Friday, November 30, 2012

Interview with Patrick Stahl

Today I'm happy to introduce you to Patrick Stahl, November's Knight's of MicroFiction winner.
He's a relatively new blogger so it'd be great if you'd head on over to his blog and support him (after reading the interview of course :)).

Hi Patrick It's great to have you here.  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am an aspiring writer and editor with a dream of working as one of Tor's Senior Editors.  Most of my current work is flash fiction.  I've dabbled in many genres, but fantasy is my usual.

Wow, that would be an awesome gig.  
When did you know you wanted to be a writer and what inspires you?
Somewhere between sixth and seventh grade after my sixth grade English teacher complimented me on some adventure stories I'd written for class and I began an epic fantasy novel during summer vacation.

 A lot of my inspirations come from the creative works of others, such as Hayao Miyazaki's films and Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series, just to name a couple.
Oh I loved Spirited Away.
What project are you working on right now?

I have quite a few projects running right now: an adult epic fantasy novel starring a band of knights fighting the embodiment of evil, a young adult fantasy novel, a few short stories, and a novelette with a magic system that I created involving herbs and jerum (a creature in the story) blood.

Sounds like you're keeping busy creating all sorts of new worlds.  That's what I love about fantasy.  But it does seem to take more time and planning.
What is the most challenging aspect of writing for you?

Getting myself to actually sit down and write something longer than flash fiction.

Hmm, that is difficult. I started out mostly writing short picture books, but I've learned to use a detailed outline to help me reach novel length.
What made you decide to start blogging?

I was watching the videos of Brandon Sanderson's creative writing class at BYU when Peggy Eddleman came as a guest speaker to his class and talked about the benefits of blogging.  I decided then to start a blog.

Well we certainly are glad you're here.  I hope you get a lot of it.  I know I do.  There are so many wonderful people in this community to meet.

2012 is almost over, what are your writing goals for 2013?

I would like to finish all of my current projects that are under novel-length.

That's a great goal, good luck with it.  
What books have influenced you the most?
The Abhorsen Chronicles, The Hobbit, the Harry Potter series, most of Rick Riordan's books, the first two Wheel of Time novels, and the books by Emily Rodda set in Deltora.

There's a couple in there I haven't heard of, I'll have to check them out. I haven't read Harry Potter myself but my son gobbled up the whole series this summer. I know I'll have to read them some time.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like to play strategy games, read, and play soccer.  

Patrick, it was great to get to know you a little better.  

Now head on over and check out Patrick's blog, Into the Ravenous Maw.


I also want to thank all of you who sent prayers and positive thoughts to Jess's friend Kate.  She's recovering well after a successful surgery.  

And Jess has something special for Monday so don't forget to stop by and see her big surprise. 

Oh and I almost forgot my Healthy Writer's Club Update.  The girls and I have started doing some plyometric exercises, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to build up our speed and explosive power on the ice.  And oh my gosh are we sore!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Kathy :) 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving Fun

We had a great Thanksgiving full of...

                                             baking fun with Grandma,

                                                                                                       snowball fights,

lots of great food,

bonding with cousins,

lots of great movies, and so much fun!

Almost the whole gang, this is my side of the family.  My wonderful in-laws took the picture.

Hope you all had a great holiday.
(It's taken me a few days to recover from all the fun, but I'm back now!)

Kathy :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Feeling Thankful

Thanksgiving is my favorite time of year.  I love the crisp fall days, the crystals of frost coating everything, and  the plethora of people that swarm my house.  Every year we host Thanksgiving because our house is the most central location for everyone coming from N. Carolina and Michigan.

For four crazy wonderful days, we have 17 people in our house.  Of course there is not really room for that many, so all the kids "camp out" together on our family room floor.  My girls are the oldest of the group so they have fun leading the pack and their cousins simply adore them.  This year Alyssa is planning on leading the kids in lots of fun activities like the Sweet Baking Club and Story Time (where they are going to write short stories together and then act them out).  It's a great bonding time for all the kids (and allows us parents to catch up).

This is the one time of the year where our entire family, including my husband's parents, can get together and just enjoy each other.  Despite all the hard work, I feel extremely thankful to be able to have everyone together and I'm thankful my husband enjoys it too!

I probably shouldn't be sitting here writing, I should be planning this year's menu and running to the store.  But I wanted to let all of you know how thankful I am for you as well.  You are what makes all this hard work of blogging so rewarding.  It seems the older I get the more grateful I am for all the wonderful people who have touched my life.

