Friday, June 15, 2018

Business Card Stamp

I decided to make a business card stamp so I could use it to on various papers and incorporate my information into handcrafted corner bookmarks, which I will do *someday* soon. I went to Etsy and found SayaBell Stamps where the transaction couldn't have been easier. It shipped pretty quickly, too. 

Stacia Leigh
Teen stories with flirt, grit, and small town fun

Say what?
SayaBell Stamps

The stamp details are engraved in the wood "handle" and came in a cloth pouch. Just wonderful. A great experience all around.

For a quick stamp test and photo shoot, I cut a couple of old Dealing with Blue proof covers down into 3.5 x 2" cards and stamped away. I love the recycled aspect of these cards! They have a nice feel to them as well.

Friday, June 01, 2018

June Reading Challenge: Leftovers

It's June! We're half way through the year, which seems like a good time to catch up on books that were in the previous reading challenges but never read. It's the month for leftovers.

June Reading Challenge: Leftovers

My reading list is to give a second chance to one book from each of the five challenges below:

1.) January: Make It Work
Read a career-oriented book - Creating Character Emotions by Amy Hood

2.) February: Wear Red
 Inspired by the 15th Annual National Wear Red Day - Love in Lowercase by Francesc Miralles 

3.) March: Shoes
Shoes on the cover - The List by Siobahn Vivian  

4.) April - The Kids' List
Middle Grade books recommended by the young team - Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes
5.) May: The Letter A
An alphabet book challenge -  A Totally Awkward Love Story by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

PNW Painted Rocks

After years of loading the car, making ice for the cooler, and tenting it...we were ready to upgrade our camping experience. The first step, buy a truck and the next, buy a travel trailer. Done!

184 BH Jayco
Or in my a woman! Boom! Done.

The Dining Room

The Kitchen

The Bath
The Layout

Our maiden voyage for both rigs was to Battleground State Park for our annual camping trip over Memorial Day weekend. How fun and we had the best luck for travel and weather. Another bout of luck came when we found this painted rock on our first day:

A Good Omen
A Painted Rock by P. Gray

It was hidden at the base of a big tree and covered in sap. Written on the back of the rock was, "Post to [I think it says PNW Rocks] on FB when found. Keep or hide. P. Gray, 2018." It was legible until I used hand sanitizer to smear the pitch off, and then I guess I scrubbed to hard, which made the back difficult to read. 

First Voyage a Success!

I found two Facebook pages dedicated to painting, hiding, and finding rocks. Check out PNW Rocks and Pacific Northwest Painted Rocks (#PNWPR) We decided to keep Gray's art with our Jayco to remind us of our first successful voyage and to keep the good vibes close at hand. However, to keep the good will flowing, the kids and I will paint some of our own and start hiding. A fun Easter Egg hunt for the summer months. 

Keep your eyes peeled.


"Everyone on Earth has a treasure that awaits him." ~ Paulo Coelho

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Annual "Thank you, Coach" Card

"Win or learn, never lose."

It's that time of year again, to make cards for the coaches, big fat thank-yous for the kids to sign. Coaching takes money, time, and a lot of positive energy, so HIGH FIVE to the parents that step up and volunteer for the job.


"Coaches build teams; parents build players." ~ Charles Piazzi Smyth

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Alphabet Book Challenge: The Letter A

For the month of May, I thought about sunny covers and mom stories, the color pink and polka-dots. Nothing was coming together for a reading challenge theme until I saw my library queue-- the books I had on hold all had "A" words, so how about an Alphabet Challenge?

Alphabet Reading Challenge
Starting with the Letter 'A'

1.) The Adulterants by Joe Duntcorne
2.) Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
3.) All the Good Parts by Loretta Nyhan
4.) Adorkable by Cookie O'Gorman
5.) A Totally Awkward Love Story by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison


"If Plan A fails, remember there are twenty-five more letters." ~ Claire Cook

Monday, April 30, 2018

Rolling Out a New Book Cover

Ta da! I finally got some nods of approval on my new Burnout cover. No more black...although I couldn't fully get behind losing the leather jacket, which I left in the background. But I did brighten the whole thing with pops of color and hopefully made it look like the young adult love/adventure story that it is. A huge learning curve...but things are slowly coming together.

It's back on Kindle Unlimited, and in a week it will be available in paperback, too. Check it out, and help this baby see some light by leaving a short Amazon or Goodreads review. I thank you very much!

A road trip of tough luck and tough love.


