Thursday, May 12, 2016

Political Blogging: A Transition

Life is change, sometimes what we expect, and sometimes not so much. Y'all know, a while back, I was gleefully, or more like painstakingly transitioning this blog, and other as well, to a blog at my own domain - Thinking, it would all be one blog. And I did that - sort of.

At the time, it didn't quite click why it wouldn't necessarily be such a great idea to write about road-trips, poems and politics all on the same blog.

Meanwhile, this little blog is still sitting here, thank all you kind readers who kept coming back and kept reading, despite the fact that I was somewhere over there, on Regina Garson's "new" Blog.

It's still there, but "lessons learned," I'm moving the politics back over here, which best I can figure is mostly why folks are still coming back to this one. However, if it's the other stuff you prefer, not the political at all, or at least not going forward, click here for Southern style road-trips, a little bit of poetry, my writer's take on writing and life.

In the meantime, if you missed anything political, my more recent posts, in reverse chronological order, include:

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

On The Road – Solo And 60

Change – It could be that “change” is the definition of life. Whether you like it or not and whether you are ready or not, change is going to happen. I'll be 60 in a couple weeks. I was the one who was never going to retire. I was going to work until I died, and I had my life planned out to the minute.

One thing I never considered though was that mortality might get in the way and make some changes that I didn’t expect. Things that were not on my list.

It’s not like I took my health for granted. I have worked out all my life, starting in high school. I learned Tai Chi instead of getting surgery when I first had back problems, and I kept at it. I learned about nutrition and I ate right. Started that in high school too.

I was as healthy as a so called horse, and then I choked on a handful of junk food. Talk about karma or poetic justice – or something. I didn’t just choke. I spent upwards of a month in the hospital, living on tubes, and then I went back. A couple times. Change. Unintended. Unexpected. And a doozey. On a brighter note, thinking positive and all that, the doc said if I hadn't been in such good shape, I would not have survived. There is something to be said for survival. Change too, I suppose.

The thing is, in a so called blink of the eye, I went from right near the best shape of my life, to the slow doddering woman that takes way too much time at the front of the grocery store line. Just like that. In one instant.

This was not a slow progressive aging process. This was a blink of an eye and everything changes process. To say I was not prepared for the change would be the understatement of the millennium.

I’m not dead yet though and I’m still at it, huffing and puffing and tweaking those workouts one more time. Dreams and ambitions, I got plenty. Always did, but sometimes they need some rearranging along the way. Change and all that. You’d think I was the only one who had been in such a boat.

Despite the fact that I have no diseases, and I am still as healthy as a proverbial horse, I am a mangled mess. Kind of like a healthy, hobbling, rickety, but still running jalopy. Can’t get far at a whack, and my work outs these days are more a candidate for a meme gone awry than a fitness show. But as the saying goes: “I’m in really good shape for the shape that I’m in.”

I’m still working too, but to say it has been a challenge would be another great big understatement. The various surgeries and repercussions from the internal injuries left my digestive system a dubious mess, not to be discussed in polite company. The inordinate length of time I spent on an inordinate number of IVs left me without the full functionality of either hand. That cut my typing speed considerably, actually I had to learn to type all over again. I’m still pecking though. And my hands are a lot better than they were, but still nowhere close to as good as they used to be. See above about the grocery store line and trying to open your wallet when you are suddenly down to three fingers on each hand, still trying to figure how to do things all over again, with your current state of ability, and you got a line of people standing “patiently” behind you.

Could be all that sounds like too much information, but I, like many others, live by what they call the spoon theory. I have to pace myself, what can I do and what is realistic. How long is it really going to take?

If we are going to be blogging about going on the road in our elder years, which I’ll get to in a minute, every one of us in that boat has got something we got to deal with. If I go three days without eating right, I feel it. And if you are going on the road and you are not in the best of shape, unless you want the whole thing to turn into a nightmare, spend your time in the hotel room, or your tent, or your camper, if not the nearest ER, you are going to have to be prudent, and as the saying goes – act your age – at least on the health front.

Despite it all, I have mostly worked most of the time. Except maybe the five months that I was completely bedridden. I am not going to be quitting any time soon, but if I had any sense, I’d have put up a help wanted ad for a husband. A roommate. Or something. Could be I should have done that before I got to the shape that I was or am in now.

