Sunday, May 27, 2012

Monday Musings: The Chrysalis Series

Some of the greatest writers of all time were indeed mocked, hated, and most assuredly misunderstood. They endeavored to convey their deepest thoughts and emotions onto the page, resulting in the purest forms of criticisms. Some were reclusive, eccentric by nature, melancholy, or overtly happy. At that time, they were giants among men. These writers were respected for their thoughts on everything from everyday life, to the current events of the world. They were deep thinkers. They were big spirits expanding into the world in the form of the written word.

Despite the public respect, they were often chastised behind closed doors, criticized for their boldness, questioned of their motives, and the list goes on and on. They were lifted onto the world stage for all to see, and then had the tomatoes of criticism relentlessly hurled at them. However, the world loved to hate them. The world continued to purchase and print their prose, because they were masters of their craft.

I have been working on "The Chrysalsis Series" for about six months. I have been learning and growing in the craft of writing. The mechanics of writing are important. I remember the elation I had felt when I first discovered I could publish books as an independent author. It was as though the world became my oyster. I did not need to seek out an agent, or even an editor. I could do it without the help of anyone. So not true. If you never read another word of what I write, remember this: Editors are the Godsend of novel writing.

"The Chrysalis Series" is something that is near and dear to my heart. It is important that the words are chosen carefully. The subject is sensitive, and great care is required to convey the deepest thoughts and emotions that compel the story forward. We have all had our Butterfly Fields of youth. It is the place of wonder, where games of intrigue and imagination are afoot. It is the place where the disappointments, hurts, and realities of the world can never reach.

Book One: "The Butterfly Fields" follows young Elsie McCormick and her older sister, Annalicia, as they navigate life in a world of treachery and deceit. It is a world where people speak not of the truth, as is common in the village of Johnsport when it comes to matters of personal loss or gain. Following the belief of He Who Created All Things, the na hÉireann clans live harmoniously with the Daoine Réalta, who have lived on these lands for millenniums, with no accounting for their arrival. Outsiders are neither welcome nor wanted in Johnsport.

The na hÉireann clans have come to Johnsport from the land across the great sea to the east. They are men of science; a science that will bring the village and the clans to their knees. The clans are divided. The Daoine Réalta, following their ancient ways, desire no understanding of the science. They only watch. They watch and wait for that which is sure to come - the end of all things. They wait for the days when the darkness will find its way into the world; the days when the battle of Good and Evil will wage its war in the canyons, on the Great River, and in the village of Johnsport itself.

I am truly excited for The Butterfly Fields to be released. The cover is currently in the process of creation, the editing almost complete, and the suspense of a confirmed release date is killing me. I am grateful for all those who have stood by me, encouraged me, and especially for the editor who has not only corrected grammar and punctuation, but re-taught me the fundamentals of writing. 

Watch for it! The Butterfly Fields coming to an online retailer near you!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Simply Saturday: America the Beautiful

Every fourth Monday in May we, in America, celebrate Memorial Day. We gather together in town halls, Veteran centers, and cemeteries across the country to remember those who have gone before fighting the good fight of freedom, and those who are currently serving in various parts of the world. Never ever forget the freedoms of America were purchased through the blood, sweat, and tears of men and women since the Revolutionary War.

Memorial Day is also the unofficial kick-off to fun in the summer sun. Remember,  our men and women are in the heat of the sun, the cold of the mountain night air, and in the darkest wildernesses they have ever experienced in their lives. In pounds and pounds of gear they traverse the deserts, the mountain trails, and through the jungles. They do this for the love of country. To preserve the nation  where they grew up, where perhaps they had fallen in love, and started a family. Just as their forefathers and mothers, and the fathers and mothers before them. The price of freedom comes with the highest cost of all - life.


In 1904, Katherine L. Bates, composed the lyrics to America the Beautiful, set to the Materna score, composed by Samuel Ward, in 1882. This song has become beloved across the nation and is most appropriate for the remembrance of those who have served, are serving, and will transcend the years to those who will serve. It is the culmination of love, life, and the pursuit of happiness in the greatest nation in the world. Despite all the current problems and issues facing our nation today, we are blessed more than any other. It is time America looks to our blessings, rather than our curses. We are men and women of great courage and fortitude. We have the ability to solve our problems through all faith and conviction in the one thing that holds this country together, and has since 1776 - Freedom.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties,
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Til all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine.

