New Posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays -- er generally

Saturday, June 25, 2016

making plans or not

 The first nest of tiny hummers is out, and we are seeing what we believe to a few of the hybrid Allen's and Rufous.  The garden is really humming...
Over halfway into the next book, depending on how long it ends up, I really don't have much to say here, as writing books can be emotionally consuming. I've also had a set of family/friend happenings, which makes the writing spotty for when I can find long stretches. I don't mind such breaks, as family and friends are important to me. I do though find I lose focus-- and don't even get me started on politics right now.

So these are photos from the land we lease for our cattle. It's upstream from our pastures. It's had its own complications. And the weather has changed patterns constantly-- although no extremes. My part of the Pacific Northwest has been milder than usual but don't plan picnics with this kind of pattern.

All I can say is to-date, 2016 has been the year that when I make plans, next thing happens is they get changed. I am feeling A LOT that I have little control over anything. I guess that's true of life in the big picture, but in the short-run, we do make plans-- and in my case, when I make one, I need to have several backups in mind.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

an excerpt and some shrines

Because in the last post, I mentioned a negative review by a reader who found one of my scenes (and hence my whole book) very offensive, I thought I'd share what that event had been. 

More or less, when I write about psychic sessions, I use my own experiences at having been part of a few of them. They are not always the same. For those who do not want to read about such happenings, I'll put in a few photos to avoid going straight to it. For those who won't be reading the book but were curious as to what so offended this lady, it is below the images from two shrines in Barrio Viejo-- mysticism that makes some uncomfortable and others comforted.

 below is excerpt from Arizona Dawn -- a small boy has been kidnapped. Three women come to 
Connie asking if she can see where he might be, who might have him.

    In moments, they were seated at a round table as Connie got out her teapot, poured water still hot from the morning onto the tea leaves.
    “Exactly what might you hope to learn?” she asked as she joined them at the table.
    “Of course, that Daniel Cordova is still alive would be first concern,” Grace said. Could there be real answers from such probing? “Then, where is he? Who is he with? I don’t know—can you tell who killed Ellen? How it happened?”
    Connie smiled as she studied her. “Probably not all of that. You know how it is with visions.”
    “No, I don’t.”
    “Most often I see symbols. Sometimes it’s hard for me to interpret them. It’s the frustrating part of what I do. Plus sometimes I get absolutely nothing, which is why I guarantee nothing.”
    “You saw some things for me when I came for a reading,” Priscilla said. “I guess that was twelve years ago now. I didn’t know how to interpret them at the time either but later, they proved to be very accurate.”
    “All right then.” Connie studied Grace’s face. “You have doubts about all of this, don’t you?”
    “Will that impact your reading?” Grace asked knowing she did. In some ways, all of her schooling had taken her a long ways from believing in a supernatural world. Logic had ruled her thinking for the last five years. That had not always been so.
    “No, it won’t” Connie poured them each a cup of the tea. “All right, describe the boy to me. Let me see if I can get a visual image of him first.”
    “He is nine, not particularly dark skinned,” Grace said. “He has his father’s cheekbones and black hair, but Ellen’s blue eyes. The set of him, the expressions I’ve seen on his face, the way he studies a person, that’s purely Rafe.”
    “We only had time with him until he was a little over a year old,” Priscilla said. “That’s when Ellen became angry at us all and left the ranch. Grace’s description seems good to me. Ellen hated living on the ranch. She had never quit complaining about how much she hated it down along the border. I tried to see her and him when I came up on business or to see Rose. She wasn’t friendly anymore. She did all she could to stop Rafe from having access to Danny. Now I wonder why.”
    “I vaguely remember her,” Connie said. “I had only seen her on the street a few times since we returned to Tucson. Not enough to talk. Tell me about her husband.”
    “Robert Mitchell is stocky, thinning hair,” Grace said. “He put forth a very successful veneer but it’s since been revealed that he was failing at business and likely leading a double life. He appears to have been a gambler and not the type that won. From what I have heard talking to Ellen or from her letters, she had no clue as to the nature of the man she married. She wanted pretty things and he seemed to give them to her. I don’t know if they had a happy marriage.”
    Connie considered that. Her gaze on Grace made her uncomfortable, but she didn’t turn her gaze away.
    “What was Danny’s birth date?” Connie asked.
    “January 14, 1890,” Priscilla answered.
    “All right. Would you all mind if we held hands and formed an energy circle?” When they took each other’s hands, Connie said, “When we form this circle of light, any of us might get a piece of what happened to Danny, to Ellen, or where Robert Mitchell is now. I will open with a few words asking only truth from the source of all good and then say nothing as I try to open myself to the spirits who surround us at all times and wish only our best.”
    “Wait,” Grace said. “Aren’t there bad spirits also?”
    “We have around us what we request. If we want the white light, we want truth and goodness, it’s what we will find. We and they can block out anything that is not good or true. Also if Ellen wishes to tell us anything, I will try to get that also.”  With that she took a couple of calming breaths, asked for a white light to surround the circle, and closed her eyes.
    Grace followed suit, aware of Connie’s hand in her left and her mother’s in her right. It did feel energy and warmth were flowing between them. She tried to block out every thought, which might interfere with gaining knowledge. Unorthodox, perhaps, but she was desperate enough to try anything that didn’t appear harmful and could offer any insights as to where Danny was. 

