Category Archives: charity


Pumpkin-Pie-Whole-SliceTomorrow, here in the US, is a national holiday, a day of Thanksgiving. We gather at the homes of relatives, overeat, and then some of us embark on  the 30 days of Christmas shopping.

I don’t.

Oh, I will go to my daughter’s house and overeat, and I will give sincere and heartfelt thanks for all the many blessings I have been given in this life. And I have been blessed, far more than I deserve. I am comfortable, and I have the luxury of being able to write full-time, because my husband has a good, fairly stable job.

But grandma does not shop. Grandma does not go to the midnight sales, the door-busters, the Black Friday events that seem to be a national sport here.

Grandma does the internet for all her shopping these days. Amazon, Zulily,–these are the stores grandma shops in.

christmas-gift-bagsAnd it’s nearly all done already. All I have to do is get a few little thing-a-ma-jigs for you-know-who, and then we’re set!

Shopping for loved ones is so darned difficult. I can’t tell you how much I hate it. No matter how hard I sweat, no matter how pretty I wrap them, the gifts I think are awesome for so-and-so never seem to live up to their potential.

Thus I have become the queen of gift-cards.

Starbucks, Amazon, Barnes&Noble–gift cards are the way to go. The recipient can get what they want, and I am off the hook for another year.

But if you are looking for the awesomest gift ever, may I recommend a book?  Books are small vacations, little diversions into foreign lands and cultures, windows into other people’s lives.

Books can also change the world.

The company that publishes my books, Myrddin Publishing, just announced the successful campaign to raise funds for the international charity, Water is Life, via sales of their Christmas anthology, Christmas O’Clock.

christmas oclock coverChristmas O’Clock is a collection of holiday-themed stories including magic, space travel, and Rudolph. With two complete chapter books, lots of stories, and plenty of spirit, this anthology is great for kids of all ages. Two of the stories in this collection are mine!

In 2014 the publishing group donated all the revenue generated from sales of this book, totaling over $200.00 in royalties. This purchased three bucket systems and eight drinking straws, providing fresh water to three families, and eight individuals. Their goal is to double that in 2015.

It may not seem like a lot, but for those families who now have clean water, it was huge.  We can do better, and this year we intend to.

All proceeds from this wonderful book go to Water Is Life to help children and families in an international effort.

Christmas O’Clock  can be purchased at

Paperback via this link:  $9.51

And for the Kindle via this link  $2.99

a medieval tablesetup 1I live in a soft, easy world of plenty with clean, clear water and plenty of food. I have a warm, dry place to live that is safe and pestilence-free. Not every family has such luxury. My husband and I believe it is our duty to help those who don’t and we do this through actively volunteering in our community. You know that I am involved  as a municipal liaison for National Novel Writing Month and I contribute time and energy to literacy programs here locally, but my husband is far more active on a grassroots level, and what he does has a direct effect within our community.

MH900438718My husband, Greg,  is on the board of the Community Action Council, and has been for more than twenty years. Community Action Council is a private, non-profit 501c(3) agency governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.  Their multipurpose organization focuses on meeting the needs of low-income individuals and families through a variety of programs designed to help them become independent and more self-sufficient. They work collaboratively to develop strategies that address poverty in our local communities,  providing essential human services in Lewis, Mason and Thurston Counties since 1966.

I am Grateful, with a capital ‘G’, for all my many blessings, for my husband who works tirelessly in the service of our community and for the opportunities I’ve been given to help make a difference in this sometimes terrible world.



Filed under Adventure, Battles, Blogger, blogging, Books, charity, Fantasy, Food, History, Humor, Literature, news of the world, Politics, Publishing, Self Publishing, Spirituality, Uncategorized, writer, writing

Hunted Heart, by Alison Deluca

Most avid readers of the fantasy genre are fans of the old fairytales as told by the Brothers Grimm and I am no exception. In fact it was my love of fairytales that inspired me to write in the first place. I am always interested in reading other authors’ takes on these fairy tales. It is amazing how differently two authors will tell what began as the same story.

Today my good friend, Alison DeLuca, author of  the steampunk Crown Phoenix Series, has consented to answer a few questions for us, and allow me to share the wonderful cover of her new book, Hunted Heart. It is a standalone book, and is a true fairytale, the premise of which had really intrigued me.

