Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Library hosts book signing

ADA – Ada Public Library will host a book signing for “Creations 2013: 40 Ways to Look at Love,” the newest anthology from Ada Writers, 4-6 p.m., Thursday, August 22. The book will be available for purchase at the book signing for $12

The back cover explains the theme of the book: “For some, passion and joy. For others, torment and regret. Ada Writers looks at love in its many forms with articles, essays, memoirs, poems, short stories, and excerpts from books and novels-in-progress in this new anthology.”

The anthology is dedicated to the late Arlene “Aren” Rose Howell, who was a cherished longtime member and officer of Ada Writers.

This year’s anthology features works from the following Ada and area authors:

Stephen B. Bagley wrote “Murder by Dewey Decimal,” “Murder by the Acre,” and the forthcoming “Murder by the Mile,” all in the Measurements of Murder™ series. His other books include “Tales from Bethlehem,” “Floozy and Other Stories,” and “EndlesS.” He also wrote the full-length plays “Murder at the Witch’s Cottage” and “Two Writers in the Hands of an Angry God” and co-wrote “Turnabout.” He coauthored two one-act plays published by Dramatic Publishing Company. His poetry has appeared in “Creations 2012,” ByLine Magazine, Prairie Songs, Free Star, and other journals, and his articles in Nautilus, OKMagazine, Pontotoc County Chronicles, and other publications. He currently serves as president of Ada Writers. Visit his website at

Kelley Benson wrote “On Target: Devotions for Modern Life.” He is a Christian and small town minister who has a passion for using everyday opportunities to help people recognize how God works in their lives. He is the husband of his beautiful wife, Jade. They are being intentional about raising their three young children to see how God should be part of everything people do. He’s been involved in the ministry since 1997. A close Christian mentor inspired Kelley to practice “vocational preaching,” simply put: to work and preach. This allows him the opportunity to be involved in the lives of other people in a personal way through secular work while demonstrating leadership in a local church. Visit his website at

Eric Collier is a father of two and grandfather of six. He started writing poetry for a poetry class hosted by Continuing Education at East Central University. He lives in Ada and works as physical therapist for a local hospital. He enjoys camping, hiking, bird watching, and growing vegetables and flowers.

Lindiwe Hall is a published author of books and eBooks. She enjoys all kinds of writing. She is a graduate of the College of New Rochelle, New York. She has written autobiographical fiction, writes children’s books, and is in the process of proofing and writing an album for her mission called Rose of Sharon. Also, she is very proud of her late father, who was Ambassador to the United Nations from Swaziland for 18 years.

Mel Hutt and his wife have been married for more than sixty years and have three children, eight grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren. When his father died in 1945, he entered the Navy and served more than three years in the Pacific, including Operation Crossroads of the atomic bomb experiments at Bikini. He was then assigned to a destroyer and traveled to places like Australia, China, and Japan, with Hawaii as the stop to and from those places. He shares his memories in memoirs.

Ken Lewis has written several articles and short stories of different genres. His interests lie mostly in the paranormal and science fiction genres, but he enjoys exploring other avenues of the art. He’s a graduate of the Longridge Writer’s Group. He’s a firm believer in “Life is learning.” He currently serves as vice-president and treasurer of Ada Writers.

Rick Litchfield’s poetry appears in “A Surrender to the Moon,” “The International Who’s Who in Poetry,” “Timeless Voices,” “The Best Poems and Poets of 2007” and “Creations 2012.” He is working on “Shards of Wit and Wisdom: Stories and Stained Glass.”

Don Perry grew up outside of Crockett, Texas, and later moved to Fort Worth. After many years in the aviation field, he retired and moved to a small farm outside of Ada, Oklahoma. Don married Barbara Burleson in 1965, has two children, Melissa and James, and three grandsons. Since his retirement, he writes short stories of life and times during his youth, geared toward the young adult and teen-aged audiences. Many of his short stories show the humorous and whimsical side of the 1950s life and are often autobiographical in nature. He is currently writing a novel in the fantasy genre.

