Category Archives: Uncategorized

#ARoomofOne’sOwn

Let’s face it. We are spending more time in our homes than in offices or other places of work. We use our own space, our own toilet paper, our own food. We will be looking for new uses for the space we currently occupy. By that, I mean, we look for places we can set aside for work, for play, for quiet. And that’s perhaps new to most of us.

I work from home. Have for the past nearly fifteen years or so. I was a consultant for two large firms doing client-side work. I didn’t have office space at my corporate offices, because my work was done on site. When I was between assignments, I worked from my home. Once I retired and became a full-time writer, working from home became my norm. So, when we went COVID-19 lockdown, I continue to rise every morning, head down to my basement office, and begin writing. Oh, yes, and I do my hair and put on makeup first. And no, I don’t work in jammies or in my bunny slippers.

But, not all of us have the luxury of a room of our own. Many have children, who are now being taught remotely at home. Others work from home, those who can, and who need space. Most have had to put aside places in their homes to be school rooms, office spaces, and conference rooms.

Imagine the realtors who how have to recast a multi-bedroom home as having one or two home offices. Builders are designing better office space inside a new home with top-of-the-line electronics, wi-fi, and smart appliances. Space is not infinite. Quiet is not a norm. We work side by side with our kids and spouses.

One friend lives in a large city. She’s lucky to afford a two-bedroom apartment. With three children between first grade and ninth grade. Each has electronics in an older building where outlets are at a premium. In order to keep her sanity, she set aside three spaces, one in her living room where a card table serves as a desk, one at the kitchen table, and the last in her bedroom. Not optimal, but she’s thinking this is her new normal. Maybe the kids will go to school for a couple of days a week. Maybe not.

And now I have to go back to work sitting next to my husband who’s working at his own desk about six feet away.

Good luck. Stay strong.
Peace, out.

#AmWriting

I’m having way too much fun working on Betrayal, a suspense story with lots of explosions. I’m turning my anxiety about what’s going on around the world into emotional responses to events in my characters’ lives.

#NewReadersWanted

If you are looking for something a little different, these four books are all $0.99 each. Perhaps you’ll take a chance and see if you like what I write. And here’s the link to make it easier for you to find them.

Unintended Consequences https://amzn.to/2WWkONX
Uncharted Territory http://amzn.to/1T71q6D
Eyes Without A Face https://amzn.to/2xoP9ap
Out of the Desert http://bit.ly/outofthedesert

Please help out all of your favorite writers by dropping a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. We appreciate it.
Thanks, and read on, right now.

Leave a Comment

Filed under #AmWriting, #EyesWithoutAFace, #OutOfTheDesert, Uncategorized

#BackToSchool

By the end of July, I’d be anxiously looking forward to the first day of school, usually Tuesday after Labor Day. I know I’m weird, but I loved school. Meeting friends. New teachers. New subjects.

My mother would let me pick out two new outfits. Only two, because we couldn’t afford more. I’d also get a new pair of shoes. Patent leather Mary Janes when I was younger, white Keds as I got older.

My mother would get a letter from the school with the name of my teacher, my classroom number, and other information she needed to know.  We often had a meet-and-greet individually a week before we began classes.

So easy. Then. Now, not so easy.

No longer is it a matter of showing up when expected. No longer is it a given that children will go back to classroom learning. In this time of COVID-19, no two school districts will function in the same way. Some schools will open for two days a week of classroom instruction, paired with three days of online learning. Some children will go on Monday and Tuesday, others will go Wednesdays and Thursdays. Families have no clue how to plan for the school year.

I hear parents ask how they are supposed to home-school their kids while they work full-time. Not every family has a grandparent support system which can care for the kids and help with their education. And what if a teacher or student tests positive two weeks after classes begin? Well, one local district blithely said, “we’ll close the schools for 14 days.”

And what of those families which count on schools breakfast and lunch programs for two meals? Most districts lack the ability to prepare sack meals and deliver them.
No, this year, going back to school will not be easy. It will not be the old normal. I hope it is not the new normal, but it may very well be. My hat is off to all parents who are grappling with these serious decisions. You are my heroes.

Peace out.

#AmWriting

Still filling this stay-at-home period with an increased level of creativity in my writing cave. I’m finished a satirical essay, The Return of the Blanched COVIDians  and have sent it to various contests and online ezines.

I submitted Revenge on the Rocks this week. I hope it will be published in a new anthology, Murder by the Glass. Same folks who brought you 50 Shades of Cabernet.

