Writing Thanksgiving

Last week, I wrote and saw performed a very tongue-in-cheek Thanksgiving murder mystery called Merry, Merry, Quite Contrary, How is Your Turkey Stuffed?

Food - turkey

Today, on this day of Thanksgiving, in the midst of mashed potatoes, roast turkey, Becky’s sausage apple stuffing, and pumpkin pie, I would like to take a minute to be serious and express my gratitude for each of you who reads the words I put together.

Today, I’d like to share ten things I am thankful for, from a writer’s perspective.

Pictures from phone 9Sept2015 116

  1. I’m thankful for a publisher who not only saw merit in my work and took a chance on me, but who encourages me to write what’s on my heart. Thank you for not pressuring me to write what’s selling, or what fits into a certain box.

Shy Violet  Blue Belle, a contemporary romance by Sherrie Hansen  Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]

  1. I’m thankful for faithful readers who return to my stories again and again, and clamor for more. It means the world to me.

NIght and day cover

  1. I’m also thankful for those adventurous new readers who take a chance on my books, who spend their valuable time and money on books by Sherrie Hansen even though there are millions of others to choose from.
  1. I’m especially thankful for those wonderful, glorious people who actually take the time to write and post reviews of my books. I am quite convinced they are angels!

Pictures from phone 9Sept2015 017

  1. I’m thankful that I come from a family of thinkers who talks things through, tries to figure things out, and speculates on possible outcomes. From my grandmas on down, the family members who influenced me the most, know how to tell a good story, nurture imagination, and ask the question “What if…?”

Romania - stairs

  1. I’m thankful that I’ve been blessed to live a life sprinkled with novel (novel-worthy?) experiences. It hasn’t always been fun. It’s been traumatic at times. But it’s never been boring, and writing about some of the things that have shaped me, in story form, has been therapeutic and uplifting.

Romania - Castle

  1. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to live in and travel to some very exotic locales. From Scotland to Romania, Bar Harbor, Maine, Colorado Springs and yes, even Lawton, Oklahoma, my sojourns and journeys have provided amazing backdrops for my stories, and opened my eyes to unique people, different ways of thinking, and alternate perspectives. I love it when I can escape my own comfortable little corner of the world and experience the grand adventure of seeing the universe through other people’s eyes.

Sherrie - Mark

  1. I’m thankful for a supportive husband who encourages me to write and helps me make time in my hectic schedule for writing. I am thankful for his little acts of thoughtfulness, like driving us places while I write away in the car, my laptop propped on the open door of the glove compartment – yes, even at night when the light from my screen irritates him.
  1. I’m thankful for friends and relatives who critique my work, share candid opinions, and let me pick their brains so I can learn everything they know about cows and everything else under the sun. (Yes, Victoria, you will get credit for sharing your expertise on cows in the dedication for Sweet William.)


  1. I’m thankful for a God and Savior who created me in His image, and gave me the gifts of creativity, artistry, music and passion. God could have designed us to be obedient, robotic type creatures, but instead, he gave us free-wills, and imaginations, even though He knew both good and bad would come from our choices.


My sincere thanks to all of you who have read my blog, and in doing so, listened to and shared my thoughts. Anyone who has experienced the thrill of having someone read what they’ve written knows what a true joy this is. On this day of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for you.


Filed under Sherrie Hansen, writing

Sales and Thanks – by Calvin Davis

mealWhat is Thanksgiving to most of you? A family gathered around a table or two? One stuffed turkey? Four kinds of pies? A time of looking around at those whom we love and feeling good they’re in our lives?

Or is the day merely the precursor to Black Friday sales, a time to bolt into a department store to grab the cheapest flat screen TV? A time when the local newspapers us so filled with glossy ads you have to get the next door neighbor, a professional linebacker, to help you drag yours into the house? Or you email box filled with tempting sale ads?

Have I described the Thanksgiving season correctly?

Sadly, I fear I have. All of which begs the question, “How many of us appreciate the bounty of our good lives?” Probably very few, me included. We are creatures of habit. After awhile, we take things for granted. Try this: Imagine your food disappears, the roof over your head vanishes, your car is history, your job is bye-bye, grocery stores have no inventory, and banks are shuttered. Get the picture? Panic Time!

