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Monday, December 28, 2015

How did you picnic when you were a kid?

Picnics have been around since before I was born and, believe me, that was a long time ago. Nowadays, if we go on a picnic, we stop by Fred Meyer and grab an eight-piece pack of fried chicken and a few pints of various salads and maybe some Jo Jo’s (the most awesome super-fries in the world) or find a drive through that strikes our fancy.

Back when I was a youngster, there weren’t any fast food places that I recall and grocery stores didn't carry ready-to-eat food. I wasn’t the one driving around, but I don't recall a deli in our neighborhood in Scottsdale.

Mom made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on store-bought white bread, the fluffy kind that tore to pieces if the peanut butter was laid on too thick. We didn’t have baggies of any sort, either. The sandwiches were wrapped in waxed paper or aluminum foil. We took a few apples, maybe a box of cookies, and a bag of chips. Ah, remember Wampum chips? They were the ‘other’ corn chip; tortilla-style chips weren't available in bags yet. There were two flavors of potato chips: plain and barbecue. Nothing fancy like the gyro or biscuits and gravy flavored ones I saw recently. Times were tough…

 We put the goodies in an honest-to-goodness picnic basket, not a paper bag or cardboard bucket. Ours was made out of wicker — the natural fiber kind, not plastic. The set came complete with Melamine-type plates (sectioned with ridges so the beans didn’t slop over into the potato salad or sandwich). There were probably paper plates available, but we never used them. We shared a pitcher of Kool Aid or were treated to a bottle of soda, always making sure we saved the pop bottles to cash in for Popsicle money.

If we wanted music, we could open the car door and listen to music on the AM radio. No Sirius, iPods or streaming tunes through a smartphone; just crackly receptions and those obnoxious DJs who talked over the beginning and ends of every song. Of course, there were battery-operated transistor radios around. They came out around 1955. Aw, how great to listen to music without power cords. Just make sure you didn't bend or break the antenna!

We sprayed DDT-type bug spray or swatted flies and mosquitoes with a fly swatter, but otherwise were pest free. We didn’t have to worry about being interrupted by phone calls either. There was no such thing as a portable phone, much less cell phones. That’s why it was so important to let someone know where you were going and when you were coming back. Sort of like a flight plan for a day trip on the road. If you weren't back when expected, friends or family called around or came looking for you.

So, how did you picnic when you were a kid? And how do you do it now? For me, it’s a breeze: drive through. Oh, and make sure you ask for extra napkins, just in case your fast food is messier than my mother’s PB & J’s.

What kind of convenience food did they have in Revolutionary War era America? Find out about Evie’s ‘fast food, colonial-style’ in Naked in the Winter Wind, the tale of a 21st century woman who finds herself in a new and improved body in 1780s North Carolina. Amazon  Nook

Thanks for looking!

Monday, December 7, 2015

When I was a kid (more 60's nostalgia)

When I was a kid...I drank water out of the faucet or a hose. Drinking it from a plastic bottle was not only ridiculous, it was impossible. I don’t recall anything being in plastic bottles. And filtered? What was that? If water had to be ‘pure’ — as in good enough for baby formula — it was boiled first. If you wanted it cold, you took it from the pitcher in the fridge or added ice cubes that came from one of those knuckle-buster aluminum trays. And woe be to the person who didn’t refill it!

Beer and soda were available in glass bottles, but a ‘church key’ or a sharp corner had better be nearby; there were no twist caps. In Scottsdale, there was a two cent deposit on smaller bottles, five cents on quarts. My brother started his first 'business' haunting construction sites, talking the workers out of their empties so he'd have Popsicle money.
You could get beer in a can, but a bottle opener was needed; pull tabs weren’t around either. Oh, and a lady never drank alcohol from a bottle or can. If she, dear me, did drink spirits, it would be from a glass or frosted mug and after the kids went to bed.

We only got soda on rare occasions. Coca Cola in a six-ounce bottle was extra special. You’d think a bigger bottle would be better, but those cute little clear aqua/green curvy containers called to every one of us. The ‘soft drink’ we usually got was powdered and required one cup of sugar and two quarts of water be added. At one point, they even had root beer-flavor! I remember Kool Aid, Welch’s, and some other brand: Rite-Ade, maybe? If you know, please leave a comment below. The uncertainty is bugging me.

