Hot night, can’t sleep?

Enjoy these Kindle Vella titles during those hot August nights.

On Kindle Vella, the first three episodes are always free. New to Kindle Vella, Amazon will gift you 200 free tokens to keep reading (and sometimes 500 or even a 1,000!)

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More about my characters: the CATS

Felines have been a large part of my life. Since right before my husband and I were married, we’ve been blessed to always have a tuxedo cat (or four) sharing our lives.

Our first, Horatio Roo, was somewhere between four and six weeks when he was pulled from a litter of feral kittens and throughout his life, he would nurse on my fingers or thumb as he would fall asleep at night. He didn’t see himself as a “cat” and accompanied me everywhere, including to work at a local Seattle television station some evenings.

Because our cats have brought such joy to our lives, I’ve paid tribute to their calming presence and rambunctious spirits by adding them as characters within “The Operator’s Daughter” series.

Henrik as a kitten

“Bond” is mentioned in Ashton’s mother’s journals–“a left behind” cat by a former resident of the home shared by LT Gracelynn Wright and CPT Charlotte Lewis. When Charlotte took occupancy of the base-housing bungalow, she found a bag of cat crunchies and a water fountain for him to drink from–as we have found out our kitties over the years prefer drinking from running water. (An Operator’s Daughter – part I.) “Bond” is a smoothie tuxedo, and in my mind he resembles our current kitty boy, Henrik–our “lap leopard.”

As I am drafting out episodes of “An Operator’s Daughter – part IV”, “Orion” will make an appearance as Ashton’s emotional support animal. He is a six-toed Hemingway Maine Coon – greatly resembling the tuxedo Maine Coon who shared our home until just a few years ago. Niko, who was not a polydactyl cat, was the most gentle of our kitties, the largest in size and in the capacity of his heart for us and our other cats. We miss him a great deal.

Niko as a kitten with his big sis Tilda

Check our my author page on Amazon at the link above!

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More about my characters: Marcus Davis

It will take until Part III in my “An Operator’s Daughter” series to learn Marcus’s last name, but that is because I wanted everyone to see themselves within this amazing young man who is Ashton’s “bestie” through tough and better times.

Ashton meets Marcus when he’s assigned the role of showing her around the high school the first day she attends classes. He goes about this job with so much enthusiasm, that Ashton doesn’t quite know what to make of him. He wins her over quickly with his welcoming smile, solid advice, and loyalty.

Many high schools have opportunities for students to serve as ambassadors. In some schools this is a club one joins, and in others, it is a selection process based upon teacher recommendation, scholarship and volunteer hours. In Marcus’s case, he applied for the opportunity, and was selected because he is a solid student, willingly gives his time to make the school’s drama productions a success, and applied to be on the school’s yearbook staff–a class where he earns credit, but it will become a full-time job for him despite working afterschool and weekends at his parents’ sub sandwich shop.

Marcus aspires to sing in the school’s elect choir ensemble group and also to be selected for starring roles in the school’s drama productions–especially the musicals. He was disappointed he did not make either during his junior year in high school, but he keeps trying.

Although his parents have high expectations for him to take his education seriously, they are not of the “helicopter variety”. As busy business owners, they leave Marcus to make things happen on his own, while other students’ parents are pushy, or donate the cash, to procure plum roles or selection into elite performance groups for their sons and daughters. Heart and talent do not always equal opportunity in a suburban public high school; a lesson Marcus will come to learn from experience.

To learn more about Marcus, and his friendship with Ashton McAllister, start with “An Operator’s Daughter – Part I” on Kindle Vella where the first three episodes are free, and Amazon will give readers new to this platform another 200 free tokens to keep reading. Marcus will also make appearances in Parts II and III, and even in Part IV–currently in development.

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More about my characters: Dustin Maguire

I am deep into writing and editing Part IV of my “An Operator’s Daughter” series and hoping to begin posting episodes within the next week (or two).

The character of Dustin Bryce Maguire, Ashton McAllister’s love interest, points out his truck to her the the evening he returns from his first mission (“An Operator’s Daughter – Part I” Episode 157). He tells her, proudly, that it’s paid for, and she gives him an appreciative smile.

