Category Archives: Uncategorized

10 Fabulous Things I did in Dubai

I had a great vacation!  It was so busy I didn’t write hardly at all.  Sometimes, it’s alright to be a tourist.  So here’s what I did:

1. Went up the tallest building in the world.  The Burj Khalifa is not just slightly the tallest building in the world, but right now at least, massively taller.  I didn’t go up it the first time in Dubai because it made me feel a bit sick looking up at it and I thought it’d be terrible at the top.  However, the building feels surprisingly solid and doesn’t sway at all, so it was more like looking out of an airplane window than anything.  The only queasy spot was actually the elevator, and not because of the ride itself (which was very smooth) but because it’s mirrored and has a fancy light show going that’s about enough to make a person slightly disoriented.  Staring at the floor handled that though.  The day was slightly hazy, but I still have a wonderful view and thoroughly enjoyed it.

2. Picnicked in Mushrif Park.  Since most of the surrounding area is desert, to have a nice place outside with plants means going to one of the parks where they water things.  A lot of these parks are large though, with more natural looking areas mixed with formal gardens.  The weather was splendid, just perfect for sitting in the shade with short sleeves and so we went and ate a picnic lunch several times.  The parks are also a good place to see interesting birds.

3. Walked at sunset on the beach collecting shells.  The gulf was perfect weather for an Oregonian like me, 70s to 80s.  The waves are small, unlike the Pacific, more like a lake, where passing boats will send in waves for a while and then die back down.  We had a perfect evening, with a beautiful sunset over the gulf. I also found some lovely tropical pink and orange shells and pieces of coral that are completely different from the sort of shells I find on the Oregon coast.

4. Walked up a Wadi.  A wadi (arroyo) is a canyon-like mostly dry stream bed that when it finally does rain in the desert, carries all the run-off water.  As they’re the only areas with a bit of water in them out in the countryside, they make for interesting walking.  There’s actually a few trees, bushes, flowers, and insects, even if there isn’t any water left in them, and unlike a park, the ground is rocky and dynamic.  We walked up one of the wadis near the border of Oman, where the countryside is more mountainous and dynamic.

5. Rode a camel.  You don’t get more touristic than this, but I don’t care.  I’d never done it before so I wanted to give it a try.  Camels sound rather grumpy, and I suppose if I had to carry people back and forth along the beach I’d be grumpy too.  Their owner however was fantastic.  He took several pictures for us and encouraged us to pet the camels.  I didn’t get spit on either, despite hearing that’s always what camels do… and while the up and down part was rather rocky, the ride itself was pretty smooth.

6. Watched the fountain show at Dubai Mall.  The fountain has several nightly light/waterfall shows that are usually done to music and rather pretty.  This time though, I got a rather bombastic special show, because it turned out my visit coincided with the “Shopping Festival” something a bit like Black Friday but for several weeks.  This meant twice an evening the show was extra long and involving dancers, video, extra lights, and fire.  Yes… fire and water fountain together… quite something.

7. Lit a flying lantern.  There was a comedy show that my friend’s husband was helping put on the first week I was visiting, and as part of their opening night, they had these hot hair lanterns.  After lighting the bottom of them, the lantern slowly filled with hot air until it was ready to fly.  It was rather magical to watch them all floating away through the night sky.  I actually lit two of them, but didn’t have anyone take a picture of me while I did it, so I took pictures of the people around me lighting them instead.

8.  Went to Dubai’s writer’s group.  You don’t get more authorly than this.  The writer’s group alternates between critique one week and write-in the next.  I got to attend one of each since I was there for two weeks.  The group is in English, but truly international, with people from all over the world.  I was a bit shy, but did read some of the stories for critique and offer feedback.  But mostly I was excited to meet so many writers from all over the place.

9. Browsed Dragon Mart for local made jewelry.  It seems most of the stuff in the malls, besides being horribly expensive, is imported from China or India as much as things are in the US.  However, the cheaper local Dragon Mart near where Skip lives, ironically named for being in a Chinese neighborhood is a good place to find necklaces and bracelets in the bead shops.  I had a great time looking at all the beads and picked out a couple necklaces to buy.  They’re something fun that won’t add clutter to my life like other souvenir items.  Who needs a model of the Burj Khalifa or more refrigerator magnets, honestly?

10. Went hiking in Musandam, Oman.  
This section of Oman is separated from the rest of the country by the UAE (United Arab Emirates)  and so while technically a different country quite close.  Mountains go right up to the gulf coast here, but we went hiking farther back in the mountains.  We climbed up a couple wadis, and the rocks were fabulous. I loved the different shapes.  There were also several small nomadic villages tucked away in some of the little valleys, and well as wandering goats.


More Gorgeness: Mosier and Rowena

This last weekend we had my in-laws up for a visit and we went hiking in the gorge, which put novel revisions on hold, but I had a fabulous time.  We took some nice pictures of the other side of the Historic Columbia Highway State Trail.  This is the Mosier twin tunnels I mentioned when showing pictures of my usual side of the 5 mile trail (which yes, I walked again today like I always do).  The Mosier side is steeper to start out with, but more open, offering nice vistas of the gorge.  Plus, it ends in the tunnels.

