Vacation Time in Texas

Vacation Time in Texas

by Beth Kozan

The summer I was 12, my family took a vacation to “See Texas.” If you’ve never traveled north to south in Texas, it might be hard to realize how long it took to drive 600 miles to our destination: Corpus Christi, and the Gulf of Mexico! From the Gulf, we drove west to the Mexico border to see the marvels of the new Falcon Dam on the Rio Grande, and from there back home, adding another 700 or so miles. This was a time prior to super highways, a time when every small town the highway passed through had at least one traffic light – and a cop waiting to catch a speeder! It was slow going, and very few cars were air conditioned. We kept cool by rolling down the windows, at least part way.

texas road trip

In the next 10 days, we would travel to Abilene, San Angelo, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Falfurrias, Falcon Dam, Laredo/Nuevo Laredo (where we crossed the border into Mexico – no passports needed!. Then to Uvalde, Sweetwater, Snyder, and Post – then back onto the Plains: and finally: our farm in the community of Harmony.

On our trip, we left said farm on the South Plains of Texas (near Petersburg) and drove to Abilene for the first night with Daddy’s cousins Bob and Averil. We kids slept on a pallet on the floor in the spare bedroom where Mother and Daddy slept. The next day we drove through Austin, where I took snapshots of the pink granite Texas Capitol building with my Brownie Hawkeye camera.

I did not like being stuck in the backseat of the 1953 Chevy with 6-year-old Nita Karen and 3-year-old Larry, so – unencumbered by seat belts — I spent a lot of time hanging over the back of the front seat, listening to conversations between my mom and dad, and watching the road.

The day before we left home, I’d started my first period! I was curious and wanted to check my menstrual flow, but I couldn’t; I had to protect the children. Sometimes I had mild cramps; I was learning about that, too. What a disappointment: to become a woman at 12. It certainly wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Along the way, we spent a few nights in a motel. Routine became ritual: Mother and the kids would stay in the car while Daddy walked to the office to ask the price of a one-night stay. He might return with a sigh: “They want too much!” But before long, he developed the skill of identifying a motel with a price that worked for our budget: a small unit (each, a separate cottage from the office) where we’d have one bed for three kids, and Mama and Daddy would have their own bed in our one-room stay.

After a good night’s sleep, it was on to San Antonio. Daddy got lost looking for the Alamo, which he had visited as a single young man. He got turned around in the city on narrow streets built for horses and buggies, not shiny new cars. He took a wrong-way turn onto a one-way street. “It wasn’t a one-way street the last time I was here!” he explained to the nice policeman who stopped us. Eventually we found a parking place and toured the sacred grounds of Texas’s most intense memorial battleground, impressed by the hallowed ground we walked.

After another night in a motel, we finally arrived in Corpus Christi to visit Mama’s older sister, Elsie. The next day we drove over a bridge to Padre Island on the Gulf of Mexico, following Uncle Champ with Aunt Elsie as his only passenger and carrying the picnic supplies.

I had never seen a body of water big enough to have waves! Everybody got to swim in the warm ocean – except for me. Mama said I couldn’t go in the water because I was on my period. Instead, I waded in the shallow water while everyone else played in the waves.

The waves were uneven – most were small and flat, but I learned not to trust them; some were bigger. I was bent over looking for seashells when a wave hit my chest, drenching my white blouse and white shorts, instantly turning them transparent. Horrors! Not only was my AA junior bra visible, but so was the secret belt that held my Kotex in place. I was mortified!

Aunt Elsie’s daughter, my cousin Barbara Jean, had driven out to the beach, arriving after we got there. Barbara Jean was grown, with a family of her own; she’d “made a nurse” and worked in a hospital. She called me over to the sand dune where she sat apart from the others. “I noticed you’re not swimming. Did your mom tell you not to swim while on your period? My mama told me that, too. She might have also told you that you can’t wash your hair when you’re on your period. My mother told me that. It’s not true. It’s an old wive’s tale.”

This would be the only time in my life I would see Cousin Barbara Jean in person, but her words liberated me. She schooled me to Real Life and let me in on female secrets: My mama was wrong! Barbara Jean opened up a new world for me, independent of what my mother’s generation believed.

Woman and little girl sitting on the wooden pier near the sea.

Beth Kozan
is the author of the book Adoption: More Than by Chance and the forthcoming Beth KozanHelping the Birth Mother You Know. Beth worked in adoption for 35 years and retired to write. She has many more books than these titles to write and will emphasize and explore the concept of community in her additional books. “Growing up in a close agriculture-based, rural community in Texas, I felt the comfort and bonds of caring for others which is often missing in our busy lives today. Exploring and building communities for today is my writer’s goal.” Follow Beth on Facebook or visit her website, where she reviews books and films featuring adoption.

