Sharing Rumi Wisdom

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Rumi (born Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī) was a 13-century Persian poet, Islamic scholar, and Sufi mystic. One of the most accomplished poets of all time, his musings on life, love, and the mysteries of the universe continue to resonate worldwide.

Here are ten of my favorite Rumi quotes:

Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.

The garden of the world has no limit except in your mind.

The universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already are.

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you love. It will not lead you astray.

It’s your road, and yours alone, others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.

As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.

You are not meant for crawling, so don’t. You have wings. Learn to use them and fly.

Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah…it makes absolutely no difference what people think of you.

Work. Keep digging your well. Water is there somewhere.

Whether one moves slowly or with speed, the one who is a seeker will be a finder.


Virtual Book Tour: My Best Friend Athena

I’m happy to welcome award-winning novelist, screenwriter and playwright Dana Hammer. Today, Dana shares ten cool mythological figures and her new release, My Best Friend Athena.

Ten Ancient Greek Things I Might Incorporate in Sequels

My upcoming middle grade novel, My Best Friend Athena is about an eleven year old girl named Fanny who discovers that her best friend is the reincarnation of the Greek goddess, Athena. Fanny, Athena, and their other friend Gemma are all called to help when Athena accidentally transforms the school bully into a cockroach.

I’m not an expert on Greek Mythology by any stretch of the imagination, but in writing this book, I’ve learned a lot, and it’s been quite inspirational. Here are ten cool mythological figures I’d like to incorporate into sequels.


Polyphymnia (who will go by Polly in her modern incorporation), is one of the muses, specifically, she is the muse responsible for sacred song. My main character, Fanny, wants to be a singer when she grows up, and is extraordinarily talented. Polly will be a gospel singer who comes to town, and inspires Fanny to write her own music. There’s only one problem — Fanny isn’t religious, and her “sacred” songs aren’t at all sacred. Can Fanny be true to herself and her beliefs, while finding a way to make sacred music? Of course she can!


We all know about Narcissus, and the psychological disorder named after him, narcissism. Fanny and Athena are president and Vice President of their school’s math club — until an interloper named Narcissus joins and tries to take over and make the club all about him. The book will delve into how to deal with narcissists, in a kid-friendly way.

Eros (Cupid)

Eros will run amock in town, making people fall in love with all the wrong partners. But is it really love, if it was forced upon them by a reckless god? This book will explore the nature of consent, again, in a kid-friendly I way.


Ares is the son of Zeus and Hera, making him Athena’s brother. He is also the god of war. In this book, Ares runs military academy for troubled children, and after an accidental catastrophe, the girls will all be forced to enlist, despite their usually good behavior. Shenanigans ensue.


Hera was Zeus’ wife — an angry woman who was always being cheated on by Zeus. In modern times, she works for a non-profit that sets up battered women’s shelters. When she shows up on Zeus’ doorstep, needing a place to stay while she sets up a new shelter, sparks fly between Hera and Athena. Athena has never gotten along with her stepmother, and Hera likewise has issues of jealousy for Athena. This will be a twist on the “evil stepmother” trope. Hera isn’t evil, and Athena isn’t an oppressed Cinderella. Can the two work out their differences? Of course they can, with Fanny’s help!


It’s a three-headed dog!


At the end of the second book, which I have written but has not been published yet, Fanny’s mother is pregnant — and Dionysius (Zeus’ son) has jumped into the fetus’ body. Because of this, Zeus is going to take a weirdly intense interest in the baby’s upbringing. To provide magical nourishment for his son, Zeus will deliver a special milk to the baby — faun milk. The milk will have healing and growth powers. This is great for Fanny’s little brother, but soon, word gets out about this magical baby formula, and all the moms in town want some. Zeus is never one to turn down an opportunity, and soon, he’s running a faun milk business.

The money is rolling in…but what about the fauns? Are they ok? Do they even WANT to sell their milk? This book will explore exploitation of animals and natural resources, without being too graphic or scary.


