books, fantasy, Uncategorized, writing

Join my mailing list for never-before-published short stories and more!

I’ve decided to start my monthly newsletter in earnest … just as soon as I figure out the proper format for it! Writers newsletters in general can be rather boring, so I’m trying to make mine brief and interesting. I’ll be including a very short story in each of them – 200 words or less. Readers are welcome to submit prompts for the following newsletter’s story.

Intrigued? Well, of course you are!

Join up here. I pledge to only use it for occasional contacts and to keep you email confidential. Think Fort Knox, here.

If you join via my listing on InstaFreebie you will also receive a free book of fantasy short stories by yours truly and co-author Janet Loftis.

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books, cats, fantasy, Uncategorized

A Prize and a Promo

Who doesn’t like cats? And who doesn’t like pens?

Depraved individuals, that’s who! And you’re not depraved in the least, right? Well, I have a special opportunity for all non-depraved, cat-loving, pen-using, book-reading individuals. Isn’t that lucky?

Here is the pen in question:

cat pen

It’s from the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah. I visited it over the summer and was blown away by how amazing, beautiful, and all over excellent the whole facility is. Its motto is “save them all.” Thousands of animals are euthanized in shelters across the country every day. This needs to stop, and Best Friends is taking action to do just that, through education campaigns as well as running the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the country. The sanctuary has dozens of buildings for animals, gardens, corrals, fields, and cabins for rent, all framed by beautiful red rock hills. Truly a paradise for animals and animal lovers as well.

Anyhow. I was very impressed and I’m happy to support the organization (which has many affiliated organizations throughout the country) however I can. Enter the cat pen.

Blah blah. Let’s get to the important info – how do you WIN it?

It’s pretty simple.

Sign up for my reader’s newsletter herehttp://eepurl.com/DoEz5. That will give you a chance to win it.

Yup, that’s it. I send out brief updates about my books, works in progress, sales, promotions, graphics, and so forth every other week. You’ll always find links to free and low-cost promos that I participate in as well. It’s especially great for fantasy lovers, but I also include info about my historical romance and humor occasionally as well. Of course you can unsubscribe any time you like.

I’m choosing a winner who will be announced in my February 1st email newsletter. Sign up before then.


And remember how I mentioned promos I always announced in my reader’s newsletter? Well, here’s one of them that is active just until the end of the day on the 20th.

Click on the graphic for a boatload of free and low-cost reads. Woo hoo!

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reblogged, Uncategorized

Art from Stone

I love the way these art pieces evoke a feeling of flow and movement, of sweeping ease. My small acquaintance with art – making mosaics – has taught me how difficult and time-consuming it is to create art, which makes me appreciate it even more.

We last featured Johnny Clasper’s incredible stonework in 2015 and since then he continues to delight his clients with his beautiful dry stone works, free-form stone sculptures, and pebble mosaics. Based in Yorkshire, England, the award-winning artist is available for commissions and projects and you can reach him through his website and official Facebook…

via Johnny Clasper Carefully Places Stones to Create Amazing Works of Art — TwistedSifter

hiking, photography, travel, travel memories, Uncategorized

The Spanish Countryside in 10 Photos

happy-new-year-2018-vector

Happy New Year! What a blessing to watch the calendar flip to a new page yet again. May your 2018 be filled with peace, protection, prosperity, and all good things …

Like travel.

Two and a half years ago I walked the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage route across northern Spain ending at the city of Santiago de Compostela. There the cathedral is said to contain the bones of James the Apostle of Jesus Christ, who is thought to have come to Spain to live out the last of his life.

The traditional beginning of a pilgrimage in the Middle Ages was to leave from one’s front door and walk toward Santiago de Compostela. This led to a network of paths all across Europe. One of those is the French Way, which starts in northeast Spain and continues across the country for about 550 miles. In recent decades, this pilgrimage route has regained popularity. Today, around 200,000 people walk it each year.

