Chicken Diapers, Pinterest and Research

K.P. Gresham Cropped Color Portrait  Written by Kathy Gresham


Sometimes my descriptions of a scene, idea, character, etc. can use a little pictorial help. For me, I find Pinterest can be a great resource to help me get the picture in my mind “just right”. Other times, I’ve used it to store ideas for future writing, motivate me when I need a new idea, and in a few cases, to prove a theory of a book I’m working on.

I have a couple of manuscripts in the drawer (that’s a writer’s way of talking about finished manuscripts that you haven’t sent out to any agents or editors YET}. Two of them are fun little murder mysteries that take place in a small Illinois town called Hardscrabble. The title on my Pinterest account for this series is Hardscrabble Homecoming. I have a Pinterest board for each of my series: “Chicago Cubs” supports my 2016 novel, Three Days at Wrigley Field. “Preachers Murders” has scenes, jokes, ideas from my Pastor Matt Hayden Mystery Series. There are boards for future book ideas as well. “Ada’s Story” is where I keep all my visual material on the book I’m writing about a reformed Hitler youth who has devoted her life to making sure the world never sees another Hitler. Only she doesn’t get it quite right. I’ve also got a Board that supports my “Writing Whimsies”—little nuggets about writing. Some make me smile. Some make me think. Some just get me back in the chair.

Since I was at the dentist this week, it reminded me that I had a dentist in one of my Hardscrabble Homecoming books. I decided to check out a few graphs of the procedure done in the book. Then I got to thinking. In a different Hardscrabble Homecoming book, a character (and I do mean character) has a pet chicken (which integral to the story). I’d heard stories of a writer who did, indeed, diaper her chicken and keep it inside as a house pet. So what the heck. I looked up “Diapered Chickens”. Today I actually put these photos up on my board.

First, I needed to know what a chicken diaper was. Then I needed to prove to myself (and my readers) this wasn’t a half-cocked idea. (Sorry.) Some chickens are considered house pets and wear diapers.

I really do enjoy researching stuff for my books. The more creative, the better. If chuckles ensue, that’s the best. Thank you, Pinterest for helping me research my books! If you’re interested in checking out my Pinterest boards, here’s the link.

https://in.pinterest.com/kathygresham75/boards/

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Images from My Pet Chicken

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Why Blog?

Why Blog?

By Doris McCraw

Angela Raines FB photo
July is almost over. For most of us, we are more than half-way through the year. I like to take the time to take stock of where I am in my plans and goals.

Perhaps you’ve asked yourselves these same questions. Am I on target in our writing? How about that ‘blessed’ thing called marketing? How does blogging, and the time it takes, fit into all that? Why blog if no one reads or comments on what I’ve taken the time to think, research and write about? I rethink this every year, asking myself the same thing, why blog?

For me the answer is a bit complex. I’ll break it down into three sections. 1. Marketing 2. Research and 3. Name recognition, (the one that’s a bit tricky for me.)

1. Marketing:

If we write stories, be they short, flash or full length, we want people to read them. Even with non-fiction we want the information to get to those who might enjoy what we’ve researched and written.

For someone like me, who writes slow, there can be a long time between the various stories. Added to that, I write in two historical genres: Western and Medieval. I love both equally. You add to that the poetry I occasionally write, along with non-fiction work, and it gets busy. Facebook can only do so much, as well as emails. Plus, how do you expand your readership. To me, blogging is one of those ways.

I realize not everyone will like what I write, despite my desire that they do. At the same time, finding those readers who will like my work, is a challenge. It helps to use all the options at my disposal, and blogging is one of those for me.

6-4-2012 cc 097
Photo (c) by author

2. Research:

This is probably the primary reason I blog. I want to share the research I have done with others. History and the people who made it are a compulsion with me. To tell the stories of the people and places from history is something I want to do. I don’t want those pieces from the past to be lost. The nice thing about blogs, especially with the tags, your posts are available via searches almost forever.

For close to ten years I’ve been researching the story of a Colorado criminal. I haven’t written much about him, for he has been hiding the rest of his story. Since the Pikes Peak Library History Symposium presentation on June 9 of this year, I’ve started telling his story via the written word. In fact, I recently submitted the paper based on the presentation for possible publication in the book the library will publish on the topic, Remarkable Rascals, Despicable Dudes and Hidden Heroes.