Lotis is a Naiad, a nymph, and a water spirit. When she joins the swim team, she wins every competition. Is it fair for her to compete, when she has an obvious advantage? What will the girls decide to do about it?

The Lotus Eaters

The Lotus Eaters come to town, where they set up an “intentional community of likeminded people”. Soon, teachers, parents, and trusted adults all over the city are joining up, forgetting about their families, their jobs, and all of their responsibilities. Is the new community too good to be true? Of course it is, and Fanny and her friends are going to get to the bottom of it.


The story of the Minotaur is a deeply sad one. Born with a bull’s head and the body of a man, he was locked up in a labyrinth, where every nine years he was fed fourteen people, until he was killed by Theseus.

When a baby is born with a bull’s head and a human’s body, all the gods and goddesses know what they have to do — they have to kill the baby before he turns into a people-eating monster.

But Fanny is horrified by this. It’s not the baby’s fault that he has a bull’s head. And who says he’ll eat people when he grows up? Just don’t lock him in a labyrinth and feed him humans! Fanny decides that she will defy the gods — including her best friend — to save the Minotaur. This will be a book about acceptance of people who are different, and having the courage to defy traditions and ideas that no longer serve us.

These are just a few of the ideas I have for upcoming novels. So stay tuned! And I hope you enjoy My Best Friend Athena.


Fanny Fitzpatrick has the coolest best friend ever. Athena is smart, and pretty, and brave, and kind. Fanny loves her friend, but sometimes, she feels a little jealous of how perfect Athena is.

But even “perfect” girls make mistakes, and Athena makes a big one when she accidentally turns the school bully into a cockroach. He was picking on their friend Gemma and Athena lost her temper and her magic powers just slipped out right in front of Fanny.

Now Fanny knows that Athena isn’t an ordinary girl – she’s the reincarnation of a Greek goddess, powers and all – and now she needs Fanny and Gemma’s help to hunt down the bully-turned-cockroach and turn him back into a human boy.

Fanny doesn’t want to spend all her time looking for a cockroach. She’s got the Junior Miss Super Pretty Pageant to prepare for, if she can get over her stage fright. Besides, Athena’s Dad, Zeus, has forbidden the girls from meddling with any more cockroaches or magic, and Zeus is a god you don’t want to mess with.

Fanny has to make a choice. Should she pursue her pageant dreams, or risk Zeus’ wrath to find the cockroach-boy? What’s the right thing to do? And how do you hunt down a cockroach anyway?


Normally, when I arrive at school, I’m tired and cold and grumpy, but not today! Because today I’ve got the World’s Coolest Necklace, and everyone’s gonna notice it and give me compliments. It’s a “statement” necklace, and I got it at an old lady’s estate sale yesterday. I was shopping with my best friend, Athena, when I saw it. It was sitting on a dresser, with a bunch of other jewellery, but this necklace was the only one that caught my eye. It’s a large octopus, with jewel-covered tentacles, and two pearls for eyes. I tried it on, and it looked like the tentacles were reaching around my neck, trying to choke me. I’d never seen anything so cool in my life. It was $20, which was more than I had, but luckily Athena was there, and she bought it for me. Athena always has lots of money, because she’s a rich kid, but that’s NOT why I’m friends with her.

Anyway, she saw how sad I was that I couldn’t afford the necklace and she just bought it for me, probably because she has excellent taste and could see what a great investment it would be. She said it was “quirky” and “an interesting piece,” which I happen to know is code for “high fashion”.

My mom said it was “tacky garbage” but she doesn’t know about fashion. She mostly wears gym clothes, even when she’s not at the gym, and she never wears jewelry, except her wedding ring.

Author Bio and Links

Dana Hammer is a novelist, screenwriter and playwright. She has won over forty awards and honors for her writing, few of which generated income, all of which were deeply appreciated. She is not a cannibal, but she is the author of A Cannibals Guide to Fasting. Dana is also the author of middle grade fantasy My Best Friend Athena which was inspired by a desire to write something her 9 year old daughter could read.

Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Amazon Buy Link


Dana Hammer will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Dana on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

Fear of the Number 13

For centuries, the number 13 has been associated with bad luck, especially if it falls on a Friday. Here are ten interesting facts about the origins and events related to this sinister prime:

1. Fear of the number 13 even has a name. It’s called triskaidekaphobia. Specific fear of Friday the 13th is referred to as friggatriskaidekaphobia. People suffering from these irrational fears can get treatment at the Friggatriskaidekaphobia Treatment Center in Pocopson, Pennsylvania. Treatment includes clever games, costumed hosts, anti-superstition music, and free educational literature.

2. Our fear of the number can be traced back to a biblical claim that if thirteen people share a meal at the same table, one of the diners will die within the year. Famous example: Jesus shared a meal with twelve of his disciples at the Last Supper.

3. Many people have an aversion to the number 13, including famous horror writer Stephen King. In 1984, King admitted to stepping over the 13th stair, feeling uncomfortable watching channel 13, and refusing to pause on page 13 while reading books. He included pages with digits that added up to 13, like page 85. He admitted, “It’s neurotic, sure. But it’s also safer.”

4. Several serial killers have 13-letter names, including Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy, Jack the Ripper, and Albert DeSalvo. So does Adolfus Hitler, which was Adolf Hitler’s baptismal name.

5. In some Spanish-speaking countries, Tuesday the 13th is considered bad luck. Tuesday is feared because it is the day of the week associated with Mars, the Roman god of war. The movie Friday the 13th was translated into Martes Tres (Tuesday the 13th) for its global release.

6. Taylor Swift considers 13 to be her lucky number. She was born on the 13th and turned 13 on Friday the 13th. Her first album went gold in 13 weeks, and her first #1 song had a 13-second introduction. Each time Taylor has won an award, she has sat in either the 13th row, 13th seat, 13th section, or row M, which is the thirteenth letter.

7. The following celebrities were born on Friday the 13th: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Christopher Plummer, Kate Walsh, Frances Conroy, Steve Buscemi, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Born on an unlucky day hasn’t hampered their careers.

8. In 1882, Captain William Fowler founded the 13 Club of New York, a secret supper club that continued its meetings throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. Its first meeting included 13 courses, was lit by 13 candles, and was attended by 13 people. Members performed unlucky feats such as passing under a ladder and tipping over salt containers on the table. Honorary members included Presidents Chester A Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, and Theodore Roosevelt.

9. An alleged occurrence…Mark Twain was once invited as the 13th guest at a dinner party. He went, despite a friend’s warning. Later, Twain reported, “It was bad luck. They only had food for 12.”

10. Motorcyclists gather each Friday the 13th in Port Dover, Ontario (Canada) for rallies that draw thousands of participants. Described as “the biggest single-day motorcycle event in the world,” its summer attendance exceeds 100,000 bikers. This tradition dates back to 1981.

Honoring Barbara Walters

An Emmy-winning journalist and celebrity interviewer, Barbara Walters was one of the most recognizable news anchors in the world. In a career that spanned over six decades, Ms. Walters appeared on numerous television programs including Today, ABC Evening News, 20/20, and The View. She scored many interview coups, among them Margaret Thatcher, the Shah of Iran, Fidel Castro, Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin, Katharine Hepburn, and Indira Gandhi.

Barbara Walters died yesterday (December 30, 2022) at the age of 93.

My favorite quotations from Barbara Walters:

Life sometimes brings enormous difficulties and challenges that seem just too hard to bear. But bear them you can, and bear them you will, and your life can have a purpose.

To excel is to reach your own highest dream. But you must also help others, where and when you can, to reach theirs. Personal gain is empty if you do not feel you have positively touched another’s life.

To feel valued, to know, even if only once in a while that you can do a job well is an absolutely marvelous feeling.