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In 2015, I was one. Though time constraints and unexpected injury constrained me to completing only 350 of those miles, I did more than enough to receive the certificate of completion–the compostela. I’m proud of my achievement. Peregrinos–pilgrims–like to say that when you walk the Camino once you will be compelled to return. Indeed, it is so. In March my husband Dave and I will walk from Portugal to Santiago, a distance of 117 kilometers.

March is not that far away and we are both getting nervous about the trip. We’ll be increasing our activity considerably from now until then. And we’ll see that Dave is properly equipped, since I already have my gear. But there’s more to do–house arrangements and work deadlines and spiritual preparation. 

Below are the top ten pictures of my 2015 Camino. They serve as inspiration when our nerves get the better of us. Perhaps they might inspire you as well?

10. For grain storage. Much nicer looking than a silo.

no 4 grain

9. View of one of the countless beautiful villages you pass on the Way.

overlook

8. Idyllic scenes abound.

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7.  As do magnificent ones like the cathedral at Burgos.

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6. Always with the great views.

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5. And reminders of how far you need to go.

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4. Fields and hills and simple village churches.

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3. But glory is inside some of these churches, though plain from the outside.

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2. Along the way you find acknowledgement of your journey, like this medieval pilgrim, with wide-brimmed hat to stave off the sun, walking stick to assist, and water flask for thirsty times (almost every village has a free fountain filled with sweet, clean water).

sculpture

  1. And my favorite photo – storm clouds threatening but light all around them and color before them – beautiful fields of mustard.

Matthew 17:20 – He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

mustard

Perhaps one day I will meet you on the Road?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

books, historical romance, humor, new release, romance, Uncategorized

New Release Day … Antarctic Romances

Am I serious? Antarctica? Like, with the whiteouts and zillionty degrees below zero and icebergs running into the land?

Oh, yes, my pretties. And you will like it.

The Icebound Series

All Mouth and No Trousers

A romantic novelette in the Icebound series, an ongoing collection of polar delights.

Behold dogsleds and penguins. Howling winds and cold, pitiless wastes. This is Antarctica, where the intrepid inhabitants of the frozen ends of the earth battle the terrain, and each other, to find love—in a past much like that of the early 1900s.

Amidst the scientists and explorers at the British Antarctic base in 1900 there are a few women who serve as maids, cooks, and nurses.

Then there’s Electa Yellowsmith.

The beautiful blonde secretary has no problem attracting male attention, but she’s got her eye set on Commander Gorge Elderbatch. He may yell like a longshoreman and drink like a fish, but Electa likes the cut of his jib, and the idea of being an officer’s wife.

Gorge has enough trouble with ice crevasses, blizzard forecasts, and upcoming polar expeditions without his smart-mouthed secretary defying him at every turn. What could a looker like her want with a grump like him, anyhow? Especially since he’s sworn off women after his disastrous divorce.

Gorge may be as dense as an iceberg, but Electa hasn’t yet met a man she couldn’t charm. Though if that doesn’t work she has plenty of schemes that just might. The result is a comedy of errors and explosions in a frostbitten frontier.

Order Ebook Now! Free on Kindle Unlimited, $1.49 for purchase

Amazon.com

Whiter Pastures
Xina Marie Uhl

Reluctant spinster Florance Barton fled to the British Antarctic base to escape a scandalous love affair, among other things. Amidst the handful of other women there, Florance is the perfect chambermaid, meek, mild, and forgettable. No one has a clue that she’s also a novice spy.

When handsome young Handy McHanagan arrives at the base, he sets everyone agog. He’s charming, artistic, and … an accomplished gardener. His arrival may just be a mistake on the part of naval command. Or is it something more sinister?

Killer seals and subzero ice storms and aren’t the only danger in Antarctica: a enemy spy is on the loose. Florance has been ordered to choose between queen and country and her heart. Because penguin is off the menu now–and murder is its replacement.

Order Ebook Now!

