Friday, February 6, 2015

Thunder Prime, Fog Island

Getting ready to publish Book 2

The following is a poem, a ballad about an absent character in Thunder Prime, Fog Island. This e-book version is an update to the first edition, The Ballad of Bawdy McClure, a sci fi about a future time when cloning has been used to populate the universe. One man and one woman search for the answers to what happened to Bawdy, a man in search of justice who lived a secret life. The e-book version, with typos corrected and a few minor changes to the original, is available at for $2.99.

The next e-book in this duo is slated for publication in mid-March. If you haven't read Fog Island don't worry. The second book stands on its own, but some references to characters from Book 1 pop up from time to time. Subscribe to "Write On" by entering your e-mail address in the box at the top of the right hand column and receive blog updates and news about the publication of Thunder Prime, Pella's Revenge.

Ballad of Bawdy McClure 

Brian Michael McClure, a man of an age gone by,
Remained true to the Spirit and didn’t deserve to die.
There are those who go a wanderin’, their stories to unfold
This is the tale of such a man, a sad story I am told.
He stood for forgotten values and held loyal to each friend,
All who knew him mourned when he came to a tragic end.

Brian Michael McClure, a man of an age gone by,
Remained true to the Spirit and didn’t deserve to die.
“Bawdy” people called him, a man with a ready grin,
Fellows trusted him fiercely, and many fair maidens he did win.
His questing ways and steady charm brought people to his side,
He had an inner fire that proved his constant guide.

Brian Michael McClure, a man of an age gone by,
Remained true to the Spirit and didn’t deserve to die.
He believed in ultimate good and that Spirit held the lead,
If only each and all mankind would trust the Holy Seed.
Right would always out, he said, but knew the human mind
That leads some to evil ways their destiny to find.

Brian Michael McClure, a man of an age gone by,
Remained true to the Spirit and didn’t deserve to die.
He seemed so very open, a man easy to read,
But even such a heart can be made to bleed, and bleed and bleed.
The man beneath the surface was a mystery in many ways,
One none could unravel ‘til he reached the end of his days.

Brian Michael McClure, a man of an age gone by,
Remained true to the Spirit and didn’t deserve to die.
His twin in all but outward looks could not begin to understand,
And laid hope on a most intractable and stubborn man.
The two were on parallel paths, with vengeance in aevery pore,
But neither trusted the other, that’s the stuff of legend and lore.

Brian Michael McClure, a man of an age gone by,
Remained true to the Spirit, and for friendship he did die.
This story of a steady man with courage at the core
Takes him from this uncertain life to God’s eternal shore.
There is an inner fire that burns, an ever-flickering flame,
We enter life’s moments one way, but don’t come out the same.


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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Writers write, right?

Retired... mostly, kind of
So… as of December 31, 2014 I have what many folks would refer to as “retired,” meaning I no longer receive compensation for, nor am I accepting jobs as, a copywriter as such. I am focusing on my writing – fiction and nonfiction. Some will be essays, book or movie reviews, opinion pieces, articles about this and that, travel articles... you get the gist. A little of this and a little of that. These will be posted on my Write On blog and will appear as the mood strikes me, which could be 10 times a month, or one time in 10 months. Who knows? Not me. I’m also continuing to write in my Joy in the Morning blog, with about the same dedication… or lack thereof. The point is I’m focusing on writing.

Emphasis will be on finishing one novel that’s been hanging fire for about two years, give or take a year, collecting Joy in the Morning posts into a book of inspiration, and getting around to writing a book about what there is to do NOW in Las Vegas and San Miguel County. There have been a number of history books written about the area, and since I’m no historian, it makes more sense to skim the cream off the top of this lovely area and put it into a handy guide. Not a visitors’ guide; there will be no advertising, just a collection of interesting activities, events and sites. Is there enough to put into a book? Good question. I’ll keep you posted.

It has become clear to me that the older I get the more I want to write and the less I want to put it off until later. I’ve been listening to webinars and reading books about writing and publishing.. Every single one of them point out the following:

  • Serious writers write
  • Traditionally published authors work as hard at getting an agent as they do at writing books
  • Serious writers write
  •  Indie and traditionally published authors learn how to promote their own books with confidence
  •   Serious writers write
  • Author platforms are crucial
  • Serious writers write 
  • Authors read nearly as much as the write 
  •  Serious writers write

I’m sure you get the overarching theme here. Write and write some more.

