Making Free or not to Free

Wow, this post could become political!

Hold on though I’m not talking politics here though I certainly could be. I am actually talking book promotion. The need to promote is screaming at me. This dilemma is tugging in two different directions.

Some well known advisors say “give your books away,” and others say “don’t you dare”.

Here are the logistics.

I thought by moving my focus from my art studio to my computer desk I would discover a less expensive way of using my creative energy. In a sense, the creation part of writing is certainly less costly. Canvas, brushes, easels, and not to mention oil paint (some which could run well over $34 a tube) are certainly (over an extended amount of time) more expensive than a computer and software. The amount of space I consume with unwanted and unsold paintings increases yearly, and if I were to show them to the public, the cost of space at an event is over the top not to mention travel, parking, the labor of hauling, and the risk of destroying a painting or two in the process are phenomenal. It’s somewhat amazing how many people will ask an artist to give their work away when it is so hard to realize the return of all that work (not to mention the long hours of studying to learn the craft).

So when I began novel writing I thought I was going cheaper. My idea was that more people will buy a $15 book, or a $5 e-book, than they will a $1500 painting.

Bear in mind I am not writing for the money. I love to story tell. My first thoughts were of my grandsons who had way too few books to enjoy. In my eyes I see boy children lacking in reading material. Ian’s Realm was created specifically for them. You can imagine how excited it made me when the book first came out and friends were buying it for their grandsons, and coming back with reports like “He’s not a reader but he couldn’t put your book down!” That is fulfillment and I am thankful for it!

This is where I am with giveaways now. I have a total of six books for young adults published. Sadly, none of them have reached a wide audience. I’ve had people tell me it’s the covers, or it’s the blurbs, but even if I change those things (which I’m doing little by little), I’m still not reaching a wide audience like I’d like to. So I took some advice and am now running a ‘free’ campaign. I’m giving away the first 9 chapters of Ian’s Realm (the trilogy), and the complete book Diary of a Conjurer.


Well because I want to know that more boys’ eyes light up and discover the thrill of reading.

I gave the books to our local juvenile detention center, where boys are locked up and bored and need to find something to do. Feedback tells me that the Saga is well read in that little jail house. I’m glad, because Ian has many issues in the story that boys in our society face. He puts his dad on a pedestal, and when his father shows his human failings, Ian is crushed. He struggles with issues of integrity, weakness, inability to communicate, and not believing in himself, and he has to overcome those issues. By the third book, though still struggling, he triumphs, something those young teenagers will also have to do in their own lives.

I look back IansRealmon my childhood and remember novels that made a difference in my life; books that shaped me; stories that inspired me to break through the walls of insecurities that I built. I honestly believe Ian’s Realm Saga has done this for the few young readers it has reached. I hope this little giveaway I’m doing will span that vast horizon out there so more young people will share in Ian’s adventures.

In any case, you’re welcome to download them.

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Making “Thread of a Spider”

This has been so much fun. I am so unconventional. Does anyone else you know hire models to pose as people in their books and use the photos to create scenes? I must be crazy but I love it and I have no idea what’s to come of it. What’s more, I really don’t care. I love costuming, staging the story, making the word art. I’m crazy. But then the Mad Hatter says all the good people are crazy so at least I’m good in Wonderland!

Thanks to Tess Stuart and Kodhe, (Kodhe was one of our Xylonites during the filming of our first trailer), I had a marvelous photo shoot bringing Irish Ailis and Pádraig from Thread of a Spider to life today. I sense a screenplay coming on.

Pádraig trying to sneak up on Periwinkle, the she-Fae

Paddy and the Fae

Ailis and Pádraig look on, helpless, as the British arrest Ailis’ fiancé.


No one ever wins a war.


Be looking for it. Thread of a Spider.

Posted in Ebooks, fantasy, folk story, historical fantasy, inspiration, life, musing, musings, Rising, Stories, Thread of a Spider, writers, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Making More Stories

They say (“they” being all the industry advisors) that the best way to sell books is to write more. I don’t know about that. I certainly don’t want to get too back logged. But I DO have a story in the works i.e. outlined and researched, and thought I might just give it a spin and start a chapter tonight.

I’m excited for this one. I know, I’m always saying that but I get excited to write, I guess  and that’s what drums up the inspiration, kind of like a war dance.

