ROW80: Worst-Case Planning

I didn’t even manage to make a final post for the final check-in last round; I’ll use “being in France with only occasional Internet” for my excuse reason. At any rate, trip preparations, my mind being elsewhere, and last-minute things I had to do around the house prevented me from making much progress, so my report would have been pretty much the same as the one prior.

But it’s a new round, time for new goals, and a fresh start! I’m having trouble getting back into the swing of things, even though I was only gone a week and a half, so I’m going to start out easy. In the last round, I also learned (again) that I need to limit my goals to things that are 100% in my control. My two beta readers still have Hangar 18, and I don’t want to rush them, so I’ll make that goal conditional.

I’m also adding something new, and not writing-related; I guess you could call it worst case planning. My parents are 70 and pushing-70, and my husband’s been after me for years to find out where they keep their personal papers, powers of attorney, health care wishes, etc. in the event that something happens to them and someone needs to make decisions. It’s not a pleasant topic and one that no one wants to discuss, so I keep meaning to do it if something leads in to it, but that time’s never come.

Then it occurred to me that my husband and I need to have this stuff collected together in case something happens to us. Thing is, it’s even more certain than taxes, will happen to everyone eventually, and no one knows when. So I found a book that looked like a good guide to organizing all this info and walks you through doing a little bit at a time. Baby steps! So completing those exercises will be my goal this quarter, and if I like it, I’ll suggest it to my parents when I hand my information to them.

Here are my goals for the quarter overall:

  • Work through Lesson 18 of How to Think Sideways
  • Release Times Two (combined ebook of Time’s Enemy and Time’s Fugitive)
  • Complete Saturn Society short story for holiday anthology I’m hoping to participate in – kind of scary because I haven’t written short fiction since freshman year of college, and that wasn’t very good
  • Complete Get It Together exercises and data gathering
  • Three interval workouts and two shorter workouts per week
  • Work back into tracking exercise and consumption
  • BONUS: Release Hangar 18: Legacy (if I get it back from the beta readers sometime this month, and depending on edits needed)
  • BONUS: Plot out and begin writing first book in new series

And here’s what I’ll do this week to work toward them:

  • Research online for short story
  • Come up with synopsis sentence for short story
  • Review How to Think Sideways exercises for ideas to work in to short story
  • Complete Get It Together Chapter 3 & 4 exercises (the authors suggest doing 1 & 2 last)
  • Three interval workouts and two shorter workouts

What are your plans for the rest of summer, whether or not you’re doing ROW80? Have you collected together “life plans” and info for your family?

Misfit Monday plus Excerpt: Ahead of her Time

I’m away again, so I’m going to leave you with another excerpt from Time’s Enemy. This passage takes place after Tony rescues nine-year-old Charlotte in the flood – twenty years later for her, in fact, when Tony comes to visit her as an adult in 1933.

Time's Enemy CoverTony followed her into the basement, her favorite room in the house despite its constant, damp chill. Her favorite because of the workbench that ran along an entire wall, a place she could lose herself for hours. She snapped on the two metal clip lights above her creation, a welded, metal cabinet with foil-covered panels. Tony craned his neck to study the water tanks and the pipes she’d twisted around it. “I’m experimenting with water to store the sun’s heat,” she explained.

“I’d say you’re on the right track.” She searched his face. Not a hint of the veiled reservations her brother always tried to hide when she showed him one of her projects. She seldom mentioned her work to her sister, whose usual response was to chide her for wasting time she could better spend on something constructive, like quilting or working in the garden.

Louie had gone beyond skepticism to outright derision. Among other things, it proved he wasn’t the man for her. If he hadn’t broken their engagement, she would have. Elmer’s lack of enthusiasm confirmed she’d best keep her activities to herself, should they eventually marry.

That prospect grew less likely the longer she spent with Tony. She let her eyes travel over him and remembered the bubbles of joy she’d felt when he took her arm in his on the way home from Rike’s. So different than Elmer. Tony opened the cabinet’s sealed door and ran his fingers around its smooth edges. “You might be onto something here.”

