Tag Archive for: #amwriting

Do You Wordle?

By Lois Winston

A few years ago, I got hooked on crossword puzzles. I attribute this addiction to my dear friend Janice. She passed away in 2019 after an eight-month battle with Stage 4 cancer. I spent much of that time taking her to doctor appointments and chemo treatments and visiting with her during several hospitalizations. Janice always carried around crossword puzzles. As a retired R.N., she knew the importance of keeping her mind sharp, and she did so by exercising her brain in two ways: She was a voracious reader of mysteries and romances and a diehard crossword puzzle fan.

Having sat with her during hours of chemo, I know how difficult it is to concentrate on a book during these sessions, given the constant chatter from fifteen other chemo patients, their accompanying friends or family members, the nursing staff, and a TV always blaring in the background. So Janice passed the time working crossword puzzles when she tired of conversation.

I worked my first crossword puzzle after returning from her memorial service. It had been an extremely emotional day, especially since, as her oldest friend, I was one of the speakers. Perhaps she was somehow sending me a subliminal message from Heaven that day. She had always believed in angels, ghosts, and premonitions. I’ve always pooh-poohed the supernatural. Was this her way of telling me she was right, and I was wrong? Maybe. Because ever since that day, I’ve worked the online crossword puzzle in my daily newspaper as a way of honoring her memory and our lifelong friendship.

A few months ago, that newspaper purchased Wordle. I’d heard about Wordle, but I’m not someone who spends time playing games on my phone or computer. I have books to write, and contrary to my reluctant amateur sleuth’s hopes, I have no intention of refraining from dumping dead bodies at her feet.

I also have a staggering number of unread books piling up on my bookshelves and in my Kindle. I’ll need to live well past the century mark before I get to them all. And yet, I keep buying more books! Then there’s life in general, including family responsibilities, and of course, the need to sleep at least several hours a night.

Yet, there it was—Wordle, the word game taking the world by storm. Wordle beckoned like a Siren. Of course, I got hooked. I even learned a secret for helping solve the puzzle in the allotted six attempts: always begin with “adieu.” The word contains all but one of the five vowels. My next word will always include a word using the green letters from “adieu,” plus an “o.”

My mornings now begin with a cup of coffee, the daily crossword puzzle, and the daily Wordle. How about you? Do you start your day with a word puzzle, work one while taking a break, or reward yourself with one at the end of the day?


USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Her latest book in the series is Guilty as Framed, currently available for pre-order. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website www.loiswinston.com where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.

Evacuating from a Wildfire

By Kathryn Lane

I love the mountains in northern New Mexico. Nature in this
area constantly surprises me with beautiful vistas, wildflowers, and above all,
the wild animals. We have elk, deer, coyotes, wild turkeys, several varieties
of birds, Cooper hawks, and bears. Occasional wild cats and mountain lions also
roam the area. I’m mesmerized by the herds of elk and their calves. 

For some writers, the beach inspires them. For me, the
mountains clear my brain and let my creativity flow. This year our normally
peaceful mountain hideaway proved that nature can also be terrifying. A
horrific wildfire started when controlled burns in the Gallinas Canyon in the
Santa Fe National Forest near Las Vegas, NM, got out of hand and turned into
the most destructive wildfire in the state’s recorded history.

In May, evacuations began very close to where we live. We
could see the flames beyond the mountains in front of our cabin and the smoke
was so thick, we decided to pack up and leave. What to take with us became an
issue. Essential articles that we need for any trip is a given. Emergency items
came next. After that, it’s a conflict between sentimental items, such as
paintings, and what we could fit into our vehicle.

Two years ago, I’d given my husband, Bob, a bathrobe for the
cabin. He lost it after forgetting it on a trip last year. He’d spent at least
two months searching online for a replacement. For two months he grumbled about
the bad selection, grim colors, wrong fabric, incorrect length, and lack of
styling.  He finally ordered one and it
arrived two days before we evacuated. A thick, heavy terrycloth robe, I put it
in the car.

He immediately asked why we needed to take it.

“We’ll survive the evacuation,” I said, “but I can’t get
through two more months of you hunting for another bathrobe.”

