Thursday, June 27, 2024

Nessa's Notebook - Call Me ...

 ... Ishmael, just don't call me late for dinner.

Yes, I did a mashup of a classic opening line and an old dad joke. That's how my mind works.

Something New

I've been listening to a Baroque playlist on Spotify. There are many to choose from there and on YouTube. One of the things I really like about the Spotify playlists is that they are hours long. The one I link above plays for 24 hours. I can really sink into the music without being aware of it.

And science says it's good for your brain.


I let myself get distracted on Thursday with the rabbit hole of 'research.' I wrote one sentence but that's okay. One sentence is my goal and I did it.

Friday, I wrote 8,898 words and finished my short story for an upcoming Winter FCRW Anthology.

What was the difference between the days? Friday, I put the writing first and once I started, I didn't want to stop. The starting always stopped me.


I've been setting my little kitchen timer for 30 minutes. When it buzzes, I get up and walk around. Occasionally, I take a little brain break and do something menial, like the dishes or the laundry.

Links You Should Checkout

First Coast Romance Writers is a great group for aspiring writers and published authors. You don't have to live in Florida to participate in meetings and workshops and they have mentoring programs.

344 Words You Can Spell On a Calculator Does anyone still have calculators? Will these work on a phone calculator?

Shady Characters is all about written marks, punctuation, emojis, etc.

I love to crochet. This Book Worm Pattern is adorable.

Then there's the ultimate SQUIRREL moment, as in squirrel spas.

Any wonder I can't get any writing done.

I'm Reading

The Ever King by LJ Andrews

The Awakening and Selected Stories by Kate Chopin

Broken Protector (Gentle Sinners Book 1) by Amber Warden

The Counting

Beginning 20240611:

Fighting Fate (Novel Writing)
Day 00 ... 3,037 words. To date 30,822 words.

Short Stories (Completed)
Catch As Catch Can ... April ... 12,789 words.
Whisper Down the Lane ... June ... 3,567 words.
Love Under the Cold Moon … 14,387 words.
Rolling Around My Head … June … 4,569 words.

Short Stories (WiP)
Despair is in the Air
Day 01 ... 109 words. ... To date ... 109 words.
Fiction for June…………………….….… 22,313
Fiction for 2024…………………………. 65,924
2024 Novellas to Date ……………...….. 0
2024 Short Stories to Date……………… 4
Novels Published .............……………… 2
Novellas Published ..............…………… 0
Short Stories Published ………............... 1
Short Story Collections Published …...… 0

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Nessa's Notebook - A New Start. (Yes, Another One)

 I'm allowed. I can have as many as I want. As many as it takes to get me where I want to go. Every day is a new start. Every first step. I will keep at it until I'm in the habit of putting my writing first.

Something New

I bought a new Tarot deck, The Wheel of Change Tarot by Alexandra Genetti. I had to find it on Etsy at if you like the look of it. It's very pretty and speaks to the subconscious mind. 

Today's card: The Hermit, reversed

The Hermit is quite appropriate at this time as I've decided to renew my spiritual practices, which have always been very private and solitary. I need to reconnect with the core of who I am and what I need and want without the influence of others. 


I've been stuck for weeks, months. Unable to bring myself to write any fiction. I've been looking for the perfect system to make it all make sense. Outlining. Plotting. Planning. Sheets and forms and lists. Programs. Tools. Syste,s. Oh, my.

Yesterday, I gave myself permission to just write. I finished a 4k short story. Today, my only goal was to write a sentence. I wrote 1,473 words with trying. I'm satisfied. More than satisfied. I might even be giddy.


A little over two hours at the pool with The Boy. A solid hour of movement and another of fun. At some point the aches will lessen, right?

The pool in our complex is wonderful. Always clean. Always welcoming. Always allowing me to move all my joints, even my bad left knee and my sore right hip, without pain. It's a true joy.

Links You Should Checkout

I found these places over the weekend and I credit them with getting me writing again and without fear or guilt. They talk about the way I instinctually write.