I hope all of you have a Thanksgiving holiday filled with love and of course great food. (I may not be posting again until after turkey day as I'll be in the kitchen!)


As far as exercise goes this week for the Healthy Writer's Club, I did my usual skating practice. Then the kids and I decided we needed a little extra workout so we ran up and down our stairs about ten times.  It was fun but my legs felt like jelly afterward!

Don't forget today is Alex Cavanaugh's, Oh I Miss You Blogfest. I didn't officially sign up for it because most of the people I've met blogging seem to post more than I do.  But I definitely notice when someone is absent for a while and I miss their witty posts and comments.

Also coming up are blogfests hosted by L'Aussie Writer and Stephen Tremp  along with some of his buddies.

I'd also like to ask people to send positive energy or prayers to Jess's best friend Kate who is having heart surgery today.



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Best Friends- KoMF #9

This months prompt was:  In 300 words or less write a scene where the main character realizes he/she is thankful for something.  Include the words "turkey" and "Mayflower" (this could be May flowers too or other creative variations).

Here's my entry.
Best Friends

I could hear Susan shuffling papers around on the counter, muttering to herself.  She must have lost her keys again.  

I struggled to lift my head from the pillow and glared at the clock.  Uggh, it was already 5:00, we were supposed to be at the party soon.  I forced myself to sit up.  How could I go to a dinner party?  I was a mess.  My hair stuck out in all directions and my face still burned from the endless tears.

“Come on Jen, are you ready?”  she called poking her head into my room.

“I...I can’t go Susan.”  I shrugged.  I felt as pathetic as I looked.  “Go without me.”

“Oh hon,” she sat down on my bed and hugged me.  “I’m sorry about Charles.  He’s a jerk.”  She sucked in a deep breath.

I knew she was right but I didn’t want to hear it.  I wanted to be alone,  I wanted to let all the misery seep into my soul and carry me to oblivion.

“Come on, I’m not leaving this apartment without you.”  She grabbed my hand and led me to the bathroom.  “Clean up, I’ll wait for you.”  

My empty shell of a body didn’t have the strength to protest.  

Thirty minutes later we pulled up at her sister’s huge country estate.  Guests milled about in fancy dresses.  I felt like a turkey in my jeans and sweater.  At least Susan was wearing jeans too.         

I went off to hide in the library and found myself staring at a replica of the Mayflower.  

“Jen?” a deep silky voice asked.  I turned and my breath caught. Stunning green eyes gazed into mine.

“Susan said I’d find you in here.”  He offered me his muscled arm.   I smiled.  

Susan was my best friend ever.  


Hope you enjoyed it! Remember you still have until 11:59 pm on the 15th to post your entry if you want to join us. The more the merrier! Just add your link to the linky list.

Kathy :)      

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Knights of MicroFiction Prompt

Today is the 13th of November already which means it's time to give you the Knights of MicroFiction Prompt.

The Knights of MicroFiction is a bloghop hosted by me and Jess on the 15th of every month (except April, becasue the A-Z Challenge makes things crazy!).  We came up with it as a way to meet new friends, help build the blogging community and (hopefully) spark your creativity! 

The prompt is:  In 300 words or less write a scene where the main character realizes he/she is thankful for something.  Include the words "turkey" and "Mayflower" (this could be May flowers too or other creative variations).

You have until 11:59 pm on November 15th to post your entry.  Sign up on the Linky List below.  Can't wait to read what you come up with.  :)


In other news I'm hard at work editing my novel Hidden Truth (this is my title for now). In this draft I'm really trying to focus on the depth of each character and making sure my overall story line makes sense. It's going quite well but I get a good laugh now and then when I read something and ask myself, "What the heck was I thinking?  Maybe I fell asleep while writing because I would never have written that would I?"  

What are you working on?  

Kathy :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thanking Our Veterans

Reiko McKendry, was born Reiko Tanikawa in Tokyo, Japan in 1949, four years after the end of WW II.  From a very young age her parents instilled her with a sense of gratitude toward the Americans who despite their victory over Japan, treated the Japanese people with respect and helped them rebuild their nation.

