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Rebecca E. Neely, Author ~ Romance. Paranormal. Suspense.

This is Why She Rides a Motorcycle

Without a doubt, motorcycles and the people who ride them elicit strong positive and negative reactions in many people, including perceptions of freedom, rebellion, power, danger and excitement. They also represent a brotherhood—and sisterhood—of strength, unity and camaraderie.

As an author of romance novels who enjoys giving her characters motorcycles to ride, I’ve done research on bikes, talking to friends who ride to get the facts and details right. As a writer, my watch word is curiosity. Very simply, I wanted to find out why bikers are fascinated with riding. Too, nothing intrigues me more than speaking with someone who’s passionate about what they do. For this post, I did exactly that, spending time talking with a woman who’s been riding bikes—all kinds of bikes—most of her life. (And who was gracious enough to educate a non-rider like me. Many thanks!)

Meet Joan Sorce, motorcycle lover. She’s also a real estate agent and a mother of two.

Joan says she’s been crushing on motorcycles since she was a child, and for years, she rode dirt bikes and street bikes with boyfriends and family members. When her son was about ten years old, she began riding dirt bikes with him. It was something they enjoyed together for about five years, until her son outgrew it. Then, she bought her first street bike, a 250 Kawasaki Ninja in bright yellow.

What does she love most about riding? “It’s like a moving meditation,” Joan explained. “I’d liken it to yoga. That may be a strange comparison, but it’s true. It’s very freeing, and uplifting,” she said, smiling, and her eyes got a faraway look in them. I could tell she was visualizing it, and at that point, I almost could too. “I put on a lot of miles by myself after a hard day,” she continued. “It’s my way of relaxing.”

Little Scoot (L), Mama Lou (R)

Joan owns both a Harley Davidson Sportster 883L, and a Harley Davidson Street Glide. These she affectionately refers to as Little Scoot and Mama Lou, respectively. Little Scoot is a blue, lighter weight bike with a smaller engine than Mama. Mama Lou is 800 pounds of big and beautiful in an ice blue flip color that changes to purple when the light hits it. It’s customized for Joan. “Customizing your bike really showcases your personality,” she said. “I didn’t really understand that at first.” She’s also interested in maybe getting a rat rod someday.

DID YOU KNOW? A rat rod is a style of hot rod or custom car that, in most cases, imitates the early hot rods of the 1940s, 1950s, and early-1960s.

 

 

How does she decide which one she’ll ride? “I love them both, but it depends on what mood I’m in. Little Scoot is lighter, because it doesn’t have any bags. (Bikes with bags are a.k.a. ‘Baggers’). “It’s good for short trips. Also, it depends on how hot it is outside, because there’s already a lot of heat coming off Mama Lou’s engine.”

Joan is big on safety. “As much as I enjoy riding, there’s a lot to be scared of. There’s a lot going on, including the rules of the road, shifting, turn signals, and negotiating threats. For example, the other day I was out riding, and there was a two by four piece of wood laying on the road. You have to be aware of hazards like that, because a car could hit it and it could kick up and hit you.”

“Riding the bike is all about control. When you slow down, you lose balance. It’s also harder to maneuver. Parking lots and sudden stops present challenges. When I first bought the Harley, I would practice figure eights in an empty lot just to get the feel of the bike.”

What’s her biggest tip for new riders? “Know how to drive a stick. Gain confidence, and experience. Start on a dirt bike in your yard. Riding dirt bikes was early training for me. It enabled me to know how a bike would respond to different terrains, like grass, mud, and gravel. The Department of Transportation offers courses. I’ve taken them twice, because simply, I don’t want to die. I’ve also taken professional rider courses, which were well worth the few hundred dollars.” Riders can also take part in ‘bike rodeos’, which are often run by police officers, to improve their skills.

DID YOU KNOW? The first motorcycle was built in 1885 in Germany. Read more here.

Joan is also a big fan of helmets, but she wasn’t always. “Pennsylvania is a no helmet state,” she explained. “I used to wear a non-DOT helmet, also known as a ‘brain bucket’. Not anymore. Tragically, a good friend of mine was in a bad bike accident. She suffered a severe brain injury because she hadn’t buckled her helmet.” Joan’s eyes turned somber. “I promised her husband that I’d always wear mine. And I do, although, truth be told, I hate wearing one. But it’s the only head I’ll ever get. I bought it for comfort. It’s considered a half helmet.”

Though Joan is an experienced rider, has received many hours of instruction, and does everything she can to ensure a safe ride, she’s still suffered a few accidents. Several years ago, a deer ran out in front of her on a stretch of country road and hit her bike. The fact that Joan was able to keep the bike up when a nearly one hundred pound animal rammed into it is huge – it speaks to both her skill and presence of mind.

“Besides scaring the hell out of me, the deer dented my fender and scratched the bike (Mama Lou) up pretty good. It was like I was watching it in slow motion, the whole thing. The deer was laying on the fairing!” And, she added with a rueful grin, “I had deer shit all over me.” Yikes! After that, Joan was able to straighten out the fender and ride home. (What’s a fairing? I had to look it up, so I’m assuming you may not know either: Per Wikipedia: “A motorcycle fairing is a shell placed over the frame of some motorcycles, especially racing motorcycles and sport bikes, with the primary purpose to reduce air drag.”

