Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Tool. [More info]

Photo by Jason Abdilla


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Toy. [More info]

Photo by Wolfgang Eckert


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Card. [More info]

Photo by Kate Macate


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Decorate. [More info]

Photo by Kari Shea

Relaxed Friday 10

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Let’s kick off the party like it’s 1938 with this excerpt from Journey To Forgiveness by Laurean Brooks.

Where was Austin? She’d seen him leave a minute ago.
Something stirred inside the church bus. Jenny flattened her back against the metal building and inched closer for a better look. Her heart hitched when through the open bus door she spied Austin through the open door of the mission bus, kneeling before the strongbox. He reached into it, scooped up a stack of bills from the mission fund and counted them. He returned some of the money to the box, stuffing a larger roll into his shirt pocket. The metal lid slammed shut. Jenny fled back inside the the shelter, tears streaming, and her heart pounding against her ribcage.
Tears streamed down her face. The man she loved was a thief!

Let’s drop in on Will and Domo. (This time we’re visiting William Bradshaw and Fool’s Gold.)
“This is a new level of weirdness even for you, Will,” Domo said.
“I’m just gardening,” he replied. “Why does everybody act like I’m biting the heads off dolls?”
“That’s something the guys would accept, even appreciate. This just plain doesn’t make sense. Why are you growing food when you get it for free?”
Will leaned the hoe against the fence and wiped sweat off his brow. “I thought it would be a nice gesture to the innkeeper.”
“I don’t follow you.”
Will pulled his king contract out from his pocket. “My contract lets me eat free anywhere I go, but I always go to the same inn since it’s the only place nearby. The innkeeper feeds me three free meals a day, and it’s got to be costing him a bundle. It won’t be so hard on him if I grow some of my own food.”
Domo stared at him. “Is this that ‘fairness’ thing you keep going on about?”
“What’s wrong with thinking about other people?”
Domo pointed his walking stick at Will. “You were taken off your world and tricked into being our King. You don’t get paid. Three quarters of the planet’s population hates you. You’ve almost been killed dozens of times. What’s fair about that?”
“Nothing,” Will said. “But just because other people aren’t fair to me doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be fair to other people.”


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Decorate. [More info]

Wish I Had Known

So we have an idea for a great fantasy novel—a time-traveling message in a bottle. Maybe it has been done; maybe it hasn’t. Nonetheless, we know a great idea when we think of one. Anyway… we asked authors if there is something they know now they wish they had known when they first started writing.

Photo by Andrew Measham

Arthur Daigle – I wish I’d known how much work went into marketing books that I’ve written. For me writing is fun and easy, and something I studied extensively in school. Marketing is new, difficult and surprisingly expensive. It staggers the mind how much money some advertising sites charge, while other sites are outright scams.

Jessica L. Elliott – I wish I’d known about beta readers. And really any of the steps to self-publishing. I jumped in without a clue. I’m glad I made the choice, but I really wish I’d learned more about the process before diving in.

Laurean Brooks – I wish I had known I had to market my own books. I was so green, I thought this was the publisher’s duty. That my part was holding book signings, selling my books to readers in my locale. And I was shocked to discover the author’s price for my own book could be as much as 2/3 the selling price after taking shipping into account. Also, it was a bummer to learn the author’s royalties are such a small percentage. When I was told my part would be 7 1/2 %, I became depressed. I remember telling my husband, “It’s a 92-1/2% / 7-1/2% contract.” He said, (thinking I meant MY part was the 92-1/2%) “That sounds fair enough.” Then I broke it to him and he yelled, “That’s a rip-off! I wouldn’t do it.” I explained this was typical royalties for a new author. “Besides, I have to write.”. Writing fills a need within my soul. When a reader or reviewer tells me they loved my book, I soar up, up, and away.

Scott R. Rezer – I wish I had known how much time I would need to spend on everything outside the actual writing of a novel. The writing is easy because I have always done a little here, a little there, an entire evening sometimes—but everything else is time-consuming. Designing my own book covers, editing, proofing, interior designing… MARKETING! All of them are BIG time consumers… and expensive. And frankly, after so many years, often not worth it. —Until I get a random response from a reader that makes all the difference and suddenly I remember that it’s about crafting a story people will enjoy long after they finish reading. Frankly, I spent so much time and energy on everything else that involves the actual publishing of a book, I spent little or no time anymore to write. I got into writing because I couldn’t imagine myself not writing—so that is where I am at in the process. If I sell a book great—and there are a lot of GREAT undiscovered authors out there so it’s hard to get noticed and followed in a world of readers increasingly shrinking—but if I don’t sell any books, that is good too. I once had an publisher interested in me, but only of I wrote on assignment. That’s just not for me or deadlines and headaches. So… I wish I had known how much time I would have to spend so I could have just skipped ahead to where I am now and just enjoyed writing once more, and let the chips fall where they may!!


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Light. [More info]

Photo by Colin Behrens

“Unless we form the habit of going to the Bible in bright moments as well as in trouble, we cannot fully respond to its consolations because we lack equilibrium between light and darkness.” ~ Helen Keller


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Tree. [More info]

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” ~ Martin Luther


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Forest. [More info]

“No traveler, whether a tree lover or not, will ever forget his first walk in a sugar-pine forest. The majestic crowns approaching one another make a glorious canopy, through the feathery arches of which the sunbeams pour, silvering the needles and gilding the stately columns and the ground into a scene of enchantment.” ~ John Muir

Photo by Tobias Tullius


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Tradition. [More info]

Photo by Tim Bish

Relaxed Friday 9

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Photo by Catalin Sandru

With permission from the author, we’re again eavesdropping on Will and Domo to start off our theme-free Friday. The author, by the way, is Chicago-born and raised Arthur Daigle and the fun exchange below is from William Bradshaw and War Unending.

“You’re up early,” Domo said to Will.
“Blame Vial. The boys said you had some mail for me?”
Domo held up the stack of letters. “I was just finishing with it. Let’s see…hate mail, hate mail, you may already be a winner, death threats. The University of Eastwich granted you an honorary expulsion. You got an anti-invitation from Kervol Ket.”
Will stopped in front of Domo. “I know I’m going to regret asking, but what’s that?”
“You know how good old Kervol got married?” Domo asked.
“He married Princess Marisa Brandywine?” Will didn’t try to hide his surprise. He’d once held the princess prisoner. He didn’t want her, and his attempts to return her to Kervol had been rebuffed. Brandywine was the most annoying person Will had ever met, which considering he was surrounded by thousands of goblins was saying something. It amazed him that someone even as stupid as Kervol would marry her.
“Shocking, I know,” Domo said. “Anyway, the lady’s expecting their first child, and Kervol sent out invitations to celebrate the birth. He sent you an anti-invitation. You’re not supposed to attend the festivities, and the only gift he’d like is to hear you died in a horrible accident involving a potato peeler. Basically he’s rubbing it in your face that you’re a social pariah.”

How about a little more eavesdropping? This time from the opening scene of Scott R. Rezer‘s Shadow of the Mountain: A Novel of the Flood. Not to worry, we always get the author’s permission before spying on their characters.

