Check out the spiffy new cover over on Amazon and Mundania Press! Whoo-hoo!!


I got another critique on my writing back from my live writers group. I wrote a flash piece that borders on erotica and has to do with Death and a borderline personality chick… I have had the widest range of feedback on this. A few people hate it, but none for the same reason, and quite a few people really like it or love it… none for the same reason.

I suppose I'm addicted to writing feedback. I've gotten to the point where I can sift through what is useful relatively well and take my punches… but I'm equally fascinated on how a story and its meaning changes based on the reader. I wrote in my own blog about considering demographics as a writer… but I want to add that writers should also listen to what different demographics think of a particular piece. One of the people who really hated "Manipulation," didn't get it at all… but she made some comments on sentence-level things that absolutely made sense.

The only truly useless critiques are those who say they love something and don't know why. Yeah, it's a great ego-boost… but its like a empty carbs. Sure you get a rush, but there's no nutritional gain.

When you write with another person, it also brings a different flavor - and a broader demographic on the composing in.

Chris and I were brought up with and follow different religions - so she noticed when I was overly Catholic-heavy in our novel planning. (On the other hand, I brought up a few things she didn't know as a non-Catholic.)

She also has family from a different ethnic background than I do, so she can draw on the Hawaiian/Japanese influences much better.

We also read different books and watch different movies, so our shared reading experience also makes for a richer background in storytelling.

Chris has kids; I work with horses. I grew up in New England, in a state where you can drive a few hours in any cardinal compass direction and be in another state (or the ocean); Chris lives in the west and grew up on the west coast… in huge states, with a different ocean, desert, and different mountains.

On the other hand, we're both Caucasian women of about the same age, in monogamous heterosexual relationships, working primarily in education, in approximately the same gross household income bracket, geeky sf/f/h/etc. lovers, cynics, with twisted senses of horror and beauty.

There are certain things we can be each other's critics for, and others we'll share the same blindness to… so, back to the critique/writing groups. J Our Shadow Guard/Fae Sithein world has had an overall strong response - and even fans! - but our writing has done an awful lot of growing - and continues to do so.
I'm curious at how far our shared experience and differences will get us in the overall quality of our latest endeavor. I look forward to it!

Our book had a face-lift :)

Our anthology was bought by a new publisher and is being prepped for resale. More info can be found at:

Anthology #1 in the series was also bought by the same publisher and will be re-launched as well.

Avoid the Roadblock of Writing

Although outlining is never fun, if you want a good story it needs to be mapped out first.
Laurell K Hamilton recently said, "Outlining is a necessary evil, and a thinking tool, but never a joy for me." Most writers just want to get to the writing while the story is vivid in their mind. When an idea hits, most authors can see how the story starts, maybe some middle scenes, and how it should end. But if they end up jumping head long into the writing, they can face a lot of obstacles.

Trish and I talked a lot about our first book before we started writing it. We chatted often through the Internet (IM and email) and the occasional phone call, but we didn't really put together any outline. I guess we figured that since we knew what direction everything should go, that we didn't need to outline it out. As we wrote, and since we didn't have a real solid plan, the hours we spent on many scenes ended up being a waste of time because they ultimately were cut from the final manuscript. We could have saved ourselves from the headache (of tossing out material and adding new) if we had simply took the time to lay the road.

So, in order to avoid the roadblock, we decided to take on our next project differently. Instead of writing the synopsis AFTER we wrote the story, we wrote the synopsis beforehand. Our next step was a Chapter Breakdown. In the breakdown, we wrote a three-five sentence synopsis of what will happen in each chapter. The next step is to begin the writing!!

Our plan this year is to try out the NaNoWriMo ( or National Novel Writing Month. Having deadlines is good for any writer to have. If you don't set limitations, goals, etc, the book will never be finished. If the goal is to write 10 pages a day or 28 hours a week, then things are bound to get done rather than saying to yourself, "Oh, I'll get to it eventually." If you use the later excuse, you are setting your book up for failure. NaNoWriMo is more like a commitment. You are to write a 50,000 word novel in the space of one month- November. This is great because it has a due date. And as I said, a writer DOES need a due date.

