#TenThingsYouMayNotKnowAbout – #D.G.Kaye

I’m sure today’s author needs no introduction for most of you, but just in case there are some new folks reading along, I’m delighted to say that author D. G. Kaye is with us today. Debby is widely known in the blogging/writing world as a memoirist and a writer who generously spreads humor wherever she goes. Please help me give Debby a big welcome this morning. Debby? You’re on!


Thank you so much Marcia, for inviting me to share some of myself here today in your wonderful series – #TenThingsYouMayNotKnowAboutMe.

1.
In high school, I always managed to maintain an over 80 average – despite my one year failing art and gym! Yes, art and gym! How do you fail art and gym? Well, I did. I was the girl in the Janis Ian song – At Seventeen – when choosing sides of basketball, I’d be last pick. I was nowhere near athletic, nor was I interested in sports. My only saving grace was dance segment and health classes which helped bring up my saggy average in that class. I remember getting booted for a class or two when I was caught cutting across the track field instead of running the length of it, hoping I wouldn’t be discovered doing so, to no avail. And don’t even get me started with those ugly blue rompers, sack-like outfits we had to wear. Art was a whole ‘nother thing. I still cannot color in the lines! Even when it comes to my book covers, I have the vision of what I want, but cannot express with drawing anything with my own hands – okay, maybe stick people.

2.
Ambidextrous, I am, sort of. A weird mixture of one who writes with her right hand yet does most other things with the left. I also sucked at baseball because I have to wear a glove on my left hand for catching, and must take it off to throw the ball back with my same left, leaving a runner too much time before I could throw back the ball. I have no sports coordination with my right hand. When I attempted in my younger years, to play guitar, that was also strumming with the left hand. It’s complicated.

3.
Before I met my husband, I was in an abusive relationship with someone for seven years. I realized it after the first year of living together, but by then I was trapped. I have written much on the subject, but to this day am still petrified of publishing anything about those years, for fears of being sued by my vindictive stalker and abuser.

4.
I had many jobs and careers in my younger years. I was never fired, always left on my own volition. My earlier days were working in the fashion industry – selling clothes and doing the buying for some of those stores. I did a lot of temp secretarial in between jobs, and I was an executive secretary to the general manager of one of our downtown hotels for a few years. Before that, I worked for a photography company doing company sales for family portraits. My job took me all over the province of Ontario – with me as the driver. Those were my fearless days. I also became a certified travel agent, not because I wanted to work in an agency, but I’d struck a deal with an agency owner, I’d bring him clients on the side so I could keep my regular job and get my travel perks, commissions and benefits from the agency. I became office manager for an architectural firm, and later for a construction company, and then a real estate company. In my 30s, I went to ‘dealer’ school and became a certified casino dealer for blackjack and poker, then ultimately, became a pit boss. After a few years doing that, I got scouted out to work for a private company doing private parties. I only worked two or three nights a week and made more money (in tips) than I did all week working in a casino. I ultimately met my husband who was a guest of someone I knew at one of those parties. Once my husband moved in with me, he didn’t want me to work anymore. I must admit, it felt weird not working when I’d worked since a teenager.

5.
I am an empath and very spiritual and sense when spirits are around me. As of yet, I have not directly sensed my own husband directly around me, but, I have definitely received many signs. I am an empath who can sense spirit by smell and touch and an inner knowing, this makes me clairsentient, clairalient, and claircognizant. I also read souls through looking into eyes, sort of like a human lie and empathy detector. This has never failed to be an alert system for me. Except when I was younger and dismissed what I thought I saw. I rely on my instincts to guide me. My father and my dear aunt come to visit me sometimes. I know when they are around, my body starts to shiver, and I can smell my aunt’s perfume or my father’s cigarette smoke when they appear.

6.
Some sensitives are greatly familiar with astral planing. I know I must have gone to other realms while sleeping, many times over, but my only recollection of physically leaving my body, then plunking back into it, was about six months after my father died when I went to visit him in heaven. I still remember standing on the threshold between heaven and earth. I remember it so vividly to this day 32 years later.

7.
I’m like a mixed genre book. I don’t fit into any one type of box. I’m a Gemini, always troubled making up my two minds. I am soft, I am loud. I’m an extrovert, yet an introvert in other ways. When I was in my dating years, men told me I was an enigma. I liked that. My unpredictability kept them on their toes. My husband was a man of action and liked action. I was a great challenge for him, and certainly different than the doormats and looser women he was used to in his post first marriage playboy days. The spark never left us, and I attribute the ‘keeping him on his toes’ with me, a good part of why we had such a loving and dynamic marriage.

8.
I love to travel and have many places to travel to still, on my bucket list. I always follow my instincts. If I get an inner warning, or obstacles that keep appearing to stop me from something I’m wanting to do, I pay attention. For example, for years I haven’t been back to Europe because my husband had no interest in leaving North America, and I had no interest in leaving him behind. Since I lost him spring of 2021, I had hoped to run for refuge to one of my two best friend’s house in the U.K. later in the year. Sadly, Covid travel restrictions wouldn’t be lifted until late October, and by then, my girlfriend came here to visit me. She stayed for a month, which was almost till late November, and by then, it was getting too close to the new year, when I was geared up to travel down south to Mexico for a few months escape. Now in 2022, my friend is in midst of building a new house, living in a small rental, and Covid is picking up again. the AIRLINES here and there are a godawful mess, and our dollar is crap. So, it’s quite likely I won’t be getting to the other side of the pond this year either. In fact, I’ll be lucky to get back to Mexico next winter.