“You think so?” She clasped her hands.

“Oh yeah, this is cool.”

English: Solar oven Português: Forno solar

An actual, modern solar oven (Photo credit: Wikipedia). Read about my friend Athena Grayson’s adventures with solar cooking here.

“Cool?” Her shoulders slumped. “But it’s supposed to get hot. Or at least warm.”

He laughed, and heaviness fell over her body like a lead jacket. It was worse than Louie’s scorn. She started to turn away. “Oh, no, I mean it’s neat,” Tony said. “Good. Swell.” His face settled into a grin. “In my time, cool has another meaning besides temperature. It’s a good thing.”

Anticipation warred with unease, and she figured out why when they trudged back upstairs to start dinner.

She’d finally met a man who believed in her. Not only believed in her work, but wanted to help her. A man who could take her ideas and sell them. Do the part she hated and, she had to admit, was hampered in by the fact she was a woman. Tony could cross barriers she couldn’t. He could solicit interest in her work from men who couldn’t see the innovator beneath her feminine form.

He intrigued her, intellectually. And otherwise, she had to admit. If it weren’t for the fact that he belonged decades in the future, she’d want Tony to take her to the dance, not Elmer. Tony to be the one who spent his evenings with her. Tony who might ask her to marry him—

She couldn’t think such things. Especially about an Enemy of Time. A man she needed to convince to go to the Society House and turn himself in.

Later. First, she’d at least fix dinner. It would hardly be civil to send him to Theodore on an empty stomach.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you! Please know that while I’m away I may not be able to reply to your comments for a while, but every one is appreciated, as are any retweets and Facebook Shares. I’ll be back soon, and will reply and visit your blog if you have one. Also, while the Booklovers’ Buffet sale is over, Time’s Enemy is still on sale for $.99 until tomorrow, so if you’re thinking about giving it a read, there’s no better time than the present. You can buy Time’s Enemy at Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords and many other online retailers. Thanks for reading!

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Guest Post: Michele Stegman on How Stories are like Gemstones

Michele Stegman

I love garnets, and I have several. Some are set in silver, but, to me, they look best in gold. Diamonds, on the other hand, look good in either white or yellow gold settings. Either way, the setting must be right to show the stone off to its best advantage.

It works the same way with the stories we write. Some stories are like diamonds and can be set just about any place or time because they are so universal. Other stories, like garnets, work best in a specific setting. Either way, the setting is going to affect the story and the characters.

Romeo and Juliet was originally set in “fair Verona,” but Bernstein made the same story work in 1950’s New York. He had drugs, gangs, and guns instead of feuding families and swords. The same story would probably work just as well in the American West with a family of cattle ranchers versus sheep ranchers. Then you would have horses and six-guns and lots of wide open spaces. But those different settings definitely affect the characters and the story.

Fortune's Foe by Michele StegmanOther stories need a very specific setting. The movie, Out of Africa, with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep would not work well in New Jersey. Not even if you change the title. Africa was too much a part of that movie and that story. Someone suggested Africa was the third character.

My story, Fortune’s Foe, had to be set in Spanish St. Augustine, Florida, in 1740. The setting, and the history, in that book are a very big part of the story. The fort, Castillo de San Marcos, Ft. Mose, the war between the English and the Spanish, the prisoners captured after James Oglethorpe’s failed siege, the runaway slaves who have found safe haven in the colony, are all part of the story. To take that setting away would collapse the story.

Mr. Right’s Baby is set in San Antonio, Texas. The hero is one quarter Comanche, works in the oil business, and lives on a ranch. I guess I could have let him live on a farm outside Cincinnati and work at P&G, but I don’t think the story would be nearly as effective–or as interesting. I think I found the perfect setting for that one.

I hope you find the perfect setting for all your stories. And when you read, pay attention to setting.

Tell me about your favorite book. How does setting affect the story and characters? Would the story work in any other setting?

Thank you, Jennette, for hosting me today.

Michele Stegman is the author of warm, sensual romances. You can find out more about her and her books at her website: You can find her books on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and in the iBook store.

