Thursday, February 18, 2016

Reflections on my First Year as an Orphan

Photo by: Shawn Nix, 2010

Today is a hard day. It's the first anniversary of my mother's death. As I sit back on reflect on the many things my mother wasn't here for this year, my heart swells with grief.

She missed my son's wedding and the happiness of family. She missed my daughter, her youngest grandchild's high school graduation. She missed the birth of my sister's first grandchild. She missed the announcement that this year my son will become a father. She missed holidays and phone calls and conversations where more times than I can count I reached for the phone only to remember there is only silence where once there was advice and love.

I try not to count the things I miss. The sound of her voice. The smell of her perfume. The way she pursed her mouth when I did something incredibly stupid. The tightness of her arms around my waist. (She was only 4'10"; I'm 5'5".)

It's only after I indulge in my pity party that begin to ruminate on what I feel she has gained, despite my soul numbing pain.

She's no longer a slowly decaying mind trapped in a rapidly failing body. She's no longer alone; my father having died in 1992. Most of her friends have already passed as well (Mom was 94 when she died), so she has plenty of friends to talk with, and family who'd gone on before. Finally, I know she is with our Lord, watching over her family to let us know she's with us even when we feel most alone.

Nothing, no amount of time or distance will ever ease the pain of losing one's parents. Even though I didn't always agree with the things they said, our differences made for lively discussions. Moreover, every day more and more of my friends are losing their parents, creating a generation of lost children, left wondering if there was anything more that needed to have been done.

Every day I wake and I think, "How I wish I could speak to either one of them." Sometimes I sit down and meditate, using my energy to send my wants and needs to the other side. Other days I manage to stumble out of bed and make it through the day without remembering there are no more conversations to be had.

But the bad days aren't as frequent as they used to be, and the okay days seem to fill in nicely at the corners. So, maybe time really does heal all wounds, at least that's what I'm hoping for. In the meantime, I'll  go on, because really there is no alternative. I will see them again, one day. When it is my time, we'll all be together again.

Until then, I remember the days that aren't shared so there will be lots to talk about as we enjoy eternity together. That's what really gets me through the days.

This pain isn't forever

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Shameless Self-Promotion Saturday

I've decided to make Saturdays my "Shameless Self-Promotion" days. Today's promotion is for the first two books of "The Guardian Tales"; now available from Keith Publishing.

            On the post nuclear apocalyptic earth, a changed human race is rebuilding and repopulating based upon knowledge and technology saved from the destruction by scientists united by the desire to undo the havoc their creations had caused.  Building storage libraries called Sanctuaries in safe locations around the world; these far seeing academics brought thousands of generations of discoveries and inventions from the past into the different earth of the future. But the human race had changed through the eons of chaos. Radiation and need had created those capable of mastering different element or healing the sick with no outside help. Man and his home world were new creations, Five Kingdoms sharing a past but with divergent futures.

Begin the adventure!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Take Over Thursday Presents: Cheryl Rees-Price, "THE SILENT QUARRY"

The Silent Quarry is the first in the DI Winter Meadows series by Cheryl Rees-Price.

In 1987 a quiet Welsh village was devastated by a brutal attack on two schoolgirls, Bethan Hopkins and Gwen Collier. Only Gwen survived, with horrific injuries and no memory of the attack. The killer was never caught.

Now, nearly thirty years later, Gwen has gone missing and DI Winter Meadows is assigned to the case. Charismatic and intuitive, he has an uncanny gift for finding the truth. But in this small and close-knit community, the past is never far away, and those who have secrets will go to any lengths to keep them. Tensions run high as old feelings and accusations are stirred. And DI Meadows has to battle his own demons as he uncovers a truth he wished had stayed in the past …


Cheryl Rees-Price was born in Cardiff and moved as a Young child to a small ex-mining village on the edge of the Black Mountains, South Wales, where she still lives with her husband, daughters and two cats.  After leaving school she worked as a legal clerk for several years before leaving to raise her two daughters.