Betrayal, a suspense novel with lots of explosions, is booming right along. Yes, joke intended.

#NewReadersWanted

If you are looking for something a little different, these four books are all $0.99 each. Perhaps you’ll take a chance and see if you like what I write. And here’s the link to make it easier for you to find them.

Unintended Consequences https://amzn.to/2WWkONX
Uncharted Territory http://amzn.to/1T71q6D
Eyes Without A Face https://amzn.to/2xoP9ap
Out of the Desert http://bit.ly/outofthedesert

Please help out all of your favorite writers by dropping a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. We appreciate it.
Thanks, and read on, right now.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

#StayHomeAndRead

Like most of us, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and writing lately. My most recent book was Heath Hardage Lee’s A League of Women about the wives who refused to stay silent while their husbands were captive in Vietnam.

These women. who were raised in the white-gloves-and-hats era, shed their inhibitions and went public about the plight of their men held in Hanoi Hilton. They faced off with presidents and negotiators, used anti-war groups to get messages to their husbands, and refused to take “no” for an answer. Lee focused on the wives of POWs and MIAs. She could not write about a host of other women who were not recognized by the government.

I was one of those women. I was engaged to an Army doctor who was supposed to work out of a hospital, not in the field. An orthopedist by training, he was in demand to repair major injuries. He went missing one day. No word to his mother. No word to me. I know for a fact that I was listed as his next of kin, even though we weren’t yet married. I know his mother was also listed. We received no word, no visit from a uniformed officer with bad news. As far as the Army was concerned, we didn’t exist.

Lee’s book stirred memories. Anger. Grief. Anger. I was mostly angry while we waited for news. Grief came after 19 months when I finally pestered the Army into giving me information on his whereabouts. His status went from MIA to KIA, from missing to killed. I found myself thinking about what great work he would have done, how he would have lived his life, with or without me. I was angry anew that we women were treated like pesky flies to be flicked away with hollow platitudes.

Lee’s book is more than worth a read by those who didn’t know much about what the women experienced. I knew most of the stories, but having them packaged in a most readable book made them real all over again.

What are you reading?
Peace, out.

#AmWriting

For a writer who loves her writer’s cave, I’ve been filling this stay-at-home period with an increased level of creativity. I’m currently working on a short story, The Return of the Blanched COVIDians, an allegory, or a satire, or just a plain mess. Haven’t decided which.

Another short story, Revenge on the Rocks, will be published in a new anthology, Murder by the Glass. Same folks who brought you 50 Shades of Cabernet.

I’m making fantastic headway on Betrayal, a suspense story with lots of explosions. 

#NewReadersWanted

If you are looking for something a little different, these four books are all $0.99 each. Perhaps you’ll take a chance and see if you like what I write. And here’s the link to make it easier for you to find them.

Unintended Consequences https://amzn.to/2WWkONX
Uncharted Territory http://amzn.to/1T71q6D
Eyes Without A Face https://amzn.to/2xoP9ap
Out of the Desert http://bit.ly/outofthedesert

Please help out all of your favorite writers by dropping a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. We appreciate it.
Thanks, and read on, right now.

Leave a Comment

Filed under #AmWriting, #Memories, #NewReadersWanted, #StayHomeAndRead, Uncategorized

Musings on Privilege

I used to think that privilege meant you had to have a lot of money, that you had to be born into the “right” level of society, that you had to be a mover and a shaker. I’ve grown out of those beliefs, because in the current environment, privilege has taken on an entirely different meaning.

We live in dangerous times. Millions are out of work. More millions are sick with this terrible virus. Even more are employed but working from home under conditions they never imagined.

I realized how truly privileged my extended family is. All of us can and do work from home. We are fortunate to have professions where we can transfer to online work and still be paid. We have enough food to eat, even though going food shopping can seem like a descent into the hell of the unmasked. We can go for walks, as long as we stay ten feet apart. We can run, play outside (but not in packs), meet in driveways for some human-to-human conversation. Maybe put on some music and do the electric slide. We are so very privileged.

I feel for the hourly employees who have lost their livelihoods. They can’t wait tables from home or clean houses or cut hair. They don’t have nest eggs of three to six months of savings to get through any rough spot. Many don’t have a nest egg at all.

Our government passed laws to help these employees, but when I ask my friends where I live if they’ve received any benefits from the more than $3T, that’s trillion, laws, only two have. The rest wait and eat the food they have at home, live off credit cards, or go to food banks.

I feel for the first responders and health care workers who show up every day, put themselves in harm’s way, and do their jobs. My hat is off to all of them.

