professed to everyone in attendance that I had ZERO experience in how to do this project, but I would make it happen. After all, PPW is an organization that supports writers of all levels of experience. An anthology just seemed like the next step for the organization.

NEXT STEPS

The learning curve was immense. At times, I felt like I was climbing Mt Everest without equipment, but I pulled on my boots and faced the mountain. With guidance from my mentors, DeAnna Knippling, Jamie Ferguson, and Jenny Lovett, we pushed through setting budgets, developing a theme, setting a marketing plan, soliciting writers, and collecting stories.

The number of submissions we received was unexpected. When Lou J Berger joined the team as an editor we, at the time, had only received 35 submissions and assured him we would be lucky to break 60. Then the avalanche hit. In total we read and combed through 255 submissions.

TODAY

Today, the selected authors number 30 who were given a theme to write on. Each writer was asked to write their interpretation of Fresh Starts, with a simple added blurb:

After the fires are out, the smoke has cleared, the divorce is over, the widow has stopped wearing black, the sun has risen, the monsters are dead, the world is saved (or destroyed!), the storm has calmed, and the trouble is over…
…what do you do next?
We can’t promise only happy endings. Just that moment when you pick yourself up out of the wreckage and find the strength to begin anew.

What an amazing turnout! The choices were difficult, but we found our way to the best of the best submissions.

We are now working through cover art, contracts, bios, headshots, and the last leg of marketing. I never fully realized what went into publishing a book until I stepped into this project. The peak of Mt. Everest is in view and I am now armed with climbing equipment that will pull me, and this anthology, over the top to publication in April.

Learn more about the anthology here and sign up to receive updates as they are available.

Buried Treasure

Squirrel Thief

I sat in my back-yard reading when a squirrel came hopping into the yard with two huge peanuts protruding from his mouth. He went to the base of the apple tree and proceeded to urgently dig a hole into which he dropped the first peanut and buried it. Then, he went about 10 feet across the yard and dug a second hole into which he put the second treasured nut.

Mind you, he didn’t just bury two nuts and scurry away. He checked the second burial with great care. Satisfied, he went back to the first hole he dug and carefully sniffed the area. He seemed to decide the burial was not up to snuff so he carefully rearranged the topsoil then, one at a time, he quickly lay pieces of mulch bark over the top.

Like a criminal in the night after finishing his work and scanning the area for enemies, he scampered across the yard and hopped onto Fence Highway and booked it to the next yard.
After he departed I went to the tree to see what he left behind. If I wasn’t aware that he buried a nut where he did, I would have never been able to tell. He had put all the bark back over the hole covering his tracks perfectly. The second hole was so well hidden I never did find it.

I now wait patiently for his return to reclaim his treasured nuts.

Squirrel Thief
This is the same fellow who stole my bird feeder bell this past winter.

How I Started Writing

At the beginning of a New Year I look back on what went right and what went sideways in my writing life. I will say that this year, overall, was a good year. My work on Pikes Peak Writers debut anthology is slowly coming to fruition (there is an actual page on their site now), I typed THE END on my newest book, Murder in Sulfur Gulch, and I submitted two short stories (one was declined and one is still out awaiting judgement).

Of course, as I do this reflection over the year, how it all started drifts into my my mind. Why did I start writing in the first place? Was there a turning point that pushed me into this life or did it just grow from something intangible?

My daughter is who influenced me the most to start writing. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and during her college years I read her stories and essays. They were wonderful. She found so much joy in them. I wanted a piece of joy for myself and thought that writing would be fun.

I started writing just before I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m not sure if this was a warped plan that the Fates set up for me, or what, but the cancer put a huge damper on my grand plans to write. There was no longer much fun to be found in writing. It actually made my writing life nearly impossible for almost three years. Despite that, I kept writing through those dark days because it brought in a bit of light into my day to day survival. Whenever I could, I wrote on my blogs and the other blogs I contribute to, but chemo and radiation took a toll that continued for a long time (and continues to a small extent even today).

Now, on the other side of cancer, I am starting to find the fun that I lost at the beginning. Because of the encouragement I got from my daughter, friends, and other writers, I am finding the fun that I sought six years ago. This past year was where I had hoped to have been back then, but life had other lessons to be learned first. I am looking forward to 2020. It is looking pretty bright right now. Most important of all? I think it’s going to be really fun!


