Veterans’ Day and Red Poppies

Veterans Day in the United States evolved. In my youth, we proudly placed our coins into the tin containers and received our red paper poppy to wear to honor those who fought and died for our country. So, before writing this blog, I researched the origin and etiquette of poppy wearing.

Like the current tenor of our nation, the red poppy’s existence and meaning changed since my early days. There is debate in the U.S. when a red poppy can be worn – Veterans Day or Memorial Day.  There are several different colors of remembrance poppies including white for animals who died in the line of duty. There is protocol for the wearing a poppy.  Welcome to the 21st Century. Nothing can be simple or non controversial any more, not even the red poppy that said “thanks for serving this country or dying for my freedom.”

Interested in learning a more about the red poppy, check out these links:


The Book Bungalow

IMG_1542Old St. George, Utah hosts a new business, the Book Bungalow, an independent bookstore. It is a small inviting place where you meet the owner and her family. I went to this bookstore to help launch its first Authors’ Night.

The owner Tanya Parker Mills (left) feels her customers need to get close and personal with  authors, particularly, Utah’s local authors.  Wikipedia does not reflect the actual number of  writers and poets in Utah, but they should. I venture to say, per capita, we probably rank in the higher altitude. (No pun intended.)

My drive to the southern end of this state was rewarded. I found an owner who

personalized her bookstore. The children’s book area has hand-painted walls by a local artist. The displays welcome visitors to browse and stay. Tanya knows her literature and the book business. She is a published author. It was an honor to support a small bookstore, especially one that snuggled into a community for the community. Visit The Book Bungalow. Browse the store’s interior, check out its inventory, set up your own account, and order from the store online.

Murder, Mystery Thriller
Changing Habits by Pat W Coffey

If you want to boost the Book Bungalow’s sales, order one of the limited signed copies of Changing Habits, I left at the store. Small businesses support small town economies. Browse the Bungalow and see what treasures you can find.

Keep It Real – Research

apple-class-conference-7102 (1)“Write what you know.”  Mark Twain

This piece of writing advice echoes throughout schools and even in the halls of higher learning. The real challenge is to know what you’re going to write. Yes, we all have a great idea looming in our minds.  We know what we want to say.  Ask yourself, how are you going to place the reader comfortably or uncomfortably into the world you are creating.

If you’re a mystery writer, horror enthusiast, dystopian creator, gothic scribe, or a romance “fictioneer” reaching back in time, you need to research.

I hear the echoes of your resistance!

“Me, I create worlds. I don’t need to research them. 

Once you outlined your novel or if you are a “pantser” ( a person who writes by the seat of his or her  pants), you need research to deepen your characters, enrich your settings, and enhance your dialogue. Research supports your story line. It helps you describe your story’s world.

Research helps you as a writer.

Know your story’s historical era. If you are writing a story even twenty or thirty years in the past, don’t rely on someone’s  memory. Search online for newspapers, towns, cities, or events that happened while your character was alive.

Remember location, location, location not only works for real estate. Use the Internet to search for maps, architecture, clothing, newspapers. Reading and seeing helps you visualize

If you are creating you own world, write out a list of sensory descriptions you want your characters to make your reader feel. Create a cluster of phrases, words, even language particular to the inhabitants of your world. Let your mind build a world, word by word. Use pictures, personal feelings and experiences to expand this list.

As a writer, you need to visualize yourself living, breathing, eating, and wearing your characters’ clothes. You need to see, feel, taste, hear, and live in the world you create for your character,

Samples of sites to help you research your novel.

Thank you LUW!

My blog’s resurrection starts with a recognition to the organizers of the League of Utah Writers (LUW) 2018 Quills Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.  My original intent was to write about the ‘importance’ of attending writers’ conferences.  My research* inspired me to explore the intent and energy behind a conference.

This year I volunteered for Quills. I wanted to experience a conference from a different point of view.  I wanted to submerge myself in the conference’s energy.  My volunteer assignments did not disappoint me.

The thunderous respect given to the volunteers  and their contributions displayed LUW  members made me feel inclusive, a vital part of a team.  Daily orientation and updates by “Committee Members” assisted in expanding volunteers’ knowledge. The ‘Volunteer Green Room’ furnished us with a variety of energy producing snacks and rehydrating liquids.

What did I get from volunteering at this conference? I networked with writers, presenters, members outside of my chapter. As a reader I listened to editors and agents critique other writers’ works. As timekeepers for presenter, it was easy to get to know the presenters in order to introduce them. As a timekeeper for “pitches,” one got to meet the agents and editors on a personal basis instead of a business basis. These face to face, person to person, encounters offered insights into contributors in an informal and relaxed atmosphere.  I enjoyed running errands to and from.  I want to thank Kelly Olsen who set up and kept watch over my book and the books of presenters and participants. Conference Book Store.

I participated in a new conference activity -‘Kaffekalatsches” (a German word meaning a group of people sitting together sipping liquids and talking).  Participants selected from four sessions a day to talked with an editor or agent about any aspect about writing, publishing, or the business of writing.

When an organization produces a conference on a university campus snuggled in the Rocky Mountains, brings in nationally known authors, editors, agents, and gives their members an opportunity to submerge themselves into three days of writing, the experience —invaluable.

As an observer, it appeared the committee weighed every decision’s against the participants’ best learning experience and the budget.  A plethora of the best and the brightest presenters, editors, agents, and yes, even participants .