So- ask us Dec 1st if we're finished :). My hope is to give an affirmative yes!

It HAS been a while since either of us posted here. My!

I've been off conventioning… Christy has had a lot of family needs - both good and not-so-good.

We have been writing though. Life has not entirely beaten us down!

Christy sent me a working synopsis of our new novel - outside of the Shadow Guard/Fae Sithein realm. She sent it… almost a week ago. Maybe more than a week ago.

I started reading it daily. I know the first page by heart, mostly. (It's really poetic, too! Especially for a working synopsis!) I finally finished reading it today - but did not get to add any edits or comments.

Please don't kill me, Christy? J

I get off my tutoring hours at 9PM tomorrow. Christy, if you are online, you have permission - nay - I order/beg you to get out that whip!

Yay co-author motivation!

P.S. You can post here, too, Chris ;)

Allure of the Vampire

(Vampyre, Vampir, Upiór, Upir', Upyr)

In the wake of Twilight and its ongoing mania topped with True Blood as well as the push to re-vamp (pun intended) Anne Rice's vampire chronicles and Johnny Depp cast as the popular vampire, Barnabas, in Dark Shadows, the blood-sucking franchise is moving forward full steam ahead. People seem to lurk in the shadows, like the famous fanged ones, waiting to take a bite out of whatever form of media produces the next vampire story. But the question remains- why do people flock to see these leeches in action? Maybe it's their animal chemistry or maybe they've glamoured us with their magic. But the fact remains- people would bare their necks to anything vampire.

Vampires have been in the media for centuries. The first documented use of the word vampire was in 1047 AD when a Russian church priest cited his name as "Upir' Likhyi " or "the wicked vampire". In European countries around 1718, official city documents recorded the local practice of digging up bodies and "killing the vampires." But looking even deeper into history, we find vampirism as far back as Greek and Roman times where they documented creatures that had a lot of vampiric qualities, oft times depicted on pottery. Yet they did not bare the name "vampire" back then. The only term they could identify with such a creature was demon or devil. In India, it was the vetala, an evil spirit that entered the bodies of corpses. In Egypt, it was the goddess Sekhmet who is notorious for drinking blood. In Hebrew lore, there is Lilitu, (or Lilith), known as the night demon (sometimes taking on the form of a scops-owl) portrayed as a seductress who feasted on the blood of people. Despite a history rich in vampire accounts, nothing was more sensationalized than the "18th-Century Vampire Controversy" in Europe where superstition capitalized over rational thought. Hysteria prompted vampire hunts, accusations, and terror. Though, this panic has seemingly changed over the years.

Presently, vampires still steal the spotlight (or moonlight) though are treated in a much different way. Unlike in centuries past where the vampire was to be exterminated and feared, they seem to captivate and titillate the human psyche of today. Why the change? Perhaps it is what the vampire has come to represent in today's media: forbidden temptations. And, as we learned from Eve, something that is forbidden is very alluring. The bad boy/girl image has always fascinated people. We are drawn to them because these "rebels without a cause" represent the high stakes (no pun intended) danger, chaos, and darkness that we yearn to acknowledge yet keep shackled deep inside us. In an ethical, upright society, displaying anything that goes against the structure's mores or represents vice is considered uncouth and immoral. Yet vampires live their lives free of human structure and unreservedly tap into their darker side. We all harbor this darkness, but do not dare touch it or encourage it. The vampire encompasses forbidden pleasure, unfettered living, control, immortality, desirability, and usually extensive wealth. These are all things that we yearn to possess. So when they are all embodied in one being, that one being is ultimately attractive.

Christy was going to come visit and join me at Worldcon… but things happen out of anyone's controls.

We both traveled during this time; we both still had to pack and unpack.

My journey was much different. I shared a room with someone who has become a good friend, and a stranger who I'd like to become a good friend.

