Thursday, July 14, 2016


It seems like I'm always adding a new podcast to my ever growing "to-listen" to list! Yikes. What began as a fun way to take a break from enjoying audiobooks, to cleanse by ear palate, has turned into hours of podcast fun!

Don't get me wrong. I love audiobooks, They are great entertainment and as a writer, they can sort of subliminally keep my brain on "creative mode". But, podcasts are more for fun. I've found they can stimulate the brain in other ways, different from other modes of information and entertainment.  Maybe not creatively, but certainly I learn something every now and then.

THE LIST part one (in particular order...)

The News from Lake Wobegon
One segment of the A Prarie Home Companion show, Garrison Keillor tells a great short story each week. It has the fun feel of a rambling story but seems carefully plotted at the same time, and it's just full of hilarious bits.

TED Radio Hour
Not sure how I got into this one, I just can't stop listening! Don't blame me if you get stuck too.

Snap Judgement
Very entertaining stories, each with a related theme. Some snappy "sound design" included.

Science Friday
It's science! Need I say more. Well, maybe. You don't have to listen on a Friday. And sometimes I learn something.

Sensing a theme here? There are plenty of non-NPR podcasts out there too. Next time I'll get into some of my favorites, including some actual play role-playing games!

Feed my addition. Tweet me your favorite podcast to add to my list.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Blog Tour: Learning to Stutter

Welcome to my tour stop of "Learning to Stutter" by Sherm Davis, presented by Elite Book Tours.
To follow the full tour, please visit here.

Kenneth Kocher seems to have it all - a good heart, a sense of humor, decent looks, and lots of money. What he doesn't have is something most of us take for granted - freedom of speech. Kenneth lives with a severe stutter which has wreaked havoc with his life since childhood.

After much embarrassment, pain and soul-searching, Kenneth realizes that to free his inner self he must accept the fact that he cannot be cured, and that he must learn to stutter with grace. Along the way he meets another stutterer and a young widow who are both dealing with the stumbling blocks in their own lives.

Using an experimental syntax to portray the neurological component of the syndrome, the novel gives the reader a unique view of stuttering from the inside out.


What books have most influenced your life?
As a child, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster really rocked my world. It showed me the outer limits of what a book could be, what it could do to an impressionable brain.

Which writers inspire you?
Kurt Vonnegut and Philip K Dick have consistently been my favorite authors, and I hav gotten into historical fiction as well, especially Gore Vidal.

What is the book about?
In a nutshell, the book is about overcoming obstacles, but this book is very specifically about the slippery syndrome of stuttering. 5000 years of medical research is still inconclusive, and this book takes a look at stuttering from the inside out as a neurological syndrome rather than a speech impediment. There are two characters who stutter in the book, and each handles his issues in different ways. This is intentional, as there is no catch-all cure for stuttering, and every person who stutters needs to deal with it in a different way.

What genre is your book?
I call it self-help fiction, because there is supposed to be a simple inspirational message – just keep moving forward.

Where did the idea for this book come from?
My own experiences as a person who stutters formed the basis of the book. I have been able to communicate effectively in spite of, or perhaps because of, my stuttering. But others are not so lucky. This book was written more for fluent people who have a loved one that stutters but have no idea how to deal with the elephant in the room.

What was your favorite chapter or part to write and why?
My favorite part was, ironically, not related to stuttering at all. It was related to cheating. The third main character, Ilene, is a widow who is staying at her sister’s house in Vermont. She is cooking and accidentally burns the kitchen down. Her sister Jen calls her husband Greg, but he is nowhere to be found, and this confirms all her suspicions and sends her marriage into a downward spiral. This entire scene was “unpremeditated.” I was writing the scene expecting Ilene to cook breakfast and all of a sudden there were flames everywhere.

What character stays with you the most now that the writing is done? And why?
I think Kenneth Kocher, the main character, stays with me most because he stutters exactly like I do, and I took a lot of time and effort to invent a lexicon of symbols to accurately describe his stuttering, and therefore my own.

Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
To keep on keeping on – to never stop moving forward no matter what the obstacles.

How do you develop your plots and characters?
My characters are usually an amalgam of people I know, including parts of myself. I try not to overwork my plots – I prefer to zone in on the characters and let them develop personalities and make decisions organically. If the characters ring true, the reader is more likely to follow their progress and the story will be more believable.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The hardest part of writing the book was figuring out the ending. You invest so much time in the characters and the story, and then you’ve got to bring it all home convincingly. Some people read the ending and the want more, but I don’t think life always gives you neat and clean endings, and I’d rather leave a little to the reader’s imagination.

When did you decide to become a writer?
It wasn’t a decision, it was an imperative!

Why do you write?
Because I have to. There is a backlog of stories and experiences inside me that I need to reorganize and give to the world. I write fiction rather than nonfiction because I always try to scrape at the universal, the transcendent

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
Usually a computer. I used to do more longhand journaling, but the technology is too easy these days.

How did you feel after writing the last page of the book?
Triumphant, but humble. I knew it was a huge accomplishment, and then again I knew that it was only my first book, and that no one had ever read it!

What are your future project(s)?

I have just released a bilingual collection of short stories in English and Spanish. Click on this link to find The Hair Collector and Other Stories.

Thank you Sherm for taking the time to answer my questions. Your responses have provided an even deeper insight into your world.


David Howard Sherman Davis is a writer, musician and international educator who has taught in five countries on four continents. Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised on Long Island, he currently lives by Lake Atitl├ín in Guatemala. His journalism and fiction have appeared in the United States, Canada, Guatemala, and online. 

Welcome everyone. If you are new to the blog and don't know me, I am Daniel Steeves Connaughton, author of Imora and Keeper of the Bones.

I am writing my next book, A Tale of Two Heroes, and you can help! Don't worry it will be really easy. All you have to do is "Read and Vote" on the piece of writing as I get them done to decide how the story evolves to the next piece.

We started on June 26, 2016, but it's not too late to join in. Every other week I send out a piece from my novel in progress, A Tale of Two Heroes. You read the piece and vote on what happens next. Keep up with each piece of writing as they are released to make sure you get a say in how the story unfolds. Join us here.

Any questions or feedback, just hit {Reply} to the bi-weekly email or leave a comment.

Until next time... *Watch out for the... !*
Daniel Steeves Connaughton

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


While I have many books plotted out in my head and wish they'd all get themselves onto paper, my brain has taken an unforeseen side-track.  In addition to A Tale of Two Heroes, I'm also writing about a once-hero named Tarku Bavi who now scrapes by through solving other people's problems.  He mostly causes new ones for himself and the people he's supposed to be helping. The master of the Scribers' Guild hires him to persuade an opportunistic scribe to give back the extra copies he's made of certain mysterious documents. When the scribe ends up on the pointy end of a spear and the scrolls go missing, Tarku finds himself in the midst of more trouble than he ever dreamed.

From getting involved in a tax collection scheme to being misled by other parties trying to obtain the scrolls, Tarku is not having the easiest of times.  Actually, he just got stabbed in the back.  Well, hacked, really.  But he's having a great time catching up and adventuring with some old friends again.  If they could just stop joking around and focus on what needs doing!

I've been having a fun time playing around with the magic in this new world.  Tarku is an illusionist, so it is fun to explore how that works mainly by having to "sell" the illusion to the receiver.  How believable do illusions have to be?  Can even a little doubt totally crumple an illusion?  What if the receiver is distracted- will they not notice those difficult to add details are missing?

Back to it!