Authorpreneur Dashboard – Cathy Parker

Cathy  Parker

Power Stabilized

Science Fiction & Fantasy

No synopsis has been added for this book

Book Bubbles from Power Stabilized

Dealing With Rejection

The stilted language quoted on the page next to this blog comes from an android. We can't blame him for his stiffness; he's only a few years old. He will learn. I gave you this quote from my new novel, tentatively entitled "Robot: A Deadly Romance" to point out that there are different ways to deal with rejection. Sam, the android, reacts in a rather extreme way, intending to kill the woman he loves and her ex-boyfriend, and then "kill" himself. Not the best way to manage the situation. Again, we can't blame him--in his case, it was a matter of junk in, junk out because a bad actor tampered with his input. Nevertheless, rejection is always hard, especially for non-android types like you and me. Authors suffer rejection every time they submit their manuscript to an agent or publisher for consideration. In a perfect world, authors would simply shrug their shoulders and move on to the next prospect. In the real world, rejection is hard for authors, of course, because they have worked long and hard on their novels and believe them to be as good as the authors can make them. How could anyone reject their beloved baby? But authors must find a way to move on and try again, even if they are hurt and discouraged. And now this has happened to me. To be continued.

AI: the Topic of my New Novel

From my new novel, a quote from the Santa Joanna Gazette."Who owns the most human robot ever assembled? NextGen Androids, right? Perhaps not. The rumor floating around is that the artificial intelligence software company Lorbar, Inc., has completed the purchase of NextGen for a cool $1.49 billion. The NextGen scheduled the robot for its public debut on August 1 right down the road in Los Angeles, but who can say what new plans Lorbar’s power couple, Loren Anderson and husband Barton Forsythe, might have for the humanlike android? And here another rumor comes into play. Industry pundits say Lorbar possesses the most advanced artificial intelligence software currently not on the market. Combine the robot and the AI and you have a powerful commodity. Stay tuned." I just sent this manuscript off to the small press that was interested in seeing it. Now I wait.

Happy New Year

I recently asked my siblings what they were looking forward to in this new year. One volunteers at a horse ranch for impaired youth and is looking forward to lots more of the same. One moved to Montana a couple years ago and still has much to do on her property there, plus has a giant breed pup which she looks forward to working with. And the third has recently overcome health problems and looks forward to a healthy year and mucho travel. I hadn't done much of a forward looking exercise, so on New Year's Day I gave the notion of what I might look forward to this year some thought. Unfortunately I have recently been writing about my time with whales, dolphins and porpoises and so into my mind popped a previously unfulfilled bucket list item: snorkeling with blue whales. I looked into it over the holiday, and uh oh, there is one opening in a late October excursion in East Timor. They are careful about it so as not to stress the whales, which is good. Do I want to go? Yearningly. Can I go? Probably. Should I go? Probably not. Hard decision upcoming. Anyway, I thought it was interesting how different the four of us siblings looked at the coming year. How about you? What are you looking forward to this year?

Happy Holidays!

Short and sweet today: in the following days and the following year may you encounter many, many great moments that fill you with a deep pleasure at the very fact that you are alive.

Robot: A Deadly Love Story

The excerpt is the beginning of my newest book, soon to be shipped off to a publisher for its consideration. I have been futzing over the title, which, as above, is currently "Robot: A Deadly Love Story." My editor was not happy with an earlier iteration of the title, which was "Robot: A Dark Love Story," as she thought it suggested a light romance. I thought this prologue would dispel any such notion but I guess a light romance could include an office murder. So my question for you is: is the current title enough to suggest there is nothing "light" about the story within? If not, what title can you suggest? On the other side is SUPPOSED to be a photo I took in Costa Rica near where I lived along the south coast of the Pacific Ocean. I am missing Costa Rica in the extreme just lately. My photos such as this one provide some comfort. I look forward to your comments. Happy Holidays!

Creativity Celebrated

With any luck {I have been having trouble with my post photos of late for some reason} you will see one of nature's really fine pieces of artwork, in this unusual fish with the hexagonal yellow spots on purple and that fabulous orange fin with a purple outline on it, as if someone had carefully drawn it. On the other side you see a huge piece of animal-laden artwork my sister completed for an exhibit in Missoula, Montana. Unfortunately you will not see any artwork by me in this post, the art gene having skipped me entirely in favor of my daughter. I'm still at the stick figure stage of artwork. My consolation, however, is that I can create through writing, and my work usually also includes animals. The first book of my trilogy, Power Rising, centers around a beluga, and even in my latest book, now in the hands of a proofreader, a little dog named Puff has a small role. Animals and art. I'm on board.

The Encounter Part 4

These are photos I took in 2014 on a remote island of Indonesia where we were welcomed most graciously. The parents were especially keen to have their young ones photographed. On to the Encounter. As you recall: Up close, I could see how huge she really was .... She looked right at me. She held my gaze. We connected. For five seconds, nothing in the world existed but her and me. Yes, it was only five seconds, but it was also an experience outside of time, and therefore eternal. I had been in swimming often at the zoo with the little harbor porpoise baby, Kahneek, and the three belugas, Inuk, Shiku, and my buddy, the temperamental Mauyak, feeding them, rubbing their tongues and lips-- for these are sensitive to touch and the belugas loved it—and trailing my hand along their sides. So, I was tempted to slide into the water and swim up to the huge whale which beguiled me. But, the waters of the Alaskan Sea were frigid and I would have succumbed to hypothermia long before I could ease up to the big girl, so I refrained. But oh, how I wanted to. I simply soaked in the magical moment, fixing it in my mind forever. Then she sank down beneath the surface of the sea and joined her baby. The two of them disappeared into the depths.

First Contact, Part Three

Quick reminder, Dormant Power is free on my website, but only for a limited time. The other photo is a repeat, here because it makes me calm. My encounter, continued: Another group of orcas adopted a trend where they wore salmon on their heads, carrying them around for quite a while. They tired of the trend and the behavior did, in fact, end. So, Charlie was nervous and I wanted nothing more than to watch this huge, dark gray humpback with giant folds around her mouth for baleen feeding swimming around our boat. I was beside myself with excitement, confident that this gentle giant wouldn’t harm us. I ran forward onto the bow on the starboard side and held onto one of the sail lines to steady myself. Charlie hovered near the engine in case we needed to motor quickly away from her. As she came around the front of the boat, she would pass right by my position. I leaned out over the water to see her better, keeping a tight hold on the sail line. Suddenly she rose up out of the water, spy hopping, for a better look at us. She hovered no more than five feet away from me. I could almost touch her. Up close, I could see how huge she really was. Her round, intelligent eye, the size of a dinner plate, levelled up parallel with my own eyes. She looked right at me. She held my gaze. We connected.

Reunion in Montana

On one side you see one view on my sister's place a half hour outside Missoula, Montana. On the other, you see an old ghost town, Garnet, which we visited up in the mountains about an hour from Missoula. Very pretty country. Reminded me a bit of the eastern slope of the Cascades and the western slope of the Rockies in Colorado. We also went mining for sapphires up on Gem Mountain. Addictive and fun. I found some tiny ones, nothing for the record books. Our animal sightings were limited to deer, but my sister has been visited by both a bear that took out her apple tree and a cougar that parked by her back sliding glass door. On my trip, I took a hiatus from editing my latest book, but I must get back to it today. I want to get it into shape as soon as possible to send along to the small publisher that was interested when I gave my pitch. I have heard back from two of my three beta readers and will work on that next. After I finish all my editing and before I submit, it will still need a professional edit. So much to do. But a beautiful respite.


On the one side here you see me tickling the fin of Keiko, of Free Willy fame. He was, you may recall, kept in a tiny pool in Mexico for years and years. His handler there at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, who had once worked with us, had allowed us up above the viewing window--up where the public was not allowed in order to interact with him. I remember Keiko as very weak at that point. He was being rehabilitated in preparation for going back to the ocean. He did well for a period of time at sea and at long last got his taste of freedom. Later, sadly, he died of pneumonia. It was very special to be able to connect with him. He did love a good rub. On the other side you see a large crocodile I photographed up on the river near the ocean town of Tortuguero. There are some big and dangerous crocs in Costa Rica. One just recently killed a fisherman near where I used to live. The locals usually know to stay away from certain rivers where they hang out, It's strange to think of such danger lurking so near where tourists are engaging in carefree recreational activities.

Nature Imitates Nature

The treelike photo you see on one side is actually a small iceberg that has partially melted into this shape. I took the photo in Glacier Bay up in Alaska. Icebergs are fascinating things, even if they haven't transformed into fantastical shapes. They glow an eerie blue. They make sharp almost gunshot-like noises. They blockade ships and, as we know, sometimes sink them. They tell us much about our warming planet. The excerpt on the other side is the first chapter, or prologue as some would call it, of my novella, Dormant Power, which soon will be moved from my website, where it is currently free, to Amazon and other outlets, where it will acquire a sales price. Better to get it while it's free. At 29,000 words, the novel presents the tale of sisters with paranormal powers searching for their mother, who, you might guess, is the subject of the prologue. This book takes place in the universe of Shannon Kendricks, the protagonist of the Power Rising trilogy, and Shannon makes a modest appearance. Visit my website and pick it up while it's free.

Just Over Two Weeks to Go

In just over two weeks I must leave this lovely country behind. Not my happiest moment. I was emailing with a new business acquaintance this week who said she knew of droves of people selling in the US and moving to Costa Rica but nobody making the reverse trip. Just a little something to make me feel even more discouraged at having to go. But there are positives and I have been trying to remind myself of them every day, chief among them that I will be back close to my family. In the meantime, in order to cheer myself up, I have started planning and plotting my next book. Normally I am what writers call a pantser, meaning I just sit down and write, with the story elements in my head but without an outline, and if the creative process takes me away from my mental picture, so be it, the creative process wins. That is how, for example, in Power of Three of the Power Rising series, the little alien child found her way into the plot. She wasn't in the Plan but insisted on being in the story anyway. Yet for this most recent endeavor, I feel as if I need to keep better track of my various character and story arcs. The work on this new book will carry me out of Costa Rica and back to Washington state, and will hopefully help heal some breaking away wounds.

79° and In Need of a Sweater

I'm sitting outside at 7 o'clock in the morning, as I like to do, and the temperature has risen to 79° on its way to 88°. However, I am so acclimated to the hot humid weather in this part of Costa Rica that I find this 79° is cool enough to warrant a sweater. This of course means there is trouble ahead for me when I return to Washington State. The state has broken high temperature records lately, but when I arrive, the long range forecasts are predicting a high of 70° and a low of 53°. 53! This low might as well be 32° as far as I am concerned, as a woman who has spent two and a half years in t-shirts and shorts. [It's a wonderful thing, a life of t-shirts and shorts. I highly recommend it.] Some time ago I had vowed to never again subject the world to the sight of my scar-decorated [knee replacements], blindingly white legs. That vow was broken the first week I arrived in Uvita, and has remained broken ever since. The world simply has had to put up with them. I'm wondering now how long it will take to reacclimate back to Washington weather. At least the world will no longer be subjected to the legs, which will be happily ensconced in a pair of warm comfortable blue jeans. A small kindness to the world.

The Happenin' Tree

This lovely rainbow can signify my happiness at finally FINALLY selling my house, which causes my heart to glow like the colorful arc. The tree is visible from the table where I sit every morning to journal and enjoy the birds and greenery. I call it the Happenin' Tree because all sorts of interesting things happen up there for my viewing entertainment. The vultures frequent the tree almost daily to hang out for a while, perhaps dry their wings, groom, and generally keep each other company. Toucans and toucanets visit often. Hawks also. Less frequent visitors but vibrant and lovely in the early morning sun are Scarlet Macaws. A giant iguana often sleeps on the branch you can see about 4/5 the way down the tree and wakes up, checks whether it can safely descend, catches a little sun, and eventually climbs down very, very quickly. It always amazes me how fast these big guys can move. I will miss the Happenin' Tree. It has given me many an hour's peaceful enjoyment. My apologies for missing several weeks, by the way. I was very busy for a time right after the house sale but things have quieted down a bit now, so I am back. I fear I will miss more time when the day approaches to leave. Allow me to apologize in advance.

Paradise Not Yet Lost

Now that Spring has come, I figure I can safely show you this picture of the southern Costa Rican coast, although my brother, who is enduring a cold spell in Utah, tells me he feels NO SYMPATHY WHATSOEVER for the hot spell we are having here. ???? This view is in marked contrast to what is happening in my very own neighborhood, which gets more modern every day. I have rather soured on the fact that my once lovely rural neighborhood is now wall to wall houses with big iron gates out front. These damn ex pats just keep pouring in. ???? I wonder when the locals here, who have been very gracious and patient with us gringos, will grow tired of the flood of expensive housing, people who don't bother to learn the language, and cars, cars, cars. The people of Uvita have been so very nice to me that I would hate to see a change of attitude. But I do wonder, how much of a good thing [foreign dollars] is too much? What if the lovely vista in this photo is replaced with private houses obscuring the view? Everybody wants to live in paradise but at what cost? Hawaii comes to mind. Another paradise to be sure, but full of busy cars and hotels and people. And less than thrilled native Hawaiians. And yet I am one of the interlopers. It troubles me.

Missed Metaphor

Imagine this photo depicts the protagonist of the Power Rising Trilogy, Shannon Kendricks, being rushed--again--through the hospital corridors. She spends a great deal of time in the trilogy in a hospital bed due to her various dangerous and injury-inducing obligations to her beluga and alien friends and enemies. I meant these frequent hospital visits to, first, become a black comedy-like running joke. But second and more importantly, I meant them to be a metaphor for the psychic injuries Shannon was incurring over and over by her exposure as an everyday person to nightmarish, other worldly dangers. One of these days, I was trying to convey, she wouldn't recover from such psychological injuries. An editorial reviewer for my third book missed the metaphor completely. A reader perusing the book for pleasure could certainly miss the double meaning. But a professional reviewer whose job is to think thoughtfully about a book? It bothered me that she griped about the hospital scenes as literal events without, apparently, giving a second thought to the deeper meaning intended. Ah well. Such is the fate of the author. Now, at least, YOU know the running hospital occurrences hold a deeper significance. So long as somebody knows, I can live with [or without] the griping reviewer.

Soaring and Stalling

The photo on one side features the beautiful, soaring view above Christchurch in New Zealand. On the other side you see a road in New Zealand where the feeling, if you're behind them and need to be somewhere, is anything but soaring. As it happened, on this occasion I didn't need to be anywhere and I found this blockade delightful. However, on two fronts my life is more like the sheep blockade than the refreshing mountain heights. The matter of my house sale is stalled and I feel like one of those sheep, perhaps the only one looking back this way. Just a smattering of viewers have been through and no takers have materialized. The real estate agents who accompany these people all say, "What a lovely house; it's sure to sell." And yet it doesn't and it doesn't and it doesn't. Then there is my next book. I'm like that sheep looking back; not moving. Not writing my book. It's all this house stuff that's in my way right now. Will someone please get this crowd moving?

Belugas and Books

A few weeks ago I promised you a picture of Mayak, my buddy, who recently died, and to whom my trilogy, Power Rising, is dedicated. Here she is. A gentle reminder: if you haven't read my trilogy yet, go to your favorite online purveyor of books and try out the first one, Power of Three. You might check your library first; I have tried hard to get them into libraries so as to share them widely. If you don't see them there, you can ask your librarian to consider ordering the trilogy. Mayak was very much on my mind when I wrote these three books. The beluga in the first book, Juneau, looked and acted pretty much like Mayak in my mind as I created the story. I always felt conflicted volunteering at the zoo and having the enormous and precious privilege of working and hanging out with her. I wouldn't have exchanged that experience for all the money in the world. Yet no cetacean should have to live in captivity. It was believed at the time that creatures like Mayak had lived in aquariums too long to be released. That's why I tried to find a middle way for Juneau in my book. For the time being, the captives stay where they are, sometimes in very cramped and lonely pools, even where no new cetaceans are being brought in. If only that could have changed for Mauyak, as it did for Juneau in my books.

Still Waxing Nostalgic

I was looking for a photo of the cats the other day because I might get another one of these Devon Rex sometime. On the left is Craig, an almost-sphinx, so named so he would feel more normal, and on the right is Kobi, who was extraordinarily brave. They were very people-oriented cats and loved to pile on me to sleep. On the other side is my Quiddity, a Neapolitan Mastiff with jowls so big they practically hit the floor. She came from a puppy mill raid where she was one of the mothers. Poor thing had never known grass and was forced to live in her own excrement. They tasered her to take her puppies away from her. They were the worst owners ever. Over a hundred dogs were seized in the raid. Some were so traumatized they could never be adopted out. Some were in such terrible shape they had to be put down. Quiddy had many physical and mental ailments, which we slowly worked through. But when she didn't want a pill, she would plant her big face on the ground and, with that massive neck, no one could pry her up. The owners had the gall to sue to get them back. If they had succeeded, my plan was that she would "run away" and couldn't be found (at my daughter's house).

Mountain Gorillas of the Virunga Massif

I took these two photos from relatively close quarters in a thick tangle of jungle up in the Virunga Massif which stretches among Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. I was in Rwanda. On one side is a female, said by our guide to be mugging for the cameras. The big silverback is yawning because he is cold. He was reputed to be the biggest silverback on the Massif, which I believed when we had moved on from his area to the area where this female was and suddenly the bamboo trees off behind us were getting smashed to the ground like King Kong was heading our way. One of our guides said, "We go now," and we proceeded to hotfoot it down the mountain triple pace. The guide said sometimes the male has just has had enough visitors for the moment and wants us gone. So we went. I went up four times to see the gorillas, the maximum number of treks allowed. It was great. I also happened to see the Director of the National Gorilla Refuge eating at a little restaurant one day and had a nice chat with him. I felt better about the mountain gorillas' chances in their dwindling habitat then, although I haven't been able to go back to see how things are today. I hope these magnificent creatures survive.

Life Imitating Art Imitating Life

To the one side you see a neat iceberg I saw up in Glacier Bay in Alaska. It looks to me just like an idealized form of a tree you might find in an art project. To the other side you see me scratching the pectoral fin of Keiko, of Free Willy fame, who had willingly lifted it up where I could get a good scratch going. At the time, Keiko was in transit from the rotten zoo in Mexico that had housed him to a life of freedom in the far north. One of his trainers had smuggled several of us onto the upper deck where the public was not allowed. I will never forget the moment the night before when I went with the trainer to his office, which had its own window facing into the pool. It was dark so he turned on his light. I was looking at the window, which was pitch black, when out of the darkness rose the huge head of Keiko, who was curious to see what was going on where the light had appeared. It was an awesome sight. Keiko was still pretty weak when we visited, a left over from the tiny tank he lived in in Mexico that afforded him no exercise. I'm so glad they got him out of there and that he would later taste the freedom of swimming wherever he wanted, however far he wanted, whenever he wanted. Freedom is a precious thing.