Actually, though, I am pretty happily single, so there is that.

I sure got side tracked.

But anyway, somewhere in the middle of all this, I get the idea, as many budding senior citizens have before me, that what I really need to do is to get some kind of RV, a camper of some sort and take to the road. Never mind the fact that I am flat broke, count it a blessing that I can now make it successfully through a grocery store line, and have to plan a year in advance to make it three hours away to visit family. I can get a fixer upper camper and fix it up. And wherever I park, I can sit a spell and write, do my work while I check out the scenery. And while I am at it, write about the world from the perspective of barely making it but still on this side of the daisies, a la the fantasies of a Lonely Planet existence, a world to see, not as young as I used to be and all that. It’s not just that. But it sure would be fun.
Convict Laborers around 1915, Florida.

I write and edit too, but back when I first decided that writing was what I wanted to do, it was things my granddaddy (William Joseph "Bill" Pickett) told me about the coal mines and convict labor that really touched my soul. Whatever else I did, I wanted to write about the things that I thought were important, about real people and the real story of things, real life stories that tend to get left out along the way. I always felt that way. And I have always tried to include what I could to inform people in my work as well. Stories and the side of things that needed telling.

There was this one poet in particular that I met and loved her work. She really influenced me in the way she thought and did things with her writing. Her name was Lucille Clifton. Although she was an activist type, she had her own style. She loved to travel and she’d visit all these plantations, which are a trendy tourist destination all over the South. None of that reminiscing about bygone Southern glory for her, she was African American, and she would go on these tours and ask about the slaves who built the place and did the work, and why weren’t they mentioned on the tour.

Saturn SA-5 launch, January 29, 1964.
NASA Photo.
It was always about the grand life of the plantation owners, not about the slaves and what they went through to build and keep the place going. Anyway, Lucille Clifton kept pushing at the plantation tours, until folks started including both sides of the story. And actually, that was progress. I always admired Lucille Clifton, her poetry was awesome. She inspired me and there is no doubt about that. I wouldn’t mind revisiting some old places too, getting down to the other side of some of those old stories.

There is always another side of the story to what you get on the tours. Like in Huntsville, with Von Braun and the space program. Everybody loves the Space Museum, at the US Space and Rocket Center. I’m a space geek for sure. But talk about slave drivers, what in the world does Von Braun have to do with slavery? Wasn’t he German? A Nazi at that. The way they talk about those old plantation owners, you’d think they were the only ones, or hopefully, at the very least, the last slave drivers in the South. Does Peenemünde ring any kind of bell? We’ll be back to that another day. I still love all things space, but reality is reality.

What about the old mills?

Those old mill buildings have intrigued me since I first moved to Huntsville. There are several in the area. Lowe Mill, also in Huntsville, is now one of the most trendy arts centers in the South, but another side of the mill history was that way back in the day, a photographer traveled through the area and took pictures of the kids working the machines. To say those pictures caused an uproar was an understatement. Those pictures were instrumental in drawing attention to/and ultimately the push toward changing the child labor laws in this whole country. Those were some pictures. Huntsville was actually pretty important in the history of children’s rights and the child labor laws in this country. Bet you didn’t know that about “Rocket City.”

Closing hour, Saturday noon, at Dallas Mill. Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine.
Department of Commerce and Labor. Children's Bureau. (1912 - 1913)
In the meantime, I have a tent, and I have been checking out options. Pop-ups, campers, RVs, etc., the pros and cons of them all from the perspective of a 60 something single solo, somewhat rickety, female traveler with Lonely Planet fantasies and for whom a three hour journey is a monumental undertaking. But more on all that later, including each and every option you look for when you get the itch to hit the road and you are a single woman of a certain age in fair to dubious condition.

People are always writing about how to travel with the kiddos. From the beginning of time, college students have been taking to the road, but what about the oldsters? I know a few who have. But to say they have their own set of travel issues is another one of those understatements. And it’s not like I haven’t hit the road on my own before, but that was before the accident and although I am in a whole lot better shape than I was (when I was on various and sundry life support systems), I am not in anywhere close to the same shape I was in before that fateful handful of junk food.

So there’s that.