I will very much appreciate you following my journey, as bumpy as it may be, by subscribing to this blog. That way when I post something new, you will be notified by e-mail. Just type your e-mail address in the Follow by E-mail box at the top in the right hand column.

I will continue my volunteer work as a Deacon in my church, as a member of the Alta Vista Regional Hospital Advisory Board, and as chair of the Las Vegas-San Miguel Economic Development Corp.

And then of course there is that business of being part of a family. My ever-patient husband has been my biggest supporter and kindest critic (as in being no critic at all). He is not my editor. According to him everything I write is “fine.” Yikes. The worst word on the planet for a writer. “Fine.” A writer wants to be “thought provoking,” “hilarious,” “a thorn in someone’s side,” “extraordinary,” any and all of the superlatives you can imagine. “Fine,” I didn’t think, quite cut it. And then I looked at synonyms for fine:

  • excellent
  • first-class
  • great
  • outstanding
  • quality
  • superior
  • prime
  • supreme
  • wonderful
So I guess I’ll take “fine” from my husband, who really, when I think about it, is a discerning and highly intelligent man.

Thanks for reading this, and don’t forget to sign up to follow Write On. And if you haven’t read “Finding Family,” you can get it in e-book and paperback from online retailers and locally in Las Vegas at Tome on the Range or WarDancer Designs and Gallery.

If you find Write On interesting, please like, comment, tweet and share. I will very much appreciate it.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Writing lessons and life lessons

I’m back in the writing groove after nearly a year of telling myself, “Tomorrow, I’ll write tomorrow.” Not that I don’t write every day, I do, but it’s not the creative writing I enjoy. My recently published book, “Finding Family,” came out in August and I’ve done some marketing and a couple of book signings, but even that has taken a back seat to other demands on my time. I can think of any number of reasons I haven’t been more devoted to the craft of writing, but it boils down to life getting in the way as only life can. Considering how happy writing makes me, I don’t know why it’s such a chore to sit down and focus.
 Over the past several years I’ve had the opportunity to talk to writers of varying levels of success. These wonderful interactions have taught me a lot about what it means to be a writer and how each applies to having a happy life.
Write tight. Whether you are writing an advertisement or penning the Great American Novel, less is more. Good writing is often a matter of making the most of a few well-chosen words.
 Journal Note: The same is true in every day encounters. More time spent listening and less time talking can bring unexpected rewards, and will likely result in stronger relationships. 
Do your homework. (Research). Writers have an obligation to their readers to be credible. Works of fiction with shaky plots and weak characters turn readers off. Non-fiction books with incorrect information turn readers off. Period, end of story. 
Journal Note: In presenting your thoughts and ideas verbally, whether one-on-one, in small groups or before an audience of thousands, be trust-worthy. Nothing taints character and integrity like misinformation or an out-an-out lie. 
Write. To be successful, writers must write. It sounds simple, but making time to write is difficult if you are not intentional about putting words on paper (or computer), which is why most authors have a schedule and stick with it come what may.
 Journal Note: To be successful at anything, perseverance is required. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1 NIV) Stick with it, whatever “it” is for you, and you are more likely to achieve your goals. 
Be interesting. Create a compelling story with strong characters, drama, conflict, action and a satisfying conclusion. 
Journal Note: In life the interesting people are more engaged, motivated, happier and less stressed. 
Be creative. There are many ways to write about the same subject. Love. Hate. Death. Life. Fear. Happiness. Truth. Lies. You name it and it has been written about, and that will continue. How does your creativity and innovation bring new life to these concepts? That’s the story you want to tell. 
Journal Note: How will your personal story take shape as you live each day? Find ways to be creative, even if it’s as simple as drinking your orange juice out of a wine glass. No matter what you do, you can bring elements of creativity to the way you live.

Happiness is… Think about it. You get to fill in that blank any way you want to. It’s your story. It’s your life. Be happy.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Business Tips: Hire a Professional

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Five Reasons to Hire a Writing Professional

Fabulous content on your website or blog is critical. Strong copy in advertising, e-mails and other communication is the difference between getting your message across and blending in with the crowd. 

Focus your energy

You have a particular passion and talent. Whatever that is, that is what you want to do. That’s how you make your money. That’s how you want to spend your time, not writing copy for e-mails, blogs, ads, flyers, newsletters and other business communications. By hiring a writing professional (copywriter) you can concentrate on the things you do fabulously.

