Monday, May 30, 2016

Honor, Service, and Sacrifice

Memorial Day

It isn't about barbecues, mattress sales, and beer. 

To all who serve their country, we honor their contribution and sacrifice.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Catalyst, Cover Reveal by Kristin Smith

I'm super duper pleased to announce the cover reveal of my friend and fellow moderator on Unicorn Bell, Kristin Smith. Have a look and see why I'm so proud of her. She is a true talent.


Clean Teen Publishing is proud to present the official cover reveal for CATALYST by Kristin Smith.  
This is the first book in the thrilling new Deception Games series coming November 21, 2016!

Title: Catalyst (The Deception Game, Book One)
Author: Kristin Smith
Release Date: November 21, 2016
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Genre: YA near-future thriller

Book Synopsis:

Too pretty.

Too smart.

Too perfect.

In a crumbling, futuristic Las Vegas where the wealthy choose the characteristics of their children like ordering off a drive-thru menu, seventeen-year-old Sienna Preston doesn’t fit in. As a normal girl surrounded by genetically modified teens, all of her imperfections are on display. But after the death of her father, everything she's ever known and loved changes in an instant.

With little skills to help provide for her family, Sienna clings to the two things that come easily—lying and stealing. But not all thief-for-hire assignments go as planned. When a covert exchange of a stolen computer chip is intercepted, she becomes entangled with a corrupt government official who uses her thieving past as leverage, her mother as collateral, and the genetically modified poster boy she’s falling for as bait.

In order to rescue her mother, there may only be one option—joining forces with the Fringe, an extremist group, and their young leader who’s too hot to be bad. Problem is, these revolutionaries aren’t what they seem, and the secrets they’re hiding could be more dangerous than Sienna is prepared for. In the end, she must be willing to risk everything to save the one thing that matters most.


Enter to WIN a $25 AMAZON Gift Card! 

About the Author:

Kristin Smith writes young adult contemporary and science fiction novels with enough kissing to make her mother blush. She's a beach lover and a Just Dance guru who enjoys belting out karaoke (from the comfort of her own home). As a self-professed chocoholic, Kristin is a firm believer that if a dessert doesn't have chocolate in it, then it's not considered a dessert. (Except for crème brûlée. She can always make an exception for crème brûlée.) Kristin currently resides in the middle-of-nowhere North Carolina with her husband and five incredibly loud but extremely cute boys. To read more about her obsession with YA novels or her addiction to scarves, you can connect with her at the links below.

     Facebook-Icon   twitter-iconwebsite Goodreads

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

IWSG - Routines. HTML and A to Z

These are the continuing voyages of the Ninja Captain, AJC. His mission, to explore all new writing venues, to seek out new authors and new blogs. 
To boldly go where no blogateer has gone before.
Coming together on the first Wednesday of every month for a virtual pat on the back. 

Routines are about the hardest chore. I try, I really try but sometimes stuff gets in the way.

My daily goal is to get all my stuff done by 9 am then spend two hours plus writing. After noon, I start in again about 1 – 1:30 and continue until 4-ish.

But Life doesn’t work that way and interference results. Cows have calves, toilets overflow, and cats need a trip to the vet. Grownup kid calls and spouses want a hand fixing the tractor. Weather interferes. Computer goes loony tunes.

But more likely the interference begins with shiny objects, the proverbial Squirrel! Oh well.

B.I.C. is still the best advice. Avoiding Facebook is the other.

Spouses though...What can you do when he says, “Hey honey. Did you know its national Pillow Fight day?” *sigh*

HTML and other strange letters. Do you know how to leave a comment with a link to your blog? It is an efficient way to tie your name to your site. 

I’ve clicked on names that takes me to multiple blogs or Google+. If you sign off with a link, it directs people to your blog. Way easier.

Go to this site for the recipe.

A to Z. My blog—Spirit Called—is not participating this year, but Unicorn Bell is. Wander over there for our posts.

Do you have a writing routine? Can you keep it in any semblance of order? Do you have a sign off for blogs? Crazy enough to participate in the 2016 A to Z Challenge?

Monday, March 28, 2016

A to Z Challenge, Unicorn Bell, Backing up Data...

...Updates, Conspiracies,, and the descent into Madness.

A to Z Challenge blogfest is huge, a monster. I participated in 2011 and a two more years after that. Don’t think the word challenge is there for looks because it is most definitely hard. Not only posting every day except Sundays, but commenting on other posts every day as well. But when it’s done, you’ve made new friends and experienced new outlooks on life. Plus instilled a discipline in your writing. Good stuff all around.

Over at Unicorn Bell—our writer’s blog—we are participating in this year’s Challenge. The eight moderators are taking turns posting each day, commenting on blogs, and bringing new perspectives to the game. Check in and see how we do.