Free on Kindle Unlimited, $1.49 for purchase (FREE through 12/29!)

Amazon.com

 

books, freelance, guest post, Uncategorized, writing

Meet Guest Author, Xina Marie Uhl…

Look, everyone! I wrote something! About … writing. These are some of my best tips and tricks for getting the words down.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

As someone who writes nonfiction for kids for a job, I find myself confronted with an obstacle that primarily affects me when I work on my personal fiction. Which is, I don’t want to do it. After all, for my nonfiction I have an editor and a deadline and most importantly, I get actual money from it to pay my bills. Those things get me typing away. And while I’m working on making more of a profit with my fiction, I don’t have the same motivation in terms of structure and incentives that I do with my nonfiction. So here are some things that have helped me get my words down despite the financial incentives.

Major. These actions have had the most effect on my productivity.

  1. Goals and Deadlines. I always have one project or another in the works so for me there is no shortage of things…

View original post 1,055 more words

reblogged, Uncategorized, writing

End of Year Tech for Writers: 20 Ways To Speed Up Your Computer

What could be a better Christmas gift than a faster computer? I can think of little else! Well, unless someone wants to fork over 10 million dollars. Or pizza for life. Or five trips around the world.

WordDreams...

online presence This week, I’ll post three holiday activities that will get you ready for the blitz of writing you’ll swear to accomplish in New Year resolutions. Here’s what you’ll get (the links won’t be active until the post goes live):

  1. Update Your Online Presence
  2. Speed Up Your Computer
  3. Backup and Image your computer

Today: 24 Ways to Speed up Your Computer

There are two ‘speed’ problems that arise when using computers:

  • the computer itself is slow, for lots of reasons
  • you are slow–meaning: You have too much to do. We’ll deal with this later…

I post this every year and have included several great suggestions from readers. Here’s what you need to do:

View original post 1,107 more words

ancient history, books, cats, general wackiness, Hiccups in History, literature, nonfiction, research, review, Uncategorized, US history, writing

Cats in History

Hiccups in HistoryAlthough Reddit can be, in the immortal words of Obi Wan Kenobi “a wretched hive of scum and villainy,” it is also the source of historical amusement, if you are selective about the subreddits you follow. One of my favorite is Old News, which shares interesting old newspaper articles on various and sundry subjects. A couple cat-related ones I discovered lately earn the Hiccups in History designation.

Forgive the yellow highlights, which I can’t seem to get rid of. These items are from the California Digital Newspaper collection, which lists sources from 1846 to the present.

Capture

Since I have a currently untitled Icebound tale in the works that is set in 1910’s Alaska, this one caught my eye. I wonder about how H.J. Coleman’s cat scheme turned out. It is rather ingenious, though how in the world did warmth-loving cats fare in Alaska?

Capture2

And then there is this one, in which cats are meant to combat “great armies of gophers.” Did they put on armor and sally forth with tiny little swords, guns, and tanks? I’m reminded of this infamous gif:

giphy

Currently, I’m almost finished reading a wonderful nonfiction history of cats. I haven’t been able to find much in the way of real history about animals so I was thrilled to find Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat by L.A. Vocelle of http://www.thegreatcat.org. The book relies on artwork and literature primarily to fill in the historical gaps, primarily in the ancient time periods, and even through the Middle Ages. Artwork and literature are useful in that they demonstrate the presence of cats and how they were conceived of, at least by the social class that is depicted, and they are particularly pleasant to examine–not always the case with books, unfortunately!

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The author also makes use of some older histories of domestic animals published in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It’s always a bit perilous to write a complete history of anything because an author opens herself up to claims of “but you forgot this and that” which I suppose I am super sensitive to, but this book seems to carry it off with confidence.

It is written in engaging language and focuses on particularly interesting–and sometimes tragic–instances and individuals important to feline history. It proceeds chronologically and while it is well-written, it is also largely unbiased, another important feature of historical writing. Relevant photos and pictures are provided, a timeline, lists of tombs and cemeteries in Egypt to do with cats, and a voluminous references section. In short, this book is a giant YES and will be included in my future historical writings.