Develop ideas

Your time is valuable. Your business relies on you. When you hire a professional you stop worrying about getting your message across to your customers in a creative and consistent way because the added value of a professional writer is the ideas they bring to the table. 

The job done right

When you have a problem with your car you take it to a reliable, professional mechanic. Car repair isn’t your thing, nor do you want it to be. You trust the mechanic to do the work that needs to be done. Turning your written communication needs over to a professional assures the work will be done correctly, creatively and on time.

Target and tailor your message

You know who your customers are. How do you reach them? That’s where a professional writer can help you by identifying strategies for reaching the people with money to spend for the products or services you offer. Target marketing isn't a catch phrase, it's a must for the savvy entrepreneur.

Best foot forward

Written communication is a reflection of your professionalism. The best selling point for your business is how you are perceived based on several factors, among them how you appear in print. Whether you are sending out a press release or posting a sign on your door correct spelling and grammar say a lot about your respect for your customers and attention to detail.


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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Inspired Writing

Swervé: Prompted to Write; Inspired to Create 
A loverly bunch of writer-nuts.

I recently attended a writers’ workshop, the first I’d ever been to. I know, it’s hard to believe, but in all my years of working as a writer I’ve never attended a workshop. I’ve been to newspaper conferences and one writers’ conference (years ago in Albuquerque hosted by Southwest Writers), but never to a workshop. The Green River Writer’s Workshop was intimate, energizing and inspiring, and the only people who will understand the title of this post are the people who were there… at least I hope they will get it. 

Interestingly the energy and inspiration didn’t come from writing, which one would expect from a writers’ workshop. It came from participants, all of whom were writing in different genres, some for publication, some for the pure pleasure of writing, and from event facilitators, Alice Winston Carney, Gerald Hausman and Lorry Hausman.

Initially I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to write more, but I found the discussions interesting and thought provoking, and I loved hearing people read their work. I would have liked a little more of that, but with 13 attendees and three days to work with, time was at a premium.

The comments following each reading were intended to be targeted on the writing—what works, what doesn’t, what you like, what could have been written more clearly—but we did go off on tangents that also gave us food for thought.

The variety of writing and the background of those attending added flavor to a stew of enlightening experiences. We even had a fellow from Japan, Kenji Okuhira, who is on the brink of having his photo book published, Floating Stone : 21 Thoughts of Kenji Miyazawa. The book is translated by Gerald Hausman and Kenji. These sayings are beautiful, a word that seems lacking when you see the book with its stunning photos and the Japanese characters that mirror the English translation. It is more than a book; it’s a work of art.

Others were working on memoirs, works of fiction and poetry. Another author, Fran Jenner, will have her book published by fall.

Her tale is of 12 year-old Savannah and her family, who are uprooted because of failed farm land in Missouri, and hopes for a better life 2000 miles away in California. It’s 1850 and the journey will take months in a covered wagon pulled by oxen. Prairie Journey tells of Savannah’s resistance to change and the story of her long journey, during which she discovers the trail’s hardships and perils hold a gift for her she never imagined. When Prairie Journey is published I hope to have Fran on the air to talk about the book, which she has devoted ten years of her life to writing.

A highlight of the workshop was a book signing at Tome on the Range featuring the Green River Anthology of stories. Among the featured writers are four Las Vegans: Petey Salman, Joseph Baca, Carole Gonynor and Maggie Romigh. The other authors are Lyn Searfoss, Ursula Nizalowski, Megan Carney, Mary Kate McTeigue, Elizabeth Sieren, Jo-Ellen Bosson, Jane Janson, Ana June, Frances Bonney Jenner, Laura Ice, Gayanne Leachman, Virginia Kidd and Jean Whitehead.

It was a delight to hear the authors read their work and receive high praise from the audience. The stories are as varied as the authors, each “turning memory into story,” in unique and entertaining ways.

My thanks to Alice, Gerry and Lorry for their skillful facilitation, and to my fellow workshop attendees: Patty Buckley, Lin Chibante, Carole Gonynor, Fran Jenner, Alice Kolb, George Kolb, Ron Maltais, Kenji Okuhira, Chris Reidel, Petey Salman, Lynn Searfoss, and Sevigne. I learned something from all of you, and the best part is creating new relationships with other people as crazy as I am, writing and loving it.