The other research that’s important for me to share is the story of the early women doctors in Colorado. While ‘Doc Susie’ is a part of that story, it has been slanted her way for far to long. There were so many others who did as much if not more than she. If the book of their lives never gets written by me, at least I’ve shared enough that others have a place to start and find out more based on the blogs I’ve written, and will continue to write.

The stories of the doctors and so many others need to be preserved for future generations. When you feel like you can’t do something, just take a look at what those who preceded you did. It sometimes helps when put into that perspective.

Doris_McGraw_Angela_Raines_L&L_Chasing_a_Chance_EBOOK

3  Name Recognition:

Since I write fiction under a pen name: Angela Raines, it is important I share that information on my posts. When you add my online name, Renawomyn, it gets a bit tricky.

At the same time, my non-fiction work is important. I simply do not want readers of romance to pick up a book with my real name expecting a sweet story and they are reading about juvenile delinquents, early criminals or lynchings. By using pen names I hope to avoid that problem. Of course the reverse could also be true. Can you imagine buying one of my books about the trials and tribulations of early women doctors, and find your reading a story about a medieval woman and the man she loves?

In the end, whether anyone reads or comments on my blog posts, I have things I want to say. Yes, it hurts when no one seems to care, but in the long run, it’s the future I write for. So, here’s to the future and to the readers who just have to know what I have to share.

And on a lighter note, the book birthday for my first story is this July. It will be four years old. How time does fly.

Home_For_His_Heart_McCraw_cover
Purchase Here

Doris Gardner-McCraw –

Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

Member of National League of American Pen Women,

Women Writing the West,

Pikes Peak Posse of the Westerners


Angela Raines – author: Where Love & History Meet

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here

Photo and Poem: Click Here

Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

A Positive Spin #writerslife #amreading

By Ronel Janse van Vuuren

I’ve had an interesting month thus far. Well, “interesting” is putting a positive spin on things.

Tony spent a week at the vet’s: he was listless and losing weight for no apparent reason. After numerous tests (mostly to rule out the really scary stuff like cancer), it finally turned out to be a rare form of Addison’s Disease. And it’s treatable. Yay! He still needs ‘round the clock care by mummy (I have to watch his temperature, make sure he eats, make sure that what comes out looks healthy, give him his meds, keep him calm, etc.), but he’s home and looking a lot better.

Here’s a pic from last week at the vet’s:

Yesterday he barked at the neighbours! Fabulous improvement. I can only hope that he gets back to being my mischievous boy who always asks “why not?”.

I couldn’t write at all, of course. So I read. A lot. (I have reviews for Goodreads ready until end of September…)

One of the best non-fiction books I read was Jane Friedman’s “The Business of Being a Writer”. I only gave it four stars, but the reasons are explained within the review (see link).

The reason I really like this book is because I learned something new about my own published works:

“Short story collections are distinctly literary work.” And literary work doesn’t sell as well as commercial work.

Wow. And here I thought I was just a dark fantasy author. But it does explain the odd sales, amazing ranks on the different Amazon stores during launch week and glowing reviews

The book also gave me hope for the future:

“Committed writers succeed: recognise that most careers are launched, not with a single fabulous manuscript, but through a series of small successes that builds the writer’s network and visibility, step by step.”

Though the month hadn’t gone as planned – neither did last month – I feel positive that things can only improve from here on out.

On a side note: Tony is actually currently as grumpy as a faery dog character I’d based on him. Seems I know my boy a lot better than I thought.

Have you had any surprising revelations about your writing?

Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.

All of her books are available for purchase on Amazon and other online retailers.

Connect with Ronel:

Amazon : Twitter : Pinterest : Google+ : Goodreads : Ronel the Mythmaker : Instagram : Newsletter

 

Book Review: Pat Schneider’s Writing Alone and with Others — by Renee Kimball

 Written by Renee Kimball

 

Recommended Reading:   Writing Alone and with others, The guide that will beat the block, banish fear, and help create lasting work, by Pat Schneider- Writer, Poet-Healer, and Shaman. An instructional guide to self-healing through writing

Cover photo from Amazon.