Jennette says: Thanks for being here, Michele! I know that Time’s Enemy could not have been set anywhere besides Dayton.  Readers, what do you think? Michele and I would love to hear from you! And if you enjoy well-researched historical romance with engaging characters and chock-full of sexual tension, Fortune’s Foe is a don’t-miss! I’m going to be away from the computer for awhile, but please know that I appreciate every comment, retweet, and Facebook Share. I’ll be back to reply and visit your blog (if you have one) as soon as I can!

My Town Monday, plus Excerpt: Ohio’s Worst Natural Disaster

It happened in March, 1913. The perfect confluence of weather combined over the upper Miami Valley in west-central Ohio, and dumped massive amounts of rain on the area for several days. This was on ground already saturated from melting snows, and on Tuesday, March 25, it proved too much for the levees in Dayton. The river breached the first levee around 7 AM, and within a few hours, water 12+ feet deep covered the city. Downriver, the cities of West Carrollton, Miamisburg, Franklin, Middletown, Hamilton, and Cincinnati weren’t spared, but due to the joining of five rivers on the north side of Dayton, plus the Great Miami’s S-curve there, Dayton was the worst-hit. In terms of property damage and lives lost (anywhere from just over one hundred to four-hundred something – records were sketchy), the 1913 flood remains the worst natural disaster in Ohio’s history.

Here’s an excerpt from Time’s Enemy that shows what it might have been like that day, almost 100 years ago:

Time's Enemy Cover

An inhuman shriek jolted Tony awake. His gaze darted across sloped rafters, to the end of a long room where dim light filtered through a dusty, mud-spattered window. Church bells rang amidst the roar of hard rain, and whistles were going off everywhere, but they weren’t what woke him. He clutched the quilt. Where was he?

He sat up. Then the scream came again. Outside. It started as a loud groan, then escalated to a grating, high-pitched howl that cut to his soul.

It went on and on then faded as whatever it was passed. Tony threw off his blanket and scooted to the nearby window.

A torrent of muddy water coursed through the alley below, coming halfway up the doorway of the warehouse across the street. He’d never seen so much water where it wasn’t supposed to be. “Holy Noah’s Ark!”

He stood, then regretted it when his head smacked into a rafter. With a curse, he rubbed the sore spot as his memories of the previous day fell into place. The Saturn Society. Taylor Gressman. The wanted posters and Theodore Pippin. Goodwin’s Smoke Shop in 1913.

What had he warped into? He twisted around to search the rafters, as if answers hid in their dim recesses. The only reply was the beating rain. Then it hit him. March, 1913. He’d escaped the Saturn Society only to wind up in the middle of the worst natural disaster in Ohio’s history.

The horrible shrieks started again. He crouched and peered out the window. In the raging waters, a horse struggled to swim, its reins caught on the crossbar of a streetlamp. The yellowish-brown waters came to within a couple feet of the light globes. The horse raised its head, its lips drawn back over its teeth, and let out another ear-piercing cry. Tony cringed. A wooden crate bumped the helpless animal, knocking it free, then the current carried the crate and the horse away.

The view out the other window was much the same. A barrel floated by. Small, dark shapes clung to it. Rats.

Photo used on the cover of Time’s Enemy. Courtesy of Dayton Metro Library.

Tony leaned against the window, the glass cold against his hand and forehead, and stared in morbid fascination at the water below. The rain churned its rushing surface between pieces of broken furniture, crates and unidentifiable flotsam. Bumps and clunks came from below, probably furnishings, floating around in the shop’s lower level. He moved to the window, his fingers unable to decide whether to form fists or clutch at the window jambs. His breath formed a foggy circle on the glass. Another loud crash, then a few seconds later, a piano floated by, followed by a mass of splintered lumber that had once been a building.

The water swirled and eddied around the debris, lodging it between a telephone pole and the Smoke Shop. In the pile of wood beneath his window, a broken sign read ry’s Market. They wouldn’t be doing business any time soon.