Martha Rhynes, a retired teacher, began her writing career by re-searching the lives of American authors and writing biographies and analyses of their work for inclusion in literary encyclopedias. Her book-length biographies include, “I, Too, Sing America, The Story of Langston Hughes,” “Gwendolyn Brooks, Poet from Chicago,” “Ralph Ellison: Author of Invisible Man,” “Jack London: Writer of Adventure,” and “Ray Bradbury: Teller of Tales.” Her works of fiction include numerous short stories and three novels: “Secret of the Pack Rat’s Nest,” “The War Bride,” and “Man on First.” Her non-fiction includes an eBook for young adults: “How to Write Scary Stories.” Visit her website at

Joanne Verbridge was born in Oakland, California, spending her life experiences in Northern California. Family brought her to Oklahoma where she enjoys taking time to write about those experiences. She is trying to inspire her young nieces to take an interest in story telling and writing. She currently serves as the secretary and historian for Ada Writers.

Tim Wilson is a steadfast believer in truth, justice, and the American way of life, and writes to make a difference by helping others with his hard-earned knowledge and life experiences so others may not suffer the same tragic consequences. He is currently writing a non-fiction book, “Yet to be Disclosed,” which is based on facts that explain “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the issues of modern society.”

Gail Wood has written all her life. “It is as natural to me as breathing. I love the written word, all the nuances, the connotations, the music. I am retired from the perverted world of grants, reports, and strategic plans—the bureaucratic graveyard for words. Besides writing, I have a passion for walking. I love the outdoors and all things natural. The best part of my life is now.” Her forthcoming book, “Red Bird Woman,” will be released later this year by Many Rivers Harbor.

Tom Yarbrough is the author of four books, three non-fiction and one fiction. He is currently editing two works accepted by a publisher. After a long career in counseling and education, he now spends his time with full time writing, family concerns, and hobbies like Rendezvous (an 1840 living history camp) and making bookmarks called Shepherd Staffs.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Eating to live

Been another bad day here. Haven't felt well. Racing heart, shakey legs. Checked my heart rate. It's high, but not dangerously high. Just higher than it should be. Same for my blood pressure. Feeling quite achey. I think I've caught some sort of cold or infection. We'll see how I feel over the next couple of days.

I didn't walk at the gym yesterday or today. I hope I can tomorrow. I was doing good at my walking. Can't slack off.

Diet is still going okay, I think. I'm eating low-fat, low carb, low calorie: salads, veggies, soups. It's not too bad. I suspect one of the reasons I feel so bad is my blood sugar is still adjusting to this change. I'm hoping to lose a lot of weight: 50 pounds is my goal.

Of course, I'm still eating too much cheese and too much meat. Slowly trying to wean myself off both of those. Cheese because it has too much fat and meat for the same reasons. I hear some amazing reports of the health of vegans and vegetarians, particularly concerning diabetes and heart disease. We have amazing bodies that will heal a lot of damage if we make good choices.

Diabetes and being overweight have done a lot of damage to me. I'm trying to help it recover by eating only to live, not living to eat. I do like food. That's a fact, but it's a destructive love, like all obsessions eventually turn out to be.

Moderation in all things. Moderation in all things. Moderation in all things. Let's repeat that a thousand or so more times. The irony of that doesn't escape me.

Not that being thin and controlling my diabetes will fix all my medical problems. Fitness doesn't keep cancer or disease from touching someone's life completely, but it does help. And fitness does give us more resources to use to combat such things.

By the way, I used to hate that phrase: Eat to live; don’t live to eat. It seemed to me that really thin people would toss it around too easily. I’ve learned that it has wisdom, but it’s a simple phrase for a complex problem involving genetics, environment, support, and desire. And unlike alcoholics – who can go cold turkey – you can’t go cold turkey with food. You have to eat to live. So it’s a problem of control.

