Wednesday, February 28, 2007


My name is Nicole Andrews. I'm totally blind and own a couple of yahoo groups. writingoriginalblackfiction, novel-reading-group, and author-promotion. These groups are accepting membership. I am working on a cross-genre novel. It combines sf and mystery.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Introducing Mary Andrews

My name is Mary Andrews. I was born and raised in the Military. As I grew up, we were stationed in Kansas, England, Texas, Hawaii, Texas, Texas, and Texas. So I hail from…Texas. The eldest of seven kids, I learned to duck, dodge, and wrangle babies at an early age. Upon my escape from two cart grocery shopping and a never ending line to the bathroom, I attended college at Texas Tech University for a couple of ill spent years before setting out to conquer the world--one mistake at a time.

With a vengeance, I sought out nontraditional lines of work for a woman. I went from electronic assembly to machine operator to warehouse worker to helicopter repair to a ten year stay at home mom to custodial/taxi driver/data acquisitions operator/inventory specialist/CAT grater assembly/Licensed Air Frame mechanic/bicycle assembly/merchandiser/answering service Operator/Relay Operator for the Deaf/Cell phone customer service rep and quite a few more.

So I decided I wanted to become a writer.

During last October’s free Muse Online Writers Conference, I submitted the first ten pages of a sci fi novel that I’d been writing to Dindy Robinson for a critique as part of class. To my absolute amazement, she asked for my manuscript and I am now under contract with Swimming Kangaroo Press to have it published. It will be the first book of: THE FIREBORN CHRONICLES, and is expected out in October, hopefully before the next Muse Online Writers Conference. I still can’t stop saying WHOOOHOOO!

I’m currently working on my home page/blog/Gypsy research/art outlet/writer & artist featuring/buy-my-book website. I’ll post the address here when it’s done.

I’m very excited about being a part of this project, and since this is my very first attempt at blogging, I can't wait to see what happens next. So let the adventure begin.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Help! Why Isn't My Teen Writing

Dindy Robinson's post: Reading For Your Teen's Lifetime, is loaded with great ideas on encouraging your teens to continue reading throughout their life.If you haven't checked it out, look into our archives to find it.

I have to admit, although I raised five children, it has to be in the child to want to read. However, as parents, we need to find alternate methods to encourage them. It's not easy to consistently supervise, educate, and be role models for our children, but if WE don't, then who?

About nine years ago, on my 40th birthday, Montreal was struck with an ice storm that had us turning to candles and flashlights and fireplaces to keep warm during that winter while the electricity was fixed. We were in the dark for five days but let me tell you those five days must have been the best 'family' time we've ever experienced.

We played games, cards, charades, told spooky camp stories all by candlelight. Amazing that we needed to have something like this to happen to realize we CAN have fun as a family. Not that we didn't, don't misunderstand, but we were doing these things everyday for five days.

I guess it must have been at that point, the kids also realized the computers, the T.V. and the cells really didn't play as much as a factor in 'fun time' as they once believed. Yes, we do depend on these technologies but I believe we depend on them way too much at times.

Think back as children, what games did we have? Wooden horses, puzzles, lots of outdoor activities. What do the children nowadays look forward to? Gaming systems, new computer games, new TV programs, text messages...

I'm not putting these things down by a long shot because I am aware we need to grow with the times but what I do know is that many parents rely on these things to occupy their children because they don't have the time to adequately spend quality time with their kids. And that's a shame.

I'm involved with several writing commitments but I prioritize my time for my family. There's nothing on this earth that can give me more pleasure when I see my little one cheering when she's beaten me yet in another boardgame. Or when my oldest kids say, "Mom, you have a minute. I need to talk to you about something." and I say, "Sure, what's up?" These little things mean more to them than you can imagine.

I know I've strayed a bit from Teen Reading but it's still in the topic of Teens and how to make a lasting relationship with your children.

Spend some time with them. They're kids only once as my dad used to say.

Lea Schizas

Introducing Perilous Pauline

Hello. :-) I'm late in introducing myself, because I've been out of town, celebrating my dad's 80th in snowy Wyoming. If you'd like to read about my adventures in Wyoming, check out my personal blog. As an added perk, you get to see me as a Shirley Temple "didn't want to be, but didn't have a choice."