I met and hugged one of my heroes. He wished me luck in an endeavor that had me mentally and emotionally packing and unpacking a lot of baggage. Luck listened to one or both of us. Perhaps I can keep a few unwanted fears packed for longer now - because they never actually go away. You always need to change those suitcase locks, and the airport never loses those bags.

I packed and unpacked for the BIGGEST party I ever threw - or helped throw - bigger than my own wedding (but missing the most important part). People came looking for us; they talked about us in the halls and sought us out. Inanna packed most of those remnants, but a few tagged along home with me - along with a glow that went beyond the packs of Jell-o shots. And too many Styrofoam glasses.

When I packed to leave, I forgot and missed important things: My camera (I had to buy a disposable one to capture pictures, although grainy). My memory stick that had my academic paper and presentation on it. And my friend who packed for her own journey.

I packed and unpacked freedom and equality and support for women writers.

I packed and unpacked potential new friends' and colleagues' sacred names and calling cards.

I packed and unpacked enshrined memories to my Dad, to and from my family to wherever he is now. Like the pictures in my brain, the photos are fuzzy and not entirely clear and not an exact representation of the place or event - but still imprinted. And still beautiful.

The story draft I packed to leave is not the same one that I brought home. What I learned has changed the words and meaning forever. And they may change many times more.

The Hope I packed to leave was different than the Hope I unpacked upon my return.

Have you ever noticed that you what you pack and unpack at the beginning of your journey is never the same as what you pack and unpack at the end? What changed?

My husband and son went to Hawaii to be with family in order to take part in his grandpa's funeral. I took the opportunity to go visit my sister, mom, and grandparents as well as other extended family in the meantime, which proved to be a good get-a-way on my part. I haven't seen some of them in nearly 15-20 years.

Taking a trip somewhere, no matter how long you are gone, is always great. People need that break away from their day-to-day lives in order to function coherently. That's why weekends are so crucial in the working world. Without breaks away from it all, redundancy would be coupled with buckets of drool. But the strangest thing too, after being away from normalcy too long, you actually crave to get back to that very world you fought to get away from. We're all gluttons for punishment, yes.

Yet, when I returned from a trip to Washington, I think I had the worst nostalgia.

As I unpacked my bags and put things away, memories of the trip haunted me. Even though I was glad to be home and get back into my routine, I longed to be with those I left behind. I suppose that's what makes visiting people you haven't seen in a while so worthwhile.... and making it so hard to let go.

So, as I washed the last bit of Washington off the car and vacuumed away the last cheesy fish cracker from the floor, I packed away my precious memories.... in order to move on... and look forward to the next time I get to go.

It's been a while since either Chris or I posted... so here's a post as I procrastinate on my paper: details on my blog: or

Let's see if I write it like this if my picture formatting issues are easier. - Let's see if blogger will let me put my pictures where I want: - Obviously not... and it won't let me do a strike through either. Above pictures are of a crazy writer's desk when she's under deadline and has been for a while...
Back to work....

Here's my intro letter to Christy's & my newsletter... it's mostly a blog post. :) Anyway, if you want to get our newsletter in your e-mail, let me know. :) trish@anovelfriend.comIt actually comes from my MA Horse e-mail... because I can't figure out how to adjust Outlook. Yes, I'm techno-useless sometimes.Anyway:
I don't have a time machine.

It was a mixed feeling to get an e-mail from one particular fan of the Shadow Guard asking about our newsletter. First of all - THRILLED - Someone besides good friends and family is following us closely enough to want to know if they missed something! Second - GUILTY - I totally dropped the ball on this one.

Anyway, not to cop out or anything, but I'd like to share some news about what's been going on in our lives, writing-wise. J

First, we sent out 21 queries… and promptly revised our query letter. We now have a request for a partial MS! Yay! But, while we use - ahem, sorry, Chris uses, which is great for organizing, but still it's a good deal of work - especially when we go back and revise.

Speaking of revising: 8 drafts (mostly between the two of us, only 2 or 3 with Danielle) of "Last Gate to Faerie" and our short piece has moved onto the other editors for the Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory. Please, dear friends, family, & fans - keep your fingers crossed!

