Thursday, February 28, 2013

What, Exactly, is Stewardship Over the Creatures of the Earth?

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, and let them rule
over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the
earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground." – Genesis 1:26.

According to the Bible, God placed humanity in charge of the earth and all the creatures in it. He gave us specific instructions on which ones could be used for food, clothing, etc. Nowhere in the Scriptures does He give us permission to torture them for any reason—yet this is exactly what happens in laboratories around the world every day, usually in the name of scientific research, but sometimes for something so trivial as the development of cosmetics. Innocent creatures—from mice and rats to family pets stolen right out of our front yards—are tortured and abused in horrific ways, their bodies discarded when they are of no further use to the so-called scientists.

I've seen one such lab with my own eyes. It was a long time ago, when I was in college. I was working part-time at a hospital connected to the medical school. A couple of the security guards showed me the lab. It's a sight I'll never forget as long as I live.

These days, I get regular emails from both PETA and Causes. PETA's newsletters are hard to look at—but I can't look away, because to do so would do nothing to help the millions of animals tortured in research facilities every day. Yesterday, for example—there was the story of a cat named Double Trouble. I wondered who named her, because I doubt anyone in the lab where she was used for research cared enough about her to give her a name. Read her horrific story, if you can—and the story of the efforts of actor James Cromwell and others to put a stop to the experiments being conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The fight they started must continue until these unnecessary experiments are stopped once and for all.

Two years ago, my beloved grey-cheeked parakeet, Sam, died at the age of twenty-one. That's old for a bird of his species. Until the last weeks of his life, he was a happy, healthy bird. Then he developed a tumor on his left wing. It grew rapidly until there was very little of the wing left. I took him to an avian specialist, who told me what I'd already suspected: Sam was dying. He advised me to have Sam euthanized that day, but I couldn't. I could tell Sammy was scared and wanted to go home.

Sam had to die at home.

I explained this, and Dr. Kersting understood. He gave me meds to keep Sam comfortable for whatever time he might have left. In the next seven days, Sam lost the ability to even climb or walk—he pulled himself around using his beak. He wanted me to hold him all the time, so I kept him close by. I gave him his meds and as much comfort as I could. He no longer slept in his cage, but on a pillow in a small plastic crate next to me at night. When the time came, he died cradled in my arms.

Sam left this world feeling all the love and comfort Collin and I were able to give him—but how had Double Trouble and others like her died? In agony, likely wondering what they had done to deserve such abuse? Starving, riddled with pain? Blinded, deafened? And for what? What has this alleged research accomplished?

I wonder...if we were not the “superior” species on this planet, if we were snatched off the street and tortured and abused and discarded, how would we feel? Would that be all right, as long as it was done in the name of scientific research? Probably not....

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Rumors of My Demise May Have Been Exaggerated

Just a week ago, I was contemplating my retirement. I had dropped the ball with regard to marketing my books (I hadn't even checked my Amazon pages in a while—I just discovered I have some new reviews! Yay!). I hadn't written anything in weeks. I wasn't sure I could write anything. I wanted just wasn't there, and I didn't know how to fix the problem.

I did know the source of the problem: this old gray mare ain't what she used to be. My focus is nowhere near what it once was. Just a year ago, my characters were living their lives inside my head 24/7. It was crowded in there, but I didn't mind. Now, nobody's home. Not even me, most of the time. Not only was I not writing, I wasn't doing much of anything else, either...the housework, laundry and cooking weren't always getting done. More than once, I'd end up scrambling to get Collin something to eat or wash his clothes before he had to leave for work.


Because I was online—sometimes five or six hours a day. By the time I got offline, I would be so drained mentally, I was no good for anything but sleeping or sitting in front of the TV. It should have been a no-brainer, right? Just cut back on the online time. I'm no internet junkie. I'm perfectly happy with a couple of hours online a day. But in my own defense, this has been discussed among my friends and fellow authors at Facebook on more than one occasion. Too much time spent social networking is cutting into a number of authors' writing time. It's an epidemic! Nobody intends to do it. It just happens. You start chatting with friends and the time gets away on you.

I've cut back because I have to, if I want to ever publish another book. No more email, Facebook, etc. after lunch.

But that's only half the problem. Now to decide the direction I want to take. Do I still want to write fiction? Yes. But I'm not sure it's in the cards. The projects currently in the works have been in limbo for a while. The nonfiction project, on the other hand, is flying along.

I'm not sure I want to bother with print editions in the future. They're a pain to create and earn very little. In my opinion, they're too expensive, anyway. I might sell half a dozen copies (total) of each novel—and those are usually to my friend Carolyn, who brings them to me for signing as soon as she receives them. My friend Shelly Arkon does well with paperbacks. I don't. Ebooks are where I make my doesn't it make sense to put all of my focus there?

