It’s that time of year again, school time. For many of us that means wistfully thinking of our own school days of the past. For the rest of us, it means getting kiddos up and out the door as they embark on their own adventures of discovery and learning. Whichever way it is, let’s send them off with an empowering saying or two, or five.
I’m not going to school just for the academics. I wanted to share ideas, and be around people who are passionate about learning.
Intelligence plus character – that is the true goal of education.
Martin Luther King Jr.
You learn something every day if you pay attention.
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.
Thank you dear reader for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts here at JodiLMilner.com, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links. Or, even better, sign up to be part of my mailing list and get a signup bonus of one of my short stories for free.
Last week my friend and all together interesting guy, Dennis Morrison, came to the Oquirrh Writers Chapter meeting (part of the League of Utah Writers) to educate about the history of tarot cards and also teach about how they can be used to help guide decision making and give insights into one’s life.
I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that someone’s future could be glimpsed at through reading the cards or by the lines on their palms. Clues to success could be hiding in the stars, in the careful study of numbers, or even in tossing the dice. Teenage me checked out books from the library about palm reading. Grade school me made origami fortune tellers and played MASH, the paper fortune telling game.
My friends and I would spend hours goofing off with the different possibilities of our futures, as if writing it out on a piece of paper would actually change anything. Thinking back, playing with these different possibilities was important. How do you work toward a goal or dream, if you haven’t made one? I’d always be excited when MASH told me I’d be a doctor and was annoyed if I got secretary. Down the road, I ended up working in the medical field, albeit, not as a doctor. It seems the truth wasn’t hiding in the paper, but in my own interests. The paper only helped reinforce it.
All through those years of playing with different future divining mediums, I’d never had the chance to learn about tarot. My experience was limited to what was shown on movies, and heaven knows that’s never a good gauge of anything.
Dennis taught how tarot cards began as a simple card game, much like UNO or SkipBo. Over the centuries, the art on the cards evolved and the usage changed. The practice of using the cards to guide decisions or give insight grew as a natural result of them being in use for so long.
As writers and creatives, we discussed how the cards might be used to help guide our characters choices or what might happen in the stories we are working on. The beauty of tarot cards, is that each one is an evocative piece of art. Any randomly chosen card will introduce an idea or an emotion for the writer to consider, and often one that the writer might not have otherwise considered. We were encouraged to take a metaphorical view of the cards and allow our own experiences adapt the image to something relating to our own experiences.
Part of the presentation included a change to choose one card for ourselves and explore what it might mean in our current situation. This was done by having each one of us scan through the deck for an image that grabbed our attention more than the others.
I chose the Hierophant, one of the major arcana. The imagery of a man coming out of the shadows holding an orb struck a cord with me. There are scary things behind him, but they don’t seem to bother him. He’s a priest which means he stands as an advisor and has knowledge to help guide people along their path.
As Dennis explained the attributes of this card, it made more and more sense why the image resonated with my current situation. I’m at a huge turning point in my writing career going from traditional publishing to independent. I’m stepping away from one way of doing things and onto another path.While it’s scary to be the one in control of my future, it’s also liberating.
In the end, I learned much more than I expected. While the card I selected didn’t change the reality I’m in, it helped me think about my situation in a new light and allowed me to consider different angles I hadn’t thought of before.
A huge thanks to Dennis for sharing his knowledge and insights with both myself and my group of writers. I know I came away feeling like I not only learned something new, but having a better understanding of the philosophy behind it as well.
And now I want to get a tarot deck of my own…
Have you ever had an experience with fortune telling or tarot? Share it with me in the comments!
There are people who come into our lives almost by accident and after spending time with them you can’t imagine what life would be without them. That’s what it was like when I first met Nikki Brown. Last year, a friend of mine begged me to join her new online writers group because she enjoyed it and thought I would like it as well.
Dozens of meetings later, I’m still in – and loving it. Nikki heads up the Wednesday Writers Whatchamacallit along with recent guest here at the blog, Annie Oortman. Nikki has a special kind of caring confidence that makes everyone around her at ease. I’ve loved my time getting to know her better and am thrilled to share about her life, inspiration, and thoughts with my friends here at the blog.