    Receiving nothing herself, Grace could only hope she wouldn’t serve to block anything the other three might receive. It was half an hour, perhaps longer, before she felt Connie release her hand. She looked up when Rose and Priscilla did, blinking a little as she returned to daylight. All Grace had seen during the quiet time were various colored lights floating past her eyelids. She had tried not to think herself and instead only receive, but Rafe was in her thoughts, images of his body, the sound of his voice, the few times she had touched him, and she had to push him out again and again only to see another even stronger memory return.
    Connie rose and poured into the teapot more steaming water from the cast iron pot.
    “Did you see anything?” Priscilla asked her.
    “I am still trying to decide what it meant. In this case knowing what happened to Ellen has made it impossible for me to see the event. My own imagination fills in what I might’ve seen. But…” She hesitated. “I did see the boy, and he’s alive. I would stake everything that I have ever come to know on that fact.”
    “Can you see how he is or where?” Grace asked feeling her first surge of real hope since this had all begun.
    Connie shook her head. “He was in a wagon but others were riding beside the wagon on horses. I think… three men. One would fit the description you gave me of Ellen’s husband.” She closed her eyes again. “One seems jovial. Two angry. The boy… I think he’s frightened and... yes, sad.” She opened her eyes and sighed. “I know that’s not much help.”
    “It is some. There were two men, who had been with Mitchell in town. Do you… that is, can you, get any names?”
    Connie again concentrated. “Shorty. Sorry, that doesn’t seem to fit.”
    “It fits more than you know.”
    “If I get anything else, I will, of course, contact you. I won’t stop trying to see into this or connect with Ellen. She didn’t come through to me this time though. Sometimes spirits leave for awhile to get grounded in their new reality. I want to do what I can to help as I have a very soft spot in my heart for children. The boy… he looked vulnerable… confused, even lonely. The ones with him are no comfort to him.”
    “I thank you for as much as you have given us,” Grace said rising.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

when it finds the wrong readers

Last Saturday I wrote about when a book does not find readers. It's one of the things about writing and putting it out-- there is an emotional side, for which a writer needs to be prepared. Besides not finding readers, sometimes the book finds the wrong ones. 

When you write just for yourself, nobody finds fault with what you did because nobody saw it. Putting out into the world, your books or poetry or paintings or whatever your creative endeavor might be has a potential cost to it, and I don't mean just the dollars it takes to get it out.

An example is last week when I saw that one of my books, Arizona Dawn, had gotten a new review. I am not one of those writers who gets a ton of reviews; so this was of interest. There are some writers who say they have given up reading their reviews because it can be painful. I read mine even though they can be upsetting-- as did this new one star review (her caption said: I disposed of this book).
"This story is about unrequited love between a rich young white woman and a Yaqui Indian man who is 12 years her senior. He doesn't want her for all the typical reasons. I would have kept reading but was turned off by the spiritism, necromancy,.. Not a Christian read."
Well, the first thing this led me to do was look up necromancy. I had a vague idea it related to dead bodies but wasn't quite sure.
Merriam Webster said: necromancy is the practice of talking to the spirits of dead people-- the use of magic powers especially for evil purposes
Okay, so I kind of think that this reviewer didn't quite understand the word either. The scene she must be referring to isn't remotely what she claimed in the review. There is also nothing I can do to straighten her out. There is no arguing with a review, although a few writers try. 

In this case, it would have been tempting just because she didn't understand what she was talking about. She took spirituality at a grade one level and stopped right there. Her last sentence said it all. It's not a Christian read. From the blurb, she should have never thought it was, but something had drawn her to it-- and then she ran into Connie ;).

If the reviewer had understood more about what spiritism is or certainly necromancy, she'd not have seen it as what Connie practices. I've known a few people into spiritism, and it's very different than the scene where Connie, with some friends, about to go on a quest, sought wisdom for their venture. 