Backing up info. My OCD comes out when backing up my documents, files, financial records, photos, and emails. I am
nothing if not redundant. Since I have Amazon Prime, I let it back up photos and docs. Google catches docs also. Norton makes my system image and backs up all of the above as well.

I have a Seagate 2 terabyte external drive for most stuff and use Google Cloud, Amazon Cloud drive, ICloud as backups for the backups of the backups.

Can’t be too safe with your important records.

HealthcareDotGov. The cost of our individual health insurance became unsustainable when it went from $500 a month to $1200 in four years, forcing us into the Obamacare marketplace.

If you’ve heard about the horrors of working through the bureaucratic morass of signing up, believe me it’s all true. I’m still fighting the paperwork.

Win 10. I became a conspiracy theorist—looking over my shoulder—right after I upgraded to Windows 10 and the
subsequent battle to clean it out again.

Rather than allow automatic updates to my computer, I check once a week for anything labeled “Security”. An Important or Optional update always rates another look and research.

One of the updates, KB3035583 is labeled important. Lookee here what it actually is, a way for Microsoft to worm its way back into my ‘puter.

Since I cleaned out the folder containing the mutant Win 10, I discovered it is still knocking on the door wanting in.

Are you an A to Z Challenge Crazy Person? Overindulge in backing up? Have skyrocketing insurance costs? Wonder who is peeking in your computer?Descending into Madness like me? 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Win 10. Do you really want it?

I’m a geek freak. I love new programs and technologies. So I was interested when Microsoft offered the Windows 10 upgrade. Since my computer was six months old with Win 7 OS I was sure it would work.

I hesitated for a while since reports of the horrors of Win 8 are legion. But there was the “free” button, upgrade now and if you don’t like it, well boy howdy, you can go back.

I listened. I upgraded and all was good...for a while. Then stuff began happening. See my progress, from Hey this is cool to What did I do and Baseball Bat 

I said no thanks and went back to good old Win 7. ‘Cuz that’s what they say you can do, right? If you don’t want it, just go back to your old OS. Easy as pie.

Not so fast. The registry of some programs didn’t go back to the restore point. Win 10 stuff stayed. The automatic backup went looney tunes requiring a fix to clean it up.

And there's that darned Window thingy insisting I needed to upgrade to 10, over and over and over again.

It seems Microsoft has tentacles that reach down the throat
of your computer like the thing in Alien and lays its eggs in the body of your ‘puter without you knowing.

Do you see the little box that keeps popping up saying your upgrade is waiting on you? Uh oh, someone’s watching you. Check the updates. If the optional update has a checked box by the Windows 10 upgrade, be careful. You might accidentally download the horror again.

And there is an interesting folder on your computer: $Windows.~BT with a 5 gb stored there. That is your alien growing in your chest. It is waiting for a signal.

“Oh no, not again." - Spaceballs

If you don’t want Microsoft and its minions to be a backseat driver, here are a few sites for more information.

Information on Win 10
How to clean it up

Check out both of these sites before attempting to sort stuff out or delete. I took their advice and turned off the Automatic Updates. If I need to download a security patch, I will do it myself. But no more optional downloads if I don't see the need. 

And ask yourself how much you want that spiny alien watching over your shoulder.

Win 10: Good or bad. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

How to Intrigue a Reader

Authors and Writers, Take note. This is the ultimate journey into the mind of a fantastic marketer. Introducing Roland Yeomans to followers of SpiritCalled.


Roland Yeomans, here on my way about the internet not doing a book blog tour. J

In past posts, I have talked of sex (my novel is of a honeymoon cruise you know). Not about me, of course, even though I do write science fiction!

I have talked of romance, and in the words of Ernest Hemingway: “When two love deeply, it never ends well.”

Of course when two do not love deeply, it hardly ends up a bed of roses either!

But I have not talked of alternate history – which is what Steampunk truly is – you seize history and give it a good twist. But real history is twisted enough.

If you walk the ruined corridors of history, you will see that those living in any age had no clue what was truly going on … who the real villains actually were … how many children died needlessly.

But let’s not brood on politics gone astray. Instead let’s focus on why Steampunk is so popular:

On the most basic, most appealing social level, steampunk is a way to masculinize romance. That is to say: Steampunk takes something stereotypically feminine that most boys hate — Victorian lace and frills and tea and crumpets — and says, “Hey, how about some vampires and airships with world that?”

Steampunk basically lets us go back, at least in our imagination, and try again — lets us tap into that sense of wonder at the unfolding universe

that our grandparents might have felt when modern science was just beginning to open up all its incredible new pictures of what the world could be.

