Sunday, August 21, 2016

What podcasts do you listen to?  Any of these?

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

Wait Wait Don't Tell Me - The best way to keep on on current events.

Car Talk - Two brothers laughing and answer car repair questions.  Its a show with three halves- what could be better than that?

Radiolab - Another NPR show- this one usually has a science topic, and the hosts are entertaining, really bringing their stories alive.

The Adventure Zone - NOT an NPR podcast?  Yeah, but I first heard about it on an NPR podcast.  Three brothers play Dungeons & Dragons with their dad.  This podcast is absolutely highlarious!  They start out playing the 5th Edition starter set game and then embark on their own campaign- complete with re-occuring NPCs and all sorts of wild shenanigans.

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

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!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

ABOUT *A TALE OF TWO HEROES* .... a work in progress ....

One quest, two heroes, two stories.

A complex machine, lost to all memory, lies beneath the town of Hawk Haven and the surrounding lands.  Constructed as a great experiment when the world was new, designed to control the flow of time and sew together the fabric of reality.  Left unmaintained for thousands of years, it was only a matter of time before something broke.

Beetle Warrior Illarytl – a loyal and brave guard of Hawk Haven.  Duty and service is her mandate.  When performers arrive in town and humiliate her, the chief guard puts her on reprimand leave.  Now she needs a way to redeem herself to her fellow warriors and townspeople, and regain her honor.  One thing is certain, she won't spend time watching the performers.

Penk- a thief specializing in the art of the fence.  Fencing goods behind his master's back is a profitable side venture.  When the master catches him, Penk realizes maybe it wasn't his best idea.  Now he just needs a place to lay low for a while, maybe let the master's head cool. Maybe find a way to get out of town for good while his heart still beats.

The malfunctioning machine splits Illarytl and Penk into two separate realities, sending them on the same quest, at the same time, but not together.  They each travel the same paths, accepting a friend's challenge to spend two nights in an ancient tomb.  Two nights when the holy comet crosses the sky and raises the dead of old from rest.  As the nights pass, Illarytl's and Penk's realities begin to overlap and they uncover the secrets of the great machine.  Can they find a way to repair it and merge realities back into one before the machine tears the region apart?  What will happen to their lives, their history, when things are fixed?

Any questions:  Send me an email or leave a comment below!

Sign up for the newsletter to join the adventure!

©2016 Daniel Steeves Connaughton

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Sunday, May 29, 2016


Ever wondered how a writer comes up with and develops their characters, setting, and plot? Now you can take a peek behind the curtain and help me write my next book, A Tale of Two Heroes. Sign up here to learn what A Take of Two Heroes will be all about.

In this choose-your-own-adventure inspired format, you, the reader will participate in developing the story from start to finish. Not only that, but you'll be able to vote on what will happen next time!  Read the chapters as they develop and see how the actions you choose for the characters play out.

Simply read and vote.

The option with the most votes will be the one I write. Will you send my characters into danger or let them relax at the local tavern? Will you point them toward completing their goals or try to send them astray? Will you choose to develop their good qualities or their bad? Join me here to experience the story as it unfolds.

So, are you in?

Join my new bi-weekly newsletter to read A Tale of Two Heroes as I write it starting June 26, 2016.

Sign up for the newsletter today so you don't miss out on the beginning of the story and making your vote count. Let the adventure begin!

Leave a comment below and let me know if you are joining me on this adventure.

Until next time... *Watch out for...!*

Daniel Steeves Connaughton

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Keeper of the Bones - ABOUT

Keeper Ormund is in charge of bringing the bones of dead soldiers who died in battle home to Kettle Hill for proper burial.  When a Bone Whisperer, a cleric with the power to read the lives of the dead in their bones, joins him, Ormund fears what the readings will reveal of his own sins.  The cost of his guilt will be his soul.

As Ormund and the Whisperer make their way to Kettle Hill, each of the fallen soldiers gets their own story told through their own eyes.  In their stories, an evil forest spirit, an agent of the enemy, seduces members of the army.  Her charms and the assignments she gives them threaten not only the sanity of the Kettle Hill soldiers, but also their lives.  With each reading, the Whisper draws closer to discovering Ormund's involvement and the more determined Ormund becomes to keep his secrets hidden.

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Imora - FAQ


Are there any epic battles between good and evil?

