PSIONIC SCI FI:  The inevitable fusion of 




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Posted by mary-andrews on October 8, 2012 at 3:10 AM Comments comments (0)

B L O G   I N D E X












LINDA BALLOU: Wai-nani: High Chiefess of Hawaii blog tour & interview


HOW I SPENT MY TEXAS TUESDAY  a political blog

GUEST BLOG: JOE DOUGLAS TRENT    reflections on a short story


MAGDALENA BALL: Sleep Before Evening blog tour interview

DARRELL BAIN: Savage Survival blog tour interview

MY WRITING MEMOIRS: FabChat presents Mary Andrews transcript

MY WRITING MEMOIRS: 2007 MuseOnlineConvention DAY 3 CLASS NOTES  

...why,when & how radio interview-Valerie Connelly

...building a can't put it down suspense novel --Diane J. Newton, JDWebb, Pepper Smith building--Karina Fabian...

...strategies for revising your story ornovel--Bob Iles

...protecting yourself & your work--K L Nappier

...putting sizzle in your love scenes--Lynn Crain

...internet talk radio--Lilllian Cauldwell


...writing mystery that sells--Earl Staggs to self edit your MG novel--Margot Finke

...important tips for nonfiction book proposals--Andrea Campbell

...historical fiction--Florence Weinberg

...using real events in the creation of a story--Nikkie Leigh-Arline Chase, Dorice Nelson essentials & internet marketing for authors--Marshall Turner to get more publicity--Lea Schizas

...writing zero tolerance queries & cover letters-Carolyn Howard Johnson

MY WRITING MEMOIRS: 2007 MuseOnlineConvention: DAY 1 CLASS NOTES to keep your book alive & selling for a long time--Raleigh Pinskey building (sci fi, fantasy & horror) --Kim Richards

...vampires-still hot in publishing after all these years! --Christina Barber

...adding depth to fiction--Marilyn Peake

...the audio divas audio classes--Allyn Evans & Kathe Goglewski

LEA SCHIZA: Doorman's Creek  & The Rock of Realm blog tour interview

LEA SCHIZA: blog tour book reviews


WRITING MEMOIRS: The Fireborn Chronicles' first rewrite



COLIN HARVEY: blogging

COLIN HARVEY: blog part 2


KARINA FABIAN: Infinite Space, Infinite God virtual book tour & interview

WRITING MEMOIRS: marketing a book


WRITING MEMOIRS: the 2006 Muse Online Convention

SANDY LENDER Doesn't Recommend Quitting Your Day Job
Or...the joy and insanity of being a writer

WRITING MEMOIRS: meeting Ray Bradbury

WRITING MEMOIRS: meeting Frank Herbert

WRITING MEMOIRS: affording conventions

WRITING MEMOIRS: Gorbash Interview CJ Cherryh

WRITING MEMOIRS: what is a Science Fiction convention?

WRITING MEMOIRS: the writing circle

WRITING MEMOIRS: the Loophole Bar


WRITING MEMOIRS: my first Sci Fi convention









Posted by mary-andrews on October 8, 2012 at 1:50 AM Comments comments (0)



























SHOW NOT TELL WRITING 95,100,000 sites




ACTIVE VERB LISTS  5,350,000sites













PLOTTING A NOVEL 8,480,000 sites,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=cd7fd64d91cb4574&biw=1440&bih=679







POINTOF VIEW, WRITING 63,000,000 sites




WRITING TIGHT 6,510,000 sites




WRITING DIALOG 6,860,000 sites








WRITING ROMANCE 41,900,000 sites




GRAMMAR 45,900,000 sites




PUNCTUATION 13,700,000 sites








THESAURUS 35,300,000 sites




EDITING& WRITING  33,600,000 sites









Posted by mary-andrews on October 8, 2012 at 1:45 AM Comments comments (0)








EMAIL  1,690,000,000

















META TAGS  46,800,000 SITES




BLOGGING TIPS  13,500,000sites




















PODCASTING  65,200,000  ;








PLACES TO POST video book trailers  166,000





BOOK REVIEW SITES 59,500,000 sites









BusinessCards  252,000,000









BOOK SIGNING TIPS   579,000 sites






















Posted by mary-andrews on October 8, 2012 at 1:30 AM Comments comments (0)


































WRITING YOUR BIO 7,480,000 sites




WRITING ONE SHEETS  24,300,000 sites




WRITING A CHAPBOOK 275,000 sites ;




CREATING A MEDIA PACKET 52,100,000 sites















QUERY LETTER 452,000 sites










LITERARY AGENTS 1,140,000 sites




PITCHING TO AN AGENT 1,380,000sites




FINDING A PUBLISHER 46,300,000 sites





PUBLISHERS 130,000,000 sites ;








SELF PUBLISHING 31,400,000 sites





FUNDS FOR WRITERS 2,170,000 sites




Posted by mary-andrews on November 24, 2010 at 2:25 AM Comments comments (0)



I'd like to introduce  multi-genre author C.A. Verstraete to my readers today.
Her recently released eBook, The Killer Valentine Ball is a horror tale with a macabre sense of humor about a young girl's blind date at a bloody
Valentine's Ball.


So, just who is C.A. Verstraete?

I grew up with my nose always in a book, so it seemed a natural progression that I wanted to be a writer. A prophetic wish, it seems, judging from my favorite baby photo as seen on my website of me with a newspaper and a pencil behind my ear. I studied journalism and continue to do freelance writing for newspapers.

I also enjoy writing all kinds of fiction, with stories appearing in several anthologies including the recent Steampunk'd from DAW Books (released Nov. 2).

 My kid's mystery, Searching for a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery, was #1 on Kindle for Miniatures books and was a 2009 EPPIE Award finalist for best YA/children's ebook by the Epic Foundation.


Have there been any particular authors who influenced you?
I have several favorite authors, though I think Stephen King and Dean Koontz rank at the top. I also enjoy reading mystery authors like Margaret Grace, Elaine Viets, and others.

I confess to split personality writing. I'm drawn to mysteries, horror and kid's books, so I seem to write about the same as what I like to read. I love a good scare.


What's been the hardest thing you've written so far?

I'd have to say that learning more about science fiction-type writing has been interesting and a great challenge. I learned about a whole new category when writing my story for the Steampunk'd anthology and had a lot of fun doing it. Some of my stories had some magical and supernatural elements already, so I hope to try my hand at more of that.

Since most people are generally leery of new publishing houses, what made you decide to sign with MuseItUp Publishing?

It sounded like an interesting venture and I have to admit I am impressed with how thorough and professionally it's being run. The openness is also refreshing. Publisher Lea Schizas has a good reputation and runs a tight ship.


What constitutes a good book, in your opinion?

A good story. Nothing is more enjoyable than spending time with characters you like (or sometimes even hate!) and want to know better.


I have to agree with you there. So, give us a preview of what to expect in The Killer Valentine Ball.


A party at a day camp; a blind date on Valentine's Day. Can you say loser?, Jess thinks. But this is no ordinary party. The Killer Valentine Ball has more thrills than Jess ever expected--or will ever forget.




As they walked into the shadows, Jess noticed that things weren't quite as they appeared. Sections of the room lightened for a moment before being cast again in deep shadow. What Jess thought she saw in that split second made her heart race. On the dance floor, the same three couples stood, clasped to each other. Jess stared. She swore they never moved.

The music played quietly in the background. When the shadows brightened, Jess caught a quick glimpse of one of the couples. The young man's mouth gaped open. His partner's gown glistened with streams of dark ribbons. The light flashed again and Jess gasped. Those weren't ribbons! The girl's dress shone with dark glimmers. Like-like blood, she thought. No, it can't be! She looked back at Dylan, who shook his head and urged her on.

"Light tricks," he whispered. "It's not real. It's Halloween stuff, like the movie. Don't worry."


What fun. So I'm thinking we're going to need your contact information and buy sites for this eBook.

 I'm continually working on new projects. See my website and blog for updates.





Book page:




Posted by mary-andrews on June 13, 2010 at 11:59 PM Comments comments (0)

 Larriane, also known as Larion Wills is a multi-genre author churning out stories from historical fantasy to futuristic with a wide selection in between and the ability to drag you into a story in a genre you don’t consider a favorite.


She’s here to give us a peek at her upcoming release, a contemporary paranormal, “It’s Still Tomorrow.” When not writing or editing for others, her favorite pastime, at no surprise, is reading. Her books are available in print or eBooks online straight from the publisher, or Barnes and Noble, Smazon, or ordered from bookstores.



Tell me something interesting about yourself AND/OR your favorite character.


We’ll stick to character from “It’s Still Tomorrow.” Much more interesting than I am. Sara had realized her special abilities early in her life, not hard when every family that took her home with the idea of adoption soon took her back, unable to deal with her weirdness. She found a degree of peace, living alone, channeling her energies through the rituals of witchcraft, and not expecting more from life. What few men had shown a romantic interest soon ran. Her life was content until the reporter showed up at her door, angry and vindictive when she refused to give him an interview as a witch. Within months, she lost the only friend she had, got fired, her apartment was fire bombed, and what money she had was not enough to even find herself a new place to live. Blaming witchcraft for her woes, she swore off every practicing again. Desperate, not wanting to accept the house her friend left her, she had no choice, even if the house wasn’t finished, even if there was no power or water, even if her abilities that she tried so hard to ignore told her the troubles were far from over.



How did it come about and share your favorite excerpt/scene.


The little germ that started the story came from a book I read, one that stimulated that ‘I would have liked it better if’ thing going in my head. From that first thought on, the only thing really similar was that the primary character was a witch. This is one of the fun excerpts from the story:


Kroger, on top of the refrigerator, had taken advantage of the door Dem had left open to carry in the shelving for the pantry. Hunched back against the wall, the cat growled and hissed at her. Sara dragged the ice chest to use as a step to reach him, and things might have been okay if Boot hadn’t come in then, using the same open door. The dog ran straight to the refrigerator. Sara, recoiled, tripped over the ice chest, and landed on her butt. Boot stood up on his hind legs to reach Kroger, whom he considered a threatening intruder that needed to be dealt with. Kroger, seeing Boot as an attacker, naturally attacked, launching himself at Boot’s head.

Dem, meaning to stop Boot, was moving toward them, which put him in just the right position when Boot, cat on his head, claws embedded and growling, went backwards, no doubt thinking backwards would be getting away. The duo crashed into Dem, knocking him off his feet, then ran into the door, slamming it shut with a deafening boom that stopped Boot’s retreat.

