What Awaits in 2018? #MFRW

Week 52 – the last, final post for 2017 blog challenge.

Colorful fireworks over a night sky

I gave up on New Year’s Resolutions several years ago,  but I do set goals for myself for the coming year. What’s the difference? A resolution is something you hope happens.  A goal, a smart goal is something you set for yourself with a specific framework and a deadline.

This past year – 2017 my goals were as effective as resolutions. Why? CANCER.

I’ll admit, I didn’t see that one coming.  I let it derail me. I was shocked, stunned, reeling from the diagnosis. Then the whirlwind of prompt action from the doctors had my head spinning. The only time doctors act swiftly is when it’s a serious matter,  so I felt an additional stress imagining the worst –  what if it was stage 4, what if it had metastasized, what if . . .  but it wasn’t the case. THANK GOD, mine wasn’t nearly as bad as some. Praise the Lord –  it was found early.

The point is though,  they were swift in all their actions and then rushed me to treatment. I barely had time to think. It was the next appointment, the next treatment.  I lost control of my life from March through August.

In August, I evaluated where I was in comparison to the goals I had set for myself and cried. Seriously,  I just sat there crying for nearly an hour before I decided to do something about it. Then I looked at what I could do and pushed myself to get Roxy completely revised so that I would have at least one book for Penned Con.

I did manage to lose some weight, although the goal I had set for myself was 50 pounds,  I have lost 46 pounds. Still a win! (It was a 48 but I had extra portions over the holidays.)

From September through now, it’s been a difficult battle with dropping pounds as the medication that I have to take is known to cause weight gain. In addition to my slow fat storing metabolism,  I now have an additional obstacle, but I’m winning, slowly!

I had set a goal for myself to read 100 books this year, didn’t make that one.  I have read 25. Most of those have been hard copy print books. The ability to focus was lost during treatments. Chemo brain is a very real thing. So, I’m cutting myself some slack and counting this as a win as well because I have managed to read most of those since August.

What about 2018?

What goals will I set for myself this coming year?

  1. Publish 5 books in 2018: Valkyries Curse: The Awakening, Book 2: Trial of Aegir, and Realm WArs book 1 –  I haven’t decided on a title for that one yet. This is the precursor to Faere Warrior: Passion’s Price – which has been finished for ages,  but held back because my former media coach advised me to write the prequel first. In addition,  the release of The Blood Key in a fantasy anthology, then I will release in paperback in September. And one other one – I may have to do a poll with my readers to see which one they are more interested in because I can’t decide.
  2. Continue with healthy eating and lose 40 more pounds.
  3. MOVE! We plan to move closer to where my husband works because now he commutes for an hour each way. I have discovered one major flaw in our moving plans,  they don’t have a community pool in that area, so my aquacize classes will be gone. My solution?  We need a pool of our own! (You like how I worked that in there?  You think I could maybe get a tax write off for medical therapy??)
  4. Finally get my office! We’ve been through this before, I’ve worked hard to clean an area in the basement, shared pictures on here then it was promptly taken over for another use. Can’t even tell you how pissed off it made me. Then with cancer, I honestly didn’t have the energy to fight it.
  5. Enjoy living! Carve out time to spend with ones I love and care about, do the things I enjoy, have some fun in life! This will become a priority because I am prone to get overwhelmed with all the things that should happen that I forget to enjoy everyday life. Stress less and live more!

That’s it. Those are my goals for this next year. Not a twenty point bulletin of overachiever perfection. Not a ten point attack on every area of my life. Not even a 12 month, 12 item list of things I’d like to see happen. Simple, basic, achievable yet challenging goals that will improve our quality of life.

Cancer changes things.  It really made me see how much time I waste on fretting over things that don’t really matter, conceding on things that do matter to me, and wishing I had more time for what really matters –  the people in our lives.

What about you? What are your 2018 goals and dreams? Not going to say resolutions, because we blow those before the end of January!

You can find the other authors participating in this blog hop HERE!

This post is included in the prize drawing for the flash fiction fest –  so leave your comment!  All commenters are entered in drawing for this week’s prizes. (See post yesterday for the list of prizes, I don’t feel like typing it in yet again!) All entries will be put through randompicker and the winner will be selected!

Best wishes to each of you, and have a Happy New Year!

Write on my friends, write on!

Revision #32


For as many years as I have been an adult, I’ve always  implemented a bit of advice my father shared with me during a fishing trip.

He had asked me what my plans were for a future career.  At that time, I was planning to pursue  becoming a psychiatrist. After he explained to me how many additional years of schooling that would require, I decided to change courses. I sometimes wish  I hadn’t but that is neither here nor there. The point is adjusting my course.

“There are several options that are available to you. College has a limit, however. Your scholarship will only cover four years, so make those four years count. Make certain that the path you choose is the one you want. You can always adjust your course but it’s more difficult. It’s always good to evaluate where you are as opposed to where you want to be. If you are on the wrong path, get back on the right one.  If the path you’re on meets with a dead-end, then  look around at  another route or change the destination.”