So, this year before you ravage the turkey, think about the things mentioned above. If you do, you’ll appreciate Thanksgiving–perhaps for the first time.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving and blessings.








Filed under writing

That Silent ‘e’ Speaks Volumes, by Carole Howard

The mailman came to the door to deliver the John Gnagy (NEGGy) “Learn to Draw” set I’d ordered. (You can Google him if you’re too young to know who he was.)  Looking at the mailing label, where Carole Goldsmith was written as clearly as could be, he nonetheless asked, “Does kuh-ROLL-ee Goldsmith live here?”  My visiting playmates overheard and forever mocked.

ATbpAb5T4That sealed the deal: I hated my name.  Why couldn’t my parents have named me Carol instead of Carole? They said it had something to do with Carole Lombard, whoever she was.  Certainly the mailman had never heard of her.  Neither had my friends.  So there I was, a short skinny kid carrying around a big, heavy mockable name.  No fair.

I can’t remember when that feeling changed, but somewhere along the way it certainly did.  I now AM Carole.  Not Carol (who’s she?) nor Caryl (my best friend in college), nor any of the other iterations I’ve seen.  Carole.  That’s me.  In fact, when people misspell me, as they often do, I’m compelled to correct them.  I know it doesn’t really matter if the woman on the phone who’s taking my order for double-size yellow flannel sheets writes my name as Carol instead of Carole.  What’s really important is the size and color of the sheets, right?  Still, I make sure she gets the name right, too.  If it’s Carol, it’s not me, even though it sounds the same.  I guess you could say that “e” is part of my identity.  An important part.

I married a man whose name is also spelled in an untraditional way, Geoffrey instead of Jeffrey.  He hated it when he was a kid, too.  Gee-off and Goofrey were his albatrosses. Only our really good friends get both of our names right.  And I like that.  It says something, if only that they’re paying attention.

You’d think two parents who’d suffered with untraditional names wouldn’t inflict the same burden on their daughter.  But we did, sort of.  Geoffrey wanted to name her Jordan, while I thought it would be a burden to give her a name that’s usually for boys, Jordan Baker notwithstanding.  We compromised on Jordan as her middle name and, predictably, she hated it for a long time.  I believe her name-hatred lasted even longer than mine had.  The story has the same ending, though:  Now she’s grown up and loves it.  It’s distinctive.  It’s her.

Do names, and their spelling, shape the perception of the thing being named? Would people react to me differently if I were Marion?  Would I, in fact, be different if I were Marion?  This is a Zen-like question because, in fact, I am Carole.  And I’m happy about it.  I couldn’t be anyone else.

“Carole” looks so much prettier, rounder, softer, and generally lovelier than “Carol,” with that rude straight line at the end. (My apologies to any Carols out there — I know I’m  not being objective.)  I can’t imagine being Carol.  Thank goodness my parents knew who I really was. And now I do, too.

How about you?  How do you feel about your name?  Do you think you’d be the same person if your name were different?


*     *     *

Carole Howard is the author of Deadly Adagio, a murder mystery set in West Africa, published by Indigo Sea Press.


Filed under Carole Howard, writing

So, what to write about?

So, I’m sitting at my parent’s desktop and staring at the screen. I’m not sure exactly what to write about, I’ve never done a blog before. It’s like when I sit at my desk and think about a new song to write or how to continue whatever book I’m working on at the moment.

I ask myself, Well, what do you want to talk about? And I answer myself, how about a song? After all, I am listening to one of my favorite bands at the moment (which is Nine Lashes, if your one of the curious people). I finished writing another song just recently. Except, it isn’t really a song, exactly. I know how to sing it and I do now and then, just to test it out. But it really is just the lyrics to a song. I don’t know how to play an instrument, although I have a goal set to learn how to play the guitar.

Anyway, I’ll share this one with you. I plan on collecting all the song lyrics I’ve written and make it into a book, a song lyric book. Perhaps one day they can be made into actual songs for the world to hear, who knows?

