Are You Ready to Rodeo?

I played in last year’s Carrot Ranch flash fiction rodeo and found it immensely fun. And challenging! Charli Mills, the Carrot Ranch chief buckaroo, has announced this year’s rodeo, and I encourage anyone who’s up for a wild ride to give it a go!

Carrot Ranch Literary Community

To a buckaroo community, the annual rodeo was a chance to show off skills of the trade: reining a cow-horse, throwing a loop and dallying a rope, wrestling a steer to the ground, and tying a goat. Yours truly was the Goat Tying Champion of a long-forgotten rodeo.

I still remember the smell of horse apples condensed in the stalls where all the ranchers and buckaroos boarded their horses during the three-day event. My red hair sported gold yarn bows at the end of each braid, and I had a brand-new felt hat the color of a chocolate lab.

I’d been practicing with the migrant children down at the barn. We could all toss a goat with the same ease our fathers and uncles could take a steer to the ground — it was all about mastering leverage. After practice, we’d eat pinto beans and tortillas. Someone would pass around…

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49 Days In 1988: Week 32 – Rumours!

I’m over at Hugh’s today sharing a song from the 80’s and pitching a book, of course. If you get a chance, stop by to say hello, and read his 3-decades-past diary entry – the kick-off to the post. While you’re there, check out Hugh’s site – amazing blogging tips, wonderful stories, and a kind person on top of that. ❤

Hugh's Views & News

Click here to read the first week of this feature, and follow the links at the end of each post.

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London – August 25th, 1988

A week ago, I wrote that Simon and Rod were facing a problem I came across the week before. Today, that problem came hurtling into my life again when Marcus told me that on November 1st we will all be given one months notice here at Grassmere Road. 

Apparently, he heard the rumour from Anthony,  who had got it from Mr & Mrs Summer. Although it hasn’t been confirmed yet, something tells me that this bad news is real. The end is in sight for us that remain here at Grassmere Road.

This put me in such a down mood for most of the day. However, thinking about it on the way home from work this evening, it’s still too early to start arranging…

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Hunting Waterfalls and a photo challenge

Toketee Falls

I’m back from my technology-free vacation. I didn’t take my computer with me, didn’t watch a minute of television, and I read a real honest-to-goodness paper book. It was heaven.

Sarah, over at Art Expedition, offered up a 7-day B&W street photo challenge of people. Well… erm… here are my 7 color, non-people, no streets, nature photos of my trip. Sorry, Sarah, for not following the rules very well at all. I encourage everyone to browse her lovely artful blog and give her challenge a hearty try.

I’ve lived in Oregon for 7 years and haven’t explored this big state. It was about time. Randy and I traveled downstate into the dense smoke of forest fires, detoured to the Pacific coast and headed north in the fog. So much for “seeing” the state. But I gathered a few photo-memories nevertheless.

We hiked along silver rivers…

…found waterfalls…

We traveled on to Crater Lake. Looking down from the crater’s rim, you can see the thick blanket of smoke. Yes, that dark layer in the background isn’t land – it’s solid smoke.

The view of the lake was hazy with light smoke.

With scratchy throats and eyes, we headed for the coast. The Oregon shore is cold, windy and foggy.

 

And a B&W picture of a person… still no street.
I’m doing the princess wave by the waves.

I have a ton of catching up to do, but I shall visit you all shortly. ❤

My Bossy Muse

My muse. Image purchased from shutterstock

I’m polishing up the last bits of Soul Swallower and Legacy of Souls when I hear the clomp of my muse’s heavy boots on my writing-room stairs. I haven’t seen her since September 2016 when she gave me an ultimatum about finishing up The Rose Shield series. It was that or she was going to quit.

Well, I finished it in the spring of 2017 and took the summer off to rest. Instead of popping the cork on a bottle of champagne, she hired a mercenary muse, and abruptly my break was over. The guy was a hulking brute with a bad attitude and worse breath. And not only did he expect me to get writing, but he forced me to exercise.

Amazing artwork by Peter Pham

I can’t imagine what this visit is going to bring, and I brace myself. The door opens and the muse walks in as if she owns the place. She’s decked out in her clunky boots, and she’s carrying that magical staff that I still don’t know how to use since she never shares.