9.
I have zero tolerance of social injustice, bullying, inequality, and violations of people’s personal rights, and I will always stand up for the underdog. I also try to keep myself out of getting caught in those situations, because it is difficult for me to stay silent. And, in this day and age we are living in, calling out those who are wrong doers, can have serious repercussions. But I won’t hesitate to write about something unjust I come across. Sometimes, the pen is indeed, mightier than the sword.

10.
About my husband. I lost the love of my life last year. I have lost quite a few loved ones in my life and grieved them all, but there is no grief like losing the other half of ourselves. I blame Covid for the system not getting him into hospital, despite my daily efforts and rapports with doctors, for almost a year! By then, it was too late. It’s bad enough grieving a loss, but especially during Covid when I couldn’t have real people contact when I needed it, not to mention, the huge funeral my husband got ripped off of. I spent a lot of time searching for (useless) online grief groups, and reading many books, hoping to self-medicate. And I learned from reading many of those books, unfulfilled from what I was searching for, that there is a market for kinship and real talk on the subject. So, I decided to, and have been writing episodes to start a podcast to talk about the things that don’t get mentioned enough of on the subject of grief. Naturally, I’m titling it – Grief – The Real Talk. Stay tuned!
      ©DGKaye2022


You Can Buy D. G.’s Books HERE


Author D. G. Kaye

D.G. Kaye is a Canadian nonfiction/ memoir writer who writes about life, matters of the heart and women’s issues. She writes to inspire others by sharing her stories about events she’s encountered, and the lessons that came along with them. D.G. loves to laugh and self-medicate with a daily dose of humor. When not writing intimate memoirs, you’ll find D.G. writing with humor in some of her other works and blog posts, ranting about injustice, dabbling in poetry, and sharing a book review Sundays on her blog.


Check out All of D. G.’s work on her Author Page, here:
Author Page

You can reach D. G. on Social Media here:
Website
Goodreads
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Linkedin
Facebook 
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Pinterest

#TenThingsYouMayNotKnowAbout #ValerieOrmond

Today, let’s welcome author Valerie Ormond to The Write Stuff. Valerie has some fun and interesting things to share with you, and I know you’ll enjoy her #TenThings list, so let’s get started! Valerie, take it away!


Thanks, Marcia!

#1: I’ve been caught in quicksand! I only thought that was in the movies. Fortunately, I was riding a sane and strong horse, so when I kicked him ahead while he sunk to his belly, he listened and pulled us out with his front legs first followed by a hop from behind.


#2: In 1990, when I visited East Germany, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia shortly after the Berlin Wall came down, I saw a window into a world I had never known. Those sights renewed my commitment to a career in the military which I continued for a total of 25 years.


#3: I drove a Good Humor ice cream truck when I was 17-years-old and learned entrepreneurial skills such as reliability, self-motivation, consistency, and reaching target audiences. It was a “cool” summer job that taught me valuable life lessons.


#4: The most famous person I’ve known is the current U.S. President, Joe Biden. I accompanied him on a trip to Bogota and Cartagena, Colombia, when he was the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was friendly and nice, and I’m happy to report we had no international incidents.


#5: The one and only time I’ve ziplined was at the longest zipline course in Central and South America. Twenty-five ziplines through a Costa Rican rain forest, and I lived to tell.


#6: When I joined the Navy, the recruiting slogan was, “It’s not just a job; it’s an adventure.” Those adventures included launching off and landing on aircraft carriers, living on ships, riding in helicopters, deploying to places unknown, moving 19 times, deploying and living overseas, serving with people of many nationalities, and learning how to get along with people whether I agreed with them or not. The slogan was right!

Valerie Ormond ready to fly off the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN-72),in the ES-3A , Indian Ocean, 1995


#7: My college entrance application asked with whom I would most like to meet in history, and I answered William Shakespeare. I think I was born to be an English major.


#8: I grew up in a theatrical family. My father was a playwright, actor, director, and producer. My mother was an actor, director, and drama teacher. My brother was an actor, director, producer, and has written award-winning plays and continues to teach theater arts to children to today.


#9: I’ve traveled to 48 U.S. states (49 in September!) and 40 countries. The country I was closest to visit, but did not, was North Korea. I used to escort press to the North/South border regularly but was warned if I crossed the line to North Korea, it was at my own risk.


#10: My husband and I are avid cyclists and have completed numerous one-day 50-mile and 62-mile events. We love rail trails, and in the past few years have biked multi-day trips including the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal, the Great Allegheny Passage, and the Washington and Old Dominion Trail. We have more planned for the future!


Buy Believing in Horses Out West HERE

BLURB

Sadie Navarro rescued a mare from an auction accomplishing what she thought was the most important mission of her young life.

Now, that mare is headed to a ranch in Montana and a home Sadie knows nothing about.

She wants to make sure the horse is in good hands, but Montana is far away and a different world from Maryland.

Will fourteen-year-old Sadie need to stand up to rugged cowboys to protect her special rescue horse?


Valerie’s latest novel, Believing In Horses Out West, takes young Sadie Navarro on an adventure to a Montana ranch to check on a horse she rescued. New York Times Bestselling Author of Sgt. Reckless: America’s War Horse, Robin Hutton, described the book as, “A thrilling coming-of-age story filled with love, lessons, and finding one’s purpose in life…”

The author based the novel on experiences visiting ranches in both the U.S. and overseas which she wanted to share with readers in a fictional story.

In just nine months since the book’s release, it won first place in the National Federation of Press Women’s national Communications Contest; second place in The BookFest® Awards. The international Wishing Shelf Book Awards named Believing In Horses Out West a finalist, and it is currently a finalist in the Military Writers Society Of America book awards to earn a Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal in August.

Valerie’s first two books, Believing In Horses and Believing In Horses, Too, tell stories of a strong-willed young girl overcoming challenges based on her love of horses. Both books won gold medals and first place awards in eight national and international book competitions.

