Of Potatoes and Deer

Titles are difficult things. The one right above this article should make plain I am very poor with coming up with catchy titles. I simply thought to myself, what has been going on? Well, there’s been deer, and potatoes. Yeah, that will work. Whatever.

One of the reasons I wanted to move to Oregon was to get away from the world of concrete I’d been inhabiting for almost 30 years and turn into a pseudo-hermit in the middle of a forest surrounded with wildlife and plants. Also, I wanted to get away from the friggin’ heat. It’s supposed to get over 100°F next week. So much for that.

However, the wildlife part has happened. We have giant fluffy squirrels, ravens, stellar jays, the occasional raccoon, bobcat and of course, deer. Right now there is a doe with two fawns roaming about the area. She has finally deigned to allow another doe and a young male to join her. They were settled in a glade near my house yesterday having a little deer picnic. They also think my potato plants are tasty.

See how that works? Through great effort I managed to meld the two topics together. Okay, it didn’t really take that much work. But back to potatoes.

The growing season in the neck of the woods is limited at best. The chap down the street told me that potatoes and onions grow well, though. I immediately got some onion and potato starts and did a half-assed job of setting up a mini farm. In other words, I dug a shallow rut in the dirt and stuck my onions in and hoped for the best. The potatoes I planted in large seven gallon fabric bags. Once I added some decent soil they went gang busters. The onions…not so much. I finally got another bag and moved a few onions over to it. They’re looking a bit more impressive now, but my hopes of onions the size of my cat’s head seem unlikely to go fulfilled.

The giant plants that people keep mistaking for tomatoes are in truth the potato plants. One of them has some flowers. Shows how little I know—I didn’t realize they got flowers. The rest of the plants are in various stages of bushiness based on how many leaves the deer decided to nibble. I don’t mind sharing. The part I want is under the soil anyway. At least I hope it is. I might be growing giant tops and no actual root vegetables for all I know. I guess I’ll find out in another month or so. Should have bought the bags that have side flaps so I could peek at the goings one without disturbing the entire plant. I know, patience grasshopper.


Fractured Mirrors and the Point of Pain

I’ve never really analyzed my writing on the level ‘accordingtohoyt’ attempts here. I think as a living breathing person it’s inevitable that a piece of yourself shows up in your writing. We all have codes and belief systems of one sort or another and they play out in bits and pieces amid our characters. If those items happen to resonate with a reader, it can raise that particular book to a higher level for that individual. If we as writers are lucky, more than one or two people see themselves in the work and the book as a whole becomes something more than a few hours of escapism.

Mad Genius Club

There are many theories of what makes a good book.  The most prevalent/strongest one in our day is the social justice theory.  No, I don’t mean the one propagated by social justice advocates, though they’re linked.

What I mean is that for a long time, what made a book “good” and gave serious people permission to like it was that it had classical references.  That’s how you knew the writer was properly educated and thought deep thoughts.  I think that started in the renaissance and before that it was “books that were good for something” the something being propagating the faith.  Well, things go in cycles.

After WWI put vast cracks in the civilizational confidence of the west and we started doubting our roots, classicism because a mark of being “high class” and high class was, aesthetically and politically right out in the early 20th century.  The trusted men from…

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Eric Hoffer Book Award Success Stories

This year’s awards are my first to enter. A college professor turned friend of mine encouraged me to give it a try.

US Review of Books

In 2007, The US Review of Books began publishing the results of the Eric Hoffer Book Award. While the US Review is blind to the actual judging process, recently the Hoffer Award opened a window in The Authority of Book Awards. Years earlier, its chairman talked about the popular award’s humble beginnings in The Eric Hoffer Award: Righting the Wrongs.

While The US Review of Books boasts over 15,000 monthly subscribers, tens of thousands of additional readers visit its on-line publication to view the results of the Eric Hoffer Book Award each spring. Let’s take a look at how the excitement and the Hoffer Award in general has enhanced the success of the authors and publishers who registered their books with one of the most popular international competitions for small, academic, and independent books.

“Educators look for credibility, professionalism, and quality when choosing a novel to use…

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How Politically Correct Should Writers Be?

While I continue to drown in the world of relocating, I thought folks might enjoy reading this article.