Boot had had enough. He lunged up, shaking his head furiously, adding his growls to Kroger’s. Dem, still on his butt, crawled frantically on his hands and feet to keep from getting run over. Sara wanting to save Boot no matter how afraid she was of him and not wanting to get near him, lunged up and stretched out as far as possible. She did get a grip on the cat, and Dem got a hold of Boot. A tug-of-war ensued.

“Don’t let him come after me,” Sara cried, tugging with all her might.

“Just get the damned cat off.”


“Kroger, let go.”


Kroger did. The sudden and unexpected lack of resistance was like a rubber band breaking. Sara went over backwards, flinging the cat over her head as she sprawled, and Dem ended up flat on his back with Boot on his chest. Sara pushed herself up, saw Dem, pulled her lower lip between her teeth, and bit.


“Get the hell off me,” Dem growled at Boot. “You big baby, it’s just a cat.”


Boot whimpered and licked, catching Dem full in the mouth. He fell back, spitting and pushing with both hands. Boot wasn’t budging.

Sara slapped one hand over her mouth, then both hands and a violent shaking of her shoulders with a rather odd snorting sound through her nose.

Dem raised just his head, his arms flung out to balefully around look Boot at her. “Did I jump real good?” he asked in a surly tone.


“Crawl,” she got out and gave into full laughter.


Flopping his head back to the floor, Dem groaned, but in a moment he chuckled. “God, what a fiasco.”


“I will never find that cat now,” Sara said breathlessly, stifling down more laughter.


“It’s got to come out sometime. Boot—off.”


Boot slinked off, but his head and ears pricked up when Sara said, “Life’s a bitch sometimes, huh, buddy?” Boot whimpered and went to the door with his tail between his legs. “Oh, Dem, he’s embarrassed.”


“Come here, Boot,” Dem said, noticing and trying hard not to show his reaction to hearing her say his name the first time. He rolled up on his left knee, the other leg straight, and dragged over the ice chest to sit on. Boot obeyed and laid his head in Dem’s lap. “It’s okay.” He couldn’t help chuckling again. “You didn’t know it was a cat from hell.”


“Is he okay?” Sara asked softly from over Dem’s shoulder.


She was still keeping Dem between her and the dog, but she had come closer, and she had talked to Boot. That was encouraging to Dem. “Didn’t hurt anything but his pride,” he answered, “but I’ll have to keep a watch for abscesses. Cat’s claws are the worst for infection. They leave such a small hole it seals back up, keeping the infection in.”


“Does he chase cats a lot?”


“Never.” He looked over his shoulder at her. “He wouldn’t have done anything if it hadn’t been growling at you.”


“He was just telling me he wanted to stay.”


“Yeah, well, Boot doesn’t understand cat talk.


“He better learn. I don’t think I’m going to get rid of Kroger easily.” She told Boot, “It’s okay. It was just a misunderstanding.


You didn’t do anything wrong.” Boot sighed and rolled his eyes to look up at her. “You better tell him.”


“He understands. He’s just being a baby now.” He waved Boot back. “You’re fine. It just scared you,” he told Boot, walking to open the back door. “Next time, leave it alone.”


“It did scare him, didn’t it?” Sara asked thoughtfully. “And that’s the second time you’ve said something about him being scared.”


“What are you thinking?”


“Just that no matter how big you are there’s always something that can frighten you.” She turned to search for the demon cat and grumbled as she walked off, “Now I’ve got to put a pet door in. I’m not having a stinking litter box. Do you hear me, Kroger? Where are—there you are.”


A low growl started, and Dem went to watch. Sara stood with her hands on her hips talking to the cat, which had moved well out of reach in the center of the living room stack of cabinets and boxes.


“If you’re going to stay here you better get a couple things straight. I’m the boss, not you.” She shot Dem a shut-up look when he snorted behind her. “You are never to do that to Boot again. If you don’t like—stop that right now!”


To Dem’s amazement, the growling stopped. Kroger settled down with his paws tucked under him and listened quietly.


“Okay now,” Sara continued, “if you don’t like what he’s doing, you walk away. When you need to go out, you better let me know, and no spraying inside to mark territory. Once, just once and you’re out of here.” Kroger yawned. “And that attitude will get you gone even sooner.” He blinked and licked his lips. “I mean it, Kroger. I didn’t invite you in. If you don’t make yourself welcome, you’re out, and you know I can do it.”


Kroger started purring so loudly it sounded like a speedboat motor.


“That cat,” she grumbled as she walked by Dem, “has an attitude problem.”


Dem just shook his head in wonder on his way back to work. That was the first time he had ever witnessed a conversation between a witch and her familiar—true, a reluctant witch, but a very determined familiar.


 What’s your favorite part of being a writer?


I’d like to say I just love to write, although sometimes I’m not sure if I have any control over it. Once I start on a story, I’m obsessed. It rules me, first thing I think of when I wake, last thing as I’m going to sleep, and I do not like to be disturbed or distracted inbetween. If that’s love, then it’s getting it down on paper, the old pen and notebook thing for me with a first draft. Things like the satisfaction of finishing, having someone else read—and like it--all comes later. Heck, I don’t even mind editing, too much.



How can all your clamoring fans find, follow or friend you?


I have a website, a page for each book with the cover, blurbs, excerpts, and some reviews if I’ve remembered to post them. Oh, there’s a blog there, too. as well as just a blog at


I’m also on facebook under Larion if this overlong addy doesn’t work.!/?ref=home


Oh, nearly forgot, I run a monthly contest. In honor of the new release, for the month of June it will be a pdf download of “It’s Still Tomorrow.” Join at any of the sites, leave a comment with something about tomorrow in it or send me an email
larriane—minus that space—with June contest in the subject line to be entered into the drawing at the end of the month.


Last, thank you, Mary for sharing your space with me.



My pleasure, Larriane. So far I've loved every one of your books I've read. Keep 'em coming.


Posted by mary-andrews on April 26, 2010 at 4:10 AM Comments comments (13)


Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz has published more than 100 articles, 80 stories, two e books, a chapbook, and her stories have been included in two anthologies. She writes for both adults and children. Her fiction has appeared in numerous genre and children’s publications and non fiction work has appeared in a variety of writing, parenting, and young adult print magazines and on line publications.

Visit her web site at


Her writing blog is located at


 Her middle grade novel Ghost for Rent,

in trade paper back is available at

and as an eBook at


Her chapbook, Dragon Sight, is available at Dragon Sight


Tell me something interesting about yourself and/or your favorite character.

I grew up on the East Coast, but moved to the West Coast in 1977. I’ve been married for over 30 years and have two wonderful children, both of whom are married, and one grandchild. My husband and I love animals and live on six acres with three dogs and four cats, although my daughter insists we should move to a smaller place, closer to her. We’re thinking about it.

 I’ve been writing since I was a child, although I didn’t become serious until 1993. At that time, I took the Institute of Children’s Literature course and began submitting stories and articles. It wasn’t long before I became a published writer. My daughter was the one who encouraged me to branch out into novel writing. Before Ghost for Rent, all my work had been either short stories or non-fiction articles.

 Ghost for Rent came into being after a friend told me about her rental house being haunted. We live in an area where there are several places which are considered haunted, so it seemed natural that my story should be about ghosts. While my short stories are geared primarily toward adults, I felt I wanted my novel to be aimed at children. I’ve gotten a number of excellent reviews from people and have recently submitted a sequel, Ghost for Lunch, to a publisher.


Tell me about your new book. How did it come about and share your favorite excerpt.

Ghost for Lunch is my newest book. When I concluded Ghost for Rent, I left one mystery unsolved, leaving an opening for a sequel. I actually started Ghost for Lunch several years ago, but my day job changed, and I suddenly didn’t have time for writing as much as I wanted, so the story languished on my computer.

 After I retired in 2008, I dug out the beginnings of the story and went back to work on it. In the first book, Wendy, her brother, and her mother move to a haunted country house. Her mother insists there are no such things as ghosts, but Wendy, Mike and a new friend, Jennifer, go on a quest to find out why the house is haunted. They learn a young woman, Ruth, committed suicide after her brother was accidentally killed, but they never find out what happened to the young woman’s secret husband, Steve.

 In Ghost for Lunch, the kids make a new friend, Jon. Jon’s family has purchased a haunted restaurant. By following the clues, the friends learn Steve is the ghost haunting the restaurant.

 Since Ghost for Lunch isn’t published yet, I’ll share a scene from Ghost for Rent.





Wendy entered the house and stumbled over boxes scattered in the old-fashioned kitchen. Painted wooden cabinets surrounded an old porcelain sink. The window above the sink looked out at the driveway. A junky table someone had left behind took up most of the room. Mom had boxes stacked on it.

When she followed her mom into the dining area and living room, Wendy spotted the old piano against one wall. She shivered, thinking of Jennifer's story. Wendy and Mom climbed the narrow staircase to the bedrooms. She noticed a bathroom at the top of the stairs. Three bedroom doors stood ajar except for one slim one at the end of the hallway.

“Where does that door go, Mom?”

“Mrs. Sinclair, our landlady, said that leads to the attic. The key has been lost for a long time, but she said she'd have a new one made and bring it out to us. This is your room, honey. Why don't you get started here while I work on the kitchen?” Mom patted Wendy on the back.

Wendy watched her mother descend the stairs then turned back to her room. All her furniture looked crowded. This room was smaller than her old one in Portland. The walls needed a coat of paint. Tiny pink rosebuds dotted the faded wallpaper. She crossed the room to look out the window, pushed aside the yellowing crocheted curtains, and saw she had a view of the woods. She thought of the summer house and shivered. The trees looked dark and sinister under the overcast sky. At the far end of the meadow, Mike pushed his way through the tall grass.

First things first, she thought, as she found the box with her radio. She plugged it in, then turned the dial to a popular Portland station, thankful it came in clearly as one of her favorite classic rock tunes played. While she hummed to the familiar lyrics, she tackled the job of unpacking boxes.

Her folded clothes went right back into the dresser drawers. Hanging clothes, however, barely fit in the tiny closet. People must not have owned too many clothes when they built this house she groaned to herself, but she crammed in her jeans, vests, skirts, blouses, and jackets as best she could.

As she hung posters on her walls, she realized the room had darkened. She glanced out the window and noticed the sun was setting. She felt her stomach turn. A gagging musty odor attacked her nose, and a cold damp breeze stirred the curtains, although she hadn’t opened her window.

