Daily Prompt: Bookish Choice: Staying in Focus

Daily Prompt:A literary-minded witch gives you a choice: with a flick of the wand, you can become either an obscure novelist whose work will be admired and studied by a select few for decades, or a popular paperback author whose books give pleasure to millions. Which do you choose?

As I currently have a book on the market at, and I visit its web page daily, eagerly looking to see if anyone else has written a review (I have one so far), or I stop by Kindle Direct Publishing to see if any more copies have been sold, I find myself caught between these two choices. I would, of course, love to have it be wildly popular, but I would also like to feel it has a lasting effect on those who read it. It is not just a flash in the pan story. The truth behind the message is important to the reader now, while there is still time to avoid the consequences of not heeding it, as it is to future generations who must live with our actions in the here and now.

I guess I opt for the combo plan – a wildly popular book with a message for the ages, a story of discovery, a tale about a second chance, taking that chance, facing the risks and dangers, growing up and growing into a family and a people sharing and caring for the world they live in. My book serves as a handbook, a guide from the present to the future for the future. Hopefully, if I ended up with the second choice, those select few studying the book are doing so in a world of light and life. Those of you who have read the book know what I mean. If so, my goal in writing it has been achieved.

Want to read it? Follow this link:


Staying in Focus: Escape from Mount Sanctuary

ANNOUNCING the release of my novel for children:



Book Cover small


Although written with children in mind, the story is one you will never forget, a story of friendship, acceptance and tolerance for those different from us, of family and courage and sacrifice. It is a cautionary tale written to remind us how beautiful, yet fragile, is our world,  and how important is our stewardship of  it. It is  a story of  a boy coming of age, for readers of all ages.


Escape from Mount Sanctuary now available from the Kindle store at It’s a bargain at only $.99. No Kindle, no problem. Simply download the FREE Kindle app  and you can view the book on your computer.  Here’s a link to the site:


On the lower right hand corner of the page you will see a link to the free Kindle app. The book will be available in print on demand in the coming weeks if you prefer traditional books.

Book Description

 April 25, 2014
What if you had the chance to discover the world all over again? In Escape from Mount Sanctuary, a young boy named Ke does exactly that. Ke has lived his life in special caverns built to shelter survivors and their descendants beneath the Earth’s surface following a cataclysmic event ages ago. Ke learns that there is an “outside” to his world, a world long thought abandoned. Ke is intrigued, especially when he meets a girl (Mira) from an outside settlement and a wolf named Tip, who possesses special abilities. With this pair of adventurers, Ke and his elder friend, Tuck, embark on a journey into a world far more wondrous, and dangerous, than they imagined. During their journey, Ke, a naïve young boy with dreams of becoming a storyteller, learns much about friendships and family, self-reliance and sacrifice. By journey’s end, they all come to realize that courage is not measured by one’s size or one’s age, but by the conviction in one’s heart. Their story celebrates the joy of discovery, the wonder of our world and the rewards of perseverance. It encourages its readers to follow their dreams wherever they may lead. It is about discovering the world all over again.

Staying in Focus: Creative Writing : Watching Jess

Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge: Love in the 21st century

                                                                                                                                                                                      Watching Jess

There’s a funny thing about love. It has a wicked sense of humor.  Sometimes you can sense it speeding toward you with the power of a supersonic jet, and sometimes it slips into your heart with the deftness of a stealth bomber. Which is how it happened for me – appropriate, I suppose, as I am an Air Force pilot and I fly a stealth bomber.

It was a chance encounter on a sultry summer night in New York City. I had a three-day pass to relax and have a little fun before we were sent back to the desert. I was walking down a busy street when I first noticed Jess, sitting on the edge of a fountain, just watching the crowd go by.  I stood for a while watching Jess  watching the crowd. Then Jess turned my way and smiled. Waved a hand, beckoning me forward.  I don’t remember moving, but then there I was, sitting next to Jess, watching the crowd go by.

Eventually, we moved on. Started a conversation, laughed at each other’s silly jokes, and shared a dinner of hot dogs and soft pretzels on the steps of the Met. Found our way to Jess’s place, and didn’t budge until the hour of departure approached. When we were hungry we sent out for food, and Jess was a wiz at whipping up interesting concoctions from the white boxes of leftover meals stacked inside the fridge.