What controls you? Your appetite? And is it worth the cost of controlling it? I know a woman who last over 200 pounds and kept it off for nearly five years, but in the end, she chose food. She regained the weight and has decided to live with it. Food was easier than the exercise and diets, she says, always with sadness and regret. She did low carb, low calorie, low fat, vegan, and a dozen other diets. In the end, food was stronger. It made her happier than the diets did.

So this is not to say that being heavy is wrong or unattractive, mind you. I’m simply looking at the health benefits for being thinner, and let’s be honest, losing 50 pounds will not make me thin. But it might make me healthier. And that’s what I’m aiming for.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Hardly crafty and Rat

This is hardly craftly, but I needed two pen holders. So I used two cans and some cool scrapbook paper and made these in about 10 minutes. They work, and I like them.

I love pens and paper. Since I was quite young, I've been fascinated by writing and painting. I never showed any talent at art -- which is a great regret of mine -- so I turned to writing so I could be near paper. I've even made paper and loved the texture I was able to create with different materials. Texture isn't good to write on, so my paper wasn't functional, but I liked to touch it. It was tactile and varied, some pieces so rough that you could feel the ridges and bumps easily.

I have a huge collection of specialty paper in my hallway on book shelves. I'm forced myself to not buy any more until I use up the ones I have. Which would take years even if I used them all the time, and I don't. In fact, the paper I use most isn't colored or textured or cotton or rag -- it's just plain paper. I use it to print out the drafts of my books and stories. Otherwise, not much paper gets used. But maybe someday, there will be some sort of emergency where my paper will save the town or even the nation from destruction. Not sure how that would be, but it comforts me as I move the boxes of paper around to try to make room for this coolest paper I couldn't resist...

Oh, the above is also the picture for today. Yeah, I waited until last the minute so that's the photo I could take. Tomorrow I will take photos sooner so that I have more choices to choose the day's photo from. I moved slowly this morning. I couldn't sleep last night. Made me draggy this morning, so I didn't get much done and played catch-up all day.


Run far, run fast,
my little, little rat.
Hope you've got
your story pat.

God only knows
what you're running to
or even if your desires
will benefit you

But that's how it goes
lost in the maze
where bad ever wins
and good never pays

So keep running fast,
my little, little rat
maybe one day reach
where happy hides at

Did you ever imagine how
broken your schemes
would be when you traded
your precious dreams?

Here's the secret of it all:
the only trap in the path
you brought with you
and marked on your map

Rage little, little rat
rage at the uncaring sky,
and run far, run fast
run until you finally die

Or you could choose
to not run, to not die
to instead grow wings
and leap into the sky

So that's the crux:
why choose to be a rat
when sky is where
your happy is at?

Can you be anything other
than a little, little rat?
I hope you choose to change.
I hope you can do that.

(Copyright 2013 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. No copying without express written permission. Thank you for reading.)

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Clouds in my coffee

Some years back I was fascinated by clouds. Here are a few of my favorites. These photos, however, don't reveal how spectacular the sky truly was on these days, particularly the first photo. In it, you see the dark clouds of a storm slowly covering the sun. The depth of it and the contrast between light and dark thrilled me. A photo just can't capture that intensity. Maybe a painting could. I don't know.

The next one was after the storm. You can still see remains of the dark clouds, but slowly the sun is breaking through. That was a good day to photograph the sky.

Once again, this photo is about contrast. Deep blue sky, the bright sun lighting the sky, and the dark clouds of a spring storm make for a lovely view.

This was at dawn one day. "Red at morning, sailor take warning." I'm not sure if this is the red they were talking about in that old saying, but we did have a storm later in the day.

This is a sunset. I took several photos of the luminous border, trying to capture how energetic it looked. This was the best one.

Storm clouds again. I like how the dark clouds and black tree frame the sky on three sides. But there's gold in the center. Nice sky.