The Wet and Dry of It

On the one side you see a killer whale and on the other, one of the multitudinous fascinating rock formations to be found in southern Utah. This one is in the Capitol Reef area. I photographed it on a long hike I took with my brother. The killer whale photo I took at the Vancouver Aquarium. Speaking of cetaceans, I just learned today that my pal from my early zoo volunteer days, Mauyak, the beluga whale for whom The Power of Three was dedicated and about whom I was thinking when I wrote the book, had died last November. Although I firmly believe she was much happier there in Chicago than at the zoo in my town, and although she was there much longer than she was at the zoo where I volunteered, I still miss those days when I would go down after hours to the pool where she tended to hang out alone and rub her back and fluke and pecs, and, yes, her tongue and gums for her. She loved any kind of rub, but oh those gums and that tongue! In the winter my hands about froze off doing this for her, but I didn't mind at all. She would bring to me various things that were floating in the pool for enrichment and go after balls and so forth. I'll try to find a photo. It was a superb pleasure hanging out with her. Oh, my pool? Maybe Monday. So says the contractor.

In Memorium

Here is a photo of my poor little JMacky, who died at the vet clinic this week. The vet and I knew he wasn't doing very well but he went downhill at the vet clinic so quickly I was still on my way there when he suddenly expired. He's been with me since he was eight weeks old, and was 17, through several moves, including this big move to Costa Rica, which he weathered in fine shape. He was always very mellow. Well, with the Dog Who Wasn't Mine but Lived Here Anyway, Oso, dead earlier this year and now my sweet JMacky, the house seems very quiet and hollow. Oh, these animal companions of ours. How we love them and how our hearts break to see them go. Rest In Peace, little kitten. A reminder, the Power Rising Trilogy, fantasies, will be on sale on all the major online retailers for 99 cents from Nov. 21 through Nov. 28th.

Well heck.

It seems I am going to have to leave Costa Rica, probably in January or February, when my house sells. Apparently December is the big sales month for real estate. The reason for this wrenching of me away from the beach and the jungle and the mountains and the birds and the lizards and the sloths and all such things is that my health requires it. The nearest quality medical care is an hour away [if there are no mudslides or trees in the highway] here and I haven't yet received my temporary residency which would allow me to take advantage of the free health care system. I'm hung up in the bureaucracy somewhere and have been for two years. So now I am busy getting the house ready for sale. Many things need fixing up here. Many many things. But I am here for the moment and enjoying it and still loving it. Don't forget--you can get a free novella on my website, 29,000 words, the story of witches and kidnapings and so forth.

Look to the Green

This is a photo of the vaquero David [pronounced Dah-veed] at the Rancho Merced near my home in Costa Rica. We were on a ride through their property on our way to the beach. I am terrible with the identification of trees but I believe he is stopping to admire this one because it is the national tree of Costa Rica. A species quite beloved by the people and now protected by law. He is surrounded by different shades of green as we transition from the ranch area of the property to the jungle. I love to contemplate greenery. I sit outside each morning [all year long because of the fabulous weather] and read the news and eat my breakfast and contemplate the splendid green bushes and plants in my yard and on the jungle-covered mountain that fills my vision when I look up. "Look to the green when you are stressed," said a Japanese businessman to a friend of mine. Look to the green, indeed.

Not the Best Trip Ever

I have been incommunicado because I traveled to the US to see my daughter and her family. We've had some extra rain down here, even for Cost Rica's rainy season, and mud slides have occurred. As I was traveling to San Jose to catch my plane to fly home to Washington, we were stopped by a gigantic fallen tree that covered the entire highway and then some. It was to be a four hour wait. So, since two fellow shuttle riders had planes to catch [I was going to a hotel to catch an early morning flight], the shuttle service had us join the queue and trudge up a muddy hill and back down the other side with all our luggage, then past dozens of cars trapped on that side of the fall, so that we could be picked up by another shuttle. I should have known then that the trip was ill-fated. I arrived in Tacoma, to find that my daughter had tested positive for covid an hour earlier. The family was quarantined the whole time I was there. I stayed with a friend who had to go to several conferences and wasn't around either. A long way to go for a big fat nothing. Ah well. I am sure you and I have both suffered worse.

FREE When You Sign Up for my Newsletter

"Dormant Power" is finished at last. Edits are done, hallelujah. The book is available. If you are already on my email list, your copy will be coming shortly. There is nothing you need to do. The story is "sort of" a prequel because Shannon Kendricks, the protagonist in the Power Rising Trilogy, is a main character at a time just before the beginning of Power of Three. However, it is "sort of" NOT a prequel in that she is only one of a number of main characters. My approach to this book is a bit different from the trilogy and involves a different branch of magic, which made it a bit difficult for me to write. So those of you who've read the trilogy shouldn't expect it to be more of the same. There are some humorous parts and some dark parts. Animals play a small role, because, well, that's me. You can sign up for my newsletter and this free novella of 29,000 words on my website,

Coming Soon

Here is the cover for my soon to be ready free novella, Dormant Power. [Really, I am working hard on the edits. Really. Sure I stopped to play around with the elements of my cover for the novella for a couple hours but I am editing! In fact I just made a major change to the plot that I am pretty pleased with. Next I am going to focus on refining my characters] Those of you who are familiar with my trilogy Power Rising will know that the word Power repeats in each of my titles. And you will see that this not-quite-a-prequel-but-kind-of is no exception. The only thing that niggles at my mind about this cover is that it is not in sync with my trilogy covers. As you will have seen over the past weeks, the covers have a similarity and color framework designed to help potential readers recognize and feel comfortable with them. That similarity and my brand colors are missing here. New week I will show you the cover where I have at least added the brand colors. I don't care for it nearly as much.

Final New Cover Revealed

And here at last is the final new cover for the Power Rising Trilogy. The big addition, of course, is the guy standing beside Shannon Kendricks, the protagonist. He is Luke Quintana, and okay--I am an incurable romantic, which is why he plays a critical role in Power Stabilized. I mulled the idea of depicting his hands cradling the image of Shannon, as the dragonpanther Roebor's cradled the image on the Power Multiplied cover, but this idea was nixed as too similar to book two´s cover. Instead we see the three pronged circle that represents Shannon, the alien Essi, and the beluga whale Juneau, tying back to the first book where those three feature so predominantly. The stream of light is representative of the extraordinary Power that Shannon must fight, and, as noted, Luke is at her side in that battle. Meanwhile, I am still in the editing stage of the novella that I will be offering for free. Much of the editing process is pure drudgery and I am having trouble willing myself into finishing the task. The story involves a family with magical powers, although Shannon plays her part, too. Stay tuned.

Talk to the Hand

Here is another statue from Bali. I get a kick out of it every time I see it because between the hand and the frog’s expression, he really does seem to be saying ‘talk to the hand’ or maybe ‘ugh, no more. I’ve eaten enough already.’ (Ok, it’s true—I recognize this expression from my own overstuffed face in the mirror. I’m thinking Thanksgiving in particular.) If you were going to caption the picture, what would you call it? Update on the book covers: I have selected the cover for book two, Power Multiplied, of the Power Rising trilogy and must do a rewrite of the blurb on the back and then on to the cover for book three! Unfortunately, you may recall that my laptop monitor went kaput and I could only read it by hooking it up to my tv screen. Well now its kaputness is complete and I can’t get an image on my tv either. So I must work off my phone. Not ideal. But Bublish is being kind enough to help me post in the absence of a computer for a few weeks. I’m so grateful they didn’t say ‘talk to the hand’ when I gave them my tale of woe.

The Power of Imagery.

I have mentioned how the current covers for my books in the Power Rising trilogy, although splendid at an earlier time, are no longer quite right today. We’ve also had a look at a cover design that, although wonderful, I will not be using for the refresh cover for book one of the series, Power of Three. I was looking at some of my pictures from Bali and Jakarta the other day, such as this one on the opposite page from the shores of Bali, and I was struck by the number of statues, some ancient and worn, others brand new, that I found everywhere on that trip. There are few statues to be found where I am in Costa Rica, although I did show you the marvelous and mysterious nearly perfectly smooth and round rocks created by an ancient people here. These topics are all about image—and the power of imagery. Imagery is at the very heart of what authors do and why I love writing so much. My hope is that I might succeed in evoking powerful images by merely stringing otherwise ordinary words together and this hope helps define who I am.

The Cover We are Not Using

My production team at Bublish sent me two covers to choose from for my first book refresher. This is the one we are not using, based on a survey of artistic types and people familiar with the book. I was personally drawn to this cover, perhaps because of that beautiful beluga in the background, who features prominently in the Power Rising series, especially the first book, Power of Three. I also am very fond of the colors, which carry symbolic meaning from the book. What do you think of it? Would this cover prompt you to pick up the book and read the back cover to learn what the book is about? [the people who didn't love this cover were primarily concerned with the woman; something about her expression bothered them.]

New Book Covers Coming

No, this isn't my new book cover; this is a lovely fungus. [What? That sounds like an oxymoron but it's true; this is both a fungus and lovely] I found it on a high jungle hill above the Sangreve Valley and it looked so much like a cheerful flower, I was captivated. Now onward to news which is very exciting and fun to me. I am redoing the covers of all three books of my trilogy Power Rising.The cover of the first in the series, Power of Three, will be coming very soon, and although I don't intend to release the covers on retail outlets until I have all three, you will see it first here. I would love to know what you think of it. Why do I need new covers? There is nothing particularly wrong with the current covers but time marches on. The covers that attracted readers in the fantasy genre when the books first came out are not what attract them now. I wrote these books so that people would be entertained, so I am all for attracting readers with covers that they find compelling. Look for the new designs soon!

On the Death of a Dog

Those of you who are animal lovers, and specifically pet lovers, will empathize with me when I tell you that on Sunday night the Dog Who Was Not Mine but lived with me anyway died in my living room. His death has left me very sad. I should be out there locking my gate every night now, but I keep forgetting because Oso liked to come and go and he wouldn't let anyone near my door so I felt quite safe. I learned the full story of his life from his real owners when they came to take him away. He had been their 'kid" for the first two years of his life and then when they had real kids, he was suddenly not their kid anymore. No wonder he responded to the love he received at my house. This loving is a trait I just can't help but, as many of you know, it is also a trait that leaves a person open to pretty big heart crushing at the death of a pet. Still, it's a good human quality, this impetus to give and receive love from an otherwise needy animal. Despite Oso's death, I am glad I have this trait.

The Fates Affording Me Preparation Time

This is photo is David Panama which I visited on my "Panama Run" two weeks ago. Ex pats must make these runs every 90 days until we are granted temporary residency, which may take years of bureaucracy to obtain. One doesn't have to go to Panama, of course, just out of the country. It rained the whole time I was there, which curiously I didn't mind. I needed a mental break and I lounged around the hotel and thoroughly enjoyed it. Then, as I have mentioned, I went home and fell off the bus, injuring my hip. In retrospect it is eerily as if the Fates gave me that respite to prepare me for the struggle it has been to manage by myself at my house in Costa Rica. I have been expecting crutches to arrive for several days now, coming via a friend. However, he is on Costa Rica time and I will see them when I see them. I think getting my weight off the hip will speed up its recovery. I sure hope so. To me, mobility is everything.

A Change of Perspective

I have brought back the Resplendent Quetzal this week because I am in need of his lovely image. Last week I went down to Panama to a town called David for a few days. I decided to take the bus which was a little out of my comfort zone, as the language is still something of a barrier to me. {I am trying so hard, but languages are just not in my competence wheelhouse} and the trip entailed a rather adventurous border crossing. But all was well. Made it there, made it back last Friday --and as I was debarking the bus, I fell and injured my hip. Also received a nasty cut to my elbow which earned me my first ambulance ride to the little hospital down the way from Uvita where I live in Costa Rica to Cortes. But the hip is the lingering issue. Hurts a very lot. Which makes for a sudden change in perspective. What I absolutely had to get done yesterday is simply not doable today. So, oh well. A sudden unexpected change in perspective is sometimes a hard thing. But I am finding it good for contemplating what really matters. Not the things I thought I simply had to get done yesterday.

More Exquisite Beauty

Once again I am writing about such beautiful things as this flower, of which I took the photo when I was in San Gerardo de Dota, and as the bird I posted last week (still here because I had trouble uploading this one in its stead) One thing I have loved about Costa Rica is that I have flowers to admire and birds to hear sing all year long. Some of the birds are the ones people in the US will be enjoying soon that come to Costa Rica to winter over. Some are year round residents. I came away with nice video of several birds nesting, including the lovely quetzal, in the Sangreve Valley. My favorite scene of my protagonist Shannon enjoying nature is when she and Luke are awaiting an audience with the celestii in a lovely field of grass and wild flowers. And there is a bird, too, in the trilogy, a crow--not so beautiful as a quetzal perhaps but a person can catch iridescent colors reflected in the black if the light is right, and anyway this crow is full of surprises. Beauty is not on offer in the Ukraine right now and I remain mindful of that. So I cling to beauty where I find it and count myself very, very lucky.


I traveled to a remote valley and the little community called San Gerardo de Dota to see the Resplendant Quetzal. This one is a male--be sure to scroll down to get a great look at the incredibly long tail feathers.The female is colored much the same but she doesn't have the long tail feathers. When I was there the pair were taking turns feeding the two babies in their nest, which is in a hole in a hollow tree. Seeing something so beautiful in the wild is a great reminder of the wonders this world has to offer. The valley where these creatures live, along the Savegre River, was only discovered in 1954 by two brothers who were lost. They promptly filed for homesteading rights and claimed almost1200 acres for themselves and their many children. They had no electricity for thirty years. Now there's another reminder: the amazing ability of the human species to overcome almost insurmountable obstacles to make a home.Thirty years without electricity. It makes me wonder--could I have gritted through that? I know my Power Rising protagonist could have made it. She has the grit. But me? Not so sure.

This Place Fooled Me

When I drove into the mountains to visit the ancestral home of the indigenous Boruca people here in Costa Rica, this building is where I ate lunch. As my guide Henry started up the hill toward its shabby exterior, I hesitated based on the look of the place. The establishment, however, was clean and neat inside, with four or five tables and a well stocked bar. My guide had other business and so he left me there for an hour or so and I had a very pleasant, simple meal comprised of juice, chicken, beans, and some other stuff that I couldn't identify but that tasted pretty good. They were very nice to me there. So--lesson learned. Just now I am very sensitive to the adage "Don't judge a book by its cover," because I am painfully aware that in the writing business, that is exactly what people do--judge books by their covers and they do it quickly. Studies show that a person takes about three seconds looking at a book cover before deciding whether to move on. Not a lot of time. With this in mind, I have decided to update the covers of the Power Rising trilogy. Professional designing is underway. Perhaps I will post designs here to receive the thumbs up or down from you.

Unusual Companions

Yipes! Don't look at the distorted photo on the left, look to the right. I didn't take this photo but it always gives me a lift to look at it--all those tusks! I had the great fortune to work with a female walrus named Andy who had many things wrong with her system. But she was a funny girl. She was small, only 900 pounds, and after a time she would come put her muzzle on my work boot and grumble for a while, her whiskers gently brushing against me. I loved her. She was one of my more usual companions, although I have had a number of them. Many people love the companionship of unusual animals. And now we are observing that humans aren't the only species that enjoys the company of usual friends. I was just reading of a dolphin that hangs out with harbor porpoises. The dolphin was probably separated from his pod somehow and was lonely. But the harbor porpoises didn't have to tolerate him. Good for them. Now, if more humans could only learn to tolerate the more usual companions in the midst of our own species. {Coming soon--new covers for the Power Rising series}


Call me cynical, but few things inspire me, really deep down inspire, as in make my heart ache with uplifted belief. Being in a place such as in the photo opposite is one such type of inspiration. I took this picture when I was up at the mountain home of the indigenous tribe I have mentioned before, the Boruca people. Even more inspiring today, though, is grasping what unbelievably brave hearts and fierce determination the Ukrainian people have the face of overwhelming odds. I thought it would be over in a week and now it's been over a month and still they fight on, as their homes are bombed and their children die. Now, after all they've been through, it's unbearable to think that Russia may yet prevail. The whole world waits, watches, hopes.

The Howlers

I took this picture at Monteverde last fall of a contemplative howler monkey. These guys really do howl, often in the early morning hours--at least around my house here on the coast of Costa Rica. I don't mind them, though, because they serve as such a nice reminder as I awake that Toto and I aren't in Kansas anymore. Actually I don't have a Toto; I have a JMack, my black cat, so named for the first letters in the names of my daughter's family of five. The 'y' is gratuitous. I relate to these monkeys because I too would like to howl sometimes, but decorum and the close proximity of the neightbors prevent me. I wanted to howl, for example, when `I couldn't get this blog up before the Friday deadline. My error or an online glitch, whatever the reason, I spent too much time trying to make it work and ended up much too frustrated to be healthy, There are, of course, much more serious things to howl about in the world. The Ukraine comes to mind. But if you need a good howl and just can't figure out how to do it [maybe in the bathroom with the door locked?], think of the howler monkeys here with me and know that they are howling for us all.

Hardcore volunteering

I have always loved volunteering with animals, which is why I have volunteered for the Humane Society, the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and the zoo, for example, over the course of decades. It is usually because I must move to a new city that I have switched volunteer opportunities. And I have never minded getting my hands dirty in the process. At the zoo, where I was a zoo keepers' assistant rather than a docent, I shoveled musk ox doo doo [shaped like milk duds], cleaned out the rotten fish and oysters from the otters' enclosure [stank to high heaven], and washed down the belugas' pool with chlorine. My zoo clothes sported perpetual white chorine stains. But my daughter, who is a chip off the old block, goes above and beyond, I think. This cute girl, Tink, is the newest addition of her four dogs from an organization that takes in old dogs for their last forever home. Several of her dogs are diabetic, several are blind, one is deaf. Several have eye problems. It's tough duty. But she gives the shots and the eye drops and the pills every day, is often up in the middle of the night. This is what I call hardcore volunteering. [Tink's mouth is closed; her tongue just always hands out the side like that.]

This time--People Instead of Animals

Hmm. This seems to be a post from November that never made it to publication. Let's read it now. Eep. Gone so long from my blog friends. Why the absence? First, my laptop went down. Had to take it to San Isidro to an Apple Store--but the helpful reps had no clue what was wrong with it. Whether I tried to have it fixed or bought a new one, I first would need to download my contents into a hard drive. But by this time I was due to go to Hawaii. True, it seems counterintuitive to go from Costa Rica to Hawaii, but this time I wasn't going for the island beauty and abundant marine life--I was going for a very great friend's retirement party. What? Cathy Parker seeing people instead of animals? Yes, in this case, I put a human being at the top of the to-see list.This is not common for me. I explored this aspect of my personality in the Power Rising trilogy through my protagonist Shannon Kendricks, although this exploration may not be noticeable to the casual reader. Authors do this sometimes--try to get at their own inner story while writing a different story. In my case, I found that I became more like the protagonist Shannon Kendricks! This was a good thing.

The Excellence of the Proximity to Water

In the Power Rising series, bodies of water play a big part, both good and bad. On the plus side, the protagonist Shannon fights to return the beluga whale Juneau to the sea. On the downside, Shannon almost drowns -- more than once. But on the other hand, she experiences some awesome rescues. This Costa Rican waterfall is one of many in this lovely country, which also borders both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This is one of the reasons I moved here. The size of these beautiful falls can be measured by the tiny figure standing on the rocks. Many people seek out rivers, lakes, ponds, waterfalls, the ocean when they are stressed or depressed or even angry, and find the waters to be calming. I always have. In fact, even the light reflecting on the surface of the little pool in my yard is enough to fill me with pleasure. Seeking the calm of water is something to try on a bad day.

