Friday, August 3, 2018

Guest Post by Katherine Prairie

The Blank Page

Katherine Prairie

I’ve had the privilege of meeting many emerging writers over the past few years, and often they ask about my routine, or whether I’ve experience writer’s block. I understand these questions; I had them myself.
Every author has faced a blank page, struggling to find words. For me, it often happens after several days away from the keyboard, which means that taking the weekend off can make Monday a challenge. So I try to do a little writing — even a paragraph or two — every day of the week. That routine, something that can take as little as fifteen minutes, somehow makes the blank page less intimidating.
It doesn’t always work. Right now, while I’m busy promoting BLUE FIRE, it’s easy to make my to-do list a priority or to focus on research for my next Alex Graham thriller, instead of writing. But those tasks can easily fill a day or a week, leaving me to face the dreaded blank page again the next day! So I start my day writing, and push other tasks to mid-morning with the intent of restarting my afternoon with more writing. Even if my to-do list takes over, I’ll manage to put in at least a few of hours of writing time during my most creative time of day.  And I turn to music to get me started.
I’ve created several playlists, everything from dark and moody, to soft and reflective, that serve to narrow my focus and set the tone. Because I write in multiple perspectives, I select the music that fits the character telling the story in the scene I’m working on. Alex Graham’s music tends to be mostly rock, which seems fitting for the risk-taker and adventurer that she is. Dr. Eric Keenan’s songs, on the other hand, are energetic,  the music of a man racing to save lives in the emergency room!
As you would expect, ominous music fills my office when I’m writing from the perspective of my villain, but what I find interesting is that there’s always a one song that becomes a signature for that character. That was certainly true for Shen Li. His signature song, Ed Sheeran’s Make It Rain from the Sons of Anarchy series, makes me I feel as though I’ve dropped into the mind of this complex foe, and I often start my day with it.
Every writer develops their own strategies, but perhaps there’s an idea here that will work for you!    



Tanzanite, a rare blue gem born in fire and revealed by lightning, is found only in the Merelani Hills of Tanzania. But now the death of a gem smuggler points to another possibility. A South American mine owned by Tabitha Metals may hold the find of a century. But why is it kept hidden from the world? Geologist Brian Graham can draw only one conclusion: the mine’s untraceable wealth is used to fund terrorism. And he must reveal the truth.

Brian heads to Colombia to check out mines there while his geologist daughter Alex and Tanzanian miner Mosi Ongeti start in Brazil. But their daring plan ends with a gunshot, and they are now pursued by the henchmen of a sinister, powerful arms dealer.

In a high-stakes race across two continents, Alex fights to expose the mine before the man behind Tabitha Metals can stop her.


A daring act reveals an incredible secret deep in a Brazilian mine, and catapults geologist Alex Graham into the world of a powerful arms dealer. She heads to Tanzania, to her father whose cryptic message started her quest. But her enemy is closing in.


Katherine Prairie brings her own experience as an international geologist to the Alex Graham thriller series. Her debut novel THIRST was shortlisted for the 2017 Whistler Independent Book Awards. She served as the founding president of Sisters in Crime - Canada West, and she is a 2018-19 Crime Writers of Canada director.


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Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Tribute to My Mother

If you have been reading my blog for a while you will notice that my posts have been irregular.  In April my loving mother slipped in our bathroom hitting the toilet paper holder and cracked a rib. The x-ray also showed a spot in her lung. A biopsy was ordered and she was diagnosed with stage 3.5b lung cancer.   In June she went into congestive heart. The solution always comes with its own set of problems. They give her an extra water booster. This usually messes up her electrolytes and dehydrates her.  Then we have issues with her sugar.  This time we spent three weeks on a roller coaster ride with trips every 3 days to the doctor.  At the end of the third week he hospitalized her.  Her oxygen level was 71 and her heart rate while sitting was over 120.  She was very sick.  After ten days she went to a rehab facility for physical and occupational therapy.  They absolutely loved her. She was a strong Christian woman and her love for God and her fellow humans was a natural part of her life.  She seemed to be improving. She tried to do everything she could to improve.

Before she got sick she and her best friend Marie would visit another of their friends in an assisted living facility every Thursday to play Uno.  She was cut-throat when they played. They joked around and accused each other of  cheating when they won. She was very happy during this time.  Before she lost all of her sisters they would get together when she would visit them up north and play games. It was always the same story. The losers always accused the winner of cheating.  They would laugh for hours.  Her pastor's mother-in-law was the lady they visited on Thursdays. His mother-in-law lived with him and his wife before she went into assisted living. They would go to his house to play dominoes or Uno.  He jokingly nicknamed them "The Casino Gals". She loved it as much as she loved her pastor. She always shared with us what jokes he cracked as they sat around playing games. 

