Tag Archives: fiction

If an Ellipsis Ran for President . . .


Vote for Me!

Vote for Me!

If ever an Ellipsis were to run for President, what would be the platform? No more dot-to-space-ratio lawlessness, of course! Yet, enforcing the Ellipses Laws may be trickier than a politician practicing magic tricks.

The underground world of ellipses

Ellipses on the Fringes of Society

Ellipses on the Fringes of Society

No punctuation mark is more misunderstood or misused (might I suggest “abused?”) than the humble ellipsis.

What’s this all about?

The underground of confused ellipses began with the complicated principles of using ellipses with quoted material at the beginning of a quotation.

Or in the Middle of quoted material.

Or at the end of quoted material.

The chaos of Styles and Style Manuals

The voices are loud and contradictory, whether discussing formal or informal writing. There are sticklers who tout perfection via the noble Legal style. Others proclaim the MLA style is the only way to go. The Chicago style versus AP style, which to use? The differences are remarkable and have been known to cause yawns disturbances on college campuses.

*All right you OCD-ers out there. If you must torture yourself, click into the following styles*

 Legal Style ~ MLA Style ~ Chicago Style ~ AP Style

As if that wasn’t confusing enough, there are style manuals with set-in-concrete goop rules.

  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), 
  • The Chicago Manual of Style,
  • and theTexas Law Review Manual on Usage, Style & Editing
Ouch,  my head hurts.

Ouch, my head hurts.

It’s enough to give a person a splitting headache.

Here’s what happened to me . . .

My first two novels contain ellipses with no spaces before, after, or in between. That’s kind of AP Style, but not really. What happened? It seems that editors/editor assistants were changing the final manuscript ellipses to what they believed to be correct, back and forth, until it finally went to print with no ellipses spaces at all (…).

Were they wrong?

Frankly, I think they should have at least put a space before or after the three dots ( … ) ala AP Style in honor of my journalism background.

Going forward, it seems to depend on the views of each particular publisher, the editors, or the high-school grammar teacher speaking through someone’s wetware (brain). In other words, there aren’t any absolutes out there except in the aforementioned Legal, Chicago, MLA, and AP styles, and in those pompous sounding style manuals, of course.

Hmm. We’re dealing with a Theory of Ellipses Relativity. I think I get it. All Absolutists exit the side doors in an orderly fashion, please.

Where I stand

This blog dares to suggest that more people agree that the space before and after and between the dots is not only Chicago Style, but also the more accepted means of indicating that a sentence (or thought) trails off in informal writing, fiction novels, or in designing our contemporary homes.

Well, okay. I just threw in the designing part so you would stay with me. One has to do that with grammar crud discussions or minds tend to tune out.

Here are examples of the style I recommend taken from my third novel, Valley of Shadows, due to hit the shelves sometime this summer.

  1. And these . . .” she said, touching the ruffle-edged shells, “. . . are Hawaiian clam shells. (indicates self-interrupted speech with an action)
  2. I can’t understand how the Ghost Herd came in here a few minutes before me and disappeared into, well . . . air.” (indicates hesitation)
  3. I couldn’t believe it. She-she told me about Smiles and . . .” Birdie fell into a heap at my feet, her face disfigured in silent agony. (indicates an unfinished sentence)

Keep it simple. Add the spaces and move on. I, for one, will be happy.

Back to the Ellipsis running for President (Why? Because it’s fun!)

A campaigning Ellipsis must make it perfectly clear that, if elected, it will hire more grammar cops to ensure alleged perpetrators of chaotic dots will be rounded up and thrown into a summer-time English class taught by Ferris Bueller’s economic teacher.

And arbitrators? Gosh yes! The Ellipsis campaign must assure the public that there will always be a forum, a safe place if you will, for debate and compromise when it comes to ellipsis use. For commas . . . not so much!

Imagine that: A world run by dots.

      Dots Rule!

Dots Rule!

Can we count on your vote?

 

 

 

You know I love to hear from you. What have ellipses done for you lately? Spill and share!

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches Summer/Fall 2017. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Sweet ‘Tater Cake


I had to borrow this photo because my camera crashed! Same color as mine, but flatter.

I had to borrow this photo because my camera crashed! Same cake color as mine, but flatter. Count on this cake being twice that high baked in an oblong cake pan.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1-1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1-lb. crushed pineapple & juice. (I like the sweetened vs. packed-in-juice pineapple for this cake)
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 3 large/med. eggs (or 4 small eggs)
  • 2 cups grated raw sweet potato

Prepare oblong, Bundt, or tube cake pan & turn on oven to 350-degrees.

Sift dry ingredients into mixing bowl. Add oil, vanilla, and the can of pineapple. Mix well by hand. Add eggs, mixing well after each addition. Add grated sweet potato, pecans, and golden raisins. Pour and spread into pan.

Baking times vary. For Bundt or tube pans, it can be as long as 1-1/4 hours, depending on altitude. The oblong pan takes considerably less time.

My experience #1: 30 minutes at high altitude in an oblong pan.

My experience #2: 50 minutes at low altitude in an oblong pan.

This is a moist cake. Don’t over bake. When a toothpick comes out mostly dry, the cake is done.