Thanks as well to Mina Yamashita, who discussed her memoir about growing up Japanese American following World War II. She is a writer, graphic designer and creative spirit. Her insight into tools for e-publishing puts into perspective what it takes to get one’s work into digital print. Among her recommendations was, a user-friendly model for uploading and managing text for e-book publication.

I hope to attend future workshops, this one and others. The benefit comes more from listening than from talking, which I have found in life is usually the case.


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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Business Tips

7 Business Affirmations: Release the Bellyaching Beast

If I was 12 inches taller I'd be skinny


How many times have you looked in the mirror and found a flaw? If you say never, good grief, what planet do you live on? Most of us are self-critical, sometimes to the point of being oblivious to what makes us unique. We seem to have a beast inside bent on bellyaching about our multiple deficiencies. Do you obsess about being too tall or not tall enough? Too thin or too heavy? Not pretty/handsome enough? Too pushy? Not pushy enough?

You have your list and so do I. Do you apply that self-critical flaw-finding attitude to your business?
  • I can't succeed.
  • The economy is against me!
  • I can't afford to carry enough inventory.
  • Everybody shops out of town!
  • I'm afraid of the competition.
  • Advertising costs too much and it's a waste of my limited resources.
  • Marketing eludes me. I can't figure it out.
When you add your own night terrors to this list do you start to sweat? Are you on the brink of throwing in the towel, going to bed and covering up your head? STOP! Before you lie down with a cold compress... or knock back a numbing libation, get a grip! Perhaps you're thinking is getting in the way of your business success.

But I'm only 60 inches tall, that's not going to change

Challenges are real and can't be ignored. There is something to be said for critical evaluation. SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis exists for a reason. The list above clearly represents the outcome of looking at weaknesses.

So how do you bring your future, the future of your business and the future of your community's economy into perspective? Let the bellyaching beast off his leash and listen up. Evaluation does not mean you must find every flaw. Yes, you need to know what your weaknesses are, but also be certain you know and embrace your strengths. I may only be five foot tall and nowhere near thin, but anyone who knows me will tell you it has rarely held me back, even when standing still might have been wiser.

I'm writing this because I've spent a good bit of time in recent months dithering about whether to get back into freelance work as a writer, e-zine/newsletter developer and graphic designer. My poor-me bellyaching beast has held me at bay, snapping at my heels, preventing me from seeing the value my skills have for others.

You are a star, and don’t you forget it

After several weeks of hearing the bellyaching beast whining and begging for the scraps of uncertainty and fear left behind in the wake of my mental self-abuse, I gave him his freedom, opened the door to release negativity and let him go. When I saw his tail wagging as he crested the horizon, I took pen and paper in hand and started writing down why my skills would have benefit for others. It was doggone freeing. It reminded me of my successes and put my failures into perspective.

As an entrepreneur I recommend you take stock. Go somewhere quiet, where you will be able to think uninterrupted. Take pad and pen. There is something to be said for the tactile feel of the implements in your hand and to see your entrepreneurial spirit coming to life through the words flowing onto the page.

Affirm your commitment to success:

I started this business/service (aside from money) because____________.
There is never any one reason entrepreneurs go into business. While earning a profit is likely at the top of the list there are other compelling reasons that fired and inspired you to put out your shingle. Name those reasons. Embrace them.

My business/service is unique in these ways_____________.
If you don't have a response to this perhaps it’s time to think carefully about what you offer that no one else does, or think of an add-in that will make you stand out from the crowd.

Investing in my business through promotion has value because_________.
There is a rule of thumb that you should commit a percentage of your annual income to advertising and promotion. I would add use that money wisely and well. No matter how much you want to support every publication and cause that "represents youth," consider what you do in context of your business success. There are other ways to donate that don't involve spending your much-needed promotional dollars.

My business has loyal customers. I'm going to reward them by______________.
When was the last time you e-mailed, called or in some way communicated with your customers? It's less expensive to retain a satisfied customer and get them to buy again than it is to draw new customers to your door. And remember this – activity begets activity. If you have your old customers coming in the door, new customers will follow.

I will make sure my employees like their jobs and convey that to our customers.
If your employees aren't on your side and don't enjoy their jobs it will show in your bottom line. Take care of your employees (even if the only employee you have is you). If employees are not confident in their ability to take care of customers, if they feel inadequate, if they feel you don't care about them, they will not do their best. They'll do the minimum and not very well.