On my side of the U.S., I've also been elected onto the Motherboard of Broad Universe! Squee! J I have done a lot of work with the group - all of which I do love - in organizing Mailing Parties and quite a few Rapid Fire Readings (RFRs), and it's these things I'm now "officially" in charge of. Quite happy! Speaking of which, check out the "Find Us!" section… Worldcon & Dragon*Con baby!!! Woo00oot!!! I'll be running RFRs at both - and let me say, I am especially pleased to be at Dragon*Con in this role. I've been going to Dragon*Con since 2002 - and the Dragon*Con experience has probably had the most impact on me becoming a professional writer than just about anything (besides my husband's patience and support. J ). Organizing and preparing for all of these has eaten an awful lot of my time and is a good reason why our Newsletter is so durned late. There's also been Balticon, Readercon, the Blogathon, the Bay State Equine Rescue Clinic, and a fight with a certain company that will go unnamed until about August 14th if I don't receive my substantial pay from them.

On Chris's side of the country, she's had a new addition to the family, an important loss, and several other major Real Life events. Unlike me, she is a much better blogger, and you can see those stories in her words at her own blog.

Oh - and #deadlinefail to Aimee... or @TokyoWriter for twitterpeeps... It's now 2:10AM and I EXTENSIVELY underestimated how much time getting the newsletter out would take. Have I gotten done a draft of my Gaiman essay that I can get to you?

Give me a Y chromosome and a bathroom to remodel... I can finish that before you're back from convention, dear.


When I mention I co-write, other writers often reply, “How can you do that? I can’t imagine working with another person.”

Having been a gamer longer than not, and having had so much success in collaborative tutoring, I can’t imagine how one might find that so unimaginable.

Granted, as I type this, Christy and I are having one of those classic moments in any collaboration: haggling over a single line.

It’s not even a key line to plot, though it shows a lot of character – and it’s in response to our editor’s comment.

It’s still just a single sentence. A short one.

Whatever we come up with, though, I’m quite sure it will be better for our haggling – despite what is likely clenched teeth and aggravation on both sides.

There’s always a lot of give and take when you work with another person, and it can be very hard when it comes to creativity because writers truly do get tied to their words. Criticism is hard; it’s even harder when it’s from someone you respect and care about – and who you work with almost daily.

I suppose I can understand where others might come from. In addition to the ownership of words so many writers feel, it’s also difficult to compromise. So often, compromise is used to suggest less quality or a less than desired outcome – especially in our self-oriented culture. “I don’t want to compromise the integrity of… what _I_ created.”

On the other hand, writers are probably the worst judges of themselves. We fly back and forth in extremes: “I am writing the words of God, himself!” or “God, I suck! Who would EVER want to read this utter crap?!” A partner – a good one, and I do know I have a good one – grounds us, keeps us from these extremes, gives another set of eyes – and can balance us out. “We can do better. Let’s try…” Or, “That’s really not that bad!”

If you share a common vision, and a common goal of the highest quality writing, a partner truly enhances not only the final product of writing, but the writing process. It’s a person to talk to, bounce ideas off of in what has become thought of as a solitary profession: writing. A partner helps keep the balance between needed sanity and desired insanity/passion that a writer wants.

Working with a partner, even on a small project like a short story, is something writers should try at least once. Make sure it’s someone you trust and someone who’s writing you like. You’ll find yourself thinking in new ways. If you find you don’t like it once the project is done, don’t do it again. But at least give it a one-time shot; you might be surprised!

And we’ve now agreed on a line.
Teaser for the story we’re submitting to Bad-Ass Faeries 3: In All Their Glory:

“The beginnings of a panic attack stole her breath and swelled pain across her chest.”

Hope our editor likes it as much as we do!

One of my favorite stories growing up was Peter Pan. I remember thumbing through the kids books at my Grandma Wanden's house in search of the fairy-tale each time I went to visit her. Although graphics and color always attract a child to a book, I think it was more than that for me. Sure, the pictures were intriguing, but it was the story that held my interest… the story of adventure on a make-believe island with a peculiar boy and his faerie friend.