Frost when cool. Most recipes call for a cream-cheese frosting, but I prefer buttercream or vanilla frosting made in a double batch so the cake has plenty on top.

grated-sweet-potatoes

Grated sweet potatoes

 

Let me know how this turns out. I’m always open to learn! Happy baking! This is a popular cake for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

 

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches Spring 2017. Here's a quick look:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Professor Dolphin Knew Best


A journalism and corporate writing background conditioned me into thinking I was ready to swim out to the Island of Non-Fiction and string up a nice hammock between two palms.

I’d drop a lobster trap off the rocky side of the island, carefully keep my matches dry and write thought-provoking, interesting non-fiction forevermore.

I would pen magazine articles, essays, editorials.

I’d turn out how-to’s, recipe books, child-rearing booklets, and sundry other juicy projects. *Don’t you just love the sound of sundry?*

Dip into family genealogy.

Try my hand at middle-grade articles about camping or friendship or about believing in yourself.

Case closed.

Alas!

You might say I experienced a curve “wave.”

While splashing my way to the Island of Non-Fiction about seven years ago, a peculiar, mystical creature emerged from my turquoise tropical dream like a tenured professor wearing a dolphin suit and a tutorial expression.

I attempted to swim around him to get to my island, but the aquatic grampus was too swift and blocked my every move.

Sensing he would not speak to me until I stopped flailing, I quietly dog paddled and waited. He seemed pleased.

“Jodi, you won’t be going to the Island of Non-Fiction,” Professor Dolphin said, fixing me with a solemn mien.

“What! You have to be joking! I love shells and pretty sunsets over the waves.”

“That’s the problem,” he said. “From now on, fiction is the new non-fiction for you.”

“But I don’t know anything about writing fiction,” I whined.

“Exactly,” the slick, grey mammal smiled. “Happy plotting, Jodi. May all your dreams be themes. May your characters ever be fleshy and your mid-book chapters sodden with thrills.”

I remember swallowing a lot of brine when he said that.

With a wink, Professor Dolphin dove head first into the majestic azure and white waves … towing my safe and comfortable Island of Non-Fiction behind him.

I stared until he and the island became as tiny as fly specs. Then I turned and swam into my future.


Are you doing something you never dreamed you would do? Did you once think you would never live in a place you live now? Have you made any bold claims about your life that you had to “eat” later on?

I’d love to hear about it.

Just for fun . . .

Borrowing unatuthorized media? We're coming to your town.

Borrowing unatuthorized media? We’re coming to your town.

 

 

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches Spring 2017. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

The Land of Ish


Personally, I don’t see how we can survive these days without the Land of Ish.

I mean, think about it. You’re due in a meeting at work at a certain time, say nine o’clock. You did everything you should have done to be there on time – got up early, out the door on time, filled your gas tank the night before.

What you didn’t do is inherit a magic wand to control all the elements of life. Things like a sick child. The traffic flow. The weather.

You arrive at your meeting at 9:16. The boss looks at her watch when you enter. She nods. You give her a thumbs up.

Why? Because you arrived at 9-ish!

Another scenario: It was all fun and games to talk about your age for the first thirty or so years of your life. Now, pushing forty (or fifty, or *horrors* sixty+), you wonder if the promotion you’re panting after will go to someone younger. What about a part in a play or a chance to sing or to give a speech?

Will the powers that be choose you over your younger counterparts?

You certainly don’t look or feel your age. In fact, you’re downright ridiculously youthful. Is it your fault the world lusts after youth and beauty? Of course not!

When it comes time to spill the beans about your age (providing no one knows already), will you 1) tell the truth right out, and the results be hanged, or 2) bestow upon the inquirer a glorious smile and a shrug and say, oh, 30-ish, or 40-ish, or . . . well, you get the picture.

It’s not a lie.

It’s the Land of Ish at your service!

Ish serves us in other ways, too. Chech out these remarks:

Don’t bother to go to that restaurant. It’s too cheap-ish.

My blind date was freak-ish.

I can’t join a group of such child-ish people.

My husband’s boy-ish smile gives me stomach flutters.

She wasn’t at all standoff-ish.

He got the job because he seemed the least amateur-ish.

Your kid was fever-ish this morning, too?

My new car is kind of blue-ish.

Whew! The Land of Ish is a busy place!

Ish is a descriptive suffix that:

  • makes comrades of strangers,
  • knits friends tighter, and
  • gives all of us something to nod our heads about in agreement.

I’m not suggesting the Land of Ish should run for president or anything, but it might make a good senator.

After all, it’s not priggish, squeamish or mulish.

It’s simply stylish!

Hooray for the Land of Ish!

=======

I love to hear from you!

 

I'm worn out from chasing down social media image borrowers.

I’m worn out from chasing down social media image borrowers.

 

 

 

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches early 2017. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Three Easy Rules That Will Change your “Comma Life” Forever


Diamond 1, 2, 3

Commas have never intentionally hurt you, have they?

Okay, maybe you made a bad grade or two on a school paper because you used the two-inch rule; that is, you placed a comma every two inches on your term paper just to show your instructor you were seriously trying.

When your paper came back with severe grammar-scoldings written in the margins and a link for you to immediately hook up with Grammarly or fail the course, you may have sworn off comma-love forevermore.