We will see where it all leads. I had many good years of good physical ability. I learned some things along the way, about the outdoors and such. At various times, I led Cub Scout and Girl Scout groups both. Things are most definitely different now. But I am not the only one on this planet to reach a certain age and realize that. The difference, I mean change. Even if we do the best we can with our health and our workouts, eat right, and really think we got it right, we are all subject to the whelms of nature and the reality of our own mortality. That doesn’t mean that life stops, or that we can’t get out there and enjoy it. It does mean that we might have to do a little more thinking and planning, but we’ll touch on that along the way too. There was a time not too very long ago that I never honestly thought I’d ever hit the road again to go anywhere, much less see 60, and now, as they say, my feet are itching.

I am not actually there yet, my birthday is June 12. Still got a few days to go. It’s going to take some doing to get on the road again too. You’d think I’d be lamenting the passage of years. Not me. It is a miracle on top of miracles that I am still walking this earth. If you want to talk about counting blessings, I got plenty to count.

Now let’s see what we can get into next.

Copyright 2015 Regina Pickett Garson

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Call!

The last few years have been a time of intense change for me. Not exactly what I expected in the direction of my carefully plotted life. Nowhere close. A random choking incident and a month and counting of too many weeks that started to turn into months back and forth from the hospital, bedridden, living on various and sundry tubes, changed my world and everything in it. I just recently saw the third anniversary of the accident. In the last few years, a whole lot of days that turned into months, I did not honestly expect to see another day, much less the three year anniversary from the accident. It sure leaves one with a lot to think about. Reevaluating. Counting blessings. Thinking about the detours, the paths of my life.

One thing that hasn’t changed is that I still publish MagicStream. I started it in 1994–95, not sure of the exact start date, but at any rate, it’s been online right at twenty years now. It could be it is time for a celebration for that too, or something.

When I first started Magic Stream, I am not sure I knew exactly what it was supposed to be. The Internet was just starting to move into the area of what would come to be known as the World Wide Web, home pages were new back then. The way it was presented to me, the Internet was going to be a place where everyday people could publish and even compete with the big publishing companies. Looking at it from that perspective, I did a whole lot of thinking; what would I publish if I could publish anything I wanted.

Back then, to get anything published, get started as a writer, you sent submission after blind submission. Likely as not, you also collected stacks of rejection slips. Some writers seem to gloat on how many rejection slips they have collected over the years, such as that never quite appealed to me though. I wanted to publish, not just “be” a writer, I wanted to be involved in whatever and any way I could in the publishing and media industry.

One thing that stuck in my mind. At that point, back then, when I first learned of what would soon be the World Wide Web, it maybe seems insignificant now, but back then it was a very big deal and that was the fact that information wasn’t so easily available like it is today. There is a very real reason this age we live in is called the information age.

Anyway, somewhere in that time, I had been to the doc and given a diagnosis, which we all do sooner or later. That was definitely my turn, long story short, PTSD, that would be post traumatic stress disorder, and a doozey of a case, probably an understatement on the diagnosis, but that’s enough on how crazy I am. The thing is, it is treatable, not to be confused with 100% curable, but I did get help. And if I have a problem, I try to stay on top of things. Really upsets me to realize all these homeless veterans suffering from PTSD, when it really is treatable. Getting the treatment you need is another story though. Coming back from war without the support and treatment they need is another story still. Get me going on that.

Anyway, at the time, I was overwhelmed with trying to find out what was going on with me. I’d go to the doc, okay, I’d go to the shrink, and he’d go yada yada, and the next shrink would go yada yada, “Leave it to us. Don’t worry your pretty little head.” And I’d head off to the library trying to find information on what I was dealing with. If you have ever taken a nose dive, and a detour to Flashback City, tried to find your way back out and you know exactly what I mean. Somebody saying, “Trust me, don’t worry your pretty little head,” doesn’t cut it. By the way, “never trust anybody who says trust me.” You can quote me on that.

Long story short, I’d spend hours at the library and never seemed to get very far. Part of the problem really was most likely the state of mind that I was in while I was looking for the information, which wasn’t wonderful. Don’t ask me how I made it through it all, including finding my way back out of Flashback City, but I did.  