One thing we did have in the 60s that is still around now, at least in many places and in the summertime: ice cream trucks. Yup, back then they came at nap time, too. I can still hear my mother’s mild cuss words, ‘Gosh darn them’ or dag nab it’ when the worn out recording of ‘kiddie music’ disturbed the neighborhood. The dingy-white van with colorful decals came rolling up the road at about two miles per hour. Oh, and he (they were always older men) would get really mad if we stopped him before Mom let us have money. We didn’t always have coin or deserve a treat, but it was fun catching up to him and seeing if he still had bullets available.

Coca cola can adIf you weren’t alive back in the early 60’s when unbreakable soda containers became popular, here’s a bit of trivia. The ‘pull tabs’ were not attached. One of my early memories was of picnicking with my grandmother. She made a game of scouring the campground with a stick, picking up all the discarded pull tab rings with the angular aluminum seal still attached. She made it a game to see who could gather the most. Gross? Yes, picking up others' garbage was, but her early environmental responsibility stayed with me.

Are you setting a good example for others? Let’s hope we all are. Grandparents don’t stick around forever. That's why some of us are here: to replace them. So, live long, be healthy, and set a good example for others. You never know who’s watching you!

She awoke in a different time and without a memory.Already tired of the holiday shows on TV? Grab a long book and get lost in another time era and location. Here's one of my favorites: and (Nook)

She awoke in a different time and without a memory. Was this mountain man really her husband?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Being a kid in the 50s and 60s

When I was a kid, we had to entertain ourselves with limited sources. We didn’t have electronics or the internet. Heck, we didn’t even have computers. Well, I guess there were a couple of them in Phoenix, but they took up a whole floor and were mainly for figuring electric bills or payroll. I remember seeing one on a field trip when I was eight or so. It was as interesting as the huge vats of milk at the dairy. Big, metallic, and of no use to me (ever, or so I thought).

Back then, if I wanted to know something, I asked Mom. I guess I was overly curious or maybe she was just tired of my perpetual ‘but why?’ replies to her answers. When a door-to-door salesman came to our house offering encyclopedias (Encyclopedia Americana, I think), she and my dad signed up for a set. I remember the red binding with gold lettering...and that it was outrageously expensive.
When it was too hot to go outside or I was tired of picking on my little brothers, I’d pick out one of the 20 or so volumes. I'd go through it page by page, ‘surfing’ the mostly black and white pictures, stopping to read whatever struck my fancy. Countries were boring, but animals and some of the plants were pretty cool. Not enough color, though.

We had never heard of karaoke, but we did have a record player. We made up our own dances to the sounds of Oklahoma, West Side Story, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake or (oh, so cool) we sang Harry Belafonte songs. Day-O at the top of our lungs was always a blast.

We did have a television, one of the few on the block. It was a little black and white ‘portable’ which meant it was on a rolling cart so it could be moved from room to room. I didn’t know anyone who had…gasp…two TVs! And color television was little more than a rumor. According to the encyclopedia (I looked) color was available, but the only stations that broadcast in color were on the east coast. Good old Scottsdale, Arizona had four TV stations at the time. They only broadcast from early morning to midnight or so, sometimes later on Fridays and Saturdays. And always in black and white.

Yes, we had ‘the classics’: Legos, TinkerToys, Lincoln Logs, yoyos, toy trucks, baby dolls, and even the latest: Barbie! Everything was static, though. If it moved, it was because of me. I had to pull the doll’s string or turn the key on the wind-up car to make it move. Battery-operated toys: I can’t remember any.

Fifty years plus later, so much has changed. What will it be like in 2065 for my granddaughters? Maybe SegWays and hoverboards will replace bicycles and skateboards. I’m (pretty) sure that electronic games will still be around. Maybe new homes will come with holo-decks like on Star Trek? What do you think?

TGBF first draftWant to see the future through another’s eyes? Check out The Great Big Fairy. See the 21st century through an 18th century female slave’s eyes. Is she overwhelmed? Wouldn’t you be?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

I love being an old lady!