More Babies and their Moms

No, there are no baby monkeys in the Power Rising series, and these are monkeys I photographed in Borneo, not my current home of Costa Rica. But. Who can resist baby animals and their mommas? I mean. This little guy just exudes personality to me, from his early 1900's hair styling to his eyes half closed in nonchalant savoring of some little fruit or nut tidbit. And those light blue eyelids. Love him. These monkeys were at a nature reserve in northern Malaysian Borneo that I was visiting to see a population of orangutans. Malaysia seemed to be doing a pretty good job trying to preserve their extremely endangered orangutans. I didn't go to Borneo particularly worried about the endearing orange primates but came away--especially from Indonesian southern Borneo-- very worried indeed, as palm oil plantations are encroaching on the supposedly protected nature reserves and killing many, many orangutans in the process, orphaning their babies, and destroying their limited habitat. I was very sad after I visited an orphanage for orangutans whose mothers had been killed.These guys in this photo, though, are in no danger. Whew.

Behind Bars

This sweet face belongs to a little sloth at the sanctuary in the jungle near Manuel Antonio National Park. Poor baby would rather be free, I'm sure, but wouldn't survive. The protagonist, Shannon, of the Power Rising series, gets thrown in the slammer by a pair of dragonpanthers. She too, of course, preferred to be free and goes to great lengths to try to escape. Although a few animals do well in captivity, unfortunately many do not. I had the great good fortune to visit for a time with Keiko, the orca of 'Free Willy' fame, while he was temporarily housed in Oregon on his way to freedom far up north. Having also had the great fortune to help with the care of a trio of beluga whales, which were healthy and robust, I could easily tell Keiko was weak and unhealthy, a result of poor conditions at a tiny pool in Mexico. I can only imagine how freedom must have felt to him! Likewise, Juneau, the beluga whale featured in the Power Rising series, longs for freedom from captivity and Shannon fights hard to win her freedom. Shannon had no difficulty imagining how freedom would feel to Juneau . . . but that's another story.

There are dragons and then there are Dragons

This is how Roebor, the dragonpanther in the Power Rising series, might look if his ancestors had wandered down the evolutionary path retaining their scales. However, Roebor's people developed fur along with wings, and became neither lizards nor birds. The big guy pictured here, and he was a big guy, is known colloquially, if I recall correctly, as the Jesus Christ lizard for his ability to zip across water without sinking. Knowledgeable people, feel free to step in and correct my memory if I have his species wrong. Look at the spines on this puppy! Roebor has no spines, and I must say that spines would look pretty strange sticking out of his fur. Luckily for us, this lizard didn't develop the size that Roebor's people have attained, Roebor being one of the biggest among them. This big guy, which I saw running around at Manuel Antonio National Park, was quite as large as I would want to see a lightning-quick, spiny critter on the loose. Oh, but how I would love to see a glimpse of Roebor flying across the sky, blotting out the sun as he soared, his great wings spread wide!

Could a kinkajou live on FireWorld?

This little kinkajou lives at a wildlife sanctuary awaaay back on a dirt road in the hills above Manuel Antonio National Park where animals are brought by locals. They have been injured or have been kept as pets and can't return to the wild jungles of Costa Rica. The dragonpanthers of FireWorld in the series Power Rising are huge things, house-sized, who live in mammoth caverns--but with modern technology. Could this tiny creature live on a world with such giants? I think so. This kinkajou lives in a world with people and jaguars and wild boars. He may be hunted [and doesn't that thought make you want to cry] but his species survives. On FireWorld he'd hardly make an hors d'oevre for Roebor, who will go for bigger game when he becomes a hunter by trade ... but that story unfolds in Power Stabilized. Meanwhile, this little one is mostly safe from predators and cared for by kind folks. It's sad, though, that he must live out his life as a captive because he wouldn't make it in his natural habitat. Always the sad case with captive animals, no matter how excellent the reason for their captivity. And infinitely worse, of course, for captive people.

Not FireWorld's Sea of Fire

On the dragonpanther Roebor's world, the seas roar with blue flames shooting high into the sky. As you will note, blue fire is absent from the picture here. Roebor also lives high above polished granite-like cliffs and not in the dense jungle here. [He wouldn't fit into this tangle; it would be smooshed flat.] Far below Roebor's cliffs, however, are forested valleys which become thicker as they sink toward the ocean. In that band of land below the cliffs and above the swamplands, it might look something like this. This scene is, of course, in Costa Rica, and is the view from in front of my attorney's office/home, accessible only through a locked gate and up a steep, steep one-way concrete road that turns to dirt half way there. I almost placed my SUV in four-wheel drive to take the road. But as I pulled out from the attorney's office and was confronted with this beautiful view, I forgot the definitely iffy way up and stopped to admire. In the trilogy Shannon doesn't spend much time on Roebor's world. I am wondering today what interesting creatures she would have found in this jungle of FireWorld. Perhaps I will dream of it tonight. Perhaps you will tell me what you found there in your own imaginings.

Transportation and the Lack Thereof

Shannon Ubers home here because she is severely injured. Authors are cautioned to avoid touches in their work that would date them. I have thought upon this and concluded that in these modern times with technology changing so fast--and society changing with it-- authors can't help but date their work. Think of heroines alone and threatened, unable to call anyone because the phone lines have been cut. The authors had no way to know that later heroines would have cell phones in hand to call for help. So perhaps Ubers will go the way of the land line one day. Fine. Hopefully a reader will be immersed enough in the story they will accept these quaint references and move on. Speaking of Ubers, we don't have them in my little town in Costa Rica. We have taxis, which you can sometimes reach and sometimes not, which come and sometimes not. This has been my mode of transport since I arrived for those places I couldn't reach on foot. But finally! My car is up and running. I accomplished things yesterday that would have taken a week before. Lacking an auto has been a great learning experience for me. Humbling and insightful. And shrinking my world.

Taking the Leap

Shannon is preparing to take a leap--and the consequences of falling short will be unpleasant to say the least. Last week I took a much smaller leap with less unpleasant consequences when I attended yoga and surfing camp here in Uvita, Costa Rica. The yoga was not much of a leap, although I am a beginner, and only my pride was at stake when I lost my balance. The surfing, now, was more of a leap for these old bones. I was only boogie boarding, not board surfing, so I had wisely shortened my leap from the beginning. I proceeded to spend an untoward amount of time roiling underwater, tossed by the white water, getting salt water up my nose, having once again missed my wave, fallen off it, or simply slipped from my board. Still, I loved it! A challenge, outside my comfort zone, in the company of friends. My reward? My very last run of the last day of camp was my best, a huge wave which I caught and managed to ride all the way up onto the sand. Woo hoo! Shannon, unfortunately does not have nearly so much fun with her leap. But whatever. She'll pick herself up and move on. As I did so very many times in the surf. We have to, don't we?

Coming Home

So where I have I been, you might wonder. I like connecting with you and it depresses me when I miss a week, and even worse, two! But life happens, does it not? You have my apologies. In this excerpt Shannon has just returned home after a harrowing series of events. Having just returned home myself, I feel much as she feels, except that my time away was neither harrowing nor life-threatening, as Shannon's was. [There was the incident at Customs, where I was trapped in hot sticky lines of people wending their way slowly, slowly, toward the immigration officials, but the life I would have LIKED to threaten was not my own] I had left Costa Rica, because, as a non-resident [yet] one must leave every 90 days. Some people just don't go. Some people try stepping into Panama and coming right back in, but I thought I would take the opportunity to visit my loved ones. Shannon's beloved one partook in her time away as well, but he came back with her. Alas my loved ones did not come back with me. So there was sadness in my return, and yet, like Shannon felt, I feel a deep satisfaction in returning home.

Hobnobbing with Giants

Shannon interacts with several huge dragonpanthers in the novels in the POWER RISING series. Speaking of huge, I watched the first half of King Kong last night--I love the great apes. That's why I only watched the half that takes place on Skull Island. I skipped the rest where the poor lug is brought low. I was pleased they modeled Kong after a silverback Mountain Gorilla. Points for realism. Well except for the size thing. And the taste for human flesh. Shannon becomes great friends with Roebor, the arrogant yet valiant dragonpanther, just as Ann forges her own bond with Kong. We like seeing this type of bond happen. I wonder why. Is it some subconscious urge to believe that we needn't be afraid of the vast unknown enemy lurking in the primeval recesses of our brains? I wouldn't know. I always root for Godzilla too. That's why I am tense about the new movie coming out, King Kong versus Godzilla. My two oversized underdogs. Who wants to choose who to root for? Well maybe Kong since I've seen the silverbacks in the wild. But then again, I am delighting in the lizards huge and teeny here in Costa Rica...

The Call of the Creatures

In this excerpt, Shannon looks up in dismay at a squadron of dragonpanthers. I envisioned this flight group to be flying silently, the quiet adding to Shannon's unease. I was wondering tonight how they might have sounded. Not like seagulls' rough cries. Probably not like birds at all, since dragonpanthers' resemblance to birds begins and ends with their wings. They might have roared, I suppose, dragon-like, or snarled, panther-like, but I think in the end that they would be silent fliers, their voices silenced in the pleasure of the wind currents. I am thinking of sounds tonight because I heard the monkeys howling last night. And there is a lizard [or two] hanging about my bedroom which makes very delightful chirping noises at night. I never knew lizards were chatty. Now that I'm in Costa Rica I also hear an entirely new litany of bird songs. And there are many of them! I hear them all day long, singing their strange songs. Dragonpanthers don't sing. I'm quite sure of it. But I suspect they might hum a little.

Ignoring the Mundane

Here Shannon is snatched up in a dragonpanther's claws--and who knows WHERE those claws have been. Yet Shannon never does the laundry. What miracle is this? Most of your protagonists in action-oriented novels don't have time for such nonsense as washing their dirty clothes or putting a stew on to simmer. Getting smudges off mirrors. Pulling a few stray weeds as they stroll down the sidewalk. Clipping nosehairs. Because we get enough of that in real life. I am getting plenty of the mundane in these first days in Costa Rica. I did finally get the stove to work and actually cooked something for the first time in six weeks! The dryer, however, is still a hot mess, with dirt and spare parts spread out over the washing machine cover. And now that I've learned my household goods are coming any day, I discovered my front retracting car gate doesn't work--a real problem for the movers trying to bring furniture in through my narrow human gate. So, I am scrambling trying to fix that. The mercado, which is like a farmers' market--craft fair, has finally reopened after Covid, though, and I had some fun there on Saturday. No more buying fruits and veggies at the supermarket for me! And now I can even cook some of them.

In a warm and colorful sea

While Shannon truly ventures into the exotic, I experienced my own small adventure yesterday. The wheels of bureaucracy continue to grind very slowly here and so I decided to chuck my efforts for a day to take an all-day snorkeling tour out to Cano Island. What splendid fun. We took a river down to the sea and saw a black-tailed boa and a pack of Mono monkeys up close for quite a while. Then to the sea. Turquoise and warm waters. Green-billed turtles, sharks, and amazingly colored fish of all varieties. We had lunch on an isolated beach back in the shade of the palm trees and then took a tour through the mangrove jungle with an explanation from our guide as to their importance to the local economy and--crucially--to Mother Earth. Only five of us made this particular trip so it was cozy and friendly. I lost my hat on the speedy ride back and they went back and picked it up for me. Oops. Yes, a much better trip than Shannon had on FireWorld. Now to find a gas tank so I can do a load of wash....

Boy was she wrong

This excerpt is the blurb for my third book, Power Stabilized. My life blurb today is similar: "Cathy Parker thought all she had to do was venture to a strange country, unpack her things and get on with the adventure. Boy was she wrong." [Actually, I knew there would be more to it.] But the big shocker is that, although the people in my house before me were on the internet, I can't get it for two years. Hmm. So I thought to get an unlimited data phone plan and use my trusty phone as a hot spot, but non-residents can't get a plan without certain paperwork. I thought I had the right paperwork with me. I did not. I need a new document from the Bank. I had to set up a bank account anyway so I went to the bank and sat two hours until it was my turn. At least we had chairs. By the time I reached the window and the clerk set up my bank account, it was almost closing and there were more long-suffering people to process. So I let the paperwork for the phone company go. Next up: the utilities. What adventures await me there?

Cats in hiding

In this excerpt, Shannon's cat Narci goes into hiding to avoid the attentions of a pair of dragonpanthers. My own cat is in hiding tonight, poor baby. As I have prepared to take off for Costa Rica, he has seen more and more of the household items he has become accustomed to in his territory disappear, many to charity, a few to the curb for people to pick over, some to the trash. Yesterday after my daughter took the final possessions she wanted from my house, it was just the air mattress, the cat and me. This morning I deflated the air mattress and we were down to zero. But that state of affairs didn't last long because then we were off to the vet for shots, parasite treatment and his health certificate [which I now have to drive two hours away to have approved by the USDA.] And then we landed at my motel room. That was three hours ago. My poor little Jmacky hasn't stirred from his carrier. Hiding, not from dragonpanthers, but from a room as strange and frightening to him as the alien creatures were to Narci. At least he still has me.


Here Shannon takes a jump through a wormhole to an exotic world and she has much to do. I know exactly how she feels! I am eight days from receiving a 40-foot container into which I must pack my earthly belongings and the old beater 4Runner I acquired for the rutted dirt roads of Costa Rica--and it's much more complicated than I imagined. Then I must finish up everything here before I catch my flight with my cat in tow on Feb. 4. So much still to do! So many things I am sure I have forgotten. My house is full of boxes, with a few half-packed, waiting for last minute items. I am trying to wrap my most precious furniture in furniture blankets but I can't do them all. A job for the packers. And what in the world I will do with all the boxes and blankets and wrappings in Uvita I have yet to discover. I did pay the electric bill down there so the lights will be on when I struggle into my living room with the cat, my carry-on and two suitcases. Hmm. I don't yet where the key to the front door will be. Better find that out.


Shannon Ubers often in the final book of her trilogy [just released!] largely because she tends to get into scraps where she either destroys her ride or incapacitates herself, uses wormholes to travel, or flies unwillingly in the clutches of a dragonpanther. I have been thinking about vehicles of late because the roads in the area I'm moving to in Costa Rica can be, shall we say, iffy. As a consequence, I traded in my lovely 2010 Prius for a 2004 4Runner because it stands higher off the ground and has 4 wheel drive. Now I must rent a flatbed to move it from my driveway to the cargo container, drain the gas, disconnect the battery, and strap it down. These are actions outside my skill set. Had to laugh about one thing: it was lightly raining when I bought it. When I arrived home I discovered the windshield was slightly pitted, probably by hail. I thought they were raindrops. Oh well. I just pretend I'm in perpetual light rain.

These pesky cats

Narci is Shannon Kendrick's loyal little black cat with a knack for mind reading and anticipating company. 'Narci' is short for 'Narcissus,' a name that would be apropos for most cats--am I right? My own cat JMack is a nostril licker. I have told him that he undertakes that endeavor at his peril since I frequently suffer from a clogged honker. But lately his attempts to wake me up have taken a more sinister turn. Instead of the gentle pat, I've been getting the sharpened claw, awakening to a sudden swift shock of pain. Ouchie. The offending claw may hit the nose, but it may also hit the cheek, the lips, the brow, even the eyelid. I'm not loving it. It's curious, this habit of cats to pat their owners awake, either gently or with a real smacakaroo. [why oh why didn't I get the gentle patter?] I recently watched a you tube video of clip after clip of face patting cats. Where did this behavior come from? I have no idea. I only wish I had a better solution than hiding my blood-crusted face under a stifling wad of blankets.

The Perils of Traveling

And with a flick of his giant thumb and forefinger, Bale the dragonpanther dispatches Shannon into a huge but apparently inescapable jail on FireWorld. In the course of her exploits, Shannon takes perilous journeys to RiverWorld, to FireWorld, even to the tiniest confines of an alien brain. I am about to undertake a much more modest journey, but to me it feels just as perilous. When I finalized my plans to move to Costa Rica [there is so much to do that one has to start planning and doing about six months out] pandemic numbers in my county were hovering around 11 - 14. Now they are in the mid 200's. I traveled to Costa Rica [carefully] in October and found the Houston airport a nightmare. What will it be like in February? What will the pandemic numbers be like? Could I possibly obtain the vaccine before I go? Doesn't look likely. Am I as brave [or as foolhardy] as Shannon? Shannon's love, Luke, would tell me not to go. But then, sadly, I haven't got a Luke. I expect I'll go.

It Happened to Me

In this excerpt from Power Stabilized, which is NEARLY READY to launch, Shannon faces two huge and frightening dragonpanthers. This episode probably sprang from my creative consciousness because of an encounter I experienced with a bull elephant. I had travelled to Tanzania on safari and the guide of our enthusiastic group of five had taken us down to the river right to the edge of an elephant herd, which gradually drifted by us until we were surrounded. A young bull elephant picked that moment to challenge the big bull for mating rights. They were only about fifty feet away. We had front row seats to the fight, which didn't last long, and ended in the defeat of the young bull. All hyped up from the encounter, the big bull turned toward us and trumpeted, as if to say, you want a piece of me, come try it. Our guide told us to remain absolutely still and not make a sound. It was a tense moment, for that huge elephant, if it had chosen to, could have ground our Land Rover into pulp and us with it. Discerning that we decidedly didn't want a piece of him, he eventually stood down and we beat a hasty retreat!

A Strange Mixture

In this excerpt from my soon-to-be-released novel Power Stabilized, I touch lightly, just for a brief moment, on the strangeness of a world that mixes new and ancient ways. I will admit here--you are the first to know--that I hoped that readers would wonder whether the same applies to the United States--do we mix the new with the ancient in our ways? I think we do. I mention it here to point out how even stories that seem to be very straightforward without much in the way of philosophical underpinnings can quietly--and intentionally--slide more weighty issues under the reading glasses of their readers. One of the main objectives of writers, in fact, in painting alternate worlds is to point out the foibles of this world. Some writers are more aggressive and insistent about this than I am. I am hoping the gentle touch will give you pause at some future moment of experience, and this line, or one like it, will return to you. And you will think, "Ah. I see."

A Bad Day is About to Get Worse

In this excerpt from Power Stabilized, soon to be released, Shannon has just experienced a horrific tragedy, and fate is about to slap her down again. To make this transition from one terrible event to another, I have enlisted some different and contradictory elements of the weather. A black fog has settled in, which is both a natural outcome of the first terrible event, but also, I hope, conveys the mood that event has evoked in Shannon, and the moral bog, in her mind, of what has occurred. The fog persists in spite of a high wind blowing in from the Sea of Flames. How could the fog persist when--on Earth at least--the wind might disperse it? We aren't on Earth for this scene, which provides one easy answer. But another answer is that Shannon's mood and the moral wrongness of what has occurred have not been dispelled: for Shannon the fog persists. The wind serves another purpose. It is a warning to the reader that Shannon is not in the clear yet. She is about to be whipped forward toward another heartbreak. A reader needn't think about these connections too much; instead my hope is that the reader feels the connections, absorbs them, knows them on a deeper level than conscious thought. If this occurs, I have succeeded.


