The Common Cold And The Creative Brain.

Posted by Ryder Islington, Author of ULTIMATE JUSTICE, A Trey Fontaine Mystery

Maybe the title should be more specific–based on This Creative Brain. I hate getting a cold, and in fact don’t think I’ve had even a sniffle in the last ten years. Until last week.

At the most inconvenient time, when I’m in the beginning stages of revision with my wonderful, and patient, editor, I was knocked for a loop by a virus that had me sneezing and hacking, unable to sleep, with a fever, a sore throat, and a bad attitude.

The first couple of days I couldn’t concentrate on anything. My brain was just too busy sending out warriors to fight the virus. It didn’t have time for creativity. In fact, it didn’t have time for understanding simple English. I said, “Huh?” to anyone who spoke.

By day three the fever was lower, and I was able to function on a simple level, but trying to revise the story and get it back to the editor just couldn’t happen. By Sunday, the fever and headache were gone, and my throat was only sore from a raspy cough. I began with page one of the revision, reading the editor’s comments, trying to make sense of what she wanted. The easiest fixes were manageable, but I still couldn’t create new content.

It’s Monday night. My sinuses are still not up to par, and I cough so hard on occasion that I think my lungs are coming up, but my brain is at least able to create. Now, if I could just understand what  it is the editor wants me to create!

We all know that even a simple virus affects many of our abilities. We know the body and brain will ignore things that aren’t vital to survival while fighting off invaders. But I never realized how profoundly my thinking is altered by a simple cold.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to send an email to the editor and see if she can explain her comments to me, like I was a two year old.

Guest Post by Robert Stanek

I’m pleased today to welcome Robert Stanek as a guest on my blog. Robert Stanek is not only the talented author of more than 150 books for adults and children but someone who has been helping other writers ever since his first book was published in 1995.

Back in the early days of the Web, Robert created Writer’s Gallery, Internet Job Center and Internet Daily News to help other writers (archives at These days Robert helps other writers by hosting some terrific writers groups, by blogging about writing-related topics, and through his Read Indie tweets on twitter.

On Facebook, Robert Stanek hosts one of the more popular groups for getting the word out about your promotions and free offerings. It’s called “Free Today” and you’ll find the group at…. On Twitter, you can tweet using the hashtag #freetoday as another way to spread the word about your promotions and freebies.

Go Indie ( is another terrific group for writers that Robert hosts on Facebook. Go Indie is a group dedicated to promoting indie authors, indie books, and indie booksellers. On Twitter, you can also use hashtag #goindie to spread the word about your books.

On, Robert hosts the Read Indies group. Read Indies helps to provide a platform for writers to discuss their books and writing-related topics. Read Indies is at

Robert also writes the Read Indies Blog ( The blog discusses many important writing-related issues and details many of the challenges indie authors face in gaining mainstream acceptance. Some of the more interesting posts:

Taking Your Work from Print to Film –…

Selling Rights to Your Books –…

Viewpoints on Rejection Letters –…

Understanding Bestseller Lists –…

Finding Success as a Writer –…

You can learn more about Robert and his books at

I’m An Author, Not A Salesperson

There was a time when writers just had to write. But now, in our new economy, in the ‘space age’, our roles have changed. Even if we get that coveted Big House contract, they don’t spend money on new authors, so we’re left with either no sales, or becoming salespeople.

I never wanted to go into sales. I’m not good at it. I don’t like it. In fact, if I had known twelve years ago what I know now, I might never have dreamed of being published. I might have decided to just write for my own enjoyment. Too late now. With book one of a series published, and an editor waiting on book two, I have to learn this new way of being a writer.

I bought the books about social media and advertising. I even read them. I’m told they’re in English, but I’m not so sure. The one thing they all stress, and I understand, is that we have to now be ‘social.’ The polar opposite of being a writer. It’s not that I don’t like people. I was raised in a large family. Not communicating meant being trampled! But having the pressure of ‘entertaining’ other people, of saying things they want to hear, of trying to come up with new material…Well…it’s a lot.

I enjoy blogging. I really enjoy reviewing books I’ve read. Facebook is an okay medium, though a tad confusing. Twitter blows my mind. I’ve been told not to toot my horn, but every tweet I get is a sales pitch. I mean EVERY ONE! I have yet to get on LinkedIn without having to take my computer to the shop.

So, what are us old dinosaurs to do? How can we compete with kids who grew up with the internet and can’t spend more than twenty minutes away from their electronic friends? Even if I look at socializing on the net as ‘writing’, I still can’t think of what to talk about everyday. Especially when I’m not supposed to talk about my book.  I mean, I really don’t do anything interesting. I never go out to eat. No theater here in town. No cable TV. No parties. I don’t drink much, and when I do it’s just a drink at home. I don’t know a lot of people around here. I read. I write. I occasionally can some veggies. Who’s interested in that kind of thing?  Let’s face it–I’m boring. That’s why I read and write!

