Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Writing Prompt Wednesday...

There are days when words just flow and last Sunday was one of them. This week's writing prompt popped into my head as I sat down last Sunday morning and wrote 1600 words on my latest novel in-progress.

Prompt: He eased the door. . .

Remember, the purpose of these writing prompts is to boost your creativity and to have a little fun.

Write as much or as little as you can and have fun!

Share whatever you come up with back here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mum crazy

Fall is my favorite season! All that wonderful crisp air, the bonfires, snuggling up in a cozy sweater and the vibrant colors of fall just give you the warm fuzzies.

Probably one of the best parts of fall are the mums. Their sweet smell and their bright colors and varying shapes are amazing. Just what we need to add some life while the trees go to sleep and drop their leaves.

This weekend I went mum crazy. I planted yellow, pink, and red mums along with two baby lilac trees, and lily bulbs that will bloom next summer in my retaining wall in the front yard. To protect and entertain the flowers I put my big bunny sitting in their with them.
In addition to adding a little whimsy to my yard, I put some new mums in the flower boxes on the railings of my porch and deck then planted others into the various front and back yard gardens. It looks as if a painter came by with a paint brush and added a splash of color to my outdoor area. Oh yeah, that's Mayhem in the door window looking out at me.
Yesterday I even picked up a couple of bails of hay and placed them inside this old bucket that my neighbor gave me an I repainted. On top of those bails of hay I added two mums, two pumpkins, and another little bunny. Now every time I drive up to my house I am greeted by smiles of mums.
I took one of the bright pink mums, the kind that look like they have daisy petals, planted it into a hand-painted terra cotta pot that a friend gave me, set it next to an old tree on the side of the yard where people drive by, and set another set of bunnies who like to read next to it. Now when people drive by they are greeted by fall.

If we could just hold back winter and keep fall for six months I would be a very happy camper.

Friday, September 24, 2010

She aimed the loaded weapon. . .

How creative did you get with this Wednesday's writing prompt?

Wednesday's writing prompt was: She aimed the loaded weapon. . .

What did you come up with? Here's mine.

She aimed the loaded weapon toward her face then moved it so it pointed at her mouth and stared at it expectantly as if it would explode in her hands at any moment.

You can do this.

Her hands shook and she tightened her grip. Eyeing the cocked and loaded weapon held in her shaky grip, her mouth suddenly went dry. She swallowed, trying to gain her courage.

The rush of blood echoed in her ears and pulsed against her fingers as her heart tried to hammer its way out of her chest.

Come on. You can do it.

Just get it over with.

Wetting her lips with the tip of her tongue, she ordered herself to close her eyes and pretend it was a lollipop.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Writing Prompt Wednesday...

Writing prompt Wednesday is an exercise in creativity without thinking. Well, that's how I describe it. [GRIN]

I give you a partial sentence and all you have to do is finish it. Or you can write more! Write a paragraph, a page, a chapter. Whatever your creative mind comes up with and your fingers can type.

It's a terrific way to break writer's block or get your creative juices flowing.

When you do this exercise don't think, just write what pops into your head and have fun. And don't forget to share what you come up with.

Today's prompt is: She aimed the loaded weapon. . .

Monday, September 20, 2010

Firing up your Fiction

Have you ever read a book where it is obvious that the writer did not do his or her research? Did it turn you off from reading further or did you get past it?

There are many editors that will do the research to verify something mentioned in a novel is fact or fiction. Even if the novel is a work of fiction publishers and readers prefer to see some string of fact in the writing. This is why we, the authors, do our research.

My latest research has engaged me in the "right to bear and keep arms" as afforded us in the Second Amendment of the Constitution. (okay...I had to look that up)

On Saturday mornings for about 8-weeks now I have been getting up and packing what can only be termed a small suitcase, and driving to Weare, NH for pistol shooting lessons with Gunnery Sergeant Mike Stevens, USMC Force Recon Retired otherwise known as 'Gunny'.

Seriously, could you ask for a better instructor?

Mike is is the owner of Classic Armorer and a no holds bar, tell you like it is instructor who is very serious about what he teaches and who he teaches.

My very first class Gunny taught me how to handle a pistol, how to tear it down, how to clean it, and how to put it back together.

It wasn't until after those first lessons of the day that we walked down to his outdoor shooting range. There, Mike coached me on 'range etiquette'.

