Thursday, June 8, 2017


I had the pleasure of meeting Tom Howard at the Arkansas Writer's Conference. He writes science fiction and fantasy. Tom has published over seventy short stories. 

1. What inspires you to write?
I can't not write. Even if I didn't sell a thing or no one ever saw what I wrote, I'd still have to write. I feel the need to put words to paper and become uncomfortable if I don't write for a day or two.

What inspired Sara’s Station?
I was signed up for my fifth NANO where I had to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I always succeed, but I have a bad habit of spending the month before outlining the entire thing down to the paragraph level. When it comes to the actual writing, it’s pretty lackluster, in my opinion, because I can’t escape the outline.  For this particular NANO, I decided to become a pantser and not use an outline at all. Knowing I’d have trouble, I chose to emulate Andre Norton and use her YA novels as a model. Sara and her companions, Tig and Banglebus, pounded on the inside of my skull to get them out of one frying pan and into another.

2. How much time do you spend writing weekly?
I spend a couple hours a day. My schedule is fairly loose as a banking software consultant so whenever I finish my writing related emails in the morning and send out the
short stories that have been rejected the day before (I usually have twenty-five short
stories making the rounds of various anthologies and SF magazines) in the afternoon, I finish or polish whatever short story I have in the works.

How much time did you spend on Sara’s Station?
As I said, it was a NANO product; and I finished the 50,000 words in 30 days. However, before the publisher would accept it, I had to add an additional 10,000 words. A friend suggested I add another character to add that many pages, and the evil planetary administrator was born.

3. What projects are you working on right now?
For a workshop I’m attending in Oklahoma City the end of June, I had to write a 5,000 word story for them to critique. Having watched the entire season of Closer recently (and being heavily influenced by what I read and write), I decided to write a SF procedural.  Unfortunately, by the time I got to 5,000 words, they’d just discovered the body. So this one will be considerably longer. I submitted an old short story to the workshop and intend to complete the murder mystery. I am also putting together an anthology of my own SF work for a local publisher. It contains all the SF stories I’ve written in the last couple years that have been bought and published. I’m calling it Volume 1.

4.  What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading a really stereotypical sixties SF book called Mission to Universe by Gordon R. Dickson. I am reviewing it for a book blog called Cannonball Read. I review a book a week for them. I’ve just finished beta reading Crimson Son 2 for my friend, Russ Linton.

5. What is your writing process?
I have an office but I rarely write there, finding it easier to compartmentalize my life and keep business and pleasure separate. Instead, I have a 14-foot table in my living room where I tend to do all my projects, including writing. The table is a result of me hosting the Central Arkansas Speculative Writing Group, a critiquing group of local writers, for the last seven years. I tend to fabricate the stories in my head before I put them to paper, and as a SF and fantasy short story writer, that seems to work. I only write on my Macbook, but I had to install MacWord. I write until I reach a good stopping place, usually an hour or two. I’ve also got several stories in the rewriting process at any time. Rarely, a story will sweep me up and keep me at the keyboard until it’s finished. I don’t write flash. My stories tend to average 5,000 words, and those seem to sell best. I don’t know how we survived before Duotrope started matching up anthologies with writers.

6. What do you do when you are stuck or blocked?
I’ve heard about this strange thing called writers block but haven’t experienced it yet.

(I think you just confirmed that you are an alien.)

I have writers flood. Usually I have more ideas than I have time for. I think it’s because I write what I read or see. If I’ve just finished reading a short story collection about animals in space, I usually write my own story on the same theme.  If I have trouble within a story, my crit group is happy to tell me where I’ve gone off the tracks. One of my most popular stories was nicely vivisected by a beta reader who said “you have a really good story until this point when it turns to crap.” They were exactly right and when I removed the crap, it was a great story and sold immediately.

7. What were your influences growing up?
Wow, I had so many. I remember reading all fourteen Oz books when I was ten. We had a great Carnegie library in my little hometown of South Bend, Washington, and I spent most summers locked away in the juvenile section. My “gateway” book into fantasy and science fiction was Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. In school, we had a great SF selection, and I read Asimov, Heinlein, Norton, and anyone else I could get my hands on.

8. When did you know you were a writer?
Probably the fifth grade. I had talked a few friends into collaborating on a serialized story of movie monsters as super-heroes. I did a lot of writing for my bachelors and masters degrees after joining the military, but I did some fun writing as a Star Trek fanzine writer. I specialized in Lieutenant Uhura stories. Looking back on the bad grammar, foggy POV, and unoriginal stores, I cringe. When I helped form a writers’ group and sold my first story in 2010, I knew I was a writer. Funny how having a paycheck makes it all legitimate.

