Tag Archive | amwriting

Skydiving, Ryan Kelly, Steven Wright, and hugs.

Lately, it seems my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been chock full of inspirational sayings, and many of them do exactly that they’re supposed to. But I have questions. For example:

Mistakes are proof that you are trying. But Yoda said,  “Do or do not…there is no try.” And he’s the smartest Jedi master and puppet I know.  And Steven Wright said, “If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving definitely isn’t for you.”

Note to self:  cancel skydiving lesson.


Maybe I could be a flying squirrel?  Image courtesy of oklahomaskydiving.com


Besides, isn’t doing something over and over again and expecting different results the definition of insanity?


Image courtesy of wikipedia.org

Unless, you know, you’re a basketball player, trying to master the slam dunk.




Anyway, there’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased that line.



Image courtesy of movieforums.com


But quitters never win, and winners never quit. Well, who decided that you should quit when you’re ahead, then?  “Many people quit looking for work when they find a job.” (Steven Wright) So does that make them quitters? Or winners?

Now, I know sometimes in life, you get handed lemons. Although, what’s so bad about lemons? I like lemons. Lemons get a bad rap. Ahem. Sorry. Let me get back to the point. It’s what you do with them that counts, right? No, don’t squirt them in your detractors’ eyes. Don’t worry about the people who talk about you behind your back. They’re behind you for a reason. Yeah, to talk about you! I mean, Bruce Lee had it right, when he said,“To hell with circumstances. I create opportunities.” 

Yes! And, if it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse. I was going to find a way, I swear it. But my GPS sent me down the path less traveled, and then I got a hole in my shoe… Speaking of roads, “There is no royal road to anything…” (Josiah Gilbert Holland)

Umm, have you seen this one, Josiah?


Image courtesy of wfae.org


Goals are important, and working toward them even importanter. Like learning new vocabulary. Or proper grammar. In fact, if you wake up with determination, you’ll go to bed with satisfaction. Okay, now you’re getting personal, motivational quotes. Sometimes, there’s just no way. I mean, I can wake up determined to have Ryan Kelly of Celtic Thunder all to myself for the day, but I’m pretty sure he’d decline. Therefore, there’s no way I’ll be going to bed satis…umm…let’s shelve that one.


Ryan Kelly. Enough said. Except, image courtesy of concerts.eventful.com


Besides, I’ve been single my whole life, and it seems to be working for me. I just have to put a ring on it, because I think I’m the one.

And it’s not so bad if you put off a little work. “The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up,” after all. (Steven Wright) 

But you should always stand up for your beliefs. Whether it’s the utter rightness of the Oxford comma, that “affect” and “effect” can both be either a noun or a verb, or that
Scooter is arguably the hardest working Muppet in the show, do the right thing and speak up. Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak,” said Sir Winston Churchill. “Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Oh, like at Mass. I guess you have to be scared to kneel.

Hang on, let me lie down. I’m getting a headache.

You know, the real problem with this world is that intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence. So, it’s possible that things will go your way, if you just work at it.

Could be true. Yes, it is. I’m sure of it.

On the other hand, you have different fingers. Wait, no. If everything is going your way, you’re in the wrong lane. (Wright, again.)

Besides, you can’t have everything. Where would you put it? (And again.)

Oy, my aching head. I think I need a hug.

I wonder if Ryan is available?


Image courtesy of indiatoday.intoday

If you’d like to get away from it all, I know some great books you can read. 🙂  Check out my books here.  Or take a look at my pages, and leave me a comment or a question. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Monday to you all!


(All quotes in this font color are from Google’s Images page for Motivational Quotes.)








Tá sé Seachtain na Gaeilge!

Dia daoibh, peeps!

It is Irish (language) Week, which actually runs from March 1-17th, so I’d thought I’d share a bit about my journey into Ireland’s culture, history and language. And, I’ve made my Kilts series FREE until Saturday. More on that later.

I’ve been taking classes from CKonLine @ CKonLineteaching.com. It’s the company founded by Irish musician Colm Keegan, of Celtic Thunder, and the classes are taught by him.

I started by taking music theory, which was fascinating for me. Although I remembered quite a bit of the information (notes on the staff, beats per measure, etc) I learned a great deal in just the five sessions. So, I signed up for more. It’s a bit of a jolt to have someone whose music you thoroughly enjoy suddenly on camera teaching your class, but Colm is a terrific teacher and I soon got over my jitters.