The sudden cry of a woman in travail rent the stillness of the air. At the sound, Noach tensed and stood uncertainly, turning towards the tents of their small settlement. The waiting had grown agonizingly long; the birth of children often did so—especially with firstborns. His nerves frayed with the waiting, his body as taut as a drawn bowstring. Death was too often an unwelcome shadow at the miracle of birth.
Soon, he thought. It will be very soon now.
—And then what, old man, whispered the voice of his own nagging doubts. This one will be born, and then there will be others. Men will multiply upon the earth. In time, there will once more be rebellion and bloodshed and wars. Sin will have its due.
“No,” he breathed vehemently. “There will be peace and harmony at last in the earth.” It was a familiar argument he had often waged against himself in the past nine months. The outcome was always the same.
—Is that what you think? Have you learned nothing? Men are incapable of such nobility: only of evil and more evil.
“This time it will be different—it must be,” he said. His hands balled into fists at his side. “The errors of the old world cannot be repeated. They cannot; they will not.”
—Oh, but they will, his own malevolent thoughts whispered, mocking him with laughter. Open your eyes, fool, and look around you. The errors of the lost world are but beginning anew. Death hovers, eager to devour the sinful. Watch; and wait. Listen for the cry of this child for which you await so desperately. It will be the lustful cry of sin being reborn into the world. And there is none born of men who can ever change it.
“Of men… no,” Noach whispered, smiling, remembering another, far older, promise. “But of a woman…”


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Air. [More info]

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Writers Research

Photo by Michael Brandl

There is a strong tendency among readers to want to stay in the story once they begin reading. Writers tend to want the readers to stay there as well. After all, if readers put a book down, there’s no guarantee they’ll ever return to reading it, enjoy it to the utmost, and leave a glowing five-star review.

Let’s consider for a moment things that might cause a reader to stop reading. There are things writers can’t do anything about—a hungry pet or child begging the reader’s attention comes to mind as does a spouse who urgently needs to know how to operate a computer or cell phone. Perhaps a police chase comes to an end in the reader’s yard and a shootout commences. But there are also distractions an author can easily avoid through research. Authors of historical fiction, for example, choosing to describe a library of 1869 in great detail might not want to mention Melvil Dewey’s classification system. Most readers might skim past the error without concern, but readers who know his system was first published in 1876, might head over to their favorite social network to start a boycott or petition.

Obviously, we’re trying to be funny here. Or maybe it wasn’t obvious. Either way, the point is that most authors research, even if only briefly and even if they’re writing fiction, to help make their stories enjoyable, interesting, and believable—and to avoid losing readers to glaring errors. Lying is tolerated quite well in fiction—errors not so much.

So we asked authors “What is something you needed to research because of your writing that you had never given much thought before?”

Margaret Skea – I had to research 16th century amputation techniques, the best instruments to use, how to stop the bleeding and about tying off blood vessels etc.

M. L. Farb – I researched animal senses for a shape-shifting character. This was my favorite fact: “Eagles have the ability to see colors more vividly than humans can. They can even see ultraviolet light and pick out more shades of one color. Their ability to even see the UV light allows them to see the bodily traces left by their prey. Mice’s and other small prey’s urine is visible to the eagles in the ultraviolet range, making them easy targets even a few hundred feet above the ground.”

Laurean Brooks – I had always wanted to write Westerns, but the idea of the extensive research involved held me back. I wanted the descriptions of everything from buckboards, dress, to ranch living, make the story authentic.
My first book was set in the Abilene, Texas-Buffalo Gap area. Browsing led me a library in Abilene. Calling got me connected to a man who worked in the basement. Dennis Miller was there to answer historical questions about Taylor County, Texas We corresponded for a couple of months. In that time I was given rich accounts of historical events in Taylor County Texas in 1883, plus a list of the businesses in Abilene and Buffalo Gap. Dennis Miller’s eagerness to help encouraged me. When my book was published, I wanted to thank him for the trouble he’d put into researching. But lo, and behold, Mr. Miller had retired, and the library would not give me his contact information. I’m now on my second Abilene setting, and wish I could ask Dennis Miller tons of question. Thank you, Mr. Dennis Miller, in case you happen to read this.

Scott R. Rezer – Are you kidding?! Every book I write, I end up researching the most diverse, amazing, and odd things—things I never thought I’d research! For my current WIP, The Haberdasher’s Wife (Spring 2020), in addition to learning a thing or two about womens’ fashion in 1800 Germany (I always wanted to know that!), I researched a house still standing in Überlingen, Germany once owned by the noble family of my main character who also happens to be my 6th great grandmother! I was amazed to actually find a few pictures of the house (now a clothing boutique) to recreate a realistic setting.

Irene Onorato – The main male character in More Than a Soldier was wounded in an RPG attack. As a result, he lost an eye and the hearing in one ear. I had to research all sorts of interesting things about ocular prosthesis (artificial or “glass” eyes) and single-sided hearing loss. Also, to fully understand my soldier, I had to study PTSD and survivor’s guilt. Admittedly, I did a lot of crying while researching and writing the story. I came away from the project with more understanding, pride, and gratitude for the men and women who serve in our armed forces. And here I go, getting teary-eyed all over again…

Jessica Marie Holt – I was surprised by the rabbit hole of unusual details that was the Victorian era. It started off innocently enough, with general questions like, what were the funeral and mourning customs? How did day-to-day life change after the war? What were the travel options? What was the culture like at the time? But then, because I love incorporating lots of authentic details, it quickly spiraled out of control, for four reasons: 1) The nineteenth century was an era of complex customs, formalities and social interactions, which were rigidly followed, and learning them was a challenge 2) It was a time of rapid change, and details differed from decade to decade, so I had to specifically research the 1870s 3) The Victorian culture in, say, uptight London, was very different than it was in laid-back rural North Carolina, which is where my books take place, so it was harder to find information that applied to my specific setting 4) Everything about Victorian fashion and home décor was ornate and highly detailed.
So, fast forward a little, and you have me banging my head on the computer screen as I try to figure out what year crepe myrtles were brought to North Carolina, what fabrics were in bustles, where people kept matches for their bedside lanterns so they didn’t fumble around for them in the dark (surprise! in special containers attached to the wall), whether water pumps were common in rural areas, and whether the trend of having an entire bird on one’s hat started before 1871 or after.
Fortunately, each book gets easier, as you learn enough to write comfortably about the era, and you don’t have to stop to research as much!
And don’t get me started on drafting procedures for the Civil War, or war injuries severe enough to get you sent home, but not so severe that they kill you! It’s a finer line than you think—they’d patch you up and keep you fighting if they could get any use out of you at all.

Jessica L. Elliott – A couple of things actually. In Holly and Mister Ivy, Holly is a dog who also is trained as a matchmaker. I wanted her to be red setter mix (because setters are gorgeous) with blue eyes. I then had to do some quick research to see if this was even genetically possible. Turns out with the right breeds, it could be.
Then for my most recent book, Of Bows and Cinnamon, the female lead Elena announced to me that she was a breast cancer survivor. While I’d already known that younger women can and do develop breast cancer, the research stage was heartbreaking as I learned just how high those mortality rates are. Doing that research made me cry more than once, but it also made Elena’s character richer as I understood more clearly her fears and reservations.

Arthur Daigle – I do a sort of reverse research for my books. I have bizarre reading and TV viewing habits, where I read strange history and biology books and watch lots of history and science shows. When I see something that interests me, I add it into one of my stories.