What I do not feel is a sense of entitlement to walk around in public without a mask. That is the topic for a different message.

So, please join me in feeling privileged to live in a country where we have food to eat, medical facilities when we need them, and a population that is willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of keeping ourselves and others safe.
Peace, out.

#StayHomeAndRead

I just finished reading Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, about a pandemic that tried to wipe out mankind. Almost too close to what is  happening now, but I couldn’t put it down.

If you are looking for something a little different, these three books are all $0.99 each. Perhaps you’ll take a chance and see if you like what I write. And Max 3, Uncharted Territory, will soon join the $0.99 club. And here’s the link to make it easier for you to find them.

Unintended Consequences https://amzn.to/2WWkONX
Eyes Without A Face https://amzn.to/2xoP9ap
Out of the Desert http://bit.ly/outofthedesert

Please help out all of your favorite writers by dropping a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. We appreciate it.
Thanks, and read on, right now.

Leave a Comment

Filed under #AmWriting, #NewReadersWanted, #StayHomeAndRead, Uncategorized

Finding Peace in the Time of COVID-19

We’re all doing our best to stay calm in the midst of a daily tsunami of bad news. As a writer, it’s less difficult to stay home than it is for someone who works outside the home.  I mean, writing is a very solitary sport. True, some of my friends do their best work in a crowded Starbucks where the background noise of the espresso machine provides inspiration. Others prefer fast food outlets where they can act out stubborn scenes in the parking lot without fear of arrest. We’re all weird in our own ways.

I prefer writing from my home office. Familiar setting. I can control my distractions. I can turn on or off the television. I can refocus on the words on my screen and nothing else. Except when my husband, who sits six feet away and shares the home office, needs technical support. That’s an interruption I love. At least, I can get back to where I was easily. Or not.

A Few Words About the Picture Above

My mother and I read to each other nearly every night until after I was seven. As an infant, she and my grandmother read to me. Later, when I could read more than “See Dick run,” we’d take turns. The black-and-white picture was taken when I was probably seven. Mom and I shared reading one of my favorite books, Sand Dune Pony. Along with Black Beauty, we wept over and over again.

I was sorting through one of my bookshelves when I ran across that book, along with a copy of Black Beauty which has lost its spine. I sat down to enjoy both the story of Sandy the horse and memories of the hours Mom and I shared over books.

I continue to consume books in this time of “house arrest.” I have enough to keep me occupied, so I’m peacefully reading away every night. During the day, I’m writing.

Books You Might Like

I know not all of you have read my books. I’m shocked to write that, but it’s true. So, in this time of staying safe, in this time of libraries shuttering their doors, in this time of Amazon taking longer than usual to deliver to our doorsteps, you can have instant gratification. These three books are all $0.99 each. And here are the links to make it easier for you to find them.

Unintended Consequences https://amzn.to/2WWkONX

Eyes Without A Face https://amzn.to/2xoP9ap

Out of the Desert http://bit.ly/outofthedesert

Please help out all of your favorite writers by dropping a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads. We appreciate it.
Until my next post, peace out.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Back with a new book

It took longer than I thought, but I am proud to announce that OUT OF THE DESERT is now available in print and ebook versions on Amazon. To encourage followers of my website to try this novel, I’ve priced the print version at $10 and the ebook at $0.99. The ebook price will be live for the rest of August. http://bit.ly/outofthedesert 

Why? Because so many of you read the ARC earlier. If you liked the novel, I have a huge ask: please buy the ebook for a buck, write a review, and make me happy. Why buy the book you’ve already read? Because if you a post a review that is not “verified” as an Amazon sale, either the review can be rejected or taken down in the future. Just way the elephant in the room works. 

So, I’m shameless. I need reviews to get the book entered into contests. I think this book has different legs (even without any serial killers in the mix!) from the Mad Max series. I want to reach new readers, new book clubs, as well as loyal ones. Please help out. 

To remind you about the story, this novel focuses on Toad, his brother Cricket, his best friend Pollywog, and his cousin Phyl. 

Once upon a time a little boy named Toad the Dreamer lived in the Mojave Desert. He dreamed first of being a spaceman. Then, he dreamed about growing up and going to college. He dreamed his mother’s dream for him to become a writer.  

