Category Archives: Current Projects


Believe it or not, my husband has always accused me of doing this, thinking too much. I have trouble falling asleep because my mind just keeps churning. Reading helps, but not when I find a really good novel to read, then I’m awake even longer trying to finish it.

Found this article very thought provoking, because I wrote last week about judging myself. It is something we all do more and more these days. With social media often our only social input, it is hard not to be confused by it all. See a lot of bullying and hate in what flows past in the polluted streams. Shame, but everyone seems much more judgmental than in the past, of ourselves and of others.


On Twitter and Facebook, I saw followers praising and ranting about President’s new orders. Also in my feed, were well written articles stating diametrically opposed reports.

One argued security feeds have reported increased risks, these were countries previously targeted by last President as security risks, and last President had a six month’s ban earlier in his administration against a Muslim country without a single protest.

Other article stated undeniably that there had been no Islamic attacks in U.S. in the last ten years. Called this President racist, anti-Muslim, and a hater.

Not sure if the truth can be published any more, or if there is anyone willing merely to state objective facts without telling us what they mean and how we are expected to feel about them. The already prejudiced viewpoint of the reporter seems to color all they report. Last year’s divisive election year rhetoric has not died down.

Would like to read the facts and truth – like the good old days. I’m pretty sure we had a Boston Marathon bombing, a terror attack on a dance club for the LBGT, and a recent attack at a Florida airport. Sure there are many I can’t remember. Think each of the attackers announced the attacks were for Allah. But maybe that wasn’t Islamic extremists, maybe immigrants given citizenship so no longer citizens from these countries, or all may have been attacks by radicalized Americans.

My memory is not as good as it used to be, so I’d like to read a list, a report, some facts. I miss the integrity of the fourth estate and objective reporting. I’ve always loved reading, taking in a string of facts, and developing my own opinion. I no longer get a major newspaper, or a local one, had little but a reprint of Internet news and police reports of local crimes. Read my news online from three or four networks and social feeds these days, because the television sources seem far too biased for me.

But now, a good liar can write and post anything they want on the Internet, and fake news looks like real news and I can’t even tell the difference. They all read like fiction to me.


So late at night, when I should be sleeping, my brain that craves answers and logic churns. thfr3g3qhcImage of art by Alex Grey

Making it hard to slip back to 1861 in my novel. Did sketch out the contents for the first two chapters. Of course, am blogging late. Will try to catch up on the posts tomorrow. When maybe all the news, will be good news.

Peace to all and keep smiling. Always found when I smile, I actually feel happier. Think brain scientists have now proved it to be true.







Busy working out some details for my next Civil War Wives story, now that the first is due to be released in a day.

Always start with images. Know my girl will be one of the thousands of Irish immigrants running from poverty to opportunity in America. It opens in 1861, the year the war begins and unfortunately she meets her true love on the boat from Ireland. Brendan Conner is more than a charmer and has already plotted his destiny upon landing, but he can’t resist sweet Erin Quinn and doesn’t see any reason he should.

Almost as soon as they arrive, he is swept away in the fever of the emerging war and joins old friends to enlist in the Union cause under the charismatic Thomas Meagher. He is excited to be part of the fighting Irish of the 69th. She of course is terrified. Although her sister has sent the ticket and she promised to join her in the linen mills to work and repay her, her heart is breaking that he will be thrown in harms way so soon. Unwilling to be separated, she comes up with a daring plan to enlist too.

My great niece sent me an article last year about the many women who fought disguised as men during the war and I have been excited to write a story about one ever since.

Sorry about not posting a blog yesterday, will try for two tomorrow.



So I sit, spinning stories in my head. Gathering more silk for my web by  busily researching history, which I love to read and study. There are diaries and accounts that document people’s lives, both the immigrants, and those who fought in the war. It is easy to get lost in the beauty and horror of imagining the circumstances of their lives. War is a tragic world in which so many young flowers bloomed only to die on blood soaked fields for causes that most little understood or truly believed in.