Charmain Zimmerman Brackett – I have one of those google histories that you hope no one ever reads. I spend a lot of time researching, not only for my novels, but for the newspaper articles I write in my day job. Some of my newspaper research is tons of fun. I write arts and entertainment stories. I spend a lot of time watching YouTube videos of performers who I will be interviewing. It’s great to get paid to watch comedians and singers. For my novels, the research has been grimmer at times. Some of my more gruesome searches have included – what’s involved in cleaning up the scene of a violent death; what happens when you are shot; what type of gunshot could you receive and still live—fun stuff like that. I never covered crime in my 30 years at the newspaper I write for so those subjects were things I never wanted to think about.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Space. [More info]

“It’s a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one’s safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract.” ~ Alan Shepard

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Hester, A. Loll (ASU)


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Rail. [More info]

Photo by Antoine Beauvillain

“Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Pearl Harbor, Midway, and Cocoa with my Dad

By Patty Wiseman

[This article is also available as a podcast on several channels.]

Do you ever wonder how your personality developed? Why you have some of the beliefs you have? What makes you so rigid in thought and deed? What makes you a softy with a big heart? I certainly do. I often wonder how I came to write the books I do. But, really, I do know where it comes from. My past, my childhood, and events that changed my life forever. I understand what shaped me into the person and writer I am. We all have a story and I want to share one of mine. Got your coffee?

My father. In my eyes, he stood seven feet tall, with curly black hair & piercing blue eyes. I feared him when I was small. He had the look of a pirate. He was fierce, unyielding. My child eyes saw him larger than life, but he was just 5 feet 11. As I look back on it now, I realize certain things are magnified in childhood. I did have the inflexible part correct, though.

I’m talking about this today because my husband and I went to see the movie Midway about a week ago. I highly recommend it. The movie opened with the attack on Pearl Harbor. I was thrown into an emotional upheaval. Tears streamed down my face during the 1st quarter of that movie. Why? My father was on the U.S.S. Raleigh during the attack. He survived it, but I really don’t know how he did.

He was a gunners mate. He was 17. His mother had to sign him into the Navy because he wasn’t of age. But that’s not all. When they arrived at the recruiter’s office they turned him down because his last name didn’t match what was on his Social Security Card. His mom stood beside him. He questioned her. She had to admit to him the father who raised him was not his real father. Think of how that made him reel in shock. He was never formally adopted by his step-father. She thought she got away with changing his name.

Long story short, they fixed the problem and my dad entered the Navy, but never resolved the issue with his paternity. Then, Pearl Harbor happened. I grew up hearing the horror stories of that day over and over again. I truly believe the war and my dad’s confusion over his identity changed him forever. This was back in the day before anyone knew or understood what PTSD was. He stayed in the Navy for 6 years. Married while in the service and started a family. I was second born. The war was long over. But a lifetime of pain festered in my dad all his life, spilling over on me and my siblings. Now, some of them have different memories of our childhood. I can’t speak for them, all I can do is share the pain I suffered as a result of my dad being bombed at Pearl Harbor.

Second born, I remained the runt of the litter of four siblings and the youngest girl.

By the time dad left the Navy, he’d tired of the water, the ocean. So he retreated to the mountains. Backpacking in particular. I was tiny and a little sickly, but a twenty-pound backpack rested on my skinny shoulders, anyway. He told me it was good for my health. Maybe it was, cause here I am healthy and happy. My father led the troop of six with a swagger up the mountain trail. The only thing missing was the eye-patch and cutlass. Seven long miles up hill. Dad’s version of summer vacation. I hated every minute of it. Mt. Rainier was cold, slippery, and forbidding.

But up we went.

The trail was treacherous. We walked along the edge of the switchback mountain. One slip and you could go over the edge. No one spoke. We held our place in line. Seven and a half miles we marched.

We didn’t complain, didn’t let tears come to the surface, we knew it was useless.

There’s no crying in camping.

I remember the hollow vacuum in the pit of my stomach, the raw emotion searching for a place to go. Instead, agony and despair found the entrance to the black hole and disappeared inside. Nothing existed now except determination to focus on the trail, and the weight on my back.

Long ago I learned not to ask why father ran the family like a military operation. Mother was no help, she stayed in survival mode; her own. Father remained an enigma – his Navy experience at Pearl Harbor forever changed him.

It’s painful to look back at my eight-year-old self and realize, in that short time, I’d developed a sophisticated method of survival. Alone within a family of six, the only thing TO do was endure.

Eventually, we arrived at the lake tired, hungry. The trip had ended. Tents to erect, fires to build; no one eats until camp is set up. My job was to hold the tent pole while dad pounded the stakes into the ground.

Weariness and hunger took their toll on my undersized body, and I let the pole lean too far to the right.

“Hold that pole!” he yelled. It’s a memory I will never forget. He didn’t care about my tired body, only that stupid pole.

Father stopped the hammer in midair when the smell of pancakes drifted into our range. Darkness fell, and father delivered the last blow to the plastic spike. “Time to eat,” he announced.

Grateful for the warm fire my brothers assembled, we surrounded the flames and ate in silence. The pancakes tasted like Thanksgiving dinner. Tomorrow – a raft to build, and fish to catch and clean. Mother cooked, my sister cleaned the trout, and the rest of us took our watch at the fishing poles.

Father taught us to brandish a pole, and fortunately for me, I’d learned my lesson well. I could cast like a pro and usually brought in as much as my dad. But time enough to worry about fish tomorrow. His orders sent us scrambling to our tents and a night’s sleep on the cold, hard ground.

Finally, in the dark camp, I snuggled into the warm, downy sleeping bag, and drifted off into my dream world. Disney Land, a cruise, perhaps, or a road trip to grandma’s farm. Riding horses, swimming in the lake, carefree and joyful. Anything but this.

I’m not sure what time I woke up, but the sound of the crackling fire alarmed me. I saw the shadow of a man at the tall flames through the tent canvass. Still numb from sleep, I couldn’t tell who it was. I crawled out of my cocoon and inched on my stomach to the door of the tent to peek through the hole at the zippered entryway.


The fire raged high, and I could feel the heat from inside the tent.

Why isn’t he asleep? He must be exhausted.

He sat down on a stump near the fire and cupped a steaming tin cup with both hands.

I watched him. He looked sad, forlorn, and tortured. The shadows danced across his face in the firelight. This candid look at my father stirred something deep within the neglected regions of my hardened heart.

Why is he so sad? He loves camping . . .

I had a sudden shot of courage. I put my shoes and jacket on, unzipped the tent, and ventured out.

He looked surprised, and then a miracle happened. He smiled.

“What’s the matter, girl? Can’t sleep?” he asked.

I…I heard the fire roar. I guess it woke me. What are you doing up?”

“Someone’s got to make sure the fire stays lit. The flames keep the animals away, AND mother needs it to cook breakfast in the morning. Won’t do to have a cold breakfast to start our first day of fishing. It gets breezy on the lake.”

I looked at him square in the face for the first time. “Oh, I guess I never thought about it.”

“Time you did. Camp doesn’t make itself. Want some cocoa? I’ve got hot water boiling. You’re shivering.”

“Sure, cocoa sounds good. Is that coffee you’re drinking?”

He reached for the pot and mixed the dry powder mix into the tin cup, all the while, shooting glances at me and smiling. “Here ya go. That’ll warm you up. No, not coffee. I like cocoa, too.”

I was stunned. Dad drinks cocoa. I thought he’d be too tough for anything but coffee.