Believing In Horses Out West book trailer
Believing In Horses book trailer


 

Author Valerie Ormond


Valerie Ormond retired after a 25-year career as a naval intelligence officer and launched her second career as a writer. She is the author of three award-winning young adult fiction books in the Believing In Horses series – Believing In Horses, Believing In Horses, Too, and Believing In Horses Out West. Her books have been called inspirational and motivational and share stories of today’s youth making a difference when focused on their passions. Valerie’s fiction and non-fiction stories, articles, and poetry appear in books, magazines, newspapers, and blogs worldwide. She owns and manages Veteran Writing Services, LLC, working primarily for defense contractors. She lives happily in Maryland with her husband and their three horses and two dogs.


You can buy Valerie’s Books here:

Believing In Horses Out West Amazon 
Believing In Horses 
Believing In Horses, Too
Buy Books – Believing In Horses (Author website for personally inscribed copies)
Amazon Author Page 

You can reach Valerie on Social Media here:

Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Website
Email: valerie@believinginhorses.com

 

#TenThingsYouMayNotKnowAbout – #AlexCraigie

I’m very excited to announce that today’s #TenThings guest is my very dear friend, Alex Craigie (or Trish, as some of us know her). I’ve met many, many wonderful folks through this blog, and Trish is right there among the very best of them! And I know you’re going to enjoy her list as much as I did! Trish, the floor is yours!


Ten Things You May Not Know About Me
by Alex Craigie

Thanks, Marcia!

  1. At my tallest. I managed 4’ 11”. Cinema-going was always a hit and miss affair. As I grow older, I grow shorter…
  1. My family mainly slot into one of two camps – medicine or teaching. I loved biology at school, but as I keel over at the sight of blood I followed the teaching strand.
  1. I loved teaching and have taught all ages from nursery to 19. I also did Home Tuition for the authority to help those unable to be in school for a while. Most of these had such disturbing home circumstances, the lessons had to be held in the local education centre.
  1. When the children were small, I supplemented our meagre income by writing short stories for magazines and doing competitions. The way to win a competition was to write a snappy rhyming couplet. Armed with a rhyming dictionary, I won on average 4 competitions a month. These varied from all-inclusive holidays (which I was able to give away) to branded aprons. I won a lot of aprons.
  1. My parents were both Scottish, I was born in the north of England and my husband and I moved to Wales in 1986 with 3 children under the age of four. When I went back to teaching it was as a Welsh teacher. I love the language but it’s one where the beginnings of the words change under certain conditions. Cot is the Welsh word for coat. That sounds manageable, doesn’t it?
  • Their coat:      Eu cot  
  • Your coat:       Dy got 
  • His coat:          Ei got  
  • Her coat:          Ei chôt       
  • My coat :         Fy nghot

                           It makes dictionary use really, really tricky for a beginner.

  1. Sticking with the theme of Welsh, there’s a place in the north which goes by the name of:

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

The railway station board is a tad longer than the norm!

  1. I love music and used to play the guitar – mainly classical but plenty of folk and rock as well. Arthritis has made it tricky to properly continue with it but I’ve switched to the piano – some of my books have pictures to colour in at the top of the page. Baby steps! I used to sing in a college choir. Later, a group of us impoverished students discovered that we’d be given a free meal in hall if we sang evensong on Sundays. The four of us signed up for it.
  1. My mother’s side of the family share an ability to find four-leafed clovers. I thought they stood out for everyone and was surprised that others spent ages trawling through patches looking for them.
  1. Thirty years ago my ability to recognise faces suddenly left me. I thought it was early-onset dementia but the consensus was that the migraines attacking the same part of my brain had damaged it, leading to the problem. I used to bluff it out, looking for clues. At the time, apart from friends and neighbours, we had three children in different schools, my husband and I taught in two others and I’d done Home Tuition for the authority, plus supply work across the age range in the county schools and, in addition, three evening classes. My brain can usually place people when in context, but after I failed to recognise in the supermarket the teaching colleague I’d chatted with for over two hours the night before, my husband took to sidling up to me with the details I might need. ‘The woman in the checked skirt and purple blouse is Delyth Jones, vets assistant; husband ran off with Huw the butcher…’ I come clean now.
  1. I love our garden and used to grow only pretty things but have added an increasing range of produce in the last decade or so. There’s something special about grandchildren picking the vegetables for a meal and following it up with some fresh fruit foraging. Our garden’s also home to an impressive variety of birds and we have slow worms, grass snakes, giant moles (judging by the mole mountains), visiting hedgehogs and foxes, plus nightly badgers. The only creature that properly spooks me is the spider, any spider. I can’t even watch them on the television.

You can buy Means to Deceive here:
Amazon.com
Amazon.UK

BLURB:

Eighteen months ago, Gwen Meredith left the job she loved and came back to Pembrokeshire to help support her irritable and increasingly confused grandmother.
But someone is pursuing a vendetta against her.

As the attacks become more malicious, her old anxieties begin to build.
She’s attracted to her new neighbour who is keen to help…but can she trust him?

When those closest to her are threatened, her desperation mounts.
Who can she trust?

Gwen has a dark secret of her own.
Can she even trust herself?

MY REVIEW:

A book I won’t soon forget! Let me say up front that I read mostly fantasy or urban fantasy these days, preferring to escape from the world around us as often as possible. I made an exception for Means to Deceive after coming across some excellent reviews, and I’m really glad I did.

