And the Survey Says – Part 1 of 3

clipart of the word surveyI’ve been moderating over at The Writer’s Chatroom for around seven years.  Wow, have I been there that long?  I recently composed a series of Surveys and posted the links to them on Facebook and Twitter.  And The Survey Says..

Thank you all for participating.  If you haven’t gone over to answer the questions, the surveys are still open.  I’ll add the links at the end of this post.

First Survey Observations.

The first survey was short. It was a general getting to know you type of thing. I will attempt to tell you the results without resorting to statistics whenever possible.

And the Survey Says – Part 1 of 3

Q1 What do you write?

The choices were Fiction, Non-fiction, Blogs and of course I do not Write.

About two thirds of people claimed to be fiction writers followed by non-fiction not even a close second. I was surprised to see that only one in four writers had a blog.

Q2 Have you Visited The Writer’s Chatroom?

An equal number of people indicated that they were regulars at the chatroom, they simply don’t do chats and they keep forgetting the time of our chats.

Just over a third of the writers indicated that they come to chat when they can but life gets in the way.

Q3 What is your gender?

Three quarters of the writers were female.

Q4 What is your age?

On this one I discovered very few writers aged 44 or below. It could be those writers don’t know they are writers, they might be raising the first wave of their family or heavily employed. They certainly don’t seem to participate in surveys if they are lurking out there.

The bulk of writers are between 45 and 65.

If we wanted to attract more young writers and more men we probably need to find out where they hang out online and get their attention there.

In a walnut shell —

The average respondent is a woman between 45 and 65 who writes fiction and non-fiction and either has a full plate on Sundays and Wednesdays or simply forgets we are here.

I want to thank everyone who participated in the survey. You all rock.

Survey 1

Survey 1

Survey 3

Social Justice – being jealous guardians of our democracy

Photo of Frederick Douglass

I thought I’d post a little bit about Organizing for Social Change.

I am posting excerpts from Frederick Douglass, President Obama and The Midwest Academy.

We do not need to feel helpless.  There are things we can do at the local, State and Federal Levels to Preserve and Protect and be anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy.

Photo of Frederick DouglassFrom Frederick Douglass

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” – Frederick Douglass

The following is a portion of President Obama’s Farewell Address

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy. Embrace the joyous task we have been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours because, for all our outward differences, we in fact all share the same proud type, the most important office in a democracy, citizen.

Citizen. So, you see, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when you own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life.

If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing.

If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clip board, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.

Show up, dive in, stay at it. Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir in goodness, that can be a risk. And there will be times when the process will disappoint you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been part of this one and to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America and in Americans will be confirmed. Mine sure has been.” – President Barack Obama

What is Social Change?  How do we even begin to Organize, lace up our shoes and go out into the community? 

Cover Art Organizing for Social ChangeORGANIZING FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
Midwest Academy Manual for Activists

The Organizing for Social Change 4th Edition is a paperback text and is an excellent resource for getting your feet wet.  Yes, We Can.

Now in its fourth edition, here is the comprehensive manual for grassroots organizers working for social, racial, environmental and economic justice at the local, state and national levels. Since 1973 the Midwest Academy has trained more than 30,000 activists in progressive organizations, unions, and faith-based groups. This Midwest Academy Manual for Activists is central to its training programs and seminars, and it provides an invaluable reference source for organizers throughout their careers. Also included are anecdotes about a wide variety of real organizations working on issues concerning labor, the environment, health care, racism, immigration, peace, religion, energy, public campaign financing and more. Whatever the progressive cause, this is the manual that can help guide organizers and ensure that they continue to reach their goals with efficiency and dignity. USE IT AND ORGANIZE!

This book is available through Amazon and I suspect if you request it your public library can scare up a copy for you.  It is easy to understand and a very good read.  

Social Justice – being jealous guardians of our democracy

Thanks for visiting with me and always remember-

Don’t touch anything sharp!