Thankfully, we are back in our beloved mountains and our
cabin survived just fine.

I’d decided, before the wildfire started, to place my next
Nikki Garcia mystery in New Mexico.

Now I’m wondering if I should include a wildfire in the mix to
complicate the plot. One thing is for sure, Bob’s bathrobe will not be a
part of the story! Or maybe a bear will eat the robe!


Postscript: The fire is no longer a threat, but for many
families who lost their homes, their struggle is far from over.


Kathryn’s Nikki Garcia Mystery
– on Amazon

Amazon Paperback – https://www.amazon.com/dp/173328270X/

eBook –


Kathryn Lane started out as a painter in oils and quickly became a starving artist. To earn a living, she became a certified public accountant and embarked on a career in international finance with a major multinational corporation. After two decades, she left the corporate world to plunge into writing mystery and suspense thrillers. In her stories, Kathryn draws deeply from her Mexican background as well as her travels in over ninety countries.

Visit my website at https://www.Kathryn-Lane.com

Sign up for my monthly newsletter on my website

Photo credits:

All photographs are used in an editorial and/or
educational manner

Elk and their Calves by Kathryn Lane

Firefighter – Taos News

Brown Bear by Kathryn Lane

Covers for the Nikki Garcia Mystery Series –
Heidi Dorey designs for Tortuga Publishing, LLC

Photo of Kathryn Lane by Bob Hurt

Writing and Selling Fiction in the Metaverse

 By Kathryn

In the near future, when a reader purchases a book, that reader can also receive additional
3-D experiences depicting the author’s world, how the author researched,
created, and wrote that particular book.

Interacting with the metaverse.

readers, we will be able to interact through virtual reality (VR) with our
favorite authors. Though I don’t write in his genre, I can imagine a VR encounter
with JRR Tolkien where I’d walk beside him in the scenes while he described his
imaginative process in writing Lord of the Rings. Music, as in the films,
should run too. But then I’d turn it off to better understand Tolkien’s
creativity before the scenes were set to music. Tolkien is no longer living, but artists, writers, historians, script writers, photographers, and
cinematographers would create the immersive where I’d be in the middle of the

Distortion in the metaverse.

Writers will
have a variety of options for selling their works in the Metaverse. Unique codes,
think of ISBNs 
currently used, will identify the digital asset that is linked
to blockchain to secure its authenticity and uniqueness. This process creates a
non-fungible token (NFT). For example, limited editions of digital works can then
be sold as NFTs. Book covers and draft manuscripts also offer the possibility
of NFT sales.

provides a secure means for storing intellectual property like copyrights and
patents, and includes smart contracts where author royalties can be collected every
time an NFT book cover, limited edition, or a first draft manuscript is

Visual representation of blockchain.

Big name
authors with staff to do research, design, and marketing will have the
advantage over lesser-known authors. They might turn their books into complete immersive
experiences where readers don’t read but merely step into the story.

VR and
the Metaverse will be used extensively in other areas, especially education. By
combining topics such as math and science; language, geography, and history,
among other subjects, learning can become more integrated. 

Student using the metaverse.

it’s not all panacea here either. Richer countries will have the advantage over
poorer ones.

If you feel
concerned about the Metaverse, you are not alone. If we think of it as the next
level of the Internet, it becomes less intimidating. Though I remember how reluctant
people felt in the early to mid-nineteen-nineties about using the Internet.

Are you
ready to enter the brave new world of NTF books?


Kathryn’s latest Nikki Garcia Mystery Thriller: Missing in Miami (available on Amazon)


Lane started out painting in oils and quickly became a starving artist. To earn a living, she became a certified
public accountant and embarked on a career in international finance with a
major multinational corporation. After two decades, she left the corporate
world to plunge into writing mystery and suspense thrillers. In her stories,
Kathryn draws deeply from her Mexican background as well
as her travels in over ninety countries.