This book pulled me in from page one, with superb character development and a wonderfully intricate plot. The tension built with each page until I was reading as fast as I could, eager to find out who the main culprit was. The reader is offered several real possibilities in that regard, but every time I thought I had it figured out, I realized someone else was an equally good candidate for causing all the skullduggery going on. Craigie’s writing was strong, clear, and eloquent. The pacing was perfect, and the end, a true revelation. I highly recommend this one! 


Author Alex Craigie

Alex Craigie is the pen name of Trish Power.

Trish was ten when her first play was performed at school. It was in rhyming couplets and written in pencil in a book with imperial weights and measures printed on the back.

When her children were young, she wrote short stories for magazines before returning to the teaching job that she loved.

Trish has had three books published under the pen name of Alex Craigie. The first two books cross genre boundaries and feature elements of romance, thriller and suspense against a backdrop of social issues. Someone Close to Home highlights the problems affecting care homes while Acts of Convenience has issues concerning the health service at its heart. Her third book. Means to Deceive, is a psychological thriller.

Someone Close to Home has won a Chill with a Book award and a Chill with the Book of the Month award. In 2019 it was one of the top ten bestsellers in its category on Amazon.


Contact Alex via email here: alexcraigie@aol.com 

Find all three of Alex Craigie’s books on her Author Page HERE

#TenThingsYouMayNotKnow – About #D. L. Finn

Today,  I’d like everyone to help me welcome another wonderful #StoryEmpire member, author D. L. Finn. Denise  is also a wonderfully supportive blogger, and I know you good folks will really enjoy her #TenThings list! Therefore, without further ado, I’ll turn the “floor” over to her! 


Ten Things You May Not Know About Me
by D. L. Finn

Thank you for having me here today, Marcia. 😊 I love Ten Things You May Not Know, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it!

  1. I write poetry in as many places as I can. Airplanes, on the beach, in the forest, and my favorite is when I am riding with my husband on the Harley. I have other places in mind that I will explore, like underwater or in a cave.

  2. Over the years, I’ve collected various things. They include books, record albums, teacups, teapots, and my first love, rocks, and crystals! I’m always looking for a heart-shaped rock to add to that collection. Now my family is trained for that and finds them for me.

  3. Although I’ve been writing since I was a teen, I finally put my work out there in 2015 when I tripped over my black kitty, Coco, on Friday the 13th and broke my foot. This amusing incident left me with enough time to pursue my passion. I consider black cats, and Friday the 13th is lucky for me.

  4. I find a lot of peace meditating in nature. I’m usually able to see nature’s energy, typically green or purple. I love to see the energy over water, like the ocean, where it glows.

  5. I’ve had an out-of-body experience as a teenager while in the hospital. I could see myself and was told I still had things to do, and I needed to go back. That voice was certainly right. I can still see that moment even today. It reminds me of how important we all are.

  6. I always thought it would be cool to be a bush pilot and live in Alaska. Although I ruled nothing out, I found my way into living in the forest but never got a pilot’s license. I got to fly in a water plane and stand on the outside while it was in the water on an Alaskan river. It electrified me to be in that moment, and also got to explore the Hawaiian skies in a helicopter. I still have more sky things to do, like a hot-air balloon or skydiving. I love that bird’s-eye view!

  7. Being born in the tiger year makes sense that I’m a cat person. Although I love all animals, I have a few other favorites, like dolphins, bears, and red-tailed hawks. They seem to find me when I need them, and I pay attention to their messages.

     

  8. I love the world within our world or what lives in the ocean. Being underwater is peaceful and beautiful to me. I have always wanted to scuba dive and almost took the class offered at our local college, but the great white shark scares me a lot. I’m less likely to swim off the Northern California coast thanks to the movie Jaws. Although that doesn’t stop me from snorkeling in Hawaii or still learning to scuba dive in the future in Lake Tahoe.

  9. Music has been a big part of my life. I’ve been to many concerts over the years and seen some amazing acts. My first experience included Heart and the Eagles at a “Day On The Green” in Oakland, CA, in the 70s. Over the years, I’ve seen Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, Aerosmith, AC/DC, REM, B52s, Journey, Pink Floyd, Ozzie Osborn, Blondie, The Pretenders, U2, and I could keep going. The list is long.

  10. I adore all things Disneyland and have lost track of how many times I’ve been there. It’s where I spent my 50th birthday surrounded by family and Mickey. My first ride is always Pirates of the Caribbean or the Haunted House. Yo-ho, I am a kid at heart.

Blurb:

Newly married Rachael Battaglia finally had it all. The only detail that stained Rachael’s perfect wedding was a gift she received. It was the exact present that her late ex-husband had given her on their wedding day — a snow globe. That marriage was not what she had envisioned, and she endured years of his abuse and charm until one night she escaped with two kids and one on the way. Now Rachael was headed to Hawaii with an amazing man and her chance at happiness. Unbeknownst to Rachael, she had an Angel on her side, although this Angel might not be able to save Rachael and her family from the evil that surrounded them. This is a tale of love, past relationships, things unseen, and redemption. Will Rachael find her happy ending, or will this evil thing get its way?

You can buy This Second Chance HERE


D. L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 she relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to Nevada City, in the Sierra foothills. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations include adult fiction, poetry, a unique autobiography, and children’s books. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to all readers to join her.


Check out more of D. L. Finn’s Books on her Author Page HERE


Reach  D. L. Finn on Social Media here:

Twitter
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Pinterest
D.L. Finn blog
Author Amazon Page

 

 

#TenThingsYouMayNotKnow – About #GwenM.Plano

Today,  I’d like everyone to welcome one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet online to The Write Stuff:  my good friend and fellow author, Gwen M. Plano. Gwen,  the floor is all yours!


Thanks so much, Marcia. It’s a pleasure to be here today!