I love being an old lady.
Really. I do.
I’m no longer a chick (cute, dumb or otherwise), a ditzy broad (although I have my senior moments) and I don’t have to worry about make-up, perming my hair or wearing the latest fashion.
Doors are opened for me. Young men offer me their seat on the bus so I don’t have to stand. Clerks offer to carry out my groceries. Do they think I’m feeble or do they respect me because of my graying locks? Either way, I really don’t care. At least no one has been rude to me in ages and I don’t have to stand while commuting in a public conveyance.
Young women aren’t jealous or derisive of my body or attire. I haven’t felt the sting of another female scoffing at what I’m wearing or sneer at my lack of taste. Maybe they chalk it up to being an old lady, but the reality is that I never had and still don’t have a sense of style.
What is old lady attire?
Aqua scrubs worn in my greenhouse
 In case you didn’t know, it’s clean. Comfortable. And convenient. No glittery low-rider pants with hard to find belt loops that always seem to come undone, tight hammertoe-creating shoes, flaking eyeliner and mascara, pokey, push-up underwire brassieres or hand-wash only silk shirts. My usual attire consists of a colorful, somewhat supporting sports bra, yoga or sweatpants, and a colorful ‘scrubs’ top with pockets for my pen and notebook, a tissue or two, and my smartphone. After I slide into my Crocs or Go-Walk shoes (no chance of blisters or bunions), I’m ready to tackle the world.

There are a few negative aspects of being old. I need reading glasses, but I don’t need them for gardening, driving, or scouting rainbows or wild turkeys. I'd rather not have the achy joints, but other than that, physically, I’m in great shape. My heart works well enough that I’m not breathless just walking across the parking lot to the grocery store. My brain still functions fine. I may not remember what I came into a room for, but I know my name and all the important stuff: phone, social security, and credit card numbers.
I'm glad I paid attention to my grandmother. I brushed my teeth, ate well (maybe too well), and still take my vitamins. I have all my teeth, pertinent parts, and can cook and clean better than any woman half (or one-fourth) my age. My advice and/or opinion is still sought (sometimes) and I can crack a joke with the best of them. True, I only get wolf whistles from my husband, but he’s the only one I want them from anyhow. And thanks to that now long gone miserable time of life referred to as ‘the change,’ I no longer have to worry about getting pregnant. Phew!
Do I have any regrets? Duh? Don’t we all? However, I’ve learned that no matter what, I can’t change the past. I can do my best not to make the same mistakes again, can gently urge my daughters, granddaughters - and anyone else who might listen and benefit - to not make rash choices and ALWAYS treat others as they want to be treated.
Yup. Be kind, patient, and enjoy the life you have right now. Tomorrow you may be laid up because of an accident due to road rage. Or without a job or best friend because of hasty or cruel words. Or maybe have a horrible toothache because you didn’t brush your teeth.
I’m hoping I'll avoid all of the above discomforts because along with getting older, I think I'm getting wiser.
Viva gray hair and wrinkles! I must have done something right to survive the last sixty-something years!

Note: Here’s a great story about an older woman who was able to do it all over again, but in a younger body. In a different time era. And with a severe case of amnesia. Perky old lady in a young, hot body. Will her innate sense and savvy get her out of predicaments with cougars (the mountain lion-type), creeps and kidnappers? Find out in NAKED IN THE WINTER WIND, specially priced at only 99 cents. Available on Kindle and Nook.

Dani Haviland, author of The Fairies Saga time travel series, loves writing, gardening, and photography. Find out more about her and her books (and see some pretty pictures) at

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Where is it in Outlander?

Why weren’t many babies born in the spring back in the days of yore? I read in one of the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon — can’t remember which one— that it was because the folks were too pooped to procreate after long hours of harvesting and ‘putting up’ in autumn.

I believe it.

I spent a weekend this Saturday putting up tomatoes.

Just tomatoes. Not corn. Or squash. Or any other fruit, grain, or vegetable that folks in the 18th century (give or take a few hundred years) had to process.

I sauced a small portion of the fruit from my twenty or so tomato plants, most of which I had started from seed. I used some of the bursting-at-the seams red tomatoes and all of the ripe yellow ones (Blondkopchen, I believe) from ONE plant. Still, these were more than enough to keep me up to my elbows in tomato skins and juice.

Typically, tomatoes are blanched, dipped in icy cold water, then peeled, cut up or mashed, portioned into canning jars (or crocks or whatever), steamed or boiled in a hot water bath, then put in a dark place.

Well, I did some of that. After taking a shortcut to saucing, the dark place I chose was the freezer!

It would have taken me many hours longer, but I had a friend. My shortcut. A Squeezo Strainer. It’s an old kitchen tool, designed by an Italian (he loved his pasta sauce, too), all metal, and because of this mechanical wonder, I almost had a crankingly good time 'putting up.' I simply dropped the cored and quartered tomatoes (I re-sized them if they were big; left them whole if they were cherry-sized) into the hopper, turned the handle attached to the spiral auger/shaft, and watched as sauce/juice came out one side while the seeds and skins were blurped out the other.
All went well until it came to those confounded tiny yellow tomatoes. The itty-bitty seeds quickly filled up the grooves in the auger/screw so after a few minutes, the juice backed out the handle, the place of least resistance. I had to discombobulate the contraption, clean out the skins and seeds from the endless grooved shaft, reassemble the unit, and then get cranking again.