Her door slammed shut and her lights flickered off and on, off and on. She ran to the door, tugged frantically at the knob, but it slipped in her sweaty hands.

She tried yelling for help, but nothing came out except a harsh croak. Her lights still flickered when at last she wrenched the door open and burst out of the room. From of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw something by the steps. When she turned to look, she saw nothing.

With her heart pounding, and breath coming in short gasps, she ran down the stairs. “Mom! Mom!” she called.

“I'm in the kitchen, Wendy.” She heard her mom's voice, sounding normal and solid.

“Mom!” Wendy flew into the kitchen. “Something was in my room. A ghost or evil spirits. I smelled a weird odor then my lights started flickering. Mom I'm scared.” Wendy collapsed, shaking, into her mother's arms.

“Wendy, calm down. There's no such thing as ghosts, honey. You know that. The wiring in the house is old. It's just a short circuit or something.”

Wendy heard a snickering. Turning around, she saw Mike sitting in the living room. “What's the matter little sis? Ghosties in your room?” Mike burst into loud laughter.

“Mom, make him stop teasing me. I know what my nose smelled, and I know what my eyes saw,” Wendy pleaded with her mother.

The lights in the kitchen flickered. Wendy screamed and grabbed her mother.

“Mike! Cut it out right now. Stop trying to frighten your sister.”

Wendy pushed away from her mother. Mike leaned against the kitchen wall, hand on the light switch, grinning.

“I hate you, Mike,” Wendy screamed. She ran past him, hurtling up the stairs to her room.

She slammed the door shut, threw herself on the bed and pounded her pillow. The familiar scent of her mother’s laundry detergent tickled her nose. “I won't let him get to me, I won't,” she said out loud, each time her fist hit the pillow.

Wendy sniffled and brushed the tears from her eyes. “I know there's something here and somehow I'm going to prove it to Mom and Mike. I don't care what Mom says, there are ghosts and at least one lives right here.”

“Wendy, dinner,” Mom called from downstairs.

Wendy went into the bathroom and washed her hands and face. When she looked up into the old mirror, she felt a chill run down her spine. She didn't recognize the face looking back at her with the hair pulled on top of her head, replacing her normally unruly curls. Instead of a T-shirt, the girl wore a high-collared, puffy sleeved blouse.

Wendy swallowed hard, rubbed her eyes, and looked again. Her own round pudgy face stared back at her. She gripped the side of the old pedestal sink and blinked several times. Her face stayed the same.

“I must be tired.” She spoke to her image. Just to be sure, she ran her fingers through her own brown hair. The girl in the mirror did, too.

“Well, one thing's for certain, I'm not telling Mom about this. She won't believe me, anyway. Maybe I'll tell Jennifer tomorrow. I'm so glad I met her, at least somebody believes me. And you, whoever you are,” she said pointing at the mirror. “Just leave me alone!”


What’s your favorite part of being a writer?

 I like to tell stories, so it’s natural that I enjoy being a writer. I started writing stories to entertain myself when I was a child. My mother actually saved some of them. I don’t feel I have a mission to teach anything, but I hope children and adults who read my stories are entertained and want to come back for more.


What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

 The best advice I can give is to read. If there is a genre you want to write in, it’s imperative that you read already published works in that genre. If you want to write for children, read children’s books. Fantasy? Be sure to read fantasy books. The same goes for romance.

The other thing is to not be afraid to cut words from your manuscript. It’s awfully hard, once they’re written on paper to get rid of those words, but most of them aren’t necessary. Be sure your manuscript is professional and polished. Don’t just use a spell checker or grammar checker, read the manuscript several times. Put it away and read it again, checking for errors with each reading. Ask an unbiased person to take a look, too.


 How can clamoring fans find you?

 My web site is

 My blog site is

 I tweet at:

 Facebook is:


 Mary, thank you for allowing me to visit with you today.

You're welcome, Penny. I'm adding your blurb for Dragon Sight just because I like it:


Dragon Sight by Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz Chapbook {Sam's Dot Publishing}

Boy loathes girl. Girl avoids dragon. Dragon loves boy. Dragon loathes girl. Girl loves boy. Boy loves dragon. Consider the possibilities . . . oh, and did I mention the curse?

 "Dragon Sight" is illustrated by 7ARS.



Posted by mary-andrews on April 19, 2010 at 12:44 AM Comments comments (7)

Chastity Bush is the author of three published romance novels; Guarding Temptation a paranormal romance, Savage Rescue a historical romance, and a contemporary romance entitled, The Guarding of Eden. You can read some wonderful reviews for all three books at

Chastity is currently working on another historical and three paranormal romances and hopes to have them on the shelf for your enjoyment within the next six months. You can contact Chastity anytime from the contacts page of her website.


1) Tell me something interesting about yourself AND/OR your favorite character.

 Eden Campbell from The Guarding of Eden has to be my favorite character. She is full of spunk and sass. She says what is on her mind despite the consequences. I have been known to get into trouble doing that very same thing!


2) Tell me about your new book and share your favorite excerpt/scene.


As a Guardian it is Cole Douglas’s job to protect all living beings, mortal and immortal alike. When Cole is attacked by a female werewolf, he is shocked to find that his attacker is none other than his intended mate. Refusing to acknowledge that he has found his mate, Cole continues on with his job of hunting rogues, only to find that the beautiful creature he was attacked by is not only his intended mate but his ticket to finding the rogue werewolf he has been assigned to kill.

Unable to resist, Cole finds himself drawn to the woman unlike any before. From her golden brown hair to her amber gold eyes, Cole realizes that just because he doesn’t think he is ready for a mate, doesn’t matter when just a look from her can set his blood on fire.

Chloe Dunn is just learning to live life as a werewolf when the scent of a stranger sends her into a frenzy and leads her to attack him. Cole is dangerous and wild, something she needs no part of but the overwhelming pull he has on her is more than she can bear. The more time she spends with him, the more she wants him, needs him and will do whatever it takes to have him, even if it means placing herself in the hands of the very rogue that turned her.


“What is that?” He asked.

“How are we both going to get out of here? I’m covered with blood and you are half naked. Don’t you think that that might draw some attention?”

Looking around the room, he spotted a door along the farthest wall with a large exit sign hanging above it.

“Where does this lead?” He asked, looking back over his shoulder at her.

“It’s a fire exit; my guess would be that it leads out onto…a fire escape.” She finished sarcastically.

“You are a bit of a smartass, you know that?”

“So, I have been told.” She repeated his earlier words.

Smiling he nodded. “Well then.” he said, striding back to stand in front of her.

His chest only inches from hers, “Let’s go.”

Reaching down, he hooked his arm around her waist, lifting her over his shoulder.

“What in the hell are you doing?” She squealed.

“We need to move fast.” He answered lightly, as if that explained why she was currently slung over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

“I can walk.” She complained, wriggling about atop his shoulder.

The feel of her thighs beneath his palms sent heat straight to his groin. The sight of her firm ass next to his face, wriggling about as he carried her to the exit tortured him, begged him to reach up and squeeze the firm globes in his hands.

Shaking his head, he fought the urge.

“I know that.” He began, “But we will have to jump down at least one story, can you jump that far without hurting yourself yet?”

Stilling, she shook her head. “I haven’t tried.” She admitted reluctantly.

Was that something that she could do?

She really should have tested herself to learn all of the things she could do now that she was a werewolf but had not. Embarrassment and doubt clouded her mind to what she had become. Only the need to hunt forced her to believe that she was something other than human. There was still a very large part of her that leaned toward the possibility that she had gone crazy.

“Can you?” she asked quietly, “Jump that far, I mean.”

Stepping out onto the fire escape, he tightened his grip.

“Hold on.”


3) How has writing affected your life? OR What's your favorite part of being  a writer?

 I love writing. My favorite thing about it has to be that I can create any story that I wish. I can make my characters do anything and be anywhere that I want. Not only that, unlike a conventional job, I can write anytime, anywhere for as short or as long as I wish.

  4) What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Number one- Always research who you are submitting your story to. Unfortunately, there are publishers out there who are only after your hard work to line their pockets.

And number 2- Never doubt yourself. Don’t worry that your writing is too risqué or erotic. Don’t worry that your story is unlike something anyone else has written. Someone will like what you are creating.

And last but not least, do not let rejections get you down. Every author gets rejections. They did not become published authors over night. Keep on writing and submitting and you will get what you want sooner or later.


5) How can all your clamoring fans find, follow or friend you?

 I am everywhere! Readers can find me at     


 Face book-,


 And, of course, on my official website:









Posted by mary-andrews on July 9, 2009 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Aaron Turner is a meager man with a twisted body and a dangerous assignment. He's an underachiever in all ways except one; He can teleport to another world in which his body is whole, women to man ratio is 2:1, and the civilization is frontier-like.

A member of a private militia , Aaron is ordered to spy on a people he?s growing attached to as a forerunner to an interdimensional invasion. What new dangers will he face in this backwards civilization and where will his real loyalties lie?

Mr. Eller's ability to bring characters to life is remarkable. Aaron Turner?s thoughts and actions feel real though he is cast in the role of a bigger than life hero despite himself. For an engaging read, give this one a shot.

When's book II of the Turner Chronicles due out?


Available at:





Posted by mary-andrews on March 28, 2009 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (1)

With the opening of the Gap (an interdimensional gateway between Earth and Faerie Earth) everything changes. Earth finally gets the chance to meet real live dwarves, high elves and at least one dragon, while Faerie Earth discovers technology, eBay and junk food. For both worlds, cultural interactions become tricky. This sets an interesting stage for the two main characters.

Grace is a Nun in the order of Our Lady of the Miracles in the Faerie Catholic Church. She partners with Vern, a Faerie dragon bespelled by St George to serve humanity and the Church in penance for his past. Together, they solve fantastic mysteries, with the fate of the earth (both of them) at stake.

In this adventure, it's Sister Grace and Vern vs quantum elves, mundane lookeeloos, bulls and brownies as Karina Fabian brings to life an interdimensional clash of cultures at, of all places, a Mensa World Gathering Convention in Florida.

This thoroughly charming book successfully enmeshes fun, innocence,interdimensional Catholicism, mysterious happenings and truly magical creatures. The tale itself is well thought out and cleverly written in Noir style. I found myself openly laughing at the story's twists and turns and even some of the names.

I very much enjoyed this book and recommend it for all ages.



