Author’s Roundtable: Margie Miklas

How long have you been writing?

I only began writing three years ago so I still consider myself a newbie.

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Not really although I used to write limericks as a child, wrote letters to the editor occasionally, and wrote a humorous newsletter for my department in the hospital for several years.

What books or stories have you written? Published?

I have written one book, and have published numerous articles for various websites and an Italian-American newspaper.

Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

My book is a true story, a memoir of the three months I spent in Italy traveling solo.

How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

Since this book is nonfiction, all the characters in it are real.

Margie Profile 1Are the books based on personal experiences?

Yes, my book is a memoir based on three months I spent traveling through Italy.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

Other authors and writers have consistently told me to keep writing, and to write every day. I think this is good advice. I also had been told to discipline myself so that I set goals of word counts, either per day or per week, in order to accomplish my goal of finishing my book.

Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?

Yes, I published my book initially without the benefit of a professional editor, and found numerous typos and errors, which I edited myself and resubmitted.

I currently am working with a professional editor, on this already-published book, and her direction is immensely helpful, not only to correct typos, but to improve sentence structure, avoid repetitious words, and so on. I am still working on this.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

Since I self-published my book, both the e-book and the paperback, I found the formatting to be very challenging. There definitely is a learning curve to self-publishing.

How do you find time to write your books?

I have to make time, create a specific amount of time each week to turn off the Internet and focus on writing.

Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?

Since I write about true experiences, I am almost re-living them as I write and edit the story, and this brings me a great sense of satisfaction, almost as if I am going to Italy again.

Book signing Event edit FB sizeHas writing made you a better person?

I think so, insofar as it has made me appreciate the amount of work that goes into writing.

Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

I do enjoy reading, and wish I had more time to do so. Right now I have about ten books on my iPad partially read. My favorite genres are suspense, intrigue, courtroom dramas and biographies.

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Reviews are important to writers because they provide feedback and give a writer a sense of what readers expect.

Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?

Yes, and I think all writers have received at least one negative review. Being human, I felt bad reading it at first, but then let it go. I realize that not all readers will like my writing, and also sometimes a review is written by someone who is not in a good mood, or is having a bad day.

Would you mind sharing an excerpt from your book?

Of course. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 4.

It is now early Friday evening, and I am back in my hotel room in Siena. All of a sudden there seems to be a lot of noise outside, as though someone is announcing something on a loudspeaker. Today is Good Friday in Italy, and there is a cathedral around the corner, so maybe there is some outside religious event going on.

My curiosity gets the best of me, and I grab my jacket and leave the hotel to see what is going on, not wanting to miss out on what could be a major event. To my naiveté and surprise, the cathedral appears to be closed, yet the streets are filled with people and there are quite a few police. I’m noticing that the people are not strolling, as in la passeggiata, but instead seem to have an agenda, and suddenly it becomes clear to me what is going on.

Book cover print version Amazon (200x295)I can see the lights and the soccer stadium, which is right behind my hotel, and after inquiring from the police, I become aware that there is a soccer game between Siena and Venezia. Never having been to a professional soccer game, I make a snap decision to go to the game so I find out where to buy a ticket. I am thinking that if it is a reasonable cost, I will go. Fortunately for me, the ticket costs only eight euros, which is incredible. I am quite surprised that I need to show my passport to purchase the ticket, and I don’t have it with me. It is in the hotel. After a few minutes, the ticket seller feels sorry for me and maybe I look like I am not a security threat, and she lets me buy the ticket anyway. The other person, however, has to walk me to the gate and explain to the guy there that it is OK for me to get in. Again it is a process here just to get in to a soccer game. I thank them, and I am really happy that I am now experiencing my first Italian soccer game!

Italians are passionate about life but they are really passionate about soccer! I have always heard about this, but now have a chance to see this firsthand. I love being part of the crowd, hearing the fans singing, yelling, probably swearing in Italian and stomping their feet on the aluminum stands, which is making a deafening sound. It is a great time! I’m smiling and nodding my head to the people sitting near me whether I understand everything or not. I feel a part of it!

Anything else you’d like to share that I didn’t ask?

Maybe readers would be interested in knowing if I am writing any other books.

I actually have a second book half finished. This book is about my travel experiences in Sicily, and not as a solo traveler.

I think you covered it all, Jason, and thank you again for this opportunity. You are very special, and a real asset to writers. I really appreciate all that you are doing in support of writers.

About Margie Miklas

Memoirs of a Solo Traveler-My Love Affair with Italy is Margie’s first book, and it is based on her three-month solo adventure in Italy.