Pat Schneider is a poet-healer, a guide and shaman who believes writing is the means to self-healing.   Writing Alone and with others is a writer’s guide to forgiving yourself and giving yourself permission to write your story so that you can go forward to a better you.

There are many gems of wisdom in Schneider’s book for writers and would-be-writers.  Each page speaks in a kind of firm best-friend voice.  It is directed to anyone and everyone, quoting Will Stafford, Schneider affirms: “A writer is someone who writes” – stating whether writing a letter, email, or merely a report, we all write (p. xxv).   If writing calls to you, you must answer the call, if you do not, you damage yourself – whatever your write, it is your art—your story– and your right to write.

 

“When we neglect the artist in ourselves,
there is a kind of mourning that goes on
under the surface of our busy lives.
 ~Schneider

 

If you are troubled and wish to heal, then the act of writing will heal you. And your story does not have to be shared in order for you to be whole.  Of course, there are those who want to share, and that is a good thing. But, whatever path is chosen, the medicine – writing- will heal you.

The very act of writing takes courage, it is an act exposing your most vulnerable self.  You know which writers’ stories relate to you.  If you share, it may be the story that irrevocably changes not only your path, but another’s path, you never know – it is a risk. Take the risk to write, whether you share or not, and you will heal.

 

“Writing is a scary thing to do and the bad news is, it never stops being scary.  Once I was at a luncheon with several writers and one of them had won the Pulitzer Prize.  And he said: “what in God’s name do you write after you’ve won the Pulitzer?”  And he was terrified. And I know someone else who has written book after book. . . and he’s miserable when he’s writing his next book, because he says, “I’ll never finish, I can’t finish, I can’t do this.  How did I get myself into this?”  So, a claim does not take care of the fear of writing.” (on-line interview)

 

Schneider’s book is a writer’s self-help book and an instructional manual for writing groups, it gives a firm but loving GET TO IT message, a message to GET ON WITH YOUR WRITING AND HEAL YOURSELF – Look into the dark corners of yourself and write them down, clear them out, banish them, shed them, become whole.

Schneider leaves no one behind.  She encourages everyone to “Write something that feels too huge, or too dangerous, to tell. Courage is not the special prerogative of those who have experienced some dramatic suffering” (p. 90).

This is a hefty book, a thoughtful book, and whether you are an old-hand at writing, a beginner, or simply seeking personal solace through writing, Schneider’s book will fill you up and just may be the start towards a new beginning.

By Deekatherine [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

To grow in craft is to increase
the breadth of what I can do,
but art is the depth, t
he passion, the desire,
the courage to be myself,
and myself alone.

 

 

 

 

 

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GOING HOME THE LONGEST WAY AROUND

we tell stories, build
from fragments of our lives
maps to guide us to each other.
We make collages of the way
it might have been
had it been as we remembered,
as we think perhaps it was,
tallying in our middle age
diminishing returns.
Last night the lake was still;
all along the shoreline
bright pencil marks of light, and
children in the dark canoe pleading
“Tell us scary stories.”
Fingers trailing in the water,
I said someone I loved who died
told me in a dream
to not be lonely, told me
not to ever be afraid.
And they were silent, the children,
listening to the water
lick the sides of the canoe.
It’s what we love the most
can make us most afraid, can make us
for the first time understand
how we are rocking in a dark boat on the water,
taking the long way home.

~ Pat Schneider

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For more of Pat Schneider’s poems visit, Pat Schneider.com. – http://patschneider.ca/pat/?p=47

 

References

Writing alone and with others. The guide that will beat the block, banish fear, and help create lasting work. Pat Schneider.  Available on Amazon.com, https://www.amazon.com/Writing-Alone-Others-Pat-Schneider/dp/019516573X  Photo contribution from Amazon. Com

Pat Schneider – Online Interview – On Writing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQ1ukC0KWZI  Oxford Academic (Oxford University Press) Published on Apr 24, 2013

Pat Schneider.com http://patschneider.com/pat/

Pat Schneider – Online Interview – On Writing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQ1ukC0KWZI  Oxford Academic (Oxford University Press) Published on Apr 24, 2013

Disclaimer: The reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed here are her own.