Those honest words spoken in advice when I was 17 or 18 have stuck with me. I assess where I am,  in comparison to where I want to be. Always adjusting  my course.

When one door closes another one opens. When one path is blocked you must choose or make an alternate route.

It’s one thing to set your heading in a direction, another to check to make sure your ship is running true. Mile markers along the way let you know you’re on the right path or  if you’ve gotten off track.

“Memphis? We should be seeing signs for Lexington not Memphis!”

Set your  course and  head to your horizon.  I’m having to adjust my sails into the wind.

 “The second star to the right, and straight on till morning” 

 – James M. Barrie

I hope you find your dreams, your Neverland where your inner child never ages. It’s where the fountain of youth really lies.  Our outward bodies  will waste away, but the internal spirit lives on, changed and transformed  by each life lesson, our hope renewed and invigorated.  Such a grand adventure in store for each of us!

Pursue your goals,  chase your dreams,  and never give up!

Write on my friends, write on!



Multiplicity versus Singularity

I’ve been struggling with a concept for  some time now.  Thanks to my friend Misty, I think I’m beginning to see the fog clearing.

There has been much talk in the writer community about branding, creating a distinct logo to identify yourself from others. I see my peers with fancy designs,  symbols, something they identify as setting themselves apart from the crowd. Meanwhile, I am standing back here scratching my head,  I don’t get it.

One author has a Celtic symbol with a phoenix, another has a Celtic knot, one has  ruby-red lips dripping blood, one  has a dragonfly, another a fairy. . . I don’t identify with just one symbol.



If I had to pick just one image,  I don’t think readers would “get” one of those twisted trees standing on the edge of a cliff weather-beaten  but still standing.


A geode comes to mind because inside a plain-looking rock are fascinating treasures. But again, this seems rather singular. I’m not a one or two-dimensional person. There are numerous facets to who I am. I don’t just write in one genre, but many. I don’t  think a single symbol defines the multiplicity of aspects that go into my craft.


I look at authors I read –  George R.R. Martin; Stephen King; Diana Gabaldon, Nora Roberts, Hemingway – shouldn’t your writing set you apart from others?

Do you think that C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien discussed  logos amidst the elf discussion?

“Why don’t you just use a blasted elf for your logo? Everything you  write has elves in it.”

“I suppose you’d use that stupid Lion. Like that hasn’t been done a thousand times. I suppose you could use your  lamp-post. OH but wait, that’s been used as well.”

“Stop mocking my lamp-post. Why wouldn’t I use Aslan? He is a symbol within himself. The allegorical king of all kings.”

“For heaven’s sakes man, move on.  Can we just get back to the writing? I want to delve into the beginnings of my wizards.” 

“Ugh! If it’s not elves it’s wizards. Fine. But first, let’s have a spot of tea.”

However funny it might be,  I honestly don’t think they discussed logos.

But then again, I seem to be an antiquated element within my profession. I’ve worked for years on my craft. I’ve written more words than many of the published authors  out there. I believe in quality first. Yes, so much to the point of perfectionism and setting my work aside because I see every flaw, every  spot where I could do better.

One thing that was very difficult for me in the publishing process with Eclectic Bard Books was the cutting of the umbilical cord.  I had a deadline. I spent grueling days going over my prose — fine tuning, changing, and rewriting —  It came down to crunch time and I knew I had to jump.  One of my fears was confirmed with one reviewer calling me on the “rushed” chapters. I wanted another week to rewrite them,  add to them and have them fully baked.  I knew they lacked some oomph, but that deadline was fast approaching.

It did teach me  however,  that at some point, you have to take a deep breath and jump. Let it go. Release it to the world  to enjoy, tear apart, or ignore.  This fueled my passion in a way that I had been lacking. I’ve since taken a few of my previous works from their dusty storage bins to assess how much work they will need before being released.

I’ve worked on being a better writer. I’ve worked on crafting a good story.  I’ve learned  about the elements that make a good story, how to string my sentences together, and how to do so using good grammar. Maybe  not always great grammar, but most often it has to do with my poor typing.  Yes, there are mistakes in my work as there are in most author’s works. Yes, There is always room for improvement.

I am a storyteller, a creator of fictional worlds, a teller of tall and short tales. Basically, I make up lies.

How is it  that we have moved past appreciating  quality works such as Lord of the Rings, The Illiad, Wuthering Heights to  indulging in trashy novels such as Twilight saga and it’s Satan spawn, 50 Shades? In what society do some of the descriptions and phrases of these texts sound sexy?

“Desire pools dark and deadly in my groin.” – Dark and deadly? Does it emit some toxic secretion? No thanks.

“My inner goddess. . .” – this phrase is used so many times it isn’t even funny. My inner goddess says be original or  go home.

“How could he mean so much to me in such a short time? He’s got right under my skin… literally.” – yeah, kind of like a festering splinter.

OK, enough about those.  Back to my point.

