Sara Stamey

Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Author Profile

Sara  Stamey

Award-winning novelist Sara Stamey’s journeys include treasure hunting and teaching scuba in the Caribbean, backpacking worldwide, operating a nuclear reactor, and owning a farm in Southern Chile. She taught creative writing at Western Washington University and shares her creekside land with wild creatures and her cats, dog, and paleontologist husband Thor Hansen. Sara’s science fiction novels with Berkley/Ace received praise from Publishers Weekly and made the Locus Best New Novelists list. Her Caribbean psychic suspense novel ISLANDS—“A stomping, vivid ride” (Statesman Review)—won the Chanticleer Paranormal Suspense Award and Hollywood Book Festival Genre Award. Her near-future Greek islands thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION won the Chanticleer Global Thriller Grand Prize and the Cygnus Award for speculative fiction. “A rocket-paced thrill ride that delivers complex, engaging characters in a laser-sharp plot.” (Chanticleer Reviews)


Wild Card Run

Science Fiction & Fantasy

KurtisP385XL47Ruth: Game Changer. Prodigal daughter. Spy. The Cyber entities control a peaceful but static human galaxy according to strict WorldPlans. Then they detect unsanctioned developments on the low-tech planet Poindros. They force rebellious Ruth Kurtis to leave the bright lights of Casino to return to her fundamentalist Poindran homeworld as their secret agent to investigate possible Changers. For reluctant Agent Kurtis, the Cybers' threat of the memory-erasing Steps of Healing would be less dangerous than facing the repression and simmering angers she escaped as a teenager. But Ruth won't run from this fight. The Cybers have calculated all the odds. Except they've just unleashed a wild card. *** "Stamey puts feeling into this story of the prodigal daughter." - Publishers Weekly Best New Novelists of the Year list. - Locus Magazine

Book Bubbles from Wild Card Run

A Tribute to Mothers

Our Bublish theme for this week is Mother's Day and family dynamics. In my first science fiction novel WILD CARD RUN, my rebellious character Ruth fled her low-tech planet years earlier, but now has been forced to return to spy for the ruling Cybers. In addition to threats posed by "Changers," there are still a lot of unresolved personal issues to face on the farm.... My own beautiful, gentle mother Helen was the model for my character's mother Helen. She spread her love generously, despite my own somewhat rebellious nature, and I'm eternally grateful. Miss you, Mom!

Choosing Words

Our Bublish theme for the week is thinking about the ways that words can grab us and say more than the marks on the page. I decided to take a look at the first page of my first novel, and ask myself why I chose the words I did. Here is the first voicing of my troubled far-future character in a galaxy run by the Cybers to strict WorldPlans. Kurtis:P385XL47:Ruth is a game designer on the glittery planetoid Casino, who is being forced by the Cybers to return to a rural homeworld rejected years earlier for a complex of reasons. Trouble and more trouble is bound to ensue.... I hoped a sardonic and rebellious tone would be established in this brief teaser. Is your curiosity whetted to know WTF is going on? What are your favorite openings lines of novels, and what do they say/omit?

A Change of Pace

As the hero in my science fiction novel WILD CARD RUN struggles to solve the mystery of dangerous Changes in her homeworld Plan -- indeed, to survive attacks on her life -- she briefly escapes into an artistic trance. Summoning skills she learned on a more primitive planet, she surprises herself with what emerges from her subconscious as she shape the wood she's carving. How does your own creative process evolve?

Music sets the mood.

Our Bublish theme for the week is setting the tone in a story, as music creates literal tone and emotion. We writers have only words to establish the mood of the scene, and it's a challenge. In this early scene from my science fiction novel WILD CARD RUN, my "prodigal daughter" Ruth has been forced by the ruling Cybers to return to her low-tech planet Poindros and the family she ran from as a teenager. Her mother Helen embodies beauty and feminine power over her household, which Ruth rejects. But for this homecoming scene, Ruth bows to the pull of Helen's lovely music. Do my words capture the push and pull?

Are you seen?

Our Bublish theme for the week is recognizing our readers. Yes, you are seen and appreciated! I also "see" the scenes as I'm writing, so they're usually pretty visually accessible. I like to think of my novels as expanded cinema, with all the action and scenic description, but the added appeal of going deeper into characters and thematics. I hope my readers enjoy that sort of immersion! That said, I'll turn our weekly cue on its head and present this scene from my science fiction novel WILD CARD RUN, in which my hero first discovers that she, and all humans, are being "seen" by the Cyber "helpers" in ways far more disturbing than previously suspected. Do you feel our technology is becoming too invasive in monitoring us? Is our "attention economy" (e.g. social media, advertising) exposing or over-exposing you? I'd love to hear from you!

The More Things Change...

Our Bublish theme for the week bounced from playing games to pondering the way our writing may have changed over the years. When I released this new edition of my first science fiction novel, WILD CARD RUN, I asked for a retro cover style for my futuristic galactic secret agent and gamer. And I wrote the original novel manuscript on a typewriter, using carbon paper for copies. (Yes, these things existed in the Stone Age.) Then I got my first computer, and the writing/editing/publishing process got easier step by step. And yet, when I look at the themes of this "Cybers Wild Card" series, I realize that I was exploring issues still very current in 2020, including racism and alternative sexuality, as well as the impact of runaway cybernetic technology on human values. The more things change, the more they stay the same??

Creativity conflicts with the Rules

Our Bublish theme for the week is creativity. Of course, as authors we create new worlds -- in the case of my Cybers Wild Card novels, literally. In WILD CARD RUN, Ruth Kurtis is forced by the controlling cybers to return to her fundamentalist homeworld to spy out unlawful "Changers." Along the way, she has be very creative in dealing with family and societal conflicts, as well as her own conflicted emotions. Here, she plans to create a gift for her mother Helen, but as usual, it's complicated....

An unrepentant spy on another world

In my retro-futuristic galactic secret agent novel WILD CARD RUN, Ruth Kurtis has been forced by the ruling Cybers to return to the repressive homeworld she escaped as a teenager. This time she's a spy investigating disturbances to the sacred Plan. She's been found breaking the Rules, and the community would love to have her Healed -- which would mean erasing her memories. Beneath her demure disguise, she's sweating out her next step.... As author, once I had envisioned an agrarian, polyandrous planet, I had fun building all the small details, like this community gathering hall and rituals. Enjoy an escape from our earthly pandemic reality!

Visit a Fair on another World

Since we're all confined by the pandemic, most of us are missing the fun and support of group gatherings. And most fairs and outdoor markets will have to wait for many months to return. So why not make a quick virtual trip to an exotic market on another planet in my far-future novel WILD CARD RUN? Keep reading and stay well!

Connecting with the Homeworld

My rebellious game-designer in the far-future novel WILD CARD RUN has been forced to return to her agrarian homeworld, where she must face old wounds and new threats to the sacred Way. Despite her resistance, she finds herself drawn to the remembered beauty and peace of the farm.... In times of stress, as most of us now are experiencing with the pandemic, I always turn to the outdoors and openness for heart's-ease. This world I created is very different from my native, lush green Pacific Northwest, and was inspired partly by a few years when I lived in dry Eastern Washington near vast wheat fields. I enjoyed getting into the head of a character who grew up in such a setting (and with restrictions on the "proper" place of women, unfortunately experienced by too many of us). Stay tuned for a new edition of Book #2 in this series, WIN, LOSE, DRAW, coming soon!

Pushing through pain

Our Bublish theme for the week is capturing moments when we were sick or stressed or otherwise urgently pushing against obstacles to meet a commitment. In my science fiction novel WILD CARD RUN, my reluctant spy for the ruling Cyber entities must escape being reported for Rule-breaking on her fundamentalist home planet. The Steps of Healing would erase her memories and personality. There's a LOT at stake beyond her personal issues, so even though she's been injured and is feverish, and had to pretend she didn't care about her family, she pushes herself to the limit. Phew! Then she gets some time to heal before the next challenge....

A festive celebration on another planet

Our Bublish theme for the week is "Oh, Ho, No!" or celebrating and surviving the holidays. This excerpt from my first science fiction novel WILD CARD RUN describes a rustic celebration that combines the familiar and the strange, like the polyandrous planet Poindros. My reluctant heroine Ruth is forced to return to her low-tech home planet to observe troubling Changes to a supposedly unchanging Plan, and the danger quickly builds for this "wild card" spy. She's pulled back toward the honest joys of her family (the "Ho ho" part), while alarmed at many hints of "Oh, no!" The music's hopping, so join the dance....

Creating New Words

I enjoyed inventing new terms for my far-future science fiction novel, such as “cybernese” and “stressplex.” Join me for a quick glimpse of stars and planets, as my “wild card” rebel is forced by the ruling Cybers to return to her homeworld and face deadly challenges in the biggest gamble of her life.

A complicated home-planet return

Our Bublish theme for the week is homecomings. In my far-future science fiction novel WILD CARD RUN, my rebellious character Ruth Kurtis escaped her repressive homeworld years earlier, only to be forced to return by the ruling Cyber network that enforces strict Worldplans. There's trouble in "paradise" -- both personal and galaxy-wide, and it may take a disruptive Wild Card to root it out.

The Ariadne Connection

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Journey to the Crossroads of Science and Myth--winner of the Chanticleer Global Thriller Grand Prize and Cygnus Speculative Fiction Award. The New Leprosy plague and a geomagnetic reversal threaten the world’s precarious balance. An unlikely trio may hold the key to reset the compass of the world: • “Saint Ariadne” Demodakis—a Greek bioelectricity researcher who realizes she’s curing plague victims by laying on hands. • Peter Mitchell—a jaded American veteran of the latest Gulf War, now a smuggler in the Mediterranean. • Leeza Conreid—a paparazza equipped with the latest neurally-connected media implants, who wants revenge and a big story. Peter, blackmailed into bringing Leeza along, hires on with reclusive Ariadne to secretly transport her to sacred sites in the Greek islands. She seeks to confirm a connection between the pandemic, geologic upheavals, and ancient lore that promises healing for humans and the planet. Peter doesn’t realize they’ll be pursued by violent Sons of the Prophet, mercenaries, and a cult of warrior women, out to claim Ariadne’s rumored powers—or kill her.

Book Bubbles from The Ariadne Connection

Conflicts among natural beauty

With the pandemic and canceled trips, I'm missing the Greek islands that inspired my pandemic/healer thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION. The stark beauty of shimmering, bare rock cliffs plunging into clear purple-blue sea always takes me to another realm. I hope you enjoy this scene, as troubled Ariadne hikes her beloved home island perhaps for the last time. She will miss her connection to wild beauty -- and endearing goats -- if her Tyrannos father forces her to stop her healing work and move into his armed fortress. Many forces converge to launch her into a desperate journey.... Wish me luck for a return to the islands this fall, and continued inspiration for sequel THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT.

It takes all kinds of readers

Our Bublish theme for the week is "different strokes for different folks" in terms of what kinds of books we choose. Personally, I wander across genres--and doing "Beta" reads to give feedback to author friends has opened me up to appreciating genres such as Romance that I hadn't previously read much.... In this snippet from my Greek islands pandemic thriller, former smuggler Peter and healer Ariadne are escaping violent pursuit and taking a lighter moment to talk about reading and favorite books. Enjoy!

Coping with pandemic and more

Our Bublish theme for the week is whether we are thriving as we cope with pandemic and other crises in the world and our personal lives. In the opening chapter of my Greek islands pandemic thriller, smuggler Peter Mitchell reflects on the "world going to hell in a handbasket" and his own quirky adaptations in lifestyle.... The world seems to be catching up to my "pre-apocalyptic" vision in this novel first conceived years ago. And I put my characters through more stressful hoops than I can imagine undergoing. But resilience for both fictional and real people seems to be the ticket. My own last year involved multiple crises, but I hang onto goals like finishing a new novel or helping my family and friends or creating beauty in my garden as a refuge and a place to safely gather. We all just keep hanging in there! Best wishes to you!

