Mari Collier's Blog

February 10, 2017

Earthbound has been feature on E Book Daily!

Take a look and see the Reviews here on Goodreads!
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Published on February 10, 2017 12:44 • 19 views

February 3, 2017

The third home was Lanny’s home. Before we were married, he told me he wanted to live in a cave above a river in a dark forest. We could live on walnuts and fish. I laughed. The man hated fish. He caught them and cleaned them, I prepared and ate them.
I think I’ll leave out the part about the rental we had in Fall City. It was a nice home, but a rental. When we drove to the rental, our daughter screamed, “Mom, you brought us to the boonies.” She was really unhappy as her high school band was marching in the Rose Parade and we were no longer in Phoenix. Our teenage son was in shock. He had not believed we would really move.
The house prices in Washington stunned us. It took several months to sell our Phoenix home and find one around the Seattle area. I finally found one outside of a small town called North Bend in the Snoqualmie Valley. It only had two bedrooms (we had two children, my mother-in-law, and a foster son teenager (no I’m not going into the details how all that happened), but there was an unfinished guest house with two rooms.
One walked up the steps of the front porch to enter the house. The door entered into a hallway that led down to the one bathroom. On the left was the main bedroom, and then the second bedroom. A door in the second bedroom led out to the laundry and storage area that had once been a kitchen and porch area. They had installed a glass mosaic of a duck in a panel that had been installed from the ceiling in the middle of the hallway. There was a door to close off the view of the winter wraps hanging in the second part of the hall.
A wrought iron railing was on the right side of the hall when you entered. That looked down into the huge living room. Three concrete steps led down to the main floor. A river rock fireplace covered most of one wall. A picture window looked out onto the North Fork of the Snoqualmie River, and the northern wall was covered with old fashioned wood windows that could swing outward in warmer weather. There was another bookcase on that wall and more bookcases under the wrought iron railing. The kitchen (if one could call it that) had a total of four metal cabinets by the sink and two wooden cabinets by the patio door which again looked out over the river. A Dutch door led out to the back. Said door had bear scratches on the outside. The kitchen sink was too low for even this short person. The granddaughter of the women who owned the house was living there with her boyfriend. They told us they had been trapped for three days when the Snoqualmie River had flooded. We should be sure to have plenty of water, food, and cigarettes if it happened again. The good news was that the river had stayed one foot below the house. The water was brought into the house via a line into the river and a pump. There was no storage tank. When the river flooded, it would tear out the line and sometimes the pump which would then need to be replaced.
What it did have was walls of knotty pine paneling that were not even being milled in 1976. The ceilings were of oak and the underneath the carpet, maple flooring. The kitchen had disgusting, dirty white pressed ceiling tiles. The lighting fixture in the living room was a hand crafted wagon wheel. The oil furnace was underneath the house.
The yard was filled with rhododendrons, azaleas, a dogwood tree, a tulip tree, a peach/plum tree, a regular plum tree, both blue and red huckleberries, cedar, spruce, fir, holly, thimble berries, strawberry bushes and overgrown blackberry brambles. There were even boysenberries and gooseberries. We were assured there was a chicken house underneath the blackberry brambles.
We let my mother-in-law have the main bedroom, our daughter the second. We took one of the rooms in the guest house and the two boys the other.
The guest house was finished first. There was a bathroom, complete electrical wiring throughout, carpeting and tile, plus curtains, and a small area for toaster oven, microwave, and small refrigerator. We moved back into the main house.
The first thing we had to do was replace the fuse box. It was still using paper fuses. I’m serious. When one went out, they all did. It took years, but gradually we were able to remodel everything and put in a well with a storage tank for water. No longer did we have to carry up water from the creek if something went wrong with the pump. Yes, there was a large chicken coop under the blackberry brambles. I dug out blackberry roots as large as my forearm. I also found more rhododendrons buried under the brambles.
The living room was so large it held an old fashioned, upright piano, a twelve rifle gun case with four drawers and four doors, a huge sofa, recliner, and an old fashioned teacher’s desk that also held my typewriter. The fireplace had so many ledges and nooks it soon held our antique clock, ceramics, old jars, and pictures. The kitchen underwent two transformations. The first when Lanny moved the door and bookcase to make access into the kitchen easier and he installed smoke damaged cabinets from an apartment complex. I cleaned every one of them before they went into the house. The next was when he rebuilt all the cabinets, and closed in the window that looked into the laundry room with new paneling. The white ceiling tiles were removed and the kitchen rewired. They had strung the wires below the beautiful wooden ceiling.
Over time, our health insurance costs sky-rocketed. I went to work to either pay for the insurance or receive insurance through the employment. I wound up at Nintendo of America, a dream job that paid me to talk, read, write, and play games; plus, the pay was great and the insurance coverage wonderful.
The fourth heart operation robbed my mother-in-law of the ability to live with us and she entered a care facility. Lanny’s arthritis continued to worsen and his working in the cold, damp winters of the Pacific Northwest became less and less. After his mother passed away, we began to look for a retirement home back in the desert.
We finally decided the homes in Twentynine Palms were more affordable than those in Phoenix and our daughter and grandchildren would be near. We hated to leave our son and grandchildren in Washington, but felt we would be able to visit at least once or twice a year.
The owner next door, bought our home for their daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. The young woman declared, she had always “loved” our home. A huge earthquake delayed our leaving Washington on the day we thought we would, but we did leave the house.
I have since discovered that the family made a mansion out of their house next door and tore down the house that we lived in for twenty-five years. The only thing I regret is that beautiful, unique kitchen that Lanny built. The land is still there, but the house is no more.
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Published on February 03, 2017 14:47 • 107 views • Tags: homes-water-families