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Sometimes You Need a Break

Sometimes You Need a Break

by Patricia Grady Cox

Having finished THE CABIN DOOR (my third novel), I have begun my search for an agent. At the same time I am diligently promoting my two published novels, CHASM CREEK and HELLGATE. I am now posting on more than 66 Facebook group pages. I finished compiling my MailChimp list and am about to send out a newsletter. I’m also ramping up to start promoting the large-print edition of CHASM CREEK, which is due out November 21. On top of that, I started research and outlining for my fourth novel, a sequel to HELLGATE, and plan to churn out the first draft in November during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

I’m tired just reading that paragraph!

Which is why, when my sister recently invited me to spend a week at a beach house she’d rented at East Matunuck Beach in Rhode Island, I said yes!!!

RI Beach pics 1

RI Beach pics 2

One whole week of lounging, watching the sun rise and set over the salt pond, walking a half-mile to the ocean with big breakers, eating seafood, drinking adult beverages, visiting friends and relatives, playing Scrabble, and binge-watching Poldark. Heavenly. And I have photos to look at whenever I want to return to that vacation frame of mind.

Now . . . back to work!

Patricia Grady Cox
is a member of Western Writers of America and Women Writing Trish Coxthe West. Her nonfiction work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, and ghost-written memoirs. Patricia has volunteered at the Pioneer Arizona Living History Museum where she experienced, first-hand, the realities of life in the 1800s. Her love of the Southwest – the landscape, the history, the culture – infuses her work with authenticity. Originally from Rhode Island, she moved to Arizona 24 years ago and currently lives in Phoenix. Her novel, Chasm Creek, is available on Amazon or through her website. Patricia blogs weekly at Patricia Grady Cox, WriterHer second novel, HELLGATE, is now on sale.

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Celebrating Indie Authors on Indie Author Day

indie author day2

Today is Indie Author Day. If you know an author, chances are they are an independent author. Just in case you’re wondering, here’s the definition of an indie author from the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).

ALLi defines an independent author in the following way:

  • Have self-published at least one book.
  • See themselves as the creative director of their books and of their author businesses.
  • Expect that their status as creative director to be acknowledged in any partnership they negotiate.
  • Recognize that they are central to a revolutionary shift in publishing which must move from seeing authors as a resource of raw material (‘content provider’) to respecting the author as a business partner, with much to offer through each step of the publishing process.
  • Proud of their indie status and carry that empowered attitude into all their ventures, negotiations and collaborations, for their own benefit and to benefit all writers.

That category covers about 99 percent of the authors who belong to Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion, and likewise, all of the writers for this blog.

Please help me celebrate by perusing the list below, sharing it with your book-loving friends, and popping over to at least one of the sites to make a purchase!

The 48-Hour Fat Burn Solution
by Miles Beccia
Learn how to lose inches of body fat on demand.

I Didn’t Know I Was Born an Artist
by Aida Bell
We are all born artists, just expressing it in different ways.

didn't know i was an artist

Inspirations for Peace Within
by Kebba Buckley Button
The carry-with-you tool guaranteed to create Peace Within.

Sexy Little Secrets
by Frederick Diggs
Everything’s going well for Chrissie and Joe – until Sam comes along.

Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy
by Rita Goldner
Mother teaches Young Orangutan foraging, exploring, escaping predators, and nest-building.

After the Fall
by Brad Graber
Join Rikki on her journey to discover who her mother was.

by Patricia Grady Cox
In the nightmarish village of Hellgate, all criminals are welcome.

Love Bill
by Jan Krulick-Belin
A testament to the unbreakable bond between fathers and daughters.

The Least Likely Criminal
by Cindy McDonald & Jeni Grossman
How far would YOU go to save your child’s life?

by Marcus A. Nannini
What became of the men responsible for sinking the USS Oklahoma?

Publish Your Book Already!
by Laura Orsini
Finally ready to write your book? This manual walks you through every step.

From a Cat’s View
Robin Praytor, author and editor
Eighteen stories told by the cats who lived them.

cat's view.jpg

HENRY: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America
by Katrina Shawver
A Polish swimmer survives Auschwitz and Buchenwald during WWII.

The Storm Women
by C. K. Thomas
Unravel these extraordinary lives beginning in the era of burlesque.

Professor Ione D and the Epicurian Incident
by Vaughn L. Treude & Arlys-Allega Holloway
Ione D visits London for King Edward’s First Epicurean Exhibition

My Ticket to Ride: From Cancer to Flourishing
by Cristina Whitehawk
Flourishing is an inside job.