Not sure when I’ll ever get into the writing but need to start soon or I’ll never be done. Wish reading and noodling wasn’t always the fun part. Names, places, dates will change, but some scenes or elements are already vivid in my mind and probably won’t change. Others I won’t know about until I write the story. Exciting, fun part of writing is when all I’ve planned starts to change as the characters come to life and take over the book.abrahams

Found another useful article or checklist, this by Erik Bork, an outstanding Emmy winning screenwriter for HBO.



shenandoah-valley1Have been lost in this brutal war too long. Can’t help comparing it to the current division being whipped up between Americans by the media. If they would stop their twenty-four hour a day rants, would there be so many people marching on what is usually a day of celebration for the inauguration of a new President? Not sure, since it has been the most polarizing election in recent history. Still, disturbing to see so many demonstrating and a shame about elected officials not showing up. Embarrassed for them and for our nation.

The last time our nation was so divided was when the country split over the issue of slavery, with the Democratic states refusing to give up, crying state’s rights, and the northern Republicans demanding the end to slavery. They had all been stirred to passionate positions by a sentimental novel written by a school teacher and staunch abolitionist, named Harriet Beecher Stowe.

The statistics listed on Wikipedia are extraordinary for this little book.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible.  In the first year after it was published, 300,000 copies of the book were sold in the United States; one million copies in Great Britain. In 1855, three years after it was published, it was called “the most popular novel of our day.”The impact attributed to the book is great, reinforced by a story that when Abraham Lincoln met Stowe at the start of the Civil War, Lincoln declared, “So this is the little lady who started this great war.”


The President and his family in front of the Lincoln Memorial made this moment in history a little more poignant. A man who has been married to two immigrants, whose children are first generation children of an immigrant. Toby Keith and Americans singing patriotic songs and watching magnificent fireworks were powerful and inspiring images.

Writing about politics is dangerous. Don’t wish to offend anyone.  But protestors are passionate too, stirred up about issues that began as Tweets but have emerged like vultures to rip at out unity and peace. Such ardent passions stirred are not so quickly diffused.


Fires Down the Shenandoah, Joanna of Virginia is the first book in my new Civil War Wives Series. Like most of my other books, it will look at the lives and struggles of young women in a simpler but harsher world.

The stories focus on the effect of the war on women and the men they love. Casualties during the dreadful Civil War, were over 1.5 million, more than all other American conflicts combined. Over 620,000 were killed on the battlefields, 476,000 wounded, and over 400,000 captured or missing. Many more lives were destroyed as families lost their lands, livelihood, and hundreds of thousands of Americans descended into poverty.

Writing about, living in the war-torn nation has been difficult. Part of creating fiction, but it was so terrible. It’s a shame, that a few politicians and their allies would want to divide Americans again. I’m praying that Trump means what he says about unifying the country, but it is looking like a heck of a job. This election has been horrendous and rending. When it ended, I expected the hate-filled rhetoric to stop. It seems to be amplified.

It is important for writers – whether in the press, on the news, on comedy shows, talk shows, or merely tweeting or posting on Facebook to remember.



Love holidays. My husband and I were recalling valentine’s day the other day. Looking at all the cards that were fancy and pricey, and remembering the little one’s you punched out and sent to your classmates. Most were silly or funny, with little skunks with red bows offering kisses, or boys holding a box of candy behind one hand and a frog in the other. Well, maybe I don’t remember either.

But all the holidays were always celebrated at school, with a week before making signs and decorations or drawing a picture on the chalk-board. Had a school party and treats. Everything revolved around what we would do on that day to celebrate.  Hope they still do the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, etc. party things. Some of you teachers tell me it’s so. Hope they don’t celebrate all the holidays by getting out of school.



Adopting the tactics of nonviolent protest, this charismatic man led to tremendous social change in the Civil Rights Movement, just as Mahatma Gandhi created change for India with nonviolent civil disobedience. He definitely deserves to be remembered and honored. Not seeing that in all his followers this week and it’s a shame. Wonderful to credit love, respect, and kindness to bringing positive changes for all.


Ready to post book on Amazon, I thought, then last night I started thinking about a couple of sections, so rewrote those today. Also rewrote my back copy. Here is what I have now.