Lit World Interviews

A while ago a well-known author published a book about a rich, handsome man who pretty much had anything anyone could wish for becoming paralyzed in an accident. He and the woman hired to care for him then fell in love, but at the end he chose to commit suicide rather than carry on. This caused quite a few disabled people to be deeply offended, and this was pretty obvious in the reviews. Several suggested that she hadn’t done her research properly, or she would have realized that it was very insulting to those in similar circumstances in that it suggested that living in that way was so unbearable that death was preferable. Most of those real, live people strive for the best lives that they can. They don’t generally give up, and I’m sure that they have just as much joy during the course of their lives as anyone…

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Catching Up

Wow, okay it’s been a year since my last post. Obviously blogging is not one of my strong points. But I just got a message alert that folks are getting antsy for the next book, so I thought I’d better get in here and explain what is going on in my wee life.

So, let’s get the bad news out there right now. I like to get new books out within a year of the previous one, but that is not going to happen this time. And no, it’s not due to lack of interest, or a crazy social calendar, it’s due to some very time consuming changes going on in my life. Allow me to elaborate.

If you’ve read my oh-so-not-interesting Bio, you know I’ve been wanting to leave Arizona and relocate to Oregon. I hate the heat, and I feel that if there is a Purgatory, I’ve already done my time. I’ve spent close to thirty years in a city I loathe, and it’s time for that to change. As such, I’ve finally made inroads toward that goal.

There is a reason why many people list moving right up there with death. It’s awful. Bloody awful. With the passing of my mother, it has been my father and I in a 2,600+ square foot house. He’s 80 now and stairs are not his friend, so when we eventually settle into another home, it will be much smaller, and have a bedroom and full bath on the ground floor.

Over 20 years spent in a much too large house resulted in an accumulation of stuff of nightmarish proportions. It became apparent quickly that I would simply have to part with a ton of stuff, including all of my beloved books. I’m fortunate in that I found a school librarian desperate for books for her middle school kids. I’ve donated hundreds of books to her, and made a friend in the process. Salvation Army and Goodwill took the bulk of our furniture, including appliances like the dryer, microwave and bread maker. If I want to make bread, I’ll do it the old fashioned way – I learned it isn’t that much harder.

I gave away all of my book shelves, our entertainment center and couch. My father’s bed, which he hated anyway, went to charity as well. My art easel, a huge wood desk, all our exercise equipment, and an embarrassingly large assortment of stuffed toys will hopefully do someone some good somewhere. I’m in the midst of trying to sell some of my gaming stuff and action figures on eBay. Fun times.

The day of the move, we had some local folks move some of the boxes and all of the large items like the remaining couch, and two recliners. I kept my dresser which is doing double duty as its namesake and an entertainment center. With the large items out of the house the dismal realization that there were still boxes and boxes worth of small items remaining hit home (no pun intended). I called in sick for four days and spent those days, plus the following weekend filling boxes, carting them down the stairs, stuffing them in my car and hauling them to the apartments. My right new puffed up like a soccer ball, and three of my toes went numb. The knee recovered, but the toes haven’t, so the doctor has me on prednisone in the hopes of getting that issue cleared up. Oh, and it was about 116 degrees those days, so yeah, I picked a great time to move.

The actual move is going in parts. We couldn’t buy a house until we sold the old one. In order to get rid of it, we had to be out of it, so stage one was moving out of the house into two small apartments. Apartment living has changed since I last occupied one 30 years ago. At least in this area, there is no month-to-month. It’s a six month lease at a minimum. So, we’re stuck with the apartments, and the extra expense until the end of October.

The old house has sold, and even as I type this, my poor father is up in Oregon hunting for a new one. He hates that he must make a decision without me being there, but I work full-time, and it’s my job that is keeping roofs over our heads. I cannot take the time off to go up their in his stead. He has a camera and said he will send pictures beyond what is available online and he’ll call me after viewing each home so we can discuss the pros and cons.

When I wrote book II I was going to school full-time. I’d forgotten how soul sucking and time consuming working is. I love school. I enjoy learning new stuff. I like being with younger people who haven’t had to face the reality of working for big businesses. They still have hope of doing something they love. It’s contagious. It spurred my creativity and also afforded me the time to work on my book. Now I’m back working for “the man” and working ten hours a day has quickly reminded me why my first book took so much longer to write than my second book.

So, I apologize. I would love to put out Book III in July as I’d planned. It just isn’t going to happen, though. I’m working on it as I am able. I’m about a third of the way done with the first draft. My writing group is going over scenes each week, and the earlier chapters have had some initial editing done to them. I’ve gone over some ideas with my beta readers to see what they think of the direction I’m heading in, and gotten some good feedback. It’s all coming along, just not as quickly as anyone might hope – especially me.