Why now? I thought. as I reluctantly dressed to go. I didn’t have time to fall in love.  We didn’t have time to know if it was love. We walked slowly toward the bus depot, each lost in our own thoughts. What was there left to say? Words of promise we could not keep?  Jess kissed me, and strolled casually away, as I stood alone, in the crowd of soldiers lining up to board the bus.  I turned to join them and suddenly Jess was there, sweeping me off my feet and kissing me, long and hard.  I dimly heard the catcalls and whistles of my comrades. “Kat Mitchell” he said in a quiet whisper, “Stay safe. And come back. I’ll be waiting.” I hefted my duffel bag and boarded the bus.

There would be a lot of time and burning desert sands before I could  see Jess again. Maybe he would wait for me. But in this women’s army, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.  And the more things change,  it seems, the more they stay the same.

Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: Bookworm

Daily Prompt:  Bookworm. What is the last book you read? Why did you choose it?

Spoiler Alert: If you plan to read Inferno by Dan Brown, please read it before you read this post. One piece of advice: As you read this book, check out the places Robert Langdon visits on Google Maps. You’ll feel like you’re there!

The latest book I’ve read is Inferno by Dan Brown. I chose it because I like the fast pace and intricate plots Dan develops in his books. This one did not involve the Vatican as several earlier books did. The Vatican, with its religious symbology provided Dan with a wealth of historical intrigue. I wondered what he was going to choose next, and what better for symbology this time than Dante’s Inferno? Once again Professor of Art History, Robert Langdon, is on the run, this time through the art museums and basilicas of Florence and Venice,. And, as always, accompanied by an intelligent and attractive younger woman. The plot twists in this book are amazing and had me guessing right to the end.

The central question this book deals with,  though, is a perplexing moral dilemma some scientists and mathematicians believe we , the human race, will face in the not too distant future and that is overpopulation. The population is growing exponentially and will soon  outgrow the planet’s ability to sustain it. Without space flight to other habitable planets, à la  Star Trek, this will lead to mass starvation, widespread illness, and even cause nature itself to make an adjustment, perhaps in the form of plague or pandemic. So Robert Langdon is asked the question, “If you knew this to be a certainty, would you take steps to avoid this crisis if it involved sterilizing  about  a third of the population, randomly, to slow the growth without the fear and pain of a plague or pandemic? In other words, should we genetically engineer ourselves?

To me the important word here is certainty. There is little in life that is certain.  In fact, life has a way of  unfolding more in the realm of uncertainty. To quote John Lennon, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” We really can’t predict the future. Who’s to say the mathematics or science used to form these theories are derived from irrefutable fact? People once believed the Earth was the center of the universe, that the Earth was flat or that the atom could not be split. Even today, we are far from having all the answers. The topics of science – dark matter, dark energy, the theory of everything,  the strange world of quantum physics, all of this is subject to change as we learn more about the universe. We are not ready yet to handle decisions of such magnitude. We must tread carefully.

With near certainty, then, I can say we  still have more questions than we have answers, and that is good because it gets us thinking.

Dan Brown’s Inferno, certainly does that. ***** Recommended.

Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: Ripped Into the Headlines/Home Invasion

Daily Prompt: Ripped Into the Headlines

Our Top Story: Home Invasion.

Earlier Sunday, the home of Bill and Pat Coyle was invaded by a gang of two little people. Upon arriving at the residence the little people boldly rang the doorbell. Pat recalls looking out the peep-hole, but not seeing anyone, opened the door. The two little people stormed into the house. The smaller one declared  that he was a zombie.. Armed with  shark and alligator shaped water shooters, the two ruffians demanded that  the Coyles  turn on the water sprinkler so they could cool off.IMG_0919 The Coyles had no choice but to comply.  Later the petite invaders demanded


they  play “the princess, the cat and the bad witch”,  assemble some puzzles, stack dominoes in rows and watch them fall, assemble an airplane and play Wheel of Fortune on the computer.


IMG_0916 Following a phone call made to an accomplice, whom the Coyles believe was code-named “dad”, the two forced the Coyles to outfit their car with little people safety seats and drive them to Cold Stone Creamery. After consuming the treat they directed the Coyles to purchase for them, a car drove up and whisked them away. The Coyles identified the car as a Honda Accord with a broken mirror on the passenger side. The Coyles opted not to press charges, realizing that they really had enjoyed the day. The next morning, “dad” called. “What did you do to them yesterday?” he inquired. “They were exhausted  and feel asleep at seven o’clock.” The Coyle’s offered to have their home invaded by the two little hooligans anytime “dad” needed a break, as long as he promised to  drive them away in the getaway car before the Coyles, both seniors, fell asleep standing up. The diminutive home invaders have reccruited the Coyles into their gang. Code names, “Grams ” and “Grandpa”.