Unfortunately, she had another accident only a few weeks prior to the writing of this post. A car hit her in a parking lot, and even though it was at a low speed, it knocked her to the ground violently. She’s still severely bruised in her abdomen area, and angry, rightfully so, that the driver was so careless.

After both accidents, Joan had the courage to get back on her bike and ride, something she loves. And something she doesn’t want to lose. I applaud her for that. “I can’t let my fear beat me,” she said. “If I sell both my bikes what will I do? It would be like losing my identity. It’s not just a hobby. It’s a lifestyle.”

Joan loves to ride all year round, weather permitting. Once again, deferring to safety first, she has heated handle bar grips. “Literally, this can mean the difference between life and death. If your fingers get numb, you can’t respond as quickly as you need to.”

Joan is anxious to explore more of the country on her bike. “There’s so much beauty in America that you can see from a bike that you’ll never see from a car. It’s just not the same. Being on a bike allows you to go places you’d never be able to in a vehicle.” What’s her most memorable ride to date? “I’d have to say West Virginia. The switchbacks, and the views, are amazing.” She’s planning a tour of the United States, and says she’ll go by herself if she has to. In particular, she wants to ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a National Parkway noted for its scenic beauty that stretches through North Carolina and Virginia.

“In addition to riding being relaxing, and the amazing beauty I see while on the bike, I appreciate the camaraderie with other bikers,” she said. “Once, when I was out on the little bike, I’d run out of gas. Some other bikers stopped and helped me. They understand. They’ve been there before.”

Many bikers take part in group rides, organized for charitable causes. Joan is no different. “I enjoy the ride, I enjoy socializing. Often, I’ll catch up with people I haven’t seen for a long time.”

She’s ridden in various organized rides, including the Brotherhood Memorial Ride, is coming up on Sunday, August 20th, and for which she hopes to be healed enough to take part. (See Spotlight on the event below) Located in Zelienople, PA, proceeds benefit the Brotherhood Memorial Fund, and was started in memory of fallen firefighters. Other rides she’s been a part of include Chaps for Charity, sponsored by Pizza Roma, located in Cranberry Township, PA, and Riding for the Cure, held each July, which promotes breast cancer awareness. Also in August, she plans to take part in a ride honoring the Veterans Traveling Wall Tribute, which will visit Butler, PA on August 24th – 27th. She’s also taken part in the Big Mountain Run and Mountain Fest, both in West Virginia. These bike rallies also do bike runs during the 2-3 day events.

Everyone has seen bikers extend a hand to one another as they pass on the road. What’s it mean, I asked? “It means, ‘I get it’, I feel the same way you do,” Joan explained. “Not everyone waves, but I always do. I especially like to wave to kids. They’re always enthralled by my bike.”

As a lover of motorcycles and riding, one thing Joan doesn’t care for is that often, people stereotype a female biker. “I’m not a lesbian, and I don’t have any tattoos,” she said with a chuckle. “I don’t have anything against those things, it’s just not me. Sometimes it can be frustrating, that bikes are my thing. People either get it or they don’t. Basically, I just don’t fit the mold.” Again, her eyes shone, with the content of someone who’s exactly where she’s supposed to be, and doing exactly what she’s meant to do. “But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

DID YOU KNOW? The “Gremlin Bell” is thought by some to be a supernatural protector against evil spirits that haunt the roads looking for bikers to harm. Others believe it’s simply a tradition of kindness between riders and friends. Read all about the legend here.

SPOTLIGHT ON BROTHERHOOD MEMORIAL RIDE, Sunday, August 20th

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Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Paul Reynolds, volunteer fireman and co-chair of the Brotherhood Memorial Ride. Ian Walker is also co-chair. Paul, who’s been a volunteer fireman for 25+ years with the Harmony Fire District, says the event is close to his heart. “The event is in its eighth year, and along with my co-chair, Ian Walker, we’re looking forward to another great event this weekend. I’m proud to say that many people have told me it’s one of the best organized rides they’ve been involved in. So many people generously help plan the event. We’re happy to have riders of all ages, and the safety of our riders is the most important thing to us.”

Paul says his favorite thing about the event is the reason for the ride – to honor all public safety and emergency workers, including firemen, policemen and emergency responders. Proceeds benefit the Brotherhood Memorial Fund, as well as the Zelienople Skate Park.

The ride begins and ends at the Zelienople Community Park. Registration is from 9am – 11am. $20 per bike, $10 per passenger. Food and refreshments will be served at the park following the ride.

Rebecca E. Neely is a writer, blogger, author and storyteller. Visit her at www.rebeccaneely.com
All Rebecca’s books available on Amazon
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Storytellers and Tattoos: For the Love of Art

book-1012275__180A storyteller at heart, my innate curiosity runs deep. As an individual passionate about self-expression, all forms of art and creativity, tattoos have fascinated me for years. And as a writer of romance with an inquisitive mind who adores bestowing said indelible designs upon her characters, I set out to explore how the two intertwined.

The history of storytelling and tattooing are both as old as time. Across cultures and countries, races and religions, both send messages, and even unite us as human beings.