Success can make you go one of two ways. It can make you a prima donna—or it can smooth the edges, take away the insecurities, let the nice things come out.

Don’t worry about finding your bliss right now. Not even our President knew what his bliss was, nor did I. One of these days to your own surprise, your bliss will find you. But no matter what you do, participate, be there, full force, full heart, full steam ahead.

A good laugh makes any interview, or any conversation, so much better.

Don’t confuse being stimulating with being blunt.

The hardest thing you will ever do is trust yourself.

You’ll have some failure. And you’ll be able to go on, add a new chapter, and have a more interesting time.

Work harder than everybody. You’re not going to get it by whining, and you’re not going to get it by shouting, and you’re not going to get it by quitting.

Ten Interesting Facts About the Mesdames of Mayhem

I’m happy to welcome the Mesdames of Mayhem. Today, Madeleine Callway shares ten interesting facts about this intriguing group and their new anthology,
In the Spirit of 13.

Here’s Madeleine!

1. We are 10 years old!

In 2013, Donna Carrick and I were enjoying our regular lunch together. We starting talking about social media and how to tackle this new beast. How could we best use – and understand – websites, FaceBook and Twitter?

From our business backgrounds, we knew that teaming up is the best way to handle a thorny problem. We decided to pool our resources and asked our two writing critique groups if they’d like to help. The answer was a resounding yes! And that’s how the Mesdames of Mayhem were born.

2. Thirteen is our lucky number!

The Mesdames write crime fiction in many different sub-genres and styles, ranging from comedy to cozies to thrillers to noir. How could we best showcase our work? We decided to create an anthology that did just that with a story from each of us.

Reading through the final version, we were once again struck by the variety of the stories. What would be the connecting theme? Was there indeed a connecting theme? Well, there were thirteen of us in the group and the number, thirteen, has a dark aura. Why not call our book simply, Thirteen?

Thirteen received warm reviews and award nominations. Ever since, we’ve used thirteen in the titles of our subsequent anthologies: 13 O’clock, 13 Claws, In the Key of 13 and most recently, In the Spirit of 13.

3. We are a national organization

Since 2013, we’ve almost doubled in size from 13 to 25 crime fiction authors who live and write across Canada, from Vancouver Island to eastern Ontario.

4. We have no age bias

It’s true that most of us are of a “certain age”, in other words over 50. Indeed crime fiction readers and writers tend to be an older demographic, but it’s wonderful that many younger people are interested in our genre.

The Mesdames firmly believe that age is just a number. In fact, our members range in age from their 30s to their late 80s!

5. We now include Messieurs of Mayhem

The first 13 Mesdames were all women and one of our goals was to promote and support the work for women crime writers. Most of us also belong to Sisters in Crime.

But did you know that Sisters in Crime also welcomes Brothers in Crime, men who support women writers? We now include three wonderful Messieurs of Mayhem for the same reason.

6. There’s a CBC documentary about us

Dig into our lives and you’ll unearth some strange and interesting facts about us. One author had dinner with dictator, Idi Amin; another grew up in a family linked to the Mafia. Yet another author grew up in South Africa during apartheid. And still another worked on the mysterious deaths at Sick Children’s Hospital and met Queen Elizabeth II – though not at the same time.

Readers can learn all this and more by watching the CBC documentary, The Mesdames of Mayhem, on GEM.

7. We love to help emerging writers

Several Mesdames have taught creative writing for many years at both the University of Toronto and/or at community colleges, like Sheridan, Loyalist and George Brown. We’ve also taught seniors in the community and given numerous talks and seminars through the public library.

We also sponsored contests for emerging writers for two of our anthologies: 13 O’clock and 13 Claws. It’s been wonderful to see the winners and runners-up go on to publish several more works.

8. We adore our cover artist

Sara Carrick, a gifted graphic designer, created the cover for our first anthology, Thirteen. She used a mysterious purple background and we loved it. Ever since then purple has become our signature colour.

