Last year I participated in the Gish Scavenger Hunt with my daughter, Danielle. I posted about it in Trying New Things. It’s that time of year again. I joined a team with Danielle and she researched the items for us to do. One of my tasks was to create a poem about the character, Pikachu. My other two were to make a garbage portrait out of my non-recyclable trash and try something new.
In a mother, daughter, and granddaughter effort Danielle dressed up as a monster (like the monster under the bed) and my oldest granddaughter read to her while I took pictures.
To continue our work we next made a dress out of water balloons for my granddaughter and then she had to accept a wedding proposal of a water balloon instead of a ring. My grandson unwillingly stepped in as the bearer of the water balloon–as long as I promised not to share those photographs. Then the day ended with a water balloon fight out front.
We always manage to have fun doing this together, but an essential factor is the charity/donations component. Yes, there are prize winners but we don’t participate with that in mind.
Here’s what I came up with this year:
The sweet-voiced character brings back old smiles.
His presence is high on the movie screen or TV
I’m not alone in this memory. I’m sitting with my young son
I ask questions, and he eagerly educates me
We collect cards from kids’ meals or stores
Birthdays are brightly themed…
Christmas contains the yellow cartoon…
And Easter baskets have red and white balls.
When I clean out a drawer and find a card tucked away
When I see the newer interactive Pokemon game
When the show comes on TV or I run across an old DVD
I remember that youthful boy and hearing, “Pika Pika.”
Together in memories, we watch Pikachu and Ash
That moment in the past brings a smile to the now.
I’m not gifted artistically but here’s my attempt at a self-portrait:
To try something new I read one of my poems…really fast:
Direct from the website:
“GISH is on a mission to wake up the world and change it for the weirder and better— and Gishers make it happen.”
I’m all for embracing that inner child whether from reading a book or being a “Gisher”! D. L. Finn
I’m pleased to welcome Robert G. Williscroft here today on his blog tour!
OPERATION IVY BELLS: A MAC MCDOWELL MISSION
I am Robert G. Williscroft, and this is an updated version of my bestselling, semi-autobiographical Cold War Novel. Operation Ivy Bells is a first-person account of a team of saturation divers locking out of the nuclear submarine USS Halibut on the bottom of the Sea of Okhotsk. Fearlessly facing death, these dare-devil divers tapped into Soviet underwater communication cables and retrieved spent missile parts from the seafloor. The intel they gathered tipped the scales to win the Cold War. This story is based on real events—I led one of the teams depicted in this book.
Is Mac McDowell really me? Some folks would say Yes, but frankly there are many differences between us. I was an excellent submarine and diving officer, but Mac is definitely more capable than I. I would welcome your visiting my website to check out my background. Then compare the real me with Mac and let me know what you think.
A warm thank you to my host for sharing this blog.
Recognition for Operation Ivy Bells
This is what Martin H. Bloom, former President of The Los Angeles Adventurers’ Club, had to say about Operation Ivy Bells:
Magnificently written! A powerful and riveting account of the Cold War fought beneath the oceans by the world’s most famous enemies. Bristles with the same hair-raising authenticity that launched The Hunt for Red October to world notoriety. The factual and detailed descriptions are so realistic they submerge you deep in the ocean depths and make you feel a part of the sub’s crew on a remarkable mission told by veteran submariner, Robert Williscroft, who details an almost unimaginable war of nerves under the most trying conditions, and of the men who possess the incredible capabilities to carry out this mission.
Excerpt from Operation Ivy Bells
I’m not sure who got to Bill first, the Basketball or the other divers. What I do know is that suddenly, the monitor was filled with Bill trapped at his thighs under the forward starboard skid. Right next to him his umbilical passed under the skid as well.
“Green Diver, what’s your condition?” Jack was right on it.
“I’m pinned under the skid. I can move my toes. Don’t think nothin’s broke, but I can’t move.”
“That’s good news.” It was the Skipper. “We’ll get the sub up off him. Get him onboard ASAP.”