Of course, if someone tried to eat your relative when you penned, Let’s eat Grandma instead of Let’s eat, Grandma . . . that surely could have caused a ruckus.

When you think about it, was it really the fault of the commas?

I believe if the commas you have used incorrectly over the years could talk, they’d probably thank you for all the interesting misadventures. Just a thought.

Falling stars on the red carpet with flash lights from camerasDon’t hold a grudge. Those little guys are waiting to make you look like a professional punctuator if you will but open the door to them. What do you say? Ready to be a Comma Star?

Exhale. Blow out the tension. Wiggle your fingers. Slap your cheeks, and let’s begin.

1. Introductory phrases/clauses

When you introduce your sentence with something that isn’t a stand-alone sentence, it needs a comma after it. It could be a phrase or a dependent clause, but who cares? It doesn’t stand alone, and that means it needs a comma for support. Don’t get nervous. It’s easy.

For example: When I go to sleep at night isn’t a sentence, is it?

Those are words used to set up (introduce) the reader to what you are going to tell them happens when you go to sleep at night.

When I go to sleep at night, I dream of galloping through the galaxies.

See that?

The introductory phrase (When I go to sleep at night) introduced the rest of the sentence (I dream of galloping through the galaxies).

To separate the two parts, you merely add a comma.

Here’s another example: Since I am king of the world, I can skateboard with a monkey on my shoulder.

Separate the introductory clause (Since I am king of the world) from the explanation (I can skateboard with a monkey on my shoulder) with a comma.

That’s it. Don’t get mired down with subordinate conjunctions, predicate verbs, and all that crap proper grammar terminology. It’s important, but not necessary to remembering where to place your commas. *And please don’t, in a fit of frustration, tell someone where they can place their commas if you know what I mean*

2. Commas between two independent sentences separated by a conjunction

This rule is as simple as stirring sugar in your coffee. In your writing, you don’t want all your sentences so short they sound like a robot learning to speak, do you?

I am Robot Maid. I can clean your house.  I can clean for you. I am Robot Maid. I do not clean windows. I do not clean refrigerators. I am Robot Maid.

When we combine a couple of the sentences and separate them with a comma and a conjunction (and, but, so, for, nor, and so on), our writing sounds more sophisticated.

I am Robot Maid, and I can clean your house. I am Robot Maid, but I do not clean windows or refrigerators.

How about this: I won a golden goose yesterday, and now I need to hire a trustworthy money adviser.

Two complete sentences separated by a conjunction need a comma. Easy-peasy.

3. Commas in a series

A series is a comma’s best friend. Or is the comma a series’ best friend? Anyway, in this instance, the commas act as little separators in a series, or a list, of items.

No commas:

We took salad chips cookies sliced tomato sandwiches and soda pop to the lake. I have to ask, are they taking salad chips to the lake or salad and chips to the lake? Are the cookies sliced? Why are they eating sliced tomato sandwiches?

Now use crafty commas to clarify what the sentence really says:

We took salad, chips, cookies, sliced tomato sandwiches, and soda pop to the park. (Yes, the sandwiches are sliced tomato sandwiches).

The last comma in a series is up to you, or your teacher, or your boss. It’s called the Oxford comma. In Associated Press (AP) style, the last comma before the conjunction is omitted. In many other venues, including the novel publishing world, the comma before the conjunction in a series is left in.

Example:

Gerard Butler is tall, handsome, articulate and talented. (AP style)

Gerard Butler is tall, handsome, articulate, and talented. (Oxford comma used)

Question: How are commas used in the next sentence?

To tell you the truth, commas won’t give you rippling muscles, money, or a live-in maid, but they will clarify your writing and earn you praise.

Answer:

1) This sentence has an introductory phrase (To tell you the truth) followed by a comma.

2) It has a series with each object separated by a comma, including an Oxford comma (commas won’t give you rippling muscles, money, or a live-in maid).

3) It also has two complete sentences separated by a comma and the conjunction but.

One last thing . . . which singing icon of the sixties made commas famous?

Neil Sedaka!

How?

Sedaka’s blockbuster song, “Breaking up is Hard to Do” (click the link to hear it), begins and ends with:

Down dooby doo down down,

Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down,

Comma, comma down dooby doo down down.

Strange as these lyrics are, they elevate the lowly comma to heights of greatness!

You now know three basic comma rules. I learned them in high school, and they have served me well. They’ll do the same for you.

Red umbrella in Storm.Are there other comma rules? Gosh yes. However, when you learn these three rules, you’ll be heads above the crowd.

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Don’t Just Sit There . . . WRITE!


Don't Just Sit There . . . WRITE!

Don’t Just Sit There . . . WRITE!

My personal advice to budding writers is not simply . . . WRITE! but dang near it.

Like all writers and novelists, I followed a myriad of roads to be where I am today. I can see that many of my roads were constructed of circumstances. Yet, the gritty asphalt of the highway leading to the inkwells of corporate writer, humor columnist, scribe, and author was built from pure tenacity.

Writing in the library, the car, in bed, on the toilet . . .

I’ve always written. In school, I loved nothing more than getting essay questions. I’d fill up the page and write on the back or in the margins of the test questions. Off and on, I kept diaries and journals. I wrote Christmas letters, poems, free verse. My letters to friends and family were dubbed “epistles.”

