Wednesday, June 7, 2017

IWSG - June 2017

It's the first Wednesday of the month and time for all Insecure Writers’ Support Group members to answer the monthly question posed to us--or write about whatever else is on our mind.  If you are a writer and have any insecurities about your writing, this is a fantastic group. Come join us. 

This month's question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing? Here is my (previously published) tongue-in-cheek answer, with a little bit of fact woven in between the lines...

By Jane Doe
(aka Valerie Capps)

Have you ever wondered why authors use pen names? I'm sure as writers we can all produce a list of reasons, but I have a theory that the word "Mother" would appear somewhere on most of our lists.
At fifteen years of age, I felt I had found my niche in life. Journalism was in my blood. I joined the school paper, and the words seemed to flow naturally from my pen. My English teacher encouraged my writing and even submitted one of my fictional manuscripts, a short story about a teenage girl contemplating suicide, for competition. It placed second. I was thrilled, at least until my mother read the story. Then my budding career came to an abrupt halt.
Convinced that I was the girl in my story, Mother watched me for signs that I might attempt to kill myself. She hid the prescription medicine, bought an electric razor, and suggested that I shower instead of bathe. She would even creep into my room late at night to make sure I was still breathing.
Mother showed my story to anyone in the family who would take the time to read it. If someone happened to mention it was well written, she would lower her voice to a conspiratorial whisper and remind him or her that "normal" people didn't think of such things. You couldn't just make up something like that!
After a while, the family furor died down, but I was left with insecurity about allowing anyone close to me read my work. My constant self-censorship significantly hampered my creativity. I finally confided my problem to my English teacher, and he told me a lot of authors felt the way I did. He suggested I assume a pseudonym, on the premise that what my mother didn't know wouldn't hurt her. He assured me that many great writers did this and pointed to Mark Twain as an example. I silently wondered if Mr. Clemens had also had a problem with his mother.
I took his advice, and things went well for about a year. Then an article I had written for the school paper on drug abuse was reprinted in the local paper. What was worse, they printed my real name! It was right there in black and white for God and the world, and my mother to see!
Needless to say, Mother was convinced my information had been obtained first hand. Using a fictitious name, she took me to a doctor (in another town, of course) for counseling. He assured her that, considering the state of the world in the mid-sixties, I was within the range of normalcy for a sixteen-year-old and was not on drugs. Mother wasn't convinced, and once again I suffered through weeks of covert surveillance as she searched for signs of a drug overdose.
To Mother's relief, I finally gave up the fight and let my dream of becoming a journalist fade into oblivion. I settled into a nice safe career in business and started raising a family. The years passed and, as people are fond of saying, time healed the void left by my "lost love." Or so I thought.
One day we bought a new computer for the office. I installed it and to check out the word processing capabilities, I typed a short anecdote about a paranoid computer and let it fly across the Internet. The phones came alive as coworkers and friends intercepted my tale. Everyone loved it, and I was hooked--again!
I wrote a short story and dropped it in the mail. It was accepted, published, and I promptly received a check for my work. After all, this time, dare I believe I still had the knack? To prove to myself that my first publication in nearly thirty years wasn’t just a fluke, I took keyboard in hand and pounded out another story. Once again, my work was published. I was on a roll!
Somehow my mother, who rarely reads anything but the local paper, got word that I was writing again. She boarded the first bus out of town. (She has never flown—she insists that it is impossible for anything as massive as a plane to stay airborne.)
Mother traveled across three states, arrived at the front door with a suitcase in hand and announced that she had just dropped by to see how we were doing. Mother stayed a week, and for perhaps the first time in our lives we actually talked. After all those years of tension and resentment, we finally reached an understanding. Mother agreed to accept that I was a fictional writer and my stories could possibly be the product of a very active imagination. In turn, I assured her I would always use a pen name when I wrote anything that might shock Aunt Mary or the Reverend Brown. Elated that I had finally removed the major stumbling block to a successful writing career, I put Mother on the bus for home.
With the problem of Mother solved, I finally began a romance novel that had been bouncing around inside my head for several months. My inhibitions gone, I proceeded with total abandon and was so excited with the results of my work that I let my husband read part of my first draft. It included a sizzling sex scene.
“Hey, Honey,” he said, his forehead furrowed into a concerned frown as his gaze quickly scanned the pages of my manuscript, “just where did you come up with this story . . . “
# # #