Todd, the grown-up version of Toad, neared his 50th birthday. He wondered what happened to the little boy who wanted to be a spaceman. Todd’s story, and those of his favorite cousin and best friend, bring him to this turning point. Will he go back to the desert he left behind and find Toad the Dreamer? Or will he continue as he has, living a good life but not being satisfied with what he’s doing? Will he reconnect with his best friend?. 
I’ve been absent, but now I’m back. Getting the book out was more time consuming that I’d anticipated. So was getting ready for a total knee replacement. Well, the book is out and the knee is in place. Healing begins. So does my brain, which is re-engaging with new ideas for the next story, for new promotions, for life. I hope you join me on the journey.

Leave a Comment

Filed under #BookTeaser, #ICYMI, #NewRelease, #OutOfTheDesert, #ToadtheDreamer, Uncategorized

#ICYMI Convergence of Dates

This past week has been a convergence of important dates for nearly 40 years.

First, there was my mother’s birthday on May 9. She would have been 97. Every year I would buy two gifts, one for birthday, one for Mother’s Day. I’d buy two cards, different wrapping paper, and different favorite foods. I made sure to celebrate each special day with the importance it deserved. Even when Mom’s birthday fell on Mother’s Day, she had separate cards and gifts, although I sneaked through with only one meal out. She didn’t mind.

Then, thirty-nine years ago on May 11, my best friend, Terry Naylor, became my husband. I couldn’t have been happier when we started our lives together. I can’t be happier that the ride continues, although now without the motorcycle. We hung it up last year. We exchange cards and go out for a special dinner, usually a week after our anniversary to avoid the Mother’s Day crush.

A similar convergence happens again at Christmas. Terry’s birthday is December 19. I make sure his birthday presents are wrapped in birthday paper and NOT placed under the tree. They sit aside in their own place of honor. Christmas presents go under the tree, decorated in red, green, and gold papers, ribbons (if the cat doesn’t play with them first), and a card tucked into the branches of the tree.

Why go to such trouble? It’s a sign of love. It’s a sign of respect.

Why do we tell friends of different faiths good wishes on their holy days? My Jewish friends deserve recognition for their High Holy Days, for Passover. I’ve enjoyed many a Seder dinner with them. My Muslim friends deserve recognition for Ramadan and for Eid, when Ramadan ends and with it the daily fasts. I fast for one day each year to understand what Ramadan means. It’s difficult, but it’s helped me understand Islam better. I’ve celebrated the equinoxes and solstices with my older religion friends.

Why? May I repeat, it’s a sign of love. It’s a show of respect. Care to join me?

Leave a Comment

Filed under #ICYMI, #Memories, Uncategorized

Meditations On a Boot

Sometimes, life encourages you to rest a bit, slow down a bit, and put your booted foot up on the sofa. That’s me right now. Resting a bit. Slowing down a bit. And putting the boot up a bit.

No, the ankle isn’t broken, just rather spectacularly sprained. I slipped going down to my basement and bent the right ankle backwards. I pretty sure I hadn’t broken it as soon as I was able to assess any damage. Did it hurt? Of course. Did I cry? Nope. Did I try to stand? Of course, again.

So, why am I meditating on a boot? Having to keep a foot elevated is a perfect time to meditate on anything. For me, I chose to assess why I’m so clumsy. I am. No doubt about it. But why? I mean, I hold onto railings when I go up and down stairs. I watch where I put my feet when I’m out taking my daily two-mile walk. I watch for stones, twigs, and anything else that could jump up and grab me. I even avoid wads of gum on sidewalks. You never know when one of those gooey wads will reach up and grab an ankle. So embarrassing to fall because a giant Double-Bubble wad tripped me.

I’m also glad my father wasn’t around when I was born. He and Mom argued about what to name me. He wanted me named after his mother. Mom wanted to name me after her favorite sister. Thanks, Mom. Grace would have opened too many doors for name-calling.

Not being able to rush about gives me time to ponder what is really important. For me, it’s my husband, my best friend, who runs up and down stairs with hot coffee. It’s my kitty, Smokin’ Mocha Java, who enjoys tummy naps when I’m reading or running dialogue in my head. And it’s my writing, my only creative outlet.

I have a new novel due out later this year. I was going to push to get it out in June. Not now. Instead, I’m working on making the story the best I can. I have a series of beta readers lined up to read the advanced reader copy. I have an almost-final cover. Two more tweaks and I’ll share it. It took a long time to get the image right, but I think we have it now.