Rewrote copy, yet again and playing with another title. Would love some feedback.


I’m considering giving up television completely. We got our first set when I was five. I can remember all of kids sitting there watching that test-pattern with the Indian head, waiting for there to be television. Pinky Lee, then later Soupy Sales. I mean bad television, but it was so exciting to be able to turn it on and watch. Weekends there were old westerns, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, or sometimes Hop Along Cassidy. If it was a drama, Mom would yell turn it off and rest the tubes. If they got over-heated, we’d be sorry. At night, we always watched the news, the man with the watch that kept on ticking, Edward R. Murrow. Then some kind of variety show, Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour or Milton Berle, or Jack Benny. About an hour in the morning, the same at night.

I miss watching television, have always loved movies, and reading magazines. But this relentless torrent of hate just seems to color everything, even Facebook and Twitter.

Thought when the election was over, some of the unrelenting hate speech would stop. But I’ve never in my life seen so much bullying and name calling. Whether you voted for him or not, this media assault is unprecedented. Praying for new President, our nation, and all of you.  Let us follow MLK’s example and come together peacefully. God bless, and good night.




Had intended to finish the edits by tomorrow. One of our local writers’ groups, Foxleaf, meets there in the afternoon. The group is focused on writing for publication and I should have a story written for their new anthology, but I’ve been writing on my book instead. Last year I tried multi-tasking, writing one story, while editing another. My mind is not compartmentalized enough for that. Have enough trouble just finishing up and then shifting gears to edit mode. Thank heavens there is the Saturday writer’s group, CCWA, by which time I hope to have this book in shape to present to first readers.

Anyway, I wasted the day by watching old movies, love AMC and TCM, and working on a 1500 page puzzle my daughter got down at Christmas. I had suggested we could work on one of the 500 piece ones with the grandkids, but of course, they wanted a challenge. It’s been sitting there all week, even as we’ve taken down the trees and Christmas decorations to store. When I go downstairs to settle and watch game shows, I see it and it drives me crazy. When they were here, I sorted the pieces and found all the edges while they put the border together. Of course I turned all the pieces face up as I sorted. After I picked out all the light green ones, my son managed two or three little patches, and then my grandson’s rooted through the rest of the pieces.

Anyway, the puzzle is all sorted and about a third of the way done. Will have to avoid the room to not waste more time on it. But retirement is not about firm schedules and reporting to work and I told myself I could just piddle with it a little this morning. Big mistake.

Staying Focused

As before, I started this blog challenge about twenty minutes ago. No hope finishing before midnight but at least I won’t be a day behind, hopefully just an hour or few minutes late when I add it. It’s called ‘My 500 words’ challenge, so I don’t have to post on this webpage, but plan to use it that way.

Found a really wonderful video ( to help my clamoring mind block out the extraneous things that are always twirling around in my noggin. It’s just the ocean, the lovely sound of waves coming in and crashing, again and again. Love it. Managed seven chapters edited, with big sections of rewrites, and two name changes for minor characters. Will finish another three chapters at least before heading to bed.


Mentioned yesterday that I was thinking about the next book(s) as I edit the current one. Thought you might find the Snyder, Save the Cat worksheet useful. Although a script is only 120 pages or less, one can multiply the page number by three and kind of figure out where major plot points should fall in your novel. I don’t write that way, would never hit the right page anyway. But it is useful in planning some hinge moments or pivotal events that a good story needs in order to satisfy the reader. Happy writing.





Reached The End – now to begin the real work

Love writing anything new. Always surprised by the twists and turns in the story. This time, with Joanna, of Virginia, the first book in my new Civil War Wives Series, there were a number of things that affected the story and its outcome. So, today I am reading through, making my first corrections after rewriting the last third of the novel. I am looking for inconsistencies, story turning points, whether this scene is strong enough or should I replace it with something better. For the goal in writing a book is to get an idea from your head into some form where you can share it and the other person, the reader, gets it. They understand the journey of your characters and how it has impacted their lives and what it all means.

It is the longest session in the edit for me because I am pruning away words here, adding a sentence or paragraph there to illustrate and clarify the meaning I intended to create.