We fell into silence, staring at the fire, and sipping our hot liquid. The cocoa warmed more than my body. Something akin to life filtered into my long forsaken heart.

“So, how do you like it out here in the wilderness in the middle of the night? Peaceful isn’t it,” he said.

“It’s different, but yeah, I guess it is peaceful.”

“You can smile. I won’t bite you.”

I looked at him and forced my lips to curve into a smile. When he grinned back, my lips parted and a full-blown laugh exploded from my body. It felt good.

“That’s more like it. I wondered which of my kids would be the first.”

“The first what?”

“The first to want to get to know me.”

So many things impact our lives. For me, it was my dad. For better or not, he is still the main character in my childhood. Was he a model dad after that? No way. I continued to have a love/hate relationship with him. Well, maybe not hate, but surely fear.

It wasn’t until I was grown & had kids of my own that I decided to know him better. We lived states away by this time. I called, asked him why he raised us so coldly. His answer reminded me of the time camping when I saw into the window of his pain. We talked about his own childhood and how the pain of never knowing his real father affected him. We cried, laughed, cried some more.

I had my dad for 2 more years and then his heart gave out. He was gone. The last time I saw him, he hugged me so tight before we left their house. He didn’t want to let me go. The first real affection I got from him. 6 months later he was gone.

That was 25 years ago and I still cry at movies about Pearl Harbor, trying to put myself in his shoes, trying to understand the emotional pain he must have endured his whole life. Betrayed by his mother, shoved into war. How could it not affect him and then affect me? I have 2 beautiful memories to hang on to. My eight year old self having cocoa by the fire and my adult self, savoring that long awaited hug.

I always put something of myself into the books I write. In my book That One Moment, I take my character to the mountains of a survival camp after a devastating break up. I draw from my experiences in the mountains to give a sense of reality to the scenes. All my books are on Amazon and you can see them on my website,

I’ve enjoyed talking with you today. I hope this gives you a little insight into my soul. Remember, someone said, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Don’t let the past rob you. Use those experiences to shape the life you want. I never understood all the facets of my father’s complex personality, but I can use my experiences with him to understand me.

Connect with the author: Patty Wiseman


CleanWIP Magazine has obtained from the author non-exclusive right to publish or republish this content. The author retains copyright.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Road. [More info]

Photo by kalacreative of Pixabay

“The road to success just might be your driveway.” ~ Joey Reiman

Earl Chinnici ~ Her phone streamed to a large screen in the studio providing us with a clear view of her right shoulder and part of the rear window. We watched as she veered left, apparently to miss a dark-blue sedan that was entering the highway. She then pushed hard on the accelerator and swerved back to the right, the distance separating her vehicle from the sedan increasing far too quickly.
“Hi Rita. This is Rachel of the Write Connections morning show. I’m here with Jenny Foster, author of…” ~


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Travel. [More info]

Photo by Dariusz Sankowski

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” ~ Helen Keller

Relaxed Friday 8

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays. Let’s drop in on Will and Domo from William Bradshaw and a Faint Hope, book 2 by Arthur Daigle to kick off the party.

Domo walked around the chair and studied it. “What’s this?”
“This,” Will said proudly, “is what we humans call a chair. It’s the latest fashion where I come from.”
“That was either sarcasm or proof you shouldn’t do standup comedy,” Domo said. He poked the chair and watched it wobble. “Doesn’t look like woodworking is your thing, either.”
“No, but if I want a chair this is the only way I’ll get it. I can’t get one from the nearby human villages, what with me being broke and them expecting money for doing work.”
“Scandalous the way peasants behave these days,” Domo said. “We do have our own carpenters, you know.”
Will filed down the leg some more and tried sitting on the chair. The legs still weren’t even. “I thought of that. I asked four goblin carpenters to make me a chair. I wanted a bed to replace the pile of rags I have to sleep on, but I figured I’d start by asking for something small.”
“And?” Domo prompted him.
“Chairs shouldn’t have more legs than centipedes.”
The four dysfunctional chairs Will had received (and burned as firewood) weren’t proof that the goblins hated him. Quite the opposite, they liked and even respected him. That didn’t change the fact that goblins were stupid and crazy. When asked to make something as simple as a chair, they felt the need to make improvements. While he couldn’t actually sit on the chairs, and they’d looked like they were dreamed up by an impressionist painter and built by a one-eyed, drunken chimpanzee with arthritis, Will could at least take comfort in knowing there was no malice involved.

Speaking of birds, here’s a little teaser from Joanna McKethan‘s Stone of Her Destiny – Kenna, the heroine, is learning falconry from Lane.
“There now, ye see? He’s all yours. He’ll love you forever. Don’t mistake him for a pet, all lovey-dovey; they are always and still, birds of prey. But they will be faithful. Remember that.”
“Oh, I thought Bonnie Blue was a lady.”
“No, remember Bonnie Prince Charlie was a man,” he said, teasing.

We’re not quite done with the party.

“I had no beginning. I will have no end.” The voice rose up from the seated figure, whispering into the void. He lifted his gaze, focusing on the formless zenith. His right eye was a spinning orb, half Darkness, half Light; the other was a piercing shade of blue. His robes too were ever-shifting, at once light and dark and all-colored, patterned with the same mystic symbol. “The words are indistinguishable, and meaningless.” ~ from Michael Lynes‘ latest release, First Blood (The Blood Series Book 2), which released November 1st of this year. More specifically, the excerpt is from the third chapter, Time.

We’re on a roll. Let’s enjoy one more teaser before the weekend.

Carrie picked up the bag and walked to the door. When they were outside the general store, Aunt Em stopped her. “Did we get any mail?”
Carrie reached into her skirt pocket and handed over the stack. Josh’s aunt frowned at the letter on top. “What does Miss Leah want with Josh after all this time? I’ve a good mind to toss this in the wood stove.”
Carrie’s thoughts exactly. “No, we can’t. The letter belongs to Josh. He has a right to read it.”
Aunt Em snorted. “You would have to remind me. It’s temptin’ to accident’lly drop it along the way. Leah’s hurt Josh enough. I don’t want him hurt any more. ~ from Laurean BrooksNot What He Ordered


Happy Thanksgiving from all of us.

Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Thankful. [More info] Photo by Jill Wellington

Laurean Brooks – When I was growing up, Thanksgiving Dinner might consist of a couple of squirrels or a rabbit that Daddy brought home from his early morning hunting excursion. Daddy rose early on Thanksgiving day, took his rifle off the rack… [read more]

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Successful Authors

A sign posted on the door of a library conveys they’re looking for successful authors to take part in an event.

“The pay is rotten, but the readers aren’t so bad.”

Authors in our CleanWIP Facebook group for authors and other artists who prefer the clean end of the spectrum were quick to respond when we asked their thoughts on this. “How do you measure success as an author?”

Arthur Daigle – If you want to be rich, become a banker. If you want to be popular, be an athlete. I seek neither. My goal when I first published was to help people at their lowest and make them laugh, make the world look a little better and brighter. I knew the competition was fierce in the publishing industry and many people just don’t read (I blame the books English teachers assign in school), so getting rich was a long shot.
But I’ve heard back from readers who have not only enjoyed my books but found them greatly helpful. I heard from a sick man recovering from surgery who laughed when he read my books. I heard of a young boy whose parents were divorcing, and he calmed down reading my books. A woman I know read a chapter a night to her two young sons, and every night they begged for another chapter.
To me this is success. If I can make the world just a little happier then I did my job.