Love –
Do we know what is entailed when we marry someone? Do we truly love that person?  Or do we merely love how that person makes us feel?
Is there a love for which we will sail through Hell to save or is that the kind of love that will save us in the end?

(In my best Rod Sterling voice)

Imagine if you would an Earth where unseen factions ruled the world and warred among themselves to gain advantage over the other …
A world where a People from another Dimension walked among humans …
A world where one decent man with the blood of death in his veins tries to keep innocents from dying needlessly as his whole family had … in front of him.

Vampires, Vengeful Spirits of the Earth, Aliens Among Us, and a Man with the Blood of Death in his Veins trying to keep it from being spilled before his honeymoon is over. 

Come join the maiden voyage of the first Air/Steamship, the Xanadu, where murder, intrigue, and betrayal reign supreme ... and that is just in the newlywed's bedroom.

Joining the newlyweds are Mark Twain, 11 year old Nikola Tesla, his faithful black cat, Macak, Horace Greely, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ada Byron, daughter of Lord Byron, and the mysterious Greek physician, Lucanus.

Lurking in the shadows, hoping to kill them is the insane Abraham Lincoln, the crippled General Sherman, the vampires, Abigail Adams and Benjamin Franklin, Empress Theodora, ruler of the Unholy Roman Empire, and the vengeful Captain Nemo, following in his Nautilus.

Steampunk intrigue and adventure was never so much fun.

Find it at Amazon

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

IWSG – Politics and Social Issues...

...or how to alienate half your followers

These are the continuing voyages of the Ninja Captain, AJC. His mission, to explore all new writing venues, to seek out new authors and new blogs. 
To boldly go where no blogateer has gone before.
Coming together on the first Wednesday of every month for a virtual pat on the back. 

Issues divide the country like a pizza. Some like thick crust, others like crispy. Everyone has an opinion. But when vicious name-calling starts and vitriol splashes the headlines, take note and tread lightly. Those people are nuts.

The Democrats are getting Hillary whether they want her or not. Bernie is a likable guy but I don’t see his racecar getting the checkered flag.

Republicans have their own problems. Nuff said.

So who do you like? And what do you think about SCOTUS, abortion, immigration, BLM...


Don’t...for Pete’s Sake, answer those questions!!

Because I can guarantee, you will P. O. a fan or reader.

Have an opinion. Do the research. Be firm in your convictions. Don't cuss contrary views; Discuss. Who knows? Maybe we can exchange ideas and the world will be a better place.

Note to all raccoons that read blogs:   
If you stay out in the wild, the Very Large Dog can’t catch you and probably won’t even try. However, if you come onto my patio to hassle the cats and eat their food, you will die.

With the help of The Lady Who Feeds Him, Ruffian will send you on a one-way trip to the Great Beyond. Even dressed in an L.L Bean, long-flannel nightgown, and flip-flops, The Lady is county and knows what to do and how to do it.

What do you think about the varmints taking advantage of your good nature? 

And what about those raccoons also?

Monday, February 29, 2016

Are You a Closet Sexist?

I read what I enjoy. Books like Wheel of Time. Bonding with the characters—Rand, Perrin, Mat, and the women, Egwene, Min, Nynaeve—tied me forever to them and the story.

The Game of Thrones books/TV show keeps me up at night. I wonder at the depravity and violence. And bonding with a character usually is a sure-sign their death is on the next page.

Deadpool...ho, man, I can’t wait for it to come out on video so I can watch it again.

All the above and more pull me into a story, but... turns out I am a closet sexist, promoting sexism, violence toward women.

According to some in the publishing community, sexism abounds in literature, GoT promotes the rape culture, and strong women are threatening.

The Five Signs Your Story is Sexist is an article by Chris Winkle detailing her opinion on this matter, an opinion I mostly disagree with. In her first example, she postulates the women in WoT and Dune are strong with lesbian tendencies which is threatening to men and therefore sexist. Whaaaa...?

I didn’t get that from the books at all. The genders took turns being all kinds of bad. No need to single out one. And as far as being, lesbian...if so, it did a fly-by on me.

GoT shows warfare and the aftermath in a rainbow of colors. It isn’t exactly my cuppa but IMO it does depict real war, the conquered and the victors. Check out documentaries about WWII or ISIS today. All the gore in GoT and more. Much more. Real battles aren’t unicorns and fluffy bunnies.

The TV program is violent. I can’t watch it because it reaches my limit of depravity in the first ten minutes. But still, I can admit it takes stories out of history and today’s headlines.

You wanna know real sexism? Try this: the studios almost didn’t make Deadpool because the Suits in the Head Office didn’t think it would appeal to women. Yes, it is profane. A lot of nakedness. Blush-worthy sex scenes. Violence. But this woman loved it.