Storytelling, I believe, is an ingrained part of our make up as human beings. We have always had a soul deep desire to explain, understand, teach, learn, calm, empower, commemorate and connect. Too, just as storytelling was, and is an art, so was, and is listening. Stories were told, and retold, and as man explored the globe, those same stories were shared, changed, stretched and expanded, and told again. Messages of wisdom, knowledge, values and beliefs from our collective ancestors are reflected in the myths, legends, fairy tales and other lore—fact and fiction—handed down from one generation to the next, and keep us connected to one another, as well as the past, present and future.

Today, every aspect of our lives it seems, is touched by myriad stories in both the traditional sense, in that we share stories verbally, face to face, and in the modern sense, via movies, books, magazines, music, television, social media and the Internet.

I believe just as storytelling satisfies basic human needs and desires, so does tattooing. For thousands of years, men and women have tattooed their bodies for many reasons, including self-expression and as part of their culture’s rituals. Regardless of the reason, they all have one common denominator: they give us the ability to communicate powerful messages to one another, without the need for words.

In an article at Smithsonian.com, author Cate Lineberry describes tattoos: “These permanent designs—sometimes plain, sometimes elaborate, always personal—have served as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religious beliefs, adornments and even forms of punishment.”

Indeed! From ancient cave etchings to modern sculpture, history, art and pop culture pay homage to said ‘permanent designs’. And in recent years, the popularity and diversity of body art, which includes tattooing, piercing and painting, has exploded and been wholeheartedly embraced as mainstream, via magazines, social media, conventions, competitions and television shows such as Miami Ink.

Per an article at Huffington Post, it’s estimated that one third of America’s young adults, aged 18-25, have at least one tattoo, per a report done by the Pew Research Center. As such, the tattoo industry is one of the fastest growing retail business in America.

To get a close up, personal view of this ‘tattoo phenomenon’ at one such business and the artist behind it, I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Boney “Joe” Clark, seasoned tattoo artist and owner of Tattoos by Boney Joe in Zelienople, PA. In the business for over thirty years, he generously shared his views on the industry, the art form and some storytelling of his own.

'Boney' Joe Clark
‘Boney’ Joe Clark

When we met, Joe explained he’d recently returned from a motorcycle trip. “I’m not a conventional traveler,” he said about the trip. “I like to experience it with all of my senses. Smell the air, taste the rain, see and touch the landscape.”

Interestingly, I believe it’s these very things a true artist seeks to capture in his work. And indeed, Joe’s artistry extends to his expertise as a master body piercer, as well as his flair for metal design work.

As a teenager, Joe became interested in tattooing after being at a fair and seeing a guy tattooing people in the back of his van. He’d always loved to draw, and instantly, he thought, “I can do better.” Starting his business on a wing and a prayer, he’s faced his share of trials, including a town that was, at first, slow to embrace a tattoo studio. But in true survivor fashion, he overcame—and not just the challenges of being a business owner. Joe is intensely proud of the fact he’s been drug free since 1988, and the tattoo on his left forearm is a testament to that.

He explained the basic mechanics of getting a tattoo to me, the tools that are used, and the artistry involved. Yes, they use what’s called a stencil of the design that’s transferred to the skin of the person getting the tattoo. But that will only take the artist so far. He or she has to also be able to draw freehand for certain designs, like a face, for example. The artist isn’t really ‘drawing’ the face, at least not at first. They use a ‘map’ to build the face, and their talent enables them to complete it. Every design is unique, and the time and talents needed to complete them depend on their complexity.

For any tattoo, Joe wants details and specifics, so the person receiving it gets exactly what they want. And the more complicated, the more details. He used the example of a butterfly. “What kind?” he posed. “A Monarch? A Malachite? A Pearly Eye? Should the wings be open or closed? Should it tilt to the right or left?” It’s details like these that are necessary to ensure everyone’s on the same page, before any work begins.

IMG_3877The tattoos on Joe’s hands are one example of the fun he’s had with ‘ink’ over the years. He explained that during the Veggie Tale craze in the 90s, two of his artists had a tattoo ‘war’, each trying to ‘out design’ the other. The result? On his right hand, a kind of crazed carrot wields a chain saw, and a deranged eggplant eyes the world cockily on his left. Recently, however, the carrot took on additional meaning to Joe, when he beat kidney cancer two years ago. Since then, he’s once again emerged as a survivor, and as such, added a commemorative ribbon to the design—which the carrot’s chainsaw is now ‘slashing’ through. Joe’s message is clear: “I kicked cancer’s ass.”

One of 'Boney' Joe's many tattoo designs
One of ‘Boney’ Joe’s many tattoo designs

In thirty years’ time, Joe has designed thousands of tattoos, and tattooed three to four generations of people, even entire families. What’s his favorite thing to tattoo? “I’ll tattoo anything and love it, if it’s something that person is certain about, and it has deep meaning to them,” he said. “I don’t care if it means anything to anyone else. People may even look at it and have no idea what it is. But as long as the person who got it is happy, that’s what counts.” He told me about the woman who, after receiving her tattoo, was so moved she began to cry. “It was deeply satisfying,” he said.

I felt privileged to hear what was perhaps his favorite story, about an 82-year old woman who came to his shop with her daughter and granddaughter–all to get tattoos. When Joe asked her why she was getting it, he recalled what she said in detail. “She turned to me, and said, ‘You know kid, I was married to the meanest son of a bitch for fifty three years and I just buried him two months ago. I’m having the time of my life.’ ” And after the trio was done? This 82-year ‘young’ woman and company were headed to see male strippers. Bada bing. “She was sharp as a tack,” Joe said with a smile.

