Just for Fun #MusicGroups

I had so much fun last week getting to learn everyone’s favorite Beatle songs, I thought I’d trot out another “just for fun” post. I love music, although I never had the passion to pursue it. I took music lessons and played bass guitar for about two years in high school, but the drive just wasn’t there like it was with writing. My grandfather played guitar, banjo, flute, clarinet and several brass instruments. My brother has been a drummer since he was a teen. He plays by ear and has been in local groups all of his life. He’s also done studio and session work as a backing drummer for other musicians. He inherited my grandfather’s talent for music. I inherited my father’s talent for words.

When I was finishing high school, disco became trendy. I have never been a fan—in fact, I couldn’t stand disco in its heyday—but I love to dance. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate some songs strictly for their beat. I would never count them among favorites, but a few have achieved “feel good” moments on the dance floor.

There’s a song by Dawes called “All Your Favorite Bands.” This is the chorus:

I hope that life without a chaperone is what you thought it’d be
I hope your brother’s El Camino runs forever
I hope the world sees the same person that you’ve always been to me
And may all your favorite bands stay together.

Wouldn’t it be great if our favorite bands were still together today? In the spirit of Just for Fun, which groups would you pick? What are your four favorite? Maybe they are still together. My top three picks were easy, but I waffled on the fourth:

  1. The Beatles
  2. REO Speedwagon
  3. Styx
  4. The Monkees

Yes, I’m dating myself. I also considered Journey, CCR, and Klaatu (Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft anyone?), but I still love so many songs by the Monkees, I had to go with them. They were another band (like the Beatles) that I didn’t discover until long after they’d broken up.

Today is all about breaking out the beat. Do you love music? Do you play an instrument and/or do you like to dance? Finally, what are your four favorite groups?

If you’d like to catch “All Your Favorite Bands” by Dawes, here’s the vid:

The Outcast’s Bloghouse Welcomes… Mae Clair

Check this out…..it’s official! I’m now a member of the Outcast’s Bloghouse. It you don’t know about the Outcasts, then you seriously need to connect with Jess Bakkers at her blog and learn why I’ve been dubbed the Bride of the Mothman!

Jessica Bakkers

This week’s member inducted into The Oucast’s Bloghouse is the mistress of mystery (and fellow INFJ) – Mae Clair.


Whilst I attempt to be professional and cool in my Bloghouse write-ups, I have to admit I’m going to fangirl over Mae Clair. She is not only the author of many books in multiple genres (one of which is fast becoming my favourite read – I’m 67% through), she is also the sweetest person and one of the most supportive folks I’ve come across on WP.

Okay, gushing aside, here’s the skinny on Miss Mae, and straight from her own fingertips;

“I wrote my first childish “masterpiece” at six and was immediately bitten by the writing bug. Since then, I’ve been composing nonstop, and have dabbled in multiple genres over the years, writing everything from fantasy, westerns, and horror to inspirational fiction, romance, and sci-fi. It took me a while to find…

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Did Someone Say Friday?

Silly goose looking directly at cameraThe end of the week is a great opportunity to look back over the past several days and take measure our accomplishments. Unfortunately, mine were close to nil. :(  I did manage to eke out a single scene on my WIP, but considering the goal was a chapter, the results are pathetic.

In my defense, the week has been unusually chaotic. I’ve had a work crew at my home since Monday, installing new zoned heat and a/c units. The job is supposed to be finished today—hooray!—but the weekend I wanted to spend writing will probably be spent cleaning. You can’t have a work crew without dust. Lots of dust. Guess what I’ll be doing tomorrow?

I’m not the only one running low on patience. Raven has been forced to spend eight hours each day in the basement while servicemen tramp in and out of the house (I won’t risk her sneaking outside if someone accidentally leaves a door open). We’ve tried to make her confinement as inviting as possible, arranging a “snuggle area” with one of her beds and a blanket. I elevated them on chairs so she’s not on the floor. She has water and food, and I even added a few toys and her red “cube” for lounging.

black cat in pink cube with cat toy

Raven in her pink cube. Besides this and the red cube, she also has a blue one. Can we say spoiled?

Bribes aside, she is NOT a happy camper. She can’t watch birds from the basement, sprawl in the sunlight, or stretch out in the bow window. A rough week in catdom.