“Right, Sir,” I said as he left for the Conn. I reached for the mike. “Listen, you guys,” I said, “Blue Diver back to the Can right now. Get yourself rigged to get Green into the Can. We’re gonna lift the sub gently. You guys get him out, and free his umbilical. Then carry him back – don’t let him swim. As soon as you get him in the Can, Red Diver, you go to the pod bay and retrieve the cable. Stow it securely with no rattles, and then return to the Can.”
On the 1MC Larry (who had assumed the watch) notified me that they were ready to lift the Halibut on my say-so.
“Are you guys ready?” I asked the divers.
“Dive Control, Red Diver, we’re standing by.”
I gave Larry the go-ahead. Bobby moved the Basketball as close as possible without interfering with the operation. The skid inched off Bill’s legs, and two shadowy figures yanked him out from under it.
“Dive Control, Red Diver, we got another problem. When we yanked him out, the umbilical wrapped completely around the skid. We can’t pull it out.”
That was a shitty situation. We had only two options. We could lift the sub high enough to thread Bill through the skid, and then under it, and then through it again to unwrap the umbilical, or we could cut the umbilical and hustle Bill to the Can on his come-home bottle. I could feel the sub reacting to the surface swells. We had to do something right then. I looked Ham in the eyes and ordered, “Red Diver, Dive Control, cut Bill’s umbilical and get him back to the Can immediately. Blue Diver, you jerk the cut umbilical free and then drop it and help Whitey.” I took a deep breath. “Go…Now!”
Dr. Williscroft is a retired submarine officer, deep-sea and saturation diver, scientist, author of numerous books and hundreds of articles, and a lifelong adventurer. He spent 22 months underwater, a year in the equatorial Pacific, three years in the Arctic ice pack, and a year at the Geographic South Pole. He holds degrees in Marine Physics and Meteorology, and a doctorate for developing a system to protect SCUBA divers in contaminated water. A prolific author of both non-fiction and fiction, he lives in Centennial, Colorado, with his family.
To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site. If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.
I’m pleased to welcome John Coons here on this special edition blog for day three of his tour. I’ve added “Under A Fallen Sun” to my TBR list because I enjoyed his first book so much.
Breaking Down Writer’s Block
Those are the two most dreaded words in the English language if you’re an author. You can’t avoid falling into this pit either. If writer’s block were a pandemic, the infection rate would be 100 percent among authors.
The good news is that a case of writer’s block doesn’t need to be a death sentence to your story. If you use the right tools, you can blast through any bout of writer’s block and continue bringing your story to life.
Panster vs Plotter
No two writers approach crafting a story in the same way. This is reflected in the ongoing debate between plotters versus pantsers.
Plotters are writers who map out a story before ever writing a sentence on the first draft. A plotter will create complete character backstories, histories, and intricate plot outlines to guide their progress. A pantser basically flies by the seat of their pants. They just start writing and put whatever pops into their head onto paper.
There are pros and cons to both approaches.
Plotters are able to keep their narrative consistent and have a deeper backstory to infuse into the plot. Taken too far, plotting can stifle creativity if the characters and plot aren’t allowed to establish from the predestined road map.
Pantsers have more creative freedom in exploring unexpected twists and turns in character and plot. They are also more prone to running into a dead end or ending up with a chaotic mess.
One simple solution is to take a middle ground approach as a plantser. Writers who are plantsers combine elements from both plotters and pantsers. They are more organized in forming a story, but they allow themselves enough room to take plot and characters in new creative directions as needed.
I tend to take a plantser approach to my fiction. With both Pandora Reborn and Under a Fallen Sun, I put together extensive character sketches and composed chapter by chapter outlines. I even jotted down a few scenes and snippets of dialogue I wanted to include. When it came time to write the actual rough drafts, and subsequent drafts, I deviated from the original plans in portions of the story. I wrote new chapters and new scenes through the beta reading and editing process. In the case of Pandora Reborn, I even introduced a new character to help forward the plot.