9. What advice would you give other writers?
Persevere, persevere, persevere. Write something and have others read it. Go to every workshop you possibly can and learn everything. I recently attended an online seminar by a life coach sponsored by an online crit group I’m a member of (plug for Inked Voices). Study other writers and what they have to say. Learn to take criticism but don’t believe everything you hear (especially from writers who are also beginning). Use the constructive criticism you receive and make your story better and better. Hang onto your individual style. Avoid offers too easily obtained (SFWA, Science Fiction Writers of America, posts a Beware of Publisher page that you don’t have to be a member to access). Use Duotrope if you’ve got some funds available, Submission Grinder if you don’t. Learn grammar rules and use them. I heard an interview with a professional violinist recently who said he gets all the technical parts of a piece down before adding the personality and passion. I think all artists should do the same, including writers.

10. What should readers know about you? 
I’m an average guy with an average background. If I can write and sell stories, anyone can. I’ve sold almost seventy-five stories in the last seven years (sold, not merely published). I find short stories much easier to write and sell than novels, but I have tried my hand at a couple (I wrote a 100,000 word novel for last NANO). I think I’ve written three or four novels, and I have nothing but respect and admiration for people who can keep all those subplots and characters juggled satisfactorily.  I use a great deal of my own life in my stories. Write about what you know, right?  Several people have commented on how my characters seem to come to life in a very short span of pages. Mostly it’s because I use real people so it’s easy to give them a full-blown personality. I’ve written several stories about my rustic upbringing in the Pacific Northwest.

Check out Tom's other work available on Amazon with this link. 
Tom Howard

  • REVIEW: SARA'S STATION by Tom Howard

    I bought this book at the Arkansas Writer's Conference from author, Tom Howard. SARA'S STATION is a classic scenario with twists and turns that kept me turning the pages.

         Sara is independent and more than capable, working to pay space port fees while her father recovers from an illness at the hospital. As Free Spacers, they carry goods from other planets to places like Sargon in their aging transport, the Provider.

         She never intended to get drawn into local politics but she also couldn't sit idle and watch an assassination. Saving Lordling Tig pulls the teen mechanic and Acting Captain into a drama that involves ancient technology with an attitude, a telepathic monkey, a jealous girlfriend, royal intrigue, a reptilian policeman, ancient ruins, and several white poofy dresses. Her accidental involvement might just save the planet...or destroy it.

         SARA'S STATION is a fun, easy read that left me wanting more from these well developed characters.

    Available in paperback and on Kindle at

    Tuesday, June 6, 2017

    Review: The Case of the Invisible Souls by R. Weir

    Author R. Weir shines a light on social injustice and the plight of the homeless in this latest Jarvis Mann detective story.

         When a homeless veteran asks our erstwhile P.I. for help, he must confront his own preconceptions and notions about the invisible souls living in the city around him.

    Once on the case, Jarvis learns a bit about life on the streets and the fear and depravation of that life. The rich and powerful seek to sweep the helpless aside for their own gain. It isn't a difficult case. The hard part is getting people to care. 

         In past cases, we've seen P.I. Jarvis Mann's cunning as an investigator, his failure as a boyfriend, and his badass moves as a fighter and protector. In this case, it is his loyalty and heart that take center stage. 

    The Case of the Invisible Souls is slated for release June 24 on Amazon. Enjoy More from the Jarvis Mann Detective Series: 
    Tracking a Shadow
    Blood Brothers -
    Dead Man Code

    Tuesday, May 23, 2017


    Excerpts are from my first draft and subject to change. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks!

    Marabella had been to Sellwood several times over the seasons, riding with Wesley or Henry to trade for goods and supplies.  It had been several moon cycles since her last visit.  She pulled the old mare to a stop at the Roadhouse.  She knew it to be a rough place, frequented by travelers.  But, it was owned by a friend of Henry's so Marabella felt reasonably sure she would find lodging for the night in one of his four tidy little rooms upstairs.  She tied the mare by the cistern for horses and let her take a long drink.  “I really should give you a name.” She spoke in low tones as she brushed some of the mud from the mare's flank.  The horse raised her head and looked right at Marabella, swishing her muddy tail. “How about Nipsy!” The mare stared blankly at her. “Clementine?” Still, no response. “What do you think of Bessamae? I’ll call you Bess.” The mare blinked her big, soft eyes and nuzzled Marabella’s hand. Marabella chuckled and patted her firmly. “Bess it is.”