In this excerpt, Shannon has just awakened from a terrible explosion to learn she is seriously injured. But she has things to do: a friend to aid, an alien woman to rescue, whales to save, a solar system to preserve. So she perseveres. I made her this way to shine as an inspiration for us when we must do the same. But sometimes it is hard to know whether to persevere. I have just faced this question myself in deciding whether I should move permanently to Costa Rica. This has been my dream and my goal but is it the right move for me? Am I being foolish thinking I could overcome the obstacles to picking up and organizing such a drastic move? Am I too old for such an endeavor? And on the other side of the coin, would I just be a quitter if I don't go? Would I be taking the easy way out if I stay home? Would I be missing an adventure that I won't have the chance to indulge again? Hard, hard, hard to know the answers. But answer them I have. I am going. p.s. I will have internet.

Half glass full

In this excerpt from the soon-to-be-released POWER STABILIZED, Shannon has been immobilized by despair. Imprisoned, betrayed, at the mercy of an alien who wants nothing so much as her suffering and death, she's able to rally. I have been thinking this week that I have presented you with my glass half empty lately. Angst over my edit from hades. Heartbreak over having to leave my mastiff behind. So I decided today I would be a glass half full person, no matter what. Pick myself up, as Shannon does here, and get to work. So I shall point out to you that my manuscript for the new book is at the proof reader as we speak, I'm trying to get to Costa Rica next week to sign papers on a house and see if I can take the rainy season, and I am enjoying every second with my Tulip [and spoiling her like crazy]

Into the Fire

This excerpt is a description of the seas of FireWorld. I rather feel as if I've been dropped into these seas today, because I am being tortured by editing demons in editing hellfire. I recently completed a thorough developmental edit with a well-respected, thoughtful and intelligent editor, then sent my manuscript off for a copy edit. But now the copy editor--whose identity I don't know because she works for an organization--who doesn't know I just completed a high level edit, thinks it needs a higher level edit. Hmmm. Two editorial minds disagree and I'm stuck in the middle. Who is right? Or, put another way: whose ideas would better serve my story? The difficulty is that I cannot afford to pay the rather high price another higher level edit would cost, especially just to be confronted with a difference of opinion on what works best for my novel. Do you feel me twisting, twisting in the blue flames? I decided to stick by my developmental editor and her suggestions and politely declined to pay for another higher level edit. I will get the copy edit back and work through those changes. But now I will have that nagging, niggly doubt: would my story have been better if. . . . Ah, the joys of writing.

Protagonist Is Tough, Author Not So Much

In this excerpt to the upcoming conclusion of Power Rising, Shannon has just sustained a terrible wound. She will spend the rest of the story keeping a stiff upper lip and doing what she must do despite the injury and tremendous attendant pain. I, on the other hand, sustained a nasty cut above my eye--the scar will not be pretty--and I'm all pouty and not feeling like doing much today. In Shannon's case, an explosion gave her the injuries. In my case, I had a small mishap with my 170 pound dog, who, for the first time ever, took off in retreat from some of her favorite people with my hand firmly gripping her leash. The pavement and I had an intimate meeting of the minds. The difference between my paltry efforts at soldiering on and Shannon's reminds me that we expect a lot from our fictional heroes. They are much like us but they step up and perform the extraordinary. They are our best selves. The selves we dream we could be. The selves we can believe in. We need them. Today however, I'm a little resentful.

Editing, editing, editing

I thought I'd spend a moment showing you how different the final product of an author might be from where she started. In the excerpt, the first paragraph is from an earlier [not even the earliest] draft of the third book in my trilogy. Below the line is the current opening. Quite a change! Shannon does still fall out onto FireWorld later on, but hopefully the book now starts a bit more urgently. Will this be the last version? Maybe, maybe not. I've beaten it to death, my developmental editor has had her whack, but it's now headed for its copy edit and proofreader. I will confess I have skimped on editing in the past, but decided to put this one through the entire process to evaluate any improvement, given my thin editorial budget. But the change here didn't come from the editor. Beginnings are difficult in stories and authors usually try different approaches on. What do you think? Have I made an improvement?

Face to Face with a Humpback Whale

In this excerpt, Shannon and her crew are out in a longboat with a pair of Right Whales to protect them from an alien attacker. My own closest encounters with whales were, as I have mentioned, with the beluga I got to hand around. I did have also have a wonderful experience with a humpback mom and her calf up in the seas of Southeast Alaska. We were sailing in a 35' boat when a huge gathering of whales came our way. We cut our engine and stayed quiet, watching whales breach and eye hop and tail slap. Then along came a young calf, curious to have a look at our boat. Right behind him came his momma to see that no harm came to him. I was up in the bow all excited watching them take passes by us as my companion sweated--the mom was longer than our sailboat by far! Suddenly she spy hopped right in front of me, just a few feet away, her huge head coming up even with my own and her dish-sized eye looking straight into my eyes. It is very difficult to describe that moment except to say I felt a connection, one that I will never forget.

The Desire to Bust Free

In this excerpt, Shannon is desperate to escape from drangonpanther jail. We can relate. We have been locked down for all but essential tasks for months, and, given the resurgence in many places, just when we thought we'd been given the Get Out of Jail Free card, we might be trapped again in our little home hoosegows. Shannon was desperate enough to escape that she considered fleeing through the sewage tunnels. Pretty desperate. How desperate are we? Desperate enough to risk contracting Covid-19? Desperate enough to bring a grave illness home to our families and friends? I sense many people are answering with a loud 'yes.' I can't blame them. At the heart of their willingness, though, is, I think, a fundamental inability to grasp that yes, catching the virus could really happen to them and it could really cause their deaths. Deaths. It seems almost impossible for people to sense how very dangerous this virus is. It is too remote; too theoretical; too abstract. They can't see it out there; they know they could contract it, but not that they will. They believe the odds are in their favor. But it it really worth rolling the dice if losing means losing your life or that of someone you love very much? I hope not.

The view

In the short quote opposite, Pip, a female dragonpanther, is opining on the difference between males and females on her world. We could all take Pip's view to heart to include the future in our thinking and not limit ourselves to the moment. But this week I'm having trouble with that perspective. I'm dazed by the pandemic, the unwarranted deaths, the protests, the riots, the unwarranted responses, the beautiful responses. In many places, officials have managed their return to normalcy from the pandemic very well. The future should look good. Yet my eye is riveted on those death numbers that keep rising. The protesters are being heard. The future should be filled with hope. Yet my eye is riveted on the backlash to those protests, just now becoming visible. I'm still afraid to look too closely at the future. But I'm tired, too tired to look too hard at moment.

What do we do now?

In the series Power Rising, I incorporate several black characters, the most important of whom is Becky, described here at a pivotal moment in her life, where she is given hope, thanks to Shannon. My plan for my black characters has been to ignore their color and simply integrate them normally into the story, as if their race did not matter. I have liked movies, books, and ads that placed black people in everyday situations without making a big deal about it, saying, I think, 'these characters belong here.' This was okay before. Before Mr. Floyd. Before the protests all over the world. Now a stronger message is required. A message that says, 'these characters should belong here but they're not here yet. Will you help them?'

In Revisions

This is the opening paragraph of the current draft of the last book in my trilogy. I can't promise the opening paragraph of the final draft will look anything like it, though, because I am in the dreaded revision phase now. Although I love the redrafts in which I read through the entire text and lovingly hone and smooth and amplify, that's not the work I'm doing now, and this phase I am not loving. In these revision sessions, I am weeding out those words most authors use in the wonderful headlong dash to finish the first draft. Adverbs? Too weak---throw them out. Filler words? Find them, chuck them. Passive tense? Make it active. 'Very"? Rewrite. Overdo the word 'breath' or 'eyes' or hand' or a dozen other words? Off with their heads. Tomorrow I will do a cull for too often repeated words too close together. Oh joy. Then I can get back to word crafting. Thank goodness.

Giving My Love to Dragons Tonight

Here is an excerpt from my unpublished third novel. You will note the presence of dragonpanthers. I'm a dragon fan--isn't everyone a dragon fan? Those dragons in Game of Thrones? Outstanding! Traditional, in many ways--they were huge and fire-breathing, with scales, and fearsome! So very fearsome. Nothing sentimental about them. We all want one of those to show off to the neighbors, am I right? So I felt very strongly that I should have a dragon--in my novels if not in my back yard, but I was a little tired of the scales. Yes, yes, there is a strong tradition of dragon scales, but fundamentally, do the scales make the dragon? Are scales essential to the truth of dragonness? I think not. So instead of dragons that are essentially flying lizards, I decided upon dragons that are flying panthers. They still breathe fire though. That does seem a very dragonesque trait. And they are fearsome. When they want to be. And large, very large. When you go to bed tonight, perhaps you will put yourself to sleep with a dream featuring you and your special dragon. I don't mind if it's a dragonpanther. So long as it flies. I do think a dragon, like your dreams, must be able to take wing, don't you?

Creativity Just Pops Out, Doesn't It?

In my newest novel I'm having some fun with the wardrobe of Katie Kulkarny, an attorney with a great imagination. Her attire is different each time she appears. I like to have fun with colors in my clothing as well. [Oops, there goes the sensible, get everything in black wardrobe], so I am partial to solid colors that I can combine in interesting ways. I do love red and black, and especially a nice cobalt blue and black. For some reason, I have never been partial to prints or stripes. How weird is that? But I did observe a co-worker whose creativity popped out in the way she matched her earrings to her wardrobe. I used to wonder with great admiration how in the world she found earrings with a strange pattern on them--that exactly matched the strange pattern in her dress. Some people find that creativity pops out for them in household furnishings. In flower arrangements. In matching bedsheets and bedspreads. In plantings in the garden. In a thousand ways. Now that we must stay in and stay distant, I bet your creativity is popping out in various ways as well. I say, let it shout! But if the sadness of the times has you down, try picking one thing to mess about with creatively. It helps. Promise.

Power Multiplied

Power Multiplied

Science Fiction & Fantasy

No synopsis has been added for this book

Book Bubbles from Power Multiplied

Cute Animal Pix for No Good Reason

On one side is my ten month old kitten Mochi {and we are talking a cat which is still very much a kitten but in a ten-pound body} defending the sink from all comers. On the other side we have my last dog, Tulip, with a big string of slobber on her face. ???? An update on my latest novel, Robot: A Deadly Romance--I received an email from the small press to which I submitted it recently letting me know that it was currently "in the hands of the Acquisition Committee." So at least I wasn't rejected by the initial reader, who reads ten pages or so and often says "eh, not a chance." This means a rejection notice goes out to the novelist whose hopes {and ego} are about to be crushed. But what does it mean that it's "in the hands of the Acquisition Committee?" Has a single editor looked at it and deemed it worthy and passed on to the final decision-makers? Or is this phrase merely the nice way of saying that no one has had a chance to read the manuscript yet? The hopeful novelist {me} would like to think it means they are seriously considering it. I don't like to think that they will find it not "commercial" enough. This is always a problem for me, because I write what my heart wants to write rather than writing to market. Fingers still crossed.

The Characters We Love to Hate

I saw these beautiful black swans in Australia. Today they make me think of Tchaikovsky´s moving "Swan Lake," where the Black Swan is the antagonist, the character who causes the heroine, the White Swan, such heartache. Writers typically give their antagonists a back story, so that the writers understand their characters and can make them more three dimensional. Some of that back story may come out in a novel, or it may never be known, except to the writer. In the book I have just written, I had some fun making the antagonist, a woman, a pretty melodramatic villain. But she had her reasons (in addition to a generally rotten personality at the core). You have probably read stories with villains you felt sorry for, or even rather liked. Kudos to the author, who made the character three dimensional with positive and negative traits. I think of a Dean Koontz book I read a long time ago where the horror of the novel came from a creature created in vile experiments that escaped a laboratory. I felt very bad for this creature, even though it killed people, so it would have to be eliminated in the end. Then there are those villains that you just really really really hope "get theirs" in the end. Yes, villains are quite fun to write. (I took the other photo down at the Washington coast near Ocean Shores)

Happy Thanksgiving!

I put up the image of the tree and rainbow because I am wishing for you that your Thanksgiving is a rainbow kind of day. The tree is the one in Costa Rica that I called the Happenin' Tree because the tree entertained me so often with Macaws, Toucans, iguanas, vultures and other birds. My three Thanksgivings in Costa Rica were a little pitiful. Not being a fabulous or even ardent cook, and not having relatives in the country, I would fix a simple meal. In contrast, this Thanksgiving, the place I live puts on a full Thanksgiving on Wednesday and I will also have Thanksgiving at my daughter's on Saturday {because her husband works on the actual holiday}. I found someone to read my final manuscript for typos and as soon as I get it back, I will send it off to the small publisher who expressed interest waaaay back in July. Four months! That's how long the beta reader-editing-sensitivity reader process took. Not the fun part. Oh, well, this holiday, I can give thanks that the thing is finally done. Now, on to the sequel.

Apologies for My Absence

Here you see two photos of the latest addition to my household--Mochi. He is a Devon Rex, six months old, insatiably curious, high energy, and totally cuddly. I meant to wait on adding a puppy or kitten to my family until I had settled in more here at my new apartment, but I performed the fatal act--out of curiosity I looked online at where I might find a Devon Rex should I decide on one and oops, found this one. Before I knew it the breeder was delivering him. Why a Devon Rex? Because they are the closest thing to a non-allergenic cat that a person can get. Although I loved my JMacky, who came from the Humane Society, to bits for 16 years, I suffered for it with allergies. Meanwhile, I have been absent because I moved: much unpacking to do, much adjusting. And while I was moving, my latest book came back from my editor with comments and suggested revisions, which I have been plodding through, deciding whether to accept or reject changes, and mulling over the comments. I am almost finished. Thank goodness. What a thankless chore. I have only to go through to see if I missed any comments, then make some other fixes I have jotted down and then I can finally send the manuscript off to the small publisher which wanted to see it. So, things are settled enough for me to get in touch with you again. And I will.

First Contact continued

On one side, the view from a restaurant high up an almost impassable road in Costa Rica. On the other side, a bloom from my yard on a vine in my Costa Rican back yard. To refresh your memories, I am recounting a special encounter in Alaska and I have been watching a group of humpback whales....After twenty minutes, a very young whale, perhaps sixteen feet long, swam over to examine the sailboat. Curious, he circled us, and swam upside down right under the hull. I loved it. But then the little one’s mother joined us to keep an eye on her young one. Now, the sailboat was thirty-five feet long and Charlie immediately became worried. Perhaps he was thinking of Moby Dick. The humpback was about fifty feet long, longer than our boat by a wide margin. If she had wanted to, she could have sunk us—perhaps you’ve heard of the orcas, smaller in size than humpbacks by quite a bit, in the Mediterranean Sea that have been playing with people’s boats, ramming them, damaging them, even sinking at least one. But that behavior, which most experts agree is not aggression, is rare. One of the prevalent theories is that the orcas, being highly organized social animals, were simply adopting a trend started by a dominant female. If so, at some point, they will tire of the trend and the behavior will be continued

First Contact

One side- a reminder- Dormant Power is currently free on my website (New Cover!) On the other side, humpback whales I photographed in Costa Rica. The following is a memory from Southeast Alaska. "Later in the day, a large group of humpback whales gathered a hundred meters off our portside railing. It looked as though several pods had joined together, perhaps for a social gathering and mating. I counted at least twenty whales in this group. They were breaching, spy hopping, slapping those long beautiful fins on the water. When a whale breaches, it thrusts up out of the ocean with its incredibly strong tail fluke and falls back down. The belugas at the zoo, when they breached, could rise completely out of the water and glide in a graceful arc to dive head first back into the pool, much like dolphins do. But the humpbacks usually rise up almost to their flukes, their long slender fins stretched out from their bodies, then they lean to the side or even arch backward and land, causing a great splash. When a whale spy hops, it rise up only a short way out of the water, far enough to have a good look around. I was captivated by this gathering so near our boat. Their playfulness stretched on for at least an hour. I never tired of watching it. After twenty be continued

Happy 4th of July

This fine feathered fellow is a parrot from Bali in a photo I took about nine years ago. I miss the abundance of birds that visited my yard down in Costa Rica. Very few have appeared in this yard. On the other side, to remind me, when I am missing the flowers in my Uvita garden, that I am not without flower options, is a photo of a hanging basket at my daughter's house. I am staying here until my apartment building is completed. I do like the colors in this one. Now that it has hit daily highs in the upper 80's, I am back in my element, and can come outside to the patio as soon as the temps hit the low seventies. Then I can stay nearly all day. I haven't managed to recapture the magic of Costa Rica but it is comforting to be surrounded by green--and not freezing. I finished the first draft of my new novel yesterday. Now comes the hard part of editing, editing, editing. And I know already this puppy needs a lot of revision. I'm taking the day off today and will get back to it tomorrow. I've been puzzling over into which subgenre this new one fits. Maybe paranormal suspense. It's not at all like the trilogy, Power Rising, although there are cameo appearances by the trilogy protagonist, Shannon Kendricks and her companion Luke Quintana.

Leaving Costa Rica Behind

I have left Costa Rica behind. I'm staying with my daughter, her family, four dogs and three cats while my apartment building is being built. The occasional chaos of this household is quite the change from my quiet little place in Uvita. The tree with yellow blooms came to me as a tiny plant in a gallon pot. It shot up in Costa Rica's generous soil and sun into a tree of gorgeous and sweet-smelling yellow blooms in no time without any help from me. The head of the Butterfly Research Center in Quepos gave it to me for being a good listener to attract more butterflies to my garden. He's the foremost butterfly expert in Latin America, a fact I didn't learn until one of the young men studying with him who happened to work at the hotel where I was staying in Quepos told me with glee. I have mentioned several dozen times now how very nice the people of Costa Rica always treated me. Who gives away valuable plants to a stranger passing through? All the staff at my hotel were very kind to me during my stay. My memories of that area, where Manuel Antonio National Park is located, with the most beautiful beach in Costa Rica, are fond indeed. The little fellow on the other side is not a native of Costa Rica, however. I just like his white decor. I took a photo of him in Borneo.

Borneo and Back

I thought I might bring you some photos from Borneo and places we visited on the way there and back. I selected the picture of this young man who exudes confidence and ease because it says to me that people, especially young people, all over the world are very much the same. You might think, as the monkey I photographed in Indonesian Borneo, might be thinking, that the young man comes from a cosmopolitan metropolis such as Djakarta, which I also visited on this trip. But no. We had the splendid privilege of visiting a very small island where the people of the little fishing village built their houses over water along one lengthy boardwalk. It was a Muslim feast day where neighbors share food with neighbors and the whole lot of my tour group were invited to select a house or two and join. I took many, many pictures, for the people liked having their photos taken, especially of their children. I will share more photos in a future blog. The people were so open and kind that I wasn't ready to leave when it was time and my tour guide was a little cranky with me as I came running along the boardwalk to catch our ride back to our tour boat. I was very moved by the friendly openness we found there. Update: I have finished the outline of my novel and am satisfied with it. Now all I have to do is write the thing. ????

Of Frustrations and Fears

To one side you see a photo of me, a long time ago, with my little buddy Kahneek, a harbor porpoise rescued when he was three days old and brought to the zoo where I was volunteering. I happed to be at the right place at the right time to be his "Aunt Cathy." His picture is here because I sent it recently to a great friend and was overtaken by nostalgia. I loved him. We lost him when he was nine months old. Devastating. But I am grateful I had his company that long. To the other side you see the current state of my pool. My real estate agent insisted I retile the pool and it has turned into a noisy, problem-ridden mess. It's a small pool, but it would be wonderful today, with the temperature at 88 degrees. I wrote in my journal yesterday that I hoped my contractor had not ordered the wrong tile. I have begun to recognize his tells. And sure enough he called today from San Jose where he'd gone to retrieve the tile, and he ordered the wrong one. He insists it looks green, which is what my real estate agent says is the new trend. He sent me a video, but it doesn't look very green. It will have to do. This project is going to take days, and the potential buyers are going elsewhere. Well there you are. I will think about Kahneek instead of the pool.