Oh, yes. You all weighed in on the “desert” book. You offered so many terrific alternatives to Toad the Dreamer and Out of the Desert. When I tallied all the votes, Out of the Desert won. The more I work with it, the better I like it. After all, it’s clear in the series of stories that you can take the main characters out of the desert…

I’m also working on another book, which I planned to have out in the fall. Not gonna happen. I knew it before I sprained my ankle. I could push to get the book out, but I’d rather it be ready and right than ready and right now. You know what I mean. We’ve all read books rushed into print. It’s not that much fun for the reader. So, I’ll put a bit more work into the manuscript. I’ll be asking for suggestions on book titles…

Until I’m more mobile, I may send additional posts. I refuse to be bored. I will try to share what I think you’d like to read. I hope you agree.

And now, the ankle is throbbing and needs to be elevated. Bye for now.

Leave a Comment

Filed under #AmWriting, #Memories, #ToadtheDreamer, Uncategorized

EYES WITHOUT A FACE Teaser

I find it hard to believe that not everyone has read EYES WITHOUT A FACE, my novel about a female serial killer. She tells the story in her own voice and in her own unique style. In hope of teasing more of you into reading my novel, here’s the first complete chapter. I hope you like it enough to pick up a copy.

No matter what anyone says, I wasn’t born a serial killer. I don’t carry a sociopath gene, a psychopath gene, or even a serial killer gene. No such thing.

You can argue about nurture versus nature. Go ahead. Have at it. Look at the studies about psychopaths. Check me against the list of traits. I didn’t wet my bed, kill small animals, or set fires. My younger brother did those things, but he didn’t kill people―as far as I know. I wasn’t sexually promiscuous. My sister was. She began screwing every boy and some of the men in town as soon as she got breasts.

My father was verbally and physically abusive like half the men in town. So overpowering was the old man’s dominance that my mother retreated into a dark place where no spark emerged. Valium and vodka numbed her into submission.

None of this turned me into a killer. I came to this life through free will.

Back in college, I was never in touch with the lifestyles of my sorority sisters, who were into sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I knew from the very beginning that would never be satisfying. I needed something more, something different. Once I killed someone, however, I found my true calling in life.

In a way, fate led me to kill people that didn’t deserve to live. Other than one time, I never, ever killed anyone without a damned good reason. Even that time, I felt justified because I was learning my craft, honing my skills, if you will. I came to killing gradually, but once I started, I continued for more than three decades.

I’m not very comfortable writing about my life. I spent the first half of it building walls, packing my emotions into boxes, and pre- tending to be something I wasn’t. Now, beginning my sixth decade, I unpacked those same boxes onto these pages, all the while still pretending to be someone I’m not. By no means have I provided an accounting all of my kills. Representative ones, memorable ones, but not the entire list. Yet, as I record my story in black and white, I see it’s not a dark coming-of-age tale full of who-gives-a-shit trivia.

My life and what I did with it matters.

If you’re reading this, I’m either in a facility where I can’t pursue my craft and kill anyone else, or I’m dead. You may never understand why I became a killer. At times, I don’t either.

Remember, we are not all what we seem.

I have violated your trust. Telling you what I did hurt you. I’m sorry for lying. One thing I know for certain. You can’t tell anyone about what I did. Ever.

Well, that’s the first chapter. If you like it, you can find the book for sale on Amazon.

Thanks for reading. See you soon for a different blog post.

Leave a Comment

Filed under #BookTeaser, #EyesWithoutAFace, Uncategorized

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Hi, all,

I know I went silent for a few weeks. Nothing wrong here at all. More like needing to clear my head and focus on two new books. And now I find myself looking for some advice.

I’m closing in on final edits for the book I’ve been calling “Out of the Desert.” I’m not sure if that’s the best title.

So, what do you think? I have four titles below that people have recommended. Do you like any of them? Please email me at betsy_ashton2005@yahoo.com with your ideas. You can add your own suggestions.

  1. Out of the Desert
  2. Grains of Sand
  3. Sands of Time
  4. Toad the Dreamer
  5. Other

This is a novel in stories about Toad, his brother Cricket, his best friend Polly, and his cousin Phyl.

Once upon a time a little boy named Toad the Dreamer lived in the Mojave Desert. He dreamed first of being a spaceman. Then, he dreamed about growing up and going to college. Next, he dreamed about having a big family. He dreamed his mother’s dream for him becoming a writer. 

One day, when Todd, the grown-up version of Toad, was closing in on his 50th birthday, he wondered what happened to the little boy who wanted to be a spaceman. Or a writer. Todd’s story, and those of his favorite cousin and best friend, bring him to this turning point.

Will he go back to the desert he left behind and find Toad the Dreamer? Or will he continue as he has, living a good life but not being satisfied with what he’s doing? Will he reconnect with his best friend?

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized