Take Off

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that airplanes take off against the wind, not with it.”—Henry Ford


The Space Needle – An Icon of the Pacific Northwest


“There are two very prominent characters in Sand & Sutures, and I suspect in all of the books in the Scrubs series, that have no dialogue. The first quiet but ever present character is the city of Seattle, Washington. You can feel the green, picture the fog, sunshine, and rain. The features and terrain of Seattle have been lovingly and subtly written in as the characters walk through their days.” -Opus Book Review of Sand & Sutures

The Space Needle is a huge tourist attraction and a well-known icon in the city of Seattle. But for me, it symbolizes the Northwest and every memory associated with it.

The distinctive structure is one of the landmarks that stands out when flying into the city, especially at night. The nighttime lights of the Space Needle are absolutely awe-inspiring, and they change to reflect various events. When the Seahawks play, the tower illuminates in blue and green. During the holidays, a tree made of 1,200 lights is perched 560 feet atop the building, brightening the city.  Every New Year’s Eve, the Space Needle hosts a fireworks display synchronized to music. When the University of Washington Huskies won the Rose Bowl, the team’s logo was temporarily painted on the tower, and the building glowed with a purple hue.

The Legacy Light, or Skybeam, is a vertical beam that shines on special occasions. Every year on 9–11, it lights up the sky for eleven consecutive hours.

The observation deck of the Space Needle provides a spectacular 360-degree view of the city and surrounding area. To the west, you’ll find Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. To the east, you’ll see the snow-capped Cascade Mountains and Lake Washington. You can get to the top by either taking the 41-second elevator ride or climbing the tower’s 848 steps.

The Space Needle is one of my favorite locations, not because of the building itself, but because of what it represents for my characters throughout the Scrubs series. In Scrubs, my leading man associates the Space Needle with home. He even has a tee-shirt with the word SEATTLE printed on the front; one of the T’s is a silhouette of the famous building. The structure brings back childhood memories for him and is one of the first things he shows people when they visit his beloved city.


“As Randy’s plane descended over Puget Sound into the SEA-TAC airport, he remembered how much he missed home. The beautiful Seattle skyline lit up the nighttime sky, and the glow of the lights reflecting off the lake brought back memories of fishing with his dad.” –an excerpt from Scrubs

For most, the Space Needle is just a steel structure in the middle of downtown Seattle. But for me, the Space Needle symbolizes much more — hiking through moss-covered forests, the snow-covered Cascade Mountains, fishing in crystal clear lakes, waterfalls, fresh seafood, and my love for city of Seattle. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and although I no longer live in Seattle, I will always consider the emerald city my home.

(Taken from an article I wrote for Squirl’s On the Spot blog)

Author Spotlight – Neal Parks


Author Spotlight

Welcome to another episode of Author Spotlight. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Neal Parks. Neal is an Award Winning Author, Artist, Paranormal Researcher, Investigator, Public Speaker, and founder of Parks Paranormal Research and Investigation, with over twenty five years of firsthand experience.

Welcome, Neal. Can you tell us about yourself?

NP: My journey started with fascinating stories that my grandmother would tell me about local and regional ghost legends, UFO sightings, Bigfoot sightings and various other Neal Parksunworldly encounters. Personal experience also played a major role in my wide-eyed wonder and reflection.

In September of 2007 my research was featured in the book Ghosts from Coast to Coast – America’s Best Ghost Investigators. In September of 2008, I released my first book titled, Paranormal Chronicles Tales of Humor, Horror and the Absolutely Strange

