Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Work And I Love It!

It's the first Wednesday of the month and following the tradition that Alex Cavanaugh has began, here it is, the Insecure Writer's post:

Tonight's post was the proverbial pulling teeth.  I almost shoved the computer away and said that's it - I cave. 

But I didn't.

Sometimes writing is like that.  Every morning I set my alarm early - before the lights in other houses are on, even here far away from home,  I'm in front of my computer beginning the word count for the day.  Although word count, that's probably, no is, a misnomer.  I don't go for word count.  I learned a long time ago, that for me that's not an effective way to write.  It means extensive revisions that can spin a story out long after I write the end. 

Sometimes it's tough.  There are few people that understand what you're doing, why you are doing it or why your "little hobby" should be called anything but that, never mind work.  But you have to swim through all of that and just keep writing.  It's the only way to eventually make it in this business.

Once I dreamed success would mean the publisher of my dreams would publish my book, market me and put me on every bookstore shelf.  Now times have changed and the dream, well it's there but it's adapted.  I still want that original dream but right now success means getting published by small presses and alternative publishing.  It means promoting myself and extra hours at the computer to do that.  Yes, the publishing industry has changed but the dream is the same - writing success.  And despite all the advise out there, it really only boils down to one word for success - readers.

But to find readers I must write well and then promote what I've written.  But even time to write is difficult in a world where success and what you  do is judged by how much money comes in.  Under a certain bar and it's not considered work.  Interesting term, work.  Because if you don't have work attached to what you do, quantifying it as a gainful means of employment, then what you're doing is a hobby and no one can figure out why you can't stop everything to answer the phone or go for coffee or take grandma to her church bazaar or whatever. And sometimes those interruptions are valid for I will admit that what my work is, is flexible.  But because of that flexibility, often, long after everyone has had supper and settled down for the nightly sitcom, I'm back at the computer for a few more hours.

Sorry everyone, it is work.  I am busy.  I'm writing a story.  It's work and I love it!

Now excuse me - after a good days work, I believe it's time to enjoy what's left of a cool desert evening.

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Fatal Intent on sale now for .99 cents at online book stores.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Stand Back - It's a Canuck

Been spending a few weeks south of the border, escaping at least part of the long winter I know is waiting for me.  Crossing one border usually isn't too much of a culture shock.  The States are similar to Canada in a large number of ways and in just as many, they're not.

So today I went to the UPS store to see if there was any way I could settle a mailing issue.  Note to self - you can't get mail if you don't have a mailbox.

Anyway, in the course of the discussion, one clerk looks at the other and says
"Well, that confirms it.  I knew the area code was somewhere in Canada but the accent, didn't you hear it?  Canuck."   She looks at the other clerk with satisfaction and then turns to smile at me.  I think I recoiled in horror, okay not quite but: 

A - no one has ever said I have an accent.  It's all of you I say - not me. 
And B - Canuck, no one has ever called me that either - ever. 

I was reminded that I'm a person of interest, a foreigner. I was one of those people, the ones I meet on planes, in other countries, in public transport - just everywhere.  People with stories that are different from mine.  They're fascinating and I'm their worst nightmare because I want to hear all about them. 

Now I'd become one of them.  One of the others - the one with the accent.  I mean it's easy to feel foreign when you're traveling in a country where your native tongue is not theirs and where the customs are radically different from yours.  But here the similarities run as close as the disparities.  So, no, I wanted to say - it's you, you have the funny little accent not me.  No, the look the clerk laid on me said it all - it was me.

A fraction of the price at home.

Sure I knew I was in a foreign country.  I'm reminded every day.  Retail shops alone are a good reminder.  Like the other day when I was gawking at the Canadian Whiskey disbelieving of the price.  Of course, I'm disbelieving of the price of any liquor south of the border but this one in particular.  Made in Canada, it sat here thousands of miles from its manufacture point marked at a price that can only be called extraordinarily cheap - possibly even giving it away, cheap.  And the day before that I scoured the dairy section looking for cream and only seeing artificial creamer.  At home, it's parked by the milk and it comes in a cardboard container, which I have since found it does here too but it's buried beneath a massive selection of creamers.  Anyway, maybe I should have taken those and any number of other clues that, not only was I foreign, but I just might just be the one with the accent.

So with that reality check I headed off down the road.  There we stumbled on the salsa lady, selling out of the back of her van by the side of the road.  Unemployed temporarily she said after greeting me with a cheery hello that she hurled at me long before we were in speaking distance.  After getting my salsa she offered her e-mail address in case I should like the salsa and she wasn't at her usual roadside haunt.  I did.  Will definitely be e-mailing her for more.  Fortunately, except for spelling issues - I think e-mail is relatively universal.  No accent there.  

So now it's off to the family selling tamales and fruit of all kinds at another roadside stand.  We left
with a bagful of fruit - 12 limes for a dollar!  Unheard of in Canada or at least the corner I'm from - not the limes, the price.  The tamales, well we'll be back for a roadside lunch one day soon.

It was a day of moments that would never have happened at home because, wait for it - I'd be shoveling snow and thinking of past trips and future stories.

And one last word on the accent thing - you will never, ever, hear me say that one dreaded word - eh.    Because well,  there was that classic Canadian throwback to the eighties, Bob and Doug McKenzie ... enough said.

Travel away to Borneo where murder and romance steam up the jungle - 
Fatal Intent on sale for .99 cents at most online retail book outlets.
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Intent to Kill - On Tour

I've been hunkering down these last few weeks, soaking up warmer weather before heading
back to the frozen North.  But that's another story and one I'll share soon.

I'm on another type of tour right now - a virtual one.  My latest romantic suspense, Intent to Kill is visiting some pretty sweet blogs and enjoying a review or two.  Today check out the review and comments at two great blogs:

"One of my favorite things in Literature is when you get taken outside of the typical setting of North America. I love "seeing" other countries and settings that I have never seen before, and I got to go on the ride of a lifetime with Claire as she traveled to Cambodia and attempts to solve vicious and grisly murders and disappearances that are taking place..."   Unabridged Andra

"Intent to Kill is an exciting look at smuggling in Cambodia and the extent that people will go to make money–no matter who gets in their way. Add to the mix an Interpol agent and a journalist who have a nearly explosive chemistry between them and you have an adventure just waiting to happen.
Ms. Kennie knows how to write action–and there’s plenty of it in this book..."Long and Short Reviews

Follow the links to read the rest and comment for a chance to win a Amazon gift certificate at the end of the tour.