January 28, 2017

The home saga continues. There will be one more after this one. It really struck me that so much of what I knew no longer exists.
The houses I lived in when Mama first took me to Phoenix were not ours. They were rentals, and while I loved Phoenix and its people, I had no affection for where we lived. It was in the poorer part of Phoenix. The term then was south of the tracks. The latter meant railroad tracks.
When Lanny and I married, he was eighteen and I was nineteen. We rented from friends for a whole $25.00 per month. It was an old house trailer with a cabana on either side. Unfortunately, the side with a bathroom had no heat and no swamp cooler and certainly no air conditioning. We used an electric heater in the winter and a fan in the summer. The low cost allowed me to save money for a down payment on a house.
Then in January, a friend told Lanny about houses they were building above MacDowell Road for less the ten thousand dollars. We toured the homes as two couples. They only wanted two hundred dollars down. For that we could have a three bedroom home. Of course, it was cooled by a swamp cooler and the heating unit was in the front room. The kitchen and one bathroom were tiled, but as most homes were then, it was asphalt tile. There were no closets per se, just wooden boxes set against the wall with a door. The closet between the kitchen area and front room was constructed in the same manner. It was cinder block and there was no insulation or drywall, but there was a bathtub in the bathroom and a screen door in front of the front door. They wanted a co-signer because Lanny was nineteen and I was twenty. I pointed out that Arizona law said I could legally sign as an adult. They capitulated and we signed papers.
We moved in on our first anniversary. Of course, I was mopping and waxing floors. Instead of celebrating with a grand dinner at a fancy restaurant we went for breakfast and back to work. We lived there for eight years. We installed a chain link fence, and Lanny had made built in cabinets, closets and a desk in the main bedroom. Both our children were brought home to that house. I planted a climbing rose by the front door and Lanny built the trellis for that and for the hibiscus I planted between the living room and kitchen window. Lanny rebuilt part of the kitchen, added a storage unit to the back of the carport, and built a workshop out back.
Then we realized our neighbors who had improved their homes were selling and the new inhabitants cared little for the homes. We began a house hunt. Years later when we returned to visit Phoenix, the rosebush was dead, part of the roof missing and a black tarp was hung over the kitchen area and carport. The chain link fence was gone, and the yard dead. The windows were patched over and the entire place needed painting. We took one look and left.
Our replacement home had one acre, a fenced corral, three bedrooms with real closets, two of which had built-in drawers, a linen closet in the hall, a bath and one-half bath, and a huge closet in the entry way. The kitchen was huge and had two ovens, the kitchen also looked out into the dining room and family room. There was a huge sandstone fireplace open both to the living room and the family room, a three car carport, a separate laundry room, and a garden tool shed. What I did not like was the painted pine board and concrete fake flower bed that was supposed to separate the entry from the living room. Repeated requests to Lanny did no good. I took a sledge hammer to it. Lanny did finish knocking the concrete down and smoothing it even with the floor. We had new carpet installed in all the bedrooms and living room, and new tile in the family room, kitchen, and bathrooms. Lanny built drawers and a desk in our son’s bedroom. The corrals eventually held horses, I had a cactus garden that I had hauled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of stone to line the walks I created around it. Cacti from Arizona, Mexico, Peru and elsewhere were planted. Lanny built a barn for the horses and for his workshop. We installed antique hardware on the linen closets and in the bathrooms, and bought fancy mahogany doors for the entry closet. Then Phoenix went through the bust part of their boom and bust cycles. Let’s just say we moved to Northwest Washington and sold the house. When I returned and had the large furniture items stored and locked my door for the last time, I felt defeated. This was the house where I had wanted to live my life out. The house, barn, and corrals are gone now and apartment complexes fill the acre lot. I have never gone back to see it. Even when we went by the other house. I could not bear to look at a dream destroyed.
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Published on January 28, 2017 10:28 • 94 views • Tags: dreams, family-life, homes

