Making My Voice Relevant: A lesson in perspective

A good friend of mine flew into Charlotte this weekend. Naturally, I drove down to meet her having not seen her since we last parted ways in July. Since she’s been buried in 110 inches of snow all winter up in Boston, seeing her bright shining face lit up my week.

Kristen has never been to North Carolina and during the course of our catching up and conversation I learned she also has never seen a gator, looked shockingly appalled at the idea of ordering a Fried Green Tomato sandwich, and absolutely thinks it’s ‘wicked’ we say ‘y’all’ so naturally. Despite our obvious differences, when she mentioned the greenness of the city I was taken aback. Our city is green?

We weren’t talking about the movement to recycle and reduce your carbon footprint either; the green comment was literal—foliage, parks, grass—Kristen couldn’t believe how much of it was in the middle of the city. Which got me thinking about how diverse our country really is, not only in people, dialect or even places, but in perspective. I don’t really think about how green Charlotte or really any southern city is (but they are, think about it). To me it’s just a natural part of how a city is designed. NOT having foliage is weird. Because I see it all the time, when I am in Charlotte I see the narrow streets not built to sustain modern vehicular traffic. I see tall building and construction. I see people jogging and pushing strollers and not holding children’s hands as tightly as they should. In all reality what I see comes from not living in the city at all. I have always lived in small towns where green is natural, but these other things are not the norm and they pop when I am in new places.

Neither perspective of the city is better than the other. What struck me is that I could stop and sit for a moment in someone else’s shoes and really see from their perspective and as a result as I drove back through the city, all I saw were the trees, the landscaping and really the beauty in the construction. It came to life in a completely new and unique way.

Which is exactly what I think is so valuable about perspective shifts in reading and writing. A few months ago I wrote a short story and when I was finished I was unsatisfied because it felt empty and void of meaning. I tried editing it, altering the pacing, adding and subtracting detail, but it kept reading flatly. So I changed the perspective, just a simple point of view change and suddenly I started pulling at details and digging into emotion and depth I didn’t even know the story had. I resuscitated a story I thought was dead.

That’s exactly how I want to live my life. We are all born into this world with our own unique voice, but the only way we can make our voice relevant is to constantly shift our perspective and focus. By relating to people around us, we become a part of worlds we never thought we could be a part of and we can stamp out the rampart narcissism choking our society, and what a world that would be!

Ashley Carmichael is the author of Valerie’s Vow a Christian Romance which can be purchased or Amazon. Follow Ashley on twitter @amcarmichael13 and Facebook.

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IC Brand Logo w_A few months ago, a friend encouraged me to do an Internet search.  The results of that search saddened me for a spell.  After thinking about what I found, however, I determined that, as Jimmy Buffet wrote and sings, “It’s my own damned fault.”

Back in 2003 I founded a clothing brand for women who ride motorcycles called Iron Cowgirls.  (Been riding my own motorcycle for over 30 years.)  I was smart enough to trademark the name and its brand symbol; but, wasn’t smart enough to copy write the lifestyle poem that went with it. Later, I also failed to copy write the ‘Lil Iron Cowgirls lifestyle poem that went with the ‘Lil Iron Cowgirls brand I was creating when the market crashed in 2008.  I had to sell the brand. Everything went with it.

Looking back, I realize I never thought it necessary to copy write them because I believed I would always own Iron Cowgirls and all the elements that went with it, including the lifestyle poems. But, life doesn’t always turn out the way you envision it. So, when I made the decision to sell, I also made the decision to simply close that chapter on my life. I needed to write a new one. Now that I’ve published my first book, I guess that new chapter is beginning to take form.

Prior to selling Iron Cowgirls I managed to place the brand in over 50 Harley Davidson stores across the country as well as in an additional 20 independent motorcycle stores.  I also managed to build a significant Internet business and presence with customers in the U.S. as well as other countries such as Ireland, Japan, Germany and Australia.  In 2008 a young woman, who began working with me, and I were about to take the brand to the Atlanta Merchandise Mart for a show in hopes of attracting the boutique industry.  We had already placed the brand in a few Nashville boutique type stores.  But, none of it was meant to be. The profit that was made in 2007 and the 200% increase in sales began to wither away as the crisis took its toll on the consumer.

During that phase of my life, I think one of the biggest thrills I had was the evening my husband called me from a restaurant in the Baltimore Inner Harbor area where he was having dinner with several colleagues and their client.  When Bob called, he had just come from the cocktail lounge where the group was waiting for a table.  He was facing the entrance when a woman walked in wearing one of my newest tops.  Of course, when he rejoined his group, he took the opportunity to brag to all present while pointing to the woman and her top.

