Darkness and light


This time of year takes me aback. The colors of autumn have faded into camouflage for the birds. Brown is pale khaki, orange sickly, and yellows are like old paper. Now they lie beneath snow, and a cold wind controls the air, keeping the dark in place, it seems.

Each day is shorter, light diminishing as the sun hurries on its way, its path barely skimming the treetops. But we have the company of the planets in the east, Jupiter, Mars, Venus. Mercury already hides in the hint of early sunlight along the horizon at five-thirty. The moon hangs like a smile below their sparkle for a couple of days, and then moves on.

The morning march of planets angles upward, losing their brilliance in the coming of the sun. They’re invisible in the light of another day, waiting to shine when night falls again.





(Photo credit: Beckstrom Observatory, LLC. 2013-15)

Making lemonade from formidable lemons…




Earlier this year I wrote here about our daughter’s stay at the Michigan Head-Pain and Neurological Institute. (Taking a long walk off a short pier and And then you find a bridge, both on view below.) Misty’s had many ups and downs since she returned to Colorado, but to date she’s had the same migraine for eleven+ months and it’s taking a toll.

While it hurts to see her paring down her life due to her illness, it makes me proud to witness Misty’s determination to maintain the things closest to her heart. She lavishes love and support on family and friends, but helping the denizens of the Colorado Prairie is her passion. She doesn’t have the energy to work at her job and to volunteer for the prairie as well. Her solution is to try to raise the money to get paid for doing what she loves.

Misty has created a Crowdrise campaign to generate the money to pay her to work half-time for the coyotes and tarantulas, the pronghorn and painted turtles, and her beloved prairie dogs of the Southern Plains Land Trust during the upcoming year. If you would like to participate in helping Misty raise the funds to meet her goal, please click on the link below.


You can follow Misty’s campaign at http://lawandmotherhood.com/20…/…/21/donate-and-enter-to-win

Thanks so much for the love and support shown to Misty this year.

Now as darkness extends its grasp…



Skies are blue, foliage still yellow and orange, but soon light will leach out of autumn days, dregs of darkness in its place. Leaves already fall from skeletal branches, scattering across aging gardens, gathering in sullen piles along curbstones. A few brave flowers stand their ground, deepening their colors in defiance of cold mornings.

The sun hurries across the sky, blown by a chill wind, dreading the  darkness to come.  Soon trappings  of death will deck windows and fences. Pumpkins will shine gaping grins into black nights where the hidden wait. A cold anticipation sharpens with each passing hour. Change crouches in growing shadows. It will come.

Muddy beach and dead forest at twilight

An October fancy…



photodune-5768835-horse-park-ranch-in-the-fall-sWhen I envision autumn, the smell of wood smoke is in the air and I’m walking through orange and red, yellow and magenta leaves piled on forest ground. Overhead mottled green leaves wave at me. Squirrels scurry among scattered acorns, carrying them up tree trunks for storage in their picturesque holes. Inside each one, I’m sure, is a living room suite designed by Arnold Lobel where the squirrel families spend evenings in overstuffed chairs, drinking hazelnut tea and eating walnut bread. (Look inside Lobel’s Owl at Home  http://amzn.to/1M3XIoh if you want to see the squirrels’ decor. They’re always after the owls for decorating tips.)

Those visions of my favorite season were formed by books, from Little Women to A Separate Peace to Winnie the Pooh, and augmented by two years spent living near the Hudson River. The images have little to do with what autumn is like in Colorado. Our high temperature yesterday was eighty-two degrees. Residents are making pilgrimages up the Front Range of the Rockies to see the yellows of the aspen trees, bright against the backdrop of evergreens, but the scenic palette can’t compare with the explosion of colors on the East coast.

While rain is forecast for the weekend, we’re more likely to have sunny days, and here is where Colorado achieves glory. We have the sky. The sheer sweep of crystalline blue, set off by the quaking aspen leaves, fills the soul and dazzles the eye. Every October the Rocky Mountains bare their shoulders of leaves and bask under a blue that extends forever. I’ve searched the Thesaurus, trying to find the perfect word to describe that shade, but none will do. The closest, lord help us? Skyey. Every place has a sky, but in the West, it is more than scenery. It is a character affecting the story, setting the scene, flavoring the air.