There’s no doubt Joe has had some ‘colorful’ experiences as a tattoo artist. But to him, it’s about a lot more than just the end result. He sincerely cares about the people who walk through his door, and their long-term satisfaction. At times, he’s even advised people not to get a tattoo.

Case in point—Joe told me the story about an eighteen-year-old man who came to the shop, bent on getting a tattoo that would pay homage to Michael Jordan. “When I asked him why, he listed Jordan’s many accomplishments,” Joe said. “I told him, fine. If you really want it, come back tomorrow and you’ll be my first appointment of the day. But first I want you to think about something. Remember how great everyone thought O.J. Simpson used to be? Things happen. Do you really want a tattoo like that for the rest of your life? It might not be so cool five years from now. Maybe you’re better off just wearing a Jordan ball cap.”

With that, Joe sent him on his way. Later that same evening, the man called him, and told him he’d gone to another shop where the artist had been eager to give him the tattoo. But the man decided not to get it. Instead, he thought about how Joe had gone out of his way to tell him all that he did, and it really made him stop and think. This guy cared.

And so he does. In 2001, Joe had the unique opportunity to share his expert knowledge of body piercing with the local medical community. After piercing the friend of a teaching nurse from a college in Pittsburgh, she was so impressed with Joe’s studio and his knowledge she suggested they present it directly to the medical community in the form of a seminar on piercing removal and care—a topic, at that time, about which there was little knowledge. In addition, Joe is extremely proud the information was also published in a textbook used by nursing students.

“One of the biggest misconceptions about tattoo shops and artists is they’re like McDonald’s, meaning, they’re all the same. They’re not,” Joe said definitively. “That idea leads people to start price shopping, and you just can’t, nor should you do that for something you’re going to have on your body for the rest of your life. Another misconception is that the tattoo industry is regulated. It isn’t, by and large, in Pennsylvania. That makes choosing a tattoo artist, based on their experience and standards even more critical.” That’s something Joe swears by—he holds himself and his artists to the highest standards in all aspects of the business.

Along with his passion for the business, Joe understands what makes a great tattoo artist: skill, passion and personality.

TEZ_DragonOne of Joe’s artists, ‘Tez’, a.k.a Emery Joseph Kertesz IV and Gentlemen Tattooist, was at the
studio to contribute to our conversation, and offered the following insight: “If you take away any one of those three qualities, you have a good artist, and if you take away two, you have only an artist.”

So, why do people get tattoos? “In my experience,” Joe said, “people want to commemorate someone, or an event in their lives, or something they’re passionate about, like hunting. They also do it just because they think it’s cool. And some get a tattoo because it’s a fad.” Most popular lately? “Dandelions, and as their fluff is blowing away, it’s turning into birds. Also semi-colons, and anything with script or words,” he said. (Click here to read more about Project Semicolon)

The word tattoo is thought to be derived from both the Polynesian word “ta”, meaning “to strike”, and the Tahitian “tatau”, meaning “to mark.” Without a doubt, ‘Boney’ Joe Clark has indeed made his mark, indelibly, as an artist, a business owner and a supporter of the community.

So, what’ve I discovered from my sojourn into the world of tattoos, and how they intertwine with storytelling? I believe that not only is each tattoo a story unto itself, so is each client, and each artist. As each ‘tattoo’ story unfolds, both the client and the artist are telling that story—the client, with his choice of design, his experiences and motivations, and the artist, with his execution of that design, his talent, and his passion.

TEZ_GeeseI’m also honored to have heard, and to relate the stories Joe shared with me—and to add my own ‘threads’ to their existing fabric. After all, I am a storyteller. It’s also my sincere hope that my message is clear: I’ve listened, and I’ve spoken. I’ve learned, and been entertained. I’ve understood, and I’ve connected.

I hope you do too.

PLEASE SHARE: What’s the story behind your tattoo? What inspired you to get it?

Rebecca E. Neely tells stories with a paranormal flair. She adores bestowing tattoos upon her characters, and giving them a story within a story…THE KEEPER, Crossing Realms Book 1 available now on Amazon!

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Dreams and Vibes: Her Story Inspiration

Please make welcome Claire Gem, author of paranormal romance. Today, she’s sharing her inspiration for an upcoming story, CIVIL HEARTS, and you may be surprised to find out how the idea came to her…

Thank you, Rebecca, for hosting me today!

I’m taking advantage of the inspiration of November, National Novel Writing Month, to work on my upcoming supernatural suspense, CIVIL HEARTS. This one takes place in a haunted plantation home in a fictitious town in rural western Alabama. I’m proud today to share with all of Rebecca’s readers a little about the story-in-progress . . .

The inspiration for this book came from an actual experience in my past. Years ago, we were considering a move to Alabama. We toured an old Antebellum home on a lovely piece of land in a tiny town that was, literally, in the middle of nowhere. It had been empty a long time, and was for sale for a ridiculously low price. Our plans to move fell through, but I never forgot the regal old mini-mansion, or the strange vibes I experienced walking through it.

