Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Today is the last day in our current home. In the morning movers arrive to load our furnishings. We are leaving our large home of many years on a small rural acreage and settling in a Fort Worth TX suburb. We planned and built this home to suit our needs, so I have mixed emotions about leaving. But I’m excited about our future with all the conveniences a city has to offer and less responsibility for Hero.

Of course, we are sad to leave the great friends and neighbors we have here. At the same time, we look forward to being close to friends in the city and making new friends there. And we will be only a few blocks from all the stores we could ever wish for, and close to doctors, hospitals, dentists, etc. No one gets younger so those things matter.

Our next home
What do you think - should the
shutters be another color?
Our lot there is long and filled with large trees and thick grass. Actually, the back yard resembles a small park for us to enjoy through the breakfast nook window as we eat our meals. We look forward to setting up our birdbath and birdfeeders to add to the view.

This move has been pondered for months. Hero and I agree we are doing the right thing for our future, and we agree that of all the homes we viewed, this house is the best one for us. When we entered this house, we each felt welcome and comfortable. The house has happy vibes. Our difficulty has been in downsizing. Sure, it sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? How much room can two people need? (Especially when one of them spends all her time in front of her computer.)

When I say downsizing, I mean really, really less room. By a lot. Sorting through our collection of junque and deciding what to keep and what to toss, give away, and sell has created painful decisions. We have hundreds of books and we’re moving to a house with no bookcases. Not even a little one.  Yes, we both have kindles, but there are books we treasure and reread. Yes, we can build bookcases . . . somewhere, eventually.

The house to which we’re moving is—to quote realtor lingo—a “mid 20th century” home built in 1965.  No updates have been made except new carpet. I'm sure it's been painted, but needs it again inside. We will have only a few tiny closets. The closet issue bothers us, but not the home’s age. After all, we’re mid 20th century people. LOL

Back to the bittersweet part. Do you have things your kids made in school? Do you have things your mom saved that you made in school? Old report cards? Baptismal certificates? Things your parents and grandparents saved? We have all of that! Plus I’m the repository for our family photos and information. Yes, I have backup on my computer. That’s not like holding a 150 year old photo in your hands, though, is it?

One of my family photos,
Mary Jane Clemmons

So, we are bidding goodbye to many things we would prefer to keep to make room for those we must preserve, like the photos.  Seeing some of these discarded items drop into a trash or “sell” box is like slicing off a tiny piece of my heart. I’m trying to toughen up and stop hoarding . . . I mean collecting . . . so many things.
Ceramic cherub made years ago by my friend
who is now 105 years old --see?  How
could I not save this?
Besides family photos, I collect a lot of “stuff.” Angels, nativity sets, religious icons, crosses Darling Daughter 1 gives me, a particular type of ceramic figure Darling Daughter 2 finds for me, art nouveau and art deco items, and more. You see a pattern and a problem, don’t you?

Okay, maybe, just maybe, I don’t need spoons from every place we’ve visited, and certainly not from every place my mom visited. Maybe I don’t need those rocks my daughters painted when they were 5 and 7. And all those prints I’ve bought while traveling when we have no more wall space to display them? But I loved Monticello and Mount Vernon . . . okay, selling those prints.  And how many teapots does one couple really need? We use the same one every morning.

Monticello from Wikipedia, because
my print is packed away.

Now, if you were to visit our home, you’d wonder if we’d ever thrown or given away anything. Trust me, we have.  But, we’ll be having a giant moving sale about October. I promise I won’t bring any of my own stuff back into the house. Probably.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 29, 2013


By Eric Trant

So I don't mean to imply that being from the city or some other place besides a small town somehow makes you less of a writer. That is not my intent, so please do not take it that way. I am simply saying that in my case, for my style of writing, having a repertoire of small town experiences is a great tool in my bag.