“I have a plan.”
Miki Holtz isn’t some rebellious sixteen-year-old just because she dyed her hair blue and rides a motorcycle. She’s an independent girl who knows what, when, and how to get things done…almost. She can’t seem to gain her dad’s attention or make a connection with her soul crush, Will Sullivan. But when her dad invites her along to the Burnout Biker Rally—and Will is going, too—she jumps at the chance to turn her luck around.

"It’s always trouble with you."
While grieving the death of his mom, Will Sullivan has turned into an undeniable couch potato until he’s forced on a road trip with his dad’s motorcycle buddies as some kind of biker therapy. What’s worse? He’s paired up with the prez’s daughter, Miki, a girl who once humiliated him in front of his friends—a girl he can’t forgive…or forget.

“I don’t like the way you like me.”
The easy ride starts off slow yet soon has Miki and Will running for their lives.

Burnout is an adventure story set in the Pacific Northwest where a strong girl and a moody boy discover love while trying to survive on a road trip from hell.

**FINALIST for Young Adult in the 2016 PNWA Literary Contest under the title Riding with the Hides of Hell.**

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Doodle Shapes Challenge

Doodle Addicts is hosting the Doodle Shapes Challenge where ten doodles will be chosen to win a copy of Nate Padavick's book below: 

This challenge was so much fun for all of us, kids and adults, that I thought I'd share. You have a choice of three shapes to doodle on. You can print in color and doodle with traditional media--pencils, markers, paint--or go digital. What do you see? Turn the shape in any direction you want and transform the shapes into fun doodles. Upload at to enter the Chronicle Books contest, or check out their second contest on Instagram.

Shapes for the Chronicle Books Challenge

Scrumptious Dinner
Highly Annoyed Bird
Quails in the Sunset

Contest Entry

The contest will be open to voting on May 8th at 3:00 pm EST. Have fun!

Sunday, April 01, 2018

April Reading Challenge: The Kids' List

My kids are just as passionate about books as I am, so it was fun to wake up this morning to the beginnings of a "Must Reads" list. Welcome to five Middle Grade books recommended by the fourth grade set.

April Reading Challenge
The Kids' List


"Life is not divided up into genres; it’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical,
science-fiction cowboy detective novel." ~ Alan Moore

Thursday, March 15, 2018

New Title Alert!

Burnout - New Title!

Old Covers:
NanoWrimo, Kindle Scout, and Published

After much research, a new title for my second book, to replace Riding with the Hides of Hell, was imminent! Help me welcome the new name, Burnout, which has many definitions: 1.) a totally destructive fire, 2.) the result of prolonged stress, and 3.) the act of spinning tires, causing heat and smoke due to friction.

All of these meanings can be found in Will and Miki's story. It's about riding motorcycles, being outside and feeling the dirt on your skin, the wind in your hair. It's about adventure, wearing leather, and being a rebel...and if you couldn't tell by the heart, it's about sweet love, too.

Time and readers will tell, but in this moment, I believe the new title works! Burnout is short, attention grabbing, and easy to remember. It gives a hint to what the story is about, and bonus, I can tell people the name without getting weird looks in return. Win!

It's a slow process getting things changed, so bear with me while the two titles float around. The pages within are basically the same, though, so have confidence reading whichever title you like.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Was, Were, and Wishful Thinking

First of all, I'm not a Grammar Queen and probably shouldn't give too much advice in this area. But sometimes I have a question about what "sounds" right to my english-is-my-first-language ear. I don't recall the school lesson or the rule, but why do these two sentences work*?

1.) I wish I were the Queen of England.
2.) I wish I was the Queen of England.

If I leave off the "I wish" part, then the first sentence definitely doesn't work. One would never say, "I were the Queen." Where were is to plural (we were, you were, they were), was is to singular (I was, you were, he was, she was, it was). Same goes for an "if" phrase...

3.) If I were the Queen, I'd have my own library.
4.) If I was the Queen, I'd have my own library.

Admittedly, I don't think the sentences above, numbers 2 and 4, sound right, but I've critiqued a lot of work and read many traditionally published books where this was the usage. However, * says, "It's never correct."

Want to know why? Apparently, it has to do with wishful thinking, statements that aren't true, and a verb's mood. When you see sentences starting with the idea of wishing for something, (I wish, Sheila wishes) and the word "If," those are huge clues to use "were." For deeper insight, let me guide you to some helpful resources, because when I see a word like "subjunctive" I know I'm sailing off the deep end.