Honestly, I think I have twenty books locked in old non-working computers because I used to hate editing so much. It seemed like however the story arrived, my first vision of it and the words I used, were the true story and it was all unchangeable. If you take out a character, or add an event, the rest of the story is changed, I felt destroyed. It’s like playing that game Jinga, where you have a tower of logs and you try to take them out one at a time without it all falling apart. Well, we have a glass-topped coffee table and I was never good at playing that game either. Noisy game when you play badly.

Now, I see it as just another step in the long line of editing changes needed to polish and perfect a story. And the scary part is, I think I like it.


First of the year and I am hoping to write more this year than last, so I am also noodling stories in my head that I need to write. Need a circus story for an anthology in a local group, still a non-starter on that one. Beating out a fourth novel in last years series, the Mountain Wives, trying to lay out the scenes and events that happen to Cicily and Asa. Need another entry, soon, for the Patterson co-author contest.

Still muddling about a project I’m calling Scattered Seeds and at the back of my mind I have an apocalyptic novel brewing – I know, not the genre I normally write, but the world seems so real and is begging to be written.


I really felt I made a break through in writing when I took a year or two to study screenwriting and write a half dozen scripts. It feels totally different than the act of writing a novel, but it is a great way to see the bare bones of the story and its structure. It doesn’t matter if you follow Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat, or Chris Soth’s Mini Movie Method, or the traditional three or four act structure, it is a great way to outline a complete story.

One of the members of CCWA loves mind-mapping. I’ve tried it a couple of times, but since I can barely read my handwriting these days, it doesn’t do me a lot of good. Messy, but a nice free-range way to plot.

Love to hear how you approach editing or planning your next project. Please share.



Behind on Blogs

I’m at least four blogs behind and saw this word/photo challenge, These little blogs will be short and random, but most of mine are like that anyway.

Define the word elusive.

First kisses are like that.

Maybe a brother falling in love with his new baby sister on first sight,


Or two friends who like each other so much they exchange that first real boy/girl kiss.


My first thought was of that magical moment when you fall totally in love forever. Like a boy and girl at the end of the perfect date, when they really look at each other for the first time, seeing all the way to the core of that other’s being and know, they don’t want to live without this feeling of love. Which always leads to their first kiss.


All these feelings are elusive – hard to recapture. Like the perfect image of the ever more elusive butterfly – landing on the right flower. If we don’t see, snap, and save them, are they lost forever? I say no, they are always there as teasing, elusive memories.







Knitting Argyle Socks

I’ve always had restless hands and a busy mind. When I was younger and first married, I loved crafts, especially knitting and crocheting. It seemed the harder the pattern, the more challenging the stitch, the more I enjoyed trying to make something. Other than a few sweaters, a shawl, baby caps and booties, and several baby blankets, I never did that much knitting. Crochet is faster and far easier.

The hardest successful piece was a sweater for my new husband with lots of cabling in the front and back that required the use of little short needles and then a circular one to form the neckline. Forty-seven years is a long time ago and I doubt that I could even knit and purl a row these days, but it was fun then.

I even tried to knit a pair of argyle socks, not as colorful or elaborate as Mr. Louis Armstrong’s above, but they were ambitious. I ended up with a lot of colorful threads that always wanted to tangle and snarl, and discarded the project about a third of the way up one sock out of frustration. There was little chance they would have fit any better than my husband’s burgundy sweater did, anyway.

What does that have to do with writing?

Plot Lines in a Series

I started writing tonight (only 333 words) and had the scene in mind to write. But then I had to check the first two books in the series since it felt like I might have written and included it in one of them already. I had. I didn’t want to duplicate the scene, even though it would be from Charlotte’s viewpoint in Wild Violets, instead of Jeanne’s in Widow Mouse.

I made the mistake of doing that in my  first series. I think it was just two scenes, but the girls were traveling west on the same wagon train and the scenes were pivotal in the second novel, Bright Morning Star. I thought if E.L. James in Fifty Shades of Gray, could rewrite her novel, this time from the man’s point of view, and have another best seller, a couple of scenes would go unnoticed. After all, they included different facts and were from a totally different point of view. Of course they did not, and a couple of reviewers pointed it out. I hate bad reviews.