With those considerations, given the notion that I could publish anything I wanted, I thought about that time of frustration in finding information on mental health issues. And that was really only part of what I was dealing with at the time. We all have to deal with something though. Mine just happened to be the PTSD. That is a reality of life. And life does go on, but what could I do to make things better in the meantime. Make no mistake, for just about every diagnosis you can get, there is something you can do on the self-help level as well. Maybe not a cure, but there is always some little something that you can do to make yourself more comfortable, make things better and more bearable along the way.

Given the possibilities of the World Wide Web, I wanted to do something along the lines of self-help information resources, and making it easier to find everyday medical information, focus on mental health information. At the time, I did not have a clue what I was dealing with or where to start. I remembered vividly my own lapse into PTSD, the journeys through Flashback City. The hours spent in the library, never seeming to get much of anywhere. Wanting more information about what was going on with me and not being able to find it. Thinking hard about that time, when I realized the implications of what was coming with the World Wide Web, I decided that what I would like to do was publish a self-help and wellness information resource that focused mostly on mental health issues, helping people to connect and find the related information they needed, also the physical, and the spiritual, because in some kind of way, it is all related. Mind – body – spirit. You really do need it all.

That was the seed of Magic Stream. Other interests at the time, I had really wanted to get certified in bibliotherapy, which is the use of writing and literature for healing, started into it, but the certification is not recognized in Alabama and an unrecognized therapy certification is not worth much of a dime if you got bills to pay. So much for that, somewhere along the way though, I had written a fairy tale, by the name of “Magic Stream”; it is kind of gory when it comes to fairy tales, definitely not of the Disney sort, but the concept was people reaching out to each other for healing. None of us can honestly go it alone. So all that combined together was the start of Magic Stream.

This got long for a short little blog post about a calling. Over the years, I had a lot of ideas that came and went with the changing times of the Internet. Magic Stream was among the earliest, probably first dozen or so, self-help and wellness sites on the Internet. And being as it is still up, it is now one of the oldest continuously published, still up and running, self-help sites on the Internet. Through thick and thin, good times and bad, I’ve managed to keep it online.

There were times when I honestly thought about shutting it down, but at the end of the day, how do you build a mission and close the doors while people are standing there. When all was said and done, it really is a mission, always has been, and a mission to which I have devoted much of my life. And how do you build a mission, and close the doors while people are still coming there for help.

In my mind, and the way I’ve tried to live my life, it’s like crossing a bridge, it was a rough journey, the paths of my life, but if you look back and there is somebody behind you that all they need is a steady hand to get across, how can you not take one little moment to reach back. I always felt like in some kind of way, we should all do some little part to give back to the community as we are able. Magic Stream was my giving back. And so it continued. It was never anything grand, never the highest traffic site on the net, just a place where people went for mostly mental health and wellness information, to find what they needed to get on with their life. Sometimes teachers and counselors go there for information as well.

I never did make a lot of noise about it. There is something about mental health issues, people really aren’t into a lot of noise on that. We all have our little red wagon as they say, but blasting it all on a loud speaker is another matter. And I had no inclination toward being a professional patient. And we all know some of those. But I kept Magic Stream going, published it, maintained the site, and wrote the code. I have published a whole lot of really awesome people along the way, no way was it ever a one person project, never has been. I am really humbled at the caliber of people who have shared their writing, their own journey, and their stories on Magic Stream.

I’ve thought much at different times about where to go with it, and like others who work for a living, have often found myself severely limited in what I could realistically get done with it, especially after the accident. Talk about slow. Nonetheless, sometimes absolutely despite myself, Magic Stream is still there.

Funny thing is. I don’t know how as I got on this, what a rambling circle. I don’t generally talk a lot about Magic Stream, even to people I am around a lot. Some people have worked with me for years and never heard me say a thing about it, other than maybe passing mention of some kind of web publishing, they didn’t have a clue how I would know such. And I know I got some raised eyebrows over the years when in the middle of some meeting or something, some web issue or question would come up and I would have much feedback and people would be rolling their eyes, like where is this coming from and what does she know about the Internet, twenty some years’ worth of publishing actually.

I was never much into that part about blowing one’s horn though, could be that has been one of the big mistakes of my life. Could be I wouldn’t do that much different if I had it to do again. I’ve been building web pages since you pretty much had to write your own code, I still mostly do, old fashioned like that. Anyway, it is something I have always done on the side of whatever else I was doing. Folks who know me, and the site, also know there is a spiritual side of it all, it has always been there as well. Funny how things happen.