         In the failing light Belle saw several broken chairs on the porch.  Once inside, she immediately noticed that the Roadhouse was empty except for one table of four men.  Orsino, the proprietor stood behind the bar.  “Hello, my friend.” Belle greeted him.  The usually friendly man said nothing.  He looked to the table of men with a slight nod and motioned for Belle to come to the bar.  Two of the men sat facing the door.  She could feel their eyes on her.  One leaned to the side to get a better view, looked her up and down, taking in her muddy clothes, dirty face and tangled hair.  He glanced to the other men and shrugged, settling back in his chair.  “What was that all about?” Belle questioned the barman quietly. 

         Orsino set a mug of ale in front of her and leaned close.  “These men have been here for several days.  They're followers of that scholar in Drosia named Koros.  Every time a Demalion, or someone they suspect is Demalion comes in, they start trouble.  Half my tables and chairs have been destroyed in the fights just this week.  They've each taken one of the four rooms I have upstairs so any travelers have to go someplace else.”

         “Isn't there a Constable's Crew here in Sellwood?” Belle asked.

           “One of them is on the Constable's Crew.  Another is his brother.  I tried complaining to the Magistrate but he thinks they are just rough boys out for a bit of fun.  He claims as long as they pay their bill, I should have nothing to complain about.”  Suddenly, Orsino cocked his head to the side and looked to the door.  “Where is Henry?  You aren't alone are you?”

          Belle dropped her saddlebag on the barstool beside her and sighed.  “I'm afraid so.  I was hoping to get a room for the night, but I suppose I'll have to head back out to the woods and look for a campsite.”

           “Well, that won't do.  The wife would never let me hear the end of it and she'd tell Ma Nan and well I just don't need that kind of trouble.”  He smiled at Belle.  “You can take the loft in the stables.  There's clean straw and I have some extra blankets.  I am sorry...” Orsino let out a long sigh. 

           “That sounds great!”  Belle smiled brightly.  The idea of a soft bed of straw really did sound good to her.  Her body ached from the long ride and she was not fully recovered from the savage beating Malick had given her just a day ago.  Belle reached to her pocket for her coin pouch.  “How much for me and my horse?”

           “Put your money away girl.  I am glad to have you.  You just mind your lantern up in that loft."
            “I will.  Thank you Orsino. Oh, and by the way, there’s a couple of fellows a ways back, blocking the road and setting a trap for travelers.”

             “I’ll put the word out about them. And mind you pull that ladder up after you.  Later in the night, when these fellows get in their drink, they sometimes go looking for trouble.”  He shot a glance at the table and frowned.  The men paid no notice of Belle as she exited. 

              Bess sighed as Belle removed her saddle. The stables had plenty of fresh straw and a curry comb and rags for the animals.   Though her muscles ached and she was tired, she used the comb and rags to give the mare a proper clean up.  When she was finished, she drew a large bucket of water from the well outside to give herself a cleanup as well.  Slipping to the back of the stall where Bess munched on the oats Halsta had provided, Belle stripped off her mud spattered shirt and used the fragrant soap from her pack to bathe.  She used her bathwater to wash out her muddy clothes.  Up in the loft she hung her clothes on the rafters to dry and finally stretched out on the soft bed of straw and blankets.  She had just begun to doze off when she remembered the ladder.  She heard the sounds of a row in the Roadhouse as she pulled the ladder up and flopped back down exhausted.

              Belle opened her eyes.  In the darkness she could see a shadowy figure standing over her. She reached for her knife but it was not at her side.  The figure took a step toward her and she saw Malick brandishing her knife.  She tried to back away but there was nowhere to go.  Another step closer revealed Malick's yellow teeth in a grim smile. His gut hung with gore where she had plunged in her blade.  Belle saw his bloody hands raise her knife. She awoke with a start.  Early morning light was streaming into the stable.  Her knife was in her hand.  She rubbed at her eyes to shake off the nightmare.  

           Belle readied her pack and walked Bess out of the stable to graze on the sweet vetch growing at the edge of the woods.  She walked up to the roadhouse to give Orsino her thanks for his hospitality.  Belle was intent upon getting back on her journey.  Mounting the steps she took notice of a large wagon and team of horses tied up at the front.  She walked through the open door to find the Roadhouse in shambles.  Orsino was behind the bar slicing bread and cheese.  Standing shoulder to shoulder at the bar were two very large men.  She recognized them immediately.  “Does Posey know you’re in the Roadhouse at this time of morning?” She called rather loudly.  The large men turned.

         Belle!”  Jak shouted.  
         “Tell me you didn’t do this.” Belle scolded.
         “We had quite the party last night, and you missed it.”  Jak elbowed his brother Bubby and they both laughed heartily.  Belle glanced around the room at the overturned tables and broken pottery.  She noticed a fresh bruise above Orsino’s eye. 

