Tragedy and the Final X

Today my hometown was once again thrust into the arms of tragedy and violence. A shooter, now identified as Robert Lewis Dear, holed up in a Planned Parenthood office and ended up wounding nine people and killing three people, including two civilians and a campus police officer from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

It’s hard to go back to living your life and doing mundane things around the house when you know there were a few of people from here in Colorado Springs who woke up today and had no idea that yesterday was going to be their last Thanksgiving, and that they wouldn’t make it to tonight or live another day past today to see their family and friends ever again.

I remember seeing a calendar in my kids’ grandfather’s room on the day after he died from a heart attack in his sleep. I glanced at the monthly page as I was on my way to the bathroom. He had marked off every day that had come and gone with an X, with notes about what he’d done and planned to do for upcoming days. I stood for a moment and stared at the final X he marked on his calendar…and then I looked at the notes he had for the rest of the month…what he had on his to-do list for around the house, etc.

That final X has stuck with me. He didn’t know it would be the last X he’d mark on his calendar. He had plans, but he died in his sleep that night. No more notes, no more crossing off the days of tasks he completed…it was done, and so was he.

Sobering and sad. Life can be real shitty at times, but even during the shitty times, you are still breathing and living.

You never know when you’re going to put down the last X on your monthly calendar, or breathe your last breath. You won’t know if you’ll be here next Thanksgiving, or even tomorrow. In the end, life completes your tasks for you, even if you weren’t ready to have them finished. We all have a final X. You only have today, this moment. Maybe we should make sure all our X’s count.

Don’t you think so?

30 Praiseworthy Virtues of Northern Europe

(**My comment: An excellent list to use as a guide for becoming a better person and living a more balanced and meaningful life — at least to me. These are all virtues worth cultivating, regardless of who you are.**)

What are the 30 Northern Praiseworthy Virtues?

Definition of praiseworthy (adj)
Bing Dictionary
[ práyz wùrt͟hee ]
admirable: deserving praise
synonyms: admirable, commendable, laudable, worthy, exemplary, creditable

Viking rules were simple

The Praiseworthy Virtues of the North

This list of praiseworthy ethics is taken directly from the lore of Northern Europe. Nothing listed is modern opinion but, instead, comes from the very words of our Northern European ancestors. Their wisdom and knowledge was recorded in the sagas and Eddas. This word-hoard to the English-speaking peoples in its legend, song, and story is our source. It is a very mine of “noble and pleasant beauty and high manhood,” as Sparling terms the Eddas and sagas in his introduction to the Morris and Magnússon translation of Völsunga Saga. These ancestors of the Northern European peoples are the source of what is thought to be praiseworthy. Their wisdom is timeless and what was praiseworthy then, is praiseworthy now. For a more complete examination of these ethics as they appear in Northern lore, see Trúlög and Sögumál.

What is praiseworthy?

1. Gifting is praiseworthy.
2. Generosity is praiseworthy.
3. Moderation is praiseworthy.
4. The maintaining of frith in all circumstances is praiseworthy.
5. Courage is praiseworthy.
6. The seeking of good over ill is praiseworthy.
7. Hospitality is praiseworthy.
8. Courtesy is praiseworthy.
9. Tolerance is praiseworthy.
10. The pursuit of wisdom and knowledge is praiseworthy.
11. The defense of freedom is praiseworthy.
12. Industriousness is praiseworthy.
13. Vigilance is praiseworthy.
14. The protection, nurturing and forbearing of kin is praiseworthy.
15. Showing respect for elders is praiseworthy.
16. Loyalty to friends and kin is praiseworthy.
17. Keeping an oath is praiseworthy.
18. Honoring the sanctity of marriage is praiseworthy.
19. Refraining from mockery is praiseworthy.
2o. Refraining from arrogance is praiseworthy.
21. Making kin, honor and justice more important than gold is praiseworthy.
22. Cleanliness is praiseworthy.
23. The maintaining of one’s dignity in all situations is praiseworthy.
24. Good organization is praiseworthy.
25. Persistence is praiseworthy.
26. The rule of law is praiseworthy.
27. To try one’s steel against an opponent fairly is praiseworthy.
28. Respect for the dead is praiseworthy.
29. For a man to never strike a woman is praiseworthy.
30. To not abuse one’s power is praiseworthy.


Marked for the Beast by Lilith Braun – horror/paranormal/erotica – only 99 cents through November

Grab your copy now for only 99 cents through November.
Horror/paranormal/erotica—Adults only!

Marked FOR the Beast_test cover4

The shootings in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the place where my family and I live

For those of you who know that my family and I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, you also may know about the tragic shooting deaths that occurred downtown yesterday. Everyone in our family is okay, but please keep the families who lost loved ones yesterday in your thoughts.

The people who were gunned down and lost their lives did nothing wrong. They were minding their own business, just living their lives. Until a selfish, rifle-toting man bent on chaos and destruction mowed them down like animals.