I want you as a writer to extrapolate what I say here to your own case and your own style. Look in your bag and see what about your history and your genre and your technique can be blamed on your upbringing. In my case, the formative years were the seventies and eighties. My first twelve years were spent in East Texas, so far East that if you went any farther you'd be in Louisiana, on a ranch surrounded by the East Texas Piney Woods. I was baptized in a church in the woods down a dirt road. I slopped hogs and dropped off the fence and held their ears and rode them until they rolled me in the mud. I fell off horses and got chased by the bulls and saw calves fall out of their mothers. I had cow-patty fights, and can tell you one-day horse pellets and three-day crusted cow-patties green on the inside are the best ammunition for that sort of fight. I can also tell you that plywood shields are no protection at all. I know what a creek sounds like at midnight, how the woods talk to you if you listen, and what a truly dark sky looks like on a clear night.

I spent my teens on the Gulf Coast outside of Houston. I was an in-towner by then, not one of those other types, the ones who live outside of town. I understand that stratification even between people who all consider themselves small-town. I remember getting in trouble in high school for carrying a double-edged boot dagger in my truck. It was one of my hunting knives. The principal confiscated it and gave it to me after school and said it was a nice knife, that if I left it out like that somebody would steal it. So I put it with my machete and the axe behind the seat. I remember guys showing off their pistols and rifles and shotguns at lunch. I remember showing off that knife and throwing it around at band practice with some other guy's lock-blade.

Then there was this ice-water culture-shock when I went to college at the University of Texas at Austin. A cop confiscated that boot dagger and she took it home instead of back to the precinct. I checked and they all laughed at me for checking and waved me out of the precinct and I never saw it again. My brother gave me that knife for my tenth birthday, a bone-handed Ka-Bar from the local feed store with a thick leather sheath, one of those knives you could get so sharp it almost hurt to look at it and it had never left my side. I left my machete and axe and rope and all that other stuff in my apartment after that, and after a while I don't know what happened to it all. It walked off I guess.

I ordered pizza for the first time. I heard sirens like you hear in the movies. I found out it was true you could order Chinese if you pick it up, and it really did come in those little boxes with chopsticks. I rode in a cab. I never knew how much they reeked. Same with the public buses. I used a cross-walk thingie and tried sushi and found out I really liked sushi.

The point of all this is that my story gives me quite a lot of fodder for writing. I can share these experiences with others and maybe find some sort of common thread, and by recounting and rethinking the events of my life, I can dredge up scenes, scenarios, situations, characters, growth and wisdom and insight. We can all do that with our life's story, if we just look at it and say, Being me makes me a more interesting writer.

What about you makes you a more interesting writer?

Eric will be giving away a copy of his thriller WINK to one lucky commenter. Please leave your email in your comment.

Summary for WINK: A moving, fast-paced and incredibly emotional story about love, friendship and transformation.

In this thriller set in a rural Gulf Coast town, Marty Jameson finds refuge in the attic from his mother's abusive rages. But only during the day. At night the attic holds terrors even beyond what he witnesses in his home. With a family made up of a psychotic mother, a drug-dealing father and a comatose older brother withering away in the spare bedroom, Marty feels trapped.

Next door, wheel-chair bound Sadie Marsh obsessively watches Marty's comings and goings from her bedroom window, despite her mother's warning about the evil in that house. Evil which appears to Sadie as huge black-winged creatures.

Marty, emotionally torn by the violence and dysfunction in his family, is drawn to Sadie and her kindly mother. But if he is to save his new friend from the supernatural horror threatening them all, Marty must transform himself from victim to hero. And to do so, he must first confront what lurks hidden in the shadows of his attic.

WINK is a thriller that captivates readers and leaves them longing for more. Trant is a talented author whose character descriptions go far beyond the physical. 

Paperback: 275 pages

Publisher: WiDo Publishing (April 16, 2013)


Twitter hashtag: #WINK

WINK is available as a print and e- book at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 

Author Eric Trant

Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novels OUT OF THE GREAT BLACK NOTHING and WINK from WiDo Publishing, out now! See more of Eric's work on his blog:, order directly from Amazon, or wherever books are sold.

Eric is an advocate for organ donation and lost his 18 mo son in May of 2012. Eric and his wife courageously donated their son’s heart, kidneys, and liver. The couple went on to begin  a foundation to support organ donor families. Eric speaks openly about this emotional journey on his blog and the topic of organ donation is very close to his heart.