Here are some sites I visited to better explain the matter:

Subjunctive Definition and Usage by
Subjunctive Verbs by Grammar Girl
When to Use "If I was" vs. "If I were" by English Language and Usage Stack Exchange

"Grammar is a piano I play by ear." ~ Joan Didion

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Making a Title Change

I'm just now venturing down the path of making a title change for Riding with the Hides of Hell. The idea struck me after seeing a one star review by a person who reads biker erotica. So, I guess my title didn't convey that it was a chaste-young adult-love-adventure-story! My bad.

And the special tonight is...Roasted Popa Toes.

But it certainly pointed me in the direction of looking at marketing with a keener eye. So I did a little research and found some helpful articles by those who've been down this same road. Good resources on the topic include:

1.) On Changing Book Titles and Covers: My Own Experience by The Creative Penn

2.) How to Change a Book's Title Without Losing Reviews by Indies Unlimited

3.) On Books Changing Titles by Stacked

4.) Thread: Changing Titles on Amazon KDP Support

Now that I know what to do AFTER I make the change...what do I do before? Like what makes a good title? Believe it or not, I've been down this "Coming Up with a Title" road before. Good stuff, too.

But that didn't keep me from doing a little more research. According to Book in a Box, while brainstorming for the perfect title, ask yourself these questions: Is it attention grabbing? Is it memorable and easy to say? Does it hint to the potential reader what the book is about? Is the title idea embarrassing or a problem for someone to say out loud to their friends?

The folks at First Second Books have some helpful tips, too. Is the title you've dreamed up already in use or too similar to another book? Does your title have profanity in it?  (Gulp! "Hell" is probably a bad choice for the childrens market.)

I'm going to add one more brainstorming question that I just thought of...does the title accurately convey the tone of the story? I'll go ahead and answer no for myself.

"Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"
~ L.M. Montgomery from Anne of Green Gables.

Monday, March 05, 2018

ESPIALdesign on ETSY: Heart Bookmarks in Shades of Green!

Today, I took a break from writing to work through some mental kinks by crafting some BIG, heart corner-bookmarks. Being March, I dipped into my green paper stash, which came from the Western Washington Scrapbook Retreat a couple years ago. See why you can't throw anything away? You never know when it'll come in handy.

I also had enough little bees (paper recycled from a German gift bag) to make four more bee themed bookmarks. Check out the new stuff at ESPIALdesign on Etsy. Unfortunately, my window lighting was typical Seattle the colors look a bit cold. The background paper used below may not look it, but it's a dark teal.


"Craftiness is happiness." ~ Unknown

Friday, March 02, 2018

2018 Camp Nanowrimo

March is prep time for next month's Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where writer's set their own goals, like choosing how much to write or choosing to do edits and revisions. It's a good way to stay on task while using the Nanowrimo community for accountability. Want to write together? Look me up: Espialdesign.

Get Lost. Write

I like to create covers to upload to Nano; it's an official start for me. I've thought about the story and the title (even though I know it's going to change), I can advertise that I'm the author of Dealing with Blue, and I even added, "Surely, a stunning read." by a made-up reviewer called Review Dog. Now, all I have to do is fill in the middle with 25 thousand "stunning" words.

Work In Progress
Young Adult Fantasy

The cover above was designed on my Mac, and I had all kinds of problems: My computer froze, embedding the font into the picture *sigh* and then when I saved it, suddenly my name was cut in half horizontally. Never seen that one before. Also, I just noticed my quotes around the review totally disappeared, but I guess that's what you get when you use Mac's previewer for a quick design.

No serves its purpose as being a step one in the Camp Nano process. Step two this month is to create characters and an outline, so that step three, when April 1st rolls around, the writing will come a bit easier. 

Good luck participants!

Thursday, March 01, 2018

March Reading Challenge: Shoes

Welcome to March! Ready for a new challenge?

All the books that didn't get read for the #WearRED February Reading Challenge were shuffled back into the TBR pile--another go, another time. Except one...I'm currently reading The Romeo and Juliet Code from last month. I decided to use it as my inspiration moving forward. I wanted to get away from using colors again, since last year, the March Reading Challenge was to read a green cover. This year? I wanted something more random. about shoes?