Quality work should be the first step in branding yourself.  Why have a platform that declares – I WRITE CRAP! What sets you apart from other writers?

Hopefully a unique voice.

Hopefully, a unique style.

Hopefully, a standard of excellence.

Be a BADASS writer that breaks the rules, pushes the boundaries, explores new horizons, dares to be themselves in a world of copycats.  Work hard, do your best, and be yourself! I’m a one of a kind original masterpiece! A masterpiece that has  many colors, nuances, voices, and some deep caverns that have yet to be explored.


I am indeed a dying dinosaur amidst a hoard of lemmings.  The push is to get something out there, anything. Make a logo that people can associate with your name and build your platform!


You want a logo?

You want some symbolic image that people can associate with my author name?

Here you go!


Now Excuse me while I get back to writing. I have some changes to make  on Valkyrie’s Curse: The Awakening from my beta reader’s comments.

Write on my friends, write on!



A to Z Challenge – H

H – House


 old town house

old town house

I absolutely love this old house! This is not my house! This house was built in the 1800’s. There are at least ten  homes from the 1800’s in our town. This one is by far my favorite. There used to be a porch swing on  the wrap around porch but the current owners removed it. This house has character and history which I would much prefer over a cracker box lookalike home.

If there was something worth a touristy stop in our little town, this would make a perfect bed and breakfast, or a tea house. Some day when I am rolling in the dough and can buy this house I may make it into a Victorian Tea Room that serves Mint Juleps and Hard Lemonade along with delicious strawberry shortcake and lots of pie!

I’ve always wanted to buy an old home and do renovations on it. This one has been kept in pristine condition so there wouldn’t be much work to be done.

Some day!

Write on my friends, write on! Dream on as well!



Secret Doors

This post was one of the first that I shared on Quotidiandose.  It is difficult for anyone to bare their soul and expose their weak spots. I’ve been involved in teaching a course dealing with emotional healing and recovery from abuse for the past ten years. It is still difficult.  I can, however, get through sharing my story without inconsolable sobs.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

I hold my head a little higher than I did a few years ago, carry myself with more confidence that I did a few months ago, and I look for the bright side of life on purpose.  Each of us has a touch of destiny in our lives, it’s up to us to find it. It takes work.

All rights reserved to original artist. I do not own copyrights to this image.

All rights reserved to the original artist. I do not own copyrights to this image.


Those parts of us that we hide away from everyone else, whether it’s for acceptance or for some other reason, they still remain.   Some have skeletons inside and others have treasures that were never opened.

Abuse in my childhood put skeletons behind one door.  I was ashamed, scared, and scarred.  I didn’t want everyone else to know my personal hell.  Their view of me would be colored with the stains of my shame.  I wanted desperately to fit in and be accepted.  In more recent years I faced those skeletons and kicked them out.  I’ve spoken publicly about it.  The scars, the shame, and how it colored other areas of my life.  I’ve shared my heart, the hurt, and the pain, and some people look at you like you’re damaged goods.  Others, most often the ones who have experienced the pain themselves listen and hear.  It has been cathartic for me and those I’ve shared with.  I’ve been an open book, shared things that kept me bound in shame, in anger, and rebellion for years.

A certain woman who experienced the same things as I did to a greater degree came up to me after a public speaking session and poured her heart out.  We cried together, comforting each other.  There is healing in revealing, and those skeletons don’t keep me bound in chains any longer.  I didn’t have the perfect suburban upbringing as my peers, I experienced dysfunction.

For years, I allowed it to color who I was and how I saw myself.  It has shaped me — both good and bad — to who I am today.  I am thankful for the opportunities to help others break out of their prisons.

I still have secret doors, though.  Secrets that were stuffed inside, hidden in a shoebox under the bed.  Secrets that were shelved and now covered with cobwebs.  Recently, I dared to open one of my secret doors.  I found hidden treasures and shed some tears at my forgotten dreams.  I’m coming to terms with myself, the parts I locked away and hid from the world.

Unrealized potential and unrealized dreams.

It’s amazing what a couple rays of sunlight can reveal in a previously dark and dreary cobweb-filled scary room.  Tattered mementos that were long forgotten, happy moments that I rarely allowed myself.

I gave up on myself for many years.  I went through the motions: giving to others, fulfilling my roles, but experiencing no personal joys.  It just wasn’t worth the pain of failure.

What failure?

Failing myself.  An ever-present sense of unworthiness that clouded every aspect of life.

I made decisions based on what other people wanted and expected of me.  I’ve taken responsibilities and commitments that are acceptable in the eyes of my family and friends.  I’m not exactly sure when it started, but I have reached the point where I am no longer satisfied with status quo.

I’ve always been a bit of a rebel and nonconformist, but most people would be surprised to realize just how much I have conceded and conformed.  I know precisely  and how much it has been killing me inside.  I haven’t been true to myself, nor pursued my own dreams.