In addition to NOT being Shirley Temple, I AM the author of seven published novels, with number eight scheduled to release later this year. I write a mix of mystery, suspense, humor, adventure and romance. It makes it challenging to market my books, but since I love what I do, I just keep doing it.

My latest novel, Out of Time, is set during WWII and is my first (and possibly my last) venture into writing about the past. It was a kick to write and left me with a deep appreciation for the Greatest Generation, which includes my dad. It also got me an EPPIE nomination, which was a thrill.

Number eight is set in space, which could technically qualify as sci-fi, only it is sadly lacking in "sci." Not good at "sci." But I love doing exactly what I want and how I want, so I'm having a great time with this book. It's called The Key and you can read a blurb and excerpt on my website.

Other than killing people fictionally, I'm not that interesting, but that doesn't stop me from having opinions on anything and everything, even things I know nothing about. So I'll be kicking in my two cents worth from time to time. And it will probably be worth about that much. :-)

Here's hoping that your days include great books and good friends.
Perilously yours,

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Reading for Your Teen's Lifetime

I'm going to get a jump on the March topic of how to interest teens in reading. My daughters are now in their early twenties, but getting them to read was never a problem. We started when they were very young reading picture books and chapter books to them. We had so much fun sitting on the sofa and reading classics such as Frankenstein, A Little Princess, The Secret Garden and The Diary of Anne Frank, as well as just plain fun books such as the Three Investigators Mysteries. We all cried together when we read Where the Red Fern Grows and laughed over Judy Blume's books about Fudge. Even now the girls will call up memories the books we read together and talk about how much they enjoyed those times.

When they became teenagers they continued reading. I finally stopped their nightly readings in junior high school-- The last few years we read together I sent it "on vacation" over the summer, and one year it just never came back. However, we continued to read together- just not aloud. When they read a book they really liked they would offer it to me to read and I would do the same for them. Jaala started working her way through my Agatha Christie collection and then got turned onto Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody books while Frith got into Marion Zimmer Bradely's Darkover books. They both were very heavily into Star Wars books and Jaala and I enjoyed reading Star Trek Books, particularly Peter David's New Frontier Series.

Then one Christmas I bought my husband the Harry Potter books- just before the fourth book came out- and inadvertently set off a major family battle as to who would be the first to read the next Harry Potter book when it was released. Those original three books are now extremely dilapidated, having been read several times by every one of us. Jaala routinely borrows them, and we have to go and search her apartment to get them back. For books Five and Six, I actually bought one copy for each one of us the day they were released so we could all read them without having to worry about anybody else waiting in line. We do have a major conflict this summer because Book Seven is being released on July 21, which is also the day Fritha has planned for her wedding. We tried to get her to change it, but her fiance wasn't too happy about that for some reason. So we've finally decided that they can go ahead and get married, as long as they don't mind if the rest of us sit there and read Harry Potter during the ceremony. As the mother of the bride I don't actually have to do anything. Jaala is Maid of Honor but she figures she can carry the book instead of a bouquet of flowers. So we've got that all worked out!

Now how did we manage to keep our girls interested in reading into their teenage years and beyond? For one thing, TV was never very big in our house-- and still isn't. We had an informal rule that the TV was only to be turned on specifically when we were watching something. We never turned it on for background noise or because there was nothing else to do or just to see what was on. We also didn't have cable, so there wasn't as much temptation to watch things.

We also continued to read as a family even if we weren't actually reading out loud anymore. We sat down and had dinner together several evenings a week and often talked about what we were reading. We shared books with each other-- and borrowed books from each other. The girls saw my husband and me reading frequently-- in the evenings we often would all just sit in the living room together, each reading our own books, instead of watching TV.

We also made reading relevant to them. For Christmas and birthdays we found books in their areas of interest-- Frith is interested in history and in women's issues so books about women in history are always popular. Jaala is into natural history so she gets lots of books about dinosaurs and wolves. We nearly always include gift cards to or Barnes & Noble or Half Price Books, and going to the bookstore to pick out books is still a real treat for all of us.