My first book, Paranormal Chronicles – Tales of Humor, Horror and the Absolutely Strange was self-published by Lulu Press. An inspirational and Paranormal work and is a compilation of short stories, it was characterized by Andy Dominianni, a former news anchorman from FOX28 News as a, “Fun and Scary good time,” while Yolanda Harris from FOX28 called it, “A frightening and inspirational book full of heart, scares and some laughs.” A moderate commercial success, by December 2011, it has continued to sell well nationally and has made its way through the international markets. 
NP: My second book, Haunted Chillicothe – True Ghost Stories, Tales, Legends and Folklore was another self-published effort by Lulu Publishing, released in 2010. It too is a collection of ghostly tales. However, it is completely a local effort sold directly in my hometown to help promote tourism in the area. I have also appeared as a guest speaker and presenter at the 2007 – 2016 Chilliicothe Ghost Walk, the Mid Ohio Paranormal Convention in 2010, the 2008, and 2013 – 2015 Mothman Festival, the 2016 C.R.E.E.P. Fest, the 2017 Chillicothe Halloween Festival as well as speaking at schools, libraries and churches during the Halloween season. I’ve been featured in several articles, newsletters / newspapers, radio, television and documentary films. I have also been featured in two other books and a documentary due to my research and experience in the field of paranormal investigation. My third book, Haunted Holiday’s – Tales of Inspiration, Terror and Reflection was picked up by SynergEbook in 2012 and went global. It won a literary award in 2014, and earned critical praise.
My newest book and fourth release, Haunted Enough? Terrifying Tales to Tell your Friends (Paranormal Chronicles 2) will be released in Spring 2018. 
Please feel free to contact Neal at parksparanormal@gmail.com, or fonzy1959@yahoo.com.
Haunted 2
Let’s take a look at an excerpt from Haunted Holidays…
   “Check that out, Stacey,” Kristin said.    
   “Who could that be?” Stacey replied, softly chuckling.      
   The dark figure stood silently watching them, without moving. The longer the person stood there, the louder and more obnoxious the girls became. 
   “Look everyone, it’s the Grim Reaper!” one of the girls shouted. 
   The girls burst out into laughter. 
   The shadowed figure started to move toward them, silently shuffling in their direction. 
   “Oh no, he’s on the move!” Kristin said to the group. 
   Within inches from the group of girls, the shadowed figure completely vanished and a blast of intense heat filled the hall where the girls were standing. It left behind the stench of burning wood and ash. 
   “What just happened?” Stacey shouted. 
   “Who was that? Where did he go?” Kristin asked. 



“Neal Parks has done it again!! Haunting at its best! Haunted Holiday is filled with non-stop paranormal action. From Halloween all the way yo the new year, Haunted Holiday reveals horrifying true paranormal encounters. Mind blowing! You won’t be able to put this book down! Spectacular stocking stuffer for the holidays or any time of year. Haunted Holidays has my two thumbs up along with a five star rating.” – Karen Vance Hammond, Author of Shoe Maker

“This book was terrific! It was super well written, interesting, and spooky. I absolutely loved how the book tied in individual holidays and showed how ghosts can be found in each. I am a teacher and I think each of these stories will make a great read-aloud as we get close to each holiday season because they are short and can be read within a few minutes. Additionally, I loved how this book showed that ghosts can actually be angels too. Really entertaining!” – D.H., School Teacher, OH 

“This book is so good! I’m not even halfway through Haunted Holidays and I have completely gotten sucked in. I’ve read Neal Parks’ earlier works and this piece is by far his best effort to date! He’s a great storyteller and writer, one of the best modern authors out now! Buy this book today!” – Amanda Quinn

“For Neal Parks, the holiday season begins a little earlier than for most folks – although he’s hoping to in some way change that feeling. The local paranormal investigator’s third book, Haunted Holidays, features a series of 12“short stories … about paranormal phenomenon experienced in the period between Halloween and New Year’s Eve.” – http://www.hellnotes.com 


Grab your copy of Neal’s books from Neal Parks’s Books and Publications Spotlight

For more information, visit Neal’s websitehis IMDb page, YouTube channelNeal Parks on PatrolParks Paranormal Research and Investigation, or connect with him on Facebook.

Time Management (For Writers With Full-Time Jobs)


The dreaded day job.

Although I love the work I do, my day job puts a damper on my writing time. I often find myself in a situation where I might have 30 minutes of writing time each day. This time is precious, and I have to make the most of what limited writing time I have. As a writer with a full time job, I’ve found small things I can do that can easily be accomplished in 15 to 20 minute segments.

  1. Write a blurb. Although I detest writing these, I can usually whip out a blurb in 15 to 20 minutes. I spend another 15 to 20 minutes cleaning it up.
  2. Write a blog post. Some posts take a while to construct, but some can easily be written in 15 minutes. Take a moment to write one.
  3. Email a bookstore, library, or festival to set up a book signing event or author appearance.
  4. Send an email to your subscribers.
  5. Write an ad or set up a giveaway/ special pricing event.
  6. Work on character development. Make a list of character traits or develop the character’s backstory.
  7. Search for a cover image. You know the old saying, never judge a book by its cover, but people do. You want your cover to draw attention and make a reader want to stop long enough to read the title and/or blurb.
  8. Brainstorm title names. Your title should be short and concise and convey the tone of the story.
  9. Spruce up your author bio.
  10. Develop a tagline. This is a one line hook that grabs a reader’s attention.
  11. Schedule social media posts for the next two days.
  12. Post on social media or respond to posts. Take time to interact with people.
  13. Outline a scene.
  14. Sketch a map of your fantasy/ sci-fi world.
  15. Conduct research. Look online for needed information for a particular scene.
  16. Write 250 words. You’d be surprised how much you can write in 20 minutes.
  17. Revise/ edit a chapter.