Margie Miklas is a writer, photographer and critical-care nurse, who has a passion for travel, with a particular love of Italy.

Margie is a contributor for Yahoo Voices, a contributing writer for La Gazzetta Italiana newspaper, a travel writer for Beachcomber Pete Travel Adventures, and writes travel and medical articles for several other websites.

DSCF6502 (1024x681)Margie writes a blog, margieinitaly, where you can follow her adventures through her writing and photography throughout Italy.

Margie first started writing as a young teenager, when she would amuse herself and her friends by writing limericks. A few years later, she became a headline editor of her high school newspaper in Elyria, Ohio. Later still, she developed, wrote, and edited a humorous hospital newsletter in Tampa, Florida.

Margie lives in Port St Lucie, Florida, where she works in a cardiovascular intensive care unit, and is always seeking out opportunities to travel, especially to Italy. When she isn’t working or writing, she enjoys spending time with her twin granddaughters, going to the beach, and working in her garden. Check out Margie’s blog, follow her on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, and buy her books in paperback and on Amazon Kindle.

Honesty is the Best Policy: A Blog Review

Sometimes it’s nice to find out what people really think about my blog. I’d like to thank Marcia Carrington and everyone else who’s taken a few minutes to give me their honest feedback about my blog. It’s very much appreciated and you’ve given me some great ideas for changes and ideas for posts later this year. Keep the comments coming. You never know how much your ideas and tips mean to me.

Q: What are three things you like about the blog and why?
A: The honesty of your approach, and your content, are the two main things which stand out most about your blog. I also very much like your Author Roundtable interviews, which is a great feature of your blog, as it affords writers the opportunity to expound about their books, and express other thoughts on writing. Your “Everyday Beauty” section is also great, as I like photography, and it was very pleasing for me to witness the flora, fauna, and environments which you have captured on camera.

Q: What are three things you don’t like about the blog and why?

A: There is nothing I dislike about your blog.
???????????????????????Q: What are five things you would like me to improve and why?

A: It would be great if you increased the number of places to share your posts, such as including Pinterest, Tumblr and other websites, as I believe your content would reach even more appreciative readers.

Q: What five things would you like me to discuss on the blog? My disability, what I do…

A: Maybe you could include more about your favorite books and which books you would recommend to readers.
Q: If you were just passing by the blog, what made you stop and read some of the posts?

A: When I first visited your blog, the “What You’re Saying” page captured my interest on first impression, as it was very enjoyable, then I proceeded to read your other pages, which are equally as good.
LOOKING BACK coverQ: Would you recommend the blog to your friends and family? Why?

A: Yes, I would recommend your blog, as the topics you cover are not only of interest to writers and readers but also to the wider community. It is also good as it increases awareness of people with disabilities, and that they are caring, vital, and valuable members of the community.
Check out Marcia’s blog, Smashword’s author page and her books on Amazon

Thank you very much for this opportunity Jason, and keep up the wonderful work on your blog.

This Blog is Under Review

After further review, I’ve decided to keep blogging, sharing my story and hopefully inspire others to life their lives to the fullest with no regrets. I truly hope this blog inspires you like it has inspired Jenn Brink, a wonderful friend I met on Twitter a couple weeks ago. She was gracious enough to review the blog and give her feedback about different pages and aspects of what I’m doing right, wrong or changes I need to make. Thanks for the constructive criticism Jenn. I really am glad you love the blog and weren’t afraid to tell me what I need to change 🙂
Jason’s blog is great! He posts about his struggles with Spina Bifida in an uplifting and positive way. He also interviews indie authors living their lives in this crazy world we share. I love that it is about him, Spina Bifida and others that he has met on his journey. Jason is a positive and real inspiration for us all. Check it out! 
I loved your blog, and I’m not a big blog reader. The reason, I get bored because it’s like reading only books by one author, no other POV, no other subject, me, me, me…. That’s what I love about your blog. It’s different and ultimately more interesting to people like me. 
IMG_2500 2 (2)On a different note: Take or leave as constructive criticism.
Use the pic on your blog to represent you. The one on the porch. It’s great! The outdoors is such a relaxing background and not too busy. It also creates endorphins making people associate your image with relaxing and being happy. 
Your heading: “A look at my life with spina bifida and daily musings I have”
1.  Capitalize Spina Bifida. It is a recognized name, like Jason. 
2.  The sentence is grammatically incorrect and does not make sense or a good statement for someone writing a blog. Rewrite it with a better catchphrase, a “hook.”  Something more active and exciting that embraces all that you do with your blog or your goal. 
3.  Too many author interviews one after another, with the same questions is monotonous. Cushion every interview with something you wrote about whatever. It could be your own review of an author or a book if you want to promote indie authors or one of your musings. Also, interview some male writers and use different questions. Mix it up.   
Check out Jenn’s blog, buy her books on Goodreads, find out what she’s interested in on Pinterest, become a friend or a fan on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and connect with her on Google Plus.
As long as you’re still here, grab a Coke and check out what other people are saying about the blog.