After having to sell the brand, I aimlessly wandered for a long time before stumbling on my ability to write entire stories, culminating with one that is now a 342 page publication.   Sidebar: I was wise enough to copy write the book story with before looking for a publisher. Chalk one up for growing wiser!

Sadly, the company that bought all the rights to Iron Cowgirls has either disbanded completely or at least walked away from the brand because I haven’t been able to find the clothing line anywhere for several years. Nor can I find evidence that Iron Cowgirls® is still a live and registered trademark.

When I moved from Tennessee to South Carolina I threw out most of my files that contained the paper trail history. I also dumped computer files. I kept only those things that reminded me to be proud of what I created during what seemed like eons ago. I kept T-shirts with the poem printed on the back side, a few jackets, a key chain and ten copies of the poster with the poem printed on them.  I kept nothing, however, to prove I was the creator and author.

In the written world of the Internet, what is left of the Iron Cowgirls are the two lifestyle poems I authored. They’re all over the Internet having been adopted by a ton of people including a young female country singer, not as her own but as her inspiration. Guess I can be proud of inspiring so many people even though they have no idea it was me who did the inspiring.

I recently went on Legal Zoom to see if I could copy write the two poems, but ran into a huge road block. I’d have to hire a lawyer to try and do anything more. Yet, how can I do that because, in a fit of feeling sorry for my loss, I ditched the trail?

I guess the silver lining in this lesson learned is that I now understand why my best girlfriend encouraged me to write my novel, CRACK IN THE WORLD. She was right. I do have a way with words. So, I’m going to leave you and my blog with both poems and hope you enjoy them and find them to be true lifestyle works of art.

Think it’s time to wipe my eyes, blow my nose, pick up this iron cowgirl, guns blazing, and head off into the sunset. And, you know what? It looks like this new sunset is just as dazzling and full of hope and adventure just like the Iron Cowgirls phase of my never-ending journey! Enjoy!

She’s strong willed and Independent.
She’s as beautiful Inside as she is outside.
She’ll Never take no for an answer; and,
When she’s told she can’t do it
Because she’s a girl, she’ll prove
You wrong every time.
She loves the thrill of the ride,
And the Romance of adventure.
She’s you And she’s me; but, most of all,
She Just is!


The ‘Lil Iron Cowgirl looks innocent and sweet.
To her parents and those she knows, she’s such a treat.
But don’t be fooled,
She knows who she is and where she’s going.
She’s sharp as a hawk,
From all she’s been taught.
In the presence of a stranger,
She knows when to sense danger.
She dreams of her future and all she can be;
But, most of all, she just wants to be who she knows as ME.
Stand tall ‘Lil Iron Cowgirl… Stand tall!

IC Old West Ad

Maribeth is the author of CRACK IN THE WORLD published by Second Wind Publishing.  Please visit her website,, where you can read the first chapter of her book.  Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00030]


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Beaver Butt

By: Jay Duret2014_10_05_06_47_50

“How does it taste, Pops?” Emmy asked, “Delicious?”

I was eating a bowl of cereal, the kind with clumps of dried vanilla yogurt in it. “Wouldn’t go that far.”

“But you like it, right? You love it.” Emmy was 13. She was in 7th grade at her crunchy San Francisco school.

“Its okay,” I said.

“But you bought it and you decided to have it for breakfast today? No one made you, right?’

“Where is this going?’

“I just want to make clear that my father likes to eat beaver butt.”

“Excuse me,” I said, “beaver butt?”

“That is what I said. Beaver butt. I am glad you find it so tasty. So scrumptious.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Your cereal is made from beaver butt. Actually it is made from the anus of a beaver. That is the scientific term.”

“What are you talking about?”

Emmy whipped out her iPhone and began to thumb and scroll furiously. She arrived at the place she wanted. “Here we go…” She began to read: “Castoreum – An extract made from dried, ground-up sacs located by the anal glands of beavers. It can be added to foods (especially as vanilla flavoring…)”

“And you are saying that there is Case…, what did you call it?”


“…Castoreum, in my cereal?”


“How do you know that?”

“I read the label.”

“Let me see.” I grabbed the box. I was having something called “Honey Bunch of Oats” with the subheading of “Greek Honey Crunch” and the further explication “Greek Yogurt + Whole Grain”.

“Wow, I said, “the type on the label is tiny. Can you actually read this?”

“I am not old.”

“Neither am I.”

“Hah!” she snorted.