           “Your guests again?” She looked at the barman and gestured to the destruction.  Orsino shrugged and winced a bit as he nodded.  Jak lumbered over and hugged her.  
             “I didn’t expect to see you here.  Aren’t you headed for Blackwytch?” Bubby asked, stuffing a fistful of bread in his mouth. 

              Belle cocked her head to the side.  “I see you’ve heard.”

               “We didn’t think we’d catch up to ya so soon.  We took Miss Ruth to the stone cottage but Wesley weren’t around so I figured he might a come with ya.  He here?” Bubby winked. 

                Marabella blushed. “No. This is a journey I need to make alone.”

                Bubby turned to his brother and whispered loudly. “Bet your hat Wesley ain’t happy about that.” Jak shushed him, shooting a wide eyed look in Marabella’s direction.

         A low moan from the corner caught their attention. “Our friends are up.” Jak grinned widely.

         In the corner of the room Marabella saw two of the men from the day before. They were crumpled in a pile of overturned tables and smashed chairs.  Jak grabbed a pitcher of ale from the bar and strode toward the men. “Wait, wait brother!” Bubby exclaimed, retrieving the pitcher from him. “That’s no way to wake a man. What’s the matter with you?” He reached behind the bar. Handing a large bucket to Jak, he laughed. “No sense in wasting good ale, when water’ll do just fine.” Jak doused the men who coughed and sputtered to life as the brothers laughed uproariously.

         “I’m on the Constable’s Crew.” One of the men mumbled. “You can’t…ow.” He winced in pain as he struggled to get to his feet. “You broke my shoulder. I’ll have you…ow…arrested.”

         Bubby strode across the room. “Oh, now don’t get all upset. We was powerful careful not to break anybody.” He roughly helped the man to his feet.

         The man’s shoulder sagged. He was obviously injured. Bubby grabbed him by the shoulder with one huge hand, pinning him to the wall. With a tight grip on his arm, Bubby pulled down and twisted. Everyone heard a loud crunch.  The man let out a girl-like scream, then spoke timidly. “Oh, well that does feel much better.”

         Bubby put a long muscular arm around his shoulders. “Happens all the time. It was just dislocated. Easy fix. You just chew on this a while, git some breakfast in you and you’ll be fine in a day or so and ready to rough house again.” He handed the man a sizable piece of willow bark from his pocket. “I keep that handy all the time. Whenever my big brother Mel gits a holt a me, I usually need it.”

         The man looked incredulously at the bulky brothers. “You mean there’s a bigger one?”

    Bubby threw back his head and laughed long and loud. “I’m the little one.” He clapped the fellow on the shoulder, making him wince. “You see, Pap was a big man; bigger than me. And he met Mam. She was a good half head taller than me too.”

         Jak began to giggle. “We don’t know why Bubby turned out so small. Truth is Mam is a bit taller than me too.” Jak was picking up tables and chairs, sorting out the damaged furniture. He pulled the other fellow to his feet. “Wake up, friend. We got to set Orsino’s place to rights before we leave.” The man groaned and allowed himself to be plopped on a chair like a doll. “What did we do with the other two?” Jak asked.

         Orsino spooned thick porridge into several bowls on the bar. “There’s one back here.” He laughed. Marabella peered over the bar. The man was curled up like a child. His compatriot sniggered as he poured ale on the man from a cup on the bar. The sleeping fellow started, throwing a few feeble punches at the air as he sat up. Orsino helped him to stand.

          He leaned heavily on the bar, yawned and wiped his face on his sleeve.  He scanned the room with a scowl. “Where’s Tig?”

         “Tig?” Bubby frowned. “Oh, the little one.” He began laughing again. “He had a bit too much drink. We put him in here so he didn’t git hurt.” He walked to the cabinet under the stairs. Opening the door, he revealed Tig, sitting on a shelf amidst the extra pitchers and plates. He was curled into a ball with his knees to his chest and his thumb in his mouth. They all had a hardy laugh.

         “Aw, don’t wake him.” Marabella crooned. The two men at the bar and the one still sitting at the table all sniggered when Bubby closed the cabinet as Tig snored.

         Marabella moved closer to the man at the bar. He was chewing thoughtfully on the willow bark Bubby had given him. When he turned to her she caught him with her emerald gaze. He was immediately lost in her eyes. “Why do you fellows harass Orsino so?”

       He leaned in closer to her. “We do it for the money. Koros’ soldiers pay good coin for runnin’ out Demalions or bustin’ up those what supports ‘em.”

         “Now you don’t need to go tellin’ our business.” His friend at the end of the bar barked.

         But Marabella held him with her stare. He didn’t seem to hear anything going on around him. She continued. “But Demalions are good people. You all had a grand time of it last night. Right? Do they pay you enough to go to all the trouble of staying away from your home and constantly fighting?”