Visit my
website at https://www.Kathryn-Lane.com

Photo credits:

All photographs are used in an editorial and/or educational manner

Augmented reality from Pinterest

Dreaming of distortion in the metaverse by Dean Terry is licensed under CC

Photo by Terry on Unsplash

AugustMan – Malaysia

Resolutions? by Debra H. Goldstein

Resolutions? by Debra H. Goldstein

14. Two weeks since 2022 began. If you are like me, two weeks is more than
enough time to have broken every resolution you made or contemplated making.
That’s why, this year I didn’t make any resolutions. Instead, I decided to roll
with the flow.


that going? I’m not sure. I seem to be weaving down a lot of different paths.
Some of them are fun to explore, but many are dead ends. Of course, even when I
know which way I’m going, there have been many unforeseen obstacles ranging
from the soaring Omicron numbers to realizing my new sneakers look pretty but
don’t fit my orthotics and feet well for extended walking.


writing seems to be following the same pattern as my life. Instead of resolving
to write a set number of words a day or so many stories a month, I’ve been
letting the muse guide me. How’s that going? Not well. I’m playing a lot more
solitaire than I should be. What’s worse, I’m repeatedly surfing the net to see
if there are any unread news stories, touching human interest articles, or
exciting things reported by friends.


latter makes me happy for them; but, if they are writers, it also prompts a
little jealousy. Why are they getting things accomplished and I’m not? I guess they
made resolutions that they are carrying through. There are still fifty weeks in
2022. I think there’s still time for me to make and act on a few resolutions.
What about you?



By Kathryn Lane

Houston hosted Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience.
Not to miss an important event, Bob and I attended with friends from Angel
Fire. So many exhibits are hyped up that we did not know what to expect. Then we
left talking about what an amazing show we’d witnessed.

First, you glimpse blowups of Vincent’s paintings that come
together though electronic enhancement as you watch. Another room provides
photo ops were you can sit in Vincent’s
bedroom in Arles and have your picture taken. 

Watch as Starry Night comes together electronically

Then comes the exceptional
“Immersion” room where you witness, feel, and become part of Vincent’s
paintings as 90,000,000 pixels are projected in a 360
° space, while you relax in a beach

Immersion Room with waiting beach chairs.


In the Immersion room, don’t sit where the train will roar through.

The show’s real clencher is the interactive historical journey that virtual
reality takes you on as you travel through Vincent’s fields, towns, and cafés.
This visually fabulous trip takes ten minutes. At times I had to remind myself
I was not flying. I was merely sitting on a sturdy chair as we swooped past
cafés and buildings, fields, country roads, and chapels. It’s a combination of
cinematography, art, music, and history where you are the observer.

The author, her husband, and friends with virtual reality headsets.

Now that I’ve exuberantly told you about the Immersive experience,
I must also tell you I’m not getting a commission for tickets sales. But you
should definitely attend if it’s showing anywhere near you.

The real reason that I’m recounting the visit is that this show
gives you an incredible ride, but where it might fail is to engage your brain
actively, where your own imagination, intellect, and creativity work together
to connect the dots.

Maybe by experiencing projections of virtual reality in the future, the
human brain will be liberated to create even more sensational innovations. At
least that is my hope.

At times, it’s easy for negative thoughts to surface. Thoughts that younger
generations are not reading much and that the coming metaverse will create a
world where people will not have to solve issues; instead they might only
passively partake the virtual world placed before them.

Shows like Van Gogh’s Immersive, social media, and virtual
meetings using avatars are the beginnings of the metaverse. These phenomena will
change the world.


We are on the cusp of changing how people learn, communicate, and
interact. These innovations had been on the horizon yet the isolation and
social distancing caused by the pandemic sped up the introduction and use of
these tools. Similar to the (almost instant) popularity of the world wide web
and the massive adaptation of mobile phones a little more than two decades ago,
we will soon grapple with metaverse technologies in everyday life.

Harry Potter Book

As a writer, I think the coming technologies are both exciting and
scary. The creative opportunities promised by the metaverse seem exciting. On the
other hand, the metaverse will deliver powerful tools that will change how
stories are told. Will children in the future want to read Harry
Potter when they can experience it through virtual reality? Will people know
what their co-workers look like when all they see at virtual meetings are avatars?
And what about nature lovers? Will they don a headset to enjoy virtual nature
or will they commune with nature the old-fashioned way?


What do you think about the metaverse?