I squinted at the label. I used the tip of my spoon as a pointer and slowly made my way through the tiny print. “Hah!” I snorted, completely out-snorting the indignity of her snort, “There is no mention of Castoreum.”

“Its there.”

“Where? Show me.”

“Here.” She used her spoon to point to the label.

“That doesn’t say castoreum. It says ‘natural flavors’.


“That’s not the same thing. Natural means wholesome and delicious and good for you. And expensive.”

“Nope. ” She resorted again to her iPhone:

“these glands produce potent secretions that help the animals mark their territory in the wild. In the food industry, however, 1,000 pounds of the unsavory ingredient are used annually to imbue foods—usually vanilla or raspberry flavored—with a distinctive, musky flavor. You’ll find it in: Potentially any food containing “natural ingredients”

“Damn.” I said. “Where’d you find out about this?”

“We studied it in science class. You really need to know what you eat, Pops.”

“Thanks for the tip.”

“Happy to help.”


Jay Duret is a San Francisco based writer and illustrator who blogs at Second Wind published his YA novel Nine Digits in December. See the book trailer here.  Kirkus Reviews said, “A quote on the novel’s back cover compares it to Norton Juster’s 1961 classic The Phantom Tollbooth, and… Duret’s book really does begin to approach the witty, imaginative, and accessible brilliance of that genre-busting work.”


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How Not to Get Noticed by Other Writers, Agents, Other Publishing Types, and Book Junkies

noticemeThis is my own personal 10 steps on how NOT to get noticed by other writers, agents, various other publishing types, and assorted book junkies.  These tips, of course, are in no particular order.  Failure to follow any one or more might risk exposing yourself to being (gulp) noticed.

Step 1 – Don’t be funny.  Seriously, humor brings smiles, which then bring good feelings.  Humor, smiles, and warm fuzzy feelings breed a sense of familiarity.  If someone in any way feels that familiarity towards you, you feel like a friend to them and you have been noticed.

Step 2 – Don’t follow blogs and other websites.  You never know when the author might peek to see who is following.

Step 3 – Don’t use a memorable picture.  We don’t all like the idea of pasting pictures of ourselves online for the whole world to see.  Sometimes we’d prefer a photo of something else, like your cat or an apple, or better yet that generic silhouette default picture a few billion other users are using.  Best to stick with the generic silhouette, everybody is sick to death of looking at the Grumpy Cat and all those other over-used images.  If you use a memorable picture of something interesting, you risk being noticed.  Worse, use a good picture of yourself and you might be recognized across more than one social media site.  Then you would feel like a real person to others instead one of the multitude of online semi-anonymous acquaintances.

Step 4 – Don’t bop around blogs leaving comments.  Sometimes those comments actually get read.  You never know when someone might decide to follow the link back to your own blog, and then, you got it, chances are you’ve been noticed, and maybe even a few more followers.

Step 5 – Don’t blog regularly about writing, being a writer, your hobbies and passions, family, cooking recipes, or the thousands on thousands of other things people blog on.  A regular blog gets followers.

Step 6 – Multi social media.  This is a definite ‘no’.  Sharing and posting your own blog posts, links to others’ blog posts and book reviews and reviews on their books, and general sharing across multiple social media sites is a recipe for disaster if you want to stay entirely anonymous.

Step 7 – Don’t follow other writers and publishing world peeps in sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, et al with wild abandon.  They have a tendency to follow back and even re-tweet/repost your posts to their own followers if you do the same for them.  That will only build your online presence, instead of keeping you in that obscurity it is so easy to hide behind.

Step 9 – Be selfish.  Don’t do favors for others without the expectation of a return on your investment of time.  Hosting other authors in the forms of interviews, guest blogs, and posting links to reviews on their books or reviewing their books for nothing more than the exchange of a free copy of their book, these are all recipes for disaster when you want no one to notice you.  Not only will those people share your posts with their own followers, they might even be grateful, appreciate your kindness, and even return the favor some time.

Step 10 – This one is maybe the most important.  Don’t keep writing and writing and writing. The more you write, stories, blogs, and anything else you publish for free download or for sale, the more likely it is that you will develop a fan base.

Now let’s get serious about why you really read this article.

When you feel rejected, dejected, and let down that no one seems to be noticing you … stop it.  This isn’t high school; it only feels like it is.  Everyone out there is trying so hard to get you and everyone else to notice them, that they might not even see you.  Yes Virginia, it is a popularity contest, and the winners are the ones with publishing contracts and large book sale counts.

We all want the same thing, to be writers; and not just that, but to be published writers and have someone love our books.  In order for that to happen, you have to be noticed.  People have to find your book and actually buy it, read it, and rave to their friends about it.  The hard part is getting your book noticed in the sea of books out there.