The only benefit she’s enjoyed is the daily fussing we do to make up for her morning and afternoon exile. You can see why this Friday is more welcome than usual—I want my house back! So does Raven!

In the meantime, I’m at Story Empire today sharing the weekly Curated Writing Content gathered by the SE authors. While you’re celebrating Friday in the blogosphere, drop in and see what we’ve collected. And in case you missed SE’s earlier posts, Staci Troilo took a fabulous look at Fictional Fathers, and I trotted out My Problematic Word.

Happy Friday!

A Bump in the Night by Penny Lane

I have a new guest I’d like to introduce you to today. Penny is a blogger I met through Jess Bakkers. She is a free-lance writer with quite an interesting background. You can meet her and learn about her background on her blog, Penny Lane’s Thoughts.

In reaching out and making new friends, Penny is offering to do guest posts. It’s always nice to have someone new drop by my blog to meet my friends and readers. Hopefully, a few of Penny’s followers will meander over here as well. It’s how bloggers connect and expand their inner circles. I told her my regular readers were used to seeing content related to folklore, myth, or creatures (among writing topics), so she put together a short story to share.

I hope you enjoy, and will welcome Penny with your thoughts in the comments.


By Penny Lane

clouds with sun behind over ocean

I looked down just as my hand was falling away from the doorbell button.  I could still hear the echo of the chime behind the door.  The door I was standing in front of was rust-red, with the number 8 at eye level.

I looked around me.  What was I doing here?  I was in an apartment complex.

Just then the door opened.  Standing there was my mother, who had been dead for more than 30 years.

Her face opened into a wide smile.  “Baby!  So good to see you!”

She stepped forward, wrapped her arms around me and gave me a big hug.  I stood board straight, my head reeling.

“Come in, come in!” she said as she placed her hand on the small of my back and pulled me into the apartment.

I took a few faltering steps forward.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.

My mother looked as young and as beautiful as I ever remembered seeing her.   Her hair, a coal black, fell in waves just past the top of her shoulders.  Her eyes, blue, sparkled and danced as her smile lit up her face.  Her face looked like it did when she was in her 30’s.  She was a beauty.

“Mom…what?  I don’t understand…”

“I know, I know honey.  Questions, questions.  Plenty of time for that later.  Right now, let’s sit and talk.  Would you like some coffee?”   She rambled as she saw me to a chair and gently pushed me down into it.  It didn’t take much; my legs were like rubber under me.

Mom scooted off into the little kitchen that was separated from the living room by a breakfast bar.  She busied herself preparing the coffee for the 2 of us as I looked around the apartment.  She was humming a little under her breath as she did so.

I was sitting in the tiny living room of the apartment my mother had occupied in Hermiston, Oregon.  How long ago was that?  30, 35 years ago?

There were a few differences to the apartment than what I remembered.  Her bedroom, instead of just a bed in the corner of a studio apartment, was now a separate room.  But for the most part, everything was the same.

Mom came back into the living room with 2 cups of coffee.  She is dressed in a pair of pink “petal pushers” and a floral top.  She has flip flops on her feet.  It’s an outfit I had seen her wear a thousand times.  I am dressed in a long sleeved sweater, jeans and boots.

Mom sets the 2 cups of coffee down on the coffee table between us and takes a seat in her favorite rocker across from me.

Mom reached forward to pick up her cup saying “drink your coffee sweetheart”.  I reached out to lift the cup, but after getting the cup only a couple of inches off the table, I was shaking too much to hold it.

I sat back in my chair and looked down at my hands.  They were shaking.

“Don’t be frightened Penny.  There is nothing to be afraid of.”  She said soothingly.

“But Mom!  You’re… you’re… dead.”  I said in a whisper.

“I know honey, I know.  But it will all make sense soon.  I promise.”  At this she reached across the coffee table to take one of my hands.  At her touch, I flinched and pulled away.

“It will all be alright Penny.  Please believe me.”  She said pleadingly.

“What’s the last thing you remember before seeing me?”  She asked.

I sat there and looking down at my cup, I blinked a couple of times, trying to remember.  At first, nothing came.  Then I remembered.

“I was driving home.  It was late and I was in a rush.”