Kathryn’s mysteries – The Nikki
Garcia Mystery


Kathryn’s short story collection – Backyard
and Other Mysteries of the Heart


 All available on Amazon

About Kathryn

Kathryn Lane started out as a starving
artist. To earn a living, she became a certified public accountant and embarked
on a career in international finance with a major multinational corporation.
After two decades, she left the corporate world to plunge into writing mystery
and suspense thrillers. In her stories, Kathryn draws deeply from her Mexican background as well as her travels
in over ninety countries.

my website at


photographs are used in an editorial or educational manner

Starry Night by Van Gogh – public domain

Two Immersion Room photos – taken by the author

Four people with virtual reality headsets – taken with an iPhone

Avatar and Harry Potter book – public domain


An Open Letter to Stiletto Gang Readers from Debra H. Goldstein

Dear Stiletto Gang Readers,

I’m one of those people who still writes Holiday Letters
and shoves them into my Seasons Greetings cards that are sent to friends I
haven’t seen in years, but still feel close to. You are a different breed of
folks, but I, as well as the other members of the Stiletto Gang, have a special
affinity with you.


You fulfill our dreams by reading the words we write. At
the very moment we feel down or lost, one of you posts a good review, sends a
postcard or e-mail, or makes a social media comment that lifts our spirits up.
Your support of our work keeps us actively involved in an unpredictable
business world.


It is a world of editor and publisher subjectivity balanced
by dollar signs. Very few of us become New York Times bestselling
authors, but you give us the incentive to continue writing even if our expenses
outweigh our profits. All writers want to make money, but the reality is that they
don’t. In fact, many authors could make far more by ignoring the voices in
their heads that demand to be expressed. Are we insane or, as some think,
simply stupid?


I think the answer boils down to one word: passion. We have
a passion to write that can’t be quelled. Luckily, when it does dim, you
rekindle it. Thank you and happy holidays. Debra  

To Find a Monarch

 By Kathryn Lane

Mexico, my country of origin, is a cultural
paradise. I always experience a nostalgic yearning for the traditions I grew up
with, especially during the last quarter of the year, which is rich with
festivities. Starting in September, we have holidays that spill over into
multiple days, like the 15th and 16th of September,
independence day. Posada time, from December 16th through the 24th,
brings out families from entire neighborhoods where revelers of all ages gather
in candle-lit processions singing Christmas carols along the streets until they
arrive at the host house for that evening. At the designated home, the carolers
sing “Para Pedir Posada” to reenact Mary and Joseph’s journey into Bethlehem
asking for shelter before the birth of Jesus. The hosts, after several stanzas,
invite the revelers in for food, drink, and games for the kiddos.

Wonderful as Christmas and Independence
celebrations are, it’s Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 1st
and 2nd, that makes my soul yearn for a trip to the state of

When I was twelve, my mother took me to Lake Pátzcuaro
to experience a vigil in a cemetery where townsfolk would commune with their departed
loved ones by sharing music, dance, food, and drinks.

I’ve never forgotten the scene when we arrived.
Lake Pátzcuaro’s famed butterfly net fishermen, their canoes filled with bright
cempasúchil, or marigolds, floated on the lake like a colorful flower
market. The marigolds, like rays of sun dropped along the way, to lead the ancestors’
spirits into town where ofrendas, or altars, awaited them in the private homes
of their earthly relatives.

We climbed into a vividly decorated canoe to
navigate to
Janitzio, the largest
island. On the way, Mother told me Día de los Muertos
is a truly Mexican tradition, a legacy of indigenous Aztec practices. The
Aztecs recognized that death was part of the continuity of life. Yet Pátzcuaro
territory, the other powerful Mesoamerican empire, the one the
Aztecs never conquered
he two empires fought many battles. Yet, the Purépecha integrated the Day of
the Dead as their own

We were mid-lake when a
butterfly brushed its brilliant orange-red wings with black veins on the golden
marigolds. The fisherman smiled, saying, “
Está perdido este ancestro. Debe tener familia en
Rosario o Angangueo.”

Mother agreed the
butterfly was lost and had overflown its winter home near mountain villages. She
explained that monarchs migrate yearly from Canada and the US to the high elevations
Michoacán where they cluster on oyamel
trees to spend the winter. They start arriving at the end of October,
coinciding with the Day of the Dead celebrations. The local people believe the
butterflies are the spirits of their ancestors returning home.