Don’t let yourself feel down about that when it doesn’t happen.  Even some of the most popular authors struggled in the beginning to be discovered by their fans.  We are all struggling for the same thing, so you are not alone.  Getting discovered has as much to do with luck and it does putting yourself out there and working hard.

And, as a final word, don’t assume that breaking any or all of the rules above will get you noticed.  Sometimes you just have to be at the right place at the right time, and sometimes you have to do something very noticeable to get noticed.  The World Wide Web is a vast dark and dusty weaving of emptiness filled with the intangible beyond your computer screen.  Sometimes, you just can’t get noticed sitting in a room by yourself no matter how hard you wave your arms.   And other times, you might hit on that one magic stroke of luck and you are made.

Follow L.V. Gaudet

The intangible world of the literary mind that is L. V. Gaudet


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Angel Kitty dreaming of being a chef some day
Angel Kitty dreaming of being a chef some day
Angel Kitty:
Angel Kitty: “What Shall I have For Dinner?”                                                                                               .

While waiting for my book to be ready, I decided to paint my muse, Angel Kitty.  She loves to watch my husband Joe prepare dinner.  She is so focused watching every move he makes as he slices the vegetables and prepares the meat.  If I could read her mind,  I would say that she would love to be a chef  one day.  So with that thought, I decided to paint Angel Kitty in a chefs uniform trying to decide if she wants to eat fish for dinner or cook a mouse.  You can see in the painting that the mouse and the fish are a little concerned over what her choice will be.

After finishing the painting I thought perhaps I might be on to something, such as another story for a book perhaps or maybe incorporate Angel Kitty into Pia Pucknuckers’ next adventure somehow.  What do you think?

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Psst! I have a secret!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

Writing is hard work.

Well, maybe writing isn’t so hard.  I mean, you sit down and let the words flow, right?  That isn’t so hard.

writing a bookBut coming up with ideas is hard.  I mean, there’s the story that takes place on Battle Mountain that I need to work out.  Okay, so I want a story to happen on Battle Mountain.  I’m just not sure about the plot.

Even once the idea is there writing doesn’t get any easier.  For example, there’s the story that I’m going to write where the murder takes place at an unlikely tourist spot in western Nebraska.  I just need to figure out why the victim gets killed.

Once I have the location and the victim and the villain all sorted out, I still think writing is hard.  All those details!  Should Viktor be an old Russian mobster?  Or is his name really Alberto and he’s Sicilian?  Are Joe’s eyes a common brown?  Or are they golden-brown with hints of yellow when the sun hits them just right?  And how far away is the diner from the bookstore?  There’s a lot of details for someone who can’t remember to send out birthday cards in time to actually arrive in time for the birthday.

Then there’s the actual writing.  The sitting down and making the story progress.  After checking e-mail.  And Facebook.  And sending a tweet to let the world know I’m sitting down to write (#amwriting).

By then, of course, the dog has to go out.  And the cat needs to be fed.  Mostly because the dog ate all the cat food, but that’s probably not really important.

Back in my “office”, I start to write.  Then comes the melodic tones of the dryer.  Better get the clothes out before they wrinkle.  After the laundry is put away, I head back to the office and decide I might as well set up the coffee maker for the morning.  And go ahead and pack my lunch for the next day so that I don’t have to do it in the morning.

Those tasks completed, I get back to the computer, sit down and start typing.

For 10 whole minutes.  Until I realize that it’s almost 11 pm and I have to work in the morning.

So why do I do it?  Why do I spend some days staring at a blank computer screen waiting for the next burst of words?


Because I love it!


Nichole R. Bennett has been an avid mystery reader from a young age.  Her novels, Ghost Mountain and Sleeping Bear, are available from Second Wind Publishing. When she’s not writing, thinking about writing or avoiding writing, Nichole can be found doing a plethora of crafty things, drinking coffee, or eating chocolate.


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All These Years by Ginger King

It’s nice to look back over your life isn’t it? The places you’ve been, and the people you’ve known are all part of you, they all shape you in tiny or grand ways.   What if you lost the ability to understand your past choices because you had no memory?  There could still be consequences to face, the physical ramifications of our life choices don’t go away simply because we do not remember.

Accidents, temporary or permanent amnesia, or Alzheimer’s disease rob people of their memories more often than we could imagine, and yet their life goes on.  New choices forging a new daily existence.  Even in those who are very successfully moving forward with a new life have flashes of their old self.  Sometimes it’s  an image, but more times than not it is music that causes memory to come flooding back.  And it may be brief, and sometimes confusing, but the memory is still there, simply suppressed.