 Available at:






Posted by mary-andrews on March 25, 2009 at 7:31 PM Comments comments (0)

..., March 26, 2009



Garrett,a cowboy abducted from Earth,struggles to unravel what's happening, while trying to survive encounters with the other dangerous and diverse inhabitants of his new space faring prison/home. But what are his mysterious captors really looking for?

I very much enjoyed reading this book. The writing was clean and the visuals wonderful. Ms. Wills' characters, be they human or...not, were interesting and when the book ended I missed them all.

So if you're looking for a nice escape from this world's worth of trouble,check this one out and see how Garrett handles things.

Available at:






Posted by mary-andrews on November 15, 2008 at 5:39 AM Comments comments (0)

When I received this from the Freelance Writing Organization-Int�l I decided to share it for more than just it�s value as an excellent example of speech writing. Sorry it took me so long to get to it.  �Mary Andrews



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United States of America Election 2008

Transcript Of Barack Obama's Victory Speech



November 4, 2008 � In these prepared remarks provided by his campaign, President-Elect Barack Obama calls himself the unlikeliest presidential candidate. He thanks many members of his campaign,along with his enormous army of volunteers, and he warns supporters about what he calls the enormity of

the tasks at hand that now face the U.S. He concludes by telling an anecdote about a 106-year-old African-American voter from Atlanta. The victory speech was delivered at Grant Park in Chicago.



If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.


It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.


It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled � Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of red states and blue states; we are, and always will be,the United States of America.


It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.


It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.


I just received a very gracious call from Sen. McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Gov.Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.


I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the vice-president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.



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I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years,the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation's next first lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.


To my campaign manager, David Plouffe; my chief strategist, David Axelrod; and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics � you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.


But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to � it belongs to you.


I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington � it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.


It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the notso-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this earth. This is your victory.


I know you didn't do this just to win an election, and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime � two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.


The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year, or even one term, but America � I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you: We as a people will get there.


There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for 221 years block by block, brick by brick, callused hand by callused hand.



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What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek � it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.


So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers. In this country, we rise or fall as one nation � as one people.


Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House � a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.


As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends... Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection." And, to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president, too.


And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world � our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight, we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.


For that is the true genius of America � that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.


This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election, except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.


She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons � because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.



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And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America � the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes, we can.


At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes, we can.


When there was despair in the Dust Bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes, we can.


When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes, we can.


She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes, we can.


A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes, we can.


America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves: If our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?


This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time � to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.


Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.




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Posted by mary-andrews on June 16, 2008 at 11:31 AM Comments comments (0)

Linda Ballou is a free-lance writer based in Los Angeles.She writes adventure travel, and is a nature photographer whose works have been published in many national publications. Her numerous articles and essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and literary journals.

Her short story ?Look Both Ways on Small Islands? was included in the I Should Have Stayed Home anthology published by RDR Books.

She invites us all to view many of her articles and photos at her website: where if you look closely you may discover the Secret to Youth.

Her newest book is a historical novel Wai-nani High Chiefess of Hawai?I is inspired by the favorite wife of Kamehameha the Great.Its wonderfully flowing style easily recreates the almost magical qualities of Hawaiian culture.(It?s the next best thing to being there.)

Linda joins us today as part of her blog tour for Wai-nani High Chiefess of Hawai?i.To follow Linda as she tours across the blog-o-sphere check her schedule at

So tell us a little about yourself.Your bio mentions your appreciation for nature originally took you to Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands.Tell us some more about this?

When I graduated from the California State University of Northridge with a B.A. in English Literature, I was mentally and physically exhausted. I decided to take a year off to contemplate my career path and to determine if I was, in fact, a writer.The lure of the islands was intense. The sensuality and soothing calm of the sea and balmy breezes were what the doctor ordered.

�In my year on Kauai I was introduced to yoga, tai chi and eastern meditations all performed in the open air on the beach.Soothed by the purl of the waves and a soft wind, I received a spiritual awakening on the Island of Kauai that has made me a more centered human being and enabled me to cope with the stresses of modern life. The state of being in balance and harmony with nature is called Pono by the Hawaiians. It is a condition I strive to achieve and maintain in my daily life

While I was there I did a little freelancing for the local paper, conducting interviews of a few locals of note. The paper did a special that year on the arrival of CaptainJames Cook to Kauai in 1778. History tells us that the Hawaiians stabbed the famous explorer in the back. But, in my reading and talks with locals I learned that there were two sides to the story. Yes, Cook was killed by the Hawaiians, but not until he had eaten all their foodstuffs stored for the Makahiki festival, trampled upon their religious customs and tried to take an elder chief as hostage. This was the seed planted to so very long ago that germinated into the story told today by Wai-nani.

This must?ve been a massive undertaking to compile information for Wai-nani High Chiefess of Hawai?iabout everything from dolphin behavior to Hawaiian culture and mythology. How long did that take you? Do you have any favorite links to share with your readers who might want to learn more?

Wai-nani is the culmination of a thirty year long-distance love affair with the Islands. I enjoyed the research that took me ever deeper into the complexities of the Hawaiian culture. The Cook incident brought me to Kamehameha the Great and his wife Ka?ahumanu.It was prophesied that a chief would be born under a bright star that would bring the island under one rule. Haley?s comet blazed through the sky the night Kamehameha was born. His story seemed as fantastic to me as that of Jesus resting in his manger beneath the brightest star in the heavens to guide the wise men bearing gifts to him.

Ka?ahumanu, his favorite wife out of twenty seven, was brave, athletic and strong-willed. Her keen intelligence made her question the harsh penalties of the Polynesian kapu-system in place for 2000-years. She was responsible for the burning of the wooden images of the gods and putting an end to separate eating and much more harsh practices. I identified with this independent woman who bucked the system.

There is evidence of dolphins befriending and rescuing humans since ancient Greece. Even though her relationship with a dolphin family takes the story into the realm of the fantastic all the dolphin behavior in the story is taken from actual accounts with humans interacting with dolphin.When I was living on Kauai, I interviewed a woman named Bobo who was a long distance swimmer. She told me dolphin often swam with her and that they loved to play. It is not unrealistic to think that a woman, like Ka?ahumanu who often swam eighteen miles in a day would have a friendship with a sea creature.

Each book I read about the people of old Hawaii brought me deeper in the mystery and romance of the time. Eventually, I went to the Big Island to walk in the footsteps of the ancients. On this trip I visited all of the sites described in my book. The most memorable being the two nights and days I spent in the sacred Waipio Valley where the bones of the ali`i chiefs are hidden in caves.

As far as links go I would say that the Bishop Museum. on Oahu has the best collection of artifacts from Hawaiian antiquity. There is a great deal of information on their site. The University of Hawaii Press has a comprehensive catalogue of books on all things Hawaiian.

I loved the way you interspersed Hawaiian words throughout the story.It added a true ?feel? of culture.�� How did you determine which words to use and which not to use?

This was a natural process. In my reading of the oldest books on the subject I learned many of the Hawaiian words. I admit that I can?t pronounce all of them properly even though I know what they mean. When it seemed they were the best to describe something I used them. I tried not to over do this for the modern reader. There is a glossary at the back of the book to make it easier for those unfamiliar with basic Hawaiian words.

What first inspired you to become a writer?

When I was thirteen, my parents uprooted me and took me from sunny Southern Cal to a small town in Alaska. Looking back I can say I am grateful as this gave me a unique point of view and a genuine appreciation of nature. The move helped me become a more centered human being. However, it did set me apart. I was not quite an Alaskan, and no longer a Californian. I turned to books for companionship. Writers became my best friends. People who read obsessively have a tendency to become writers.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Jack London said ?The world is filled with boneheads and boobs. Don?t get hung up on listening to them. Just write from your heart. Don?t worry about them not understanding your work. They never understood his.

You need to be writing about something that matters to you. It must be a subject you really care about, or you won?t be able to stay with the story until it is finished. Writing is a craft, one that entails a great deal of work and attention to pains taking detail. I could not have brought Wai-nani to the professional level it stands at now if I did not have an editor to help me and a publisher who cares. The main thing is don?t give up on yourself. No one else can write your stories.

How would you describe your writing?

It is the best of me.

Would you like to post a teaser (few paragraphs from your book) here to give the readers a taste of what to expect?

Excerpt from Wai-nani High Chiefess of Hawaii-Page 122

Once beside Makaha my thoughts of death ended. I followed him to the cold blue bowels of a roaring wave. I could feel the pull of Milu as he tried to take me to his kingdom. I fought with all my might to paddle up the curving breast of the beast that dwells in the ocean. The churning rage over my head was about to drop on me when I slipped just under its snarling lip. I turned to make the drop and felt myself falling into eternity. I hit hard, nearly toppling over in the heaving swell. I shuffled back and forth on my board to regain my balance. Before I knew what was happening, I was encircled by an ice-blue tube shot through with light. I was inside the belly of the whale. Many moments passed in which I was lost toall but the immense power shooting me through the whorl of blue. It fired me out and down the face of the great wave.

I turned my board up and rode the crest to shore. When I emerged from the water my aura flew off of me in a halo of sparkling light. Pinpricks of light shot off my fingertips and the soles of my feet as I walked on the hard packed sand. The mystery of moana?the grand and vibrant sea?could never be grasped and made to stay still, I reminded myself. All one could do is let it go and live in harmony with it. I was content to live that day and did not re-enter the surf with Makaha, who continued wave-sliding for many hours like a dolphin born in water.

When the gods tired of the storm, the skies cleared to sapphire blue and three-colored rainbows burst over the valley. I took Makaha by the hand and led him up the canyon to Hi'ilawe and Hakalaoa, the twin waterfalls. These two streams plunging from the sky into a secret pool were once forbidden lovers. Rather than be separated, the lovers jumped off the pali together into the pool at the bottom of the falls to meet their deaths together. The joined water flows from the stream to the sea and supports the taro fields, feeding the fishes and nurturing the land.

?Like these streams our lives are forever bound,? I told him.

?My brave Wai-nani, you are my never-fading flower,? he said, rubbing my nose tenderly with his own.

?Your hard path is to be softened by the pure water of my love,? I said. We held hands and turned to watch the silken tracks of the dying lovers.

Your man website has already been listed above but do you have any other websites/MySpace/newsletter/blogs?

I am a member of the North American Travel Journalist Association

I have a page on MySpace, Author?s Den, Author?s Coaliton and various networking sites. But, I prefer people go to my page where they will find my articles, photos and a page dedicated to Wai-nani.On my site they can purchase a signed copy of Wai-nani and receive free shipping anywhere in the world.

Are you working on any other projects now?