Built I think in the 1920s, these tunnels used to take cars, but are so narrow I can’t imagine wanting to drive even down the middle of them in a modern car.  This area is prone to landslides and falling rocks as well, which was why they discontinued this as a one lane section of highway eventually.  What I find the most interesting about the tunnels though, is that they have windows cut into them on the north side so you can look out over the gorge.

Through one of these is someone’s private island on the Columbia.  Now, I know living on a private island would be in many ways, highly inconvenient, but every time I go here, I gaze longingly at that little island.  It looks like such a fun place to live!  You can’t really see the house because they hid it behind the trees right next to the dock, so that it’s mostly facing away from I-84 (the freeway) and towards the Washington side, but it looks like a full house, not just a summer cottage.  Not that I don’t truly live already in one of the most beautiful places in the world, but still, I can dream.

To protect hikers and bikers from the falling rocks, below/past the tunnels is a causeway.  This makes the most dangerous part of walking this not falling rocks, but speeding bicycles.  They really get zooming through both the tunnels and the causeway.  when coming out from the windows in the tunnels I adhere to road rules and carefully look both ways before resuming walking on the right side of the road.  Still, I always find it well worth it.

After Mosier, the Historic Columbia River Highway is open again to cars all the way to The Dalles.  Usually we only take it Rowena, so see the outlook there and then get back on the freeway.  This offers next to Crown Point, some of the most spectacular high views of the gorge.  Since we’re now solidly in the rain shadow of the Cascades by now, the mountains are more bare and rugged, but still stunning and far more green than most people tend to think of them.  I’m not sure where we hit the desert properly, since it’s after The Dalles and I haven’t gone exploring that far yet, although will eventually.

At least this outlook is right off the highway, so if you’re tired you don’t have to walk far to enjoy it.  There’s also here a trail that goes up a nearby bluff with a wonderful sign warning to watch out for poison oak, rattlesnakes, and ticks, but I’ve mostly not walked up it because it tends to be hot this time of year, not for the warnings.  I’ve met a couple people who’ve walked it and recommend it and considering the cougar warning (and linx sighting) at my usual walk in Corvallis, I figure I can handle a rattlesnake warning.  But so far, I’ve only taken the lower trail, that goes out on the flat part in this picture looking west, which has some marshy lakes on top of the cliffs.

So, despite how my great grandmother always used to say the gorge was only pretty west of Hood River, I have to disagree.  Some of what lies between The Dalles and Hood River is now some of my favorite places and stunningly beautiful.  Not to mention the fresh apricots we went u-picking at a farm along the highway… truly delicious.  I’m going to have to go back and get a few more pounds of them before their season is over.


“Gardening is for middle aged people,” my mother once told me.

Despite that, I think she just always loved gardening herself.  I remember as a young child, her excitement every year to garden.  Now, with the front yard shaded by three enormous Douglas fir trees (and all their acidic pine needles) and the back yard shaded by a huge cedar and linden tree, about the only place to plant flowers (since they need sun) was a narrow strip along the driveway planted with rose bushes.  That didn’t deter her one bit, and so, began my first (and only) childhood experience with gardening.  My mother would plant other flowers in between the rose bushes, and to encourage us in her enthusiasm, she let us each pick a small patch between bushes to call our own.

I knew exactly what I wanted to put there–pansies.  I thought they were the pretties of flowers and in the store she let me pick out several colors.  I happily planted them, watered then, even weeded them for a few weeks.  Unfortunately, that was also the summer that my parents decided to remodel the upstairs attic into a proper bedroom.  The layout of the house was such the remodeling company had to lift sheetrock up through the windows upstairs to get it there.  Their huge truck, parked in our driveway needed two supporting metal braces set down before they could use the lift on it, and one of them they chose to put down right on top of my pansies–smashing them completely.

I was, naturally, as traumatized as an 6 year old girl might be.  And somehow, after that, I never got back into gardening.

Now and then, across the years, my mother has come and planted lovely flowers around whatever apartment or house I’m renting and my only job has been to water them.  Our lovely new house here in Hood River is no exception.  Mom noticed several large (and empty) planters on the back patio, and on her second visit, brought bunches of (you guessed it) pansies.  Now my planters are overflowing with a rainbow of my childhood favorite flowers.

Going past them every day to and from my car, I’ve found myself stopping more and more.  First to water them, then to pick off dead flowers so new ones can grow, finally weeding of all things.  And slowly it dawned on me–I actually like doing this.  Being out on the back patio, messing around with my mini-garden is rather fun. I’ve never liked yardwork before, and now, suddenly I do.

Is it my thirties catching up to me? Or perhaps I’ve finally been given enough pansies to overcome the childhood trauma?  Either way, perhaps I’ll slowly try out gardening and see if maybe, incredibly, I actually enjoy it.

Kate Fuentes guest post!