I took those items out of that room and threw away the key.  I’m examining each one and evaluating whether they are valid or just childhood fancies.  I’m never going to take a wooden raft on the Mississippi River like Tom Sawyer.  I have a healthy respect for the Old Muddy and have no desire to do that anymore, plus I have a few more operative brain cells than I did at 11.  It was a nice visit to a childhood fancy.  Other things, I’ve decided I’m going to tackle.

Just as in spring cleaning there are three boxes: keep, file, and throw away. the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn was the first book I read voluntarily, one that sparked a lifetime love of reading.  The folded and yellowed piece of paper with a raft, colored in a childish manner will go into a scrapbook – a fond memory.  There are other things that were just silly and are no longer relevant.  I looked them over but decided to discard.

The ones to file, now that’s what prompted this post. They go along with my SMART goals.  Things I still feel are viable worthwhile goals and are worth attaining.  There’s going to be work but anything worth having is worth working for.  Ironically I found a shell of who I thought I’d be and it doesn’t even resemble the me I am today.  There are some aspects of the me today that are better, but the longing in my heart for those other dreams, well  it’s time for a change.

My personal pursuit for life, liberty and happiness were derailed.  After all, doesn’t the Constitution guarantee us these inalienable rights? It’s not the government’s fault that I’ve failed myself – epically.  That responsibility lies solely on my shoulders.  It’s back on track and I’ve got turbo fuel in the hold and the engine is revved up and ready.  I don’t think many of my friends or family will necessarily approve.  I’ve lived for their approval long enough.  I want my own approval because if you can’t have an inner peace with yourself, what does it really matter?

Some of my secret doors have been locked so long, I think I’ve lost the keys.  Maybe I’ll find them in this new chapter.  If nothing else, it will be an exciting adventure and, at least, I will know that I tried.  I don’t want the regrets of omission to cloud my consciousness.

It’s time for revision.  I’m about to rock the boat, hope you have a life jacket!

Write on my friends, write on!




We make them every single day of our lives.  We make multiple decisions  – every – day.  Most of us get to a point that we don’t even think about the decisions we make,  we  are on auto pilot. For instance in the morning,  getting my cup of coffee, brushing my teeth and getting dressed are automatic things that I no longer consciously think about before doing.

Regardless of whether I am consciously or unconsciously  acting, these are  decisions that could affect not only my future but my here and now. Not brushing my teeth could affect work relations instantly! Long term I could be looking at dentures.

Most of us do those types of things having made the decision a long time ago that this is the right action. There is nothing wrong with that.  We’ve made the conscious decision at some point that this is the action to take. We are in charge. Our decisions today affect our tomorrow and either move us towards the future we want,  or a future we don’t want.

We decide what clothes to wear. It seems this is a harder decision for women than men with the changing fashions.  We decide what foods to eat and when we eat them. We decide the route to take to work, although that one often goes on the automatic pilot track.

Some decisions are weightier than others. Do I accept the transfer at work?  It will mean relocating to a new city where i don’t know anyone. (I can’t help but wonder where  we would be today If I had  taken that transfer to Honolulu. )

Before you make a decision, you should ask yourself how it is going to help you tomorrow. How will it help you 5 years from now?

Choosing to splurge on that pizza  is fine for the weekend game with your buddies but it can’t be the mainstay of your diet or else you will find yourself in the ER with  a heart attack weighing in at 300 pounds when you are 48.  Choosing to lounge on the sofa all day long is fine when it’s snowing outside and you don’t have to  be anywhere specific. But if you chose, say next Tuesday and every Tuesday thereafter to be a couch potato and  binge watch Supernatural  while eating pizza will soon land you in the unemployment line, and eventually out of your apartment and on the street with no TV.

One decision leads to another. A series of bad decisions carries you to  a future that  is  sad, sometimes wondering where did I go wrong?

It’s this way  with weight gain.  Oh, I’ll just have one brownie. Later  that night you choose the pizza instead of the grilled chicken.  The next day you feel lethargic so you get the jumbo sized soda. After a month you’ve gained weight and can’t imagine why.  Hmmm,  gee I wonder. All of those decisions have blurred together with a bad case of amnesia.

What about your financial future?  A string of small expenses that didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time add up to quite a bit over time.  Then suddenly, your washing machine goes out.  It happens.  Appliances are known to break at the least opportune time.  You don’t have the money because you splurged on that cool leather jacket, and then that nice dinner  out that ended up costing way more than you planned especially after the fourth margarita. OH, and then there was the fast food purchases because you were running late. Oh yeah and the little trip you took with your bestie when her boyfriend dumped her.

It’s not the glamorous life.  It’s not even the cool life to  be conscious of every decision but it is a life that will carry you to your dream future.  Many years ago,  I  reached an epiphany. I remember it like  it was yesterday. The recliner broke,   the mechanical footrest thing on the sofa broke, the dishwasher broke, and the dryer went out all within a week.  Our children were in grade school.  My husband was finishing his bachelor’s degree. The company offered tuition reimbursement but what we didn’t count on was the interest that accumulated while carrying thousands of dollars for the semester.  OK, so we were young and stupid!