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

IWSG - MAY 2017


The Insecure Writers’ Support Group posts the first Wednesday of the month. IWSG is where writers can write about their insecurities without feeling threatened. If you're reading this as a writer and have any insecurities about your writing, join us. Every month we are given a subject to write about, or we are free to write about whatever we want. 

This month's question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

I don't know if this counts as a story, but it was certainly a weird assignment. It was the mid-1960s, and I was a high school student wanting to improve my history grade. English was my favorite subject, but history was always a challenge for me. One day I approached my history teacher and asked if I could do a paper for extra credit in his class. The instructor had complimented me on my essays in the past, and I thought it might be an easy way for me to turn my "C" into a "B." He was eager to help. In retrospect, he was perhaps a little too enthusiastic about my suggestion.

He pulled a book and a bundle of handwritten papers from his bottom desk drawer and handed the package to me. His instructions were for me to use the material and the library to provide him with twenty typewritten, double-spaced pages explaining which of the procedures (in the book and information from my additional research) would be most effective in gaining the best results and why.

I got an "A" in history that term, but I had nightmares about the assignment long after it was completed. I don't know if the teacher was weird, unbalanced, or working on something for publication. My essay was much better than his handwritten composition, so I like to think it was the latter. So what was the problem with this particular assignment? I was a little young for the topic. (I still am.)

The subject of my paper was, "Effective Torture Techniques Used Throughout History."

Wednesday, April 5, 2017



The Insecure Writers’ Support Group posts the first Wednesday of the month. IWSG is where writers can write about their insecurities without feeling threatened. If you're reading this as a writer and have any insecurities about your writing, join us. Every month we have a new question to answer. This month's question is: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?

No, I haven't. I don't believe I am up to the month-long challenge but for those who are, it is a great way to meet new people. The premise of the A to Z Challenge is to blog every day in April, with each day's post covering a letter of the alphabet. Although I won't be participating in the writing part, I will certainly be following my fellow writers as they make their way through the month. Check out the IWSG website for tips and support as you pursue your writing career. While there, why not sign-up? We'd love to have you become a member of this great group of writing friends:


I'd like to introduce Stephanie Faris' new book "Piper Morgan Makes a Splash." Now available at bookstores and online. If you have a young reader pick up a copy--or two, or three! (Recommended ages 6-9)

Several of Stephanie's friends and fellow writers are spotlighting her book on their blogs today. If you haven't met them, visit their blogs. Even if you have met them, you will enjoy reading what they have to say today and in the future. Click on a name below to check out their blogs. (If these links aren't working, you can also find links to their posts on Stephanie's blog.)

Alex Cavanaugh
Beverly Stowe McClure

Thank you for stopping by my blog!

Monday, March 20, 2017



Brutally Honest!
Once again, my generation is making a ripple in the social and economic world. For years, Baby Boomers' retirement has been looked upon as a looming threat to the economy and a burden to society. What hasn't been figured into this negative assessment regarding the future of aging Boomers is the attitude and fortitude of this group.

Millennials have overtaken us in numbers and currently hold the title of the largest generation, but we Boomers continue to be trailblazers when it comes to changing times and attitudes. We weren't content to watch from the sidelines as the world passed us by in the 1960s and 1970s, and I don't believe the majority of us will sit in front porch rockers and watch it pass us by in today's exciting world. We refuse to accept the doom and gloom forecast regarding our golden years by continuing to live life to the fullest. 