I had a brief discussion with fellow author Rosanne Dingli on Facebook the other day. Amazon doesn't allow us to separate our own books from used copies of our backlist books being sold from third-party vendors—for which we get no royalties. I've considered switching to a pseudonym so when anyone clicks on the page for my current books, those third-party offerings aren't there to usurp my profits!

Before I close...The Unicorn's Daughter is still available for free at Smashwords today and tomorrow. Just use coupon code SP26W!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Tooting My Own Horn...So Shoot Me!

Today, I'm promoting one of my own! I just released The Unicorn's Daughter via Smashwords today, which means it's now available for all e-readers! From now until February 28th, it's free! Just use this coupon code: SP26W

It's also available in paperback (as well as ebook format) at Amazon, for those of you who still like their books the old-fashioned way. Unfortunately, I don't have the free book option for paperbacks. I'd even have to pay for my own copies!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Spread the News and Cheer On the Runaway Bride Giveaway!

Please welcome another friend and fellow author, Shelly Arkon, who's having a blog party to launch her terrific novel, Secondhand Shoes! It's going to be a lot of fun--and she's giving prizes!

Author Bio

When she was nine, Shelly Arkon's mother advised her not to write a novel because no one would publish it...but she wrote it anyway.

Shelly Arkon has never stopped writing since she wrote that first novel as a child. In spite of more family drama than most of us could handle—as the mother of five daughters, drama is unavoidable--she's been writing most of her life. She says most of these stories, written in longhand in spiral notebooks, have been about vampires.

She now lives in New Port Richey with her husband and two dogs. She’s also a member of Florida Writers Association and Writers of Mass Distraction.

Currently, she’s working on a book series. It’s about two grandmothers, one a New Age hippie, and the other, a Southern Baptist, their grandbaby, their grown children who are pill heads, their extended dysfunctional family, and a dangerous drug dealer.

The two grandmothers find themselves in a dangerous pursuit to save their grandbaby while finding an unlikely friendship between them.


Why do you write?
There is a constant chatter going on in my head all day. Ideas and dialogue come quickly where I have to write them down. If I don’t, I may miss an opportunity to get it down the way I heard it the first time. Even characters get perturbed when you don’t relay their information correctly. They want their stories told in the right way. Not to mention, all of my characters bug me until I do-I have a tendency to work on multiple projects at a time.

Can you explain the trials and tribulations of writing your first novel or writing in general?
There’s a ga-zillion of those. My first set of trials and tribulations began in the first grade when teachers stuck me in a slow class because I couldn’t grasp reading and writing like the other kids in my class did.

One afternoon, one of my teachers handed me a stool, an eraser, and a piece of chalk. I was to write, say each letter to my name, and then sound it out and repeat. This tiny feat took up an entire afternoon.

First grade through the third were the most tedious years of my life. But I’m thankful to all my teachers for their patience and persistence. By the fourth grade, I was further ahead than most my classmates in reading and writing along with my big love for both.

Once I took off in reading and writing, I read everything I could get my hands on. And I had an affinity for diaries, spiral notebooks, pens, pencils, and daydreaming. My imagination ran wild with stories and poems. I wrote non-stop as a child and teen.

Unfortunately, there were people and even myself who discouraged me from writing. Many times I heard ‘no one would publish you’ or ‘there’s nothing special about what you write’ or ‘so-n-so writes way better stuff than you do.’ Negative self-voices are the worst. So you have to find your positive self-voice to talk you out of the bad conditioning. This is something I’m always working on.

Not only do people and yourself get in the way of writing, but so does life. Marriages. Children. Divorce. College. Work. Mundane chores. Traumatic life events. These can really put a damper on one’s ability to sit in a chair and write out your characters’ problems when you have your own.

In 1998, I sat down one evening and wrote the first chapter to Secondhand Shoes. My thoughts were I would be able to finish it within a year, but I found myself suddenly a single mother of five. So I tucked it in a folder and stuck it in my closet. For years, I made notes and wrote dialogue for it and tucked it away.

Several years later, and down to two children in the household, I plunked myself back into a chair and wrote. I wrote it four times over. The first version, I hated and couldn’t relate to it at all. It was like reading a Monday night movie on Lifetime for Women. The second version, the protagonist was a real whiner. When I finally finished the third version, I could finally see the forest through the trees, and the fourth version of Secondhand Shoes was born.

Somewhere between the first and second version, in 2008, I became a member of the Florida Writer’s Association. Every second and fourth Monday evening, we meet at the Barnes and Nobles in Carrollwood. There, we edit and critique each other. The girls and one guy in the group are my checks and balances as I am theirs.