Rose Garden

I’ve always loved the outdoors and being outside, whether I’m relaxing at a park, sitting on the porch listening to the birds and watching it rain, taking pictures or (years ago) sitting in my wheelchair at the end of a row in my grandparents’ garden, watching my grandpa and grandmother pick squash, beans, peas, tomatoes or okra. One thing I really wish I was able to do is help my grandparents when I was younger, in their garden planting or picking vegetables. It really made me sad that just because I am physically disabled and in a wheelchair I wasn’t able to help my grandparents do something they loved.

About a year or so ago I met a wonderful woman named Susan on Twitter and she and I got to talking and she has written a beautiful post that is sure to inspire anyone who faces physical challenges, no matter what they are. After reading this post I hope one day my garden will grow as beautiful as my grandparents’ did years ago.

IMG_0645My mother had osteoarthritis. As she became less able to work in the garden we became attached at the hip when it was time to prune the roses. She would keep me company while I worked in the rose garden and work in the yard. She taught me the art of pruning. I miss her every time I prune the roses. This is how it all began. When I was a girl my mother loved to be in the yard and wanted me to help her. I wanted no part of it. I hated weeding. I didn’t understand why she liked it. It wasn’t until I had my own yard, and inherited her rose garden that everything was different, as is often the case, isn’t it? For me, rose growing and gardening is a passion, not a hobby or a past time.

Lots of things are very important to me — a love of gardening, kids and having fun while spending time with both. Inheriting my childhood home and my mother’s rose garden in Northern Illinois, I needed to learn quickly how to take care of the garden. There was a beautiful rose garden in Libertyville, Illinois, and the Libertyville Men’s Garden Club took care of it so I thought that would be a good place to ask how to take care of roses. That was the beginning of a lifelong passion I now have for growing, taking care of and showing roses.

Rose growing has for many years been the passion and hobby of royalty from the ancient Chinese to the most splendid gardens of royalty throughout the world. Rose gardens grace the lands of the rich and famous to landed gentry throughout the globe. All are drawn together by the common bond of the most mystical and romantic of flowers, the rose. Although perceived as difficult to grow and maintain, roses are both hearty and forgiving to the best-meaning novice.

What happened next when I went to the Libertyville Men’s Garden Club and asked for their assistance is memorable. Len Arthur, who was a tenured member of the club and called himself an octogenarian rosarian, painstakingly began to cultivate a future rosarian from raw talent, me. With speech and movement, labored and slow as a nocturnal sloth, Mr. Arthur spoke and I listened, passing the craft onto the next generation. Mr. Arthur encouraged me to begin showing roses in local rose shows in a society that was largely male dominated at the time by doctors and scientists. One of my high points was having the garden featured on the Northern Illinois Rose Growers Garden Tour and a particularly talented rose sage commenting, “You have achieved perfect rose culture.” Sweeping many shows with blue ribbons as a novice, I was encouraged by Len and other senior members of the society to enter a national show in which I won a trophy for best Climbing Rose, Tempo.

GagaGarden1The story of Tempo is an amazing story that needs to be told. My son, Michael, worked at an auto dealership for the summer in Northern Illinois. Knowing my love of roses, and of course walking along the sidewalk past the rose garden everyday, one beautiful Saturday morning Michael called and insisted that I come over to the car dealership and test drive a Pontiac Tempo. Anyone that went for a test drive would receive a complimentary Jackson & Perkins Tempo climbing rose bush. Touched by Michael’s observance of my passion I went for the test drive and came home with the rose bush in hand. That bush, planted and fertilized by organics of eggshells and coffee grounds, grew to be a most spectacular specimen. That year the Northern Illinois Rose Society hosted the American Rose Society’s (ARS) National Convention, and I entered Tempo in the Best Climber category. The rest is history. Tempo was selected “Best Climber” in show. 