January 23, 2017

It seems strange to remember the homes where I have lived. It is like they are in a different time and place. Three of them are no more.
The first one I remember as huge. That is probably because I was so small. I was born in that house. I know it had one bedroom on the ground floor as that was my parent’s bedroom. It was also the bedroom where I and my younger brother slept. This was in Iowa and children did not leave the parental bedroom until they were six or nearly six. There was another reason.
This was an older home and the stairs leading up to the second floor like many older homes would not be considered “code” today. They were steep and narrow. Mother feared we would fall if we were to go upstairs. It was verboten. I do remember the huge kitchen where my parents made sausage and Mama did her canning. The yard stretched down to the roads in two directions and one led down to the barnyard. The latter was also forbidden. To the north were the garden and caves. The one cave was no longer serviceable and we were forbidden to go near it. Of course, I considered that the perfect place to jump from the small hump onto the door and slide down. One day the boards broke under the strain. My younger brother, Gordie, went running to the house, screaming “Girly, girly.” He wasn’t old enough to pronounce my name. I believe Papa filled up the hole later with dirt. No, I wasn’t hurt; just frightened. The last time I saw the house, it was still there, and it still looked like a huge house. I believe they had lengthen the veranda around the front rooms.
We moved the year I was three. It was in March, the month that farmers moved then. That way they would be settled in time for spring planting. This house did not seem as large, but we were still forbidden to go up the stairs. These stairs must have been more conventional as I remember my oldest brother, Rein, tap dancing all the way down the stairs, jumping on the kitchen chair, and then tapping towards the door. He never missed a beat.
This was my grandmother’s second farm and Papa was renting it. It had a wonderful walnut grove that I loved. I would wander in it, making believe that I was in the Hundred Acre Wood, and Owl lived above in one of the trees. I could imagine Pooh looking for his honey tree there. Plus, the walnuts from them were delicious. This was the house where I was finally allowed to move upstairs. Mama had purchased a cast iron bed with the fancy bell and flower ornaments. The problem? It was painted a hideous green and the decorative flowers and bells were a ghastly pink. Colors I truly disliked. Mama, of course, loved it and they only paid five dollars for it as cast iron beds were no longer fashionable. It would be my childhood bed and they kept it long after I left home. When I was an adult, I realized what a treasure it was and asked for it. When they sold the farm, they brought me the bed. It has been sanded and spray painted black. The decorative flowers and bells are golden. It is a beautiful unique piece. Whether the house has survived, I do not know.
The year that I was seven, my paternal grandmother went home to the Lord, and the farm we were on was sold. My youngest paternal Uncle bought the homestead farm and with the division of the estate monies, my parents bought a farm. I was eight-years-old when we moved in March to a home that had been partially built in 1884 and enlarged in 1910. Since it had set empty for several months, it was occupied by rats and skunks. You don’t want to know about the odors that permeated that place while Papa trapped and killed off the vermin. I was never particularly thrilled with the small kitchen, but at least it had running water into the house. True, it was cold, but it was no longer necessary to carry in water to heat for dishes, bathing, canning, cleaning, etc. The rooms were large enough for all of our furniture. My bedroom was the smallest at the head of the stairs.
What I did love about the farm was the barn where we could play in the loft, the cottonwood or cherry tree that I could climb to read a book in quiet and peace. There was also a quarter of an acre of our farm that had been separated from the rest by a country road. A small creek meandered through here to join the larger creek running through neighboring farms to the North and West. Because this area had been cut off, wild flowers grew there, wild elderberry trees, and ash trees. There was even prairie grass on one side of the creek. My brother and I used this as our hideout. We could dig and no one cared. We could wade when the water was high enough and it would run clear as there were no cattle to contaminate it.
Wild prairie roses grew along the yard fence and Papa planted an apple orchid to replace the orchard he had known as a child. His selection was superb. We had ripening apples from June on through fall. He knew which ones to select. We had June apples, Rome apples, Granny Smith, Golden and Red Delicious, and I believe the last one was Macintosh.
The other farms were rental farms, this one was ours. While Mama always changed the decor of the rooms in the other houses, this one had her special attention. Not only the house, but the flower beds and garden. She bought roses to line the fence of her flower beds, and two peony bushes for either side of the front gate. Their grandchildren loved the farm. All of my brothers brought their children to visit and so did I. My son loved working with his grandfather.
When my parents turned seventy-seven and seventy-five they sold the farm to a neighbor and bought a small retirement house in a nearby small town. Our neighbor added the farm to the other two farms that he and his son worked, and tore down my childhood home to build a modern triplex for his son and the son’s new wife.
My parent’s grandchildren were more devastated over this turn of events than their children. I couldn’t live in Iowa, and none of my three brothers had no desire to be farmers. What I didn’t realize was that the other homes that meant so much to me would meet the same fate.
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Published on January 23, 2017 14:55 • 63 views • Tags: homes-farm-life-memories