Harvey Stanbrough has written over 85 novels, 9 novellas, and 250 short stories in just over 8 years. That's lots. Check him out. He has loads of free resources writers and he's so nice.

I started the Ray Bradbury Challenge again, only this time I'll have company. I did 17 short stories in a row the last I did this. Anyone can join, any time. Got my first one under my belt. "Whispering Down the Lane" will be in my first short story collection which will be out by the end of this month.

This fantastic article is packed with information, How to Write a Great Blurb (Warning: Giganormous Post)

I'm Reading

Writing Into the Dark by Dean Wesley Smith, another prolific writer and Heinlein devotee. "Trust the Process" and "Write one sentence. Then write the next sentence." You can see a YouTube Videoabout a talk he gave on this subject at a 20Books conference.

The Ever King by LJ Andrews. It's super popular. Amazon has over 13k reviews and Tik Tok rated it Best of BookTok. 

The Awakening and Selected Stories by Kate Chopin written in 1899.

These words don't count.

The Counting

I count everything, the stairs up and don to the apartment each time I traverse them even though I know the fist set has 17 steps and each of the next two have nine. Never changes but I count them every time. I count the laps I swim in the pool even though I know I will swim them for 30 minutes. I count out the time. Just looked it up. Of course it has a name: arithmomania. I don't have good or bad feelings related to counting, I just do it. 

Anywho, I stole this idea from Harvey Stanbrough, see above. I'm not going to count all my words, only those related to my fiction writing. I'm going to see how many I write in these last seven months of 2024, then set a goal for a yearly word count.

Beginning 20240611:

Fighting Fate (Novel Writing)
Day 00 ... 3,037 words. To date 30,822 words.

Short Stories (Completed)
Catch As Catch Can ... April ... 12,789 words.
Whisper Down the Lane ... June ... 3,567 words.

Short Stories (Writing June)

Love Under the Cold Moon

Day 01 ... 469 words. ... To date ... 469 words.

Day 02 ... 1,473 words ... To date ... 1,942 words.

Fiction for June…………………….….… 5,509
Fiction for 2024…………………………. 21,865

2024 Novellas to Date ……………...….. 0

2024 Short Stories to Date……………… 2
Novels Published .............……………… 2
Novellas Published ..............…………… 0
Short Stories Published ………............... 1
Short Story Collections Published …...… 0

That's enough for now.

Monday, June 03, 2024

Mystery Monday - The Caesar Cipher

 I'm writing a short story for this year's Winter Anthology sponsored by the First Coast Romance Writers (FCRW) group. The anthology is called For the Love of Winter and will feature love stories set during all of the Winter Holidays.

My story is called Love Under the Cold Moon. It's set in the year 194 in the Alps, on the border between Raetia and Noricum in a mountain valley. More later as we get closer to the release date.

The Roman Emporer at this point in history was Septimus Severus, the survivor of the Year of the Five Emperors. This was the year after Commodus was assasinated.

So, the first puzzle will be a quote by Septimus Severus turned into a puzzle using the Caesar cipher.

Can you decipher these words of wisdom?

Monday, May 20, 2024

Riddle Me This, Batman

The word riddle was first recorded before 1000 AD in Middle English. Close to the Old English rede, meaning story. A puzzling question stated in such a way as to require a clever answer.

The oldest recorded riddle is actually a mathematical problem written in cuneiform from around 1650 BCE, called the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus

Rhind Mathematical Papyrus : 
detail (recto, left part of the first section 

To see the answers, highlight the space between the asterisks.

Usually written as follows:

There are seven houses;
In each house there are seven cats;
Each cat catches seven mice;
Each mouse would have eaten seven ears of corn;
If sown, each ear of corn would have produced seven hekat of grain.
How many things are mentioned altogether?

The usual answer: ***   one (1)   ***

Other answer(s) are a bit disappointing.

The most famous old (470 BCE) riddle is The Riddle of the Spinx from the myth of Oedipus.

The riddle: “What being has four legs, then two, and then three?” 

The answer: ***   “Man, who crawls on all fours as a baby, then walks on two legs, and finally needs a cane in old age.”   ***

Check out the medieval riddles located HERE and HERE.