March 2018 Reading Challenge: Shoes

Here's the new line up:
1.) The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone (Middle Grade)
2.) Blondie McGhee: At Your Service by Ashley Eneriz (Elementary Level)
3.) Spy School by Stuart Gibbs (Middle Grade)
4.) The List by Siobahn Vivian (Young Adult)
5.) The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis (Women's Fiction)


My Favorite Pair

"Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world." ~ Marilyn Monroe

Monday, February 26, 2018

Final Week: 2018 Heart Art Challenge

26.) The final countdown! It's the last week for this year's Heart Art ChallengeToday, my contribution is a blackout poem inspired by a Fibonacci sequenceThe blackout poetry challenge this week was to create a poem with 6 lines and 20 words where each line is the sum of the two previous lines: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8



to explain.

Do you believe
he said, I love you?
It's probably true, but there's more to it.

27.) For last week's blackout poetry challenge of Where in the Word: Name Your Favorite Place, I chose Mount St. Helens.


Mount Saint Helens had a cramp.

28.) This morning, on the last day of Heart Month, I took my dogs for a walk and came across a rock. It was sad, thoughtful, and cute all at the same time. In memory of squirrel. R.I.P.

A Rock with Heart

February might be on the verge of done, but I'll still be putting love out there. I'm chapters away from finishing my third Young Adult Romance, I'm creating more BIG heart corner-bookmarks to put in my shop, ESPIALdesign, on Etsy, and I'm still donating to the American Heart Association. I agree with whoever wrote this on the steps of the cathedral in Aachen, Germany...


Monday, February 19, 2018

Week 4: 2018 Heart Art Challenge

19.) Happy President's Day! I decided to make a heart-healthy dessert today: crockpot applesauce with no sugar added...only apples, cinnamon, vanilla, a bit of lime juice (didn't have lemon) and some water. Tastes like yummy apple pie filling. Hmm, hmm good.

Easy Slow Cooker Applesauce

20.) Doxie love! I painted this several years ago and gave it to my mom in memory of a very special dog. Feeling nostalgic and grateful for pets today.

Zoey Over the Rainbow Bridge

21.) I was off the grid for the past several days--no wifi, no cable, no cell--while enjoying a rustic yet cozy cabin in Rhododendron, Oregon called Laughing Bear. I heart snow!

22.) While on winter break, we went skiing at Timberline on Mt. Hood and tubing at The Summit. Hearth healthy exercise, right? Felt like it.

Workin' It

23.) While off the grid, we watched old movies, ate popcorn, and played a marathon of Apples to Apples. When I had some "me" time, I worked on a blackout poem...something creative, something I love to do.

Freedom died on the paper.
All of it.

24.) While the rest of the family went tubing at The Summit, I sat in the car with the dogs and worked on some writing projects. Tango was beside me with the light hitting his hair just right. I love this crazy mutt.

Tango with his mutton chops.

25.) Saying goodbye to the snow is equally hard and easy to do. Putting chains on tires while in a white wonderland...chaffing ski boots while gliding down a mountain...popsicle toes while drinking hot chocolate and Fireball. It's been fun, Mt. Hood! Loves ya!

Cold Snow, Warm Heart

Monday, February 12, 2018

Week 3: 2018 Heart Art Challenge

The third week is upon us, and I'm still plodding along with my Heart Art Challenge where everyday in February I find something positive--with regards to hearts and love--to put out into the world. Today offered a nice way to wake a sunny reprieve in Seattle.

12.) The sun taunts me while I make winter break plans, which hopefully involve a lot of snow: skiing, sledding, and a cabin in the mountains.

Hearts and Lights

13.)  Yesterday, I received a gift from my hubby; he thought every writer should have a telescoping pen! #amwriting

Telescopic Key-Ring Pen
by True Utility

14.) Happy Valentine's Day! Today, I was at the elementary school teaching an art lesson about hues, tints, and shades. We mixed up some paint and had a go at making Valentine hearts with lights and shadows. A quick and fun lesson right before their class party.

Heart Art on the Drying Rack

Heart Art Wall

15.) Throw Back Thursday: A photo from last summer in Sinemorets, Bulgaria on the Black Sea. Morning coffee with a heart.

Beach Combing and Coffee

16.) Surprise! Asphalt heart.

Hearts Everywhere

17.) Need some inspiration on this fine Saturday? 

Put some happy in your heart.

18.) Where was I last night? At the Paramount theater in downtown Seattle, watching Hamilton. All I can say is...WOW! Way to rap out a fresh take on Alexander Hamilton in U.S. history...I loved it. I've seen plenty of musicals and plays, and this one is easily my new favorite.

Hamilton, a Broadway Musical