Now it's off to enjoy some sunshine.


November 27: Unabridged Andra
November 27: Long and Short Reviews
December 4: Bunny's Review
December 4: It's Raining Books
December 11: A to Z Reviews
December 11: Promo Room With Books
December 18: Book Reviews by Xunaira J.
December 18: As the Pages Turn
December 18: Straight From the Library

Friday, November 22, 2013

Santa Fe and Onward

Everything seems to be in slow time.  I suppose when you're on the road life is like that.  On the way further south, we spent a few days in a surprisingly laid back place, Santa Fe.  Low slung adobe buildings catch your attention immediately.  The more modern downtown is hidden from the interstate.  And a year after my first view of Santa Fe, we ventured in and discovered that the heart of Santa Fe is how it was a hundred or so years ago.  Coming from a place where the old has been too often razed, this was refreshing.  Narrow lanes bracketed by laid back adobe houses whose elegant rich comfort are hidden behind wide thick wood doors and arched doorways.

Santa Fe - for artists, it's a mecca.  A mecca for art of all kinds; from sculpture to oil to artists of another kind - cooking.  Not only that but yes, there are writers and writers' conferences. There were also cooking schools and writing schools but most of all there was
art.  Eighty-four galleries in a stretch of about four blocks.

It was there where I had the most expensive lunch of my life but the most entertaining.  Who knew that water could cost eight dollars a bottle.  But what topped everything was a woman who was really the caricature of a place or time or theme.  Scarlett O'Hara, obviously not her or even someone that remotely resembled her, not her looks but her airs.  The resemblance was in her southern drawl that included the mention of numerous "high end encounters" and was peppered with darlings.  The conversation was a window to another world, of business, entitlement and airs.  

But enough of peeks into other people's lives.  It was off to see the galleries.  Bronzes and oils were everywhere, galleries cozied against more galleries.  The amount of talent in that one little area was overwhelming.

And after an exhausting day both to feet and pocketbook it was off for something a little more realistic, wood stove cooked pizza and beer.

And with the road and Santa Fe now behind me, I've been settled in a place that's not quite home for a week or two.  More on that later.

And in the meantime, I'm giving away two copies of my paranomal romance, Ring of Desire and my historic set on the depression era prairie, From the Dust.  Both are contests on Goodreads.

And last but "not least":
My latest book - Intent to Kill is out!
First there was Fatal Intent, a tale that took romance and suspense to the dark reaches of the Borneo jungle.

Now, Intent to Kill takes love to the heart of Cambodia where in the shadow of Angkor Wat, passion ignites amidst evil that is generations in the making.  

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chugwater Chili

I love being at home but there's something about being on the road that provides these unique little surprises and like I said in my last post, is just inspirational because every place has a story and every story only makes me ask - what if?

Less than an hour down the road from Douglas, Wyoming, is the quiet little village of Chugwater.  We would have flown, or driven, if you prefer, right by except for the intriguing billboard announcing Chugwater Chili.  What was intriguing about it?  Well, it wasn't the typical hotel, motel or fast food advertisement, plus it was all alone with only rugged wilderness surrounding it.  That got our attention, plus it was lunch time and we were hungry and truly sick of another variation of "fast food".   And, well, a confession, we'd tried out the same chili last year.  So we hit the exit ramp and you know, you just can't pass up those opportunities.

Chugwater Chili has an interesting story - check out their website if you're interested.  But it appeared to me like a small place collaborating with each other to succeed.  Because besides the chili there were Chugwater t-shirts, spices and other parapanalia and an inventory of books propped in holders on tables. 

Last year there was a gas station, this year the sign outside of Douglas warned of a 65 mile drought as far as gas.  The waitress in
Chugwater was quick to tell us the story of a man who drove into the building.  The aftermath?  Well, the gas station is no more, the culprit has been detained and people are out of work as a result.  Not a pretty story and I suspect one that went deeper than the short version we got while paying for our meal.

Despite what was probably a major financial hit for the residents of Chugwater, it carries on.  So if you're in the vicinity I'd definitely recommend it as a much more colourful dining experience than one offered by any of the available chains. 

Not only that but the chili was tasty!

Now I'm sitting in front of a wood fire in the heart of Santa Fe - and well that's another story.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Writing Through Life's Tsanamis

Well it's Wednesday, the first of the month and as designated by Alex Cavanaugh, it's Insecure Writer's Wednesday. 

It's one of those years that it feels like the hamster wheel just never stopped spinning.  Somebody plunked me on the thing and it just kept spinning and spinning with no little red button that said...


One family obligation after another, one crisis after another and all intertwined with that mundane day to day that has a person doing what they normally do - running to the grocery store, dry cleaners or remembering, that yes, we are almost out of gas in the car.  It's just been one of those years.  We all have them.  Whether it's a crazy week, a month that got out of control or once in a long time - a year that just spun into oblivion.  But everyone's turn comes along when life's craziness combine with what look like unexpected disasters, fortunately none that could be called nature's wrath - not a real Tsanamis, keep us hopping.

How does one keep writing through all of that?  I did but I don't think well.  I forgot that I needed to refresh the well where ideas come from.  And to do that I needed something fresh that didn't spell crisis.

So after a year of craziness I'm finally dusting off the travel journal, and while it's not the most foreign of shores, I'm heading south, looking for some relief from the edges of cold weather that's just beginning to sift in.  I want to shave a few days off that never-ending Canadian cold weather. 

While there's not much different as we first cross the border, the changes become more evident as we head further south.  Snow for instance.  There was no snow 500 miles north.  But here, there's snow.  Go figure.  And of course, there's no Tim Horton's.  The Canadian Icon is a no-show.  Not that I mind, I'm just saying. 

But what we did find was the funkiest little taco stand in a little town that provided - well, if nothing else, ambiance.  A chain  made unique by the tiny space it took up and the three over-sized men who ran it in an undersized kitchen.  From sticky doors and tables to well-worn floors - yes...  it was one of a kind.  Why did we eat there?  Well, it wasn't as bad as it sounded.  And if nothing else - well it was a story.  

