Category Archives: My musings

Reflections on 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, I’m taking a little time to reflect on the positive aspects of a somewhat disturbing year.

First and foremost, thank you to everyone who has read my books, posted comments or reviews, and given me encouragement over the past few years. A pall settled on the creative energy early on and at times, writing proved to be a struggle rather than the exciting, energizing activity it usually is. Your encouragement kept me going. So, once again, my deepest gratitude.

My goals were loftier than my accomplishments, but I am proud of what I did manage to achieve. While I had hoped to release three books, I only managed to edit and publish one of them, Funeral Singer: A Song of Betrayal.

My YA book, Dew Dropping Hour, an urban fantasy novel,  is still in rewrite phase as I am not happy with the pacing of the book and putting it through my critique group is a slow process. But I’ll rework it until I’m happy with it rather than release something that isn’t the best it can be.

The third book I’d hoped to release is in the O’Ceagan Saga universe. I wrote the draft in November 2016, but haven’t touched it since. That’s now on my list for the current year. It’s actually an interim novel that features the puca rather than the O’Ceagan characters, but they are in the story.

Also on the schedule for this year is the fourth book of the Funeral Singer series, which is written and awaiting editing. I plan to have that released in the spring and if all goes well, the last book in that series will be out in the fall. Of course, my schedule is always subject to the whims of life.

To top it off, I just purchased a new cover that caught my eye. So many talented artists are making gorgeous covers that I need to restrain myself. But this one called out to me and I couldn’t resist. All I can say is that it appears I will be writing a time travel and/or  steampunk novel in the near future.  Not the first time I’ve been inspired by a cover.

Along with author Margaret McGaffey Fisk, I did an Earth Day Fair in the spring and a small Comic-Con in Reno, Nevada to meet people and peddle books. Margaret, her husband Colin, and I comprised a panel on Immortality as seen by Hollywood. That was fun and drew a few more people to our table.

On the personal side of life, I did a little traveling and relaxing. In February, I met my brother and his wife in Cancun, Mexico to celebrate his birthday. Great fun, warm, and so beautiful.

Cancun to NYC theater to LA Highlander Convention – great memories…

In April, I enjoyed a trip to New York City, met with a couple of friends, and  saw three Broadway musicals. We took in “Come From Away”, “Natasha and Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” with the amazing Josh Groban, and “The Bandstand”, a new American musical set just after World War II and featuring swing music. Awesome theater!

In October, I had a great time in LA at a Highlander the Series Convention with many of the actors, directors and other creatives from the series. Wonderful to catch up with everyone, old friends and new.

When you reflect on 2017, I trust your year has many special memories also. I hope the coming year will bring good times, memorable moments, and more happiness than trouble. Happy 2018 to everyone!

Lily

Winter Weather Woes

I know it’s been a while since I posted anything. Like since the middle of November when I was heavily occupied with NaNoWriMo, which I crushed. Then the holidays came along and time skittered away from me like a leaf blowing in these high velocity winds that course through this wind tunnel of a valley between two mountain ranges.

Normally, I roll with whatever the weather might be. Rain, sunshine, snow, wind. It’s a constantly changing thing in this environment. In Reno, Nevada, that would be the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a spectacular spot with gorgeous Lake Tahoe nestled in the middle of them.

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Lake Tahoe from the shoreline on the Nevada side.

After several years of drought, the lake’s level had dropped quite a bit and water conservation became the big issue in both California and Nevada.

Well, January 2017 set out to change all that. In the first one-third of the month, more rain and snow fell on the Sierras, and in both states, than we had seen in many years. In fact, January 2017 is on record for the most moisture in the past 108 years. The area has seen more rainy days than sunny ones since the end of December.  This much wet often gives me reason to rejoice because I like rain.