One of my favorite photos is below. The dark trees, the sky beyond, the tunnel-like effect all combined to give this photo drama and excitement with a hint of mystery. It's like you're walking through a dark place, and you finally see the light.

And why was I fascinated by clouds? And why am I still? Don't know for sure. Maybe because they represented freedom. Skydivers who fall through clouds say the clouds are damp, gray, and wispy. Not solid. Just diffused moisture. No magic lands or magic door. No magic.

I never have seen shapes in clouds. My imagination doesn't work that way. I see clouds as they are, but they do carry magic for me. It's a sense of wonder. Maybe even a suspension of disbelief.

I wrote a science fiction story once where people trained to be cloud surfers on anti-gravity surf boards. Of course, the science was wrong, wrong, wrong, but I still loved the idea. There just wasn't much of a story; it was cloud surfers dueling to the death. I always thought the Silver Surfer in the Fantastic Four comic books was a great character; okay, not much of a character, but the concept was awesome: a being sailing on the cosmic waves.

The thing is I can offer all sorts of explanations for my fascination, but like all of the ones that grip me, I have no idea why clouds hold my interest. Maybe ... just maybe ... they represent the unexplored places where no has gone. Or not.

I will take more cloud photos, of course. Maybe one of them will show a stern giant staring down at us. Wouldn't that be a wondrous surprise?

Monday, August 05, 2013

Finding the path

Not a great day today. Didn't get as much done as I wanted to, felt bad most of the day, and then heard some terrible bad news about a situation confronting a family who is dear to me. After days like this, I find myself looking around for good things, anything happy, little meaningful things, victories of any sort to throw against the bleakness.

Good things:
- I walked a mile and a half at the gym and did okay. I will hold at a mile and a half this week and get my legs used to it.
- I took a photo for my Year in Photos project. It's below. Not a great night photo, but probably the best my little point-n-shoot camera can do.
- Updated the website for the local writers group.
- I watched Longmire, which is one of my favorite TV shows.
- Updated another website for a friend.
- Did a couple loads of laundry ... okay, yeah, I'm scrounging the bottom of the barrel on that one, but it is productive.
- And I'm still on pace for my Personal New Year Resolutions. So far, so good.

Admittedly, that’s not a gangbuster list of awesomeness, but life isn’t a gangbuster of awesomeness usually. Life is what it is: sometimes up, sometimes down, a lot of time in the middle. It’s learning to live in the middle that so many of us find hard. We rise to the occasion when confronting a crisis or an emergency. We behave brilliantly, bravely, and benevolently. But it’s the day-to-day life that’s hard and grinds on us. Most people break at the endlessly getting out of bed each morning to confront life’s little annoyances and battles. That’s what we find tough. That’s how we know if we’re a sprinter or a long distance runner.

I hope you’re the latter, because sprinters may be fast, but this life is long. It the ones who can keep going, step by step, mile by mile, day by day, year by year... they finish the race. I hope I’m a long distance runner.

I try to be. I try to stay busy. I try to keep putting one foot in front of another. Keep my eyes on the road. Don’t get distracted. Don’t lose focus. Don’t lose hope. Don’t lose courage. Don’t fail. Believe, believe, believe.

It’s a lot of pressure, and I think that’s why some people falter. They drink or take drugs or have crazy sex. They cheat on their spouses, neglect their children, and waste their lives in cheap pleasures, seeking a thrill to fill the holes in their lives. They think happiness is a destination rather than the journey itself.

It’s learning to take joy in the journey. We have to do that if we’re going to survive and flourish. It’s the secret to happiness, to contentment, and to fulfillment. For some – like me – finding that joy is easier with God’s help. Others choose another path, but finding that path is essential.

It's how we become fully human.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Photos from today

There's a small private lake near where I live. It's called Smith Lake, I've been told. I don't know for sure. It's a private lake for those who own houses near, but I can drive around it and take photos. I've always wanted to own a home on it. A dream for another life, I guess, but I do enjoy the drive. Today took photos at various spots.