Celebrating World Book Day

Our Bublish theme this week is World Book Day, so I'm celebrating also the natural world that inspires my writing. In my Greek islands pandemic thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, this scene tries to capture the magic of the Aegean Sea and the beautiful dolphins I've met there. This week, I just enjoyed another swim with wild dolphins, who embody for me the magic and mystery of nature. Much of my writing seems to return to the sea, as I do for rejuvenation. I hope you enjoy this encounter!

A Wild Night on Crete

In this scene from my Greek islands pandemic thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, thrill-seeking media celebrity Leeza Conreid has been following the healer Ariadne Demodakis, hoping for a big story. Impatient with lying low on remote Crete, she hitches a ride into the nearest town for some fun.... I'm planning a return trip to Crete as soon as our actual pandemic settles down (hoping!), and remembering my young backpacking trip through Crete and other islands. A memorable wild night (minus Leeza's drugs), when my partner and I ended up dancing on broken dishes with Greek sailors inspired this scene. Enjoy the party!

Writing Danger and Derangement

Our weekly Bublish theme is our personal writing "signatures" and craft approaches. My approach to writing fiction is immersive, trying my best to place myself inside a character and place. I've been told by a psychologist acquaintance that I have a "Hemingway Complex" (he invented it for me), in that I need to experience places and action in order to write them into stories. While not always literally experiencing all I write about, I do love to use vivid, interesting places and imagine what danger and stress might bring out in a character. In this scene from my Greek pandemic thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, healer Ariadne has channeled ancient powers that have temporarily overpowered her and drawn her into darkness. Shock pulls her out, as she escapes through the Athens meat market. After I visited the actual market, I just had to put it into a scene!

Writing Love

Our Valentine's Week Bublish theme is writing love -- for our characters and for other writers we admire. I happen to be taking pandemic solace at the moment in rereading some of my favorite novels by Dorothy Sayers -- the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. In the later books of the series, Peter has fallen in love with the elusive Harriet. Due to past traumas, she resists his proposals, but he perseveres with dedicated love. (Check them out -- lots of British humor and great characters, pre-World War II.).... In my Greek islands pandemic thriller, my character Peter Mitchell is a very different sort of man, but equally enthralled with a seemingly unattainable woman, the healer Ariadne Demodakis. He learns a lot about self-sacrifice and love as he makes hard choices to stick with her quest to cure the pandemic.

Riding the Roller Coaster

Our Bublish theme for the week is riding the roller-coaster chaos of our modern world. How do you adapt and function in an ever-shifting "reality"? Sometimes it means surrendering to a new one.... In my Greek islands pandemic/healer thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, Peter Mitchell has pushed himself past his former limits and through countless dangers in order to help healer Ariadne reach her goal of curing a pandemic and more. On the way, he has fallen "hopelessly" in love with Ariadne, who now tells him he has proven himself a true "pallikar" (Greek hero). Now he has to face his own nightmares, one of which opens this scene.

Sweating Out a Transition

Our Bublish theme for the week is making transitions, and of course authors do that all the time, from scene to scene, and character to character. In my Greek islands pandemic/healer thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, Peter Mitchell, after trauma serving in Gulf War III, is now a smuggler in the Mediterranean. He thinks he's "sitting pretty to watch the world go to hell in a handbasket." But he's already regretting his decision to take on NeuroLink celebrity and "Trouble with a capital T" Leeza Conreid as a client, when they're captured by a rogue island regime. Making transitions is how he'll survive, if he's lucky....

Stumbling onto Magic

Our Bublish theme for the week is finding magic in our world. The inspiration for my Greek islands pandemic/healer thriller was my early backpacking trip through the Greek islands, where magic is steeped in the bones and stones of the land. So many layers of history, myth, and belief! The stories I'd inhaled as a child came to life as I walked the land and explored both famous and relatively unknown sacred sites and ruins. In this brief scene, my jaded NeuroLink celebrity Leeza, pursuing her big story of Healer Ariadne, stumbles upon a chapel based on one I found on Crete. Entering, she may find magic.

Finding Strength

Giving thanks as we approach a fresh New Year, with hope for the Covid vaccines and finally a new U.S. president who promises sanity and actual concern for the world and its inhabitants. What has given you strength during these hard times? In my Greek islands pandemic thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, my young Greek scientist discovers she can cure pandemic victims and is becoming revered, to her dismay, as “Saint Ariadne.” Beset by troubles, including her Tyrannos father and his schemes, she finds strength and solace in her connection with the earth and ancient traditions.

Inspiration from Ancient Crete

Our weekly theme is inspiration from the past, and my Greek islands pandemic/healer thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION sprang from my early backpacking travels in the Greek islands and lifelong fascination with their mythology. Here, former smuggler Peter has enlisted to help reluctant healer Ariadne in her quest to understand ancient earth powers. The setting is a wonderful labyrinthine ruin on Crete, where I camped and saw visions of ancient days.

Thanks-Giving on a Greek Island

Today is a day for expressing appreciation, despite a world of challenges for all of us. In my Greek islands pandemic thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, my young Greek scientist Ariadne discovers she can cure pandemic victims and is becoming revered, to her dismay, as "Saint Ariadne." Beset by troubles, including her Tyrannos father and his schemes, she finds strength and solace in her connection with the earth and ancient traditions. What gives you strength in these hard times, and how are you thankful?

A Character on the Skids

In my Greek islands pandemic thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, Leeza Conreid is a NeuroLink paparazza pursuing a breakout news story. Along the way, she makes a lot of bad choices and succumbs to a lot of temptation. Here's she reaching a low point.... As I've said before, it's fun to write "bad" characters, and I've grown fond enough of bad-girl Leeza to bring her along into the novel sequel in progress. I've known people like her, very appealing and entertaining (when they can keep it together), endlessly looking for approval or help, ultimately without the will to make changes for their own well-being. That said, I got to take a free ride with Leeza's crazy-fun impulses as we rode the NeuroLink together. And, for me, no hangover!

Navigating the Storm

Our Bublish theme for the week is describing a scene that was difficult to write. This one has the added bonus of timeliness, as we all navigate the election and post-election storms engulfing the U.S. Survival is at stake.... In this scene in my Greek islands thriller, smuggler Peter has been hired to help Healer Ariadne escape her Tyrannos father's island. A storm threatens to swamp them.... I had worked on boats, including weathering a storm, but was floundering as I tried to portray the details of captaining a converted fishing boat. I was rescued by an Alaskan fisherman who supplied great details and visceral danger for the scene. Research is essential, and can take many forms!

Moving past lost dreams.

Our Bublish theme for the week is what happens when you lose your dream or fail to achieve an important goal. In this scene from my Greek islands pandemic novel THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, smuggler Peter Mitchell has been hired by and then fallen for the enigmatic healer Ariadne Demodakis, as he helps her elude capture by violent factions. At this point, mercenaries are approaching to cut off escape in his boat, and he has to question his loyalty to Ariadne. But he has to live with himself, so moves into action.... I've been through my own share of big disappointments, as most of us have, and I've indeed found that getting moving on a new plan is a good idea. Best wishes to us all in this year of broken, or bent, dreams!

A Cretan Village Moment

In my Greek islands pandemic thriller, Ariadne Demodakis is a scientist who reluctantly admits she is curing victims not with science, but a connection to ancient mythic powers. Pursued by violent factions intent on controlling her "secret," she escapes for a respite in the high mountain village on Crete where her uncle Demetrios lives. Here is a glimpse of his home and a memory inspired by my own encounter years ago on Crete: In an example of the famous Greek hospitality, one of the villagers took me and my partner on a hike and showed us wild asparagus, as well as some lovely temple ruins, and engaged us in Socratic dialogue. "Efcharisto, Stelios Mamalakis!"

A Glimpse of a Greek Island

With the pandemic wreaking havoc with everyone's lives, and my homeland forests in the Western U.S. on fire, I long for my canceled September trip to my beloved Greek islands. Right now, the world could really use my reluctant pandemic Healer Ariadne, too! So here's a snippet from THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, winner of the Chanticleer Global Thriller Grand Prize: The quiet before a storm of dangers for Ariadne, a glimpse of natural beauty, and the charm of a Greek village celebration. "Chairete! Rejoice!"

What keeps you going?

Our Bublish theme for the week is finding what keeps you going through hard times and challenges. We all can relate, I'm sure! In my Greek island pandemic thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, scientist Ariadne Demodakis must fight for the right to continue her healing work during the pandemic. Her sense of a mission sustains her, even as her Tyrannos father attempts to control her.

Refuge in sweet memories

Our Bublish theme for the week is ways to cope with our stressful times. What adjustments have you made in your lives? In my near-future Greek islands pandemic thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, scientist Ariadne Demodakis is fleeing various groups, including her "Tyrannos" father. Hiring a smuggler and his boat, she heads for southern Crete to find her beloved uncle. Sweet memories of her childhood with him give her a brief respite. Best wishes to you all, and enjoy small comforts!

Playing with Futuristic Words

Our Bublish theme for the week is our enjoyment of wordplay as authors. In my near-future pandemic thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, my NeuroLink celebrity reporter Leeza revels in her high-tech direct connection to her nerves to record and replay her "newsstims" for the public. She delights in rapid-fire wordplay and terms such as NeoLuddite, Maximal, electrosmog, and neurotweaking. I had fun creating her idiosyncratic dialogue and thoughts. I hope you enjoy the ride as she hires smuggler Peter to take her in his boat for her big story of Ariadne the healer in the Greek islands.

Compassion holds the compass

Our weekly Bublish theme is compassion showing the way. In my near-future pandemic thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, healer Ariadne is exhausted and pursued by various violent factions. She's trying to understand her mysterious power to heal plague victims, while being drained by each healing, and is on the verge of collapse. Yet her compassion for the ill compels her to help them.... It was hard to write a convincing, interesting character who is mostly good -- though Ariadne is far from the "saint" she's been labeled. Colorful villains are much easier to create! Here I attempted to show the effort sometimes required by compassion, which nevertheless points the moral direction. Sometimes a bit of self-sacrifice is the only way toward healing for everyone.

Ariadne ponders troubled times

Our Bublish theme for the week is taking time to ponder during stress. We have plenty of practice right now, with the pandemic! In my near-future pandemic novel, Greek scientist Ariadne tries to find a cure, as she's troubled by a seeming connection to unstable geomagnetic forces. Her freedom on her wild island is also threatened by her Tyrannos father, so she finds solace and a space to think about her choices as she hikes the rugged hillside. And finds a clue that she doesn't yet recognize.... Stay well, and take some quiet time for yourself!

A Surprise Gift

In my near-future pandemic thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, bad girl and NeuroLink celebrity Leeza Conreid has gotten herself into trouble once more. Under control of mercenaries pursuing pandemic-healer Ariadne, Leeza desperately needs a clue to avoid punishment. Following a hunch in Athens, she receives a gift whose value she doesn't yet realize.... To me, the best gifts of my writing process on this novel have been my trips to Greece, where miraculous experiences and beauty wait around every corner or twist of the path. Sometimes we just need to listen to our inner voices and follow! Or, during pandemic restrictions, open our eyes to the small beauties around us.

Inspiration and Courage from Reading

Our Bublish theme for the week is how we are strengthened by reading, and prepared for hard times. Definitely appropriate during this pandemic! In this brief snippet from my near-future thriller, young Greek scientist Ariadne has discovered that she's healing pandemic victims not with science but with a connection to ancient earth powers. Former smuggler and war veteran Peter is helping her escape pursuit in an old sailboat through the Mediterranean, and during a lull they talk about books.... Part of my own inspiration for the Ariadne novel came from my early love of Greek myths and Homer.

Heroics of Healers

Our Bublish theme for the week is the heroism of our healers facing exhaustion and even death in caring for COVID-19 patients. SO many stories of sacrifice and heroism!.... In my near-future pandemic thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, a young scientist realizes that she is curing New Plague victims not with science but rather by channeling ancient earth energy. She pays a steep price, as each time she channels the healing, she is physically drained and ill herself. Yet she can't turn her back on the great need of the suffering people. I can only imagine such heroism, so I write about it! May you also find inspiration in our real-world healers.