The ever-prolific Voltaire wrote this riddle:

"What, of all things in the world, is the longest and the shortest, the swiftest and the slowest, the most neglected and the most regretted, without which nothing can be done, which devours all that is little and ennobles all that is great?"

The answer: ***   Time   ***

My attempt at riddle writing:

Born earthbound and starving, I sleep in my shroud and hatch to soar less than a lunar cycle.

The answer: ***   a butterfly   ***

Friday, May 03, 2024

Romancing the Tropics Volume 2 - Ready for Pre-Order


These five short tropical romances, spanning from 1901 to the present day, will
put you in the mood for sunshine and love. This collection offers sweet to edgy stories
perfect for lazing on the beach or poolside.

Join these couples as they defy the conventions and expectations of their worlds
to embrace love’s fullest connection with their happily ever after waiting to be

Saturday, April 06, 2024

In the Bag - Introduction (an Anachronistic Project [AP001])

My mother's side of the family is from Austria, where they lived in the small towns around the city of Salzburg.

Salzburg Castle painted on Two Man Tuttle Tooth Saw blade by Vanessa Victoria Kilmer

My Oma and Uroma went grocery shopping every day. They had very small refrigerators and very little space in their apartments. I grew up using net bags, so the trend of reusable bags in the USA in the 1990s was no big deal to me and made sense. 

I think people have been using net bags for as long as they have been making fishing nets. You can see some information about Roman recruits using them. The Bullock Museum in Texas has a net bag from around 2000 BC. 

Net bags would be perfect for hunter-gatherers as they are light and compact and require less material and energy to make than baskets, leather pouches, or pottery. They are also perfect as storage containers, easily hung from the rafters of a hut, thus protecting the items from pests.              

They are easy to make in small spaces, require no tools or special skills, and use cheap native materials. 

Thanks to travelers from all parts of Asia, Hemp has been used in Europe since the Bronze Age for food, rope, and fabrics. I'll be using hemp twine to make a net bag without tools. I'll go over other types of fibers in the next post.

This will be the first project in my series of anachronistic items related to the time periods of my books.

I'll be doing each of the process steps in real life as TikTok videos and blog posts with pictures of each step, and when it's all done, I'll combine the videos into one YouTube project video.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Lady Mary Wroth, Poet and Prose Author


Lady Mary Wroth
Painting attributed to John de Critz c 1620 
(public domain)

Lady Mary Wroth, 1587-1651, was a contemporary of Shakespeare and a friend to Queen Anne and Ben Jonson. Educated at a time when most women were illiterate, she wrote poetry and prose. She wrote The Countess of Montgomery's Urania, the first prose romance with possible autobiographical elements in English written by a woman.

Title Page of
The Countess of Montgomery's Urania
Folger Shakespeare Libray

Pamphilia to Amphilanthus is a sonnet sequence, the second known published by a woman in English. The first, by Anne Locke is disputed. 

Love leave to urge, thou know’st thou hast the hand;

’T’is cowardise, to strive wher none resist:

Pray thee leave off, I yeeld unto thy band;

Doe nott thus, still, in thine owne powre persist,

Beehold I yeeld: lett forces bee dismist;

I ame thy subject, conquer’d, bound to stand,

Never thy foe, butt did thy claime assist

Seeking thy due of those who did withstand;

Butt now, itt seemes, thou would’st I should thee love;

I doe confess, t’was thy will made mee chuse;

And thy faire showes made mee a lover prove

When I my freedome did, for paine refuse.

Yett this Sir God, your boyship I dispise;

Your charmes I obay, butt love nott want of eyes.

The seventh sonnet, from the only extant Pamphilia 
manuscript in Wroth's own hand.
Mary Wroth - Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection

Monday, March 18, 2024

National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award (NERFA)

Did you publish a Romance novel or novella in digital format in 2023?

Submit your story to the 
National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award (NERFA) contest
until the end of March 2024.

This is a contest for romance writers and is judged by romance readers.