Daily Prompt: The Elevator

Daily Prompt: The Elevator

Later, I would ask myself if I would have stepped into that elevator knowing that my well ordered, complacent life was about to change forever. Probably not, as years of tedious office work had dulled any penchant for adventure I may have had. I knew right away, as the elevator doors slid shut that something was about to happen. The air in the elevator was charged with expectation. I looked over at the stranger sharing the ride with me. He was tall and lithe, but well- built, solid, a man of action – a man who was reaching his hand out to push the pause button on the control panel!

“What are you…?”

“Sorry to get you involved in this, sweetheart,” he said, “”but we have to get out of here now.”

“What are you talking about?”

“No time to explain,” he said. “You’re either going with me, or in a few minutes, you’ll be dead.”  He pulled something out of his bag, attaching it high on the wall of the elevator. He pulled on the coiled rope it held. As I watched, my mouth hanging open in shock, he climbed the rope, pushed out the ceiling panel and disappeared.

He stuck his head back in through the opening, tossing the rope at me.

“You coming, doll, or are you going to take your chances with the bad guys?”

“How do I know you’re not the bad guy?”

“Because I am wasting precious time trying to save your life.  Last call, honey, you coming or not?”

Instinctively, I grabbed the hanging rope, my mind screaming,  “what the hell are you doing?” as he lifted me through the open panel.  As he grabbed my hand, I heard an explosion.

“Damn, this is going to be closer than I expected,” he said.  “I hope you can jump.”  He turned and jumped off the roof of the cab onto a narrow maintenance ladder attached to the side of the elevator shaft.

“Come on, babe,” he said, “you can do it. I’ll catch you.” He wrapped his legs around the rungs of the ladder and held out his arms.

Another explosion, this one shaking the entire building, was all it took for me to launch myself off the elevator cab and into his arms…

Staying in Focus: What If The Story had Started Like This?

This is creative writing exercise I recently  completed.  I had to find ten unfamiliar words, to include in the story, and then pick a character from a list to be the protagonist. How could I pass up Scarlett O’Hara? Length of passage 1,000 words.

ten new words:

1. bumptious   adj.   brash

2. horology n.  art of making timepieces

3. lavabo  n.   a basin holding water for washing

4. moire n.  watered silk or wool fabric

5   jass  n.  a card game for two

6. panatela   n. a thin cigar

7. ratafia n. an almond flavored liqueur

8. soidisant  adj.  so-called

9 .theorbo  n .  a 17th century lute-like musical instrument

10. nixie   n.   a female water sprite

Character:  Scarlett  O’Hara

What if the story started like this?

Scarlett O’Hara sat primly on the cushioned bench, folds of moire billowing around her.  She loved the way the forest green, watered silk material seemed to glow in the afternoon light. The forest green accented her emerald green eyes, which sparkled with delight as a horse and buggy made the turn onto the tree lined drive that lead to Tara.  Ashley had come as promised, to whisk her off to a day of visiting friends at neighboring plantations.

“My, my, Scarlett, you do look pretty today,” Ashley said as he brought the buggy to a halt.  “Quite the nixie, you are my dear.” The horse nickered softly as Ashley stepped down from the buggy and handed the reins to Jeb, one of Tara’s darkies charged with watering the horses of visitors to the plantation.

“Oh, Ashley, how you do go on with those words you find in all those books you read!  You confuse me with such talk!”

“A nixie, my dear, is a water sprite of the forest. An enchanting, elusive creature, one must treat with the utmost delicacy,” he explained, as he took her gloved hand and kissed it gently.

Scarlett missed most of what he said, trying to still her rapidly beating heart, lest Ashley hear it pounding so. To distract him she asked, “Ashley, before we depart, can I have Prissy bring you a ratafia to refresh you?’

“Ah, that would be most welcome, dear Scarlett.   May I also request a laveboto wash off my dusty hands?  It has been a dry and dusty summer.”   Ashley sat down next to Scarlett, as she motioned to the waiting Prissy to procure the requested items.  As Prissy turned to enter the house, Ashley drew a slim box out of his coat pocket, and handed it to Prissy.