O beautiful for patriots dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears.
America! America!
God mend thy every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self control,
Thy liberty in law.


Remember this Memorial Day weekend to thank a veteran - living or deceased - for paying the price of your  freedom to enjoy.

Simply Saturday; Simply Beautiful

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Musings: Interview with Best Selling Author, Debra Shiveley Welch

Today, we have a very special guest on Butterfly Phoenix, best selling author, Debra Shiveley Welch. She has received The FaithWriters Gold Seal of Approval Award twice, Books and Authors Literary Excellence, Best Non-Fiction Book of 2007, Allbooks Review's Editor's Choice 2010 and Books and Authors Best Native American Fiction 2011.

I met Debra on Master Koda several months ago. I was immediately drawn to her book Cedar Woman, a story that follows a strong Lakota woman. However, I will let Debra speak about the book.

Debra has three previously published novels: AVery Special Childa heartwarming tale of love and thankfulness written for adopted children in honor of the adoption of her son, Christopher; Son of My Soul – The adoption of Christopher, and Jesus Ghandi Oma Mae Adams (with author, Linda Lee Greene).

Like mother, like son. Debra’s son Christopher has written two books of his own: Christopher Bullfrog Catcher, and Just Chris which is a companion book to Debra’s book Son of My Soul.

 Debra, I would like to start with: What inspired you to write Cedar Woman?
In 2004 my son and I were adopted by a woman of the Lakota in the ceremony called Hunkapi or Making of Relatives ceremony.  Through my sister, Julie Spotted Eagle Horse Martineau, I began to learn the ways of The People and very soon embraced their philosophies and ways of dealing with the journey we call life.  I wanted to honor her and The People by writing a book that truly illustrated their beliefs and strengths.

Would you tell us something about the consultant for Cedar Woman, who is she?
Julie was born in South Dakota on the Pine Ridge reservation and now lives in South East Iowa, in a small, rural community called Mediapolis, where she lives with her husband Matthew and her youngest son Logan. Lakota is her mother tongue and English her second language.  Julie is also a highly sought after powwow coordinator.

Here is why Julie helped with Cedar Woman in her own words:

Julie: As a Native woman, I wanted to address and dispel some of the more common misconceptions and stereotypes about Native peoples and to let people know that we are still living within viable and vibrant cultures.  Interview February 1, 2011:;postID=347872581681324327

Without giving any spoilers, what is your favorite part of Cedar Woman? Or, what do you hope readers will take away from the story?
These are great questions.  Picking a favorite part is like saying your child’s eyes are your favorite part of them, or their hair…it’s the whole being, the composite that you love.  I hope the readers take away two things: 1. the American Indian is a complicated yet very simple American whose main focus in life is religion, family and home.  As an adopted relative I have been treated with great respect and affection and my son has been honored in many ways.  In fact, at the last Muddy River powwow he was asked to be the Ugly Man in the broom dance. 2. The American Indian believes that the women are the heartbeat of their tribe.  Cedar Woman reflects that concept throughout the book.

While writing Cedar Woman, did you make any discoveries about Lakota women? Or, how did you find yourself identifying with her?
I did.  In the daughters of the Lakota I have seen patience, concern, love of community as well as family, generosity, incredible artistic ability and love of their history and culture.

As an author, I naturally put some of myself into each work.  How else could it ring true? So, much of Lena Cedar Woman is me.  Lena had to take over the care of her family when still a child, as I did, she walked the streets I walked and spent the early years of her life amidst the hills and pastures I knew as a child. The apartment she lived in was my home in my early 20s, the condo she lived in was my condo, the chapter “The Neighbor” really happened, and the house she inherited in Westerville is my home.  Her son is my son and many of the things they go through together happened to me and my real life son.  Women are universal in their feelings, hopes and dreams.  We are connected, and in many ways, one. So Lena Cedar Woman Youngbear is not just part of me, she is part of every woman.

