On Saturday, I had a table at a craft fair/vendor event that ran in conjunction with Carlisle’s Ice Fest. This particular event was a benefit for a young cancer patient, so I figured even if sales weren’t great, as they usually aren’t at these things, at least the money was going to a good cause.

The event began at 9:00AM, and we were told that we couldn’t get in to set up until 8:00. That really didn’t concern me, as I only sell my books, and it really doesn’t take long to set up my display.

But here’s where the day took a bit of an unpleasant turn.

We were notified by the person in charge that the event was going to be on the second floor of the venue. Okay, so what’s the problem? Well, first of all, getting inside the building was a trip. Here are the instructions we were given regarding unloading and getting set up:

All spots are on the 2nd floor you will unload your vehicle onto an elevator take it up stairs unload it come back downstairs and move your car will have A-line forming in the front and a line in the back.

And this is what it looked like trying to get maybe thirty vendors unloaded and parked:

Now, add to this the fact that the elevator we were to use was a small, one-person elevator that had to be operated by someone in charge of the building. Remember, there were around thirty vendors unloading, taking their things up, and coming back down, not to mention the fact that several vendors had to make multiple trips on the elevator. Needless to say, very few, if any, had enough time to be completely set up by the 9AM start time.

Quite a few of us finally decided to just go park in the main lot and haul our stuff in by hand and carry it up the stairs. I was among that group—thank heavens for the kindness of one of the other vendors, a gentleman who offered to carry my table and crate full of books upstairs.

At this point, many of the vendors, myself included, were grumbling about the entire turn of events for the day. A few of the words being tossed around to describe our experience up to this point were “$&!^ show” and “cluster%$&,” and a few of us considered cutting our losses and just leaving.

The venue itself wasn’t that bad. It was quaint and charming, although the heat didn’t work so well. Thankfully, it wasn’t any colder than the thirty-seven degree high temperature for the day.

The only sales I made were to other vendors, which is also quite typical of these types of events, but I made enough to cover my table cost.

Now, here is where events became a bit serendipitous.

A woman stopped by my table and began asking questions about my books—questions that were a bit more than potential-reader inquiries about plot and intended age group. My head is still spinning from the huge amount of information she gave me, but let me do my best to sum it up.

The first thing she did was to write down information for a weeklong book festival held at a local library in October (Celebrate the Book Festival at Bosler Library in Carlisle, PA, if anyone is interested). This event attracts authors, illustrators, publishers, and other industry professionals, and she said it would be a great place to network and maybe sell a few books.

Next, she gave me information on the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, including cost of membership, the various national chapters, the conferences they hold, and the benefits of membership.

After that she pointed me to two local writers’ groups: Pennwriters, which I am already familiar with, and Writers Wordshop at the Bosler Library. I told her that I already belong to a critique group that I am quite happy with; the only drawback is that with it being a church-based group, I cannot share much of what I write (paranormal fiction). She encouraged me to find a second group where I can freely share my main genre of works.

Finally, she gave me a bit of homework to do. She advised me to sit down and write a query letter, a pitch page, an elevator pitch, and a two-sentence Library of Congress description of each of my books. Admittedly, a couple of these I hadn’t even considered, since I am independently-published and have no need to pitch to an agent. However, her advice was food for thought, and I’ll undertake those tasks, if for nothing else, to hone my skills.

The whole point of this bit of a ramble is that sometimes the events an author—or any other independent business owner—signs up for don’t result in many, if any, sales. I’ve lost count of the times when my costs far outweighed the money I brought in.

However, I constantly have to remind myself that if nothing else, these events provide the chance to network and make important contacts. Today handed me a very fortuitous opportunity to meet someone in the business who gave me a goldmine of information on the craft of writing and the publishing industry.

I thought I was there to sell books, but I wasn’t. I firmly believe that God put me there to make those connections. For what purpose? At this point, I don’t know. But I do know that I’m going to follow up on the information and the opportunities I was given and see where they lead.

Stay tuned.


The Green Knight Visits — JusJoJan


This is a newly-written piece of a story I hope to finish someday, called The Knight and the Not-Quite Lady. The main character, Wynifred (Wynne) deWyck, comes to Camelot to learn how to be a proper young lady. She soon falls in love with Sir Gawain and seeks to win his heart. However, this scene is just before she notices him, and anyone familiar with Arthurian Legend will recognize this scene as borrowed from “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.”