I will participate actively in associations that advocate for independent entrepreneurs.
Belonging to a business association is an opportunity for networking, yes, absolutely. Aside from that, you have something to offer. What can you contribute that will improve/promote all businesses? Rising water lifts all boats. Be part of the rising tide.
I will post a list of my business successes where I can see it every day, beginning with the day I opened, my first success.
Remember your successes. That first big sale. Meeting your first payroll (including paying yourself!). The "thank you" from a customer who benefited from your service. Keep track of the positive influence and impact your business has had and continues to have.

When life gets a little testy and business is stagnant or beginning to slide, you must remember this is a bump in the road, not a wall. Small business continues to be the backbone of the economy. Your success determines the health of the local economy and the national economy. Take time to celebrate your entrepreneurial strengths. It will be good for you, and it will be good for your business.


Sharon Vander Meer is an entrepreneur, author, host of Writer's Block and blogger. To tap into her skills to your benefit e-mail

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Travel: Pismo Beach, CA

Ocean breezes, clear skies, and a little wind, perfect in every way

Pismo Beach, Calif., is one of our favorite places to visit. Perhaps because we live so far inland we appreciate the ocean sounds and clean sands littered only with what the tides leave behind: sand dollars, broken shells and seaweed. 

We’ve traveled up and down the coast and like all the little towns along the way, but Pismo is special. We’ve been going there off and on since our boys were small, back when there were half as many houses and sixty percent less traffic. Our favorite place to stay is the first place we went to all those years ago, Kon Tiki Inn. You cannot get a bad room in this place. The structure is crescent shaped and every room faces the ocean. It has a lot of amenities, complimentary continental breakfast and a wonderful restaurant, Steamers, right next door. 

Getting to the beach was a snap when we were younger, but now it takes a little longer and a few rest stops along the way, but there is direct access from the Kon Tiki property to the beach down a stairway with, I think 128 steps. Going down is a breeze; going up is a wheeze.

Our favorite activity is walking on the beach and strolling out on the pier. This is not a commercialized pier like Monterey Bay or San Francisco, largely because this isn’t a place where boats dock and commercial fishermen are everywhere selling tickets for fishing excursions.

Pismo is very much a charming Oceanside town. It has shops and wonderful restaurants, and if you want to fish off the pier you can do so for free, no license necessary.

From the pier you get a panoramic view of magnificent and mystifying water. How does that massive cauldron of teeming life stay in place? The curvature of the horizon sometimes makes me dizzy and I look away because I feel like it might cut loose and wash over me if I don’t. The surge of the waves against the support pilings is thrilling, but only because I know the structure has stood the test of time. Below us surfers try to catch a wave. On the days we were there the waves weren’t all that challenging so we got to see some of the surfers actually ride out minor curls that took them onto the beach. It looked like great fun, and a lot of work.

Our time was mostly spent walking along the ocean. Every night we left the sliding glass door open so we could hear the sounds of the ocean and smell that unique tangy aroma found only where briny sea meets land.

Our one outing was to Oceanside for the Great American Melodrama. We never miss it when were there and while I was a little disappointed that it was a vaudeville show (I wanted to see a play), we enjoyed it immensely. If you plan to go with the idea of eating the fare, expect a limited menu of hot dogs, popcorn, beer and soda.

There are a lot of things to do if being busy is what you want. For us rest and relaxation was in order and we treasured every minute of it.

We always make it a point to eat at our favorite restaurants. Giuseppe’s, Chele’s Food and Spirits, Splash Café and Steamers have great atmosphere, wonderful food and exceptional service. There are many more, but with only five days to work with, we couldn’t get to them all! Besides, I didn’t really want to come back looking like blimp. Of course we found a Starbucks, which we managed to get to every day while we were there. 

We got to Pismo by train, by way of Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo, and although there were a few “bumps” along the way, it was a great option for us. The pace was slower than I expected but the attendants and other Amtrak staff members were courteous and helpful. We were assisted in making our connections by cheerful station attendants who made sure we made it from one train to the next. The best part was that Bob didn’t have to drive all that way, I didn’t have to get on an airplane and we really did see the countryside. The food on the train was quite good and the breakfasts substantial.

It will probably be a while before we get out to Pismo again, but I’m already looking forward to it, and we will likely ride the rails to get there.


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