Expanding the Senses

Our Bublish theme for the week is to slow down and "smell the roses," as well as expanding all our senses to really appreciate the natural world around us. In this snippet from my Greek islands thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, an opportunistic NeuroLink celebrity seeking a big story has such a momentary revelation. Leeza Conreid sees/hears/feels suddenly past her immersion in "digital reality" for a glimpse of natural magic.... While we're all isolated during the virus stay-at-home orders, I join most everyone in finding the internet and digital connection a saving grace. Yet we all also need the physical connection to our natural world. This brief scene seeks to capture my joyful glimpses of dolphins during my trips to the stunning Greek islands. Enjoy virtually, then step outside or open a window to feel the sun or rain or breeze....

Manipulating the Narrative

Our Bublish them for the week is looking at ways storytellers shape the arc and chronology of stories in order to create a compelling, immersive experience. In my near-future pandemic thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, NeuroLink media celebrity Leeza Conreid consciously manipulates her viewers with her edited "news entertainment" delivered via direct neural connection.... I first conceived of the story and Leeza's futuristic media tech before it was close to happening. And before the rise of all the dubious "news" channels and social media flooding us with fake and manipulative messages. In reality now, as well as fiction, it's a deadly game and urgent challenge. May we all join my characters on their quest for truth and clarity!

Adjusting to the "new normal"

Our Bublish theme for the week is taking a look at how we're adjusting our lives around the Corona virus pandemic. In my Greek islands thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, my heroine is coping with a dire pandemic while searching for a cure, as well as coping with being a prisoner of her Tyrannos father amid multiple environment crises. She finds she must turn within to find her "place of serenity"..... Here in Washington State, we're in a hotspot for the virus, and our governor has just imposed more necessary restrictions on nonessential movement and work. After dealing with my own extended family health crises, now stabilizing, my husband and I are sheltering in place except for outdoor walks/hikes. Best wishes to you all!

Worries Piling Up?

Our Bublish theme for the week is dealing with worry -- especially now with the Corona virus officially a pandemic worldwide. In my Greek islands thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, the pandemic is a new form of leprosy causing panic and creating isolation camps. Hmm, sound familiar? My jaded reluctant hero Peter Mitchell carries on.... Here in Washington State, we are a Corona virus hotspot, with states of emergency declared, universities shutting down, large gatherings canceled, and it seems more each day. With many family members sick over the past weeks, and Old Dad in hospital, we were actually relieved when the diagnosis came back as Influenza A. Crazy times. Yet we continue to hope that life can carry on and carry us to solutions. One thing to do: VOTE for better policies and politicians who actually care. Thanks!

A Fictional New Plague

Our Bublish theme for the week regards the alarming new Corona virus, spreading quickly, with understanding and countermeasures lagging behind. In my near-future Greek islands thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, my scientist turned reluctant energy healer has discovered that she's healing some plague victims, but not with science.... In my novel, it's a very different scenario from what we're facing with the Corona virus, but some of the reactions of fear and failure are the same. Personally, I'm watching our latest possible pandemic attentively. My husband Thor and I were recently traveling in Thailand as the virus was breaking out in China, but travel had not yet been restricted. We were surrounded by Chinese tourists, and by the time we were flying home, there was a palpable atmosphere of fear and urgency among people in surgical masks crowding the airports to fly away. So we returned to Washington State to learn the virus has probably been here for many weeks, deaths now mounting. Let's hope the government can mobilize quickly with more test kits and treatment spaces!

Persevering to Learn Skills

Our Bublish theme this week is sticking to the task and improving, especially with our work as writers. In this snippet from my Greek islands thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, scientist/healer Ariadne is testing her apparent innate healing power that seems to contradict her scientific training. Step by step, she must test her abilities while resisting dangerous impulses to throw aside caution.... As writers, we face many challenges: We seek to improve our craft while protecting our individual visions, and sometimes it takes strength to resist feedback that might compromise our integrity. Then the big challenge arises of how to publish and market our work. So much information out there, and how much energy do we divert from our writing to the promotion of it? Afraid I have no pat answers, but joining writer groups & conferences can help!

A Valentine's Day scene, with dolphins

In this scene from my Greek islands thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, Ariadne has finally opened to trust and love with Peter. Escaping pursuing terrorists and mercenaries on an old sailboat, they find a moment of peace and tenderness, along with a visit from dolphins.... In my worldwide travels, I've been boating alongside playful dolphins, and have been blessed to twice swim with them in the open sea. Enjoy their playful spirit of love. Happy Valentine's Day!

A wild night on Crete

Our Bublish theme for the week is (one of for me) the craziest things we've done. In this brief excerpt from my near-future Greek islands thriller, NeuroLink celebrity Leeza Conreid needs some excitement and hitches a ride with Greek sailors to party at a taverna.... On my backpacking trip in my hippie days year ago, I had a wild night on Crete with my travel partner Jim. Because we had a tight budget, we could stay at a (cheap) hotel only occasionally, and had found a spot along the south coast to pitch our tent. We hitchhiked into town for dinner, and found ourselves in the midst of a rowdy group of Greek sailors. The night proceeded along the lines of Leeza's dancing (minus her drugs) among the shards of broken dishes (a Greek tradition). Then, as a Meltemi wind had kicked up with a dust storm after we'd had a drink too many, we couldn't find the tent.Things got even crazier after that....

Prisoner on Mt. Parnassos

Our Bublish theme for the week is portraying winter. The closest to winter my near-future Greek thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION comes is near the climax on Mt. Parnassos, the sacred mountain near the "navel of the earth" at Delphi. In the winter, it is the realm of the wild god Dionysos and his maenads who follow ecstatic rituals. My near-future Corybantes are the "new Amazon" eco-warriors who play that role in the mountains, and Peter Mitchell has been captured by them after his leg was broken on the rough slopes.... My months-long backpacking trip through Greece many years ago found me hiking rough mountainsides, exploring caves and ruins, and treading over millennia of footsteps in those hills. Peter, in my novel, discovers there are many kinds of power there.

Leeza rides the NeuroLink

A glimpse of the digital future in my Greek islands thriller, as NeuroLink paparazza Leeza Conreid plugs in to check out the news. She's equipped with a direct connection to her spinal column that lets her record and experience the "new reality." And it becomes addictive.... When I wrote early drafts of my near-future novel, I imagined the new digital landscape was still quite a distance away. Now, not so much. What do you think of the merging of human and digital? The future is upon us! And, in the case of the environment, it's not a rosy picture. Here's hoping that 2020 may finally bring 2020 vision to world leaders and the necessity to make meaningful changes. Best wishes to us all!

A healing saint on a Greek island

Our Bublish holiday theme for the week is "traditions." My three sisters and I recently followed our family tradition of decorating my parents' Christmas tree with treasured ornaments saved from years past. Now that our beloved mother is no longer with us, it's extra meaningful to hold each of her special ornaments as we decorate the tree for Dad.... In my Greek islands thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, there are several celebrations of island tradition, and this scene glimpses a fictional version of the yearly pilgrimage to the healing shrine of the Tiniotissa, a beloved saint. My heroine Ariadne is resisting the recognition of her own unexplained healing powers, and must visit the shrine to study its sacred spring for clues. Happy holidays to you as you enjoy your own traditions!

Giving Thanks

With the Thanksgiving holiday, our Bublish theme for the week is giving thanks, so I chose a brief snippet from THE ARIADNE CONNECTION that shows my troubled scientist/healer enjoying a moment of gratitude for the beauty of the natural world. She then agrees to attend a village celebration, which drew on my experiences when traveling in the Greek islands. If you celebrate this holiday and gather with family and/or friends, I hope you enjoy similar exuberance, as the Greeks do love to party.... In my writing life, I'm grateful to so many who have shared our work in writers groups, my TV/Film agents Mary Alice Kier and Anna Cottle, the amazing fellow-authors at our publishing coop Book View Cafe, generous reviewers, my supportive husband Thor, and of course my wonderful readers who make my day when they enjoy my novels. Thank you!

Light feels alive in Greece

Since our Bublish theme for the week is light, this scene from my Greek islands thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION should do the trick. In Greece, "to phos" -- the light -- does seem alive in its clear intensity, as it shimmers off of bare rock, whitewashed buildings, and blue blue sea. Here, young Greek scientist/healer Ariadne recalls a pivotal moment from childhood, when the "sunlight like X-rays laid her bare to her bones" and established a visceral connection to ancient earth powers.... In my travels in the Greek islands, I have soaked up that light under the intense blue skies, and indeed have felt at times that the Old Powers are still alive in the stones. "Chairete!" Rejoice!

A war veteran facing fears

Our Halloween Bublish theme is "facing fears." In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Peter Mitchell is a veteran of Gulf War III and a survivor of a submarine sinking in which he nearly drowned. Fear of the depths is only part of buried fears he will need to face during the course of the novel.... The character of Peter was informed by a former longtime partner who was a wounded veteran of the Vietnam War. Like Peter, he rarely talked about his experiences in the war, but buried nightmares would surface to haunt him. This scene also celebrates our shared love of the sea and diving, and it was in his company that I first visited the Greek islands and experienced the magic of the clear, purple-blue Mediterranean. I hope you enjoy the plunge!

Downside of NeuroLink media?

Our Bublish theme for the week is the impact of new technology, which is an important theme of my near-future Greek islands thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION. A young Greek scientist discovers that she's healing New Plague victims not with science, but with an inexplicable connection to ancient earth energies. NeuroLink paparazza Leeza Conreid, addicted to the rush of her neural inputs, wants a big story and resists Ariadne's suggestion that the new technology may be triggering the plague virus. This brief scene features the appeal and danger of media addiction. As a self-proclaimed "NeoLuddite," I need to use computers and digital technology for my writing career, but wonder where the rapid pace of technological change is leading us and the damaged world....

What if a scientist heals without science? r

Our Bublish theme of the week is "What if?" All of my near-future Greek islands thriller spins off of "What if?" What if the world is going through a devastating geomagnetic reversal damaging to all life? What if there is a deadly New Plague? What if a young Greek scientist is shocked to learn that her plague cure owes nothing to science? Ariadne finally has to admit that she is somehow channeling ancient earth forces to correct the energy imbalances in the earth and human bodies. And her quest to follow her calling leads to turmoil in every aspect of her life.... This scene captures some of the conflicts and the dangerous forces she's juggling as she's just trying to do the right thing. I hope we can all relate on some level!

Leeza dives into trouble on Crete

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Leeza Conreid is a NeuroLink celebrity tracking a big story. She's frustrated that her old friend, now dubbed "Saint Ariadne," is keeping her at a distance. Leeza craves excitement and escapes for a wild night in a village on Crete.... Our Bublish theme of the week is the "labor of writing" and why it's worthwhile. I love setting my novels in exotic locations where I've traveled, and the fun part is keeping a journal and taking photos of intriguing places. My backpacking trip years ago in the Greek islands took me to the wild south coast of Crete, where I fell in love with the rugged landscape, the history, and the exuberant people. This short scene draws on my own wild night in a Cretan taverna, dancing on broken dishes! Then comes the more labor-intensive phase of creating the characters, story, and settings of a novel -- for me, often the work of years as I set aside a manuscript and let it "ripen." When I return for revision, it's exciting to find new resonances in the material. I hope you enjoy Leeza's crazy night on Crete!

Healer Ariadne at Seven Years Old

Our Bublish theme for the week is memories of childhood and preparing for the school season. The only relevant scene in my near-future Greek islands thriller is a glimpse of the young girl Ariadne on her remote island, when she first experiences a connection to ancient earth powers. It will be years before that vision comes to fruition.... As I was writing the novel and building (or rather discovering) the character of Ariadne, I knew it was important that she be a rather solitary, wild child running free like the "kri-kri" wild goats on her island. And that her tyrant father would contrast with kindly Uncle Demetrios. I hope you enjoy this visit to their island!