I had completely forgotten about that house until I had a dream about it just last month. Many of my story ideas come to me in dreams, and this one was delivered just about fully formed! I quickly rose and typed out a synopsis. Being November was right around the corner, I figured it was perfect timing. I’m hoping the book will be ready for an early January 2018 release!

But oh, the research! My ghost in CIVIL HEARTS was a Confederate soldier in the Civil War. I will admit, my knowledge of that period in history is sketchy at best. I am fortunate that both my brother and his wife are fascinated with that time period, and have been very helpful in helping me get the details right.

So, here’s a sneak peek at the blurb for CIVIL HEARTS:

After her husband’s sudden death, Liv Larson finds herself out of place in her previous circle of all-couple-friends in Manhattan. With no family, no real roots to hold her fast, she questions whether she truly belongs in the big city–the only place she’s ever known. A dart thrown at the map lands on a tiny town in western, rural Alabama. Liv falls in love with the Belle Bride, an abandoned, antebellum home, the first time she sees it.

Heath Barrow lives a quiet, conservative life managing his antiques business in sleepy Camellia. Alone since his childhood-sweetheart-turned-wife left him for the big-city life, he has no intentions of removing the armor from his heart anytime soon. Especially for the new girl in town–a city girl, no less. Yet he can’t deny the synergy between them.