Sara has continued to design the cover for every one of our anthologies. We especially love the spectacular image for our latest book, In the Spirit of 13.

9. We write more than crime fiction

Though all of the Mesdames and Messieurs are crime fiction writers, several of us also write literary, historical, fantasy and speculative fiction. Many of us are secret Trekkies. We also enjoy writing more cross genre works, crime fiction set in historical times or stories that bring in elements of fantasy or futuristic settings.

We let our imaginations go wild in our latest anthology, In the Spirit of 13, where each of us interpreted “spirit” differently. It could be ghost or demon or even just evil itself. Others of us took it to mean alcohol – or the prohibition thereof. Readers will discover that most of the stories are cross-genre with supernatural elements – or not.

10. We welcome the future and its challenges

Ten years ago when we first got together, most of us barely knew how to use FaceBook. In short order, we had the Mesdames of Mayhem up and running with our own website, FaceBook page and Twitter account.

Many of us now run our own author websites and social media accounts. We’ve ventured into podcasting, thanks to Dead to Writes, hosted by Donna Carrick. And because of COVID, we’ve become experts at launching books on Zoom.

We have no idea what the future will throw at us – and at our crime fiction genre, but together as the Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem, we’ll handle it!

Readers are very welcome to join us for our Zoom launch of In the Spirit of 13, Sunday, November 13th, 2 pm EST. Entry is free but please pre-register at


Ghosts and demons and booze, oh my!

To celebrate their 10th anniversary, the Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem have let their imaginations run wild to bring you their fifth anthology, In the Spirit of 13. Does “spirit’ mean ghost or demon – or debunking of same? Or simply the evil in twisted human hearts? Or could it be alcohol? You must read these 23 tales to find out!

The Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem are established award-winning authors as well as talented new writers. They aimed to keep their stories light-hearted to counter the world’s troubled times, but some of them have strayed into the dark. They are crime writers after all!

Laugh, shed a tear and prepare to be deliciously frightened.

Buy Links

Amazon CA | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Mesdames of Mayhem Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Henry VanderSpek is the photographer of this signature photo. He was also the official photographer of the documentary, The Mesdames of Mayhem, by director Cat Mills and producer, Felicity Justrabo.

Ten Reasons Why I Participate in Anthologies

I’m happy to welcome back multi-published author Nancy Lee Badger. Today Nancy shares her reasons for participating in anthologies and her new release, Yuletide Kisses: A Medieval Christmas Romance Anthology.

Here’s Nancy!

I stopped by today to share 10 reasons why I participate in anthologies. Participating is something I learned a few years ago that has helped me to sell more books than if I publish a story on my own. So, I decided to contribute.

1. An anthology is a compilation of several stories, generally of a similar theme. Themes run the gambit: neighbors in love, time travel, science fiction romance, or holiday themed.

2. Unlike a boxed set of stories written by one author, an anthology is made up of three, four, or ten authors. This way, you offer a reader a bunch of stories that one person did not have to spend years writing.

3. Writing for publication in an anthology can mean submitting a story that you published years ago. Sometimes this brings renewed life to an older series. I did this in 10 Timeless Heroes and Medieval Redemption. Cleaning up the stories was easier than writing a new one.

4. An anthology can also include brand new stories as readers will happily discover in my newest anthology compilation YULETIDE KISSES?

5. An anthology has many parts that need to come together to make a successful book launch. Each author submits their book along with their title, dedication, list of other books, and social media links. They sign a contract in order for Amazon to accept the book. One person formats them for a cohesive look. Another gets a cover made. Another works on advertising and distribution. Everyone helps.

6. Because more than one person is involved in one published book, all the authors will share the news of this book’s release. In YULETIDE KISSES, that means four different people from different parts of the world will share with their readers.

7. Social media such as twitter, Facebook, and blogs like this one will get the word out in many ways, but many authors will share different aspects of the book with readers I would never be able to reach.

8. I love all things Scottish. says I have a decent percentage, which must be why I enjoy attending Scottish Highland Games. I love everything about the culture and find it easy to use my trips to these festivals to give me ideas for a plot.