I’d love to hear from you all. How do you cope? Can you recommend resources that might teach me? Is there something out there that will interpret The Internet For Dummies for me? If you’re successful, what are your secrets? Are you struggling with being a salesperson? Do you find it difficult to carve out time for twitter? Facebook? Do you understand how it’s all supposed to work? And if you do, would you pass some of that along?

Returning For the Umpteenth Time

I just want to say for the record that computer crashes, viruses, and internet provider problems are not conducive to blogging regularly. My modem died and my provider had to ship one. Then my monitor gave up. In the meantime, my weekly newspaper feature required multiple revisions.

Then there’s the garden. For no particular reason, this year of the drought did nothing to slow the production of our garden. Our kitchen table is covered with tomatoes, bell peppers, jalepenos, banana peppers, cajun peppers, and Anaheim peppers which is great on the budget, but very time consuming to can.

Though I want to host writers who want to guest blog on Mondays, I’ve not been able to find enough writers to keep that slot filled. And if I’m going to write, I can’t spend my time reading enough to do a book review every Wednesday, as I planned.

So, here I sit, offering up excuses for why I’ve been gone, and yet another attempt to bring interesting articles to those who read my posts. But never fear. I will get my act together and provide more articles and more book reviews. Just not as often as I wanted.

I’m putting out the call again: To all writers–whether you’re preparing for a blog tour, or just need to get your name out there, if you’d like to do a guest post,  please contact me at or through comments here.

I’m so grateful that all of you are so patient and I just wanted to let everyone know I haven’t disappeared from the face of the earth. I have returned and hope to get back into the groove of posting articles that are helpful, or funny, or both. In the meantime, I hope all of you are so busy doing great things that you haven’t missed me–much.

Welcome Guest Blogger Author Deidre Ann Banville!

I’m so happy to be able to introduce you to this author. Deidre Ann Banville has written a wonderful book on Caulbearers. I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did. It was a real eye-opener for me, and made me want to read the book. Don’t forget to leave a comment so your name will be in the running for a beautiful Southern Living basket.

Also, after the article are the addresses of other blogs on this tour. We’d love you to visit them, enjoy the articles, and leave comments for more chances to win.



During the early 1900s, there was a very large, majestic live oak tree which grew on Jackson Square, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Looking across it’s massive branches and moss covered limbs one could see the St. Louis Cathedral and the Mississippi River.  It was and still is a reminder of New Orleans’ old cultures and superstitions. Witches or anyone thought to be a witch, dealing with spirits and the supernatural were hung in this tree. Thus this historic tree was called The Hanging Tree.

My mother was born in 1908 with a veil. Then as is now, a baby born with a “veil” was known as a caulbearer. A facial veil is a thin layer of SKIN, not membrane from the amniotic sac, as it was described to me by my birthing physician. You see, when I was born in 1941, I too was born with a veil, but it was a full veil. Facial veils just cover the baby’s face, mine covered my face and body. Because there are so many superstitions and myths that follow this type of birth it wasn’t spoken about to anyone. Most family members were not told if a baby was born a caul. Remember, New Orleans at this time was a melting pot of cultures from immigrants who came from all over the world. Many people believed in voodoo, witches and other cult religions. It was the law way back then, that anyone even suspected of being a witch would be hung on the Hanging Tree. It is written now that less than 1 baby in 100,000 babies born are born with a veil.

When I came along, my mother harbored this information from me and the rest of the family. As time went by, noticing I was different, I would ask questions of my mother. I would witness spiritual things going on with my mother. I would get a pat on my head as a child and just told, “oh, you were born with a veil”. That was it. There was no “google” to go check, and I was too young anyway to know what people were whispering about me. I grew up normal, but thought everyone could hear, see, think the same things I was experiencing.

I vividly remember a summer trip with the family to Arkansas. My father was driving, mom in the front seat, and children in the back of a very long Buick. We drove for miles while my father looked for a stream he wanted to go fly fishing in and we could cool off in the stream and have a picnic. Suddenly, without fanfare, I saw this place my father was thinking and talking about. I leaned forward and told him exactly where it was, how far to drive and look on the left. The whole car gazed at me, but I just thought they were thinking how cute I was. I was eight years old. We pulled right up to the spot, kids all screaming to get out and go swimming and it was the exact spot that I saw in my mind. These types of things went on and are still going on.

During my 70 years on earth, I have learned so many things. Living with the gift of a veil has been, and still is, an amazing spiritual trip for me. There are too many stories to put here in this little blog, but I have just released my new book, and the only book of it’s kind. True stories debunking superstitions associated with the veil, all good things, all Godly things and I am truly blessed to have been born a caulbearer.