A smuggler decides to surrender

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, "freelance import expediter" Peter Mitchell is already regretting the new client he took on. NeuroLink celebrity Leeza Conreid has hired him to cross closed borders in his smuggling boat, trying to locate rumored "Saint Ariadne," miracle healer. Before reaching her island, they're attacked by a patrol boat. Peter, remembering his traumatic military days, must make a choice between getting blown up or surrendering to unknown adversaries.... Our Bublish theme of the week is making bold decisions that affect your life. How have they played out in your own lives? In my life, making the "safe and sane" choices didn't always turn out for the best. Seeking adventure (and stories to write!), I've made my share of rash choices, like selling my mobile home that constituted my sole financial resource in my twenties. It financed my months-long backpacking trek around the Greek islands, fulfilling a cherished dream and inspiring two novels so far. I haven't regretted that decision for an instant!

Family conflicts and difficult choices

Our Bublish theme for the week is the necessity of conflict in our stories and in real life. In addition to providing excitement, differing opinions can spark necessary action or creative solutions.... In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Ariadne Demodakis must decide to break from the control of her wealthy dictator father, or give up her mission to find a cure for a new plague. Sometimes family conflicts can be the most devastating!


Our Bublish theme of the week is talking about what inspires us to write. My near-future Greek islands thriller imagines a world -- not so far in the future now -- in which cascading environmental and social /political crises give rise to feelings of Doomsday. (Sound familiar?) For as long as I can remember, I've been aware of the disastrous trajectory our society is taking in regard to the environment. This, coupled with my fascination since childhood with Greece and its mythology, led me to set my novel in the Greek islands. And my first backpacking journey around the islands inspired me to start writing. I wanted to contrast the stark purity of sea and islands against the chaotic craziness enveloping the populace, especially with the dominance of confusing digital media and literally "plugged-in" generations via my invented NeuroLink technology. This first chapter aims to portray characters who are struggling with the stress and lack of meaning, while perhaps searching for glimmers of light. And there will be light -- that glorious Mediterranean light-- "to phos" in Greek -- that offers hope to my characters on their journey.

Neurolink paparazza plays with words

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Leeza Conreid is a NeuroLink celebrity/reporter who "plugs in" via her spinal connection to record images and sensations for her audience. She's hyper and addicted to all kinds of rush -- drugs and neural, and her free-flow language reflects her kinetic energy. In this brief scene, she's replaying a boat escape with Ariadne through an irradiated "Hot Zone" .... Our Bublish theme of the week is our relationship to language as authors, and how we feel as we write. I'm somewhat of a "method writer," as I usually find myself immersed in whatever Point of View character is center stage. In the case of Leeza, it's a wild ride -- most readers both enjoy and are appalled by her amoral actions. She can be exhausting but fun! I also like to include some of my own experiences in my novels, when appropriate, and the Cherenkov's radiation comes from my time as a nuclear reactor operator at Hanford, where I had the chance to view the eerie blue glow of the spent fuel rods stored in water tanks.

A quick visit by dolphins

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, reluctant healer Ariadne is fleeing various ruthless factions out to control her "technique." There are precious few moments of peace, but as she and former smuggler Peter/Petros acquire a shabby sailboat for one leg of their journey, they're visited by playful dolphins.... In my own travels in the Greek islands, as well as in Hawaii, New Zealand, and the Caribbean, I've been lucky to experience pods of dolphins swimming and leaping alongside the boats. Such creatures of joy! The best was twice swimming with them, especially when a mother dolphin brought her young one close to peer into my snorkel mask. They are magic. "Chairete! Rejoice!"

Story inspiration from the Greek islands

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, scientist Ariadne Demodakis is fighting the recognition that her cures of "New Plague" victims rely more on mysterious spiritual energy than on science. Testing connections between bioelectric energy and geomagnetic forces, she visits the sacred shrine of the Tioniotissa on the island of Tinos. She must stay one step ahead of pursuers intent on capturing her and her secrets.... Since the Bublish theme of the week is the inspiration found in setting, I chose this passage as one of my attempts to capture the magic of the Greek islands. I've been captivated by Greek mythology, history, and art since I could first read, and on an early backpacking trip of several months through the islands, I fell further in love with this magical region. As is often the case with my writing, stories and characters spring from the soil of landscape -- essential context, if you will, without which there can be no color and depth to storytelling. I hope you enjoy this visit with Ariadne!

Travel as Storytelling Inspiration

Our Bublish theme for the week is travel in writing. Place is always vital in my novels, and I've been inspired by many of the off-the-beaten-track places I've visited. My early backpacking trip through the Greek islands gave rise to my near-future thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, about a young Greek scientist turned reluctant spiritual healer..... This scene attempts to capture the spare, luminous beauty of the Aegean islands and the charming villages that still retain traditional ways. The Greeks love to eat, drink, and dance. Enjoy the party!

Does NeuroLink celebrity Leeza "hook" you?

Our Bublish theme for the week is the "hook" that should grab readers' attention in the opening pages of novels. This is the brief opening of my near-future thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, when we get a glimpse of the conniving paparrazza Leeza Conreid who records her experiences via direct connection to her spinal cord. She's after a big story, and clearly there will be trouble ahead.... If you write, what kind of "hooks" have you used? What kind grab you as a reader? I deliberately started this novel with an outrageous, unpleasant character who will evolve over the course of the novel, but would love to hear from you -- did this glimpse catch your interest? Thanks for reading!

Wild poppies and rebirth

Our Bublish suggested theme this week is hope, and the blossoms of spring often bring that grateful feeling. In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Ariadne Demodiakis is a scientist trying to come to terms with her inexplicable healing ability. She sets out on a journey through the islands, testing geomagnetism, but is starting to realize that her instrument readings can't explain what's happening. When she finds a green ravine in the midst of a drought, she also finds wild crimson poppies, a sign of the upcoming Easter season. A sign of hope and rebirth.... On my first long, backpacking trip around the Greek islands many years ago, I came upon such oases of green near springs on even rocky, seemingly barren slopes. It was approaching Easter, and I was enchanted by the beautiful wild poppies bowing in the breezes, crimson cups brimming with sunlight and hope. As the Greeks say, "Chairete!" Rejoice!

Fiction resonating with real-world issues

Our suggested Bublish theme for this week is books that have inspired us -- even changed our lives -- and our hopes for what our readers might take away from our own stories. One of many influential books in my life is DUNE by Frank Herbert, which presents a riveting future story that incorporated at-the-time revolutionary ideas about ecology. Since human-caused climate change is the most urgent issue facing all life on the planet today, my hope for readers of my near-future thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION is that they will enjoy the adventure and also become involved in the environmental theme. (The novel, of course, is speculative fiction, so I'm pushing beyond established science into conjecture).... In this scene, my young Greek scientist Ariadne is just starting to realize that science cannot explain her ability to heal and to sense currents of pollution in the world. How will she proceed? How will we all, as the global crises mount?

Finally, loving connection for embattled Ariadne a

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Ariadne and Peter have been pursued by violent factions out to control her mysterious healing abilities. Having lost nearly everything except the clothes on their backs in their quest, they buy a decrepit sailboat with the last of their funds and set off across the Aegean Sea to reach the mainland and sacred Delphi. On the way, they are hit with a violent storm that nearly sinks the boat, but they survive.... In my travels in Greece, I've experienced storms at sea, and appreciate the calm after the wild waves and wind. Peter and Ariadne deserve a break, and finally let down their protective walls to find loving comfort together. Happy Valentine's Day, and thanks for reading!

A loving boost for Ariadne

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, "Saint" Ariadne is pursued by violent factions out to control the secret of her mysterious ability to heal plague victims. Exhausted and ill, she collapses. Her reluctant ally Peter, a former smuggler, brings her to the Cretan mountain village of her uncle Demetrios. She will learn that she, too, can accept loving help.... This week's Bublish theme during Valentine's month is ReaderLove, asking us to recall a time when a reader's input gave us a boost. It's often a solitary pursuit, being a writer, and kind words from readers mean a lot. A comment from a close friend really floored me, when she told me that she reread some of my novels every year because she loved them so much. I had no idea! What a precious gift and warmth to keep writing!

Joy emerges from the sea with dolphins

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, gonzo NeuroLink media celebrity Leeza Conreid is pursuing her big story about healer "Saint Ariadne." Hiring smuggler Peter Mitchell to take her to Ariadne's island, she tricks him into linking into her gear for direct connection to sensory input that she edits for her "news hits." But even jaded Leeza is captivated by the real-world magic of the Aegean Sea as playful dolphins appear around the boat.... Our Bublish theme for this week is how to stand out among a "sea of content," so I chose this passage as celebrating the literal emergence of these beautiful denizens of the deep, come to visit us. While traveling in Greece, I loved seeing the enchanting dolphins come to play alongside boats underway. They always seem joyful, beckoning us to be alive in the moment.

A Reluctant Healer's Powers Revealed

In my near-future Greek island thriller, Ariadne Demodakis has been trained as a scientist, yet is dubbed "Saint Ariadne" when she develops a Plague cure that can't be scientifically explained. On the run from various factions who want to exploit her abilities--or kill her--she continues to hope for a rational explanation. In this scene, she is forced to admit she is somehow channeling ancient earth powers.... As I've mentioned before, it's fun to create a splashy "bad" character, but harder to bring a "good" character to life who isn't flat or boring. Ariadne has plenty of issues to keep her grounded, like her rebellion against her tyrannical father, her distrust of all men, her grief for her mother who died young, unwelcome advances from an old flame, and wariness of the Church. In this scene, she's just too tired to fight her gift any longer.

A fresh start for Ariadne and Peter

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, smuggler Peter Mitchell signs on to help "Saint" Ariadne Demodakis escape the control of her tyrannical father. They are also fleeing various factions trying to capture her to control her seemingly miraculous healing abilities. In this scene, they're crossing the Aegean in a small sailboat, having just witnessed the village stoning of captured terrorists. Both Peter and Ariadne are grappling with challenges to their former belief systems and who they are now becoming.... The Bublish theme for the week is "fresh starts," for our characters and for ourselves as authors. In the writing and revision process, fresh starts are often in order, even though they can feel painful. My first real jolt of change was with my first science fiction novel, when my mentor strongly advised me to turn one of my favorite characters into a robot! I rebelled, then found a compromise for the character as a cyborg, which fit the themes of the novel very well and provided additional inspiration for an examination of technology and human values. Viva fresh starts!

The future of NewsEntertainment?

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Leeza Conreid is a NeuroLink celebrity. She's pursuing a big story about supposed faith healer Ariadne Demodakis. Meanwhile, she freelances creating quickie "news hits" that let audiences viscerally experience events recorded via direct neural connection. All they have to do is "link in." .... When I first created Leeza and her NeuroLink technology, I imagined such developments would be farther in the future than it appears today. As I've been told before, my fiction seems somehow too close to predictive for comfort. Our Bublish prompt for this week asked us to look back on the year about to end, and to me this passage echoes the apocalyptic tone of much of our real-world news this year. I find myself getting jaded from so many disasters piling upon each other; my character Leeza comes to regard such disasters as mere entertainment to be exploited. But I look forward to 2019 for some positive changes in our real world! Best wishes to all of us for the New Year!

A Greek village celebration

Our Bublish theme for the week is "gatherings." In my near-future Greek islands thriller, my heroine Ariadne Demodakis takes an unexpected break to enjoy a village celebration on her home island. She is part of the islanders, yet apart as the daughter of the wealthy "Tyrannos" and as a rumored healing "saint." She's seeking a way to escape both cages.... During my travels through the Greek islands, I've fallen in love with the spare beauty of the landscapes and sea, and have enjoyed spending time in villages like the one I created for this story. Greeks love parties, music, and dancing, so please join in!