Piece by Piece

Piece by piece

I’ll take apart the memory

Make sure it dissipates away

Little by little

I’ll soon forget the melody

Of us swaying to an inner music

Day by day

It’ll slowly start to fade away

Empty echoes of a happy time

I will never see the good you saw in me

I will always see the flaws you saw in me

I will never know why you chose to love me

But I will never forget why you began to hate me

I can never stop this from eating away at me

You could always tell what was bothering me

Now I find myself without the anchor to my lifeboat

So I find myself drifting along without a cause

Piece by piece

I’ll take apart the memory

Make sure it dissipates away

Little by little

I’ll soon forget the melody

Of us swaying to an inner music

Day by day

It’ll slowly start to fade away

Empty echoes of a happy time

I can see where it went wrong

Your fault and mine combined

A broken record, darkened song

Charging on, a love denied

I will never see the good you saw in me

I will always see the flaws you saw in me

I will never know why you chose to love me

But I will never forget why you began to hate me

Piece by piece

I’ll take apart the memory

Make sure it dissipates away

Little by little

I’ll soon forget the melody

Of us swaying to an inner music

Day by day

It’ll slowly start to fade away

Empty echoes of a happy time

So, there’s one of the many song lyrics I’ve written. Let me know what you think. :)


Filed under writing

Be Thankful, You Ungrateful…: Chelsea Bolt


In a matter of days, most of us will be in a car travelling to Grandma’s, or worse, mother-in-law’s house to gobble up some turkey. Deep fried, baked, or tofu, there is bound to be a turkey there. Wouldn’t it be a strange American Thanksgiving tradition if we agreed with Benjamin Franklin on making the national symbol a turkey? Would we… no, too far. Bald eagles are majestic. Good call, Founding Fathers.

Let’s take a moment to think about what Thanksgiving means. It is a classic American tale that chronicles the trials of the pilgrims that travelled across the Atlantic to the New World. This was the land that promised a better life; a utopia. Little did they know that the New World would present such challenges with the weather, sickness, and their lack of survival skills. Thankfully, the Native Americans in the Plymouth Rock area were willing to assist and teach the newcomers all about their world. This peaceful and symbiotic relationship allowed for the first Thanksgiving to take place. People from different worlds were able to come together and work towards a brighter future.

Take this holiday to be thankful. Do not be ungrateful. We are blessed. Look around and appreciate all that you have rather than wishing you had more. The world can be a dark and dreary place, but if we open up our hearts and try to help others out, even if we don’t see eye to eye on every single detail, it can make a difference. Make someone laugh, be a shoulder to cry on, offer some of your time, because at the end of the day, it is not about what you have, but about what you offered.

Chelsea Bolt is a Indigo Sea Press author of the young adult novel Moonshine. For more information check out these sites:




1 Comment

Filed under writing


I admit I spend a certain amount of time every day scrolling through social media sites, some days more than others. While I scroll I see countless pictures/videos of cats, dogs and various other creatures. I see occasional personal or family pictures, some helpful recipes or craft tricks, and way too many political updates or satires.

Every once in a while I will come across something which makes me shake my head in wonder or disgust. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of time some people have on their hands and how they like to waste it. The latest useless controversy is the Starbucks saga. The huge coffee chain has removed their snowflakes and snowmen from their coffee cups! It’s been heralded as a disgrace and decidedly anti-Christmas.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I live in Quebec. I spend almost half my year with snowflakes and snowmen and every other imaginable snow thing on earth. I understand the terrible loss everyone is feeling by not having such beautiful manifestations of winter on their morning coffee cup.

But seriously?

Do we have nothing else to do? If it hadn’t made the rounds of Facebook, Twitter and whatnot, I wouldn’t have noticed the lack of winter decorations on cardboard cups. And what do snowflakes have to do with Christmas anyway?  I have a suspicion snow existed somewhere on the planet before Christianity did. I also know people celebrate Christmas in countries which have never been touched by snow. One has nothing to do with the other.

Do you honestly think the people of Paris are worrying about what’s on Starbucks cups? Would you be able to sit beside a woman who just lost her child to cancer and try to convince her of the importance of such a debate?

I’m also sure the homeless person on the street would be happy to drink a hot cup of coffee from any kind of cup. So, if that Starbucks container disgusts you so much, fill it up, and hand it to someone who will appreciate it.


A.J. McCarthy is the author of ‘Betrayal’, a suspense thriller published by Indigo Sea Press.


