Scottish Warrior Poet

Len Pennie, a 21-year-old Fife student is making waves in Scotland with her poem, In Memorium. The poem honors Scots women who were persecuted for witchcraft between 1563 and 1736.

The poem was commissioned by the Witches of Scotland campaign who have lodged a petition with the Scottish Parliament seeking to secure a pardon, apology, and national memorial for the nearly 4,000 Scots accused, convicted, and executed for practicing witchcraft. Their petition states: “As with elsewhere in Europe, the vast majority of those accused, some 85 percent were women.”

Pennie describes the treatment of accused witches as “state-sanctioned murder” and pledges to “demand justice” for those who were tortured and tried under the Witchcraft Act, branding it “a punishment lacking a crime.” Continue reading


Editing: From Alphas to Betas and Beyond

Writing, it’s said, is a lonely profession. Images of writers sequestering themselves away for the purpose of finishing their novel abound. Some novelist are so overconfident, they believe they don’t need help. Others avoid seeking help, paralyzed by the secret fear that their writing simply isn’t good enough. But, behind every successful author is a slew of people who have left their mark on the manuscript.

Self-publishers, eager to see their books in print, often ignore the undervalued topics of manuscript evaluation, revision, and editing, instead focusing their attention on buying ISBNs, contracting print-on-demand services, and marketing. They do this at their peril. These are the essential steps that makes a manuscript worth reading. Flawed plot lines and inadequate character development are impossible to salvage after the book is published. To catch (and resolve) problematic aspects early in the writing process, the manuscript must be read by others, starting with its earliest draft forms. Continue reading


The Terrible Truth behind Free Books

Write a book, get published, make millions, right? Wrong.

I’m not sure what bothers me more about this misconception: the would-be authors who think a book deal is the key to financial success and easy living or the countless readers who operate under the delusion that authors are so well off that they ought to give their books away, for free.

Authors Earn Less than Minimum Wage

The Bureau of Labor Statistics list average annual income for writers and authors as $63,200. What many writers and readers fail to realize is, this average includes the salaries of corporate writers who are responsible for crafting the limitations for your insurance and warrantees, the microscopic legalese that’s included with the terms and conditions of your credit card, and the impossible to follow instructions included with every “assembly required” item you’ve ever purchased. Actual author income is much, much less. Continue reading


Letter from Mrs. Claus

With Christmas fast approaching in this tumultuous year, no doubt many children are feeling anxious. Fortunately,  I received a letter from a friend of mine who just happens to live at the North Pole. Those wishing to pass this information on to their children (or grandchildren) can view a printer-friendly version of the letter below.

Printer Friendly Letter: From the Desk of Mrs. Claus

 

 


Storm: The Cat who Lived

The topic of my most recent article for IDAHO Magazine is Storm, a blind foundling I plucked from the ditch during my morning walk. Storm was incredibly tiny when I found her and despite being gravely ill, she rallied and survived. She even managed to overcome blindness. But, what is really remarkable about this tale is that neither the veterinarian nor I killed her.

To explain that last sentence, I need to back up a few years. Continue reading


Book Review: The Witch’s Book of Self-Care

 

The Witch’s Book of Self-Care

By Arin Murphy-Hiscock

$14.99 available on Amazon

 

This book changed my life!

This book came to me at an exceptionally low point in my life. I was juggling three jobs, one of which required me to deal with a gas-lighting supervisor, was experiencing chest pains and hypertension, and sleeping maybe four hours a night. To say I was burnt out was an understatement. With the help of this book, I set healthy boundaries, quit what was an undeniably bad job, lost 52 pounds, and saw my blood pressure drop 30 points.

In The Witch’s Book of Self-Care, the author quickly addresses the common misconception that self-care involves sitting on your laurels, eating bonbons, having spa days, and engaging in retail therapy. Self-care takes work in order to have a lasting impact on your life. This is not a book to be read in an afternoon. It needs to be savored, taking as much time as necessary to master each task before moving on to the next topic. Continue reading


The Witch’s Familiar

‘Tis the season to celebrate cats. Halloween cards and decorations feature black cats sporting witches’ hats, slinking through graveyards, and riding on brooms. Halloween is synonymous with fun—and frights, but for cats, Halloween tricks can seem all too real. Strangers slink through the neighborhood. Unusual smells and horrifying noises fill the air. Costumes turn ordinary people into monsters. Make no mistake, Halloween is a spooky time for cats. Those frights come with an even more frightening history. Continue reading


Beyond Terrestrial Podcast

After coming across my article, “Grizzly Ghosts: Tales of the Hoodoos,” I was invited to be a guest on Dan and Lee’s pod cast with ‘Beyond Terrestrial.’ The article covers ghost stories new and old that have been passed around campfires by decades of scouts attending Camp Grizzly as well as some mysterious happenings that occurred elsewhere in the Hoodoos.

Are these all fanciful tales told by rambunctious Scouts? Or is there something darker lurking in the Hoodoo Mountains? Find a stick for roasting marshmallows and sit down by the fire as we swap summer camp ghost stories! Continue reading


Submitting to the AR Catalog

You have written a book.  It’s great book, a stellar book, a magnificent book.  Yet, it sits on the shelf unsold.

If your intended audience is between the ages of 6 and 18, unless your book is listed in the Accelerated Reader (AR) catalog, it’s unlikely to be purchased by anyone.  Teachers cannot possibly be familiar with the plot, storyline, and characters of every book available to school-age children.  Because of this, many schools turn to Renaissance Learning’s Accelerated Reader (AR) program.  The AR software provides assessments that measure comprehension and reading level.  Consequently, school and library purchasing decisions are often dependent on AR catalog listing.

Authors hoping to bypass schools and libraries, marketing directly to kids (and their parents) are out of luck.  Summer used to be a time for kids to catch-up on ‘fun’ reading.  Now, even it has fallen victim to the AR Catalog.  Racking-up AR points is highly competitive.  Pizza parties and tickets to amusement parks on the line.  Many schools allow students to log points for books read during summer break, so most school-aged children simply will not read a book that does not appear in the AR catalog.

In order to be successful with the school-age demographic, authors need their books listed in the AR catalog.  But, how does one do that? Continue reading


Covid-19: Surviving Isolation

I seldom panic and wasn’t going to prep.  Then both of my kids asked me about Covid-19.  And then the President declared a national emergency and the CDC said we should have a month’s supply of “stuff” on hand.  And now, we’re supposed to avoid places with more than 10 people.

Thanks to the wisdom of my ancestors, who instilled in me the need to preserve and store large quantities of food, I’m still not going to panic.  Some of you may remember the last government shut-down in which I went eight weeks without buying groceries and suffered no adverse effects thanks to my “Mormon Pantry.”  At the time, I joked that it was a dry run to see if I could survive the Zombie Apocalypse.  Turns out, it was a test run for surviving Covid-19.

For the benefit of my children (and possibly their friends and random strangers) I have created menus and a shopping list detailing the items one person needs to shelter in place for a month.  Since most recipes serve four or six, you’ll be eating left-overs several nights in a row, but it beats starvation. Continue reading