I can?t wait to get back to Lost Angel Walkabout, my collection of travel essays. I have about 18 stories that I plan to compliment with interviews of inspirational people I have met along the way. I interviewed Tim Cahill, my travel writing hero, in his home in Livingston Montana. His writing is filled with good humor, adventure and information that he delivers in a conversational style that I admire. I am proud to say his interview will be in my book.

Wai-nani: High Chiefess of Hawai?i ? Her�� Epic Journey is an historical novel couched in magical realism set in pre-contact Hawai?i. Wai-nani?s character is inspired by the personage of Ka?ahumanu, the favorite wife of Kamehameha the Great, who was responsible for ending the 2,000-year-old Polynesian ?kapu system.?

�� The turbulent romance of these Hawaiian icons is set against the
backdrop of Hawai?i?s most dynamic period between 1740 and 1820. Captain James Cook arrived in 1778. Cook?s visit triggered change that facilitated forces already set in play by Kamehameha (Makaha), the warrior prophesied at birth to bring the splintered Island people under one rule. Precocious Ka?ahumanu, always the center of controversy, is revered by some as the loving ?Mother of the people? and by others as the ?flaw that brought down chiefdom.?

Wai-nani embodies all that was good in ancient Polynesian society. Athletic, assertive, and brave she stands beside her warrior-king husband sharing in his joys and sorrows for forty years.

Lubbock County Democratic Convention--or what the heck happens at one of these things?

Posted by mary-andrews on March 29, 2008 at 11:37 PM Comments comments (0)

This time, I attend as a delegate to carry the previous votes to the next step. I didn't get chosen as a delegate to the State Convention so this is as far as it goes.

Saturday, March 29


10:30 Doors open for convention registration at Lubbock High School.  The actual convention is scheduled to start at 1:00 pm and a multitude of emails, phone calls, and post cards have been sent to everyone to suggest arriving at 10:30.


My husband and I both attended the convention, I as a delegate, and Jeff as an alternate. 


10:45. We drove up to the parking lot. Already lines up to three people deep wound outside the front of the building.  Parking wasn�t too bad, but it didn�t matter since the walk to the end of the line spanned the entire building.  A nice young man directed people to the entrance closest to the end of the line.  It snaked slowly, but surely, through the hallways.  People were patient and pleasant. A fireman passed out red, white and blue leis or Marti Gras beads to Obama supporters�really dressed the place up and looked more festive.


About 12:45 we reached the tables at the line�s front and got registered.  Just as in the District vote, we listed our names, candidate choice, precinct, voter registration number, ethnicity, email address, phone number, age range, and whether or not we were disabled, gay, transsexual.  We were required to show at least a driver�s license and the attendees at each table cross checked each name with an existing list.  Then we were given a delegate or alternate card to wear around out necks and sent into the auditorium.


People at the door directed us to where our precincts were to be seated.  (Each seat had a precinct number to it�one for each delegate.)  As our group gathered, I was told that there had been a last minute change.  Hmmm.  It seems that our district 114 had been combined with district 4 so all of our delegate numbers shifted drastically.  Nobody can tell us why and we realize that the regrouping will drastically change our candidate�s delegate count.  Our district had 3 Obama delegates and 2 Clinton delegates.  District 4 was allotted 10 delegates total. 9 of them were for Hillary and 1 for Obama. When we arrived, we were guaranteed to have one Obama delegate and alternate.  but now we would be lucky to provide an Obama alternate from our combined group and our alternate would be backing up a Clinton delegate.  (Huh??)


The 114 delegates opted to try to find the Rules committee and make sure this was legal.  Cell phones turned out to be quite handy in this scenario because once you got the right name and number; it was possible to reach these people/committees sooner or later.  So we did what we could and then got to know the folk in precinct 4.  It turned out that though they had been allotted 10 delegates, only 4 of their Clinton delegates actually showed up and their Obama delegate was a no-show too.  Also, they had not been able to get enough people to volunteer to even fill their 10 delegate positions so they had only 9 and no alternates at all.  (I was told there was some confusion about having to travel out of town to this convention and their people would not participate.)


This unexpected turn of events is why we were able to elect an Obama alternate for the June State Democratic Convention to be held in Austin.  But prior to that, the question of whether other precincts� Clinton alternates could be used to fill their delegate positions.  Again, the phone calls and searching for the right official ensued, but we quickly determined that Alternates could not be shared among other precincts.


1:15 VERY loud music accompanied colorfully dressed children of the Ballet Folklorico (My ears still ring at the thought.)  and eventually a little girl from the Cactus Cuties sang the national anthem.  A very energetic, alleluia-type prayer was presented, and the pledge of allegiance got us started.


1:45 There is a call for delegates.  Each precinct is allowed to call for alternates to fill empty seats of missing delegates, but only from their own precinct.


2:10 Each precinct Chair (spokesman) is handed a packet containing instructions and materials needed when they vote for delegate(s) and alternate(s) to send to the Democratic State Convention in June.  Our precinct�s chair person was nowhere to be found because she was also a member of the Resolutions Committee which met through most of the day to deal with Democratic propositions that have been turned into the convention for consideration.  So we did not receive a packet and could not locate her and Precinct 4 would not acknowledge that we were supposed to be grouped up with them for any precinct votes.  (Sigh)


 2:15 Meeting is called to order. An overall chairwoman is nominated and elected to run the meeting.  Legalities are stated that include informing us that the presidential poll was performed at the door.  There are speeches and introductions�.


2:35 The instructions for delegate/alternate elections are explained: one person, one vote for delegate.  Whoever receives the most votes is the delegate; the next up is the alternate.  For a tie the delegation chair decides.  Then white cards are filled out with the winners� info and anyone who wants to apply to be a delegate at large need to fill out colored cards that will be handed into the credentials committee to be considered.  At large delegates and alternates fill in positions that are needed to properly represent the overall percentages/demographic.


2:50 The regrouping of the precincts is explained.  It seems that the Democratic Party utilizes the number of votes for Chris Bell to determine that it will take 180 voters to be represented by one delegate at the State Convention.    Some precincts did not have enough to merit a delegate so parings were reordered by demand of the Democratic Party if we wanted to be allowed to participate. (Extra people will be represented by At Large delegates


The precincts that had enough voters without having to be combined were:

1, 3, 7, 12, 15, 20, 30, 36, 41, 46, 47, 52, 66, 11.


Precinct groupings (as best as I could catch most of them) included: (5+35+92),  (8+120),  (10+54),  (13+112),  (14+129),  (16+40),  (17+126),  (18+38),  (19+104),  (21+57),  (22+50),   (23+58),   (24+33),    (25+45),  (26+117),  (29+34),  (31+121),  (39+44), (43+65+72),   (49+63+123),     (51+119),  (53+75),  (59+113),   (60+123), (62+102),  (67+110),       (76+128(?)),      (78+118),  (109+124),  (125+134),  (4+114).  

3:07 Credential meeting report is presented.


The floor is opened for challenges. 


Precinct 59 had a problem regarding their last delegate from their district convention.  It seemed that they had 27 votes for Obama and 27 votes for Clinton so they went 5 delegates for each candidate but decided to do a legal coin flip for the odd delegate.  The Obama camp won and was agreed upon but the paper work that was turned in did not properly document the process so the committee had to make a decision to determine the last delegate.  They were presented with witnesses and decided to let the Obama delegate choice stand.


An elevated Alternate (an alternate who was called upon to take a delegate position) states that he wasn�t told to go back to the sign in table and register his presidential preference.  He is told that he will have to do that.  He worries that this could be used by another to skew a vote through deception.  The Committee states that the delegates within each precinct caucus should be  aware of their own positions so the matter is settled.


The chair states that of the 728 delegate votes, Obama has 318 and Clinton has 410. 


The percentages to determine the delegate distribution will be 56.32% for Clinton and 43.68% for Obama.


It costs $128.00 per hour to use the High School. (A collection taken up later will provide over $1,000.00 from those who attended.)


3:30 Permanent Chair is elected.  Permanent Secretary is elected.

Meeting rules and committees explained.  Resolution process allows debate of proposed resolutions being proffered.  Debate time is limited from 5-15 minutes per side. Delegates are provided with a pro microphone and a con microphone where they may come up to the front and present their case for 1 minute each.


4:25 the resolution committee members consists of 5 Clinton supporters and 5 Obama supporters.  They have examined and decided on resolutions to be sent on to the State Democratic Convention to be considered for Party promotion.  They have organized them into categories and read them from a list.


The proposed resolutions include: health insurance for children�.some solar and energy legislation�privatization of health�disability changes�a bid to oppose caucuses�opposition to super precincts�support for super precincts�a proposal to include Florida/Michigan votes as they were or can be�abolition of death penalty�support nondiscrimination of illegal alien who have been established here....repeal the Right To Work Act in Texas�provide state employee pay raise�.state employment health and pension change�taxation on land�eliminate No Child Left Behind�promote education excellence in classroom�Social Security should not vary for public employees�reduce national debt�oppose immunity for contractors�prohibit torture�and many more items I couldn�t scrawl fast enough to  catch as they raced through the list.


A motion is made to approve sending all these resolutions as a packet to the State Convention.  There is dissension among the delegates.  Many of them do not want to include all of the committee�s resolutions in the packet. Discussion includes fear of illegal alien proposal and the fact that Obama�s name was not on the ballot when Michigan held their primary.  The committee agreed to change the wording of the Florida/Michigan resolution so that it did not state �as is� but only to allow their right to be allowed to vote.


The chair calls for a vote, but does not clearly state what is being voted on.  (681 votes are cast: 474 ayes and 207 nays)  Many people claim to have been confused as to wording of the vote so another is held.  (This time: 449 voted, 268 ayes and 183 voted nay but by this time, people are wearing down and leaving and the chair cannot seem to speak clearly. She is saying things like �the chair stands,� instead of stating things simply.  It was the reason for the repetitious voting and eventually wore the crowd down.


5:00 the Nomination Committee (consisting of 5 Clinton supporters and 5 Obama supporters) returns with the final word on the delegate count.  There are 64 delegates.  It is determined that 65% of the vote be given to Clinton and 35% to Obama (part of which included all 10 of the At Large delegates to Obama).  So Clinton got 41 delegates and 23 delegates for Obama.


many delegates protest this.  Clinton people complain about Obama getting all 10 At Large votes.   Obama people question the huge percentages.


Committee explains procedure and states that relevant rule pole results are used for delegates at large and that they confirmed their decision with the state party. 