I remember asking if we would
visit the monarchs.

“Another year,” she said.

Yet, we never trekked to
the monarch’s overwintering sites. When I see a butterfly, it reminds me of that
trip we never took.

My brother, Jorge Lane, is
a nature photographer and monarchs are one of his favorite subjects. He’s
visited several sanctuaries to photograph them.

Carlos Gottfried, a butterfly
conservationist in Mexico, said: “When you stand in a Monarch butterfly
sanctuary, your soul is shaken and your life is changed

Gottfried’s quote
beckons me to find monarchs overwintering on Oyamel firs to fulfill that trip
never taken.

¹ Also
known as the Tarascan.

For fun articles on Mexican holidays, you can purchase: The Insider’s Guide to the Best Mexican Holidays. It will be available in Kindle format on Amazon on December 17, 2021. Nineteen authors, including yours truly, contributed articles. 



Encantadora© by
Jorge J. Lane

Monarca© by Jorge J. Lane



Do You Have What It Takes to be a Cheese Whiz? Archaic Words

By Kathleen Kaska 
When I worked at Cave Art Press, a small publishing company in Anacortes, one of my tasks was to write the weekly blog posts. It had to address writing styles, grammar and punctuation rules, and the down and dirty of publishing and marketing—and it had to be funny. These blog posts eventually became a tongue-in-cheek book entitled, “Do You Have a Catharsis Handy? Five Minute-Writer Tips.” Here’s one about archaic words and my own take on them.

Thanks to Google, I stumble upon many of my Writing
Tips topics by accident. Here are some archaic (did they
ever really exist?) but entertaining words and phrases
that I discovered while I was researching other topics,
along with some neologisms of my own:

With Squirrel: If you were a woman who lived in the
Ozarks many moons ago and you found yourself “with
squirrel,” then you were expect
ing a child. (Vance
Randolph’s Down in the Holler: A Gallery of Ozark Folk
Speech, 1953).
I would call such a woman Squirrely.

Lunting: I suspect that Sherlock Holmes was into
i.e., walking while smoking a pipe. (John
Mactaggart’s Scottish Gallovidian Encyclopedia, 1824). I would call people who do this lunters.

The following are from The Word Museum: The Most
Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten, by Jeffrey

Spermologer: It doesn’t mean what you think. A
spermologer is a columnist! Three of my favorites are
Father Ron Rolheiser; Austin native, John Kelso; and
funny-lady, Lisa Scottoline.
In my world I’d refer to them as wittyosophers.

Queerplungers: An English term for a scam in which an
individual jumped into water
, was “rescued” by
accomplices, and was subsequently taken in by rehab
houses that cared for people who tried to commit suicide.
In the benevolent society of the time, the rescuers were
rewarded with a guinea each, while the person who
“attempted suicide” was sent away with a monetary
donation to make his life less depressing.
Maybe a better word for these folks would be Scam Dunkers. 

Finally, my favorite:

Tyromancy: If you can’t find a crystal ball, use cheese!
One of my Cave Art Press colleagues thought tyromancy
sounds like
a Jurassic love story.” In fact, it is the act of
predicting birth, love, and death by reading the
appearance of a piece of cheese. It is also the act of using
cheese to answer questions: the most obvious answers to
a question are written on pieces of cheese (one answer
per piece). The pieces of cheese are fed to a rat.
Whichever piece is eaten first is the answer to the

I suspect a person who engaged in this method of
prediction and became notable would have been called a
tyromaniac. I would call him a cheez-whiz. 

This is my last post as a member of the Stiletto Gang, but I will stay in touch and follow you wonderfully, creative authors. 

Best always,


Kathleen is a Texas gal. Except for an eighteen-month hiatus
living in New York City after college, she continuously lived in the Lone Star
State for fifty years. Since then, Texas has been hit and miss—a little hit,
but a hell of a lot of miss. There was a time when she thought she would
happily die in Austin, Texas. But circumstances
and weather—especially weather—changed that. Now she spends most of the year on
Fidalgo Island in Washington State with a view of the bay and the mountains.
When she gets homesick, she and her husband plug in the iPhone to Willie—as in
Nelson. Soon they are dancing the two-step, imagining they are at our favorite
honky-tonk in Tokio, Texas, where the mayor is believed to be a dog. Who
wouldn’t miss that?