Beloved Pets

I have been taking photos with my phone of my old hard copy pictures and here are two that I found bittersweet. Bittersweet because I loved these dogs immensely with all my heart but they are gone now. On one side you see my Neapolitan mastiff Quiddity, Quid for short, who had been a mother at a wretched and terrible and awful puppy mill farm for neos and golden retrievers. She was in terrible shape and had never walked on grass before, having lived the two years of her life on concrete in her own filth, forced to have litter after litter of puppies. That's me with her getting the big smooch, many moons ago. She was actually the last of the mother neos to die when she was 10, a fact I attribute to pure love. On the other side you see my Justice, Justy for short, a most loving and intelligent goldendoodle. Try to ignore the distortion. He is the taller boy. Next to him is his best friend Mokey who happened to live just down the street. He died at only seven, victim of an undetected congenital hole in his lung. He was my constant companion through some very rough times and we forged a special bond. RIP, my babies. Next week, let's talk writing and AI.

Flowers All the Time

One of my favorite things about Costa Rica, one of many favorite things, is that there are always flowers blossoming. This lovely plant for example, is blooming now and probably will continue to bloom. I thought for a time that it was completely dead because I came back from Tortuguero to find that the leaf cutter ants, which I am exceedingly NOT fond of, had stripped it bare. No blooms, no leaves, nothing but bare branches. And this was just before my house was to go on the market. Now look at how it has rebounded, even better than before, with a fullness of leaves and wonderful large blooms made up of dozens of tiny blossoms. This was given to me by the head of the butterfly research center in Quepos, which I might have mentioned to you. I have another large blooming bush--tree almost--that has yellow blossoms now, also from the head of the butterfly research center. These were just tiny plants in pots when I planted them but they grew rapidly, like most things in Costa Rica (except my pineapple). He gave them to me because they attract butterflies.Very kind, I thought. Right now I also have some red blooms and different orange ones blooming, and some fascinating little white berries on a small plant with purple leaves. It never ends. I shall miss them.

My Baby Pineapple is Growing Up

For two years I have been trying to grow a pineapple in my back yard and not long ago a tiny pineapple appeared. Now, however, it has grown enough to sport a topknot and is looking more pineapplish than ever. I personally feel it's a great selling point for my house--someday someone will be harvesting this little guy and having the freshest pineapple treat possible. So far, nobody is that intrigued. No buyers for my house yet. Taking the long view, I don't really need to leave here until September but before then the rainy season will intervene and fewer people will be venturing down here. So realistically I am hoping for a sale by the end of April or beginning of May. Keep your fingers crossed out there. On this page you will see, if I remember correctly, a trogon that I saw in Corcovado National Park a few weeks ago. Check out the two feathers at the bottom of his tail. (This is the male). Lovely coloring too. I am thinking of trying a literary novel next, not high high high brow but more lyrical and with a fuller character examination. Thoughts anybody?

Silent Howler

Once again I find myself apologizing since I have been absent for several weeks now. I became sick and really was laid low. Could have been covid, could have been some other virus. I was too sick to get off the couch and go get tested. My home tests had expired, So THAT lasted a good while and then I went off on my last adventure before leaving. [Probably--my house hasn't sold so I may have all kinds of time for another trip once my pocketbook recovers, which won't be any time soon.] On the left you see a mommy tapir and her six month old baby. She was quite large up close, much larger than I had thought she'd be. On the right you see a howler monkey asleep in a tree, his cute little eyes closed and his cute little hand in front of him. [Sorry for the exposure--it was actually dark in the jungle and this treatment was the only way I could get his face to show. I am back home as of last night and my back is sore as heck but the four hour hike I took in Corcovado Nat. Park makes it all worthwhile. To be continued.

Termites! Ugh!

As you may recall, the shaman of the Bri Bri community I visited when I went to the Costa Rican Caribbean challenged us to eat some termites alive by scooping them out of the tree we were staring at. The people I was with were hesitant so I stepped forward and went first. I'm never one to back down from a virtual dare. And the experience wasn't bad. Of course since an older woman went first, everybody else followed except, surprisingly, the teen young man with us. Well. This did not prepare me for the ugly termite nest you see here. It was located behind my kitchen cabinets and came to light when I tore out the cabinets because I could see termite damage in the cabinets. Ugh and double ugh. These termites are very small so think how many larvae had been nesting in this thing. I never ever want to see the slightest hint of termite damage ever again anywhere I live. I even saw a live one in my bedroom. I didn't eat it.

Tough to Leave

On one side you see another nearly translucent butterfly and on the other side, a spider monkey who isn't looking too happy. I feel more like the monkey than the butterfly because I am having trouble adjusting to the notion that I am leaving all this wonderful nature, warm temperatures, beaches, nice people, and on and on it goes. My grandchildren, high school through college through management, all are really sick with the flu. Besides heading back to the cold, I am not looking forward to flu season. We don't seem to have it down where I am. But leave I will. The workers are all over my house still, so I am not on the market yet. Photos are going to be taken on December 12 and then I think the realtor is going to post the house. Keep your fingers crossed that I score a buyer right away so I don't have to keep the house spotless every day. ???? No writing getting done until I am through this move. Another reason to hope for a mercifully quick sale.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! They don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Costa Rica, of course, so I am on my own. For some reason, in my neck of the woods--I mean in my neck of the beaches--they are also not fond of pie, which is one of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving dinner. Why don't I make my own, you may well ask. Well because when the workers took out my old cabinets last week because of termite damage, they somehow triggered a very unfortunate noise in my stove top. So the stove is disconnected. The plumbing under the sink is also leaking since their visit so I am washing my dishes in the bathroom sink, which is not working exceedingly well. They were due back on Saturday and didn't come, then they were due back today, Monday, and haven't come yet. Maybe after lunch. Maybe not. This is rather the Costa Rican way around my area. Assuming they aren't promising to come on Thursday instead, I'll just go out and have a nice non-Thanksgiving meal. And I will still be thankful for the two years I have enjoyed here in Uvita.

Yeah, what can be said?

This is my cat JMacky. Not his best look ever. He is sixteen now so we have to allow him some slack. His name stands for the first letter of each name of my daughter's family--Justin, Madeline, Austin, Catie and Kim. He has taken well to Costa Rica--the warm weather suits him. He rarely curls up into a ball here; rather, he tends to stretch out completely. I have caught him looking too hot on a few occasions, however, at which times we repair to my bedroom and turn on the air conditioner. My new website is live now--quite the change from the old one. I will miss the site, but I've been told in no uncertain terms that the old one is not going to help me bring readers together with my books. Pooey. It is easy to sign up for my newsletter from there as well, in order to receive the free book Dormant Power. Hope to see you there.

A Cover Revealed and a Teaser

To one side you should see the new cover for Power Multiplied and to the other you should see the partially hidden cover for Power Stabilized. What do you think of the new Power Multiplied cover? The paw belongs to the dragonpanther Roebor, who is introduced in this book. As implied by this cover, he is quite protective of Shannon Kendricks, the protagonist of the Power Rising trilogy. As you can see by the tiny bit of the cover that shows and by the power surge in the background of the teaser, Shannon will have an excess of power to deal with in the final book of the series. I have finished my reader magnet, a novella of about 26,000 words, and I am editing it now. It should soon be available to new and current newsletter subscribers. I think I have mentioned how much drudgery certain aspects of self-editing can be. I will whine--I mean chat--more about that next week. Hope you are having or had a great Labor Day holiday! This holiday, of course, is not celebrated in Costa Rica so nothing is happening on my horizon but I am just back from the Caribbean side of the country where I had a very splendid time, so I am content. More about that later.

New Cover for Power of Three

Here it is finally, the new cover for Power of Three. What do you think? Hope you like it. As soon as I have introduced the covers of the other two books to you all, I will announce a 99 cent sale of all three. As I understand it, this cover is for the email edition only. If there is a need for the same change to the print book, I can arrange it. Here is some of the thinking that went into this design. The lavender color is part of my brand coloring, along with a royal blue. And, of course, combined with the lightning in the background, it evokes the lavender lightning that started Shannon down a long and winding path through the three books. The whale's tail fluke is Juneau's, the ocean is where so much of the trilogy takes place. The figure is Shannon, who begins her quest very much alone. In the background at the bottom is the vague outline of Ocean City, Shannon's home town. I just watched a video after this cover had been completed stating that the author's name should be quite large. Ah well. Too late for me. I will have to remain a modest font size.

New Laptop--Again

You may recall that my original laptop monitor stopped working some time ago and I accepted a hand-me-down laptop from my brother. Well, last week the hand-me-down also went south; totally refused to charge. Therefore I was missing in action again last week. I have since scared up a 2020 laptop. And I am up and running again! Knock on wood. The keyboard of the new laptop has one drawback: it is a Latin American keyboard configuration since I am, of course, in Latin America. The letters are where I expect them to be, but the other keys such as question mark and other punctuation are in new and surprising places. A learning curve is taking place. You can see that I have given you a little tease here about my new covers. I am going to reveal the Power of Three cover next week and give you a tease as to the Power Multiplied cover. A note: now that my laptop situation should be solved, I confess I will be taking off for the Caribbean coast next week to see the turtles coming in to lay their eggs and hopefully some babies making their way back out. I should have next week covered, but the week after may be iffy. I will try my best.

Mimics--Flowers and Authors

These flowers were up in Monteverde when I visited. If you look carefully you will see some little flowers growing on the ground that look pretty much exactly like the flowers on the plant with the big green leaves. Those clever little ground flowers grow close to their counterparts to benefit from the pollinators attracted by the bigger set of blooms. Authors are the same. In our work, we mimic real people, sometimes real places, and certainly real emotions and thoughts. Even science fiction and fantasy must mimic the basic truths of humanity or readers can't connect with the characters. I tried hard to do this in the Power Rising Trilogy. On a separate note--I'm back! After broken laptops [yes plural], broken thumb, and a visit to the States, I am up and running again. So sorry for the absence. Coming next week--the beginning of the cover reveals!

Musings on the Weather

This is a photo of me and my little girl taken many, many, many years ago in a park in Arizona. I wonder now why I didn’t think to be wary of tarantulas or scorpions before I elected to sit on the ground! The photo reminds me of the various climates in which I have lived, from arid Arizona to humid Costa Rica, from the deep snows of northern Idaho to the total lack of snow here in Costa Rica, and places in between. Do you have a favorite sort of climate? I have appreciated different things about each of the climates In which I have lived. But my old bones are pretty happy right now to be shed of Washington state’s cold wet winters. Writers sometimes forget to write climate into their novels although rain, snow and sunny beaches are a staple and often have symbolic meaning. My protagonist, for example, is caught in a raging storm in rough seas and, as is the usual symbolic meaning, it portends bad times to come. Quite bad times. Pleasant reading to you and enjoy those symbols!

A Rescued Chimpanzee

This beautiful girl, Foxie, is one of the chimpanzees at the Pacific Northwest Chimpanzee Sanctuary outside of Cle Elum, Washington, where I volunteered for a time. The chimpanzees there--originally seven but now increasing in number--have previously been research subjects but are no longer wanted for that purpose. The original seven looked pretty bad when they arrived but it has been amazing to see how they've improved and become a well-adjusted group. Foxie was notable for carrying around at almost all times a little plastic doll of one kind or another. Could it have been because her baby was taken from her at the research lab? Possibly. One of the very interesting chimps there is Jamie, who was for a time, when she was young, in the company of humans. She is an incredibly smart girl, with a talent for finger-painting and a footwear fetish. Each of the chimps has its own distinct personality and it was a joy to watch them and learn. I wish I could have volunteered longer. They have a website if you'd like to look them up. On a personal note, whatever ailment I had last week, I still have. What a drag!

The Strangler Fig

I am quite under the weather today but I didn't want to miss the chance to connect with you so I thought I would tell you a bit about the Strangler Fig Tree. This particular giant grows in Monteverde, Costa Rica. The tree starts in the high branches of another species of tree, having been deposited by a bird or other creature. There, it begins to grow. Many trees in the tropics contain epiphytes, plants which can grow without soil, and without harm to their hosts, so this beginning is not unusual. There, however, the story begins to turn a bit sinister. The Strangler Fig sends roots downwards, down, and down, until they reach the ground. And they continue to grow and thicken. Soon the tree on which the Strangler Fig has taken root has no access to sun and less access to nutrients from the soil. It slowly dies. After a time, it disappears, leaving the Strangler Fig standing strong and tall with a hollow interior as the only reminder of what has disappeared.

Harmless cutie or little Dracula

I have known these monkeys as capuchins but here in Costa Rica they are called white-faced monkeys. A reputation for being very smart and very sticky-fingered, which seems delightful unless it's YOUR car keys or passport or driver's license they have made off with. Sometimes you find them down the path, sometimes you don't. I took this photo on the Sierpe River and our guide, who was very good at animal and bird sounds, made male monkey calls to draw the monkeys down where we could see them. This fellow, in particular, was not having any of the unseen rival monkey in my kayak, thank you very much. This one leaped from a higher branch right to the lowest branch above me, with much noise and dipping of the branch. I was so startled, I leaned backward about a foot. Take a look at those teeth. If he had landed in my lap he could have done some serious damage. But he was content to sit there and let the unknown rival for his territory know he'd better move on. Which we soon did. As did he. A reminder. Cuteness does not dictate temperament. In animals or in people.

Visiting the Boruca

Last Sunday I drove an hour into the mountains of southern Costa Rica to visit the indigenous tribe, the Boruca, with my guide Henry, who is Boruncan. The Boruca people are skilled mask makers and painters, as exhibited in the photo. I visited during the most important festival of the year, the Devil's Dance, where participants in masks such as this one attack another participant in a housing with a bull's face on it. The devils represent the indigenous tribe, and the bull represents the Spanish. The festival celebrates the defeat of the Spanish. On the day I was there, the bull was winning, and he didn't mess around. I saw a participant come out for first aid with a cut to his hand and a nasty black eye. But on the last day of the festival, the bull is defeated and the representation is burned. The carving still has much in common with an ancient mask I saw in their little museum. Sadly, though, Henry told me the tribe is losing its native language. Henry speaks perfect Spanish, which is ironic, and his English is also very good. I hope they can find a way to preserve their native tongue.

Happy Holidays

Happy holidays, my friends! If you can't see all of the root system of this Chilamate tree, scroll down for a good look. Alas, the photo doesn't do justice to the tree. An unsuspecting hiker comes along a jungle trail and suddenly the tree comes into view with those magnificent roots. I was about half as tall as the tall vertical root in the center front there. Our guide said that scientists have found other Chilimates in Latin America, but none with roots like this baby, which sits on a private reserve called Hacienda Baru. I hiked out there on Christmas Eve morning, fording some fearsome mud holes along the way. This tree seems symbolic, doesn't it, with it visible roots so solidly holding it to the earth. Some people's roots are just as visible, just as solid. Others' roots are buried deep where no one can see them. Yet others don't really have much of a root system at all. They remind me of the giant cedars of the Northwest, so tall, so magnificent, that can fall in a strong wind because their shallow root systems can't hold them up. I would like to think the Chilamate tree here has a solid enough root system to withstand a storm. What a loss if it should fall.

A Rainbow Beak

This toucan has just awakened from sleep in the night in the rainforest of Monteverde. I see them down here in Uvita, on the southern coast of Costa Rica where I live as well. This beauty is a rainbow beaked toucan for obvious reasons. Toucans are simply neat, are they not? Something about those great beaks appeals to us. Is it the wonderous splash of color? The unexpected view of a beak so large on a not-so-large creature? If you cover up the beak with a couple of fingers, you can get a sense of the beak you expect to be located on that little head. In fact now that I look at his head, I wonder how he even holds up that huge beak. I saw this bird on a night tour. My guide knew where to bring us because the bird and a few of his buddies always return to these same trees to roost. I on the other hand am quite comfortable far from home so long as when I arise, I can go exploring. When I was in Hawaii just recently for the retirement party of a friend, a few of her relatives were anxious to get back home, being, they explained, homebodies at heart. Anxious to go home from Hawaii. I can't fathom it.

Missing Mastiffs

This little sweetheart is my English mastiff Tulip. I took the photo when she was a baby, but she has grown over the last five years to 170 pounds. The protagonist Shannon Kendricks in the Power Rising trilogy also has an English Mastiff, but I wrote those books before my Tulip arrived. Not quite life imitating art, because I had another mastiff, a Neapolitan mastiff named Quiddity, prior to Tulip and my first book was dedicated in part to Quiddy. So art imitatimg life imitatimg art. The fictional mastiff, called Independence, Indy for short, steps up to play a major role in a major battle in The Power of Three and again steps in to protect Shannon in book two, Power Multiplied, although under very changed circumstances. I am willing to bet both Quiddity and Tulip would step up in just the same way. Unfortunately I don't have my Tulip with me because she would not fare at all well in the climate down in the part of Costa Rica in which I live. My vet put her foot down and said she shouldn't come with me, So I had to leave her with friends who would spoil her as much as I did. I miss her terribly, just as Shannon missed her own sweet girl, Indy.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends! Most of you don't have weather like the sunny warm day in this photo, which was taken when I was in Hawaii. I have the same weather here in Costa Rica. It is hard to reconcile this weather with the fall holiday. Plus, there are no pilgrim cut outs to be seen. And no pie. ☹️ My day was very low key as a result. It occurs to me that my Power Rising protagonist, Shannon Kendricks, hasn't celebrated any holidays in the series. I really should rectify that. Poor Shannon needs a nice warm Christmas story. Don't you love all that blue expanse of beautiful water behind the rocks? I have had nothing but lovely experiences in the waters of Costa Rica: snorkeling and whale watching, trying to boogey board, and dragging my feet in the shallows. Shannon's experiences with the ocean, on the other hand, have been, without exception, terrible and terrifying. Which was the very worst of her experiences? The Underwater Center explosion? The shark? The near-drowning hunting the hunter of rare whales? No, I'm thinking it was the deadly run-in with Tidak, the vengeful dragonpanther who wanted to avenge his son. Anyone want to make a different choice?

People This Time!

Eep. Gone so long from my blog friends. Why the absence? First, my laptop went down completely. Had to take it up to San Isidro where there is an Apple Store--but not an Apple Store where the helpful reps had any clue what was wrong with it. Whether I tried to have it fixed or bought a new one, I first would need to download my contents into a hard drive. But by this time I was due to go to Hawaii. True, it seems counterintuitive to go from Costa Rica to Hawaii, but this time I wasn't going for the island beauty and abundant marine life--I was going for a very great friend's retirement party. What? Cathy Parker going for people instead of animals? I know, you can hardly credit it. But yes, in this case, I put a human being at the top of the to-see list.This is not common for me. I explored this aspect of my personality for myself in the Power Rising trilogy through my protagonist Shannon Kendricks, although this exploration may not be noticeable to the casual reader. Authors do this sometimes--try to get at their own inner story while wring a different story. Did I succeed in this endeavor? Well, I will say this much: it was a good start.