Filed under A.J. McCarthy

You Are What You Ink by LeeAnn Elwood McLennan

I’m getting my fifth tattoo today. Some of you may smirk at the measly amount of ink adorning my body while others will wince with dismay at the whole idea. To tattoo or not tattoo — a great way to get people talking, isn’t it?


Tattoo # 1

When folks hear I’m getting a new tattoo, the natural question is what am I getting? True to writerly form, all of my tattoos are literary — specifically from Alice in Wonderland. My ink-marked road began back in 1992 with the Caterpillar smoking his hookah tattooed onto my left thigh. A few years after that, I balanced things out with the Mad Hatter on my right thigh. Later on, I added the Cheshire Cat on my back and more recently, a playing card painting roses on my foot. For my next tattoo, I’m branching out into Through the Looking Glass for the White Queen, along with her wonderful quote ‘sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast’.

I considered the Red Queen but as I explained to a friend, the Red Queen has taken on menacing connotations since appearing in Through the Looking Glass. Anyone who has read Frank Beddor’s The Looking-Glass Wars series or watched Resident Evil knows what I mean. I’m not sure how I feel about putting something sinister on my body. Would it imply I’m sinister? Reveal my dark side to the world?

This got me thinking about what drives folks to choose what they have tattooed on their skin. If you ask someone about her tattoo, you’ll hear a story in return. The story could be about the design — be it a Chinese character denoting a name, an Egyptian symbol for Osiris drawn on a napkin at a bar by a tipsy friend, or a favorite piece of art reimagined just for you. The tattooed person might choose to reminisce about the experience — perhaps the ink was drawn by a renowned artist, maybe the tattoo shop clientele was rougher than expected tinging the experience with a little fear, or possibly close friends came along as support during the session. Sometimes the story is about why she got the tattoo — it could be in memory of a parent, to commemorate a momentous event, or a reminder to be strong. The stories are as varied as the human experience.

A tattoo is more than ink cut into flesh. For most folks their tattoos express how they think of themselves, who they present to the world. I’m a fantasy author and one of the first stories I remember loving was Alice’s crazy journey though Wonderland. Tattooing her world on my body tells the world a little bit about who I am and what I like. Some folks want original art on their bodies, while others sport family portraits. A gorgeous design of flowers twining around your arms could lure you to the tattoo parlor chair while your friend would rather have words from a favorite movie coiling around her arms.

Oftentimes, a non-tattooed person will mutter, “I don’t know what I’d get” — I think that’s a sound reason not to get a tattoo. You’d better like what you pick — because it’s going to hurt and be permanent. Tattoo removal notwithstanding.

Tribal designs, Chinese symbols, family photos, movie characters, album covers, favorite foods, a lover’s name, a child’s birthdate — anything can be mined for ideas. If someone chooses a menacing, evil design, be it historical, religious, literary, or simply violent, he is embracing a philosophy, declaring an affiliation with something disturbing. It’s a deliberate choice.

Of course, the Red Queen isn’t all bad in Through the Looking Glass, but she gets bad rap since she’s often confused with the Queen of Hearts from Wonderland. You know, “off with their heads’ — that Queen of Hearts. In fact, The Red Queen even helps Alice become a queen and celebrates with her near the end of the book.

Mmmm — perhaps # 6 will be the Red Queen after all. A kinder version of the character.

I’d love to hear your stories about your tattoos in the comments.

With thanks to Amber Hettman for the title. In addition, a shout-out to Brynn Sladky at Blacklist Tattoo (http://blacklisttattoo.com) for designing and inking tattoo number five.

Tattoo # 5 or at least the original design before Brynn worked her magic

Tattoo # 5 or at least the original design before Brynn worked her magic. She added the ‘six impossible things ‘quote as well as some other wonderful details.

LeeAnn Elwood McLennan 05 Color (2)LeeAnn Elwood McLennan is the author of Dormant, the first book in the Dormant Trilogy available on http://www.secondwindpublishing.com, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. She’s diligently working on Root, book two in the trilogy. Follow LeeAnn on Twitter @atticusmcl and on Facebook at LEMWrites.