Find all of the details at 


Thursday, March 14, 2024

So Many Ways to Scratch My Book Itch


          There are many ways to meet my book fix and make my to-be-read pile comfortably overwhelming. Many options are available, whether I like paper or digital, purchased or free. I embrace them all.
          In the last two years, I’ve moved twice. Before the first of the two moves from New Jersey to Florida, I downsized from a large three-story house where the entire second floor was all mine. I decided I could only keep what would fit in my van. I gave away hundreds of real books. In my second move, I still had three boxes of books. These included the cardboard children’s book of Ashenputtel (Cinderella,) the original Grimm’s version, that I received at the age of three, a couple of inherited prayer books from the 1800s in Old High German, signed copies of books authored by friends, and copies of my own novels. These are my treasures.

Then, there’s my Kindle account. Amazon sure knew what I was addicted to when they created this monster. I have 622 digital books. Access to them is 24/7 and anywhere that strikes my fancy. I have a Kindle device, which is perfect for reading in the sunshine outside or at night lying in bed. The light, text size, and font adjust for my old eyes and energy level. It has a font called OpenDyslexic, which I use to read without closing one eye when the orbs go all cross-eyed from fatigue. I’ll be thrilled when it shows I’ve reached the end of the page, and it turns it for me, you know, for those three am reading sessions.
     I have another 216 books in my Audible account. I like to listen to books when I can’t sleep at night. It’s like having an old friend with me. I prefer books while I’m driving.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember. Whether it was the back of cereal boxes, movie end credits, or road signs and billboards, I always needed something to read. My cell phone ensures I am never without it. 
     I have access to history, biographies, and classic literature. Wikipedia can take me to so many places. I recently learned about Enhedusnna, a Mesopotamian priestess who was the first named author over four thousand years ago. With the provided links at the bottom of the article, I found many more sites that expanded on the topic.
Short Fiction Break and poets dot org both offer reads sent to your email. Project Gutenberg has over 70,000 free e-books of older great literature, usually where U.S. copyright has expired. And I have a library card, so even more e-books are available.
     These options make it easy for me to spend all my time reading, and I refuse to apologize.

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Featured Author - Enheduanna


image from
Enheduanna written in Sumerian cuneform

Enheduanna (23rd century B.C.E.) was the first named author in history. She was the Akkadian and Sumerian high priestess of the moon god Nanna (Sin) and daughter of Sargon of Akkad.

Enheduanna is named as the author of seven Sumerian temple hymns and several hymns dedicated to Innana and Nanna.

Enheduanna's writings are inscribed on to clay in cuneiform 
(Credit: The Yale Babylonian Collection/ Photo by Klaus Wagensonner)

Inana and Ebih

"1-6. Goddess of the fearsome divine powers, clad in terror, 

riding on the great divine powers, Inana

made perfect by the holy a-an-kar weapon, drenched in blood, 

rushing around in great battles, with shield resting on the ground (?), 

covered in storm and flood, great lady Inana

knowing well how to plan conflicts, you destroy mighty lands 

with arrow and strength and overpower lands."

Go HERE to read all 184 lines.

Enheduanna is pictured on this disc. She's in fancy-dress red.

A scene of sacrifice is carved on to one side of this calcite disc;
an inscription of Enheduanna appears on the other 
(Credit: The Penn Museum)

Monday, March 04, 2024

Book Review - Beyond the next Star by Melody Johnson


Beyond the next Star is the award-winning SyFy Romance of Melody Johnson. She's taken the decades-old story of alien abductions with their tales of scientific observations, tests, and rats-in-a-cage by beings similar to humans that don't recognize "peoplehood." However, this time, the specimen is kept and taken to the alien homeworld as a pet.

Torek, a warrior with a psychiatric prescription to get a pet to relieve his PTSD symptoms, adopts the exotic animal. He must prove his fitness to be returned to active duty by keeping the fragile being alive. 

Staying alive on a hostile, frozen planet isn't easy for a human, but Delaney has survived and hidden from danger her whole life, so it's no big deal to pretend to be a witless pet, especially since she's hiding from a murderer. Even on alien planets, greed rears its ugly head.