Your previously published works have been steeped in your faith, what makes Cedar Woman similar or different?
I wanted to tell the story of a woman of the Lakota.  So many of our beliefs intertwine with the American Indians.  As Black Elk said, “Mitakuye oyasin,” we are all related.  God has many names: Wakan Tanka, El Shaddai, Jahovah, Allah, Yahweh.  It doesn’t matter what name you call Him by. He hears you.

Is there anything else you would like to share about Cedar Woman?
Cedar Woman was written with great respect for The People.  It is an authentic representation of the beliefs, ceremonies and language of the Lakota.

I would like to make a point here, if I may.  Chapter Eight takes us to powwow.  In reading this chapter you will find that a powwow is not a heathen event.  I have been to powwows where surrounding churches will ring their bells to interfere with the music of The Drum, people will picket in an attempt to stop attendees from entering and insults have been hurled at those who manage to get in.  This simply is not right!

A powwow is no different from the Irish, Polish, Italian, Latino or Greek festivals, for instance, that go on in many cities throughout the world.  A powwow is simply a different word for this kind of celebration, like Oktober Fest for the German festival and Latino Fiesta as some Latino festivals are called.  Should you attend, you would experience a celebration of the music, dance, food and crafts of the American Indian.  Like many festivals, it is also a chance for families to hold reunions.  In addition, throughout the day, Veterans of the American armed forces are honored in a special ceremony as are the elders.  Heathen? I think not.  In fact, many of the people attending are Christian.  “Judge not lest you be judged.”

You have received the FaithWriters Gold Seal of Approval Award twice. What was that like for you?
Unbelievably incredible!  Worth more than gold.  I don’t write to make money, I write because I must and receiving this kind of affirmation is so heartwarming.

What is the one thing that keeps you writing? And, what is on the horizon for you?
I write, therefore I amA third generation poet, I have been writing since age nine. In my early twenties I had my own column in the Baltimore Eagle Gazette.  Later, I worked as editor for several newsletters, including as development editor for The Parent Connection for The League Against Child Abuse. When my son came home, it was like a dam burst and a flood of poems, essays and short stories were born, until finally, I wrote A Very Special Child.  I did so because I could not find a children’s book that told the story of our adoption: the child was from Korea or the parents flew to California.  So I wrote my own, not just for Chris, but for all adopted children.  At age 52 I was finally a published author and I have never looked back.

I am now working on Ista Numpa, the sequel to Cedar Woman, which my readers pretty much demanded, a cookbook with my son and Heads Are Gonna Roll, a mystery thriller which encompasses reincarnation, revenge and murder.

I would like to thank Debra Shiveley Welch for taking the time to share her thoughts with us today. All of her books are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Monday Musings: Reviews and Interviews


Every so often an author will request me to write a review for their book. Although, I understand the importance of reviews for authors, especially new authors, I will most often politely decline the request. There are a few reasons for this, just so authors don't take it personally.

  1. I am an incredibly slow reader. I am an analytical reader, so it takes me a long time to finish a book. I'll blog about this some other time.
  2. As I have said before, I am not the most astute person when it comes to grammar and punctuation. (That's why I use an editor for most everything.)
  3. I am in the middle of a major three book series which is taking most of my free time right now. I don't see this changing anytime soon.
The good news is: There are many professional reviewers, book bloggers, and author support networks out there who would be happy to help in this regard. I have never personally requested a review, so I don't want to make any specific recommendations.

Author Interview:

On May 14th, best selling author, Debra Shiveley Welch, winner of The FaithWriters Gold Seal of Approval Award (twice), Books and Authors Literary Excellence, Best Non-Fiction Book of 2007 and Allbooks Review's Editor's Choice 2010, will be talking about her new book , Cedar Woman, on the Butterfly Phoenix blog.

Debra has four previously published novels: A Very Special Childa heartwarming tale of love and thankfulness on the adoption of her son, Christopher; Son of My Soul – The adoption ofChristopher, Christopher Bullfrog Catcher; and Jesus Ghandi Oma Mae Adams (with author, Linda Lee Greene).


Have a great week everyone, and I will be back for a special Mother's Day posting on Saturday.