The next class I took was a ten-week individual class on The Great Famine, or An Gorta Mór. Serious stuff. As a child of an Irish mom, who came to the States when she was just sixteen, I connected with the history and could easily imagine the pain and suffering of the Irish people, whether they chose to denounce their faith, language and culture in order to survive, or whether they stuck to their guns. More than a million people died during the period between 1845-1852, and more than a million left, often tricked into leaving their home by the false promises made to them by the landowners.

And I’ve just finished a five week group class in Irish, or as Gaeilge. That’s pronounced “gwale-guh”. I can now make small talk as Gaeilge, and  I practice my cúpla focail as often as I can. I’m looking forward to the next class already.

For those of you who are interested, CKonLine’s Spring II term just went on sale. He’ll be teaching Irish, Music Theory and a class on the 1916 Easter Uprising.

If you’re looking for great character backstory, a new setting for your novel, or just to learn a bit about the rich culture and history, and the beautiful language of Ireland, CKonLine is the place to start.

To honor Seachtain na Gaeilge, I’ve made my Irish-themed books free on Kindle until Saturday, March 18th.

the celtic contract picThe Celtic Contract–Claire Regan is on a mission, and not even Liam–the handsome “bad boy” of the Irish music group Kilts,  will get in her way.

But when the accidents start happening, Claire finds herself reluctantly accepting Liam’s help. Now if she can just prevent herself from accepting his love.




The Celtic Captive–Molly’s self-imposed seclusion is interrupted when a man literally falls face down at her feet. She tends to his injuries, and once he’s finally regained consciousness, learns he can only speak and understand Irish.

the celtic captive pic

Cáel has no idea where he is. Worse, he has no idea who he is. All he knows is that he’s going to use every advantage he has, including pretending not to understand the beautiful girl at his side. It’s not every day a man wakes to find himself injured and tied to a woman’s bed, after all. **This book contains lots of phrases/words as Gaeilge (Irish). There’s a glossary and pronunciation guide in the back to help you out. 🙂


The Celtic CradleThe Celtic Cradle–Life, as Séamus Kierney knows it, is over. The confirmed bachelor is suddenly a dad to petite, ginger firecracker named Róisín. Good thing his American neighbor, Rebecca,  is so easy to manipulate. He’s going to need a lot of help.

Rebecca Foster is no dummy. A psychologist staying in Dublin to run a final experiment before she can earn her doctorate, she uses her leverage to coerce Séamus into helping her with her project. His charm is legendary, though, and so Rebecca uses all of her weapons in her arsenal–positive self-talk, purposeful insults, and the knowledge that she has to leave in a few months to take the position her parents always wanted her to have.

But the man and his adorable baby are working their way into her heart. When Séamus’ custody of Róisín is suddenly in jeopardy, and the timeline for Rebecca’s departure is moved up, what will she do?


I am also pleased to announce my debut psychological thriller is now available.

Serve Me is the story of a woman who learns she is not who she thought she was. Her name, her culture, her husband…all lies. For what reason? Jada doesn’t know, but she’s not about to let the man who calls himself Jake get to her. No matter what shocking techniques he uses to make her obey. And even though he’s the same man who’s been haunting her dreams, a stranger whose every move, every gesture feels immediately familiar. Kindle Ready Front Cover JPEG_5979764

Jake Turner is an undercover agent working for the agency called One. His mission is to get Jada ready, by any means available, for the big test coming up. If she fails, she dies.


All of my books are available here: http://amzn.to/1QUmmhC


Go raibh míle maith agaibh! And Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

(Thanks a million)






When you let your 5-year-old choose where to turn: 5 lessons about life and writing

When my daughter was five, we began a tradition that continues to this day. She called them “The Martin Family Traveler Trips.” As a single mom who was blessed to have the same holidays and summer vacation as her daughter, we relished our times together.

Katy (4)

Katy, Age Five


Sometimes, though, we (or more accurately, I) would be struck by cabin fever and just need to get out. Money was tight, always, so big vacations were out of the question. But little day trips? Perfect.

We’d load up the Dodge Neon with snacks and drinks, and Katy would fill up the rest of the space with blankets, paper and pencil, and enough dolls babies to staff a world summit. Then I’d start driving.

