Happy Birthday, Mark Twain & Jonathan Swift

Today marks the birthdate of a couple of my favorite authors. Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835.  He was born around the time Halley’s Comet was visible on earth, and throughout his life, he predicted that since he arrived with the comet, he’d depart with it as well.  He passed away on April 21, 1910, the day after the comet returned.

He wrote numerous novels, short stories, and essays, though his most notable works included The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and Pudd’nhead Wilson.  Huckleberry Finn was always my favorite with Tom Sawyer being a close second.  However, I must admit that until I researched Mr. Twain for this post, I had no idea that he also wrote two sequels to his Tom Sawyer novel, Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective.  Now I know what I need to add to my shopping list!

Happy Birthday, Mr. Twain!


Jonathan Swift was also born on November 30, 1667.  He was an Irish author, clergyman, and satirist.  By the time he was seventeen, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree at Trinity College in Dublin.  When he was twenty-three, he met his future wife who was only eight years old at the time!  (Am I the only one that finds that a little creepy?)

One of Mr. Swift’s most notable books is one of my favorites: Gulliver’s Travels.  The original title was Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, In Four Parts, By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of several Ships.  Now there’s a mouthful!

Happy Birthday, Mr. Swift!

Happy Birthday, C.S. Lewis

Growing up in Christian school, we were only allowed to read from an approved Christian reading list.  So as you might imagine, I read a lot of C.S. Lewis when I was a kid.  My favorite was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, though I liked all of The Chronicles of Narnia.

Mr. Lewis (born Clive Staples Lewis) entered this world on November 29, 1898, in Belfast, Ireland.  He was good friends with novelist, J.R.R. Tolkien, and he served on the English faculty at Oxford University.  He wrote more than thirty books which have sold more than a hundred million copies.  He died from renal failure on November 22, 1963, one week before his sixty-fifth birthday.  (Sadly, media coverage of his death was overshadowed by the assassination of John F. Kennedy that same day.)

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lewis!

Author Interview – Viv Drewa

Recently, I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them for guest-spots on my blog.  (If you are interested in participating, please contact me.)  I asked everyone thirty-five questions — some were basic, and others were multi-part inquiries — and I asked them to answer only what they wanted to or what was applicable. My friend and fellow-blogger, Viv Drewa, had some very captivating responses which I’m sure will enchant you, as well.  After you read her interview, please be sure to hop on over to her blog and follow her for a regular dose of her charm and wit.  And now, I turn the microphone over to Viv…



1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:

Viv Drewa

2. Please provide the link to your blog (and website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.):

FaceBook: http://facebook.com/vivdrewa.author
Twitter: http://twitter.com/@vivdrewa
Tumblr: http://vivdrewa.tumblr.com/
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Viv-Drewa/e/B00J1PTJ20
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/vivdrewa/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/111517233233824739640/posts
WordPress: http://theowlladyblog.wordpress.com

3. How many books have you written?

Two novels and one short story. I’ve also contributed two short shorts to two collections.

4. Has any of your work been published yet? If so, please share the link(s) to purchase it:

The Angler and the Owl, eBook

The Angler and the Owl, paper

The Owl of the Sipan Lord

From the Pages of Grandfather’s Life

Ashtrays to Jawbreakers Book 1:
US: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/446971

Ashtrays to Jawbreakers Book 2:
US: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/467822

5. If you have been published, did you self-publish or use traditional publishing? Why? If you have not been published yet, what are your plans for the future?

I initially self-published but my WIP will be through a publisher.

6. How old were you when you started writing? When did you know you wanted to be an author?

Since I was 9 to 10 I wanted to be an author

7. What would you say motivates you to keep writing?

My imagination and the desire to create.

8. Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?

I have so many favorite authors it would take a whole page to list. I just finished “Paranormal Persistence ~Caveat~: :True Experiences” which was fascinating!

9. What is your preferred reading method? (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.) Why?

I really like Kindle eBooks but if the book isn’t available as an eBook then paperback is fine. I like to read and an eReader can hold a lot more books than my book shelf.

10. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?

Third person, either tense. It depends on the story line and if I feel it’ll be better in past or present tense. I also tried to publish one of my novels in the first person, present tense and received bad reviews.

11. Do you “always read” or do you take breaks between reading books? 

I always read and never take breaks between readings.

12. How many books would you say you read in a year? How many at any one time?

Depends on the length but I’d say about 20 a year. I tried reading two at a time and decided it was too frustrating. I didn’t know which book to pick up.



13. What is the title of your current work in progress of the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?

“The Owl of the Sipan Lord” is my most recent completed novel

14. What is your novel’s genre? Would you say there is a sub-genre? What makes yours different than other books in the same genre?