Connie is a secondary character in several of my books. She is a psychic and does use Tarot cards, reads tea leaves upon occasion and can palm read. She does ask for wisdom from spirit guides, has been accused of being a witch, but denies it. She's been driven out of towns by those like that reviewer of mine.

After that review, I thought, should I add in the blurb that my books are not Christian. They do not have a come to Jesus moment nor prayer that fixes everything. They do though sometimes have Christian characters-- but more like regular folks, you know, good and bad ones. I do consider all of my books to have spiritual values but not the sort that come from any religion.

Wednesday, I'll post the scene which, I believe, so offended her. If this sort of subject makes you uncomfortable, I hope you'll return next Saturday when there will be something different-- not sure what.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Finding balance

I had a blog set for today, but then the week-end happened. It seemed impossible to post what I'd written as it didn't deal with such tragic events where first a young woman was shot down by a stranger only because she had become a celebrity, and he had become fixated. Then came the nightclub shooting where innocent party-goers were killed because someone could. 

Yes, the person who did it hated gays, but that's an excuse not a reason. We see a lot of that right now with those who have no compassion or empathy for others and only look for excuses to wreak violence. I suspect a lot of us are asking the question-- What grows that sort of human? Is it all mental illness or is the person legally sane but simply without the capacity to love others. We call them sociopaths when they live that way but don't kill. We call them psychopaths when they go a step beyond and are dangerous-- sometimes only emotionally and other times physically. How do the rest of us find peace in a world where is a certain percentage of the population delights in inflicting pain?

How do we find balance in a world that often doesn't appear to have any. 

These photos are of something we came across one year while walking in a desert wash. Someone had come before us and stacked up rocks to form temporary sculptures. The person had done this, knowing the work would not survive the elements-- not to mention those who delight in knocking down what someone else created and sometimes even the park service.

You can see these piled rocks throughout the southwest. When on a trail, they are called by the Scottish word, cairns. Some consider them bad, and there are articles about why-- don't build cairns. Their reasoning is three-fold. One, the stones piled up could lead someone on the wrong trail. That one is possible. Then, this one seemed silly-- the next hiker wanted to imagine no one had been there before them and the stones ruined that image-- except they are already on a man-made trail... Finally, reaching for this-- the stones must stay wherever the rivers or storms had left them. Erosion could be the result of piling them. That just seemed silly as most places I've seen these cairns, the ground has already been altered.

It's funny actually. Humans can't even pile up rocks into trail markers or sculptures without someone else finding fault. It is sort of the nature of humans and maybe why we developed beyond other primates. Never satisfied, never agreeing, and often fighting. Our tools to fight have just gotten more awesome-- with wars being the final result of this business of never agreeing to just let others be. So human nature builds majestic monuments, little piles of rocks, but also weapons of destruction that have escalated until there are bombs that could take out whole cities or nations.

Back to the main question-- since I don't see how we change those bent on destruction-- short of catching them before they can do it-- For a good life, how do we personally find balance in a world like ours where horrible things happen to good people and most of the time, through no fault of their own? 

I don't always succeed, but I think some is taking each day as it comes without anticipating what might happen. There's enough in a day sometimes without adding onto it past memories or future fears. It's called living in the moment or the now.


When we live in the moment, little things take on greater joys. Coming across a surprise like these rock sculptures was to be savored as it didn't happen again. Floods, others who like to knock things down, just natural shifts in the land, whoever did them the first time wasn't there to do them again. We had that moment with them though and now another when I selected which ones to share.

The world will always have tragedies. We will go through more and less violent times. There is no consolation in a time of such cruelty-- except don't miss the moment we can have. There might not be another, but we have that one. I guess that sounds Pollyannaish--
 "Pollyanna," the heroine of Eleanor H. Porter's famous novel "Pollyanna" (1913), whose outlook on life was one of absolute optimism and whose problems were always straightened out in the end.
Maybe it does. It's certainly easier some days than others to feel that it will all be good in the end. But the alternative is to feel bleak and hopeless or angry and hate-filled. It's not like that kind of attitude makes for a good life. 

Since we don't have a choice all the time as to what happens to us or what we see in the world, we do have a choice for how we react to it.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hope in dark times

There are times when it's harder than others to feel upbeat. This has been one of those week-ends with the losses our country has experienced, and the individuals who are suffering. We keep going through this. Now, here we are as a people, once again looking at senseless killings and trying to make sense of it-- when that's really impossible.