On to the interview:
Let’s start with a getting to know you question. Tell us three things most people know about you, and two things they don’t.
thing most people know about me is that I have two young adult children and
that I am incredibly proud of them. We homeschooled them from Pre-K through
high-school graduation, and they have done extremely well in college. They are
also just really cool people who add so much joy to my life. It’s hard to
believe how slowly some of those days seemed to pass as a young homeschooling
mom and how quickly it all seems to have gone by now.
thing many people know is that I am blind. Of course, that isn’t really what
people are interested in. All anyone really cares about is that I am usually
accompanied by my very handsome and overly friendly guide dog, Perry. I have
been a guide dog handler since 2004.
more thing many people know about me is that I am a personal coach. they don’t
always understand what a personal coach is though. they usually think of a
sports coach or a fitness coach, and that’s definitely not me. I do a few
different things in the coaching world including helping writers find their
voice and fuel their creativity. I love helping writers gain more confidence in
themselves and put together systems that help make their creative process more
effective. My husband and I also do staff development programs for businesses
who want to empower their employees.
for something most people don’t know about me, I suppose that would be that I
love to sing. I usually only sing in the shower, but one of these days, I’d
love to get up the nerve to sing karaoke in front of an audience—maybe in another
state where nobody knows me. 🙂
Another thing most people don’t know is that I have been married to the same man for nearly 29 years. We have been through a lot together and haven’t murdered each other yet. Now, that’s love. Seriously, he has been my biggest supporter and has always done his best to help and encourage me even when I made things difficult for him. I can be a bit ornery at times. There, that’s another thing many people don’t know. People tend to think I’m really sweet. I think they are disarmed by the southern accent. LOL
What are three things that drive you toward your goals?
always been very self-motivated. I like accomplishing things, scratching things
off my list and winning stuff. I’m fairly competitive, but it’s also fine if I
don’t win. My main goal is to always learn from every situation and improve
myself in some way from each experience.
good external motivator for me is my family. I definitely want to be a good
role model for my kids. That’s a lot harder now since we relate to each other
much more as equals rather than as parent/child. They see all my flaws and
don’t usually hold back at pointing them out. They aren’t unkind, just honest.
I told someone the other day that God gives us children to keep us humble.
What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received?
absolute best bit of advice I ever received was from my grandfather. I had
joined a 4-H club as a teenager and was promptly placed on the telephone
committee. I think it was a committee of one person. Anyway, I was quite
introverted (back then, we just called it shy) and hated the idea of calling
people on the phone to remind them of an upcoming meeting. One day, I mentioned
this to my grandfather who said incredulously, “Why are you afraid? You’re just
as good as they are.” I didn’t really believed it at the time, but that bit of
encouragement got me through all those phone calls. It took me decades before I
actually began to truly believe those words but they have echoed in my heart
and helped me through difficult moments many many times over the years.
Where do you think creativity comes from?
think most people have limited ideas about what it means to be creative. When
you say the word creativity, many people often jump to the conclusion that you
are talking about the kind that is expressed as music, art, or performance. I
think of creativity as much more than that. It is the ability we have to
discover new ways of doing things, overcome problems and connect dots that, on
the surface, don’t seem to be related at all. I respect that not everyone has
the same views I do, but I firmly believe we were created in the image of God
meaning that each of us was created to
be creative in our own right.
Many assume that authors and creatives live glamorized lives. What is your life as a writer and life coach really like?
with creativity, I think many people define glamorous in a way that is limited.
We are surrounded by beauty and love and amazing opportunities, but do we see
them? Are we so caught up in the worry and stress of making it through the day
that we fail to notice the truly glamorous moments like a child holding our
hand, the amazing colors of the wildflowers lining the highway or the
awe-inspiring view of a star-filled night sky?
We compare the dust bunnies we see inside our lives with the
meticulously manicured exteriors of other people’s lives and judge ourselves
based on that faulty comparison. The truth is, at our core, we are all the
same. My life isn’t glamorous at all based on Hollywood ideals, but I wouldn’t
trade it with anyone. As Tolkien said, “All that is gold does not glitter.”