January 18, 2017

As many of you know, I am now reading Zenna Henderson’s The Ingathering. You don’t remember that author? Do you remember the old TV mini-series with Kim Darby and William Shatner called The People? This book contains all of her short stories about The People.
I had originally read her short stories about The People in the old Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction pulps when I was between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one. I loved her stories then, but didn’t realize there were far more. Neither did I realize how much her writing would later influence mine. It has been a shock reading the stories that I had not read.
She uses religion in her stories and the way she uses it, you have no doubt that she is referring to the Triune God. She gave the People mind abilities like I gave the Justines. I did not, however, give any of my other world beings the ability to “lift.” That is the ability to move around the world without walking; nor, do my beings from other planets have the ability to mind connect across the world. I did destroy one planet, but not the planet of the alien from Thalia. The Justine planet was destroyed, but the Justines did not relocate to Earth as The People did.
The People came to Earth and settled here. Like my Thalian alien, they intermarried with Earth beings and created a different genetic pattern. My alien, however, does not stay on Earth. He returns to Thalia to right the wrongs inflicted by the Justines and their allies the Krepyons.
Ms. Henderson had her beings possess the ability to gather sunlight, create heat, and make metal and cloth materials flow. It was a surprise to find that Ms. Henderson missed one very important scientific achievement in an advanced society. She still has the sex of the unborn unknown. This when X-Rays was well known. Of course, it was also well known that X-Rays could be harmful.
She does have a beautiful way of working children into her adult stories. You can see the limitations of the child, but the innate intelligence is there and the other world abilities.
My stories do have far more sex, more violence, and there is cursing from certain characters. Her stories do not contain sex, other than implied. There may be violence in a natural disaster, accident, someone giving details about an incident, and there are but one or two words that would be in the cursing category. The clean manner in which she wrote must be attributed to the era that she started writing these stories. That was the 1950’s before most of our mores changed.
She did mix some of the early history of the United States with the early arrival of the People to this planet. My first three novels of the stranded alien on Earth do contain American history from the 1840’s through 1949. When my alien and his Earth family return for a visit and reunion, you will find one chapter from the 1950’s and then the vibes and details from the late 1970’s. The other novels take place on other planets and some of the history of Thalia are in the Maca Chronicles and the history of the planet Tonath are in Man, True Man. That will be the case in the next novel set on the planet Tonath.
Perhaps I should be writing more about my own novels, but it is such a pleasure to read well-written stories that stir the imagination of what could be. My short stories in the four Twisted Tales anthologies are just that; short stories that are finished at the end except for the stories about the vampire Valda. Her stories are scattered through The Twisted Tales From The Northwest to Twisted Tales From A Skewed Mind. I’m not sure why she kept making an appearance, but like the long-lived creatures of the night that she is, she keeps returning.
If this has aroused your interest in the Chronicles of the Maca, start with Earthbound. If you like short stories, any of the Twisted Tales will fill your need. You’ll find them all listed here on Goodreads or at
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Published on January 18, 2017 14:37 • 99 views