Legwarmer Weather in SouthWest Montana

Legwarmer Season
Legwarmer Season


It is Legwarmer Weather here in SouthWest Montana.  Nature has new artwork displayed between the panes of glass on my front window.  It is 5 degrees and the snow is tiny and drifting lazily down like dandelion seeds floating on the wind on a warm spring day.

I have been working on my tablecloth.  I spent last night weaving in tails.  91 of 660 motifs are done.

Yes, I have my WIP open and once in awhile  I click on the window and revise a few words.

Mostly, I am working on coding a page for this website from scratch.  I’m using micro-syntax to make my book page as SEO and text reader friendly as possible.  My only real worry is breaking the Internet.

I’ve brought Writerly Wednesday back but I don’t plan on making it a weekly feature this time out.  Submission Guidelines are available on this site.

It is Legwarmer Weather here in SouthWest Montana.

Until next time, don’t touch anything sharp!

Image of Crochet Project

Procrastinating, Dilly-dallying, Puttering

raven Hello again and Welcome to Fiction Friday.

All new years start off with good intentions.

I am writing this Fiction Friday post because I am putting off revising a scene from my WIP.

I have committed FaceBook-ary, Tweeted, researched the nature of Ravens and watched The Blacklist.  Now, I’m here..

I know Procrastination is a serious problem.  Look at all of the words related to the topic.  The person who gathered this list probably should have been cleaning up after the family cat.

The scene I am working on, should be working on, is an interesting one so I am not at all sure why I don’t slip on a pair of Nikes and just Do It..

My protagonist, Judy Hawks is doing a welfare check for her home-bound friend, Carl Eps.  She arrives at the elderly social worker’s house and finds her dead.  Just dead.  The front door is open, the refrigerator is humming and Mrs. Finley is sitting in a task chair at her desk, stock still, her hair a halo of white and unexpectedly soft as Judy leans in to touch her cheek.

While I am not revising this scene I thought I’d give you a list of Procrastination’s closest known associates, partners in crime or at least accomplices of some sort.

Why don’t you all join me as I participate in Procrastinating, Dilly-dallying and Puttering.

Words Related to Procrastination


Don’t touch anything sharp.

Writerly Wednesday Spotlight – Castelane Inc.

Cup of Pens ClipArtHappy Writerly Wednesday to all of you.

I have been redecorating my website. For the last year I have been promoting the book trailer for If I Should Die (Author’s Revised Edition) and during that time, no one alerted me to the typo in one of the final frames. Audrey Shaffer noticed it last week.

I contacted Kim McDougall at Castelane Inc. Kim graciously corrected the typo during a very busy time of year.

Thanks Audrey Shaffer from The Writer’s Chatroom for alerting me.

Writerly Wednesday Spotlight – Castelane Inc.

Book Marketing & Promotion for Authors, Publishers, Publicists and More

Here at Castelane, we offer a one-stop-shop for eBook publishing services and book marketing at prices you can afford. We provide a variety of publishing options, precision editing, professional book marketing, book promotion and branding, video previews, custom design and more. Find all the publishing and marketing services you need right here, in one place.

Whether you are a new author looking to self-publish or a seasoned veteran, you understand the importance of professional design, copy editing and proofreading. We provide a staff of experienced professionals who will review your book for grammar, development and overall content, as well as design custom book covers and offer eBook conversion options for every book style platform – from smartphones to tablets. Every book needs a strong marketing plan by someone who knows the industry – with over 20 years of experience, we know how to utilize social media and other online channels to engage your audience and promote your brand through multimedia, famous author pages and more.

Contact Kim through her Website


Don’t touch anything sharp!

If I Should Die 

Visit All of My Writerly Wednesday Posts 

God Laughs When I Make A Plan (2017)

Another year is ending.

Goodbye 2016 – Hello 2017

Remember when we were kids and it took four years for a new year to come around?  Remember when we couldn’t wait to get back to school so we could write the new year at the top of our papers?  Remember when our lives were nothing but untapped potential?