Think of all the good movies not made due to this ‘tude.

Honestly, a person can find offense in anything if they look hard enough. 

So are you a sexist? Do you depict stereotypical characters? Do you care? Or is all this mostly irritating hogwash?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Angela Brown, Unicorn Bell, and Facebook Security

Every now and again, posts and blogs catch my eye and shout out is in order.

Angela Brown caused me to consider the lack of diversity in books.

On the one hand, I agree. More variety is a good thing. There is a market for different takes on life, rationales, and opinions. But I question whether someone such as I—farm girl, introvert, and fantasy aficionado—could deliver a true picture of life in New York City of a Broadway show cast member who loves to party. Or life as a transgender girl in Spain. I don’t think I have it in me. The amount of research blows my mind even if I kept my derriere home and Googled it all. I have no doubt traveling to these spots would be a living and breathing stranger in a strange land experience.

Summary: I fall back on write what you know.

I like twisting my set-in-her-ways mind in different directions. It’s creates flexibility by encouraging the synapses to branch out. But I can’t go down the path of forcing writers to be diverse when the experiences aren’t there.

Compelling works only so far. After a line is crossed, the story becomes awkward, fake, and unbelievable. 
I'd rather read it than write it. But that doesn't help the diversity problem, huh?

UnicornBell lost a fantastic moderator this week. E.J. Roberts is the force behind A Drop of Ink Reviews, a book review site in demand from readers and publishers. Even Random Books wants her reviews. How cool is that?

Our critique site will miss her, but we wish her well and hope to hear many more great things.

Facebook and security. When I edited my profile of FB, I made of point of NOT listing my birthday. IMHO, it gives too easy access to sensitive information. How many sites ask for your birth date as a security measure?

But I have relatives who know when I was born oh-so-many years ago and post happy birthdays galore. Oh well.

Do you stretch you writerly mind with diversity? Enjoy concise, fair book reviews?

Think relatives need to mind their, do you believe posting your birthday is a security concern?

Monday, February 15, 2016

First Page Contest, Deadpool, and The Walking Dead

I don’t usually celebrate Valentine’s Day other than with a "have a happy". 

But yesterday was memorable.

My Sweet Baboo of 42 years doesn’t go to the movies much let alone enjoy the same outrageous stuff that I do. He likes Sabrina and American President type movies. Chick flicks I reckon. I like Galaxy Quest, Star Trek/Wars, and the Marvel universe. Yesterday, he manned-up and took me to see Deadpool. What a sweetie, huh. Not sure he liked it all that much but love was in his heart.

Deadpool...okay, wow. Funny, amazing special effects, and way cool script. I was laughing from the first opening credits to the end and enjoyed every minute. I want to see it again to catch what I missed. So many inside jokes that it doesn’t always connect at first. It is so different from the other characters in the Marvel franchise that it seems a whole new genre.

No spoilers here but keep in mind, this is not for kids. Don’t take your thirteen year old to see this. Absolutely not for the young’uns.

One thing, IMHO, staying for the two teasers after the credits was a waste of time. Not like Iron Man III for example. Or Thor.

And another thing: If graphic violence (of bad guys getting their comeuppance), multiple curse words, nudity, and sexual situations offend you, don’t watch. I didn’t feel any of the above was gratuitous but yanno, that is my opinion.

The Walking Dead premiered its second half of its sixth season with an on-the-edge-of-your-seat shocker. This show just gets better and better, keeps me wondering who will die without killing off too many—aka Game of Thrones—to ruin the ride. 

For writers, it highlights how to plot, divert attention from the real story, and blow up expectations.

Regarding the last, if you can guess the storyline, predict it, the surprise factor is a mound of glue. Surprise, shock keeps the reader interested. Not just via deaths but unexpected plot twists.

First Page Contest. Here is your chance to get your writing noticed, create interest, and build a platform to display your skills. Plus, you win BOOKS! 

It’s a contest over at Unicorn Bell, our critique site. Moderated by the multi-talented Charity Bradford, it gives writers a shoutout. Enter soon and win bragging rights.

Are you a Marvel Universe fan? Want to see Deadpool? Worship Walking Dead? Ready to enter a writing contest?

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Quiet Knock

Ambition waved goodbye several months ago. 

I shrugged and went about my day. The days turned into weeks then months while Shame and Guilt competed to bring me down.

A knock at the door in my mind. I notice a familiarity about it.

Ambition stands there shuffling its feet, not knowing if it is welcome. 

I think I will let it in. Maybe it will fill the space in my heart and crowd out Shame and Guilt. For today, at this hour, I will call it a win and hope it is the turning point.

Maybe the guttering candle flame will blaze into the conflagration it once was. 

And I will name myself Writer once more.

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