Scott R. Rezer – It’s not dollars or fame. Success for me is whether I am happy writing. It’s the freedom as an indie author to write and do as I please, without deadlines and hassles or the constant stress of trying to please someone, whether reader or editor or publisher or my bank account. I only have to please me. That, for me, is success. To enjoy doing something I love whether a million people read my work or no one does.

Laurean Brooks – My greatest joy comes from learning that readers enjoyed my book–whether by telling me personally, email, Messenger, or through good reviews. My goal is to entertain and inspire readers, and let them know whatever they are going through is not hopeless. That they can laugh, in spite of it. I want my readers to chuckle, rejoice, become a little upset at times, and also cry. If I can keep them on a roller coaster ride that makes them want to hang with it, I’ve done my job. And as a last note: If I was well-fixed financially, I’d gladly give my books away to those who would appreciate them.

Debbie Brown – Define successful…
You wrote a book, that’s a success in itself.
You published it! Kudos.
People you haven’t begged, bribed or guilted into it have actually read your work. SCORE!
Wait… most of them said they truly enjoyed it?!
I’m out… too much to handle on an emotional level… so don’t you dare tell me you’ve written more than one.

Jessica L. Elliott – I measure my success by the reactions of my readers. Their messages of encouragement and appreciation are worth more than any salary. That said, I do like to make sure I’m staying in the black.

Charmain Zimmerman Brackett – I measure my success in the emails I receive or reviews such as this one.

“You start reading the Grace Mystery Series for the mystery and you continue reading them for the personal touch, real life issues being brought to light, and the sense of healing it brings to the reader. Loved it!” ~ Amazon reviewer on Murder Takes a Bow

Other reviews for different books I’ve written have said similar things. To me? It’s about touching people. Did I impact them? Did I make a difference? My words touch people’s lives. That’s what matters to me.

M. L. Farb – Success as an author is bringing light and joy into someone else life. I love it when a reader says they couldn’t put the book down. But I love it even more when a reader says “It’s a book that has lingered after reading” or “Surprisingly relevant to troubles of today.”

Katy Huth Jones – I used to measure success by how much money I made (when I made it writing nonfiction) but nothing can compare with touching lives and sharing encouragement with others going through dire struggles. This is “fan art” a former student with a traumatic brain injury sent me after reading my book as part of his therapy to relearn how to read. He wrote in calligraphy the first page of Mercy’s Prince with medieval illuminations even, and before his injury he was not artistic at all!

Lea Carter – It’s difficult to measure success when there are so few metrics: sales; works completed; reviews. I try to incorporate all of them because I’d starve emotionally if I had to wait for sales or reviews by themselves.

Joanna McKethan – I remember at camp telling scary stories at night to my cabin mates, and the feeling of power I had when they shuddered and pulled up the covers and looked really scared. “I’m on the first step, I want my toe!” And my editor told me I had her looking over her shoulder. And in my latest book, reviewers were saying you’ll pull for this unlikely pair to get married. That’s success to me. Success to multiply and repeat. It’s addictive.

Keith D Guernsey – I judge by critical acclaim (reviews and ratings).


Successful author Frank Luke shares the following related anecdote.

Robert Bloch was the guest of honor at a roast. When given the opportunity to roast himself, he said, “I grew up in the great depression. Upon graduation, my father told me I had to either get a job or starve. I decided to combine the two by becoming a writer.”


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Food. [More info]

Photo by Joseph Gonzalez

“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” ~ from 1 Timothy, KJV


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Bake. [More info]

Photo by congerdesign

“The thing with children is they’re a bit like baking a fruitcake: you throw all the ingredients in but you never know how they’re going to turn out.” ~ Len Goodman


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Roast. [More info]

Photo by Mike Kenneally

The word search puzzle below contains the word roast fifty times. You’ll need to look every which way to find them all.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Gather. [More info]

Photo by Jan Meeus.

I’ve been lucky enough that I can gather all sorts of experiences and find inspiration by traveling around and by spending time with people I admire. ~ Bonnie Raitt

Relaxed Friday 7

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

One Small Scrap

By Earl Chinnici

Some stories are sure painful to tell. Millions of people in this world need to hear this though. Quitting cigarettes doesn’t have to be a nightmare.

Cathy and I had known each other approximately seven years, yet never met in person. Now this was the week of her birthday and since I had little money, I decided to give my dear friend a glimpse into my world through the lens of a built-in camera on a miniature laptop computer. I was clueless at the time, but my world was about to drastically change.

I phoned her mid-morning and wished her a happy birthday. She seemed genuinely delighted, as I told her of my intended gift and shared the information that she’d need to connect. When she started receiving video, her voice echoed her excitement even more. I began a thorough tour of my home and yard.

We were having so much fun. In fact, we enjoyed nearly an hour together before our schedules demanded we hang up the phone and get busy. Before we said goodbye, I told her I’d carry the laptop with me everywhere throughout the day so she could occasionally glance over at her computer and watch me. I knew she’d likely see me work at the computer, play with my cats, cook and eat lunch, wash dishes, fold clothes, and check the mail. It was not easy to discern who was more excited, actually.

That evening, as we once again talked on the phone, I continued to move the laptop around with me and that’s when it happened. There I was, standing in front of a mirror that rested on a large hardwood dresser in my bedroom, when Cathy said, “Baby… maybe you should move those things away from you.” Although her tone was gentle, she clearly warned me of a danger I did not immediately recognize.

Since I didn’t see anything unusual on the dresser, I turned and scanned the remainder of the room for any sign of a threat. This might seem a bit melodramatic, but several hairs on both of my arms tingled as I searched for these mysterious things. It soon became obvious that I didn’t understand so I inquired, “Move what things away from me?”

Her reply was also soft-spoken. In hindsight, I realize she chose her words carefully so her suggestion would have the greatest impact possible without causing me to feel pressured. She gently said, “Please don’t think that I’m trying to tell you what to do. It’s your life and you can of course, do what you want to with it. This is just a suggestion. You might want to consider moving those cigarettes away from you.”

I was speechless many moments as I considered her words. I was thirteen years old when I started smoking on a regular basis. I’d smoked for nearly thirty years! How could moving my cigarettes change anything? There was no way I could hide them from myself.

I think she must have sensed my confusion. Cathy continued, “You spend a lot of your time each day in your office. Perhaps you could keep your cigarettes in your bedroom and when you feel as if you want one, you could get up and go get one or two. You might find that by doing so, you might just wait a few more minutes after you finish a cigarette before you light up another one. You might even smoke one or two fewer cigarettes over the course of a day by doing this.”

I sighed. Strange it took years for me to recall the sigh, because it is so vivid now—as though it just happened. I knew she was right and there were numerous reasons I should at least try this. I saw a pen and a used envelope on the dresser and decided to start immediately. Asking Cathy to hold for a moment, I tore a scrap of paper from the envelope, wrote those first ten words of her suggestion upon it, and echoed them aloud as I wrote. “Baby… maybe you should move those things away from you.” I then tucked it away in a drawer for safekeeping. This marked the dawn of my career as an author and the sunset of my cigarette addiction.