The second two of those are still true for me.  I like change and I like to write the new year on my various posts, cards and WIPs.  Each year is still full of potential.  However, the years now pass by at four times the speed of my youth.

I don’t make specific New Year’s resolutions.  I think they make God Laugh.  But I do hang on, cling, hold tight to the idea of meeting people and accepting them wherever they may be on their own path instead of expecting them to meet me on my turf.  It takes less work each year.

In 2017 I will continue to do the same things, remember, God Laughs when I make a plan.


Image of Crochet ProjectI will continue watercolor painting, landscape painting in acrylic, various crochet projects and I am determined to finish a long simmering WIP.  Wedged in between these projects I intend to get my SpoonRiver of Houses and Milk Carton People back up at Amazon.

During 2017, enjoy your time.  Savor it.  Let it wash over you and embrace change.  If things get to be too much for you, share your load with a friend.  We are always glad to be needed, validated and worthy of helping our fellow human.

Always remember, don’t touch anything sharp.

I Am Redecorating My Site

Image of Emma the Cat

Image of Emma the CatI am doing a bit of renovation.

I would say, “Forgive the clutter.”  Instead I’ll come right up front and say, “I hope I haven’t broken this site beyond fixing.”

The last time I attempted a major change I deleted months and months of blog posts.

While I work on the site I’m leaving Emma to entertain you.  Emma lives on forever in my novel, If I Should Die.



After NaNoWriMo

After NaNoWriMo

It’s Been a Long Time

NaNoWriMo Crest Image


I participated in NaNoWriMo again this year.

The first time I NaNo’d was in November 2007.  That project went through revisions and edits and came to life during NaNoWriMo 2010.

If I Should Die has gone through an Author’s Revised Edition and appears with a new cover and editor in Kindle format at Amazon.

This year’s NaNo Project will collect dust on my hard drive but I intend to keep my character files for potential casting in another, more viable, non-NaNo project. Not every project is meant to be seen by human eyes.

Keeping Busy

Around the middle of the month, to combat my worries about the outcome of the US Presidential Election, I began two more projects.

Crochet Tablecloth photo
Crochet Tablecloth

Crochet Project

This project will probably take me through the worries associated with the first year of the President Elect’s first term.

I have about 50 of the 660 motifs called for in the pattern.


Learning Code image of a laptop
Learning Code

HTML CSS & JavaScript

To keep myself further distracted I am trying to learn a marketable skill.  I am continuing coursework over at

I have taken various CSS, HTML & JavaScript courses along with a Website Development course.

You can check out my Certificates on my LinkedIn site.

Thanks for visiting my site and Don’t Touch Anything Sharp!

Character Development – NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep

A grey cube

A grey cubeI have been working on character development for the 2016 NaNoWriMo Event.

Over the past few weeks I have been developing characters using college ruled paper, a fountain pen and paperclips.

I have my favorite reference books close at hand.  I will not open yWriter and begin my next novel until November 1st.

Character Development – NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep

Every time I start a new novel I learn more about character development.

I want to share one of my new lightbulb moments with you.  I will begin with an excerpt from The Old Testament book of Ezekiel from the King James Version.

“And every one had four faces:

the first face was the face of a cherub,

and the second face was the face of a man,

and the third the face of a lion

and the forth the face of an eagle.”

Character Development – NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep

A grey cube         Imagine your character as a cube.  The surfaces may have huge or subtle differences in color, form, brightness or darkness.  A character possesses human traits and emotions, all on a continuum.  These characteristics may be muted or amplified depending on era, setting and situation.

One of my characters has a work persona.  Her work face or cube surface at work is confident, calm, businesslike and easy to get along with.  Over time, we might discover she has a love for horses.  At work she keeps this part of her cube mostly turned away.

People on the ranch see another cube surface.  She is happy, free, in control and a little horse poop is all in a day’s ride.  The people at the ranch to do not see her work surface.  There is no need to turn that outward.  No one knows she is buttoned down and controlled by her company’s expectations.