Wynne picked up the slice of sweetbread on her plate and looked at it with something akin to disgust. Sighing, she took a bite and chewed. She chewed and chewed until the already-moist pastry turned to mush in her mouth, then swallowed with some difficulty. Grimacing, she tossed the offending sweetbread onto her plate and sat back in her seat to gaze around the room. Ladies of the Court danced around the room, trying to capture the attention of their favorite knights, hoping to meet beneath the mistletoe. Knights and squires piled around tables, drinking mead and regaling one another with tales of their adventures. Jesters, harpers, and troubadours made their rounds of the Great Hall, providing entertainment for the guests.

Eight days into the Yuletide Feast, and everyone at Camelot was still as jolly and animated as they had been when the Feast began on Christmas Eve. Everyone except Wynne. She had enjoyed the revelry as much as everyone else when it first began, but now all the gaiety and gluttony were nothing more than an assault on her senses, and she wished to excuse herself from the gathering, if only Lady Magdalen would allow it. Why, she almost wished to be seated in the solarium with her needlework, so tired was she of playing party.

Tearing her eyes away from the scene before her, Wynne slipped her fingers inside the neck of her gown and drew out the lovely pendant her father had sent her as a Yule gift. She held it up and gazed at it adoringly, admiring the way the torchlight glinted off the gold and made the jewels sparkle. She knew it wasn’t as costly or as fine as the jewels many of the other young ladies-in-training had received, but to her it was still precious. She amused herself by slipping the broad circlet of gold on her finger, wondering if she would ever find someone who would stir her heart to love, or more importantly, someone who could love a clumsy, improper young lady as herself.

Tucking the pendant back inside her gown, she let her gaze roam the room once more. To her right, she saw two jesters juggling pieces of fruit for King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. Both appeared enthralled, as though they had never seen a feat so fascinating. Wynne curled her lip, bored by the now-dull display; one could only watch jesters lob apples and pears for so long. A sudden vision of what would happen if she rolled an apple under their feet made her smile for the first time that evening. Now that would be entertaining!

The sound of tinkling bells drew her attention, and she turned to see one of the younger troubadours approaching. The pimply-faced lad, not much older than Wynne herself, stopped in front of Lavinia and Bronwyn. As he gifted them with a wide grin, they exchanged a glance, their expressions full of distaste. Feeling sorry for the young man, Wynne narrowed her eyes at the two young hoity-toits. She sent forth a fervent wish that he would further scandalize them by composing, on the spot, a ballad that praised their beauty and confessed his undying love. The thought made her erupt in amused giggles as she imagined their mortification over Lavinia’s Lay and Bronwyn’s Ballad.

Unfortunately, Wynne’s giggles turned to groans as the inept young musician began plucking the protesting strings of his lyre. It was obvious he knew only one song, the same song he had strummed no fewer than five times already that evening. It was also painfully obvious that in his case, practice was not leading anywhere near perfection. Wynne clapped her hands over her ears, slumped in her seat until her head rested on the table, and let out a moan of misery.

What happened next erased all traces of boredom and misery from Wynne’s mind, wiped the unladylike grimaces from the faces of Lavinia and Bronwyn, and made the troubadour drop his lyre and let out a voice-cracking, unmanly shriek. Without warning, the outer doors to the Great Hall flew open with a thunderous crash. A frigid wind rushed into the Great Hall, bringing with it a shimmering whirlwind of ice and snow. The festive atmosphere erupted in chaos as ladies screamed and swooned.

Before anyone could react, a strange personage on horseback charged into the room. He wore no armor or helmet, yet Wynne was certain he was a knight. Likewise, he carried no sword, mace, or shield, only a large holly branch that had been polished so finely that it seemed to glow. Although he carried no sword, he wore a jewel-encrusted baldric that glittered gold and green in the torchlight.

The strange knight was dressed from head to toe in all the shades of green Wynne had seen in the fields and forests surrounding Camelot: His breeches were the deep green of moss, and his tunic the rich, robust green of the evergreens. His mantle was the vibrant green of dew-wet ferns, and it was lined with white ermine and embroidered with darker green leaves and silver and gold butterflies that were so lifelike their wings seemed to flutter.

He was a giant of a man; even astride his great beast of a horse, she could tell he was at least a head taller than the tallest knight of Camelot. That alone made him a strange sight to behold, but even stranger still, Wynne saw that the knight’s complexion matched the green of the jester’s pears, and his shoulder-length, corkscrew-curled hair was green as the leaves embroidered on his mantle. Likewise, his steed was the gentle yellow-green of the spring buds on her favorite pear tree, with mane and tail the darker green of the lily pads in the moat.