Find out more about the author by visiting him online:

Author website:

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, July 26, 2013


What’s you favorite type fictional hero? I don’t go for strictly alpha or beta—I prefer a happy blend of the two. That is the type hero I write—strong yet not afraid to let a woman know he loves her, protective without being a control freak. My newly released boxed set, MEN OF STONE MOUNTAIN: MICAH, ZACH, AND JOEL unites the stories of these three brothers for a reduced price. Let’s meet the Men of Stone Mountain. I hope you’ll love them as much as I do.

Brazos River near Mineral Wells, Texas
with Palo Pinto Mountains in background
This Stone Mountain is in North Central Texas in the Palo Pinto Mountains. Mountains in this area are not like the Rockies. Caves, ravines, springs, and cedar brakes riddle the land through which the Brazos River weaves. Small oaks that gave the land its name dominate the hillsides, but there also are cedar, live oaks, cottonwood, willows, hackberry and other trees. In current times, mesquite trees are a threat to ranchers, but those only appeared a couple of hundred years ago.

Comanche warriors
courtesy of Dover
Comanche, Apache, and Kiowa hunted and summered here. Living near springs and creeks, the Comanche grew crops and hunted game.  Families returned to the same spot year after year. But then the anglos arrived. A time of unrest resulted and continued up to the 1870’s.

This brings us to the arrival of Micah, Zach, and Joel Stone. These boys are brothers in the best sense of the word—closely knit, loyal, and supportive of one another. They grew up in Johnson County, south of Fort Worth.  During the Civil War, all three brothers bore arms. Although their father wanted them to remain home, Zach and Joel joined the Confederate Army. A year later, Micah joined the Union Army. Even fighting on different sides did not cause discord when the War ended.  After their parents’ death, Zach moved west. He discovered a beautiful valley halfway up an unnamed mountain. He named it Stone Mountain and built a sturdy cabin. 

In BRAZOS BRIDE, the youngest brother, Micah, homesteaded nearby in the (fictional) Radford Springs area and then bought the adjoining homestead. When Micah was accused of murdering his neighbor over water rights, Joel and Zach stayed with him. Joel defended his brother in court and obtained a “not guilty” verdict. Many in the county still thought Micah guilty. His having fought for the Union did not win friends either. Zach and Joel determined to help him discover the real murderer and clear his name. Two former soldiers stay with Micah also.Slim and Bert are loyal to Micah and depend on him to guide them, yet they'd do anything to help him..
Micah has met the woman for him, but knows she is way out of his league. She's wealthy, he is strapped for cash. What could he possibly offer her? He can think of nothing about him she'd want, but he can't keep her out of his thoughts and dreams. 

In HIGH STAKES BRIDE, Zach had moved back to his valley. Before many months had passed, Comanche raided nearby farms and kidnapped three children. The Warren parents approached Zach to rescue their son, David. Zach joined forces with a local freighter and a Paneteka Comanche to obtain the children’s release. By this time, the two boys and girl had been traded to the Kiowa, the fiercest of the area tribes, and taken to Indian Territory. Zach traded for the children and returned them to their families. In gratitude, the Warrens offered to sell Zach their large home and ranch at pennies on the dollar. He accepted and the grateful couple took their son back to Kentucky. With his new ranch and home, Zach believed himself the luckiest man in Texas. Now, if he only had a wife and children to share his good fortune.

Joel Stone is the eldest and his book is BLUEBONNET BRIDE. His time defending Micah forced him to realize he was a lawman rather than a rancher. He let his foreman manage his small ranch and became Radford County Sheriff. Using his previous Army training and Ranger skills, he kept Radford Springs a clean, orderly town. To accomplish this, he needed to live in town where he could remain vigilant, but he hated lodging at the local boarding house. He craved privacy and quiet. A departing family offered the largest house in town for sale. The place was complete on the outside, but the family ran out of money before the inside was completed, coupled with the father’s poor workmanship on the interior sections he constructed. Joel had admired that wreck of a house, and he bought it. Joel’s hobby was working with wood, and this converted to great carpenter skills for his new home. Working on one room at a time, Joel started remodeling the previous owner’s mistakes and oversights. He figured in only a few years, he’d have the grandest home in the county—if his body withstood the hard work in addition to keeping the town safe. Yet, he often wondered why, as the eldest, he hadn't married and settled down to build his own family. 