But the good thing of all of this - getting away gets the creative process going again.  While I haven't forgotten the story that I have been too long revising, new ideas are popping up and I'm excited to put pen to paper.  I'm remembering why I travel - it inspires me every time.  It takes me into places that are not my norm exactly as I love to do with the characters in my stories.  Travel is rejuvenating and it is always fodder for a story or two.

Take a trip, anywhere.  Somewhere you haven't been before even if that somewhere is somewhere in your own city or town.   Like just the other day a trip on the city bus gave me an unexpected view into life as I don't normally see it.  The unexpected, a place where story ideas lie waiting to ambush us.

 And the journey continues....  Tomorrow onward - hopefully we'll hit Denver before rush hour.  


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Intent to Kill

A ruthless band of smugglers will stop at nothing to strip Cambodia of its priceless ancient artifacts, even if it means using and killing female tourists.  Journalist Claire Linton knows she's on the story of a lifetime.  But for Claire, it's personal too: long before her "Uncle Jack" came to the U.S., he was held captive in the nightmarish killing fields of Cambodia, and Claire senses there might be a connection between that long-ago bloody history and the dark crimes plaguing the country today.

Simon Trent is a burnt-out Interpol agent who disappeared after his last case turned fatal.  But with the resurgence in smuggling and all signs pointing to the man who once escaped his grasp, he comes out of hiding to finish the job that's haunted him for years.  What he doesn't see coming is Claire, the beautiful and headstrong reporter who may be a threat to his case - and to his heart.

As Claire and Simon reluctantly join forces to unravel a mystery that reaches deep into her family history and may be his only chance at redemption, they must fight to stay one step ahead of a brutal killer - and one step away from the dangerous feelings building between them.

My latest romantic suspense, Intent to Kill, was released this week and is now available at online bookstores including: 

Barnes and Noble


Monday, October 7, 2013

Choices and Illusions - A Book That May Change Your Life

 I had the opportunity to review Eldon Taylor's latest book, Choices and Illusions, and I jumped at the chance.  Choices and Illusions didn't disappoint.  If you're interested in the power of the mind or have made noises about changing your life - you'll enjoy the information in this book.

Eldon Taylor is a New York Times best-selling author and is considered to be an expert in the field of subconscious learning.  He has made a lifelong study of the human mind and has earned doctoral degrees in psychology and metaphysics.  He is a Fellow with the American Psychotherapy Association (APA) and a nondenominational minister.  Eldon has served as an expert witness in court cases involving hypnosis and subliminal communication.

Eldon was a practicing criminologist for over ten years specializing in lie detection and forensic hypnosis.  Today he is president and director of Progressive Awareness Research, Inc.  Since 1984 his books, audio programs, lectures, radio and television appearances have approached personal empowerment from the cornerstone perspective of forgiveness, gratitude, self-responsibility and service.

Be sure to visit the promotional page for Choices and Illusions by clicking here.  

My review of Choices and Illusions:
The human mind is extremely complex as Eldon Taylor again demonstrates in his latest book,
Choices and Illusions.  Richly written, Eldon takes us on a journey into the power of the mind.  While
no book on the mind can be anything but complex, Eldon softens the depth of the information with strategically placed tales and stories that entertain as well as teach.

Do minds communicate with each other - is the basis of creativity more a group activity than an individual one?  R. D. Laing
Quotes like this along with Eldon's thought provoking research and easy prose make Choices and Illusions a provocative read.

Choices and Illusions provides an excellent base to begin the exploration of self, and of the unseen but compelling forces of society that have the ability to shape the basis of our beliefs and ultimately our personalities.  It provides the tools necessary to begin harnessing the powers of your mind instead of letting it run unfettered and potentially controlled by the power of hidden beliefs foisted on us by others.  And more importantly, it provides telling evidence that the mind is the one thing that can change your life.

I found Choices and Illusions an intriguing read.  With plenty of references to other books on the subject, Choices and Illusions is an excellent jumping off point for anyone interested in enriching their lives by becoming aware of their most powerful tool, their mind.

You can find Choices and Illusions along with my review on and Barnes and Noble.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Gone With The Wind

Last week was the Banned Book Week Hop and I was offering a copy of Gone With The Wind.  Which I must say I have been slowly making my way through these last months - yes, I did say slowly.  A few pages in the morning, another page here or there, interspersed with other reading of course.  But slow or not, I'm enjoying and obviously, savouring every page.

But to get to it - the winner of a paperback copy of Gone With The Wind is:


Congrats - hope you enjoy the story as much as I am the second time round.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Time Wrangling or Dog Biscuits?

Why is it that fall seems to bring that rush of too much to do.  Maybe it's not the same everywhere but here on the prairie it seems that whether you have kids or not, whether you farm or not - we're all affected by the cries of back to school and rush to get the harvest in before the weather turns for the worse.

For  me, I'm hearing the cry of getting a story done that has languished way too long.  It's been a year
that's been slightly disjointed, fragmented by the demands of life.  And that, for now, is as good an excuse as any.  Although I suspect that the story might have fared better if I streamlined my writing life. 

Streamlined.  Maybe organized is a better word.  My old methods of jumping in here and there working on one project or another has, as the volume has escalated, caused chaos.  The chaos is headlined on my computer, let's call her Old Faithful.  She's been keeping me company since 2007 but now the battery is weak and her body is sagging.  I'm parked at my kitchen table, afraid to leave the safety of a solid surface and a nearby electrical outlet.  I'm cleaning up five years of files before transferring to a new computer.  In the meantime, I'm hoping no one jostles my shaky power connection as I sheer the chaos of over-bulging files and realize that when in doubt - save might not be the best option.

It's been a year of splitting my attention between a number of projects.  And instead of dividing my time equally, I found myself spending too much time with one while leaving another lie.  And that's where organization comes in - time slots.  Can I write more than one story at a time without losing momentum on another?  I know I will do it, have done it - just not efficiently.   I suspect there is a better method.  I'm still scratching my head on that as I continue to delete and move but I suspect that the answer lays beneath all those stacks and stacks, of really unnecessary files. 

Sigh - oddly the state of my computer files reflects that of the life of my current protagonist.  Irony or what?  