Lately it seems that things spiritual and ministerial have been on the brain and popping up here and there in various ways. Others have mentioned ministry related issues as well. Spiritual outreach very similar to what I have been doing with Magic Stream all these years. The mission has been open for a very long time, twenty years, and counting. It really is a mission, never was much of anything else. Could be I went about it in from a completely odd direction, bass ackards as they say, but the minute it was in my head, I knew it was right.

I went ahead with a Universal Life Church ordination. Nobody wants to get married, that I know about, but I can do it too. It is a non-denominational type ordination, although the term would seem to mean no denomination at all, from my perspective it is an inclusiveness thing. Magic Stream is very much about spiritual inclusiveness. Anyway, it is true that some people use the Universal Life Church ordination route for ceremonial purposes, to be licensed to perform weddings and such. I am not looking for a church or a congregation either, but the Magic Stream mission has had its doors open for the last twenty years. It is non-denominational in philosophy, not to be confused with lacking in spirituality or religious values. It is very much welcoming of religious diversity, especially the healing aspects. And interestingly, some of the earliest things I published were written by ministers.

It is the same old Magic Stream, but going into the ministry will allow me to extend some of the resources in various off line ways, into the community, and lend the resources I have already developed and sitting there to support various other of the causes and efforts that I already believe in for the common good.

After publishing Magic Stream for all these years, I actually have significant background and self-help type resources to pull from. It is way past time for a ministerial type, more spiritually focused presence at Magic Stream. And no I am not quitting my day job, nothing much is changing on the day-to-day, just a different direction for what I have been doing all these years.

Growing up as a preacher’s daughter, over the years, I remember when various stood up in church and said that they had “been called.” Called to the ministry that is. One doesn’t however always talk about everything they do. Could be I was called the day I decided to build the Magic Stream website. However, such that it is, the non-denominational ministerial ordination route, lends me to move in a new direction with some of the Magic Stream resources, more focus on the spiritual aspects of healing, which after dealing with my own especially, I really do feel is so important. I also think is very much needed in the world today, and timely, and coincidentally in the process, I am already ordained.

My mission is the same as it has been for the last twenty years. It won’t be over night, there is however going to be a change in the spirit at Magic Stream. This is after much consideration as to how I would commemorate the twenty year mark of Magic Stream. Coincidentally, I can also perform weddings, and funerals, and various such, licensed to do everything that goes with it, which I have actually done in some capacity for many years, I just used to be the piano player. Namaste, Amen and blessings to all.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Religion, Rage & w(R)iting Blog Tour

Hi, and welcome to The Religion, Rage &w(R)iting Blog Tour for Authors, Shirley-Harris Slaughter, Rhani D’Chae and Harmony Kent. (Click on each author’s name to be taken directly to their Author Page at 4WillsPublishing, where you can learn more about them).

These three authors are wonderful clients of 4WillsPublishing, a publishing House dedicated to helping authors put out the best written, and marketing products for their literary work, possible.

This tour is a surprise tour, which means the authors knew nothing about it until it started!  This is our gift to them to show our appreciation of their work, their dedication to putting out the great written word, and also a big THANK YOU for allowing us to showcase and promote them. 

This is a 3 Author/7 Day/40 Blog Tour!  Yes, for 7 days, The Religion, Rage & w(R)iting Blog Tour will sit on 40 blogs!  And for 7 days, on 40 blogs, you will get a tiny tid-bit of something related to Religion, so that you never forget OUR LADY OF VICTORY, the rage of people, such as that displayed in SHADOWOF THE DRILL, and w(R)iting tips to help you POLISH YOUR PROSE! (Click on each book title to find out more about it)

This will be a fun tour, an inspirational tour, a delightful tour which has been designed to enlighten you, entertain you and help you overcome those feelings which bind us daily and keeps us from growing from point A to point B.  Each day as you stop by each blog to find out what bit of inspiration is being shared, we ask that you take the time to leave a comment for the authors, visit their blogs, Follow them on Twitter and FB, and last but not least, please PICK UP A COPY OF THEIR BOOKS!  They are all 5 star reads!  And this tour wouldn’t be complete, if you didn’t check out The Religion, Rage& w(R)iting Book Trailer!  (Please note:  these bits and quotes were not taken from the author’s books).  