“The roads were icy, right?”  Mom said.

“Yes” I whispered.  It was coming back to me.   In my mind’s eye, I saw the van approaching the corner.  I knew I was going too fast.  I wasn’t going to make it.  The van flipped.

At that moment the doorbell rang again.  Mom jumped up to answer it.  She pulled the door open and before I saw anything, the smell hit me.  Sulphur.

Stepping across the threshold was a man like none I’d ever seen before.  He was bare-chested and his long dark hair flowed past his shoulders.  He was so handsome, he didn’t look real.  He was the type of man women would give themselves to without question.

My mother planted her hand in the middle of his chest.  “Stop right there!  She’s not yours!”  She said.

He huffed and puffed out his chest.  “I will have the wench!”  He bellowed!

More than hearing it, I could feel the sound of his voice in my chest.   It was like a bass drum inside me and it made my whole being shake.

“You will NOT!”  Mom roared back at him.

At that point my mother’s body started to morph.   She grew taller.  The being in the doorway was a good six feet tall, but she towered over him.

Her pedal pushers and flip flops were gone.  She was surrounded by clouds of billowy fabric of a muted color I could not describe.  Sprouting from her back were wings that reached almost to the ceiling.  Her whole being shone with a light that took my breath away.

The beast cowered and backed away just as she slammed the door.

Turning to look down on me, I could no longer see my mother’s face.  I couldn’t tell what or who I did see.

This beautiful being reached out her hand.

Just as I took it, I heard my name being called.

“Penny, Penny, can you hear me?”

As my vision cleared, I looked up into the face of a female EMT that was smiling down at me.

“There you are!  It’s good to see you back with us Miss Wilson!  You had us all pretty worried there for just a minute.”

She helped me sit up.  We were on the side of the road and she had me wrapped in a blanket.  I could see my crumpled van laying on its side a couple of hundred feet away.

I had been dreaming, but about what?  I couldn’t remember.

I looked into the EMT’s face again and said “You look a lot like my mom.”   She smiled, looking back at me and helped me to stand.  “Let’s get you to the hospital Miss Wilson so we can get that bump on your head check out.”


About Penny:
I am a free-lance writer.  I’ve been writing for my entire life and blogging for more than 5 years.  I write poetry, short stories, fiction and true stories.  You will also see posts about my day to day life at times.

I am working on 2 novels that I hope to have finished in the near future.

My life has been quite diverse, to say the least.  My very early days were spent in the woods of the Pacific Northwest.  My father was a timber-faller.  We lived in a shack with no electricity or running water.  Later on, my mother married a migrant worker. We lived in Picker’s Cabins, tents or the back of the station wagon. We did whatever it took to follow the fruit and the all mighty dollar.

Some of what you will see on my blog is based on these life experiences.   Other posts come from other inspiration.

I currently live in Fort Worth, Texas, work full time, write, blog and enjoy spending time with my best friend, my little dog, Rocket.

You can connect with Penny at the following haunts:

Just for Fun

Like the title says….this post is just for fun.

On May 18, Sirius Radio launched The Beatles Channel. I’ve been glued to it ever since. I originally discovered the “four guys from Liverpool” after they broke up, but that didn’t stop me from falling in love with them like everyone else. As a teen, I purchased every album they’d released and devoured book after book about them. I’m still enthralled by their music.

Which brings me to the reason for this post.

Photo collage with head shots of The Beatles

By United Press International (UPI Telephoto) Cropping and retouching: User:Indopug and User:Misterweiss [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Beatles Channel on Sirius has a daily feature called My Fab Four, wherein a guest (sometimes a celebrity guest) shares their four favorite Beatle songs. From the moment the segment debuted, I’ve been in a quandary trying to decide which songs I would pick for my own Fab Four. A highly weighty matter that has caused much mental wrestling! There are SO MANY exceptional songs I would chose, the idea was daunting. After much debate I whittled it down to these:

Eight Days a Week
No contest on this one. It was the song that introduced me to the Beatles and the first one I fell in love with. Its bright, catchy, and inherently feel-good.