Life in Japan, however was difficult especially with a father who was abusive to her mother.  At the age of fifteen, Reiko realized she had to escape the constant violence of home.  She had two choices, take her own life or find a life of freedom in America.
Now after enjoying America for over forty years, she has made it her mission to thank as many veterans of World War II for helping to rebuild her native country and promote freedom throughout the world.   Her book, To America With Profound Gratitudenot only chronicles her inspiring journey to independence in the land of her childhood dreams but serves as a thank you to her new homeland. 

Recently, she and her husband, David McKendry, traveled from Michigan to Mississippi to speak at a reunion of World War II veterans.  There weren't many dry eyes left after she concluded thanking them for the sacrifices they had made.  You can read about the event here.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Cooking Class Fun and Part II of Hetty

Here we are working together to roll out the pasta

My daughter, Alyssa, and I love to cook together and we love going to cooking classes.  This week we  decided to bring my husband along with us to learn how to make homemade pasta.  We weren't sure how he would do in the kitchen since he's not really a regular around the stove.  But he made us proud.        
Throwing lasagna noodles into pot
It was great fun!  We each had a little work station and prepared our own dough, which was surprisingly simple to make, just eggs flour and salt with a little liquid (milk or other flavoring) to moisten it.  He learned how to kneed and roll out dough, which will come in handy for Thanksgiving pies!    

He was put in charge of cooking the lasagna noodles, then Alyssa and I had to grab them out of an ice bath and dry them off with a towel before handing them off to the next couple who layered them in the pan.  It was quite an assembly line.  I can see why Italians have such big families.  They need all the help in the kitchen to make great pasta!  
Using pasta machine

It was delicious.  The best pasta I have ever eaten.  I don't know how pasta from a box will ever be good enough now.  We will have to try making it at home as a family project.  Should be interesting.  


Here is Part II of Sally's post about her grandma Harriet.   

Hetty circa 1917
Harriet was a great seamstress using a Singer treadle sewing machine making both her eldest daughter’s wedding dress in the 1950’s.  She would bake cakes and biscuits and cook everyday of her life, roast dinners on Sundays, cold meat and mash on Monday, then various meals during the week, including rabbit pies and always served with a dessert. 

Harriet was a very hard worker and worked for the local farmer from spring to autumn hop training, hop picking, fruit picking and potato picking.  She would also go primrose picking (taking myself with her) in the woods which were then bundled up into posies and taken to the next train and put on the train and sent to Convent Garden market in London.

Hetty circa 1920
She loved a social life and would attend the Darby and Joan Club (a social club for older members), the Women’s Institute, known as the W.I. and Whist Drives, (Group Games/Card Games) a social gathering where whist is played; the winners of each hand move to different tables to play the losers of the previous hand Collins English Dictionary), and Bingo during the evenings in the week.

On every Sunday evening she would provide a cold supper for her brother and sister-in-law (Bert and Dorothy) who would visit their house where they would play cards and socialise together.

Harriet wasn’t a very tall lady but quite a feisty one.  She would have rows with her neighbour over some disagreement.  Fred and Hetty could go days and weeks without actually talking to each other because they’d had a disagreement but nobody could deny they loved each other deeply.

In her 80’s she suffered a heart attack and after recovering from those began to display the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s.   Her last move was to a lovely facility with people who could look after her 24 hours a day where she spent the last four or five years of her life.  Her family visited her as much as we could and we took the new generations to meet her as well.

Harriet died in her 93rd year having lived through two World Wars and saw many inventions, cars, televisions and telephones.  Even with all these inventions she never had a telephone in her house and didn’t possess a washing machine.
Harriet's 89th birthday.
Back row: June, Sally (me), Margaret
Front: my kids, Hetty, and a cousin

I spent a lot of time with my grandmother and loved every minute of it. 


Thanks so much, Sally, for sharing your grandmother's history.  

I have one more thing today.  As part of the Healthy Writers Club, hosted by Shallee McArthur just a quick update on my success at getting out of my chair this week.  

Since the weather was great, on Wednesday my son and I went outside and played baseball together.  We had lots of fun running around in the leaves.  

I also started learning the new set of moves, (they are actually called "Moves", I know not the most creative term!), for my next skating test.  Yay!

Have a great weekend everyone!

And don't forget next Thursday is the next Knights of MicroFiction.  The prompt is:  In 300 words or less write a scene where the main character realizes he/she is thankful for something.  Include the words "turkey" and "Mayflower" (this could be May flowers too or other creative variations).