This background gets you to where each book opens. I enjoyed writing each of these stories. I hope you are intrigued enough to read the entire trilogy of MEN OF STONE MOUNTAIN

Here’s the Amazon link:

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


Please welcome my friend Lyn Horner to A Writer’s Life. Lyn and I are in the same writers group and have been friends many years. Here’s her interview:

Lyn Horner

Caroline: Tell us about growing up.

Lyn: I was born in San Francisco, CA, but grew up in Minnesota, where my mom was from. We moved back there when I was four years old. I had two half-siblings from my father’s first marriage, but never got to know them. I’m married to my high school sweetheart, have two grown children and several grandkids.

Was I ever a bookworm! I loved reading and even enjoyed researching historical school assignments at the local library. Guess I should have known I was destined to be a writer, but back then I dreamed of being a famous artist. That led to my first career in fashion illustration and art instruction.

Caroline: Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Lyn: My favorite author is Diana Gabaldon. Her characters are like old friends I’m compelled to revisit every so often. Other authors I love are Linda Howard, Iris Johansen and Judith Ivory. As you might guess, my favorite genre is historical romance.

Caroline: Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

Lyn: At the risk of sounding trite, I love the quote from Forest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” It’s so true. Taking the bad with the good isn’t easy, but there’s always a surprise just around the next corner.

Caroline: Where do you prefer to write?

Lyn: One of my favorite places to write is in my recliner with my laptop. Another is on my bed with research books and papers scattered around me -- far away from the kitchen and the refrigerator.

If I’m blogging, checking email or chatting online, I often have the TV tuned to a news channel in the background. When working on one of my books, I need quiet, with the exception of soft music on occasion.

Caroline: Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Lyn: I’m a plotter. For my first book, I tried writing by the seat of my pants, but it didn’t work well. My characters kept running off in odd directions, forcing me to drag them back onto the main path. This cost loads of time and teeth-grinding frustration.

Caroline: Me, too. Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Lyn: Yes, I often include real historical figures as peripheral characters and actual events to draw readers into the time and place. The most dramatic event I ever incorporated in a story was the Great Chicago Fire on 1871. It formed the backdrop for White Witch, the prequel to Darlin’ Irish, Texas Devlins, book one.

Caroline: Do you set daily writing goals?

Lyn: I work every day but I don’t set word count or page goals. I’m a fussbudget about finding just the right words. Some days I might write only a few paragraphs, others several pages. Cranking out a whole chapter in one day is rare for me.

Caroline: What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Lyn: First and foremost, I hope my stories take readers out of the workaday world and carry them off on an adventure into different times and places. Ultimately, I want them to love my characters and care what happens to them.

Caroline: Share a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you.

Lyn: I love mint chocolate chip ice cream – way too much!

Caroline: Can you give readers a blurb about your latest book?

Lyn: I’d love to. Dearest Irish (Rose’s Story) is the third book in my Texas Devlins trilogy, which features three unusual siblings. Descended from a secret line of Irish Celtic Druids, each of the three possesses a rare psychic talent they hide for fear of persecution. Rose Devlin, the sheltered baby sister of the family, has the extraordinary ability to heal with her mind, a gift that has caused her great pain in the past. She also harbors a more terrible secret that threatens her chances of ever knowing love.

Choctaw Jack, a half-breed cowboy introduced in Dashing Druid (Texas Devlins, Tye’s story), straddles two worlds, honoring loyalty to his mother’s people while struggling to walk the white man’s road. Like Rose, he keeps shocking secrets. If they ever come to light, he stands to lose his job, possibly his life. Yet, after accidentally discovering Rose’s healing gift, he risks everything, kidnapping her in a desperate attempt to save his dying mother. As he spirits her away to the Indian Territory, they are threatened by natural forces and individuals who hate the sight of a white woman riding with a red man. But the greatest risk they face may be caring too much for one another.

Caroline: This sounds as intriguing as your other books. How about an excerpt?