Along the way, I beat writer’s block. Having a plan in place guided my creativity and also kept me from hitting a dead end when the pressures and deadlines of my day job as a sports journalist got in the way.
Writer’s block is easier to deal with when you immerse yourself in thought and create just enough of a working blueprint to guide your story. Going back to those notes can spark new ideas or help you discover resolutions to problems in the narrative that didn’t occur to you before. There’s no reason to let writer’s block ever come out on top.
John Coon has possessed a love for writing since age 12 when he typed out his first stories on an old typewriter belonging to his parents. For 15 years, John has worked as a sports journalist. His byline has appeared in multiple publications and on multiple websites nationwide. John currently writes for the Associated Press and Athlon Sports. He is a graduate of the University of Utah and currently resides in the Salt Lake City metro area. John published his debut novel Pandora Reborn in 2018. Under a Fallen Sun is his second novel.
To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site. If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.
I took a day to relax in the backyard last week. Impressions of what I saw and how it processed through my mind burst into these poems. I’m planning on doing a second poetry book in the future, but I don’t have a working title yet. I added a link to Just Her Poetry below if you are inspired to read poetry this summer. I know I am.
SILENT HEAT OF SUMMER
The sun blares down on the landscape
The trees and plants welcome its energy
Growth has exploded…
Only slowed by the lack of moisture
Sprinklers offer a welcome drink to the thirsty strawberries
While the roses burst out in blooms
Tomatoes redden, kale offers their leaves,
Pumpkins bloom into bulbs that will be ready for fall
It’s the season of peaceful progression.
While people cool off in lakes, rivers, or air conditioning.
The forest is wrapped in a hue of hushed harmony…
As the animals shelter from the temperatures
Only the buzz of the bees can be heard
While the whimsical winds wander.
It is a serene moment to just be
As I embrace the silent heat of summer.
We put up a fence…
Trying to keep out our worries.
Safety behind a wall we are assured.
Yet, it’s only a few feet that life can climb
Where birds can scour the landscape
Where squirrels chirp their annoyance
Where bugs find a home
Bears can knock it down
Mountain lions can climb over it
And foxes go under leaving a way for the skunks.
The fence can hold a dog in…most of the time
The cats mock the dog from the other side.
It doesn’t repel burglars or fires
Floods will flow right through this barrier
Winds can tear it apart
While snow and rain gnaw on it
Tree roots push it out of their way
Weeds float carefully over.
Still, we keep building them
To protect our belongings and family
From the terrifying world beyond our property lines.
“Watch RWISA Write” is written by the members of Rave Writers – Int’l Society of Authors which is a division of Rave Reviews Book Club. It’s a fantastic collection of work that varies from fiction, poetry, history, reality, and of course, it’s well written. I couldn’t pick just one great piece of work because they were all good. Each author provided an entertaining read with the paranormal, karma, humor, drama, and thought-provoking insights. A great book and no matter what your mood, you can find something to read. I highly recommend this anthology!
Having read and loved “The Gate” by Ms. Cross, I was excited to see a sci-fi short story based on that world. Sent out to scout the aliens, J finds them. His character had so much depth that I felt his discomfort of being alone when J was used to functioning in a group. J’s commitment to his duty and what he found was fascinating and complicated. This well-written quick read can be a stand-alone. I highly recommend it!
This is the second western romance I’ve read by Ms. Cox. I loved “SilverHills” and had high expectations for this story. I was not disappointed and found it hard to put down. Ben avoided all attachments except for his eagle. But on his way to Mexico, he rescues Kate and ends up at her family’s ranch as a hand. He only agrees to stay a month but starts to find himself caring about this family and the ranch. The characters had my heart immediately. Kate’s strength and Ben’s honesty was a good blend, and I started rooting for them right away. Kate’s Uncle John T was a man of principles that ran his ranch and house fairly, while Kate’s friendship with Sarah was endearing. I appreciated Ben and his eagle’s connection. There was plenty of action with cattle rustlers and Kate’s friend was in a bad situation. The descriptions were stunning and put me right on this Texas ranch. I highly recommend this if you love a good western romance!