Suitable for Halloween

I thought you might like this creepy crawly to get you in the mood for Halloween. This little buddy that I saw here in Costa Rica is about four inches across and is one of the most, if not the most, poisonous spiders in all of Latin America. As much as I love the animal world, I have never been able to get cozy with spiders,There are those [fringe element] individuals who believe most people are repulsed by spiders because the creatures came in on a meteorite from some distant part of the solar system. Yes, aliens. Indeed, plenty of spiders make it into written and filmed fantasies, usually of the extremely giant variety. And usually deadly, wrapping people up in giant cocoons for later meals. But then, there's always Charlotte's Web. Which still makes me cry just to think about it. Anyway, although spiders are the only creatures that totally creep me out [well, okay, and cockroaches], if I find one in my house, I still put on my big girl pants, capture it in a jar and turn it loose outside. Far, far, from my front door.

More sloths, Because Who Can Resist

Here are two more female sloths that I saw in Monteverde at a sanctuary. In the wild we probably wouldn't see two sloths cuddling close like these two. If you zoom in on the photo, you can see the sleepy eye of the front sloth, and right above her head is the even sleepier eye of the second one. They have been raised together at the refuge and so they're close in a way they wouldn't be in the wild. In the Power Rising series, Roebor, the dragonpanther, has flaming blue eyes unlike these. Sloths have two stomachs, I think the guide said, and digest their food veeeerrrry slowly, so that they come down from the trees to poop only once a week. Shannon has the opposite problem; her food is metabolizing so fast she fights a losing battle keeping enough food in her. In the wild we also would rarely see sloths trying to catch some shut eye with their heads so exposed. Instead they tuck them in, probably for protection. But at the sanctuary, they feel quite comfy stretching right out. Humans are generally lucky like that, too. The couch sounds good right about now.

Flying Creatures

Birds fly, dragons fly. Roebor, the Power Rising dragon, is obviously a little further removed on the evolutionary family tree from the common dinosaur ancestor than a bird like this beauty from Monteverde, Costa Rica, due to the fact that dragonpanthers are not feathered creatures like birds, but went on from feathers to evolve into fur. The dragonpanther must also have developed much stronger wings, since they don't have the hollowed out advantage of feathers. Or do they? Who is to say that each strand of fur is not also hollowed out? Not me, because I have never examined dragonpanther fur under a microscope. Anyway, this beauty is among the many many bird species that abound in the Cloud Forest and other ecosystems also found right there in Monteverde such as primary rain forest, secondary rainforest, and so on. I also saw the elusive Quetzel there, a bird that bird watchers come from all over the world to see. I am glad that with all the troubles the world knows, the beauty of a single bird can still cause such great joy for so many, including me.

Life Imitating Life

This extraordinary little orchid, which I saw when I was recently in Costa Rica's cloud forest is sometimes called the Peace Dove Orchid because if you look closely you can easily make out the dove head with its neck craned and beak pointing down, its wings to each side, and its tail fanned.The orchid is even white, like the peace dove. I find this much more entrancing than the Art Imitating Life that is the Power Rising Series. In those three books, a zoo volunteer works with a beluga whale with which she has formed a special bond. The volunteer is, for a while, an attorney who doesn't love being an attorney. This is the art. In real life, I was an attorney, who, at the time, volunteered at a zoo with three beluga whales and formed a special relationship with one of them. That was the way in which my art imitated life. It was my love for that beluga, Mauyak, that propelled me into writing the Power Rising series. My attempt at imitating life pales, it seems to me, compared to this beautiful orchid. Still, this art of creating novels attempting to imitate life in some way is what writers do. It's a worthy effort, even if it pales beside something as exquisite as this flower.

Strategies for Survival

I missed my chat with you last week--my apologies. I was up in Costa Rica's Cloud Forest being entranced by what I saw. This intriguing diaphanous butterfly was one such thing. None of the creatures in the Power Rising series are very well camouflaged, which leads to plenty of captures and evasions and injuries. This little butterfly has developed a clever camouflage--a predator looking its way sees mostly just the leaf there, and moves on. Good thing too, for a butterfly only lives for a day--it emerges from a chrysalis where its caterpillar had dissolved into a gelatinous goo and miraculously re-forms into a creature like this one, which must, if it is female, mate and find the one kind of leaf that her caterpillars will be able to eat when they hatch. She lays her eggs on that special leaf, flits around, and then she is done. Seems quite unfair to me.The protagonist of the Power Rising series often thought she was only going to last a day, because she found herself in such terrible straits. But she fights to live, a choice this little butterfly doesn't have. Maybe that's the strategy for survival humans have developed instead of camouflage--an indomitable will to find a way through, and a powerful love of life.

Look to the Green

A friend of mine interned for a Japanese executive once who told her to "look to the green" when she was stressed. He was alluding, of course, to the green in nature, as in this photo of a huge plant in my front yard which reaches higher than my house. I can most joyfully look to the green here in Costa Rica where I live now. Nature, especially this lush rich green, is a great stress reducer. The protagonist of the Power Rising series, a denizen of California, didn't really have this lush option to de-stress. Now that I think of it, she was often stressed. ???? This plant, incidentally, is not a Bird of Paradise, for which many mistake it. A botanist was at pains to explain to me that, unlike the Bird of Paradise, this plant unfurls first one half a leaf and then, later the other half. The result of this uneven growth is that the base of one half of the leaf is an inch or so further up the stem than the other half of the same leaf. A good reminder: a person can be so confident they knows something--or someone--and be very wrong. A person might never correct this mistake unless they study what they think they already know very carefully.

Stuffing her Face

This juvenile orangutan is stuffing her sweet little face at a feeding station in Borneo. You can see her puffed out cheek. She was apparently hungry! In this regard she is not unlike Shannon Kendricks, the protagonist of the Power Rising Series, who, due to extraterrestrial circumstances beyond her control, suddenly finds herself with a massive appetite--all the time. Why did I create a heroine who can eat all the chocolate doughnuts she wants along with her lasagna, cheesy broccoli, bananas and apple pie [the whole thing]? Because I wish I could! I hope readers enjoy living vicariously through her frequent, calorie-laden meals with the gusto I did when I was writing her dream eats. The little orangutan is at a feeding station because her mother started out as an orphan and isn't yet proficient at gathering her own food for her and the little one in the wild. The orphanage makes sure the orangutans always have food once they release them to live on their own. A kindness on behalf of an endangered species.

Dragons--East, West and Imaginary

Would Roebor, the dragonpanther of the Power Rising series look like this? Uh no. This statue, which I saw outside Jakarta, Indonesia, is a depiction of "dragon" as it exists in the Far East, a more snake-like, wide-faced creature than the scaled, lizard-ish dragons of the European variety. And certainly nothing like the cat-featured, fur-covered creature that is Roebor. Eastern dragons were often very human, if not very nice, in their interactions with humans. This, at least, the eastern dragons have in common with Roebor, whose ancestors developed language and personalities not so different from those of humans--unlike the dragons of Game of Thrones, which were terrifying precisely because they were so unfamiliar and unknowable, so very NOT human. If you worshipped eastern dragons appropriately and didn't cross them they could bring great fortune--and if you didn't, they could bring great misfortune. In this they were like ancient gods, conjured by people struggling to explain and control the elements around them--the weather, the crops, sickness and death. Roebor is not worshipped--certainly not by protagonist Shannon!--because he is not a creature of mythology but rather simply a different species on a planet far, far away. In this respect he is a very modern idea of a dragon. And lovable, I hope, unlike this guy on the right.

Wild Creatures

Shannon, the protagonist in the Power Rising series encounters many exotic creatures--not to mention a confused shark--in her quests, some with pretty disastrous consequences for her. On our own lovely planet, we have plenty of exotic creatures of our own. Here is a white-faced capuchin monkey I photographed, of which there are plenty in Costa Rica where I live. This one appears to be giving her little baby--a very young one--a bath. She lives in Manuel Antonio National Park, which I visited last week, but they also scamper about on my roof with some frequency. I understand they are very bright little guys as well as little thieves and scamps. We have all seen them as petite captives on television and in the movies. That, of course, is not where they belong, no matter how cute, or pet-like, or human-like they might seem. Seeing them in their natural habitat--that's the ticket. Unlike some of their fellow monkey species, the white-faced capuchins of Manuel Antonio, don't shy away from interacting with humans--usually to steal something or take food. But we pass human bacteria to them with our food, so if you have the tempting opportunity sometime to feed a monkey--don't: you might be killing it. Let's celebrate that beautiful baby instead.

Rides and Oceans

This image is of a horseback ride I recently took on the misty Playa Hermosa's beautiful beach just up the road from Uvita, where I live. Shannon, the protagonist of the Power Rising series, hasn't gone horse riding, although she has experienced an unexpected ride on the back of a beluga whale, and several much less welcome rides in the clawed clutches of pantherdragons. She doesn't ride her friend Roebor, precisely because he is her friend, although she did receive some assistance by holding on to the fur of his side as they passed through the vast expanse of atomic nothingness one time. Horses are interesting creatures--so large, so beautiful, and often so gentle. They could shake us off and trample the very life out of us if they wished to, and yet they don't. I wonder why. Has it been beaten out of them? Do they not mind us so much? Are they fond of our silly little race? Some of each? The horses we rode didn't wear bits, so at least their mouths were more comfortable. And when we got down to the beach, some of them just couldn't hold back: they raced like the very wind down the sand at the edge of the water. It was beautiful to see. For those moments they were truly free.

An Ocean Away

The dark waters of the ocean off Alaska, where book two of the series Power Rising begins, are a far cry from the turquoise waters off Costa Rica where I am now. When Shannon is suddenly plunged into the frigid waters of the north, she nearly dies. The waters here are warm. But one thing the two seas have in common is the ever-present power--and therefore danger--of the waters. The waters here look much more benign. But they sometimes are not. I learned this during my surf lessons a couple weeks ago, and I was merely in the white water waves, not farther out on the green waves where more experienced surfers go. A friend of mine here cut herself nearly to the bone of her thigh when she took a tumble while surfing, and her friend, only yesterday, took a surf board fin to the face. And these accidents happened on fairly friendly waves. These events make me think of the vastness of the ocean and the wonders--good and bad--within it. And this in turn makes me think of the moment in book one of the series that Shannon realized what a small speck in a vast universe she was. This perspective is helpful on a bad day, no?

Horse Encounters in Costa Rica

While I haven't caught a ride on a dragonpanther since my arrival in Costa Rica, I did take a horseback ride through a ranch, into the jungle, and out onto the ocean beach, which was great fun. When we returned to the starting point, while I waited for my taxi to take me home, I hung out with the horse I had ridden, and to my surprise, he began to vigorously lick my hand. And I don't mean a slurp or two, but continual licking all over my fingers right on up to my wrist. He was after salt, I suppose. I have been licked by many things, but never a horse. More recently, as I turned from my street onto the road up to town, I encountered a very pregnant horse strolling up the street. She walked with me in companionable silence until she spotted some grass by the side of the road that was too good to pass up. Saw her the next day but then didn't see her for two days. The day after, she was out on the road again chewing grass, with a brand new little foal at her side. The foal looked for all the world like an Appaloosa although I haven't seen any of those down here. Aren't baby animals the best?

The Isolation: It's Wearing On Us, Isn't It

I have talked before about the passage in this book where Shannon is left alone for a time floating in the emptiness of an atom that for her has become a huge space in which she travels long distances. Like Shannon, we've been left alone and isolated during the shut down. I imagine many of you feel as Shannon must have in this passage. Even though we know everyone is out there somewhere, our friends, our acquaintances, our clients, our coworkers, store clerks, all of them--they might as well be gone because we can't see, feel, touch, know them right now. I am sorry if this isolation is wearing on you. It would be good to recognize that some damage is being done here. Damage that you will need to be aware of and attend to when we have our people back again. It looks as though slowly, slowly, we may be coming out of our isolation, at least for now. Let's hope so. Let's go slowly, and celebrate each person, each place we get back.

The Lethargy of Isolation

I continue to worry about people out there stuck at home, many worried about putting food on the table, keeping the roof over their heads. In this excerpt, Shannon Kendricks has been through the wringer [you know the feeling, am I right?] and the experience has left her drained and hollow. Shannon doesn't see it, but we know these are symptoms of severe depression. I expect many people all over the world are experiencing their own brand of depression about now. And because of shut downs, quarantines, social distancing, businesses closing, some people may be feeling very helpless in the face of that depression; their usual remedies aren't available. Shannon is offered the chance at an adventure, a solution most of us can't swing. I will suggest this: determine to hold on, just hold on, hang in there, hold, hold, hold. Treat yourself well. Binge tv is okay. Sleeping in is okay. Blabbing on the phone with a friend for an entire hour is okay. Sitting in your back yard doing nothing at all but looking at the clouds in the sky is okay. When the kids go to bed, a long bubblebath with a candle and a book is okay. Every day, think what little treat you might give yourself. Then give it. And hold on.

Staying at Home

In this excerpt, Shannon has ingested a deadly virus. Help has been deployed, but she must wait alone in a vast empty place. If you've been exposed to or tested for coronavirus, I imagine the waiting period must feel something like Shannon's: terrible, lonely and helpless. For those of us who are shut in, the isolation may feel much like Shannon's as well. I laugh at myself in this regard, because I am a hermit by nature; some days I really have to work at it to set up dates to see my friends or to plan grocery shop runs. I often go days and days with no human contact. Well then, you may think, staying shut in must be a piece of cake for me. Oddly, not so. I have been feeling more and more stir crazy. And yet, I am conducting my days pretty much as I did before. I have plenty to do. So why these crazy feelings of being cooped up? Psychological, of course. When I knew I could go out, I didn't need to; now that I can't go out, I want to. Ah, the perversity of human nature. Perhaps my conundrum will help inform your reaction to your own stir craziness.

Working the Problem

In this excerpt from Power Multiplied, Shannon has suffered serious trauma and regains consciousness. She fights her confusion to try to figure out her situation. She tries hard to work the problem. I am sure that in the current crisis each of you has problems overflowing. Sometimes, in our panic or our anxiety or our depressed moods, we stare at our problems, assign blame for our problems, get upset at our problems, but we forget to work our problems. Working problems can be very efficacious because if we work them hard enough, we forget the panic, the anxiety, the depression: it is a matter of focus. Working a problem is different from taking a stab at a solution or trying the first thing off the top of the head. Working a problem means undertaking an organized effort. It means going with plans B, C or perhaps even D if plan A didn't work. It means concentrating. It means giving up our panic and anxiety for a moment in order to think things through. And that is a good thing.

A Cure for Worry

In this Power Multiplied excerpt [available in 8 days], Shannon juggles two worries--a premonition of disaster and a missing whale. In her anxious calls to the Observation Deck, she has managed to transfer one of her worries to a friend. This is a hazard of our worrying; it's sometimes contagious. Even my cat and dog know something's up when I am over-anxious in my worrying. For me, the cure to excessive worry is two-fold: if I can't do anything about the object of my worry, I simply wait and see. If I can do something, I get off my duff and go into action and I allow the action to satisfy my worrying. Here in Washington, we have had the lion's share of Covid-19 deaths. So my larder is stocked , my hands are frequently washed, and because it is my good fortune to be able to stay home for much of these next weeks, I shall do so. And I allow myself to feel much better now that I have done and am doing these things. If you are an excessive worrier, don't forget this last step: Permission to let go of the angst while keeping vigilant. It works: even my dog and cat are resting comfortably on various parts of my anatomy today.

Shannon's virus and Coronavirus

Long before Covid-19 hit our radar screens, I placed my character Shannon in Power Multiplied [lauching on the 20th] into virus trouble of her own. Her virus runs more along the lines of ebola than Covid-19's attack on the respiratory system, but in writing the scene, I spent some time pondering how I would feel if I learned I had contracted a deadly virus, just as I wonder now how I would feel if I contracted Covid-19. I live in Washington State, where there have been 11 deaths so far, primarily because the virus swept through a nursing home. Can you imagine how the other residents of the Home must feel? Terrified? Resigned? Stubbornly optimistic that they will not become one of the fallen? I am in the vulnerable demographic; and I am susceptible to respiratory problems. This means to me that if the virus comes to my county or my city, I will be closing my front door and hunkering down with my chocolates and diet Dr. Pepper until the danger is passed. No panic, no fear, but calm deliberation. And if I come down with the thing? I hope I can fight the illness with grace and determination. And live.

Borrowing from Opera

In this excerpt, I was playing with the notion of the confusion of a four-way conversation, complicated by the fact that two of the participants, salesti and Roebor, can't be heard by one of the others, Luke. Shannon is caught in the middle, trying to deal with them all. I decided to try this confusing cross-talk after listening to several operas and opera-rooted musical such as The Phantom of the Opera, where cross-singing is a common device. I likely wouldn't have thought of the idea on my own, but I had quite a bit of fun playing with the notion in several conversations in the book. It's fun to experiment in my writing. It's fun to pick up ideas from completely different media. I hope I never run out of fun ideas to try in my writing!

When Life Intercedes

This quote from POWER MULTIPLIED appears in paragraph five of chapter one. Yet I wrote it five years after paragraph one of the same chapter. Why? As I began the sequel to POWER OF THREE, life sucker-punched me and gave me a few swift kicks, as I endured a series of bad, sad happenings. My joy in writing faded along with my joy in general. I had loved writing from an age I could count on my fingers but after college, with a child to raise, I was sidetracked into journalism and then law. I eventually found my way back to writing. I wanted to do that again, but how? Thinking I needed to hit the reset button, I adopted a new puppy, visited my sister for a week and visited a butterfly garden. Moved! Eventually I attended a few online marketing classes, knowing that if I ever wrote again, I'd have to gird my loins for the unfun part of the writing biz. Curiously, these classes provided the boost I needed. Paragraph five of chapter one was born. Perhaps the tedium of learning marketing drove me screaming into the arms of creative endeavor. By whatever magic, the book is now available for pre order and I am back!

My Heart Breaks

This excerpt from POWER MULTIPLIED, available for pre-order now, is from a passage where the heroine is caught in a California wildfire. California has had its share of wildfires in recent years, and now Australia is suffering mightily from terrible conflagrations. Rare animal species may actually go extinct from the blazes themselves, or the starvation and death from thirst that follows. Just today I read about three Americans who died when their air tanker, designed for watering the fires, crashed. I visited Australia some time ago. The people I met were gregarious and friendly and kind. I visited refuges where I could study species of animals that evolved nowhere else than on Australia's isolated continent. My first scuba diving experience ever was in the Great Barrier Reef. It is sometimes hard to feel what strangers far away are feeling in times of disaster. I have never been trapped in fire, but I have, as part of my work at one time, donned a fire helmet and turnouts and experienced a true fire from inside a burning room. I can connect the dots--to the residents of California and Australia, to the poor panicked animals trying to flee the flames. I can see the houses burning, I can smell the smoke. And my heart breaks. Help if you can.

Do Mice Scream? Yes, yes they do.