         He scratched at the stubble on his chin. “They do not. I don’t have no problems with Demalions. They always got superior goods, knives and such. But, the Constables Crew don’t pay much. Ain’t that many bounties and folks around here pretty much behave. And I do like the coin.”

         She leaned in closer. Marabella looked deeply into his bleary, blood shot eyes. “Your clear conscience is worth more than the pittance they offer. You should convince your friends that it’s time to go home and leave poor old Orsino alone. The Demalions don’t really warrant such violence. And don’t you think that Koros fellow must have his own reasons for starting all this strife?”

         The man nodded slowly. “True. True you are. Why should we continue as such? None ever has no magics no how. We ain’t yet found anything other than firesticks as for magical items.”

         She perked up. “You’ve been instructed to take magical items?”

         “Yeah. They pays extra for that stuff. But we ain’t found nothin’ like that.  I don’t believe in all that anyway. I know there be firesticks and I even heard of carry all satchels that hold more than they should but such as that is useful and all.”

         “Why does he want magical items?”

         “Don’t know. Never thought about it, truly. We just was lookin’ out for ‘em. But now I’m a wonderin’ why don’t we just go home. They don’t pay enough for stayin’ here all the time and old Orsino is a pleasant enough fellow.”

         Marabella blinked, slowly releasing him from her spell. Then she gave him her sweetest smile. “I think that’s a great idea. You fellows should all go home, right after you help your new friends set the Roadhouse to rights. You can build a few tables, can’t you?”
         After a quick breakfast, Marabella filled her waterskins and said her goodbyes. She mounted Bess and started down the road. Passing Sellwood, she saw the town coming to life but she only had one thought in her mind. She would push to complete her journey today. Today she would find Geremiah, her father.

    Thursday, May 18, 2017


    From the rough draft and subject to change...I'm still working on an opening that will satisfy readers of the first book and intrigue new readers. PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK. Thanks

    He lunged at her with his dagger and stumbled.  Belle struck, slicing hard and deep across his face. “For my mother.” She barely whispered. Malick screamed, dropping his dagger. Belle plunged her knife into his belly withdrawing it with an upward motion. Malick stumbled toward her, surprise and disbelief in his eyes. He reached out for her and she drove the big blade into his chest up to the hilt. His forward motion carried him almost on top of her spouting blood and gore.

         Marabella opened her eyes. She steadied her breathing to shake off the memory.  She hadn’t meant to fall asleep, but it was so comfortable and warm wrapped in Wesley’s strong arms. She moved slowly, sliding from his embrace. His steady breathing told her that the Valerian root sleeping potion she’d used to dose him would keep him dreaming for some time. Padding silently down the stairs, she stepped into Wesley’s boots and crept outside. The darkness was beginning to withdraw as the stars faded. Marabella’s clothes hung on the line. They were nearly dry. Creeping inside, she hung them by the dying fire while she tidied up.

         She cleaned the dried blood from the curved needle Wesley had used to stitch her cuts and put all the supplies back into their proper place. Looking at his handiwork, she smiled. The six tiny stitches across her thigh held nicely. Marabella held her hand over the wound. “Sultaroos.” The healing spell worked well on the wounds. She would just have to live with the bruises.

         She dressed quickly and went outside again. She saddled the sorrel mare, attaching her pack and saddle bag, then stole back inside once more. Taking paper and quill, Marabella sought to write Wesley a note but the words would not come. She knew he would be hurt and angry when he discovered her gone. The quill hovered over the empty page. Glancing out the window at the ever lightening sky, she scratched a quick note. “He’ll understand.” She told herself. Marabella took Wesley’s shirt that she’d worn and quietly climbed the stairs. He looked so handsome and peaceful sleeping there. She wanted nothing more than to gaze once more into his blue green eyes. But he would never let her go alone. As much as she would love to have him with her, he was needed at home. His mother was unwell, more so than he realized. She touched his cheek and left quickly in the first light of dawn.

         The sorrel mare trotted down the muddy road. Marabella inhaled the sweetness of the early morning air. The breeze teased and whipped her long dark hair into a familiar mass of tangles. She sat in the saddle thinking about the all the events that had brought her to this moment.

         “My father is alive.” She said aloud. She was a cascade of emotion; happy, sad, and very angry. Happy to be moving in some direction, instead of stuck, without purpose, as she had been for the four long seasons since her mother’s murder. Marabella had spent the last four summers and four winters waiting; waiting to grow up enough, waiting to be stronger, waiting to learn more about her magics and how to use them, waiting to seek justice for Mara, her mother. 
         She was also waiting for her little brother to grow up some, and he had not disappointed.  A faint smile played across her lips as she thought of Natan. She glanced at the copper bracelet he’d made for her, as she adjusted her diminutive frame in the saddle.