Ticket to RideAll or Nothing
by K. Williams
Justin gambles it all to be with Mia.

all or nothingFadoesque: A Thriller
by John L. Work
A fifty-something divorced ex-cop’s Mediterranean cruise turns deadly.

Magic of Reading: May Your Grandest Dreams Appear
by William L. Young
A story about life, magic encounters, devotion, mentors, and coincidences.

 is a self-publishing consultant who works with authors who want to LO picchange the world. From concept to publication to the first-time author’s book launch, her expertise will help you make a better book and find more readers. Laura is the organizer of the popular and successful Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup, creator of the Holiday Author Event, and conjurer of many other author opportunities. She will explore the power of the group in her posts for this group blog. In the meantime, read her regular posts at Marcie Brock – Book Marketing Maven. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check out her pins on Pinterest.

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The Effective Author: Dictionaries Rock New Words

The Effective Author: Dictionaries Rock New Words

© 2018 Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM. World Rights Reserved.

just the right word

Earlier this year, I wrote about The Joy of New Words, describing how language is always evolving and we should have fun with it. I mentioned The Word Spy, which documents interesting new words and the media mentions he found. Since then, two giants that monitor the English language have come out with updated word lists, to the delight of word lovers everywhere. is an online dictionary and thesaurus company, with 15 or more different types of hardcover and softcover published dictionaries, including versions for college students, children, and English learners. They publish a visual dictionary and a Spanish-English medical dictionary, a French-English/Francais-Anglais dictionary, a Spanish-English version, and even a Geographical Dictionary. Anyone can check a word’s meaning on the website, or simply flip to the Thesaurus tab to look for different words with matching meanings. This year, Merriam-Webster has added 850 new entries. Among my favorites are glamping (glamour camping, or camping with full bathrooms), cryptocurrency (had to be added), and embiggen (to make bigger).

Merriam-Webster also publishes The Official Scrabble Players’ Dictionary, with the Sixth Edition just issued this past September 1. This edition has 300 new words. My favorites include zomboid (“resembling zombies”), ew (“used to express disgust”), and twerk (“to dance by shaking the buttocks while squatting”).

The Oxford English Dictionary, or OED, is published by the Oxford University Press. This year it was announced that almost 2,000 new entries have been added to its previous base of 829,000. The new entries are words, senses, and sub-entries. The OED was first published in unbound form, in 1887. Today, there are a number of variations, including Spanish, Gujarati, and Hindi, as well as compact versions and children’s versions. The complete OED is so huge that the Third Edition is not expected ever to be printed. It will be available only as a PDF. To have a little fun, scan the June 2018 additions at A few of my favorites include: embiggen (where have we seen that before?), shakshuka (an entrée egg dish), yessir (an emphatic agreement), and antwacky (old fashioned).

So it looks like the English language has been busily developing and using an average of 100,000 words per century. Humans apparently enjoy trying to find just the right verbal expression. New words allow us to say what we mean more specifically, as culture evolves. New words keep us and our writings fresh. And they are fuel for further joy and creativity for The Effective Authorsm!

Kebba Buckley Button
is a stress management expert with a natural healing practice. She Kebba books 2017also is an ordained minister whose passion is helping people find their Peace Within. She is the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You, and also Inspirations for Peace Within: Quotes and Images to Uplift and InspireIPW is available on Amazon in full-color glossy format. Her newest book is Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine, also in full-color. For full-color PDF versions, contact her office. For an appointment or to ask Kebba to speak for your group:

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The Truth About Comicsgate

The Truth About Comicsgate

by Vaughn Treude

Please note: The opinions in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the blog publisher or other contributors to the blog.

diversity & comics

If you’ve heard about “Comicsgate” in the mainstream news, you may believe it’s a temper tantrum by bigoted comic fans. Because these “man-babies” hate the new diversity of writers, artists, and characters in comics, they resort to online threats and harassment. The problem with this narrative is that it’s demonstrably false.

Comicsgate began as a reaction to the politicization of comics, a trend which peaked with the 2016 election. Many comics industry pros were liberal Democrats who posted angry rants on social media against Trump and the people who voted for him. When Republican fans pushed back, these pros doubled down, saying they didn’t need or want Trump supporters’ business.

In a normal industry, alienating half of one’s audience would be professional suicide, but not in comics publishing. The dominant companies Marvel and DC receive most of their income from movies featuring characters like Spiderman and Batman. These subsidize the print divisions who’ve stayed in business despite slumping sales. The writing staffs became exclusive clubs, hiring writers and artists by political affiliation rather than skill and talent.