To us, turning our girls into readers was a natural process. My husband and I are both readers, but we've never read in a vacuum. The girls grew up hearing us talk about books, watching us passing books back and forth, and living in a household with one room devoted entirely to books. I will confess that the girls also saw that sometimes I was so into a book that the house didn't get cleaned or supper didn't get cooked! I enjoyed reading the RL Stine books as much as they did, as well as Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume- as well as other such fun books as How to Sink a Sub, Sideways Stories from WestSide School, and There's a Boy in the Girls Restroom. Fritha's fiance is not a reader-- or at least he's never been one before, but he has actually started reading some books so he can take part in our conversations without feeling left out. I felt as though we had really made progress when he asked me if I had a copy of Children of Men by PD James after seeing the movie-- guess what he's getting for his birthday!

The best way to help your kids enjoy reading is to let them see you enjoy it. Turn off the TV and pick up a book. Don't confine yourself to books for grown-ups-- there's a lot of good children's literature out there. Find some books that are appropriate for your child's age and interest, and read them yourself. Do they have a TV show they enjoy watching? If so, then find a way to tie into that show. If they enjoy watching LOST, they might enjoy reading Lord of the Flies. If they enjoyed the movie Cheaper by the Dozen, they might enjoy the book on which the movie was based. If they enjoyed Lord of the Rings, but find the books a little tough to get through, they might enjoy the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander.

We all agree that having children read is a good thing. So if you want your teens to read, let them see you reading. Make it fun, make it relevant, and make it part of your daily routine.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Introducing myself...Barbara M. Hodges

I’m happy to be taking part in The Branches of Life Blogzine. I’m new to blogging, so this is a learning experience for me.

I write mostly fantasy fiction, although I have been known to venture into Science Fiction, paranormal and even main stream fiction.

I have five published novels out right now, three in my fantasy Daradawn series, The Blue Flame, The Emerald Dagger and The Silver Angel, and two that I have co-written with other authors…Stargazer’s Children and Shadow Worlds.

I also have a story in Aleatory Junction, an anthology.

Next month, knock on wood, Stones Enchanted will be released. It is the first book in a new young adult fantasy series I co-wrote with JR Musick.

In July, Shadow Worlds, which is available as an ebook now, will be out in print.

My husband Jeff and I live in Nipomo, CA. It’s a small town on the central coast. We share our lives with two basset hounds, Ophelia and Hamlet, and a sassy ginger-striped cat, Wallace.

Jeff and I both love NASCAR and RVing. We like to tie them both together and go to nearby races. Of course we take the hounds with us.

When I’m not writing and being a wife, I like to decorative paint.

We’ve been married for 35 years. No children, but I’m a great aunt. Jeff and I are baby boomers. I have seen a lot of history in my fifty-five years. In December Jeff’s mom passed away. She was a wonderful lady and had a full life. Jeff’s dad is 89 years old. He’s having a hard time without his wife of over 60 years. He is in Oregon and we are working on getting him moved closer to us.
It’s hard to see your parents grow older.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Hello! I'm Dindy Robinson and I am thrilled to be part of this group. I am the publisher of Swimming Kangaroo Books; I also write science fiction under the name of Mari Atherton. I have loved to read since I could hold a book and wanted to write since I could hold a pen in my hands.
My favorite things to read are mysteries and science fiction. I like to blog about just about anything because I definitely think the world would be much better off if it would just listen to me! (smile)

I've been a teacher and a social worker and a government bureaucrat so I have spent a lifetime learning and still have a lifetime left in which to learn more.

I look forward to being part of this community.
Dive into a good book at

Christina Barber's Intro

Hello one and all! I'm very excited to be part of this new blog.

I have several published works - fiction, non-fiction - short stories and novels. I've been actively writing - writing for publication - for three years.

I am a full time writer and full time mom. (Yes, I know. I hold two full time jobs!). Believe me, my husband and daughter keep me busy enough, but I've learned to juggle household chores and still complete novels. It is a learned art - well, okay an art and use of headphones.

I enjoy research and have a passion for mythology. I also enjoy researching the paranormal (aka ghosts). I guess you could consider me a researcher, author and adventurer. I write and read fantasy, sci-fi, and horror or blends there of. All of my works focus on the darker angle within the above mentioned different genres.