In the accompanying excerpt, Shannon touches a mouse, and it screams. I wrote this scene because I have actually heard a mouse scream. It happened one evening when I was on the floor of my living room keeping my mastiff and my smaller eighty pound dog company. My two cats and two of my daughter's three were hanging out with us close by, also on the floor. All of a sudden I saw a tiny mouse inching its way along the wall. "Oh, honey," I thought, "did you pick the wrong place to come exploring!" Being tender hearted about living creatures, I quietly got up and found a shoe box in which to trap the mouse to set it free outside. As the shoe box came down on the mouse, it screamed--a woman-like high pitched scream. Shocked the socks off me. I proceeded out the door with the little thing, walked over to some bushes, and tipped the box so the mouse could run out. It scuttled a foot or so toward the thick brush, then turned and looked at me. Seriously. Was it mistrust? Gratitude? Curiosity? Wish I knew. The sound itself is no longer strong in my memory but my own utter amazement I remember perfectly. I have never forgotten that little mouse.

Tying up loose ends

POWER MULTIPLIED now sits in the hands of my editor and the cover design is coming together under the talented hand of the artist. My goal is to have it in your hands early next year. It drives me mad when an author leaves loose ends dangling. How awful would it be, for example, to leave the teaser in the excerpt here unexplained? Shannon's question is not answered in book two, but I promise, it shall be answered in book three. My goal is to have book three out a year after book two. Sure, you say; then why does a gap of some years exist between book one and upcoming book two? Life intervened. Life intervening is one way that our goals become sidetracked. During this time I was hurting, physically and mentally. Shannon once said she felt like a tomato at the bottom of a barrel of rocks. I felt pretty much like that. So I think the delay was inevitable. But the important thing was that the goal kept floating around in my mind. I didn't turn loose of it. The old adage applies: Better late than never -- to achieve one's goals. So, whatever your delayed aspirations -- when you are ready: back at it!

That darn technology

The protagonist in both POWER OF THREE and POWER MULTIPLIED, Shannon Kendricks, is badly injured at the beginning of Book Two, and requires casts for her arm and ankle. My plan for a little ongoing dark humor was for Shannon to require multiple re-casts when she gets dunked in the ocean for various dire reasons--until I learned that most casts today are fiberglass and don't break apart when they get wet. Rats! What to do, what to do. I think I have a solution. But that will have to remain a secret for now.

The Scream of Fear; the Fear of Not Screaming

This excerpt from the sequel to POWER OF THREE speaks to the capability of all of us to give voice to our primal fears. Like many people, I always wondered if I would be able to scream if, for example, I was attacked in a parking lot and desperately needed help. I am not a screamer; I don't scream on roller coasters, in scary movies [although I am known to jump about a foot out of my chair on occasion at the sudden fright moment of a good movie], not jumping 20 feet into a lake. But when I went bungee jumping, hurtling head first with great speed toward the hard, hard earth -- yes, then without any volition on my part whatsoever, out came that bellow of fear. I was quite surprised at myself. So. I know whereof I write. What about you? Afraid you might not scream when needed? Ever surprised yourself with a good holler?

The weather as harbinger of things to come

As readers, I expect you are aware that authors often make use of the weather to enrich the story. Rain, for example, is used often to signal such things as "trouble brewing" or the opposite, "trouble is going to be washed away." The dark, lightning, thunder type rain might forecast the first, while a light refreshing spring rain might portend the second. In my current work in progress, it is summer in Alaska and I have portrayed it as cool but not cold until now. But in this scene, a seaplane brings Shannon Kendricks, the protagonist, back to Alaska and the weather has changed. [To understand this passage, the reader should know that throughout the book Shannon has hated the infirmary and hospitals with a passion, even though she's forced to spend an unfortunate amount of time in them.] My choice of weather is the drop in temperature. It is now no longer cool but downright freezing. Shannon feels the effects of this weather immediately. I have placed her in these conditions as a hint to the reader that something is coming that will affect her deeply, quickly, and negatively, just like this cold.

Creating A Hero

You are reading the opening lines to my book, tentatively titled POWER MULTIPLIED, which is the sequel to the first book in this series, POWER OF THREE. When I first created Shannon Kendricks, the protagonist of the series, she was much too much like me, which is to say, dull. Consequently, I decided to give her some skills and traits I wish I had. For example, Shannon has a telepathic bond with a beluga whale. I mean, who wouldn't want that? Right? And another thing -- because of her encounter with aliens and her ability now to harbor other creatures' consciousness in her mind, Shannon enjoys [and, to be fair, suffers from] a greatly increased metabolism. Which means she can eat. Boy can she eat. And she never gains weight. I could volunteer for that duty. What I hope to create in Shannon is a hero whom a reader can, even for a few short hours, inhabit and can really enjoy being. Shannon is just beginning to learn the extent of her talents. What else might she find out about herself?

Power of Three

Science Fiction & Fantasy

In this fast-paced science fiction thrill ride, gravely ill Shannon Kendricks, attorney and seaquarium volunteer, must return the alien child Essi to her world, while trying to free a captive beluga Juneau, and combat a pair of ancient aliens set on destroying Earth. Her friends can help, but not everyone will survive. On the upside, with the arrival of the alien child, Shannon’s physical appearance changes dramatically and she now possesses useful, near-magical traits to help her with barriers that appear insurmountable. Will Shannon succeed in her quests before it is too late, or run out of time? Find the answers in POWER OF THREE, a thrilling novel from Cathy Parker.

Book Bubbles from Power of Three

Orcas Trending

I am rerunning the photo of the orca that I took in Canada because I wanted to talk briefly about the orcas that are ramming boats in the Mediterranean, even sinking at least one. One theory for this behavior is that they aren't be aggressive but rather one dominant female orca started the behavior and it's become a social trend. Although incurring boat damage is no laughing matter, I do find the idea of orcas adopting trends much like humans do is pretty delightful. It is said that one orca actually started a trend where the orcas would wear a salmon on their heads. Much less destructive and quite a hoot. After a time the trend got old and the orcas stopped doing it. We can hope the boat ramming trend will also get old enough for the behavior to stop. I never saw the belugas at the zoo adopting a trend, but I've including this excerpt because the belugas, which spit in the wild apparently, started spitting at trainers and volunteers for a laugh, although in the winter, a freezing cold water drench was not so funny to the recipient. Mayak, the model for my beluga in the Power Rising trilogy, used to spit water when she just wanted you to go away. On an unrelated note, the pitch for my new novel went very well. The editor wants to see the manuscript when I am finished editing, So. Fingers still crossed.

Past and Present, Whales and Pitches

More waxing nostalgic with the photo here. This is me, many moons ago, in my ill-fitting wetsuit, swimming in the icy cold water piped into the pool from Puget Sound and feeding Inuk, the big male beluga at the zoo at that time. What fun. (Although my lips often turned blue.) On the work front, I have taken a small break from the editing, editing, editing process of my new novel because, first, I want to let the novel simmer a bit before I return to it, and, second, I have a pitch session coming up next Saturday to a representative for a small traditional publisher. This will be my first pitch ever, so wish me luck! I am practicing all this week. A pitch is where a writer introduces herself to an agent or publishing house representative and tells the story of her book, hoping to stir up enough interest for the listener to ask to see either the first ten pages of the manuscript or even the entire thing. This pitch does have that potential although it's also attached to a writers' conference, so, if there is time, I may get a critique. My secret hope, of course, is that there will be no time for a critique because she is so interested in the book, she has more questions for me about the story. Stay tuned.

Ah, the Weather

This week I've selected a weather sort of excerpt from the first book of my Power Rising trilogy, Power of Three, because I want to send my sympathy to all the people out there suffering from our strange weather patterns this year. Foremost on my mind are those of you who are sweltering in the heat. I'm so sorry. I hope you can find some relief. Others of you probably aren't even able to read this, having lived through a terrible tornado or wind storm and incurred damage to your home. Some of you are displaced. Some of you have lost everything. Flooding and rain, rain, rain, have tormented others And then there are the wild fires and the smoke. I know all of this is horrible for you. I hope you can hold on and make it out the other side of the weather turmoil. Good luck to you. My warmest wishes for a speedy recovery go out to you.

A Fun Summer Read

With these opening words to The Power of Three, Shannon Kendricks reveals her character--a woman not ready for relationships, her unruly hair symbolizing the unruly nature of her emotions, as she enters the fish house of the SeaQuarium where she volunteers, working with her beloved beluga whale Juneau. Unbeknownst to her, she is about to embark on a strange and danger-filled journey where she will learn the value of friendship and team work. Power of Three is the first of the trilogy Power Rising, and a fun summer read about an alien child who longs to go home, a captive beluga who longs for freedom, and an alien threat to earth itself. Shannon vows to help the child and the beluga, and fight the aliens but her life is endangered. Pick it up; you won't be sorry. And don't forget--these are the last days you will be able to go to my website for the free 29,000 word novella Dormant Power.

The bull and the lion pack

As quoted in the excerpt, this is the beginning of the Power Rising trilogy. Shannon Kendricks, the protagonist, thought she had trouble then, but she had no idea what troubles she would encounter in her quest to free her beloved beluga whale and save her friends, along with, incidentally, several worlds, including earth. My goal was to create a strong, brave protagonist who would step up when she was needed. Thinking about her, I can't help but think about the Ukrainian people who have stepped up to fight fiercely for their homeland, despite overwhelming odds. Each morning I anxiously open my news app, expecting a bold and capitalized caption saying that the Ukraine has fallen. .For me, the tragic situation is like a brave bull fighting off a pack of hunting lions, knowing he will surely go down, but fighting to the bitter end. The only hope is that negotiations will prevail, although the chances look bleak right now. I wish for peace with all my heart.

Working Past the Troubles

In this excerpt from Power of Three, Shannon has troubles brewing. How will she find her way out? That's also what I'm wondering. I too have troubles. Last Tuesday we had a full-throated downpour here in Uvita, Costa Rica. In fact, not only was it pelting on my patio where I watched the rain's straight and emphatic path to the earth but I discovered I had a similar rain shower happening inside my bathroom. Uh oh. Fortunately the room appears to slope ever so gently toward the walk-in shower drain and I could mop in that general direction to clear the flood. Note to self. Must get that fixed. My car also arrived--but I can't drive it yet because it failed to pass some inspection or other that I need to get plates for it. Something to do with emissions, although it was thoroughly checked by my car shop just before I left Washington. Hmm. So I must get it fixed and drive up to San Isidro, an hour away, for another inspection....Never mind. I found the cutest little salamander in my pool the other day with a beautiful gold stripe down its black back and a bright red tail. I'm good.

For the Love of Nature

In this excerpt Shannon takes in the beauty of a beluga whale, for perhaps the hundredth time. And still she is delighted. It will come as no shock to you that I wrote this passage from the heart, a loving tribute to the time I spent with the whale that served as a model for Juneau. Through freezing winters and wind and rain, I never tired of spending time with her. Similarly I had wanted to go to Rwanda forever to see the mountain gorillas in the highlands. One day, I just said, heck, I'm going. I had to remortgage my house to do it, but I loved every second we spent on the mountain. The remortgage turned out to be disastrous, by the way, and someone asked me how I could remortgage just to go see mountain gorillas. I was stumped. Because in my head the question was 'who WOULDN'T go to see the mountain gorillas in their natural habitat if there were any way they could get there?' Then there were the orangutans in Borneo--I saved for ten years for that trip. Now I am in Costa Rica in a place where the humpbacks gather to give birth. . . .

Writing Every Day

Here, Shannon looks at her desk piled with work and no longer feels the urge to dig in. No longer loves the daily grind. It is said, frequently and loudly, that authors must write every day, whether or not they are 'feeling' it On bad days, this writing might last only five minutes, but IT MUST HAPPEN, say the pundits. Only once, at a conference, talking with a small group after his lecture, did I hear a writer and college professor admit that people couldn't write every day, it was just not possible. When I took up the Power Rising Trilogy, I had no difficulty writing every day. I LOVED writing every day. When I was 'in the zone,' I would look up with surprise to find that six hours had passed without my awareness. This love carried me through the first book and 10,000 words into the second--when life, with its tragedies and its setbacks, knocked me off my feet. Suddenly I didn't write. Not for three years! But I found my way back and now I write every day. Well, almost every day. I have a yoga and body surfing camp coming up. . .


Many authors are choosing this week to write about their opening pages. Beginnings are hard. Most beginnings need changing after the rest of the book is written. I hated my first opening to the first book in my series Power Rising. And my second try at it. And my third. I'm not in love with this one either. But I tried a technique called Bookends, where the beginning in some way mirrors the ending. I figured since I hadn't found another way forward, this method would be fun to try. By the end of this book, Shannon is turning around again to face another suitor in much different circumstances. This method was satisfying to me, whether or not it produced the bestest of the best. Meanwhile, in Costa Rica, the stove kind of works now, if you jiggle the knobs just so. But the mechanic showed me the burned out insides of the dryer. Disaster time. So, I think I will go off to Manuel Antonio National Park next week. There's a logic to that, right?

This business of mealtimes

In this excerpt from Power of Three, Shannon is beginning to experience what will become immense cravings for food, caused by her brush with alien beings. I have immense cravings for food too, and I haven't even been brushed by aliens. This is problematic for me right now, because my stove and oven aren't working. That would be okay if my microwave were here, or my instapot. These items, however, are with the rest of my household goods aboard a ship somewhere on the high seas. So I am eating cold. This too would be all right were it not for the fact that my refrigerator is freezing my leafy greens and fruit. Still, I have managed to ingest a splendid amount of extremely fresh pineapple, papaya and so forth. For these reasons, I confess I've been eating out more than usual. Today my taxi driver and I stopped on our way back from San Isidro [where I was fingerprinted for my residency application] and ate lunch on the beach. Can't beat that.

Thinking it Through

In this excerpt, Shannon's usually sharp mind fails her when she faces a serious problem. But she has back up: Luke will help her think things through. I am in that same boat tonight. I have just finished doing everything I could think of to be absolutely ready for tomorrow's send off to a ship container of all my remaining worldly goods. Tonight I am trying to think through everything that should have been done to see if these items will get out the door tomorrow morning safe and sound and complete. I am beset with worries. Did I take too much? Did I not take enough? Should I have insisted on getting loaders who could arrive precisely at 8 a.m. when the container is supposed to arrive? Both my loaders and my flatbed for getting the car onboard sent me last minute texts saying they would be arriving closer to 9 and 9:30, cutting my two hour window for the container very short. Did I pack everything well enough? Should I repack anything? Is my inventory value amount for customs good enough? Did I...Aargh. Well. I've done my best. Tomorrow will be what tomorrow will be. I'll do my best again tomorrow. And to do that I must sign off here and hit the hay. Wish me luck.

Flexibility in the Face of the Unforeseen

In this excerpt from the first book in the Power Rising Trilogy, Shannon crosses over from the world she has always known to the alien and unfamiliar. She does pretty well with it; she never would have survived all three books and everything I threw at her if she were not flexible and resourceful. I am about to throw myself into the alien and unfamiliar when I take off for Cost Rica at the beginning of February. I hope I can be as resourceful and flexible as Shannon. My flexibility is being challenged already. I was supposed to see my worldly goods off on a ship container on Friday the 15th. Packed all my boxes and sealed them up tight, secured my loaders and a tow truck to get the car onboard--only to get word there would be a week delay. Hmm. Okay, I rescheduled the loaders and tow truck. But I am not about to untape all those boxes for a week's worth of living. The cat and I will make do without. We can be flexible.

Our Place in the Scheme of Existence

With the current need to shelter away from the ones we love, our world often narrows down to a tiny universe. In this excerpt Shannon feels the fact that one person is a tiny cog in a big universe. Has this ever happened to you? I remember the first time it happened to me. I was a fourth grader and we were reading about the Roman empire. It suddenly struck me that those Romans thought and felt, laughed and cried, and yet I didn't see it: it was a real time that would never be real for me. I understood viscerally; and it was a strange, strange feeling. I remember that feeling still, and it makes me think of individuals I will never actually be aware of, living lives on the opposite side of the globe, who think and feel, laugh and cry just the same as I do. I know this intellectually, of course, but I don't know it in my gut except in those moments when I really imagine their actual existence. I like feeling this reality that exists outside of my awareness because it reminds me that the sadness or loneliness or pain I feel today is really rather small potatoes. I can deal with small potatoes.

Shannon's Thanksgiving

The excerpt here is the reader's first introduction to Shannon Kendricks, a zoo volunteer, an attorney, an independent and yet vulnerable woman. As I settle in for Thanksgiving this year, I find myself wondering what Shannon would have been thankful for as this series, Power Rising, begins. I envision a rather cold and thin Thanksgiving for our protagonist. She would, first and foremost, have been thankful for the beluga whale Juneau, and the volunteer work that allowed her to spend hours with the whale; for her good friend Becky; for the not-so-satisfying job that placed a roof over her head and food on her table; for her health--and that would have been about it. By the end of the trilogy, she will have much, much more to be thankful for and I envision that the Thanksgiving she experienced after Power Stabilized closes will be a good one indeed, punctuated by some sadness and loss, to be sure, but still much fuller and warmer than the one I have pictured here. Pick up a copy when Power Stabilized comes out next month and see if you agree.

What Keeps You Going?

In this excerpt from the first chapter of the first book in the Power Rising series, Shannon, the protagonist, takes heart, takes energy, takes satisfaction from her friend, the beluga whale Juneau. She is, in a word, inspired by the whale. Different kinds of inspiration feed us. When I need serenity, to calm and center myself, I look for water--the ocean, a lake, a pond. If water isn't available, I look to the green, to plants, to trees, to forests. When I need energy, I look to the wind, to the rushing, tumbling river, to a snowy walk, to recollections of wildlife adventures. When I need to renew my sense of wonder, I look to the animal world, to nature. And when I need to renew my desire to create, I look all around me at the wonderful creations of others, to art, to literature, to movies, to music. It's quite true that inspiration is all around us. The trick is to open our eyes and our souls.

I'm So VeryTired

This extraordinarily short quotation from Power of Three mirrors my own state of affairs tonight perfectly. I was nodding off at 10 a.m., and at 2 p.m. By the time the clock struck 8, I was ready to retire for the night. But I couldn't because I want to write this bubble and I want to complete my Spanish lesson and I still have my blurb to write for the back cover of my new book, Power Stabilized, and I'm doing a reading from the book on Sunday [via zoom of course] that I have to practice. And why am I so very tired on this particular night? Because I stayed up well into the early morning hours finally, finally finishing re-editing and re-editing the awful mess my last editor made of my manuscript. Once I climbed into bed, I couldn't shut my brain down. Before I knew it, it was time to struggle out of bed to go get my vaccinations for my trip to Costa Rica. So now I very tired. I have a feeling it's gonna be a laugher of a Spanish lesson.

A low day

I picked this excerpt today simply to cheer myself up, as I have been having a low day. Thinking of the beluga I used to help care for always cheers me up. Low days. We all have them, perhaps more than ever because--pandemic, forest fires, winter temperatures, hurricanes. My day isn't bad compared to people suffering the worst of those. My day is low, though, because I am struggling through what I find to be the most terrible edit of my work I have ever experienced. The editor made such a mash of it, I am able to progress in my reworking of the manuscript only very, very slowly. A real nightmare. Add to that--I may be moving soon and I have encountered a major roadblock in taking my English Mastiff with me, my sweet Tulip. How can I leave her behind? I truly don't know. For these reasons, I almost didn't write this bubble. No heart for it. But in the end, I decided to let you know about my low day. I'm lucky it wasn't low like some people are experiencing low, but still. You know how it is. Some days just wear on a person's soul.