Dustin’s truck is a symbol of his hard work, blood, sweat, and hidden tears overcoming his neglected youth and his fight to make it through Navy SEAL training and on to a platoon.

He drives a later model lifted Toyota Tacoma, a two-door with not-quite a backseat similar to the one pictured below.

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For a reason.

A motif addressed in An Operator’s Daughter, parts I through III, is the concept that things in our lives happen for a reason. It is a concept I have struggled with personally my entire life.

Sometimes I feel I am lacking the faith gene; like my main character, Ashton McAllister, I struggle with faith, whether it is in a higher power or in those around me. I learn from my experiences, and those experiences have led me to go about things cautiously.

This week marks my first year anniversary working as a military contractor at the Stone Education Center on Joint Base Lewis McChord. To begin, it took a leap of faith to put myself up for a position as a substitute instructor in their Basic Skills Education Program—teaching math skills. My subject endorsements are English and Social Studies. Math has never been a strong subject for me. I’ll admit that once I understood those were the skills, I would be primarily teaching, I hit the Internet, YouTube videos, in particular, to recall what I had learned during elementary, middle school, and high school math classes.

As human beings, we learn through our experiences, through trial and error—none of us wish to make too many errors—and through repetition. Doing things correctly, over and over, inscribes those skills on our brains. It was how I was taught, and learned, those basic math skills to begin with and I am grateful for that repetition because those patterns came back to me fairly quickly and I could then instructor the soldiers who were enrolled in the program to increase their own GT scores leading to expanded opportunities for career growth.

That leap of faith on my part took a great deal of courage. I had been beaten down not only by being harassed out of a teaching career I loved and putting my heart and soul into making a difference, but then faced rejection and rejection as I looked for new employment. It hurts to get through the interview process, then being told you are exactly what they were hoping to hire, then have the reference check tank everything—and this happened repeatedly. When the offer of employment finally came from my fabulous supervisor at Indtai, I pinched myself, waiting to hear it would be pulled back. I am ever so grateful it wasn’t.

The opportunities for professional and personal growth with this new employer have restored my faith in myself and those I have the privilege of working alongside. Having recently been moved into a role where I am giving briefings about benefits, counseling service members, their dependents, and veterans on educational opportunities, and even being given the opportunity to start a writing lab to provide support for those wishing to improve their skills while writing application essays, working through research papers, or even writing in Army-style, I feel blessed that I am now in a position where I can serve those who serve our nation.

But did all this happen for a reason? Did I have to go through the heartbreak of giving up my teaching position to land in a place where I am surrounded by the support of others, and those others truly appreciate the support they receive?

Do things, crappy things or happy things, happen for a reason?

I will continue to explore that concept through my serial fiction characters, having faith that others will find strength in the story. As I have written it, I am finding faith in myself.

Managing Expectations.