Did You Know . . . the wonderful inspiring fragrance of rose has a scientific basis? The unmistakable fragrance is the plant’s precious essential oil evaporating from its petals. About 60,000 roses yield one ounce of 100 percent pure rose essential oil, making it one of the most costly aromatherapy oils. No wonder rose oil was a gift of royalty. The garden is a gathering place. Gardens everywhere are made accessible for handicapped people. People such as my mother with osteoarthritis and Mr. Arthur, who was 88 years old, made and continue to make a tremendous contribution to the gardening community. Last year on Blog Talk Radio #RoseChat we interviewed Jack Walter, of Kimbrew Walter Roses, Grand Saline, Texas who is 89 years old and the recipient of the American Rose Society Gold Honor Medal. In spite of physical challenges gardening has something to offer all people and enriches us spiritually.

Author’s Roundtable: Rachel Done

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing in some form or another for my entire life, but the last five years have been the most serious. I wrote my first novel for a little more than a year before realizing the plot was not savable and I took a break for about six months to regain my bearings. I wrote the first draft of my current novel after that, and after major (so major it burned) edits about a year later, I had draft two of it. From draft two I’m revising key parts in the beginning and early middle, and I hope to complete the third (and final) draft by November!

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

I never knew what I wanted to do as a profession when people ask. I still don’t really know. Writing is too fun to be a profession, but I’ve always wanted to write and read in some form, whether it was poems or novels. Books have always been in my life.

What books or stories have you written? Published?

Nothing published yet, although I have every hope and dream for my current work in progress, “Immemorial Love.” Of course, the title will probably change dramatically. As mentioned above, I have the terribly plotted novel sitting on my hard drive, half-finished and waiting for a second chance. Some day, it will get it.

Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

Both of my books are YA fantasy in some way, although the first and unfinished one was more high fantasy. “Immemorial Love” is a modern, urban fantasy with a very prominent romantic subplot. Both deal with the social and political interactions between humans and the not-humans (for lack of a better, all inclusive word) and how love comes in every form imaginable. “Immemorial Love” is about two boys, one a human and one a daphir, who fall in love and are forced to fight in a war over magical weapons and the consequent struggle for control of the Earth because of their destiny, which may or may not leave one of them dead and the other heartbroken.

More about “Immemorial Love”

When Jesse and Brycen swear to love each other regardless of the pain, Jesse doesn’t know that Brycen isn’t human. A bloody nose reveals it, however; Brycen is a daphir, a human life species with instinctual bisexuality, a deadly allergy to oranges and alcohol, black blood and survives on life energy called Corr. After a near-fatal night Jesse is labeled a target by Project Genesis, a cult of daphirs who assembled genes in a daphir to make him a weapon to overthrow the world: Brycen.

The boys take refuge with governmental daphirs, but with constant danger they will never live in peace. Project Genesis needs Brycen for the magical Immemorial Knives, weapons they made him to be genetically compatible with them. The danger heightens when Project Genesis steals one of the six Immemorial Knives and threatens to make a new, evil daphir to enslave humanity, and to keep the world safe and live peacefully with Jesse, Brycen will have to obtain all six Immemorial Knives and destroy Project Genesis.

All Jesse wants is the Immemorial Knives, as legend has it they would enhance his human life to match Brycen’s several hundred year one, but all eyes are on him. Why does his Corr burn so bright? Is he human? Or is he the soul mate of a daphir from legends? Only the Immemorial Knives can tell…

How did you get inspiration for the characters?

It was a late night, I can tell you that. Brycen and Jesse are the main elements that carry through all three drafts (and the only common factor between draft one and two), although I originally made them to simply be the best of friends. Other authors can attest to when characters take on lives of their own, as mine did, and it can be frustrating. The scenes I was writing with them weren’t turning out, and then I realized they were in love! A great plot twist from my subconscious. Brycen could be any teen who never knew his parents or was in foster care/adoptive systems, or anyone having an identity crisis. Actually both could be identity-stricken teens, although Jesse definitely “struggles” with being gay. I say “struggle” because he loves himself and Brycen, but he has issues with his neglectful parents, and especially how his father (who, as a heart surgeon, has unreachable and undesired standards for Jesse) would receive him. Luckily the parents are absent for the first book, but they make a cameo eventually.

Overall, I got the inspiration from anyone who has ever been different, said so, fought for what/who they loved, who stood up and said, “This is MY world, and you’re not taking it from me.”

And this book is for all of you who bravely stood up; may you inspire those yet to come.

Are the books based on personal experiences?

Nope. In my life there has been no best friend turned lover, no lover turned not-human, no normal life gone crazy fantastical with destinies, knives and reincarnations. I wish, although I do have a little of the family tension Jesse experiences, but who doesn’t?

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

Just do it. Sorry Nike.