Timing is everything. Figure out how long it takes to do something and work it into your schedule. Know how you work and find what works for you.

Every Writer Has Their Own Method

Every writer has their own process. There are no set rules or magic formulas. Follow your own method and do what works for you.

A Writer's Path

How many of you remember the dreaded research papers you had to write in high school?  Raise your hand.  Better off, don’t raise your hand.  That’s too reminiscent of being back in school.  But anyway, I’ll tell you this: if I never have to write another research paper in my life, I won’t complain.

What I hated the most about the process was how formal and rigid it was.  When I was in school, the Internet was still pretty new, so we, the unfortunate victims, spent hours in libraries using dusty reference books that served better as paper weights and taking notes from pages with tiny print.  We had to write on 3×5 notecards in pencil.  We needed to come up with an outline, and this was to be done the proper way with the numbers, letters, Roman numerals, and I don’t even know what.  The rough draft was written…

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Author Spotlight – Danielle Van Alst


Author Spotlight

For this week’s author spotlight, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Danielle Van Alst.
DanielleDanielle grew up with a passion for all things literary. She first put pen to paper writing articles for a newspaper she designed and created during elementary school. Danielle’s creative channels evolved into writing poetry, short stories, essays, and children’s books. When not writing her own material Danielle loves reading everything and anything she can get her hands on, especially mysteries, suspense, and historical fiction.
Some of Danielle’s other talents include finding new and creative ways to use sarcasm, spilling/dropping things, being supremely weird without even trying, knitting, and photography.
Danielle attended California State University Northridge where she majored in Psychology and minored in Child Development. She continued her educational pursuit and attended Phillips Graduate University where she earned a Master’s Degree in Psychology with a dual emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy and Professional Clinical Counseling. Months after graduating with her degree, and growing more miserable every day that brought her closer toward a career she truly didn’t want, she finally realized writing was the only career that would make her happy and nourish her soul.
Danielle is a proud member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is now gleefully concentrating full time on bringing to life her stories and sharing them with the world. Danielle currently resides in Los Angeles, California where she is working on her debut novel.
Let’s take a look at her books.

A World of Imagination

A World of Imagination CoverWhat would you do on a day off from school? Go on an adventure, of course! Meet Charlie, an eight-year-old boy with a flare for using his imagination. Join him as he turns his snow day into a day filled with fun, excitement, and fantasy. Travel with Charlie to the Wild West, the Amazon jungle, and into outer space. Ride along for the thrills as he becomes a race car driver, a pirate, a cowboy, and even a superhero! With a little creativity (and a basement full of junk), there is no limit to where your imagination can take you!

Testimonials: “A World of Imagination tells the story of how eight-year-old Charlie uses his imagination to entertain himself for hours on a surprise snow day. This is exactly what I want for my children – the ability to use their imagination! The rhyme is perfect and the pictures are whimsical allowing your imagination to soar along with Charlie’s.”

Grab your copy of A World of Imagination from Amazon.

 Uncharted – A Journey Through Life in Rhyme

9781546216315_pap.indd  “Beautiful, haunting, insightful poetry.”
As you journey along the path of life, the air heavy with mist surrounding you like a damp cold shawl, your footsteps rhythmically beating upon the ground to the sound of your heart, you realize this path has known obstacles and pain. It is covered in mystery and uncertainty leading you to places unknown. Yet, it also possesses great beauty and wonderment in its ability to shift, alter, and change, guiding your spirit in directions you never dreamed existed. There is magic and awe wrapped within its strange enigma. The path carries the soul through winter, remaining dormant under ice and snow, only to experience the warming thaw and blossoming of the emerging spring. Everyone’s path is perfectly unique and each individual will experience something different as they traverse upon it, for the path leads the soul that journeys along its course with absolute precision. It is a road that twists, turns, and intersects between fate and choice, while always remaining an open field of possibility. When you stand upon the path, where will it take you?

Uncharted is available at Amazon.

You can connect with Danielle through her WebsiteBlogFacebookPatreon, Twitter, or Instagram.