Let It Be
When I was a kid, I shared a bedroom with my two older sisters. One sister is 10 years older than me, the other is 7 years older. I was definitely the “little sister.” I remember lying in bed at night, listening to them quietly chatting back and forth while Let It Be played softly in the dark. This song always takes me back to childhood for that reason. I also love Paul’s piano playing and his wonderful vocals.

You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away
I fell in love with it the first time I heard it. John’s vocals mesh perfectly with the flow. There’s something lyrical about it that never fails to touch me.

Paul McCartney at his best. Yesterday is the most remade Beatle song for good reason, also one of the most remade songs in music history. It’s perfect. I can’t say any more than that.

So there you have it—My Fab Four. Now it’s your turn. Just for fun, I’d love to hear your choices. Share them in the comments below. Let’s talk Beatles, music, and memories.

P.S… Sir Paul just turned 75 on June 18. A belated Happy Birthday to my favorite Beatle! 🙂

Can I Start My Weekend Now?

If there was ever any doubt, let it be known that I love Fridays. The weekend is looming around the corner, and I’m already in countdown. Now that summer has arrived, I will be spending sunny afternoons plotting and/or reading poolside. I still need to work in my normal writing schedule but I’m hoping to grab a little down time as well.

funny cat peeking over shelf at camera

I’m also hoping to get back to a more regular blogging schedule. This past week, saw an award (thank you, Jess Bakkers) and a surprise from my husband (thank you, love of my life). If you’re interested in either post, just follow the links.

Looking back:
On Story Empire, Joan Hall shared a post that cleverly combined The Beatles, Sgt. Peppers and Writing and Harmony Kent shared Part One of her series Commas and How to Use Them. Today, you can find the weekly Curated Writing Content gathered by the authors of Story Empire. I hope some of these appeal to you.

Looking ahead:
My own writing projects are moving forward. A Desolate Hour will be releasing on July 18th, and I recently submitted a short story for an anthology I was invited to participate in. You’ll be hearing more on the latter as publication time approaches.

Book cover for Ghosts by Gaslight, a book on Spiritualism by Troy TaylorCurrently, I’m knee deep in research mode for my next novel, The Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill.  Although I read daily, I’ve been entrenched in non-fiction as opposed to putting a dent in my TBR.

Half of Blue Lady deals with Spiritualism in the late 1800s as related to practicing mediums and fraud. I’ve been reading a book called Ghosts by Gaslight by Troy Taylor in order to get up to snuff. It’s fascinating, but dense, especially as I’m making notes as I go. I also just picked up a massive tome on Harry Houdini, someone who has always intrigued me—more so as I delve into the late 19th century and early 20th century.

We’re spending tomorrow evening with friends so this weekend is more about fun and pool time, but I’ll work writing and research in somehow.

What about you? What project or book is calling you and are you a Friday Fanatic like I am?

A Brick in the Walk

My husband catches me by surprise sometimes. I mean really by surprise. We joke a lot because he’s not much of a reader and doesn’t understand why anyone would “waste time” reading a story. He’ll read instructional manuals and text books, but fiction? Not going to happen. The cosmic joke is that he’s married to a fiction writer.

Wait. It gets better.

After working for State Government for many long years, he was able to retire early with full benefits. That was great until a year later when he ran out of projects to do around the house, and decided he wanted to go back to work part time. So he got a job at—cosmic joke #2—a library!

It’s an easy job, something to keep him busy, but I think he enjoys it. He does meeting room set-ups and some minor maintenance around the place. The man is surrounded by books every day and by librarians who rattle on about their love of the written word. He’s come to appreciate the importance of libraries and the programs they offer, while the librarians couldn’t be happier to have someone of his work ethics. He has them completely spoiled.

The library itself is inviting, and I love going there. Among other amenities, there are plenty of comfy sitting areas both inside and out. One of the outside areas is in a section where people are able to purchase “memory bricks” for special occasions or in honor of loved ones. People place milestones there—anniversaries, awards, and names of family members. Take a seat on the bench that overlooks the area, and this is what you’ll see immediately to the left.

Brick that says Mae Clair

Yep. My husband surprised me with that. My name at our local library—a place of books, learning and imagination. I was thoroughly caught off guard. There were tears, hugs and laughter.