*****

A former paralegal, Renee Kimball has a master’s degree in criminal justice. Among her interests are reading and writing. She is an active Animal Advocate, fosters and rescues both dogs and cats from shelters, and works with various organizations to find them forever homes.

 

 

We Need You!

Keri De DeoPost written by Keri De Deo

suicides

The United States seems to be in crisis. According to the CDC, suicide rates have increased 30% since 1999. There were 45,000 suicides in 2016 alone! Naturally, we hear mostly about celebrities and public figures. There also seems to be a snowball effect. According to CNN, “suicide contagion” is a real phenomenon: when there’s one suicide, more follow. We put our celebrities on a pedestal, thinking they have it all. When they fall, we’re devastated. My mother said it best, “If you have money, fame, and love, but you’re still depressed, what hope do the rest of us have?”

But celebrities are just people. Like the rest of us, they have hopes and dreams. They have good days and bad, and they fail. We just don’t always see those failures, except if it’s a huge failure, then we see it on overdrive on the 24-hour news stations. But we haven’t seen their struggles to get to their height of fame. We don’t see the hours of acting classes they took—the number of roles they failed to get. The jobs they took just to pay rent. We only see the finished product.

Greatest ShowmanRecently, I fell in love with the movie The Greatest Showman. Have you seen it? It stars Hugh Jackman, who sings many of the songs himself. My favorite song from the movie is “This is Me” sung by Keala Settle. (She plays the bearded lady in the movie.) I love that song, and it makes me cry every time I hear it. I wish I had her voice. I heard an interview with Keala, and she talked about the practice she put into the song before she could sing it without crying. That made me feel better.

Anyway, my point is that everyone stumbles and falls while they’re climbing to success. The same holds true for writing: how many drafts did it take for George R.R. Martin to write Game of Thrones? How many hours did he spend writing the backstory and developing Westeros for his books? We can only guess because he doesn’t talk about that in any of the interviews I’ve read. What we do know is that he began writing Game of Thrones in 1991, and it was released in 1996. That timeline demonstrates how long it takes from creation to publication. He didn’t start discussing the HBO show until 2007—16 years later!

My point is that success takes time, and it may not look like anything you expected. Mostly, you just have to hang on and take each day one by one. I remind myself of this every day. Like Anthony Bourdain, I suffer from depression. I also suffer from anxiety, which cripples me several days a week. But every day, I find a reason to get out of bed, and I find a way to get work done. Some days, I struggle to just feed the dogs, but on other days, I get through my entire to-do list. I work hard to make it through each day: I take my meds, I get out of bed, I look forward to the future, and take each day as it comes. And that’s what it takes.

If you find it hard to make it through each day, get help. Get in touch with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. Or talk to your doctor. Get help because we need you, and we want you to be happy.

 

~ Keri De Deo is author of the novel Nothing but a Song and owner of Witty Owl Consulting.

 

Research Requires Fertilization – by KP Gresham

 Posted by K. P. Gresham

 

And here I am, talking about . . . excrement.

I had a professor one time (Professor Kulkarni at Rice University) tell me that all experiences are like tomato seeds. Plant them in your thought process and see what grows. We’re talking a basic simile here. And here’s what it has to do with research.

My hubby and I just finished a cruise through the Panama Canal. Now I am not currently writing anything that has to do with the Panama Canal (okay, one possibility), but the history and engineering of this incredible, world-changing slice through the earth is epic. It’s an experience I shan’t easily forget (dementia runs in the family, so I have to qualify that), and one that is definitely a seed I will plant in my garden (that would be my brain).

Yes, I just likened my brain to a pile of . . . excrement, but few will argue the point.

As Professor Kulkarni would say, you plant it and see what grows. Will it be a major plot point? Will it be the background story for a character? I have no idea, but I have confidence this experience (the Panama Canal cruise) will influence my future stories in some way.

That’s what experiences do for writers. Around every corner is an idea that might end up in a book. Perhaps it’s a fact you picked up on vacation, a secret in your own family’s past, maybe even something as simple as an overheard conversation. To be a writer is to be open to new experiences at every turn, and to nurture those experiences into something you can use in your writing.