Something moved in the wreckage. A small arm sheathed in a clinging, ruffled sleeve emerged from the water, and little fingers clutched at one of the larger pieces of wood. Slipped.

Grasped again, lost purchase.

A little girl. “Oh my God.” His voice echoed in the empty reaches of the rafters. The child groped again, failed to latch on, started to slide.

He grabbed the window sash’s blackened han-dle and pulled. Stuck tight. With a grunt he leaned upward and pulled harder. “Come on, open, dammit!” The sash didn’t move.

He could barely hear a thin, plaintive wail over the rushing water. He grabbed the sash handle, yanked upward, and this time the window obeyed.

The girl’s cry reached him again. Helplessness pinned his feet to the floor. Fear he wouldn’t reach her in time mocked him. He’d have to climb out on-to that haphazard pile of wood. One misstep could plunge him into the icy, raging current. But if he didn’t go out there, that little girl would die.

He yanked off his suit jacket. Cold as he was, it would only get in the way. “Hang on!” He climbed over the sash. She tried to grab hold of a broken timber. Missed. Then slipped into the water.

“No!” Despair stung him. The same way it had the night Bethany hadn’t come home, and a state trooper rang their doorbell. Tony had known his daughter was dead before the man said a word. “Hang on!” This little girl had a chance.

Want to read more? Time’s Enemy (e-book) is on sale for only $.99 as part of the Booklovers’ Buffet through June 22, along with over 150 other books, novellas, and short stories. You can buy Time’s Enemy at Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Smashwords and many other online retailers.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you! I will be away from my computer today and won’t be able to respond to comments, but please know that I appreciate every comment, every re-tweet,  and every Facebook Share. I’ll reply and visit your blog, if you have one, when I can! Thanks for reading!

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

No, it’s not Cheers, although for some of us, it is indeed a bar. My husband owned a bar like that for over ten years.

But in this case, I’m talking about a place, or a group of people, where we feel like we belong. Some people can find this almost anywhere. But for misfits like me, it’s unusual and special.

I can find that in my RWA chapter, now that I’ve been part of it for over ten years. And this, I think, is what makes writing groups something special, far beyond the learning craft and business that goes on there: we’re with people who understand us. Who don’t give us weird looks when we say a character started talking to us the other day. Who understand when we don’t want to stay out late partying, because it cuts into the writing.

I have another group like that too, and it took even less time than the writing groups. These are people I can talk about cars with to my heart’s content, and their eyes don’t glaze over. We understand one’s excitement when a small change made to our car makes it sound just a little different. We nod knowingly when one of us describes our Christmas wish list that’s half car swag (or more). We compare notes on the best cleaning products, waxes, and little cosmetic extras we can get for our cars to make them more “ours,” and compliments on our four-wheeled babies are always abundant.

The past Saturday was what’s become an annual event among my local Camaro friends: Mod Day. We gather at one friend’s huge pole barn that’s outfitted with heat (unfortunately needed yesterday), a lift, all kinds of power equipment, and best of all, friends to help each other with small projects or maintenance work.

Of course there is a lot of socializing – in fact that’s all some of us do. Many of us have other things in common – several of the Camaro friends work in the IT field like me, for example. But the talk always comes back to the cars sooner or later.

Another fun thing about spending the day with my Camaro friends is it gives me an excuse to put cool Camaro pictures on my blog!

A really cool surprise awaited me when I arrived at the garage this year. One of my friends had bought a paperback copy of Time’s Enemy and brought it there for me to sign! I’m not sure if he was aware, but yes, there is a Camaro in Time’s Enemy. (It’s also in Time’s Fugitive. 🙂 )

I’d love to hear from you! Did you do anything exciting this weekend? Do you have a special group of friends who just “get” you? Please share!

Last Minute Edits, and Awesome!

That’s mostly what’s going on around here today. I spent last week doing a final proofread of Time’s Fugitive before uploading it to Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble, and now I’m making those last edits. It’s important to me that I produce absolutely the best product I can for my readers! So, I have not had a chance to write today’s post.