“You haven’t written sci-fi in years,” she remarks, having read my mind. I hate it when muses do that.

“I’ll bet you stopped by to congratulate me on the new books,” I say with a smug smile and flash the yummy covers. “They’re just about ready to go.”

“I’m not here to pamper you, Peach. That’s your husband’s job.” She settles onto a metal quasi-throne with rusted pipes that suddenly materializes against the wall.

I grimace at the contraption. “You know, I hope that’s not permanent. I just cleaned the place up after the bats!”

She ignores me and leans forward, elbows on her knees. “I’m here to talk about the next books.”

“What next books?” Oh, oops. Yeeesh. I wince. “Oh, yeah. Um…”

“Exactly.” Her eyes are blue today and they shoot icicles into my skin. “You’re a few weeks away from finishing the latest series, and you haven’t even thought about the next one.”

“I’ve been really busy!” I cross my arms and huff. “And it’s not like there are any real deadlines.”

“Except mine.” She raises an eyebrow. “You know I have other authors to manage. And there are plenty more in line looking for some guidance.”

“Looking for a taskmaster more like it,” I mutter under my breath and give her a fake smile. I know she heard it or heard me think it. “I can’t believe you have other authors. I thought you were all mine.”

She rolls her eyes. I scratch my head and blow out a breath. “Sorry. You’re right. I haven’t even thought about the next one, and I’ve got nothin’, zippo, squat. I don’t even have a starting place. I need your help.”

“That’s more like it.” Her shoulders relax now that I’ve been thoroughly cowed. “I want you to start thinking about shapeshifters. They’ve been on your mind.”

It’s true. “I can think about them.”

She narrows her eyes at me, but gives the wise-guy comment a pass. “And goblins.”

“Shapeshifters and goblins?” I twist my face. “That’s ridiculous. They don’t go together. I need a new muse.” I laugh but she doesn’t. “You can’t be serious. Are you serious?”

“You can make it work. I want betrayals, lies, manipulation. I want you to make things miserable for your characters and then make them worse. I want twists, flaws, nobility, and redemption.”

I don’t know what to say. My muse has totally lost it. What comes out of my mouth is, “Okay.”

“Good. Three books, two years. It’s a gift.”

I calculate the time frame in my head. It’s not bad. But shapeshifters and goblins?

She gets to her feet, tall and powerful. “Congrats on the latest books, by the way.” The metal throne thing disappears, and suddenly she’s changing, her form taking a new shape. A shapeshifter? She winks a feline eye and pads out the door.

The wheels in my head start turning…

pixabay image compilation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Getting to Know You with author D.Wallace Peach

I’m delighted to be over at Sally’s for a “Getting to Know You” feature that has nothing to do with books. Stop by, and hopefully, you’ll get a laugh from some of my confessions. See you there. 🙂

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

My guest this morning is author Diana Wallace Peach who enchants and enthralls young readers with her fantasy and science fiction series. Apart from YA novels, Diana has recently written and illustrated her first children’s book. More about her work later.

The official biography.

About D. Wallace Peach

D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s Coastal Mountains with her husband, two dogs, and Pinky the Cat.

For book descriptions, excerpts, maps, and behind the scenes info, please visit:http://dwallacepeachbooks.com.

Now it is time to find out which of the questions Diana had chosen to answer….including…

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Blogging: How to Increase Comments

All images Pixabay

I struggled with the title of this post because getting comments isn’t about stats; it’s about building relationships.

Some visitors to this blog might have noticed the number of comments here. It wasn’t and isn’t a goal, honestly. And there really isn’t any magic to it either. Comments grow out of a desire to genuinely connect with other bloggers, and a commitment to put in the time to do so.

Here’s how it happens:

I leave lots of comments on other blogs. These are my invitations to engage, my knock on a blogger’s door. They say, “Want to come out and play?”

Because blogging-time is precious, if a blogger doesn’t bother to reply to my knock, even with a simple “thank you,” I’m less inclined to knock again. On some level, they’ve declined my offer to engage.

At the very least, say “thank you” to someone who took the time to read and leave a comment.