November 28, 2016

My father was hospitalized in 1981 for an operation. His heart had stopped on the operating table, and he had been resurrected. The prognosis was not good as he was refusing to eat and he was eighty-three years old. My cousin who lived in the same city as where the hospital was located called me and invited me to stay at her place. She would drive me to the hospital in the morning when she went to work and pick me up after her day was finished.
I took her up on her kind offer. Our children were out on their own and Lanny could handle the work of his construction company and write any checks that needed to be sent. The airplane tickets were ordered and I packed winter clothes for returning to Iowa at the end of October. I knew how cold it could be.
What a surprise. The Indian Summer was fantastic. That was the warmest fall they had in years. The fall colors were incredible and the black squirrels that reside in Council Bluffs were still scurrying about gathering food for the winter.
The weather stayed decent and one of Papa’s brothers and wife were able to visit. By this time it was drawing nearer to Thanksgiving and the leaden skies and colder weather arrived. One day in the hospital cafeteria I heard a commotion over by the huge window that looked out on the Missouri River and glanced up. The sky was totally black, but the black was moving in waves. Like the others, I hurried over to the windows. The dreary, clouded day was still light enough to show the huge mass or ducks soaring upward and leaving for warmer realms in the South. It was an unbelievable sighting that seemed to embed itself in my memory. I could only imagine what it must have looked like a century earlier. Thanksgiving was with my cousin, her husband and at a friend of theirs home.
The hospital called in a Psychologist to evaluate Papa. I explained that he had been watching his friends die for over forty years, and none were living. I also told him that Mama had passed away two years and six months ago just two months before their sixtieth anniversary. He took one look at Papa and said, “He’s watched all of his friends pass away and his wife of almost sixty years is gone, and they think he is crazy?” With that he turned on his heel and left. Of course, he charged Medicare also.
I called my brothers to tell them Papa was dying. Norman could not risk returning to Iowa in the winter as he had had pneumonia three times while living there. My oldest brother, Rein and wife Edna were able to get off from their jobs and head for Iowa. They called our other relatives. One cousin and his wife from Waterloo made it there the same day as my brother and wife. Within two days, Papa had left this Earth.
My brother Rein, wife Edna, and myself arranged for Papa’s funeral in the small town where he lived. Papa’s usual bad luck arrived. There was a horrific ice storm and many of his relatives could not risk the perilous journey on icy roads. We did discover that Papa had meant for operation to end things on Earth as he had been to the Pastor of the Lutheran church and arranged for all the hymns and passages for his funeral. Afterwards we closed up the house and Rein and Edna took me back to Council Bluffs where I caught a plane for home in Washington, but the sight of those ducks would fit perfectly into one of my stories.
In Gather The Children, LouElla has taken Mina on an outing in the middle of November. They stop on the green around the Missouri river and while they are eating the lead, gray sky becomes dark with the migrating ducks.
You’ll find Gather The Children Book 2 Chronicles of the Maca here on Goodreads with a Link to Amazon. You can learn more about Gather The Children here:
It’s available in paperback and for your Kindle or electronic reader.
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Published on November 28, 2016 15:28 • 32 views

November 3, 2016

When I was three, the winter seem to be snow filled. I remember Mama making ice cream with snow. She mixed it in a bowl with some powder. I cannot remember the name of the powder, I just remember her adding it and vanilla. She then set the bowl outside to refreeze.
As it grew closer to Christmas, a hog was butchered and Papa and Mama made sausages by stuffing the boiled, seasoned meat into the cleaned and boiled intestines. I did not realize that the sausages would be hung upstairs in one of the unused and unheated bedrooms. When I was six and allowed to go upstairs, I saw the sausages they made that winter hanging in rows across the unused bedroom.
I do not remember the Christmas tree from the year I was three. I do remember that my paternal grandmother gave me a special gift. I can remember her white hair pulled back into a bun and her blue eyes alight and sparkling as she snapped the little heart locket around my neck. I didn’t know it then, but the word on it read: Baby. I still have the necklace, and my daughter has worn it, and so have both of my granddaughters.
The Christmas that I was four, Papa was building something upstairs. I had heard my parents talking in German about gifts. Somehow the words kinder and stuhl (German for chair) had stuck in my mind. I opened the door to the stairs (I wasn’t allowed to use them) and yelled up, “Papa, are you making a stool?”
“You’ll have to wait until Christmas Eve,” was the answer. Somehow when we returned from church, there was a red, child’s chair under the Christmas tree. Of course, we had to wait until the candles were lit, the prayers said, and the Christmas carols sung before receiving any gifts. Mama played the organ and my oldest brother played the accordion. The chair lasted until I was about six and had outgrown it.
When I was five, we were living on my grandmother’s rental farm. My younger brother at the age of four still called me “girlie” because he could not say Marilyn. He wanted a black, stuffed Scotty dog as his Christmas present. I had heard Papa and Mama speaking in German and had heard the words for dog and black. I assured my brother that the black Scotty would be under the tree. He, of course, ran and asked our parents if it were true. Mama came storming into the bedroom we all shared (children under the age of six slept in the same bedroom as their parents because of the Iowa cold) and accused me of searching through the closets. I denied doing such a heinous thing.
“Then how did you know what your brother is getting?”
“I heard you and Papa talking about it. You bought it at the General Store.”
“We were speaking in Deutsche. You mean you understood that?”
“Ja, Muder.” A really silly response, but I felt so grown up using their language. After that my parents quit speaking in German when we were around and I lost the vocabulary that I had possessed.
Papa always said the prayers in German, at times the Pastor would recite part of one of the German hymns during the service, and sometimes on Christmas Eve (and other occasions) my parents would harmonize while singing German hymns or songs. Whenever there was a special event in our family, we would hold another service at home. Part of it would be in German. At the table, my father would say his prayer in German. The rest of us said our prayer in English, but Papa would use German words to identify the foods. Sometimes, they would even speak in German. Yes, they were both born in this country. So was my paternal grandmother, but certain customs lingered.
It was all the familiar family celebrations and the Deutsche words that the immigrant families used that I incorporated into Earthbound and Gather The Children. My parents did not make beer, but my maternal grandfather had done so until prohibition. It was another tradition so that too wound up in Gather The Children.
You can take a look at those two books right here on Goodreads or you can go to my website at
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Published on November 03, 2016 16:00 • 115 views • Tags: family-life-memories-gifts