Over the course of  two years we had 5000 dollars of student debt that the company was not going to reimburse between the interest and the cost of books. This is when our appliances decided to go belly up. We had a decision to make.  We could just put it on the credit card and add it to the amount. It’s what most people would do but not us.  We had already decided that we were not going to live in debt. We had made a budget and the decision that we were going to get out of debt and stay out of debt.

We made trips to the laundromat every week.  I washed dishes the old fashioned way, with my hands and we decided that we would sit on lawnchairs if we had to, but we were not going to  run up anymore debt.  It was uncomfortable.  It was difficult, but it was a decision that we made and stuck to.  It was challenged on every turn.  There were multiple opportunities to just use the credit card.

My point is,  you have the opportunity to direct your future by each decision you make.   Each good decision builds on  the last one. Think before you just react on autopilot.  Sometimes the right decision is not the easy decision. Aren’t you worth the hard choices?  Isn’t your future worth a little bit if discomfort today?

Ask yourself where you will be in six months if you choose option A or option B. You have the keys to your future in your hands each and every time you make a decision.  You can create your own destiny and own it instead of ten years down the road feeling victimized by life and kicking yourself.

There are times for a swift kick in the butt,  but that isn’t one of them.  What can you do today for yourself tomorrow? What can you do today that will move you in the direction of the future you want?

Think about it then act accordingly.

Write on my friends,  write on.





Nine days to go before Kentuckiana Author Book Blitz where I will be debuting my book RED WINE & ROSES.   Available in print and eBook.

So much more to do, so little time to do it in. Therefore, today will be a quick down and dirty NINE post.

  1. NINE sinful temptations to make your mouth water, but not one of them a Rainbow tuptate!


2. NINE roses from Derek to Julia, each with a declaration of love along with each one.


3. NINE INCH NAILS – Derek can be dark and brooding when left to his own.

4.  NINE Days until Kentuckian (see link above).


5. NINE love songs that were on my playlist while writing Red Wine & Roses.

OH, well you’ll have to see Cathy Brockman’s blog to read that list in October.

6. NINE inches cut off my hair – GAH!  But it looks much healthier now.

7. NINE  wineries lined up for an author signing/wine tasting blitz!  (In the works, will let you know when it’s finalized!)

8. NINE characters that you will learn to either love, . . . . or HATE!

9. NINE more books in the queue to keep me writing and  tethered to reality so I don’t float away with giddiness.


LOVE LOVE LOVE all my readers –  you guys rock!  Thank you to each and every one of you that have visited and followed.  I hope  that you will love Julia and Derek’s story as much as I loved writing it.


Write on my friends, write on. And keep dreaming!

Out of the Comfort Zone

My guest today is Catherine Banks.  We may do an interview later, but today I’m  handing over the  platform to her.  Catherine  has  touched on something that is near and dear to my heart – motivation.  Encouraging words that build you up not tear you down, words that inspire, words that lift you out of the miry muck – words of excellence!  Dare to dream!

Leave her a comment at the end – let her know what you think!


Step out of your Comfort Zone

and Achieve your Goals


Catherine Banks

 Since I was four years old I have been a storyteller. My first recorded short story was when I was five and I told my grandmother a story as she typed it out for me. That desire never left and I continued to write stories or daydream a story throughout the day. As a freshman I was introduced to the world of fantasy via The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien and since then I have been obsessed with fantasy. At the end of my sophomore year I finished my first full length young adult fantasy novel. I had never felt more accomplished. After rewriting the novel a few years later it was suggested that I try to get an agent for publishing. I sent out one query which I received a generic rejection email from one day later. I was crushed and I decided that I would no longer try to get an agent.

In 2010 I discovered Createspace and Smashwords, which are free online self-publishing websites. The fear of rejection was almost overpowering. Most especially the thought of putting my work out there for the world to see, but despite my fear, and with a lot of convincing from my husband who offered to draw my book covers, I self-published my first novel. I set a modest book sales goal and not only did I meet my goal, I crushed it. It was amazing! Since then I have published six other novels and one short story. It still hurts when I receive a 1/5 star rating, but what I’ve learned from this extremely out of my comfort zone adventure is that you cannot please everyone and despite those one stars I also have many five stars and I even have fans! That is still so weird to say.

Never give up on your dreams. I talk with so many people who tell me that they wish they could write a novel. My advice to them: DO IT! Write a novel or poem or play. It doesn’t matter if it’s short, silly, or serious. What matters is that you take the time to do something that you want to do. Writing is your choice and it is complete and total freedom. One thing I recommend to everyone is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It takes place annually in November and is a free online event. You are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Sounds insane, right? If you break it down that comes out to 1,667 words a day. I went into my first NaNoWriMo thinking there was absolutely no possible way that I could finish it. You know what? I did it in 6 days. Even with my self-doubt and negative thoughts in those first few days I was still able to accomplish something I had previously thought unachievable.