So, for today’s lesson, here’s a re-cap. Look to every experience you’ve had or the ones to come for seeds that might grow into your writing. Research what’s interesting (or fascinating in the case of the Panama Canal) and use your curiosity to feed your creative streak.

Oh, and yours truly may indeed be full of . . . well, you know.

*****

K.P. Gresham, author of the Pastor Matt Hayden Mystery series and Three Days at Wrigley Field, moved to Texas as quick as she could. Born Chicagoan, K.P. and her husband moved to Texas, fell in love with not shoveling snow and are 30+ year Lone Star State residents. She finds that her dual country citizenship, the Midwest and Texas, provide deep fodder for her award-winning novels. Her varied careers as a media librarian and technical director, middle school literature teacher and theatre playwright and director add humor and truth to her stories. A graduate of Houston’s Rice University Novels Writing Colloquium, K.P. now resides in Austin, Texas, where life with her tolerant but supportive husband and narcissistic Chihuahua is acceptably weird.

Never Mind the Villain!: Dorothy Sayers and Point of View

 Posted by Helen Currie Foster

Okay, you know writers have to make choices. I began writing the Alice MacDonald Greer mysteries from a single point of view—Alice’s. As you all know, whether in first person or third, making this choice in an amateur sleuth mystery requires the writer to figure out how the protagonist can acquire and understand all the necessary clues.

Bronze statue of Dorothy L. Sayers by John Doubleday, located on Newland Street, Witham, England. By GeneralJohnsonJameson [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons
The magnificent Dorothy Sayers instead adopted a disciplined omniscience in her eleven Peter Wimsey mysteries (1923-1937). In the first, Whose Body (1923), we meet not only the main character but his companion investigators: his unflappable butler Mervyn Bunter and Inspector Parker of Scotland Yard, who carry through the entire series (with Harriet Vane appearing in the fifth mystery). These characters both enrich the books and add structural strength. Parker provides the window to the police, while Bunter possesses useful technical skills (photography, testing for arsenic). Furthermore, the companion sleuths (and others) shed light on Wimsey’s character by their own thoughts and observations—necessary because Wimsey, though a chatterbox, is notoriously introverted, plagued by his war experience.

Omniscience also gives Sayers flexibility in setting the opening scene.  In Strong Poison (1931), after the bewigged judge’s dry summation of the evidence against Harriet Vane, we’re privy to reactions not only from Wimsey but also newspaper reporters and the public. Busman’s Honeymoon (1937) opens with letters describing Wimsey’s marriage to Harriet Vane, written to or from unknown society matrons, Peter’s butler Mervyn Bunter, Peter’s prickly sister-in-law Helen, and Peter’s mother. These multiple points of view enliven both openings.

But after such openings Sayers typically narrows point of view to the clue-finders. In Strong Poison we’re mainly in Wimsey’s head, feeling his growing emotional involvement: “Wimsey walked down the dingy street with a feeling of being almost lightheaded.” “For the first time, too, he doubted his own power to carry through what he had undertaken.” Sayers lets us abandon Wimsey to accompany his “team.” We follow the resourceful Bunter into the kitchen of a London mansion where we watch him toast crumpets while eliciting critical evidence from the cook and housemaid:

By what ingratiating means Mr. Bunter had contrived to turn the delivery of a note into the acceptance of an invitation to tea was best known to himself…He had been trained to a great pitch of dexterity in the preparation of crumpets, and if he was somewhat lavish in the matter of butter, that hurt nobody…Nothing goes so well with a hot fire and buttered crumpets as a wet day without and a good dose of comfortable horrors within.

Later our heart pounds with that of Miss Murchison, whom Wimsey has persuaded to take a job as temporary secretary in order to burgle a lawyer’s safe.  “Miss Murchison felt a touch of excitement in her well-regulated heart.” We follow the elderly Katharine Climpson to a village where, she’s promised Wimsey, she must somehow find and read a dying woman’s will: “In a single moment of illumination, Miss Climpson saw her plan complete and perfect in every detail.” And so do we.