And yet I rhapsodize each year over the colors of the leaves in my mind’s eye even as I revel in the vast sea of sky overhead. In the way we see and respond to such things as autumn, how much is owed to the power of words and the impressions they make on our memories? How much has to do with the immediate sensory appreciation we have of our surroundings? Is it fiction versus reality? Perhaps it is the best of both.

My ducks were all over the place and yet…


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Ducks swimming

Ducks swimming

I’ve been redoubling my efforts on All In Bad Time, having got a huge boost of motivation from last week’s Colorado Gold Writers Conference. The speakers were terrific, the panels were timely and, for the most part, dead-on. But what made me excited about getting back to work (aside from abject terror at not being finished yet) was hanging out with my fellow attendees.

The writers I encountered were hellbent on writing their books. You can’t be around that flavor of determination for three days without revving up your own dammit-I-can-do-this spirit. I churned out a fair number of pages this week, despite a crash of our entire communications system, from phone to internet to TV. It was like living in 1960 again. I found myself looking for an apron to put over the house dress I wear to clean house (not!) and had to restrain myself from leaning out the front door to yell for Beaver to come home. (I have no son named Beaver.)

The important thing was, my Word program still worked and–Holy Distraction, Batman–since I couldn’t play any of the games I use to “get my ducks in a row”, I just wrote. My ducks were all over the place, but I wrote. Could it be that my sacred build-up to writing has been yet another way to put off writing? Surely I wouldn’t do that to myself. Would I?

The simple truth? The ducks have been trying to tell me for years they do better on every project when they’re all over the place. Guess I’d better listen to them.


Watching from the shore…or is it from the river?



One of the images I have stuck above my computer screen comes from The X Files.  (Which is returning to television in January, I believe.)

Postage receipt





As I recall the plot, Scully (in the black coat), is tethered to shore where the woman in white waits for her to decide whether to survive. But the image reminds me of something else. I’ve always imagined writing as tapping into a river of words, ideas, and emotions. That river flows somewhere–in my mind, overhead, in the blue, blue sky. When I’m working, it’s as though I set out in that small boat to look for what I need to find the truth of my story and to tell it.

The woman in white? She stands in for a number of things, from a generous goddess of creativity to the unforgiving editor on my shoulder, depending on my mood. Though I can’t see her face, there are days I know a tear or two fall down her cheek at the unholy mess I’m making of what I’ve fished from the river. On the rare days when everything works? It’s golden, life is wonderful, aren’t I cool. And the river flows on.

Summertime, and the livin’ is wishful


a reflection of sky is in the quiet river

a reflection of sky by mycola

Wish I were riding an inner tube, straw hat on my head, jug of lemonade attached to the tube with a string. I’d have a book resting on my belly and the water would rock me like a cradle. The sun would go behind a bank of clouds  and the current would turn me toward the weeping willows bending over the river. Would I see an owl peering from a thick old stump? Eyelids heavy, I’d check it out later.

Honeysuckle and flowering elm would perfume the air and my thoughts would thicken like custard. With closed eyes I’d see the deep purple of meditation and hear the droning of bees gathering pollen from the Bouncing Bettys.

Would a fish swish by my foot? I’d wiggle my toes in the cool water and swish it back. A mourning dove would grieve from a tall cottonwood and I’d wonder what secret sorrow moved her to weep.

And then I’d sleep the thick, caramel-rich sleep of a childhood nap. I’d drift through it, serene in the summer day, content to rest and do nothing.

I wish.

Wanna join a club? Get free ebooks?


Electronic book reader with stack of printed books against green background

Electronic book reader with stack of printed books against green background

The wonderful people who publish my books, ePublishing Works!, have launched a new club for serious readers who like a variety of books and who routinely share reviews at one or more major eBook eRetailers.

eBook Discovery Reviewers can download, for FREE, new and back-list titles written by emerging, award-winning, and well-known NYT/USA Today bestselling authors in exchange for an honest review at any major eBook eRetailer.  Here’s how it works:

1. Reviewers subscribe to eBook Discovery’s Read & Review Club at no cost.

2. About once a week, eBook Discovery will send an email containing information and links to one or more books available for FREE download in exchange for an honest review at a major eRetailer.