I look forward to contributing with this great group of diverse people!
Thanks for reading me.

Drop a line and tell us about you!


Intro: Karina Fabian

I'm Karina Fabian, one of the bloggers for Branches of Life. Lately, I find myself increasingly "styled" as a writer of religious genre fiction, but that's not all I write or do.

Branches of Life is an appropriate blog for me, since I seem to branch out into a great many things: science fiction, religion, humor, homeschooling, pregnancy and parenting, health, simplifying your life... (Go ahead, laugh at that one. I do.) I'm like the bushes in our front yard: no sooner do I trim them back than they're already overgrowing the sidewalk again. (I get the feeling Lea is the same way.)

Last year, I did a major pruning of my writing, cutting out most of my non-fiction work in order to concentrate on my fiction. Ironically, that did nothing to trim my workload. Instead, I've merely branched out into book marketing and promoting, faith in fiction, critiquing, virtual book touring, ancient legends and modern investigative procedures, airship construction, the art of mummifying chickens... I'm busy promoting Infinite Space, Infinite God, an anthology of Catholic science fiction; publishing Faith-Filled Fiction, a newsletter about writing religious fiction; hosting a Thursday night author chat (FabChat) and writing five--now six--blogs. I own three websites, am President of the Catholic Writers' Guild and moderator of Catholic Writers Online, am active in two blog rolls, plus I have regular writing "gigs" with Montana Catholic and Hereditas Magazine. In addition, I write cross genre fiction, humor, slice-of-life, and still a little nonfiction/how-to. Oh, and I'm working on a game for the Little Flowers Girls' Club. (On the non-writing side, I'm a military wife and homeschooling mother of four.)

Writing it out this way probably makes me look like a good candidate for Ritalin, but I don't think I'm so unusual. I'm a writer, and writers live to learn about our world, dream about the possibilities, then synthesize that information and dreams into something new and hopefully entertaining. It also means--despite the stereotypes--that we're busy, involved people, especially thanks to the Internet.

I know we're going to have fun with Branches of Life. Come join us as we climb a tree, go out on a limb, maybe even get nutty.

(Did I mention I like puns? Now there's a story... Later. Maybe even here, on Branches of Life.)



More about Karina? Check out: Karina's author page with her blog, bio, writings and more. The official website of Infinite Space, Infinite God with stories, author bios, interviews and media information. The website of Karina's character, Vern a dragon detective. When magic and technology unite to cause trouble, it's time to hire the services of Dragon Eye, PI. Wisdom of the ages, knowledge of eternity. Virginity verified. Flights, extra. 'Cause ya gotta be on MySpace. MySpace for Christians. I blog religion in fiction there/
FabChat: A moderated live chat with authors. Every Thursday night at 8 PM Eastern Time (US). Go to and click on FabChat for a list of guests.
Faith-filled Fiction: A writing tool for those who write religious fiction or want to add religion (real or imaginary) in their stories. writing tips, markets, educational articles. Contact Karina at karina(at)fabianspace(dot) com

Monday, February 19, 2007

As a contributor, I hope to give my ideas and opinions on our various topics about life stages and situations. Writers use them all the time. Lord, I'm feeling lucky. I seldom get asked my opinion, but I sure have a lot of them. Here, I can just give them!

I've been an art teacher, a black and white artist, a graphic artist and muralist. Now I work making catalogs and as a writer of fantasy and science fiction.

What Rob is talking about below is aliteration. People who know how to read but just don't for one reason or another. Many people worry about teens who don't read. And since Rob has already posted, I'll add my two-bits.

Did you know that no one carried a book into 6 out of every 10 houses in the U.S. last year? Did you know that half of U.S. citizens are illiterate or aliterate? Are you aware we are raising a generation of aliterate children?

Aliterate? The whole concept is mind-bending to me. Someone who can read but doesn't read for the sheer pleasure of immersing themselves in a story? I've learned you can read to you children from the get-go, but by the time they are teens, they might be aliterate. There are many reasons. If you remember, there is a lot of (excuse me) BORING reading required in school rooms. Teens are drawn by other media like electronic games, cell phones, texting, My Space and television with their quick pleasure pay-offs. Sometimes just finding time to rest can be a major teen problem.