This is my favorite view of the lake. I like to drive slowly past there and look out across the water, particularly at night. It's lovely and quiet other than the frogs and insects, which I like and find peaceful and comforting.

I'm often surprised at the shots my camera produces. I really like the reflection of the trees in the below photo and how dark it looks. Reminds me of photos of Montana. 

There are a lot of deer near the lake. I sure the residents get tired of them eating their gardens and shrubs, but the deer are lovely. Below are two fawns. They haven't lost their spots. They're not scared of humans and cars, just cautious. There's no hunting allowed around the lake, and a few residents put out feed for them. My roomie and I've seen about 15 of them at one time; it's a lake herd.

I opened my window and took a picture of the sky. I love the blues and the clouds. I choose this as today's photo for the Year in Photos project. A couple of years back, I got fascinated by clouds and took many photos of the sky. Don't know why. This photo stirs my interest in the sky again.

Have you ever just taken a few minutes to watch the clouds drift across the sky. Some people see shapes... dragons, animals, horses cars... what they're looking for, I think. But I'm not sure what I see. The sky fills me up until there's nothing of me left. No thoughts, no worries, no me. Just the clouds and winds and sun.

Starry nights do that to me, too. I can look into the darkness punctuated with pinpricks of lights, and the vastness inside me expands. It's a weird feeling -- or it is after I've stopped experiencing it -- but when I'm in the moment, it doesn't feel weird. It feels... expectant. Like I'm waiting for something to raise its head and look at me. You'd think that would be frightening, but it's not. It's anticipation. A strange anticipation.

I've mentioned this to other people before, but I've never met anyone who felt the same way. I'm sure someone does in this world with millions of people. Maybe in China or maybe just someone I don't know. Maybe in the next house. I'd like to meet them, though. I'd like to find out how they feel. And talk with them about that vast creature out there. Ask them when we look at the sky, what are we expecting? What's coming for us out of that blackness between the stars?

And why aren't we afraid? That might be the most important question of all.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

"Clothed and Happy"

Excerpt from Return of the Floozy

Have you seen that show Naked and Afraid on the Discovery Channel? It's a reality show where they drop two strangers -- a man and woman -- into a wilderness environment with only two items -- one each -- and neither item is clothing.

You might think this is recipe for hanky-panky or whatever the kids are calling it these days, but after a day or two with the couple being bitten and stung by hordes of hungry insects, sunburning in places the sun really shouldn't get to, feeling ravenously hungry and desperately thirsty, having their skin slashed by vines and plants, limping on feet bleeding from thorns and bruised by rocks -- hanky panky is the last thing on their minds. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised to find the show is sponsored by the Clothing Manufacturers of America after seeing what clothes and shoes protect us from.

Of course, the Discovery Channel blurs what needs to be blurred; you seen more skin at the beach or the lake. And since these are not supermodels, the skin you do see isn't skin you'd want to see -- if you can follow that.

"Experts" give them a Survival Rating at the start and end of the show. By choosing to participate in such an insane and life-threatening situation, it's obvious the participants have the survivability of deranged lemmings and the intelligence to match. I suspect their family trees are more like telephone poles.

There's a lot of drama as the two discover that they not only have nothing in common with each other, but that they want the other participant dead. And possibly cooked over a slow fire. Because it's the 10th day and all they have had to eat was a couple of insects and some grass that tasted like... well, grass.

Supposedly the participants have survival training. They soon discover that training really relied on a lot of things: tents, matches, food, first aid kits, etc. They act surprised to learn they can't start civilization with just a knife and metal pot. And some of the decisions they make are astonishing. By astonishing, I mean stupid with a large dose of ignorance. The man who drank unboiled water from a dirty stream and had to rushed to a hospital; the man who chose swim goggles as his one item -- when he showed them to his partner, her face of frozen horror reminded me of Republican Congressmen when President Obama made his first State of The Union speech, but not quite as despairing; the man who -- ah -- did his business right beside their hut and was baffled when his partner complained... It boggles the mind.