We live about five to ten minutes from where the final shootout occurred, depending on the volume of traffic. We often pass through that intersection (90% of the time, in fact) when we head downtown. It’s in a neighborhood where nobody would think it wasn’t safe to walk, ride your bicycle, or stand outside on your porch.

We’ve often gone through that drive-thru at Wendy’s, as well as the McDonald’s across the street from where the shootout with police happened. There will never be a time that we will go by there in the future that we won’t be reminded that innocent people lost their lives there.

The people who were shot by the gunman were random people on the street, just minding their business on a Saturday Halloween morning. This was a senseless tragedy that did not need to happen. My heart aches for their surviving family and friends.

We do not have any other info than you may have read at this point. However, this is not something we could’ve ever guessed would happen here in Colorado Springs. But I guess that’s a refrain we hear all too often these days.

Thank you to the police officers who risked their lives to stop this man from killing more people. If it had been a Monday morning, there probably would’ve been more victims.

As you spend tonight with your family and friends, please keep the victims’ families in your thoughts during this awful time.

Thank you, stay safe, and much love to all.

(**NOTE: Please do not use the comments of this post to begin a debate about guns. Quite frankly, I don’t want to hear about guns right now. Right now I want to use this post to ask people to remember the victims and their families. Any comments that go against this request will be deleted.)

Updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page

Q: How long have you been a published writer?
A: My first published piece was in 1982 in the Colorado Springs Sun newspaper. As of this FAQ, over three decades.

Q: What do you write?
A: I write or have written a lot of things, including articles, blogs, features, reviews, blurbs, press releases, short stories, business copy, SEO keyword copy, books, chapbooks, and other things I’ve probably forgotten about already.

Q: What are your pen names?
A: Bev Walton~Porter, Star Ferris, and a couple others I won’t reveal yet.

Q: Why do you use pen names?
A: Before I got married in 2008, my name was Bev Walton-Porter. I had already branded myself with that name. I’m loathe to change it at this point.

In addition, since I write many different types of articles, blogs, books, and stories, it’s important to let people know what they’re getting so they don’t pick up a romance novel and expect the same type of content as, say, a non-fiction book. For instance, I write articles and blogs under Bev Sninchak, non-fiction books under Bev Walton-Porter, and contemporary romance under Star Ferris.

Finally, my married name, Sninchak, can be tricky to pronounce and hard to remember for some people. Authors should have names that readers don’t have to struggle to remember, spell, or pronounce.

Q: Will you read my manuscript?
A: Unfortunately, no. I have limited time and if I spent all of my time reading other people’s work, I wouldn’t have time to work on my own creative projects or help existing clients. When I have free time, I prefer to spend it with my family. Thanks for understanding ;-).

Q: Will you edit or proofread my story or book manuscript?
A: Sure. Go here to find out about the services I offer and how to hire me. You can also e-mail me at nocturnaleditor -at –

Q: Would you collaborate with me?
A: I’ve had wonderful experiences collaborating with other authors, but I am uninterested in doing so at this time. Nothing against you—promise!

Q: What are your favorite genres?
A: Non-fiction, fantasy, dark fiction, paranormal romance, erotica, and poetry.

Q: What books have you published?
A: Sun Signs for Writers, Secrets of the Professional Freelancer, Aim To Write: Tips & Tricks for Freeing the Scribe Within, Shadows of the Soul, and Nocturnal Musings: Collected Ponderings, Essays, and Stories. I co-authored The Complete Writer: A Guide To Tapping Your Full Potential. I’ve also published Mending Fences and Hidden Fire under my pen name Star Ferris.

You can find all my books at

Q: Have you used traditional publishers or are you strictly an indie author?
A: My first four books were released through traditional publishers, such as Writer’s Digest Books. I have since reclaimed the publishing rights to all of those books and have become an indie author, publishing them through )0( Triple Crow Publishing )0(.

Q: What are you working on right now?
A: A non-fiction book, a fiction book, a collection of short stories, and various articles/blog posts.

Q: What makes you think you know everything about writing, editing, or publishing?
A: I don’t. I can only share my experiences, but your mileage may vary (YMMV). Nobody knows everything about writing, editing, or publishing. If they tell you they do, they’re delusional or lying to you. I’m human and I make mistakes like everyone else. The difference is that I try to learn from those mistakes (because I give a shit).

Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: From life. Look around you. How could you not have countless ideas on a daily basis?

Q: What is your educational background?
A: I graduated from Widefield High School in Security, Colorado, attended Phillips University in Enid, OK, and majored in Applied Communication & Philosophy at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. I love learning, so I continue to take online college courses through Coursera, FutureLearn, KhanAcademy, and edX, among others.

Have other questions? Contact me at scribequill -at- or visit my author page at

Version 10.20.15

[Blog post from The Writer’s Dominatrix] Are you a give-a-shit writer?