CJJ: Alison, tell us a little of early life and how you began writing:

AD: I always loved reading. My early favorites were Alice in Wonderland, the Odyssey, Arabian Nights, and fairytales of all kinds.

CJJ: Tell us about your most recent book.

AD: Hunted Heart is an adult version of Snow White. Prince Kas is the one threatened by the wicked queen, and the huntress, Tali, is given the job of taking him to the forest to cut out his heart. They end up falling for each other, but not without a great deal of adventure along the way. Yes, there is a wicked queen and my version of a poisoned apple. And we mustn’t forget True Love’s Kiss…

CJJ: How did you come to write this novel?

AD: Someone I met online prompted me and begged me to write the story – she is the J.R. in my dedication. I loved her idea of making the hunter a strong female and ran with it.

CJJ: Do you have a specific ‘Creative Process’ that you follow, such as outlining or do you ‘wing it’?

AD: This book was an exercise in winging! The Snow White structure supported my story, and I was able to take off from there. Writing a fairytale redux is completely addictive – I might have to do a few others.

CJJ: How does your work differ from others of its genre?

AD: It is genderbent, and I’ve set the story in a mythical Norse country. I couldn’t resist including Freja, Iduna, and a few others from Norse tales. It’s also quite adult, with violence and some sexy scenes, and a charity project: Tali, my main character, suffers from some terrible abuse as a child, and so 100% of the royalties go to

CJJ: Why do you write what you do?

AD: Honestly, because I can’t help it. When I get an idea it needles me until I pin it down on paper. It’s like giving birth, to be honest.

CJJ: I so know that feeling! I know why I chose the indie route for my work, but I’m curious as to why you’ve chosen this path.

AD: I love the freedom indie publishing gives me. I’m able to write what I like and donate the proceedings when I do a charity project like this.

CJJ: What advice would you offer an author trying to decide whether to go indie or take the traditional path?

AD: Both have their merits and challenges. Being an indie does give you freedom but also relies on individual marketing. Traditional publishing gives more support but gives the author little choice on things like covers and presentation. Both are good in their way – each author must decide for herself how she would like to proceed!

 CJJ: Alison–I love the answers you gave my stock questions!  Thank you for giving me this opportunity to get the word out about your charity,

AD: Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Connie. This was a lot of fun!

And without further discussion, here is that amazing, most intriguing book cover:

HuntedHeart cover final


I confess I am blown away by this one, and I have become quite a fan of Alison’s graphic designer.

Alison DeLuca HeadshotAlison DeLuca is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain.

Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey.

You can find Alison here:

Facebook –


Twitter – – !/AlisonDeLuca

Google +

Author Central:


I have long been a fan of all of Alison’s work and have been fortunate enough to have some of my own work  included included along side of hers in a charitable anthology, Christmas O’Clock,  a book of wonderful short stories for children that is available in both paperback and for the kindle. (All proceeds for Christmas O’Clock go to Water Is Life to help children and families in an international effort.)






Filed under Adventure, Battles, blogging, Books, charity, Fairies, Fantasy, Humor, mythology, Romance, Self Publishing, Steampunk, WordPress, writer, writing

Christmas O’clock

Christmas O'clock 2013It’s December–Christmas is coming! We have found some awesome presents for the grandchildren and two of my short-stories were published in an anthology of children’s stories. I actually had my bout of Christmas spirit in July when I wrote A Christmas Tail!

This anthology, Christmas O’Clock is available at Amazon for the very reasonable price of $2.99 for ebook OR $9.49 for the paperback.  The book also includes hilarious tales by authors like Sean Allan, Allison Deluca, Irene Roth Luvaul, Nicole Antonia Carro and Mary K. Mitchell.  It is a collection of holiday-themed stories including magic, space travel, and Rudolph. With two complete chapter books, lots of stories, and plenty of spirit, this anthology is great for kids of all ages.

And best of all, all proceeds go to Water Is Life to help children and families in an international effort. What could be better than being a part of something that helps so many people?  Millions daily go without that most fundamental of necessities: clean drinking water. Every time I turn on a tap in my home, I am grateful to have such a wonderful, valuable commodity so easily available to me.