What’s better than a simple “thank you?” A comment on the visitor’s comment! Even a kind thought, or sharing something more about the post conveys that you are delighted with their visit and the time they dedicated to your blog.

Then reciprocate! Comments are a two-way streets.

I reciprocate 99.9% of the comments I receive. I head over to the blogger’s site, read and share my thoughts.

This is the relationship-building part of blogging. It says, “I valued your visit and wanted to see what’s up at your house.” If I can, I learn the blogger’s name and reflect on something specific from the content. “Great post,” is fine, but it doesn’t invite conversation the same way as mentioning what was great.

Are there comments that will sabotage your efforts? Yes! Please don’t leave comments on anyone’s blog that say, “Follow me” or “Check out my blog” (or something similar). They come across as pushy, and I, for one, am likely to delete them. 

Some of the genuinely promising starts will fizzle, some will mosey along, and others will blast off with an instant connection. That’s okay; it how life works. Remember, the goal isn’t to amass tons of comments; it’s to end up with a collection of blogging friends that make this journey enjoyable.

And we all know that sometimes life gets in way, or our comments end up in spam. Or we get busy and need a break or for some personal reason just can’t respond or reciprocate. And that’s fine too. We’re not super-human beings. The great thing about building blogging relationships is that once in place, our online friends understand.

Keep in mind that there is tons of good content in blogland, and though quality is important, YOU are a huge part of what makes your blog stand out. Share yourself and invite others to come out and play.

That’s all there is to it.

Happy Blogging!

 

 

Bats in the Writer’s Belfry

pixabay

I have a three-season writing room. Four-season, if I light the wood stove and heat the place up. Finishing the roughed-in room over my husband’s workshop was one of the first projects I undertook when moving to the wilderness of Oregon.

Wilderness naturally entails a plentitude of wildlife, and my writing room has endured its share of feathered, winged, and furry visitors.

I love it when the hummingbirds fly in the window and hover over my head before zipping out again.

I didn’t even mind when the walls filled with wasps. The room vibrated with a soft hum while I sat peacefully among them and wrote. After two years of friendly buzzing around my head, they mysteriously moved out all on their own.

Then the bats moved in.

We are a bat-friendly household even though Nature Boy (aka the husband) has watched a few too many Dracula movies. He swears that “Batty” swoops at him as he runs the gauntlet from the door to the car every morning.

For two years, the bats and their buddies have been partying in my writing room, and it didn’t look like they intended to take a hint from the wasps and relocate any time soon. In fact, they were inviting their friends to take up residence. It was getting a little crowded, and though bat poop isn’t horrifyingly gross, it’s still gross.

So, a week ago, it was time for Batty and his buds to git.

The first task was to plug up their access to the room, which meant closing the gaps around the windows and doors, hauling the nail gun and compressor up there and securing the wooden slats on the ceiling. I knew where they were getting in because I could see the grubby mess left by their little hands and feet. Eeek.

Then I needed to find them. In US politics, you follow the money; when seeking bats, you follow the poop.

Photo by John Pearce via Flickr

I found two tiny fellows, no bigger than my thumb, hanging behind my picture frames.  I opened the door and windows, and fitted with gloves, nudged the little guys from their roosts. That probably wasn’t the best idea, because I found myself in a small room ducking and weaving as two bats flitted, swooped, and dove around my head.

The dummies had no idea where the windows and door were, and all three of us were in a bit of a panic. I considered running out of the room screaming, but I feared they’d simply find a new place to hide. And honestly, I’ve never been particularly scared of wild animals, so I stayed and encouraged them with a kind voice to scram!

Finally, Batty and his cousin flitted out the window and I slammed the thing shut quick!  After that, it was a matter of a deep clean, and my writing room is ready for the summer. It’s been a week and no new visitors… yet.

Bat Friendly Facts from the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and me:

  • Oregon’s bats do not turn into vampires.
  • They eat only insects. An adult bat eats about 1,000 insects every hour!
  • Bats hang upside down because it gives them an ideal position for take-off.
  • Bats can fly 20 to 30 miles an hour and travel more than 100 miles a night.
  • A baby bat is called a pup because it’s so cute and furry.
  • Bats are not birds.
  • They’re the only flying mammal.