Just do what you love, write what you love, read what you love, never let anyone tell you no. Never stop, always do something to keep your mental juices flowing and don’t give up. I won’t lie, though. It’s hard. I still have no agent (although hopefully that will change soon) and no publishing contract. It’s not easy to get one either. But if you have something you’ll die for, die for it. Metaphorically. And never say it’s your best work. Because that’s the beauty of writing: it never ends. There’s always more improvement, self criticism, you’re never done. The day I’m done will be very sad indeed.

Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?

I actually had part of my book edited/criticized by a pro editor, and quote, “Best reality bitch slap ever.” Truly. Everyone looks at their work and sees, well, their work. But other people look at it as what’s strong, what’s weak, what works, what doesn’t. Other people’s opinion is gold, you just have to learn to take it well. They’re trying to make you better. Take it well.

What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

Definitely the “I’m small and no one knows me, I have no connections, my book has some controversial elements but it has heart and meaning, and people need it but I’m scared,” complex. That was totally me. I was young, alone, typing into Microsoft Word for an average of an hour today. I knew nothing. I taught myself everything. I had no social life. Writing was (still is) my life. And I’m still not published, but still not stopping. I have learned you have to stand by your work, even if it’s controversial in any way, shape, or form, because guts=glory. Agents, publicists, etc… like people who love and will die hard for their work. If the author won’t stand by it, who will? So be your one person fandom. Do it. Because someone, someday, will be impressed by it.

How did you find time to write your books?

I’m a time budgeting-aholic. I balanced school with writing, which is no easy task. I’m not a procrastinator at all: my motivation for working was so I could have time to write. I set a writing time, say after dinner on week days, and that motivated me to be done with everything else before dinner. On weekends, I did half of my work before I can write, so by Sunday evening I was task free, except for writing. I’m also always thinking about what I have to do next, new developments and plot twists, and new ways to make it better. The notes app on my iTouch is perfect for the random one liners and plot ideas that fly through my brain at any time of day!

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

Absolutely! Writing is a perfect way to send a message or feeling about a certain issue. It’s how I express my opinion, how I want to make my stamp on the world. And it makes us smart.

Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?

If I’m having a miserable, trashy day I can just go vent, write, escape for the time while I’m breaking imaginary faces and plotting to take over the world. It’s my hobby; I love to do it. And my characters always love me back, no matter how many times they’re nearly shot. I’m also a very intellectual person who gets bored easily, so perfecting aspects of a plot and characters is the perfect activity for my over-stimulation.

Has writing made you a better person?

Without a doubt. I am no longer afraid of criticism, even the bad kind. I’ve also learned how to talk to myself objectively, to tell myself, “Rachel, this bottom out sucks, and you sooo know it.” I know who I am, know what’s my “thing,” and I know what I’m out to do. I have my niche in the world. I will always be a writer. And in the process of writing, when my characters came to life and decided to love each other, I taught my young mind to not judge any person because of who they are, which I believe to be a skill every human could benefit from.

Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

Of course!! My favorite genres are all those who have some kind of fantastic/not real aspect. I don’t even know if I own a pure contemporary novel. And I’ll probably get chewed out for saying this, but I don’t want to read what I could experience in real life. If I wanted that I could go out and do it, but if I wanted to go fight a magical war for the sake of the Earth and fall in love with my soul mate who was not human, I think I would have a hard time doing it.

About Rachel Done

Born where it never rains, Rachel Done taught herself to read when she was three, although she still can’t spell. In the second grade she altered every reflection journal prompt to be the opening sentence in a series of childish shorts about a girl living in a jungle with animals, and her teacher let her do it. It wasn’t until sixth grade she discovered the true joy of writing, and she is now on her second novel. The first one remains hidden in her computer, as its plot is so butchered and unplanned that it would take years to repair. Someday she will return to it.

She runs because she really loves dessert, and could survive with only her laptop, Microsoft Word, an unlimited knowledge base/dictionary, note cards, a pen, and of course, books. Her favorite office tool is a binder clip, and she shuns paper clips. Visit her at

Gone Fishing

My son’s voice was fading. Head leaning against the back of the opened fold-up chair, I faced the warmth of the morning sun. Legs stretched out, I propped my feet on top of the fence that kept small children and adults alike from dropping and flaying in the waters that surrounded the small metal pier. Sure didn’t wanna scare away the fishies.

A night crawler firmly attached to my hook, I patiently waited for it to either drown or be nibbled on-affording me the opportunity to sit and daydream, converse with my child in hushed tones and soak up some rays.