September 27, 2016

California has the largest preserved ghost town in the nation. It’s the Bodie State Historic Park. Once a booming mining center for gold with over 12,000 inhabitants, it now waits for visitors to walk its streets and byways—or does it?
It is said that some of the inhabitants are still there. My favorite is the Face in the Window. People have seen the face of a woman peering from an upper window of the Dechambeau House. There is no explanation of who she is or why she is looking out at the street. Is she waiting for someone who never comes? Is she just a curious person wondering why the streets can be full of strange clad visitors during the day who mysteriously go away by nightfall leaving an empty town? Or is there something more sinister in the background? You can let your imagination soar and place her in any scenario you wish.
The next is a lady who loves to cook. Visitors claim the aromas from her wonderful Italian dishes waft out into the streets; odors delectable enough to waken you hunger buds and make your mouth water. Does Mrs. Mendocini still bustle about the kitchen of her house while stirring her pots and checking on the laughing children in the next room? Park Rangers claim that they too have heard the children and smelled the food cooking.
Like other towns, Bodie had its share of bad men and gunslingers with deadly aim, but their spirits seem to have departed with the mines. When a town boasts so many people, tragedies will happen.
In the Bodie Cemetery you’ll find a small marble angel headstone. It is said a miner’s pick accidentally struck her head and killed her. No explanation is given as to how this “accident” occurred, but they buried the three-year-old child and erected the marble headstone in remembrance. Visit the area of this headstone and you too may see the marble angel smiling and laughing with an unseen companion. Some have dubbed her the Angel of Bodie.
The home called the J. S. Cain house has a Chinese maid who hates adults and loves children. No examples are given to prove the latter half of the maid’s disposition, but she will open and close doors. Park Ranges who have spent a night there, claim she will enter the bedroom and sit on you causing suffocation.
What respectable ghost town would be complete without the unseen rocker in a rocking chair? Bodie obliges. Stop at the Gregory House and the old woman might be there knitting an afghan or her rocker will be moving backwards and forwards without a visual sight of her.
Now that is a ghost town that is truly ghostly.

The above was written for a Desert Writers Guild anthology entitled Dessert Ghost Tales & Humor Too! It was one of the few anthologies that sold out and one of the few none fiction pieces I have written. Take a look at my novels here on Good Reads or head for my website at http://www.maricollier. If you do read any, be a kind reader and leave a rating or a review. Thanks for dropping by.
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Published on September 27, 2016 15:17 • 64 views

August 26, 2016

Earthbound Book 1, Gather The Children Book 2, and Before We Leave Book 3 of Chronicles of the Maca follow a Thalian/Justine alien as he survives on Earth and rebuilds his shattered House of Don with his Earth wife, Anna, their child, and Anna’s children from a previous marriage to an alien from the planet Justine.

Like many of the people in early America, Anna and her family are immigrants. People have wondered why I chose to make them German Lutheran immigrants. The answer is simple. This family would be strange enough with an alien from the stars as the husband. I had to know how the rest of the family would react during a crisis or celebratory event.