Lyn: Here you go:
In her rush to get going, Rose arrived at the corral earlier than usual. Jack wasn’t yet there. Hearing a clang of metal striking metal, she thought it came from behind the barn. Curious, she strolled in that direction and found a large, open shed, from whence came the metallic hammering. It was a blacksmith’s workshop, she realized. Acrid heat struck her as she approached the open portal.
Wearing no shirt, the smith stood working at an anvil with his back to her. Even so, she recognized Choctaw Jack by his long, midnight black hair, tied back with a leather thong at his nape, and by the healed red scar across his left shoulder blade. But what was he doing here, working in the smithy? No one had ever mentioned he was a blacksmith.
Coated with sweat in the heat from the forge, his muscular arms and torso gleamed like molten copper. Rose stared in awe as he skillfully wielded his hammer and tongs. A strange excitement curled through her insides at the sight. She must have made some sound, for he stopped in mid swing and pivoted to face her. A startled look crossed his face; then he pinned her with his black stare.
“Miss Rose,” he said with a nod. “Didn’t think it was time to meet you yet.”
“Uh, nay, ’tisn’t. I’m early. I-I heard the hammering.” She gestured toward the heavy tool in his hand. “I didn’t know ye were a blacksmith as well as a cowboy.”
He shrugged one shoulder and mopped his face with the bandana draped loosely around his neck. “Pays to know more than one way to earn my keep.”
Nodding, she cleared her throat nervously. “No doubt my brother and the Crawfords set great store by your skills.”
“Saves them a trip to the blacksmith in town,” he replied with another one-shouldered shrug. “While I’m here.”
“Mmm. And what are ye working on?” Rose asked, hoping her questions didn’t annoy him.
“I’m making up extra horseshoes. We’ll need them on the drive to Kansas.”
“Ah, I see.” Feeling awkward, she stammered, “Well, I-I’m sorry for disturbing ye.” She ought to turn and leave, but her feet seemed rooted in place. Her gaze skittered across his broad, glistening chest then darted uncertainly to his chiseled features.
He cocked a raven eyebrow and laid aside his tools. Setting hands to his hips, he sauntered forward until he stood no more than three feet away from her. His mouth curled into a smile. “I don’t mind being disturbed by a pretty lady.”
“Y-ye flatter me, sir.” Flustered by his compliment, so unusual coming from him, she fiddled with the open collar of her shirt, touched her cross and stared at the ground.

“No. Just speaking true.”

Intimidated by his male scent and sheer size, she backed away a couple steps. She peeked at him from beneath her lashes, seeing his smile give way to his usual expressionless mask.

“You afraid of me?” he asked, tone hardening.

“Nay, I-I . . . .” Hunting for an excuse for her nervous behavior, she blurted, “I need air is all. ’Tis hot in here.”

He crossed his arms, muscles bulging. “A smithy has to be hot.”

“I know.” Rose cleared her throat again and licked her dry lips. “But I’m not accustomed to the heat.” Which was true. Extracting a handkerchief from the cuff of her sleeve, she dabbed at her damp forehead.

“If you can’t take heat, Texas isn’t for you,” he said in a challenging tone.

Miffed, Rose met his onyx stare and snapped, “I’ll get used to it. Excuse me. I’ll go wait by the corral.” She started to turn away, but his voice stopped her.

“You sure you still want to ride out with me?”

“Of course.” Her pulse pounded in her ears. In truth, she was a wee bit afraid to be alone with him, away from the safety of the house – perhaps more than a wee bit – but she couldn’t bring herself to admit it. Besides, she dearly wished to take Brownie for a real ride. “I’ve looked forward to this day,” she added, lifting her chin.

He stared at her for a moment and said, “It’ll take me a few minutes to finish up here. Then I’ll clean up and fetch the horses.”

“Fine.” Nodding, Rose swung on her heel and hurried away.

Jack watched her hasty retreat. She might deny it, but she was afraid of him. Once again, he wondered if it was his being an Indian that spooked her. Scowling at the thought, he reheated the horseshoe he’d been forming and hammered it into shape, reminding himself that he wanted nothing to do with the red-blonde girl with shy blue eyes. Eyes that reminded him of beautiful blue agates he’d once seen mounted on an ornate cross.