As I wait for the next season of my serial to go live on Kindle Vella, I deal with conflicting emotions. I am excited to continue the story of my main character as she comes of age, but feel apprehension about its publication.
I continually deal with feelings of inferiority and inadequacy, which lead to anxiety, nearly paralyzing in its attempt to keep me standing still in my personal and professional growth. I continually tell myself I am a new author, new to publishing serial fiction, or any writing whatsoever. I should not be this hard on myself, and I should do what I have coached others to do over the years, to keep trying. But it is hard to look over the statistics of reads on my Amazon Kindle Vella dashboard, and not become discouraged. I suppose I have the unrealistic expectation of others who know me, who provided verbal or posted encouragement, would actually give reading my efforts a go—as those first three episodes on Kindle Vella are free to all readers, and Amazon provides another 200 free tokens to get readings into the serials.
Yes, I am disappointed in the lack of support, especially from former colleagues… but they did little to reach out to help me while I was struggling before I left teaching. I supposed that is just human nature to abandon others drowning while you concentrate on keeping your own head above the waves.
Honestly, I had such high hopes for gaining readership—especially among those who know me, the real me, the me who throws myself into everything I do with energy and passion for doing things right. As an inexperienced manager in television production, I tried to mentor my employees, pushing for cross-training of skills and providing opportunities for them to use those skills. When I moved from one company to another, I shared about the opportunities within the new employer and several followed me there—I provided excellent recommendations to our boss about their skills and capabilities as I believed in them, and still do.
As an educator, I wrote letters of recommendation to assist my students in gaining admission to the college of their choice or to be awarded scholarships to pay for higher education. I prided myself on never having to fly by the seat of my pants; I never planned one lesson at a time, but units of study and posted those lesson plans by unit so students and their parents knew what was coming as if it was a syllabus for a college course. Funny, this would have made it easy for me to teach during the virtual learning months of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I was driven out of my career before that time came.
Again, I am taking this in a direction that is not productive to staying positive. I need to manage my expectations, as I cannot control others’ actions, but go back to giving myself a pep talk and not wallow in the defeatist attitude which could hold me back from meeting my goals and living my dreams.
So here it goes:
When I began writing, it was to bring about healing, to help me deal with traumatizing experiences, and to move past them. I feel I have done that, and I now have a new job serving others in military educational counseling where if I can just make one difference a day, I can hold my head up, go to sleep feeling like I have accomplished something, which allows me to wake up and put in my best effort each day.
I write for an audience of one, myself, with the hope others will discover it and continue to read and enjoy it as I do re-reading my work. (If that sounds pretentious, it is, so be it. It took me a great deal of courage to publish my work, as there is a great deal of myself and my own experiences within my characters.)
I publish to provide an escape from everyday existence, to enlighten and entertain at the same time. A major theme in my serials is having that mindset to never give up despite the challenges and obstacles life throws at you. I will follow my advice and keep writing and publishing what I write.
Thank you for reading, I sincerely appreciate your support.

The Art of the Binge

Over the New Year’s holiday weekend, my husband and I began watching the television series “Yellowstone”. We had watched the first two of the prequel series the week prior, and dove into a pastime we had not partaken in since ordering a television series on DVD.

Now the fact we have not really indulged in streaming services prior to now betrays our ages and our lifestyle. Both of us have been more focused on our work for our jobs—his appearing never-ending because he comes home after working a 10-hour day, and then logs right back on to take care of the things a superior, who cannot get herself into the officer before noon, or get anything accomplished before 3 pm, which means work for his technology team after hours—and the employees he supervises are not authorized for overtime, so it falls on him… but I digress. I used to focus on my work after hours, also, when I was a teacher, planning lessons and grading for my overloaded English and social studies classes. Now, in a new line of work, my after-hours efforts are more focused on myself, on my writing, trying to make a name for myself in serial fiction or as a blogger—getting a head start on my second act before reaching retirement age. The television, once I am home, is tuned to news as I multitask to keep up with the goings on of the day or for company while pounding away on the keyboard.

I must admit; I felt guilt over the indulgence of watching the drama episode after episode. I have been conditioned over my lifetime to wait to watch until a specific night and time to follow a series. While living in the dorm during college, my roommates and I scheduled our classes to get our daily fix of “All My Children” and huddled in front of the small TV in our common area to watch “Dynasty” on Wednesday evenings together over bowls of air-popped popcorn sprinkled lightly with artificial buttery topping.

However, when I have the time to read a book, I often will consume it in a single setting, foregoing sleep to finish it. Somehow, there is no guilt associated with this practice; it has been my normal since I was a child where there was usually a flashlight tucked away under my pillow to hide my appetite for a good story from my parents’ concerned eyes.

As a new writer of serial fiction—episodes released one, or a few, at a time, I’ve also become a fan of the work of other writers on the site Kindle Vella. The episodes fill the space of a lunch break, filling that same space the Soap Opera used to fill, transporting me to another time or place beyond the break room’s walls.

While it wasn’t my goal when I first began writing my story to make it an episodic drama, I look forward to creating and releasing the next events of my main character’s fictional life. Through her, I address my own worries and fears, overcome life’s challenges, finding joy and healing.

I invite you to try the escape of a good drama when you get, or need, a break; while I would be ecstatic if it was my own, there is something for everyone’s fix on Kindle Vella.

Thank you for reading!

#serial fiction #binge reading #KindleVella #escape