Katy would choose the direction. Not only did this reinforce the concepts of “left” and “right,” but also taught her the value of observing her surroundings, patience, and looking for just the right moment. At first, her directions would come quickly, and we’d make endless loops just around our neighborhood. But as she grew, and learned to wait, we’d head farther and farther afield, and the rewards were great.

At some point during the trip, she’d give in to her sleepiness and nap for several hours. (A reward for me, at the time. A few hours of quiet is a luxury for any parent.)

We still do these trips when our schedules allow, only now we take turns driving and snoozing in the passenger seat. But sometimes I head out on my own, music blaring. Ryan Kelly’s Live for Life is the perfect song for a road trip, as are most of the songs on Byrne & Kelly’s albums.

When writer’s block hits me, or I’m struggling through some issue I may not even be able to name yet, driving with no particular destination in mind is therapeutic. The wide open roads allow for careful daydreaming, and introspection. curveThe unfamiliar scenery prompts new scenes, or better descriptors for a current scene. The scary, tight turns of the two-lane roads through the mountain passes gives me a different place to focus all my energy, which provides respite from whatever I’m working on. Especially when the road looks like this:


What I’ve learned from our Martin Family Traveler Trips:

  1. Fill up your tank before you go. Whether that’s a practical thing, like with fuel (you’ve never known fear until your gauge reads “empty”, and your car is at the top of a two-lane, pitch-black road, with ten miles before the next station). Or with snacks (isn’t life much better with snacks?) Or with the gift of the Spirit that provides refreshments of a whole ‘nother sort.
  2. It’s the journey, not the destination.  I know–a trite saying. But it’s true. The only caveat is that if you’ve got a five-year-old on the journey with you, make sure to hit the bathrooms as often as possible. (And for the love of God, don’t forget Baby Jennifer (Katy’s favorite doll) in that restroom.)
  3. Don’t force it. Our trips were a fairly equal measure of talkative five year old, road trip games, and quiet moments. Granted, most of the quiet moments were when Katy was sleeping, but still.
  4. Enjoy each other. Katy gets her sense of humor from me, but her vocabulary is entirely her own. Some of my favorite moments from the trips we took are when she’d play school with her babies, and listening to her teach the dolls their lessons. She’d tell them, “I’m going to show you the next letter, and you’ll learn it by my own gracious will.”  She cracked me up–still does.
  5. The best moments in life aren’t planned. Discovering a fun little store, or an awe-inspiring vista, or having the gift of your child making up a song from her journey–all gems from allowing my child to choose our path.

There are so many things in life that you must choose for your child, at least at the beginning. Giving her or him this one freedom, and responsibility, is incredibly rewarding.

I’d love to hear about any trips you’ve taken, and any lessons you’ve learned. Please feel free to comment below.

Great. Writing this post has gotten that song of hers stuck in my head. Thanks, Katy. Well, to share the love, I’m going to post it below.

Flexibilly ruler, flexibilly ruler,

Riding around in a limousine.

No trespassing, ke-ep out,

Pri-i-vate property.

Yep. Love that kid. And you’re welcome.

Seven tips for helping a loved one or colleague cope after a suicide attempt–from a survivor.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. So, I’d thought I’d share some tips on what to do if someone you love or work with attempts suicide.

And yes, I speak from experience.

Even with all of my vocabulary at my disposal, I have no way to adequately express how I reached that point, the one that made me think depriving my daughter of her only parent would actually benefit her. That I was doing this for her.

My daughter, Katy, at her First Communion.

My daughter, Katy, at her First Communion.

It’s mind boggling, really.

There was a certain kind of euphoria that came over me when I had made my decision to end my life here in this world. I know that people who are lucky enough to have never suffered from serious depression won’t understand this. But one of the crippling effects of depression is the inability to act. To do anything, whether negative or positive, to change the circumstances of your life.

And finally, I had a plan.

I am forever grateful to the people, like my best friend Toni, my parents, my counselor, and even my coworkers at my previous employer, that my plan was thwarted.

Image courtesy of candidslice.com

Image courtesy of candidslice.com

But the aftermath was the hardest thing I had ever done to date—returning to my work knowing that everyone there knew what I had almost done.

I don’t know what I expected…tears, hugs, uncomfortable silences, maybe? I did get those. But what I also got was so far from the realm of possibility in my mind that I still can’t fathom what happened. I’ve forgiven them, finally. And now, months go by without even the thought of what they did or who they are surfacing in my mind.