I have to wear protective eyewear, a shirt that covers my upper body so a hot bullet doesn't hit and burn my skin, and protective 'ears' that muffle the gunshot sound but allow me to hear his instructions, and always keep the weapon aimed down range.

With the weapon unloaded, the magazine loaded with target ammo, and all safety gear in place, I walk to the 21-foot line in front of a paper target.

Why a 21-foot line?

According to Gunny and the FBI, the average distance in a gun fight is 21-feet.

With my unloaded .380 Bersa held at my side and the clip in my opposite hand, I wait for Gunny's command.

The first command is "Ready on the line." This phrase tells me to load my weapon and stand in the shooting position he taught me with the gun aimed at the target.

"What is the shooting position?"

Your feet are about shoulder-width apart, your upper body is tilted slightly forward in what Gunny describes as "arrhhhhh", and your shooting hand is up at eye-level. Then you take your free hand and place it under and wrapped around your shooting hand so it acts as a pedestal to help control the weapon. This is known as the pedestal hand. The arm attached to your pedestal hand is slightly bent at the elbow for cushioning the recoil. Your head is tilted enough to site down your shooting arm and eye the site at the end of your pistol to the target. At this point, your finger is NOT on the trigger.

Now I wait for the next command.

The second command is "Fire on the range." This phrase is the command to fire when ready and for me is usally followed by Gunny saying, "Squeeze and breathe." Apparently I hold my breath. Not a good thing as it makes my muscles bunch up and therefore my aim will be off and the recoil will not be cushioned.

How am I doing?

Shooting takes practice to be able to hit the target in a skilled and consistent manner and an instructor with integrity to teach you how to not only shoot the pistol, but to teach you how to care for and handle the weapon in a safe and responsible way. This is why a friend of mine recommended Gunnery Sergeant Mike Stevens, USMC Force Recon Retired.

Stay tuned as I continue my lessons and research with Classic Armorer.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Never Tempt Danger has a cover

This morning I broke my usual mode of staying away from my computer and decided to check my email. When I did, I received a wonderful surprise. The cover art for my next novel was at the top of the list. Woot!

Not only did my publisher send me the art work she designed, but she also sent me a wicked nice compliment. I hope Linda forgives me for sharing it with you all, but I can't resist so read the next line.

"PS - I wanted to tell you that I enjoyed this story the most of all your books!"

Isn't that a terrific warm and fuzzy to wake up to?!

Short blurb for NEVER TEMPT DANGER:

She never thought of her “gift” as special, more like a curse.

As the one man who accepted her “gift” slid the diamond ring onto her shaky finger, Maureen saw his death flash in her mind an instant before the bullet struck. With his blood on her hands and a government research project in the balance, Maureen (Gilly) Gillman does the only smart thing she can. She disappears. If there was one thing Maureen had learned, it was Never Tempt Danger.

Special Agent Lucas Danger knows Maureen Gillman better than any other man. Assigned to find Gilly and her military robot prototype, Lucas discovers that his past has caught up with him. When the woman he loves collides with his secretive past, Lucas has to open his mind as well as his heart to save Maureen.

Who will get to her first?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Researching the family history. . .is it fact or fiction fodder?

As a writer if you want to write a realistic story (even if it is fiction) you do your research. You research clothing of the 18th century. You investigate military black sites when writing about the CIA and human intelligence. Writing a story on baseball? Then you’ll probably find yourself at a baseball game, maybe even trying to sneak into the dugout to sit on the bench with one of the hotties hugging wood.

I recently began doing research on my own family’s history. Let me tell you…there are a whole lot of story ideas that can come from your own family closets. Heck, the freaky names alone will give you a good laugh. I have an Antipas Gilman in my family tree. Antipas? Is that short for antipasta? What about Minnie Moon Markusen? Seriously! Does that not sound like a woman who would sit across the room and spit into a spitoon?

My great-grandparents on my father’s side helped build the town of Anthon, Iowa and even had a run-in with Frank and Jesse James. How cool is that?

OH! Anthon, Iowa is also the town where the tallest man is buried at 9 feet 2 inches. What a great tidbit you could throw into a story or tell your children one day.

So how do you do this family research?

In the case of family history, and that is the focus of this little blog post, it is a lot of talking with family members and internet research.