Whale Tales

I've had personal experiences with belugas and with humpback whales, as I have mentioned in past bubbles. I also have had an encounter with Kieko, a.k.a. Free Willy, an orca. I have another orca tale for you. Make of it what you will. I took my daughter to Sea World when she was about five as a special treat. I told her she could pick one thing from the gift shop and she picked a big stuffed toy orca. She carried the toy with us as we made the rounds, including the show at the orca enclosure. After the show, we walked down to see Nemu through the underwater glass. He swam right up to us and appeared to eye the toy orca very carefully. And as we walked up the side of the enclosure on our way out, he followed my daughter every step of the way. I think he recognized that stuffed animal in my daughter's arms and was puzzling out its mystery. Was it alive? Why did she have it? Was it supposed to be him? I don't know why else he would be attracted to her, why he followed her. I'll never know for sure, but the experience left me feeling an odd connection with him that I will never forget.

Gone Fishing

Thus begins the trilogy Power Rising, when Shannon spent all her time pursuing a heavy duty legal career and volunteering at the SeaQuarium. No time for vacations. I, on the other hand, have just returned from a splendid vacation fishing in the Rocky Mountains on the White River, a place my family has gone for three generations. Here is my LOL fish tale: I was fishing alone under a bridge, when I caught a whopper. This section of the stream was catch and release so I needed to remove the hook and let this big boy go. I soon realized, however, that I'd left my tweezers on the bank down river. What to do? Leave the thrashing fish in the net in the water and hope he didn't take the rod and reel down to the depths with him? Didn't dare. So I hunchbacked my way down the river bank, the netted fish in the water held by one hand, the rod in the other, giving the trout encouragement as I bumped him along, until at last I reached my fallen tweezers. Presto zippo the hook was out and the big fish was free. No one to witness either the whopper ☹️ or my struggle down the bank ????.

Elephant Dogs

I've returned to the first book in the trilogy Power Rising for this introduction to Shannon's loyal and brave mastiff. I also currently have a mastiff. She's smallish for a mastiff but still comes in at 170 pounds. So she is definitely my elephant dog. You may remember her from last week wherein my face became intimate with the pavement. I plan to take a trip soon and I will stay long enough to want to take her and my cat with me. The cat is a piece of cake. Roomy airline-approved kennel and we're good to go. My big girl, not so much. Who knew so many airlines didn't have cargo holds big enough to take her kennel? Who knew so many pet shippers would say, sorry, can't help you, or yes, for a package total of $12,000. Yeeeeouch. Not in my budget. Finally I found a shipper that discovered Lufthansa could take her. She has to go a longer route, but not for $12,000! Now, however, I am worried about her kennel. The airlines are very particular, it seems. Will this huge [expensive] kennel filling my living room be big enough? Turns out, maybe not....

1988 and 1949

Shannon Kendricks is 32 years old as the trilogy Power Rising begins. By the time it ends, she might feel about 102 because of everything she's been through. One of the good things that happened in her birth year was Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan was elected the first Islamic woman prime minister ever--Shannon would have liked that. One of the worst--Pan Am Flight 747 exploded due to a terrorist bomb, killing 259 souls. In my birth year, a lot was going on, but most of it was bad. The Soviets exploded their own atomic bomb. The communists gained power in China. Apartheid became official in South Africa. America's first mass murderer killed 13. Had I known, I might have crawled back into the womb. But Meryl Streep and Bruce Springsteen were born. And George Orwell wrote '1984.' I wonder if the happenings that year left their mark on me.

The joy of reading

In this excerpt from Power of Three, the first in the trilogy Power Rising, Shannon is facing what used to give her joy but now does not. As an attorney, I can tell you that spending your days as Shannon once did leaves you with little time or energy to read. Don't you love it when you have time to read? I have that right now for a number of reasons, one of which is that my county can't seem to get to Phase 2 of Washington State's reopening plan, where one can go to restaurants, hair stylists, dog groomers, all those places. ☹️. I am a night owl, so the fact I am about to lay on you isn't quite as bad as it sounds, but it's pretty bad. Last night I went to bed and intended to read for a half hour, but I got into the story and didn't want to give it up--and read right on through the night until 7 a.m. Oops. I managed to get 4 hours of sleep but needless to say I am drooping now. Still. How delicious to be able to power right on through dawn on a good book. ????

A funny cat moment

Here's to surviving. This excerpt introduces Narcissus, Shannon's little black cat with sapphire eyes. Thinking about Narci reminds me of a funny thing that happened with a cat I babysat for a year. Ramsey was a middle linebacker of a cat--just plain big and brawny. My driveway sloped down the side of my yard, the result of which was that my wrap around porch was higher than where I usually parked. Ramsey would jump down from the porch onto the hood of my car when I came home from work for a little loving. One summer evening, a lovely family of three were walking up the sidewalk with a sedate golden retriever at the same time as Ramsey thumped down to greet me. As they passed the driveway, Ramsey assumed a "not in my house" look and charged down the driveway. He then jumped [jumped!] the dog, wrapping two big paws around the dog's neck, and hung on as the dog reared up. When Ramsey had made his point, he stalked back up the driveway. The nice dog walkers stared at me. "He's very territorial" was all I could think of to say.

Swimming with the belugas

Here, Shannon is cleaning fish buckets at the end of a tiring day. When I volunteered as a zookeeper's aide in the marine mammal section--something that particular zoo no longer allows--those fish buckets with fish scales stuck tenaciously to them were the bane of my job. But most of the job brought me pure joy. One time, three of us were allowed in the pool with the three beluga whales to hand feed them during a "show." We dressed in ill fitting wetsuits off the biologist staff's rack and slid into the water with our buckets of fish. The staff put the belugas through their behaviors, "waving," arching out of the water simultaneously, and so forth. When the whales completed a behavior, they swam to us for their rewards, up close and personal! When the show finished, we stayed in the water to play. My favorite beluga swam up for rubs--the belugas have sensitive skin and they loved a good rub--I rubbed under her flippers, along her sides and fluke, around her nostrum, on her lips. Even her tongue! She liked nothing so much as a good tongue rub. The water temperature was 55 degrees, so my lips eventually turned blue and they made me get out. But what a way to spend a sunny afternoon!

Thinking You Might Die

In this excerpt Shannon is so weary and weak from the presence of aliens, she almost dies. These problems will continue in the sequel, Power Multiplied. There is a saying in the world of magic that no gift comes without a cost. Shannon accrues awesome talents but the source of those skills is killing her. I had occasion to lay still and think about being so powerless not long ago. I fell off my back porch when a rotten railing gave way and I landed on the collapsed wood, breaking a rib. It hurt, but I muddled on through the day and retired to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night with a pain in my torso so sharp I could not move. Couldn't roll, couldn't sit up. I thought then that I might die right there in the bed because the pain was too great to overcome. People would look for me, of course, eventually. But would I die of thirst or starvation first? Possibly. Very terrifying. I eventually shifted just enough to allow me to go back to sleep and in the morning it took everything I had, but I rolled to the edge of the bed and was able to reach my phone. Yay. I would live to write another chapter!

A Friend in Borneo

I spent some time in Power of Three and its soon-to-be-released sequel Power Multiplied developing the character of Juneau, based on a beluga I loved named Mauyak. I found a friend of a different species in Borneo--an adolescent orangutan in an orphanage deep in the jungle whom I knew for only half an hour, but whose bright personality shone through in moments. She wanted to play and came loping over to me in the ungainly, endearing side-to-side gait of the orangs and gave me a good push. She was only 3 or 4 years old and reached only to my waist--but strong? So much stronger than me she could have ripped me apart. But instead, she leaped into my arms and laughed. Push, leap, laugh. One push ended with me on my tush and that brought the biggest laugh so far--and right back into a hug she jumped. Oof. I was laughing too, and she seemed to delight in that as well. All too soon, my group was leaving the orphanage and I was pinned to the ground with this orang in my lap and no way could I move her aside. She didn't want to go anywhere. I'll never see her again, but I'll never forget her laugh.

The Big Picture

In this excerpt from Power of Three, Shannon finally catches on that she has suffered a friendly invasion by an alien child. Shannon's story opens as she cuts off a romantic relationship and feels exhausted after a hard day as a zookeeper's aide. [I know whereof I speak: like the time I broke my nose while shoveling musk ox droppings. . . but that's another story.] Shannon's concerns soon pale when she comprehends that she is only one person in a very large universe. I like to engage in this exercise when something negative happens to me. In the grandest scheme of things, even my worst experiences aren't that big. Knowing this, I find that I can handle the catastrophes a little better; perhaps because I share my woes over the vast nothingness of space and then I see my woes as tiny compared to--wait for it--the end of the world. Conversely, and perhaps paradoxically, when something good happens, I like to experience it deep in my very core, holding it tight, as if nothing in all of creation matters as much as that kernel of joy. Joy is mine to hold close and I needn't dispense it to the stars as I do my grief; I hold it close to my heart. 99 cents.


I've given you this excerpt before but I brought it back so I could tell you about something that happened when I was touring the Tarangire Wildlife Preserve in Tanzania. I happened to be placed in a great group of six strangers who became friends traveling in a big old Land Rover with the best guide ever. He had driven us down to a river to experience being in the midst of a large elephant herd. We came to a dead end--and face to face with a huge bull elephant and three females just as a poor solo male decided to challenge him. [these solo males, alas, are denied any females] So we had front row seats to a brief, loud, tusk-clashing pushing match, which the challenger lost. Then the big bull turned to us, ears flapping, trumpeting, all worked up, as if to say, "You want a piece of me too?" Our guide said, "Don't move, don't make a sound." My heart stopped a beat! That bad boy could have turned our vehicle over and squashed us flat. After several tense minutes, he calmed down and turned away, while we beat a hasty retreat. Sequel coming in March.

Ah, the Otters

In this excerpt from Power of Three, protagonist Shannon reports some of her volunteering duties to her supervisor Becky. As a volunteer zoo keeper's aide some time ago, I also fed the sea otters. The staff at the time let me hand feed them. They would come up to me one at a time and I would hand out their food bits or throw it near them in the water, heaping the rest of the pailful on the shore when they were occupied breaking oyster shells and so forth and I had to leave. They made the most delightful, quiet, little chittering noises when they accepted their food. One otter especially, Homer, seemed to get a kick out of taking my offerings from my hand--so much so that she, being the pickiest eater, often kept coming back for more even though she didn't want the food. After a staff change, I was no longer allowed to hand feed them--too dangerous they said. I missed hearing their tiny noises and the feel of their small paws touching my fingers. So in MY zoo, Shannon was allowed. Hah! 99 cents for this book to January 13.

In honor of Quiddity

In Power of Three, one prominent heroine is Independence, Indy for short, the mastiff referred to in this excerpt. I created Indy in honor of Quiddity, my own neapolitan mastiff. Quid was rescued from a puppy mill, a hapless mother, bred repeatedly, left to live in her own filth, skin disorders untreated. She was tasered to take her puppies from her. Due to the property laws at the time, a very real chance existed that her abusive owners would get their adult dogs back. They sued for that right. I had a plan for Quid to have "accidentally" run away and become lost if they won. And if some time later she turned up and I "forgot" to tell those brutal people, well, too bad. They lost. She always had terrible skin problems and deformed feet, among many other medical issues, but she also had plenty of sunshine and hugs. She was sweet and gentle and loving and lived to the ripe old age of ten -- a triumph given her condition. She taught me how to really see an animal. I understand my animal companions better because of her and I understand myself better because I had the privilege of caring for her. I miss her still. 99 cents until Jan. 13.

Writing is My Joy

In this excerpt Shannon tries to convince herself that her heart is still in her work as an attorney, when in fact it most decidedly isn't. Who needs joy? she asks herself. This might have been me talking. It took me a very long time to find my joy--in the writing of this book and its sequel, and I have more splendid moments to come in the new year as I create the third novel in the trilogy. When I am lost in the story I am bringing to life, hours and hours fly by and I haven't moved from my chair, and don't want to. These are some of the best days of my life. Alas, being an author means I also must be a marketer and I can say without hesitation that marketing brings me no joy at all -- except to tell you that Power of Three is on sale for 99 cents through January 13. I hope it brings you a few hours of pleasure.

The feeling of the holidays

Partaking in all of the season's lovely traditions sends forth deep and comforting emotions, mysteriously, from a hidden place deep in the chest. The character Shannon, as you can tell from this excerpt, isn't one for emotional closeness. Something in her past has closed her up. I don't imagine she engages in many happy holiday traditions at this point in her life. My own very best Christmas tradition centered around the flour-covered, kitchen-disaster, full on Christmas cookie bake. Cookies not just for us, but for brimming-over plates for a dozen friends, Yes, a heck of a lot of cookies. And not just one or two kinds, but seven or eight! Half the fun was taking them around to eager recipients--eager because the cookies were good! We knew this because we tasted amply of them first, just to be sure. The primary burden was on my mom in my childhood, and then it was all mine. I still remember sitting in the dark, the room lit only by the lights of the Christmas tree, feeling tired down to the tips of my toes, not getting up any time soon tired, after the last of the plates were delivered and my little girl was in bed. It was great! #holidays #happyholidays #holidayseason #Christmas #Christmascookies #99centbook #.99book

Remembering the Good

In this excerpt Shannon stops for a moment to enjoy the summer sun. Shannon is good at taking a moment to really see and feel what is around her, even when things are not going at all well. We can see that despite her worries, she did in fact notice that lovely warm breeze. Did that happen to you this year? A moment when, in spite of your worries, or the daily grind, or your health, something -- a beautiful day, a puppy, a song, a mountain, a child, a word -- wriggled its way right up to the front of your awareness? Enjoy it again right now! I hope it happened lots and lots of times, and you can spend time with your memories and be deeply content. And if you can't quite think of one, be especially alert now so that you can find one pleasing moment before the year is over. This is one important reason I wrote Power of Three; I hoped I could give my readers a moment [or a hundred moments] of pleasure when the outside world makes pleasure tough. I've got my fingers crossed for you.

Emotional closeness

When I first drew the character of Shannon Kendricks for POWER OF THREE: the novel of a whale, a woman, and an alien child, I based her closely on myself. You write what you know, as they say. However, some of the earliest feedback I received on Shannon was that they didn't like her. Yeeouch. So I set about changing many aspects of her. But characters in novels go through their own change and growth by the story's end, and so I kept one aspect of her character - her antipathy to emotional closeness. [yes, based on me] and worked on her emotional growth as one small aspect of the story as the novel progressed. In the exploration of Shannon, I hoped to explore this aspect of my own preference for emotional separation. And, in allowing for Shannon's growing fondness for a variety of people and aliens, I believe I actually changed right along with her. Ironically, as I brought about her change, she brought about mine. In the sequel, POWER MULTIPLIED, Shannon learns the price of emotional closeness. #BlackFriday #BlackFriday19 #BlackFriday2019 #SmallBusinessSatruday #ShopSmall #CyberMonday #CyberMonday19 #CyberMonday2019 #CyberWeek

Facing the Possibility of Death

In this excerpt, Shannon faces the shocking information that she may be dying. To date I have never had to face a terminal medical diagnosis, thank goodness, but I wanted the reader to feel this punch to the gut as real. In my own life experience, I have been in a few tight spots, during which, in retrospect, perhaps I ought to have been a little more in touch with my own mortality, and yet at the time remained unrealistically optimistic about my own invulnerability. But just once I had my doubts. I was on a pretty tame horseback ride when the fellow in front of me lost his water bottle; my horse spooked and took off running in a crazy mindless zigzag up into the hills above the trail. I couldn't bring him under control. Nor could I continue to keep my seat much longer the way he was cutting back and forth. I was going to have to bail and seriously contemplated that I might break my neck. I tried to recapture the icy horror of that thought in writing about Shannon.

Those Terrible Cravings

In the excerpt here from POWER OF THREE, I am having a little fun with my protagonist, Shannon, who suddenly finds herself extremely hungry and inexplicably craving seafood. The reason for this particular craving soon becomes clear in the novel. I particularly enjoyed placing Shannon at the mercy of her cravings because so many of us do experience such torment. I am a confessed chocoholic and my better self must do real battle with my weakling self when the chocolate longing grabs me. I found it therapeutic to allow Shannon to indulge her cravings without much of a fight. Somebody ought to be able to eat what they long for, even if I often can't, right? How about you? Any particular cravings? Are you, like Shannon, powerless in the face of them, or do you valiantly resist?

Remembering a Blizzard

In my bio, I mention that I spent time as the Jill of all trades for a small weekly paper. I lived in Baggs, Wyoming, and arrived in the dead of winter. One of my many, many jobs was to drive down to Craig, Colorado once a week to help put the paper to bed and take back copies that were not mailed out for distribution around town. One night as I drove back in a blinding blizzard, I could not see further than my headlights could fight through the white out, which was about ten feet. Crawling along, my whole focus on that small cone of light, I suddenly saw a huge elk step out of nowhere into the headlights. He was magnificent, with a large set of antlers and he seemed twice the side of my little Volkswagen. He paused for just a moment then stepped on out of the light and was swallowed by the white night. It was magical for me. I'll never forget it. Quite unlike the day Shannon is enjoying in this excerpt!

The Wild

When I created the special telepathic bond between my protagonist Shannon Kendricks and the beluga whale Juneau, I knew one thing. I didn't want a "cute" relationship between a pet-like whale and her 'owner;' I wanted a relationship as it might possibly be between a wild creature and a human. As a result, some of Shannon's understanding of the whale comes through dreams. In this way, Shannon filters the content so that she -- and you the reader -- can understand it, but the underlying experience is the wild creature's. In this excerpt, Shannon dreams of Juneau's capture when she was very young by the people who would place her in captivity. It begins with Juneau's love of the wild and ends with her terror. I can't pretend to really know the mind of a wild animal and I am hoping to help readers see this point too. Shannon stays out of the mind of Juneau to the extent she can precisely because she has experienced its wildness. And she cherishes that unknowable quality in Juneau.

Remembering Mauyak

The beluga Juneau in POWER OF THREE is based on a real life beluga Mauyak who once lived at the Pt. Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington. [Pt. Defiance is nothing like the SeaQuarium in Ocean City of the novel]. I enjoyed the good fortune of being able to work with her and spend time with her long ago now and when she was shipped off to Chicago, where she still lives, I missed her terribly. Still, I was glad for her because she'd had no luck giving birth to healthy surviving babies here, which I believe was very hard on her, while she has had several offspring who survived in Chicago. I was always torn about my experience with her, because it meant so much to me to spend time with her, while I knew in my heart of hearts she should never have been captured in the first place. This is why, in POWER OF THREE, I tried for a compromise idea; where the whales and dolphins could be truly free but able to come in for husbandry and where people could watch and come to know and love them as I did. Has anybody out in Chicago been to see Mauyak lately? How is she doing?

And So It Begins

Several important strands woven into Power of Three pop up in this beginning excerpt. First, you can see that Shannon is a loner, and it is not serving her well. Why is this? Will she ever learn how to let people in? Second, you are introduced to Juneau, the beluga whale, who seems to mean more to Shannon than just about anything. What lengths is Shannon willing to go to for this whale? Third, Shannon and Becky are solid friends. If events overtake them that put this friendship to the test, will it stay strong? And last, Shannon and Juneau have just been engulfed by the inexplicable and mysterious. How will they handle this? Will they survive it? Could you?

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