This seemingly minor change caused me to look more closely at my habit and addiction than ever before. I quickly instituted some great changes in my life and three months later, I again took to the pen and paper after my mom suggested I write the time of day each time I smoke.

Though slowly at first, more words began to flow from my highly poisoned mind as I gradually opened my smoke-filled eyes and took a long, hard, look at my addiction. The first paragraph I would eventually publish came to me on the fourth day of writing time entries. Other than my enthusiasm about removing some ashtrays from my home, I don’t know why I deviated from the time entries and wrote it. Laugh if you want to, but I wrote it with passion on another scrap of paper.

I have been smoking mostly outside for a while now. Sometime during the day today, I removed all but three ashtrays from my home. I washed eight ashtrays outside under a water hose and left them in the shed for my next yard sale!

When I showed my scribbled time entries and this paragraph to another friend, she presented me with a blank composition book and a package of pens. My canvas expanded exponentially and I began to write.

After I stared into its hideous face, I overcame this awful addiction in just twenty-four days and then continued to write and design my first book, “Maybe You Should Move Those Away From You,” for more than two and a half years. I self-published it as an ebook in January of 2014 and I’m now attempting my first fictitious masterpiece as well as several nonfiction books, including a memoir titled 50 Close Calls.

If you are one of the millions of people currently addicted to tobacco cigarettes, I hope you will also consider Cathy’s suggestion. Please don’t feel as if I’m trying to tell you what to do. It is your life and you can pretty much do whatever you want to with it, but maybe now is the best time to move those deadly poisons away from you.

Many of you are likely wondering about the chaotic nature of the photo attached to this article, but that’s another story entirely that will be included in 50 Close Calls. That was my bedroom and the composition book in the drawer is my first manuscript. I was elated to find it intact. So many other aspects of this story have since turned tragic. It’s still a great day to not smoke a cigarette.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Quit. [More info]

Photo by Ben Allen

Anonymous Book Club

The anonymous book club of… well… we don’t know where… is a fantastical group of readers, but they’re also one of the most indecisive groups around. They called last week—from a restricted, untraceable number—and told us they always have a hard time deciding which book to read next.
We told them about all the great authors we’ve met who prefer the clean end of the spectrum. They were intrigued, but still couldn’t decide which author to choose—or which book.
So we enlisted the help of the authors and asked them to recommend one of their books and briefly explain why the book club should choose it.

Laurean Brooks – Not What He Ordered is the book for you if you are attracted to the Alpha-male who protects his lady at all costs. NWHO is a Western mail order bride story set in 1880s Texas and includes accidental deception, secrets, misunderstandings, romance, and intrigue. It also contains an account of a historical conflict over the county seat that took place in Buffalo Gap, Texas. NWHO includes both laughter, wit, and tears. Its characters are lovable, interesting–sometimes humorous –but real and flawed. One reviewer writes, “I couldn’t put the book down, so my husband had cornflakes for supper.” (A great Christmas gift for a historical romance fan.)

Arthur Daigle – William Bradshaw King of the Goblins is a blend of fantasy and comedy suitable for all ages. Watch William Bradshaw, king to all goblins, try desperately to escape his job! Cheer Will on as he faces knights and archers, a fire breathing dragon with marital problems, and a human king with the IQ of a potato, and not the good kind of potato! Join the chaos and mayhem in Will Bradshaw’s first of many adventures in William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins!

Linda Ellen – Oh, you’re gonna love my book Sweet Love at Honey Landing, because not only did it just win an award for the best historical fiction novel of 2019, but it has something for everyone. It’s an 1870 mail order bride story, but with a twist. It’s western, yet not too far west, as it takes place in Louisville, KY. The heroine is a war widow with a five year old daughter, traveling to Kansas to marry with a hotel owner, but on the way the steamboat she’s traveling on has major problems right in front of our heroes river front farm/steamboat landing. If you love stories with an awesome hero, amazing chemistry, wonderful location based on a real place, great side characters, mystery, surprises, bad guys who get what’s coming to them, laughter, tears, the awe factor, and a super memorable HEA, then this is the story for you. It’s packed with history and little known facts. One reviewer wrote “After the first few pages I knew this book was going to be good, by the end I knew I had found one of my favorite books of all time!” Sweet Love at Honey Landing: A Mail Order Bride Story – with a Twist! (Maple Heights Series Book 1

Danielle Thorne – (On A Pirate at Pembroke): I’d propose this historical romance to a book club because it deals with family, heartache, overcoming obstacles, social themes (like gossip and advancement), learning to think for oneself, and of course, love.

Irene Onorato – When the stability of Tanzy’s no-kill dog shelter is threatened by proposed new zoning laws, will her budding romance with the new guy in town prove to be a help or hindrance in saving it.
 Thanksgiving at Canine Corral – Real life struggles, bonds of friendship, and squeaky-clean romance.

Scott R. Rezer – (On Shadow of the Mountain: A Novel of the Flood): So why should you read my Biblical novel? Let a Historical Novel Society reviewer explain: “…a version of the Noah story from the Old Testament that is both richly imagined and radically different from anything readers are likely to have read before… well-done political intrigue, vexing questions of faith, and a deep and challenging portrait of Noah himself. The action builds slowly and expertly as the unthinkable disaster of the Flood looms closer and closer, and Rezer’s so skilful at infusing his entirely human stories with drama that most readers will likely start to think of the forty days and forty nights of rain as something of an anti-climax.”

Keith D Guernsey – (On Overcoming the Odds: This is my story of triumphs over cancer, life-threatening brain surgery – twice and obesity!): Our readers tell us it is a very inspirational story!

Jessica Marie Holt – (On Reluctantly Yours): This is a fresh and funny spin on your typical matchmaker romance. It’s fast-paced, witty, and has vivid, fun characters, including two meddlesome, but lovable granny best friends who steal the show. Also, cats, nosy neighbors, and pie.

M. L. Farb – Looking for an adventure you’ll never forget? Then check out The King’s Trial.
“Farb has created story line, character development, humor, plot twists, incredible prose, and deep truths that are all phenomenal, making this book stand out on my shelf.” – Amazon review

Jessica L. Elliott – Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I would recommend Bless His Heart, a stand-alone novella in the Blessings of Love series. A matchmaking grandma, a cynical big city boy, and a sassy small town girl discover how blessed they truly are. Bless His Heart is full of tender moments and laugh out loud humor.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Prepare. [More info]

Featured photo is an altered copy of a photo by Andy Chilton, cropped to compliment this article.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ~ Abraham Lincoln


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Money. [More info]

Today’s featured photo is from Maybe You Should Move Those Away From You, the story of CleanWIP Magazine founder Earl Chinnici’s journey to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes and become an author. To help encourage those joining the Great American Smokeout this year, you can add the ebook to your library free through Thursday and learn the story behind the change.

The word search puzzle below contains penny, nickel, dime, and quarter ten times each. Have fun!


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Family. [More info]

Photo by Helga Kattinger


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Health. [More info]

Photo from PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay

“Your true friends, people who truly love you, will always want you to be healthy.” ~ Earl Chinnici, Maybe You Should Move Those Away From You

To help encourage those joining the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout Thursday, November 21, Maybe You Should Move Those Away From You is set as a free book deal today through Thursday. (Availability is based on Pacific Time.)

Relaxed Friday 6

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

We’re kicking off the party with a fun excerpt from Arthur Daigle‘s William Bradshaw and Urban Problems.