Scroll down to see what my first readers had to say about Time’s Fugitive. I’d also like to give a shout-out to Prudence MacLeod, who read and reviewed Time’s Enemy last week. Here’s what she had to say:

5 Stars – Awesome

Last weekend I read Time’s Enemy by Jennette Marie Powell. I really recommend you read this book. It is a great tale of time travel and the consequences of messing with the past. Jennette is a fine writer with a master’s touch at keeping up the tension. (You have to remember to breathe)

Time’s Enemy is Jennette’s first novel, or so I believe. This bodes well for the future for she will surely get better and, I for one, can’t wait for more adventures of Charlotte and Tony. Great work Jennette!

Thanks, Prudence! The wait won’t be long now!

Weird Things we Love: Humppa

Let me start out by saying I don’t necessarily love humppa; I just discovered it – or rather, my daughter did – a few days ago. But apparently it’s pretty popular in Europe, especially Germany, Poland, Austria, and of course Finland, where it originated. My daughter ran across it while researching a school project on Finland, and spent many hours getting sidetracked by humppa.

Finnish Humppa-Band Eläkeläiset on stage

What is humppa? It’s music. Or dance. Or both! Set to a very fast 220-260 beats per minute, the music is sort of a cross between jazz and foxtrot. My daughter describes it as “extreme polka,” which fits better IMO. Think Weird Al Yankovic, and you’ll come pretty close to Eläkeläiset, Finland’s popular humppa band.

The dances came first, around the turn of the twentieth century. There are three primary styles: one-step, two-step, and one that resembles a limping walk. The name “humppa” wasn’t coined until the 1950’s, and is assumed to be based on the the oompah sound of the tuba in some German folk music.

Humppa pretty much died out after that, until Eläkeläiset revived it in the early 90s with humppa versions of popular heavy metal songs. This is as weird as it sounds, and it’s hilarious!

Here is “Humppalakein,” Eläkeläiset’s version of “Breaking the Law,” (which some YouTube user put to the original Judas Priest video – LOL!):


It gets better: Black Sabbath, anyone? In the video, you can barely pick out the original melody, but I’m LOL watching this to Ozzy singing!

They’ve done covers of Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Kiss, Queen, and more. According to my daughter, the lyrics aren’t translations of the original English lyrics, either – they’re not even close! She says they mostly translate to things about humppa dancing, the music itself, or drinking. Heavily. (I’m not sure where she found this, or I’d link.) The concerts and festivals sound like quite the experience, too – the band often passes out vodka, to anyone who wants it! (And who doesn’t?)

Their website is pretty amusing, too. My favorite is the “Hidden Alcohol” page, complete with undecipherable (to me, at least) maps. Apparently, the band leaves buried treasure in many of the cities where they play – bottles of vodka! Can you imagine that in the U.S.? Me either.

So have you found any weird music you (or someone) love lately? I’d love to hear from you! What do you think of humppa? If you had a chance to see Eläkeläiset perform, would you go? I think I would, just to watch the audience! But I’d stay off to the side, so as not to get danced over.

Eläkeläiset photo by Roger Zenner, via Wikipedia, Creative Commons license

Books We Loved (Way Back When)

Enough about books we didn’t love – how about those we DO love? I’ve loved to read as long as I was able, and before that, I loved to be read to. I had a favorite book back then, too – actually, a favorite set. The collection doesn’t appear to have a name other than “The Wonderful World of Disney.” There are four books, all published in 1965 (yes, they’re older than me. 🙂  ). They’re Fantasyland, Worlds of Nature, America, and Stories from Other Lands. It’s the latter that contains my first favorite story: “The Cold-blooded Penguin.”

I was probably three at the time. Both my parents can probably recite this story from memory, even now, because I asked them to read it to me almost every night.

“The Cold-blooded Penguin” is about a penguin who didn’t enjoy living in cold Antarctica. It’s based on an animated short that was part of the 1944 feature film The Three Caballeros.