If you are truly serious about your writing, attend a conference.  Make time to interact with writers you don’t know.  You’ll be surprise what you’ll learn.

If you think you can’t afford it, save money from your income tax return, skip a few meals out, you’re a writer, you know how to get what you want.

*The links below affirm the reasons for writers to attend writing conferences.  If you  want more options: Google: “Is it worth going to writers conferences?”


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Novel Publication-Phase 4

I’m happy to announce my paperback and ebook ChangingHabits have improved  on Amazon.

After receiving my ARCs, (Advanced Reader Copies) an advance release of a book, sent to reviewers before publishing. ARCs are as review copies, or uncorrected proofs.  We (my husband* and I) created a revision map consisting of the following minimal items: chapter, location(s) character(s) action(s) outcome.

We read each page, chapter by chapter using my computer’s voice/listening option. Four days, thirty-five hours, made us feel, we might be one of the lucky ones who have a clean copy. Now I invite you, my readers to read my paperback or ebook** .


*My husband is not a writer. His doctorate is in Political Science. He is a man who loves detail. He found this line by line  and storyline edit fascinating. Besides he volunteered to this written-word march.

**Publishing on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing is a circuitous process.  First of all, they take the neophyte through several hoops. MACs and PCs have different limitations. Read through the instructions carefully, line by line.

Novel Publication – Phase Two – Self Publishing

The development of this blog, Novel Publication-Phase Two-Self Publishing,  took some soul-searching and a great deal of restraint. My “better angels” helped me stand back and observe the process and create this post-mortem.

The novel’s publication resulted in a case of “must do.”  A 2017 goal drove me to a deadline and in retrospect produced learnings for my next self-publishing project.

Multiple experiences with various formatting programs inspired confidence as I ventured into this new self-publishing program. I submerged myself into the new process knowing that the product assured support to its clients.

Ah assistance, now, a two and a half hour phone conversation with a consultant proved fruitless. The next day, I received an email with a list of participating partners who could complete paperback part of the publishing task. This “help” ignited my determination to solve my issue. I spent two days researching the formatting problem on both the publishing and the word processing sites.

An accidental correction on my word processing program uncovered the way to correct the publishing problem. Was it an answer to my prayers? Karma? All the good vibrations joining at one time? I didn’t care, all I knew is that after three days, the formatting problems was solved.

Lessons to Learned:

  • Read and re-read all the publishing program’s “how to.”
  • Make sure you know the publishing programs requirements.
  • Make sure your word processing program converts to the self-publishing program.
  • Prepare for set backs and  “re-dos” are part of the process.
  • Remember you are the publisher, you determine the deadline.

A Writer’s Proclivity

via Daily Prompt: Proclivity

Taking on this “Daily Prompt” jolted me out of my plan to ease back into my writing.
The word proclivity made me laugh. It strengthened the image of idiosyncratic writers. No two writers take the same mind trip as they work their craft. Each writer begins and ends using a mind set filled with unique peculiarity.

Some of us languor over dialogue, while others demonstrate an inclination for setting descriptions.  Some scribes show their druther with their fascination and ability to produce new worlds. Tenuous writers dig deep with voracity and mine for emotionalism.

Intuition lives in the psyche of all writers. We fixate on the minuscule and the universe at the same time.  Our lust for action and emotion in our stories elicits our hypersensitivity for surprise.

NOTE: I commanded Siri to find all synonyms for proclivity.  Can you find the proclivity synonyms sprinkled throughout this brief description?

Novel Publication – Phase 3*

My proofreader met with me notes in hand  and a two inch thick manuscript with yellow highlighted words and a questions written in the margin. She validated my locations. She felt one of my characters needed  to reveal her fierceness sooner.

Add to this my biggest supporter and critic, my husband, summed up the main character’s frustrations in two sentences. His observation stunned me.  His summation needed to be revealed by the character herself and in the right place in my story.

So, it was  back to the key board. Three days of intense editing and some long thoughts about my main character. I finished, two days before Thanksgiving.

It took three and a half weeks of reading, planning, and a very long conversations with the KDP representative before my book met the Kindle Direct Publishing requirements.* Take a browse through my newly published book Changing Habits.


* Phase 2  -My experience on Amazon’s self-publishing product is the topic of my next blog.

Novel Publication – Phase 1

This week I sent my final re-write of my first novel to my proof reader.  Now, on face value this doesn’t sound like a big deal. It is a big deal because I started the first draft of this story riding across the country by car with my daughter to Maine. I completed the first draft in 30 days during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It took me five years with help from my writers’ critique group, a professional editor, and several beta readers, to get this book in shape for a proof reader.

This is only one step towards the journey to publication. I went to classes on book covers, marketing your book, researched highways of the roads taken by my main character in the mid 1960s. Of course, clothing, automobiles, guns, restaurants, food choices, and hotels needed validation.

Warning: I learned early in my writing venture that even if you get an agent and an agent gets you a publishers, it can take from one to two years before your book is published.

The decision on the method of publication took me two years of agonizing research. The research and reading overwhelmed me:  traditional publishing and self-publishing, so many contracts with very fine print to read, talking to authors who published independently, talking to authors who retained agents, pitching my book, submitting it to publishers.  After much deliberation, I decided to become an ‘Indie Author.’

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.


National Novel Writing Month