But, it's been a long day and so as not to get it together all at once I'm going to move on to something a little more relaxing.  Making dog biscuits.  I see a shaggy head look up at the mention of one of his favourites.  So here it is, Rourke gives them a triple star.  Of course, he is only one dog and he does have slight favourable leanings to the cook:

Rourke's Salmon Biscuits
1 can salmon (about 200 grams)
1/2 cup water
pinch of dill
a dash or two of lemon
a dash of pepper
bake at 325 - flip the cookies after thirty minutes
and continue to bake for another half hour.
Turn off oven but leave cookies in the oven until it cools.  
Cookies will harden just a bit more

And for this first Wednesday in October, the recipe is the best bit of writing procrastination I have to offer.  


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Banned Book Week Blog Hop

This summer I slowly lazed my way through a bit of nostalgia as I revisited Gone with the Wind.  And while I say slowly lazed - I mean, slowly.  Not that I don't enjoy the story, but I've been reading it in short bits so that, even now, I'm still only at the halfway mark.  I do that sometimes with stories that I really enjoy, read them slowly often in conjunction with a couple of other books on the go.

The interesting thing about Gone with the Wind, is that it's been on the banned book list at one time or another and is more than likely on it now in any number of places.  And if I believed in such things, I suppose I can see why.  There are many spots in the book where I have to pause.   This isn't a book I sail through without contemplating what I just read.

I believe that whether we want to read a book or not, mostly, we should have the right to read it.  And as I thought of all the banned books, I considered what they might have in common.   My thought is that they take us places that make us uncomfortable, places we may not agree with or even like,  but if we choose to read, they all make us think.

I'll be giving away a paperback copy of Gone with the Wind to one lucky winner.  To enter, just leave a comment or like me on facebook or do both, for a grand total of two entries.

What are you reading as summer officially becomes fall?


This is a blog hop, so get hopping - there's prizes to be had!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Another Day, Another Comma

So it's the first Wednesday of the month and time to post with The Insecure Writer's Support Group.  Check the long list of awesome blogs at the bottom, when you get to the end of my ramblings.

Today I'm thinking about how far I've come and how far I have yet to go.  I find lately, that I tend to look forward more than I look back.  Kind of like a mountain climber that isn't anywhere near the top but they're not at the bottom either.  Clinging to my rope and peering at the top and despairing about how much further.  But I should look back for that is where my victories lie. 

I've published three books and a fourth is about to be published.  The last two books are e-books only as I try a two-pronged approach to publishing.  An e-book, a print book - a book published at all is fantastic, I know that.  I'm thrilled and excited.   But four books in, I know that after all the hoopla dies down, there's the reality - a book needs readers and if I'm to succeed, it's up to me to find them.

Publishing a book is only the beginning.  Selling a book is the journey you'll be on with that book for the rest of its life.  I have to admit - I love the theory of marketing.  In reality - it's one big twisted algorithm.  Okay, not so much - but you published writers out there, you know what I mean.  It's a beast you can't always quantify.  Sometimes it's like catching a fish with your bare hands. 

Did I mention that I'm a worrier?  I could have given a class in Worrying 101, 201, never mind straight through the upper levels, before I hit grade school.  If you're offering a class on worrying hire me, I'm a natural.

Oh wait - my inbox just dinged.  My mind reels with possibilities.
a)  It could be a reject of a manuscript
b)  Some other type of bad news - who knows what but give me a moment and I'm sure I'll come up with it.
c)  Groupon again - why can't I get off their subscriber list?

So I'm learning to enjoy the moment rather than stew about what ifs and the possibilities that the dreaded Amazon algorithm will strike me in my sleep.   Because now it's not just rejection that comes in an e-mail - good reviews, a reader or two and acceptance lands there too. 

Do you look back or forward?

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From the Dust
Ring of Desire
Fatal Intent


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

When in Bangkok...

Just prior to a visit to the Royal Palace in Bangkok a local warned us about littering. I suppose he'd seen foreigners littering and knew of the repercussions. However, having grown up in Canada and lived through many anti-littering campaigns it was the last thing on my mind.  You just don't litter.  But cigarette butts, well... not that I'm a smoker but at the time one person in our group was and what better place to dispose of a butt but down a sidewalk grate?


Ten minutes later what looked like a bus shelter that contained a desk on the edge of a busy sidewalk took on a whole new meaning as we stood dutifully before the police officer unsure of what the punishment was. When asked our country of origin I noted that his smile slipped when we said Canada and his finger trailed down the list of countries.  Trying to read upside down in Thai is a sure guarantee of failure.  I suspect, and this is only a guess, that the fines were country of origin specific. We walked away many dollars lighter and with a new addition to the list of rules on what littering really means.

Oh, did I mention that on that day too, the King's limo had to stop suddenly as it barely missed running over someone in our small group.  I remember the face in the windscreen looking royally PO'd.  I anticipated, then that there might be repercussions.  But the car continued on as if a commoner had not dared to touch the car of royalty's gleaming hood.  Of course, it was minutes before the issue of the cigarette and the fine.  And no, I don't think one was tied to the other.  It was just one of those days, one made for entries in the book "What Not to do When Overseas."

And the ticket?
...that has become a travel souvenir or should I say badge of honor?

And the experience?
...destined to make the tales of remember when, or even 
some day, into a story. 

Any, oops in your travels?

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Note:  The Long and the Short Reviews are celebrating their anniversary this week and there's mega prizes. Check it all out here:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ireland: Mythical, Magical, Mystical

Welcome Christy Nicholas, the author of Ireland:  Mythical, Magical, Mystical; a Guide to Hidden Ireland!

My name is Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon.  I do many things, including digital art,
beaded jewelry, writing and photography.  In real life I'm a CPA , but having grown up with art and around me (my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected me, as it were.  I love to draw and to create things.  It's more of an obsession than a hobby.  I like looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or a fragrant blossom, a dramatic seaside.  I then wish to take a picture or create a piece of jewelry to share this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others.  Sometimes this sharing requires explanation - and thus I write.  Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business.  I do local art and craft shows, as well as sending my art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.

Here is Christy's spin on the topic I presented her:   Write a short post about a trip that changed you.  Whether it's a trip across the world or a twist on a trip to the local grocery store.