Given their moments in the sun these characters develop richly. We feel Miss Murchison’s excited terror as she presses the panel that reveals the safe in the suspect’s office. We feel Miss Climpson’s anxious discipline as she waits for the kettle to steam enough to loosen the glue on the envelope holding the will. We love Bunter’s roast chicken recipe and ability to extract critical detail from the housemaid and cook. And when Wimsey celebrates their information the reader enjoys the teamwork as well:

(Wimsey) “Have you brought us news, Miss Murchison? If so, you have come at the exact right moment…Have you had tea? or will you absorb a spot of something?”

Miss Murchison declined refreshment.

(Wimsey) “Tell us the worst, Miss Murchison.”

Miss Murchison needed no urging. She told her adventures, and had the pleasure of holding her audience enthralled from the first word to the last.

In the earlier (pre-Harriet Vane) Clouds of Witness (1926) we travel to Paris with Inspector Parker, in search of a cat-shaped diamond brooch. After a fruitless day, Parker decides to buy his unmarried older sister “some filmy scrap of lace underwear which no one but herself would ever see.” He finds help in one Parisian shop: “The young lady had been charmingly sympathetic, and, without actually insinuating anything, had contrived to make her customer feel just a little bit of a dog. He felt that his French accent was improving.” Somehow we like Parker even more—a good thing, since later in Clouds of Witness he’ll propose to Wimsey’s sister.

In Have His Carcase (1932), the initial point of view is all Harriet Vane’s: she discovers the grisly body. Then Wimsey arrives, and we follow him as he tracks down alibis (“Wimsey shuddered at the thought of roast mutton and cabbage on a red-hot June day”). At the end, we’re  with Bunter as he doggedly trails a suspect to find the key evidence, then sees the back of a man leaving the movie theater (“He had not followed that back through London for five days without knowing every line of it”). By the conclusion we’ve enjoyed the inner workings of all three minds—Harriet’s, Peter’s, Bunter’sin a way we couldn’t with a single point of view.

However, there’s one point of view Sayers refuses to share, despite her omniscience. Sayers never admits us to the killer’s point of view. We hear dialogue from the killer; particularly where a death was unintended, we hear the killer explain what happened; but Sayers bars us from following the killer’s thoughts.

She’s taken a position consistent with the first rule of The Detection Club which Sayers helped found in 1930: “The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.” (Indeed, she even follows this rule for the accused killer in Clouds of Witness; he’s innocent, but still we never hear his thoughts.)

Many mysteries break this rule (see, e.g., Tony Hillerman’s The Ghost Way (1984), where we enter Vaggan’s mind), sometimes to great effect.

But it’s a rule Sayers kept.

On May 19, 2018, at our Heart of Texas Sisters in Crime meeting, Ed Martin  told in fascinating detail how he helped determine who murdered Madalyn Murray O’Hair, her son John, her adopted daughter Robin, and Danny Fry, a co-conspirator in their murders. As he ended, Ed mentioned that the murderer David Waters had told of a nightmare in which he saw Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s hand sticking up from the grave. Ed said, “No conscience, but he had a nightmare!”

That comment intrigued me. It opened an unwelcome door into the villain’s thoughts. It was already too hard to understand the murders in the first place. Hearing about the nightmare made the O’Hairs’ deaths more painful. And yet—the murderer had had that nightmare. Maybe that’s a different story.

***

Photographic images of covers of Strong Poison and Clouds of Witness taken from personal copies.

***

Helen Currie Foster is the author of the Alice MacDonald Greer mystery seriesGHOST CAVE, GHOST DOG, GHOST LETTER, and GHOST DAGGER. She earned a BA from Wellesley College, an MA from the University of Texas, and a JD from the University of Michigan.

Having grown up in Texas surrounded by books and storytelling, she taught high school English and later became a prize-winning feature writer for a small Michigan weekly. Following a career of more than thirty years as an environmental lawyer, the character Alice and her stories suddenly appeared in Foster’s life. In her writing, Foster explores the interaction between history and the present and the reasons we tell the stories we do.

Married with two children, she lives north of Dripping Springs, Texas, supervised by three burros. She works in Austin, and she’s active with the Hays County Master Naturalists and the board of Austin Shakespeare.