Once I got the okay from my group members that it was ready, it was onto the next stage in the writing experience. Finding an editor. Well, I had the gem of all editors. Kaye Coppersmith. She was a longtime member of Florida Writer’s Association and halfway through my manuscript when she passed. That was this past April. At the time, I felt like God and the Universe had stolen her from me. And the negative voices ate at me again.

But I rose above it, wiped my tears, and went forward. It wasn’t easy finding an editor who could keep my writing voice. So many editors out there try to change everything so much so they lose the characteristics of your characters and their voice. I also found a lot of people labeling themselves as editors, only to find out they didn’t know much about the profession.

And how did you publish?
I ended up going Indie (self-published). Yes. I did try the traditional route but after sending the requested manuscript to agents and publishers, most times I didn’t even get a rejection. Not getting a response bothered me more than not receiving one. It would have been nice to at least hear they didn’t think my novel was marketable. To this day, I haven’t heard back from one agent who requested my manuscript ‘as is’ in 2010. Getting published isn’t as easy as one thinks. No one writes a novel and becomes instantly published.

Let me tell you, self-publishing isn’t easy, either. Since I’m not a computer geek by any means, I thought many times I would throw my computer into the street over formatting. My eyes thought they were going to fail me over the many times I proofread. Right now, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with the marketing part. Indies are a one man or woman show wearing many hats while maintaining their day jobs.

Also, being self-published takes the cost of making a book out of your pocket. Nothing is free. One has to hire a cover artist, an editor, and someone who can format for an ebook. It all takes time and a lot of dedication.

My novel, Secondhand Shoes is now available on Amazon either in paperback or as an ebook. Paper back is $13.50. Ebook is $4.99. But from February 19th through the 21st the ebook is FREE to everyone.

Spread the News and Cheer on the Runaway Bride Giveaway

Also, I’m giving away two $15.00 Amazon cards and two autographed paperback copies of Secondhand Shoes. Since I don’t do rafflecoptors, all I ask is for you to leave the best advice you can give someone on their wedding day and promise to spread the news. On March 1st, I’ll announce the winners on my Secondhand Shoes blog,

Hugs and chocolate,

The Blurb

The shoes didn’t fit. It was an omen.

Eighteen year old psychic-medium-germ-a-phobe Lila should have listened to her ghostly Gram’s advice the morning of her wedding, “Take off that dress and those shoes. And run.”

En route to the honeymoon, she decides to listen after too many disagreements with her groom. It doesn’t pay to go along to make everyone happy.

Still in her wedding dress and shoes, she escapes out a diner’s bathroom window into the Florida woods despite her fear of snakes and germs with her dead Gram’s direction.

So she begins a journey of finding her inner strength, putting her on a deadly run from her psychotic groom and his deranged friends.

Will she ever get past her fear of germs and snakes? Will she survive her honeymoon?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Guest Post: Eve Gaal, author of Penniless Hearts

My friend Norma Beishir invited me to guest post for her blog and I must say the opportunity is truly an honor. After all, Norma Beishir has written over 16 novels, several or all of which were national bestsellers. While I’m certainly not in her league, maybe tinges of her talent will rub off through magical blogging osmosis.

Talent runs deeper than the Mississippi river in the Beishir family. I found this out when Collin, Norma’s son made a cover for my new book Penniless Hearts. I wanted something simple and memorable and he delivered a truly eye-catching cover that will draw readers wanting to know more about the waves, the blue water and the heart in the sand.

Over twenty years ago, I married my Prince Charming on the sand in Hawaii. It was so romantic that the following year we went back and though it was still romantic, it seemed that even in the wondrous ambiance that is Hawaii, reality tends to knock on your door. Fortunately, some memories are etched in stone and that’s why I chose Hawaii as the setting for Penniless Hearts. The second time made me look at things differently and without rose colored glasses. Where was that special breeze that seemed to float under the stars on our honeymoon? I needed to re-create the dreamy atmosphere and I truly hope when people read Penniless Hearts they’ll feel something special.

Penny the main character is an artist. Though she’s smart, she has trouble communicating and is tempted onto the dark side. A place that sounded fun for about ten minutes. …Though lost and alone, she’s not afraid; after all, it is Hawaii. Now that she’s older, things are supposed to work out, or at least that’s what her mother used to say. Lately however, she’s been hiding in her imagination or reading fantasy novels while her dad has been waiting for something, anything to happen. Thank God, she has John and Tina. Two people who love her for entirely different reasons.

Read Penniless Hearts and find out what happens when Penny’s life erupts like the volcano on The Big Island.