Writing and self-publishing novels has given me more confidence in my writing and personally that has helped me even in my professional life. Now I know that if I receive a negative comment, there are still those positive comments and events at work that out shadow it. My advice is to constantly work on improving yourself. Step outside of your comfort zone and take on new and challenging tasks! Before gaining this confidence I would not have asked for new or challenging work. Step outside of the box you put yourself in and strive to improve yourself in ways seemingly beyond your reach.

If you try and fail, know that at least you tried because that is more than most can say. Set goals and write them somewhere you can see them every day. Once you achieve one, cross it off and then set a new one. It’s a fantastic feeling to see the goals you have achieved and to see the new ones that you want to push yourself to do. If you have questions about writing or the free services that I use please feel free to contact me and I will gladly help you.


About Catherine:

I’m just your average nerdy bibliophile. I love books, video games, music and movies. I spend my days off work writing one of my novels or with my husband and children. I love writing stories and they seem to flow out of me constantly. I just want people to read my stories and enjoy them.

Connect with Catherine







Cat Banks 4







To participate in NaNoWriMo go to: www.nanowrimo.org this is absolutely free and really is fun to participate in! Once you’re signed up be sure to add me as a buddy http://nanowrimo.org/participants/cbanks/

Write on my friends, write on!

My Secret Garden

I have  been given the opportunity to take part in

The Creative Promoter’s 2nd Blog Carnival.


Thank you Lisa Anne Wooley and Fred Charles!

 The theme: Places where we find creativity.

Quotidiandose does not own rights to this image.  All rights reserved to the artist.

Quotidiandose does not own rights to this image. All rights reserved to the artist.

Creativity  is something that comes from within.  The art of creating something, whether a craft project,  a painting, woodworking,  writing, music – they are all expressions of inner creativity.  When I first read the theme for this project,  I read it as inspiration, or the places that inspire creativity.

There is something magical that happens when  the spark ignites a Creative’s passions.  I can find  no pattern,  no specific  commonality to what  will  ignite that spark.  It has varied from sitting on my sofa flipping through a  home improvement magazine, to walking behind a push mower, to  planting seedlings in my garden.  I’ve been inspired while riding in the passenger’s seat of a car and even while I was driving alone with the radio blaring.

Turbulent skies

Turbulent skies

While some people say that the beach inspires them,  I feel that a beach setting in a tropical paradise does more to bring peace, calm and  relaxation  to my normal stressed state of existence. Some are inspired by mountains but while I admire the beauty and majesty of them,  I don’t feel particularly inspired in a creative way.

The settings that  inspire my creative nature are varied,  but if there is a commonality to them  it would be  something out of the ordinary. Here are just a few:

  • An old abandoned house that has fallen in disrepair that at one time must have been a statement of status.  (Inspired Arturo’s Treasure; mystery intrigue tale of pirates, buried treasure, betrayal, and  romance that spans generations. [Watch for it in 2016])
  • An eerie boggy creek bend that  has recently flooded and is alive with insect noises that  gives an audible  hum in the air. (Inspired Blight Creek;  a zombie tale of a different nature. [Watch for it in 2016])
  • The dressing room of a bridal shop where my daughter tried on Prom dresses. (Inspired Death by Design; Haute Couture styles to die for! [Watch for it in 2017])
Abandoned  estate home in St. Louis.

Abandoned estate home in St. Louis.

I think more than any setting or place that inspires my imagination is the magical game of ‘What if’?  While sitting in a restaurant that my husband and I frequented in our dating years we observed a young man get on his knees and propose.  It was a heartwarming sentimental moment that  brought a tear to my eye.

It sparked conversation between my husband and myself of our beginnings, and as I mulled that over and over in my mind  it sparked What if? in the scene we had witnessed.  What if the couple were perfect for one another,  but his ex decides she  isn’t through?  What if there is a tragic accident?   What if she goes to jail?  (Red Wine & Roses scheduled for release in 2015!) (Oral Dilemma, scheduled for fall of 2015)

I know people who play the ‘what if’ game in their own lives,  constantly worrying about things that will never happen.  Worry is such a useless time waster. The majority of the times those things we worry about never happen.  But in the fiction world, anything and everything can happen.  We can throw our characters into  the fire,  into the next fire,  into the impending disaster,  into and out of relationships, give them an incurable disease,  poison them,  shoot them, and basically wreak havoc in their  fictional lives to play out the scenarios that would send  ordinary folks to the nut house.

It sounds disturbing when you  summarize it concisely like that,  but it’s  the game  many writer’s play  to create some of the best fiction out there.

Once the ideas begin to form, I create a file for them in my ideal garden.  I have a cheap spiral  journal  that I picked up on clearance that I jot down ideas.  In this journal are some sketches of  characters,  sketches of objects from a story idea, and notes about a particular story or character.  Some are all on one page,  some are spread over several pages.  If there is any one  place for my collective creativity, it would probably be this journal. I also have files on my computer and  external hard drive  with  the information once I piece a few things together.

