Monday, March 31, 2014

To blog or not to blog?

Tomorrow marks the beginning of April and the A to Z Blogging Challenge. 

If I make a commitment, that means a blog post a day, from A to Z.

Over 2,000 bloggers have already made that commitment and have mapped out what they're going to write about for the month. Some have begun to prewrite their posts. I haven't even started.

I'm undecided. Those nasty demons of doubt have arisen. What could I possibly write about that would interest others? Will I have the time to actually write something every single day, even though part of this month will be on the road?

So here's the deal. You choose. Let me know what YOU would like me to write about!  Here are the options:

1) A poem a day?

2) Short posts about what I've learned from writing historical fiction?

3) Tidbits from my research for Years of Stone, set in 19th Century Van Diemen's Land (current day Tasmania, Australia) OR Rivers of Stone, set in 19th Century Canada and the Pacific Northwest?

4) Short posts about self-publishing on the cheap and that greatest and perhaps most humbling challenge of self-marketing?

You can do this! End my indecision! Please answer via comments or send me an e-mail to and please, please don't call me a slacker!

If you'd like to join this challenge, check out the A to Z Challenge 2014 website!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Celebrating Women's History: Moms Mabley

I saw Moms Mabley for the first time last night on a documentary produced by Whoopi Goldberg. I don't know how I missed Moms back in the 1960s when she became popular. Maybe because I lived in Seattle, where one black kid was in our high school of over 400. But I never knew her in the 1970s either.
Moms Mabley (Wikipedia)

She comes on stage, shuffling, a baggy hat pulled low, frumpy old lady clothes that don't match in any way. If she is wearing her teeth, she takes them out, saying, "Now, that's better." Her big smile wins everyone over.

Her wise-cracking, authentic, heart-tugging humor turns to simply expressed, laser sharp critiques of racism. And people listen. 

In 1969, in her disarming way, she tells an obviously uncomfortable Merv Griffin, that she has a new nickname. Trigger. Then, after a beat, she adds, "At least, I think they was saying Trigger."

Her popularity led her to Carnegie Hall and the White House, where she visited Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, amended and approved by President Johnson on April 11, 1968.  Before that, John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, and Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

This clip from shows Sammy Davis, Jr. introducing Moms to sing "Abraham, Martin, and John."

Read a little more about Moms on Wikipedia.
More about Whoopi Goldberg's documentary on The New York Times.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday's Author Spotlight: It's Me!

Whew! Busy week! Two interviews went online this week. 

Thanks go to Annette Drake for hosting me on her weekly Author Spotlight, up at the crack of dawn this morning. Annette is the author of Celebration House (on Amazon), a compelling read about a woman who buys a house to discover ghosts and a unique ability to communicate with them. 

And just one week ago, Deb McKnight hosted me on Novel Notions: Self-Published Sunday.  Deb is also an author. Her first book, Of Dreams and Shadow (on Amazon), looks to be a powerful tale that begins with a missing child.

In both interviews, I talk a little about the writing process and self-publishing. You'll find another excerpt from Standing Stones as well. 

And I finally was able to attend a panel hosted by the Inland Northwest Writers' Group (INWG), here in Spokane at Auntie's Bookstore. Six writers with widely varying experience commented on the vagaries of self-publishing. I gleaned a few new ideas and found some interesting new writers to read.

  • Ignore social media at your peril! Twitter, tweet, and cross post.
  • Build your community online. Connect to those who comment on your posts.
  • If you blog, then blog 2x a week consistently.
  •  Consider Kobo and Barnes & Noble in addition to Amazon.
  • Keep developing your technical skills:  E-books rule!
  • Make your work accessible on different media -- Podcasts?
And, perhaps most important, book reviews really matter! If you like an author, post a review, no matter how short.

NOTE: If you are a self-published author looking for another way to promote your book, (a service much like The Fussy Librarian) is offering free listings for writers -- just until March 24. Here's their For Authors page.

Added to my to-read list: Frank Zafiro (crime/noir), Ned Hayes (historical fiction), Deby Fredericks (science fiction/fantasy), Raymond Hudson (literary fiction), and Terry Fossum (self-improvement). 

Happy reading! How did we get to the end of March so fast???

Here's my book at Auntie's in Spokane!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cover Reveal and ABNA news . . .

Available on Amazon
Here's the new cover for The Mermaid Quilt & Other Tales . . . just for the Kindle version. 

I'm kind of excited this morning, and having a little difficulty in concentrating on the editing. Here's the background on the cover. The Mermaid Quilt was my first self-published collection of short stories and poetry. I used an off-the-shelf cover from CreateSpace because I couldn't figure out how to make something dazzling. This brand new cover comes from Angie Zambrano at pro-ebookcovers; her work is available through    

So what do you think? 

Have you heard of ABNA, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Entries ended once 10,000 would-be writers entered or by March 2, whichever came first. The next step: 400 writers from 5 categories (or 2,000 writers) are selected by March 18 to advance to the next round.

Here's the update: Announced today, my Years of Stone (follow-up novel to Standing Stones) has advanced to the next round in the General Fiction category, there not being a historical fiction category this year. 

Whoopee! I think it's time for a cup of coffee. Then maybe I can turn to that revision that's waiting on my desk.