    Wednesday, May 10, 2017

    Getting back to writing...

    Last year I gave myself a deadline for finishing my first draft of MARABELLA, QUEST FOR MAGICS.  When I interviewed Celene, the Demalion Seer, she predicted that I would not make my first deadline. She was right. 

    Each of these images represents a bit of the way it feels to write. Of course, I know the story. It would seem that all I need do is write it down. It is amazing how crazy difficult this turns out to be. Finding the right words, setting the scene, making sure all the details are there without going on and on so much that it gets boring; all these things at once can become overwhelming. But I promise to soldier on until this part of her story is complete.
     In the coming weeks I will post excerpts from MARABELLA, QUEST FOR MAGICS.

     There may be much more of this.

    But I am determined.
      To those of you who still visit this blog on a regular basis, I hope that you will post your comments and critiques of the excerpts. Your encouragement means a lot. 

    Saturday, April 29, 2017

    Z is a difficult letter

    Z is a tough letter. I have one or two minor Z named characters, but they may not make it through the editing process.

    I will use today’s blog entry to say thanks to each and every person who has taken the time to read my little blog. Thanks. Now I’ll ramble a bit about writing.
    Chaucer and me, selfie

    As a fiction writer I have a hard time coming up with things to blog about. This usually ends with no blogging at all. Sometimes I just end up taking pictures of my pets. (Yeah, I know) I am still working on MARABELLA, QUEST FOR MAGICS and I feel guilty when I stray and
    write about something else. I realize that it’s silly. Writing about other things keeps me from getting stale. As much as I love to talk, you’d think that writing conversationally for a few hundred words would come easy to me. I suppose it’s that I’m not sure anyone would care to “listen” to my random rantings. I truly do appreciate those of you who read my blog. I just wish more of you would leave a comment. It could be one word. I guess I need a little validation. You writers out there know what I mean.
    Cross-eyed Miss Kitty

    We write for many reasons; some to educate and inform, some to entertain, many because we must. Personally, I have these stories in my head that I would love to read and I hope others feel the same. I write for my future readers but I also write for myself. For many years everything I wrote was confined to a series of notebooks. They were for my eyes only. Now that I’ve put myself out there as a writer, I need a little validation once in a while.

    Let’s face it. Writing is a solitary endeavor. I find myself still trying to tap into the vast community of indie writers that I know is out there. I follow a lot of you on twitter. I joined a local writer’s group. The people are great. However, when I sit down to write, it is just me.
    Yep, I'm a goof

    If you are a reader, thanks and please buy my book. (Marabella, Discovering Magics, available in paperback and on Kindle at If you are a writer, hang in there and keep writing. (And please buy my book)
    Buy my book

    Y is for Yeni Flowers, Captain of the fishing boat, Gray Baby

    Yeni captains a fishing vessel operating in Pelagos Bay off the coast of Mirador. We meet her again in MARABELLA, QUEST FOR MAIGICS. (Her accent and manner of speaking are a little different.)

    Author: Hello Yeni. How long have you been fishing? How long have you had the Gray Baby?

    Yeni: I ship out on her nearly bout seven season ago. Early Infell be owner and captain. He good man. I cook for him one night and he want to up and get joined. He kinda old, but good fellow, so I say yeah. He took sick when we was up North, got frail. He went ashore. Keeps a little place in Westwytch. I captain Gray Baby for five season now.  She a good, sound boat.

    Author: How’s business?

    Yeni: Fishing is good, yeah. When fishing is not so good, we go north, off the coast of Northern Waste and drop our crab pots. We steer clear of trouble, yeah.

    Author: And by trouble, do you mean pirates? Have you had problems with pirates?

    Yeni: We got harassed a few times but nothing to pillage on a fish boat. Ain’t no coin till we done and back ashore. We fly the Queen’s colors last two season and nobody bothers. Queen don’t ask much in return, let us keep most our catch.

    Author: Queen Dorinda Gold doesn’t ask anything in return?

    Yeni: When we South, we ferry for her; a catch to River Mouth and sometime to Shepherd’s Hook. We pick up. We drop off, like a merchant vessel but smellier. Mostly, we fish.

    Author: Have you always fished? Where are you from, originally?

    Yeni: I done growed up on Pierates. (An island in the Pelagos Sea, near Corsair Island and Shepherd’s Hook) Pap and Mam fished but never had no good size boat. I ship out when I was strong enough to learn proper sailin’. I done bounce port to port, yeah.  