~Kylene Beers, a professor of reading at the University of Houston, is one of the few academics that have written about the phenomenon. According to her, there are two types of reading. Efferent reading is purposeful reading, the kind students labor to do in schools. Efferent readers take something useful from the material such as answers for a test. Aesthetic reading is reading for the sheer bliss of it. ~

Love that label. Aesthetic Reading. So how do we create Aesthetic Readers?

Check out this article Getting teens to read by Gwynne Spencer. Her are a few of her comments and suggestions.

~Read aloud to them when you’re a co-passenger in the car or plane.~

~Tell them they’re "not old enough to read it" and you can bet your booties they’ll beg, borrow or steal a copy.~

~Add an allowance bonus of $1 for every half hour they spend in front of the TV with the one-eyed monster turned off, while they read.~

~Take them to the bookstore, the library and the school bookfair and buy them books. If we’re going to win the war on illiteracy or aliteracy, we have to begin with a massive assault on lack of appropriate reading matter. In our world, if we value it, we BUY it.~

As parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, mentors, let's all make sure our children are
Aesthetic Readers. We can give them no greater life-time gift.

Reading and teens

Hi and welcome to the Branches of Life BlogZine. I'm honored to be invited to join this group of talented writers.

I know I'm getting a jump on March's topic, but I thought I'd share my own experience with a teen son--and reading. As a child, Nick was a voracious reader. He loved mythology, especially (this is common with boys--I certainly did), but read all sorts of stories. His interests outside of reading were games (he liked Magic, WarHammer, etc.) and hanging with friends. Sometime in his mid-teen years, though, he stopped reading. It wasn't sudden and it wasn't as if he didn't like to read, it was more that he only had so much time and reading just didn't make the list--always tomorrow. Unfortunately, I don't think Nick is alone. I think we're raising a generation of teens who think of reading as something that the older, slower generation did.

Part of the 'problem' is probably multitasking. A key element in reading is the way a story engrosses, captivates, captures, and immerses the reader. If you're reading a good book, you can't be watching TV, text-messaging with your friends, or talking on the phone.

Because I'm a writer, I worry about this. Because much of my writing deals with the future, I have to consider what it means to live in a world where reading is like Bridge or shuffleboard--something reserved for the old and gradually dying off.

I'd love to hear your opinions. Is reading an elitist activity that society is wise to put behind it?

Rob Preece
Author and Publisher,

Meet Lea Schizas

I can't tell you how excited I am for Branches of Life BlogZine to begin, knowing the articulate writers who have joined to offer you each month articles of interest.

Well, it's time to begin introducing ourselves:

My name is Lea Schizas, an award-winning author/editor, and founder of quite a few sites. I won't offer all the links here but do invite you to check out my personal website at:

I am a mother of five, used to own a salon business for the longest time before I gave it up to pursue my passion, writing. I describe my career as finally woken up after a 23-year self-induced coma of taking care of the family.

I guess you can say I am sort of a butterfly: first a caterpillar (worked seven years as a head teller), then cocooned for another decade or so as a stylist until I finally spread my wings and became a writer.

In the coming months, each of the Branches of Life writers will offer you their own experiences in the themes to come. And our first will be all about TEENS, and boy, do I have tales to tell.

Lea Schizas

Checking In

I made it here and now have a blog.

Grand Opening of Branches of Life BlogZine Coming Soon!

Hello everyone and welcome to Branches of Life BlogZine.

Now what on earth is Branches of Life BlogZine?

You name it, we're going to have it. We are several writers from The Muse Promotions website, who have banned together to offer you various interesting articles on different snippets of life; anywhere from taking care of our parents to dating.

Our first topic in March will be TEENS, covering a wide area in this subject. Several of us will offer you articles each month on our chosen theme and invite you to leave us your comments with your own life experiences.

Over the coming days, many of us will be introducing ourselves so you can get to know us. So make sure to bookmark us and come back often to find out what other 'branch of life' we have to offer you.

Lea Schizas