Despite all the obstacles of the situation, mutual affection and love grows as there are attempts on Delaney's life and she reveals her humanness to save Torek.

This was a surprising storyline and well-written. I enjoyed the creativity that made the story come alive.

Beyond the next Star is the first standalone book in the Love Beyond series. It is followed by Sight Beyond the Sun. Melody Johnson also has a vampire series called Night Blood with four books available. You can find Melody Johnson's books on her WEBSITE

Thursday, February 29, 2024

12 Prompts for Leap Day - the Day that doesn't Really Exist

What if you only existed each leap day?

What if you could only get around by hopping or jumping?

What if your friends jump off a bridge? Would you, too?

What if you wrote yourself a letter containing your hopes and dreams for the future to be opened on the next Leap Day?

What if a witch cursed you and turned you into a frog?

What if you lost your sight on Leap Day?

What if you lost your memory on Leap Day?

What if you could only express your love on Leap Day?

What if we no longer have Leap Years?

What if things no longer come in fours?

What if our calendar were based on the moon and not the sun?

What if we randomly inserted a day in each Leap Year's calendar instead of using February 29th?

~ ~ ~

make an origami leap frog

~ ~ ~

"Use this day to do something daring, extraordinary and unlike yourself. Take a chance and shape a different pattern in your personal cloud of probability!”
― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

"Happy Leap Day. A day where 'this time last year' and 'this time next year' does not apply." - Anonymous

"Leap and the net will appear."  - Zen saying

Monday, February 26, 2024

Bookish Adventures in Daytona

I went to the Coastal Magic Convention with my daughter this past weekend (Thursday evening until Sunday morning) in Daytona Beach, Florida.

This was my first book-related convention. It's a reader-focused event that began in 2013. 

Authors in the urban fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, and romance genres come out to meet their readers with Meet n Greet panels. The hosts made this easier by doing passports, scavenger hunts, and pick-the-lie activities to get folks chatting.

There were various panels where authors discussed their processes for storytelling and information about their various books and series.

Friday night was a Las Vegas Murder Mystery where authors played roles in the WhoDoneIt. We guessed the murder victim but got the killer wrong.

Saturday night was a pajama game night. We played Harry Potter Trivia. Erika was a finalist. I was in the final place.

Saturday, we had Lunch with an Author and joined Melody Johnson for delish ravioli. Erika got her vampire book, The City Beneath, and I got her sci-fi book, Beyond the next Star. She signed them for us, too.

I also got to meet Ilona and Gordon Andrews, my favorite authors. They signed Magic Tides for me, and I got a picture with them. They are sweet and funny.

The asparagus in the hotel restaurant was really good. I had some every night with dinner.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

The American Sentence - Haiku for US, Too

 The American Sentence is a poetry form invented by the beat poet Allen Ginsberg in the mid-1980s.

17 syllables are the agreed-upon requirement. After that, you can write it in one line or multiple lines, use concrete images, refrain from using articles, and include a time, place, and a title, if you like.

The poet Paul E. Nelson wrote an article on The American Sentence.

Here are some examples by Allen Ginsberg:

  • "That grey-haired man in business suit and black turtleneck thinks he's still young."
  • "Bearded robots drink from Uranium coffee cups on Saturn's ring."
  • "Crescent moon, girls chatter at twilight on the bus ride to Ankara."
I'm am writing one a day for The 100 Day Project based on 3 randomly selected words. I've done 5 so far.

Here are a couple I wrote before the project began:

    Ashes floated in the sky like snowflakes on a quiet winter night.

    Her hair spread out in the frothing water as I jockeyed the river.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Habit Forming Habits - The 100 Day Project 001

It takes 90 - 100 days to form a habit. Beginning today, I commit to 100 Days of Creating. My project takes the form of an American Sentence a day based on three randomly generated words.

nuance ~ formation ~ salmon

the formation of the sacred salmon proves the gods know no nuance

#TheAmericanSentence #haiku #WordSketches