A Turning Point for a Former Smuggler

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Peter Mitchell is a former soldier turned smuggler, who finds himself on an "insane" quest. He's hired to help "Saint" Ariadne Demodakis escape her tyrant father and various violent factions trying to control her ability to heal a New Plague. Peter has a lot of issues from his past as the prodigal son of an evangelical preacher to his PTSD from Gulf War III. He's very wary of charismatic religious types like his father, and at first rejects Ariadne's inexplicable healing abilities. In this scene, he's faced with both religion and her healing abilities.... The character of Peter draws on war veterans I have known, as well as adventurers and treasure hunters. Peter, in the course of this novel, grew and deepened in ways I hadn't expected when I started writing. His initial physical attraction to Ariadne morphs into uneasiness, then commitment, a big change for him. That's one of the joys of writing these stories!

Leeza denies the science

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Leeza Conreid is a NeuroLink NewsEntertainment celebrity. Technology allows her to connect directly through her spinal cord to record and transmit her experiences, as well as "ride" the experiences of others who Link. With the world in crisis due to environmental degradation and a geomagnetic reversal, she ignores the scientists raising alarms. She focuses only on getting her big story about Ariadne Demodakis, the rumored miracle healer of a new plague.... With the official U.S. report on human-caused climate crises just released (and our U.S. President already denying its validity), I felt this scene with Leeza, in full denial mode, was all too apropos. When I wrote the novel, of course, I didn't imagine our government would soon be in the dangerous hands of those who denigrate the vast majority of scientists around the world. May we find a solution before my novel becomes reality! Okay, that's my soapbox speech -- thanks for reading.

Miraculous healing? Please!

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Peter Mitchell is a jaded former soldier, now smuggler, who finds himself caught up in dangerous currents. Everyone is out to capture "Saint Ariadne" Demodakis and find out if she is really healing New Plague victims with her "magic touch." Captured by her father's soldiers, and surviving an attack on their island, Peter is just trying to find a way out.... Since I'm undergoing surgery this week to repair a hip injury, I picked this passage about healing!

Music summons memories

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Ariadne Demodakis is struggling to accept her role as a healer, while juggling numerous threats. She turns to the solace of making music, which feeds her soul but can offer only temporary reprieve from converging dangers.... When I saw that the Book Bubble theme for the week was music, I realized that almost every main character in my different novels is a musician -- Ariadne a pianist like myself, others playing the flute or harp. When I sit at the keyboard to play one of my favorite classical pieces, like Debussy's "Clair de Lune" that seemed to choose itself for this scene, I enter a different dimension of sensation and emotion. My characters at times seem to need this escape -- or immersion. Sometimes it's a letting go, or a giving of permission for insights to surface. Come to think of it, that's also the process of writing stories!

A first dive into the unknown

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, scientist/healer Ariadne Demodakis is slowly admitting her inexplicable link to ancient earth powers. Her connection to ambient geomagnetic fields is amplified by the use of crystals, and in this scene she makes her first scuba dive into a dangerous sea cave to locate a mysterious energy source calling her. When she finds it, she's swept into a dangerous place.... When I wrote this scene, I recalled my own early days of scuba diving and also my work as a scuba instructor and guide, helping others overcome their nervousness and enjoy the mysteries of the deep. Submerged cave penetration would certainly be a dangerous first dive, but my heroine is plucky!

Stormy seas in the Mediterranean

A repeat "bubble" in homage to Hurricane Dorian: Last fall I returned from a research trip through the Greek islands, as I worked on the sequel to THE ARIADNE CONNECTION. Cyclone Zorba, an unusual storm for this area, was wreaking havoc along the coast near Athens, where we were experiencing crazily fierce winds that had shut down some public venues. We escaped before the storm to the Dodecanese islands, south of the cyclone's path through the Cyclades, but experienced the stormy sea surges very different from the calm seas of our trip the year before. So I chose this scene of Peter struggling to pilot his boat through a dangerous storm in "homage" to Zorba! I owe many of the scene's details to commercial fishermen of my acquaintance, who have weathered rough seas in Alaska, and my own past work on boats as a deck hand and then scuba instructor. Enjoy the vicarous thrills!

A smuggler is captured in the Mediterranean

In this early snippet from my near-future Greek islands thriller, smuggler Peter Mitchell has taken on an unusual assignment: ferrying a media celebrity to a forbidden island. Things go wrong quickly, as they're captured by a patrol boat for the new Med League.... Have you visited the Greek islands? Set in the stunningly beautiful purple-blue sea, these rocky outcrops seem like an improbable mirage. My earlier visit to the islands inspired this novel, and now I can't resist the lure to return-- once more this fall, as I gather material for the sequel in progress. Stay tuned!

A scientist struggles to accept her inexplicable p

When I first conceived of my young Greek healer Ariadne, I knew that she had had a mystical experience as a child. But growing up with a tyrannical father led her to seal off such vulnerable feelings, as well as faith. She studies science and believes she has found a cure for a New Leprosy plague. What she is beginning to accept in the early scenes of the novel is that she is somehow tapping into ancient powers the she can't explain scientifically. Is she going crazy? Can she trust what is happening to her?.... Making characters face such daunting challenges is the perhaps sadistic job of a novelist! I do pity poor Ariadne in her struggles, but she is strong.

A near-future media maven stumbles onto history

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Leeza Conreid, NewsEntertainment celebrity, is on the track of a big story. Bribing her way onto a remote Aegean island to meet rumored spiritual healer "Saint Ariadne," she does some exploring and runs into some horrifying discoveries about her hosts. Then, shaken, she stumbles upon an ancient chapel... In my early backpacking travels in Greece, I spent several weeks camping and exploring the rugged south coast of Crete. The chapel in this scene is based on one that a gracious local man showed me there. Like the one Leeza finds, it was built up in layers of history that triggered my imagination. My journey through magical Greece was life-altering for me, as this one will be for my character Leeza.

Escaping pursuit, with hangover

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, Peter Mitchell is piloting his smuggling boat in the Aegean, fighting a hangover while hoping to elude pursuit. He's already regretting the night before, when the bottle bit back and he was persuaded to smuggle NeuroLink celebrity Leeza Conreid across a forbidden border.... I've experienced a hangover only once in my lifetime, when young and inexperienced, and that once was enough! So I felt for Peter while writing this scene, and hoped that the beauty of the Aegean and Mediterranean seas would help ease his pain. Like Peter, I can't get enough of those deep purple-blue waters and the gleaming, rocky Greek islands. I'll be returning soon for more research as the sequel, The Ariadne Disconnect, nears completion!

A reluctant "saint" Ariadne

In this early excerpt from my near-future thriller, Ariadne Demodakis on her Greek island has been experimenting with cures for the New Leprosy plague. The local villagers call her a saint, but she refuses that designation, looking for a scientific explanation of her inexplicable abilities... It's a great challenge for a writer to create a truly "good" character, who feels a calling to help the world. I gave Ariadne "warts" and issues, especially with her tyrannical father and mistrust of men. She will eventually have to face her own shadows.

NeuroLink NewsEntertainment

My near-future media celebrity Leeza Conreid monitors news and records her own sensations to create "quickie news hits" for sale. With the new technology, she can Link in with her direct neural connection via her spinal cord implant. Virtual Reality starts to outpace "mundane" reality. Wait! How far off is this future??.... When I first conceived this novel, such technology was a big imaginative step away. Now it doesn't seem like such a stretch. How do you feel about Linking In?

Easter service in a Cretan village

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, healer Ariadne Demodakis is in flight from various factions who want to control her power. With the help of smuggler Peter Mitchell, she finds brief refuge in the Cretan village where her uncle Demetrios lives.... When I was backpacking around the Greek islands years ago, I stayed in a similar village on the south coast of Crete, and was invited to attend the Easter service in a small chapel like the one I describe in this scene. A fitting moment for Peter to witness a small miracle....

A rare moment of peace for Ariadne

In my near-future Greek islands thriller, "Saint" Ariadne Demodakis is being pursued by various factions out to control her ability to heal New Plague victims. Exhausted, she takes refuge in the Cretan mountain village where her uncle Demetrios has settled after years as a trader in the Mediterranean.... In my 4-month backpacking trip around the Greek islands many years ago, I fell in love with the rugged island of Crete, which has its own long history and distinct culture. I spent time in villages like the one in my novel, enjoying the slow pace and earthy connection. A Greek friend I made in a remote south coast village showed me where to find the wild asparagus. A philosopher, he rhapsodized like my Demetrios about the virtues of the wild plants.

Leeza Links In to record a storm at sea

NeuroLink celebrity Leeza Conreid blackmails her way onto the boat carrying reclusive "Saint Ariadne" on a secret mission. She's torn between glee at recording news items and terror at the dangers. It's all funneling down the leads connected to her spinal implant, storing sensory input to replay later in extreme virtual reality for her "news entertainment" consumers.... When I wrote early drafts of this near-future novel, I didn't realize how close we were coming to a "plugged in" culture. Now Leeza's need for constant media stimulation doesn't make her such an outlier. I'll be watching to see how soon such neural connections become available.

Veteran Peter Mitchell dives into the clear Medite

In this scene near the beginning of my near-future thriller, Gulf War III veteran and now-smuggler Peter Mitchell is a forced recruit of the rogue Mediterranean League. Awaiting assignment, he goes spear fishing and grapples a lot of questions.... In my first travels in the Greek islands, I was captivated by the clear blue Mediterranean and Aegean sea, spending as much time as I could snorkeling off the islands. The clarity was amazing, like floating in air, although I was surprised by the scarcity of underwater life. The dynamite fishing I witnessed there explained part of it, as Peter reflects.

Healer Ariadne accepts her fate.

In my near-future thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, my heroine struggles to accept her fate as a healer who can cure a modern plague with her inexplicable connection to ancient mythic forces. After many trials and tribulations, she accepts her destiny on the road to Delphi, where she must face a deadly challenge.... In my recent travels in Greece, I followed the route of the ancient road taken by mythical Oedipus. A very old tale dramatized by Sophocles, the story follows the horrific travails of the man who tried to circumvent the will of the gods and Fate. In the end, he and Ariadne must both bow to forces larger than themselves.

Leeza's seedy hideout in Athens

In the second half of my near-future Greek thriller, NeuroLink celebrity Leeza Conreid has gotten herself in a little too deep in her quest for a big news story. She finds herself stuck in a flea-bag hotel in Piraeus Harbor, pondering her dwindling options. Addicted to drugs as well as the rush of "Linking In" to sensory media, she's on a downhill trajectory..... Once more mining my own experiences from my first backpacking trip through Greece, I found this description in my journal of what became the seedy Piraeus hotel Leeza is hiding out in.I stayed there before catching a ferry to the islands. Back then I had more energy than money, so everything was an adventure, including the "found art" items on the rickety balcony.

A rascally goat-herder in a Greek island taverna

In this excerpt early in the near-future thriller, smuggler Peter Mitchell is still trying to determine the truth about Ariadne Demodakis and the rumors that she is a healing "saint." She insists that her experiments with New Leprosy victims are based on science, but the soldiers in her father's island kingdom clearly believe differently.... This taverna setting recalls many such simple local venues I came across in my early travels in Greece. And Josef the rascally goat-herder looks like the herder I met while hiking the south coast road on Crete. The real Josef was a wonderful, friendly fellow, and we made the most of pantomime and my very limited Greek vocabulary as we walked along the dirt road with his goats.

Climbing a flooding gorge on the island of Crete

On my first backpacking travels in Greece in the 1980s, my partner and I hiked down the Gorge of Samaria on Crete from the snow-dusted mountains to the Mediterranean Sea. It's a very narrow cleft-- in some places you can stretch out your arms and nearly touch both walls. A stream flows down it, which swelled to a torrent when we got caught in a rainstorm. Escaping the flood, we sheltered overnight in an abandoned chapel.... Years later, when I was writing THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, my adventure in the gorge inspired a scene in which Ariadne follows a local midwife up the creek ravine to find the source of earthquake tremors.

Jaded players and a world in crisis.