This trend inspired comics fan Richard Meyer to start a YouTube channel called “Diversity & Comics.” Diversity, he says, is a good thing. He praises Marvel’s X-Men franchise, which features female, black, and gay superheroes. Yet the new generation of creators seems determined to supplant traditional heroes, for example, replacing Tony Stark’s Iron Man with a black teenage girl. Unlike old-school characters such as Storm or Wonder Woman, the new female heroes have uniformly far-left feminist attitudes. Certainly, we would expect some diversity in personalities as well.

As Marvel and DC promoted political agendas, their products suffered. Instead of non-stop action, characters discussed their feelings for pages on end. Artwork was often sloppy and uninspired. Rather than focusing on quality, editors obsessed with diversifying the staff, preferentially hiring from tiny minorities such as transgenders. If fans didn’t like the result, they blamed racism, sexism, or transphobia. Yet in the Golden Age of comics when the greatest creators were Jewish (Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and others) there was no anti-Semitic reaction from fans.

Diversity & Comics started a trend, inspiring dozens of fan blogs and YouTube channels, many of them echoing Meyer’s complaints. If Marvel and DC despised their audience, readers would take their money elsewhere. Joining the movement was long-time comics pro Ethan Van Sciver, a former staffer at DC who’d been vilified for voting Republican. He announced the revival of his 1990s indie comic Cyberfrog to the widespread enthusiasm of fans. Another ostracized conservative, Hispanic author Jon Del Arroz, launched a superhero series called Flying Sparks.

Meyer, too, responded to the taunt from pros that he couldn’t do better. He launched his own crowdfunded series, Jawbreakers: Lost Souls, signing a publishing contract with the small company Antarctic Press. Yet industry insiders refused to play fair. Marvel pro Mark Waid contacted Antarctic, portraying Meyer as an evil bigot and persuading them to cancel the contract. In response, Meyer started his own publishing company but is also suing Waid for defamation and inducing breach of contract.

Though many fans rejected politics in comics, others wanted a broader range of views. Maverick sci-fi writer Vox Day launched a series called Alt*Hero featuring anti-government storylines. This caused friction with creators like Meyer and Van Sciver who don’t want their brands associated with Day’s controversial views. Yet many fans embraced them all. Every time one of these creators launches a campaign on crowd-funding platforms like Indiegogo, they achieve many multiples of their monetary goals. (Full disclosure: I have personally made small contributions to four of these projects.)

Unsurprisingly, the corporate media continues its one-sided coverage of Comicsgate. They echo the accusations of industry pros that Comicsgaters were sexists and white supremacists, much as they demonized disgruntled gamers during the Gamergate controversy of 2014. Their evidence of bigotry is to cite “harassment” of comic industry pros by “fans,” mostly anonymous trolls, ignoring the fact that Meyer and other Comicsgate figures have repeatedly called for civility from their supporters. Comicsgaters also receive online insults and threats, but these don’t count. The corporate media prefers to portray complex issues as simple morality tales of good versus evil.

Is Comicsgate a hate-filled backlash against diverse creators and characters, or is it a fan revolt against substandard products and ideological conformity? Check out channels like Diversity & Comics and Van Sciver’s ComicArtistPro Secrets and decide for yourself.

Vaughn Treude
grew up on a farm in North Dakota where the isolation of his home made books a welcome escape. He has been reading sci-fi as long as he can remember. In 2012, he published his first novel, Centrifugal Force. Since then he has concentrated on steampunk, writing Fidelio’s Automata and co-authoring the “Ione D.” series with Arlys Holloway. See Vaughn’s blog at

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Black Rhinoceros

Black Rhinoceros

by Rita Goldner

Today, October 1, is the anniversary of our Authors Group Blog. Welcome to the fourth Black Rhinoyear of daily blogs from authors about a kaleidoscope of topics. I kicked off the series, because I wanted the blog group’s anniversary to coincide with my birthday, and here I am, four years later, celebrating both!

One important thing I’ve learned so far in my short writing career is to be true to myself, especially in the choice and presentation of subject matter. I’m both a writer and an illustrator, but the drawing is more fun for me. I have to work harder at the writing. I recently confronted a dilemma concerning my work-in-progress, Rhonda’s Big Feet, a picture book about a rhinoceros. Since I’m passionate about endangered species, I initially chose a Sumatran rhino for my protagonist, since they’re critically endangered, facing extinction. There are five different kinds of rhinos, and here’s how many are left of each:

Javan 67
Sumatran 80
Black ≈5,300
Greater One-Horned 3,500
White 20,000

They’re all in trouble, but some are worse off than others.