Whatever you do, don’t believe everything your family states unless they have it in writing. That sounds so terrible, but it is true. For the longest time, I understood my great-grandfather on my mother’s side to be Tom Gillman. Well, when my grandmother did a little digging into paperwork, we discovered that his full name is Joseph John Thomas Gillman.

Back to family history exploration. First, let’s start with where can you create your family tree as you go along?

There is a website called that is absolutely free. Yes, you can pay for the professional version but it is not necessary if all you want to do is input names, dates, relationships, images of the relative. One nice feature of this site is that you can share it with your relatives so they can add other relatives and information to help your project along. You can, of course, purchase family tree software like Family Tree Maker.

Now for the actual research. Many people have asked me which sites I joined or subscribed to, which equates to fees. Are you kidding me? No, you can do this without a cost.

There are websites such as that allow you to put in a name and possible dates of marriage or birth, the location of where they may have lived, who their spouse or parents were and then hit search and check the results. If other people have been doing research on the same line you will sometimes find that the family and/or pedigree information is available.

Note: Be cautious of giving too much detail because you could be absolutely wrong. For example, my great-grandfather’s last name has always been spelled Gillman, but in fact the name has been modified or misinterpreted down the line from what it was when the family came from England. In the states it started as Gilman. In England it was spelled Gylman or something like that. Use soundex when possible.

Remember I said don’t believe it until you see it in black and white? Well, perfect example is a birth date or place. Be open to the fact that the year could be plus or minus a couple of years.

Other sites you can use for researching family history. Search the surnames, the trees, the archive lists, the forums, message boards. None of those require you to pay a fee to do your investigation.

What you will find is a string of other people asking the same questions as you about the same people and who may have actually found the answers. If you’re real lucky, as I was, you may actually find someone who has half of a family branch already documented. If that happens, be sure to send them off an email and thank them for their effort. I sent Fred Cohoon an email thanking him for identifying so many of my relatives on that branch and offered to send him more information from my family that he did not have documented at the time. What a great way to meet long lost and/or unknown relatives. is great for searching names and getting an idea of when someone may have been born or died, and where if you are unsure, and even possibly tell you the name of a parent or spouse. To go any further will cost you a fee. I have not gotten that desperate yet.

A truly wonderful site that will lead to other sites is The USGenWeb Project is a group of volunteers working together to provide Internet websites for genealogical research in every county and every state of the United States. Part of my family is from Iowa so I went to USGenWeb is non-commercial and fully committed to free access for everyone. There is even a WorldGen project so you can search across the globe.

USGenWeb is a where I found some very good information about relatives because I could search by state. I could search obituaries, state census data, old newspapers like Talk about great fodder for fantastic fiction!

Don’t forget that these long since deceased family relations have to have been buried somewhere. Yeah, a tad morbid I know, but. . .it’s a starting point to find names and dates and another point for searches. Try to search for a grave. Most states have a grave site for you to search such as and is another site that you can do name searches on and has some great forums where you can once again follow other people’s efforts in tracking families. Link for forum searches is

I will tell you now that this kind of research is addictive. You will find yourself in front of your computer with 5 minutes to spare before you have to pick up the kids from school doing any number of search combinations to find that one name that has eluded you. Watch out! You may just forget the kid at the bus stop.

Ultimately, when you find out that your family branch came from Barbadoes and helped build a town in Iowa, or that a bunch of them sailed over on a ship from England to be early settlers and the family behind Gilmanton, NH then all sorts of ideas will start to run through your head. If nothing else, you will learn way too much about your family along with reading some very interesting stories of not so well known relatives.

Have fun and happy hunting!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A sense of accomplishment

There is nothing like stepping back from a project, taking a deep breath, and letting the air whoosh out of your lungs as a sense of accomplishment slides into your heart and a wide grin tugs at the corners of your mouth in satisfaction.

Late last night I stood back from my front porch after three days of physical labor and felt this rush of pride swell in my chest as my eyes focused on what I had accomplished. I transformed my porch from this plain wood thing to a place I want to sit after work with a cool drink and watch the world go by.

What do you think?

I stained every piece with this beautiful mahogany flame color and all the spindles and kick plates are a white primer followed by a white stain. Gorgeous if I do say so myself. Now my deck and porch have similar looks and I feel a symmetry going on.

Next up is to finish sanding and staining the driveway retaining wall.

What gives you a sense of accomplishment or satisfaction?

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