Someone asked who they spoke with but no one could remember so it was motioned that the at large vote be sent to the Democratic headquarters for resolution.  This motion was refused as all rules had been followed.


Delegate substitution requests were opened.  A few were made.


6:45 Alternate�s list is read


7:05 Resolutions submitted during the convention are presented.

--create a task force to executive committee to help resolve voting problems especial for university students�approved.

--Affirm both primary and caucus and improve caucus�approved.

--Farm bill counter cyclic safety net to support farm income during periods of low commodity prices indexed to cost of production�approved.

--Fair trade agreement with foreign countries should not be ratified til human rights are addressed�approved.

--Establish national election budget to reimburse to state the cost of primary election (amended to say �for primary and caucus voting)�approved.

--Permanent disaster relief in congress�mandatory funding�approved.


There was a move to pass all the rest of the resolutions as a packet.

 It was requested that the last 10 at least be listed first.


They are:

--Teacher retirement system needs to be made transparent.

--opposition to voter ID bill.

--Resolution to promote positive human rights to protect undocumented immigrants.

--Abolish federal Real ID act of 2005.

--Add national voting machines to Democratic Party (standardizing).

--Bank and Credit card changes to reduce interest charges, remove unreasonable charges and penalties. Modify bankruptcy laws to relax restrictions and limits for individuals and business.

--Against tolling of existing roadways in Texas.

--call for a vote on the Trans Texas corridor.

--Resolution condemning all forms of torture.

--Resolve to support college, rescind 6 draw clause.


Motion to vote as a package excluding immigration resolution-- failed.


Motion to pass packet of last 10 motions-- passed


7:47 Gavel was passed to new County Chair.  Meeting adjourned.




Things I learned from this experience:


 It is most important to choose someone who understands how to communicate clearly and simply both as your precinct chair and as your convention chair.  If these people cannot handle stress and think on their feet, efficiency will/did crumble.


I think it was a major mistake/oversight that the convention leaders did not come prepared to deal with people with varying degrees of understanding and language skills.  All votes and explanations should have been kept clear and concisely short to prevent confusion and minimize frustration.  This alone could have cut as much as 3 hours from this meeting.   


Organization also could have saved quite a bit of time.  Everybody that I spoke to did not know that all the proposed resolutions we would be asked to approve or vote on were posted on the front walls and along a table by the entrance.  Hence the ensuing confusion and wasted time. 


This convention did not allow food or drinks other than water, and it did not allow any form of break or relief.  Fortunately for me, around 4:00pm another group in full violation of the �no food and drink other than water� mandate snuck in a stack of Pizzas and offered everyone nearby a piece.  Good thing since I�m diabetic and was starting to feel a little shaky by then.   


My precinct was seated up near the front, but my husband as an Obama alternate, was asked to remain in the back or go upstairs.  Since he is disabled, he stayed in the back rows.


 On one occasion he was accosted by a woman who decided he needed to change his support to the Clinton camp.  A nearby police man had to cuff her and remove her from the building. 


From what he said most of these problems were brought on by a single group of Clinton alternates who were trying to stir things up. He tells me there were at least 3 incidents where people came to blows because of their harassments.   They were not supposed to be involved in the voting.  He says they did whoop and holler their yeas and mostly nays during the verbal resolutions votes and nothing was done about it.


 I would suggest in the future that the convention at least place a few officials to run herd on this situation so that they could be warned or removed if need be.  There was a contingency of police officers present but they had no idea what was legal or not for the convention.  An official could have determined and deterred this behavior.


In conclusion, I�d like to state that, though I was an Obama delegate, the Clinton supporters I met and dealt with were a very considerate lot. So I suspect this is just the nature of large gatherings.  I think it was very inspiring to see how so many different types of people cared enough to spend almost 10 hours on a Saturday in a school auditorium to participate in the electoral process. 


Though the quick and easy push of a button does not inconvenience me as much, these caucuses really do provide a chance for everyone to participate, to voice their opinions and champion their causes and maybe even make a difference.  It was a good experience.  I�m glad I went.


 --originally posted at Marquel White's Political Pulse website.




HOW I SPENT MY TEXAS TUESDAY (a political blog)

Posted by mary-andrews on March 5, 2008 at 6:23 AM Comments comments (0)

With all the political whoo ha   going on lately, I decided to attend my first Democratic Primary this year because I finally felt the need to do so and I wanted to see how it worked for myselfThis is what I saw: 

The Texas Two-Step is actually the name of a dance, and boy howdy did the democrats do some steppin.�  


First we had to go to the polls and vote, and for ten days before our  Texas Tuesday (March 4,2008), we could cast that vote almost everywhere.  A couple of days after early voting started  I chose a nearby United Supermarket and stepped up to the plate.  There were no crowds and the people who manned the tables seemed very friendly and competent.  But since I�d never participated in a democratic primary before, I asked them, �So what�s next?� 


�You�re done,� they told me.

�No second vote or return visits or anything?� 

�Nope, that�s it.�


And I walked away with my red white and blue �I voted� sticker feeling that I had done my best for my candidate.


The day before Texas Tuesday I was all ready to sit back and watch the fireworks on TV when I got a call from one of the candidates� offices reminding me of the upcoming vote.


�Worry not,� I told them,  �I have already cast my vote for our fearless leader.�


�That�s great,� the cheerful volunteer told me, �but don�t forget to make it to the caucus by 7:00 pm to vote again.�




�Yes, in Texas you get to vote twice.  If you need to find out more about it call this number....�


�Do you know how this is done or how long it will take?�


�I know you have to sign in for the candidate of your choice, but I don�t know much about it.  If you�ll call that number�.�


I called the number�several times.  The lines were busy, so I assumed that I wasn�t the only one wondering why the news ( who had so very vividly told me how caucuses were held on the east coast) gave not the least clue about what was going on here.  I do remember some woman who was being interviewed about the upcoming election managing to throw in �be sure to vote twice.  In Texas we get to vote two times.� before she was cut off.   Hmmmm.   The city also released a phone number that would open Tuesday and answer any questions or deal with voting problems. 


I kept dialing and around 10:00 pm I finally reached someone.  They kindly confirmed the second vote, calling it a district caucus. They were nice and patient but not very forthcoming with details other than the name and address of my polling place and, of course, a warning that I should be there by 7:15 pm.    Okaaay.


I took my quest to my trusty computer.  A Google search for �Texas Democratic Caucus� found lots of general info, but no specifics so I finally fell back on my tried and true political aficionados: The League of women voters website: .


 ( I now wish that I had taken the time to read the voters guide that my husband brought back from the United when he had voted, but I thought  I was done with it and had other things on my mind.)   Their voters� guides always provide both the unbiased basics and they site their sources.  They had a whole page telling about how the Texas precinct conventions work (yeah that�s what our �caucuses� are really called). 


In a nutshell, the main vote pledges 2/3 of the Texas democratic delegates for nomination by the party.  The other 1/3 is awarded by precinct conventions.  Precincts are each allotted delegates according to their size, area, and who knows what else, but after the polls have ended, it�s members (consisting of anyone from that area who has voted) gather at their designated voting site and the fun begins. 


The start time was posted at 7:15 pm, but in reality, nothing could begin until the polls closed and the paperwork was checked.  So we sat and waited until near 8pm.  Our school cafeteria hosted voting for 4 precincts.  Four nice pink signs with precinct numbers were placed in four corners of the room.  As people entered the room, they eventually figured this out and gravitated toward their own.   Then we all waited to be told what to do.


A nice young man offered us stickers for one of the candidates.  We accepted, and so it became apparent what side we were on.  As I looked around, I realized we had pretty much all been labeled this way.  Nice touch.


As it turned out, our precinct was allotted 5 delegates.  A quick impromptu election of a presiding officer was held.  In fact, anyone could have asked for the job and gotten it if the official rep was not there (saw that in the LOWV site too).  We were instructed to sign our names, addresses, phone numbers, emails(optional), as well as gender, ethnicity, if we were disabled, if we were gay or lesbian, and whether or not we were interested in being a delegate or alternate to carry the precinct�s votes to the city convention.   


I knew from the LOWV site that each precinct had the right to hold their meeting however they wanted as long as they ran it by the Robert�s Rules of Order and Texas

Democratic Party Rules. Our precinct placed a couple of sign up sheets on a couple of tables and let people sign them of their own accord.  Nobody asked to see any ID or cards in our group.  I didn�t see any lists or anything to prove that I had previously voted, either.  Everybody filled out their information on the honor system, I guess. 


When the voting started, we were told that after we filled out our lines of the carbon copied form we could leave, and most people did. 


Our group was painfully disorganized and whenever I asked questions I had to pursue the answers or they walked away.  It was explained to me at one point that there had to be six votes met for a delegate to be acquired by a candidate, but that turned out to be the tie breaking process if an uneven number of votes were left over (all odd numbers would be rounded up to the number six, if it is not reached the delegate goes to the other candidate.) 


In the end, we had 48 people show up.  Obama got 26 votes, Clinton got 21, and there was 1 undecided vote.  That means Obama got 3 delegates and Clinton got 2  from our precinct.  But before this was announced, those of us who were still present had to vote on who would be our group chairman, our secretary, our spokesman. 


Then a great deal of trouble was spent determining what percentage of each candidate�s voters were men and how many were women, as well as the ethnicity of the men and women�s votes.  It seemed like a big waste of time to me, since the actual vote was all that should have mattered, but this had to be done to make the precinct delegates more representative of the voters they would carry to the city convention on the 29th.


I went ahead and volunteered to be a local delegate for my candidate and my husband offered to be an alternate.  On the 29th we will have to go to the city�s big to-do and cast the votes that have been pledged from our district.  I guess this is another one of those checks and balances to involve all striata of the population in the political process and to keep votes safe since there are no delete buttons involved.


I might also mention that right after we had closed the poll, chosen our officers for the meeting and were preparing to tally the votes a lady walked in and wanted to vote.  By the rules, the vote had already ended but she could have stayed and joined us for what we were currently doing.  She was upset that the notices did not specify what time the polls would close and opted not to stay.  Another gentleman followed her but his precinct had not closed their vote yet so he was in.


As for results, of the other three precincts one was allotted 2 delegates, and since two people from that district voted for the same candidate, Obama got both of them.


Another of the precincts had no one show up so their single delegate was taken by no one.  If a single person had shown, their candidate would have won that delegate. I asked if that would make it an undecided and was told that nobody knew.


The last precinct had 43 people show up. Obama got 22 votes to Clinton�s 21 so they each got 2 delegates. 