Primarily paranormal. The sub-genre will be thriller or murder mystery. There’s a little romance in them, too.  I like to think ‘outside-the-box’ when I write to make them different.

15. What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?

I love South America. Their cultures and traditions so I think of a way to build a story around on the countries.

16. What is your target audience’s age, gender, etc.?

I don’t have a target audience.

17. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your story?

Martin and Clare Montgomery worked as an archaeological team until Martin’s accidental death at a dig they were working on in Peru. Clare swore she’d never go back, but after having a dream about the dig that didn’t add up to the finds of the area, and the help of the Peruvian Pygmy Owl and a blue-eyed spirit, she did.

Her long-time friend and mentor, Carl Windmueller, believed in following dreams and encouraged her to go. He tries to research what she saw in the dream but is visited by a red-eyed spirit that causes him to have a massive heart attack when he gets close.

Unfortunately, Clare doesn’t understand what Carl was looking into by the books on his desk. Her friend Cord gets a team together and they head back to Peru.

The re-eyed spirit does all it can to keep the team from finding it’s secret that has been kept for the past 1300 years. Near fatalities plague the team taking her back to the day her husband died. But she kept on until the truth was fully discovered.
This is a story about a widow who, with the help of an owl and blue eyed spirit, solves her husband’s murder, and a 1300 year old mystery in Peru.



18. How often do you write?

I try to write daily but sometimes the day gets away from me.

19. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?

About 500 or more. It depends on how much time I have.

20. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?

I had a friend edit them, but now that I’m going with a publisher they will take care of the editing.

21. What is your method of writing? (i.e., Do you write the entire manuscript, then go back and make changes? Do you plan chapters as you go along or write the story then go back and add chapters?  Do you re-read as you go along or after you are done with the first draft?)

I plan out the whole novel and start writing. Sometimes I will go back because of something I think of that would add to the story.

22. Do you have a muse? If so, please elaborate. If not, what inspires you?

No, I don’t have a muse. My novels are inspired by different things, really. Not any one thing.

23. How long does it take you to write a full manuscript?

Depends on the length and whether I run into ‘writer’s block’. The longest it took me was eight months.

24. Do you give yourself a word limit for each day or a time limit to finish your novel? If so, please elaborate.

I don’t give myself limits on a daily basis but I do limit the time it takes me. I plan on eight months, since that was the longest it ever took me. If I finish sooner great, if not, no problem.

25. How do you come up with your character names and geographic location / business names?

After I interview my characters (something I read to help develop characters in a writer’s magazine) I read over the interview and come up with names.

26. How long (or how detailed) are the notes you take before you start writing?

My second novel, “The Owl of the Sipan Lord” required a lot of research so my notes were extensive. I even contacted a well-renowned archaeologist for help. He was very helpful suggesting research pages to help with my questions.

27. Do you have any “must haves” to help you write? (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)


28. Do you only write during a certain time of day or in a certain location? If so, do you make yourself stop after a certain time?

I write in the morning when it’s quiet.

29. Does your real life ever neglected because of your writing? If so, how do you feel about that?

No. I’m very organized and have a good routine. It’s usually the opposite: my writing gets neglected because of real life.

30. What is the quirkiest thing you do or have ever done when writing?

I don’t like to have shoes and socks on. I feel my brain gets more oxygen this way.



31. If you have written more than one novel, which is your favorite and why?

I can’t really claim to like one more than the other.

32. If you could be one of your own characters for a day, who would it be and why?

I would be France Hunter form “The Angler and the Owl” because she’s an ornithologist who specializes in owls and I’ve love them all my life.

33. If one of your books became a movie, who would you choose for the “perfect cast” of main characters?

Wow. I never thought about that. For “The Angler and the Owl” I would choose Harrison Ford for the part of John Sinclair, Sigourney Weaver as France Hunter and Michael Ely as Doc.

34. What is the oddest thing you have ever researched for one of your books?

Burials in Peru during the Moche period. I was excited to see how they buried their dead in the early 200 CE

35. What is the most difficult thing you have ever researched for one your books and why?

That would be for my WIP. I wasn’t able to find out anything about the police investigation techniques in South America so I’m using our local police procedures.


Thank you, Viv, for allowing me to interview you.  I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you and your work as much as I have.


Happy Thanksgiving!

I know most of my U.S. friends will be busy with Thanksgiving today, either enjoying food, football, friends, family, or some combination thereof.  Or perhaps they’re preparing for Black Friday shopping tomorrow.  (Or should I say tonight?)