When I first traveled in Greece in the 1980s, I was backpacking and finding myself catching meals in lively and/or seedy tavernas. I eagerly drank in not much alcohol, but a lot of local color and an international hodgepodge of travelers and Greeks. On more than one occasion, I joined in dancing on broken dishes -- a custom discouraged by the owners in which drinkers celebrated by throwing dishes onto the floor. So some of those memories went into Taverna Georgios in the first chapter of THE ARIADNE CONNECTION. I also wanted to present some "world building" in the near-future, with the world in multiple environmental and social crises, and some people more or less saying, "Might as well dance as the world burns." Challenges to come will force changes on Peter and Leeza, for better or worse....

A troubling reunion of old friends

With my near-future New Leprosy plague reaching pandemic proportions, desperate people seize on the rumor of "Saint Ariadne." The mystery woman supposedly heals plague victims with her touch. Meanwhile, Ariadne Demodakis, with her scientific training and help from other scientists on her wealthy father's Greek island, is experimenting with healing techniques. At a crucial stage, she realizes she must escape the control of her father -- the Tyrannos/dictator of the Med League. At the worst possible moment, her old college roommate Leeza Conreid arrives on the island. Leeza is now a NeuroLink media celebrity and ruthlessly pursuing a story about Ariadne, and perhaps more .... In this brief excerpt, Ariadne reflects on the old friendship and the new reality. It's a quiet moment revealing Ariadne's vulnerability, before all hell breaks lose.

"Infotainment" News in the Near Future

When I first created my near-future world in turmoil experiencing a geomagnetic reversal that blocks many communication channels, that future was at a comfortable distance. I had fun projecting technology to "link in" via direct neural connections to record sensations to sell to consumers as a hybrid news/entertainment. I put the novel aside for several years while I was adventuring around the world, and then recently completely rewrote it. Alas, much of what I predicted in terms of social alienation, pollution, and even the progression of a geomagnetic reversal is coming to pass or seems soon to be possible.... My narcissistic NeuroLink celebrity Leeza Conreid exploits the technology and weaknesses of human nature for her own gratification. Why do I have such fun writing her scenes?

Peter Mitchell captured by Greek warrior-women

In my near-future thriller set in Greece, former smuggler Peter Mitchell finds himself on a dangerous path after he hires on with "Saint" Ariadne Demodakis. Able to cure those stricken with New Plague leprosy, she's the object of pursuit by violent factions. But now Peter has been the one captured by the eco-terrorist Corybantes, women warriors who want Ariadne to lead them in their opposition to the military and corporate patriarchy.... After hiking around the rugged, rocky hillsides of Greece, I could easily visualize how Peter would fall and break his leg. And it was fun to create his fierce captors, the Corybantes. They are my hybrid of ancient Greek warriors, legendary Amazons, and the Bacchantes who held ecstatic rituals in the caverns near Mt. Parnassos. After dancing themselves into a frenzy, the celebrants would chase over the mountainsides in search of prey to tear apart and devour.... If you'd like to read more about the ancient Bacchantes, check out my blog post of 4/22/18 at

A NeuroLink addict gets high on the real thing.

As my agent has told me, I seem to write ahead of my time. When I originally conceived of the near-future world and technology of THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, direct neural connection and recording of sensations seemed far off. Today, with virtual reality at full speed ahead, NeuroLink celebrity Leeza Conreid may be with us soon. In this early scene in the novel, she has tricked boat captain Peter Mitchell into Linking into a visceral jet ride, and enjoys mocking his queasy reaction. Readers seem to enjoy Leeza's narcissistic antics, and I have to admit that she is fun to write. I'm now embarked on the sequel in which she's busy throwing her unique monkey wrenches into the best laid plans of "good" characters. Leeza isn't evil, but she rarely considers consequences in her quest for the next thrill and her next newsstim story. Like many of my characters, she's an amalgam of people I have known or observed. I always ask why these flashy types seem to get away with sometimes-literal murder. Maybe because we do find them entertaining? With Leeza, I also look for her vulnerable moments, when she drops her acting and simply embraces a true moment of beauty.

A conflicted scientist/healer

In this scene from my near-future thriller, "Saint" Ariadne Demodakis has been working with scientists to develop a cure for a new pandemic, while resisting the recognition that her cures may not be explicable by science. Meanwhile, her dictator father holds her a prisoner on her Greek home island. Converging forces are reaching the breaking point, as she seeks refuge in her childhood secret labyrinth of caves.... My early travels in Greece took me into some of the many caverns in this porous geography, and those visits, along with the myth of the original Ariadne and her labyrinth, inform this passage.

A Mediterranean smuggler gets in over his head.

In my near-future thriller, Peter Mitchell is a veteran of Gulf War III and a smuggler of refugees and banned media across shifting Mediterranean borders. He's persuaded to ferry NeuroLink News celebrity Leeza Conreid through dangerous waters in search of a big story about "Saint" Ariadne, supposed healer of New Plague Victims. All does not go well.... Many of the characters in my different novels borrow bits of people I have known or observed. Peter and his personal issues, as well as his earthy solidity, partly arose from Vietnam-War veterans I have known. There are shadows stirring beneath the sunny surface for many former warriors.

NeuroLink addict Leeza goes dancing

In this snippet from my near-future Greek islands thriller, Leeza Conreid is still following her big news story about "Saint Ariadne." Pursued by violent factions, Ariadne, Peter, and Leeza are hiding out with a Cretan fisherman. But Leeza, always impatient and addicted to drugs and excitement, breaks free to hitch a ride to the nearest town. The description of the coastal town and taverna scene comes pretty much straight from my own experiences while backpacking along the south coast of Crete many years ago. The Greeks know how to party!

Peter Mitchell meets a "goddess."

In the near-future Mediterranean, Gulf War III veteran Peter Mitchell has become a smuggler, ferrying refugees and black-market goods across unstable borders. Lured into a hunt for the elusive "Saint Ariadne" Demodakis, he's detained on her home island. The soldiers of Ariadne's dictator father have allowed him to do some spear fishing along the rocky shoreline, where he has an unexpected encounter. I enjoyed writing this scene of Peter snorkeling, after my own travels through the Greek islands and experiencing the wonderful, bracing clear sea. Thoughts of history and mythology just spring naturally from the sea and the rocks of these ancient islands....

"Saint" Ariadne Demodakis treats New Plague victim

First, I want to thank my readers and fellow writers for their responses to my characters, and helpful feedback. It means so much to writers to know they are making a connection. Most people I talk to agree that creating and breathing life into a truly good character is much more challenging than creating an entertaining bad gal or guy. Ariadne Demodakis is a good person, but far from a "saint." She is dedicated to healing others, as she failed to heal her mother, who died as a child. She has deep wounds from her authoritarian, abusive father. And she has created a bubble around herself as a survival mechanism. As a scientist, she believes that she is healing Plague victims with logical treatments. But soon she will have to face a different truth.

Leeza's NeuroLink media versus "the meat"

In the near future, Leeza Conreid is a NeuroLink news-entertainment celebrity. With direct connection to her nervous system via a spinal port, she records her experiences and sensations to sell to consumers. On the track of a big news story, she has located "Saint" Ariadne Demodakis on a remote Greek island. After a terrorist attack, Leeza hikes uphill to record local color, when she stumbles upon the crucified body of a captured terrorist. Running in shock, she comes across an ancient chapel among the desolate cliffs, which is pretty much exactly like one that I saw many years ago while backpacking around the island of Crete. A wonderful local man, Stelios Mamalakis, had befriended my partner and me and took us on a ramble to a deserted spot above the sea where the tiny chapel still held fast through the centuries.

A suicide attack by terrorists

In my near-future thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, various factions are pursuing "Saint" Ariadne Demodakis, who is rumored to be healing New Plague victims. Mercenaries for a pharmaceutical cartel want her healing secrets; ecoterrorist women warriors want to recruit her as their new Gaea Incarnate; and the extremist Sons of the Prophet want to execute her for heresy. The reclusive scientist has now been traced to a remote Greek island by NeuroLink paparazza Leeza Conreid, who hired smuggler Peter Mitchell to find her. Then all hell breaks loose.... As I wrote the novel, I enjoyed projecting current-day issues into "what-if" scenarios. What I didn't anticipate is the way the real news is catching up to my imagination.

A young Greek girl's vision

Writing in the point of view of Ariadne Demodakis was the most challenging of my three main characters in this near-future novel. Most writers would agree that writing flawed or even villainous characters is easier than trying to believably portray a selflessly good person. Ariadne was trained as a scientist and is dedicated to curing victims of the New Leprosy plague, but discovers that she is curing patients in what she finally has to admit is a manner beyond scientific explanation. This flashback scene gives us a glimpse of her childhood on a remote Greek island, where she ran with the wild goats and experienced her first vision of ancient mysteries.

A glimpse of a radioactive Hot Zone via NeuroLink

In the near-future Mediterranean, radioactive Hot Zones linger after the tactical nukes of Gulf War III. Media celebrity Leeza Conreid is chasing a big story, but didn't anticipate it would involve exposure to lingering radiation. In this snippet, she replays her recording of her visit to one of the Hot Zones, site of a battle during the war. In my own early job as a nuclear reactor operator, I learned all about exposure measurements, as well as the unearthly beauty of Cherenkov's radiation that emanates from spent fuel rods stored underwater.

An earthquake on Crete on Good Friday

The inspiration for my near-future novel came from a 4-month backpacking trip through the Greek islands many years ago. My partner and I ended up in a remote village on the south coast of Crete during the Easter holidays, when the only road along the coast was blocked by a huge pile of sticks and branches, topped by a straw-stuffed dummy of Judas that would be burned at midnight before Easter. Traditions in the islands hold that the "Judas goat" will take on the sins of the year to be purged. Greece is a land subject to many earthquakes, which ties into the main plot of the novel, so my character Peter gets to experience one up close and personal.

NewsEntertainment via NeuroLink

This snippet of Leeza Conreid, NeuroLink media celebrity pursuing a hot lead, gave readers a brief glimpse of the stakes in this near-future thriller. My original prologue for the story of a reluctant healer "saint" featured Ariadne as a young girl experiencing her first connection with mythic mysteries, but I came to feel it didn't have enough propulsive energy. And readers seem to enjoy anti-heroine Leeza as she schemes and rides her Links into world crises. I know she's a hoot to write!

"Saint" Ariadne on her Greek island

For my near-future thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, I imagined a world struggling with environmental and social crises centering around a geomagnetic reversal and a New Leprosy Plague (officially Rapid-Proliferating Hansen's disease). A young Greek scientist, Ariadne Demodakis, gets promising results with a new cure for plague victims, but rumors spread that these are miracles, and she's dubbed "Saint Ariadne."

NewsEntertainment via NeuroLink Media

In my near-future Greek islands thriller THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, a geomagnetic reversal (which, incidentally, is starting now as one of many in the long geologic timeframe) has complicated communications technology. I had fun envisioning a return to transmission of data via computer "chips," coupled with the new ability to "plug in" and experience sensations via direct nerve connections. My lively but obnoxious NeuroLink celebrity Leeza Conreid was a hoot to write, as I could run free with all sorts of creatively narcissistic behavior for her. As another character says of Leeza, "She's trouble with a capital T."

A Near-future Quest Begins

After my 4-month backpacking trip around the Greek islands, following a lifelong fascination with Greek mythology, I started writing stories that eventually became "The Ariadne Connection." Peter Mitchell, an unlikely hero, found inspiration in my partner at that time, a Vietnam War veteran who also struggled to find a purpose. Peter is drawn into Ariadne's quest to cure a pandemic related to misdirected technology, and the NeuroLink reporter Leeza Conreid epitomizes that media addiction. It's all wrapped up in my love affair with the gorgeous, magical Greek landscape!


Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Award-winning romantic suspense and adventure: "Welcome to Paradise," archaeologist Susan Dunne hears on arrival at the Caribbean island to research petroglyphs and unravel the mystery of her brother's drowning. Was John murdered? This sunny tourist paradise conceals shadowy secrets--violent native unrest, a sunken treasure guarded by legendary Jumbies, and a bloodthirsty cult. Susan literally dives into her investigation of the sunken treasure ship where John drowned, and its link to the photo of underwater petroglyphs he'd sent before his death. To find the truth, she must work with her number one suspect--Vic Manden, the salvage expert who was working the site with John. Resisting her attraction to the unpredictable combat vet Manden, Susan is soon in over her head in more ways than one. The only way through the murky intrigue is to dive deeper into the clues in her disturbing psychic visions. ForeWord Book of the Year Finalist Hollywood Book Festival Genre Award Winner Chanticleer Paranormal Suspense Award Winner "A superior mystery and suspense novel with solid characters, some very spooky goings-on, and lots of wonderful writing.... An intellectual thriller? Absolutely. It's a fast read, a stomping, vivid ride, the work of a woman who is passionate about lots of things." - Dan Hays, Statesman Journal "A highly palatable soup of the novel... She galvanizes considerable interest from the reader." - Locus Magazine "A page turner from beginning to end." - The Bellingham Herald 5-Star Readers' Favorite review: "Islands" by Sara Stamey is a gripping read.

Book Bubbles from ISLANDS

Slippery Truth

How many times has your "reality" been upended by revelations of different ways to see and think? In my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS, archaeologist Susan Dunne arrives on the island, confident in her grasp on evidence as she researches petroglyphs and tries to solve the mystery of her brother's drowning there. She quickly discovers that she must constantly challenge her preconceptions, as the island challenges her ideas of "truth".... My inspiration for the novel came from my time as a scuba divemaster in the islands, after moving there from a very different climate in the Pacific Northwest. Like my character's, my "reality" was repeatedly challenged by life, culture, and history on these troubled islands.

Sunny beach with shadows

Our Bublish theme for the week is "beach reads," so here's an actual beach scene (and start of scuba diving) from my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS. My archaeologist character Susan Dunne has arrived on the island to research petroglyphs and solve the mystery of her brother John's drowning there. Here, she hopes to take a break from converging shadows and threats.... When I worked as a scuba divemaster on St. Thomas, we took tourists for an intro dive at this very beach and underwater park. For more tropic sun, sea, mystery, sunken treasure, and a hot maybe-romance, dive in to my award-winning novel!

Petroglyphs and power spots

This brief scene from my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS follows my archaeologist character Susan Dunne as she researches petroglyphs on the island where her brother drowned. She's also trying to solve the mystery of his death, and it seems bound up in a cult that may use "power spots" on the island, sometimes where ancient petroglyphs are found. As a scientist, she's doubly challenged by weird visions she's experiencing.... As part of my research for the novel, started when I was a scuba divemaster on St. Thomas, I visited petroglyphs and took rubbings as described in this scene. I also lived next to one when I worked as divemaster in the Honduran Bay Islands. Sometimes odd things did happen around them....

My Hemingway Complex

Our Bublish theme for the week is Ernest Hemingway as writing inspiration. He was noted for his discipline in writing every day, and for his active, adventurous life that fueled his writing and brought action, setting, and characters to life. A psychologist acquaintance once invented a syndrome for me -- The Hemingway Complex. He said that it appeared I needed to experience adventures in order to gather material for my novels. Although I research, imagine, and write about many things I haven't experienced, he was right in that my worldwide rambles (keeping journals and photos and soaking up exotic locales and lore) do fuel many scenes. My Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS draws heavily on my experiences teaching scuba, treasure diving, and escaping a shark attack, which is featured in this scene. Enjoy!

Working out, Working it off

Just like my archaeologist character Susan Dunne in my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS, I find escape from tension in physical activity. We both love to plunge into the sea for a good, long swim to wash away stress and enjoy the magic of weightlessness. In this brief scene, Susan is struggling against resistance to finding out why her brother John drowned on this "paradise" island with too many threatening shadows. Enjoy this brief escape with her!

Escape into the Sea

I'm definitely not alone in feeling pandemic claustrophobia, and for Thor and me it's mainly missing our trips-- escape from cold, rainy, gray Pacific Northwest to warmer climes and snorkeling in warm, clear seas. So here's a virtual getaway to a fictional Virgin Islands, and my scuba divemaster days there that inspired my novel ISLANDS. My archaeologist character Susan Dunne is also from the PacNW, a fish-out-of-water in the tropics, but now diving with the fish in this scene. She's taking a break from disturbing nightmares of her brother's drowning here, as she surrenders to the magic of the tropic sea. Dive in and enjoy!

Finding Hope During Dark Times

Our Bublish theme for the week is finding hope even in difficult times. Where do you find it? How? In my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS, my archaeologist character Susan Dunne is on a quest to discover the truth about her brother's drowning, but on the way stirs up a dangerous hornet's nest. Also troubled by disturbing visions, she can only hang onto her purpose, step by step, and a belief in fundamental decency. Best wishes to us all during these trying times!

Inspiration in the Sea

Our Bublish theme for the week is celebrating our inspirations, and for me being on and in the sea is a big one. I must be part otter or dolphin, as I become one with the flowing watery world.... In this scene from my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS, my archaeologist Susan Dunne finds escape from worries, and fresh wonder, as she takes a scuba dive along a beautiful reef. Enjoy the virtual immersion, and follow your own inspirations!

Darkness in the Caribbean

Our Bublish theme for the week is creating atmosphere in our stories, and since Halloween is just around the corner, here's a spooky scene from my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS. My Pacific Northwest archaeologist Susan Dunne is unprepared for the murky undercurrents in this tropical tourist island when she arrives to research petroglyphs and solve the mystery of her brother's drowning. In this nighttime scene at a jungle "party house," she follows a young boy to a scary surprise.... In my writing, I like to let details of setting -- sounds, sights, sensations, smells -- establish a mood for characters to enter. In this case, building apprehension and a sense of danger. Boo!

Dancing in the Cemetery

Our Bublish them for the week involves "dancing" in whatever form to spark creativity. Here's a scene appropriate to approaching Halloween, involving literal dancing beside a grave in a sort of wake to honor the dead. In my award-winning Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS, archaeologist Susan Dunne has arrived on on the tropic island to study petroglyphs and solve a deadly mystery, but soon finds herself in over her head in this strange new world. She also finds unexpected allies in this scene, as she throws caution to the winds and dances in the cemetery. May you seize inspiration wherever it finds you!

Carnivale Night in the Caribbean

It's hard now for me to imagine pre-Covid times when you could go into a crowded bar and lose yourself in the music and dancing. (And maybe being younger wouldn't hurt.) So I pulled up this vicarious Carnivale celebration, with an ominous undertone, from my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS. Susan Dunne, my formerly intrepid archeologist, is pursuing a dangerous mystery, and feels herself slipping into the feverish madness of the island.... Details from the Carnivale Village are straight from my journal, when I lived and taught Scuba in the Virgin Islands -- too many years ago. Enjoy the heat and the rhythm!

Blessed Rain after the Drought

Since our U.S. West has been burning with catastrophic wild fires this summer and early fall, we have prayed for rain. Even here in our green Pacific Northwest, we have had unprecedented fires and literally hazardous smoke blanketing our region. This week in Washington State, our drought has broken with wild windstorms and deluges of blessed rain. I only wish we could send some of it to still-stricken Oregon and California! In this snippet from my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS, a tropical shower breaks the drought. A visceral moment inspired by my own experience when living and teaching scuba in the Caribbean.

An academic's blithe confidence

Our Bublish theme for the week is return to school. My sister is shepherding her grandkids through virtual middle school, as all schools in our county are going virtual, as is the university where I taught. Here's a brief snippet from the start of my Caribbean suspense novel: My archaeologist/professor's blithe confidence is going to be severely challenged as she arrives on a Caribbean island beset with conflicts. Enjoy a memory of campus before the pandemic!

A Caribbean Interlude, with Voodoo

Since travel is not a good option these pandemic days, I have to be content with memories of all my previous adventures around the globe. My Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS draws on my experiences living and teaching scuba in the Virgin Islands. This brief scene follows my archaeologist character Susan Dunne into a native "jungle town" with friendly James as her guide. The hole-in-the-wall cafe Le Lambi's is pretty much exactly like the one I stumbled upon as I was starting to wonder about the presence of the Vaudun ("Voodoo"), which did not officially exist in these islands. Susan Dunne and I wondered....

Stranger on a strange island

Since our travels have been curtailed with the pandemic, I can travel only virtually. I miss being the "stranger in a strange land." Years ago, when I moved from the cool Pacific Northwest to the tropic Virgin Islands to work as a scuba guide and instructor, I was definitely a fish out of water. In my suspense novel ISLANDS, my character Susan Dunne experiences some of the same sensory overload and culture shock. Here, an old friend meets her on arrival, and it becomes clear that all is not sunny in this tourist mecca.

Wisdom from dolphins

Our weekly Bublish theme is "animal wisdom," and whenever I think of what animal I'd like to be, I always pick a dolphin. I've spent time as a scuba divemaster in the Caribbean and Honduran islands, as well as boating and snorkeling in the Mediterranean, New Zealand, and Hawaii. I've been lucky enough to swim with pods of wild dolphins, and I can't think of anything more wonderful than communicating with these beautiful creatures face to face. Or watching their playful joy as they swim and leap along the bow wake of a boat. Or seeing them "surf" inside a curling wave, silhouetted by the sunset in California. So a few of my characters have had a similar love affair with dolphins. Here's a scene from my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS.

Kindness in the Midst of Conflict

Our Bublish theme for the week is Kindness. Comfort and peace are rare right now, especially with violence and racism rampant. In my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS, my Pacific Northwest archaeologist Susan Dunne arrives on a Caribbean island to research petroglyphs and investigate her brother's drowning there. Despite her intentions to remain an open-minded scholar, she brings preconceptions and judgments to this island where she is a minority Caucasian among the descendants of African slaves, and where racism of all types prevails. As she unwittingly sets off violent repercussions in her quest to solve her brother's death, she's also befriended by kind natives who help her broaden her views. In this scene, a young man guides her to petroglyph sites and more.... When I moved to the Caribbean many years ago to teach scuba, I was plunged into "tropic heat shock" as well as culture shock, and my own petroglyph hikes inspired this scene. Enjoy the outing, and a moment of peace!

New Normal?

Our Bublish theme is adjusting to the "new normal," whatever that turns out to be during and after the pandemic. Since I've been reading science fiction since my early days, including many apocalyptic scenarios, I'm not surprised that humanity is hitting walls in many areas, and the need to change is starkly before us. Do you feel like Alice going down the rabbit hole? The familiar strange, and the strange familiar? In this brief snippet from my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS, my archaeologist character is constantly getting her former reality upended on this strange island, as when she visits a "Voodoo" woman for clues to a murder and more....

The Treasure Hunting Bug

Our Bublish theme for the week is the power of humor during hard times. While this brief excerpt from my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS isn't a laugh-out-loud snippet, I hope it provokes a chuckle that my heroine Susan badly needs in her quest to solve the mystery of her brother's drowning.... The novel took shape while I was a Scuba divemaster in the Virgin Islands, and many of the details are based on my experiences. My partner and another diver "had the treasure bug bad," so one day we all went diving (lacking common sense) in the very murky harbor where hundreds of colonial-era ships had sunk in a hurricane and were now ground up beneath the props of cruise ships. Navigating by compass, I came across a wreck and in my ignorance ignored a clump of corroded silver pieces of eight. All I wanted was an antique perfume bottle, and I found the one described in this scene.

Creativity Endures

Our Bublish theme for the week is creativity while under stress. So many people are coming up with creative options for dealing with the Corona virus pandemic! My heroine Susan Dunne in my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS faces more personal and local threats, but in the midst of murder and mayhem she finds time for an escape into music with this duet.... I love remembering the places and people that inspired my novel, from my time living and teaching scuba in the Caribbean. Right now, dealing with family illnesses and mounting virus numbers here in Washington State, with a lot of upheaval and fear, I might just sit down at my piano for some creative therapy time! Best wishes to you, and stay well!