Originally published at The Writer’s Dominatrix

Look, I get that writing a book manuscript isn’t easy. I know it takes countless hours of your life and it can drain your brain like nothing else. If writing were an easy feat, every person would do it. But that’s no excuse for sloppy manuscript submissions. At the minimum, you should have punctuation in your manuscript, as well as paragraphs. Who the hell thinks having NO PARAGRAPHS in a manuscript is a good idea?!*

(*Interrobangs are so much fun to use, aren’t they?)

Please, respect your editor and publisher. Don’t send them a manuscript that’s laden with errors and half-assed efforts like missing quotation marks (really?). Does a person who never uses quotation marks realize that dialogue requires such marks, or were they too damned lazy to bother with it in the first place? I’m betting on the latter.

While you’re at it, why don’t you run a cursory spell check so it appears you made an attempt to check your work in some small way before you shunted it off to your editor or publisher? Yeah, that would be nice. Oh, wait. Is that too much to ask? For many so-called writers, it is. Learning the craft of writing is SO last century, isn’t it? I mean, who has the TIME? *insert hair flip*

You can always tell the difference between writers who sling together a manuscript in hopes of selling a bunch of books to make a wad of cash versus a writer who takes the craft of writing seriously. The latter will obsess over every. little. detaileven after the manuscript is out of his or her hands. In fact, once the book is published, the caring writer will still regret not making even more changes before the book found its way onto the bookshelves. This type of writer gives a shit.

And the slapdash writer? This is the kind I want to strangle (not really, but the angry emotion is there). Well, that writer doesn’t give a damn about much of anything. They’ll serve up a pile of prosaic poop and expect their editor to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. Who needs to know anything about spelling and grammar, right? The editor should fix all of it, so why does the writer need to know the difference between their/there/they’re? Who has time for figuring out and learning homophones, right? This type of writer gives no shits…at all. They’re the type who will fling crap at a wall and then expect others to turn it into a Picasso. If you’re this type of writer, you’re an asshole. Yep, I said it because it’s true.

The funny thing is, once writers who don’t give a shit have their books published, they’re shocked to learn they’re not outselling J.K. Rowling. Take it from me: these writers almost always go out of their way to tell you how they are the next big thing in the literary world and how all their books will be bestsellers.

Conversely, the writer who gives a shit hardly, if ever, allows those words pass his or her lips. It all leads back to thinking of writing as a craft and something you do for your entire life, as opposed to something you do on a lark to see if you can rake in money so you can brag about it to your Aunt Martha at Christmas time.

Writers who care will write no matter what. Most of the time, they want to earn a living with their words so they can keep writing as a career instead of being stuck in a hellish cubicle doing something they absolutely hate. They cannot NOT write. It’s not possible. Writing is not just what they do, but is an essential part of who they ARE.

People who masquerade as writers only give a shit about writing when they can get something superficial out of it. You won’t find these types at literary meet-ups or discussing the wonders of Shakespeare or Murakami. They won’t know who Jack Kerouac is, nor will they know the difference between David Sedaris and David Copperfield (he’s an author, right?). Because, heck, they probably don’t read much. Reading is for boring people, you see. They may even brag that they haven’t read a book since high school or college. They aren’t concerned with the importance of literature OR the art and craft of writing. They’re concerned with the potential for fame and quick cash to use for their next casino trip to Las Vegas.

It pains me to say it, but the people I’ve described in the previous paragraph are still considered writers. If you write, you’re a writer. But not all writers are the same. This type of writer never earns my respect, nor will they ever. They use writing like it’s little more than a White Chapel whore for their personal pleasure. They use it, wring out what pleasure or benefit they can, and then toss it to the side with nary a backward glance. They don’t truly care about books, writing, literature, authors, readers, or anything of the sort. It’s all about what’s in it for them — that’s it. They’re users, not givers.

Do me a favor, will ya? Strive to become the type of writer who gives a shit, not the kind who doesn’t. If you don’t have the proper respect for books and writing, find another hobby. We need more givers and fewer takers. Which one are you?

Proud of ALL of my roots!

Proud of ALL my roots, from the HUGE Northern European percentage (Scottish/Welsh/Irish, French, German, Norwegian), to the bits of Russian, Swiss, and Italian strands of DNA woven in there as well. You can’t get much more European in ancestry than I am, basically.

Still, I honor the Tuckahoe Cherokee ancestry contributed from my Great Grandmother, Lucy Anetta Ray. I recognize and honor ALL of my ancestors and am proud of those connections.

Had it not been for DNA testing, I would’ve never known about all the parts that make up who I am. When you’re adopted, there’s a big hole in your past. At least that’s how I felt. It was important to fill in the blanks as much as I could. Not only for me, but also for my children. They needed to know the info about their history, too.

Gotta love science and technology! Think of all the wonderful things — and knowledge — it’s brought to us! I have connected with cousins I never knew I had. Thank you, science and technology, for all the wonderful and amazing things you bring to life!

norsk roots