Peter Pan is still a magical tale even now. When the movie came out-in 2001 I think- I was excited to see it. It follows the real tale a little better than the Disney version even though it does make some creative alterations. But it was when I watched this show that my analytical eye went to work. I started to see how things connect, at least in my investigative perception, and noted symbolism that I hadn't realized was there before. It made me delve into research about the tale- to see what others thought about it. It wasn't until I had a discussion with my sister-in-law, Omi, when I thought that maybe I was making some sense with what I saw.

A thing that stood out was the connection Peter Pan had to Neverland. When he was gone, the world went into a sort of hibernation. When he was sad or tormented, the weather changed into billowing black clouds and storm. The author, Barrie, states that the although Never Land appears different to every child, the island 'wakes up' when Peter returns from his trip to London. So that made me think- how was Peter and Neverland connected like that? After all, he was just like the Lost Boys… he came there from the normal world like everyone else. The only thing different between he and his little followers was that Tinkerbell befriended him and the others believed he was their leader.

Researchers believe that the Peter Pan tale is a Totenkindergeschichte which is a German term for “tales of the death of children.” In the classic Peter and Wendy, Barrie states that the Peter Pan tale Mrs. Darling heard as a child was that when children died, Peter would accompany them part of the way to their destination so that they wouldn't be scared. Why would Peter Pan be a tale of death? Is Neverland where Lost Souls go to rather than Lost Boys? Did those souls follow Peter to Neverland rather than continue on to Heaven? If this is so, then is Neverland a sort of limbo?

Peter Pan is the epitome of being a kid- goofing off and laughing in the face of danger. He battles Captain Hook who is the very essence of adulthood. Of course kids these days want to be an adult because they think it's fun. But when they reach a certain age, the come to the realization that it was great fun being a kid and often want to return to the 'easier days'. Peter, on the brink of change himself, is constantly in combat with the roguish captain- battling age.

There are many more things in Peter Pan that raise an eyebrow but this is what makes it a great story. Aside from all the hidden messages, the great adventure of going to an imaginative world to see mermaids, Indians and pirates can't go wrong. It's Faeries, Ariel and Captain Jack Sparrow all wrapped in one-- how could this not be good?

I just finished writing the article for Christy's & my newsletter. In it, I referenced one of my favorite lessons - one that most of us should remember.

I apply it to writing and life, but it originates in a horse clinic done by Karen Scholl at the West Springfield, MA Equine Affaire.

You get do-overs.

Life really sucks sometimes. Family members get sick, friends have crises, organizations and causes need your support, YOU get sick, you feel overwhelmed, a company has not paid you all year and you're debating sending them a letter demanding your $3000+ dollars, you want to just stay in bed...

And sometimes this goes on, one thing after another, for a long time.

I fell of my own blog, dropped the ball on some fundraising, and have hardly written any fiction save stuff I'm working with other people on - because I feel accountable to these friends and colleagues. But, even stuff I feel accountable for, like critiques and aforementioned fundraising, well, some of that fell by the wayside too.

What is there for me to do?

All I can do is start over.

It sounds so easy, but it's not. It feels like a lot; I feel ashamed for not being superwoman. Not only that, I can rationalize and say, "Well, look what I did do! I certainly haven't been doing nothing!"

Perhaps I do need to reprioritize and remember I'm not in college anymore; I may be getting old.

Perhaps my do-over must start with giving myself a manageable work load.

But right now, right now, I need to start over and get a LOT of things done.

Being paralyzed and flustered by my failure isn't getting me anywhere.

I have to start over. I am ALLOWED to start over. I CAN start over.

And next month, when I've done everything I can and pulled through, and the month after that... and probably around mid-September, when I don't have a calendar bursting at the seems and am probably recuperating from working myself sick once more, I can start over again.

And, when I start over, I am wiser from my experience that caused me to start over; I can take my lessons and start over even better. Until I get it right and don't need to start over again.

At least for a little while.

This option is open for anyone. Give yourself permission to start over, and do so.