In the end, it was still less labor intensive than peeling, pounding and sieving, pouring into canning jars, then processing in hot water for I don’t know how long. So now, with a minimum of effort, I’ll have dozens of pints of tomato sauce before the season is done.

And when the winter rains are falling and the dark and gloom overtake my raised beds, I can still open up the freezer; pull out my homegrown ‘squeezed’ tomato sauce and quick-frozen blanched zucchini, sauté some onions, garlic, and basil, and create a wonderful gluten-free dinner, complete with the smells of summer.

*~* By the way, I’m offering a free e-book copy of Little Bear and the Ladies to the first person who correctly tells me which Outlander book references the lack of springtime human babies and quotes the entire paragraph. Send your answer to First 'postmark' with correct answer wins!
Just the juicy parts of the yellow itty bitty tomatoes

Getting ready to push the yellow tomatoes through the Squeezo. Seeds and skins go into small white bowl in back.

Free copy of this (or any other one of my) ebooks for first correct answer to 'Where (and which book) is it in Outlander?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

What an unnecessary mess!

Have you ever noticed what a mess people make when trying to keep clean?

Or at least female people do.

You see, from what I’ve seen, very few women grab a paper towel before washing their hands in a public restroom (I don’t know about men: I’ve only been in a guy's potty once and that was on accident). Actually, the only other ladies I’ve noticed not flipping and dripping water from sinks to the towel dispenser post-scrubbing are my own daughters. They all follow my example: grab a couple of paper towels first, shove them under the armpit or elbow, proceed to the sink, soap and water, start washing, then dry with the paper products that are close at hand...or armpit.

It’s not a hard protocol to follow, didn’t take a college degree for me to figure out, and makes the common access to the sanitary facilities so much cleaner and slip resistant.

So, try it, ladies and gentlemen: it will keep your clothes dryer, reduce your risk of falls, and make the bathroom attendants so much happier.

Oh, and just for grins, here's an excerpt from Ha'penny Jenny. In this scene our time traveling 21st century mother finds a new challenge in 1781: teaching her recently adopted 18th century daughter how to keep clean.

...(Jenny) licked off the slimy (fruit) mess, bent over, and wiped her sticky hands through the fine soil at her feet. She rubbed her palms together and let the little grunge worms of food residue mixed with dirt fall onto the ground. She briskly dusted off her hands, turned them over for closer inspection, and then wiped them on the back of her skirt. She had apparently adapted to her earlier soap-less environment and found a way to keep from becoming grimy and tacky. I’d have to remember to teach her to use soap and water after her little dry cleaning routines.

Read the whole novella - great for YA and everyone else - for only 99 cents:

If you do, please leave a review.

HaPennyJenny 4x6 crop 

And remember, Mama always said, 'Keep clean, Don't make a mess, and If you can't say something nice, don't say it at all.'

Dani Haviland, mother and author

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Time Travel does exist!

Does Time Travel Really Exist?

Of course, it does! And so does tele-transportation, literally ‘long distance travel.’

Don’t argue the case. I know I’m correct and I’ll prove it. Just pick up the right book and start reading. Next thing you know, you’ll be rafting down the Mississippi in the early 1800’s with Huck and Jim in Mark Twain’s fabulous book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or dodging pirates in the 1700’s in Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

So, if your life today sucks—or even if it’s just less than thrilling—and you want to be somewhere that science and your budget won’t allow, jump on the TT&T Express. Time Travel & Tele-transportation are yours for free with a library card or e-book reader. Literally thousands of books are available every day at little or no cost.

Here’s a time travel story I suggest: Naked in the Winter Wind (marked down to 99 cents for a limited time).
NITWW full 1MB
Imagine yourself in the middle of your favorite novel. Maybe you’re an Outlander fan and want to meet your own Jamie. Ooh. Wouldn’t that be nice? But you have friends and family in this time. Wouldn’t you feel bad if you left (some) of them behind? And how appealing would you be if, like me, you had celebrated several dozen birthdays and never lost those extra pounds after having a baby or five?

Okay. Let’s make this an ideal situation before you meet your Mr. Wonderful. We’ll administer some Fountain of Youth water, toss on a sprinkle of amnesia powder, and voila! The guilt, gut, and wrinkles vanish.