Kathleen writes mysteries. She blogs about writing,
publishing, marketing, animal rights, birding, and quirky things that come to
mind. Go to her website: Kathleen Kaska and check out her latest blog series, “Growing Up Catholic in a Small Texas Town.”

A Fun Interview with Bethany Maines

Interview by Kathryn Lane

Maines is such a dynamic interviewee that I’ve kept the interview pretty much
as it happened. To edit would lose the spontaneity of her responses.)

Bethany, I’m amazed by your dexterity as
an author. You write in various genres, from crime fiction to
mystery, to action adventure
sci-fi. Do you move from one to the other to keep your stories flowing?

Growing up I
read mostly sci-fi/fantasy and mystery. I always assumed that if I wrote it
would be sci-fi/fantasy based, but as with most half-baked childhood notions, it
hasn’t turned out that way. Mystery/Adventure/Romance seems to be where I sit
most easily, and my occasional visits into sci-fi are usually with co-writers.

By the
time this interview is published on November 2, you will have launched your
mystery, Hardest Hit, the third book from your Deveraux Legacy series. Congratulations!

with us what worked for the launch and what you’d do differently next time.

I can tell
you what doesn’t work. Accidentally scheduling the launch for nearly the same
time as a work conference is… not the best thing I’ve done lately. I work with
a marketing company; they give me lots of support, and I don’t think I could do
it another way considering my scheduling conflict. But other than that, my
number one tip, is plan ahead.

Moving to
your mystery/action adventure books, you have taken an innovative approach to
undercover work. Your protagonist, Nikki Lanier in the Carrie Mae series, is a
no-nonsense investigator who takes on drug smugglers and arms dealers.

How did
you get the idea for the Carrie Mae series?  

OK, true
story, I once received a cease-and-desist letter from Mary Kay corporate to not
mention Carrie Mae in the same breath as Mary Kay. Meanwhile, Mary Kay Ladies
love every book in that series. And they should because they gave me the idea. I
once had to pick up lipstick from my MK lady. She was at a meeting and invited
me to stop by. When I stepped into the Red Lion Inn… it was a packed ballroom!  They were recruiting new Mary Kay Ladies. On
stage, an imposing woman was laying down the MK rules like she was Patton in
pumps. And I thought… these ladies could take over the world and they’re
kind of scary. It’s probably a good thing there isn’t a militant wing of Mary
. (Lightbulb!) Later I went out for drinks and told my girlfriends I had
a great idea for a book. They laughed, saying they loved the idea of Nikki and
her team.

Nikki and
her team set out to save the world from gangs, smugglers, and arms dealers, all
the while looking fabulous. You do mention, though, they try to remember clean
underwear! Is humor in your genes or do you work at it?

Surprise! It’s
nature AND nurture. My Dad is an excellent and humorous storyteller. In
childhood I watched him hone a story from one telling to the next. That method
of refining the funny until it’s the funniest is something that takes years to
perfect, but I feel that I got a leg up through proper parenting.

You write
several novels and novellas every year. Do you program your writing for the year
ahead and decide which series will get the bulk of your time? Or are you a
complete pantser that gets up in the morning and decides what you’ll work on
that day?

I used to
pants it. I loved the discovery and joy of finding out what happened. But
sadly, I don’t have the time anymore. Pantsing is joyful but inefficient, and
if I want to tell ALL THE STORIES… well, I need to plot. However, I do employ a
strategy of “cheat stories”. If one isn’t cooperating I go cheat on it with a
different story. That will teach it! 

intrigued by your sci-fi novellas, The Beast of Arsu being the latest. For the Galactic Dreams series, you write with two
other authors, Karen Harris Tully and J.M. Phillippe. Do the three of you get
together to discuss and plan the next collection of Galactic Dreams? 