Overall, though it was frustrating to see the lack of organization, it was also interesting to see how the democratic party proportionally allows the interests of each precinct to be represented by 1/3 of their state delegates.  Not such a bad concept after all, huh?


Live and learn.     


Guest Blog: Joe Douglas Trent

Posted by mary-andrews on March 5, 2008 at 12:47 AM Comments comments (1)
It?s a good thing my subconscious knows the way home from work. Frequently, my mind concerns itself with matters other than driving, and my memory of the trip is hazy at best. It was one of those times recently when the subject of critiques took over.

I wrote a short story a while back, thought it had some potential, and decided to enter it in a couple of contests. With a deadline some months away, I ran it by the folks in my local critique group. Oddly, they found it imperfect. After some changes, I later sent it through again. Let me assure you that perfection is hard for me to achieve. I learned from the new round of comments and set at it once more.

If one critique is good, a dozen must be better. I asked for volunteers on a couple of writers? mailing lists and found six or eight more takers who didn?t know better than to just keep quiet. They all received a copy of the story, and within a few days all had responded.

The one thing that writers can all agree on is, well, I?m still looking for it. Each person gave me a unique look at the work from a different perspective. Some deleted unnecessary words. Others had issues with flow or clarity. Several gave me ideas for a different spin. Good and helpful suggestions all.

I confess: I did not use all of any person?s suggestions. Of the ideas I implemented, only a few word choices made literal appearances. I did, however, look at each comment and issue while keeping the story in my own voice. The work turned out much better than if I had forged ahead with no input from helpful fellow travelers.
The process taught me much about the crafting of a story, and I observed some things along the way.

I don?t know everything. Actually, I keep learning this, but that?s another story. I?m too close to see my own mistakes. I need the help of others to point out flaws and unclear passages, and sometimes to see an alternate tack that might make the story sing.

Writers, and others, will help you if you ask. Generally, you need to do all the homework you can first. Nobody likes to do the work for you, but most will help you over the hump if they are able.

Finally, there is value in community. When each helps the other, the group members benefit in a way they could not by themselves. The eighteenth-century economist, Adam Smith, described an "invisible hand" which helps guide our civilization. He said about a person who participates in society (or a critique group), "By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it."

 So, after this rambling, what am I saying? Participate. If you are a writer, join a critique group. If you?re a bricklayer, see how you can help other bricklayers. You and everyone in the group will benefit.

You can read about Joe and his work in progress  at




Simpleology course

Posted by mary-andrews on December 21, 2007 at 1:45 AM Comments comments (0)

I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.

12-28-07     Well, I never could get the course to download, and after Christmas their system could not verify their ad on my blog so they refused to give me the download.  Their live customer service folk aren't due back til Jan 2 so I'm pretty much done with this now.  If anyone else checks this out, let me know what you think about it.

The Simpleology site contains a highly recommended course on organization that was recommended by Randy Ingermanson in his blog a while back... 


MAGDALENA BALL: Sleep Before Evening blog tour Interview

Posted by mary-andrews on November 6, 2007 at 12:58 PM Comments comments (0)

Magdalena Ball is author of The Art of Assessment and Quark Soup.  She runs the popular Compulsive Reader website at .  Her short stories, editorials, poetry, reviews and articles have appeared in many printed anthologies and journals and have won several awards.  Sleep Before Evening is her debut novel.

 Tell us a little something about yourself Magdalena.  Where do you hail from? Have you traveled much?

I�m a New Yorker by birth but I now live in Australia.  So yes, I�ve traveled a fair amount.  I lived in the US until I was about 21 or so and then went off to England to do a post-graduate degree at Oxford.  There I met my husband and, after a brief return to the US, we migrated to Australia where we�ve been ever since.  We�ve now got roots in the Australian soil (and three children with Aussie accents) so traveling isn�t that easy anymore, but I still have a fondness for Europe, and family in the US, so traveling is definitely on the horizon once the kids are a little older if I�m not completely broke by then!  I might be at the Virginia Festival of the Book next March, hopefully with family in tow.

I understand you have a husband, three children, and at least one part time job.  I have trouble getting my cat to let me write.  How do you fend off interruptions?

I don�t really fend off the interruptions.  I just work with them.  You kind of have to get used to working in conditions that are often chaotic.  A Zen like ability to keep calm and keep writing even while dinner is burning, the kids are fighting, the boss wants his measures, and hubby is due home from the office in 10 minutes and the house looks like twin cyclones just passed through, really helps.  If that fails, a fair amount of screaming helps release the pressure! Honestly, you just have to a) commit to doing a little each day and b) accept that you will never get a quiet house or a big block of time to write in, so you just have to get to it quickly � here, now and whatever else is going on.  A clear idea of what writing I want to accomplish each day helps me focus and go directly to it without wasting time.   If all else fails, I�ll make use of the chaos to write a poem about chaos.  When my kids are fighting a lot, I�ll put fighting kids into a scene I�m writing.  Writers have a definite edge!

Where did you get the title for your book Sleep Before Evening?  And, who is M,D,O,G from your dedication page?

Sleep Before Evening is from a line out of Walter Pater�s The Renaissance written in 1873.  The full line, which sums up the theme of the book, is: �Not to discriminate every moment some passionate attitude in those about us, and in the very brilliancy of their gifts some tragic dividing of forces on their ways, is, on this short day of frost and sun, to sleep before evening.� It�s about creating secular meaning in our lives by recognizing the beauty in each moment, in those we love, or even in the most mundane details of our existence � about keeping that sense of wonder which is the crucible of art.

M is Martin, my dear husband.  D is Dominic, my first born son � now 10.  O is Oliver my second son � who is 8 next week.  G is Genevieve, my daughter who is 4.  I suspect I�ll be dedicating everything I write to them as they form the nucleus of my life and are the main source of my inspiration.

What do you think is the most important thing for a new writer learn?  Do you think these things are best learned on the job, or not?

Writing is like any craft in that you have to learn mainly by doing. That is an answer to both questions � it�s probably the most important thing for a new writer to learn.  You can certainly learn by reading, by exploring others work, by attending classes, conferences and workshops.  But all of those are adjunct activities.  Without working at it by �doing� or by writing, it�s all theoretical.  We all have a voice but it only becomes polished and beautiful with use.  Otherwise inspiration is meaningless and all the advice and lessons in the world are wasted.  So the key lesson is that in order to become a good writer you have to write, every day if possible.  The ability to write well isn�t handed down to us by a bountiful, detached muse.  It comes, like any other talent, by working hard at your craft, writing badly, copiously, and frequently, until you begin to develop a skill; an ear; a capability and a confidence. 

You have so many wonderful reviews and they all praise your writing style.  You have a beautiful, almost musical style.  How do you do that?

Thank you!  I have a tendency to think and write in metaphor, even when it isn�t entirely appropriate.  Poetry is certainly my most natural medium, so the style is simply one which comes naturally to me.  What�s harder for me is to work against that in structuring, plotting, ensuring that cause and effect follow in the world around my character, not just within my character � to pull those submerged voices into a world that works.  But I am a poet first I think, and hence my prose style tends to be rich in imagery and fairly poetic.  

Your book really illustrates/illuminates the artist mentality.  You seem pretty well versed in both visual and audio art forms.  Do you dabble in other arts yourself?

I dabble, badly, in music and art, but really as a very minor kind of hobby.  My sons both play music though and Dominic, my older boy, is a gifted pianist.  I drew on what he was doing for some of the music sections, and in fact, he was practicing Dvorak�s Largo while I was writing, so I just used it (�Dom, what notes did you just play?�).  But there was an awful lot of research that I had to do for this book!  I spent a lot of time visiting galleries, sometimes scribbling furiously while staring at a painting to try and capture the visual image in words (a good exercise which I recommend to other writers).  I spent a lot of time listening to music and trying to translate that sound � holding my fingers a certain way over the piano and watching them move.  And my family is filled with artistic people � my aunt is a painter.  My uncle is a composer.  My parents are both musicians. I have writers, musicians and artists throughout the family (Don Katz, who now runs Audible, actually wrote a book, Home Fires, about my mother�s side of the family).  I was able to draw on that artistic vein, and where I still got it wrong (and I sometimes did, in early drafts), was given lots of advice on correcting things.  My mom was my best proofreader and editor � she was fantastic (correcting my appalling American accents too � it has been 20 years since I�ve lived in the US!).  

Do you have a favorite scene in Sleep Before Evening? Why or why not?

Being something of a romantic, I like the first time Miles and Marianne meet under the arch at Washington Square Park � the fleeing from The Figaro and the trip to the Statue of Liberty (helps me deal with my homesickness too!).  But maybe the most important scene is when Marianne takes the phone call from Miles in the last chapter, and then composes her piece.  I think it synthesizes much of what went on before. Also the paragraph that follows, about Wittgenstein.   

Would you like to post a teaser from Sleep Before Evening (a few paragraphs) to give the readers a taste of what to expect?

 Sure, I�ll give you an exclusive.  This hasn�t been posted anywhere, nor have I read it publicly. 


�The music book�s paper was thicker than the Chinese diary Eric had given her as a child, but she felt the same connection with the young self that once wrote in the Chinese book.


          Marianne sketched notes on the staff, testing them on the piano and then returning to the book to write them out. The motion was almost effortless, her head full of the loss of Grandpa, Julia�s red plaits, the hunger she still felt for drugs, Miles and their trip to the Statue of Liberty, to the Planetarium, and her father, writing and playing and writing again until her shoulders and arms ached and the music score paper was full of black dots, circles and lines; a secret code that her mother wouldn�t be able to crack. The music book was a diary that allowed her to skip the commas and conjunctions that undermined her attempts to explain how she felt and went straight to the heart of sensation.


          Her grandfather used to quote Wittgenstein to her: �Describe the aroma of coffee. Why can�t it be done? Do we lack the words? And for what are words lacking?� He was trying to improve her English. �What can be said, can be said with clarity: What can�t be said, must remain unsaid. The language defines the limit, beyond that limit is nonsense.�


          But Eric was wrong. She leaned back on the piano, her fingers stained  with ink. Wittgenstein was wrong too. Emotions and feelings couldn�t always be expressed in words but they could be expressed with a clarity of  

their own in other ways.