I volunteer-wrote for charities and ministries and rewrote safety manuals for an insurance company. I simply wrote . . . before I had children, while I was raising children, and after my children were adults.

What happened?

A little book happened.

Wherever I volunteered, I was always given some kind of writing task. Researching how to write press releases for my children’s school one fateful day, a little book practically fell off the library bookshelf and into my trembling hands. It was Brenda Ueland’s If You Want to Write, an archaic book written in 1938, of which Carl Sandburg said was “the best book ever written on how to write.”

Ueland essentially said that if a person wants to write, she or he will. By hook or crook, they will plow ahead. I can’t explain it, but that book inspired me to return to college and get my Business Management degree. Naturally, I had to sign up for something related to writing, and I decided on a journalism class.

It was the best decision I ever made.

Before long, I was a campus editor, and soon I was making professors laugh with my crazy brand of humor columns. I learned how to interview and take my own human-interest Journalistphotographs. I took a summer job at a small, local newspaper where we set up our own columns on an old Apple computer.

It turned into a circus-worthy balancing act with two children, a husband, and my penchant for keeping a dirt-free habitation, but I never stopped smiling!

What a ride!

If you ask, I will answer

It’s awesome to be honored with a question about your journey to an accomplishment. Recently I received a personal message on my author Facebook page from Skylar. She had just completed her sophomore year in high school, and she aspires to write books. She asked for my advice.

Skylar agreed that I could use her name, so here, in microchip fashion, is my advice for her and all budding authors:

Hi Skylar! Thank you for writing me. I’m happy to offer you a bit of writing advice. My journey to becoming a corporate writer and author came through journalism.

My college journalism courses taught me to “hook” my audience with my very first sentence, my first paragraph, and my first page. I highly recommend studying journalism because it also teaches you to write succinctly and to the point.

Let me also say that a highly developed sense of grammar and proper sentence structure/syntax undergirds all types of writing.

Creative writing course do not get my stamp of approval since they seem to focus on writing wildly descriptive sentences that, though fun to read, are not popular in our sound-bite culture. Learn to say a lot using powerful adjectives and few words.

Whenever you can, attend writing seminars and take online writing classes for fiction and/or non-fiction.

I was always a non-fiction writer, but I decided to challenge myself to take a fiction magazine-writing course with the Institute of Children’s Literature — a great institute, by the way. At the end of the course, my mentor, Chris Eboch, encouraged me to write a novel. I didn’t think it was possible, but she believed in me.

She was right! My third novel comes out this summer, and I’m already working on another one.

It hasn’t been easy, but nothing worthwhile falls into our laps without sweat equity and a burning desire to improve. If you really want to write, you will, and you’ll take every opportunity to get better at your craft. We writers never stop learning!

Good luck, Skylar, and keep me posted on your progress. Never hesitate to ask me anything, and if I can answer it, I will.

The Sky's the Limit, so WRITE!

The Sky’s the Limit, so WRITE!

 

And I’ll do the same for you.

 

 

 

 

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches summer 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Bungler or Ace . . . What Kind of Interviewer Are You?


Do You Struggle With Interviewing?

Stop Struggling. Conducting Award-Winning Interviews is a Matter of the Proper Ingredients.

The recipe for conducting an excellent personal interview can be compared to making a delicious cake.

Use the proper equipment, mix up a few high-quality ingredients, bake at the right temperature, add the icing, and voila! You have something the interviewee loves and others clamor to read or hear.

The Right Mixer = The Right Research

A high-quality mixer gives an advantage in producing a fancy cake just as research makes the difference in creating a powerful interview. The “mixer” in this case is the interviewer beefing up on the highlights of the life of the person about to be interviewed.

A person will be sitting across the table from you, or speaking to you via telephone or Skype. What has made them who they are right now . . . today? What have they designed, written, studied, invented, or changed? How have they affected others?

There are so many ways to discover factoids. I personally use the Internet, public library, business periodicals, company history pubs, trade rags, etc. If it’s important enough, you might consider conducting mini-interviews with family, friends, or colleagues. Without being a nuisance, you can learn a lot in a short time.

Of course, the amount of time spent on personal research directly correlates to whom you are interviewing, why, and how much time you have in your schedule. The fact remains that most people – celebrity, businessperson, politician, author, or Joe the Plumber – are complimented when an interviewer has taken the time to learn a thing or two about them.

No matter what you find out in this initial process, be open to listening to different versions from the people themselves. Unless you’re writing your interview for the National Enquirer, avoid gossip and hearsay.

High-Quality Ingredients = Respect, Sincerity, and Dynamic *appropriate* Questions


Pinup american military girl pulling sea anchorRespect
Set a time for the interview, and don’t be late. No excuses. If the person must cancel, be gracious in rescheduling another time. Use good manners, and don’t be disrespectful. Ever. You catch more fish with delicious bait than a sledgehammer, right?

Sincerity –  Don’t try to feign sincerity. Do you care about people? You’d better, or your phony earnestness will quickly become a throbbing blister on the heel of your credibility.

Questions Make your questions insightful and real. Ask things others haven’t thought of asking. Find out why Barbara Walters had the reputation for making interviewees cry during their interviews. (Hint: It wasn’t because she was mean!)