Wynne tore her eyes away from the spectacle long enough to chance a look around the Great Hall. Not surprisingly, the other ladies-in-training also sat staring at the knight, their mouths agape in most unladylike fashion. Even Lady Magdalen seemed to have forgotten her ever-precious propriety as she openly gawked instead of remaining aloof and unaffected.

It quickly became apparent that the knight, imposing though he was, had not come to Camelot looking for a battle. As that realization sank in, the tense mood in the Great Hall lessened, and everyone looked to King Arthur to see how he would handle the situation.

JusJoJan #amwriting

Drum out the Old, Ring in the New

Our church had a potluck last night to celebrate the New Year. My sons did a violin duet for the first time.

Oh, the drama we had in getting those two onstage together! Arguments over the song choice, practicing, how to play the song, etc. And then because of the low humidity and extreme cold we’ve had here, their violins went out of tune, and the pegs began slipping.

I’d love for them to do this again, and be more prepared for their performance, but I’m not sure if our house could take it.

What is Just Jot It January 2018? – Rules

For any writer friends who may be interested.

It may be my love for writing or it might be my joy in sharing my passion, but I love to inspire people. Writing is one of the best ways of expressing ourselves, and certainly a wonderful method for organizing our thoughts and putting things in perspective. I find the latter to be essential to many of us here in the north in January, while we’re stuck inside and deprived of sunshine.

For these reasons plus one more, I developed Just Jot it January. Whether you write a story, a poem, an anecdote, or your plans for the future, JusJoJan will, I hope, give you an excuse to jot something down every day in the month. What’s the one more reason? Writing is fun!!

In the post following this one I will ask for you to give us all a prompt, one of which will be posted on each of…

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Golden Shovel


Last week, I taught my poetry class about Golden Shovel poems, a form in which you use the words of a poem or part of a poem and write your own poem, making the words of the original poem the last word in each line. I chose a haiku from our textbook for my example. This was actually kind of fun, and I may do more as time allows.


Midnight Walk

(After Matsu Basho)


I slip out of bed, borrowing

Mom’s sweater. I can’t sleep,

So I take the lantern from

The shelf and slip silently out the

Door. Across the yard to the scarecrow’s

Field. I gasp, “Oh, friend! Your tattered sleeves!”

I can’t sew patches at dark midnight,

So I loan Mom’s sweater to chase the frost.

Thirteen Halloween Haikus


Because I’ll be teaching a class on haiku this week, and because I’ve been reading an author friend’s book of horror haiku, my Friday the 13th offering for the blog hop will be a collection of thirteen Halloween haikus. Enjoy!



Jack o’lanterns glow

On front porches, welcoming

Witches, pirates, ghouls.



A skeletal hand

Emerges from the cold ground

And high-fives the night.



Through the trees, a house

Beckons weary travelers,

Disappears at dawn.



A dare. I walk through

The silent cemetery.

Behind me, footsteps.



We stroll past tombstones,

Whispers shatter the silence.

Shh! You’ll wake the dead.



Halloween, midnight.

Even the clock hides its face

And prays for morning.



Crescent moon hangs high

Above the cemetery,

The Grim Reaper’s scythe.



Down the darkened street,

Spooky specters wail as they

Trick or treat for souls.



Skeletons practice

Extreme nudism as they

Dance in their bare bones.



Spiders weave their webs

By moonlight, hoping to catch

Some trick-or-treaters.



Crows perch on a branch,

Standing guard over graves where

Souls rise from the dead.



Does a pumpkin scream

As knives slice its skull and scoop

Its soul from within?



Halloween’s over.

The last trick-or-treater runs

Home with his candy.

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Welcome to the October Frights Blog Hop



Welcome to the October Frights Blog Hop. Be sure to read through to the end of this post and click “Blog Hop Links” at the bottom so you can check out the other blogs on the hop. Also, there is a Rafflecopter giveaway, so be sure to check that out as well.

For my first October Frights post, I’m sharing an excerpt from my soon-to-be-released-if-I-ever-get-it-finished book, An Uneasy Inheritance. In this section, Kyr abruptly leaves her house after a frightening encounter with the resident spirit and finds herself in her  great-aunt’s garden.


The rusty metal gate protested loudly as it swung shut, drawing me from my reverie. I looked around, bewildered but not frightened by the fact that I now stood on the other side of the gate, with no memory of having walked through it. Recalling Celeste’s final words to me, I muttered, “Well, I suppose Celeste has something to show me.”