Greetings! Thank you for allowing me to be a guest on your site today Ardyth! I’m looking forward to having a tremendous time sharing posts and having “Giveaways” on various blogs with the Summer Teen Reading Party event! There will be amazing book titles and fabulous interviews with authors from all genres participating! Be sure to stop by and check it out!

When I look back to when I had less wrinkles and a smaller backside, I remember the excitement of summer! To be free from the confines of school and ready to make memories with my friends over the summer break, but I also recall having time to relax and read a good book. Whether it was on a vacation we had taken to the beach or a lazy afternoon in the backyard, I found the time to sit and experience the fantasy realms of some of my favorite stories. I’m a BIG fan of Greek Mythology and the legendary heroes of yesteryear. I believe this type of ‘epic adventure ‘writing help mold my own form of literary style and created a vast foundation of imagination outlets to pull from when I’m constructing my young adult series ELEMENTS. I have written and published two books in the series thus far and plan to release
the third in the series just before summer begins in 2012.

The ELEMENTS novels follow the lives of fraternal twin brothers Gage and Talon Thorn. They were born from an ancient prophecy and have the extraordinary elemental abilities of fire and water. A wicked underworld emperor is determined to destroy the ‘Brothers of Prophecy’ and claim the earth realm for his own if the brothers don’t learn how to control their gifts and save humanity from the clutches of evil. The twins must experience tragedy, loss and defeat before they try to push forward and live up to what destiny has asked of them. The challenge has been set forth by dark forces and the world must put their faith in a pair of young brothers. The future is uncertain.

To find out more about the ELEMENTS series please visit Kate Fuentes webpage for more details.


Elements: The Beginning, Book One


Elements: Veil of Darkness, Book Two








Elements: Kingdom of Aqueous, Bk 3



I’m also quite excited to include a giveaway for your readers today! One reader can win an ebook copy of my first book, ELEMENTS: The Beginning, FREE! Answer a question, ‘like’ the Elements Facebook page and follow me on Twitter to begin earning points! A random winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter! Good Luck!

Also, check back throughout the month of May on the Summer Reading Party site and see if you could win ALL three books!

Thank you for having me as a guest on your blog! I really appreciate having the opportunity to speak with your readers!

Warm Regards,


To contact the author, Kate Fuentes, visit the following social media sites:

Kate Fuentes , Twitter , Sired Scribblings , Facebook , Pinterest

Author Bio: Kate Fuentes

My name is Kate Fuentes, author of a young adult fantasy series called Elements. I modeled the characters after my two sons and created the fantasy realm as a story to read to my children at night. I’m fascinated at the enormity of endless imagination that we humans are capable of having, and enjoy being able to write fiction for others to appreciate as well.

My series includes: Book one, Elements: The Beginning, Book two, Elements: Veil of Darkness, and soon to be released in the summer of 2012, Book three, Elements: Kingdom of Aqueous. I plan to continue the installments and have not decided how many books will complete the series. I, like so many of my author counterparts, aspire to create more books and characters for my readers to enjoy. I have two projects currently in the beginning phases of conception and will release details in the fall of 2012 on my webpage

I attended college in Arizona and transferred to California where I finished my studies in business marketing and advertising while progressively composing short stories in the foreground. Research and development is one of my favorite aspects of writing along with the actual creation of the story from imagination to the novel itself.

I am quite passionate about writing but also enjoy helping those that are underprivileged, forgotten, and oppressed by working in a global reach department during the week in the hopes that I may bring attention to the causes which will, in effect, inspire others to volunteer or champion for those less fortunate both locally and around the world.

On a personal note, I am happily married to my junior high sweetheart and we have two glorious children. We appreciate our time spent with one another and always make sure we set aside a day for family fun night.

Meet Barbara Ehrentreu and her character Jennifer

I’d like to welcome Barbara Ehrentreu to my blog!  Today I’m sharing an excerpt from If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor and an interview with one of the main characters in her novel!  Leave a comment and enter a drawing for a free copy!
Barbara, a retired teacher with a Masters degree in Reading and Writing K-12 and seventeen years of teaching experience lives with her family in Stamford, Connecticut. When she received her Masters degree she began writing seriously. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, Barbara’s first YA novel, published by MuseItUp Publishing was inspired by Paula Danziger. It has won #2 in Preditors & Editors Poll for Best Young Adult Book of 2011. In addition, Barbara has a story in Lavender Dreams, a memorial anthology for which all the proceeds go to cancer research. She has three poems inPrompted: An International Collection of Poems by the Anthologists for which all the proceeds go to Literacy research. Her blog, Barbara’s Meanderings,, is networked on both Facebook and Blog Catalog. She hosts Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages on Blog Talk Radio every 4th Thursday. In addition, her children’s story, “The Trouble with Follow the Leader” and an adult story, “Out on a Ledge” are published online She has written book reviews for and several of her reviews have been on Acewriters and Celebrity Café. She is a member of SCBWI. Writing is her life!