Last summer my daughter was helping me clean  in the basement.  She picked up this journal and tossed it into the trash bin.  I about came unglued. I yelled, screamed, ranted, scooped up my precious journal and ran upstairs to hide it away for safe keeping.  When I was alone with it later,  I opened it, reliving each moment of excitement when I  initially had these inspirations and  gained a new refreshed zeal for a few ideas that had  sat unattended for a while.

Don’t judge me!

It’s funny, my secret garden journal sat in that stack for  a couple of months forgotten while life decided  there were other things to demand my attention.  My rediscovery of this treasured object that looks like a dime store  worthless  notebook reignited my passion like it was  rocket fuel.  Just like in a natural garden,  you leave the seeds covered with dirt for a time, hidden away they begin to germinate. So in a sense another place that I was inspired was a musty cobwebbed basement. Weird, I know.

As I poured over  each and every page, I saw that I had  more  than I thought I did when it was set aside. I saw connections that  I didn’t see before.  Like a Vining plant climbing a trellis, my notes had a thin thread of  the overall theme woven through them.  My true creative nature  flows when I have the pen in hand.  This is the incubator,  the hatching process.  Taking  raw materials – the  boggy creek,  the snooty sales clerk, the young couple – and  formulating my ‘what ifs’ into  a tale of mystery, romance or whatever.

The physical act of writing, pounding out the story on the keyboard  varies between two  stages.  Stage 1 is the driven compulsion to get the story out of my head, where the characters are playing out the scenes faster than I can type.  This is when I am in the flowstate,   when I am immersed in my fictional world. It’s a magical place, a mystical place that  real life demands summons me from too frequently.

Stage 2 sadly is where I have spent most of my writing time.  This is  the disjointed, interrupted, distracted part.  It’s difficult to get back into the flow state of writing when you’ve been distracted from your plan for  the umpteenth time.

Sadly, this is the state where I have to function  more effectively than I have because I don’t just have  ten hours in a day of uninterrupted time to  get things down  onto virtual paper, as is the case with most of the authors I know.  We have lives, families, obligations,  and jobs that demand our time.

Whatever inspires or sparks your creativity, make it a priority in your life.  Pursuit your dreams with passion, in whatever manner you find that works for you.

There is no one place or location that inspires me  to be creative.  Ideas come to me in some of the strangest places. My secret  garden, or inner sanctum’s outer expression would be my  journal.  I’d like to say that it was a nice leather-bound  journal resembling something of an ancient handwritten book,  or as fancy as the Book of Kells,  but alas it’s not.  It’s a meagher little dime store notebook but it works for me.

My Precious - the secret garden journal

My Precious – the secret garden journal

What inspires you?  What sparks your creativity?  Is there a special place that ignites your creative juices?

We are all different, inspired by different things, have different ideas  on how to execute that creativity. I for one am glad for the differences.  It would be pretty boring if we were all of the same hivemind.

Write on my friends, write on!

 Go to CARNIVAL, Lisa’s blog to find the links to other bloggers posts in this  series!




Genre Tropes

Quotidiandose does not own rights to this image. Al rights reserved to artist.

Quotidiandose does not own rights to this image. Al rights reserved to artist.

I’ve been working  on an editing job  for the past 3 days.  (By the way – check out my editing page; look up there at the tabs and click on Editing Services)  The book is scheduled to be released on the 30th, so we are under a bit of a crunch. This author ran into a dilemma, a problem that seems to plague many  authors.

In the process of  this line edit, the author   found a problem in her story with her  heroine.  I don’t think it’s a problem, but we’ll work something out to get it out on time.  For readers of romance, there are a few standard things that define the genre.

  • Happily Ever After ending; but there are some happy for now stories.
  • Hero/ heroine fall in love, something is keeping them apart, then  they get back together.  but . . . there are some that deviate from this plan.
  • Strong relatable, appealing characters that the reader can connect with.  (The definition for “connect with” is in that grey area )
  • Conflict – in a romance the conflict is most often of the emotional  type, character driven as the two build a relationship.
  • conflict must be believable – really?  Have you never read some of what is marketed in trade paperbacks?  Define believable.  Wait,  let me disconnect my suspension bridge over the valley of disbelief.
  • dialog – your dialog will make or break your books.  Ideally yes, but I’ve read some pretty crappy romance.

Honestly, for as many readers as there are in the romance genre and as many that read nontraditional romances perhaps it’s time to reevaluate these standard tropes.  I personally don’t relate to the damsel in distress tales,  or the  womanizing bad boy who has been with a  hundred women, but decides to settle down with our heroine.  Right –  once a player always a player. (And let’s talk about the reality of an STD – I know,  this is fantasy not real life)  What happens when our heroine puts on fifteen pounds or more after carrying his baby?   What happens if the  unspeakable happens and she loses a limb in a car wreck? or shark attack?