“I got him! I got the long eared thieving bunny!” the goblin shouted triumphantly while dancing around in a circle.
“Hold on,” Will began, but the goblin was too taken with his victory to notice.
“He thought he’d ruin the boss’ garden, but I showed him!”
“What’s this about?” Domo asked.
Feeling faintly embarrassed, Will said, “An animal got in my garden last month and did some damage. When the warrior goblins found out they assigned guards to watch over it, which would be a really nice gesture if they didn’t keep attacking innocent animals and salesmen.”
“Animals are guilty until proven innocent!” the warrior goblin shouted. “And even then they’re guilty!”
“The rabbit wasn’t anywhere near my garden,” Will told him.
“He was thinking about it!” The goblin poked the rabbit in the belly. “You were conspiring! Confess!”
Will said, “Just take it a few miles away and let it go.”
The warrior poked the rabbit again before he marched into the woods. “The King’s going easy on you, but this is still going on your record! You have the right to remain silent! Anything you say will be ignored or misinterpreted!”

We hope you enjoy the following breakfast teaser from the first chapter of Linda Ellen‘s award winning historical romance, Sweet Love at Honey Landing: A Mail Order Bride Story – with a Twist! (Maple Heights Series Book 1). Since we’re jumping in mid-conversation, it might be helpful to note that Noah is already sporting a milk mustache when we begin eavesdropping. We haven’t read the entire book, but based on the title of the book and the happenings in the first chapter, we strongly suspect a wedding will ensue before the end of the third book.

Harvest Ball

By M. L. Farb

(Photo credit: Allef Vinicius)

I started writing poetry in college, when I took a one-week graduate-level poetry course. I ate, drank, and slept poetry. It seeped into my blood and still pumps through me, impacting all my writing.

My favorite lesson from the poetry course was: Poetry is a snapshot of life. Capture the senses and emotions of a moment.

The following poem is still a work in progress, capturing a moment in my early-married life.

Harvest Ball

New parents with six-week-old baby in tow,
we trudge through snow to the harvest ball.

Exhaustion from baby nursing nights
and intense school days
melts under music.

We jive and spin to the
rich brass call of Sing, Sing, Sing.

I float in his arms as we
trace the steps of Strauss’ Vienna Waltz.

We laugh our way through fast songs.
He has natural rhythm and style.
I follow in stumbling imitation.
Walk like an Egyptian and Cotton Eye Joe

I lay my head on his shoulder
to the gentle swaying of Lady in Red.

Our baby watches from her car seat,
then begs to join.
We dance, her nestled between us,
until she falls asleep.

A limbo line starts.
I try my luck and startle to find that
pregnancy limbered my joints.
I skim under the stick at waist height.
He cheers me on.

We return to our dancing.
Two become one in music and movement.

Hours later we return home,
the dance making our steps light over snow
and our hearts ready for the coming struggles.

Connect with the author: M. L. Farb


CleanWIP Magazine has obtained from the author non-exclusive right to publish or republish this content. The author retains copyright.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Determination. [More info]

“A determined person will do more with a pen and paper, than a lazy person will accomplish with a personal computer.” ~ Catherine Pulsifer

STS 61-A launch photo is by NASA

Character Dinner Date

There was much talk this week among authors who prefer the clean end of the spectrum that CleanWIP Magazine was planning to arrange an elaborate, all expenses paid, dinner for each of them and a character from a work-in-progress or a published book. They only had to answer the question “Who would you choose and why?”

Well… the bad news is this was only a rumor. On the bright side, the responses were quite fun.

Photo by Ishan @seefromthesky on Unsplash

Lea Carter – It would have to be Lady/Doctor Cassidy, because we need to talk. Her fickle behavior is driving me crazy! If she loves that man, she needs to tell me so I can quit writing them in circles.
Don’t worry about the fancy dinner, actually. Give us the ingredients and we can prep while we talk, it’ll give us something to do with our hands, lol.

(You can meet Doctor Cassidy Clark in Heartwood, book 7 of the Silver Sagas series.)

Arthur Daigle – William Bradshaw King of the Goblins needs, nay, deserves this opportunity. He spends all his time surrounded by goblins, small, stupid, mildly crazy and exceedingly dirty goblins who set traps for fun. Getting away from them for a few hours is an act of charity whether there is food involved or not.

(Will’s most recent appearance is in William Bradshaw and Urban Problems, the fifth book in the Will Bradshaw series.)

Ruth O’Neil – The character from my WIP that I would love to have dinner with is Abby (With Every Breath). She’s turning out to be a real brat. If I met with her, we could have a good chat and maybe I’d smack her upside the head in hopes of knocking some sense into her.

Irene Onorato – I’d have to bring hubby, of course, but I’d have dinner with Brandon, the male lead in my WIP. He’s a young preacher who finds that the church for which he’d accepted a pastorate has NO congregation.
His quest to get to know the community better leads him to live (voluntarily) among the homeless in “tent city,” at a local park for two weeks. I’d like to pick his brain about his experiences.

Jessica L. Elliott – This is such a hard question because I truly love all of my characters. But, right now I’d probably want to have dinner with Craig Fitzgibbon, the male lead in my current WIP. One, any man who can dress as Gandalf in order to keep his identity secret at a high school dance is awesome, and I should apologize for his grandfather being so pushy.

Laurean Brooks –  Austin Brady, the hero in my book, “Journey To Forgiveness” set in 1938 Chicago, is a character I fell in love with. He’s a charmer and a prankster, but make no buts about it, Austin loves Jenny Largent to the moon, even though she suspects he’s stolen money from the mission fund box. He will protect Jenny no matter what. I would love to pick Austin’s brain—if I could get him to act serious long enough.

Margaret Skea – I would bring Katharina Luther – she worked so hard feeding so many other folk – apparently got up every day at 4.00am to start her daily chores that giving her a lovely meal would be a treat for her.

(You can meet Katharina Luther in Katharina: Deliverance, which is set in sixteenth century Germany.)


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Honor. [More info]

“Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We, of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation.”~ Abraham Lincoln

Photo by Dennis Larsen from Pixabay


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Brave. [More info]

Photo by Gidon Pico from Pixabay

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ~ Nelson Mandela


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Veteran. [More info]

“The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” ~ Douglas MacArthur


Debbie Brown – We had our parade yesterday, in the cold and snow. As 2nd in command, replacing my CO, I had the honor of bringing a wreath to the monument. Our time spent shivering doesn’t compare to what our veterans endured, but we can show appreciation for what their sacrifices gave us. We should be grateful and take a moment to show it.

Laurean Brooks – I don’t have the word “Veteran” in my WIP, but my dad served in WWII, stationed in Guam, and my two brothers and a sister were in the service (two in the Air Force, one in the Navy), during the Vietnam era. I would like to honor them today for their work and sacrifices.



Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Service. [More info]

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash (slightly altered for this article)

Coming up this Monday. Honor them all weekend and beyond.

Posted by Steve Mathisen on Saturday, November 9, 2019

Relaxed Friday 5

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Blue. [More info]

“To write a love song that might be able to make it on the radio, that is something that is terrifying to me. But I can definitely write a song about that chair over there. That I can do, but to sit and write a pop song out of the clear blue sky, that is very difficult and I admire the people that can do it.” ~ Barry Manilow

This is a really sad song.