What are you working on right now that excites you?
I joined Toastmasters one year ago and I recently participated in their 2019 International Speech competition. I won my Area and Division contests and had the opportunity to compete in the much larger District contest. I did not win there, but the experience was amazing and taught me so much about stepping out of my comfort zone and learning to find the humor in every situation. It has given me an even greater desire to do more public speaking, so I am excited about looking for more opportunities in this area.
About today’s guest:
Nikki Brown, the Authors ally, is a life coach with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a passion for good stories.
Over the years, Nikki
has progressed from reading the encyclopedia for fun to helping clients write
website copy and even doing a little ghostwriting. Many years ago, she joined
her local writers guild to support her teenage daughter’s love of creative writing
and found kindred spirits with others who enjoyed discussing things like
sentence structure and correct comma
For many years, Nikki has helped writers learn how to connect with readers online, but her real calling is coaching writers to help them learn how to find their voice and fuel their creativity. She loves to see her clients break through the roadblocks standing in the way of reaching their goals.
Facebook: @coachnikkib (Psst! – Visit here to score a FREE Goals Journal!)
Meet Nikki online weekly at Wednesday Writer’s Whatchamacallit
Wednesday Writers’ Whatchamacallit is a weekly virtual meeting for writers of all genres and all ability levels who like having fun and are looking for an easy way to connect with kindred spirits. Hosted each Wednesday by Professional Coach Nikki Brown and Professional Editor Annie Oortman, meetings are open to writers of all types: fiction and non-fiction, pros and novices alike.
We meet in our online video conferencing room for a mid-week pick-me-up, a dose of encouragement and inspiration, a chance to flex our writing muscles, and an always great discussion mixed with a lot of laughter.
To find the next scheduled meeting, head over to the WWW webpage.
Last weekend was the annual League of Utah Writers Spring Conference. While the point of attending the conference is to learn new ideas and techniques to better our writing and understanding of the industry, the real reason many of us attend is to reconnect with all our favorite writer friends. It’s like a huge family reunion.
I was super happy to spend a few minutes with Scott, and even happier when he agreed to be interviewed as this week’s guest.
Onto the interview!
First, let’s take a minute and get to know you know you better. I imagine as a horror writer you have to face your fears on a regular basis. Tell us, what is your biggest fear?
I don’t know if I
would consider myself a horror writer – yes, I write horror, but I also write
suspense, fantasy, poetry, and even some non-fiction. That said, back to your
real question: what is it that I fear? Well, there’s only one word for that,
and that word is Sasquatch. Yes, Bigfoot, the North American Yeti, even Cain if
you want to go in the direction of David W. Patten. I think it started when I
was a small child, back in ’72 or ’73. My friends and I used to go to the local
movie theater, the cinema, whatever it was called. Our haven was a little place
called the Queen Theater located in the sleepy bedroom community of Bountiful,
Utah. Saturdays would always have a double-feature, and usually it would be
Disney. I clearly remember watching the snakes in The Living Desert paired with prairie dogs in The Vanishing Prairie, or The
Scarecrow paired with Swiss Family
Robinson. This particular Saturday, the first feature was a
pseudo-docu-drama, I don’t even remember the title, but Bigfoot was the star. I
think what was the most troubling was actual, physical evidence, Bigfoot captured
in the infamous Patterson-Gimlin film, or PGF. From that moment on, I was
hooked, and terrified. I find it interesting that I’ve never written a story
about Sasquatch. Hmm???
Everyone has secrets. Tell us three things that most
people don’t know about you.
I love Jane
Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, the whole canon –
Northanger Abbey is my favorite. What else is there to tell? I really don’t
have a lot of secrets, but maybe there’s a lot that people just don’t know
about me. I’m a combat veteran, I’m a Mason and a card-carrying member of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which pairs nicely with my
pseudo-Nome-de-plume: The Prince of Darkness. I find that once you sit down
with a person there are lots of things you may not know about him or her, but
they aren’t really secrets. Oh, here’s a big secret: I’m an aspiring writer.