Go back, into the mists of time, years ago - when I was just 26.  I was young, working a good job (I'm an accountant) and I came across an ad at my local New Age Store on a trip to England, to get in touch with 'Mystical Britain'.  I'd always wanted to go to England, so I thought, why not?  The group trip was for one week, so I arranged to be there for two weeks, and join the group in the second half of my trip.

I had a boyfriend at the time, but he couldn't get off work, so I planned to go solo.  Now, I'd never traveled anywhere on my own, and I'd never gone on any real vacations before.  This was the first
time I'd had a job good enough to offer paid vacation time!  But I did some research and I was able to afford it, so off I went.  I had lived in Miami since I was 8, and Detroit before that- I didn't fear
traveling alone, I knew I could take care of myself.

The first week would consist of 3 days in Ireland, 4 days in London, and then I'd meet the group for their week out in Somerset.  I flew British Airways- and on the flight, tasted my first scone, with clotted cream and strawberry jam.  Heaven!  We landed in London, but I went right back on a plane and over to Dublin.  I had vouchers for 3 nights B&B, a rental car, and a reckless attitude!

The first day I explored Dublin.  I was giddy with excitement.  I'd always been a fan of European history, especially Britain and Ireland.  Seeing the Book of Kells opened my mind to the beauty that could be created by man, and the magic of that beauty.  Seeing the sweeping cathedrals and imposing castles reinforced that impression.  The second day I picked a road and drove north.

I found the Hill of Tara.  I had researched the place, and wanted to connect with the millennia of Irish Kings who had been crowned on this spot.  It was still quite early in the morning, 9 a.m., as I
climbed the smooth, grassy hills and earthworks, and I had the place entirely to myself.  As I stood at the top of the hill, it looked as if I could see all of Ireland mapped out in front of me, a patchwork quilt of farms and homes.  It was as if I could feel the power of the land, of the history, of all the people before me, rising up inside like a fountain, and bursting out through my skull.  It was an incredibly moving experience, and I shall never forget it.

Oddly enough, the rest of my trip wasn't anti-climatic to that incredible experience.  I felt awe and wonder at Glendalough, Powerscourt Falls, and then the sites I saw in London and Somerset.  Each site was fantastic and moving - but none like that first time on the Hill of Tara.

I've been back to Tara twice since then, and it's not the same  - perhaps because I am not alone, or because it is no longer a new experience.  I will be going again in November, and will likely be alone again.  We shall see if I can recapture that magic!

Excerpt from Mythical Ireland Tour:

Finding the Music
It would be difficult, indeed, to travel through Ireland for any length of time without coming across some of its unique music.  However, it is becoming easier to come across 'prepared' performances, specifically made to entertain the tourists, glossy and polished without the authenticity of the real folk of the land.  My advice is to go off the beaten path.  Get out of Temple Bar and Killarney, and go to a local pub which might have a traditional seisiun.   A seisiun (session) is a group of local musicians who have gotten together in a pub and just started playing some of the songs they all know.  They may have never played together before, or may do so every night.  They may not even know each other - but they all know the tunes.  And they are playing for the joy of playing and entertaining.  They aren't being paid by the Irish Tourist Board to provide atmosphere to the Euro-laden tourist...they are having fun.  No, the music may not be as high in production value, but it's more honest, and in my opinion, much more enjoyable than the staged stuff.

If you are in a city, like Dublin, where tourism is common, it may be more difficult to find the local traditional pub.  Your host at the hotel or B&B may give you the standard tourist answer and direct you to a staged performance.  However, if you tell them you really are interested in a traditional session, they will likely give you a better recommendation.  In some places, you can just walk down the street and follow your ears.  Dingle, Doolin, Ardara, Donegal, Kilkenny - I've done this in all these places.  There is a decent resource at Ireland Abroad online for those who wish see an online pub directory.

Christy's book can be found by clicking here to go to

Christy will be giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Certificate to one randomly chosen commenter.  Leave a comment, question, thought or even just a hello and follow the tour by clicking here for more chances to win.

Want more?  You can find Christy online at any of these places:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Tad Bit Pulsed or a Whole Lot Purried?

Sunday the road led outside the city and to the Qu'Appelle Valley and the nearby market gardens.  But that straight line highway soon veered into a jaunt through the countryside - not far, just a few miles off the highway to discover this church.  Old, or so its lead glass windows may attest but how
old?  There's a relatively new sign indicating that the church is still in session but the spire seems to be a haven for birds and other creatures.  And yet, peeking in the basement window revealed a broom leaning against one wall and a spotless wooden floor.

So is it a neglected but still loved and attended church in the middle of what looks like a forgotten patch of prairie or is it a heritage property with a rollicking history destined for the history books?  

I suspect that it's both.  But while a slight twist in the journey married market gardens to an old church and a little piece of prairie that really seemed to take you away from it all - it provided a few more questions than answers.

A slight curve, a little twist, either can change everything - like today's dog food recipe.  The recipe book I'm following - yes, except for dog biscuits, my original recipes have been replaced
by those from a dog nutritionist.  Yes, such a beast exists - the dog nutritionist and not the dog, although he exists too.  Anyway, the point of it is that when the recipe says to pulse, pulsing can quickly turn from the recipes recommended small kernels to mush.

Rather like the line of a story.  Sometimes the original premise  can veer from its beginnings as a result of those pesky little details - all that glorious, fantastic research can drag down a story or worse, derail it.  Like the story I just finished reading.  I loved the detail - the research that went into it until, well until the pages began to turn slower and some chapters just stopped when that hard-won research appeared just a little too much.  It reminded me, who loves the research phase of a story, that just because you did the research doesn't mean it gets in the book.   

But speaking of twists, the point of this post was swerves and veers in the path and how research and those really interesting facts can take a book away from its original trajectory.  Like going to the market garden and ending up on a side road by a church that takes you to another era or holding a dish of pureed dog food instead of...   Research is kind of like that.  It takes you on exciting and fascinating journeys to places that you only want to share.  I've learned that sometimes that extra tidbit of research is better shared with a  friend over a cup of coffee.

And I can hear groans now from all those friends brave enough to venture here from time to time. Maybe it's better to save all those extra intriguing facts for another book or two or even three. 

Now that church in the middle of no where, maybe there's a story there.  But the dog food?  I think in that instance, more practice just might make perfect.