My novel has no vampires and only traces of blood. There’s a volcano, illicit sex, tropical flowers, bad guys, cops, dream sequences, tears and love. There’s even a touch of humor. Here’s a strange but funnier section—funny since, I have seen these animals with my own eyes!

From Chapter 89:
Penny woke from yet another nightmare to kisses, or maybe drooling slurps. Something wet licked her arm, and moved up her neck snorting hot guava breath onto her face. Opening her eyes, she saw enormous eyes, huge lashes and giant hairy nostrils. Quickly, she pulled away rolling out from under the smooching beast. The wild asses that roamed the jungle floor had wandered out from the foliage to inspect the sleeping trespasser.

Yuck,” she yelled, “Get away.” Disgusted, she stood up and moved her stuff closer to the rising tide. Though she thought they were cute, she also thought they should stick to their own kind. She took off her boots and socks and walked on volcanic, black sand, into the water to rinse off the spittle. When she looked up, she saw the creatures retreating into the leafy vegetation. “Just kiss and run huh?” She laughed.

Get Penniless Hearts today on Kindle by clicking here now!

Thank you, Evie, for sharing your new novel here!

Having read Penniless Hearts, I can honestly say it's a wonderful novel. Anyone who buys it will not be disappointed!

Eve also has other works available on Amazon. Be sure you check out all of them....

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Autumn of My (Writing) Life?

There was a time I could write anytime, anywhere. I could write while carrying on a conversation. I always delivered manuscripts well ahead of deadlines--which actually worked to my advantage once in a disagreement with my publisher.

Things have changed. These days, I find myself unable to finish anything I start. I've been working on An Army of Angels for over four years now and getting nowhere fast. Not only is the story not always with me, as my previous novels were, I have trouble concentrating on it when I'm actually writing--or trying to write. I have five projects currently in the works and only one appears to have any hope of reaching completion. (Okay, Chasing the Wind took ten years--but they were ten years of active writing....)

It's frustrating...and discouraging. There's a part of me that wonders if it might be time to hang it up, to retire. Collin is now at the beginning of his solo writing career. Maybe I should be content with what I've accomplished in the past twenty-four years and move into the role of mentor to my son. He's still young and has (I hope) a long life and career ahead of him.

Or maybe I should switch to nonfiction. I love blogging, and it seems to come easily--most of the time, anyway. I recently read a post on Author Media that suggested turning a selection of blog posts into a book. Do I have enough nuggets here for a book? Don't know. I'd have to think about that.

What does one do when he or she discovers they just don't have what it takes anymore? If only I could get paid to blog....

On second thought, I'm not arguing with HIM....

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Ayatollah Came Back, and There Was Bound To Be Trouble....

On this day in 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran after fifteen years in exile. It was all downhill from there.

On this day in 1978, slimy film director Roman Polanski skipped bail and ran off to France to avoid a rape charge. And some people in the film community still treat him like a hero. Makes one wonder.

On this day in 1969, the Doors' Jim Morrison was busted for exposing himself during a concert appearance. I wonder how many people in that audience could actually see it?

And on this date in 1981, a baby was born in Canada. That baby was my partner in crime, William Kendall. Yep, he turns 32 today!

I was going to do a This Is Your Life sort of thing for his birthday, but I couldn't dig up enough dirt in time. Maybe next year!

Seriously...William has been the best friend and collaborator I could have hoped for. He's tolerated my nasty temper, allowed me to drag him into my battles, and patiently waited until I remembered it was my turn to write a scene for our co-authored novel, Same Time Tomorrow. He edits all of my work because my eyesight's too bad for me to pick up even minor errors. He does 90% of the work on our joint blog and never complains.

We met a few years back--summer of 2009--on an IMDb message board for the movie Angels & Demons. He liked the movie; I liked Ewan McGregor (okay, I liked the movie, too). We actually started corresponding that fall--October 23rd, to be precise. We send each other cards on that anniversary. How many men remember anniversaries of any kind? That tells you how special he is.

I knew he was a writer right away. There was so much creativity in his posts, it was that obvious. It took a bit of persuading to get him to show me his stuff (get your minds out of the gutter--I'm talking about his writing!), but once he did, I knew I'd been right.

I love being right!

Now, he's on the brink (I hope) of publishing his first novel, Heaven & Hell. Having read it already, I can tell you it's one of the best novels I've ever read. Yeah, I'm biased--but it really is THAT good! I've already written a review for it--just waiting for him to publish it. I keep telling him I hope he does it before I croak--the man's such a perfectionist, he's spent as much time editing and proofing it as he did writing it!

Happy Birthday, partner. My life has been made better by having you in it.