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“Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together.” — Woodrow T. Wilson

Friends are on my mind today. Two of my good friends, Karen and Wendy, have birthdays this week. Just last week, I had the opportunity to spend several hours (including lunch) with Patti, a friend who I haven’t had a chance to visit with in-person for two years. I chatted with dear friend Kelly on the phone just the other day. And I’m looking forward to spending time with more friends this summer.

Besides family, I think friends and their friendship are the most important thing holding my world together–which is why friendship often plays such an important role in my stories and books.

BeyondSheercliffs_Balticon Like the unlikely group pulled together in JRR Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring, sometimes the friendships we forge because of a common goal turn out to be the most meaningful. At their core, Star Wars and Star Trek, are also about unlikely friendships. As is JK Rowling’s Harry Potter. For “Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend.” [Bill Watterson].

The concept of friendship growing from a common goal (and enemy) led me to cobble together several groups of seemingly dissimilar individuals in my epic fantasy novel, The Enchanted Dagger (Book 1 of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir). And the idea of friendship is also playing an important role in my current work-in-progress novel, Beyond the Sheercliffs (Book 1.5 of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir). 

The fight against evil; the quest for an item or person of great value; shared hunger, thirst, and danger; a common goal; and unexpected circumstances that link characters together are all wonderful devices in storytelling that can be the seeds of friendship. And best of all, readers understand friendship. It is something we all have in common.

A great majority of us desire strong friendships. We all have known the pain of a friendship that has ended. Many of us have watched a friend grown apart from us or change in a way that makes them a different person–and one which we no longer want to be friends with. Most of us remember the joyful feelings of realizing someone has moved from friendly acquaintance to friend. And we embrace the truth of Helen Keller’s sentiment: “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.”

And so, as I shape and polish the various friendships in Beyond the Sheercliffs, I urge you to reach out to your friends. Take the time to phone, message, or better yet, visit with your friends. Or maybe, make the effort to develop a friendly acquaintance into a friend. Because “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out” [Walter Winchell], and we could all use more of those sorts of people in our lives.

 

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“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” – Thomas A. Edison

I’m not sure if I am astounding myself, but I am working hard on numerous projects:

*Judging a poetry competition–both a fun and challenging job. I love reading what creative minds come up with!

Rocket space ship . Mixed media*Editing 2 anthologies, “Re-Launch” and “Re-Quest” for Pole to Pole Publishing. And I will be reading for 2 more anthologies (“Re-Terrify” and “Re-Enchanted”) shortly.

*Finishing a novel, adding to 2 in-progress short story collections, and working on a nonfiction book.

*Writing several short stories and poems for anthologies or magazines.

*Thinning the book herd. (My bookshelves are sagging dangerously low).

*Putting together a bibliography of my writing and illustrations – then, entering the speculative work into http://isfdb.org  Plus, if the publication qualifies, adding it to my listing on Poets & Writers data base.

*Working on genealogy–and putting together several books based on that information. Yes, I know these publications won’t be “best-sellers,” but it’s a nice way to preserve the information and make it available to family members and other interested people. And I have no “time limit” on these books — as more information trickles in and I want to include as much as possible. (Librarians be warned, I will need help in doing the research to “ground” these historical accounts in history).

*Knitting 30-plus scarf & hat sets by Christmas for daughters (I do call my daughters-in-law, “daughters,” too, because they are dear to me), sisters, nieces, etc. I was given a huge amount of lovely yarn, and I’m aiming to use up much of it in the process. Plus, knitting at least a dozen men’s hats for sons, nephews, brothers-in-law, etc. for Christmas.

*Then, there is family: time spent with husband, kids, grandkids, friends, my mom and other family members. And art – I want to paint at least 2 new pieces of cover art this summer. And visits – I’ve fallen behind on my visits due to a 2017 and 2016 filled with trips to NC and SC to help older relatives who were dying. Wait, I’ve forgotten gardening! My gardens so need work. And the birds – feeders need to be repaired or replaced and birdhouses need to be hung.

I could (and should) go on. But I hope you get the idea.

I encourage you to look at your life. List what you are doing and what goals you can set for yourself. Can’t think of anything to do? Check out the volunteer opportunities in your area. I challenge you to astound yourself!

 

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HG Wells, author of The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, was born on September 21, 1866 in Bromley, England. His books help shape the science fiction genre, predicted many modern developments, and continue to “hook” readers on speculative writing.

But Herbert George Wells did more than write these two books, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, and articles, essays, and book reviews for Saturday Review also came from his pen. In addition, he promoted the writing careers of James Joyce and Joseph Conrad.

So science fiction fans (like me), should lift a mug of good English tea to HG Wells on this, the day of his birth!

Want to learn more about HG Wells? Check out this link.

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Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812 in Portsmouth, England. And I am among the millions of readers who are grateful.

Of course, sentimental reader that I am on occasion, I love his A Christmas Carol and the transformation of Scrooge most. That said, how can any reader not enjoy his many books including Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Nickolas Nickleby, Bleak House, and Hard Times.