So, what would happen if an older woman from the 21st century fell into a popular historical romance novel? The storyline would certainly wind up different than the original version, wouldn’t it? Evie, our heroine, finds herself in late 18th century North Carolina with nothing but the oversized-clothes she has on and a huge case of amnesia. A backpack full of odds and ends, a huge dog, and a roughed-up man appear in her life. She knows the backpack is hers, but that’s all she knows. The white man dressed in Native American garb can barely speak after the beating he’s received, but she knows he’s different from any man she’s ever met. And he’s kind of cute, too. Kidnappings, creeps, and cougars appear to complicate her life further, but Evie’s quick wit and cunning keep her alive…along with the help from her trusty Leatherman® multitool and a solar-powered smartphone!

Here are a few comments by readers of this first book in The Fairies Saga series:

The characters were vibrant, well rounded, and thoroughly believable in a fast paced plot.

This book had it all, with romance, anger, hate, love, magic potions going back thousands of years, and master time travellers. The ending had me gripping the Kindle and a late – late night.

Don’t rush it – savour it. Highly Recommended.

And if early America is not where you want to be, search Amazon for your ideal time and place and transport yourself to wherever and whenever you'd like, no airline ticket or hotel reservation required. Click 'Look inside' and sample the author's style for free before committing money or more time.

Another option: try Book Bites by The Authors Billboard. There are currently two volumes with short samples written by fourteen best-selling and award winning authors: Book Bites 1 (contemporary romance) and Book Bites 2 (romantic suspense). And the best part: both are free to download!

Therefore, the next time anyone says that time travel does not exist, you know they just haven't discovered the right way to do it. Feel free to set them straight.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Plotter or Pantser?

I had written three books before I ever heard the phrase ‘plotter or pantser.’ It’s a common question asked of writers, “Are you a plotter or a pantser?" I’d never been to any writing workshops, conferences, or retreats, though…or really ever interacted with other authors.

I read and I wrote. I knew what I liked to read, what I would make different in a novel (fewer adjectives, more action, and a bit of humor), and well, I just went for it.

Three books later, when I was asked whether I was a plotter or a pantser, I had to ask what that was all about. So, if you don’t know, here it is:

A plotter plots her story—as in outlines it—from start to finish. I heard J.K. Rowlings did that for her Harry Potter series.

Then there are pantsers. 
Jackie Ivie, author of The Vampire Assassin League and loads of historicals, is a pantser. She will write and write, and when she gets stuck in the storyline, she either distracts herself with other projects (she’s quite the artist in many areas), or takes her dogs for another walk. She doesn’t skip over any scenes; she writes linearly.

Me, I’m neither a plotter nor a pantser.

I’m a piecer. That's my own terminology, by the way. Yup. I write when inspired and about whatever. ‘Ooh, what happens if my guy finds out about…’ And there I go, creating a chapter. I know my characters well, so I don’t have to worry about consistency. Events and reactions are right now; time and settings can be manipulated later.

And that’s where we get to the piecer part.


Everything I write is broken down into several lines in an Excel spreadsheet. Here are the headers I use:
Chapter number. Word count. Chapter name. When? Where? What happens (in twenty words or so)?

The chapter numbers I initially assign are arbitrary: I can cut, copy, and paste them into a different order later. Recording the word count while writing is a great way to find out how far I’ve gone, too.

Let’s say my guy is having an argument with his girlfriend. Oops! He hasn’t met her yet. They’re still in different countries (or centuries or whatever). No problem. I just insert a chapter number, maybe give it a chapter name (The Spat), and then skip over to the ‘what happens column.’ I’ll insert a very brief description as a hint (they argue over ?), and then proceed to write whatever inspires me next. 

Or walk the dogs.

Sometimes when I’m uninspired (that hated malady called writer's block) and know I need to write something (or go nuts because I don’t), I open up my spreadsheet and update my word counts. That's when I often find out that I hopscotched to point Q without writing about points L, O, or P.  Since I’ve usually included my very succinct chapter description in the chart, I have my work assignment. Not really inspiration, but definitely motivation, complete with a generalized road map.

While writing, I sometimes go off topic, stray from the storyline. I still include the chapter's who, when, where, and what in the spreadsheet. That is where and how my novellas are born. My characters are often so intense, I have to give them more space. Their backstories are fascinating, but really don’t fit into the rhythm or theme of the novel. So, I highlight those chapter rows. If there are enough of them—or they’re broad enough that they can be expounded upon—BAM!—there’s a novella! Ha’Penny Jenny is one example. It would have taken away from the flow of action to find out more about her when she first appeared in Naked in the Winter Wind. Metaphorically, she just popped out of the closet without being asked, arms crossed, and refused to leave until her story was told. 