Something to keep in mind: attempting to fake yourself into the interviewees’ world will show up quickly in the question stage. Keep it real.

Don’t be rude, but do be persistent if you feel an appropriate question should be addressed. Save your hardest and/or most controversial question for last. Trust me, it works out better that way.

Be creative! The questions you design for interviews can define you as a Barbara Walters superstar interviewer or as an amateur wannabe. It’s up to you to study the greats and put your own spin and heart into each facet of your interviews.

Bake at the Proper Temperature = Finish with finesse

End on a positive note. Thank your interviewees for taking the time to talk to you. They didn’t have to, but they did. Be grateful.

If the interview is to be published, get busy and finish it while everything is fresh in your mind.

Icing on the Cake = Your Reputation

  • Don’t rat out your interviewees by blabbing things they told you in confidence.
  • If you promise a printed copy or a copy of a verbal script to your interviewees, be true to your word.
  • If you told them you would call them when the interview airs or comes out in print, do it!

Pin-up sailor girl on boat. Holiday abroadYou’ll be surprised how quickly your reputation as an interviewer will spread. Your integrity is on the line every time. If people trust you, they will tell others. Soon, you will be in demand, and that’s when the icing on the cake becomes your path to being an acclaimed interviewer.

Good luck!

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches summer 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

HEROES: A man named Scott


Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC

Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC

The other day, a man named Scott came to fix the dishwasher in a house we lease. He was bowed in the shoulders and wore knee-high therapeutic socks.

He walked slightly lopsided and breathed heavily with effort as he bent to check out the appliance. His knees hurt. His hands were swollen with neuropathic pain. Over the course of the next half hour, Scott shared some of his life with me in a voice clear and strong.

It didn’t take me long to realize a bona fide hero was standing in my kitchen.

More about that later.

Scott told me he’s worried that he’s losing weight these days and that his 6’2” frame seems to be shrinking. His strength isn’t what it used to be either. Not long ago, he said, he could wrestle a fat, new refrigerator from the back of his truck and install it single handed.Now he has an assistant – Frank – to help with that kind of physical stuff.

Lately he’s been experiencing a lot of tiredness after the three kidney dialyses he receives each week.

“Used to, I’d be down for a few hours, then get right up and start working again. Now I’m tired for hours afterward,” he said.

Scott happens to hold the record for the longest living male to receive kidney dialysis in our state. He’s been doing it every week for 22 years.

The dialysis is the result of his taking bullets to the abdomen during the Vietnam war. Lying alone and bleeding in the jungle, he did something that saved his life.

“I stuffed my wounds with leaves,” he told me. “Now you’d think I’d get infected, but the leaves I used turned out to have a penicillin-like effect. How about that?”

How about that, indeed.

Beautiful like a hero

I’ve been thinking a lot about Scott since he came to my house the other day. He inspired me. I have a feeling he inspires everyone he meets. He’s called a workaholic by his coworkers, and he’s a tad vain about his appearance. I told him he was looking good, and I meant it.

Come to think of it, Scott looks like a hero to me, and that’s a beautiful thing to behold.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Why do we need heroes?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says a hero is a person who is admired for great or brave acts. I think heroes are something more. I believe they are icons on which we project our greater selves. Deep in our psyches – maybe in our DNA – we want to believe that if pressed, we will rise to heights of courage and greatness. Heroes make us aspire to flee mediocrity and pursue the impossible ~ Jodi Lea Stewart

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Just for fun . . .

Good gosh, man! Those natives are using unauthorized media!

Good gosh, man! Those natives are using unauthorized media!

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches in early 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

The Octopus Knows – A Round-Robin Rising


 Hankering for some round-robin fiction?

 Green-eyes

It’s my turn to participate in The Octopus Knows, and I’d love it if you’d come along for the ride.

As far as round-robins go…this one’s a doozy. It all started when one of my very creative blogging/writing friends, Laird Sapir, suggested a collaborative writing project to interject a little craziness into our writing lives. The simple rule is that each writer begins where the last writer left off.

Laird wrote the first segment to get us started, and she keeps a nice log documenting all the subsequent segments. It’s great fun to read the entire “novella” and enjoy the different writing styles of all the participants. It’s turning into a humorous, innovative work of fiction with suspense, mystery and drama!

Segment XIV was written by Karen Pullen, mystery and short-story writer.

 

Previously in The Octopus Knows…

Though it was almost their demise, Ninja, Simon and Marguerite manage to save the world by closing the portal to an alternate universe of antimatter. With only two minutes to spare before certain death, the three manage to escape by desperately clinging to one another and the gunbrella, which conveniently opens into a giant parasol. A breeze lifts them up and away toward a faint light high above. They land somewhere on a ledge in the side of a rocky wall. Ninja is suffering the most from the heat and lack of water…

The Octopus Knows, Chapter Mox-Nix, Segment XV

Filtered sunlight streamed through the mesh, lighting one side of the craggy red rock and casting a warm glow on the exhausted threesome. Simon attempted to lift one of Ninja’s tentacles glued to his shoulder. It felt like raw cookie dough.

“Don’t,” Ninja rasped. “Please.”

“Where in the Black Hole are we?” Marguerite asked, casting a troubled look at Simon. Ninja was perishing before their very eyes.