Karen and
J.M. and I came up with a simple proposition (such innocent, foolish, past
selves): we would create a shared universe and spread the hard parts of world-building
around. Then we would each write stories within that universe. And, just to keep
it interesting, we would base our stories on fairy tales. Clearly none of us
had read fairy tales recently – they’re insane. None of us counted on the fact
that each of us would want to break the rules of the universe at some point, or
that we would have to keep track of all the weird words and technology we
invented. At this point, we have a massive spreadsheet and a five-page single-space
word doc on our universe. Fortunately, our friendship has survived the great
battle over whether or not to include the word OK in space. Surprisingly,
we were all 100% fine with bringing in Octopus aliens. We touch base multiple
times while writing our individual stories and use each other for research, as
sounding boards, and as spare memories. Then, at the end, we all read
everything for universe cohesion.

Bethany, let me tell you, I’d
be lost in space if I could not use the word OK. One last question. If
you were not writing, what would you be doing?

I actually love
my day job of graphic design. If I weren’t writing I’d be getting to all of the
art projects that are languishing in my office that I swear I’m TOTALLY getting
to. Stop judging my art supply purchases!!

That was a fantastic interview, Bethany. Thank you!


Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of
mystery, crime and romantic suspense novels, as well as many short stories.
When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some serious butt with her
black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her daughter or glued to the
computer working on her next novel. bethanymaines.com

“Solitude in the Outback…”

 By Kathryn Lane

Years ago, when I lived in the Outback of Australia, I often found myself alone for weeks at a time at the homestead while the men were in the field catching
feral cattle. That solitude gave me time to read the Russian novels by Tolstoy,
Dostoevsky, Pushkin
, and Pasternak to name a few. Dr. Zhivago and The Brothers
Karamazov remain favorites to this day.

In my Australian days, I’d visualize the great books I read as a
lighthouse that would light up the path of my life. A silly image, perhaps, but
when one is completely alone, the mind creates interesting imagery.

Even after the Outback became only a memory, I rarely read novels
hitting the New York Times bestseller list until the original hoopla
surrounding their launch had quieted down. The hectic schedule of my international
corporate career left little time to indulge in big books. I’d discovered less
lofty but more enjoyable reading – the mystery genre – my pleasure reading for
long flights from New York to South America, Asia, or Europe.

Fast forward to 2021 when I’ve become a writer myself. My love of
mystery intrigues me so much, that it’s what I write. Revisiting the idea of
best sellers, I still wait until the hoopla quiets to a whisper. Recently, I must
have heard crawdads heralding Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing
as being a mystery wrapped in a coming of age story woven with romance.

So I purchased it.

What a delicious dip into the wondrous world of nature in the
swamps of North Carolina as seen, felt, and described through Kya’s life.

Delia Owens said in an interview that Kya represents what we can
be when we have to be. I concur with the author that all of us have the ability
to do more than we can imagine when life requires it.

Delia Owens described how her life of studying lions and elephants
in Africa brought extreme or partial isolation for twenty-three years of her

My own isolation in the Outback, for a mere three-and-a-half years,
changed me in many ways. I became, like Kya, more self-reliant, more
introspective, and a problem solver. When I re-emerged into life in Mexico
after the Australian experience, I was socially insecure. I thought it’d take
several years for me to feel like the extroverted girl who’d left the comfort
and love of her family to form a family of her own on the other side of the
world. Then I realized the young girl had been transformed into a woman capable
of following her own lighthouse to accomplish her dreams.

solitude changed your life in any way


Kathryn’s mysteries – The Nikki
Garcia Mystery


Kathryn’s short story collection – Backyard
and Other Mysteries of the Heart


 All available on Amazon

 About Kathryn

Kathryn Lane started out as a starving
artist. To earn a living, she became a certified public accountant and embarked
on a career in international finance with a major multinational corporation.
After two decades, she left the corporate world to plunge into writing mystery
and suspense thrillers. In her stories, Kathryn draws deeply from
her Mexican background as well as her travels
in over ninety countries.

Visit my website at https://www.Kathryn-Lane.com

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photographs are used in an editorial or educational manner

“Follow the Road” by ASTRORDINARY is licensed
under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“Where the Crawdads Sing” Public Domain

“Perthling” by ASTRORDINARY is licensed under