Then, Liv discovers she’s not entirely alone in her new home. And the previous occupant isn’t too pleased about a Yankee living in his house, since he fought on the Confederate side of the Civil War–almost two hundred years ago.

~~~
Thank you, Rebecca, for having me on your blog today.

To anyone who signs up for my Author Reader Group HERE, I’m offering my award winning, supernatural short story SECOND CHANCES. I’ll also be selecting a random new subscriber to win a free e-book of ANY of my novels. You can find the complete list at my AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE.

MORE ABOUT CLAIRE GEM

Claire Gem is the award-winning author of contemporary romance, romantic women’s fiction, and supernatural suspense. You can find out more about her at her WEBSITE or her AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE.

Her Idea Jar & Other Writing Inspiration

Linda Gerber and Thor, the Grove City Community Library dog

I’m very pleased to welcome long time friend, writer & editor, Linda Gerber. I first met Linda over fifteen years ago. At that time, she was the editor of a magazine for which we both wrote articles. I was just starting out, and she mentored me along the way, and helped me to grow as a writer. I wanted to share her writing journey with you today, because Linda continues to inspire me with her unwavering passion, creativity and generosity, as well as her longevity.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing professionally since before my children were born. My oldest is in his early thirties.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes. I always loved writing even before I knew I had a talent for it. Putting pencil to paper was an evolving passion long before I ever made a living by writing or editing. It wasn’t until I worked for several publications that I considered myself a legitimate writer.

What is your inspiration, and how do you continue to be inspired?

My inspiration is at its peak when I come across a story that I feel in my heart, needs to be told. Something serious that I feel passionate about and I want to share with others. When I personally experience a situation in life and I know that readers would connect with me, it’s marketable. I am very optimistic so I usually put a funny spin on it. I continue to be inspired by daily events.

What types of writing and other creative projects have you been/are you involved in?

I have been involved with many writing events including: writers’ boot camps, judging writing contests, Barnes & Noble classes, and guest speaking. I continue to be involved in the process of writing and editing as leader of Grove City Writers’ Group.

I recently had the opportunity to speak to this group of writers, and they’re awesome! Young and old, a mix of fiction and non-fiction writers – I always learn something new 🙂

What do you enjoy most about writing?

Venting. Getting the word out, literally. It is sometimes even therapeutic to write, good or bad.

What advice would you give to someone interested in writing, and just getting started?

Not every writer needs to write a book or to get published in any form. It’s OK to just write for yourself. At the beginning, join a group of other writers who share your passion. You are welcome to become part of my writing group if you are local. (Grove City, PA) If you are looking into profitable writing, be patient. Start small with newspapers and magazines until you fine-tune your art. Although it’s great to see that byline, don’t give too much away for free. It’s alright to write without compensation to get those first few clips, but if you want true respect for quality work, make them pay!

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

It is quite an accomplishment to have been able to make a living by writing and editing although there is a lot of competition in both of those fields. Surprisingly, what I am most proud of is being able to give back through my writing group and my book group. Honestly, it’s hard work because I see my members as trusting and hungry for information so I have to give my best at every meeting. I know it’s hard to find time for people to get together physically for discussions. I want them to know that they will walk out of the groups feeling that it was not a waste of precious time. Giving back is what it’s all about!

What challenges and triumphs have you experienced as a writer over the years?

Challenges? Mostly deadlines, as I’m sure you know. Also writer’s block, which comes when you least expect it. Triumphs? Getting published. Seeing that byline and receiving a check that values your talent.

Describe your writing process. Pen and paper, or computer?

Definitely pen and paper. The computer comes in later. My writing process always starts with an idea, which needs to be written down immediately. Any piece of paper will do at the time. Short notes to remind me of key points are then folded and placed into my idea jar to be reviewed at a later date.

What types of books do you like to read?

I like every genre! The look and feel and smell of books… it’s all good! Since I lead a book club, I have to be open to all possibilities. Of course, the fact that I work in a library helps me to expand my horizons.

Favorite author(s)? E reader or actual book?

Actual book. By a landslide. Favorite author? Rebecca E. Neely 😉

Are you on Facebook/other social media, where blog audience can connect with you?

If anyone wants to contact me, they can either email me at lgerber360@gmail.com (please put Rebecca Neely in the title) or call me at Grove City Community Library at 724-458-7320. All are welcome to join my Writers’ group that is held within the library the third Wednesday of each month at 6:00 p.m.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you’d like to share?

I used to think that writing was a talent that we are born with, like being an artist. I can’t draw and I don’t believe art is a learned talent. Artists are genetically gifted and can be amazing at art without any instruction because it comes from within.

So are we born with the talent of spinning a story? I have learned that there are very talented writers who can pour out words as smooth as silk with little effort, while others have different and sometimes more difficult ways of writing.

If you feel the desire to write, in my mind, you’re a writer.

My biggest issue? I can’t turn off the editing button! Even when texting or reading signs! Hey Rebecca, remember the quote on the wall of our cottage where you stayed for your little vacation? It has an error in usage. That’s why I bought it!

LOL – yes I do remember! And as you know, my biggest pet peeve is incorrect use of apostrophes, for making an ‘s’ possessive 🙂 That’s all I have to say about that…

Linda – thanks so much for your thoughtful and insightful answers. I appreciate you spending time with us today, and I wish you all the best as you continue your writing journey!

Rebecca E. Neely is a blogger, storyteller, writer & author. Visit her at www.rebeccaneely.com 

Romance. Paranormal. Suspense.

All books available on Amazon

It All Started with 25 Cents

I’m a huge fan of Aldi’s grocery stores. If you’ve never been, you put a quarter in the grocery cart slot to ‘rent’ it while you shop. When you’re finished, you return it to the cart station, lock it back up, and receive your quarter.

The kindness of strangers I’ve witnessed over a mere quarter warms my heart each time I visit the store. People will graciously offer you a quarter for the cart, as you’re returning it to the store. When I’ve done the same, some people have even refused it, saying they’re passing it on, because it was given to them.

That’s the kind of paying it forward I’m talking about.

And that one simple, small act of kindness just seems to set the overall tone for the shopping experience. Yesterday, it was extremely busy in the store. But people weren’t stressed, complaining and muttering. Everyone seemed fine with waiting, even laughing about how crowded the aisles were. People were patient, polite, saying ‘excuse me’. While standing in line to check out, I spoke with the woman behind me, and we commented on different items we were buying, and how good they were.