Carolyn Samuels is obsessed with the idea of being popular. She is convinced that the only thing keeping her from happiness is her too heavy for fashion body and not being a cheerleader. Hyperventilating when she gets nervous doesn’t help. When she is paired for a math project with the girl who tormented her in middle school, Jennifer Taylor, she is sure it is going to be another year of pain. With Carolyn’s crush on Jennifer’s hunky junior quarterback, Brad her freshman year in high school looks like a rerun of middle school. When Jennifer is the only student who knows why she fell in gym class, Carolyn is blackmailed into doing her math homework in return for Jennifer’s silence. Jennifer takes on Carolyn as a pity project since she can’t be seen with someone who dresses in jeans and sweatshirts. When Jennifer invites Carolyn to spend the night to make her over and teach her to tumble, Carolyn learns Jennifer’s secret and lies to her own friends to cover it up. Will Carolyn become a cheerleader and popular? Does she continue to keep Jennifer’s secret? Or will she be a target of this mean girl again?


Feeling my old hatred of gym, I glance across the locker room and see Jennifer in red designer shorts and a tight sleeveless shirt to match. She’s standing in front of the only mirror in the room turning back and forth.

Becky and I slide into our loose camp shorts and a T-shirt, and once they’re on, we race onto the gym floor. Always better to be early for gym the first day.  You never knew what kind of teacher you’d have. My athletic ability is zero, so I don’t take chances. Once I was a few minutes late, and the gym teacher in middle school made me run around the gym ten times. It took me the whole gym period.

Becky and I sit on the low seats in the bleachers, but Jennifer and her group saunter into the gym and choose the highest seats avoiding the rest of us. Miss Gaylon, the gym teacher introduces herself and gives us a few minutes until the last stragglers come from the locker room.  For those few minutes, I almost feel comfortable. My breathing returns to normal. I hear giggles from Jennifer and her group, but I ignore it.

“Maybe it won’t be so bad this year, Carolyn.” Becky always tries to cheer me up now. This wasn’t true a few years ago. I had to cheer her up a lot. Becky’s brothers are just turning five, and they’re both in kindergarten. Her mom remarried after being divorced for ten years. Becky was just getting used to her new stepfather when her mom got pregnant. I remember how miserable Becky was the first year of middle school when her mom spent so much time with her twin brothers and didn’t have enough time to help Becky with her homework. Luckily, Becky’s stepfather is a history teacher, so she got very interested in history and current events.

“Right, Becky, and maybe I’ll learn to be a gymnast in ten minutes. Reality check, remember last year?”

“Okay, I’m hoping it won’t be so bad.”

“You mean like the dentist finding you only have one cavity and filling it the same day?”

“You’re so lame, Carolyn. Since we’re all older, maybe she’ll treat us differently. People change over the summer you know.”

“Look at her, Becky.”

Becky turns to look over at the group at the top of the bleachers and then turns back to look me in the eye. “You know you have to put that stupid day behind you.”

I pretend not to know what she’s talking about. “What stupid day?”

Like I don’t remember every detail.

“The zip line day.”

“Oh, that day,” I say with a combination grimace and smile. “The day I wound up having to climb off the platform. I wanted to bore a hole into the ground so I wouldn’t have to walk past them but couldn’t, and everyone screamed at me: ‘Breathe, Carolyn, breathe.’”

“You have to admit it was funny the way the gym teacher ran up the ladder like a squirrel to rescue you. Everyone laughed at how stupid she looked. Jennifer got the whole class going with that ridiculous ‘breathe, Carolyn, breathe.’” Becky looks behind her to Jennifer. “You know I wanted to run over and punch her, but I couldn’t because I was still on the platform, and it was my turn to go.”

“Yeah, if I had a few more minutes, I would have been able to get up the courage to grip the zip line and hook myself to it. Stupid teacher didn’t give me a chance. This not breathing thing when I get nervous really sucks.”

Becky nods because she knows me so well.

“So then Jennifer started with that horrible chant, and of course, the whole class followed her, like always.” My eyes fill with tears as I remember, and my breathing is getting worse by the minute.

“I thought it was a dumb idea to do ropes course stuff in school. We did it at my camp the summer before, and no one was forced to do it. Anyone could get nervous with Jennifer in front of them,” Becky comforts me.

I continue talking as if I’m in a trance. “Remember how last year whenever I ran into Jennifer she would whisper ‘breathe, Carolyn, breathe,’ so no one could hear it except me. Once she did it just before I had to go up in front of the class in math.   Sometimes she would do it in front of everyone and, of course, get a big laugh while I wanted to turn into a piece of furniture.”

Becky grabs my arm.  “Do we have to go back over this again? You need to forget about it.” She takes her hand away from my arm as I continue to speak.

“Becky, I can’t. The thing is it’s this bad movie in my brain looping the same horrible scenes. The funny thing is, most of the time, she would ignore me. I would never know what she was going to do. You have to admire someone so single-minded she managed to get to me at just the right time.

You remember don’t you? And today did you see how she wore the same outfit as me? It’s spooky.”