I shudder to think of what it must be like for the countless people in this world who do not have such a miracle in their homes. For millions of people, the wells where they daily draw their water are nearly dry, and are frequently diseased. Clean water is a rare and precious commodity, but we can help to make this gift a reality by making a small donation. Buy a copy of the book and not only will ALL the proceeds go this wonderful charity, but you will have a great book. If you are a Christmas story nut like me, you will read it for yourself, not just for the kids.

SO where was I going with this – oh yes – the fabulous Jaspersons have been dragging decorations out of the garage in an attempt to show the neighborhood some sort of holiday spirit. Unfortunately, we had an incident of…well, lets just say mythical proportions.

christmas mouseFrom my Facebook post of last evening: “…just went out to the garage to get my genuine artificial Christmas tree. It is in the big zipper bag that has handles for hauling it in and out of said garage. As soon as I picked it up, several somethings went sort of crazy in side the bag.

Sorry kids–mama doesn’t really like mysterious moving somethings in the Christmas tree bag. The bag and the tree are still in the garage where mama dropped it. This looks a job for that super-hero for all seasons—>DAD!!!”

It turned out that it was a “2 beer” mouse – my husband earned his beers and the tree is now in the living room. Unfortunately, the middle section of the tree does not light up, so rather than buy a new tree, today I am going to the local sundries store and getting a string of lights. Tonight, there will be a tree shining in our window!

(edit)  We now have a tree up in our living-room (no mice were harmed in the decorating of this tree):



Filed under Adventure, Battles, Books, charity, Fantasy, Humor, Literature, Uncategorized, writer, writing

Dinosaurs Among the Birds

200px-Hippie_bug!_(1043753793)We go through life and things happen. Friends drift apart and then we drift back together. When we meet again, we are all so curious about each other’s lives and where the road has taken us, curious about the visible changes and not-so-visible ones. Forty-odd years ago we were young and wild, determined to carve our path in the world and desperate to get on with living. We were tired of the war, tired of politics, and tired of being told what to think by media controlled by pin-headed men in suits. We were tired of congress selling us out.

We were going to change the world.

250px-Woodstock_posterWe did change the world, but not exactly the way we naively believed we would. Even though we were unable to solve all the problems we wanted to, we did manage to make some positive changes. Unfortunately, we were too few, voices shouting in the wind.

And now we are somewhat jaded. The country is still divided, big money still buys votes. Congress is still selling out, and the media is still owned by pin-headed men in suits. There is always a war somewhere, and it is never done with.

We cling to our belief that we will see positive changes, but we don’t believe we will live long enough to enjoy them. But change is inevitable, and it will happen, even if, like Moses and the promised land,  we stand on the opposite shore and see only what yet may be.

My old friends and I are not exactly who we were in those wild days. Now we are an amalgamation of everything we once believed would happen and everything that really happened. We are people who survived Reaganomics, who survived raising children through the MTV years. We held down three part-time jobs because trickle-down economics didn’t really trickle down the social ladder to our rung, and we had kids to feed. We survived the Bush years with some of our dignity intact, and didn’t fold under the “you’re with us or you’re against us” propaganda designed to shut us up.

194px-LennonWallImagineWe are jaded, but we have hope, we old hippies; we old women and men who are dinosaurs among the birds of the modern, hyper-connected world. We still believe the world can be a better place for everyone. The difference is now we know we can change the world…just not in the way we thought we would.

Now we put our money where our mouth is, donating to charities and spending our retirement years volunteering in schools and hospitals. We do it in small ways, chipping away, and little by little we have a positive effect.

We lost the battle to make the world a simpler, kinder place. Our parents won the war with their firm, 20th century belief that only through technology would mankind benefit, and that somewhere  was a miracle drug just waiting to cure every disease known to man.  It just hadn’t been discovered yet.

We were conquered, despite the struggle to keep it simple. We old hippies now embrace the technology and make it ours, because we must either adapt or die, and I am not ready to die. We are a wired society, and we old people have the luxury of a little free time and occasionally, extra money.