However, when it begins to flood and I need to get my Himalayan-mix cat to the veterinarian for a tooth cleaning and to check for something hurting him, it turns into a problem. Twice this month, I’ve scheduled Milo’s appointment, only to cancel it because I couldn’t get out to get him to the vet that’s only a few miles up the road.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Here’s the problem. Where I live is off a low-lying road near the base of the Virginia City (Yes, the Bonanza one) foothills where water runs downhill and into shallow ditches. With the heavy flow of water coming down the canyons and running through the inadequate channels, the road flooded. Then when it got colder and snowed, an ice layer formed under the snow and it became difficult to drive.

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1st snow at the beginning of January, 2017. Doesn’t look that bad, does it? Until you try to drive.

Now, add to the problem a small pickup truck with only rear-wheel drive and nothing of significance to weigh it down in the bed. Honey, all it takes a thin bar of ice and the truck is stuck. A sheet of ice means I am not going anywhere. Again, not that much of an issue since I don’t often have to venture out. Except I have this darn appointment that requires the cat deposited at the office between seven-thirty and eight in the morning.

Now, I have a third appointment for Monday morning.

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My frozen dragon sentinel in the front yard.

Sure enough, the forecast is for at least six inches of snow on the valley floor. Sigh. Gut feeling is I may have to cancel another one. Maybe next month…

Still in all, I prefer this weather to the ice storms and deep snow that so many of you are dealing with this January of 2017. Wouldn’t even want to be in the towns surrounding Tahoe these past few weeks. Too much snow for this desert-raised girl.

In other news, I am currently working on the edits for a YA urban fantasy trilogy and it is coming along.  I have two other novels to edit and have started work on the next Funeral Singer novel. One of the edits is in the O’Ceagan Saga universe, so hope to have that one this year also.

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Download at Instafreebie

If you haven’t checked it out, I have a free short story at Instafreebie.com called The Wizard’s Gift.  All you have to do to download it is add your email to my mailing list at Instafreebie. I don’t send out spam or frequent emails, so it’s relatively painless. And you might win a free $25 Amazon gift card in my quarterly drawing.

In good-reading terms, my fellow Reno writer, Heather Petty, has a new Lock and Mori book out, Mind Games.  It’s an alt-universe young Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty adventure with a twist. The first book was a fun read, so I’m looking forward to this new one.

The fabulous YA urban fantasy author Annette Marie also has a new book out in her Red Winter Trilogy.  If you haven’t read her books, why not? She is a wonderful storyteller. One of my favorite writers. If you have Kindle Unlimited,, you can read her books for free.  And start with Chase the Dark in her Steel & Stone series. That was the one that hooked me.

You might notice that the link’s at Amazon take you to Amazon Smile, which is currently set up to donate to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Amazon Smile gives a portion of the money you spend at Amazon to the charity you chose. St. Jude’s happens to be mine, but you can select your own.

Happy 2017

Meet J.R. Bournville, Author

This month, I’m pleased to feature a fellow writer, who is part of the Ninja Writers Science Fiction and Fantasy book promotion on Instafreebie. Check it out here.

So allow me to introduce J.R. Bournville to you with a little interview and an invitation to check out her writing.

Q: Right off, please tell me about your books and the one included in the promotion, #NinjaSFF giveaway.

J.R. – I’m one of three contributing authors to the Prompted Musings series. Prompted Musings is a collection of flash fiction, based on visual writing prompts. As flash fiction is so very short, these anthologies allowed each of us to experiment with form as well as content, trying ideas which might well have been too intimidating to pursue in a longer piece of work.

Prompted Musings with flash fiction from J.R. Bournville.
Prompted Musings with flash fiction from J.R. Bournville.

Volume 2 is free as part of the #NinjaSFF giveaway, with Volume 1 available for free on https://www.instafreebie.com/free/VDBGS
I have also written two short stories; Company of the Raven, a reworking of the well-loved poem by one of my earliest influences, Edgar Allen Poe; and The Old House 

Recently, I’ve branched out into non-fiction with my book, Embracing Possibilities,  which talks about how a change in attitude helped get me to where I am today, and helps readers to take steps toward whatever would make them happy in life.

Q: Does writing energize or exhaust you?