Before we forget, we’ve included another of our authors, Nonnie Jules.  Although she’s a partner in our firm, she is STILL one of our clients!  Her books, THE GOOD MOMMIES’ GUIDE TORAISING (ALMOST) PERFECT DAUGHTERS, Daydream’s Daughter, Nightmare’sFriend and Sugarcoatin’ Is For Candy & Pacifyin’ Is For Kids! are also very interesting and entertaining reads!

On this stop, we want you to dwell on this:
 Being a good writer is 3% talent, and 97% not being distracted by the internet.” ~ Anonymous ~

Thank you for joining us on this stop of our tour.  We are grateful to our host for allowing us to share with this audience and we hope that we have left you wanting more!  To follow this tour, please visit the 4WillsPublishing EVENTS page for the complete tour line-up and to also register to win a SURPRISE pack of books as well as a stint on WHO’S ON THE SHELF WITH NONNIE JULES!  Now, on to the next stop!!!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Our Children Need Us: With Shirley Harris-Slaughter

Mentoring in the Oak Park School District. 
I am very excited to welcome fellow author Shirley Harris-Slaughter as a guest on my blog.

Our Children Need Us
By Shirley Harris-Slaughter

Our Children Need Us: I found that out when I got involved with four freshmen girls in a mentoring program sponsored by the Oak Park School District. I volunteered to be a mentor in the Winning Futures Program conducted by the district. I have to admit that I had an ulterior motive for signing up. I was trying to get more exposure for my book.

I was surprised to have gotten so much more than I bargained for. I was assigned to four girls, which should have been three, but they didn’t have enough volunteers. Right away I realized the girls were jockeying for a seat beside me every week that we met. The leader of this program pointed that out one day, as part of a lesson on the dynamics that play out with these children in these mentoring programs.

I didn’t know that I had a gift when it comes to children and how that gift would bond us together and see us through the program from beginning to the end.  Most troubled kids are not able to do that because they have so much drama going on in their personal lives. The fact that my girls did make it through, was a testament to my skills interacting with them over the entire semester.

Other team leaders with their mentees didn’t fare as well. Some of the children dropped out of the program. They were looking to me to see what it was that I was doing and how they could learn from it. I felt so good about myself that I was able to successfully make a difference in these girls’ lives and they really listened to what I had to say.

Each week they were presented with a project to help them be more successful in life. The first week was “Career Day” and the mentors had to present their job careers. I presented a visual display of what I do as an author. I displayed my book along with poster boards, post cards, and business cards. Just like putting on a display at a book event. I went around the table and pointed out things that I did when putting on a presentation or speaking engagement.
"Career Day"
They learned about grooming, how to set goals, how to write a resume and look for jobs; they also learned how to decide on what college or university they wanted to attend. They learned how to play games and how to lose with dignity and grace while congratulating the winner. The biggest benefit was that they would be able to use this program as a referral when applying to colleges, looking for employment, or to add credits to their high school curriculum for graduation; showing how grounded they had become.

This program was a stepping stone to all that they could be. But the key was to get through it—to stick it out. And they did! I had certificates made up for them to be presented at the banquet put on by the school district. City council was there; the school board, some public representatives and most importantly, the parents.

I don’t know what my girls told their parents about me, but they sure wanted to meet me. Apparently, I was all their girls talked about and so these parents were anxious to see who I was and grateful that I had mentored their daughters. We took pictures and the girls were called to receive their awards. All of them got one because I felt that being in the program and not missing days, was worthy of an award. We have to praise children for everything so they can feel good about themselves.

In another instance, as a member of the Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver, a Catholic organization, I served as a chaperone for our Junior Daughter division at the conference in Mobile, Alabama. Again, the parents obviously got a good report card on me.

So, I am grateful I was able to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Our girls and our boys need us. I love them all because they are so innocent and so close to God when they are young and it is up to us to keep them that way. 

About the Book:

Writing this book was a natural outgrowth of my community activism. Thus, Our Lady of Victory, the Saga of an AfricanAmerican Catholic Community was born. Besides, no one else was going to do it. I didn’t understand initially that I was the chosen one.