9. Accepting the offer to participate in a multi-author anthology gives me the incentive to write. Knowing there is a deadline and that others depend on me to finish producing a fantastic story is the motivation I need.

10. I am a romantic. I write to share what is in my heart and head. I also love the holidays around Christmas or, as we say in the book…Yuletide!


The book: Yuletide Kisses: A Medieval Christmas Romance Anthology

Grab some hot cocoa and snuggle under the covers this season with four all-new medieval romances by best-selling and award-winning authors. From friends to lovers to a marriage of convenience, hidden identities and his best friend’s sister, you’ll be swept away to the magic of Christmas in Scotland where braw heroes will do anything for the women they’ve come to love.

Authors: Aurrora St. James, Allison Butler, Ria Cantrell, Nancy Lee Badger

Find buy links HERE.

Author Bio and Links

Nancy Lee Badger grew up in Huntington on New York’s Long Island. After attending Plymouth State, in New Hampshire, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree and met and married her college sweetheart. They raised two handsome sons in Rumney, New Hampshire while dreaming of being a writer. When the children had left the nest, and shoveling snow became a chore, she retired from her satisfying job as a 911 Emergency Medical Dispatcher and moved to North Carolina, where she writes full-time.

Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Triangle Association of Freelancers. She finds story ideas in the most unusual places. Connect with her here:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | BookBub | Goodreads

Virtual Book Tour: The Story That Made Us Stronger

I’m happy to welcome author Iris March. Today, Iris shares ten of her favorite foods and her new release, The Story That Made Us Stronger.

My 10 favorite foods – and how most of them are incorporated into this book!

Thanks for having me, Joanne. I’m really excited to be talking about my new novel, The Story That Made Us Stronger. It was inspired by my sister’s struggle of having Hodgkin’s lymphoma while pregnant with twins. Her story is told indirectly through the veil of the main character’s obsession with discovering the past uses of an abandoned building on his running route. The character based on my sister, Katie, helps Connor, the main character, from her hospital room, where he cares for her as a nurse during her stem cell replacement procedure. He’s training for a half-marathon and is trying to eat very healthily during the period of the novel. I am not always a healthy eater, but I still incorporated a lot of my favorite foods into the story.

1 – Indian Food. Connor orders Indian food take out, makes aloo gobi at home, goes on a date at an Indian restaurant, and is overjoyed when his sister-in-law makes chicken masala food for dinner. He loves Indian food and so do I!

2 – Not so much meat. I’m not a vegetarian, but I could be one. Connor too. When given the choice over a vegetarian dish or chicken or beef, I usually pick meatless or fish. Connor asks his mom to make meatless meatballs over spaghetti for his pre-race dinner. He never mentions making a meat-based meal at home but eats it when other people make it for him, mostly at his brother and sister-in-law’s house. I never outright say any of this in the novel and wonder if readers notice or not. Let me know!

3- Popcorn. I have a lifelong love of popcorn. I eat it nearly daily. Connor makes popcorn for his nieces when they sleep over. It needed to be included somewhere!

4 – Oatmeal. I eat oatmeal with chocolate and almonds almost every day for breakfast. Connor eats oatmeal frequently too but makes healthier choices for toppings.

5 – Chocolate. I have such a weakness for chocolate. Connor doesn’t struggle with this, but Leah tells him that there’s no reason to eat a sundae without chocolate. Agreed, Leah.

6 – My hometown pizza. General pizza is not my favorite. I could almost do without pizza, to be honest. But I will never turn down pizza made by my hometown pizzeria. That specific pizza is my very favorite. Their sauce is unique and their crust is not too crispy, not too soft. When Katie is leaving the hospital, she mentions that she’s craving her hometown pizza. Since Katie is based on my sister, she has the same hometown pizzeria and that’s the one I had in mind.