Simon nodded to let her know he was as worried about Ninja as she was. “Well, our predicament doesn’t look so bad now that it’s light. Let’s see…we seem to be in a canyon with a gravelly bottom and a strange piece of something covering the opening.”  Simon’s voice was artificially cheerful.

Ninja raised his head off the back of Simon’s hair. “My dear fellow partners in crime, or should I say, galactical advocates of the experimental kind? I’m afraid the end has come. Now Merguerite, don’t look like that, my lovely. It’s been a good run, and all good things must end sometime.”

“What the blazes, Ninj!” Marguerite was suddenly all flashing eyes and angry energy. Stop talking like that! You’re not going…going…” She collapsed in a heap of sobs, her hands covering her face.

Simon stared. “I didn’t think you had any emotions left, my sweet,” he couldn’t help saying. He walked to her with Ninja’s head bobbing slightly with each step. “Here, old gal. Pull yourself together.”

Good God he loved that woman. His whole façade of liking men had been a smokescreen to hide his crushed heart. She was an addiction, and he’d succumbed to it in every nuclei of every cell of his being. Geez—he actually loved her more since the accident. Oreos and crap food had never taken away the pain of losing her.

Marguerite dropped her hands and fastened those beautiful green eyes on him. They were filled to the brim with tears and something else—desperation.  Help Ninja, they pleaded.

A swishing sound made Simon look down. A small stream rushed onto the gravel below and surrounded an embedded boulder like a horseshoe, turning the greedy ground a darker shade. Ninja lifted a shaky head off Simon and sniffed the air. “Wha…what’s happening, Simon?”

“Water! Beautiful H2O is happening, my slimy, tentacled friend!”

Simon was already scooting down the rough rock wall, his extra weight making him slip and slide, but descending nevertheless. Ninja sat atop Simon like a little child clinging and trusting it’s daddy. At the bottom, Simon dropped to his knees in the watery liquid.

“Can you release yourself, Ninja?”

“Afraid not,” Ninja replied in a tiny apologetic voice.

Marguerite was suddenly there dipping her scarf in the water and spreading it over Ninja, squeezing and patting. “Ahhh,” Simon cooed. Again and again, Marguerite lifted the scarf full of the life-saving fluid and applied it to Ninja’s scorched, sticky limbs. At last, Ninja slid off Simon and into the water. His tentacles looked like eels winnowing through the shallow stream. He laughed his shrill octopus laugh, which sounded exactly like a whippoorwill to Simon, and sang his favorite song, God Save the Queen, twice without stopping. Why that particular song was Ninja’s favorite was a mystery to Simon, but it was downright music to his ears right now.

Marguerite was laughing and splashing right alongside Ninja. Simon gazed at her, transfixed by her beauty. How could anyone so lovely be so deadly?

“Simon, look!” Her screech shook him from his stare. Marguerite was pointing at a giant cat’s head peering through the mesh at them. Ninja swam near. The three of them watched in shock as the cat pawed at the wire. It moved. The cat swiped again. One more swipe and they would be exposed. Would they die like mice in the jaws of an oversized feline?

“Quick…where’s the gunbrella?” Ninja gasped.

“It’s supposed to be on the ledge, but I don’t see it now!” Simon yelled.

“Are you both insane…it didn’t just disappear into thin air!” Marguerite shrieked.

A huge paw was reaching down toward them…was this the end? 

Two chubby hands encircled and lifted the cat. It rose above them with a disappointed meow!

“Kitty-Tom, I’ve been looking all over for you. It’s your turn to wear the baby bonnet today,” said a youngster’s voice above them.

Hollow eyed and breathing hard, the three collapsed against each other. Marguerite pulled away.

“Damn nation, Simon, you swallowed the X-Raniam powder inside the vial in your wand, didn’t you?” Marguerite’s eyes sparked with anger. “You crazy fool! Don’t you remember what happens if you take that powder after drinking Courvoisier? And don’t tell me you didn’t nip plentifully when you went back to your apartment!”

Simon’s eyes darted east and west in rapid succession. He smacked his forehead and groaned.

Ninja pushed off Simon’s legs and did an attractive backstroke in the water. “She’s right, old boy. I just did a few calculations. Judging from the size of that cat’s head, I’d say we’re all about two inches high.”

Simon sat down in the water. “But…but…but…why are you and Marguerite shrunken? I’m the one who drank the combination,” he sputtered.

“The heat and intensity from those power waves when we were saving the world, I’m afraid. Then we wrapped ourselves together like wontons and floated into air. Any organic change in you would have transferred to us. It’s just science,” Ninja explained, coming to a stop and leaning on one tentacle like a bent arm. His face held a sad but accepting expression.

Marguerite made her way up the side of the rock and peered over the top. “What the…?” she said.

“What do you see, my dear?” Ninja asked.

“Cactus. Saguaro cactus. A rock yard. Your stream is coming from a garden hose, Ninja! Our mesh is a piece of rusted screen.” She gasped and put a hand over her mouth. “My God, I think we’re somewhere in Arizona!”

“That’s impossible! Marguerite, come back down, dear. You’re delusional. We’ll figure this out together. Come on now. It’s all been too much,” Simon said, standing and reaching his arms toward her.