My books are in that library and now my name will hang around outside forever, long after I’m gone. Like I said, the man really surprises me sometimes.  🙂

multiple bricks with names


The Liebster Award

Icon for the Liebster AwardHey, friends! It’s been a very long while since I’ve done an award post or been nominated for one, so I was honored to be nominated for the Liebster Award by Jessica Bakkers. Jess has a great blog with a wide variety of content, including her ongoing posts about INFJs, the topic that connected us initially. If you don’t know Jessica, I highly recommend you check out her spot in the blogosphere and say hello. Lots of fun happenings over there! 🙂

For the Liebster Award, the rules are:

  1. Acknowledge the blog who nominated you and display the award.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger gives you.
  3. Give 11 random facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 11 blogs
  5. Notify those blogs of the nomination.
  6. Give them 11 questions to answer.

The eleven questions Jessica sent my way are:

What is your favourite childhood memory?
Sitting under the stars with my father and imagining far off worlds.

Do you have pets? If yes, what are they?
One black cat named Raven. She’s a rescue I got as a kitten. She turned a year old the middle of May.

Best way to spend a Sunday afternoon?
Writing! Sunday afternoon is the time I routinely reserve for writing.

Favourite TV show?
I love Once Upon a Time, although I’m a little worried about the shake-ups coming next season. It’s the only hour of television I actually watch as it airs. I’m also a big fan of Gotham, which I DVR. Other than those two shows, I watch very little television.

Do you dance?
Dance you say? I LOVE to dance!! Point me in the direction of music and a dance floor, and all of my INFJ insecurities fall by the wayside.

You’re going to a deserted island. What three things are you going to take?
My husband, my cat and a truckload of books (that last counts as one, right)?

Favourite painter or painting?
My father. He was a classically trained artist who produced work in oils, pastel and charcoal, with oils as his primary medium.

Country or city?
Country all the way. I’m a small town girl.

What food do you seek out when you’re blue?
Chips. Oh, wait—I seek them out even when I’m not blue.

Weirdest word you know.
Macadam. I don’t know that it’s weird, but I’ve had critique partners and editors balk when I use it, stating “most readers won’t know what you’re referencing.” Now I force myself to type “asphalt” instead

Is the ‘u’ in colour necessary or just odd?
It’s the equivalent of fine champagne!

And now eleven facts about me. I’m cheating because these can actually be found on my blog:

  1. My favorite number is 12
  2. I adore cats
  3. I saw a UFO when I was 6 (don’t laugh!)
  4. I’ve taken two trips in search of the legendary Mothman
  5. I’m passionate about folklore and cryptozoology
  6. I like to watch bats soar overhead at twilight
  7. I like reading about Robert F. Kennedy
  8. If I could have a superpower, I’d choose the ability to fly
  9. I have a bizarre fear of bears
  10. I like exploring old graveyards
  11. I have a passion for history and old photographs

My eleven questions for those I nominate.

  1. You’ve been given a working time machine. What era of history would you visit?
  2. What is your totem animal? (Inspired by a post I recently saw on Jan Sikes’ blog).
  3. What was the first story you wrote?
  4. Beach or mountains?
  5. What is your favorite time of year?
  6. Name someone from history you find intriguing.
  7. What is your favorite fairy tale?
  8. When was the last time you played a game of chess?
  9. If you could travel to any city or country in the world, where would you go?
  10. Name your favorite cartoon when you were a kid.
  11. What mythical creature do you wish actually existed?

Now, I know not everyone likes to do these awards, but I’m going to  nominate:

Staci Troilo
Joan Hall
Carmen Stefanescu
Julie Holmes
Teri Polen
Marcia Meara
Jan Sikes
Judi Lynn
D. L. Finn
Robbie Cheadle
Lizzie Chantree 

Have a go at it., ladies. There’s no time limit for turn around, and if I you’d like to pass, no worries. I know not everyone has time to do awards or cares to. Just have fun with it if you do. Thanks again to Jess for the nomination. I enjoyed doing this!

Valuable Treasures

This is an EXCELLENT introduction to a fantastic contemporary series that combines elements of the supernatural, romance and history. Step back in time with this short novella by Staci Troilo to glimpse the foundation of her Medici Protectorate series.