I'm proud to be a part of this enlightening new book by Karen Helene Walker. Read what we seniors have to say about staying young at heart while navigating the path to our Golden Years, and then join me the next couple of weeks for a book tour of...  

STILL ME … AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: 24 Authors Reflect on Aging by Karen Helene Walker through MC Book Tours. It is a pleasure to be participating in this week's Blog Tour where you can explore this charming, funny, and enlightening collection of essays about aging. In addition, Karen is offering a tour-wide giveaway featuring two (2) print copies (U.S. entries only) of STILL ME and two (2) eBook copies of STILL ME (International entries). See how you can enter to win below.

A collection of personal reflections guaranteed to keep you inspired and entertained on that journey we all travel together: The Journey of Aging. With a blend of grace, dignity, warmth and humor, women and men from 60 to 90 and from all walks of life candidly share the blessings and pitfalls of aging – from keeping dreams alive and keeping sex lives active to dealing with retirement, loss of independence and a growing sense of mortality. 

STILL ME is available at the following sites: Amazon (print and Kindle), Barnes and NobleKobo, and iTunes. Be sure to add it to your shelf on Goodreads.TOUR STOPS THIS WEEK:

March 20 - Alex J. Cavanaugh - Guest Post
Random Thoughts - Excerpt

March 21 - Stephanie Faris, Children's Author - Guest Post

March 22 - Scattergun Scribblings - Guest Post and Feature

March 23 - What Is That Book About - Excerpt

March 24 - The Heart and Craft of Life Writing - Interview

About the Authors:

