Guest Blogger — Howard Petote

Today I am thrilled to welcome guest blogger, Howard Petote:


 Origins: An Irish Girl Named Maggie

By Howard Petote

In 1968 the state of Missouri was blessed with the arrival of a baby girl, a one-year-old lifted from the arms of nuns in the west of Ireland. Her name was Maggie, and her adoptive parents— strict Catholics—wanted her to be perfect. But Maggie Black was not perfect, she was merely human—an earthy, feral child who one day realized she would never earn their love. Drifting into drugs, con artists and petty crime, she becomes a single mother stuck in the gritty world of door-to-door sales—dangerously tied to a bad man.

One muggy evening—while home in Saint Joe preparing for a sales jump—she endures an incident that changes her life. This incident opens my novel, The Sins of Maggie Black, the story of one young woman’s attempt to escape her past and dream of a better life. As she informs her little boy, “From now on it’s gonna be me and you—we’re gonna be a team.” Her journey will pit a fierce determination to succeed against a battered ego, a heart struggling to accept love and companionship, and a past that threatens everything.

I began this post with some backstory to introduce one theme of my novel—the mysterious and profound nature of origins. Starting with the fragile innocence of youth, we bear both the blessings and sins of the world throughout our lives. Origins can also refer to any turning point in a character’s life, such as the incident that opens my story. Maggie doesn’t dwell much on the circumstances of her birth or upbringing, but they have deeply affected her. Though she doesn’t seek her mother, she does possess a vestigial memory of her, expressed as an attraction to water. In a vision that turns prophetic, Maggie sinks deep into a river—a symbolic return to the womb.

The river also serves as metaphor for a fundamental aspect of nature—the surface and what lies below. The surface is what we can “see” with our basic senses, while what lies beneath is the nearly inexpressible, underlying reality—the murky depths from which everything originates.

I once read a book about men’s issues—more specifically, fathers and sons in modern and primitive societies. I didn’t particularly connect with all the metaphorical language (the author was a poet) but it was very intriguing. I was living in a boarding house the night I finished the book—alone in a room without a TV or phone. That night I had seven vivid dreams, nearly all about myself and my father. They were rich in symbolic meaning. What had happened? How had mere words triggered such startling dreams?

For me, writing is an exploration—an attempt to understand, to feel, to connect with others. That night in my room a connection was made—the personal stories and myths expressed by that author triggered things deep inside me, obviously important issues lurking in the unconscious mind. These issues flow powerfully below the surface in all of us, manifesting themselves in who we are and how we behave. Just as a river follows the truest way downstream, our souls seek a path toward harmony and peace. Though Maggie and the other characters in my novel are highly flawed, they share a fierce determination to heal themselves, to become whole.

I hope I’ve dramatized a compelling story, and if lucky, revealed a few things that lie below. In my next post I’ll discuss the inspiration for this novel from a brief occurrence in Deadwood, South Dakota—and why my heroine is a door-to-door saleswoman.


Find Howard Petote’s novel, The Sins of Maggie Black at Amazon. Paperback and ebook available by February 14. See his website/blog at


Random thoughts

Lately, it has struck me that everyone has opinions about writers, and about their writing. People come up to me and comment on my novels, good or bad, and I always appreciate their input. Some comments make me mad for just a moment, but I have to say that I always take them to heart, and they help me adjust/improve future writing. It also strikes me as funny how many people ask for free copies of my novels — it doesn’t seem to matter how many times I explain that I didn’t get boxes and boxes of free copies, they still ask about getting them. It doesn’t bother me, it just makes me chuckle as I can’t imagine people walking up to an artist, say a weaver, and asking for a free towel/rug/blanket. Some days I find this a bit much, but then it hits me again that now I have two novels published, and another on the way. I now schedule book signings and talks, have people interacting with me about my stories, and it is just amazing. I had spent so many years hoping to some day have something published, this is beyond my wildest dreams. How lucky I am!

Updates from Vermont

Finally the weather broke this weekend, and we have had to relatively warm days, with some much needed (and appreciated) sun. The good news is that the driveway is almost completely ice free now, the bad news is that the alpaca barn is completely flooded with the run-off.

Today I finished the edits of More Than I Can Say, and now it has gone back to my Solstice editor for her next round of suggestions. I love seeing how the novel changes slightly with each round. Tonight I will actually get a little writing time, working on novel 4.

In other news, both books are on sale right now in e-book format. The Phone Call (TPC e-book) is on sale for $1.99, and That One Small Omission (TOSO e-book) is on sale for .99. Both can be found on amazon or on

Finally, I was really excited this week to get new bookmarks. One has all three covers on it, one has one cover on each side (of works that have been published). I would be happy to send one to anyone who would like one, as a way of thanking you for your support. If you are interested, message me through the contact form on this site, and send me your name and mailing address, and I will send one right out to you. As of right now, I am only sending them within the United States, but hope to widen that area soon.

The benefits of sunshine

If you live in relatively temperate climate, one where the weather doesn’t vary a whole lot, you may not understand the psychological importance of sunshine. In Vermont, from late October to late March, it is gray and cloudy a lot. I mean, a LOT. Besides the snow and ice we get in winter, the shorter hours of daylight, it also is cloudy much of the time.

So today, after it poured yesterday, after days of rain/snow/sleet and just plain clouds, the sun came out in force. Even though there still is glare ice where ever the water pooled yesterday during the rain, then the temperature dropped over night, the sun makes everything look more cheerful. Everyone was in a much better mood today, and it reminds me of how excited we all get in spring.