If you have any other references for me to check out please feel free to leave them in the comments.

 

books, freelance, history, travel, Uncategorized, US history

The Negro Travelers’ Green Book – 1954

When I was a freshman in high school, we moved from a comfortable home in the heart of Phoenix to the boonies, the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. My dad worked in Indian Health Service, and he got a job at the hospital there. We lived in the “compound,” a group of homes constructed for the government employees.

There, stray dogs were endemic, and horses also ran wild, their coats knotted and their tails tangled. One horse left us a gift the day we moved in: a gigantic dump of manure two feet from the front door.

My time on the reservation was the first time I was a true minority, and it was an eye-opening experience. Here I was among people who not only looked different than I did, but spoke differently, and had a different culture. I rode the bus into Globe, about 20 miles, because there was no high school on the rez. All the way into town we sat silently on the bus, not talking. The driver played music as we wound along the remote road, mesas to the left of us and arroyos to the right. A bus full of white kids was a raucous affair – everyone chattering and laughing and moving back and forth to different seats. Not so Indian buses. On the weekends, strains of traditional Apache music filtered from the radio, across the parched earth. I had two good friends – twins who were Indians from Mexico. The other kids called us “Oreo” because when we would walk the two darker girls were on either side of me, the white one.

Soon enough we moved into town and I was once again in the majority. I was reminded of my experience when researching for various freelance writing jobs that dealt with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. One of the surprising pieces of information I learned was that African Americans could not just jump in their cars and travel across the country in the early to mid 20th century (and probably beyond, too, depending on where they went). They had to be careful to stay in placed that welcomed them. Places they would be safe, and accepted. They had to make use of guides like this one, The Negro Travelers’ Green Book:

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Take a look at the page for Alabama, Arizona, and Arkansas. It’s sobering to see that some listings are for personal homes, because hotels or motels in the area couldn’t be trusted. The same was true for other travelers’ services.

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About Comics in Camarillo, California has recently begun reprinting old copies of the guides, which were published from 1936 through the 1960s when at last legal segregation was outlawed. These guides provide a sobering, and educational, look at the history of everyday life, and what it meant to live in a country where skin color was – and still is – so crucial to one’s experience.

books, literature, review, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Half-Drowned King

Here’s another of my Historical Novel Society reviews – this one all about the Vikings and drowning, which seems to be a thing in publishing lately, for some odd reason.

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The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker. Harper Little Brown, 2017. ISBN 9780062563699; $27.99, Hardback.

It is 9th-century Norway, and the Vikings are sailing, raiding, battling, and attending the gathering of peoples known as the Thing. Ragnvald Eysteinsson, a young warrior, finds himself betrayed by the very men he fought alongside, and left to drown in the cold waves of the Viking seas. His sister, Svanhild, faces challenges of her own back home, where she must navigate the social waters of suitors. The mercurial Solvi juggles political alliances and personal attachments deftly, and the warrior Harald of Vestfold—King Harald—comes to claim the loyalty of Ragnvald in a move that will change the course of each character’s lives.

A first novel, this title is also the first book of a trilogy. The author can trace her own lineage back to King Harald and, inspired by this family history, she has studied Norse history and literature for many years. Her attention to detail is the most enjoyable aspect of this book, which does an excellent job of evoking a vibrant society from years past. The opening scene, which finds young Ragnvald dancing across the oars while his ship sails, is evocative, dreamlike, and overwritten. The rest of the book follows this pattern.

This is the kind of book to sink into and enjoy for its beauty and atmosphere, not the kind to read for thrilling adventures or a complicated plot. The characters spend a lot of time debating things in their heads, and this trait serves to slow the narrative. However, if you are patient and in the mood for a period piece that brings to life a bygone era, you may find this volume satisfying reading.