Rev. Clara Alexander is an ordained New Thought minister who creates and performs sacred ceremonies, including unique weddings, funerals, memorial services, baby blessings and house blessings. She is also a popular speaker, inspiring groups with her talks on how we cling to our grudges, how we overuse the phrase “I’m sorry” and how we can live the life we love.
Wendy Brown recently retired from a career in wildlife biology, where she studied sandhill cranes and whooping cranes as they migrated from Idaho to New Mexico. Wendy eventually found a permanent home in Albuquerque, where she and her husband enjoy the sounds of sandhill cranes from their deck. Since retiring from state government in 2014.
Valerie Capps has bypassed the porch rocking chair to pursue her life-long passion for writing, thereby proving that in today’s world, life can begin again at 65! Valerie lives in Nashville with her husband and their spoiled-rotten Welsh Corgi.
Mary W. Clark retired from her law practice in 2007 and transferred her observation and composition skills to travel writing. She is currently working on a book about her father’s World War II experience flying “the Hump” from India to China over the Himalayas. Mary lives in Paris, Texas.
Fran Fischer: “I was born at a very young age and that happened 82 years ago, so I don’t remember much about it. I’ve crammed as much living into my life as possible, and I’m not through yet. I’ve traveled extensively and I even flew in the same zero-gravity plane that the astronauts trained in. I live in California with my first (and only) husband, and we celebrated our 62nd anniversary this year.”
Pat Garcia (Patricia Anne Pierce-Garcia Schaack) is an American expatriate living in Europe. An accomplished musician as well as a writer, she has been writing (and reading) since childhood.
Mark David Gerson is the author of more than a dozen books, including critically acclaimed titles for writers, award-winning fiction and compelling memoirs. Known as “The Birthing Your Book Guru,” Mark David works with an international roster of clients as coach and consultant, helping them get their stories onto the page and into the world with ease.
Holly Deuel Gilster plays “make believe” for a living. In other words, she is a professional actress and musician. Holly also loves painting with words as an accomplished poet, an award-winning short-story writer and a book-reviewer for The Or Echo.
Aaron Gordon is a retired social sciences community college professor. He and his wife, Ellie, have been married for 65 years and have three children and grandchildren.
Ellie Gordon is a retired public school teacher who spent the best 20 years of her life in the classroom. A Chicago native, she now lives in New Mexico.
Karla “Rosie” Harper recently retired from teaching elementary school, freeing her to return to her early love of dancing. Today, when not helping out with her grandchildren, Rosie is taking dance lessons, spinning on a dance floor or performing in senior centers and retirement communities with Albuquerque’s Sugartime, as singer as well as dancer.
Linda Hoye is the author of Two Hearts: An Adoptee’s Journey Through Grief to Gratitude, available through major online retailers. A native of Saskatchewan, Linda currently lives in British Columbia (by way of Washington State) with her husband and doted-upon Yorkshire Terrier.
E.V. Legters hasn’t so much retired as she has exchanged one life for another — from rewarding years with career and children (while pursuing the arts on the fly) to a life with the arts at its center. She is the author of Vanishing Point and Connected Underneath and is currently hard at work on her third novel.
LD Masterson lived on both coasts before becoming landlocked in Ohio. After twenty years managing computers for the American Red Cross, she now divides her time between writing, volunteer work and enjoying her grandchildren. Her short stories have been published in several magazines and anthologies, and she is currently working on a new novel.
Kathleen Messmer not only runs a film production company with offices in the UK and the US, she is an avid photographer and wildlife advocate. In the unlikely event that she ever retires, Kathleen plans to live on a ranch with draft horses and pygmy goats and vineyards and fruit orchards, somewhere near the water. Oh, and a cowboy...maybe.
Karen Norstad has worked as cashier/gift wrapper, secretary, boutique seamstress, administrative assistant, manager of employee stock options, executive assistant and budget analyst. Now retired, Karen’s life revolves around lounging about, wearing PJs until four in the afternoon, obsessing over the news, reading, fusing and slumping glass, practicing piano, keeping a small balcony garden and cooking.
Matt Nyman’s nonlinear career path has included working in the geological sciences, teaching high school, stay-at-home parenting and, currently, training tomorrow’s teachers. Poetry equently resides near the surface of his existence, occasionally erupting onto paper.
Jill Plaman was born and began aging in Milwaukee, but she has lived and worked in Albuquerque since 1977. She holds a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MSW from the University of Minnesota. Her special interests are travel, international folk dancing, reading, hiking and spending time with family and friends.
Maureen Polikoff is a clinical social worker/ therapist who has always pursued many other creative endeavors, including painting, playing music and, now, writing. A Connecticut native, she lives in New Mexico with her husband, Michael.
MaryFrank Sanborn left Boston 33 years ago, to apprentice with photographer Walter Chappell in Santa Fe. Still in love with the beauty of the Southwest, MaryFrank photographs, writes, hikes, travels, teaches yoga and meditation, makes soups on Sundays, and dreams of the ocean and whales.
Patricia Stoltey is the author of four mystery novels. The most recent is Wishing Caswell Dead. She lives in Northern Colorado with Sassy Dog, Katie Cat and her husband, Bill.
Susan Swiderski grew up in Dundalk, Maryland, where everybody calls everybody hon and eating steamed crabs is a sacrament. Although she’s happy in her adopted Georgia, part of her heart still lingers on the shores of Chesapeake Bay, explaining the setting for her novel, Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade. Susan is currently working on a trilogy, proof that this old gal is still a pathological optimist.
Jan Castle Walker is a retired teacher and an active artist. She lives in Davis, California with her husband, Mack.
Karen Helene Walker is a novelist, memoirist and essayist and the author of The Wishing Steps and Following the Whispers. When not writing, Karen is tap dancing, folk dancing or performing with the musical group Sugartime at retirement communities. Karen is currently working on her second memoir. 

This tour-wide giveaway is for two (2) print copies (U.S. entries only) and two (2) eBook copies of STILL ME … AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: 24 Authors Reflect on Aging. The giveaway will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Tuesday, April 4.

To enter, click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient.  If the widget doesn't appear, just click on the link that shows up.

Monday, March 13, 2017


Look at the image on the left. What do you see? It's an old hag--right? She is looking forward and down, with a white hood covering the side of her head and her brown bangs hanging over her eyes. The flesh colored triangular shape, bottom center, is her chin and the line above it is her mouth. 