My child, an experienced fisherman, has never caught a fish. Too many distractions. He likes to experiment with different lures and baits. Takes all helpful suggestions from more seasoned fisher folk than myself with serious consideration. His unwritten mission statement is to try most anything that will stick to the end of the line at least once.

“How do they (the fish) KNOW they won’t like a certain bait if they haven’t tried ’em?”

His logic makes sense when he explains further, “Whenever you make brussel sprouts, you make me keep tasting them every single time…”

“Yeah, but you don’t like them.”

He nods in agreement as he reels in the line. “But you say maybe someday when I get older I will. So maybe it’ll be the older, bigger fish that I’ll catch.”

Clicking over the bar on his reel, his awkward all elbows, knees and feet transform into one of fluid motion. Cuts through a slice of sky with his mighty saber, freeing his line. Exhaling with an audible sigh, he aims across the horizon, unfurling a song of ribboned hope born of all fishermen. As the faux food, attached to the hook mark the lake’s surface, he holds still, waiting, hoping.

“Hey mom.”

“Uh huh?”

“I just figured out why fishing is so cool.”


He pointed to where the rings slowly expanded in the final moments of movement where his lure dropped. “’cause every time you cast out, it hits a bull’s-eye!”

Chuckling, I considered the truth of his statement. With measured movement, the line crawled across the water’s glassy surface, fragmenting it into patterns of fragile cracks as he once more reeled in.

Meandering down the pier, he headed towards a fellow fisherman. I grinned. Poor guy didn’t have a clue. This kid of mine could extract information from a rock. Tenacious of spirit, if a stranger held a rod and reel, information WOULD be gleamed. Spontaneous of attitude, but plotted by desire in connecting, the conversations and opportunities almost always ended with both he and I traipsing home with more bait, lures and weights than what we started out with.

I dozed as they quietly talked. Gave Tim a thumbs up when he asked permission in sharing our lunch with his new bud.

As the snowy white egrets skimmed the lake, the wood ducks mirrored the glass in perfect unison, dancing through sky and water as the music of breeze filtered through the trees. Male mallard ducks, with their emerald jeweled heads, chased competitors from reeds where their mates nested. We munched our sandwiches in companionable silence, watching the world, as viewed from the perspective of the lake, move in a forward motion.

Lunch finished, the fishermen wandered back to their favored place to fish. Later I noticed that the two were joined by yet another. Shaking hands, he introduced himself as the first fisherman’s son.

It is strange how we, as parents, are so anxious to cut the apron strings that keep our youth clinging, but the nearly invisible line that connects through the subtle art of fishing is knotted securely against the forces of time to establish and re-establish opportunities beyond the surface.

A child’s familiar voice breaks through my train of thought…

“Hey mom…”


“I know you don’t want to get pregnant any more, ’cause you think you’re too old, but do you get PMS?”

Now, do I REALLY need to interject here how I felt as that innocent blurb was spewed out through the oh-so-peacefully quiet skies? My first instinct was to grab all the weights in the tackle box in hopes that once I jumped off the pier I would sink low and long. My second thought was to throw a couple of ’em at my child. Common sense ruled under a Higher Power, proving once again that miracles indeed, in this modern age still happen. My face reddened, and not from the sun, as acute embarrassment washed over me.

The fishermen were polite enough to keep silent. I watched as they quickly turned their backs to us, shoulders shaking in mirth. I was afraid to speak, to ask, but like that lemming, headed for the cliff’s edge anyway.

“What?!” I squeaked in response.

“Well, I was watching the mallard ducks and noticed the guys keeping away all the other male ducks, and the females are hiding in their nests with the eggs…I know they lay a bunch of ’em…”

As he was sharing these important facts, he slowly sided up to me and continued…

“Now, everyone knows that the eggs have to be fertilized before they can be babies, but I was wondering what happens when they aren’t. They still lay the eggs, whether they have babies in ’em or not, and HE said,” (nodding to the younger fisherman who still had the grace to face the water with his shoulders hunched down), “that he thought that the lady ducks probably had PMS.”

He paused for breath while I, depleted of oxygen, still held mine.

“I told him that I knew ’bout that stuff, but I didn’t think it applied to ducks. Besides, I really don’t think you do either. You usually save your mad times for when I try to sneak outta doing my homework or when I hide my stuff under my bed when you tell me to clean my room.”

Sometimes silence is better than opening the mouth. Don’t have to dig an enlarging hole that way. I nodded in agreement. Later, after the younger fisherman left, I walked up to the other as he was packing up his gear. “Wanted to apologize for my son’s…sharing.”

Slowly, the wizened old gentleman creaked to a standing position and stood tall. Readjusting the wide band of his sun bleached hat, his pale blue eyes locked into mine.