    Author: Your accent is different. If you don’t mind me asking, where is that from?

    Yeni: Mam and Pap done come from way South, yeah. Village on far side of Pierates where all folks from way South. You got accent too.

    Author: I do. I too am from the South in my realm.

    Yeni: Early say all boys like the way we Southern girl talk, yeah.

    Author: Yeah.

    Yeni: I got to push off with the tide. Lest you want to fish, best go soon.

    Author: I’m out. Thanks Yeni.

    Friday, April 28, 2017

    X is for Xylo Orionis, Horseman of the Northern Wilds

    Xylo is a Centaur. He is a member of the nomadic tribe inhabiting the harsh lands north of Common Valley. They are known as the Horsemen. It is a rare privilege to be afforded an audience.

    Author: Xylo, thank you for allowing me to visit with you today. What do you like best and least about the nomadic lifestyle?

    Xylo: Thank you for coming. I most enjoy the running. Out on the plains you can see for great distances. I love going out and chasing the horizon. The downside is that we miss out on interaction with others. I do tire of seeing the same faces day after day. We do not often intermingle with outsiders.

    Author: How many tribes inhabit the Northern Wilds? Are there other tribes elsewhere?

    Xylo: There are several tribes but only three wander the wilds right now. We, the Orionis are hunters. The Bootes (pronounced bo-OH-teez) are herdsmen. The Eriandus dwell near the rivers. The Equulei, Monoceros and Pegasi tribes mostly keep to Mirador. I know there are others too in other realms.

    Author: What if you decide you don’t want to be a hunter anymore? Can you move to another tribe?

    Xylo: Of course. It happens every season. Colts and fillies, the youngsters, often get the urge to experience the new and different. They petition the tribal council, who notify the other tribal council. Once everyone is in agreement they take the new tribe name. I was born Eriandus but came here five seasons ago. One day I may go back but for now, I love this life.

    Author: Why is it such a formal procedure to move from one place to the next?

    Xylo: Unlike humans, we keep a close knit community. By the petitioning and approval required, councils take responsibility for the newcomers to ensure that everyone is afforded the safety and protection of the tribe.  

    Author:  Have the problems in Common Valley affected you up here in the wilds?

    Xylo: Not that much, but we are watchful. We have seen a few more humans migrating out of the Valley. They are not always equipped to journey through the wilds. It has given us chance interact with you more. In past seasons, the affairs of those in the Valley were of no consequence to us. But it seems that this Master Koros is trying to declare war on magics. We are magical beings. Consequently, as I said, we are watchful.

    Author: I believe that is wise. Thank you for your time.

    Xylo: You are quite welcome to come again.

    Thursday, April 27, 2017

    W is for Wesley

    Wesley is Marabella’s nearest and dearest.

    Author: Thanks for coming today. How long have you known Marabella?

    Wesley: I’ve known Belle all her life. The first time I saw her she was just a tiny baby, all pink and fussy. I was only five, but I remember thinking she was perfect.

    Author: You grew up together. Can you tell me what that was like?

    Wesley: I saw her from time to time at Ma Nan’s when she was a nubbin. We became friends when she got a little older. We both like to read and we were both kind of different. I was bullied some. She didn’t judge me for being odd or for not talking. Belle would prattle on all day if I’d just nod once in a while. Turns out, she was easy to talk with. We were inseparable until Mara was killed. Then Belle began to train a lot more, spend time alone.

    Author: Looking at you now, it’s hard to believe that you were ever bullied. 

    Wesley: I was small for my age until I turned about seventeen. That, being bookish, driving the goat cart, all made me a target. It didn’t help that I wasn’t interested in fighting back. I know that the boys who taunted me thought I was afraid but I just didn’t see the point of fighting. Belle was the scrapper. All they need do was look in her direction. She had a few scraps. Once she started training, she never lost. After a few boys ended up in the dirt, they left her alone.

    Author: What do you think about the unrest in Common Valley?

    Wesley: I believe that Master Koros has some agenda that has yet to be revealed. Demalions have been in Common Valley for so long; why now? People should ask themselves when they began to have problems with Demalions. Not until someone told them that Demalions were the cause of their problems. It isn’t something Demalions did. It’s insanity. And now there are soldiers. It’s getting dangerous to travel. Belle is on the road and I don’t know how to protect her.

    Author: Do you realize that you’ve mentioned Marabella in your answer to every question I’ve asked?

    Wesley: (blushes) That doesn’t surprise me. She is always on my mind.

    Author: What do you miss most about her?

    Wesley: I miss her. All of her; even her moods. I miss the way her hair escapes in curls around her face when she tries to tie it back. I miss sitting beside her for half the day, reading without saying a word and then spending the rest of the day talking about what we’d read. Sorry to wax nostalgic.