I loved my grandmother very much but for most of the time we knew one another, she didn’t recognize me.  Perhaps one day there will be a key to repairing lost connections in the minds of those whose memories seem to be lost forever.  Perhaps it will also be able to preserve the new memories made in the meantime.  Otherwise folks will still have memory loss.  Which is the true self?  Either way if it is regain old memories and dump new, wouldn’t you still then constantly wonder, “What have I been doing All these Years?”

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Pipers. Pirates. Passion. The Past. Shy Violet by Sherrie Hansen. May 1st.

When a poor choice and some wild fluctuations in the space time continuum leave school teacher Violet Johansen stranded in the car park of Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland, Violet wonders if she’ll ever find her way back to her comfort zone. She has two choices – to trust a piper who looks exactly like someone she dated a decade ago, or a band of nefarious pirates.   


21 BB 153 Scotland - Pirates


Scottish Bagpipe player 5

People – mistakes – from the past that rise up to haunt you at exactly the worst possible moment…

Scotland - Graveyard

A castle that’s been ravaged and rebuilt…

146 Scotland - Eileen Donan


Food - Teatime


Shy Violet - painting

People from the past who threaten to tie you down for all eternity.

119 Scotland Lion Growl

Can Violet and Nathan’s fragile new friendship survive to see love reborn? Or is the past so set in stone that nothing can change it?

26 BB Flower - Violet Pair

Shy Violet.  Is it Violet’s turn to bloom, or will the past crush her hopes for the future? Will the promises Nathan made prevent him from enjoying the present he’s found in Violet?

ShyViolet Final Front Cover

“A cool blend of mystery, humor, suspense and romance, and wholly believable, delightfully flawed characters is genuinely enticing in this wild romp through the Scottish countryside with Sherrie Hansen.  Evocative, sensitive, sensible and sweet, these are tales with plenty of action and adventure, making a truly lovely read.”  Author Sheila Deeth, on the Wildflowers of Scotland novels

SHY VIOLET by Sherrie Hansen – coming May 1 from Second Wind Publishing

Sherrie Hansen’s Bio:
Twenty-three years ago, Sherrie rescued a dilapidated Victorian house in northern Iowa from the bulldozer’s grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn.  Sherrie has also lived in Colorado Springs, CO, Augsburg, Germany, Wheaton, IL, and Bar Harbor, Maine. She grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota. After 12 years of writing romance novels, Sherrie met and married her real-life hero, Mark Decker, a pastor. They now live in 2 different houses, 85 miles apart, and Sherrie writes on the run whenever she has a spare minute. Sherrie enjoys playing the piano, photography, traveling, and going on weekly adventures with her nieces and nephew. “Shy Violet” is Sherrie’s eighth book to be published by Second Wind Publishing.

Links: or

Books Titles: Night and Day, Maple Valley Trilogy – Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round, Love Notes, Wildflowers of Scotland novels – Thistle Down (a prequel novella), Wild Rose, Blue Belle, and Shy Violet


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TIME by Calvin Davis

clockWhere does it go? Time. From where does it come? Time. This visitor lurking in the shadows of night and moving with the lightness of feathers in morning. And always when it comes, it opens its ledger and pours over the figures therein. After doing so, it demands the latest payment of your lifetime installment plan. And when you make the last payment, you receive a receipt stamped “Final payment made. You owe no more. You are no more.”

Time. When is my final payment due? And yours? Banks often give extensions on loans. Time never does. Not one of its borrowers has ever been in default.  Not one.

Calvin Davis is also the author of THE PHANTM LADY OF PARIS. plopfront-148x223

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Don’t Kill the Messenger

TruthNow don’t get angry with me just because I’m about to tell you the truth. I know, I know, the truth hurts, but sometimes we have to face it. Now I am just going to be honest with you, and if the truth hurts, remember I’m just the messenger.

White houseJeffersonThis truth business all came about because a friend, well OK, an acquaintance really, had just returned from D.C. and was rhapsodize about all the monuments and I thought, “Yeah, that’s a city of nothing but liars and monuments and all the monuments are to liars.”


UnknownI realize that may not be a very nice thing to say, so I’ll mitigate it somewhat by saying there may be a monument to someone other than a liar like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and some of those little monuments in Arlington.

Aside from that slight possibility; in all likelihood the greater the liar, the larger the monument, because almost every monument is to a “gone from here” politician and everyone knows there is not a more accomplished liar than a politician. Continue reading

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