It also reminded me that it is time to check on the status of my seed order for the garden!

What a busy weekend!

The last three and a half months have been very busy for us as a family, as we had an elderly member of the family get badly injured, resulting in the need for us to provide daily (and intensive) elder care through this time period. Obviously, it was a time that we also had the incredible excitement of two of my novels being published, and one being in process of being published, but it still was a time of running day and night to meet the needs of everyone.

This past Friday, the intensity of the need lessened, didn’t go away, but lessened. It meant that this weekend, we could return to some of our “normal” activities, and do them all at a slightly slower pace. We cleaned the chicken coop, the barn, the house, checked on the bee hives, made hummus, made a great dinner, made soup and pot roast for nights this week, and finally made the first batch of cookies in a long, long time. I worked on editing, did some knitting, and took a dip in the hot tub. Yes, we also did errands for both set of our parents, took care of some things for our children and grandchildren, but did it without the sense of being at a full run. And what a joy it was to do all of them!

Now, the chores of today have been completed, and it’s time to watch some football and do some editing.

Teasers, Banners and More

One of the things that I have learned about since signing my first publishing contract is the need to keep social media sites lively, both in words and images. I’ve been making teasers for my books, as well as new images to showcase my author’s sites. Some I really like, some are “meh,” others end up in the computer’s trash bin. In hindsight, I think whether or not I like them usually has more to do with my mood than anything else. Here are a few examples:

As it is really cold in Vermont again this weekend, I will spend some time again tomorrow playing around with visuals after doing some writing and editing — and if I really like one or two of them, I promise to share them here!

Some days!

Some days I jump out of bed, ready to embrace the day and all that will happen in that day. I am ready for intellectual, creative and physical challenges, and look forward to seeing what the day brings.

Other days, the alarm goes off, and I still get right out of bed (never have been one who could hit snooze) and go through my normal morning routine, but without the same enthusiasm.  Those are the days when little thing irritate me, like NPR playing more modern classical music — I want Vivaldi or Mozart when I get up!

Today, was the later sort of day. I woke up warm and comfortable, and really, spending the day with my husband and son, writing, editing, maybe making some raspberry jam, all sounded much more appealing than what I had planned for the day.

But then I got moving, the sun came out, people were smiley in the warmer sunnier weather, and in all, yeah, it was a good day.

Now the sun has set, the wood stove is burning brightly, and I am going to take some time to write on book four…

Guest Blogger — David W. Thompson

I’d like to welcome fellow Solstice author David W. Thompson to my site!

My name is David W. Thompson, a recent retiree from the aerospace industry, and a recently published author. I am a father, grandfather, husband, and lover of cheesecake! I enjoy woodcarving, kayaking, wine making and the outdoors. I love puppies, moonlight walks in the mountains, and I want peace on Earth. Despite this, I’ve never been asked to participate in a beauty contest. It may be because I look lousy in a bikini.

Current- My novel “Sister Witch, The Life of Moll Dyer” was released by Solstice Publishing on Halloween 2017. It’s a hist-fic novel with magical realism inspired by the legend of Moll Dyer, a 17th century accused witch. Her story’s haunted me since I was a child huddled around a campfire listening to spooky stories- some all too true! The historical evidence of Moll’s life is minimal, due to the time period she lived in, but also because of a courthouse fire. The legends and oral traditions from the area, however, are extensive and every local family is adamant that their version is the most accurate one! I combined the mythos and the historical record to create her story, and I’ve been overwhelmed with the positive reactions it’s received so far! Even though one local lady suggested I watch my back as “Moll will come and get you for writing that book.”

Marching On– I recently signed a contract for Book 2 of the Dyer family series- “His Father’s Blood.” This novel follows John Dyer- skin walker and great-great grandson of the venerable Moll Dyer– in his quest for a peaceful life. But the demon cursing the Dyer family for generations returns even stronger, and lays claim to another Dyer child. Once again, the family must fight to save their bloodline from demonic enslavement. The novel begins during the waning years of the 18th century and continues the saga initiated in “Sister Witch.”

Future Projects? Book #3 in the Dyer family series is already a WIP. I am considering a prequel to Sister Witch, as Moll has become such a beloved character. I am also outlining what I envision as a reimagining of the first vampire story.

By way of warning, my author’s voice (twisted by my characters’ whispers) tends to cast light on the less savory aspects of the human condition. You know, the people and things scurrying about in the darkness– waiting to pounce! Hence my tagline- “Often bloody. Habitually dark.  Always original.”

In conclusion, I’d like to thank K.Francoeur/Anna Belle for this opportunity to share a bit with you! Also, thank you for reading this far! If I’ve piqued your interests in my work, please peruse my links below. Best to you and yours, Dave T.

If you are interested in the historical Moll Dyer:




Brrrrrrrrrrr….And a new cover!

It has been brutally cold in Vermont lately, as it has been in many places around the world. This morning, it was -13 here, and with the wind, it felt even colder. Luckily, we have a snug house, great wood stove, and lots of firewood.

Today’s excitement is that I am sharing the cover image for my third novel, More Than I Can Say, which is currently in editing prior to being released in e-book and print versions from my publisher, Solstice Publishing.

MTICS final cover image

I can’t wait to see how this books changes in it’s editing process, and I absolutely can’t wait to see it in print!