Inspiration and determination

Our Bublish theme for this week-- and for the start of a new decade-- is to examine our inspirations and goals for writing. Since early childhood, I was a storyteller and determined to become an author like those in the "Authors" card game my Grandma Sara (a closet writer) would play with me. Where I find inspiration is often in the beauty of the natural world and my active involvement in it. When I lived in the Virgin Islands as a Scuba guide, I found daily refreshment and inspiration in the beauty of Mother Ocean, and this scene hopes to capture one of my favorite swims there. (I found the golden shell as described.) The scene also aims to capture the importance of personal goals to keep us going: In this case, my character Susan Dunne is determined to face dangers and obstructions on this tropical island as she tries to solve the mystery of her beloved brother's drowning there. Take a break from cold winter and dive in!

More trouble for a grieving character

Our Bublish theme for the week is to look back on the previous year, or decade, as 2019 draws to a close. I must admit that the past year has been a rough one, with many challenges for myself and loved ones, so this chapter in my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS popped into my head. My archaeologist character Susan Dunne has arrived on the Caribbean island to research petroglyphs and also solve the mystery of her brother's drowning there. She is still grieving her beloved brother as she tries to take a properly objective view of the hostile reception she's receiving from the natives. She has a lot to confront here, including her own previously unrecognized preconceptions about culture and race on this very race-conscious island.... I wrote this novel after my own eye-opening move to the Caribbean to teach scuba, and I made my character jump through a lot of hoops on the way to enlightenment. There is light at the end of the tunnel! Best wishes for a fresh new year!

A moment of peace for a woman in conflict

Our Bublish theme for the week is Peace -- a rare thing, especially these days with violence and racism rampant. In my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS, my Pacific Northwest archaeologist Susan Dunne arrives on a Caribbean island to research petroglyphs and investigate her brother's drowning there. Despite her intentions to remain an open-minded scholar, she brings preconceptions and judgements to this island where she is a minority Caucasian among the descendants of African slaves. As she unwittingly sets off violent repercussions in her quest to solve her brother's death, she's also befriended by kind natives who help her broaden her views. In this scene, a young man guides her to petroglyph sites and more.... When I moved to the Caribbean many years ago to teach scuba, I was plunged into "tropic heat shock" as well as culture shock, and my own petroglyph hikes inspired this scene. Enjoy the outing, and a moment of peace!

"Alice" in a baffling Caribbean Wonderland

This week's Bublish theme is basically to "let our freak flags fly," so this scene from my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS fits the bill. Reserved archaeologist Susan Dunne has just arrived on the island to research petroglyphs and investigate her brother's drowning there. She's waiting... and waiting at the shabby airport to be picked up by her brother's girlfriend..... When I arrived on St. Thomas years ago to work as a scuba divemaster, I was definitely in temperature and culture shock, coming from the cool Pacific Northwest. The airport was pretty much as described, but I let my imagination fly with the rest!

Fiction & Facts

This week's Bublish theme is the work behind the scenes, or "off season," in crafting stories. The inspiration for my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS began with my move to the Virgin Islands many years ago, to work as a scuba divemaster. Coming from the cool Pacific Northwest, I eagerly drank in the new tropic world of heat, clear warm seas, cultural chaos, and colonial history. My novel began to take shape, and part of it involved the shipwreck of a slave ship that secretly carried tribal wealth from Africa. I visited the local historical archives and went through somewhat of a gauntlet in persuading the protective archivist that I wasn't a treasure hunter intent on looting the records. (If you read the novel, you will find a chapter where my heroine jumps similar hurdles.) I was fascinated to find records of the slave trade, including sobering accounts of the treatment of the slaves and freed "coloreds." And I struck gold with copies of ship's logs and messages sealed in bottles from colonial-era shipwrecks. In this prologue to the novel, I used excerpts from these accounts, interwoven with my own invention of the African uprising onboard. (There were actual slave uprisings in the islands.) I hope you enjoy the result!

Summer is for swimming off ISLANDS

Our Bublish theme for the week is summertime, and how the season affects our writing. In ISLANDS, my Caribbean suspense novel, it's pretty much summer weather year-round, which is part of the adjustments my Pacific Northwest archaeologist character Susan makes -- this one a welcome one. Like me, Susan loves the sea and swimming! In the novel, she takes a break from pressing mysteries to find solace in the cleansing waters.... For me, summer is a productive writing time! Get up early and write, then follow the sun for a bike ride, a hike, or a swim, and let that movement outdoors free up ideas. I often find myself having a conversation with a character as I walk, or suddenly getting an "aha" moment about the story as I swim. Ah, summer!!

An archaeologist on a strange new island

Our Bublish theme for the week is establishing mood with a setting that echoes the internal territory of a character. It's been one of my favorite exercises for my writing students, so here goes! In my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS, archaeologist Susan Dunne has just arrived on the island to study petrogyphs and investigate the drowning death of her beloved brother John. She quickly finds herself out of her depth in more ways than one.... The novel found its inspiration when I worked as a scuba divemaster in the Virgin Islands, and the place I describe here was shown to me by local friends. It was a gloriously wild intersection of crashing sea and black, rocky cliffs. For this scene of Susan Dunne's confusion and fear, I darkened the setting and made it ominous, also indicating some of the racial tensions of the island with the "black and white" imagery. I hope you enjoy the visit!

A Caribbean feast for my confused heroine

In my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS, Susan Dunne is an archaeologist from the Pacific Northwest who has arrived on this tropic island to research petroglyphs and solve the mystery of her brother's drowning there. In this scene, she's been harassed and threatened and confused by various characters, but finds comfort with friendly natives who challenge her preconceptions.... Like Susan Dunne, when I arrived on St. Thomas many years ago to work as a scuba guide, I encountered culture shock at the same time I eagerly soaked up the exotic setting, the shimmering sea, and the lively culture. This scene describes pretty accurately my own experience of stumbling upon the hole-in-the-wall diner Le Lambi's. I can hardly wait for an upcoming trip to the Caribbean to enjoy such cooking again!

Escape into tropic seas

I admit it -- gloomy cold winter is wearing me down, and I'm longing to escape back to the Caribbean islands that inspired my suspense novel ISLANDS. In the novel, Pacific Northwest archaeologist Susan Dunne visits the Caribbean for the first time, and takes a magical scuba dive with an engaging stranger who guides her through the underwater world.... When I lived in the Virgin Islands, working as a scuba guide taking tourists on intro dives, my partner and I would take them to a very similar underwater park, and much of the experience in this scene is taken from my beautiful dives there. I, too, looked up from the depths to see a huge manta ray swimming over me -- what the locals called "devil fish" for its ominous batlike appearance and "horns." In reality, the mantas are gentle plankton eaters and "fly" gracefully through the sea. We fiction-writers like to create dread and tension to drive our stories! And Susan Dunne will be facing plenty of dark days on this sunny island....

Reading as Refuge and Adventure

In my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS, my archaeologist Susan Dunne plans to research petroglyphs and also investigate the drowning of her brother on the island. Her best intentions lead her deep into island politics, rumors of a violent cult, and more suspicious deaths. After a friend is killed in a traffic accident, she seeks comfort in the poetry of John Donne, one of her favorite authors. As she's reading one of his passionate love sonnets (to God), her number one suspect shows up at her door, and she's torn between distrust and attraction.... When I wrote the early draft of ISLANDS while teaching scuba in the Caribbean, I had just finished a degree in English literature and writing. One of my favorite literature periods was the Elizabethan period, including Shakespeare, John Donne, and Philip Marlowe, so a lot of the drama of those works echoed in my own story of Susan Dunne and her trials. Even as a girl, I read and wrote adventure stories, and my reading may have launched my own world-travel adventures, which led to more of my stories.... What kind of reading brings you pleasure or comfort?

Comfort from an unexpected source

In my Caribbean suspense novel, Susan Dunne is an archaeologist visiting a tropic island to research petroglyphs and solve the mystery of her brother's drowning there. Her investigations lead her ever deeper into frustration and danger, but she finds unexpected allies in a few natives, including young Conrad in this scene.... I didn't expect this scene when I was writing the novel, but gentle young Conrad insisted that I show readers the luminous, spiritual side of the island and its tropical beauty. I had researched local herbal lore, and the jumbie seeds and crab eye seeds will be important later in the plot. Meanwhile, Susan finally lets go of rationality and decides to "go with the flow," finding comfort in simple companionship and a vision of healing Nature.

Looking for answers in poetry

In my Caribbean psychic suspense novel ISLANDS, archaeologist Susan Dunne finds herself in way over her head as she tries to solve the mystery of her brother's drowning off the island. As the temperature and threats heat up, she turns for consolation to her favorite Elizabethan poet John Donne.... I had been studying Elizabethan dramas, many of which could be called melodramas for their violent events, before heading off to the Caribbean to work as a scuba guide. So my novel, which one reviewer compared to Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," definitely took some dark tones from "Faustus" and other sources. What we read becomes an essential part of us, so choose wisely and read widely!

Memento of a Lost Loved One

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos! In this scene from my Caribbean Island suspense novel, my heroine Susan Dunne is trying to solve the mystery of her brother John's drowning on the island. A former diving buddy of John's gives her a keepsake that she will treasure when she creates an impromptu shrine to help remember home and family in this foreign place.... On the first day of November, I follow the tradition of Latin American countries where I've lived, lighting candles and placing gifts of food and drink on my garden shrines to lost loved ones. And to fond memories, like my diving in the Virgin Islands, where I was a scuba guide years ago. One of my treasure dives inspired an early draft of this scene. I still have that antique perfume bottle I found on one of the wrecks in the harbor!

Salvage diving in the Caribbean

In this scene from my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS, my archaeologist heroine is investigating petroglyphs and trying to solve the mystery of her brother's drowning on the island. She finds herself diving with her number one suspect, facing more than one kind of danger.... When I worked as a scuba guide and instructor in the Virgin Islands (loosely the fictionalized setting for ISLANDS) and the Bay Islands of Honduras, I had a few encounters with sharks. Once I had to fend off an aggressive pair when I inadvertently swam into their breeding area. Another time a beautiful, big tiger shark swam close passes around me and then disappeared into the depths. Tiger sharks have occasionally attacked humans, so I chose one for this scene. Enjoy the sea and vicarious thrills!

Dive into the shimmering tropic sea.

This scene early in my Caribbean suspense novel ISLANDS finds my fish-out-of-water archaeologist from the Pacific Northwest taking her first scuba dive in the Caribbean. Susan Dunne has arrived on the island to research petroglyphs, but also to solve the mystery of her brother's drowning there. And to exorcise her troubling nightmare visions surrounding his death on a sunken treasure ship.... When I worked as a scuba divemaster on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, lo these many years ago, we would take tourists to an underwater park where it was easy to enter the water from a shallow, sandy beach. My job would be to follow behind the group and watch for "poppers," or divers who would panic and try to head suddenly to the surface. I would catch them and make eye contact, stabilize their buoyancy vests, and help them calm down by taking deep, slow breaths. Sometimes I would hold the hand of a newbie. These were shallow dives of only around 30 feet, so it was all pretty safe. And I never tired of the beauty of the shimmering clear sea and the multitude of fish, as described in this scene. Enjoy your swim!

A jolting introduction to a Caribbean island

When I moved from the cool, laid-back Pacific Northwest to the hot and crazy Virgin Islands to work as a scuba guide years ago, it was a combination of climate and culture shock. My fictional archaeologist heroine, Susan Dunne, arrives on a similar island for even more dramatic shocks, as she investigates petroglyphs and her brother's drowning there. The first jolt is the change in her old friend Laura, who drives her on a tour of the island. It's a bit more exciting than Susan anticipates....

Can you trust your nightmares?

My heroine Susan Dunne will find out, as she follows clues in her shadowy visions to the sunny Caribbean.... ISLANDS, set in the 1980s on a fictional tropic island, sprang from my experiences teaching scuba in the Virgin Islands back in the days before cell phones and the AIDS epidemic. Coming from the cool, laid-back Pacific Northwest, like Susan Dunne I was plunged into a bewildering stew of racial tension, tourist hordes, bloody colonial history, and hints of Voodoo. All of this on a stunningly gorgeous island of golden beaches and clear blue seas beckoning with their mysteries. How could I not write a mystery/suspense novel with lots of diving for sunken treasure?

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