My funny breathing returns as Miss Gaylon tells us to line up on the yellow line alphabetically. I hope there will be someone to go between Jennifer and me. No luck. Jennifer is going to be behind me all year. I hold my breath. I couldn’t stand more of the same this year. I pray for the day to end soon. A glance at my new watch shows me fifteen more minutes left of the period. Is Miss Gaylon’s voice getting lower?  What is that pounding in my ears?

Jennifer turns to face me, and I hear, “Breathe, Carolyn, breathe.” Then my world turns black.

An Interview with Jennifer Taylor from If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor

Welcome, Jennifer. I know you have a very busy schedule and I’m so glad
you could take a few minutes to talk with us.

Jennifer: Well, I thought it was important I get my side of the story out
there. After all, Carolyn has been going on all these blogs and bad
mouthing me. So I figured, well, we figured, that is Brad and I figured
I better get on here and tell my story. Who is Brad, you ask? He’s my
boyfriend and he’s the number one quarterback on the Mill Valley Vikings.

That’s my school’s team. I’m a freshman at Mill Valley High School and if
everything goes right I’ll be in the Olympics in a couple of years. My coach
says I have a really good chance if I continue to practice. I’m the best on
the team, but I have a problem.

What is your problem, Jennifer?

Jennifer: It’s hard to explain, but it started when I really wanted to be in
the Olympics. I had to be a certain weight to stay on the team. I mean the
coach weighed us every day and if we gained any weight he gave us a
few days to lose it or he would make us sit on the bench during practice.
So, in middle school I liked to eat and I kept gaining weight. One day I
had enough of not practicing so I decided to stop eating. Oh that worked
great! I got all mean and yes, that is when I started bothering poor little
Carolyn about her stupid breathing. That day I started it was a big joke,
but then it was so much fun to keep bothering her. She’s like a scared little
mouse. Maura, she’s my best friend, and I had so much fun deciding where
I should get her next. Meanwhile, I got so hungry I would stuff myself with
food and feel so guilty. One night I just got rid of it, you know how. After
that it was easy and I stayed at the right weight, except sometimes I stop
eating again. No one knows about this, not even Maura or my parents. No
one from my school will see this, right?

No, of course not.

Why did you decide to help Carolyn?

Jennifer: Now I can’t really say why I did and maybe it’s best if I don’t tell
you about that.

Maybe the girl just got to me. How pathetically she dressed and how she
only hung out with her two friends Becky and Janie. I mean when we did
the food survey she only knew those two. But it might be something else
and you know I would rather not say, it’s kind of private.

Do you think you are a “mean girl”?

Jennifer: If you go to Mill Valley High School you will see I am the most
popular girl in the whole school. I have the best looking guy as a boy friend
and people really like me. Is that the profile of a mean girl? Maybe if I were
Carolyn Samuels I might think of myself as a mean girl. I have been pretty
mean to her. But she really deserved it with her dweeby friends and her
breathing problem. So, no, I don’t think of myself as a “mean girl’.

Jennifer, it has been very interesting talking with you and I’m glad you got
to tell your side of the story. We can learn more about Jennifer Taylor and
Carolyn Samuels in the recently published YA novel, If I Could Be Like
Jennifer Taylor by Barbara Ehrentreu from MuseItUp Publishing available
in both ebook and paperback:

The Muse Bookstore: (only ebook)


Barnes and Noble

Also please visit Barbara Ehrentreu’s blog:



Please leave Jennifer a comment telling her about your own freshman year
in high school. Do you think she is a mean girl? One of you will win a free
pdf e-book of If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor.


Meet Penny Estelle

 Welcome Penny Estelle to my blog!  I was excited to meet her and get a look at her work and I hope you are too.  Leave a comment on the blog and win a free pdf copy of either “Hike up Devil’s Mountain” or “A Float Down the Canal,” your choice!

1. When did you first realize you were a writer?

I would probably have to say one year ago when I actually got a contract! I remember getting an email from Solstice Publishing offering me a contract for Hike Up Devil’s Mountain. I think I started hyper-ventilating. I screamed and my husband came running in to see what was wrong. We danced around a little bit, cracked a bottle of champagne (I think it was 8:30 am) and then I felt like a writer, because I could actually say, I have a story published.
2. What do you find is the hardest aspect of being a writer?

Can I give 2 answers? First, just sitting down to write. There is so much involved with trying to market and promote, sometimes actual writing takes a back seat. Second, is my patience level. You write, edit, edit more, and it’s ready to be sent in – then you wait!

3. Tell us about your work.

I have 2 books out and one coming out this month (yea) Hike Up Devil’s Mountain is about 3 boys who get in a world of trouble. Their only hope live on Devil’s Mountain. The story is how they try to reach the top and the dangers they face on their way up. It has a surprise ending that you just don’t see coming!