May your writing and reading day go well!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Poetry Review: Wild Woman Waking

This week, I’m pleased to review the latest book of poems by Morgan Dragonwillow, friend and chief instigator behind poetry prompts and online resources (both StoryDam and OctPoWriMo). I look at poetry as a way to explore our most intimate perceptions of life, nature, love – distilled into impressions of what we hold most dear.

Click to go to Amazon!
Wild Woman Waking, a collaborative work by Morgan Dragonwillow, poet, and Tui Snider, photographer, shows the transformative power of poetry combined with images. Each of these 57 poems in free verse begins with a beautiful image that evokes the very nature of the poem, inviting the reader to reflect further on the nature of women, identity, healing, and growth.  

These themes lead we readers on a poetic journey of discovery. We find we must acknowledge the sometimes harsh realities of our pasts before we can embrace change and heal ourselves. For me, that is the essential message of Wild Woman Waking – that we celebrate our true selves with passion, self-acceptance, and commitment. We may not be able to return to the home of our childhood, but, as Morgan writes in ‘Finding My Way Home,’ “. . . you carry home in your heart . . . where it was all along.”
Wild Woman Waking is a passionate read. When we read these poems, we become the child who is misunderstood, the woman who searches for acceptance. From ‘Diving Deep’:
As the leaves fall I find
myself curled up inside
diving into the darkness . . .

Several poems ask us to consider the link between poetry and our bodies. In ‘Where Do Words Come From’, Morgan asks if words are:

searching for a way out of our fingers
 . . . . are the words traveling in your blood
riding along the great highway of your inner being

 Morgan’s poems make me think about the power of poetry to transform ourselves, as if in the very act of putting down words, we invent ourselves, we create order out of chaos, we show others possibilities.

Sometimes poets write what we wish we could say, and they tell us what we need to know. The poems in Wild Woman Waking lead us to a place where we can proudly refuse to be “bent and broken”; instead, they document a journey to self-acceptance, peace, and understanding – where in a community of women, we celebrate and dance as Mud Women. We become women of spirit and keepers of our own keys.

What's next? You can scroll down to read a little about about Morgan and Tui, visit the other hosts on this blog hop, and ENTER Morgan's giveaway (see below). As always, thank YOU for visiting and commenting.

Morgan Dragonwillow is a shadow poet and recovering perfectionist that strives to inspire other poets and writers. She especially enjoys helping those that have had trouble letting go of the fear holding back their words from landing on the page. It thrills her to her marrow when her words inspire someone to write; it is one of her greatest joys. Morgan released her first poetry book, Dancing within Shadow, in March 2013. She is intimate with shadow and dances into the heart of it. She believes that diving into what most people try to avoid makes great fertilizer for all types of creativity, especially writing and poetry. She writes poetry to be able to say things, feel things that she can’t seem to express or feel anywhere else. Morgan lives in Marietta Ga. with her partner, their Pekinese, and their long haired Tabby. She loves creating of all kinds but words are her passion. You can connect with Morgan from the links below.

Tui Snider is a writer, photographer, and travel blogger specializing in offbeat sites, overlooked history, cultural traditions, and quirky travel destinations. Her articles and photos have appeared in BMIbaby, easyJet, Wizzit, Click, Ling, PlanetEye Traveler, iStopover, SkyEurope, and North Texas Farm and Ranch magazines, among others. She also wrote the shopping chapter for the “Time Out Naples: Capri, Sorrento, and the Amalfi Coast 2010” travel guidebook. Unexpected Texas is her first book. For Tui, travel is a mindset. Her motto is "Even home is a travel destination," and she believes that "The world is only boring if you take everyone else's word for it." She has worn a lot of hats in her life - literally - and is especially fond of berets. Her first book, "Unexpected Texas" is a guide to offbeat and overlooked places within easy reach of the Dallas - Fort Worth region of North Texas. You can find Tui all around the web. 
·        Facebook author page
·        Instagram 
·        Pinterest

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Women's History Poetry: On women quilting

We begin innocently,
as strangers,
stitch and turn,
repair and bind,
the talk between quilts
held us together,
stories, dreams, revelations, laughter.
We shared more than fabric.
We began to quilt for others.
Sometimes we were angry.
Sometimes we despaired.
Stitch and turn,
repair and bind.
We attended weddings and funerals.
Our quilts remain,
a history of stitches.

This is the first little poem I've written in quite a while. Pared down to simplicity, the words remind me of how women create beauty out of small scraps of fabric, sometimes those scraps that we cannot throw out. So we repurpose, and the quilts remain to brighten our daily lives. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to have old quilts, those made by women we knew.

Quilting has gradually become a passion, a process of making something from a flat piece of cloth. You'll find a quilt in every book I write, sometimes drawn from history. The fascinating story of the Rajah Quilt, made in 1841 by women transported to Van Diemen's Land (present day Tasmania) for petty crimes is hidden like a small quilt block in Standing Stones. Can you imagine being down in the hold of a small sailing vessel, on a trip that took four months, and sewing a quilt?

This poem came about because of Morgan Dragonwillow's mini-poetry challenge to celebrate Women's History Month. See what others have written here. Morgan will be back here as a guest on March 15 to introduce her new book, Wild Woman Waking.