Writing is my opportunity to live in the world as I would like it to be, and it is my chance to get away from the war, from politics, and from crazy family issues. Adult children with complicated epilepsy issues, grandchildren having babies too young (did they learn nothing from my trials and errors?) –writing is my escape.  And when I am not reinventing the world, I donate my time and money to advancing humanity. My husband and I give to charities, both locally and internationally.

I support creativity and free-thinking on a local level. I volunteer as municipal liaison for NaNoWriMo. I encourage people from all walks of life, and from every point of view to write. It doesn’t matter to me if we agree politically or not. Everyone has a story to tell. Some stories are real and incredibly moving, and all they need is the skill to tell that story the way it should be told.

Generic-180x180They can gain that skill through participating in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. Children and schools benefit year round from writing programs sponsored by this organization. November is coming, and for me November is the busiest month of the year. I will be meeting and getting to know many new people, and I will be writing the framework for a new novel.  For one month, thousands of people will be too busy writing to spend their evening in front of the electronic altar, being fed mindless pap in the form of ‘entertainment.’ Instead, they will entertain themselves and find they are so much more than they ever thought they could be.

With every new story that is told, the world opens its eyes a bit more, seeing more possibilities. There is more awareness that we are not islands disconnected from society, cocooned in our dark living-rooms unable to look away from the poorly crafted mind-porn we are force-fed to fill the void.

I am an old hippy, I admit it. But I am water, wearing away at society’s monument to ignorance, helping  the world learn how to tell its story one person at a time.  



Filed under Battles, Books, charity, Epilepsy, Fantasy, Food, Humor, Literature, Uncategorized, Vegan, writer, writing

Charles Dickens was an Indie Author, Too

achristmascarol George C ScottFew people are aware that one of the most famous and inspirational books in the English language was originally self-published, and didn’t do as well as the author intended. Charles Dickens began to write A Christmas Carol in September 1843, and completed the book in six weeks with the final pages written in the beginning of December. Unfortunately he was feuding with his publisher over the meager earnings on his previous novel, Martin Chuzzlewit. Because of that, Dickens declined a lump-sum payment for the tale and chose a percentage of the profits in hopes of making more money. He then published the work at his own expense. It was as expensive then as it is now to publish quality print books and high production costs netted him only £230 (equal to £19,128 today) rather than the £1,000 (equal to £83,164 today) he’d hoped and needed, as his wife was once again pregnant. A year later, the profits were only £744 and Dickens was deeply disappointed.

Formatting was as tough in those days as it is now and Dickens was unhappy with the first edition of the tale. It contained drab, olive colored endpapers that Dickens felt was unacceptable. The publisher, Chapman and Hall, quickly replaced them with yellow endpapers but those clashed with the title page which was then redone. The final product was bound in red cloth with gilt-edged pages and was completed only two days before the release date of 19 December 1843.

I take comfort in knowing that the man who wrote the most powerful story of redemption in my personal library was an indie author too. Self-Alastair Sims - A Christmas Carolpublishing is much easier nowadays, but nevertheless it too is fraught with costs and formatting difficulties.  I have one last little formatting issue to solve in the Tower of Bones on page 361, and then I will be able to okay the final print version of it.  Wonky formatting is the curse of my life!

This is the time of year when I watch every single version of A Christmas Carol that can be found. Alastair Sims, George C. Scott, Patrick Stewart, Mr. Magoo and now Jim Carey occupy the small screen and remind me of what is really important in life – love and family.  Even Mickey Mouse has warmed the cockles of my heart in the role of Bob Cratchitt.

And now, I must go wrap presents by the flickering light of my television, as once again the Ghost of Christmas Present leads Mr. Scrooge to see what he should have seen all along – that Christmas Spirit is a year-round emotion, and has less to do with cash flow and Black Friday Shopping and more to do with charity of spirit.

If you are feeling charitable, I would recommend these fine charities:

The Salvation Army

The Union Gospel Mission

Clean Water for the World

Patrick Stewart - A Christmas CarolThere are so many worthy charities, and any gift you make to them will benefit millions of people.  I live in the lap of luxury, and I know it. I have a good roof over my head, a reliable income and a healthy family. I am grateful for all these blessings, and if you are similarly blessed, I encourage you to make some donations to your local charities as a way of giving thanks!


Filed under Adventure, Books, charity, Fantasy, Humor, Literature, Uncategorized, writer, writing