A Perfect Book for an Imperfect Father’s Day

Having last blogged for Mother’s Day (on my author blog), it seems only fair to blog here for Father’s Day. Not too much direct experience with the mother thing, granted, but I do have experience with being a father. In 2014, I launched my novel AIKO, about a man who discovers he is a father. However, before he can celebrate Father’s Day, he must overcome a lot of obstacles to claim his child. Perhaps it is a simple story. The details make it special. And yet, it is strangely similar to one of the grand opera stories of my youth: Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini. (Here is the Metropolitan Opera’s synopsis.)

As a music student in college, I was not averse to attending an opera or two. Some were more interesting than others. My mother, who always promoted my musical interests, took me to my first opera when I was a boy: Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, about a ghost ship doomed to sail the seas forever. (Why is there no movie version today? It would make a great paranormal film.) But it was Madama Butterfly that became my favorite, and the only opera I can enjoy just listening to without having to see the stage production.

In the opera, an American naval officer visits Japan and because he is staying there a while on business, he arranges to have a “temporary” wife. The inevitable happens: his business is concluded and he leaves, promising to return, and later she discovers a child will be born. He does eventually return, but with his American wife in tow. He is surprised to find his Japanese lover has a child but he is determined to bring the child home to America. The Japanese woman is so distraught over that verdict that she commits suicide in one of opera’s most tragic scenes.

While I was living in Japan in the late 1980s and early 90s, teaching English to the students of a small city, I wrote the story of an American man who meets a Japanese woman. They have a relationship then must inevitably part. A child is born. Eventually the man learns of the child’s existence and wants to do the right thing. Despite his American wife’s objection, he goes to Japan to check things out. I’m skipping over a lot of details, of course, but you see how the plot is similar to the Madama Butterfly story. That was purely unintentional.

Seeing that similarity, I decided to exploit it and revised my story to use some elements of Madama Butterfly more overtly. First, I wanted to tell the story from the man’s point of view. The opera is all from her side. Before I knew much about Japanese history and customs, I had always wondered why Cho-Cho-san (literally “Madame Butterfly”) decided to kill herself to solve the problem. She should have killed him for trying to take away her child! Not to say killing is acceptable, of course. In my Western mindset, I could not understand her motivations. Now I do. So in telling the story from his side, I would need to show him as a rational, responsible, do-the-right thing kind of guy who has all the best intentions while dealing with the situation.
The next thing I wanted to change was the time period. The opera is set at the turn-of-the-century when American naval forces first begin to rule the Pacific. In changing the setting to the late 1980s and early 1990s (the same time period I wrote it), I could exploit the new “internationalization” focus of Japan. Because of a booming economy and criticism of Japan’s unfair trade practices, the government initiated (among other acts) the importing of foreign English teachers from the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia. I was part of that influx of teachers who went to Japan. I was there at the exact time of the story, and I described the clash of generations: the older World War II seniors and the pop culture youth who knew little about the war. It was an interesting yet awkward time. And it fit perfectly for my version of the story.

So there you have it: Art imitating a life which imitates art.

Being a guy, of course I wanted my male protagonist to not be a jerk, to do the right thing. But he is human and thus has flaws. He also faces the clash of customs, lost among people who think differently, where the acts that make no sense to him seem perfectly logical to the local folk. Japan in the 1990s is a modern place, but in inaka (the rural, “backwoods” regions), the old, traditional ways still hold sway. So our hero, Benjamin Pinkerton (yes, I borrowed the name from the character in the opera, just to make the connection more obvious), tries to do the right thing: save a child he never knew he had while risking everything in his life back home. It is another stranger in a strange land scenario I like to write.

Food, Fun, and Family

Easter is coming, and while I have no small children at home, my husband and I still celebrate the advent of spring on that day. I will make a special holiday dinner and invite our friends, all of us retired. This year the menu will include a coconut cream pie, which I can hardly wait to try out. I found the recipe on the Minimalist Baker website, and have included the link to it here: Vegan Coconut Cream Pie.

When I first began eating a plant-based diet, I started slowly, with truly meatless Fridays. My first forays into vegan cooking were not good. I had no idea what ingredients to buy and no idea how to make the food taste good. I had the mistaken notion that vegetables were bland.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I realized that I needed to learn how to cook all over again. The first thing I did was to go to the internet. There I found the wonderful website, The Minimalist Baker. There I found an endless source of amazing, plant-based recipes, all requiring 10 ingredients or less. Even better, they could be made with one bowl, and usually took thirty minutes or less to prepare.

I believe that food should be clean, that is, raised without chemical sprays and fertilizers. To that end, I only buy non-GMO (genetically modified organism) food. Why am I so strict about this? Soybeans and wheat and other grains that are commercially farmed in large factory farms are genetically modified so the fields sown with those seeds can be sprayed with ‘Roundup,’ which is a chemical herbicide manufactured by the Monsanto company. Monsanto also manufactures the seeds that can withstand their chemical.

At first glance, this seems like no big deal. But Roundup is glyphosate, a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide, and crop desiccant. It is used to kill weeds, especially annual broadleaf weeds and grasses that compete with crops. Glyphosate is absorbed through foliage, and minimally, through roots and transported to the growing points within the plant. In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

This chemical is used in many aspects of large factory farming, including desiccating grains for harvest.

The principal of eating organically grown foods is the same as not eating too much fish because of high levels of mercury—the small quantities ingested in each individual plant may not be harmful but the accumulation over time is bad. Because glyphosate is so pervasive in the standard foods available at the grocery store, I am strict about only buying organically grown produce, sugars, beans, and grains, as they are ‘clean,’ that is, grown and harvested without the use of pesticides and herbicides.

Organic food is more expensive than chemically raised food but eating a plant-based diet is far cheaper overall.  And, the costs of organic foods are going down as small farmers increasingly embrace the craft. In the Pacific Northwest, where I am from, the small family farm is making a comeback, driven by the demand for clean food. The pressure against the small farmer from “Big Ag,” as the factory farming corporations are known collectively, is great.

But despite the lack of tax incentives and federal subsidies that the largest corporations receive, small organic farms are not only taking root, they are also thriving. A great article on the rise of “Food Forests” can be found here: These Oregon organic farmers figured out how to have nature do all the work.