1 Comment

Filed under Art, fun, LeeAnn McLennan, life, musings, writing

Life by John E. Stack

Did you ever have one of those days when you suddenly found out that you were older than you remember, a lot older?  Yeah, me too.  It happened just a couple of weeks ago and man did I ever pay for it.  As a matter of fact some of that reminder is still lingering around and hops out when I least expect it.

Until I look in the mirror, my mind still believes that I am in my mid-thirties. When I open my eyes it is almost like “who is that elderly gentleman looking back at me?”  Then reality sets back in.  I recognize me and have to accept the fact that I’m over twice thirty, and I no longer have the same body or strength as I did twenty-five years ago when I was still in the military.  I’m no slouch, and can usually keep up with the young dogs, it just takes me a while longer to recover.

A couple of weeks ago, when we had a break in the rain, I decided to replace a French drain at the side of my house.  A contractor crushed it while replacing a patio in my backyard.  The crushed drain caused the area right outside my front door to flood.  During the previous deluge the water came within an inch of coming in the front door.  I knew I had to do something.

I looked at renting a trencher but decided that I was too cheap (frugal if I may).  I had a mattock and a spade so I was set.  I just had to buy the piping and some connections, so off to the local big box to shop.

It took about an hour to remove the grass from a fifty foot section. Well, about seven hours later I had a trench that was around eight inches deep and a little over fifty feet long.  That North Carolina topsoil also known as red clay kicked my behind.  I installed a tee connection in the existing pipe and laid in the entire run of pipe in a short while.  I wrapped the pipe in material to keep the dirt out and filled the trench back in.  I replaced the sod and reseeded the area.  By this time it was dark and I was so tired I was about to drop.

There was only one problem.  I still had around thirty-five feet to go in the back yard in order for the drain to work properly.  Luckily, we had very little rain during the next week, but it really wouldn’t have mattered.  I was so sore I could hardly move.  My back, my shoulders, my arms and my legs ached.  Finally, by the following weekend I could move enough to start back to work and finish the drain.  Within a few hours I had the next thirty-some feet trenched and ready for pipe. Since I did not have to remove and replace the grass (natural area), it didn’t take long to complete the job.

I was tired, sore and extremely dirty, but I was done.  I had a good sense of accomplishment.  I also had several hundred dollars left in the bank that I didn’t have to pay to have someone else do the job.  It felt good.

I thought about hiring some teens to help but quickly put it out of my mind.  The last guys I hired to help ended up tearing up my lawnmower.  Others only want to get paid and not have to invest any time or energy.  Not my idea of a bargain.

Anyway, my front porch no longer floods and the drain is working really well.  The grass that was removed is starting to take root again.  Plus the soreness is gone.  It even gave me the incentive to go back to the gym.  Now, several times a week I’m sore on purpose.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.


Filed under writing

Stocking up on rain, words and authors in Portland – by Sheila Deeth

I went to Wordstock last weekend. It’s a writers’ conference held almost annually in Portland Oregon and it had just moved to a new venue. The move, not surprisingly, had a few pluses and minuses, just like the rewrite of an old novel. (Did I mention, I’m rewriting an old novel – Imaginary Numbers – soon to be released by Indigo Sea Press?)





  1. Those of us lucky enough to get into a lecture halls could actually hear the speakers
  2. Those of us not standing out in the rain were in a very pleasant, inspiring venue (the Art Museum)
  3. The guy keeping the floor dry so nobody would slip in the crowds trying to cram through tiny doorways did a wonderful job.

Minusses: see above.

What stayed the same was the quality of the speakers – they were great.

And what I learned:

  1. You are who you are. You can’t pretend to be someone else – to look like someone else, or to write like someone else – because your critics will tell you who you are.
  2. You’re never too old, too young, too weak, or too anything else (except perhaps too scared). You can swim the impossible (Cuba to Florida), write the impossible, paint the impossible, and most importantly dream the impossible. Those dreams should never be discarded (well, unless they involve hurting somebody, I guess).
  3. Culture determines what people see and believe – in a world without artificial light, it’s really not so hard to believe in witchcraft. Writers can create that world and make their readers believe.
  4. Friendship determines what people do and achieve – trust your friends to help you, accept their help, and praise them for their help.
  5. You can find inspiration anywhere. (Where else would I have found myself comparing swimmers to angel guardians?)