A Float Down the Canal is about a twelve-year girl who has to cancel all her plans to watch her brother and his friend, and then learns her prissy cousin is coming over for her to entertain as well. Pam Simpson is always the pal, one of the gang, second fiddle, and her cousin wants to help change this. This story tells how Pam’s worst day ever, ends up being one she will never forget and it all starts with a Float Down the Canal.

Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare, due out this month, is about 7th grader, Billy Cooper. Everyone in class has to do an oral report on whatever historical subject they draw from a box. Billy figures he will do a quick search on the computer and skate by on this assignment, but all that changes when he comes face to face with his 14th century subject!

4. What’s your favorite part of writing books for children and young adults?

I was a secretary for 21 years for a school principal. I have heard so many excuses from kids as to why they are in trouble or why it isn’t their fault, etc. Most of the kids that came to see the principal had a way of getting under my skin – in a good way. I love a kid with a great sense of humor and sarcasm.

I really like doing the dialogue in my stories. Kids of today are unique in their speech and showing emotions. I love it. I also have 5 kids and 7 grandkids. Most of my dialogue, I can hear coming out of their mouths as I type!

5. Now that you’re published, what has changed in your view when it comes to writing and publishing?

Oh my gosh, that is a really simple question for me to answer. I figured when I signed that contract, the money would start pouring in. HA! The writing part is easy. I am still learning the ways to market and promote. This process is not for sissies!

6. How important of a role do you believe social media will play in your success as a published author?

I think it will be huge! Honestly, I am not the best at promoting myself. My husband tells everybody he meets, “Hey, my wife is an author! Have a bookmark! Visit her website!” It’s almost embarrassing. Twitter, websites, blogs, facebook – these are a must!

I actually got Janet Evanovich to answer 3 questions for me on my blog (I know, isn’t that awesome?) I asked her, how much time she spends with social media. She said none! She’s my hero. Someday I want to be that good!!!

7. What one piece of advice do you have for unpublished writers?

If you are writing for the money, chances are you may be disappointed. Write because you love to put stories down on paper. Write, write, and write some more!

8. Tell us about your next project.

I am hoping to do a series called the Wickware Sagas. It is along the lines of my story Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare. Today’s kids, meeting historical legends of years gone by. I think the stories could be funny, adventurous, and with a little education thrown in, would make a great series.

9. Where do you see yourself as an author in the next ten years?

Have you ever seen the film or read the book, The Secret? You see what you want to happen – soooooo, I’m going to say I see myself sitting on my balcony of my beach house on the San Diego coast, looking out into the Pacific Ocean, with my laptop and typing The End to my 5 greatest American Novel!

10. Where can we go to find about more about you and your books?

My website is My blog is
@pennystales – twitter

Hike Up Devil’s Mountain –  available from the publisher, Amazon, and Smashwords 

Float Down the Canal – available from Smashwords, Sony, and Kobo

11. Finally, would you be so kind as to share an excerpt of your work with us?

Escerpt from Hike Up Devil’s Mountain

The boys looked into a black gaping hole, the size of a basketball. The top was lined with tiny razor sharp teeth. From the bottom, two, huge jagged teeth jutted out over the top, like elephant tusks.
The sucking in of Danny’s breath could hardly be heard, but it was loud enough. Time froze! Andy didn’t draw a breath, but his heart was pounding so hard in his chest, he was sure this thing would be able to hear it.

It looked first to the right and then slowly to the left. A low growl could be heard way down in its throat, waiting to erupt. Neither Andy nor Danny moved a muscle. Two large, dull, red globes with black slits in the middle of each globe, scanned the room, and then slowly looked down.

It took only seconds for the thing to focus in on his unexpected guests. The black slits in its eyes practically disappeared to tiny dots and the eyes turned from dull to a blood red. The bellow was as loud a noise as Andy had ever heard.

Danny screamed and ran for his life. He ran through the tunnel on the right.

Andy was right behind him, but the monster’s tail came around knocking Andy back against the rock and blocking the entrance. He was back on his feet in a flash, diving through the partially opened second tunnel. Andy felt one of the claws brush through his hair.

The monster’s roar followed him down the tunnel. Andy looked over his shoulder and saw the monster trying to get through the narrow opening. He tripped, falling down hard. When he looked back, the thing was gone.



There Be Mountains

Closing in on my second week in Hood River, I’ve been watching for mountains.  The first week, one morning when driving Ben to work, there across the Columbia was suddenly a mountain I had no idea was there before.  Sure, I’ve been told there’s views of mountains, but that’s not the same as suddenly between the lower mountain sides of the gorge, there is suddenly a huge volcanic peak where there has only up until that point, be clouds.  And not a small one, but an enormous one.

I sort of did a double take and went, oh my, that’s large.  And then promptly didn’t see it again for another week.  We had wind, snow, but even on sunny days, heavy clouds surrounding the gorge.

Having seen the pictures online of Hood River, I knew the mountain, Mount Hood, had to be around here somewhere… where I wasn’t sure, because the other directions were even cloudier than the gorge.  Days went by, some with a glimpse of the other mountain (Mt. Adams? Or is that Mt. Baker? Never can keep them straight), but still no sign of the town’s namesake.  Some days I wondered if it was a myth and the pictures online photoshopped.