When I read a chapter from Earthbound to the local writing group, one member could not believe that was what a mother would think of doing after miscarrying a living baby not old enough to survive. She was wrong. That is exactly what my German-Lutheran grandmothers thought of doing and they had the midwife perform the baptismal ritual. They did not know each other as they lived hundreds of miles apart. It was simply what needed to be done. I do not know how another woman from a different culture would have reacted.

The same holds true for any crisis. There had been a slight breech in our family and when it was healed we celebrated at home with God’s word, hymns, prayers, laughter, games, and, of course, a huge meal. I have no idea how other families do this.

I knew I had succeeded in presenting the family as a unit when one of my nieces told me that she could “hear them.” She was perhaps hearing my fictional family, but she was also hearing us as we sang, laughed, and argued as a family.

Some of the stories have been with me from childhood. Others I had no intentions of writing, but the characters would not go away and scenes kept repeating in my head. You know you are losing the battle of not writing when you can see the wheels on a buggy turning in your mind and hear the words of the people sitting on the buggy seat. I not only heard their words, but I could see how they were dressed and smell the musk coming up from MacDonald.

The scene of Anna battling the raid in Schmidt’s Corner was another one that kept repeating. Then there was the scene of MacDonald rescuing Olga’s organ from the burning house. That scene had been with me from the time I was thirteen or fourteen. The only way to cleanse the mind is to write the scenes into a tale. It doesn’t matter if you use paper or the computer screen as long as it is written as part of the rest of the story.

I kept trying to create a long, happy love-life for Margareatha, but that did not happen. She loved passionately, but death took her first husband and twin sons. The time was the blizzard of 1888 and her husband and sons were on their bed, their faces white from death and cold and the pox scars on their faces and any uncovered portion of skin. She could not bury them as the ground was frozen.

The other Earth husband was the special agent she had married. When mobster killers arrived at their home ready to get rid of him, Margareatha used her mind and brought them to their knees, one man vomiting as he went down. That scene would even bring up the smell of the vomit. It had to be written down to expunge it from my mind.

The series is based on two men. One from the planet Thalia, but he is also part Justine. He is marooned on a primitive Earth and learns to survive, find friendship, and a true love. Earth beings do not live as long as Thalians or Justines. Earthbound Book 1 Chronicles of the Maca covers those years.
The other man is a boy when you first meet him. He is Earth and Justine. He has the Justine two hearts and their mind ability to enter other minds and control them. Gather The Children is his coming of age novel.

Each novel advances the trials and triumphs of this strange Earth/Thalian/Justine family. The Maca Returns begins their adventures on Thalia. You’ll find all the Chronicles of Maca here on Goodreads.

The novel that I meant to be the last to involve the Thalians was not written last. I knew it would be the most violent one. When my beloved Lanny Dee died, I, like many of those left behind became angry. To erase the red rage and the red-hot iron claw dragging at my insides, I wrote Man, True Man. It was finished before any of the other novels. It was not published until after Return of the Maca.

Life is full of surprises for an author. Instead of being the last, it has become in my mind the first for a new series about the planet Tonath and its inhabitants. The second is now a work-in-progress and is tentatively titled The Silver and the Green.

Take a look at my novels and anthologies listed here on Goodreads or go to my website at
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Published on August 26, 2016 15:36 • 113 views • Tags: why-writing-books-culture