So I’ll limit my Throwback Thursday to a photo of my plate from last year which is the exact thing I will be eating later today:

Starting at 11:00 on the plate, that’s filling (which is a homemade vegetarian version of stuffing), mashed potatoes, cheesy potato casserole, green bean casserole, and corn pudding.  (No, I don’t eat turkey or any meat except the occasional fish stick or tuna sandwich.)  The rest of my household will be enjoying these, as well as turkey, grilled herb chicken, cranberry sauce, cranberry-pecan-pineapple jello, stuffed acorn squash (we have another vegetarian in the group that likes that), pumpkin pie, chocolate lasagna (yes, I’ll have some of that!), peanut butter Oreo icebox pies (I’ll have some of that, too!), and possibly cherry cheese bars and cinnamon roasted pecans (if there’s time to make them).

So if you’re celebrating today, Happy Thanksgiving!  Also, if you’re participating, good luck and please be careful with Black Friday tonight and tomorrow!  And to everyone else, Happy Thursday!

Time to talk:  What are you eating today?  Will you cook it yourself or will someone else prepare it for you?  Do you do Black Friday?  If so, do you shop for yourself or for others?  Are you ready to start decorating for Christmas?

Happy Birthday, Granddaddy Pete!

As I’ve shared before, my grandparents raised me, so as far as I’m concerned, they were my real parents. Today my Granddaddy would’ve been ninety-five years old!  He passed away when he was sixty-seven and I was seventeen.  At the time, I thought he was old!  Of course, now that I’m in between seventeen and sixty-seven myself, I don’t think that’s so old at all anymore!  LOL!

My favorite photo of Grandma and Granddaddy sometime around the late 1940s I guess.

My grandfather was a strict man whose only interest was in school and my education.  By the time I left the second grade and transferred to a different private school, he started getting the following year’s books from the school and every night, weekends and holidays included, he’d make me sit with him for two to three hours to study and do the work for the grade ahead of mine.  I also had to bring home every single book every day and do my homework in front of him, even if I’d already done it in school.  As you might imagine, this caused a great deal of resentment in me toward school and toward him.  By the time I was in high school, I started accidentally (on purpose!) forgetting my books at school.  I got away with that excuse for about a week before he decided to visit the school and then forced me to stay after school under a teacher’s supervision for two hours each day so that teacher could see to it that I got my homework done.  (Poor Mrs. St. Clair didn’t understand why Granddaddy was so obsessed with my schooling, either!)

Before spending every evening in Granddaddy’s home school after spending the entire day in real school, I could go outside after school until whatever time the newspaper said sunset was.  That meant I was inside the front door by that time, not in the yard and not on the porch.  But it was my responsibility to check the paper daily.  And if I was even one minute late, I was grounded for the rest of the week.

Because all that education was shoved down my throat, I hated school with a vengeance.  I didn’t like it anyway because my Asperger’s Syndrome made me anxious when I was around a lot of people, but knowing I’d have to go home and take all the chapter tests in every book just for Granddaddy even though the teachers never assigned them, and spending hours reading aloud instead of getting any downtime, made me resent every moment I was at school.  As such, I did all I could to get out early.  I took eleventh grade English in summer school and was therefore able to skip my junior year and graduate at sixteen years old.

My other favorite photo of Grandma and Granddaddy on Guam in the 1950s.

However, because of my disdain for school, I didn’t want to go to college after graduation.  It was another five years before I realized how foolish that was and went.  (And of course, it turned out that I loved it!)  Furthermore, because of how strict my lifestyle was, I just wanted to feel loved, so I did what too many young girls do, and I fell for the first boy who came along and paid any attention to me.  At only thirteen years old, I already decided I would marry that boy someday, a fact which Granddaddy absolutely hated.

Granddaddy and me on his last birthday on earth.

So Granddaddy and I argued over that boy, and we argued over school.  All the time.  It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that he only wanted me to have the advantages in life that his other children didn’t have because they dropped out of school.  And while I still think he was excessively overzealous in his attempts to educate me, I do now fully appreciate his reasons for doing so.

Happy Birthday, Granddaddy Pete!  I love and miss you so much!

My Secret

I know many of you are getting ready for Thanksgiving this week, so I’ll make this short and sweet.  If, like me, you’re the type of person who washes your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, and if like me, you’re the person responsible for washing the dishes, you’ll want to know my secret.  (The fact that my dishwasher was manufactured sometime during the middle of The Cold War is the reason I wash the dishes before it does.)

To make cleanup easy for all those pots, pans, and casserole dishes that have baked on gunk, just add a tablespoon of fabric softener to the dish, then fill the rest with hot water and let it soak for a few minutes.  You won’t need to scrub anything at all.  If you don’t have fabric softener, hand lotion or hair conditioner work just as well, too.  It softens the gunk and helps it pull off with minimal work by you.

Talk to me:  Do you already utilize this trick when you wash dishes?  Do you wash dishes before you put them in the dishwasher?  Do you have any secrets that make cleanup easier?  How old is the oldest appliance in your house?