Today started with heavy mists (Ben sings the new Misty Mountain song from the Hobbit every day when driving to work when they come into view) so I didn’t think today would be the day, but suddenly I came around the bend in front of my house, and there it was.  A massive mountain, brilliant in the light of dawn.  Rather shockingly beautiful.

Determined to capture the moment, I went for my camera when I got back from taking Ben to work, but already the insidious clouds of winter have started in.  Now the mountain is gone again.  But I’m evilly pleased to have at least finally found it, and have a good view of it within half a block of my house.  The trees in the park get in the way as far as my actual view from my window goes.

Sylvanians, Twitter, and two book reviews

Writing itself has sort of gotten stuffed to the back of my closet the last week as I’ve tried to push through other things, including “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength” a book recommended to me by Merc (an excellent read) and more of “Getting Things Done” which has seemed to result in me getting a ton of things done, but all of them non-writing things I’m forever putting off.

One of the excellent points the book makes is that a cluttered space lowers our willpower.  People in a messy lab scored lower on quizzes or accomplishing things than people in a tidy lab.

One of these things was to go look at our stuff in the attic that my husband and I are storing at my parent’s house, only to find the roof leaked on it, which meant sorting all of it before they get back from their vacation.  I’ve spent the last three days rather astounded at some of the stuff I’ve saved… (old movie tickets from high school? really? and those old striped sheets, eww, I don’t know how I ever liked them)

Then finding some of the stuff has inspired some of my other hobbies emerging once again…

I’ve collected Sylvanians for years… small animal dolls that were hugely popular  in the 1980s, and apparently stayed popular (unknown to me) in Japan, which is why they resurfaced later renamed in the US anyway, as Calico Critters.

I keep telling myself I have enough of them (does a collector really ever have enough) but then would see some here and there and fall in love with them.  Well, i found a pack of used ones at Value Village the other day and just had to have them.  Most of them, however, lacked clothing.  So, I tried to sew some… and got some rather iffy results (the first shirt looks more like those things they make you put on at the emergency room).  While the green dress looks alright from the front, it doesn’t close in the back either.

Store clothes compared with mine.

After turning to the internet for help I finally found some patterns.  While the instructions are all in Japanese, the pictures are easy enough to follow and you can see a huge difference in my new results.  The shirt both fits and closes in the back and the dress looks remarkably like the store made ones, which pleases me.

I also finally figured out Twitter… I mean I know it’s not supposed to be complicated, you just follow people and type very very short messages, but I sort of felt lost by the whole format.  I did find a group on She Writes of self-published women who were all posting Twitter handles though, and so by adding them I finally got the sense of the why to Twitter.  Everyone was so nice and friendly when I added them.  It helps they also decided to copy Google plus in their format, which threw me off at first but then made it easier to find things. I’m looking forward to staying connected with a great group of authors.

Also, I received a wonderful review from Gina, Diane Saleri’s daughter on her blog In High Spirits and another great review from Good Book Alert last week.  I’m thrilled they enjoyed it so much.

Perhaps all this productivity will finally this week translate into some writing.  That’d be nice.  I’m partway through a novella connected to “A School for Villains” that I’d like to finish and start on its way to publication.

Organizing and Post-novel Ennui

I spent most of January working on a new novel, which has led to a slow start of February as far as writing goes.  I decided to enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award again this year (I got called lamentable by Publisher Weekly last time, I guess the person who got my novel wasn’t into humor) and so decided to polish up my historical YA novel for the contest.  Even with a bad review, if I’m lucky, it gets the novel polished and out on submission.  Most of January I was quite busy with it, and put it as a priority over everything.

Naturally, I knew that would mean a crash when I finally got it in. I’ve noticed that after intensely working on a novel I need a break of varying length after I finish before I can focus again on moving on.  Maybe some people move straight from one to novel to the next, but most of the writers I know also experience at least some degree of post-novel ennui.  You’ve put so much work and energy and focus into one story, it’s hard to move on, and I’m not a person who only writes “when I feel like it.”  I’ve just noticed the resistance to working moves from a grumble to a solid concrete wall during these times.

So instead of fighting it, for once I tried scheduling it.  It felt weird, but what I found was, I didn’t even feel like looking at the computer (past some gaming) during most of it.  Instead I mostly read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen.  I checked it out from the library, but since I had to use a hold to get it, I had a sneaking suspicion the person I “took” it from would put it on hold as soon as I got it, so I’d only have the two weeks to read it.  That helped me focus on getting through it.  I still wish I’d had more time, but I at least got far enough to get going on my new organizational system (the book is on hold again).

To supplement trying to get my marketing under control, I’ve decided to also do the Talest Social Media Check-up series ( free email series overview on blogging and social media).  I’m still rather flailing, so it’s less of a check-up and more of a how can I organize my efforts that results in a marketing plan that actually works… but hopefully it gets easier the longer I do this.