 Cheryl returned to education, studying philosophy, sociology and accountancy whilst working as a part time book keeper. She now works as a finance director for a company that delivers project management and accounting services.

 In her spare time Cheryl indulges in her passion for writing, the success of writing plays for local performances gave her the confidence to write her first novel. Her other hobbies include walking and gardening which free her mind to develop plots and create colourful characters.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Life, the Universe, and Everything...

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time.

I’ve been making up stories inside my head since I was old enough to know the definition of imagination. As a child, most of them focuses on me getting a pony (which never came), or travelling the world (which did). Of course there was still a Prince Charming, being one of the early crowd to be swayed by Disney princesses and their own tales of love; sometimes there were nameless terrors chasing me through demon filled streets into closets where my worst nightmares were waiting to strip the flesh off my bones and devour my soul. Hey, it was hard growing up in the 60s and 70s.

Once I began a teenager, making up stories gave way to a serious reading project. My mother was a librarian, and I decided to make good use of her job and set up a goal to read every book at that time to be considered a ‘classic’. From “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” to “Zorro” I set an ambition program of two books a month. It was, interesting, and a task I wouldn’t undo for the world. Some books were real stinkers, which of course just proves how subjective the term ‘classic’ really is. Others I have re-read over and over throughout the years, until many copies sit on my shelf dog-eared and worn. Some I never made it past the first chapter.

While my own personal reading tastes prefer Fantasy and/or Science Fiction, there are books in most genre which captured my imagination even to this day. True I write Romance and Fantasy but Mystery, Action, even Westerns influence my character and locations because I am the sum of every word I’ve read since my mother first handed me ‘Go Dog, Go!” as a child. All writers are amalgams of their readying history. We have to be. Most novels are fairly simple if reduced down to their simplest elements: love, greed, money, revenge, power. The five basic food groups for writers. Your plot will certainly be driven by a least one of these, some books have more.

Sometimes what we take away isn’t what we loved but what we hated. What, you may ask, is my own personal pet peeve garnered from a lifetime of reading? Unnecessary dialog. Dialog removes you from the scene, substitutes words for your own imagination, and I love my imagination.

In my most recently book, “The Price for Redemption”, it is by using her imagination Vivienne discovers not only the limits of her inner magic (not many!), as well as her betrayer. Without the ability to think at the outer limits of our minds, think of all the books that probably wouldn’t have been written, including one of my own personal favorites: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams!

We are the sum of all our experiences, so go grab life with both hands and make more!

Check out my newest release:

In order to save the Five Kingdoms, Vivienne must fight to against her worst enemies, including herself.


The pneumonia returned with a vengeance after my trip into the past of the Five Kingdoms. February faded into March and chills rattled my bones while I wandered through fever-induced dreams. Some were happy dreams with Devon still by my side protecting me; others were nightmares where in the darkness enemies assailed me from all sides, unseen but very dangerous. Eventually I realized they were only dreams, and tears began leaking through my closed eyelids. Though I could think of no valid reason to do so, I woke up. It had been three weeks since the day I stumbled through the snow and internal despair alone back to Pitaq bearing my grandfather’s murdered corpse and news of my husband and protector, now captured by our shared enemies.

Someone undressed me, replaced my frozen, blood soaked garments with soft and silky pajamas. I struggled to move, and discovered thick blankets piled upon the bed to keep my icy body warm. The mountain of wool was beginning to cause profuse sweating. Gone was the complete numbness of body and gone was the knife in my lungs which stabbed with every breath, but my soul was still crushed under the weight of a cold heart. I stayed in bed contemplating the bitter truth of my failure: I hadn’t stopped Sauk. I knew of no good reason why my heart should still beat.

Frantic with the constraint of too many layers I threw the heavy blankets aside. I managed to get one leg free and slid out from under the rest, down the side and on to the floor. Slumped with my back against the bed, sitting on the woolen rug, I was again overwhelmed by what had happened in the mists and horrors of the distant past. I missed Devon so much; the pain inside my chest was fierce, a heart stopped in mid beat, never to know warmth again. Sobs choked my throat, but I had no more tears left.