          She had always thought of herself as cerebral. A left brain thinker, like Eric, struggling with her linguistic limits and unable to say what she felt. Playing the first movement of her piece, she felt herself moving beyond the limits of her language. She was creating meaning where words couldn�t go. She banged her hand against the piano, whispering: �yes.�

Then she closed the cover, laid her head on the piano, closed her eyes and slept dreamlessly.� (313, 314)




Do you have any new projects in the works?

          Always.  I�m writing a full length poetry book which I�ve provisionally titled Impact Enigma.  I�m also working on my next novel Black Cow, which is about a tree-change, set in Australia this time.  Then Evie�s Song � a novel about my grandmother set in the Catskill Mountains of NY State during World War II (that�s an ambitious book with 3 points of view and 3 time frames).  Then probably Goethe�s Daughters, about Goethe�s favourite grandson who traveled to NZ, met a Maori priestess named Puhiwahine, fell in love and spent the rest of his days as a NZ farmer.  It�s a true story and I just found out, with great delight, that my son�s friends mother is his great great great great granddaughter.  The story has never been told and I might just do it as nonfiction if she lets me, as it�s quite a story.  There will probably be a few poetry books between the other novels as well � just for a break.  I do try to keep open to serendipity though, so if some tremendously exciting project looms on the horizon, everything might change as I make way for it. 



Well, thank you for coming by and good luck with your book tour.  More information about Magdalena�s future appearances can be found at


 Sleep Before Evening                                                    

 Marianne is teetering at the edge of reason. A death in the family sends her brilliant academic career and promising future spiraling out of control until resentment towards those who shaped her past leads her on a wild and desperate search for the truth about herself. On the seedy side of New York, she meets Miles, a hip musician busking the streets and playing low-rent venues in a muddled bid to make his own dreams come true. In her new life, she finds anarchic squalor, home grown music and poetry, booze, drugs, sex, violence, love, loss, and above all, exhilarating freedom on her troubled journey from sleep to awakening. This gritty, relentless story unfolds with the same cool detachment that motivates the central character to peel back the layers of her life and expose the painful scalding within.


Darrell Bain's Savage Survival Blog Tour Interview

Posted by mary-andrews on November 4, 2007 at 1:40 AM Comments comments (2)


Darrell is the author of three dozen books and as many short stories, in many genres, running the gamut from humor to mystery and science fiction to non-fiction and a few humorous works that are sort of fictional non-fiction, if that makes any sense. He has even written for children. For the last several years he has concentrated on humor and science fiction, both short fiction, non-fiction (sort of) and novels. He is currently writing the fourth novel in the series begun with �Medics Wild.�



Mail to Darrell Bain can be addressed to him from his web site,


Hi Darrell, It�s very nice to meet you. How did you get started writing? 


*I've liked to write since I was twelve or so but I didn't get really serious about it until buying my first computer in 1989. The word processing program made writing and correcting mistakes seem like magic, so easy that the first thing I did was write a novel.



I understand you are a multi-genre writer. How did that happen? Do you find this advantageous or have you run into problems doing this?


*I've always been an eclectic reader so I suppose it was more or less inevitable that I'd wind up writing in multiple genres, but my favorites are science fiction, thrillers and humor. I have no difficulty writing in other genres, though. I believe it widens an author's grasp of plotting and dialog.



 In your author�s notes you mention �the guys at Winnfield who contributed to the prison vocabulary,� there has to be a story behind that.  Tell us more.


*Yes, unfortunately. My youngest son is serving a long prison sentence because of getting mixed up in drugs. He likes to read and introduced my books to the guys incarcerated there. When I needed to do some research on prison patois for Savage Survival, it was the natural source to go to. And I have a number of fans there, including the warden.



 How would you describe your new Sci Fi novel, Savage Survival?  It doesn�t sound very upbeat. Your bio said you�ve been concentrating on humor and science fiction. Is there any humor in this one?  Why did you write it?


*There's not much humor here. Just as the title suggests, it is a story of survival, following an eleven year old girl as she grow into a young woman under a succession of horrible environments. She is mixed with millions of other humans who have been kidnapped by invulnerable aliens and placed into situations that are extremely difficult to survive. Why are the aliens doing this? That's one thing she wants to live to find out, but she is alone, with no parents or guardians to guide her and only her innate sense of honor, her bravery and her unwavering belief that there is goodness in most humans if properly led sustains her through the long struggle. Actually, the novel is upbeat. It shows just how much pressure a growing young person can survive and still remain sane and retain their moral sense.


I'm not sure why I wrote it. Perhaps it was a result of seeing orphans in Vietnam struggling to survive on the streets and even care for younger siblings. I admired their bravery.


Another reason I wrote it is because the idea, theme, the plot and the central character, Lyda Brightner, popped almost full blown into my head one day, a rare event for an author. The novel practically wrote itself.



Do you have a favorite character?  Why?


*Oh, yes. Lyda in Savage Survival is by far my favorite. I love her and think my readers will too. She represents everything that is good and brave and admirable in our species.



Would you like to post a teaser (few paragraphs from your book) here to give the readers a taste of what to expect?


*Sure. Here's a few paragraphs from the second chapter. 



        �Ma�am, do you know where I can find some water?� Lyda asked the old woman politely.

       �Girl, you need a protector to get water around here. Where�s your folks?�

        �I�I don�t know,� Lyda told her. She didn�t want to tell anyone that Dad was almost certainly dead and that Mom�well, she had been trying to protect her, too.

       �Then you better find someone quick, lest you�ah shit, leave me alone.� The woman covered her face with her hands and began sobbing.

        Lyda went closer, wanting to comfort the old woman but she was shrugged off, then pushed forcefully away when she tried again. Puzzled, Lyda left her alone and began wandering again. What was a protector? Well, probably someone like a parent, she thought. But how do you find one?

       One found her, one who had watched and listened, a tall grungy man in his forties with a two day beard and a gleam of desperation in his eyes. He was wearing the remnants of a suit and had a sweat-stained tee shirt wound around and over his scalp to protect his bald head from the sun.

       �Hey girl!�

        Lyda turned toward the voice. Before she could back away, she found herself being gripped by the upper arm.

       �I can get you some water, girl. What�s your name?�

        Lyda didn�t answer. She didn�t like his looks. She glanced around, looking for help. The few nearby adults turned away. One man started toward them but stopped when he saw the grungy man show a large pocket knife with the blade open. He turned away.

        �Come on girl. We�ll both get some water.�

        �I don�t want to go with you,� Lyda said, trying to wrench her arm away. That only made the man grip her tighter.

        �What�s your name, girl?� He repeated, squeezing her arm so hard it was painful.

        �Lyda,� she said reluctantly.

        �Okay, Lyda. I�m Boris. Come on, let�s go get some water. Maybe some food, too.� He began walking, pulling her along by her arm. His long legged stride forced her into a half walk, half run in order to keep up. His breath was heavy and gasping, with a wheeze to it like his throat was dry, the same as the gritty desert sand. He led her for a half mile through and around small groups of people and halted beside a large outcropping of rock that provided shade for a scruffy looking gang of men and women.

        A big dark haired man stepped forward, holding a sharp pointed rock in his fist. He also wore a two day beard, perhaps three days. �What we got here?� he asked. His question was asked in a pleasant tone of voice that contrasted with his feral appearance. He reminded Lyda of Wolverines she had read about, only bigger.

       �Something to trade,� Boris said deferentially to the big man. Now he was holding Lyda by both arms, forcing her to stand in front of him.

        Lyda began to grasp what was going on now. There was a pile of supplies being guarded by this group. Every one of the men held either a rock or a pocket knife in their hand. Several of the women had armed themselves, too. She could see what looked like red bricks stacked in piles beside open containers of water that came in tubs made of some gray material. While she stood there a woman, closely accompanied by a man wearing jeans and windbreaker and holding a rock in his hand, leaned over one of the tubs and cupped water in the palms of her hands and lifted it to her mouth. She did this several times, then stood up. Her companion grinned at her like she was a prize he had just won from the coin toss at a county fair. He reached out with his free hand and squeezed one of her breasts. The woman winced but stood stoically. Then he led her around the stone outcropping, his hand already sliding down under the waistband of her slacks.

       �She�s too young,� the big man said, still speaking pleasantly, looking at her, not the couple who had just left. Lyda detected an undertone to his voice, like the trill of a clear mountain stream that held poisonous algae beneath its surface.

       �She�s a virgin, Big Bill. Never been had. Ought to be worth something.�

        Lyda made a violent effort to wrench herself out of Boris� grip. She got one arm free but not the other, and before she could use her loose arm to try to claw or strike her captor, he had his forearm under her chin, pressing up so hard that she couldn�t breathe.   

        The man named Big Bill laughed. �She�s a feisty one. All right. One brick and all the water you can drink. Then go.�

        �But�Big Bill��

        �That�s all. I could just take her.�

         Boris relented. He shoved Lyda forward into the arms of Big Bill and scurried for the water tubs.




Note: All the book isn't this starkly oppressive. There's love involved, too, and how Lyda overcomes continuing adversity will surprise the readers.



Do you have any new projects in the works?


*Yes, I'm currently collaborating with Travis S. "doc travis" Taylor, A NASA scientist with five advanced degrees who is also a best selling science fiction writer. Its title will be Human By Choice. My next novel Bark! is a partly humorous story of an addled dachshund that saves earth from alien invaders that will be in print in February. And I'm working on two other novels.



Well thank you for dropping by.  It�s been a pleasure meeting you. Good luck on the rest of your tours. I�ll post your blog tour schedule below so everyone can follow your travels. 


*Thanks. That was nice of you. And thank you for inviting me.


What if an alien race appeared from the stars and without notice or explaination began herding groups of people from all around the world into camps and then carried them away?


 Many books and movies have addressed the the negative nature of mankind when faced with disaster.  This is the first one I've ever read that goes beyond a reversion to the primal creatures we can become as chapter by chapter we witness how the captives struggle to survive and discover why the aliens taken them.


Darrell Bain's Savage Survival introduces the affect of civilization and idealism through the most unlikely character--an 11 year old girl.


Her story will stay with you long after you finish reading it.


                                                --Mary Andrews.

Here is Darrell�s scheduled stops on his November blog tour below.  I would also like to mention that Savage Survival is a Special Limited Edition Hardcover which could easily become a collector's item.   Happy trails�.


Nov 1

Nov 2

Nov 4

Nov 5

Nov 6

Nov 8

Nov 9

Nov 10

Nov 11

Nov 13

Nov 15

Nov 16

Nov 17

Nov 18

Nov 19

Nov 20

Nov 21


Nov 23

Nov 25

Nov 26

Nov 28

Nov 30