The women, by the way, do fairly well in the series. They're helpful, smart, cooperative, and wise. I wonder what they're doing on that show. A friend of mine says the women come off better because the couple don't have to fight off bears or savage natives. Apparently, he believes men would do a better job of that. I didn't point out that it's hard to fend off a bear with swim goggles.

I assume the people are wiser afterwards. They learn that the wilderness doesn't care if you have cameras trained on you, that Adam and Eve only got away with it because God was watching over them, and that it’s hard to beat a 4-star hotel near a beach for a real holiday.

I don’t know that, of course. They might be as dumb as when they started. About the only thing we do know for sure is that they’re sick, exhausted, and have lost a lot of weight. Whee. Doesn't it make you want to go?

Me, neither. I think I shall remain Clothed and Happy.

(Excerpt from Return of the Floozy. Copyright 2013 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.)

Friday, August 02, 2013

Author Speaks: Valerie Comer

Valerie Comer, inspirational romance novelist, had a new book released yesterday! Raspberries and Vinegar, the first in her series A Farm Fresh Romance, from Choose NOW Publishing went on sale August 1. Valerie took a few minutes from her busy schedule as an author, beekeeper, farmer, and proud grandmother to answer questions for Author Speaks. 

1. Valerie, your book is in the category Farm Lit. What is Farm Lit?

Farm Lit is a new(ish) genre based on rural life—farm life, as opposed to western ranch life. The genre began with memoirs such as Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle and Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman and now includes anything written with a farm base.

2. Why do you write Farm Lit?

They say to write what you know, and I've lived on a farm over half my life. I was raised in the whole gardening, canning, cooking from scratch, bread-baking type of lifestyle, as was my husband. In recent years we've become more intentional and begun promoting this lifestyle as an alternative to the processed foods and fast foods that are leading Western civilization into obesity… and worse.

3. Tell us a little about Raspberries and Vinegar.

Breaking ground with the Farm Fresh Romance series, Raspberries and Vinegar finds Josephine Shaw and her friends renovating a dilapidated farm with their sights set on more than just their own property. Transforming the town with their sustainable lifestyle and focus on local foods is met with more resistance than they expected, especially by temporary neighbor, Zachary Nemesek. Jo needs to learn that a little sweet makes the tart more tasty.

4. What’s your writing process?

Messy. Do we have to talk about it? I've written a dozen full-length novels over as many years, most of which you will never be so unfortunate as to read. It took me a long time to fine-tune a process that works for me—but it is still messy. I'm somewhere in between full-on plotting and full-on seat-of-the-pants writing, which is annoying because in Real Life, I like to plan ahead. I want to do this in my writing, too, but it doesn't work. I've blogged about the process some at my writing website, How to Write a Story, where I also offer a free writing course by email.

5. The book talks about sustainable living and local foods. Is that a priority in your life and why?

It has become so, yes. I'm honestly appalled at the horrific conditions for animals in feedlots and for workers on many mega-farms. I'm also terrified at the insidious take-over of genetically-modified organisms in our food and the honeybee die-off that is a result of the aforementioned practices (pesticides, fungicides, GMOs).

As humans, we need to think ahead. I have three young granddaughters, and I'm challenged to try and leave a better future for them than the grim reality I feel is coming. All I can do is what I can do, which is pretty limited. I can write about it, I can talk about it, I can support our local food action coalition, and I can grow as much of our own food as possible.

6. The book is also an inspirational romance. Why do you write in the inspirational field?

It's who I am. I've been a Christian since I was a young child, and it permeates my every pore. Some of my writing has more obvious themes than other stories, but I can't write from a worldview that isn't mine. It wouldn't be true to who I am. Besides, I think Christians need to wake up and pay attention to sustainability and food. They/We are behind the times.