How could Jenny be so brazen? 

It's not just me, either. I've heard other authors say the same thing: their characters are real.

Okay, so they don’t have flesh and freckles, hair and hangnails, but they have distinct personalities and physical traits. We may not know all about them, but the more we delve, the more complex they become. Are they the way they are because of a rotten childhood, lost loves, shell shock? That revelation may not come out in the (first) story, but those ‘life’ experiences define them more than just 'he was an angry man,' and sharing those aspects is sometimes like a fine frame, setting off the painting on the wall. It completes the portrait.

Take an hour or two and read more about the waif Ha'Penny Jenny. I think you'll agree, it's fast, fun, and wee bit insightful about the power of hurtful words.
Ha'Penny Jenny available on Amazon:

Thanks for your time.
Your literary maverick,
Dani Haviland,
author of The Fairies Saga

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Leonardo da Vinci and Ritalin

If Leonardo da Vinci was an American child in the 80s, 90s, or maybe even now, it’s a good chance he would have been diagnosed with ADD: attention deficit disorder. Clinically, that means the person has a problem, that he has trouble concentrating and controlling impulses. To me, it just means his brain is working faster and over a wider spectrum than ‘normal’ folks. The standard ‘remedy’ for this is medication. I don’t believe this lack of focus is a fault, but only a character aspect. And if it’s not broke, don’t (try to) fix it. 

{Note: I’ll probably get lots of flack about this. But opinions are like nose hairs, everyone has at least one. If you don’t agree with me, so be it.}

Leonardo is my hero. Whenever I get overwhelmed, I think of how much this guy did. And no, I don’t think he was, or needed to be, medicated. So what if he couldn’t/wouldn’t focus on whether he wanted to be a painter, mathematician, inventor, sculptor, cartographer (map maker), geologist, musician, engineer, writer… He still accomplished a lot in his short (67 year) lifespan.
Shoot! Sympathize with him?—I identify with him! Do I want to be a gardener, author, photographer, create hundreds of gluten-free recipes, quilt, compose songs, cross-breed roses, invent a fool-proof gopher/slug/deer deterrent, sell tractor parts, design web pages, crochet afghans or sweaters… Nope, I can’t/won’t focus, either.

I felt so strongly about the bad press that ‘over-stimulated’ folks received that—while in author mode—I made sure some of my characters had that same trait.

Here’s an excerpt from Aye, I am a Fairy:

“You know, it may seem like I’m a bit hyper,” she said suddenly. “I mean, look at me; I’ve got at least five different projects going on here. But it’s okay. When I get bored or stumped with one, I just move on to the next one. Mom told me it was because I was ‘highly intelligent.’ She didn’t believe in all that attention deficit disorder stuff. She had the same thing going on when she was in school. She’d finish her work early, get bored and start doodling or daydreaming, and then miss what the teacher had just said. Her mother told those teachers that they weren’t going fast enough for her daughter, and if they wanted to really help her, they would give her something else to do when she was finished with the assignments. So, they let her go to the music room and play the piano. The music teacher showed her the basics. Mom took off from there with just a stack of music books to guide her. Man, she was motivated. She’d rip right through her schoolwork just so she could go do her thing in the music room. Her grades went up and, even though she never did anything with it, she learned how to play piano pretty well. Me, I just drew and doodled until high school. Then, once I started being home-schooled, I dropped the doodling and blasted through everything so I could go to college early, get my degree, and make enough money that I didn’t have to worry about bills.”
Oh, and I created a time traveler named Leonardo da Vinci the elder. Look for him in NAKED IN THE WINTER WIND, the first book in The Fairies Saga series. He’s not the same as his son, my renaissance hero, but quite the character, just the same.

Yup, writing novels doesn’t produce new hardy and unusual roses, nor will it cover my lap with warmth like a quilt or afghan (unless my laptop overheats), nor will it produce fantastic gluten-free brownies, but it does let me implant personable or irritating traits in people whose body size, color, and gender I determine. These folks may lack social security numbers, but they will definitely raise a heart rate, cause a tear, or illicit a chuckle.

And I couldn’t have done any of it if I had been able to focus.

Dani Haviland is author of The Fairies Saga. Time travelers, interacting with 'fictional characters,' bouncing between the 21st century and 1780s North Carolina (and later Australia!).