What was your most interesting experience with writing
Lovecraft’s Pillow is just the title piece in a collection of previously
published short stories, I’m not sure if you want experiences putting the
collection together, experiences with each story, or just experiences with the
lead story? The project itself took me down the road of re-learning everything
about publishing? I had previous experience in grad-school with a few college
pals – we produced seven or ten volumes of flash fiction, a novel or two, and
were lucky to break even. I have a Press, per se, Fear Knocks Press, and this
was my first paperback and eBook publication. For the last twelve years, Fear
Knocks Press has been more of a dormant project waiting to sprout, grow and
blossom. It was the home of the eZine, Fear Knocks, but that kind of went the
way of the Dodo, so…
As far as the individual
story, Lovecraft’s Pillow, that takes me back to several experiences. First,
reading Michel Houellebecq’s book, H.P.
Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life, which included a Stephen King
challenge to write a story, the story. Then, I think traveling back to
Lovecraft’s hometown, Providence, Rhode Island, stopping by his grave, and
getting a feel for the region really inspired me to go through with it. It
didn’t hurt that my wife and I had just made a trip to Salem, Massachusetts,
during the month of October, and there were all kinds of things floating around
in the grey matter.
You’ve always been a wonderful support for local
authors, including myself. What is the most powerful lesson you can share with
a writer who is just starting the process of creating their stories?
Okay, this is a
great question – a wonderful question – and the answer is one I don’t think
most people are willing to take. Write a lot, write, write, write, and read a
lot, read, read, read, read even more than you write. And not just books on
craft, or books in the genre you plan to write in, books on everything; and get
out and experience life. It’s true that, as writers, we put pieces of ourselves
in the work we do. If you’ve only lived in a small town and only ventured
between your notebook, typewriter, or word processor, and the kitchen and
bathroom, you probably are going to have a very limited and unrealistic point
of view in your work. Add a few books, a few across several genres, a book or
two that you would never be caught dead reading, and you will start to open up
vistas that are ready to lend themselves to your work. Then, if you can,
travel, see the world, even the world around you. Most people would be
surprised at how many secrets wait to be discovered just outside their back
door within 5 or 10 miles of where they live. So, this begs the question, what
books would you suggest a person read? Well, how about I include a list of my
favorites at the end of this blog post?
I ask this question to everyone – What is the most
interesting thing you keep on your desk, or bring to your writing space, and
what is the story behind it.
I have a Día de
Los Muertos skull. It’s more of a planter, one of those little trinkets with a
succulent growing out of the top, the kind of plant that no one can kill. I
don’t know why, but I’ve always been attracted to the darker side of things.
When I was a kid, I loved the Old Testament and Edgar Allan Poe (and comic
books). I had the opportunity to learn a few foreign languages over the years,
one of them Spanish, and it got me hooked on some of the culture and traditions
of Latin America. After traveling to several Latin American destinations, I had
lots of information to ruminate on, to use as fodder for stories. What’s
interesting, at least for me, these kinds of experiences usually do more for my
settings, the feel of the story. For some reason, and I blame Anne Rice, most
of my experiences take me back to the flavor and feel of New Orleans. If you’ve
never been, you need to go. New Orleans is much more than Mardi Gras. There’s
the whole Cajun culture, Marie Laveau and Voodoo, and the feel being at the
mercy of the elements. I think these all merge with things closer to home,
Native American legends, the Four Corners area, and a little Magical Realism
courtesy of Gabriel García Márquez or Isabel Allende. They all manifest
themselves in this little, living skull that watches me write and may even
contain my muse (wow, I never considered that until now).
What’s next? Tell us about the next big thing you’re
How about this
blog post – yes, this is actually a big thing. I’ve been going through a period
of very little productivity. We all have these moments, I’m sure. I was getting
ready to pitch an urban fantasy at the upcoming Storymakers conference, Madison Blackwood and the Twelve Hours of
Night, something a little like Harry
Potter meets Angels and Demons, but
with a female protagonist and links to Dracula and Old Testament Egypt. Like so
many projects, by the time I get to the second draft, I hate the whole thing.