Caroline: Where can readers find your books?

All of my books are on Amazon.

Most are also available at Barnes and Noble. Here’s the link for Dearest Druid.

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?


Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

Lyn: Since I’ve experienced clairvoyant dreams in the past, I strongly believe we all possess untapped psychic powers. This is a topic I hope to explore further in my writing.

Oh, I agree, Lyn. Thanks for sharing with us today.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 22, 2013



By P M Terrell

Ever since my first suspense was published, I’ve been asked to write a series. I resisted the temptation because I didn’t want to become a formula writer. I’m sure you know the type: after the second or third book, you can predict exactly what’s going to happen and how the book will end.

But while I was perusing some CIA declassified documents, I stumbled upon something that would change my mind.

It turned out that during the Cold War, American intelligence discovered the Soviet Union had begun a psychic spy program. The intent was to train psychics to infiltrate America’s top level meetings, our nuclear facilities and weapons arsenals, even stealing blueprints of our latest technology—through the mind.

It could have been hocus pocus that would lead to nothing more than wasted money, but the American intelligence community asked for funding so they, too, could see whether psychic spying was possible. If it was, they did not want to learn about it twenty years down the road—and learn that the Soviets were that far ahead of us.

I found the concept intriguing. Studied from a writer’s perspective, it meant I could have endless plots. I could send the main character, Vicki Boyd, around the world on missions of international importance, into areas she never could have plausibly gone in physical form. I could continue to surprise my readers with interesting and varied stories.

But I didn’t want to stop there. I am an avid fan of television shows with ensemble casts. I love Vikings, Grimm, Justified and True Blood, to name a few. What makes them great? Varied plots that are interwoven through an entire cast of characters. You might hate some and love some but you end up week after week tuning in to see what they’re all up to.

So I paired my psychic spy with Dylan Maguire, a charming and handsome Irishman with a mysterious past. In the next book of the series, I introduced Vicki’s sister Brenda, a computer hacker who prefers to remain on the wrong side of the law, along with Christopher Sandige, a political strategist.

The result: with Vicki, I have psychological suspense. With Dylan, I have action and adventure. With Brenda, I have techno thrillers. And with Chris, I have political suspense. Blood and circumstance tie them all together for a series that I hope will always surprise and entertain you.

And that psychic spy program I stumbled upon? It’s still in use and funded today—fifty years later. It turned out there was something to it after all.

P M Terrell is giving away this lovely Celtic necklace to one lucky commenter during her tour. You can learn how to follow the tour at  

Author P M Terrell
p.m.terrell is the pen name for Patricia McClelland Terrell. She is the author of more than 18 books in four genres: suspense, historical adventure/suspense, a how-to book for authors, and computer how-to books.

She gained international attention with THE CHINA CONSPIRACY and PBS has made five thirty-minute shows based on her books.

RIVER PASSAGE won the 2010 Best Book Award (Bengal Book Reviews) and  Vicki's Key placed as a finalist in both the 2012 International Book Awards and the 2012 USA Best Book Awards.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, July 19, 2013


Alana Cash

 How You Leave Texas is a volume of three short stories and a novella about four young women who leave Midland, Austin, Fort Worth and Mayville, Texas for New York, California, Jakarta, and in one instance, jail.  They seek escape from boredom and sorrow and find it.  The stories are hilarious, tragic, revelatory.

Dam Broke – after high school graduation, two quirky best friends reveal big secrets.

In sixth grade, I abandoned the reading glasses for a blond wig and a fake mole above my top lip. Mickey started wearing sunglasses indoors and carrying business cards.

Camille’s Net Worth – on her 40th birthday, Camille’s life falls apart in uncontrolled demolition.  Life improves when she gets a job creating art paper and returns to painting.  But the plot twists and she ends up in jail, laughing.

“I’m not going to spend much time repeating myself,” Camille said, “I want you to remove whatever you want to keep from this house. You can store your stuff in a rental truck if you need to until you find a new home, but you will be gone from here by midnight and never return.”
“You can’t do that!”
“If you are not gone by midnight, I will set fire to the house.”