“Ya know, I’ve had some mighty strange conversations over the years with other folk who like fishin’, but gotta admit, this one was a tad…” (here he grinned, searching, but coming up short for the right words…) “different. After my son left, we kept talkin’ ’bout the habits of ducks, bait, rocks in mountains, rocks in the deserts, rocks in the ocean…his rock collection. We talked on ’bout which would be more dangerous, a viper with an attitude or a black bear coming out of hibernation. He asked me what I liked to do when I was his age, when I learned how to fish, and if ‘en my mom made me taste vegetables I didn’t like when I was young. He talked ’bout what scared him when he was little and what still worries him now. He asked me what scared me when I was little and what worries ME now…”

This gentle older fisherman paused, looking down at his feet, then looked back up, peering deep into my eyes. Quietly spoke:

“Then outta the blue, like it was the normalist thing in the world, he asked me if I was goin’ to church tomora. I told him I stopped a long time ago. Your kid said to me, ‘Know what? When I was young,'” (he snickered), “‘I went through this time where I didn’t wanna go, too. It would be lots more fun to stay home and play, or watch cartoons and stuff.’ I asked him what happed to change his mind…’well, going to a church you like is kinda like fishing, wherever you, (and here your kid cast his line out again, dropping it into the water), ‘go you’re surrounded in a circle after circle after circles that touch, but keeps going out and out and out…and sometimes, when you least ‘spect it, you catch something…'”

“…And I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19

Tim actually caught more: two bluegill and one bass!

By Karen Rice

Author’s Roundtable: Catrina Barton

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing a little more than six years now. I’m a fast learner.

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Growing up I wanted to be a singer. After graduating, I went into computer repair. I never thought I could be a writer because I failed English {now Language Arts} horribly.
What books or stories have you written?

I have written four novels to date. Three are in the rough draft stage, waiting to be polished up.


So far I’ve only published the five-chapter preview of “Dangerous Temptation.”

Can you tell us a little about your books? 

My three unpublished novels will probably never get published. They were steps along the path as I started to hone my craft. Bear in mind I’m a long way from completely honing my craft. I don’t think any author will completely do that. Two are YA novels.

What are they about? 

“Dangerous Temptation” is a YA paranormal romance about a teenager who loses her father in the line of duty and is forced to move halfway around the world to live with an uncle she never knew about. She uncovers secrets about her parents’ pasts and falls in love with a tiger shifter {Caspian} named Cadmon, who has a blood feud going with her uncle.

Here is the full blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Kaitlin Sinclair’s world is turned upside down when she moves to Indonesia, and discovers the secrets that threaten the existence of the enchanting Cadmon and his people. She dives into a foreign culture, full of mystique and dangers everywhere she turns, where keeping her heart safe might prove as impossible as staying alive!

How did you get inspiration for the characters?

Tigers are my favorite animals in the entire world! I’ve always been fascinated reading about shapeshifters.
Are the books based on personal experiences?

In a way yes. My father is a marine, so I know how tough that can be. One of my best friends is also a marine, and I couldn’t be any prouder of both of them. My childhood was rough, so I can empathize with Kaitlin, and that helps me delve deeper into her characterization.
Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

Don’t quit! Seriously, the only way not to succeed is to give up. You have to have confidence in yourself as a writer, and you have to have a strong determination to stay the course through the many trials that lay ahead. My other advice is this: Don’t expect to “get rich quick” because it isn’t going to happen! Stick to your day job. Write for the joy it brings you.
Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?

It’s a must. Readers are smarter than people give them credit for. Trust me, if you make a lot of mistakes, they will be drawn to them like a shark to blood in the water, or fresh chum.
What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

Anxiety of whether or not my writing was good enough. Harsh critiques. Trust me, they may seem hurtful, but they will improve your writing a hundred fold.
How do you find enough time in the day to write?

My husband is very supportive of my writing and has been since day one. Despite the frustrations of taking my time away from him and the kids, he’s very proud of me and tells me so all the time. He helps me make time to write, even if it’s only a few hours a day.
How did you find time to write your books?

When my husband worked night shifts is when I started writing. I had to be up anyway to keep the wood-burning stove going in winter, so I needed something to do to help me pass the time. When insomnia kicked in, I continued staying up late at night.
Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

You create everything from the world your characters live in, to all of the characters’ little nuances and quirks. Letting your imagination fly free and knowing that others enjoy the worlds and people you created. That’s the best part of it for me.
Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you?