I realize that there are readers of romance that want  the dashing hero to come sweep the heroine off their feet and they live happily ever after.  We don’t want to put too much realism into it because that would be too much like our every day lives.

I personally root for the underdog.  I am an underdog.  My characters tend to be underdogs. I want to write characters that say to  all women that love can happen for them.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?  The fantasy of falling in love, the thrill of those rollercoaster emotions without actually having to put yourself out there and risk the heartache.

A small percentage of girls were cheerleaders in high school.  A small percentage were pom-pom girls, or on the dance squad or whatever they call it these days.  Another percentage of girls were athletes, on the volleyball team, basketball, softball,  swimming, gymnastics – whatever sports were offered for girls to participate.   These tend to be the mainstream heroines that are depicted.  What about the rest of us?  What about the average girls, the book nerds, the science geeks?

Not every girl is a bubble headed bimbo.  Not every girl is the perfect size 2.  To be honest in real life I have yet to meet a female that is a size 2 and has C cup boobs that aren’t implants.  Just saying!   With curves usually comes   more body fat, a tendency for wide hips and  derriere.  Those naturally thin Taylor Swift girls  have to buy boobs,  they aren’t part of their natural makeup, yet  we think that every guy wants a size 2 Barbie look-alike with big boobs, tiny waist, and  curvy backside.  Well, we’ve been lied to. Women come in all shapes, sizes, and manner and  many men prefer curves and a woman with a brain.

Why is it then that in a romance novel, the heroine has to fit the paper doll cutout?   How many bad  romances do we have to endure before we meet a woman of substance?  I can’t relate to the perfect girl,  the cheerleader, daddy bought her a dream car,  she got into the perfect school, has perfect hair and never even burps.  Puh-lease!

Life happens.  Even to people that we think have the perfect this or the perfect that,  life happens.  Maybe Patty Perfect had a tail when she was born, but mommy and daddy had the doctor perform a surgery to “fix” their perfect princess.

I know,  I have a morbid sense of what if at times.  Life is unfair to all of us equally.  Accept it and move on.  Even on the crappiest of crap days, you can find the silver lining to the blackest cloud.

my house was destroyed by a tornado –  I’m still alive and so are my loved ones

 I was raped –  but I wasn’t murdered! 

I lost my job –  I can find a new one that I enjoy! 

My husband left me –  I won’t have those nightly fights! 

What doesn’t kiss you makes you stronger. You don’t have to remain the victim forever.  Put the past in the past and make each day count,  own it!  You’re a survivor not a victim!  You’re an overcomer – not defeated!

So back to  our overused tropes.  I’ve had  people tell me  to not use those overused tropes.  I’ve had people tell me that  my characters need to conform to the standards.  I’ve had people tell me I need  original characters that stand out as unique.  I’ve had people tell me that I need to make the character relatable.  ARRRRGGGHHH!

Just like my inability to  conform to the CBA  guidelines, I can’t force my characters to conform to some  preformed mold.  So I either quit this nonsense of dream chasing ( and y’all know that isn’t going to happen)  or I get on with writing  in my own style.  Nobody told Stephen King how to write Flagg, or Pennywise.

I have to admit,  I contemplated it for a brief period of about an hour.  After receiving two more rejection letters I felt like I should just quit altogether. Then this crazy thing happened.  My friends rallied around me,  encouraged me to not quit,   praised my writing,  picked me up out of that mud puddle and brushed me off and  pointed out the guy that knocked me down then said – go get ’em!

RAHR!  I am not defeated and you shouldn’t let others define who you are or what your style is because of current standards.  So what if your story doesn’t fit nicely into this  niche subgenre.  MAKE YOUR OWN!   Twenty years ago noire fiction wasn’t a thing,  now it’s a thing!

If you’re in the writing industry strictly to make money then  follow the trends,  see what’s popular – see if you can jump on that train before it reaches the final station.  * cough cough – vampires, zombies*

OR,  be a trail blazer, a maverick, an innovator!  Ask yourself why are you doing this?  Is it just to make a buck?  Do you feel compelled to write? To tell stories?  Is it an inner drive that you must  do?   What do you get out of writing?  Is it a sense of accomplishment?  Satisfaction?  A check to boost your account? Is it to prove something to someone else?

Think about why you do what you do.  If it isn’t benefitting you in some way then you may want to find something else to do.  As for me,  I feel an inner driving force to write,  to tell the stories that are inside my head.  Yes, it may be a little arrogant or egotistical to think that  people will want to read my stories, but  I have to try.  If I fail, I fail honestly, by giving it the best shot I could and not measuring up. But there is something inside me that says I will not fail!  I will succeed at this and the sense of accomplishment by typing THE END  is almost as good as, well I’ll let you use your imagination there.

Pursue your dreams, don’t let others tell you what to do. Don’t be a lemming!  Don’t be the guy that is miserable with his day job and takes it out on his family.  DON’T BE THAT GUY!

Write on my friends, or go after whatever your dreams are. Make your life count!