My new favorite cookbook is “Field Roast: 101 Artisan Vegan Meat Recipes to Cook, Share, and Savor” by Seattle chef, Tommy McDonald. This book now resides on my kitchen counter alongside the cornerstone of my personal cuisine, “The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples” by Miyoko Schinner.

With just these two books and my favorite vegan websites, I have developed a style of cooking that makes each meal a small celebration of the food we are so fortunate to enjoy.

Whether you are vegan, a carnivore, or somewhere in between, food is more than just something we eat to stay alive—food and how we prepare it is a central facet of our lives. I’m so fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest, where the food culture is leading the way to a healthier lifestyle, and where small farmers are able to do what they do best: grow amazing food for me to prepare for my family.

Men Reading Women

With the passing of fantasy author  Ursula K. Le Guin, it seems a good time to reflect on the women authors of my life, especially in science-fiction and fantasy where the percentage has been more skewed.

When I was a young reader, science-fiction got my attention. Imagining other worlds, traveling in space, or dealing with futuristic possibilities was my thing. I started at a young age reading such sci-fi authors as Ben Bova and Robert Silverberg. Also an author named Andre Norton. Mostly these were short stories, often in an anthology edited by Silverberg. One day, though, I was surprised to learn that one of my favorite authors was a woman. I thought Andre was a boy’s name! It made me think.

Boys tend to want to read stories of other boys or men doing things, heroic things. At that age I honestly didn’t care what the girls did in stories. It was just that male authors tended to write about men doing manly things (I’m generalizing, of course), so I had no reason to try female authors. I also did not have much knowledge then of how difficult it was for female authors especially in the genre of science fiction and fantasy; I just wanted a good story. My mother pushed A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle on me, telling me it was a good story, but as a young boy I was not so interested in reading a story about a girl!

Gradually, I grew up. Focusing deliberately on a wider range of fiction, literary and decidedly non-SF works, many of them were written by women. I enjoyed them: I got to experience life as a female character, got to understand the issues they dealt with, and perhaps gained from perspective I did not previously know. It was educational. Whether or not the authors were women still did not matter to me as a reader more than what the story itself was. Marion Zimmer Bradley’s books about Authorian legend interested me, not because of the author but because of the Arthur. Nancy Kress and her sci-fi and books on writing mentored me for a time, as well.

Classic women authors starting with Mary Shelley and continuing through the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen entered my experience in college by making me play along as the man in the pages of their books. I could empathize, to a point, with the women in the novels. That experience helped develop the Romantic qualities which have eventually ruined me. I can’t confidently say, just from reading, that I now “get it” or that I understand all the characters endured and could cheer as they rose up and took whatever position they deemed in the story to be a success. Yet my empathy continued to grow.

In grad school, read Francine Prose and Annie Proulx, partly to see a view of life which I could not see without the lens of a woman author writing about a woman protagonist. A couple years ago I read a teenage romance series by Stephanie Perkins, not for the thrills of young love and relationship conundrums but to understand how a young girl thinks and acts. I used what I learned from those books for my own novel which featured a young girl. More than research, I deliberately tried to learn to see what I could not with my own experiential eyes. And then a film on cable TV one night prompted me to check out Margaret Atwood’s novels, starting with The Handmaid’s Tale. Now, of course, it has returned in a new series.

Having a daughter further instilled in me the urge to seek women authors for her to read. The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer became a milestone in my daughter’s life. Inspired, she even wrote fan fiction herself. No matter what word or label you may apply to me and my experience with women authors, I want the best for my daughter, and for her to understand other women’s lives and times, struggles and triumphs.

More recently, as I worked on my own epic fantasy involving dragons, I returned to the novels of Anne McCaffrey. While her dragons and their world are remarkably different from the ones I was writing about, I very much appreciated the craft, the imagination, the pure exhilaration of the world she invented in Pern.  Then the sci-fi/dystopian trilogy by Marie Lu caught my attention as something my daughter might like to read…but I read it first. Before reading these authors, Marian Perera, a fellow newbie, came out with Before the Storm, which wonderfully taught me how women think and act in sci-fi romance. It was liberating as I was composing my own sci-fi trilogy.

Now Ursula has passed on, never to write another novel. Yet we remain blessed to always have the products of her mind, the outpouring of words that frame and construct and fulfill our own hopes and aspirations for years past and years to come…for the world of make-believe is our world, today’s world, in disguise.


Good People


The world is a seemingly dark place, with natural and man-made disasters striking almost every day. My heart goes out to all of those who are suffering the loss of friends and family members in the Las Vegas tragedy. Their wounds – as are those of others who are reeling from recent events throughout the world – are fresh, raw and exposed. I was listening to the radio this morning and something that country singer Jason Aldean said struck me. He said basically that he fears to raise his children in the world as it is today. This is a perfectly logical sentiment. As a parent, the first people I think to protect when there’s a tragedy are my kids.

On the other hand, his statement made me focus not on fear but rather on hope. How can we change the world? We can change the world by being good citizens, good neighbors, loving and forgiving family members, and joyful volunteers wherever we’re needed. We can change the world by just being Good People.

Good People turn what normally would be tragic endings into hopeful beginnings for others.

Good People love and forgive their neighbors.

Good People love and forgive their enemies.

Good People create beauty.

Good People are joyful and share that joy.

Good People stand up for what is right and stand against injustice in all of its forms.


Good People are morally courageous.

There are more Good People out there than you might think.

Each and every day, let us pray to God for help to become Good People. Then, let us go out and live like Good People and show our children, and children everywhere, what a world full of Good People can do.


The Hero as Social Justice Warrior

Do you write what you preach? 

Are fiction authors supposed to promote their personal values? Or is the story supposed to be a self-contained entity with its own political views and separate from the author’s? Must (or should) the author reveal personal positions on every social and political issues undergoing discussion in the public arena? Or is the story just a story and everything political is thrown to the wind for the sake of the story?

The writer is supposedly imbued with a welter of imagination, able to leap tall plots in a single bound, about to stop dastardly antagonists with bare hands (obviously, on a keyboard). So it should go beyond the “write what you know” –shouldn’t it? It is the mark of a true author if he/she can make you believe he/she knows what he/she is writing about.