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

How to Get Good Reviews On Amazon

Today I'm one of many blogs hosting a tour for a book whose title intrigued me right away:
How to Get Good Reviews On Amazon

Now what author can't buy into that?  So, intrigued?  Well, I turn the rest of this post over to the man who wrote the book Theo Rogers. 

Who is Theo Rogers and why did he write How To Get Good Reviews On Amazon?

Theo Rogers combines years of coalface experience on Amazon's website with formal training and qualifications in a range of business and social science disciplines.  He's spent literally thousands of hours talking with Amazon reviewers, getting inside their heads, and learning what makes them tick.  He's spent almost as many hours observing the carnage that so often takes place on Amazon's forums.  In the process, he's developed a deep insider's knowledge of the reviewing subculture that's grown up on Amazon's website.

He's also seen a lot of authors and other would-be sellers make the same mistakes in their dealings with that subculture - over and over again.

As a result of his experiences, Theo has come to believe that yes, there is a simple formula that works, a way of dealing with reviewers that's honest, powerful, and extremely effective at winning reviewers over, getting them on your side, and making them actually want to help you.

Contact Theo Rogers on Facebook:

Blurb from How To Get Good Reviews On Amazon:
How To Get Good Reviews On Amazon is a simple, no-nonsense guide that teaches exactly what it says it does.  Based on both psychological science and thousands of hours of conversation with some of Amazon's top reviewers, it takes you behind the scenes into the reviewing subculture that has grown up on Amazon's website.  It gives you a deep, insider's knowledge of how the top reviewers think and operate.  It not only shows you what to do: it takes you inside the reviewers' heads so that you can see for yourself both how these techniques work and why they're so effective.

Lessons include:
  • A simple, four-part formula for writing emails that gets your work reviewed.
  • Three things never to say when communicating with reviewers!
  • How to pick reviewers who are more likely to give you a good review.
  • How to reduce the chance that a reviewer you contact will post a bad review--even if it turns out they don't like your work!
  • How people get caught out when receiving reviews from friends and family.
This book teaches an honest, straightforward approach that works.  It works because it's not based on gimmicks or tricks but on a real understanding of how Amazon reviewers operate: most of all on what they expect from authors and other sellers.  If you want to know how to talk to Amazon reviewers in a way that will make them respect you as a professional and see you as the kind of seller the actually want to help, this is the book for you.

Excerpt from Getting Amazing Reviews on Amazon:

Sellers do quite often turn up on forums on Amazon, specifically asking for reviews.  Unfortunately, a while ago Amazon changed its policies to expressly forbid this sort of behavior in all forums but one:  The Meet Our Authors forum.  The trouble with this is that the Meet Our Authors forum is very largely just a bunch of authors spamming each other.  Very few seem to have any real interest in what
others are saying.

Despite Amazon's rule against using its forums for self promotion, people still do it.  And in practice the reception that authors and other sellers get when they post on any of the multitude of forums does vary.  To some degree it depends on how the author or seller handles themselves.

The other thing you should always be extremely careful about is paying close attention to the codes of behavior considered appropriate among the forum regulars.  Different forums have different levels of tolerance for authors or other sellers seeking reviews, or otherwise promoting themselves.  For example, the Romance forum has a reputation as a place you should absolutely never leave this kind of post - unless you actually want to be ripped to shreds.  Indeed, the Romance forum has developed a reputation as an extremely hostile place for authors in general.  So it is important to do your homework on the specific forum you're considering using. 

The author will be giving away a $100 Amazon gift certificate as part of this tour.  Not only that but you have more than one chance to enter.  Tour through as many blogs as you can today and enter at as many as you can.  Every blog entry ups your chance of winning. 

The list of participating blogs can be found here:

And when you've entered everywhere you can - go check out the book!

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

In the Beginning...There Was Darkness

Writers should really be provided with an accurate road map when beginning this crazy journey to publication.  Seriously, that would make it all so much easier.  A map that says begin here at point A writing said story which when completed you will submit to Publisher A.  If Publisher A accepts remain on course for Plan A.  

If Publisher A rejects they would direct the author to the next best route for their project.  Said author, revises or not according to instruction, and then goes back to their map and follows the new route to the next publisher and so it goes.  Each step a clear route on the map.

No wait that would be utopia and this is the real world. In the real world one struggles through learning craft and writing story after story that is published or not.  And eventually you may find a substitute for said map, an agent, but not before you've spent many, many hours and learned much of the process for yourself.

But first, to succeed you must enter no man's land.  It's a dark brooding place filled with highs and lows, hopes and dreams, excitement and bouts of disappointment that dive you into moments of darkness where you threaten to never write again. Don't go there - writing takes the darkness away every time. 

And there is no map.  I'm sorry to say, it's a jungle out there.  You can plot a course but it is only guesswork whether or not you'll arrive at your destination in one piece or whether your story is sturdy enough to make it to the end.

And that's why in a utopian world a map would be ideal especially as you first venture into the world offering your writing and fearing that it's about to become the sacrificial lamb at the alter of something bigger than you can quite comprehend.  Wait, that's no fear, that's reality.  If you're lucky you'll get no rejection, no scathing comments.

Scathing comments?

Maybe, maybe not.  But every rejection draws its ounce of blood.  After awhile you'll get callouses.  If you've got a strong stomach and a huge dose of fortitude, you'll make it through the dark hours where eventually there's light. 

But if you're a writer - do you really have a choice?  So strap on that backpack, pick up the map you've outlined for yourself and write on.  And whether you're a writer or not, appreciate the book you're reading just a little more as you consider its author's journey.  I know I will.

Stop by on Friday, August 9 when I'll be hosting, as part of the tour for Theo Roger's latest book - How to Get Good Reviews On Amazon.  So stop by, and check out a valuable reference for any writer's shelf.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Kindle Fire Give Away, Sale and More

It's been an interesting few days.  I assisted in the shingling of a garage.  Not so horrific for some of
 you possibly handier than me.  But combine an all thumbs approach to tools with a "slight" dislike of heights.... well let's just say that making it safely off the roof with only two matching blisters on each of my big toes was a great feat and worth celebrating. 