Series are a lot like Argyle socks. Every detail and line written creates a unique period and place that’s shared by the characters in that series. There are a lot of threads that need to be carefully pulled through the books to create the pattern of the complete series without any snarls or blotches.

So I’m still awake, trying to figure out how, or what, to write to get through this section without making any reader feel there is repetition. Enough of a challenge that I am going to bed to sleep on it. One has to trust that the brain will solve the problem by morning, otherwise I will be rereading my Mountain Wives Series again.



Seeking Inspiration Today

That’s what I use for an excuse when I want to goof off and just watch movies for awhile. Watched three, none worth commenting on, although the last two were romantic comedies and made me want to write one of those for a change.

Only wrote 1556 words on the novel today, and I’m blogging after midnight. Decided to check the muse, wasn’t sure after finding these images. These old girls in the Greek frieze above look as bored as I feel. The Nine Muses were the daughters of Apollo and interested in inspiring the creative arts: Clio (history), Euterpe (music) , Thalia (comedy), Melpomeni (tragedy), Terpsichore (dance), Erato (love poetry), Polymnia (mimicry art & grammar), Ourania (astronomy) and Calliope (the superior muse -heroic poems and rhetoric arts). Since I’m working on a new historical romance, suppose I should summon Clio and Erato, but those have more modern connotations, and I’m definitely not writing erotic fiction.


This painting by John Singer Sargent at least has the ladies moving around Apollo.

My Nine Sources of Inspiration

Books, I read  a lot. Have shelves of books, a well-worn library card, and the Kindle App on everything I own. These days, I am downloading more than I take off the shelf, finding it easier to keep things in focus on my tablet. I intend to read far more than I do. Start way too many books these days that I don’t finish. Feel incredibly guilty, but there is so much information out there to consume (3.9 million books on Kindle alone), and who has the time. Love finding myself hooked and unable to put the book down. Read hoping to find more of these.

Television, we have cable. Since we each have one, I call them dueling remotes. My husband likes sports, news, and flipping. I like some news, reality television, old movies, new movies, new television shows. Find it less and less interesting these days – with far too much flipping. Most days I watch my game shows (Jeopardy and Wheel) and nothing else. Today I over indulged in movies.

Movies, we just got back from time with the grandchildren. They were trying to decide what movie Granny would like to watch, when Grandpa yelled, anything. She will watch anything. And that’s true. Don’t enjoy horror, raunchy comedy, or comic book movies. But if someone wants to watch a movie with me, I am willing to give it a try.

Magazines, no longer subscribe, but get half a dozen anyway from memberships. Find I read more than enough articles on-line. Just Googling a topic and then skimming several until I find one with the answers and depth I need.

Wikipedia, I know it’s not reliable, but by following the annotated references, can usually find the information needed. Again, Goggle search brings more material than one can ever read, plus access to books and historical documents from major libraries. Turn to one of my three sets of Encyclopedia at home if I haven’t found what I want.

YouTube, if I’m trying to learn how to do something and I’ve read about it, listened to webinars about it, and asked people, then I turn to YouTube and watch someone show me how to do it. All I know about Gimp, formatting documents for Amazon, screenwriting format, I’ve learned on YouTube.

Blogs, read the blogs written by experts in the area, whether historical research, writing, or publishing. Endless free material out there at the end of a Google search.

Newspapers, dating myself, but I love to open a daily newspaper and read from first page to last, working the crossword and other puzzles as I go.

People, have a large group of writer friends and participate in two writer’s groups each month as well as online Facebook groups. Someone has the answer. Someone can and will give you honest feedback on what you are writing. Well worth the time to ask them for help.






Off Track

I’ve been no account. Managed to blog four of the five days we were gone, but not to write on my current novel. I will not make my original camp goal of 50,000 words and didn’t change goal in time. It has been a challenging month, so I’ve decided to grant myself grace if I reach 30,000 words. Not a winner by Camp standards, but pretty good for me.