Kathy :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


It's time for the IWSG again!  Share your joys, insecurities, and accomplishments as a writer.  If you'd like to join us, head on over to Alex Cavanaugh's blog to sign up.  Then go visit as many other people on the list as you can and leave a comment; your encouraging words might help them achieve their next goal.  

This month, I'm reflecting on my growth over this past year as a writer.  

Last year I decided to put my other projects on hold and write a YA fantasy novel.  I'd never attempted writing something so big before and I wasn't sure I could actually finish it.  Most of my previous writing had focused on picture books or magazine articles.  

The first thing I had to do was commit to a regular writing time.  I decided the best time was before the kids wake up in the morning, when it's still quiet and I'm most refreshed.  If I get up at 5:30, I can squeeze in about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  I don't make it that early all the time but at least I get some writing in everyday before the craziness begins.

The second step was to read more in my chosen genre.  I realized I hadn't read a YA fantasy in a long time.  So I made many trips to the library and I grabbed all the books I could find (and actually read them).                 

Then I just wrote, even if what I was writing I didn't like. I kept writing.  Some days I felt like I was dragging myself and my characters through a swamp of literary garbage.  But I kept writing.  And finally, I got to the end!    

Now I'm on to editing; attempting to wash away the muddy language and webs of unnecessary adverbs that crept in like spiders.  I'm adding new scenes and taking out pointless ones.  I added a prologue then I decided to begin the story in an entirely different place so I'm working on a new chapter 1.  I feel good about all of these changes and I can see the story becoming what I want it to be.     

Maybe it won't ever end up on anyone else's shelf or in their Kindle but I feel like I've come a long way.  And I want to thank all of you for supporting me on this great journey.  

Have a great week! And don't forget to check out all the other participants here

Kathy :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Guest Post- Sally Stackhouse

Today I would like to welcome Sally Stackhouse to my blog for being a regular participant in The Knights of MicroFiction.
This is Part One of her grandmother's story.  Part Two will be posted on Friday.  Enjoy.

I would like to thank Kathy for inviting me to guest post on her blog today.

I would like to talk about an (extra) ordinary woman, my maternal grandmother. Harriet Davis (nee Kelly) was born towards the end of the Victorian age and saw six more monarchs reign and including our current Queen Elizabeth II during her lifetime.
Hetty, with red X, in school.  All boys sat on one side and girls on  the other.
All the girls wore some sort of ribbon in their hair.

Harriet, called Hetty or Het, was born in 1899 and died in 1992 aged 93.  She was the youngest of five siblings, two older sisters and two older brothers, both her brothers, Frank and Walter served in the Royal Navy and unfortunately Walter lost his life, age 24, during World War I when his ship hit a mine on 1st March 1917 off the coast of Scotland while patrolling around Scapa Flow and sank with the loss of all 80 crew aboard her.

My grandmother’s family lived in South West London and after the First World War moved to Hastings in Sussex on the South-Eastern coast of England.  Hetty worked as a waitress on Hastings Pier and later as a barmaid in a pub in Hastings, Sussex where she met my grandfather, Fred Davis, who had recently returned home from serving in the Army in India.

Frederick Robert Charles Davis married Harriet Kelly, Sunday the 4th of August 1929
at 8:00 am, it was their only day off.  Wedding held at St. Matthews Church, Silverhill,
Hastings, Sussex 

Harriet worked hard all her life keeping house, cooking and looking after two young girls and she also ran a bed and breakfast establishment during the summer months and took in washing.

Harriet and her two daughters, June and Margaret, were evacuated from Hastings which suffered severe bombing raids during the Second World War, to Somerset, while Fred was serving as a fireman. That is a story for another time.

In 1942 (still during the war) they moved to a small hamlet in the Kent countryside.  Harriet just rolled up her sleeves and got on with country living although she was a city girl at heart. After several years they moved to a larger, more modern house of the time. They had a large garden where they grew fruit and vegetables and a small patch was given over to growing pretty flowers.

Harriet wore a pale powder blue wedding dress with white silk stockings and
white shoes and carried a bouquet of pink carnations. Bridesmaids' wore pink
dresses with a blue bolero and straw hats with ribbons. Best man was Fred's brother Alf;
Harriet was given away by her brother Frank

Other News:
Don't forget, Wednesday is the IWSG hosted by Ninja Captain Alex.  And Talli Roland just came out with a new book called MistleToe in Manhattan.

Hope you are writing away if you're participating in NaNo.  I'd love to hear your progress.

Have a great week everybody!

Kathy :)