I started down the stepping stone path, trying not to step on the random vines and branches that seemed to reach across the path to each other. Regardless of my attempts to avoid brushing against the plants, a dried leaf here and a limp tendril there stroked my face or my hair as I passed. A shiver raced down my spine at the uncanny notion that they reached out to me as they would to a long-lost friend.

The further I walked into the garden, the more I sensed that it was enchanted. From outside the fence, the space appeared quite small. As I wound my way along the path, however, I realized I’d been walking for some time and still hadn’t reached the center. No wonder Teresa Vale thought Celeste was a witch. If she’d ever visited—

Glancing to the side, I gasped as I caught a glimpse of a small white face peering at me through the branches of an overgrown snowberry bush. Immediately recognizing it as a little girl, I dove into the bush and cried out, “Charlotte?”

It wasn’t Charlotte after all, but a life-sized statue of a little girl gazing with wonder at a butterfly in her palm. Snow covered much of the statue, and icicles hung from the girl’s hair, nose, and fingers. I cocked my head and stared curiously at it, searching my memory for any recollection of such a figure in the garden. Finding none, I stepped forward to gently brush away the snow and break the icicles from the white marble.

As my fingers brushed against the cold stone, an overwhelming surge of sadness swept over me, as though this statue memorialized someone who had passed. Charlotte came to mind once more, but I immediately dismissed the thought; Celeste likely didn’t know Charlotte and would have no cause to either mourn her or memorialize her in such a way. Not knowing what else to do, I kissed my fingers before pressing them to the little girl’s cheek and entreating her to be at peace.

Continuing on past what I guessed were lilac bushes, I came to a small, shallow, brick-encircled pool with three concrete benches spaced evenly around it. Of course, the water in the pool was frozen over and snow-covered, as were the benches, but I was delighted with the space and hurried over to brush the snow from one of the benches so I could sit down.

It didn’t take long for the cold to seep through my jeans into my backside, but still I sat gazing around, trying to imagine what this spot looked like in the summer, with lovely white flowers blooming all around and with stars and the full moon shining down from above. I closed my eyes, willing myself to feel the warmth of a summer night, to smell the heady aroma of a hundred different flowers, to hear crickets serenading all around.

A skittering sound in the underbrush nearby ripped me from my daydream and made my head whip around in the direction from which the sound had come. I sat motionless, holding my breath and listening, as I tried to determine who or what might be approaching.

The garden fell silent once more, without even a breeze to rustle the leaves, and I decided it must have been a bird. After a full minute, I relaxed and allowed myself to breathe normally. Turning to face the pool again, I stretched my legs out in front of me and leaned back on my hands as I gazed at the perfect circle of white before me. Feeling much lighter than I should have after my terrifying encounter at the house, I looked around for a twig. Finding one beneath the bench on which I sat, I plucked it up and sat for a moment, thinking.

I leaned forward to draw a few squiggles in the snow with the twig. After the initial sketch, I sat back and wrinkled my nose. Drawing had never been my forte. As I reached down to erase the offending doodle, I stopped. Inspired, I took up the twig once more and added to my simple sketch.

When I finished, I sat back and laughed to myself. I had turned my initial mess of scribbles into the face of a crooked-nosed man with a wavy moustache. On a whim, I took out my phone and snapped a picture, then texted it to Spook with the caption, “The scariest thing you’ll see today—one of my drawings.” I giggled as I hit Send, wishing I could see his face when he got it.

The very next instant, I let out a scream as a furry black blur burst through the bushes and whizzed past directly in front of my face and landed with a thud next to me. “Lucifer! What the ever-loving hell?”

My cat turned to stare haughtily at me, his tail lashing back and forth like a furry black snake. Apparently pleased with himself for giving me my second heart attack of the day, he planted his bottom on the bench and began grooming himself.

No sooner had my heart rate slowed to its normal speed than a loud snap made me tense again. The sound of approaching footsteps and a low, murmuring voice told me I wasn’t alone in the garden. I caught a flash of blue through the thicket, announcing an unexpected presence. I glanced around for something—anything—I could use as a weapon, but the only two things close enough to grab were the discarded drawing twig and the placid-for-the-moment demon kitty.

Just as I’d made up my mind to grab Luci and launch him at whoever was trespassing in Celeste’s garden, Helen suddenly emerged from between two pyracantha bushes. Seeing me perched on the edge of the bench with my arms extended towards my unsuspecting cat, she grinned broadly and said, “There you are, Kyree child. I knew you’d be in the garden.”

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