3. When the Reviewer finishes a book, s/he will leave an honest review at the major ebook eRetailer of choice.

4. Approximately 15 days after the book is downloaded, eBook Discovery will send, via email, a follow-up survey. There will be one survey sent for each downloaded book.

5. Completing a survey enters the Reviewer into eBook Discovery’s monthly drawing for a $25 gift-card. The gift-cards can be used at 100’s of stores.

Cool deal, right? Here’s a link for you who may want to become eBook Discovery Reviewers.   http//bit.ly/JoinReadAndReview

Join the glamorous world of reading and reviewing. Thrill authors everywhere with your responses to their work. Possibly win gift-cards. This is such a deal, right?

I can’t wait to read your reviews of my work–but hold your horses! There are other writers out there, some of you non-ePW authors who I know will be interested in submitting books to the Club. During the launch period, the program will be free to all authors.  That will change after the launch period. Interested?

Go to: http//bit.ly/ReadReviewClub

See you at the Club!

Feed Your Head…said the White Rabbit

               Colorado Mountains Silhouette During Summer Sunset. Mountains Sunset Scenery.

I just registered for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Writing Conference, September 11-13, at The Westin Westminster. Checking through the list of panels and speakers made me happy.

Top-notch authors, editors, agents and make Colorado Gold one of the very best conferences in the country. We hermit-writers who spend most of our time muttering over plot points in rooms full of books will be able to hang with our own kind, meeting luminaries and not-there-yets. Tales will be told. Libations will be consumed. Fun will be had.

And don’t forget the pitch sessions and critiques with editors and agents. Sign up soon if you’re interested in showing your work to professionals. Those slots go fast.

If you’re interested, check out rmfw.org and get the details and deadlines. Attending the Gold is a great investment in your writing career.

I hope we’ll see each other there.

Is my brain big enough? Why can’t I concentrate–squirrel!



portrait of beautiful young woman sitting at dark reflecting table touching head temples with handsHuman intelligence puzzle represented by a blue glowing maze and labyrinth in the shape of a human head representing the concept and symbol of the complexity of brain thinking and thought patterns as a challenging problem to solve by medical doctors.

Twice I have written the second novel in a series. The second Finny Aletter book, Obstacle Course, was a creature from hell to write for several reasons, primary among them that I was still a novice writer and was flung about like feathers in a fan factory. A Signal Shown, the second Wisdom Court book, was simultaneously the most difficult and most personal book I’ve ever written. One of the characters in it died of Alzheimer’s Disease, as did my mother. Enough said.

Now I am swinging a machete through the jungle of the third Wisdom Court book, All In Bad Time. While I have had glorious moments of communion with my characters, I also have a yard sale’s worth of details from the two previous books to braid along with the new and improved elements of this one. My haunted house is filled with wonderful women who have back stories, dreams and ambitions, complaints and attitude. They’ve also dropped a shitload of info along the way. I have a large flow chart (thanks again, Christine Jorgensen) but I’m staggering about, tripping over plot devices. Sacre dieu! (I say this as I shake my fist at the sky. French classes up frustration and the garret could use some class.)

But today a couple of different questions occurred to me: Is my brain big enough for this? Why has my concentration span shrunk to the size of a rare Rumanian stamp?

These are philosophical questions and don’t belong in a rant about writing. But…some legitimacy lies in asking them. Brain size is an important issue and I modestly point out that I have written a bunch of words, some of them arranged into novels. The arranging itself required a great deal of concentration. Thus past history would indicate both sufficient brain size and adequate attention span.

So why am I sprawled on the jungle path? Could it be the huge, crouching plot element that keeps tripping me? The one I keep hacking at with my dulling machete? Possibly. Do I long to succumb to the lures of gardening if it would, for just one day, stop raining? (Sacre dieu!) More than likely. Have large earth-moving machines and leaf blowers been singing the Hallelujah Chorus outside my window everyday for at least two weeks, accompanied by the whine of radial saws at the construction site down the block? Definitely. Do I have control over any of these things except the hulking plot element? In a word, no.

I have come to a conclusion. I must befriend my gargantuan plot element. I must love and care for it. Then, when I’ve lulled it into a false sense of security, I will gently prune its more irritating branches, enabling it to fit snugly into the existing–SQUIRREL!


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