Writing is my escape, as much as reading used to be {and sometimes still is}, It lets me forget about the hectic everyday life we live and helps me feel productive, beyond being mama and wife.

Any specific examples you can share?

When my grandmother passed away from cancer in 2007 I wrote a fan fiction called “A Miko’s Love Story.” That’s how I grieved. In 2010, my grandfather passed also from cancer, and I wrote a fan fiction called “My Enemy, My Friend” {both for the Inuyasha fandom and both feature Kagome/Bankotsu}. That’s how I grieved. His death hit me hardest because for the first few weeks all I could do was cry out of the blue.
Has writing made you a better person?

I like to think so yes. It’s given me many opportunities that I didn’t have before I started writing.
You mention in your bio that you’re a kung fu instructor. What’s that like? Any lessons you’ve learned from kung fu that you could apply to writing?

Being an instructor is awesome. I get to teach others how to defend themselves. Teaching kids is great, although it can be tricky too. All of the lessons I’ve learned in kung fu are adapted into my writing, especially for the fight scenes.

I sense from your tweets and emails that God is very important to you. Can you talk a little bit about how He has helped you on your writing journey? How long have you known the Lord? What are some of the most important lessons God has taught you that apply to your writing life?

Oh yes, He’s the most important person in my life. Actually I met my husband because of God. If you wish to know why God is the center of my life, here is a short story I wrote about it titled “Never Forget.” This story is based on an actual event from my life and was the turning point in my life. 🙂

Do you like to read?

I love to read and have done so since I was three.

If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

Fantasy because of the magical worlds and creatures. Romance because I have been a sucker for a good love story since I was ten. Paranormal because I’m fascinated by shape shifters. I’ve recently gotten into YA. They are fun, quick, easy reads.
Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Reviews are more important to writers than money is {in most cases at least.}. Reviews offer insight into what does work and what doesn’t. They are, in effect, the most valuable crituque to a writer. Even after several rounds of ediing, we still feel like we missed something. Reviews are a writer’s true payoff. Hearing how much readers enjoyed our worlds and characters is the reason we publish books.

Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?

When I first started writing, I received a lot of bad reviews, but I learned from them and started honing my craft. Sometimes they hurt enough you want to cry.

About Catrina Barton

Catrina Barton is a licensed kung fu instructor of the Black Dragon style and draws on that experience to make her fight scenes both realistic and action packed. She enjoys being surrounded by the stark beauty of mother nature, whether it’s a moon-lit starry sky or a picnic by a peaceful waterfall cascading from the mountain side.

Growing up no matter where she was physically, she always had at least one book in her hands and spent every free moment lost in a book. It’s only natural that as she grew up, her passion for reading grew into an even stronger passion for writing paranormal romances. She is a proud member of PNRWriters, RB4U, SheWrites and NaNo. She is an active participant at Critique Circle and several other critique groups.

Catrina’s favorite personal quote is, “An author cannot grow without both constructive criticism and encouragement.”

Check out this preview of Dangerous Temptation and Catrina’s blog for writers.

The Starfish

Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing.   He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man, and the young man wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.
As he got closer he called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?”
The young man paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing starfish in the ocean.”
“I guess I should have asked, why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?”
“The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”
“But, young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach, and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”
— Author Unknown
— Story based on a poem titled “The Difference He Made” by Randy Poole

Hold the Presses

Hi guys!! Me again. I just wanted to update you on the progress of my first book. I’ve decided to put my life story on hold until further notice. I just don’t have time with work and everything else going on in my life right now (family, sleep, eating, sleep, driving an hour each way to work, oh, and did I mention sleep?).

The past few days I’ve had a brand new idea for a fiction book, loosely based on my relationship with my grandfather. The book will follow a young Native American warrior who has spina bifida and his aging grandfather, who is the chief of their tribe. The grandfather has always looked after his grandson like he’s one of his own children, often taking him fishing, hunting or making sure he has something to eat whenever he visits their land. As time goes by and the young warrior grows up, he slowly fades from his grandfather’s life, just as the warrior’s own father faded from his life, often to feed his need for tobacco and alcohol.

One day while the younger Indian is out hunting and fishing so his family has something to eat for the winter, he feels a mysterious presence with him, almost telling him to go see his grandfather. When he arrives, he realizes that his grandfather has contracted smallpox and scarlet fever. As he is making his way back to the reservation, the warrior can’t help but feel guilty for not going to see his grandfather more often and being there for him when he really needed him. Will he arrive at the reservation in time to save his grandfather’s life? Or will he get there just in time to say his final goodbyes and pay his last respects to the one man in his life who actually treated him like his own son?

Time will tell.