The death of my grandfather who I had, in truth, only known a very short time, and the capture of Devon left me alone again with no family. I failed to save the last two people in my life that loved me and unless I could find the strength to get off the floor I would also lose the Books, the Five Kingdoms and the rest of the earth. Leaning my head back, the hard truth smacked me—there was no one to guide me, no fixed direction to follow and I had no desire for this fight. All I wanted was Devon back, and I would go to any extreme to accomplish that end. However, after so much time wasted in illness, I had no idea where to begin. I needed information.

Wallowing in my grief-clouded haze I grew aware I was not alone. First there was breathing, and then I saw Theirran’s boots in the chair by the fireplace. He did not move. He didn’t fidget. He was just sitting, waiting for me to notice him. Though every fiber in my body protested the very idea of positive forward motion, I stood, testing to make sure the feeling had returned to my feet. Once I was sure they would support my weight, I leaned against the bed staring at the floor, not at him. My head pounded from fire and stress and loss.

“What are you doing here Theirran?” My voice was low but sounded loud and unnatural in my fevered ears.

To Rejoin the Support Group: 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

NEW RELEASE - Starr Gardinier 'The Other Side - Trent's Story'


Melinda James is finally out of Skyview Haven—an asylum where she was confined for years—and is living her life, free at last. However, things are not going as planned; harassed by unexplained paranormal experiences, she doesn’t feel safe in her own home. And when she turns to her best friend Trent for help and support, she is surprised to find her feelings for him have grown far beyond a simple friendship. Trent Miller isn’t prepared to fight evil, but he will do whatever it takes to save Melinda from an evil entity that is seeking revenge for past events. Armed with knowledge gleaned from television shows, a team of paranormal investigators, and the prayers of family and friends, he is ready to face anything. The question is, does he tell her about his feelings for her before or after he fights a battle with evil for Melinda’s very soul?


“Melinda, what are you looking at?”
She doesn’t answer, so I repeat my question.
She finally looks at me and says in a voice not hers, “You will pay for your father’s sins.”
I’m so shocked I almost fall over. Her voice…its voice…whatever...sounds like a man’s and it definitely sounds mean.
“You will die,” the voice says.
My mouth is hanging open and I’m unable to do anything but stare at Melinda…or whoever or whatever has taken over her body. I glance around the room to see if another spirit is present. My heart is beating rapidly and my insides are shaking. My hands are trembling and my fingers are cold and I’m having difficulty breathing. I want to run from this room, but know that’s the last thing I can do. It takes me a few minutes to realize that something must be possessing Melinda. I try to call out again to her, but can’t find my voice. I have to do something. I finally find the floor beneath my feet and quickly dart the few steps to her bedside.
“Melinda,” I’m shaking her. “Leave her alone! Whoever you are, leave her alone!”

“Die,” it whispers and Melinda’s hands reach up to my throat.



A paralegal by day, Starr Gardinier is an author by night. Apart from being an award winning author for her short story “Cut,” Starr has appeared in a blaze and made her mark on the literary world with her Ivanovich series and now her Other Side series.

Having studied and obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Literature/Creative Writing, she has found her unique style and is known for her works' distinctive voice, making every character stand out.
She’s the founder and owner of Editing by Starr. She’s also the former executive editor for Suspense Magazine. She has been interviewed in the newspaper and on the radio with relation to her fiction work. She has been a co-host on Suspense Radio.

Starr is a member of International Thriller Writers (ITW) and of Sisters in Crime, Los Angeles Chapter and nationally. She has won three Best Speaker awards as well as Best Evaluator at the Voice Ambassadors chapter of Toastmasters. She has always been active in events. As co-chair and main coordinator for the West Coast Author Premiere, she arranged weekend-long events to help authors from all over network, learn and share their work with the public. Starr has also been instrumental in compiling authors and planning a local author event at Barnes and Noble in Ventura, California along with the store’s event manager.

Please see more on her editing service at, read more about her at, and/or visit her blog at