Wow, Adah nailed Ursula’s soul

“Read, read, read, especially your most admired authors.” That’s the advise I took after completing a writing course from The Open University in 2016. And now, just yesterday, there on page 530 of Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood BibleUrsula & Adah Price0420171953_Burst01, I find the the soul of Ursula, our virologist villain, beautifully expressed through the words of Kingsolver’s character, Adah. Like Adah, Ursula’s work is to discover life histories of viruses, and like Adah, Ursula has no children, only her viruses. Unlike Adah, Ursula is a mad exterminator bent on using devil microbes to annihilate her enemy. Barbara Kingsolver is my newest, must-read author.

Fictional Hero – So What

Strange how an image on a jet’s tail fin got us to question our ‘fictional’ hero. We’d had a week-end break in Skagen, Denmark after completing the first draft of CREATION, whew, and were entering the plane from the tarmac. While schlepping carry-ons up the stairway, a massive portrait of Jens Glad Balchen greeted us.

Okay, so who is he; a CEO of Norwegian Air, its benefactor; maybe Norway’s king in plain clothes? Obviously we had a lot to learn about Mr. Balchen, this airline and the culture from which it hails, not to mention Norwegian royalty.

Soon we settled. Our friend Jesper handed us Norwegian, the magazine, opened to page 128. The title said it all; Tail fin heroes; Scandinavian pioneers who have “Pushed the boundaries, challenged the established, and inspired others.” There were 82 heroes on those two pages.

No way, it’s 2016, Norwegian Air Shuttle. You’re a business, supposed to be plastering your name or logo on the tail fin. What? You’re celebrating heroes? Real life ones like Victor Borge, Sonja Henie and Karen Blixin?

That is so awesome. What a way to begin a conversation, or start a Google search once belted in. Can’t imagine any kid who wouldn’t want to become a tail fin hero.

So why bother writing IZ~ when there are so many real life heroes to read about? Maybe, just maybe, Izzy will be an inspiration for a future tail fin hero.


A big part of writing IZ~is finding readers who let us know what they like or don’t, about our story. So we scan every suggestion that pops up in our email. We’re finding enough daily advice to keep Sandy guzzling three cups of coffee. We think we hit the jackpot with a tip from Smith Publicity. Here’s the link  . Click it if you think book clubs can be powerful spokespersons for you.We did and started writing questions about our own book. Go for it and send them to Let’s share.

“Get Your Book Noticed By Book Clubs.” Okay, Smith, we did it. Wrote a list of questions that will invigorate discussion. We love book clubs and know what an asset a genuine list of questions from the author can be. Here’s our list after forty-five minutes of pondering, laughing and editing.


  1. If you could pick a character to meet over a cup of coffee, which one would it be?
  2. Which character would you want as your President?
  3. If you were Professor Devans would you have felt obligated to disclose everything you learned about the artifact?
  4. How do you think Izzy’s appearance changed as he aged?
  5. What part of Greek culture did Thorf Serendopolis not experience?
  6. Was Thorf truly in danger while in Santorini, or was it paranoia about his blood type that caused his anxiety.
  7. Were there any philosophical comments that evoked your emotions?
  8. Is there a specific narrative passage that left an impressive visual image?
  9. Do you see parallel characteristics in any two characters?
  10. Which character do you relate to the most?
  11. How do you think the collared urn and its contents end up at Stonehenge?
  12. Was it appropriate for Carys to have been given the responsibility of carrying on Honorable Grandfather’s storytalk?
  13. If you were to hold a social gathering, which three characters would you invite?
  14. If this story was in the form of a play, and you were an actor, which character would you audition for?
  15. Do you see any resemblance between the characters in the story and historical or mythological figures?
  16. The Island of Caves as mentioned in Chapters 2 and 5 exists today on Earth. Where do you think it is located?
  17. When Tasy found the artifact, do you think someone was digging it up or burying it?
  18. What part of Thorf’s experience in Santorini might entice you to visit that island?
  19. Of the ten house rules listed, which is your favorite?
  20. Which character would most likely agree with the quote, “An unexamined life is not worth living”? (From Plato’s Apology which is a recollection of the speech Socrates gave at his trial.)

If you managed to read to the bottom of this list. YEAH! We’d love your answers. Rather than guess at the answers you can check out IZ~ on Amazon .



To Swear or Not to Swear

Three Examples of Character Cursing in IZ~

After reading TA Sullivan’s interesting WordPress blog Should Your Character Swear we realized our characters who don’t swear, do.

ONE. In our first book, ENCOUNTERS, a coed is exhausted, cold, wet, and frustrated because her mobile ran out of time as she’d connected to her professor.

“Devans here.”

“Professor Devans, this is Dee.”

“Your credit is running low,” came an automated message.

“Please don’t lea …”

Be be be be be be …

“Damn! What good is this thing?” Dee threw the phone onto the passenger seat, slammed the door, started the engine, and drove to the security gate..

TWO. About two hours later the professor finds himself treading in the dark through mud to a hole in the ground that his student, Dee, claims is where her dog found the collared urn.