Ten Things You May Not Know About Me
by Gwen M. Plano

  1. When I was about 5 or 6 years old, I told my mom that I wanted to be a priest when I grew up. She explained that I couldn’t because I was a girl. This upset me, but decades later, through unexpected circumstances, I ended up studying with seminarians and earning a degree in theology and a degree in pastoral counseling – the same degrees that priests earn. 
  1. Dad taught me to drive when I was 11 years old. He thought I was mature enough and, on the farm, this was an important skill. As it turned out, the following year, I had to drive my mom to the emergency room (about 13 miles away). This action probably saved her life. 
  1. While a student at the University of San Francisco, I saw the Grateful Dead perform in Golden Gate Park. This was before they were famous. Attendees just sat on the grass or danced ecstatically. I did both, and the Dead remain my favorite band. 
  1. One evening my boyfriend and I walked through the Panhandle. We didn’t get far before flashing lights stopped us. Two police officers got out and questioned us about what we were doing. They concluded that we were clueless and harmless and told us to get in the cruiser. They drove us back to campus and instructed us not to walk at night in that area. This would be my only ride in a police car. 
  1. That same year, I enrolled in Speech. For the final exam, students were allowed to choose their topic to present to the class. I decided to do something different. I brought my Gibson to the classroom and sang an original song. To my surprise, everyone loved it – even the professor. She said this was a “first” for her. 
  1. In 1970, I attended grad school at Purdue University. I lived in a farmhouse about 15 minutes away from the campus. One night I saw two UFOs, as did the locals. Terrified, I called the police. They asked if I had been drinking, which I hadn’t, then they told me to call the airport. That responder told me to call the Air Force Base, which I did. The Airman said, “We haven’t seen anything unusual.” I still wonder about his response. 
  1. I lived in Japan for five years, and during that time, I became proficient in Chanoyu (Tea Ceremony) and Ikebana (flower arrangement). I also studied calligraphy. These ancient arts are a form of meditation, and their silence remains with me today. 
  1. In the 1990s I was an administrator at a Jesuit university in Connecticut. On weekends, I’d take groups of students into the inner city, where we worked in soup kitchens and other sites. When school was out, I led student volunteers into poverty stricken areas of Mexico. We lived with the people and helped as we could. One trip is particularly memorable. It was during an election and riots broke out in the area and guns were used. I huddled with the students, and thankfully, the next day was quiet. 
  1. On the yummy side of the world, I love dark chocolate and when I write, it is my constant friend. And…I never count these calories. 
  1. To conclude, nature is my greatest solace and I bring it into my home – with plants, crystal clusters, and images of beautiful settings. Being in nature calms my soul.

BLURB:

The Culmination, a new beginning is the third book in The Contract thriller series. After an assassination attempt on an Air Force base in northern California, tensions mount. Heads of state meet to craft a denuclearization agreement. The meetings between these nuclear powers take a murderous turn. A nefarious conspiracy re-emerges and leads the characters into the heart of the Middle East, where they encounter the unexpected and find a reason for hope.

A review by Mae Clair: 5 out of 5 stars
A Political Thriller with Strong Characters

Book three in a series, The Culmination reads easily as a standalone novel. A political thriller, that addresses denuclearization, tensions in the Middle East, and the fate of refugees, much of the story echoes current headlines. The plot is complex involving multiple heads of state, along with the strategical give and take of political maneuvering on a global level. The author clearly put an extensive amount of research into this book, and it shows. Adrenalin-fueled scenes alter with more cerebral moments, and even a few romantic interludes.

I especially loved the evolution of the relationship between the two central characters, Margaret Adler, VP of the United States and Ivan Smirnov, acting President of Russia. During the course of the novel those titles change, and we learn more about each, including richly developed backgrounds. I was thoroughly invested in the difficulties Margaret and Ivan faced, both on personal and political levels. Their scenes together were among my favorites of the book. There’s also a young refugee child who factors into the story and who stole my heart.

A unique combination of character-driven and plot-driven fiction, I recommend this compelling tale to readers who enjoy strong character development and complexly-plotted intrigue.

You can Buy The Culmination HERE


Author Gwen M. Plano

Gwen M. Plano, aka Gwendolyn M. Plano, grew up in Southern California and spent most of her professional life in higher education. She taught and served as an administrator in colleges in Japan, New York, Connecticut, and California. Gwen’s academic background is in theology and counseling. She is now retired and lives in Arizona with her husband.

Gwen’s first book is an acclaimed memoir, Letting Go into Perfect Love. Her next three books (The Contract co-authored by John W. Howell, The Choice, and The Culmination) are political/military thrillers. Action-packed, they span the globe and involve multiple Heads of State and the threat of World War III. Her conclusion – only love can change the fate of humanity.

When Gwen is not writing, she’s out and about in the beautiful northern Arizona mountains, where she finds inspiration.


You can find Gwen’s Books on Amazon here:

Author Page for Memoir
Letting Go Into Perfect Love
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Author Page for Thrillers
The Contract
The Choice
The Culmination

You can reach Gwen on Social Media here:

Blog
Twitter
Facebook

 

 

 

#TenThingsYouMayNotKnow – About #JanSikes

Good Morning, Everybody. Today, I’d like you to welcome author Jan Sikes to The Write Stuff. Jan is part of the wonderful team of writers over on the Story Empire blog, and she’s going to share a very interesting #TenThings list with us today. I know you’ll enjoy learning all these goodies about her! Jan, the floor is yours!

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Thanks for having me here  today, Marcia! 