“Shut up, Simon! I know the Southwest when I see it. You forget that I’ve broken some huge cases here—that South American Mafia ring, the Interplanetary Dread Society case… this, my careless, stupid lunatic…is Tucson!

*****

What will happen to two-inch Ninja, Simon and Marguerite in Tucson? And where is that blasted, elusive Mr. Jones hiding out? Tune in next week to find out what happens next. Lyndsey Jones will take us on our next adventure with The Octopus Knows!

 

 


 

 

 

 

Arrow

Feel free to wander around my website. It's guaranteed non-toxic.

If you like Sassy, Danger and Mystery, you'll love my any-age novels. Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT and Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves: CANYON OF DOOM are available at your nearest Barnes & Noble Bookseller, on this website, Amazon, B&N.com and more. For your convenience, it’s also available on Kindlethe Nook and most other eBook readers.

Book Three of the Silki trilogy, VALLEY OF SHADOWS, launches fall 2016. Here's a quick synopsis:

Bummed that yet another summer has passed all too quickly, Silki and her best friend Birdie head out for one last hurrah at the Navajo Nation Fair. When the fun is overshadowed by the theft of a famous horse, Silki is plunged into a baffling adventure teeming with international undercurrents and intrigue. What’s more, boy-crazy Birdie is fluttering her eyelashes at Silki’s good-looking, visiting cousin at every turn, and Rez legend Old Man Concho is coughing up secrets dating back to 1942. What possible connection could he have to the Japanese tourists, and will Silki discover an ancient truth about the Valley of Shadows in time to save Lava, the leader of the Ghost Herd, as well as salvage her own broken heart?

Meet my CANYON OF DOOM AND VALLEY OF SHADOWS illustrator, the Drawing Hands.

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.

Lather: The Twinkle Jackson Story / a Round-Robin Excursion


“Those are really undercover squirrels at my feet, you know” – The Golden Goddess, sister of Juniper Jackie aka Jupernia

How can I explain our far-out fantasy, Lather: The Twinkle Jackson Story?

I can’t.

My writing and blogging group was bored and became excited to take on another Round Robin tale of extreme proportions. It’s rollicking fun to blend our various writing styles *think fingernails on a chalk board!* to produce a story like none other. Our first experiment, the Octopus Knows, was a grand adventure, definitely worth reading, and I think a lesson in group therapy! Here’s the link for brave Round-Robin Reading aficionados.

You can read Chapters 1-6 of our current tale on the links below. If, after reading Lather, the Twinkle Jackson Story, you experience any of the following:  total brain crash, loss of saliva or Restless Toe Syndrome (RTS), please contact Laird Sapir – the creator of this maniacal activity. She also designed the beautiful Sparkle Sudz Soap graphic. Yes, she’s a mad scientist of the galactic-graphical kind, and we’re hopelessly devoted to her leadership in our RR *Round Robin* ventures!

Previous chapters:

Without further ado, the Twinkle Jackson story continues. Note: If this yarn messes with your IQ, please don’t contact us. Thank you.

Chapter Seven

“Mom!” Twinkle gasped. With a cry, he grabbed his mother around the neck.

“Hang on, son!”  Jupernia shouted as she half slid, half flew down the curve of the spaceship pulling Twinkle with her. She had been shocked, pleasantly so, that they were still planted in Geraldo’s vegetable garden and not soaring through the galaxies.

The big buffoon, she sighed, thinking of her husband inside the house. All this racket and he hadn’t once come outside. She could picture him snoring with his chin on his chest, slumped at his work table—a neon yellow Stanley Surform wood/plastic shaver in one hand and an unfinished toy in the other. How she did love that Earthling!

“Soon,” she said, barely above a whisper. Twinkle felt, more than heard her speak, as they swooshed toward the ground.

“Soon, what, Mother? And what in the name of all that’s chiseled from wood is going on? Where have you been? Are you really the Golden Goddess’ sister? What are you doing with that overgrown crustacean?”

Jupernia didn’t answer. Touching ground, she pulled from her dark cloak a glowing box encircled by a sparkly silver cord. Slipping off the cord, she twirled it in the air like a lasso. The circle at the end hooked the tip of an oxygen tube on the spaceship.

“Yes!” she said, immediately closing her eyes and humming Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The Crustaship, including the Shrimperators swarming the craft’s ramp like disturbed fire ants, disappeared in a poof of sappy mist. Twinkle knew it was sappy because he tasted it. He’d chewed enough tree sap in his young life to be a sap expert.

Jupernia crossed her arms over her chest in an X and smiled. “I’ve been saving my last lasso loop for a time like this,” she said.

Twinkle fell backward on his dad’s squashed squash plants. His mind was exploding. He looked at his mother. Who was she?

“Come,” Jupernia beckoned, leading the way into their open-air summer gazebo. Once inside, she removed the heavy dark cloak and placed it and the glowing box on the white painted iron table between the matching iron chairs. “Twinkle,” prepare yourself. I need to explain fast before Lord Lobstar’s minions break the sap-mist code.

Twinkle blinked rapidly and stroked his curls.