I recently have researched runes to get a better understanding of them for possible use in future novels. I had believed they were somewhat like the tarot card wherein they could be used in divination. Often I would read in old texts about someone throwing the bones or drawing lots to discern fate and had assumed the items were something with runes etched on them. But there is a lot more history to the runic symbols than that.

It is said that runes were actually the European alphabet up until 700 AD when Christianity dubbed Latin as the new alphabet. But the use of runes still prevailed in some countries until well into the 1200s. Although it is uncertain where the alphabet stated, it is thought to believe the word "rune" is from the Gothic word runa- meaning secret. This struck an interesting cord with me because during this time, people were forced into Christianity and would be scrutinized for being anything less. If someone wanted to use the runes - and hold onto their old beliefs-- it would have to be done in secret to escape persecution. So- did the creation of the word/name "rune" come after the fact?

Aside from being merely an "alphabet" or means of communication, it is said that runes were used for magical purposes- or charms. An amulet would be forged with the runic language inscribed on it and therefore bear whatever properties it was instilled with. But is this any different than having a magical trinket made with Latin or Greek lettering? What would make the runic charm any more mysterious or enchanted? So did this mean that runes were more than a means of writing but perhaps set aside as something holy or magical? And if the name rune -or runa- meant something hidden or secret, could this mean that only certain people could use them? Were the runic symbols set aside for a more privileged group of people?

The ancient language is still a mystery, but it is clearly believed to have been something unique.

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."

Eleanor Roosevelt

"Don't be afraid to go out on a limb. That's where the fruit is."

Jackson Browne

Today I took my little man to the dentist. He had been there last week to get a cleaning and exam which led to today's visit of actual dental work. When we walked to the car, I told him where we were going. He smiled and said, "Yay!" I looked at him like he was crazy. But it made me think. Why do most people cringe at the thought of going to the dentist? What is it that they fear and why do they begrudge making appointments?

I had a talk with my sister about this account and she said she even has small panic attacks on her way to the dentist. Again, I was wondering what was so awful. Sure, it is unpleasant having someone stick things in your mouth and even some of the dental products they use are less than tasteful. And of course, there is the ever so wonderful dental bill. But we eventually have to endure it-- so why not just get it over with?

Or is there a deeper problem harbored here?

How stifling is fear?

My four-year-old had no fear despite his older siblings telling him that the dentist would "put shots in all his teeth". He sat in the chair like a little trooper and didn't squirm or cry when he received his shot or when the drilling started. Why not?

Fear is berthed from guilt, inadequacy, shame and various other feelings. A child doesn't have a lifetime of these emotions to spoil their confidence. Therefore they seem quite fearless. But children are impressionable. They become scared not because they are scared but because they are taught to be scared. As an adult, we often ask ourselves why we didn’t do this or that, why didn’t we simply go for "it". It may be due to the fact that sometime in our childhood, something influenced us in a negative way, embedding some sort of fear in our subconscious.

Fear will drain you emotionally and therefore take its toll physically. Fear suffocates progress. So how does one suffocate fear? First, you need to identify what it is you fear and acknowledge it instead of hide from it. If you allow fear to rule you, you will always be its prisoner. One can never rise above fear being chained to it. These are not the natural fears I am talking about, but rather the irrational-- like inadequacy, undue illness, abandonment, financial ruin, etc. One needs to first look at that fear in face-- acknowledge that this could happen, or perhaps is happening, and move on. Don't let the fear of possible outcomes keep you stagnant. I do think my son had some anxiety about going in to the dentist. He asked me on the car ride over about the all the shots in his mouth. By asking questions, he was acknowledging his fear and trying to understand it. I told him it was only one shot and it would be ok, that in the end it was to help his teeth become stronger. That short explanation happened to be enough for him.