Believe it or not, this story is a special request. A WWII historical romance based on the actual letters and life of a nurse in England and a wounded infantryman she cares for.


My sister-in-law gave me the materials it will be based on. Her mother’s experiences while she was stationed in England, with a host of newspaper clippings and other resources from the era tucked neatly away in her mother’s scrapbooks. It took me quite a while to index all of the letters, and to get an outline together. I’m beginning to see some scenes and I think I’m ready to dive into this piece of fiction. A new genre for me!

I’ll try to share my progress with you as I go with perhaps an excerpt here or there or a piece of trivia I come across concerning their lives.

So as I tune up my other two manuscripts, and I know my last blog post indicated I was giving up querying but I’m not. Not yet. I think this last review enlightened me somewhat. I was querying genre agents and I believe I should be seeking representation from agents who take literary fiction. So…but I will paint the cover of Thread of a Spider, and I’ll be working on that this weekend. Hope I don’t sound like too much of a flake!

Posted in authors, Books, inspiration, interviews, Memoirs, musing, musings, Romance, Stories, writers, writing | 2 Comments

Making Believe

I was thrilled to get a new editorial review in my email this morning. I’m also thrilled to know that Cassandra’s Castle has an opportunity to be awarded the Crimson Quill award if she gets enough votes. Please do help out and nominate this novel if you’ve read the story, and if not…please do read the story!


“A unique YA Fantasy page-turner that spans the void between vastly different worlds, Gardner captures the most endearing qualities of the genre in a story that’s both refreshing and original. Ostensibly a novel for Young Adults, it’s a genuinely bewitching read as she renders vivid and magical settings that feel wholly authentic whilst readers can be assured she knows how to spin a wonderfully captivating tale. In a genre that often suffers from a deluge of the banal she certainly earns her stripes with characters that are…” (more)

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Making the Rounds

Well we’re climbing back on this side of the mountain again.


I have decided that because it has taken me over a year to query with no results, I could have spent that time marketing the books that are sitting idle in my computer files…

Well not idle. I’ve edited, revised, rewrote, and wielded a magic wand to make these stories into something you might like to read.


Today, I have a fresh outlook on authorship. I am going to press on with these two new-to-the-world manuscripts and self publish them.

I’ve found some supportive Facebook Groups and blogs which offer a lot of ideas I never knew. I’ve published some of my other stories on Kobo (which I didn’t know I could do, either) and I have found some awesome editors that are cheering me on.

Besides Dylan and Thread of a Spider, I have another historical romance in the works, so I really don’t have time to sit around and get approval. However, I will try Kindle Scout again, so be prepared to be asked for a vote. I hope I have yours.

Other than that, all the world’s a stage…er…bookshelf.


But first…I am excited about painting the book cover to Thread of a Spider. So excited I have models coming to my studio next weekend to don some costumes and pose for me.

So watch my blog and I’ll give you a work-in-progress report!



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Making an End

Steve and I have been feeding the homeless every Sunday for near 20 years. We believe in the sort of “religion” that gets us in the workfield by setting our tithes aside and using them to feed, shelter, and give care to those in need, as instructed in Malachai 3:10 “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

In other words, we took 10% of our money every month and purchased food, paper plates, bowls, a huge coffee maker, and rent on a little fire hall in Bremerton, WA and cooked a breakfast on Sunday morning for those in need, those who would not ordinarily go to church, and whoever strayed in on a rainy day. We have been doing this for almost 20 years.

My husband has recently been dealing with cancer, and his strict and debilitating chemo therapy has put him in a place where we can no longer do this. Last Sunday we told our people goodbye.

20 years is a long time.

We’ve seen babies born, children grow up, old people die, young people kick habits, people move, people come back, people get clean and get a home.

We took one young lady off the streets literally and helped her get her disability. In return she joined us for a few years in the kitchen and has since found work and good people to be around.

We’ve encouraged folks to go to school, to set up boundaries in their lives, and we’ve been a sounding board for them to vent on.

There are still plenty of places for folks to get a hot meal when they need one. But I think the relationships we developed over the years have made the greatest impact.

The hugs were the hardest part. The “I’ll miss you’s”. The testimonies of what this little pancake breakfast meant to them, even when we were serving biscuits and gravy.