Ten Things You May Not Know About Me
by Jan Sikes

  1. My maiden name is Smith. Growing up my sister and I were always referred to as those Smith girls. Smith is ranked as #1 when it comes to common last names. 
  1. I was born in Hobbs, New Mexico, just five miles from the Texas border. I like to consider myself a Texan since I’ve lived most of my adult life here. 
  1. I followed an Indian Guru for many years in the seventies. I embraced the entire way of communal living and was even the house mother for a while. Every night I would make four quarts of yogurt and bake homemade granola. I slept on a two-inch foam mat on the floor and shared a room with five other women. It was an experience I’ll never forget. 
  1. I was a total vegetarian for over ten years. 
  1. My biggest pet peeve in life are people who don’t pick up after their animals. I live in an apartment complex and there is nothing I hate worse than having to avoid stepping in it. My second biggest pet peeve is the way the electric company trims trees along the power lines. They take big chunks out of the middle leaving an unsightly gap in the tree. It makes me feel sorry for the tree. 
  1. I lived in Austin, Texas during the hippie era, and rode on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. 
  1. The farthest I’ve ever traveled is to Rome, Italy. I went there in the seventies to see the Guru. My oldest daughter was two. She got her head stuck between the bars that lined the steps at the Coliseum. They had to rub butter on her head to get her unstuck. 
  1. I was fifty when I started learning to play guitar. You are never too old to learn something new! 
  1. I have lived in five different States – New, Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Colorado. 
  1. My paternal grandparents were part of the big exodus to California in the thirties. They lived the Grapes of Wrath story. My sister and I plan to write that story someday.

You Can Buy Jagged Feathers HERE

BLURB:

Vann Noble did his duty. He served his country and returned a shell of a man, wounded inside and out. With a missing limb and battling PTSD, he seeks healing in an isolated cabin outside a small Texas town with a stray dog that sees beyond his master’s scars. If only the white rune’s magic can bring a happily ever after to a man as broken as Vann.  

On the run from hired killers and struggling to make sense of her unexplained deadly mission, Nakina Bird seeks refuge in Vann’s cabin. She has secrets. Secrets that can get them all killed.

A ticking clock and long odds of living or dying, create jarring risks.

Will these two not only survive, but find an unexpected love along the way? Or, will evil forces win and destroy them both?


Jagged Feathers REVIEW QUOTES:

“One of the top books I’ve read in a while. I’d give it more sparklers if I could. The author had me from page one and didn’t let me go until the end. She starts off hard and fast, then things kind of work out and the book goes into a “safe” lull, which is where most romantic suspense stories would end. But no. She doesn’t let you rest as the danger ramps up again before our hero and heroine are really safe and have a satisfying ending that leaves you happy for them.”  V. Burkholder

“This was a perfect blend of PTSD, guilt, bad guys, friendship, acceptance, and embracing the spiritual realm. I absolutely loved this story and can’t wait for the next rune couple”.  D.L. Finn

“What an amazing and phenomenal book. Jagged Feather’s has become my favorite suspense book I’ve read in 2022. Jan Sikes has a talent that mirrors the authors, that’s on top of the Best Sellers List.”  T. Lucas

“Jagged Feathers is a riveting romantic suspense I couldn’t stop reading. From the very first page, my heart went out to Vann. He’s been through so much and deserves someone to love. Nakina is a woman on the run and her plight tugged at my heartstrings. The POV and descriptive narration are deep, emotional, and immersive which make for an incredible reading experience. The more I read, the more invested I became in the characters and storyline. The plot is well-conceived with equal parts action, romance, and suspense. Jan Sikes writes a riveting story with lots of pulse-pounding moments.”  N.N. Light


Author Jan Sikes

Jan Sikes is an award-winning Texas author who has been called a wordsmith by her peers. She openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author. But she had a story to tell. Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation. You simply can’t make this stuff up. It all happened. She chose to create fictitious characters to tell the story through, and they bring the intricately woven tale to life in an entertaining way. She released a series of music CDs to accompany the four biographical fiction books and then published a book of poetry and art to complete the story circle.

And now that the story is told, this author can’t find a way to put down the pen. She continues to write fiction and has published many short stories with a series of novels waiting in the wings. She is a member of The Author’s Marketing Guild, Writer’s League of Texas, RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB (RRBC), RAVE WRITER’S INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHOR (RWISA), and sits on the RWISA Executive Council.


Jan’s SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

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#BeMyGuest on #TheWriteStuff – #FunStuff – #TenThingsYouMayNotKnow AboutMe

Hi, Everyone! Just a quick heads up to let you know I am hoping to get all my regular features back up and running over the next few weeks. Today, I’m looking for folks who might be interested in taking part in #TenThingsYouMayNotKnowAboutMe over the weeks ahead. I can book dates for you every other Wednesday, starting March 16, and on into the foreseeable future. If you think you’d like to take part, email me, and we’ll reserve a date for you. (  marciameara16@gmail.com  )

The good news is, you don’t have to have your post materials to me until about ten days or so before the day we’ve saved for you.  For information on what I’ll need from you by that point, please check in the header bar above under General Blog Rules and Various Feature Instructions. 

This #TenThings feature has been one of the most fun things we’ve shared here on The Write Stuff, and I hope a lot of you  will want to take part. Don’t forget, it doesn’t have to be a list of jaw-dropping experiences, though those are pretty interesting, for sure. But the idea is to get to know each other better, and perhaps have a laugh or two while doing so. AND, you get to promote your books at the end of the post, as well.

I’ll be waiting to start filling in the dates as soon as I hear from some of you. And if you have any questions, please know you are always welcome to email me, and I’ll try my best to answer them.

Can’t wait to see who’ll be next up for this fun event! (And if I’ve forgotten anything here, just give me a nudge and I’ll add it to this post.)

Thanks! And let the fun begin!