We’ve all had our share of people who’ve been downright rude, unkind and unpleasant. We all know there’s a lot wrong with the world. Goodness knows social media and the news reinforces that daily. But there’s also a lot that’s right.

And I’m a big believer in enjoying the little things, which can sometimes be huge. The kindness I witness each time I go to Aldi’s is one of them. It warms my heart, renews my faith in people.

And it all began with twenty-five cents.

Happy Monday!

Rebecca E. Neely is a blogger, storyteller, writer & author. Visit her at www.rebeccaneely.com 

Romance. Paranormal. Suspense.

All books available on Amazon

The ‘Dream World’ of Author Rayanne Haines

Please welcome paranormal romance author Rayanne Haines. Today, she’s sharing more about her latest book, FIRE BORN, Book 1 in the Guardian Series, and the ‘dream world’ that inspired it….

I started writing Fire Born – Book 1 of the Guardian Series about four years ago. I think it has been simmering below the surface for two decades at least. I have always felt in tune with the earths energy and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t believe in magic and other worlds. I often catch glimpses of things in the shadow. Or hear whispers below the surface of everyday conversation.

Often, playing make believe has felt more real to me than real life. Maybe that’s what makes a good author; the ability to step into other worlds, to hear the voices of others and bring them through.

In 2007 I went through a messy divorce and found myself losing all sense of who I was. A friend and I went to see a psychic. Perhaps it was more about searching for “the other” again than trying to find myself, but I asked my questions and the physic gave me her answers. All quite standard stuff. Until the end. She looked at me and informed me that I had two caregivers that stood in the shadows behind me. The truth of the statement hit me so hard I began to cry immediately. She reminded me that if I ever had any questions about my life, all I had to do was ask my question before sleep took me and my answers would come to me in my dreams.

What is strange about that is that I am imminently aware that I have voracious dreams but I’ve never been able to clearly remember them for more than a minute after waking. DreamWalking became a focal point in this story because it is something that I consistently question.

So why do I write Paranormal and why these characters and this story? Because I believe in the earth elements, in the dream world, in that which we cannot see. And I believe these characters have been asking me to tell their story for quite some time. I hope I got it right.

FIRE BORN – Book One of the Guardian Series

Independent, tough as nails, and fierce to her core, Alex Taleisin can’t quite believe it when she has to fight for her life against something not-quite-human in the YMCA parking lot.

That’s when her aunt lets her in on the family secret. They’re immortal—Elementals to be precise, and Alex is the long-lost daughter of the strongest female warrior of their time.

Her guardian (a freaking Dragon!) and the sexiest man Alex has ever seen gives her a choice. Go with him, learn how to control her fire, and find her father’s people, or try to survive on her own. It’s an easy choice considering she’s only twenty-six. And the Elders may already be on her trail thanks to the fight with the nut job in the parking lot kick-starting her dormant DNA.

Enter an insane grandfather, a shifter with a hidden agenda, and a witch with a shoe addiction, and suddenly loner Alex is wishing for a quiet house in the hills with the dragon she’s falling for.

But a fight is coming and Alex knows the only way to find her answers is to trust her powers and become the warrior she was destined to be.

Connect with Rayanne

www.rayannehaines.com

Twitter @inkrayanne

Facebookwww.facebook.com/rayannehaines

Instagram – @rayanne_haines

This is Why It’s Back to School for this Writer

Recently I had the opportunity to speak to my daughter’s creative writing classes. What an amazing experience. I was truly honored and delighted to speak with these ninth and tenth graders, many of whom I saw myself in at that age—full of promise, creative, shy, hopeful, a bit awkward.

After writing professionally for 15+ years, it’s a privilege for me to give back, and share my experience whenever I can. What motivated me further to wrangle an invitation from the teacher was that as a teenager, I really wanted to be a writer but didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t know any writers. The internet hadn’t been invented yet. I had no concept of career possibilities in writing beyond journalism. Nor was the kindly high school guidance counselor a help, whose counseling amounted to informing me late in my senior year that I had enough credits to graduate. So much for guidance. But that’s a story for another blog. Long story short, I ended up getting a degree in Accounting. But again, that’s a story for another blog.

With all this in mind, I set out to create a brief presentation for the classes. Certainly, I wanted to tell them about my experience, about having come at writing sideways, from an accounting career. And about how I began freelancing, and eventually writing romance novels.

But much more important to me was to get them talking. Because guess what? It’s not all about me. I even asked the teacher to have the students put together some questions ahead of time so I could be prepared, and not waste any of the 42 minute period.

I also plied the students with chocolate, knowing they would be hesitant to participate. But once I got them going, they really opened up. I asked them their names, why they were taking the class, what their favorite books and movies were. Interestingly, they much prefer a real book to an e-reader.

I asked them to do a short writing exercise, involving show versus tell (I told them how us writers struggle with that too. That impressed them. Yeah, us writers aren’t so big and bad.) I asked them to read what they’d written aloud, which is a big deal, especially at that age. I know adults who get tongue tied if asked to share their work.

What a win/win. These teenagers inspired me with their courage and their creativity, renewed my zeal with their uncomplicated, unbiased opinions and ideas. How precious and wonderful to know they have their whole lives ahead of them. I truly feel if I helped one person that day, or gave someone an idea, a possibility, or direction, then I’d succeeded.

Of course, I was thrilled when my daughter came home and told me that her friends thought I was cool. Especially after she said something like, “You? Coming to talk to my friends? That’s so embarrassing! OMG,” when she first found out I was coming.

In short, these up and coming writers made my day. And the teenage writer in me felt pretty warm and fuzzy too.

Rebecca E. Neely is a blogger, storyteller, writer & author. Visit her at www.rebeccaneely.com 

Romance. Paranormal. Suspense.

All books available on Amazon

Book Blitz for Sweet Sacrifice by L.D. Rose!

Title: Sweet Sacrifice
Author: L.D. Rose
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Release Date: September 13, 2017
Cover Designer: Wren Taylor

Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

Former Navy SEAL Sebastian “Bash” Lockard died in Afghanistan after leaping on a grenade to save his comrades. Little did he know his act of heroism would grant him a ticket into Heaven’s elite army as one of the few and powerful Archangels. Struggling with his new existence, Bash still retains his human memories, leaving behind a wife he loves with all of his heart. Although he is forbidden to see her, he cannot resist her lure, or the mortal desires he harbors for her.