7 – Aloo Gobi. Going back to Indian food, aloo gobi is my favorite. It’s just potatoes and cauliflower in a light tomato sauce, but it’s just so so tasty. I’ve tried at least six recipes at home and just can not get it right. I pretend like Connor has a recipe figured out, but I sure don’t.

8 – Salmon. One night, Connor’s sister-in-law makes grilled salmon and asparagus. Salmon is my very favorite protein. Slow smoked over the grill is my favorite, but his sister-in-law didn’t have time for that.

10 – Falafel. Connor goes to a middle eastern restaurant and orders what I would: falafel with baba ghanoush. He says he could eat baba ghanoush all day. Me too, buddy!

Do we have any favorite foods in common? Anyone else eat popcorn every night after their kid goes to bed?


An abandoned building. A motivated runner. A Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer survivor.

Connor Jackson has been training for a half marathon for the past six weeks. Katie Brandt has been training to beat cancer for the past 50. When Connor discovers an intriguing secret in a tiny, abandoned building on his running route, Katie finds that the mystery is what she needs to help her get through her three-week stem cell replacement procedure. Together, Conner and Katie must find the strength to achieve their personal goals and, in the meantime, expose the many past lives that the tiny building led.


The Stem Cell Replacement Ward

Connor Jackson

The next morning, at the start of my shift on the stem cell replacement ward, I was daydreaming about what might be inside the building. Why was it so small? What was the huge pole for? Did it connect to something inside the tiny room? Was there a dirt floor? Had animals invaded, and were they living in there now? Was there a basement?

After saying hello to coworkers, I looked over the patient charts. Then I set off to check in on my first patient of the day, Katie.

“Good morning, Katie.” I said as I entered her room, knocked on her door, announced my arrival and entered. This was her third day on the floor, and she was still feeling about as healthy as she had when she arrived. We jumped right into her daily weigh in.

“How was your night, Connor, my man?” Katie asked as I made notes on my laptop. Katie had shoulder-length, curly blonde hair and the most decked-out room I’ve ever seen in my six years working on this ward. The rooms are large, as comfortable as they can be for a hospital. She had brought her own bright-pink quilt and pillows, had strings of lights up and pictures plastered everywhere. One entire wall was covered with photos of amazingly cute kids. Katie and her husband, Travis, had a boy who would be three in a few months and twin girls who were just born five months ago, when Katie had full-on Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This lady had a lot to live and fight for. She was there to get a stem cell transplant to make sure she never had lymphoma again. It would take three weeks, and her health would really fade in the next few days as we killed all her white blood cells.

“I went on a run and played some video games. I was in the mood for Indian. Well, I’m always in the mood for Indian, so I made some aloo gobi,” I said. “Kind of boring.” I took her temporal temperature and made another note.

“Not as boring as my night. I’m already totally done with watching TV and movies.” She was twirling her hair. “I miss my little people so much.”

Author Bio and Links

Iris March grew up the oldest of three sisters whose names all began with the same letter. Her sisters are still her best friends. March works in the sustainability field and also writes cozy mysteries in the Succulent Sleuth Series. She lives in Ohio with her husband, young son, and three cats.

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon


Iris March will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Iris on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

Honoring Queen Elizabeth II

Earlier today, Queen Elizabeth died peacefully at Balmoral.

The longest-reigning monarch in Great Britain, Queen Elizabeth leaves an extraordinary legacy. A steadying force through many crises during the seventy years of her reign, she oversaw the transition from a British Empire and Dominion to a Commonwealth of equal nations. She became the most well-traveled monarch in history, visiting over 100 countries. Her message of continuity and stability has resonated with millions worldwide.

My Favorite Quotations from Queen Elizabeth II

“It’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.”

”It has always been easy to hate and destroy. To build and to cherish is much more difficult.”

“When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future.”

“I have to be seen to be believed.”

“It is through this lens of history that we should view the conflicts of today, and so give us hope for tomorrow.”

“Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves–from our recklessness or our greed.”