Came home and first thing I clicked was a Bible reference page. I had clicked on one of those info-ad things about the super food that can prevent Diabetes. It said the food was in the Bible and gave the page and of course I started a quick internet search. Bingo, it  locked a virus on my computer. I knew it the instant it said dial this number to reach Microsoft support. Checked, and sure enough it was the wrong number and one of the warning flags for a virus.

Took about four hours and two experts at Microsoft Windows to get my computer all cleaned up, then they told me I would need to delete and upload my books again. It was the back-up drive that ended up corrupted. My heart stopped. I used to print off a book every ten pages as I wrote it. Now, I just wait to the end when I’m finished with automated editing and ready to do a read through  and last edit before sending it to Beta readers.

I told the poor phone kid (sounded like an Indian, did not ask this time but they always are overseas) that I needed to get off, and cry awhile. He transferred me to Microsoft Word and the young man there helped me erase, reformat my backup drive, and download uncorrupted files to the clean drive. So I don’t have to retype the thousands of pages I’ve churned out since retirement. No tears – but no new words either. Maybe, God Bless those who help, and that weird Cloud up there, and special curses on those people planting viruses everywhere to sell their online protection programs.

Have not written today – trying to clear my 500 + emails, unsubscribing from lists as I go. Last night made only 1500 words, and no blog. As I said, I’ve been no account and no good.



Sick Computers

My first helper was a young woman and she sent me this list of guidelines to protect my computer – sharing them with you. The list numbering was already off, and sorry, but I’m too off to format it.

To help protect your PC from future virus attacks, follow these steps regularly:

  1. Defend your computer.
    • Keep your software current with automatic updates.
    • Make sure that your firewall and antivirus software are always turned on.
    • Protect your home wireless connection with a password: Windows 8, Windows 7 or Windows Vista.
  1. Protect your personal and financial information.
    • Be careful when you share personal information online. Be aware of the information you share in your profiles and other public forums.
    • Look for signs that a website is safe before you enter sensitive data: web addresses with https (“s” is for secure) and a closed-padlock symbol beside them. Don’t provide sensitive data in emails or instant messages unless you fully trust the recipients. See more information on protecting your privacy.
  1. Think before you click. Don’t be tricked into downloading malware.
  • Only download software from websites you trust. Be cautious about “free” music, games and videos. They’re notorious for including malware.
    • Beware of fake virus alerts. Fake security software, also known as “scareware”, often poses as real software but generates misleading alerts to lure users into participating in fraudulent transactions. See more information on how to help protect yourself from rogue security software.
    • Stop and think before you open suspicious attachments or links in an email or IM. Make sure the message is authentic. Contact the supposed sender or visit the linked websites directly by typing the addresses yourself. Avoid clicking links or buttons in unsolicited pop-up windows.
  1. Create strong passwords and keep them secret.
    • Make passwords at least eight characters long and include uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t use the same password everywhere.
  1. Protect yourself from email and phone scams.
    • Look out for alarmist messages, misspellings and grammatical errors, deals that sound too good to be true, and requests for sensitive information like account numbers. Turn on a filter like the SmartScreen Filter in Internet Explorer, which warns you about suspicious web sites.
    • Cybercriminals might call you on the phone and claim to be from Microsoft. Be very cautious if you get a call like this. Microsoft and our partners don’t make unsolicited phone calls to charge you for any computer security or software fixes. Never hand over control of your computer to a third-party unless you’re sure the request is from a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you’re already a customer.
  1. Practise safer social networking.
    • Look for privacy settings or options in services like Facebook and Twitter. Manage who can see your profile, control how people can search for you and make comments, and learn how to block unwanted access. Don’t post anything you’d say only to a close friend. Be selective about accepting friends. Periodically reassess who has access to your information and review what friends write about you.
  1. Take extra steps to keep children safe online.
  1. Be vigilant when using public computers or Wi-Fi networks.
    • Avoid sensitive transactions or sharing private information in public unless you’re sure the system is secure.
  1. Keep up with the latest information.

Find even more information on this topic by visiting the Microsoft Virus and Security Solution Centre