As a young widow and nurse, Irene Lockard still mourns her husband two years after his untimely death. His absence is everywhere, and when her best friend weds, she hits an emotional rock bottom. As if summoned from the skies above, Sebastian appears before her, and they share an unforgettable night. But when he once again vanishes, she wonders if she’s truly gone mad with grief.

The only way Sebastian can remain with Irene is if he makes the ultimate sacrifice. But will she overcome her fear of losing him again to another war?

Bash’s gaze caught on a couple on the dance floor, the sight of her sinking into him like hooks and bringing him to a standstill.

With her dark curls springing over her shoulders, she spun across the hardwood, her pale gray dress flowing around her. Much like in his recent vision of her, she tipped her head back and laughed, beautiful, stunning, her smile as bright as the yellow calla lilies tucked in her hair. She swayed with a man in dress whites, a Marine, another fucking soldier she didn’t belong with. And as the rain of realization became a downpour of comprehension, he remembered the engagement, where Claude proposed to Lucille—at their wedding—right before Bash left for another tour of Afghanistan.

“Bash?” Gabriel stepped in front of him, blocking his view, pale eyes narrowed.

Bash’s hand slammed into Gabriel’s chest, pushing him away as he lurched forward. Gabriel reacted faster, though, snatching his arm and wrenching him back at least four feet. Bash lunged again and the Arc’s hand fisted in his white button-down shirt.

“Don’t,” Gabriel growled, all humor draining from his angular face and setting his expression in stone. “Do not.”

Bash’s heart punched at the angel’s fist, every fiber of his being burning with the urge to run to her, to wrap his arms around her and feel her body against his one more time. Envy, rage, longing, and sadness blasted through him in a toxic tornado of emotion ready to whip this place into oblivion.

He nearly ground his molars into pulp. “Let. Me. Go.”

“You are dead, Sebastian. You’re no longer part of this world. All you’ll do is bring her pain, bring yourself pain. Don’t do this.” Twin streams of air whistled from the Arc’s nostrils as he shook his head. “I should’ve never brought you here.”

Bring him pain? More pain than he’d already endured? No.

No.

L.D. Rose is a neurotic physician by day, crazed writer by night, and all around wannabe superhero. She writes dark paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but she’s been known to delve into horror, sci-fi, and medical suspense on occasion. L.D. Rose is a PAN member of the RWA, FF&P, NEC-RWA and CoLoNY. She currently lives in Rhode Island with her studly hubby, her hyperactive Boxer, and her two devious cats.

Sign up for her newsletter for the latest on the Senary, sneak peeks, giveaways, and other fun stuff: http://eepurl.com/bKvuXD. You’ll receive a free horror short story with sign-up!

You can also join her reader group on FB for more shenanigans. DEVOUR THE NIGHT: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1544747369161573/

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This is the Reason I Return to My Roots

As a writer, I’m often asked about my journey – how I got started, what kind of writing I do, what influenced me, etc. Truth be told, I find it both valuable, and enjoyable to revisit those beginnings. Not only does it remind me why I started doing what I do, it allows me to reflect on where I’ve been, and to focus on where I’m going.

I grew up in a small town, working, cooking and eating in Ricardo’s, my family’s restaurant. It was in that one level, no frills, terrazzo tiled kitchen where I developed my enterprising spirit, working side by side with my family. A memory home, that hallowed ground has been a driving force in my life, and one I revisit often.

Fuel for my imagination, it’s warm, comforting, and takes me back to my roots, especially when I’m running low on entrepreneurial gas, something an author like me needs in abundance.

Ricardo’s was a cool, Mom and Pop retro-style diner. Only at the time, it wasn’t yet retro! In true 1970s fashion, it sported lots of brown and Crayola orange, from the countertops to the paneled walls, to the vinyl covered booths. Design crimes and all, it’s a place that’s part of my soul, and though long gone, lives on graciously in my memory, and now, I’m thrilled to say, in my first romantic suspense novel, A Mighty Good Man.

What a privilege to grow up in such a place! We worked hard, and that ethic stays with me to this day. From the time I was about ten, my brother and I worked alongside my parents, aunt and uncle, cousins and the help, making, on a large scale, tantalizing, from scratch fare, such as spaghetti sauce, (you have to use pork bones), wedding soup, and bread stuffing. Lots of Saturdays, starting at 7am, we did heavy prep, mixing up ingredients in Rubbermaid tubs; pounds of butter, ground meat, celery, onions. We cooked in cast iron and stainless steel cauldrons half my height, stirred with wooden paddles that could’ve doubled as oars. I learned how to work the grill, make salads, and turn last night’s chicken special into today’s soup du jour.

And that was just the food.

The people who worked there were larger than life too, and also live on fondly in my memory. Cooks, waitresses, busboys, dishwashers; men, women, young, old, and in between—they ran the gamut from high school student to retiree, from vagabond to workhorse. Some came and never left, some worked one shift and never bothered to return—characters, all of them.

I remember hanging out at the counter with my Dad for hours, while he drank coffee and talked with customers. I would sit, fascinated by the adult conversation and the things I heard, and shouldn’t have heard. A unique and well-rounded education was mine for the taking on topics as varied as the economy, the local steel mill, sports, hunting, the president, politics, family, and religion.

Regulars inhabited the space, claiming it as their own; they made it a hub in the community, not just as a place to eat great food, but as a place to connect, to complain, to celebrate, and to come together.

The food, the people, the work, the experience—it was delicious, joyous, exhilarating, exhausting, crazy, colorful, strange, and maddening, but above all, unique; so much so, we would often laugh and say we could write a book.

Well, I did.

Rebecca E. Neely is a blogger, storyteller, writer & author. Visit her at www.rebeccaneely.com 

Romance. Paranormal. Suspense.

All books available on Amazon

Are You Catching the Winds of Destiny?

My father taught high school English, in addition to his many talents. When he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he was able to continue to teach for a short time. During those few months, I would visit him at school, eating lunch with him, offering silent moral support, and sometimes sitting in on his classes. On one such day, the class was studying Edgar Lee Master’s poem, George Gray, from his Spoon River Anthology.

My father is never far from my thoughts, and this came to mind today. As a writer, I’m fascinated by words, and how stories and authors connect my father and I. How appropriate a poem, for all of us, every day. Looking back, I believe with all of my heart that my father caught the winds of his destiny, each and every day. I write this today, to urge myself, and you, to have the determination and spirit to do the same, whatever your calling. Happy Monday!

George Gray by Edgar Lee Master

I have studied many times
The marble which was chiseled for me–
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.
In truth it pictures not my destination
But my life.
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must lift the sail
And catch the winds of destiny
Wherever they drive the boat.
To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desire–
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.

Rebecca E. Neely is a writer, blogger, author and storyteller. Visit her at www.rebeccaneely.com

The Crossing Realms series ~ The Keeper, Book 1 and The Watcher, Book 2 available on Amazon

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