7. What has been important advice to you in pursing a writing career, and what advice would you give to a new writer?

Be patient and work on craft.

These days anyone can write a novel and upload it to Amazon five minutes after they've written "the end." Sometimes they haven't even read through it once to catch obvious and glaring errors, let alone had it critiqued or revised. What's the big hurry? Learn how to turn it into a really strong story. No point in shooting yourself in the foot. Make sure it's the best work you can do at this time before expecting people to pay money for it. Being an author isn't glamorous if no one will review your book!

8. What has been the most gratifying or most surprising result from your writing career so far?

Raspberries and Vinegar has been complete for three years. It came close to being picked up by a major publisher several times, but they shied away because of the issues presented. Within days of beginning discussion with Choose NOW Publishing, I came across this article online: Chick Lit is Dead, Long Live Farm Lit.

Timing is everything! 

9. What comes after Raspberries and Vinegar?

Wild Mint Tea, the second book in the Farm Fresh Romance series releases in March, 2014, with the final installment, Sweetened with Honey, due for release in December, 2014. 

10. Raspberries and Vinegar is the first in a series. Tell us about the series. 

It follows the adventures, romantic and otherwise, of three college graduates who move onto a reclaimed farm where they plan to take the rural area by storm with their sustainable lifestyle and focus on local foods.

Thank you, Valerie!    

To learn more about Raspberries and Vinegar and Valerie, visit her website: HERE.
To purchase Raspberries and Vinegar from Amazon in print and for Kindle: HERE.
To purchase Raspberries and Vinegar for the Nook: HERE.
To purchase Raspberries and Vinegar from Choose Now Publishing: HERE.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Coloring for fun

So far, so good. I ate salads twice today, walked at the gym, and now I'm getting my 500 words. I still need to take a photo. I will do that as soon as I finish my words.

One of my hobbies is "coloring" black and white drawings. I use colored pencils, Photoshop Elements, markers, scans, etc. Whatever is at hand. Here is some of my "coloring."

The background of the above photos is a park in my town. Then I used Photoshop Elements to add color and texture.

I play with Photoshop Elements a lot. I started when working on various book covers. I think that's the only way to really learn an art program, which is to spend a lot of time just seeing what you can create.

Here's another colorized version of a black and white drawing.

I like how it turned out. I think it has a medieval look to it. Most of my black and white drawings that I use come from Dover Publications, a huge and excellent source of royalty free artwork, paintings, drawings, stencils, and much more. I recommend them highly.

I have always wanted to be able to paint, but all my attempts haven't gone so well. I know what I want the picture to look like, but my hands won't do as I command. It looks like a computer is my medium, but people don't respect it as much as they do painting or drawing or anything not electronic. Even though I spend hours on what I create, that time and effort somehow doesn't constitute art or craft. Whatever. I like doing it, and perhaps that's enough. Here's one final one:

I lost the template for this one. I wish I could find it. I used it on Twitter for a long time as my avatar. I really like the look of it. I'd like to make some other variations of it, and for that, I need the original. It was on my old computer, the one that died a painful death. (I dread when this one goes, and I have to finally upgrade to Windows 8. I've used a couple of Windows 8 computers, and I don't know how they could have made a more unfriendly user-interface -- unless it actually delivered an electrical shock every time you tried to use it. Then it would be worse. Barely.)

Time for me to finish this up, but now you know what I do when I’m not writing.

Tomorrow we’ll start a new feature on 51313 Harbor Street. It’s called “Author Speaks.” I’ll interview an author each week (I hope) and share the answers with you. I think I will learn a lot from other authors and hope you will, too.

Our first Author Speaks will be with Valerie Comer, who just had a book released today! Raspberries and Vinegar, an inspirational romance, is the first book in Valerie’s Farm Fresh Romance series from Choose Now Publishing. Be sure to drop by tomorrow and see what she has to say.

Anyway, I hope you have a great night and a good tomorrow. See you then.