And while you’re there, I’d really love to know your thoughts about westerns. 🙂

Staci Troilo

Valuable TreasuresWhen I was young, my father and both my grandfathers loved to watch westerns, particularly on the weekends. I was subjected to the genre more than I care to remember.

Now I think back to those days fondly, but I still have no real love for the genre. Which is why I swore I’d never write westerns.

Funny that I’ve written four western shorts now, two of which have been published. You can find my short story, “Warrior of Blanca Peak” in the Unshod anthology. It’s a contemporary western romance, but that’s not what I want to discuss today.

Book three of the Medici Protectorate series, Body Armor, is set to release in August. To ramp up interest in the series, my publisher has released this short western prequel, Valuable Treasures, before the novel’s release.

I never thought I’d write one western, let alone four, but I…

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I Said I Wouldn’t…Then I Did #writingaseries

I’m kind of embarrassed to be writing this post. You may recall last fall when I was struggling to meet the deadline for book 3 of my Point Pleasant series, I swore up and down I would NEVER write a series again. No way, huh-uh, not gonna happen.

But you know where I’m headed, right?

The process unfolded like this:

I finished A Desolate Hour (Book 3 of Point Pleasant) and realized that for the first time in two years I didn’t have a deadline hanging over my head. That was liberating, but also kind of scary. I could just…write. No communication with my editor or publisher, just me in a void with my muse.

I dug out an old (really old) trunk novel that I felt had possibility and started tinkering with it. I rewrote the beginning, trashed it, rewrote it again, trashed it again, and started fresh.

spiral notepad and books on deskAbout that time my editor (Editor B) contacted me to say her boss (Editor A) wanted to see a new book proposal from me. Um, Editor A?!?!?  He ranks up there in the house, so I was notably blown away that he was requesting something from me! As expected, I danced around on clouds for an afternoon.

Editor A wanted a series—uh-oh—but agreed to take a look at my stand-alone novel. I polished up the first three chapters along with a synopsis, and shipped it off to Editor B who agreed to review it before sending it to her boss.

I don’t know if was from spending too much time hunched over a keyboard, but my lower back suddenly became a quagmire of pain. Back pain is something I’ve had for a while, and for the most part I know how to manage so that it’s not severe. Not this time. The pain was debilitating. So nasty it involved a trip to the doctor for medication.

About that time Editor B emailed to say she thought the (trunk) novel needed a stronger opening, and suggested a few ideas for improvement. Another rewrite? I was starting to think the trunk novel wasn’t the gem I hoped it to be. All the euphoria I felt when Kensington asked for a proposal evaporated.

woman at laptop covering her face

On the plus side, my back pain also disappeared, but the medication left me wired (I quickly ditched it). For a single night, unable to sleep, I plotted an entire novel from start to finish in my head. When morning rolled around, I slunk into my den and poured out four pages of notes, which I promptly emailed to Editor B.

She liked the sound of the book—a mystery incorporating two time periods, one in the present, the other in the late 1800s. She suggested I draft a synopsis from my notes and submit it with the first three chapters so that she could share it with her boss. I added the task to my to-do list.

Before I had a chance to start the book (unknown to me) Editor A emailed my editor to ask if she’d received a proposal from me. All she had were my rough notes, but she sent them to Editor A—only telling me after Editor A came back saying he loved them. He agreed to give me a contract based on my notes. No standard submission process, no two to three month waiting period. Can we say, gobsmacked?!?!

If there is any downside, it’s that Kensington wanted another series. After some back and forth exchanges, we finally arrived at a time frame I can work with and still maintain my sanity. I’m happy to announce book number one of the Hode’s Hill series—The Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill—will release next summer. I just finished all the preliminary paperwork (cover art, production forms, etc.) A mystery suspense novel, Blue Lady will also contain a few supernatural twists, some historical references and a bit of urban legend. Would you expect anything less? 🙂

Book cover for A Desolate Hour by Mae Clair shows a small town overlooking a river at night, full moon overhead, cover in wash of green red and black with white letteringSo here I am, writing a series again. I guess it goes to show you should never say never.

And while I work on Blue Lady, I’m looking forward to the final novel in my Mothman series. If you haven’t grabbed it already, A Desolate Hour is available for pre-order and will release on July 18th.

Looks like I’m in this game for the long haul!