Thursday, October 30, 2014


Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.
Garlic ready to plant
For the last two years we've planted a small section of garlic - just enough to supply our needs for canning Pirate Pickles and Relish. Our need to take the pickles and relish to the next level is stunted by lack of funding and resources. We need a commercial kitchen and storage facility. There are commercial kitchens that can be rented, but hauling hundreds of pounds of cucumbers, onions, garlic and herbs on a daily basis is not feasible. And cases and cases of jars. The cucumbers have to go on ice for several hours and that's an obstacle for hauling, too. So...we need an on site, county approved commercial kitchen in order to sell our products in stores and on line.

Getting back to the subject of garlic, we're planting much more this year. Much more is nearly 500 pounds of
nine different varieties. Producing and selling garlic does not require a commercial kitchen. In an effort to make an income from farming, garlic is our choice. When we can make enough, then we can build our commercial kitchen.

Although Lance has a knack for growing most everything he's tried, we don't want to try to compete with the established farmers in the area to sell a wide variety of crops. Gourmet garlic is a specialty crop. Not only is it widely used in all kinds of recipes, the health benefits of garlic are phenomenal and gaining attention. Organic, gourmet garlic is what we'll offer. No commercial kitchen needed, and we can sell everywhere.

This first year, we'll test these varieties to see which do the best in our soil. We'll keep enough of our seed stock for next year so there will be no expense for next year's crop other than soil nutrients. Over the next few months, while the garlic winters and establishes itself, we'll get the web site going and do our advance marketing.

Breaking apart 500 pounds of garlic has consumed us for two days - two boxes down and seven more to go. Sticking those little cloves into the ground will also be time intensive. Then they're covered in mulch and we wait for spring. I tested one variety while separating the cloves. Wow, as hot as our peppers. I never dreamed there were so many varieties with so many different tastes.

Next year, be lookin' for our Pirate Garrrrrrlic, matey!

And a couple of other happenings on the farm:
Lance taught me how to shoot a couple of guns. I'd never even held a gun. I thought it was time to learn about guns if I was going to write authentically about suspense and murder. Little did I know I'd enjoy it so much. Looks like I'll take up target shooting!

Sadi is growing faster than the weeds on Tortuga Flats. Here she is with her cousin Karly.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I Shot My First Gun - I'm Hooked

Researching for a novel takes many forms. Some are much more exciting than others.

Last week, my son took me shooting. I'm not a gun person, never even held a gun. The trouble is I write about murder, some of which involves guns, and I decided it was time I had personal experience firing a gun.

I was nervous. What if my hand jerked and I shot something I shouldn't? What if my aversion to guns got me so scared I couldn't pull the trigger? This research was one of those chores I knew I had to do, but wasn't sure I'd enjoy.

We drove a few miles from our farm, out beyond the last house, down a dirt trail that inclined sharply into a wash and up again, requiring four-wheel drive. A small hill was our backdrop for the boxes he'd brought for our targets.

I started with a 357 Magnum Smith and Wesson using 38 special ammo. He first taught me about the gun, gun safety and then the mechanics of firing it. I put in my earplugs, took my stance and squeezed the trigger. I nearly hit the center. Then again. Just off center. Hey, that was fun.

I moved on to a 38 Special Smith and Wesson, bobbed and snubbed. That was a fun little gun to shoot. I also shot a 22 rifle and a 20 gauge, side by side, double barrel shotgun. All fun. And my son couldn't get over how accurate and steady my aim was - first time out. I'm hooked. I didn't expect to come to an understanding of why gun enthusiasts find enjoyment shooting at a target. It's one of those activities you can't explain unless you've tried it.

A great deal of research can be done on the Internet.  I'm lucky to have done quite a bit of traveling so I can draw on that for my settings. There's nothing like firsthand knowledge to lend credibility to my writing. Handling a gun now gives me the experience my heroine might need when the villain is around the next corner.