Little did I know the “can of worms” I was about to unleash. But I needn’t have worried…no one was ready to challenge my findings. They just pretended like there was nothing to be concerned about. And so I was ignored for the most part with the exception of a few close friends. And then Nonnie Jules crossed my path and I joined RaveReviews Book Club and excitement for the book was re-ignited.

I am a proud member of Rave Reviews Book Club—the place for Indie Authors!

I tried to fight the ebook craze but gave in finally. I don’t think that is good for history and all that implies because you want to hold that kind of book in your hands. I feel the same way about Sci-Fi Fantasy thriller books now that I am a fan. Fortunately, I still have a remedy for you book lovers who cherish putting these kinds of books on a shelf. You can get your limited edition hardcover autographed copy of this precious book, OUR LADY OF VICTORY. Just click here:

Once these gems are gone, they’re gone!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

All Authors Blog Blitz

This week, I am doing something a little different with the blog, participating in an All Authors Blog Blitz. We are all authors, and we are all hosting another author on our blogs. C-Desert Rose hosted me and I am really really excited to host Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, of Italy. As if that isn't exciting enough for this Alabama girl, we share long term interest and involvements in the space industry as well, and we all know what happens when you throw space geeks together. We talk books and space both, what could be better! I am so excited to have her here. With that, I introduce:

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli

Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli

You’ve maybe noticed that I have a long name. Well, this is my real one, not a pen name. I’ve decided to keep it all because it’s something unique, but all my friends just call me Carla.

I’m an Italian independent author, a literary, technical, and scientific translator, and a biologist. Actually I’m not working anymore as biologist, but I’m using my education in the field in both my translation and writing work. I worked as researcher and professor’s assistant at the University of Cagliari (Sardinia, Italy) until 2004, then I started my own business, called Anakina Web (the name coming from me being a huge Star Wars fan), in the remit of which I currently take care of my writing related jobs, including translation, as well as web design.

My work time is almost evenly split between creative writing and translation, though I’m currently focussing a bit more on my writing career. I’m the author of a successful science fiction series in Italy, titled “Deserto rosso” (Red Desert), including four books. It is a character driven hard science fiction series about Mars colonisation, thanks to which I’ve been mentioned on Wired Magazine as one of the ten best Italian self-publishers. It brought me to be a guest at the Salone Internazionale del Libro in Turin, the most important Italian book fair.

I’ve also recently published a crime thriller titled Il mentore (The Mentor), and I will publish my next science fiction novel in November.  
My science fiction series is also going to be published in English. The first book, Red Desert - Point of No Return, is due to release on June 30th. I’m currently arranging an eventual publication in Spanish for the next year.

On Space:

As a biologist, my specialisation is ecology. This branch of biology is about the connections and interactions between living and non-living elements in nature. That applies to our planet, of course, but not only. In fact, it has a lot of points in common with astrobiology for what concerns the origin of life and the conditions that allow life to spread. The two branches are tightly interwoven. Lately I’ve taken some online classes on astrobiology and I’m currently trying to improve my knowledge in the field.  
That fact and my interest in astronomy and aerospace, which I’ve had since I can remember, is partly the reason why I like science fiction too, brought me to become a space exploration enthusiast, in particular for anything that concerns Mars. The Red Planet is the nearest celestial body being similar to our own planet and potentially having the conditions to host life (in the past, in the future, but even right now). I’ve followed and am still following with great interest all the robotic Mars exploration missions.   
My name is one of those brought there in a chip on board of Curiosity (yes, it sounds like I’m fan of her, but actually I am!). I’m eager to see more missions being able to discover more about the past of the planet, when it was covered by oceans and maybe gave origin to life. But I’m even more eager to see humans get there and colonise that new world.