Epic battles?  Sure.  Good and evil are sort of blurred lines in this book.  Is the dragon evil for eating a village when she's hungry?  Is a warrior evil for wanting to kill a dragon for glory and fame?

Are there any noble warriors on an epic quest?

Uh.  No.  That's an old hat I'd rather not wear.  I find books like that boring to read, so I can't imagine writing one.

Are there any farm boys with world saving destinies?

Uh.  No.  No destiny.

Who is the main character?

That would be Imora, a dragon.  The entire book is told from her point of view.

What is your favorite part of the book?

When Imora is at her weakest, struggling to survive as a huge creature bound to the land and having to adapt to a new way of living without her wings.  There is a point when she is forced to find a new cave to sleep in for a hundred years and it's in a warm place, which for an ice dragon is very uncomfortable.  A hundred years later she wakes to find the landscape drastically altered into a swamp, in which she has become a feature.

Who is your favorite supporting character?

I'd have to say it is the scribe she encounters.  While she doesn't eat him (she doesn't eat everyone in the book!) she still finds a way to use him to further her own glory in a sort of selfish, but at the same time nice way.  This historian/scribe manages to meet her on a level playing field intellectually.

How does the setting relate to a place you have been?

Any New England day with LOTS of snow and ice around!

What is Imora the Ice Dragon's favorite color?

Any of the shiny ones!  You know, like gold, silver, rubies, sapphires- those are colors right?

What is Imora the Ice Dragon's favorite food?

Believe it or not, fairies are not only a very tasty treat, but extremely nutritious.

If Imora the Ice Dragon could go on any vacation she wanted, where would it be?

She would definitely go to the North Pole and spend a couple decades just lounging on a glacier and hanging out with polar bears.  She'd need a few thousand servants to supply her with a constant stream of fish.

What does Imora the Ice Dragon do for fun?  I mean, she's got decades of being awake; she must have some sort of hobby to fill in the years?

You're right.  Even Imora needs to take a break from showing off how powerful she is to the locals so they don't think they can mess with her.  Hunting takes up a lot of her time, but when she's chillin' in the ice cave with a full belly, she likes to make ice sculptures.  When she really needs to relax, she crochets with hooks made from bones and really, really, really big skeins of yarn.

Does this story have a central lesson?

If there is any central lesson, its that dragon's are not humans.  

At what point did you decide to continue writing this book?

As soon as the outline was done.  I like plotting everything out before I start writing.  I don't always stick to the outline 100%, but I like to know what's coming so I can think about and take notes on parts I know are upcoming so I'm ready to write them when I get there.

Did the book turn out the way you wanted it to?

The biggest problem I had with Imora, was trying to make sure she couldn't easily be replaced with a human character, both physically and in the way she thought or made decisions.  She had to be alien enough, that is different enough, from a human character but also be sympathetic to the reader.

Did you face any obstacles when writing this story with plot problems or character development?

The biggest problem I had was how to order the chapters.  Part One is really the middle part of the story.  Part Two is the beginning.  Part Three is the end.  The reason for this is Chapter One of Part One has the strongest introduction to the dragon, with her waking up in an ice cave after a hundred years asleep.  I struggled with this order a lot and had a hard time finding a better way to introduce her.

Have you read books similar to this?

Conn Iggulden's historical fiction Conqueror series about the Genghis Khan gives the reader a hard, stone-faced character you just don't mess with or defy.  Likewise, the main character in Bernhard Cornwell's Saxon Stories is brilliantly arrogant and sees himself as an awesome, teeth kicking warrior.  Of course, Game of Thrones gives the reader many "villain" POVs.

There are plenty of fantasy books too.  I remember reading the beginning of a Piers Anthony book that started in a goblin's point of view and the idea of an entire book told this way really struck my imagination.  I don't remember the name of the book or if I even finished reading it after it dropped the goblin's point of view. 

The Orcs trilogy tries to give us the orc's point of view but mostly could have been about a band of human mercenaries instead of monstrous, other-worldly orcs.  We really didn't get a good idea of what it was to be an orc as much as it was to be a team of mercenaries working for the bad guy.  We do get a good glimpse at other non-human characters though.

I've yet to encounter a book that gives the reader the true experience of being in the dragon's point of view- a real dragon- the kind we all grew up learning were big scary monsters.

Grab your copy today to read Imora's story and you decide, 

is Imora the Ice Dragon good or evil? 

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