I suppose because marketing and blogging both are related to writing, I find them no easier than starting my next novel (was supposed to on the 1st, but still haven’t managed).  So, after the library took the book back I found myself doing some other completely non-computer related things… like papercutting, sewing, and puzzles.  Which would all be great, if now that I’ve had my two weeks of rest, writing would magically happen.

The muse so far has put up a roaring fight on that front. The force of trying to get myself to move on now that my scheduled break is over has so far has at least produced a clean room, clean laundry, all my old papers sorted, and my car registration completed.  What’s next… the garage? Hmm, maybe my next novel does sound better than that.  That garage is pretty scary.


MIDNIGHT OIL Book 2 of the Witches of Galdorheim Series

One of my writing partners has a new book that just came out and I’m really excited to be in her blog tour!  Bad Spelling, the first book in the series, just placed 2nd in the Preditor/Editor Readers Poll in Childrens Novels. Book three will be coming soon.  This is a fabulous series and I’m thrilled to be able to host a excerpt from “Midnight Oil.”  Check it out for a chance to win the book and help support a great author.


Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even phone home?

Bio: Marva Dasef is a writer living in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a fat white cat. Retired from thirty-five years in the software industry, she has now turned her energies to writing fiction and finds it a much more satisfying occupation. Marva has published more than forty stories in a number of on-line and print magazines, with several included in Best of anthologies. She has several already published books and the Witches of Galdorheim Series from her super duper publisher, MuseItUp.

Marva Dasef


MuseItUp Author Page:



Twitter Handle: @Gurina

Book Trailers:

Buy Links:

MuseItUp Buy Page:

Amazon Kindle:

Back Cover Blurb:

Kat discovers that an evil forest spirit has kidnapped her brand-new boyfriend. She sets out with her brother, Rune, from her Arctic island home on a mission to rescue the boy. Things go wrong from the start. Kat is thrown overboard during a violent storm, while her brother and his girlfriend are captured by a mutant island tribe. The mutants hold the girlfriend hostage, demanding that the teens recover the only thing that can make the mutants human again–the magical Midnight Oil.

Mustering every bit of her Wiccan magic, Kat rises to the challenge. She invokes her magical skills, learns to fly an ultralight, meets a legendary sea serpent, rescues her boyfriend, and helps a friendly air spirit win the battle against her spiteful sibling. On top of it all, she’s able to recover the Midnight Oil and help the hapless mutants in the nick of time.

GIVEWAY! Comment on this blog and you’ll get a chance to win a free copy of Midnight Oil.


Excerpt 1 – The Storm

The wind picked up until it whistled and moaned around the sturdy little craft. The waves climbed higher and rougher. The boat would rise on a wave and slam down into the next one, sending sheets of icy water cascading off each side of the bow. Kat tried to see what was ahead, but spray rattling against the windshield blurred her view. As fast as it drained off, a new wave splashed over it again. She hoped Ivansi knew what he was doing. She noticed he didn’t even bother looking at his instruments, and then she saw why—the compass spun crazily, giving no clue to their direction. Ivansi’s knuckles were white on the wheel spokes as he struggled to keep the boat headed into the wind. He kept his eyes glued to the one small area of the windshield kept clear by the wiper. Kat looked around for something to hang on to.

“Big wind,” Ivansi said.

“When will it stop?” Kat yelled over the roaring wind and sea.

Nadia spoke to Ivansi, and he replied in Sami. The girl translated. “He not know. Storm not, not…” She glanced at Rune, and he supplied the word she wanted. “Natural.”

Kat looked around at the whirling water. “Magic?” Kat shouted above the howl of the wind and the sound of the waves smashing against the little boat.

“I think so,” Rune yelled back. “Don’t you feel it?”

“All I feel is seasick,” Kat replied, her stomach lurching up and down in time with the waves.

Kat looked toward the stern and her father’s ice casket. To her horror, she saw how it lay at an angle instead of straight across the boat. One of the cleats tying down the block started to pull out of the top rail. She waved at Rune and pointed. “The ice is slipping!”

Rune and Nadia both looked back. Rune let go of the handhold. Kat knew he was going to try a spell to set it right. Another wave crashed against the boat. Rune lurched away from the bulkhead, banging his head and fell to the deck, pulling Nadia with him. He struggled to stand and grabbed the handhold again. He winced and held his hand to the side of his head, too stunned to continue his spell.

The boat slammed into another wave trough, and the block slipped a few more inches. Kat feared it would slide off the boat at any moment. She edged out of the wheelhouse and dropped to her hands and knees to avoid the worst of the wind.

Ivansi glanced in her direction. “No! Stay!” he shouted. She ignored him and continued to creep to the stern, water and wind lashing at her, holding the sides of the boat or anything else she could get a grip on.

“Don’t, Kat! You can’t do anything about it,” Rune yelled. With both hands occupied keeping himself and Nadia upright, he was unable to stop her.

She looked back at her brother and saw the desperation in his eyes. “Got to try,” she whispered, knowing the howling wind would whip away any words she spoke.