On Space and Writing:

Both aspects of my interest in Mars drove me to write Red Desert. The triggering factor for me was reading Dr. Robert Zubrin’s books, in particular The Case for Mars and his novel First Landing. I started toying with the idea of an astronaut driving all alone on a rover in the Martian desert, in the middle of nothing, and I wondered why he/she was there and where he/she was going.  
I started from that image in my mind to tell the story of Anna Persson, a Swedish exobiologist (an astrobiologist specialised in speculating about life on other planets) and a Mars coloniser, who at the crack of dawn leaves the safety of Station Alpha and secretly escapes with a rover into the desert with enough air for a little more than two sols (Martian days). Why is she escaping? Where is she going? Does she want to kill herself?  
The story is about Mars exploration and colonisation, so there’s a lot aerospace science in it, but also about exobiology, as it speculates on the possible existence of some very simple (microscopic) life forms in the Red Planet, how and where they might exist. It’s hard science fiction for a great extent. I tried to be faithful to actual science, though the story is set 50 years in the future so it left a lot of room to the imagination concerning technology
This is surely an entertainment read, but one of my ambitions is to leave something in the reader when they close the book, even to instil some interest on Mars exploration. I’m an Italian representative of a non-profit association called Mars Initiative, whose purpose is collecting funds to be given to the first project that is going to put humans on Mars. I hope my book will increase the interest of my readership on the importance of this topic for human progress. And I hope to do so by letting them get closer to the Red Planet, feeling its calling, and understanding why it is important that humans get there soon.  
But, of course, there are other appealing aspects in the series: there’s a lot of adventure, suspense, characters’ feelings (including love, of course), even social topics, like the respect for diversity applied on a various range of fields, from religion to race … and more.  
Finally, it is characterised by my favourite theme that you can find in all my literary work: the subjectivity of good and evil. In my stories aren’t real heroes nor villains. Everything is mixed, like in real life. Everybody thinks for themselves and those they love. In fact the protagonist is an anti-heroine, heavily flawed and not willing to become a heroine. Whenever she does something dangerous that may seem heroic, she never does it for “saving the world” but just to save herself or someone she needs (because that person is just useful to her or she loves them and therefore can’t do without them), and this is what makes her human. This is what made most of my readers like the series, even if some of them disliked her attitude.  
Available on Amazon
Anyway to appreciate the characters and the story, you need to read the whole series.  
Red Desert - Point of No Return is a novella, a two-hour read, but it is less than ten per cent of the whole series. It follows Anna’s journey in the Martian desert. While she’s driving the rover aiming to a place we don’t know, she recalls her past and through her memories we understand who she is and why she is on Mars.  
The novella ends with a cliff-hanger urging you to know more. Fortunately the second book will be published in September and it’s a real novel, which shows different point of views on the story and unveils a part of the mystery upon which Anna has stumbled during the mission and which was the reason of her escape in the first place.  
So all you have to do is put on your own suit, lock your own helmet and get into the rover with Anna. The journey will start on June 30th.


I linger to admire the sky that’s turning from salmon to a dirty, pale blue, as the sun drops into the canyon. Its light has become so feeble that I can stare at it without being blinded. I begin to distinguish some stars eastwards. Deimos, the farthest satellite, shines a little bigger than a star just over my head, whilst Phobos seems to come greeting it.
As the solar disk crosses the irregular horizon of Valles Marineris, there it is, a little higher and westward. An azure star sparkling in the twilight. Earth.
I can’t be too specific about this excerpt for avoiding any spoiler on the story. Anyway, I think this one is the most moving part of the novella. It was moving for me to write it. We find Anna watching the sunset in Valles Marineris, in the canyons. She is alone in a very difficult situation, yet she is overwhelmed by the beauty of the sight. Her nerves break when she finally recognizes Earth in the sky. This is when she starts regretting her previous actions and wishing she could change them.

Anna is a very uncertain woman. That’s partly due to her past, which is slowly unveiled all over the series. She changes her mind continuously in normal conditions. And now she is alone in a desert planet for two long days. That’s bringing her to the limit.  
While focussing on her feelings in the attempt to make the reader identify in her, I take this occasion to show science and try to imagine how a sunset would look like on Mars, based on the videos and photos coming from Opportunity and Curiosity.  
I think these two paragraphs show well the two souls of Red Desert, the scientific and the human one. If you want to know more, you will just have to read Red Desert - Point of No Return
As said, it’ll be out on June 30th on Amazon and all major retailers, but it may be pre-ordered on Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iTunes. I’m launching it at only $0.99.  
All updated information about the series can be found on my blog under the tag “Red Desert”:
My official English website is, where you can get in touch with me via social media, read my blog or subscribe to my newsletter and be the first to know about a new release.

See you on Mars!