Dry Spells

Whether you call the phenomenon writer’s block or a dry spell, it seems most writers sometimes experience times when the creative juices are not flowing. We asked authors who write on the clean end of the spectrum “How do you overcome a dry spell and get inspired to write again?”

Charmain Zimmerman Brackett – I don’t know what a dry spell is. My path is different. I’ve worked for a newspaper for 32 years. I write something nearly every day. So if I don’t, I don’t have a job; I don’t eat and I don’t pay my bills.
I also have about five WIP. Some will never see publication. It’s easier to write when you are always writing. If I take a couple of days off, I feel rusty. It’s hard to get things churning again. Write, write, write.

Lea Carter –  I went through an autobiography reading phase in high school and picked up this bit of wisdom: when you reach a problem you can’t solve, find something that will make you laugh. It may take a few tries, but that’s worked for me for a long time.

Ruth O’Neil – I think all writers have dry spells from time to time. I do. Whenever I get away from writing, I can’t stay away for long. If I’m in a dry spell, I purposely do other things. Maybe catch up on house work, tackle those big projects I’ve been wanting to, among other things. During dry spells, I try to keep busy, but not think about writing. It’s usually when I’m not thinking about it that a new idea pops into my head and from there, inspiration.

Arthur Daigle – When I can’t write, I go for a walk around the neighborhood. I go alone and bring nothing distracting like a cell phone. It’s just me and a plastic bag to pick up recyclables. Weather permitting, I take these walks daily and go for 40-60 minutes. I find this time alone helps my mind wander and come up with new ideas for my books.

Laurean Brooks – I When I’m stuck, someone will ask me what I’m working on. When I start telling them the story, it revs me up again. And sometimes that person offers a suggestion that gives me a different perspective, and I’m off again.

Debbie Brown – I go back and read some part before I got stuck… but I read it as a reader, allowing myself to climb into the story, and that has a way of creating momentum. If I look at it in a critical way, it makes it even harder to move on with it.
If it’s a new story that I haven’t really started, I’ll play out which ever scene I’ve got from the POV of each person in the scene hoping it sparks movement.

Frank Luke – I’m just coming out of a dry spell myself. It’s been a month of writing nonfiction, and the times I had to write fiction just moved like molasses. What I am doing to get out of it is looking over the WIP and seeing why I’m dry. Usually, it means there is a flaw that I can’t see or won’t see. For example, I had a scene in HIGH FRONTIER where a certain event happened. It’s how it was planned from the very first. However, once I wrote it, I couldn’t go further. The urge to write the story was gone. Oh, I could work on scenes set before it. I could work on later scenes that never referenced the events, but anything that depended on this crucial event would not come (and it would change the main character’s life). Finally, I started reworking the scenes related to the event and changed the event to the opposite outcome. Words coming.
Another thing I do when dry is look over the characters. If I need to write a scene with a certain character and it won’t come, it’s usually because I don’t have a good mental hold on the character.

Jessica Marie Holt – I don’t know that I have dry spells creatively. But I do come across plot problems I can’t seem to solve, and I write in order, so I tend to become paralyzed until I solve them. If I have the time, I back off the work for a while and hand the problem over to my subconscious mind. It works on it in the background, and then hits me with an answer like a lightning bolt when I’m driving, or in the shower, or vacuuming the carpet.
If I don’t have the time to wait, I find a trusted sounding board (someone who has good ideas and is good at troubleshooting and spitballing) and talk through the issue. Usually that person is my husband, but I also have go-to writer friends who are kind enough to listen and help. It really works wonders just to talk out the plot with someone. And, I always return the favor.
I would also add that it’s important to not panic, and not freeze up, because you aren’t going to be open to inspiration that way, and that’s what you need most. So, relax, hand it over to your subconscious, and do inspiring things. Walk in nature, listen to music, go to a play, read about history. Keep your hands busy with repetitive tasks, because that frees up your mind. Then, as you’re going about your day, the tap will suddenly turn back on again.

Jessica L. Elliott – It depends on the dry spell. If it’s with my particular focus project, I stop writing and read everything I’ve written to get an idea of why I’m blocked. Usually in doing so, I find a plot hole or just a section I’m not thrilled with. So I’ll mull over it until I figure out that problem and then I’m usually able to get a good flow going again. And if I can’t figure it out, I switch to a different project for a while.
If I’m unmotivated to write anything at all, I choose one of my other creative hobbies for a few days. I draw, paint, and do a variety of crafts. Sometimes stretching different creative muscles really helps me get back into writing easier. I like to create character sketches or landscape drawings that relate to the writing I want to do. Sometimes just having that visual helps me get back on track.

Joanna A. McKethan
1.Stop Straining.
3.Walk to the window or door. Observe.
4.Work on a re-edit. Yes, again. Allow new thoughts to break through.
5.Switch to a more visual art for an hour.
7.Rabbit Trail. Turn loose the rabbit. In a few minutes, turn the dog loose to chase him.
8.Indulge your fantasies.
9.Re-engage in a conversation you didn’t feel was finished.
10.Get rid of obvious research by working it into character viewpoint better, like making it less clear, perhaps.
11.Make up a thoroughly annoying character.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Borrow. [More info]

Photo by bernswaelz from Pixabay.

“Never spend your money before you have earned it.” ~ Thomas Jefferson


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is New. [More info]

“All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child.” ~ Marie Curie

Close Calls of the Past

(Eighty Drops of Rain)
By Earl Chinnici

Beautiful dawn…
amazing reds…
I pray silently
thankful to see this day
Close calls of the past
warn me destruction draws near.

Outwardly brave…
inwardly weak…
this war in my mind,
threatens my sanity.
Close calls of the past
remind me I must trust.

Distant rumbles
drawing closer;
eighty drops of rain
hit a torn metal roof.
Close calls of the past
feed anxiety today.

Flashes of light
each time brighter;
moments between them
darker than day should be.
Close calls of the past
feed the fears within me.

An eerie calm…
strong gusts of wind…
seems they’re taking turns.
I pray there is more calm.
Close calls of the past
remind me to stay down.

Relentless rain…
pulses of light…
I ask forgiveness
and that I overcome.
Close calls of the past
feed today’s revival.

Deafening now…
my home trembles.
The breath escapes me.
Old trees slammed to the ground.
Close calls of the past
feed the terror within

Incessant prayers…
my soul trembles;
powerless I am.
Without HIM, I am naught.
Close calls of the past
remind me of HIS grace.

Suddenly deaf…
no… loud ringing…
turmoil around me,
but there’s now calm within.
Close calls of the past
remind me I am HIS.

Thankfully, HIS…
the great I AM.
I give thanks again—
for all of life’s moments.
Close calls of the past
feed me every day.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Old. [More info]

That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Something. [More info]

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

CleanWIP Magazine has something special to share. Our Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) information package arrived in the mail yesterday. Our name is confirmed: CLEANWIP MAGAZINE LLC. We filed the necessary forms online and it was impossible to convey the importance of mixed capitalization in our name. Mail carriers will surely wonder if somebody accidentally excluded a vowel and it should be CLEANWIPE. We hope they will consider whether there is any real need for a magazine about clean wipes though. Perhaps we can enlist your help teaching everyone WIP means work-in-progress or, in plural form, works-in-progress and that CleanWIP Magazine is focused on those WIP that lean clean. Thanks in advance. ~ CleanWIP Magazine