Krystal’s Wedding – Heading for New York, Krystal leaves behind her shoddy family in Midland, Texas. Ill-prepared for the culture shock and expense, she takes a few slippery steps before she finds true independence.

Krystal’s family wasn’t an American success story. Mom felt like life had cheated her since Daddy never made any real money and spent most nights getting drunk at the Welcome Inn. Erin never finished beauty school and worked at a donut shop.  Bethany worked as a bar-back at the Rusty Nail and was turning out like Daddy. Alcoholic, back-slapping, charming. Eddie Garthwaite, owner of Garthwaite Used Cars located on Interstate 20 between Midland and Odessa. Eddie Garthwaite who currently had his driver’s license suspended because of a DUI.

Frying Your Burger (based on a true story) – Nicky and her friends spend mornings slinging repartee in a coffee shop.  While paying a traffic fine, she meets a director and soon finds herself a pawn for two directors trying to ruin each other’s careers.

I went into the room marked Cashier and got into a long line. And there he was. Grinning that grin. He should have had a license for it. It was that bright. I stood next to him in my white t-shirt and white pants looking like someone straight out of the “hospital orderly fashion catalogue.” It was all I had clean that day.

HOW YOU LEAVE TEXAS is available in print and e-book from Hacienda Press and at Amazon at

Alana Cash

Alana Cash is an adventurer.  She’s trekked alone through war-torn Serbia and has slept in a KGB interrogation room in Prague.  She’s been to a gypsy fair in rural England, a bullfight in Laredo, and parasailing in Acapulco.  She’s been inside the New York Stock Exchange and eaten in J. Pierpont Morgan’s home dining room.  She's gone on a ride-along in a New York City patrol car and kissed a man inside the Norman Bates Psycho house at Universal Studios.  She’s been a lifeguard, legal secretary, accountant, writer, teacher, filmmaker and artist. Alana'a HOW YOU LEAVE TEXAS placed first place in the Short Story category of the GLOBAL BOOK CONTEST 2013

Her experiences are inspiration for her work as an acclaimed writer and filmmaker. 
  • She was one of 60 US teachers profiled on the PBS series, "A Writer's Exchange," for her talent as a teacher at the University of Texas Informal Classes  - many of her students published and won writing awards
  • Her feature film, "Tom's Wife," based on her novel of the same name, won awards all over the world
  • Her documentary "Anna Freud: Under Analysis," part of documentary trilogy on women in science, was translated into German for broadcast in Austria, Germany & Switzerland
Thanks for stopping by!  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


By Trisha Slay

Did you know that Jedi is the most popular "alternate faith" in the U.K.? In the 2012 census, 176,632 people in England and Wales identified themselves as Jedi Knights making the fictional 
Star Wars creed the seventh most popular faith in Great Britain (excluding Atheists and people who did not answer the religion question). 

When I first read that, all I could think was, Yay! Over 176 thousand people in Great Britain would probably be interested in reading my book! Wonder if there's any way I can fly to London to visit bookstores and claim the trip as a business expense?

My second thought was, This trend actually makes sense to me. 

The Jedi teachings delivered by Yoda and Obi Wan in the movies were simple, practical guidelines for living a positive, empowered, compassionate lifestyle. They are not harmful. They do not directly contradict or malign other world religions that have a longer history and a more impressive pedagogy. In fact, Mark Hamill once said, "The idea of The Force is basically 'Religion's Greatest Hits.'"

Curious, I spent a little time clicking around the Internets reading article after article about the growing Jediism movement. It appears that the Jedi Order is thriving in other English speaking countries, including at least eight active Jedi churches in the United States and Canada. Even though I'm not planning to run out and join a Jedi church, I experienced a little bubble of Star Wars fangirl happiness...until I made the mistake of reading some of the comments posted in response to those articles.  

Wow. Religion can be a dangerous debate topic in any context. Factor in the fact that Star Wars fans are often maligned (unfairly!) as emotionally stunted, social misfits and I'm sure you can guess that those comments were full of ugliness - cruel jokes, haughty superiority and outright hostility. 