While all of his penguin buddies were out swimming and tobogganing and doing fun, outdoorsy things, Pablo hid out in his igloo with a woodburning stove, trying to keep warm. One day it occurred to Pablo that he could move north. He tried walking, but froze (and had to be rescued by his penguin friends. He eventually decided to cut himself a boat out of the ice surrounding his igloo, and sailed north.

Not surprisingly, his boat melted before he reached the tropical island of his dreams. When nothing was left but his bathtub, he stuck the showerhead into the drain, and it magically drew water up through the pipes and propelled the boat forward! (This was the funniest part in the cartoon.)

Of course at age three, it didn’t occur to me to wonder about the magical showerhead, or where Pablo got wood for his stove in Antarctica, or why he needed a bathtub in his igloo. But it was a great story, and still is. I also still love penguins!

I also still own the four Wonderful World of Disney books. In my copy of Stories from Other Lands, the picture above has black crayon covering the sky above the igloo, and Pablo’s belly. I’m sure I did it. I have no idea why.


Check out “The Cold-blooded Penguin” on YouTube:

Do you remember your first favorite book or story? I’d love to hear from you! Maybe I’ll (re)discover some more oldies (or not so old) but goodies!

My Town Monday: Arts and Letters, with a Leap Year Twist


Ann Bain (center, wearing red) at the "Exuberance" show opening celebration

She paints, she draws, she letters, she sculpts, she stamps. Local artist Ann Bain has been doing it all for six decades, and she’s celebrating her twentieth birthday this week.

Ann is my brother’s mother-in-law, and her birthday is this coming Wednesday, February 29th. To celebrate, she teamed up with several artist friends for “Exuberance,” a gallery showing and opening party at The Cannery Art and Design Center in downtown Dayton. And “Exuberance” is the perfect name for the event: Ann might have been on the earth for eighty years, but she has the energy and enthusiasm of a twenty-year-old! The name of the showing pays homage to poet William Blake, and reads in full as “Exuberance is Beauty — Energy is Eternal Delight.” The Dayton Daily News had a wonderful article about the exhibit and party in Saturday’s issue.

Ann's work adorns the walls at the Cannery Art & Design Center

A Pittsburgh native, Ann’s early artistic career included a stint in Alcoa’s commercial art department. That was over fifty years ago, and she still keeps in touch with her boss, who sends her birthday cards that are works of art in and of themselves. When she spoke to her guests and thanked everyone for coming, she brought out this year’s card, an 8-1/2″ x 11″,  multi-panel fold-out that contained drawings and photos of Ann with some comical modifications and commentary.

Ann paints in a variety of media – and on a variety of surfaces. One work features calligraphy in an outline style, on sheer fabric, hung over a colorful painting. She has handmade books, and sculptures (usually covered in handmade paper and painted with lettering).

Some of Ann's work - Metamorphosis Wheel is the tall, cylindrical piece, center right

Some of her work is normally displayed in her home studio. Metamorphosis Wheel, a piece I hadn’t seen before, was particularly intriguing. Some of her work was exhibited at the Schuster Center last year when the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and Wright State University’s choir performed Leonard Bernstein’s Mass. Several of her pieces, originally inspired by the Mass, were featured in the full color program as well.

Guests were invited to sign Ann's card, held by her cardboard likeness

The “Exuberance” exhibit will be on display at the Cannery Art and Design Center at 434 East Third St. through March. Ann’s work is also featured on an ongoing basis at the Village Artisans gallery in nearby Yellow Springs, and she accepts calligraphy commissions through The Mulberry Tree in Oakwood.

Ann’s website is at, which I designed and set up for her as a gift several years ago. It’s one of the more fun projects I’ve done as a web designer!

So if you’re in the area, consider stopping by the Cannery Art & Design Center, and check out Ann’s work! A lot of beautiful and fascinating artwork by the gallery’s resident artists is also on display. The gallery will soon move around the corner to a new home at 45 St. Clair St., and I’ll definitely return for another visit (and another blog entry)!

Do you have a favorite hometown artist and/or gallery? I’d love to hear from you! Give me some ideas on where’s a great place to experience art in your hometown!

Check out other fun facts and sights at the My Town Monday blog.