J.R. – Both, equally, though not usually at the same time. When I’m writing, and the words are flowing, then nothing else exist. There is no fatigue, no aches and pains, no hunger. But if the flow of words is more a trickle, each one is a drain on my already-limited resources. On those slow times, my solution is usually to disengage from my writing, and dream.

Q: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

J.R. – The first book I published was A Humourless Death. I’d spent several days not quite daring to click publish, and finally daring to was a great relief for me. Since then, I’ve learnt how to recognise when my writing is not ready to be released into the world, (which is why I unpublished A Humourless Death earlier this year). My writing process now includes more time away from the finished book, with added opportunities to discover weaker sections within my writing before publishing.

Q: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

J.R. – At current count, excluding all books which only exist as scattered notes (there are far too many of those), I have four half-finished books. This includes A Humourless Death, the first book I released, which I decided to unpublish and revise earlier this year.

Q: How do you select the names of your characters?

J.R. – If the character is willing to “talk”, then I’ll write a scene or two, and see if their name comes to me. If that doesn’t work, I usually sit the character down and interview them. I’ll ask them all manner of questions, but crucially, not what their name is. I’m a firm believer that there’s power in a name, and a person’s name is a reflection of their personality.

Q: If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

J.R. – If I didn’t write—that’s a difficult reality to imagine—then I’d want to teach. Smaller classrooms, working with children and adults with disabilities or learning difficulties. With my experiences of falling ill and recovery, I understand more of the challenges and frustrations which arise in learning something new.

Q: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

J.R. – Yes, I do. I like to know what someone has enjoyed (or not) about my book. No one likes a bad review, but I try to understand what exactly that reader didn’t like, and if it is a fault in my writing then I make note to improve. Good reviews, I sit quietly, smiling. If I can contact the reviewer then I do so, thanking them for their review, and wish them well.

Thank you, J.R. Bournville, for taking the time to answer these questions.  You can learn more or connection with her at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JRBournville
twitter: http://twitter.com/JRBournville
web: www.jrbournville.com

And now that you, my readers, know a little more about this up and coming author, go check out her books.  You might find a new gotta-read author.

Author Interview Blog Hop: Read more about some of the authors in the Ninja Writers SciFi and Fantasy Giveaway by going here,

Read “Funeral Singer” for free!

Two years ago, on November 1st, I participated in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – for the first time and completed my novel, Funeral Singer: A Song for Marielle, which I went on to rewrite, edit, and publish in September 2015.  While I’ve written other novels, this was the first one that I published and it is the first novel of the Funeral Singer series.

As I begin my third NaNoWriMo writing frenzy, I am celebrating by making the Kindle version of Funeral Singer FREE for the first five days of November.

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Available FREE from November 1 through November 5, 2016 at Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B014QXQKSM

Gillian Foster is an energetic, bright young woman in her mid-twenties, who is trying to build a career as a musician and singer while paying the bills with a dog-grooming job. She’s pretty, sassy, and a hard worker.  With her band, Spicy Jam – Ferris and Digby, musician pals from college – she plays parties, fairs, events, and clubs whenever she get a booking. When an accidental fall results in a concussion that triggers a paranormal talent, things begin to change.  While singing at a funeral, she suddenly can see and talk to the deceased in an ethereal graveyard without missing a beat on her performance.

Convinced she is having hallucinations, she looks for a physical reason for the problem. While she won’t tell her bandmates or the handsome doctor she’s started dating, she does confide in her best friend, Janna, who believes in all things paranormal. As Gillian gets more jobs to sing at funerals, she encounters more deceased who need her assistance. One of these clients needs more than an assist to the next life.  She demands that Gillian find her murderer. Can Gillian find the man and what will she do if she does?