Why all the hate? There is no need for anyone to feel offended or threatened. Yes, I know Yoda is a puppet. He's a very elaborate and wonderful puppet voiced by Frank Oz. So what? I once watched a puppet show depicting bible stories such as Noah's Ark and Jonah In the Whale during a week of Vacation Bible School. Does the use of puppetry suddenly make those stories offensive or irrelevant? I don't think so. So why can't we learn from Master Yoda too?

Yoda says, "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." 

There is nothing to fear in a spirituality fueled by Star Wars. Start by considering the concept of the Force, the central core of the Jedi faith.

According to Obi Wan, "The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together." 

Hmmm...sounds like a Jedi should respect the interdependent web of life and take care of the environment that supports it. What could be wrong with that?

In Episode V, Master Yoda expands on our understanding of this mysterious Force. "Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by size, do you? Hmm? As well you should not! For my ally is the Force and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter."

Oh how I love that quote! (And 
I'm pretty sure it compliments the teachings of every major religion on the planet).

The next lesson is for all the bullies and war mongers out there. Yoda says, "Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny." He also says, "A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, NEVER for attack." 

This world would be a much better place if we would all focus on the pursuit of knowledge and stop the cycle of anger, fear and aggression, don't you think?

But what about the biggest terror or all? What about death?

Yoda says, "Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is." Which definitely oversimplifies the great mystery of death...but also sounds like a distilled version of the Buddhist teachings on death and impermanence.

Now, I'm not a religious scholar or student of comparative theology. I don't want to go too far out on a limb here. I just don't think there is anything negative or harmful in adapting the Jedi path as depicted in the Star Wars movies out here in the real world.
 That said, I know that many people will continue to consider Jediism to be a weird, fringe cult no matter how well I argue to the contrary. So, for them, I'll end with one more quote from Obi Wan in Episode VI.

"You're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."

It's a terrible thing to live under a question mark....

When Erika helps her best friend, teen beauty queen Cassie Abbott, escape their “Nowhere, Ohio” town, she promises to keep all of their secrets safe, but then the days stretch into weeks with no word from Cassie.  Worse, the sheriff's investigation into Cassie’s disappearance is making Erika doubt she ever really knew Cassie at all.  Under the weight of scrutiny and confusion, Erika struggles just to breathe...until a new movie called Star Wars transforms her summer with a new hope. 

For Erika, Star Wars changes everything! She volunteers to do chores for a local theater owner just to gain unlimited access to a galaxy far, far away from her current reality. At the Bixby Theater - a beautiful-but-crumbling movie palace from a bygone era - Erika discovers true friendship, the crush of first love and a lifelong romance with cinema and film making.  

But she can’t hide in a darkened movie theater forever. Eventually, Erika must step out of the shadows and, armed with her Super 8 camera and the lessons she’s learned from Star Wars, she’ll have to fight to save herself and the theater that has become her home.
Paperback: 316 pages
Publisher: Deeds Publishing (May 21, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-1-937565-58-9
Twitter hashtag: #NSLASlay

Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away is available as a print and e-book at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Author Trisha Slay

Trisha Slay is a writer with a passion for storytelling. She has studied at the Institute of Children's Literature as well as furthering her skills through online workshops. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators and the Atlanta Writer's Club. She enjoys participating in writing groups and spends a great deal of time improving her craft. Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away is her first novel.

Tricia hopes Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away would be compared to Looking for Alaska by John Green and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. She has said that "If those two books had a Star Wars-obsessed little sister, I'd like to think she would be my novel."

Tricia lives between the Atlanta metro area and the North Georgia Mountains, but hails originally from the way of the San Francisco Bay area. When she is not working on her next book (tentatively titled Sometimes We Strike Back), her interests include: 70s pop culture; unsolved mysteries; Star Wars (original trilogy); historic movie theaters; haunted history; reading (especially YA novels); nutrition/weight watchers/healthy vegetarian cuisine; hiking (exploring the National Forest trails with her guy); yoga/meditation; miscellaneous crafting projects (that rarely turn out as envisioned); and writing letters she never intends to mail.

Find out more about the author by visiting her online:

Trisha’s website:
Twitter: @SlaytheWriter

Thanks for stopping by!