Thank you for your continued interest. I make no promises, but I will try to update this blog a little more frequently so you know what the devil is going on. In the meantime, keep on reading and fueling your own imaginations.

Cover Reveal!

Happy fourth of July to everyone in the states! For those of you not in the U.S., I hope you still get to enjoy a tasty BBQ and the company of good friends.

I thought I’d start off the month right by posting the cover to my upcoming book, now officially titled “Exile’s Gamble”. Some very kind and hard working folks are currently in the midst of beta reading the book, and I have been diligently preparing the formatting for the eBook. It should hit Amazon’s virtual shelves around the 25th of July (fingers crossed), with the print version to come soon after.

Book II’s cover features Lady Swiftbrook and Lord K’hul. You may have seen a version of it floating around during a recent blog tour, however I redid K’hul since that initial version. I shrank his head down and completely redid his hair. One friend described the original as having yarn hair. I found myself agreeing and what you see here is the end result of those changes. I hope you enjoy it. It’s very blue, just like the last one was very green. I expect Book III to be very red.

Exiles Gamble Blog

Today’s Guest: Allison D. Reid

Today marks the last day of the Magic of Solstice Fantasy Writers Tour. Our final visitor is Allison D. Reid. She cut her teeth on may of the classic fantasy writers and traveled around Europe, getting a feel for the atmosphere so often found in fantasy literature. Give Allison a warm welcome.


AReker Author Photo



Allison D. Reid’s passion for medieval history and fantasy was sparked by writers like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien, and Lloyd Alexander. She also spent years living in Europe, captivated by its ancient towns, cathedrals, and castles. She received her B.A. in writing from Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. Her first published work, Journey to Aviad, is a Christian Fantasy novel—the first in The Wind Rider Chronicles book series. Many of her short stories relate back to the world of her books. Allison has two young daughters, runs a small business with her husband, and also provides editing services to other independent authors.


 Journey to Aviad Synopsis:

Threatening clouds and fierce storms besiege the city of Tyroc. More frequent and powerful than ordinary storms, young Elowyn, a weaver’s daughter living in the outskirts of the city, senses something disturbing and unnatural about them. She soon realizes that the storms are but a warning sign of much more frightening things yet to come.


Terrifying wolf-like creatures emerge from the depths of the wilderness at the bidding of a dark master. His name found only among the crumbling pages of ancient texts, the re-appearance of Alazoth and his Hounds is a dark omen for the people of Tyroc and beyond. Only legends remain of the heroes and prophets whose blood was shed ages ago to banish him into the abyss, which should have remained his prison for all time. How he has been released is a mystery, but all the old stories agree that death and destruction are sure to follow.


With the Hounds inching closer each day, the city of Tyroc caught up in religious and political turmoil, and her home life no less turbulent, Elowyn has nothing left to rely on but her meager courage and a budding faith in Aviad, the Creator. She and her sister, Morganne, set out on a remarkable journey that challenges everything they have ever known about themselves, the world, and the path that Aviad has laid out for them.


New JTA Cover


Available at Amazon, The Learned Owl Bookshop, Createspace and B&N

Journey to Aviad


Allison D. Reid

Excerpt from Chapter 3: Vision of Darkness


… They traveled the road together in an uncomfortable silence, each focused their own thoughts. Adelin was too young to know what was happening. She bounced contentedly on Morganne’s hip, pointing and babbling to any bright object that caught her attention. Morganne’s expression was solemn and somewhat tense. Elowyn could not guess what her thoughts were, but that was nothing unusual. Morganne usually kept to herself. Elowyn felt a kind of fluttering in the pit of her stomach and was dragging her feet, hoping somehow they would arrive too late. However, the end result was that their mother kept barking at her to hurry up, and each time she said it, she became more irritable.

There were others traveling with them, flooding in from the outskirts of Tyroc. Even laborers from the southern farming villages were given a reprieve by their lords so that they might attend. People flocking in on the smaller roads continued to join together like streams flowing into a river, until they became a massive flood of humanity surging forward. The main road took a sharp curve and sloped upward, running along the colossal eastern wall of the city. Rows of strategically placed guards stared down at them from the battlements, bows in hand. Elowyn could sense the tension in their muscles as they stood ready to shoot at the least sign of trouble. As the procession drew closer to the city gates, the crowds increased to an unbearable level. They were jostled along, pressed closer and closer together until one could only move forward, swept along in an unrelenting current.