And today well - drama of another sort.  My eyes are blurring over as I recover from "worst case scenario" losing an entire scene in my story.  Rushing to the backup drive which seems to have a restore button for the entire folder but no cut, copy or paste option for a few thousand words or so.  Handwriting, I really have to say is an art and I don't have it.  My hand hurts and my writing has dissolved into the depths of atrocities.  But the scene is safely returned.

Now on to the good news:

I'm giving away a Kindle Fire 7" HD along with some other romance writers, The Kindle Book Review, and Digital Book Today.  We are also giving away $200 worth of Amazon ecards.  There is no purchase necessary and it's easy to enter.  Click here to enter.

And in other news - my latest romantic suspense, Fatal Intent is on sale at Amazon for 99 cents now through July 31.

That's it for now.  I'm heading outside to enjoy some sunshine.  But before I go I'm making sure I backup.  Sore hand and all I'm grateful that I had that backup.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

And Without Further Ado - Very Inspiring Bloggers

Is there such a thing as Very Inspiring Bloggers?  Definitely.  Am I one of them?  Well, Lisa McManus Lang - The Sassy Scribbler thought I was and nominated me.  Now all of this happened a few weeks ago.  Now really I am an enthusiastic blogger and normally I would have blogged about this much sooner.  But, well - at the time I was a writer who was enslaved by my computer, buried beneath the story I'd created.  This is beginning to sound like a tale for...Frankenstein.  My creation turned on me... okay, really revisions people, that's all 24-7 revisions.

"Summertime and the livin is easy."  

Who said that - yeah, I know quite a few people in more than a few songs.  Let me dispute that and give you a Momism.  My mother often says, "Winter is a much easier time than summer, you just close your door and forget the weather.  In the winter you don't have to worry about the yard work because the snow just covers it up."

She has a point, at least up here in the frozen north - except maybe the excessive snow that requires mucho shoveling.  But this month summer time wasn't so easy as I spent much of the time in my basement office with revisions - not enjoying the cool as I love, love - the summer time heat.  But as a consolation I was getting a lot of heat in a suspense set in Cambodia but that's another story.  So, the thing I don't love besides cool weather?  Weeds.  And the weeds - well they were enjoying my absence, snuggling in amidst the flowers getting fat and happy and...

The weeds - well they won't be looking so happy tomorrow!

So back to the "Very Inspiring Blogger" award.  I'm thrilled to be picked.  And to claim my award I must list seven things about myself and pass the award on to two other bloggers.  So here goes.

1. I love traveling.  There's nothing better than hitting the road and discovering something new that isn't located in a ten mile radius of home.   

 2.  I play the piano well and the violin badly.

3.  And on that note, don't ever ask me to sing - unless you're trying to clear the area.

4. I go barefoot often - short jaunts through the snow to take out the trash, across landscaping rocks (ouch, ouch, ouch) to take out the recyling, in the house - wherever I can.  When I was a teenager I remember an aunt telling me that with rough feet from walking barefoot I would never get a husband - smooth, silky feet were the way to go.  The question mark on that bit of advise, remains.

5.  I love dogs and figured out the other day that I've spent thirty years of my life with a dog.  Not the same one, of course, or I suspect one of us would be famous or at least have attained some notariety.

6.  I love ice cream and when in any foreign country the almost the first thing I learn is the word for ice cream.  Okay, maybe the second, the first might be the name of the hotel I'm staying at as I'm notorious for having a bad sense of direction.

7.  I make a fantastic dog biscuit, dog food, dog whatever but don't ask me to cook supper.  I have a live in chef who also mows the lawn - right, I believe I married him.  The end result is if you want any kind of hamburger casserole mixed with say carrots, rice, a few lentils and garlic - the dog's licking his lips, then I'm your girl.  However, if you were thinking of a finely marinated steak with a gourmet salad and some other enticing surprise on the side - you guessed it, don't call me. 

Now I must pass this forward and nominate two other inspiring bloggers.  Both bloggers are ones I quietly follow, rarely if ever making a comment.  And for that I apologize  - I'll try to rectify that it in future.

So here they are in no particular order:

Adam Heine  - the writer of sci/fantasy and the author behind the blog Author's Echo.  first thing that caught my eye about this blogger was the fact that he was in Northern Thailand.  Now, having been to Northern Thailand, I immediately wanted to read what he had to say.  Of course, then the fact that he's a writer and that his blog is always entertaining or inspiring and, often both - kept me hanging around.  He keeps visitors to his blog on the hook with entertaining posts and notes on works in progress that may be soon be published such as Air Pirates.

Tawna Fenske - the writer of humorous romance and the author behind Don't Pet Me I'm Writing.  This blogger has been fresh from the beginning.  It's a blog aimed at the funny side of a writer's life while still throwing in a good hunk of plain old life.  If you want a laugh and a bit of motivation to boot - this is the blogger for you.  She's the author of the romantic comedies, Believe It Or Not, Making Waves and Getting Dumped.  And if her blog is any indication of what's in her books - well, let's just say she's on my TBR. 

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Suspense and Sass - Meet Author J. M. Griffin And The Esposito Series

Today, I'm happy to welcome J. M. Griffin with her boxed set of mysteries led by a sleuth by the name of Vinnie who caught my attention in the first page.  So read on... I suspect, that like me, you might not want to stop.

As a humorous, cozy mystery writer, J. M. adds a touch of romance to every story.  She believes in fairies, doesn't believe in coincidence, and feels life is what you make it.  Believe in yourself and look at the positive, not the negative, to bring about success.  AND... never stop trying. 

J. M. lives in rural New England with her husband and two very mysterious cats.

Now you can own the first three books in the sassy and suspenseful Esposito Series by J. M. Griffin!

By day, Lavinia (Vinnie) Esposito is a criminal justice instructor at a college in Rhode Island.  By night Vinnie is an amateur sleuth, solving murders while trying to avoid getting yelled at by her Italian father, her hunky protective boyfriend Marcus Richmond, and her sexy upstairs tenant, the mysterious Aaron Grant.

For Love of Livvy (Book 1)
Vinnie investigates the death of her beloved aunt, and a mysterious box is left on her doorstep.

Dirty Trouble (Book 2)
Someone is stalking Vinnie and that's just the beginning of her troubles.

Dead Wrong (Book 3)
Vinnie is out to save her brother from being framed after a valuable painting is stolen.