An extravagance I usually don’t allow myself, I have purchased Charles Dickens complete works – and it is with great pleasure I open the volume and settle into the detailed and sometimes grim world of Dickens.

So Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens – and thanks! For more information on Dickens, check out this link.

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IMG_1821 Today is Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday. Born on January 19, 1809, Edgar lived only 40 years, but his impact on writing has lasted much longer.

Many of today’s writers of dark fantasy, horror, and detective stories can trace their genre’s roots back to Poe. And arguably, even science fiction short stories can find a rootlet embedded in one of his tales.

I, too, have always been a fan of Poe’s wonderfully fantastical tales and lyric poetry. So it is with admiration that I say, “Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe!”

For those who want to learn more, here’s a link to more information on this American writer.

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Yes, Winnie-the-Pooh fans, today is the birthday of Alan Alexander Milne, the author of the two original books about Pooh Bear and his friends. Born on January 18, 1882 in London, England, AA Milne based his most famous books on the adventures (real or imaginary) of his son, Christopher Robin Milne and his stuffed animal playmates.

As a child, mom, and granny, I’ve always loved the characters who inhabit the Thousand Acre Wood. Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga and Roo, and of course, Christopher Robin, each bring a smile to the millions of readers who’ve spent some time in their presence.

Winnie-the-Pooh, published in 1926, and The House at Pooh Corner, published in 1928, are gifts to the children of the past, present, and future. Like all writers, I hope some of my stories will positively impact a few readers – so I guess, in a way, I aspire to be like AA Milne!

Want to learn more about AA Milne and his writing? Check out this link.

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One year over and another one begins. It seems a perfect time to look at my 2016 writing and art stats, and set some 2017 goals – which are to write/draw/publish more than I did in 2016! And I don’t want to forget to say a heartfelt Thank You to all my readers for buying and reading my work. 🙂

2016 Awards: “Bloodguiltless” won Silver Honorable Mention, Writers of the Future Contest.

2016 Publications:

Cover-Electronic-GreenerForest Books:

The Greener Forest ( fantasy story collection) revised, enlarged, and re-published by Pole to Pole Publishing.

Murder on Marawa Prime (sf novelette) from Pole to Pole Publishing.

The Enchanted Dagger (revised fantasy novel) from Pole to Pole Publishing.

In a Cat’s Eye (co-edited) from Pole to Pole Publishing.

Short Stories:

“The Cafe at the End of the Lane” in The Night Cafe anthology.

“Shoreside” in Fantasy Divinia Magazine and in their Memories of the Past – 2016 Best of Anthology.

Murder_Cover_CS_front “Appleheads” in Les Cabinets des Polytheites anthology.

“The Garden Shop” online in The Lorelei Signal.

“Pawprints of the Margay” in The Great Tome of Fantastic and Wondrous Places.

“Bad Moon Rising” in Unoriginal.

“The Burryman” in The Great Tome of Cryptids and Legendary Creatures.

“The Monk’s Fosterling” in FrostFire Worlds.

“Feathers” in Trysts of Fate.

51q9gur7vpl “Gifts in the Dark” released as an eBook by Digital Fiction Publishing Company.

“The Clockwork Owl” in FrostFire Worlds

“Henkie’s Fiddle” podcast in Cast of Wonders.

“Balming the Thorn” in FrostFire Worlds.

“Smoke and Sprites” in Jouth UFO Anthology.

“Tower Farm” in Outposts of Beyond (and included in re-issue of Dogs of War)

“Justice” in Devolution Z.

crist-dagger “Beneath the Summer Moon” in Hoofbeats – Flying with Magical Horses.

Essay: “Country Stroll” in Culture Cult Magazine – Spring Issue

Poems:

“Flower-Face” in The Dark Ones – Tales and Poems of the Shadow Gods

“Owl Light” in 47 – 16 Volume 1 – Short Fiction and Poetry Inspired by David Bowie

“Goblin King” in 47 – 16 Volume 2 – Short Fiction and Poetry Inspired by David Bowie

catseye_final-72dpi “Mourning” in The Grief Diaries

“Phoenix” in The Show Must Go On – Short Fiction & Poetry Inspired by Freddie Mercury & Queen

“September Fifth” in The Show Must Go On – Short Fiction & Poetry Inspired by Freddie Mercury & Queen

“Venus” in Garland of the Goddess – Tales and Poems of the Feminine Divine

“Night” in Garland of the Goddess – Tales and Poems of the Feminine Divine

“The Deluge” in Culture Cult Magazine – Monsoon Issue

“Tree Frog” in Culture Cult Magazine – Monsoon Issue

Art:

“Boy and Dog in the Purple Mountains” (cover art) Spaceports & Spidersilk Jan. 2016

“Scarecrow” (cover art) Spaceports & Spidersilk Oct. 2016

3 interior illustration in Alban Lake Publishing magazines (my apologies if I’ve missed any publications – I’ll update later if I find any more).

Now on to 2017!

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