#TenThingsYouMayNotKnow – About Suzanne Cottrell

It’s time for the first Ten Things post of 2022, and I know you’ll help me welcome my guest, author Suzanne Cottrell, who will get things off to a great start for us this year. Suzanne, the floor is yours!

Ten Things You May Not Know About Me
by Suzanne Cottrell

  1. At age 65, I completed a tree top obstacle course consisting of 41 obstacles and 5 zip lines.    The biggest challenge was stepping off the platforms for the zip lines; but once in the air, the  experiences were exhilarating.
  2. Although I did not acquire my private pilot’s license, I did fly solo in a Cessna 150 and later wrote a story, “Calm Down,” about the experience.
  3. I spent several summers as a camp counselor and swimming instructor in western New York, Wisconsin, and North Carolina.
  4. In October, 2021, I celebrated 25 years of being cancer-free. I’m a breast cancer survivor and now thriver.
  5. One afternoon I discovered a groundhog sleeping in the fork of an oak tree. I didn’t know groundhogs could climb trees. That’s another story, “Up a Tree,” yet to be published.
  6. Two treats I love to enjoy, especially on my birthday, are Boston cream pie and homemade chocolate ice cream.
  7. I love baseball. Growing up, I enjoyed attending Cincinnati Reds’ games with my maternal grandfather, who had played semi-professional baseball. Now I’m a big fan of the MinorLeague Durham Bulls, Triple-A affiliate for the Tampa Bay Rays.
  8. My sneezes come in triplets, occasionally quadruplets.
  9. As a child, I grew up in Oxford, Ohio. Since 1987, I’ve lived in rural Granville County, and my mailing address is Oxford, North Carolina. I have to be careful when addressing envelopes to friends.
  10. Some of my favorite authors are Mary Oliver (poetry), Mary Stewart and Kristin Hannah (fiction), and Sy Montgomery (nonfiction).

Author Suzanne Cottrell

Suzanne Cottrell, a buckeye by birth, lives with her husband in rural Piedmont North Carolina. An outdoor enthusiast and retired history and special ed. teacher, her interests include reading, writing, knitting, hiking, Tai Chi, yoga, and Pilates. She enjoys researching history and culture and loves nature and its sensory stimuli. She particularly likes to write and experiment with poetry and flash fiction, as well as working on collaborative projects, especially with her daughter.

Her work has appeared in numerous online and print journals and anthologies, such as the Best Emerging Poets Series, The Avocet, Poetry Quarterly, Plum Tree Tavern, Parks and Points, The Pangolin Review, Burningword Literary Journal, Three Line Poetry, Inwood Indiana Press anthologiesPersonal Story Publishing Project anthologies, Proverse Hong Kong Poetry Prize Mingled Voices anthologies, Nailpolish Stories, Quail Bell Magazine, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and Flash Fiction Magazine. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks: Gifts of the Seasons, Autumn and Winter; Gifts of the Seasons, Spring and Summer; and Scarred Resilience, published by Kelsay Books. She was the recipient of the 2017 Rebecca Lard Award for Poetry Quarterly (Prolific Press).


You can buy Suzanne’s Books by Clicking on the Covers Below


You can find Suzanne on social media here:
Website
LinkedIn
Email: cottrell_suzanne@yahoo.com

#TenThingsYouMayNotKnow – About Amy M. Reade

Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming author Amy M. Reade to The Write Stuff, and I know you’ll enjoy getting to know her better via her wonderful Ten Things list. Amy, I’ll turn things over to you now, so take it away!

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Ten Things You May Not Know About Me
by Amy M. Reade

  1. I played oboe for years when I was in school and my favorite classical music is any piece featuring oboes. I know they sound like ducks, but I love ducks (and I’m not counting ducks as one of my 10 things because everyone loves ducks).
  2. My favorite way to spend an evening is to sit outside in front of a roaring fire. I love everything about it—the woodsy scent, the crackling sounds, and the warmth. I’m always the last one to go back inside and that’s the way I like it.
  3. I don’t want to brag, but I can catch a case of poison ivy just by thinking about it.
  4. A lot of people who follow me on social media or have read blog posts I’ve written know that I love to cook and that I collect cookbooks and read them like novels. What they may not know is that I also subscribe to at least five cooking magazines. When I find a recipe that sounds good, I rip it out and add it to a (forty-foot-tall) pile of folders, each labeled with the type of recipe inside. You know, breads, appetizers, desserts, that sort of thing. Recently, upon surveying the literally thousands of recipes I’ve saved, I lamented that I’ll never live long enough to try them all. It made my middle child cry (she is an adult, so don’t go thinking I said something so callous to a five-year-old), so now I don’t bemoan that issue out loud anymore.
  5. I am one of the millions of people who took up backyard bird-watching during the COVID lockdowns.
  6. I believe that most of us were forced to learn higher math solely in order to help the next generation with their homework. If you majored in math or anything that looks like math, please don’t be offended—just know that you’re WAY smarter than I am.
  7. My idea of a perfect evening snack is a glass of port and a hunk of bleu cheese (eaten with a fork). Bonus fact: everyone else in my family hates bleu cheese … so, more for me. Second bonus fact: if port and bleu cheese aren’t available, a spoonful of creamy peanut butter will do nicely (and not the natural kind—it has to be the processed stuff you get at the grocery store).
  8. I have a weakness for fancy soaps.
  9. My father used to call me “Imelda” (who knows—maybe he still does. I’ll have to check on that) because I also have a weakness for shoes. And yet, shoes are my least favorite thing to shop for, with the exception of anything at a hardware store.
  10. The thing my Alexa hears more than anything else: “Alexa, play songs by Vince Guaraldi.”

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BLURB

The holiday season should be a time for peace and joy, but for Lilly Carlsen, this Christmas is murder.