“My sister and I look like Earthlings, but we are really from Planet Juniper located in the Fir Galaxy – a place where trees and hair have the perfect conditions – you might say, conditioner – to thrive. You probably wondered why I became a professional tree climber. Now you know. It’s in my Tree-N-A. The lemon-mint conditioner I always made in a tub in the basement is the same mixture everyone uses on our planet.

Juniper, a Planet of the Fir Galaxy

“Why did you come to Earth in the first place, Mom?”

“I simply fell in love. I met your father while attending a wood class at Maple University, and oh, the things he could carve out of wood. It just filled my heart with joy! We Juniparians are allowed to visit other planets, of course, but certainly not to stay, or marry the inhabitants. I stayed, married, and my little sister followed me here. We were banned from returning, and Golden took a job with Sparkle Sudz Soap. Soap became her substitute for sap.

I became a wife and mother.” She ran her fingers through the top of Twinkle’s hair and smiled lovingly at him.

“Son, our national anthem is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Need I say more?”

Twinkle was angry. Not about being half Earthling, half Juniparian. No, that was kind of cool. He was angry because his Mother left them without a word. He was angry that his father was so weak he’d become a hoarder and shrink-wrap-bulk purchaser since she left. Mostly, he was angry at the torment he’d suffered at the claws of Lord Lobstar.

“I never thought my own mother would throw in with a Lobster Mobster,”  he sulked. Twinkle dipped his hand in his pocket, withdrew it and blew through the “O” he formed with his thumb and forefinger. A medium-sized bubble slipped into the night sky.

“You’ve never met your Grandpa and Grandma Woods, Twinkle. I wanted to fix that. When I got word that our planet was in trouble, I went undercover to help. You see, we’re a gentle people, as trusting as limbs, uh, I mean, lambs. The way I heard it, when Lord Lobstar first showed up, Juniparians felt sorry for him. He’d lost the love of his life and had self-exiled himself into space. He seemed so humble, so peaceful. In time, he became a citizen and ran for Conifer Councilman. He won! His next office was President of Pine, our largest continent. In time, he became the Fir Forrester, our planet’s primary leader. He talked Juniparians into giving up their glowing boxes and silver cords, our only weapons, to show absolute faith in him.

“As he became physically weaker from being so long out of his own environment, he turned briny and bitter about his past. He made up outlandish stories about his home planet, denying that he was an Earthling. Son, you…you won’t believe where Lord Lobstar is actually from. I’m almost afraid to tell you.”

Twinkle jumped from his chair and ran onto the lawn. He twirled around three times and did a shoulder stand. “Tell me! Tell me!” he babbled, his eyes flickering like an old black and white television screen. Jupernia bit her knuckle. Her son was exhibiting symptoms of Wooden Head, a Juniparian illness triggered by stress overload. She needed to quickly tell him the rest of the story and get a ground-up bark malt down his throat before it was too late.

“Okay, son. Calm down. Lord Lobstar is from Earth. From the Pacific Ocean to be exact. His girlfriend was one of our undercover agents who masquerades as a squirrel under the sea. She fell in love with Larry the lobster, a simple lifeguard and weight lifter who loved to show off his muscles on the beach. Who could guess that Larry’s downfall and heartbreak would come from a crazy little guy who wore square pants…a mutant sponge they call SpongeBob?”

Twinkle’s rolling saucer eyes and dribbling mouth scared Jupernia.

“Yes, it’s true. Lord Lobstar is from Bikini Bottom. When Sandy dumped him for SpongeBob, it broke him. Messed him up pretty bad. Sandy, out of guilt, and due to his continual insistence, invented a Crustaship for him. He sailed away into the heavens until he found a planet to take over—ours. Now his only motivation is revenge.

His evil scheme is to destroy SpongeBob, Patrick, and even his distant cousin, Mr. Crabs. He desperately needs a half Earthling, half Juniparian to accomplish his goal, and that’s where you come in.

“My dear and only child, Earth and Juniper’s future is at stake.

“We have to find a way to save Bikini Bottom!”

 

Oh my…Bikini Bottom is in grave danger! What will happen? Can Jupernia save Twinkle from Wooden Head disease? Will the Sap-Mist wear off too soon? Is the Golden Goddess really on their side, or is she up to something more sinister? Stay tuned for the next chapter! The continuing lineup is sitting quietly on Laird Sapir’s blog. Thanks for joining us. We needed the sane brain cells you brought with you!

I always love to hear from you.

 

 

 

Jodi Lea Stewart was born in Texas and grew up in Apache County on a cattle ranch near Concho, Arizona. She left the University of Arizona in Tucson to move to San Francisco, where she learned about peace, love and exactly what she didn't want to do with her life. Since then, Jodi graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Business Management, raised two children, worked as an electro-mechanical drafter, penned humor columns for a college periodical, wrote regional western articles and served as managing editor of a Fortune company newsletter. She currently resides in Texas and New Mexico with her husband, two Standard poodles, two rescue cats and numerous gigantic, bossy houseplants. SUMMER OF THE ANCIENT is Jodi's debut novel and Book One of the Silki, the Girl of Many Scarves trilogy. CANYON OF DOOM came next, and VALLEY OF SHADOWS hits the shelves summer of 2016, completing this exciting and fun adventure-mystery set in the Navajo Nation. Next on the horizon? A historical mystery novel set in the 1930s told through the eyes of a sharecropper's daughter.