"Eliminating the cause of fear has only one solution. To go deep within and dismantle the false self, the ego self that entraps us in self-centered fear-generating ways of being. Watch for the seed of a growing anxiety, pull the weed out before it becomes a thriving parasite and numbs you of life. Joy is life's nourishment, fear is starvation. Fear is the opposite of belief. Fear denies faith. What have you to be afraid of if you believe that you are here on a purpose? Is there a school board without an exam? Can there be a life without struggle? No. All difficulties are tests set to strengthen us, not overcome us. If you are not careful, fear will keep you rooted…"

-Lalitha Sridhar

"Any time you catch yourself paralyzed by fear - in a word, victimized - ask yourself, "What am I getting out of this?" Your first temptation will be to answer, 'Nothing.' But go a little deeper and you'll see why people find it easier to be victims than to take strong stances of their own, to pull their own strings. It's the way of the smaller self to wallow in littleness, to avoid risks, and here we aren't talking about risks like dodging a bullet in Iraq, but confronting an innate fear of say, deep-seated jealousy. It's these fears, which keep you immobile and weak, clutching at non-essentials, thrashing about with no place to escape. Where can you go leaving your self behind?"

-Wayne W. Dyer

Let my first post on our co-blog be one of celebration!


And many, many happy returns to you - and many more birthdays. :)


your co-author Trish

Although my favorite season is the Fall, I do have some love for Summer. When Summer comes, that means I can sit back and relax-- the perks of being a teacher. I hear, at times, the envious snark from people that it's not fair that I have the summer off. If they were a teacher, they wouldn't be so quick to judge. They'd know teachers earned EVERY second of a vacation.

Vacation means I get to spend time with the kids and get things done that have been put off all year because I had no time or energy to give any attention to it. I do have a list of things to accomplish, and it is my goal to accomplish them, and it feels good to have the time to do it. The only sad thing to see is the days ticking by too fast.

With the warmer temps, and the kids out of school, there are a lot of things to enjoy. We recently visited a park over the weekend. After a BBQ, we took the kids to the lake nearby to fish. My son caught a rainbow trout and was very proud. My daughter had a little less luck.

We love to go camping too and hope to schedule that in sometime too. On Memorial Day, we went to my dad's property in Idaho and camped a few days there. It was interesting... we even had a coyote visitor. It was a little crazy to have something out in the dark watching us.

What I really want to try out is a coast to coast road trip. I think visiting the awesome sites of America in a caravan would be great fun. Driving is exhausting and a huge money-suck if its for gas and hotel fees....

but what an adventure!

Michael Jackson was about as big as they come. He had a huge fan base, and who wouldn't if they started at age 5 and kept on going? He wasn't just America's pop icon, he was an icon around the entire world. And even though he had a tough life in the media these last few years, he was still loved by kazillions of people.

When I heard a girl crying over Michael's death yesterday, I was taken back. It made me realize that even though he inherited the "creepy dude" factor by a lot of people due to allegations of child abuse, that people were still fans. I loved Michael in his prime-- I think most everyone my age did. Even in Elementary School, kids would pretend to be him by wearing a glove on one hand and calling their girlfriends "Brooke Shields". But I guess I have fallen out of love with the man because even though his death was a shock, I wasn't dripping in tears.

The media is hammering the whole thing to death-per usual. And the public eats up every word, so the media is definitely catering to an eager audience. Many people shake their heads at the media for their intrusions but then are all desperate to hear what they've got to say. Doesn't scale right.

But since there is a lot of coverage, and there will be much more coverage (I am expecting the TV stations to be tuning in to his funeral), and his fan base is still gi-normus, I predict Michael Jackson will be our generation's Elvis.

Watch out for those future tabloids to print "MJ SIGHTINGS" !!!! and move over Graceland... the pilgrimage route is changing to NEVERLAND.

While Trish and I were writing a short story, I researched the concept of Ley Lines. It was a component we wanted to add and I had heard about them but honestly hadn't really known much about them.

An archaeologist by the name of Alfred Watkins publicized the theory in the 1920s. As I researched further, it is believed that people knew about it well before Watkins.

What are ley lines? It is a fantastic theory!

While Watkins was riding in the hills, he looked back down into the valley and noticed the footpaths were perfectly lined in the valley below. This struck him as odd. He then looked at a map and noticed a lot of the same.