So here I am, signing my contracts for great new novels (yes, of course they’re all great) with Indigo Sea Press, rewriting Imaginary Numbers (see above), making final edits to Subtraction, eagerly awaiting the release of Infinite Sum (tentatively scheduled for January) and the rerelease of Divide by Zero (moving, as we speak, to Indigo Sea). What will I do with what I’ve learned?

  1. Dry my hair (boy did I get wet at Wordstock). Then dry my edits – remove those drips that pour from the imagination when I change one thing and make another stop working.
  2. Remember to look at a map before attending my next conference, so I won’t have to stand so long in the rain. Then I’ll remember to check the timelines and imaginary maps for my novel. Did he turn left when he should have turned right? Do I care? Can I just say he turned?
  3. Look for inspiration everywhere (even in the rain) – but be careful not to overuse rain and other depressing metaphors. The sun has to shine sometimes or we’ll all get soaked.
  4. Thank the guy who mops the floor, and the friend who says, “That’s confusing,” and the other who asks, “What happened to that person from the last chapter?” and the other…
  5. Rejoice in the fact that when someone says, “What brings you to Wordstock?” I can answer, “I’m a writer.” Better still, rejoice in the new friend I made. She writes. She’s a writer too, and she’s just learning to say so too.

Sheila Deeth is a writer (yay!!!!). Her sequence of novels–Divide by Zero, Infinite Sum, Subtraction and Imaginary Numbers–will all be released by Indigo Sea Press soon (ish – she’s still working on some of them). Her childrens stories are published by Linkville Press and Cape Arago Press. Her speculative novellas are now under contract to, yes, drumroll,  Indigo Sea. And her dreams are all over the place. She’s grateful (I’m grateful) to Indigo Sea for giving her this place where those dreams can land.


Filed under musings, Sheila Deeth, writing


I do. I have a bedroom at one end of my house that serves as art, crafts, sewing, library, storage, and guest room and it is crammed full of stuff. I’ve tried several times to weed it out and get rid of things no longer needed and organize the things I want to keep. It’s actually been somewhat successful, but I still have too much stuff and it drives me crazy!


I’m generally a fairly organized person and I like to be able to find things easily, but more often than not, what I hear myself saying is, “I spend half my life LOOKING for stuff!” My last move, here to Florida, is responsible for this chaos. I was in a hurry to keep up with the movers and never got this room really organized to start with. Over the years, it’s gotten worse, because I didn’t take that extra time.

One of my problems now is I get distracted. While sorting out a cabinet in my wall unit, I’ll see a photo or a letter sent to me, and before I know it, I’m sitting on the floor musing through an album as the sun sets in the west and nothing has been accomplished.

Another problem is that I get overwhelmed and discouraged by the enormous task of sorting through this “getting-bigger-by-the-moment” room. I’ve tried taking just one shelf and going through that, but when I realize I have five similar objects somewhere just like the one in my hand (spools of thread come to mind), I need to find them so they all can be placed together. So much for the one shelf!

I can’t take everything and put it all on the floor, sort, and then put it all back in an organized manner, because there isn’t room enough to do that. I wouldn’t be able to move around the room with the floor full. Phooey!

I did go through the closet and sold or gave away clothing, but I have a storage unit with pull-out shelves that contains fabrics, some craft supplies, holiday and special occasion wrapping paper and ribbon that takes up the middle floor and half-way-up section of the closet. The shelf above contains items I don’t use a lot or want to sell when I have time later, plus bedding supplies like pillows, and blanket. Meanwhile, I still have too much stuff!


I’ve even tried a mantra while weeding. “Think ruthless! Think ruthless!” That worked only in a mediocre way, but it did help a little, so that counts, I guess. And a wise person suggested only keeping things that make you happy. Ummmm.

A large amount of space in that room contains family photo albums that eventually will go to my son. It’s not practical to give them to him now, because I still enjoy looking at them and because he often moves with his job and doesn’t have room for them now, so that’s out.

Anybody out there got any ideas? I could use all the help I can get!


Coco Ihle is the author of  SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mostly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.


Filed under blogging, Coco Ihle, musings