Man, a lot of people have come through Joy of Freedom and I love them all. The babies that grew into young men and women and came back, the ones that didn’t . God bless you folks.

To those who have touched my life in that little fire hall:

You taught me so much. You taught me that homelessness is not an identity. It’s not a tag, or a name or who you are. It’s just what happens – to good people, to mixed up people, to innocent people, to those struggling who don’t know how to climb out of the pit because someone up on top keeps pitching dirt in it. You have my heart and I will forever speak on your behalf.

To you who are musicians who sang and played guitar, your saxophones, your clarinets, raising your voice in worship like you once did in your youth when times were good to you, when the sun shone in your life – in those moments, in that funky little room, a ray of hope filtered into your souls.

To the children who looked forward to the piles of whip cream on your pancakes, who might not have known what whip cream even looked like, or felt like, because your mom or dad could never afford the luxury.

To the old men shivering from lack of body weight, limping, coughing, sweating, who only wanted a hot cup of coffee – who were once accepted into churches because you had nicer clothes before the war, or before the divorce, or before the illness, or before the arrest, or before whatever took your dignity away. You longed to hear the words that we were able to say to you: that God loves you.

Jesus was homeless too.

Your dirty clothes, your used suits and ties from the thrift shop, the shoes that don’t fit. The wet blankets.

The socks, and mittens and hats we gave away at Christmas time. The roses we gave away on Mother’s day…to you men who wanted to give something to your mom, or your sister, or your girl.

The PayDay candy bars we handed out on father’s day whether you were a father or not.

The tears we shed when we asked all of you to stand up on Veterans Day if you served our country, and how almost the whole room stood.

Man I’ll miss you all. You were good to me and Steve. You shook our hands, you thanked us, you told us how we blessed you. You prayed with us. We said the Lord’s Prayer together, all of us every Sunday.

You took your hats off for God. I love you. I’m going to miss you.


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Making, or Breaking The Wall

Time for a movie review.

Without reading anyone else’s movie review, that is.

And bear in mind there are spoilers. But I don’t think it will ruin the movie for you, and I’ll tell you why after we’re done.

My husband and I decided to get out of the house after a long week/month/ 1/2 year of rain. The sun was out, but since he’s doing chemo it was still a bit too chilly for him to go on a walk. So we went to a movie.

Now I have to admit I usually only want to go to movies when there is something that I really want to see. Today was not the day. I didn’t care to see Beauty and the Beast (I never liked that story), nor did I want to see Logan though I heard good reviews I watched about 30 seconds of the trailer and stopped it. Yuk I thought (I did not relate to the opening scene in the trailer).

The only trailer that interested me in the least was The Great Wall, mostly because Matt Damon has a handsome face.


I considered the movie about the teenagers…Before I Fall, but I knew my husband wouldn’t have wanted to watch that. So we decided on The Great Wall and just as we pulled into the theater I asked him one more time if he wanted to go for a walk and the answer was still “no”.

I will start with the negative so we can leave this on a happy note. I am not a big fan of a multitude of monsters storming through brick, and devouring people, buildings, walls, or whatever comes in their way.


Also, as a writer, I would say the movie began with too many monsters. They should have worked their way up in numbers with a few at a time so that all the battles didn’t have the same intensity. Once we got to the capital of China, they had already exhausted their audience.

Okay, with that out of the way, this movie had some really fine points.

The artistry was gorgeous. The costumes, the lighting, the color harmony. Visual eye candy not to mention the handsome and  beautiful actors. Very beautiful people in this film. Very much so. Sigh.

The story was good. Not great, but good. If there had been more story and less monsters I would have been happier. That being said, at least the armory was created with keen ingenuity. And again, the costumes were superb.

So as you can see, I ignored  the monsters, and focused on the story, and the lovely people, scenery, the wall itself was gorgeous, and all the other visuals, the movie held my attention and kept me from devouring the entire large, expensive, tub of popcorn by myself. Which my tummy is still doing summer saults from…kind of like Matt jumping off…oh…wait…no more spoilers.

Oh! And I forgot to tell you. Stay for the credits. They are absolutely wonderful. The handsome actors in those gorgeous costumes weaving in and out of the background tapestry of brick and mortar …wonderful art work. And I’m an artist so I appreciate those kinds of things. Kudos to the editors on this one!!

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