Look again--now what do you see? It's a young woman--right? She is looking away from us, her brown hair is pulled up under a white scarf that is fashionably draped over the back of her head. The flesh colored triangular shape, bottom center, is her chest and she is wearing a brown ribbon choker.

Perhaps that is how many women (and men) perceive growing old. They look in the mirror and see an old hag and wonder what happened to the pretty young woman that used to look back at them. I believe how we react to getting older is the true key to life-long happiness. The old hag exists only in our minds. She is actually an attractive woman whose face reflects a multitude of experience and wisdom. Old age is simply another destination on life's highway and the trip is merely another adventure to embrace.

The new anthology "I'm Still Me After All These Years" has hit the market and I've finally had a chance to read some of my fellow authors/contributors essays. They contain some wonderful insight into how other seniors are living life to the fullest and showing by example that age truly is only a number.

While reading the "Still Me" essays, I was reminded of a past incident in my own life that may be relevant to what I am trying to say. My husband and I went out to dinner with another couple. The wife was actively NOT celebrating her birthday that day. She was bemoaning the fact that another year had passed and she was getting old.

I studied her as she talked about the extra five pounds she'd gained since her wedding day, her "poochy" tummy, and saggy double chin. She looked great to me. I knew she was older than I but, up until that moment, I had never been concerned with my age except when I wanted to hurry up and turn sixteen so I could get my driver's license.

I was hesitant to ask her age, she seemed so sensitive about it, but she opened the door by asking my age. I told her my "number" and her eyes widened with shock and, I think, a tinge of jealousy. She said I was so lucky and I should enjoy it while I could.

I recall that was the first time I thought about the inevitability of growing old and it bothered me. Deep down, I was glad I was my age and she was the older woman.

Oh, yes, I forgot to tell you--she was twenty-four and I was nineteen.

If you could pick any time (or any age) in your life to relive, when would it be and why?

Check out "Still Me After All These Years," to see what 24 seniors have to say about life in their golden years:

Monday, March 6, 2017

Memories Sometimes Lie

I recently read a research study that showed our recollections of past events are, at best, half correct. It said that every time you revisit a memory, it becomes altered in some way. That's why eye-witness accounts of a crime are not reliable. A few years ago, I would have argued that point with my final breath. It's my life, I lived it, and I know what transpired because I was there when it happened!

Now that I'm well-established in the senior citizen group of Baby Boomers, I find myself reflecting on things that happened decades ago. My memory of past events are clear and factual--or so I thought. Case in point, the day my youngest child was born.  It was a few decades ago, but I've revisited that memory several times over the past years, and it hasn't changed one bit. Or has it?

"The baby" (we didn't know the sex yet) was due on February 13th. Her father, a big football fan, grumbled that "it" would probably be born early and he'd miss the Superbowl game. She WAS born early--on Super Bowl Sunday! .January 27, 1974. I'd swear to it. I remember the event as if it happened yesterday.

My husband was in the waiting room watching the game while I was laboring to bring our daughter into the world. My obstetrician was home watching it on TV. Most of the hospital staff and patients were gathered around TVs watching the action.

An intern delivered my daughter while a group of student nurses scurried to help. Good thing I had taken Lamaze classes--by myself, of course. That training was my saving grace. She exploded into the world hating football, just like me, because no one was there to welcome her except a stand-in doctor and her exhausted mother. It was us against the world--and football!

The problem is, Google and newspapers say that Superbowl VIII was played on Sunday, January 13, 1974. WTH is that all about? Someone must have rewritten history when I wasn't looking. That's the only thing that makes sense. I was there. I remember it all very clearly, and it still makes me angry. In fact, I still hate Superbowl Sundays because of it! The real question now is, if the masses weren't watching the football game, where was everybody?

Do you have a clear memory of an event that someone else tells you, "Sorry, Dear, that isn't the way it happened."?