On the busiest shopping day of the year, Lilly opens her jewelry shop only to discover that it’s been burglarized. And then … she trips over the body. Talk about a Black Friday.

When a second victim turns up, Lilly finds herself squarely in the crosshairs of suspicion. The clock is ticking as Lilly tries to unwrap the mystery of the real killer’s identity.

Can she figure out who killed the victims before she’s arrested—or becomes a victim herself?

And as if dealing with all this isn’t hard enough, Lilly’s deadbeat ex-husband resurfaces, her mother’s mental health is declining, and her two teenagers are acting just like … teenagers.

Find out whether her family’s Christmas will be merry or scary in this cozy, small-town mystery perfect for fans of Kathi Daley and Jacqueline Frost.

Recipes included!

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Author Amy M. Reade

Amy M. Reade is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of cozy, historical, and Gothic mysteries.

A former practicing attorney, Amy discovered a passion for fiction writing and has never looked back. She has so far penned fourteen novels, including three standalone Gothic mysteries, the Malice series of Gothic novels, the Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery series, and the Cape May Historical Mystery collection. In addition to writing, she loves to read, cook and travel. Amy lives in New Jersey and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

You can buy The Worst Noel here:

Amazon
Apple
Google
Kobo
Barnes & Noble
All other retailers

You can reach Amy on social media here:

Website
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Email: Amy@amymreade.com

#TenThingsYouMayNotKnow – About W. D. Kilpack

Today, I’d like you to help me welcome another new visitor to The Write Stuff, author W. D. Kilpack. I think you’ll enjoy his Ten Things list as much as I did, so let’s get to it. Take it away, Bill!

 


Ten Things You May Not Know About
W. D. Kilpack

  1. When I was a kid, I was convinced I was growing horns. My mom would feel my head and say, “Yep, and they’re getting bigger!”
  2. I served as editor of the newspaper at Westminster College of Salt Lake City and editor-in-chief of the newspaper at West Jordan High School.
  3. I served as State Master Councilor of the Utah State DeMolay Association, vice-chaired a committee at International Congress, and was inducted into the Court of Chevaliers.
  4. Despite a childhood fear of making direct eye contact, I learned how to cope to the point where I have been the official representative of CEOs and a U.S. Senator. I have been teaching public speaking to college students since 1996.
  5. I come from a family of avid hunters (black-powder hunting is about as avid as it gets), but I am the black sheep. As far as I know, I’m the only one of my generation who doesn’t hunt.
  6. I have traveled all over the United States to compete in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, then to coach athletes doing the same.
  7. I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons since I was 10 years old. I have since played with my five kids and three stepchildren, and my youngest son and I have revised some of the rules for when we play.
  8. I have always been a storyteller; before I could write, I drew my stories. I wanted to start my own comic-book company until I was 12, when I wrote my first fantasy novel.
  9. My first publication credit came when I was 9, when a teacher entered a poem I wrote into a contest without my knowledge. It won and was published.
  10. My grandma handed off the family genealogy work to me when I was 14. Something I corrected is that Kilpack is not a shortened form of Kilpatrick; it’s a misspelling (likely through emigrating) of Kilpeck, which is a village in Wales.

BLURB:

Despite the Guardian of Maarihk being condemned as anathema, and his very existence relegated to legend, Natharr resumes his ancient responsibilities as Mankind’s protector. He joins with a mysterious Firstborn companion, Ellis the Elder, to journey into the snowy reaches of Biraald, where his Sight promises he will find those who secretly adhere to the ways of the Olde Gods.

Although Biraaldi bloodlines show their Firstborn heritage more clearly than even in Maarihk itself, the two nations have never enjoyed peace. It has been far worse since the rise of Brandt the Usurper to Maarihk’s throne. Natharr and Ellis must navigate threats not only against the Firstborn, but the Maarihkish, as they seek out the sympathizers he Saw who are brave enough to resist Maarihk’s tyranny. Only then can the damage be repaired from when Natharr chose personal happiness with Darshelle and the young crown prince over his weighty responsibilities as Guardian of Maarihk.

REVIEWS:

Order of Light is “a poignant, sensational, and captivating novel that will take [you] on a turbulent-but-fantastic journey full of ups and downs and shocks!” — RedHeadedBookLover.com

Order of Light is “just as fantastic as Crown Prince [which was] one of the most fantastic fantasy books that I have read so far! New characters are introduced and I’m impressed by his storytelling … from characterization to event building… everything is lucid. I’m eagerly waiting for book three.” — Just Pratibha (India)



Buy Order of Light HERE

Buy Crown Prince HERE

Author Bill Kilpack

W.D. Kilpack III is an award-winning and critically acclaimed internationally published writer, with works appearing in print, online, radio and television, starting with his first publication credit at the age of nine, when he wrote an award-winning poem. As an adult, he received special recognition from L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest, was named Author of the Month by the Sinister Soup podcast, and Crown Prince received the Firebird Book Award. He has been editor and/or publisher of nineteen news and literary publications, both online and in print, with circulations as high as 770,000. He is an accomplished cook and has two claims he thinks few can match: cooking nearly every type of food on a grill; and nearly being knocked flat when his grill exploded.

He received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Westminster College of Salt Lake City. As an undergrad, he double-majored in communication and philosophy, while completing the Honors Program. As a graduate student, he earned a master of professional communication with a writing emphasis. He was also a high-performing athlete, qualifying for international competition in Greco-Roman wrestling.

He is a communication professor and a nationally recognized wrestling coach. He is happily married to his high-school sweetheart and is father to five children, as well as helping to raise five step-children. He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he continues to live, coach and teach.

Buy Links
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