“For Mr. O’Hara, with my regards, “Ashley said.  Scarlett knew the box contained panatelas, her father’s favorite cigar.

“Ashley, you are so thoughtful to remember how much Pa favors those cigars.”

“Well, I wouldn’t want your pa to think me a bumptious fellow,” Ashley replied.

Scarlett sighed.  She wished Ashley would use the same words everyone else used. She turned to him and asked, , “How do they fare at Twelve Oaks, Ashley?”  Scarlett loved Ashley’s home.  Though she also loved Tara, Twelve Oaks had a grace that the more rustic Tara lacked.  Scarlett wasn’t really concerned about the other folk at Twelve Oaks.  She just wanted to be sure that Melanie Hamilton, Ashley’s cousin, wasn’t visiting again. Scarlett did not like the way Melanie blended in with the family and the plantation.  It was as if she belonged there.  And if anyone was going to marry Ashley and move into Twelve Oaks, it would not be that mealy-mouthed cousin.  Scarlett had chosen Ashley for herself.

Prissy arrived with the basin and the liqueur.  Ashley rinsed off his hands and toweled them dry, then accepted the thin glass of ratafia and took a slip. “It has been a busy week. We learned to play a card game called jass from an associate of my father’s,   a gentleman from Charleston. We also welcomed a fascinating gentleman from Savannah who is a master in the art of horology.

Seeing the confused look on Scarlett’s face, he explained, “He is a maker of timepieces, the finest I have ever seen.” Ashley’s family seemed to be overly concerned about time, Scarlett thought.   In their garden they had a sundial on which was inscribed, “Do not squander time; it is the stuff life is made of.” Scarlett thought, however, that the Wilkes squandered time more than anyone, spending hours reading books and reciting poetry.

Ashley continued telling her about the events of the past week, but as Melanie’s name was not mentioned, she became lost in her own thoughts.  How to get Ashley to become a more romantic companion was the question which perplexed her the most.  So far he was ever the epitome of a proper southern gentleman, but Scarlett craved more than a kiss on the hand. She had to move things along somehow, without compromising her virtue, of course.

Scarlett realized that Ashley had finished his drink and one-sided conversation. She turned to him, smiling prettily, her dimples accenting her smile.  She put her hand gently on his arm.  “Well, shall we be about our business, Ashley, and pay some calls on our friends and neighbors?”  Scarlett didn’t really care about these friends and neighbors either, for to tell the truth, none of them liked her very much. She imagined it was mostly due to jealousy. Ashley was, after all, the catch of the county.  But she endured these visits because it gave her more time with Ashley, and she liked to rub their noses in their jealousy by seeing her in constant company with the dashing Ashley Wilkes.

Scarlett put on her bonnet, tying the bow securely beneath her chin.  Perhaps she could convince Ashley to give the horses some proper exercise, and let them run full out.  Jeb brought the horse and buggy around from the stables in back of the house, and Ashley assisted Scarlett into the vehicle.  As he took the reins, he filled her in on their destination.

“I have a surprise for you, my dear.  Please forgive me the subterfuge. We are actually going to Twelve Oaks.  I have arranged for several friends to meet us there.  My cousin, Melanie, is coming in from Atlanta, with a group of musicians who play theorbos. They have agreed to provide us with a concert during lunch.

Scarlett tried not to show her disappointment.  “What is a theorbo,  Ashley?”

“A theorbo is a lute like instrument, from the …”

Scarlett could contain herself no longer.  She felt her vision change to red.  With a shout of “Whoa” to the horses, she grabbed the reins from Ashley’s startled hands and said, “Please forgive the subterfuge, Ashley, and vacate the buggy.  You see, I am an actually a bumptious woman wearing a moire frock and not a proper soidisant southern belle. I like a nice glass of ratafia now and again, maybe even a slim panatela.  And I do not plan to squander time listening to theorbos all afternoon.  She gave Ashley a little push, and he climbed down from the buggy.  He stared at Scarlett, speechless, as she cracked the whip and let the horses run full out, the ribbons of her bonnet trailing in the wind.

She saw a rider ahead, riding toward her, a tall man in a black coat riding a black stallion. He doffed his hat to her as she raced by. Scarlett turned and blew him a kiss…

Word Count : 1,117