 

 

The false ads on TV about detoxifying your body with special Foot Pads and spa footpaths

I am writing about the ads on TV about detoxifying your body with special Foot Pads. They say they are based on ancient Japanese medical secrets and contain magic ingredients.

There are also costly the detox foot baths at spas.

They say both get rid of toxins through your feet that cause everything from arthritis to insomnia. The people who testify on the ads say they work. They show proof on the screen such as the “dirty” pads or a solution in the foot bath that has turned color. Do they really work? Should you be skeptical?

 

YES, be very skeptical. The ads for these products are false. They to do not work. They do not remove the toxins accumulating in our bodies through your skin or feet. It is pure hokum.

All your bodies’ nerves do not end in your feet. Your body does NOT get rid of toxic materials through your skin or your feet. You do not need external means to detoxify your body. Your kidneys and liver do a good job as is without $20 feet pads or more expensive foot bath treatments.

If you have real medical problems with your blood or toxins in your body, a doctor can examine you to find out if you actually have a problem with your liver or kidneys and give you the proper treatment. The foot bath fraud is big in the health and day spa business and has been proven to be fraud. The only cleaning is the removal of money from your bank account. .

 

Autumn Cleaning: Re-evaluating Things #writerslife

by Ronel Janse van Vuuren

I wasn’t sure what to write for this month’s post: I have so many ideas! But with the feeling of Spring/Autumn in the air I went with that.

In my part of the world it is Autumn. It’s a beautiful time of year when the leaves turn into shades of orange, red and brown before creating a carpet of leaves on the brown grass. The days become cool and the nights become freezing.

For me, it is a time to do some cleaning. Yes, like Spring cleaning, but in the Autumn.

Autumn cleaning isn’t about getting rid of the cobwebs of Winter. No, it’s about re-evaluating things. Like scanning in the articles I like from magazines I own before taking the magazines to the library for others to share and delight in; sorting through my closet and donating the clothes I no longer wear or want to those who need it; re-evaluating my writing priorities for the year ahead.

And this year: re-evaluating friendships.

I’ve been part of a large women’s organisation since 2010. I’ve attended all the functions, made sure I wore the right colours and had outfits for every occasion. I organised my fair share of events and dealt with the accompanying headaches. I’ve given and given and given. I thought it would pay off.

But at our yearly big get-together I asked for something for the first time. And… I have to admit that I find myself disappointed. We had agreed at our last meeting that I would do a short reading from my book, talk a bit about it, put my business card at each setting and sell a couple of books to those interested.

When I arrived they wanted to cut me out of everything entirely… I had to stand up for my rights (without getting too much into it: we all had to contribute financially to this venture and we didn’t have entertainment for the day – which is why I volunteered to read and do a signing for free). The rest of the group – the ones I only see once a year – listened to me, some bought a copy of my book, we took photos, chatted, and had fun.

Only four from my group were interested in supporting me (one being my BFF since forever). One from my group outright told me that my business cards didn’t fit with her tables (despite it matching the colour scheme and it being something we’ve decided on at our meeting). Let’s not get into the rest. Like saying you haven’t got money, yet you spent more than twice the amount for a book on playing the horses five minutes earlier…

I know fantasy – especially dark fantasy – isn’t for everyone.

Some of my sales will come from ebooks and audiobooks (I have met a lot of women who either cannot read anymore because of failing eyesight or don’t have the space for physical books anymore). But they have my business card. It was good. Some will buy the English version when it comes out in July. That’s excellent. I made another impression on people. (Which is why live events are great.)

Yet… The effort I had to go through, the planning, the hope of support from my friends – I’m not sure it paid off. If I look at what I’ve done over years and what I got in return…

I think it might be time to only focus on things that really help my career, be with people who actually support my writing (like a few of my friends from this group do) and stop adding extra stress to my life. Some people just have the way to rub you the wrong way and add unnecessary stress to events.

If I can stop writing flash fiction and be a flash fiction judge, then I can stop being part of a group that doesn’t work for me anymore and stop being friends with people I’ve outgrown.

Easier said than done, though.

Re-evaluating things are always difficult. But once the decision is made, deadlines set and commitments made, things usually go okay enough.