    Author: That’s quite all right. I guess that’s enough. Thanks.

    Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    V is for Verragold Cafe in River Mouth

    Today’s entry is a little different. I will be visiting the Verragold Café in River Mouth, trying the food and speaking with the proprietor, Marceli Verragold.

    The dining area is clean and neat. Marceli offered a warm welcome and seated me at a table near the fireplace.

    Author: How long have you had this café?

    Marceli: About ten seasons ago I came back to River Mouth from Dune Town. Both my children were pretty much grown and I needed something to do. Dune Town is a bit dull for my taste. My girl, Dori suggested I open a business and I’ve always like to feed people so here we are. I think you’ve met my boy, Ragus.

    Author: I have. I interviewed him earlier this week. He is quite charming.

    Marceli: He is a scamp and comes across so arrogant sometimes, but the boy has a heart as big as a dragon. I worry about him nowadays. I wish he would quit the Valley and go back to sea with his sister. But he’s a land lubber. That boy loves the woods and hunting and such. Ah, here’s your food. Enjoy. I’ll be back to check on you.

    Author:  Thanks. They’ve brought several selections and I already know that there’s at least one I won’t have the courage to try. Eel is not for me. The fish wrapped in bacon is served with green peas and pearl
    onions. It’s delicious once you peel off the skin. The bread is delightful, crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. My favorite is the little pies, each with a different filling. Some have chopped meat
    and vegetables, others are filled with rice and fish. The best one has a sweet cream filling with pistachios. Yummy.

    Marceli: How do you like the food?

    Author: It’s all wonderful but I must confess that I didn’t try the eel. I’m not that adventurous.

    Marceli: That’s fine. It’s not for everyone.

    Author: You mentioned the problems in Common Valley. How has it affected your business?

    Marceli: For truth, it’s been good for business. And not just mine but all over here abouts. Folks are leaving the Valley, Demalions and Common folk alike. Some are shipping out, others are looking for work in the area. It’s not a full onslaught just yet, only a few every moon cycle. But mark me here, we Demalions are a tolerant bunch, up to a point. Something bad could happen any time. If Koros is building an army like some say, he expects folks to fight back. He ain’t going to like it when they do.

    Author: Wise words, Marceli. Thank you for the food and conversation.

    U is for Uless Norbling, shepherd of Shepherd's Hook Isle

    Uless Norbling is a shepherd on the little farming island of Shepherd’s Hook in the Pelagus Sea. We’ll meet him again in Marabella, Quest for Magics.

    Author: Thank you for agreeing to this interview. I know you don’t get a lot of visitors from other realms here on Shepherd’s Hook.

    Uless Norbling: You be the first. Only reason anybody comes here is for sheep; to bring ‘em or take ‘em. But my Queen says you be true, so I trust that you be true.

    Author: Thank you. An author can only hope to get an endorsement from a Queen. How long have you lived on Shepherd’s Hook?

    Uless: I came here as a nubbin with my mam and pap about fifty seasons ago. Been here ever since.

    Author: How many people live on the Isle?

    Uless: We gots a fine lil community here of about twenty- eight souls, countin’ nubbins and youngsters.

    Author: Is it all your family or a collection of families?

    Uless: There be six shepherds countin’ me. Three of us got mates. There’s the weaver and his wife, and four young hands for helpin’. We got thirteen children betwixed one and fourteen and all manner of dogs for the herdin’.

    Author: It seems like a solitary existence for a small group of people. How do you handle that?

    Uless: We work. There be work for everyone. Even the nubbins help out in the garden or with feedin’ or weavin’, what’s needed. Once a child leaves mam’s hip, they get to workin’. And we ain’t so solitary as you might think. Corsair Island is just a quick jaunt. You can row over there if you got a strong back. The young fellers head over regular to sweet talk with the Ladies of Comfort and drink at the taverns. They got any supplies we needs and the Queen speaks for our safety. Truth is, we got a might easier time than folks in Common Valley. I hear tell they cain’t hardly head out for market days what without being assaulted by them rough boys and soldiers.

    Author: I didn’t realize that the news of the unrest in Common Valley had reached out here. I’m surprised you’d find it of interest.

    Uless: I see at least one ship a week. Sailors bring all the news from here abouts and the Valley. We be sheltered under the kindness of Queen Dorinda Gold. But every man, woman and youngster best take note at the rise of a despot. Seems to me, from what I heard that this feller Koros is up to somethin’ and it ain’t gonna be good for those in the Valley, Common folk and Demalions alike.

    Author: Well said, my friend. Thanks for your time.

    Uless: Come back any time.