I had finished the story, but when I started the drawings I realized that the Sumatran rhino had short stubby horns, and a smaller body size. Nowhere near as impressive as a huge black rhino, with two magnificent pointy horns. If I wanted to depict my protagonist thundering across the grassland in pursuit of a predator, my obvious choice was a black rhino. This means I have to go back and change the co-stars in the story. They are all animals indigenous to Sumatra, so I have to move the location to Africa and lose the orangutan, pygmy elephant, and tiger. I’ll substitute a giraffe, huge elephant, and lion. My second agenda is broadening my illustration portfolio.

Here are some fun facts:

Black rhinos are actually grey, like white rhinos. Their main different is in their lips. Black rhinos have a pointed upper lip, good for grasping foliage from bushes and short trees. White rhinos browse for plants on the ground, so their lips are broad and straight. The pointy lip also gives the black rhino a cuter face, in my opinion, which validates my switch.

The black rhino’s formidable horns are also their Achilles’ heel, since poachers kill thousands of them for their horns, which are falsely advertised as medicinal. Since my book is about women power and positive body image, it’s serendipitous for me that female rhinos have horns, too. We’re used to the male of most species having the horns, antlers, fancy feathers, bright colors, etc. But these beauties are armed and ready to protect their babies. They are great mothers, keeping a calf for three years before sending it out to make its own way.

Speaking about women power, I attended the annual conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators last Saturday. The women far outnumbered the men in attendees, guest speakers, panel discussion experts, and faculty. Makes me proud that the women in this industry are a force to be reckoned with, just like my protagonist! Charge ahead!

Comments welcome.

Rita signature

Rita Goldner
is the author and illustrator of the children’s picture book, Orangutan: A Rita Goldner2Day in the Rainforest Canopy. Rita has also written and illustrated two eBooks, Jackson’s History Adventure and Jackson’s Aviation Adventure, in the Jackson’s Adventure series.For orangutan facts and images and to purchase the book (also available as an ebook), visit Or by the Kindle version here. Rita’s newest book, Making Marks on the World: A Storybook for Left- and Right-Handed Coloring, is available for purchase here. Works in progress: H2O Rides the Water CycleThe Flying Artist, and Rose ColoredTo view additional illustrations and Rita’s books in progress, visit Rita’s website. Contact Rita here. Follow Rita on Facebook. Subscribe to Rita’s newsletter, Orangutans and More! and receive a free coloring page of today’s illustration.

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Women Speak to Power

Women Speak to Power

by C.K. Thomas

Protestor confronts Senator Flake in elevator after he announces he is voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh nomination, Washington, USA - 28 Sep 2018

Sen. Jeff Flake listens to women’s concerns

Thursday of this week, I sat in front of the television riveted by the testimony of both Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Today I watched as two women forced the democratic process into the spotlight by putting their feet into an elevator door to keep it from closing. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona stood on the other side of that opening and listened as these two women poured out their stories of sexual abuse. They implored him to reconsider his vote to elevate Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. They succeeded in influencing Flake’s call for a further FBI investigation of Kavanaugh.

All week long I had been madly trying to finish reading a book for my monthly book club that meets this coming Monday. The book, American Jezebel, reminded me just how long it has taken for women in this country to be recognized and believed. Anne Hutchinson was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 17th Century because she held meetings for women (and men) in her home. During these meetings she expressed her opinions about scripture and discussed the weekly sermon of the Puritan minister.

Anne bore 16 children, and on the occasion of her trial, she was pregnant and had walked several miles in cold weather over icy roads to the meeting house. To face her accusers, she was required to stand until she almost fainted and was allowed to sit on a bench. The minister naming her transgressions at the front of the room sat comfortably in a padded chair. I will not rewrite the book here, but point out some basic facts I discovered while reading.

In Puritan households, there was one chair and the only person allowed to sit in it was the man of the house. There were usually only four books in a modest home, one of which was the Bible. The local church held power over all who lived in the settlement, and any infraction of the laws set by the church could result in a trial like Hutchinson’s. When banished, Anne Hutchinson moved to Rhode Island, where religious freedom took root well before the framers thought to include it in the U.S. Constitution. This woman stood up to power and influenced the course of history. Yet, few today know her name.

The women who held an elevator door open and spoke to a United States Senator might also have changed the course of history. Their names are Maria Gallagher and Ana Maria Archila. Please remember them, because they represent what democracy is all about.

C.K. Thomas

C.K. Thomas lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Before retiring, she worked for Phoenix Newspapers while raising three children and later as communications editor for a large United Methodist Church. The Storm Women is her fourth novel and the third in the Arrowstar series about adventurous women of the desert Southwest. Follow her blog: We-Tired and Writing Blog.

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