If you want to see photos and hear news about my first signing, stop by my blog on the 25th of April. Can’t wait to have you over 🙂

Do you have a yearly ritual of re-evaluating your life? Have you ever had to cut ties with people for whatever reason? Have you ever attended a book signing?

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Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing

Ghost Stories

 

By Noreen Cedeño

 

 

Who doesn’t like a good ghost story? Ghost stories have a long history, going back as far as we have written records. In the Bible, 1 Samuel 28 records the story of King Saul seeking the ghost of the dead Samuel. In the 1st century A.D., Roman statesman Pliny the Younger recorded a ghost story in his letters. In 856 A.D. the first story of a poltergeist was recorded in Germany. Throughout history ghost stories have been recorded and told all over the world from ancient castles, to the White House, to ships at sea, to battlefields in Gallipoli and Iwo Jima.

Bad Vibes Ghosts drawn by N. M. Cedeno

Generally, ghost stories fall into three categories. First are ghosts who seem to be moving through a space they belonged to in life. These ghosts are experienced by a viewer via the senses (seen, heard, smelled, felt) and are considered to be restless spirits, people who died too young, unexpectedly, traumatically, or with unfinished business. The next type are echoes of intense scenes, such as groups of soldiers marching into battle or a crowd fleeing a fire. Last are poltergeists, ghosts who move or damage things or injure people.

American culture is rife with ghost stories in literature, video media, and in daily life. Many cities and towns have ghost tours available for the curious. Certain older hotels offer haunted rooms. A walk around any historical town square will reveal business owners with ghost stories to share. The stories of hauntings range from the scary to the simply odd. For an odd example, one hotel has a story of a haunted bathroom stall: people glance and see feet under the door, but no one is there. Television shows involving searching for ghosts are popular as are books of ghost stories collected from different countries, regions, states, and cities.

Most people know someone who claims to have encountered a ghost. If you bring up the topic of ghost stories, you can draw meetings off on a tangent and cause work to come to a standstill while people happily recount what they have seen, experienced, or been told. I knew someone who claimed to have seen a girl, ghostly white, standing in the walk-in closet of her college dorm room. Another person swore she’d seen books move themselves off a shelf, coming straight out and dropping to the ground without anyone touching them. Various family members have claimed to see ghosts as well.

Photo taken by my uncle. Some people see a ghost in the window.

In spite of the universal nature of the tales, ghost stories can be quite polarizing. Many people adamantly believe in ghosts, while others vehemently don’t. Those who don’t believe sometimes openly disparage those who do. While those who do believe shrug off the disbelievers, convinced of what they have seen or experienced. Then there are those in between, those who can’t take a strong position either way, open to belief but skeptical and open to other explanations also.

But no matter your opinion, people who claim to have seen ghosts have had an experience that affected them. I had a house guest who told me that a ghost stood over her bed in my guestroom and pulled the sheets off her. I found her, terrified, on a couch in my living room the next morning. I have no doubt that something scared her badly. The house was newly built, and I was the first occupant. However, others also saw a ghost in that bedroom in the ten years that I lived there. I never saw anything. Does that mean there was nothing there, or that I simply couldn’t see it? I have no idea, but I do recognize that the experience was very real for those who did see something.

Do you like ghost stories? Stories to terrify and mystify? I like to hear other people’s ghost stories and take the occasional ghost tour. I write ghost stories in my Bad Vibes Removal Services paranormal mystery series. I admit to trying to find holes in people’s stories or ways to debunk their tales. Every once in a while though, I hear a story that’s hard to discount and sends shivers up my spine. How about you? Do you like to read ghost stories? Have you experienced something yourself? Or heard any good tales?

*****

N. M. Cedeño writes short stories and novels that are typically set in Texas. Her stories vary from traditional mystery, to science fiction, to paranormal mystery in genre. Her debut novel, All in Her Head, was published in 2014, followed by her second novel, For the Children’s Sake, in 2015. In 2016, For the Children’s Sake was selected as a finalist for the East Texas Writers Guild Book Award in the Mystery/Thriller category. Most recently, she has begun writing the Bad Vibes Removal Services Series which includes short stories and the novel The Walls Can Talk (2017).