This post inspired by:

Insecure Writer's Support Group

The awesome co-hosts for the The awesome co-hosts for the January 8 posting of the IWSG are T. Powell Coltrin, Victoria Marie Lees, Stephen Tremp, Renee Scattergood, and J.H. Moncrieff!

Really? You Asked What?

As you all know, I write a monthly post inspired by questions asked on the IWSG website. Each month I don’t have too much trouble whipping out some answers, but this month? Well, let me tell you, I am stumped. Not because I can’t answer it, but because I’m in brain meltdown mode. First, here’s the question(s)

December 4 question – Let’s play a game. Imagine. Role-play. How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream? Or if you are already there, what does it look and feel like? Tell the rest of us. What would you change or improve?

Here’s my problem with these lovely queries. I just came off NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) to which I was successful in writing THE END on my first book. Murder in Sulphur Gulch won’t release for awhile yet, but it is done.

Thanksgiving was just last week.

Christmas is just around the corner.

I’m gone half of December (in Vegas as you read this).

So, yeah, my brain is tired. —-really tired—-

I think I’ll take a look at this question sometime next year. Like February. Yep. February should be good. Oh, wait….that’s when 28 Days of Writing takes place.

Image bug eye cartoon

This post inspired by:

Insecure Writer's Support Group

The awesome co-hosts for the December 4 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker,Beverly Stowe McClure,Nicki Elson,Tyrean Martinson!

Strange Subjects Indeed

As a writer, I use the internet heavily when I’m doing research. there are times I would hate for someone to actually look at my search history, and when I know I’m going to be asking some strange questions I drop into “incognito” browsing.

So, what strange things might a writer look up? For crime fiction you can bet they are looking for forensics, weapons, poisons and anything else murderous you can imagine. For a romance writer it might be hormones, relationships, or personality types. For me? I have looked up all of those things and more.

I write in a variety of genres so my search history is also varied. For a historical fiction I am working on I needed to know what life was like in a mining camp in the early 1900’s. It was rough to say the least. For The Manx my research not only includes everything and anything about the Isle of Man, but the rich folk tales of the island as well along with the royal history of Castle Peel. Murder in Sulpher Gulch is a mystery. I join my crime writing friends in looking up everything about murder and the Mafia.

The strangest bit of research I’ve done has been in the area of crime. It is so far outside my realm in life that I never knew much about it except what could be gleamed from cops shows on the television. (BTW…most are very inaccurate. Don’t go off television shows). One short story I needed to know what kind of poisonous plants grew in the south eastern areas of Tennessee. Once I found a few good ones it then took more research to see if a person could be poisoned with them and how it would be done. Weird stuff.

The one place on my list of to-do’s is to pay a visit to my local police station. I have a few story lines that involve murder. I don’t know the first thing about police procedure so I expect to get to know the local police quite well.


This post inspired by:

Insecure Writers Support Group.

Insecure Writer's Support Group

The awesome co-hosts for the November 6 posting of the IWSG are Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie!

Where do you like to read or write?

I love to read just as much as I love to write, and I have a few favorite reading spots. I always get a few pages in just before I go to sleep, but when I settle in for a long reading period I love my recliner. I can prop my reader on a pillow and fall into the story.

When I write, it is always at my desk computer. I like its location with a large window to stare out of when I’m formulating the next scene. But, if I had anywhere in the world to write? That’s an easy one. I would sit against a wall of Peel Castle on the Isle of Man. I don’t know if there would be a good spot to see the water as well as feel the castle wall on my back, but when I get there I’ll let you know.

I am still working through The Manx and had hoped to have it published by now. Yet, it has always been missing something that keeps it under wraps, and I know it is missing a trip to the island itself. As an author I want to know first hand what the air tastes like, how the trees sound in the wind, and feel the stones bite into my feet. These are the things that will breath life into the book.


This post inspired by:

The awesome co-hosts for the September 4 posting of the IWSG are Gwen Gardner,Doreen McGettigan,Tyrean Martinson,Chemist Ken, and Cathrina Constantiner!

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