I wish I had answers, but right now, it's hard to see any that uplift. I did go looking, and this site What's your grief gathered together quotes and images.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

when it doesn't find readers

Seeing a new book finally published isn't all the rah rah happy days wow feeling that some might imagine. If you are a writer you know the first thought is will it be seen by the likely readers? Even top tier writers, where readers eagerly await their next offering, have to deal with reviews where someone says-- not as good as the last. Bringing out a book is a mix of satisfying and nerve-wracking times.

I have to say I pretty well guessed that Enchantress' Secret would have a hard time finding its readers. My belief went back to when I first knew I wanted to set a series of contemporaries in Barrio Viejo. While many contemporaries sell quite well, mine have always lagged way behind the historicals.  

If that wasn't enough, add to it these were going to be metaphysical/paranormal/fantasy. I had written two fantasy novels (one of which is available as an option as three novellas-- minus the sex), and they have had a hard time finding readers. I think it's because they don't quite fit the genre. Being out of the box for my books has been a bit of a problem all along. Not as a writer but for finding a niche where they fit and readers who would like them can find them.

Some writers write for the market, which means they see what sells and aim for it. I do happen to know where the market is-- both in the fantasy and the historical genres. I just don't have stories that fit it and don't want to copy what others have done.

I write for the muse. It's been my guiding influence since I first began writing, a long time before I aimed at getting my books published. I am sure there are some fortunate writers where the muse hits the market. Muses are not dictated to by it. So my belief is-- Ignore the muse and it ignores you. A corollary to that is-- you can't complain when a book doesn't suit readers when you didn't put their desires first.

The few readers who have found the book have enjoyed it. I got a fantastic review right away from one of those I'd given a copy before it came out. 
Congratulations to the author for a terrific job in writing one of the most enticing books I’ve read. This genre is new to me and I found every page kept me reading. Have you ever grumbled because you have to put a book down to go to work; well, that was me. It has mystery, heroism, strength of character and written with heart. I can say without a doubt that the subject matter reached right into my mind and would not let go until I finished the book. It is paranormal with witches, a little mystical and focus on what is, what may be and what could be. There are extremely strong women, in one family, working together to solve crimes that appear to be out of the norm with strengths that cannot be understood by the Police. When Denali, the beautiful blonde woman, meets the handsome powerful ex-SEAL, Nick, you have a storyline filled with mystery, excitement, adventure and then there is romance. There is a true respect between the characters in this book as they work together to solve murders and mayhem.

Without a doubt, this story will long remain in my mind and I loved it. Writing like this takes tremendous research, thought and the ability to truly develop a character; this author managed it all. I felt honored to get an early copy. You won’t be sorry; add this to your library. 
A review like that is so uplifting to a writer. Then, I got a second equally encouraging.
Wow! This newest series by a favorite author has changed my mind about curling up to read about witches, witchcraft, demons and mystical happenings. I was pulled into the book immediately with the suspense of the first chapter and I got so involved, I kept reading far into the night. I love the characters of Denali and Nick along with all the secondary characters. Very well written, the story kept moving along as murders were committed, mysteries abounded and a beautiful romance developed, as witchcraft was woven throughout this enticing story. I've become so involved with the characters and I'm looking forward to the next one in the series. Very well done to the Author! Sexual content.
So, I am onto writing the next one-- getting together a timeline and learning more about these characters. The hero is quite interesting-- at least to me *s*. I like Elke, the heroine. She's got determination-- the second oldest sister, maybe a little pushy, and a witch with her own skills. It will delve more into the problems of those who are different from others. When you go against the stream, you can expect some difficulties. Book 2 is titled To Speak of Things Unseen. And that's its underlying theme. 

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

the pioneer village

Collier State Park in Oregon has a museum across the highway from the campground and day-use areas. The logging museum is outdoors with historical logging gear of all sorts plus explanations. 

What fascinated me the most though was its pioneer village. What they have done is bring log cabins from many places, with bits about their history and set them up along the Williamson River. It does look like an early village in Oregon might have except, of course, these are mostly homestead cabins, built in isolated areas to prove up claims.

Not only is it beneficial to me to have such to photograph for backgrounds for  covers or in trailers; but it gave me yet another idea for how they could be incorporated in a plot either for an historical or one of the paranormals.

This is a free park and for Father's Day, they said they will have the logging equipment running. Very cool. The park is right off Highway 97 which travels from border to border in Oregon. For those who are not familiar with Oregon, the Cascades divide the state but more like 1/3 or even 1/4 on the west side and the rest with a variety of ecological zones. Well, even the west side changes from north to south with the wetter Willamette Valley being mostly fir and cedar and farther south more pine.