Friday, October 24, 2014

What's Next by Liz Flaherty

Please join me in welcoming author Liz Flaherty with a fun tale!
The silence is eerie in its completeness. I don’t know where the panic-induced adrenalin has gone, because it was noisy in and of itself, but it’s curiously absent. I’m calm and unafraid. Well, not calm—we’re 600 feet in the air, for God’s sake, dangling precariously from a harness without a seat. There’s air buffeting us around a bit. It feels…nice. Scary. No, just nice. I never think of exhilaration as being silent but it is right now—silent and joyous. Is this what dying is like? I wonder.
“Okay,” says Lynn, my sister-in-law and partner in crime—for whom height is an issue, “that’s enough. We can go down now.”
I wrote that over two years ago. I was 62, Lynn was 59, she has a heights issue, and I’m terrified of water. These all seemed like viable reasons to go parasailing. So we did.
I was fairly new to being retired and terrified of what I was about to become. Retired people didn’t work anymore, did they? They watched television, complained about their health, and drove too slow in the left lane, right? They used the term “fixed income” as though it was confined to them. They got percentages off at stores and restaurants, but never got their wallets out until the cashier told them how much they owed. They went through the 15-items-or-less checkout with a full cart because, as one man told me while I stood behind his week’s worth of groceries with my bread and milk, “You can wait. I’ve worked all my life. I’ve earned this.”
That day, not the one when Lynn and I were strapped into harnesses and lifted high in the air, was the life-changer. It was the one that made me decide what kind of old person I intended to be.
I would be the one who counted her items before she used the express line, the one who drove at least the speed limit and stayed in the right lane unless I was passing someone. I would only watch TV if there was absolutely nothing better to do and my answer to “how are you feeling?” was always going to be short and positive. I’d take my senior discounts, but I’d have my wallet out and waiting when I heard the total owed. I was going to keep working, keep writing until they withdrew my keyboard from my cold, dead hands.
It’s not always as easy to do as it is to type the words here—even I will admit that—but it’s not always that hard, either. I can’t write as fast as I used to, but I’ve had four books traditionally published since I retired. I’m not sure how I’d do with eight hours a day on my feet anymore, but I log a lot of volunteer hours and have a really good time doing it. I don’t have any trouble keeping up with traffic, staying on the right side of the road, or knowing which checkout lanes I should use.
Even though parasailing is the rashest thing I’ve done in this new invention of myself, the rude old man’s remark was the life-changer for me. I’m really glad for both experiences.
I still want to go zip-lining. Or maybe make a tandem jump from an airplane. I want to go back to Europe. I’ve learned there are two great words that go along with being retired.
What’s next?

Liz retired from the post office and promised to spend at least fifteen minutes a day on housework. Not wanting to overdo things, she’s since pared that down to ten. She spends non-writing time sewing, quilting, and doing whatever else she wants to. She and Duane, her husband of…oh, quite a while, are the parents of three and grandparents of the Magnificent Seven. They live in the old farmhouse in Indiana they moved to in 1977. They’ve talked about moving, but really…37 years’ worth of stuff? It’s not happening!
She’d love to hear from you at

Back to McGuffey’s
ISBN: 978-0-373-36696-5 
The one that got away 
Could Kate Rafael’s day get any worse? First she lost her job, then her house burned down and now her ex is back in town. Apparently, Ben McGuffey's taking a break from being a big-city doctor to help at his family’s tavern and reassess the choices he's made for his career.
Ben ends up giving Kate a hand...then giving her kisses...and finally, a second chance. But when a local teenager shows them both a glimpse of what it means to be a family, Ben wonders if having kids in small-town Vermont would clash with his ambitions. Or can he truly come home again…to Kate?

Buy Link

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Look Back

 Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.
One of those weeks - still waiting for soil temps to get low enough to plant the garlic, haven't started winter clean up and the potatoes are still curing. So here's a look back over the last season for lack of any news.
Feb garlic
March greenhouse
Sadi in April
April getting field ready