I don’t usually pick middle-east military stories, so I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book. What I found was a very detailed history of the Kurds that included Turkey, Syria, and Iraqi. Many POVs gave a complete picture of all the sides, which I appreciated, but it was a lot to keep track of, too. Getting into the heads of the Kurds in the characters Ismet, Dersim, and Hawre to see their side of things was fascinating and what I liked best in the story. When the Kurds found the twenty-year-old chemical weapons and their decision what to do next made sense–from their perspective and history. Then a secret special operative team was sent into three countries to find these weapons before they were used. I was happy with the conclusion of the book. It was an interesting and sometimes eye-opening read, that gave a lot of information to the reader.
Embrace your inner child by reading a great story this summer! D. L. Finn
I’m excited to have author, Harmony Kent, here today to celebrate her new soon to be released book, “Fallout.” I’ve pre-ordered my copy.
Hi, everyone. Harmony here. Many thanks to Denise for hosting me today. I have a new book on pre-order called FALLOUT, which is a post-apocalyptic dystopia. This novel started out life by playing a little game. I sat and closed my eyes and imagined an empty room … in that room, a vial appeared. A dull orange plastic thing covered in scratches. It sloshed when I shook it. From that tiny beginning, the world of Exxon 1 and its deadly virus was born.
Who’s stalking Priya and Kaleb?
Could it be an infected? …
Someone even more sinister?
WHEN EVERYTHING FALLS APART, WHAT CAN YOU DO?
The year is 3040.
The location is Exxon 1, part of a six-planet system in settled space.
Determined to avoid the mistakes of old Earth, the surviving humans avoided democracy and opted, instead, for a non-elective totalitarian system.
The new way worked well, until now.
A crazy, despotic president releases a nano-virus on the population.
No one was ready for the fallout. It came anyway.
In this post-apocalyptic world, can you stay safe?
This night brought utter blackness, with not a single hint of red from the moons. A ferocious dust storm earlier in the afternoon had left the skies thick and full and unbreathable. Priya laboured to get air through her filter mask, unused to its suffocating bulk and the effort required to breathe through it.
Anyone interested in following their trail would have an easy time of it, for they left vivid footprints in the dust that lay thick on the ground. Every once in a while, she had to use her sleeve to wipe her visor clean so that she could see her way forward.
The heavy particles blanketed the world and brought a preternatural quiet, much like when it snowed. You could lay in bed and know that white surrounded you without even looking out of the window. You only had to listen.
A couple of times, from the corner of her eye, Priya had caught a glimpse of a fleeting shadow. Too small for another raptor. Too quick to catch. And obscured by the tree cover and poor visibility in the aftermath of the storm.
The hairs on her neck prickled, and goosebumps ran up and down her arms and spine. The trail of prints bothered her. As did the blanketing effect of the dust. That flitting shadow could be someone or merely a figment of her imagination.
After spending around thirteen years as an ordained Buddhist monk, living in a Zen Buddhist temple, and six years after a life-changing injury following a surgical error, Harmony Kent returned to the world at the tender age of forty.
Now, she is famous for her laughter, and has made quite the name for herself … she’s also, um, a writer … and fairly well known for that too. She’s even won a few awards. Harmony lives in rural Cornwall with her ever-present sense of humour, adorable husband, and quirky neighbours.
Harmony is passionate about supporting her fellow authors.
I’m very excited to welcome fellow #RRBC member, Mark Bierman author of Vanished! He’s sharing a true story based on his friend’s experience.
“Left is death.” These are the guide’s last words to us, before the mighty Ottawa is halved by the stone island with cliffs that rise fifteen feet on all sides. I cling to the handles of my glorified flutter board, known as a riverboard, in river-junkie lingo. My legs kick furiously against the freight-train current, a byproduct of tons of H2o that seems of a will to push me towards the promised waterfall of death. I’m winning! The nose of my personal craft is pointed to the right.