Character Development – NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep

Your character’s backstory, nurturing, nature and life experience write on that cube that represents who she is.

Under normal circumstances your reader can observe the work-a-day/recreational surfaces but there is much more going on.

Change the normal situation into something unexpected and the cube will transform.  Repressed traits on another surface break through.  We see an evolving character.  She will adapt and comply or maybe she’ll come completely undone.

Her control issues may surface in an amplified way.  This may distort or cover this character’s cube surfaces.  She may present a yet to be seen surface.

The good worker who loves riding horses is still there but those traits have been dialed back or muted.

As her world begins to change, she begins to change.

A character developed as a kind, giving and loving person may turn and face you with a surface projecting a more human and flawed persona.  Put more pressure on her and she may stalk and prey on you with the skill and strength of a lion.  Present another situation and she might swoop down on your pages as an eagle swooping in for the kill.

Human personality exists on a continuum.  Some traits which are deeply hidden or controlled will surface in reaction to an abnormal situation or event.

When you are working your character remember all sides.  What events will mute or amplify her character traits.  Let her show more than one surface.  Show us the corners, the darkened cells holding repressed memories, the bright and shiny bits of pride and accomplishment.

            Let her be a cherub, a human, a lion and an eagle.




Writerly Round-Up (26 May – 1 June)

Welcome back to another Writerly Round-Up.  Each week I gather interesting Writerly news, blog posts and other things.  Writerly Round-Up (26 May – 1 June) is bound to have something helpful or newsworthy for writers, publishers and editors.

Writerly Round-Up (26 May – 1 June)


Advance Review Copies: Why They’re Used and How to Create Them 

by Jane Friedman at IngramSpark

ARCs get used for many purposes, but mainly:

  • To gather professional, industry reviews, from sources such as Publishers Weekly
  • To solicit endorsements that will be printed in or on the book
  • To share with influencers who need to see the book before deciding on potential coverage
  • To send to important connections who might be in a position to write an influential, early review or offer some other form of help


Cup of Pens ClipArtWhen Does Your Inner Critic Appear?  Three Scenarios of Self-Sabotage and How to Renegotiate Your Contract


Mary Carroll Moore

The inner critic is our internal gatekeeper.  Its job is to protect us.  It has a very loooong memory, way back to our first creative efforts in childhood.  Unless we had an exceptionally supportive environment for our creativity, both at home and at school, we probably logged some embarrassing moments about “showing off” or “being unoriginal” or “did you really make that or did you copy it” or any number of other creativity slams.  When we edge up to this again, as adults trying to write a book, the IC goes on amber alert.

Writerly Round-Up (26 May – 1 June)


The Art of Distraction: Using Red Herrings

A Writer’s Digest Tutorial with Jane K. Cleland

Writers use red herrings the way magicians use sleight of hand—to distract their readers from seeing what’s really there. In this video tutorial, award-winning author Jane K. Cleland explains how to use red herrings to build page-turning suspense.In this 24-minute video tutorial, you’ll discover:

  • How to use red herrings to control reader perception
  • The difference between structural and visual red herrings
  • Three tried-and-true techniques to add red herrings to your writing

No matter the genre, red herrings add engaging complexity to plots and characterization.


Author uses novel tactic to promote book

Build Book Buzz

I did a double take when I got out of my car in the parking lot of the Penfield, N.Y. Wegmans supermarket.

A car two spots from mine had a magnetic sign on the driver’s door that said, “AUTHOR ON BOARD.”

What a clever idea!” I thought. It’s such a novel tactic. (Pun intended.)

The author wasn’t literally on board at that moment, so I took a couple of pictures and decided I’d contact her later  to see if she’d answer a few questions for a blog post.

I did, and she did.

(I did this myself in my Tarot Reading days.  My car wore the sign throughout a trip through Yellowstone National Park.  Several people inquired about how to get a tarot reading.)


Well, this wraps up another week of Writerly News.  If you have a post or a suggestion to include in Writerly Round-Up shoot me an email.

Don’t touch anything sharp!