July 15, 2016

From Kindergarten through March of my third grade, I attended a consolidated school in Gray, IA. It combined Kindergarten through high school in one two story brick building. The high schoolers were on the second floor and we rarely saw them except for when we had fire drills. Everyone envied them coming down the slide attached to the side of the building.
We had excellent tutelage, but I hated the reading books with the simplistic See Jane, etc. I had read the Bobbsey Twins and a Child’s Garden of Verses (at least as much as I could of the latter), and had tried my older brother’s The Hardy Boys. Those I had to put aside until later.
My third grade teacher impressed me the most as she worked with an older teen student who was unable to pass the eighth grade. While we waited for the bus outside, we could hear them through the open window while she used flash cards to teach him words and multiplication. Her hard work paid off. He passed. The next time I saw him in town, he was walking down the street in his U. S. Army uniform. That teacher was dedicated as he was not in her class any longer. I really wish I could remember her name. I think it was Miss Sunberg, but when we moved I never saw her again.
Then my maternal grandmother became ill and Mama took my younger brother and me with her to Waterloo to help care for her. I was able to attend the Lutheran school where my cousin went. I loved it! Their readers had actual stories in them. Unfortunately, my brother became ill and we had to return home.
In March, we moved to the farm my parents had purchased. That meant my younger brother and I would be going to a one room schoolhouse. There were never more than eleven students at a time in this school. We were the new kids on the block. My brother had had rheumatic fever and was not really recovered. The other boys picked on him during recess and held him down in the snow. Mama was furious and insisted Papa go speak with the teacher. The teacher was a year out of college and had taken the country school only as a stopgap before finding employment in the city. She really didn’t know how to handle the situation and the bullying continued. I knew that left me as the protector. I pulled out my father’s wrestling book, his weight lifting book, and his Jujitsu book. Poor Gordie. I practiced on him, but by next year I was ready for them and won the fights.
When we arrived in March, the school was at the same place in the history book, the arithmetic (multiplication tables), the same place in the English book. There was also a reading class, music class, art class, and, of course, a class for Palmer Penmanship. The teacher would read us a story from a book suitable for second through eighth grade for fifteen minutes after our lunch hour. School hours were from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. The older students in the sixth through eighth grades were supposed to go after water. Unfortunately, that meant the two oldest students went every day.
During the fourth year, we had another teacher. This one was a little older. In her late twenties or early thirties. She was a WWII widow. Her husband had been shot down by the German Luftwaffe. To complicate matters, we were the only ones of German descent in that school. Geography was added to the list of subjects we studied.
What I truly loved was that once a month the book mobile from the county would arrive and leave a month’s supply for students from kindergarten through eighth grade. I would start with the eighth grade ones, work my way through the pile. Once they were read, I turned to the dictionary or the encyclopedias. The third grade introduced us to Mark Twain with the famous fence painting chapter. Then each year there would be another more difficult chapter from Tom Sawyer or by the seventh and eighth grade, Huckleberry Finn.
Fourth graders and through eighth graders also took the Binet Intelligence tests twice a year. These had been developed by or from Alfred Binet’s intelligence tests for children. I would place in the top five or ten per cent of the students in the county.
The next two years we had the same teacher, and the subjects stayed the same. We would just have the new book for our correct grade level. Our writing, essay problems grew longer. By the sixth grade we were also studying Iowa history, writing stories, and learning to outline. I managed to arouse the teacher’s ire by refusing to write my ts and rs the way she wanted. The Palmer’s Penmanship Book clearly stated both ways were correct. She began giving me Fs on all of my subjects because of the penmanship. Now someone that wasn’t a stubborn German would have obeyed the adult, but I had beat her at a “speed” reading we did. She refused to believe I had done so and gave me a special test. The F was for my penmanship, not my answers. This just made me more stubborn.
After the last of the year’s Binet Tests, my grades went back to As and Bs except, of course, for the penmanship. Then we heard the gossip. The County Superintendent had called her in and demanded to know how my grades could be so bad if I were in the top five to ten percent of all the county students taking those tests. It seems she was the one that ordered the change in grading. It was a small community. That winter the teacher married one of the bachelor brothers living in the home where she boarded during the year. She resigned. Our teacher for the last few months was once again a recent graduate from the University of Iowa, but this one was male. Like the other young person, he secured a position elsewhere. Yes, it was becoming difficult to find teachers for the country schools.
That fall a neighbor’s wife and family friend had secured an emergency certificate to teach. We all thought school would be wonderful. Wrong. She was woefully inadequate to handle a school of seven boys and four girls. Neither did she have the knowledge for the science, history, civics, English novels and poetry, or the geography that was for the seventh grade. The mental problems she had suffered previously re-emerged and she snapped. I’m not going into details, but she was fired and the school closed. The students were divided between two other country schools.
We had another emergency teacher, but she had graduated from a normal school and had taught school for many years. Her English, Literary, History, Civics, and Geography skills were excellent. Yes, Civics were now added to the list of subjects we studied. She admitted she was deficient in the new science course and then for the eighth grade, algebra. It really didn’t matter as I had missed so much school, I would have flunked in a town eighth grade, but rural children had to go into town and do more testing from nine to noon for three days. Most of the tests were essay questions. The history one asked “Who do you consider the five best Presidents of the United States?” The answer had to be backed with historical facts.
The teacher had laid the algebra answer book on the end of her desk and said, “Anyone that wishes to use this for study is welcome to do so. I will not see you.”
One of the girls in the class, an original student at that school, was a genius. She should have been moved into higher classes years earlier, but her parents felt she was not ready for that emotionally or socially and had prevented her from advancing. She studied the answer book, figured out how to work the algebra problems backwards and taught the other ones in the class. We were the only two to pass the county math tests and be entered in the high school first level algebra class. Thanks Marlene.
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Published on July 15, 2016 16:16 • 176 views