Elowyn felt as though she were riding amidst a sickening sea, a swirl of men, women, carts, and livestock. There were other children too. The youngest ones clung to their mother’s skirts as shipwreck victims might cling to floating bits of wood. The whole mass swelled and moved along the wall in a gigantic wave, pushing, pulling, and roaring with an incomprehensible cacophony of shouts, laughter, jumbled conversations, and the groans of overburdened carts. The closer they came to the gates, the hotter and more foul smelling the air became. Elowyn felt as though she were being smothered. Every sound seemed louder than it really was, adding layers to the nervous ball that was beginning to form deep down in her stomach. One of the carts near her had a squeaky wheel. Though it was such a small sound in the midst of all that chaos, it completely unnerved her. She held her ears trying to block it out, but it only seemed louder with the dampening of the other sounds. It was like a tiny, desperate scream for help that went ignored.

Every once in a while a faint whiff of fresh air brushed Elowyn’s face, and she drank it in greedily as though it might very well be her last. She closed her eyes and tried to calm herself, hoping that once they were all squeezed through the gate into the city, there would be more room on the other side. But in that she was greatly disappointed. When they finally approached the gate, and were shoved through by the pressing mob behind, the inner city was just as crowded. She continued to push forward, through narrow streets lined with corbelled buildings that leaned out precariously over them. The doorway of every shop was jammed with buyers haggling over goods. The rest of the crowd attempted to converge in the central square where the execution was to be held. Not only was the square packed with eager spectators, but merchants had set up their carts any place they could, not willing to miss the opportunity to sell their wares to such a multitude. It was almost like faire time.

Elowyn was tired of being jostled and elbowed and nearly run over by carts. She felt trapped in a prison of legs and long dresses, and was not tall enough to see what was going on ahead of her. A heavy-set woman with an edgy basket on her shoulders was pushing her way through the crowd. She shoved full force into Elowyn, nearly toppling the basket.

“Now then,” the woman said gruffly, “watch where you’re going.”

Never mind that Elowyn had been standing perfectly still, and it was the woman who should have been watching. But Elowyn knew better than to say anything. As the woman and her basket moved forward, a throng of people tried to follow in her wake. The result was that Elowyn found herself being separated from Morganne and her mother. There was no way she could help it. Soon she would be swallowed up by the mass of people around her.

To Elowyn, who never came into the city unless she absolutely had to, and who avoided even the smallest of crowds as a general rule, this whole venture was a complete nightmare. She looked around desperately for a way to break free. The only things she could see were the tops of nearby buildings, and one lone tree standing above the crowd to the east. Gritting her teeth, she made her way toward the tree, not caring whose leg got pushed out of the way, or whose toes got stepped on. After what seemed like an age, she finally reached it and scrambled up the trunk with experienced ease. A few people looked at her strangely, and a group of rough-looking boys pointed at her and laughed, but she didn’t care. She was relieved to be above the fray and felt safe in this small bit of nature amidst the ugliness of the city.

“Poor tree,” Elowyn said as she examined it. She was accustomed to the beautiful, healthy trees growing freely in the wilds. This one was bursting forth like an unwanted weed, stunted and sickly. Its roots strained at the cobbles, forcing them to bubble upward in rolling swells. Its trunk was full of nails, and holes, and deep scars from carts being rammed into it. She fingered a pale, listless leaf. The city was choking it, and yet it defiantly lived, even in this place where it surely didn’t belong. Or perhaps, she thought, the tree was the only thing that really belonged, and it was the city that was encroaching.

Down below, something was starting to happen. First came a crier, announcing the royal procession. Guards with long spears began to shove through the crowds, holding them back to make a wide pathway up to the platform in the town center. Then came members of the Circle—the late Sovereign’s most trusted personal guards. A mysterious bunch they were, with their faces always covered. They were supposed to be the best fighters anywhere in the Sovereign’s realm, and they guarded the Sovereign with their lives. Elowyn supposed now that the Sovereign was gone they belonged to his sons.

Sure enough, the two brothers appeared next, along with a figure she did not recognize who was wearing a rich black cape. The Sovereign’s sons wore gold circlets on their heads, and held royal scepters in their hands. Long brilliant red robes trailed behind them, the ends held up by servants. The extravagance of their clothing and jewelry was like nothing Elowyn had ever seen, even on the wealthiest of her mother’s clients. But Elowyn found that instead of making them look majestic and powerful, the excess of their attire only appeared gaudy and overbearing. After the brothers came the remainder of the Circle, and then the prisoner; a hooded figure bound around his chest, arms and wrists. Following the prisoner were more guards like the kind she had seen on the walls of the city. They carried short spears that were pointed at the prisoner’s back…


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