August skies

August Bells

June peppers

May greenhouse
May planting
Sadi in June
July cucumbers
September repairs

October fun

Monday, October 20, 2014

Creating the Setting: aka World Building by Veronica Lynch

Please join me in welcoming Veronica Lynch to Discover yourself. One lucky person will win a handcrafted tote if you leave an email address with your comment. So read on and be sure to comment!
As an author we can write dialogue, so clear and snappy, the reader knows exactly who's speaking without tags. That's a gift none of us should take for granted. Likewise, we might create characters so real, so intriguing, the reader invites them into their lives and hopes they'll stick around for awhile. Also a gift.
Great dialogue and intriguing characters won't keep readers' attention if the setting is blurred or worse, glossed over. Even worse, so unrealistic, the reader throws it against the wall because they cannot relate to the location. If they can't 'see' it, 'smell' it, or 'feel' it, the story will fail. You don't want that.
The setting [or world] must be given the same care, in terms of development, as you would give any of your characters, lead roles or supporting. Think of the Alaskan town in the Sandra Bullock movie “The Proposal”. What made that small, out of the way town stay with me as a viewer? Three distinct scenes stick with me: the bedroom, the bar where the waiter/religious person strips for the screaming women and the clearing in the woods where Betty White dances in homage to her Native ancestors. It is the details, using all five senses, which make those stand out in my mind.  
Since this is an audience where I might find a few writers of fantasy, paranormal and science fiction, I need to start with the World.
            Where is it? Is it real or imagined? Based on something real or imagined.
            Make sure you define the infrastructure: language[s], education system, the philosophy of medical care from birth to death, the political system[s].
            If you're creating your own planet, like Star Trek or the Kurt Russell Stargate movie, the sky's the limit for you. Personally, I'd make it as close to Earth as possible--for your own sanity and that of your reader. Think JD Robb's In Death series. The basics are still the same but man, she has hyped all the amenities to the max. If Earth isn't your bag, and you want to do something totally new, keep this in mind: if folks need anti-gravity shoes to walk around or wear oxygen masks to breathe, how do they make love? 
            If there are other life forms, as in the Star Wars movies, is miscegenation allowed?
            What is the climate? Does it change with the seasons? Do they have seasons? Is this mostly rural and agrarian or is it urban/suburban?
            What are modes of transportation?
            Are there animals [as in the zoo or on farms or family pets]? Tamed or wild?
            What is the expected life span?
Let's break it down a bit further into the City/Town.
            Is it well built, well planned or is it post-apocalyptic? Is there a system of roads or highways? Are they maintained, how well is it done and who pays for it?
            If electricity/gas/fresh water doesn't exist, how are those nitty gritty things supplied?
            What is the political infrastructure? Is there a clearly defined class system? Are there distinct neighborhoods? How about laws and the enforcement of same. Is there a criminal justice system? What is the quality?
            Does an educational system exist? What is the quality? Are there institution of higher education nearby?
            How is medical care delivered? What is the quality of that care?
            What are the geographical formations [lakes, mountains, deserts]?
            Leisure interests, arts, sports?
And now we get to the Hood.
            If we're in the country, the individual farms will take the place of the hoods, abutting the next farm or small town, the center of social life. If we're in the city, what are the dwellings like, well built or fabricated as in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro or homeless communities beneath subway stations? Are your characters part of the In Crowd or on the outside margins, looking in?
The Residence: 
            Is this a single family unit or a multiple dwelling like a high-rise apartment building? How is it maintained? The same questions asked before this apply here. Is this a glum and dreary place or is it bright and inviting personal exploration. Are the individual rooms different from the whole? Throw in something unexpected, something romantic. Surprise the reader. It keeps them turning those pages.
Don't try to do this alone. Use your writer pals or critique group. It is clear when imaginative people come together, any number of wonderful things can happen. 

Excerpt from Hauntings in the Garden:Caper Magic coming from The Wild Rose Press, Oct 27, 2014

Hank let out a holler just before a huge toothy grin spanned the borders of his gaunt cheeks. “Top o' the marnin' to ye, Missus!” he cackled to someone exiting the front door of the stone cottage next door.  
Taking the concrete steps to the sidewalk in two lithe moves, a woman in a slinky dress the color of ripe tomatoes glanced their way and responded in a distinct Irish brogue. “And the ass end of the day to ye, Mistur Pierpont.”
Intrigued by rich tone of her voice, Nick craned his neck and found one of the witches from yesterday's parade—minus the droopy velvet hat—passing within steps of Hank's porch. A bulging garment bag hung over one arm; she looked headed in the direction of the pier at the end of Vincentian Lane. Damned if right then a wind didn't jump up off the lake and mold the filmy length of scarlet against each curve of her body. Long black hair—and there seemed to be a good ten pounds of it—flowed over her shoulders, caressing her body like a lover as she marched toward Dingle Pier. As his heart bumped into a trip hammer beat, Nick reminded himself to breathe. 
“Ferget yer broom, Missus?” Hank called out to her retreating back.
“In the repair shop,” she replied over one shoulder, winging that glorious onyx hair away from lips painted to match her dress. “Gettin' fitted with a couple of those fancy turbo boosters, it is.”
Hank chuckled, then went back to his coffee. “Turbo boosters. That Nunie Doyle; sure is a pistol.”
An invisible fist reached down to grab Nick's gut in a vise. As recognition flared, long buried rage took a slow crawling path up his spine.  

Writing under the names Kat Henry Doran and Veronica Lynch, author Kathy Cottrell uses her experience as a nurse, victim advocate and insurance investigator for background in her award winning novels and novellas. Her stories are set in her favorite places to visit: the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains as well as the Saint Lawrence River in the historic Thousand Islands region of Upstate and Northern New York State. 
When not writing, or chasing grandchildren, Kathy spends her time designing and making tote bags and aprons to custom order.