While I don’t have many reviews on Amazon for it, the ones I do have give it a 4 1/2 star average rating.  A few of the comments about the book:

  • I liked this story very much. It’s very well written and has great character development. The author just made Gillian’s journey easily comprehensible. The use of two point of views (Gillian’s and the detective’s) paid off well. The suspense that was build kept me intrigued despite the plot being a bit foreseeable. – Amazon Reader Coral Fang
  • I’ve been reading this book as what I call my “lunch time book” but yesterday, I couldn’t stand the suspense any longer and read it straight through although I must admit, my curiosity got the better of me by chapter 18 and I swiped to the last two chapters, read the ending , then went back to where I left off. I once read that a good book or movie is defined by the ending whether one cares about what will happen to the characters when it’s done. “Funeral Singer: A Song for Marielle…” gave me that feeling and therefore I recommend this book to anyone and everyone and can’t wait for the next installment!!! – Amazon Reader Cindy Western
  • This is what a book should be, well-written, well plotted, with engaging characters. It was a privilege to visit this world. – Amazon Reader PRBC

If you enjoy a suspense story with a paranormal twist, here’s your chance to take Funeral Singer for a test drive. If you’re on Kindle Unlimited, the book is available there also, even after the five day promotion.  Find the book here.

Don’t forget that if you sign up for my mailing list, you will have a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card in my quarterly promotion.

Preserving the Past

When I went scouting around the cemeteries in the Reno, Nevada area before writing my Funeral Singer novel, I spent some time on the outside of one near the University of Nevada Reno campus. The cemetery appeared run down, forgotten, and forlorn with crumbling or missing monuments, no greenery to speak of, and a general feeling of utter neglect, particularly on the south side of the bluff that overlooked the city. A dirt road ran between this side and the other side where the monuments were newer and a smaller section to the northeast that flaunted a Nevada state historic marker.

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Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery in Reno, Nevada.

This is the Old Hillside Cemetery that dates back to the 1800s and is the final resting place of many of the early settlers and prominent members of the community in the Reno-Sparks area. But is it final?

Now the owner and a developer plan to exhume the bodies, relocate them, and possibly build student housing or some other dwellings on the property. This has caused an uproar with the relatives of people buried in the south section, who see this as disrespectful of their ancestors and for some, a violation of what they hold sacred. According to this article in the Reno Gazette Journal, the plan the developer proposes is to re-inter the bodies on the northern side.

Monument in the Pythian Cemetery.
Monument in the Pythian Cemetery.

However, there are over eight hundred remains in the south side and I don’t believe they have enough room to move them. The other cemeteries are the Pythian Cemetery, which is maintained well, and the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery, which holds the remains of eight-two Civil War veterans from Nevada.

Before I learned all the details of the cemetery, I decided to include it in the second Funeral Singer novel, A Song for Menafee and began researching it further. I learned that the cemetery was willed to the University, and the authorities had hoped to build student housing on the site, but they soon realized the hurdles of trying to clear and move the graves would be more than they wished to endure. They sold the cemetery to Sierra Memorial Gardens and the new owners fenced the property and began to clean it up some. From my perspective, it provided the ideal location for my book. Shortly after I published in August, 2016, the issue blew up with the plan to move the bodies, clean up the property, and then decide how it would be used.

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Confederate trench honors the fallen in anonymity.

For me, it struck a discordant note. In my research, I’d taken a trip to the Shiloh Battlefield, a national monument and cemetery that preserved as many graves from that battle as they could, including discovering and marking the several burial trenches where the Confederate dead, the losers at Shiloh, had been interred in mass. I’d felt a sense of connection with these people from the past and their history. Other cemeteries that are hundreds of years old also honor the dead and provide a link. Yet here, in my city, in a cemetery not even one-hundred-fifty-years old, people want to dig up some of the founders of the city and move them to a different place breaking the connection, and the energy, that exists in the burial ground.

Ghosts have been sighted at the Hillside Cemetery, or so many people report. Whether you believe in such happenings or not, there is an energy at burial sites that you can feel. For me, I’ve encountered enough odd events to make me think that ghosts are quite probable. From that standpoint, you can move the bones, but that doesn’t mean the spirit will go with them. Someone living in an apartment in a building constructed on the site may still encounter paranormal activity. Would you want to live there?