“We may hold different points of view but it is in times of stress and difficulty that we most need to remember that we have much more in common than there is dividing us.”

“By being willing to put past differences behind us and move forward together, we honour the freedom and democracy once won for us at so great a cost.”

“With age does come experience and that can be a virtue if it is sensibly used.”

“Even when your life seems most monotonous, what you do is always of real value and importance to your fellow men.”

Honoring Olivia Newton-John

A pop culture icon and activist for environmental and animal rights, Olivia Newton-John bravely shared her three-decade battle with cancer.

Olivia was born in England and emigrated to Australia as a child. She achieved early success in music competitions and sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time. She shot to global fame when she was cast as Sandy in the musical Grease.

After receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer, Olivia became a leading advocate for cancer research. In addition to promoting plant-based treatments and spearheading fundraising walks, she created the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, Australia.

Her philanthropic efforts were recognized by Queen Elizabeth in 2020.

Dame Olivia Newton-John passed away yesterday at the age of 73.

My favorite quotations from Olivia Newton-John:

I believe love is what makes the world go round. No matter how old or young, love is why we are here. It is the very essence of one’s being.

I love that quiet time when nobody’s up and the animals are all happy to see me.

I do have high standards, but I don’t expect anything from anyone that I don’t expect from myself.

We wake up and are grateful for the day. Not taking away from the pain, because the pain will be there. But you live on.

I look at my cancer journey as a gift: It made me slow down and realize the important things in life and taught me to not sweat the small stuff.

My biggest mistake was my best lesson…you don’t learn anything when everything is going perfectly.

My memories are inside me – they’re not things or a place – I can take them anywhere.

To ‘be loved’ is the most basic of human needs. Like a flower, it waters the human soul. But ‘to love’ is a true blessing.

Cancer got me over unimportant fears, like getting old.

Once you face fear, nothing is ever as hard as you think.

My favorite song

Happy August!

In the original Roman calendar, the month of August was called Sextilis, meaning “the sixth month” in Latin. In 700 BC, January and February were added to the calendar, moving Sextilis to eighth place. The month was later renamed Augustus in honor of the first emperor of Rome, Caesar Augustus.

Here are ten more interesting facts about August:

1. The Anglo-Saxons called August “Weod Monath,” (Weed Month). During this month, weeds and plants grow the fastest in the northern hemisphere.

2. Most vegetables are ready to be harvested during this month. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and peas are at their freshest and most bountiful in August.

3. In a standard year, no other month begins on the same day of the week as August. In a leap year, August begins on the same day of the week as February.

4. August has two birth flowers: gladiolus and deep crimson poppy. The vibrant gladiolus flower represents generosity, strength of character, and deep sincerity, while the poppy flower is a sign of imagination, eternal sleep, and oblivion.

5. August has three birthstones: peridot, spinel, and sardonyx. Sardonyx, a stone that ranges from amber to bright green in color, was the original August birthstone. Due to its similar coloring, peridot was often mistaken for sardonyx, and was eventually adopted as the second August birthstone. Spinel was added as an alternate gemstone in 2016.

6. People born between August 1 and August 22 fall under the sign of Leo, while those born later in the month fall under Virgo. Leos are proud and display leadership qualities while Virgos are analytical and hardworking.

7. Famous people born in August include Barack Obama (August 4, 1961), Neil Armstrong (August 5, 1930), Lucille Ball (August 6, 1911), Viola Davis (August 11, 1965), Coco Chanel (August 19, 1883), and Warren Buffett (August 30, 1930).

8. August has been designated as National Panini Month, Peach Month, Sandwich Month, Harvest Month, National Water Quality Month, National Immunization Month, and Get Ready for Kindergarten Month.

9. The first sandwich was created on August 6, 1762. In the middle of a gambling game (he did not wish to interrupt), the Earl of Sandwich requested a dish involving meat between two pieces of bread.

10. On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to 250,000 people on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Dr. King called for the end of racial discrimination and equal rights for all.