Janis often went with them whether it was to drive them or assist them in some way.  My mother loved her like another one of her daughters. Janis and her husband Jason had been there for my mom for quite some time. When hurricane Irma went through last year and we lost our power, they loaded her up along with her mattress and took her to their house until our power was restored. They visited her at the hospital. Most importantly to me and her they visited her at the rehab facility.  When she took a turn for the worse and started filling up with fluid and could no longer lay in a bed they bought a wedge shaped pillow to put behind her and a small footstool to put under her feet. They visited her almost daily. The last few days of her life they gave my husband Brad and I a break so we could eat and take care of a few things.  They were there when the nirse came in to assess my mother for hospice. Once again they stayed with her so we could run errands and eat. We returned and they sat with us until we learned what time they would transport her to a hospice house. We knew it would only be a day or two before we would lose her. We had learned only three days before that the cancer had completely taken over her left lung. Three months before it was a spot the size of a walnut.  My husband and I followed the transport and spent the night in my mother's room. The next morning we contacted Janis and her husband and told them we were leaving to eat and change clothes. They came up and stayed until we returned. They were there with us, and my mom's best friend when my mother passed into glory.

Janis and her husband, and my husband and I were never really close. My mother wanted us to be friends. The newfound relationship the four of us has, the closeness we have found was all because of my mother. It was amazing to watch the therapists, social workers, nurses all come in and out of her room at the rehab facility her last day there to tell her how much they loved her, give her a hug and kiss and walk out crying. They told her how much she had impacted their life and what an inspiration and blessing she had been to them. This shows the effect that one person can have on others when they let God's light and love shine through them.  My mother will be missed. But I am truly blessed to have been able to call her my mother.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Intense Book Series by Glenn Haggerty

I have found a new author whose books I absolutely love. His writing style is similar to Max Elliot Anderson and Tim Shoemaker. These are two author's whose books are on my classroom shelves. Not only do my boys love these books, but so do my girls. I highly recommend this author to all of my readers.


Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure, Thriller
Source: I purchased a copy

Glenn Haggerty’s books are full of suspense and adventure. Tyler Higgins wants to fit in with the “cool” kids. He is willing to ditch his former best friends to be “cool”.  He is quickly learning that being “cool” is not all it is cracked up to be. Tyler agrees to spy on kids parked at Lover’s Lane.  He invites his former best friend who declines. While hiding in the woods waiting to catch teens making out a car pulls up. When the trunk lid is opened they see what they are sure is a dead body. Unfortunately they are discovered.  This book takes you on an edge of your seat adventure as these two teens try to stay alive.  Discover what exactly is going on. Who is chasing them and who wants who dead.  This is a lite Christian Fiction.  Throughout the book Tyler talks about church and God. The reason I loved this book is because it is so true to life in the Christian aspect.  Tyler has thoughts about what he believes God would want him to do, chooses to take a different path because he doesn’t want to listen to God. The other thing we see is what happens when he makes decisions he knows is wrong.   This is a book that can and will be enjoyed by everyone. This is the first book of a trilogy.

Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure, Thriller
Source: I purchased a copy
Tyler Higgins family has moved.  Now he is once again trying to fit in with the cool kids.  The cool kids have ditched him in the woods.  He decides he will get his younger brother to go into the woods to try and find the “cool kids” treehouse. When a storm hits they stumble onto an old house. As creepy as it is they slip inside. When they hear someone coming up from the basement they hide in a closet.  When the coast is clear they escape.  A run in with the creepy guy from  the old house puts Tyler and his family in danger. When these would-be plumbers threaten him and his friends Tyler takes things into his own hands.  Once again Glenn Haggerty has created a story that keeps you sitting on the edge of your seat.

Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure, Thriller
Source: I purchased a copy

This was the most intense of the three books. Tyler has noticed a change in some of his friends. He is sure there is a drug problem in his school.  His plan is to find out who is dealing the drugs. The problem is that they need to find the person at the top of the chain.  Tyler and some of his friends come up with a plan.  They are going to track these drug dealers to get to the bottom of the problem.  But the woods are full of problems.  Sometimes the ones you think you can trust are the ones you need to avoid. Will this adventure cost Tyler and his friends their lives?  These books are so good that I read one a day. I stayed up to finish them each night.  I look forward to reading many more books by this author.