So, I started an epic Fantasy novel, got 100 pages in, and then something
changed in my life, an almost spiritual manifestation, and I started something
else. I’m on a journey now, at least through the pages of the LDS canon of
scripture, to meet, greet, and try to understand every female character. I’ve
started with Eve and the wives of Noah, Ham, Shem, Japheth – I don’t think
there’s a whole lot of information there, but there’s lots of hints and
indications that there’s more to each of their stories, something that might
become creative non-fiction. I love re-reading about these characters, women
most people have never heard of, characters like Jael, Rahab, Tamar, and Dinah,
or even those that have no names like the woman at the well, the woman caught
in adultery, the handful of widows, or the queens (Vashti, Esther, Sheba, Lamanites),
or even the Daughters of Onitah – there’s got to be a story there. I’m off to a
great start. I’ve got over a hundred names to work with, so far. All that being
said, how about I give you an exclusive, a cover reveal, the story I mentioned
at the beginning. Well, here it is, Madison Blackwood and the Twelve Hours of
Night, soon to be pitched at a writing conference near you.
Suggested Reading List I promised. I’ve only included one title per author, and
only the ones off the top of my head. I’m sure I’ve missed several of my
favorites, several that are much better written, but what the heck. One of
these books I absolutely hated, not because it was poorly written, but because
the author made me hate every character by the end of the book. That’s got to
say something about the writing, right? I’ve included some non-fiction, short
stories, and poems as well.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Blight Way by Patrick F. McManus
A Fine Dark Line by Joe R. Lansdale
Working for Bigfoot by Jim Butcher
Speaks the Nightbird by Robert R. McCammon
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Lion of Ireland by Morgan Llywelyn
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Eva Luna by Isabel Allende
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel García Márquez
The Misenchanted Sword by Lawrence Watt-Evans
The Walking Drum by Louis L’Amour
The Hunger by Alma Katsu
The Green Mile by Stephen King
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
A Short Stay in Hell by Steven L. Peck
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban by J.K. Rowling
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
The Book of Job (get a good copy with commentary)
The Tyger by William Blake
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe
The Story of An Hour by Kate Chopin
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Wendigo by Algernon Blackwood
The Demon Lover by Elizabeth Bowen
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
About K. Scott Forman
K. Scott Forman is a writer and editor. He co-edited and contributed to the first three volumes of Fast Forward: A Collection of Flash Fiction along with working on three more volumes, a novel, and a flash novel for Fast Forward Press. With the Utah Chapter of the Horror Writers Association (HWA), he selected and edited the volume It Came from the Great Salt Lake: A Collection of Utah Horror. Scott graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University and was the recipient of the Robert Creeley Scholarship in 2007. He also received a Master of Arts and Education degree from the University of Phoenix, and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland. Scott teaches English Composition at Weber State University and was an adjunct faculty member at the National Cryptologic School. He has taught courses in Developmental English, Composition, Research, Writing for Math and Science, and Haiku. He is a member of the HWA and League of Utah Writers and enjoys long walks in inclement weather, sunsets with blood in them, and Metallica at volumes determined unsafe by the Surgeon General. He has had several short stories and poems published and is currently at work on the Great American Novel. He makes his home in the Rocky Mountains with his family and a collection of guitars. Find out what he’s up to at http://fearknocks.com
Lovecraft’s Pillow and other Weird Tales is K. Scott Forman’s first collection of stories that plumb the depths of imagination when the lights go out. In these 12 tales and 1 poem, we revisit Jack the Ripper (The House that Jack Built), suicide and the consequences (Mumford’s Ghost), sympathy for the devil (Neighbor of the Beast), redemption (The Rescue), PTSD (The Stranger Within), a Frankenstein short (Lost at Sea), a Lovecraftian-story inspired by Stephen King (Lovecraft’s Pillow), and more.