Something slams into me from behind and I turn my head, expecting a rogue wave, or perhaps a muskie. It’s neither. The blur of a blue helmet and a yellow-life jacket, speeds past. The rider, a good friend, offers no apology for knocking me off course. He’s not being intentionally rude, just too engaged in ‘flight’ mode, unaware that he’s just condemned me.
The cottage-sized rapids brew a storm of terror as the island passes to my right and I’m suddenly alone. Cresting a wave, I search frantically for my killer, but instead of a waterfall, the remnants of an ancient concrete structure appear downstream, then disappear as I careen down the back of the liquid leviathan into a trough deeper than Jacob’s Well.
Dam! I scream in silence as I dare not open my mouth and drown. I recall our guide, Harley, or Holly, as we’d mistakenly called him during the introductions, warning us in his thick New Zealand accent that the only way to retrieve a body is to call the authorities and have them close off the hydro-electric dam located miles upstream. I’m yanked from the depths and treated to a blinding facial slap, yet behind my eyelids I visualize my only salvation, the island.
I order the last drop from spent adrenal glands for a final push towards stone razors that offer way too close of a shave. My vision clears briefly before repeatedly being assaulted by the eye-wash station from Hell. I cut across the animated hills and valleys in a Herculean feat to reach the only spot on the jagged cliff that won’t eviscerate my corpse, a small cavern dug by eons of hungry waves.
I cannot escape. The mighty Ottawa is bent on sending me to the bottom as it shoves my board violently under the cavern roof. I’m pinned beneath, unable to breath, my life jacket is nothing more than a morbid and ironic fashion accessory. My will to survive overrides the deadly circumstance and my burning legs push against the walls. I’m free, but manage to gulp a mere ounce of oxygen, before I’m squished into the same hole, like a garlic in a press.
Holly! I beg internally. Where are you? Are you too busy flirting with those women on the rafts? Put away your playboy ways, for a moment, and do your job! But Holly doesn’t come. My thoughts settle on my wife and children, whom I’ll never see again. Thankfully, I’m an insurance broker in a soon to be past life, and the Life is paid up. I push off again and surface.
“Just swim towards me, mate.” Harley yells.
I open my mouth to shout an objection to this oversimplified strategy and drink a gallon of Canadian history.
Harley seems nonplussed. “Swim, just swim, mate.”
I shake my head and sink once more, but the company, even one so useless, spurs me into immediate action. I break the surface but this time, my flippers and one hand have found purchase on a less deadly piece of the island.
Harley realizes the fallibility of his plan and swims to me, grabbing the handle of my board and ordering a “hang on.”
Harley may be preoccupied with the extracurricular, but he has the strength of a tugboat, swimming against the river giants, with me in tow. We round the island and reach the bank. My friends are there and I give the offender a cold stare.
Normally a man of sound mind, he realizes his transgression and offers numerous apologies.
Harley smiles and waves his hand dismissively. He shakes his head and chuckles. “There was never any danger. We’ve already passed the waterfall a few miles ago. Don’t you remember when I had everyone get into the raft? We went through the White Monster, that’s where the danger zone was.”
Safe? No danger! I wanted to beat this man with my flippers. “What about the manmade death trap, the old dam?”
His eyes took on a look of incredulity, as if I spent my days on a board, instead of riding a desk. “All you had to do was stick to the middle of the river. You would have sailed past it all and joined us at the end of the island. You see, never any danger.”
My hand reaches for a flipper, but I think better of it. The day is almost over, the biggest rapids supposedly conquered. I’ll cool my temper with a cold beer on the patio later, as I vow never to stick a toe in these waters again.
About the Author:
Born and raised on a farm near Brockville, Ontario, Mark Bierman’s childhood consisted of chores, riding horses, snowmobile races across open fields, fishing trips to a local lake, and many other outdoor adventures. He was also an avid reader of both fiction and non.
Transitioning towards adulthood also meant moving from the farm and into large urban areas that introduced this “country boy” to life in the big cities.
Drawing on his many experiences as a private investigator and later a Correctional Officer, Mark combines his unique experiences and imagination to create his stories and characters