However, there are plenty of instances where readers get in the way. I mean that in a wholly innocent sense. If writing for a particular category of reader, the writer may shape the story in certain ways to appeal to those readers. Part of that may be, say, to use initials instead of a name or to use a pen name completely to hide the gender of the author. Because a Romance author cannot be a man…in theory. And a hardcore sci-fi author cannot be female…traditionally.

If an author is against guns…would the story be gun-free?

If the author believes in a nation having a strong military and the government protecting its citizens by militarizing city police forces, would that idea be reflected in the author’s latest book? If the author is opposed to abortion, would the character in the story who gets pregnant have an abortion or have the baby and offer it for adoption? It starts to get complicated. Or perhaps it’s very easy. Do your characters act as you would act?

And then there is the marketing question.

If an author writes books in which characters act as he/she would, hold views the author holds, act as the author would act with regard to a whole host of political and social issues, views, and positions, where does that leave the reader? Could that reader like a story enough to buy it and read it even though that reader and the book’s author may have different views on, say, immigration reform? Or do we authors censor ourselves so as to be as mild-mannered as possible and not offend anyone who just might be tempted to buy our book? Do we write so as to not alienate half the potential readership, or do we go forth boldly proclaiming where we stand on this or that issue, and hope or expect that we will be praised for our stance(s)? Tough questions–or non-issues?

Perhaps many writers, authors, dabblers in words, whatever the label, just don’t care about such matters because just writing an interesting story is hard enough and we don’t have time to be concerned about things outside the story. Or are we politely disingenuous, hiding our true nature and our true beliefs and values for the sake of that interesting story, afraid to speak out about something we feel strongly about because we worry about offending fellow authors and potential readers. Compare the statistics of recent voting and decide which half of the book-buying population you will market to.

I don’t believe fiction writers, as a clan, deal much with pushing agendas. Or do we? Or should we? Or…why shouldn’t we? When I’ve written sci-fi and fantasy, I’ve invented political systems which run the spectrum from left to right, not as a reflection of my own view of “how things should be” but only for the sake of plausibility in the story and influence on the plot.

Sure, the literary canon is full of authors who pushed agendas, who wrote dogmatic tales, who gave us strongly-worded suggestions of how we should behave, what we should think, what we should do or stop doing–woven more or less subtly through a fictional narrative that served to entertain us long enough to get the message across. And others wrote to warn us of possible future scenarios we may not wish to experience.

The world of literary imagination is both a safe space and a war zone. Reader beware.

Or are they simply stories which only in hindsight do we see a message or a warning? And if the warning may be too strong, too upsetting, too triggering, then such a book might be moved into the banned book pile. Fearing the ban, authors may self-censor, keep it clean, water it down, set it all in a land of make-believe where nothing is actually meant to be real or serious, certainly not as a commentary on the present political climate, oh no!

And yet, in this present day world of saying the right thing, being politically correct or decidedly not, what is the author’s responsibility…or compulsion? Must a novel follow a political agenda? May a work of fiction illustrate differing views on particular social issues?

Should our protagonists be social justice warriors? 

Dinosaurs Among the Birds

I graduated from high school in 1971. My friends and I were so close in those years and we have held onto those connections, despite the rough seas of young adult life. We drifted apart during the ‘blender years,’ but as our children left home and our lives became more our own, we drifted back together.

Fifty years ago, we were young and wild, determined to carve our path in the world and desperate to get on with living. We were tired of the war, tired of politics, and tired of being told what to think by a media that was controlled by pin-headed men in suits. We were tired of Congress selling us out.

We were going to change the world.

We did change it, but not exactly the way we naively believed we would. Even though we were unable to solve all the problems we wanted to, we did manage to make some positive changes. Unfortunately, we were too few, voices shouting in the wind.

And now we are somewhat jaded. The country is still divided, big money still buys votes. Congress is still selling out, and the media is still owned by pin-headed men in suits. There is always a war somewhere, and it is never done with.

My generation clings to our belief that we will see positive changes, but we don’t believe we’ll live long enough to enjoy them. Nevertheless, change is inevitable and it will happen, even if, like Moses and the promised land, we stand on the opposite shore and see only what yet may be.

My old friends and I are not exactly who we were in those wild days. Now we’re an amalgamation of everything we once believed would happen and the reality we lived. We are people who survived Reaganomics, who survived raising children through the MTV years. We held down three part-time jobs because trickle-down economics didn’t really trickle down the social ladder to our rung, and we had kids to feed.

We survived the Bush years with some of our dignity intact and didn’t fold under the “you’re with us, or you’re against us” propaganda designed to shut us up. We will survive whatever comes our way with the current regime because old wood is tough wood and doesn’t break easily.

We are jaded, but we have hope, we old hippies, we old women and men who are dinosaurs among the birds of the modern, hyper-connected world. We still believe the world can be a better place for everyone. The difference is now we know we can change the world… just not in the way we thought we would.

Now we put our money where our mouth is, donating to charities and spending our retirement years volunteering in schools and hospitals. We do it in small ways, chipping away, and little by little we have a positive effect.

We lost the battle to make the world a simpler, kinder place. Our parents were The Greatest Generation, and they won the war with their firm, 20th century belief that only through technology would mankind benefit, and that somewhere a miracle drug was waiting, one able to cure every disease known to man.  It just hadn’t been discovered yet. Now the drug companies have the government’s balls in one hand and a claw-like grip on our pocketbooks with the other. That hoped-for miracle cure is still somewhere out there on the horizon, and likely always will be.

My generation was conquered, despite the struggle to keep it simple. We old hippies now embrace technology and make it ours. We do this because we must either adapt or die, and I am not ready to die. We are a wired society, and we old people have the luxury of a little free time and occasionally, extra money. So, we have become wired.

Writing is my opportunity to live in the world as I would like it to be, and it is my chance to get away from the war, from politics, from family problems. Adult children with complicated epilepsy issues, grandchildren having babies too young (did they learn nothing from my trials and errors?) –writing is my escape.

I support creativity and free-thinking on a local level. I volunteer as municipal liaison for NaNoWriMo. I encourage people from all walks of life, and from every point of view to write. It doesn’t matter to me if we agree politically or not. Everyone has a story to tell. Some stories are real and incredibly moving, and all the writer needs is the skill to tell that story the way it should be told.

They can gain that skill through participating in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. Children and schools benefit year-round from writing programs sponsored by this organization. For me, November is the busiest month of the year. I will be meeting and getting to know many new people, and I will be writing the framework for a new novel.  For one month, thousands of people will be too busy writing to spend their evening in front of the electronic altar, being fed mindless pap in the form of ‘entertainment.’ Instead, they will entertain themselves and find they are so much more than they ever thought they could be.

With every new book that is written, each new magazine article or essay, the world opens its eyes a bit more, seeing more possibilities. Readers discover they are not islands disconnected from society, cocooned in dark living-rooms, unable to look away from the poorly crafted mind-porn we are force-fed.

I am an old hippy, I admit it. But I am water, wearing away at ignorance, helping the world learn how to tell its story one person at a time.

Easter bonnets, bunnies and chocolate

Chaos while making Easter Bonnets at the Clark household.

Everyone loves Easter, right? I have to confess I’ve always been a bit meh about the whole thing. While growing up I got to watch my friends and brother chow down on copious chocolate eggs, my eyes turning green with envy as I was given a bar of carob chocolate. Yum (read this word with the sarcasm intended). I mean it’s okay – if you like eating food that tastes like cardboard with a side of mud – which I am sure has as much nutrition. Don’t talk to me about Easter bonnets either. I am sure they didn’t exist when I was in school. I never made one anyway. Well, I am now an adult and the world has changed. Lindt now do the most delicious dark chocolate bunny, which has not so much as sniffed at a glass of milk never mind gulped it down with my death in mind like the sadistic bunnies of my dooms of long ago.

As I mentioned I am an adult now and grown up enough not to indulge in the sweet temptation that is milk chocolate. I do have a munchkin of my own though. He is 4 and adores chocolate and eats it like his life depends on it. A good thing too as it is the only way to toilet train the scamp. As Easter rolls around the prospect of Easter bunnies and, their? eggs descending on our household like a demonic horde of brightly coloured foil is getting ever closer.

I also went through the annual hell of the Easter bonnet competition last week. Apparently the way to win the Easter bonnets shenanigans is to create the hat out of paper, cardboard or papier mache and let the little sprogs let loose with paint, glue, feathers, chicks, bows and glue. That is what we are supposed to do. I went to the pound shop and bought a plain ready-made Easter bonnet and let him loose with the glue and other paraphernalia that was sold there. Next year I will know better! Apparently the other key thing is to actually remember the darn thing on the day of the competition!

Maybe I should go all psycho mum and bribe the judges with chocolate? That could be the start of an interesting story line. How far could a competitive mum go? Bribery and corruption in your local primary/elementary school. I see possibilities… Just to be clear though, I wouldn’t/couldn’t do that myself. It is impossible for me to do anything illegal or dishonest. It is incredibly annoying and a severe character flaw of mine. World domination would be mine if I could just get past those pesky morals stopping me from doing anything remotely interesting. Still that is why I write, I can’t do anything immoral but that doesn’t stop the characters I make up!

Midweek into the first half of the Easter holidays (vacation to my American friends) and I’m enjoying a morning off. Oh yes, holiday club is my saviour. While my son enjoys sun, crafts, friends and play, I get to stay inside like the demented vampire wannabe that I am. My husband is sure that I can burn in the reflected light of the moon. While my son gets ‘home’ cooked meals, I get leftovers. As I am writing this, I am tucking into one of the afore mentioned chocolate bunnies. This one is gold wrapped with a bell held on by dark brown elastic. Apart from the dreaded Easter bonnets, maybe Easter isn’t that bad after all.

When you get what you want …and it’s Winter!



Once there was a time

when the snow finally fell,

spreading like diamonds across the yard,

back when winter was a reason

to light the fires and embrace one another.


I counted the days

through the spring and summer,

watching the flowers bloom,

seeing people shed their clothes,

feeling the warmth cut through me.


I counted the weeks

through the falling leaves

watching them sweep my path,

seeing them blow casually away,

feeling how life fled from me.


And winter returned

as forever I prayed it would:

when all the birds take flight

yet there is one that remains,

willing to brave the cold


and shiver to death rather than escape,

wanting to believe rather than deny.


—Stephen Swartz (© 2007)


[Stephen likes to write about winter. His most wintry novels are A Beautiful Chill and A Girl Called Wolf.]

Things that inspire me

I live 60 miles due north of Mt. St. Helens, an active stratovolcano that has erupted several times in my lifetime. As a teenager in the fall of 1970, 10 years before the eruption, my earth-science class visited the lava-tubes that were popular tourist destinations in those days.  The volcano was considered to be of no threat to anyone, practically dead, really.

Mt. St. Helens from Spirit Lake prior to 1980
Mt. St. Helens from Spirit Lake prior to 1980 via ABC news

As this photo shows, it had a beautiful shape to it, like Mt. Fuji, and was featured on calendars and postcards for its beauty and majesty.  The verdant forests were tall and thick, mostly Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar.  Spirit Lake, at its base, was a playground for summer vacationers.  My family spent many summer holidays at the campgrounds and the lodge there.

PD United States Geological Survey, via Wikipedia
PD United States Geological Survey, via Wikipedia

All that changed overnight on May 18th, 1980, when the mountain erupted.  We could see the ash column quite clearly from the lake in the Bald Hills of Thurston County, where we were fishing that morning, and we knew something really bad had happened at the mountain. Entire forests were blown down and buried under volcanic ash. Spirit Lake was both destroyed and reborn in a different form.

The destruction of the ecology is one of the underlying themes of the Tower of Bones series.

But the miraculous way the land around Mt. St. Helens has rebounded in the last 35 years is also working its way into my World of Neveyah–Tauron’s spell is broken, and the land will recover.  The devastation of Mal Evol looks permanent, and is terrible to those who know what it once was like, but they have hope that it will recover.

In the World of Neveyah series, I created the Mountains of the Moon, out of which the valley of Mal Evol was torn. I understood how mountains can rise high into the sky, blocking the rising or setting sun. Also, I used the climate of the Scablands here in Washington–the climate is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with excruciatingly hot  summers and severely cold winters, and that is how I made Mal Evol. Remember, dealing with weather offers great opportunity for mayhem in the narrative.

I live on the heavily forested western side of the state, 50 miles west of 14,411 ft tall  Mount Rainier, beneath the Nisqually Glacier. That sight dominates my front-yard skyline on a clear day. The valley I live in was carved by glaciers and eruptions from this amazing pile of rock, ice, and fire. I took this idea, but I made my mountains taller and badder than the Himalayas on a bad Mt. Everest day.

Mount Rainier, Nisqually Glacier, ©2010 Walter Siegmund Via Wikipedia
Mount Rainier, Nisqually Glacier, © 2010 Walter Siegmund Via Wikipedia

We here in our bipolar State of Washington are able to see how the landscape can radically change if you just drive east on I-90 for four hours.

Because  of my good fortune of living in the shadow of two large volcanoes, and between two high mountain ranges, the Olympic Mountains and the Cascade Range,  I have the opportunity to experience a wide diversity of ecologies in one day, going from saltwater to mountain range, to desert.

You may find your inspiration elsewhere. It could be in anything from architecture to ornamental gardens, to cornfields or sage brush. For me, it is in the amazing state of Washington, a wild, beautful place of many diverse and fragile ecologies.

Things that inspire me was first published in September of 2015 on Life in the Realm of Fantasy, under the title of  Creating the Landscape by Connie J. Jasperson, © 2015 All Rights Reserved

My Childhood on a Family Farm – #Life and #Goats

By Alison DeLuca

Image courtesy of pixabay

I grew up on a small organic farm in Pennsylvania. It was a unique childhood, once with many trials and rewards. We had to get up early to make sure all the animals were fed, watered, and milked. We had to plant when it was 90 and pick crops when the weather was humid as hell.

The experience taught me many things and changed those of us in the small, green acre. We found compost was smelly but necessary, praying mantis did a great job of destroying aphids, and Japanese beetles are a pain.

Here are some of the other lessons we learned:

  1. There is nothing smellier or messier than duck poo. It seemed to sneak up on you, especially if you were wearing clogs or Dr. Scholl’s – the more popular shoe styles of the 1970’s.
  2. The wind may blow and the icy rain may fall, but those baby goats still want their milk buckets.
  3. Baby goats (or ‘kids’ for the initiated) are the cutest things alive. Adult goats are pretty great too, unless they are ornery bucks.

    Image courtesy of tookapic
    Image courtesy of tookapic
  4. Ducklings are adorable as well. They look like baby bumblebees. Never will I forget the day one proud mother led her 25 offspring up the road from her nest in a neighbor’s yard to our barn.
  5. Bags of feed are really heavy.
  6. A hayloft is a fine place to play.
  7. Each season brings its delights and challenges. Summer, for example, was filled with blackberries straight from the canes, dark and filled with sweet juice, as well as the return of the barn swallows in our carriage house. It also brought ticks on the dogs, bats in the barn, storms so violent I saw a ball of lightning roll across the kitchen floor, and hot nights in our house (which had no air conditioning.)Then there was winter, with nights around our Franklin stove when we listened to the whole of The Messiah on records. It also meant cold so fierce we slept with our jeans, and one intense snowstorm that stranded us for a week.
  8. Cockerels really do keep moving around after you cut off their heads, except they don’t run around because you have cleverly tied their legs together first. My dad was really good at slaughtering roosters. Don’t like the thought? It’s where your food comes from, unless you’re a strict vegan.
  9. Family farms don’t make a lot of money, for the most part. We got our clothes from the local Bring ‘n’ Buy, and once my mom told me not to ask for a second helping since we couldn’t afford it. If you’ve ever read about ‘egg money’ in novels, I can attest how important it is. Egg money paid for our electricity and gas. To this day, I still stop whenever I see a farm stand – I know personally how vital my cash is to that family.
  10. My most important lesson was a tough one, something that changed me forever. Life on the farm was filled with reality, that is to say – death. We confronted it on a daily basis, until the fact of my mortality no longer frightened me as a grisly specter but simply another stage.

    Image courtesy of pixabay
    Image courtesy of pixabay
  11. With that in mind, the grumpiest and meanest animals seemed to live forever. In particular No-Good-Boyo, our circus rescue pony, was still kicking and biting when we sold the farm. We waved goodbye to the old demon horse and moved to jobs that were more lucrative, but perhaps less educational.

What I Learned From NOT Writing

writing dry spell

writing dry spell

Sometimes life happens and finding time to write becomes challenging.

Maybe you’re struck with a personal tragedy OR work ramps up OR you welcome a child or grandchild into your life. Maybe you’re mentally in a poor place and find it difficult to summon even an ounce of inspiration and drive.

Personally, I recently hit a writing dry patch because of a three-ingredient cocktail: I got married, my business hit a growth spurt, and summer arrived in Minnesota. Those of you who live in green-all-the-time, temperate climates may have difficulty understanding the last reason. When summer rolls into the North Woods states, there is a tremendous amount of energy and activity that comes with it. We try to cram all our music festivals, bike rides, river tubing, picnics, and food fests into four or five months. This year, I was so swept up in the fervor (along with marriage planning and writing* for a bucketful of new clients), that I completely neglected writing for myself.

For three months.

It’s embarrassing to admit my negligence and it pains me to be disengaged from the novel I’ve been working and reworking for the past three years (Although I heard somewhere that your third novel is the hardest. Maybe I took that totally subjective assertion to heart a little too much?)

Fortunately, my writing dry spell hasn’t been for naught. I’ve learned a thing or five that I’d like to share with you.

  1. It Doesn’t Get Any Easier

Each day away from your notepad or laptop is another day you’re not practicing your craft. Writing is just like any sport—if you don’t take the time to practice, your abilities begin to slip. You begin to feel clumsy and less mentally agile.

  1. Not to Mention, You Lose the Thread of Your Story

Not only does your writing deftness suffer during writing droughts, but (if you’re working on a novel or novella) your story suffers. You begin to lose track of characters (What was Simon doing in the last chapter? Does he have brown eyes or green eyes? What was his cat’s name, again? Mr. Meow? Purrdita? Ah, hell.) and you also lose the rhythm of the story.

After long periods away from my works in progress (WIP), I’m forced to go back and re-read several chapters, or even the whole darn thing. When you write every day, you avoid that kind of time-sucking nonsense.

  1. But Time and Distance CAN Be Healthy

There are a few times when it can be beneficial to step away from your WIP. I’ve found that if I need to do a major developmental edit on my writing, it’s a good idea to step away from it for a while. That way, when I do approach it again, I am less attached to particular scenes or characters; I forget how long I toiled over this description about a garden or that bar fight. I’m better able to, as Steven King says, “kill my darlings” when I no longer perceive them as darlings.

  1. Distance can also open you to new ideas

When you’re not completely immersed in your writing, you may stumble across ideas for new characters, scenes, and plots twists in your day-to-day living. Even if these ideas may take your WIP in a new direction, I’ve found that you’re more likely to consider them when you’ve had some time to distance yourself from your story. When you’re deep in your writing, it may seem daunting to derail your story and take it in a different direction, but when you have distance, you’re better able to view your story as a whole and understand the benefit of a major plot or character change. It’s like viewing a route on Google Maps, versus taking whatever turn you feel like while navigating your car.

  1. Not writing = not great

When writing is a huge part of your identity, it’s tough to endure a dry spell. During the past three months, I’ve often asked myself, “What, oh what, am I doing with my life? Isn’t writing who I am?” It could be my inner tortured artist bubbling to the surface, but I think my emotions stem from something more than that. Writing is not a hobby or something I pick up on the weekends and forget about during the rest of the week. Writing is part of the fabric that composes my being. It’s who I am.

I’ve learned a handful of useful things during my writing drought, but mostly I’ve realized that I’d rather be writing. Sounds like a bumper sticker, but it’s true. I’d rather be writing than wishing I was writing or thinking about writing. And, as I noted in point number one, it doesn’t get any easier to jump back in and start writing again. Maybe I should start today. Or right n…

What Is Magic?


When you ask about magic and what it is, most people would think of Harry Potter waving his wand and shouting “Expelliarmus”, fairy godmothers, leprechauns, magical creatures like unicorns, and all types of beings like goblins, dwarves, etc. And that’s fine. It’s a world we’ve come to know through films and books. The fantasy genre is a wonderful realm in which to escape our problems and suspend belief for a while and I must admit I’m a huge fan.

However, have you thought about the magic that happens every day in the here and now, in amongst the hustle and bustle of daily life?

The perception of magic is a very individual thing and different events will affect people in myriad ways. Let me take you on a little journey to explore the magic which is all around us.

A newborn baby’s first cry – for first time parents, or any parent for that matter, it’s the most magical sound in the world. Your wedding day, which you’ve saved for and planned for months, that moment when the vicar, priest, or celebrant says the magic words, “I now pronounce you man and wife.” A special anniversary or birthday can have elements of magic during the celebrations. The first time your boyfriend/girlfriend says those three little words which mean so much, or a marriage proposal – aren’t they magical times for the people concerned?

Look around at the wonders of nature: an egg hatching in a nest, or any animal being born – who can resist making a fuss of a tiny kitten or puppy; watching salmon swimming upstream as they find their place to spawn; when spring arrives and buds start appearing on trees and flowers bloom for the first time in months; beautiful rolling hills of green; a bluebell wood; dolphins jumping in and out of water alongside a ship; a magnificent waterfall; and a life being saved, whether human or animal.

This is just a small list of magical things that happen in our world every day, a great deal of which we take for granted, but nevertheless to some of us, one or more of the above is enchanting, miraculous, mystical, or maybe all three.

I hope our little journey opened your eyes to the magic in the real world. Now, where did I put that book…?

Procrastination, thy name is mine

Distracted student uid 1427251I love to write, but I also like to facebook, play with my son, design and redesign my websites, watch TV, read and apparently clean the house. This only happens when I near the end of a book. There we have it Procrastination.

I want to write, in fact I have several books on the go and several half-finished on my computer which probably won’t see the light of day. At the beginning I work like a demon, hours spent on the computer but when I can see the finish line, it’s like. ‘oh, I can relax now, I’m nearly there.’ Procrastination has hit me with a baseball bat.

Noooooo, I’m not nearly there. There are so many steps I have to do to have a polished book.

That is the crux of the matter. I know I have nearly finished but I also know I am nowhere near the end! I am trapped like a rabbit in headlights. I usually get through it by doing a little each day. Focussing on one thing and just pushing through but oh it is painful.

Anyone else suffer from this? 🙂

Three Stories We Keep Reading over and over and over

Throughout the past three years, I have been able to ascertain that there are three stories, types of stories, or story memes retold again and again which nobody is willing to welcome any longer, and henceforth should be exiled to the dustbins of hosiery! Here they are in all of their unspoken glory – and beware the variations, too. Unfortunately, I have written each of them.


The love story. Emotional linkage. Moreover, two young romantics slathering over each other. Worse yet if one of them is of some special, protected category such as ghost, gremlin, zombie, homeboy, vampire, wolfboy, fairy, fairy tale meme, or absent-minded English teacher. It is enough that we recognize that people have this flaw, this need for completion, but must the rest of us read about it? see it splayed open across the grand screen? discuss it through the night on social media-  as though it were a traditional recipe for disaster? Sure, we have the so-called “anti-romance” – but isn’t that just another sheep of another color than black? Let them do what they do in private and leave the rest of us alone, thank you very much.


Variation: The love story set in a dystopian society where good is evil and black is white and everyone is out to get everyone else because that is the way of the world and nobody is better or worse than anyone else and the equal ones are slightly more equal than the others who are not. Often they must play a game to determine who is most equal.

Example. A Beautiful Chill is an example of the oft-repeated cliche of campus unions and reunions where Art & Letters rejoice in unyielding depravity up to the final revelation of emotional slaughter. Woe is me, sayeth the love-lorn Author. (Credit for keeping it real; that is, on Earth and in modern times.)


The discovery of a new world. In this avenue I would add all the doorway, portal, gateway, wardrobe, tunnel, and wormhole stories where one of “us” goes somewhere else and woo-hoo it’s almost like where we came from (or it’s quite different) and aren’t we amazed! And what does our hero/heroine do there? Exploit the darn place to within an inch of its history! Such stories have been foisted upon us usually as warnings of what we have become or shall become if we do not pay attention, pay through the nose, or pay the first-born child of every family in debt to our fanatical financials and lords of leisure! And yet we take no heed and continue to fall into our dubious inheritance. No more! “If it ain’t here, it ain’t real,” quoth one long-lost quotation master. Who should care for a world of pure invention?


Variation: The parallel universe, the time travel story, the dystopian tale – all of them are poor representations of the main theme, us doing whatever me must, all relying on knowledge of our existing set of circumstances in order to make pun of all that we hold close to us and dreary. They mean to trick you. Smoke and mirrors, just smoke and mirrors. Mind not the poor excuse that is what you have now, for life could be far, far worse over there. Be glad you are here.

Example: The Dream Land, a lengthy tome [read ‘trilogy’] ostensibly of interdimensional [read ‘doorway, portal, etc.’] intrigue [read ‘political skulduggery’], alien romance [see above complaint], and world domination in volving two high school science nerds who grow up to become far too dangerous. Too many giant war rabbits for my liking, also. And a comet just for overkill.


The medieval family clash. As a variation on ‘new worlds’ is the ‘old world’ meme. I speak here of our vainglorious return to days of yore. Either said stories are poor recreations of history mismanaged or they are faux pas histories which serve the purpose of greasepainted stages of perversity. Need we more of that? There is good reason those days of yore are done – and none too soon: we who represent the greater good of our species are simply too embarrassed by what we are capable of bestowing upon our peers. We seek atonement, forgiveness, or another round of the merry-go-round. While we may wish to relive the highlights and lowlifes, the sum total of our aspirations is a rousing return to that which never was and cannot be all in the name of trying it again for the better and falling, indeed, crashing from great dragon-borne heights to the fire-pit below!


Variation: The story that hides in a return to mythological creations and through them and their unfolding narrativity seek to impress us with the sheer drudgery of life in those days. Be glad of the life you have now and forget those of long ago. Yet such creatures and the winsome gods and goddesses themselves make for poor judges of our modern tastes. Be not fooled or made a fool!

Example: After Ilium, where the narrative necessarily parallels the standard liturgy yet is viewed through the rose-colored lenses of a neophyte (often called ‘the lucky loser’) for the purpose of excising tears from unwary readers. It’s a quite dubious in the depiction of an infamous battle: the wooden horse and the glimmering walls and the shiny gold.


There is a solution. Seek not for such misguided diversions but instead search out only fair and acceptable solutions to the diversions you crave, for they do exist. Break free and live a life beneath a tree, in the fields of the locust, all barefoot and squishy, with fluffy-bunny clouds overhead and the wind in your hair – like all good little munchkins who have survived remakes of wizard-themed films. And if that fails you, then there likely is little hope; you might as well embrace your day job (night, whatever) with hardy gusto. Good day to you!


I plead guilty, charged or not. I have dabbled in the literary arts and dared sail among the gods and goddesses of my imagination, no matter the fatigue in my wings. I saw the light above the clouds, heard the creak of heavenly gates, and yet, in the end, as imagination faltered, I flew on. And here I am . . . for what it’s worth.

“We are all little stars,” said someone on Twitter yesterday.

Are password books safe

Are password books safeThe answer to the question, are password books safe, is no, yes ah, oh dear, maybe!

The reason I say this is that no password recording strategy is a hundred percent safe. There are a lot of reasons why recording your passwords is not a good idea. For example, to be sure that you are as safe as you can be, you would need these three things to happen:

  • You would need to have an incredible memory; remember 30+ character passwords (a mix of capital and lower case numbers, letters and symbols) for each website you visit
  • The employees that work for the website you are visiting must be completely trustworthy and untrickable
  • The online password safe you could be using must be unhackable

Human nature is always going to be human nature and if you can’t use a website because of those reasons then you need to record them somehow.

But are password books safe?

This brings me back to the maybe.

Of course if you have a book that is obviously a password book at first glance and you write everything down in it including your mother’s maiden name and your place of birth, then no. … but, and I stress the word but, they can be made one of the safest ways to record passwords.

There is no reason that you can’t write a random password down but also have a secret portion that is only in your memory.

This means that if someone steals your password book and tries to use the information in your book then it is useless to them.

Here’s how it might work

Example random password to be recorded in password book.

This should be different for each website.


Ezample word that is only in your memory.

This can be the same for all websites but I recommend having two, one for banking and shopping and another for everything else.


Example combination:


By adding in your memorised word in a pattern that you always use, you only need to remember the Tiger portion. In the above example I have done recorded, memorised,  recorded, memorised until the memorised password ran out of letters and then used the rest of the recorded characters unaltered.

You could always add the whole memorised portion after the first, second or third character etc. For example, this could be: dF$TigerjB@msv!

Whichever you think is easier to do.

What about online password vaults?

As I mentioned above, there is no completely secure way of recording passwords. Passwords need to be complicated and different for each website you visit. Password vaults can be hacked and indeed they have been in the past. The advantage of a password vault is that they warn you if a site has been hacked, they can auto fill login information and you can get to your password information from practically anywhere.

You can use the above password method for password vaults as well and if you keep a password book safe then if you get locked out of your password vault for any reason then you can still get into your websites. If you do use this way to record login information, then you won’t be able to use the auto login function as they won’t have all your password.

The key to my password method is that however someone gets hold of your recorded password they shouldn’t be able to use it. If an employee of a website you joined is tricked into giving your whole password away then they will only have access to that one website because your passwords will be different for all the others. This limits the damage.

So, are password books safe? The answer is they can be safer than other methods if you are careful!

Full disclaimer: Ceri Clark has published two themed secret password books through Myrddin Publishing. Take a look at her cat themed book, Meow-nificent Kittens at http://cericlark.com/meow and her dog themed password book, Paws-itively Puppies at http://cericlark.com/woof

Getting Malled

I’ve been dragged to the seventh circle of hell, aka the Mall, for holiday shopping two days in a row. This means sniffing perfumed cards thrust under my nose, drinking over-priced coffee, and hauling bags the approximate of several kettlebells.images-1
The truth is both trips were really fun, so ignore my weary attempt at hipster chill in the previous paragraph. But the reason I had a good time was not the shops, nor the food courts, and certainly not the constant offers of reward cards as long as I hand over lots of sensitive info.
Yesterday the trip was with my daughter, who’s reaching an age where things get … sensitive. Let’s just say there are hormones involved. Lately we’ve been a terrible rut where I’m sick of myself. Yes, I grow more and more tired of my squawking voice as I howl at her to GET THE HECK OUT OF THE BED and don’t you miss the bus, young lady, because I surely am not driving you today.
Spoiler alert – I drove her that day.
So, it was lovely to forget all the homework, the grades, and the constant need to get a pre-teen lump out of warm blankets. We made each other laugh, especially when we realized the sweatshirt she wanted at Pac-Sun featured reindeer who were quite “friendly.”images
Today I hooked up with a pair of old friends and continued the carnage. There was more overpriced coffee (oh dear, I think I’m hooked) and more laughter. In fact, we guffawed so loudly about the poor oil baron’s wife who’ll end up having to wear that jeweled Victoria’s Secret bra we might have startled the guy at the calendar cart.
It’s been great, but I surely don’t mind being in my house for the next few months, the way things should be. I’ll crawl out to get staples like milk and chocolate, but that’s about it. In any case, the real shopping is about to begin – downloading the new books coming out this month.
I highly recommend it. I plan to do this shopping in pajamas and slippers, with a glass of something jolly firmly in hand. I want a few Gillian Flynn books as well as Nightingale, the historical novel about a pair of sisters in WWII.
And *shameless plus alert* don’t forget the upcoming Myrddin collection of short stories, featuring horror and romance and fantasy.
Oh yes. It will be mine.
While you’re shopping to feed your Kindle or the blank space in your bookshelves – do you have any blank spots? I definitely do not – why not toss together a batch of tassies? You can make the pecan or lemon version, and they’re delicious. Here are my recipes for both:

1 cup butter, softened
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Beat 1 cup butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add flour to butter mixture, beating at low speed. Shape mixture into 48 balls, and place on a baking sheet; cover and chill 1 hour.
2. Place 1 dough ball into each lightly greased muffin cup in mini muffin pans, shaping each into a shell.
3. Whisk together brown sugar and next 5 ingredients. Spoon into tart shells.
4. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until filling is set. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool on wire racks 20 minutes or until completely cool.
Prep: 45 min., Chill: 1 hr., Bake: 20 min., Cool: 30 min. If you don’t have four mini muffin pans, you can bake these in batches. Keep the extra dough chilled until you’re ready to use it.

• 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks, plus more for pans
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 1 large egg yolk
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
• Pinch of salt
• 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1 large egg
• 3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. For candied lemon zest: Remove zest from lemons with a vegetable peeler, keeping pieces long. Remove white pith using a paring knife, and finely julienne using a very sharp knife. Place julienned zest in a small bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes; drain.
2. Bring 1 cup sugar and the cool water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When sugar is completely dissolved, add julienned zest, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand overnight. Remove zest, and drain on wire rack. Roll in sugar. Dry on wire rack. Store zest in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with rack in upper third. Lightly butter a 24-cup mini-muffin pan; set aside. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flour and butter. Pulse until mixture is the consistency of fine crumbs. Add the sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Process until evenly incorporated and smooth; do not overprocess.
4. Divide the dough into quarters. Divide each quarter into 6 pieces. Shape into balls. Place each ball in a muffin cup; press down in the centers so that the dough fits the cups snugly. Set muffin pan on a baking sheet.
5. Bake until lightly browned all over and slightly darker at the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer baking sheet with muffin pan to a wire rack to cool.
6. Make the filling: In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla until completely smooth. Using a 1/4-ounce ice cream scoop, fill the cooled crusts. Bake until filling is set and just beginning to color at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer muffin pan to a wire rack. Garnish with candied lemon peel. Let cool completely before serving. The tassies may be stored in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

Dirty Nana



Lately I’ve felt a bit like Sally Field’s character in the 1976 book-based movie, “Sybil”, which is the story of Shirley Ardell Mason, who suffered from dissociative identity disorder (more commonly known as multiple personality disorder).  No, I’m not breaking apart from long-suppressed psychological trauma, but contemplating the different faces that all of us present to others.   saint1

As a young parent, life requires us to exhibit a persona of infinite patience, boundless energy and determination.  I alternately portrayed a saint, a teacher, and the embodiment of love and comfort during that time.  Once the kids grew older and ventured out of the house, I could finally unleash my inner demon who uttered the “f-word” and the like with abandon.  My halo continued to tarnish when they learned what physical act was required to create a baby.  As one of my daughters put it, “Ewwwwww, you and dad did that THREE times?????” to produce her and her two siblings.  making out

I’m thankful that my grandchildren are still too young to peruse my Facebook page or read one of the four books I’ve written (“Ednor Scardens”, “The Body War”, “The Hurting Year”, “On Gabriel’s Wings”).  To my adult children, I’m still supposed to possess infinite patience, wisdom and other saintly qualities, but the years have taken their toll.  My filter is wearing ever thinner.

grumpy woman

“Tell It Like It Is” was a popular song (sung by Aaron Neville) and became a 1960’s catch-phrase, but I still hold back from saying what I really think about people and their choices, ideas, situations, etc. to avoid hurt feelings, but I know the day will come when I’ll be just like my mom by the time she landed in assisted living.  No matter how often I visited or what I brought to please her, she still seemed unable to understand why I no longer had the figure I had in my twenties.  Anytime I bent over to retrieve something on the floor, she would sigh and comment, “You have GOT to get rid of that ass!”  Depending on her condition, I never knew which of Sybil’s personalities I’d be visiting that day.   Mom passed away a few years ago, and my turn will

come eventually.

Now that I think about it, that might not be so bad.  It could be the basis for my next book!



Kathleen Barker’s books and personal blog can be found at:





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