I do run into many evil skeptics and it never bothers me, because I know a message will soon be given to me or to them that will change their beliefs.
Helping other people gain encouragement or knowledge as to how to listen to their hearts and souls, is what is exciting for caulbearers. God gives us the information we need, when we need it and directs those who need help to us in the most exciting “coincidences” you have ever heard of.

Sometimes it is wise to be skeptical at the things you read on the internet. There are truly false prophets out there and my book explains, through witnesses, just how you are supposed to gather your gifts. I wrote my book mainly because I was driven to by God, for other caulbearers, so they may help others as I do on a daily basis. We are not witches, we are not starting a new religion, we are only answering God to help others. I questioned a lot of messages I was given, over and over I argued with Him, I didn’t want to look like a fool, telling strangers things I didn’t know where the information came from. I am an educated woman and so I argued with the voices. I found that every time I am asked to interpret signs, or get messages for people I do not know, they are always the correct things to do. The joy someone has who has lost a son by suicide, who hears me say, he is okay now, he is in heaven, he is telling me to tell you, this or that…he has on a blue shirt, with sleeves rolled up, and on it goes, that mother sobs for her son, but since I described what he had on when he killed himself, and he is talking…how can the mother doubt what I just said. That is how it goes and more.

I am a caulbearer, but mostly an astounding listener. To this day, I get amazed at some of the things God has me do. Throw in every word you know about paranormal, saints, visitations, ghosts, angels, everything, and that is who we are and what we do. But, only through God. He has chosen caulbearers to be his messengers on earth for the souls that have passed through the veil.

AUTHOR, Deidre Ann Banville, is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana and has released her first book BORN WITH A VEIL; NOW WHAT? this month. Already she is getting raved reviews. Here are a few:

JW: “Be prepared for a full range of emotions as experienced by a real living Caulbearer. Rich in detail and captivating in its honesty, you will not put this book down once you’ve read the first page. For most of us, the failures and disappointments in life take their toll, but not for Ms Banville. Capturing life’s ups and downs with faith, humility and a strong belief in the Almighty, this book demonstrates that with God, all things are possible.”

pac: “What a wonderful view of life! The author carries you along with her in her many experiences. This is a book you will keep and read over and over again.”

vhs: “Truly, she has a gift from God. More than just stories, these inspirational experiences are uplifting. Deidre’s life long desire to understand her blessings and use for greater good, leaves you yearning for more. ”

Please visit her website for more information about her book and video trailer:

And for your further reading pleaseure, check out the blog of Penny Leisch today, and the two blogs listed below hers on Monday. Thanks for coming and good luck!

Blog Owner: Penny Leisch
Guest Blogger: Trisha Faye
Title: “Change…as the moon goes on shining”

Tour Date: Mon. July 2
Blog Name: Zetta’s House of Random Thoughts
Blog Owner: Zetta Brown
Title: “Texas Tornadoes and Other Memories”

Tour Date: Mon. July 2
Blog Name: Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia
Blog Owner: Patricia Dorsey
Title: “A (Southern) Life in Poems”


Thought I’d add another article on Southern living, to prep my followers for the upcoming She Writes Southern Writers 4th of July Countdown Blog Tour. The first tour stop will be here:

 Tour Date: Wed. June 27
Blog Name: Sweet Music on Moonlight Ridge–Blog Owner: Ramey Channell
Title: “Evolution AND Creationism: The Birth of a Southern Novel”

In the meantime,  here’s one you might enjoy about Southerners and their love of college football.

Let me tell you, there aren’t many Southerners who don’t like football. And we’re willing to discuss it with anyone, any time. Parents put their kids in football as soon as there’s an age-appropriate team available.

 If you’re planning on talking football with Southern fans, be ready to talk specifics. We know our teams. We know all the players. We understand the running patterns. We know the language. We can talk about flea-flickers, Hail Marys, touchbacks, and the 3-4 zone blitz defense. We know the stats of the individual players as well as those of our team, and often, the stats of opposing teams, at least those nearby. We can describe the last game, play-by-play. And don’t mess with our mascots—we can get hostile over our mascots.

 And let’s not even get into a discussion about officials! I mean, really, I think they’re all blind. Yes, we know all their hand signs, and most of their faces. We could easily pick them out of a crowd at the mall, or one of the many parades.

 For the most part, we show good sportsmanship…unless our team loses. Ooooh, that really gets my dander up! Between the blind officials and the opposing team’s fouls, we sometimes get cheated out of a win. That’s not a good time to bad mouth the local boys. After all, it wasn’t their fault. And for the most part, we don’t care for that darned replay contraption the officials use when they don’t like our team.