Today’s author feature, Dea Poirier is all about supporting other authors in their journey.I first met Dea as host of the monthly #DarkLitChat on Twitter alongside cohost Elesha Teskey. Both she and Elesha were amazingly supportive of when my book came out that I was more than thrilled to return the favor when her book came out.
Next Girl to Die comes out May 1st! Be sure to check it out!
On to the interview –
To kick things off, I’d like to get to know you better. What super power would you want, and why?
Oh man, this one is so tough. A long time ago, I probably would have picked teleportation or invisibility, but now I think I’d want immortality. I feel like my entire life is built around wanting to gather knowledge and grow my skillset, so if I had all of eternity to do that—well, I think that’d be pretty amazing.
If you could instill your readers with one inspiring message, either something learned through being a writer or through one of your characters, what would it be, and why?
Perseverance. I think that’s something that’s harped on constantly in the writing community. But really, it’s so, so important. Writing books is hard. Getting feedback is hard. Getting rejected is hard. It’s all part of the process though. Every rejection makes you stronger, all the feedback makes you a better writer. Each step of the process helps to make you grow, so it’s important to embrace it and never give up. There will be bad days, there will be good days. But on the worst days, remind yourself that the world needs your words, and if you give up you could be failing someone out there who needs your story.
What was your inspiration for your book Next Girl to Die?
There wasn’t really any one spark of inspiration for the story. I’d just finished reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and watching a lot of SVU, and I began working on a mystery with a super emotionally broken heroine, that would become Next Girl to Die.
What was the hardest scene for you to write (no spoilers!) and why?
Hmm… Without spoilers this is tough. There are several very emotional scenes in the manuscript that were very hard for me to write. During the process of writing Next Girl to Die my grandmother died. She was a huge part of my life and helped raise me, so I was able to channel a lot of my own grief about my grandmother’s death into those scenes. Some were very difficult to write, but I think it really did aid my healing.
I’ve recently been asking this question to all of my guests here at the blog, what’s the most interesting item you keep on your desk or bring with you to your preferred writing space?
Probably my gel pens. I write all my manuscripts by hand, and also do all of my edits on paper. I find that I’m much more productive when I have my favorite tools, and gel pens are at the top of my list.
What’s next? Tell us about what you are working on now.
Right now I’m actually taking a break from writing. I just finished up the edits on Book 2 in the Calderwood Cases series, and I’m waiting on copyedits now. I’m also awaiting feedback on a YA historical fantasy I wrote. After that, I’m going to be working on another mystery with an emotionally damaged heroine.
About Dea Poirier
Dea (D.H) Poirier was raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, where she got her start writing in creative writing courses. She attended The University of Central Oklahoma for Computer Science and Political Science. Later, she spent time living on both coasts, and traveling the United States, before finally putting down roots in Central Florida. She now resides somewhere between Disney and the swamp.
Solving the case will avenge her sister—unless the killer finds her first.
It’s been fifteen years since Claire Calderwood’s sister, Rachel, was brutally murdered in their small hometown in Maine. Claire has finally carved out a life for herself as a homicide detective in Detroit, but the past comes calling when the local police back home ask for her help with a murder eerily similar to Rachel’s.
Still haunted by Rachel’s cold case, Claire returns home, hoping to solve the crime and finally put her grief to rest. As she starts investigating, the last thing she needs is tenacious journalist Noah Washington asking questions she’s not ready to answer. But like her, Noah won’t give up until he finds the truth—and Claire reluctantly finds herself relying on him more and more when disturbing new details about Rachel’s death come to light.
When the killer strikes once again, Claire knows he’s not done. Now he’s set his sights on Claire, who will have to find the courage she needs to survive a deadly confrontation years in the making.
Throughout history there have always been people willing to risk and sacrifice to push forward in their fields. Some become renowned scientists and some help shape the understanding of millions through the words they write.
A big part of the message I want to share with the world is that anyone can be excellent in their chosen field if they are willing to work and sacrifice. The main characters in my books strongly believe this and are all at different points of this process.
Which is why I want to share about scientific pioneer and two times Nobel Laureate, Marie Curie.