  Excerpt from Book 1 (For Love of Livvy):

The front door knocker rapped twice after the door bell rang.  I hustled from the rear deck of the gargantuan house to answer the summons.  Someone seemed impatient, and I was curious as to who it was.  My watch read just after eight o'clock.  I swung the heavy door open to find my prospective visitor absent.

It was so quiet, the town ghostly in its seemingly deserted state.  Sundays were always lazy days in Scituate, once church was over.  With a glance up and down the street of the small historic Rhode Island village, neat colonial homes stretched along the sides of the road in both directions.  No one came into view.

On the doorstep, a package addressed to my recently deceased Aunt Livvy sat wrapped in brown paper.  Again, I gawked up and down the street, but only empty sidewalks and barren roadway appeared in the waning light.  The idea of a jaunt along the main drag entered my mind.  I figured it would be senseless since the street was visible for about two hundred yards in either direction.  Whoever had left the package was gone, long gone.

An eternity passed, or so it seemed, while my gaze locked onto the square, little box.  Reluctant to touch it, I decided to call the local fire company to come take a gander.  Call me paranoid, but as a criminal justice instructor, a recent audit of a class on bomb components remained fresh in my mind.  

I quickly stepped into the living room and grabbed the phone.  I dialed the private number of the fire station up the street.  A grunt came across the phone line that could only be Bill MacNert.

"Hey Nerd, its Vinnie," I said.  "A package was just left on my doorstep, could you come down and check it out for me?"

"Sure, you got a secret admirer or somethin?" he cackled, as only senior men can.

"Not likely, but you never know.  This package is addressed to Lavinia Ciano, not Lavinia Esposito and is wrapped in brown paper.  Nobody's here to accompany this little surprise either."

"I'll be right down.  Vinnie, don't touch it."  He warned.


Anxious, I paced back and forth across gleaming hard wood floors in the spacious living room of my newly acquired colonial.    My fingernails tapped the enamel on my teeth as I wandered to and fro.  As irrational as it seemed, I finally leaned against the door jamb inside the entry to wait MacNert to arrive.

It wasn't long before the limber old guy came into view as he hot footed down the street with a stethoscope in his hand.  This particular piece of equipment wasn't quite what I'd expected, but then he wasn't a bomb expert either.

When he arrived on the doorstep slightly out of breath, he glanced at the parcel, and then turned toward me.

"This was just delivered, you say?"  MacNert squinted toward me with wizened brown eyes that twinkled all the time.  It was as though there was a private joke going on inside his head.

"Yeah, someone just knocked on the door, and when I went to answer, there was nobody around.  It didn't seem prudent to mess with it, so I called you."

"You just finished that bomb class, eh?"  He chuckled and then sobered quickly.  Since 9/11, everyone took stuff like this with a serious attitude.  While he chuckled, I knew MacNert was no different.

The stethoscope ends plugged into his ears, Bill laid his diaphragm on top of the package.  Removing  it, he gingerly set it against the sides and listened again.  I didn't make a sound as he stood and glanced up.

"There's no tickin but that doesn't mean it's not explosive.  You should probably call the state police barracks up the road.  Have them send their bomb guys down for a lookie see, just to be on the safe side."

"Geez, I hate to do that.  I'll feel stupid if it's a joke," I whined.

"It's up to you, but if you were nervous enough to call me, then you should call them.  It's just my opinion, Vin."  He stepped over the box and wandered into the entryway.  "Got anythin to eat?  Wifey's out of town visitin her sister and I'm starved."

Bill didn't seem concerned, but then again, he hadn't recently taken a bomb class either.  My eyes never left the box as I answered him.  "There's food in the fridge, help yourself."

I'd known the homely man and his family for years and respected his opinion.  Tapping my fingers against my lips, I called after him, "You're right.  I'll ring the police now, but stick around okay?"

Unwilling to be nailed as over-dramatic by the staties, I reluctantly punched in the numbers.  It was bad enough that the local cops had bugged the shit out of me for the first month after Aunt Livvy's death.  They still stopped by now and then, annoying me even more with stupid questions.  Questions for which I had no answers.

The box set of this trio of J.M. Griffin's novels can be purchased here:

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Going Once, Going Twice - Gone!

This weekend my travels took me through the dark and crowded mazes of the garage sale.  I got to stick my nose into the fine art of the garage sale from the proprietor's side of the table.  I held a garage sale for my mother who had a collection of unique and interesting things acquired through years of gathering and neatly storing.  There were things that dated back to my grandparents and even my great grandparents.  It's amazing what a shelf can hold when you dig to the back of those neatly stacked piles.

It was weeks of preparation and doubts that customers would even come through the door.  Worse, we chose of all weekends, the one weekend in May that has had rain consistently over every year I can remember.  Don't ask me why about either the sale or the rain but somethings just are.  Fortunately, the rain greeted us only one day but even that I didn't notice, I was too busy hopping from one customer query to another.

It is on the working floor of the garage sale that you meet the underpinnings of the garage sale circuit; the antique dealers, the unique dealers and the scroungers.  They are the people that scoop up everything they think they might resell or what may be of value.  Value is a two pronged sword and often value only meant interest - two or three dollars worth.  But who knew that a plastic phonograph/radio with a chunk out of its side was worth even that.  After all it was worthless to one dealer but worth a gentleman's argument for another two.  And that iron stove that almost amputated toes, well it went out the door, rust, ancient coal dust and all.  

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There are people who just collect, there are people who collect and recycle and there are those - well, those that just like to snoop and discover something unique or just plain reuseable.  And you know, I don't mind garage sales, most days, I mean arriving as a customer.  I like snooping through new old stuff.  I don't know what's with that.  But I do know as I sat in my plastic chair poised to process yet another transaction that I couldn't help going through the book table to my left.  And yes I did rescue one, then two and finally three.  But I didn't get that book, the one that one man had me leaping out of my chair for the hundred dollar bill he claimed was between it's pages.  Wrong.  And I didn't bother to tell him that it was too late for April Fools.

But most of all what I got from that garage sale were characters, characters with more stories than I have time to tell in such a short blog post.  It was that moment in time when my life intersected with people I might not normally have met.  Fantastic fun for anyone, invaluable for a writer.

And my find from the sale - besides those books, a portable exerciser for abs.  And if I don't use it - it's too small to hang clothes on!

Any finds in your day?

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