 There are lots of ‘wars’ between the states when it comes to football. I know a family from Louisiana. One of the daughters married and moved to Arkansas. You can imagine what football is like in that household. If the LSU Tigers are playing the Razorbacks in Arkansas, the family goes to the daughter’s house, so they can all go to the game. If the Razorbacks come to Shreveportto play LSU, the daughter and son-in-law come home so they can all go to the game. Never mind that the husband’s a wild boar—he’s still welcome. After all, family is more important than football. And I’m sticking to that story, no matter what you’ve heard.

Kristen Lamb Rocks!

I received Kristen Lamb’s two books, We Are Not Alone, The Writer’s Guide to Social Media,  and Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer,  recently, and wow, now I know why she has such an awesome reputation. It’s because she’s an awesome lady. Both of the books are great. They are easy to read and understand and I’ve already put a lot of her suggestions to use.

But books or no, Kristen is a wonderful person. All of her advice is based on being a good, kind, generous person. And she practices what she preaches. She has made me see that it’s okay to spend some time online with social media, without feeling guilty for ‘wasting time.’  And she took the fear out of dealing with the web, which was a biggy for me. I’m not a high-tech kind of person. I don’t have a Kindle or a Nook. I don’t have an iPad or an iPod. I don’t have a cell phone. I have my desktop, which is connected to the web, and my laptop, which is not, and that is the extent of my gadgets.

In this day and age, self-promotion is required for writers. And promotion doesn’t mean the same thing today that it did even ten years ago. So I would recommend, if you want to actually sell the books you work so hard to create, that you buy both of these books and put them into practice. Even if you  haven’t sold a thing yet, you need this information.

You can find Kristen at and there is a buy button on her blog so you can get to the bookseller directly from there. Do two nice and necessary things for your career today. Get to know Kristen Lamb. And buy her books.

BOOK REVIEW: What’s Your Agatha Christie I.Q.? by Kathleen Kaska

Review by Ryder Islington

This is such a fun book! For those of you who are Agatha Christie fans, you’ll really enjoy the quizzes and puzzles. And for mystery writers it’s a great way to learn the basics of writing mysteries through the master mystery writer, Agatha Christie. Ms. Kaska put in a lot of work to make this book fun, interesting and also a great teaching tool. This is a great book for kids as well as adults and for writers as well as readers.

The quizzes include Titles and Plots, Murders, Motives and Victims, Murder Weapons and Victims, First Lines, Last Words,  and quizzes on specific titles from the prolific writer of the mystery genre.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I recommend this book for all lovers of mystery. If you like crossword puzzles, brain exercises, or just the fun of learning facts about one of the foremost authors of the century, pick up a copy of Kathleen Kaska’s What’s Your Agatha Christie I.Q.? 

You can find Kathleen Kaska at where you can read about all of her books, including the newest, The Sherlock Holmes Triviology and Quiz Book.

I Have This Cat…

We have this monster cat named Hannibal. He’s a tuxedo cat, black with a white ring around his neck, a white chest and tummy and white shoes on the front and stockings on the back. His fur is silky, his eyes are golden, with a hint of green. He’s beautiful. On the outside. On the inside, he lives up to his name, Hannibal the cannibal. He bites. He fights. He’s jealous. He’s temperamental, he’s stubborn. And he thinks he belongs to Joe, the English chocolate lab. These two can make my day sometimes. Hannibal winds himself around Joe’s legs. Joe chews at Hannibal’s fleas.

These two have made me consider writing a book from a dog’s POV. Or maybe one with a cat whose thoughts I write out, as he plays the roll of the fly on the wall. Imagine what a cat hears on a daily basis!

I wanted to share this because when I’m having a rough day, Hannibal will come lay on my chest and purr himself to sleep, as if he knows it’s not a day to be messing with me. He did that for me today when my brain was fried and I couldn’t seem to get anything done. It occurred to me that there have been all kinds of studies about how animals help people, relieving stress, bringing comfort. So if you find yourself unable to write, or do anything else, try snuggling up to a cat, or dog, or bunny.

This time of year is especially hard because we lost a child during December and though it’s been a while, we still miss her. Apparently, Hannibal felt my pain today and came to love on me. And he only bit me once!

There is nothing like the unconditional love of a pet. I hope everyone takes time out this month to help out the abandoned pets in this country. Volunteer at a shelter, or bring treats for the animals. Adopt if you can but don’t think you are unable to help if you can’t adopt. The shelters need money, food, treats, help.

Hannibal moved me to just send out a memo to remind everyone that animals are people too.

Upcoming Blog Tour

I’m finally going to take the plunge and actually take a tour of several blogs, promoting my debut novel, Ultimate Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery. To that end I’m looking for a few more blogsters who would be willing to host me oh their blogs. I’m looking to fill these dates: Jan 23rd through 25th.

The tour starts January 16th and I’ll be announcing the route soon!