5 things you didn’t know about Marie Curie
While most people know that Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in 1903 for her discoveries of radioisotopes radium and polonium, did you know that she almost wasn’t mentioned? The award nomination originally only included her research partner and husband Pierre Curie and their contemporary Henri Becquerel.
During World War 1, Marie Curie invented a mobile x-ray unit called a “Little Curie” installed it into “radiological cars” and trained 150 women to operate it. This mobile x-ray unit was critical to getting help to front line injuries and battlefield surgeons. Even more impressive, to further help the ware effort Curie learned to drive and operated her own “little Curie.” It is estimated that through her efforts the total number of soldiers who received x-rays during the war exceeded one million. This makes Marie Curie a War Hero.
Einstein personally came to Curie’s defense. As is true with most ground breakers, Marie Curie experienced a whole host of scandal and controversy that criticized everything from her immigrant roots to her sex life. The situation got so bad that at one point she was counseled to not travel to Sweden to accept her second Nobel Prize. When Einstein learned of this he wrote her a wonderful letter where he encouraged her “to simply not read that hogwash, but rather leave it to the reptile for whom it has been fabricated.”
Marie Curie’s daughter, Irene Joliot-Curie, won her own Noble Prize in 1935 for discovering a way to create artificial radioactive isotopes for use in medicine. Sadly, Marie died before the announcement was made in 1934.
Marie Curie kept a sample of radium next to her bed to use as a night light.
The more time you spend working to become an author and to publish, the more you realize just what a big deal it is for your name to be known among the general population. Think about it, there are millions of authors out there who are published, and several million more who are working to become published.
Knowing an author’s name, even if you haven’t read them, means that they have attained a level of success that few can even dream of. Stephen King, Dan Brown, JK Rowling, and Neil Gaiman, are now household names.
Terry Pratchett is one of those authors who have broken the mold among the fantasy community. Over the course of his career he has published an astounding 66 books. Forty of these books belong to the globally popular Discworld series.
What makes Pratchett’s writing unique is his firm grasp on satire and knowing just how far to push an illogical situation. Some of his most iconic images are in fact the most silly, such as the Luggage, which is described as this:
The Luggage is a large chest made of sapient pearwood (a magical, intelligent plant which is nearly extinct, impervious to magic, and only grows in a few places outside the Agatean Empire, generally on sites of very old magic). It can produce hundreds of little legs protruding from its underside and can move very fast if the need arises. It has been described as “half suitcase, half homicidal maniac” (Sourcery paperback p22).
Terry Pratchett died in his home last week after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. His courage and wit have inspired millions, including me.
Sometimes it takes work to get my fantasy on, and this morning was no exception. My youngest decided I needed to be pulled out of bed five minutes before the alarm for his morning bottle, and that I needed to hang out with him while he snuggled in his blanket on the couch. Today also marked the start of school for my older two kids after being off track for the past two weeks, which means a school morning, which means rush and hustle and arguing and all that stuff that we’ve avoided for two weeks.
After all that I needed a little escape from reality.
This is where a short foray on Pinterest is very helpful. I put “fantasy” in the search and allow the software to deliver hundreds of examples of fantasy art and places. You can also follow the fantasy boards of pinners you like for a more customized experience.
Here are some of the gems I found today, the notes on the pins are from the pinners themselves and not me:
Anything inspired by Lord of the Rings, and especially the art of Alan Lee is bound to get my attention. I love the attention to detail and the fantasy armor.
With everything else going on in my life, chances are I’m not going to be able to take a flight around the world anytime soon to seek out inspiration from places that are similar to the settings featured in my book. Medieval castles and villages are hard to come by here in the West. The oldest things around here are indian cliff settlements which while fascinating, aren’t what I need.
I’m lucky in some ways, mountains and forests do feature prominently in by book and I happen to live within one of the most stunning mountain ranges in the US. They don’t call them the Rocky Mountains for nothing.
For everything else I’m stuck with the wonders of the internet and I have to admit I’m getting pretty good at finding pictures and videos that help me better envision the places my characters find themselves.