“Holy Sh__!” He was not by nature a profaniteur and he certainly didn’t want Dee to believe otherwise, so he stopped in mid-curse, aimed his beam at the dog beside him who stood peering at her handiwork.

THREE. In CREATION, soon to be published, Chico Quwattle, a plant geneticist on Planet Authair has missed what she considers an opportunity of a lifetime.

“They’re petals; not snowflakes, the ralkids are dropping their petals. Damn.” She cursed.

Chico didn’t swear. She hated swearing. Maybe she could swallow the word like she’d never said it. Here she was a student of all things green and growing; her last opportunity, ever, to see the ralkid’s dome of vines untangle, open to the sun, and drop their blossoms, and she’d botched it. How swear-worthy was that? She asked herself.


We’d love to have your comments, but please don’t curse, at least at us.



The flight suit, a flexible ribbed polymer in hues of lilac, gently stretched as she pulled it over her legs. She positioned the collar between her teeth to slide her left arm into the suit’s long sleeve. There was no other sleeve in which to stuff her remaining and lifeless appendage. Instead, a customized pouch designed to cradle the injured limb allowed her to secure it over her chest out of harm’s way.

To her delight, a woven butterfly spread over the outside of the torso and adjacent shoulder. Its wings of silver sparkled through the hazy light. She pressed on the zip band which automatically sealed the suit.

Cimi’d designed compassion into every thread Chico thought, snapping the last silver clasp on her matching flight boots. She stood, feeling feminine once again. Now to survive the flight. With her one good hand Chico picked up Sequence’s carrier. Stepping around the forest of stalagmites she saw Phed waiting by the cavejet.

Explain A Character’s Obsession

We used a brief back story to open a window into General Gore’s personality.

Buster’d been Gore’s secret companion from early childhood. His parents had made it known when he was born that soft, fluffy, or furry toys were forbidden gifts for their son, who’d someday achieve greatness. He was to learn self-preservation and leadership. Military marches lulled him to sleep in a nursery full of neatly-shelved maps, puzzles and toy vehicles of land, water and air.

To Gore’s grandmother, or Grammy, as she preferred, that was an outrageous decision on the part of her son-in-law, and a damnable weakness in her daughter. With a little subterfuge Grammy managed to be alone with her grandson long enough to present him his one and only plush toy. “Gore, I want you to have all my hugs when I’m not around to give them. She held out a fluffy toy rabbityle. “Here. His name is Buster. See, it’s right here.” She lifted the left ear and held it so little Gore could see the writing. “Buster gives lots of hugs.” Taking Buster’s furry ears she wrapped them around the two-year-old’s  arm. “See, he can hug you just like Grammy.” She gave little Gore a squeezy hug with Buster in between. “You’ve got to keep him hidden or Grammy’ll get into a lot of trouble.”

Gore didn’t want Grammy in trouble. From that day on, the game of hiding Buster became his obsession. The one accomplishment for which he never sought recognition.

Did this method work to characterize our insecure General?

How have you managed this type of characterization?


In this draft we’re introducing the reader to the bad girl. What do you think? Did we do it?

“NPT Newsz.Now.” Ursula spat the command at the device on her wrist. The microbial virologist stood behind the upper most tier of seats in the empty lecture hall impatient for National Public Telepathy’s live broadcast of world news to appear on the observation wall. She stood, gripping the back of a seat with long fingernails sinking into its plush fibers. Her lips curved a smile they seldom exercised anticipating the news of her prowess, news that would prove her genius in genetic manipulation.
A running ticker came into view. Breaking news. Olympyons faced with deadly out-break of an unknown origin.’ An impassioned announcer tallied victims. “Five hundred people have succumbed within the last six hours. Emergency…..
“Vhat eez zhat? Five hundred, only five hundred?” Ursula doubted the accuracy of that report. After a lifetime of work to create the annihilator of millions she’d only succeeded in killing five hundred? She snapped her head from left to right making sure she was still alone, then cut her eyes to the DB framed in rubies embedded in her bony wrist. There’d soon be a class filling the hall and she knew enough to pretend abhorrence to this developing news. Her nails dug further into the upholstery and she glared at the announcer as if it was his fault more innocent victims weren’t dying.
She listened. “The victims display no sign of early trauma or disease. It appears they suddenly lose consciousness, their lungs collapse and hearts stop. All attempts at saving their lives have failed. Geneticists at the Ponce Heidon Institute have isolated an unknown virus from the victims’ blood. I repeat, no source has been established for this deadly strain. The Olympyon Center for Disease has issued a public notice, when at all possible, place all activities on remote operation, activate Level 5 sanitization procedures and stay tuned to NPT for updates. It is speculated the …..”
Vel, zhat’s not going to help von leetle bit. Ursula quietly scoffed at the OCD’s attempts to prevent contagion and swiveled a stilettoed heel toward the doorway. The news announcer’s somber report continued streaming, his voice fading as she marched out of the lecture hall, purposely allowing the live broadcast to greet the students as they arrived.

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