Though he did not see them as supernatural in any way, he did note that these lines did exist and that it was odd that people would create roads and paths following a certain direction, and headed to specific destinations.

But other people did see them as more than lines... that they were indeed supernatural.

It is said too that ley lines and their center points (where the ley lines converge into a crossroads or spoke wheel-like visual) are believed to have mystical energy or power, if you will. This unseen power draws people to them... which would create these perfect paths to the center of the ley crossing(s). It is said too that it attracts UFOs... that a lot of UFO sightings are at these epicenters of ley lines. What power would draw E.T.? Perhaps the belief that ley lines have electrical or magnetic forces associated with them.

For centuries, people have believed in them. There are epicenters, or power centers (where a lot of ley lines cross), at places around the world known to have had odd occurrences (alien fly-bys; people gone missing) or ancient monuments. Some of these places include: Arizona, Bermuda Triangle, Pyramids, Stonehenge and many more.

This is something that is truly fascinating! It was fun to add it to the story, if only in minute places. But I had the opportunity to learn about something new and interesting.

Waking up sick sucks-- especially when I had a lot planned to do. The motivation is lost; illness drains me into incoherency. Boo! The drop in productivity is almost as bad as when the muse is on vacation. But what sucks even more is that the muse seems to be in full drive, but my body says I need a nap. I cannot win!

It is crazy though- whenever any one gets sick around here, they are instantly worrying that they have the Swine Flu. Such a crazy scare. But it is very real- A student in my class had the Swine Flu and stayed home the last week of school. On the last day of school I was starting to get sick in my respiratory system so I was freaking out... it could have been a really bad cold- then again, perhaps no. My brother-in-law got it too-- he had pneumonia which bloomed into piggy flu. He thinks he contracted it from someone at his family reunion. So-- it is all around.

I've heard people say it's just like any other flu. We'll see.

But I am sick of being sick.

How to invigorate the muse? That is the universal question. How can an author break out of the "writer's block" slump!

It is odd that some days I can write without distraction yet on other days, it is a struggle to just get down one sentence. The idea is there, always mingling in the air above me. I know what I want to write and how I want to write it. But the blank page just stares at me- the evil cursor blinking as if taunting me.

It would be sad if the muse has frailties such as ADD. But alas, I think this is the case.

It's like in that new Pixar cartoon "Up"... There are dogs in the show that can communicate with humans by means of a collar. So, while having a conversation with someone, they "think" they see a squirrel and suddenly just stop mid-sentence in order to seek out the furry animal. Very hilarious.

But the attention span is sooooo true of me sometimes. Have to write a scene... wait-- gotta do this, gotta listen to that, who do I need to call. Blah! Focus!

My best mode of focusing is to remove stimuli. I can listen to the radio- that doesn't distract me. But usually I need to be in a separate room than everyone else- be by my lonesome.

It's important to keep the butt planted. There are too many reasons to leave the seat. Strap yourself there if need be. Maybe it will keep the Muse strapped there too!

The seven-year-itch is so tempting to scratch.

Of course, I am speaking in terms of the literary world- and authors in particular. It's that insatiable urge to toss your current project aside in favor of the new, interesting tale brewing inside your head. It's always a good idea to write those ideas down and get back to work but when the characters start to haunt you where ever you go- seduce you into their tale while you're in the shower or buying cereal at the store, your resolve is tested! It is a great time to fill the idea files, but it would be great if those ideas just STAYED there until they were called upon to be finished. But no... not so easy.

I feel like the Godfather when it comes to new characters: "I have a sentimental weakness for my children and I spoil them, as you can see. They talk when they should be listening."

About Us

We have a diverse, combined writing experience. I am a middle school English teacher and an administrator and co-administrator for various writing groups. Trisha is a freelance writer, editor, and online educator whose fiction appears in FANTASY GAZETTEER. Together we co-authored "Party Crashers” for the EPPIE award winning anthology BAD ASS FAERIES 2: JUST PLAIN BAD.