I’m going to preface these tips by saying that I understand now that these reactions by my colleagues at my former worksite were rooted in deep fear–fear for their own emotional state, fear for their family, fear that I would do it again. Fear, even, that doing, or failing to do, something would result in a successful attempt the next time. The guilt must’ve been overpowering.

  1. Don’t exclude survivors from future events that involve everyone in your group. Who knows how you’ll be feeling about the person several months down the road? In my case, I was uninvited from staying with the rest of the group for an event that was occurring two months later, one that I was dependent upon to keep my certificate of interpreting. It was a huge blow to my career, and to my heart.
  2. If you choose to exclude the survivor from your life, please do it in private. One of my colleagues chose to tell me that my daughter and I were not welcome at his house any longer. He did it in front of my daughter, and in front of his children. (To make matters a little more heartbreaking, it was also my birthday.)
  3. If you are in a position of power over the person (supervisor, lead, parent, etc.) don’t allow your fear to overtake your compassion. At one point after I returned to work, my daughter had a severe asthma attack at school, bad enough to require emergency aid. I had to interrupt my supervisor as she taught class to inform her I needed to leave, and why. The next week, I was in the vice-principal’s office, where I was chided for interrupting class, and required to sign in and out of the school, something no other staff member was required to do.
  4. It’s okay to be angry, and to express that anger, as long as it’s done in private. One of my most powerful memories immediately following my police escort back to town was Toni, laying into me about how furious she was. I don’t remember her words, but I do know, down to that last bit of fire in her eyes, her every expression. That, more than anything else, showed me she cared.
  5. It’s okay to not know what to say. You don’t have to offer to listen to the story, you don’t have to even take the survivor out for coffee (or Mountain Dew in my case), all that’s required is a simple “I’m thinking of you.” That’s it. No big gestures. Just a few simple words, but the impact on the survivor can be huge.
  6. Handle any concerns/complaints with the survivor privately, especially when it’s work-related. It’s human nature to want to talk about what happened with others. But one of the worst feelings in the world, to someone who suffers from depression, is the knowledge that people are talking about you, even if it’s a legitimate issue. The only thing I had asked all year long, in my new role at work, was that any feedback on decisions I had made be discussed privately first, before it was open to the rest of group. Not only was this request not granted, my annual review was openly discussed at our last staff meeting, the same one where one of my colleagues wondered out loud why I just wasn’t the happy person I used to be. Gee, wonder why?
  7. Don’t be afraid to seek help for yourself. If the person was a family member, or a close friend, the guilt at either not knowing he or she was considering suicide, or just at being uncomfortable around him or her after can be overwhelming.

There’s a certain risk in admitting that I’m a survivor of this particular brand of depression. There’s even a risk of admitting I suffer from depression at all.

There shouldn’t be.

Image courtesy of theinkdiaries.com

Image courtesy of theinkdiaries.com

But I’m tired of hiding, and I’m proud of my courage—not only of going back into work that year, but of leaving once it was clear their attitudes weren’t changing.

I am so much healthier now, and far stronger than I would have been, had I stayed in that toxic environment.

And if my candor, and these seven tips help prevent another suicide, or give the loved ones of a survivor some concrete tips on how to help, then it’s worth it.

Here are some resources, if you or someone you know is contemplating suicide.

Crisis Chat: www.CrisisChat.org

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Crisis Text Line: Text “Go” to 741-741.

In my next post, I’ll share my techniques for keeping myself from being sucked back into the darkness. Here’s a hint: it has to do with some cute, talented Irish guys, and my computer.

Uh, wait. That sounded wrong. 😉


A chance to learn music theory from an expert, Colm Keegan!

(Image courtesy of YouTube, Colm Keegan’s channel. http://www.ckonlineteaching.com)

Hey peeps,

Wanted to pass along a short blurb featuring an awesome opportunity for growth. Colm Keegan, Irish singer with the popular world music group Celtic Thunder, is taking students for his online teaching school. He starts his Music Theory class on Monday, July 20th, and will also teach an Intro to Irish after Christmas.

As a former member of Celtic Woman, a current Principal singer of Celtic Thunder, and with his own CKonTour duo with talented cellist, singer, dancer, and actor Laura Durrant, Colm has been all over the world. He’ll use his own music training and education, combined with his experience, to engage the student in an interactive setting.

Students can choose either one-on-one classes, occurring either twice a week, or once a week, or a group class that is held on Saturdays.

Whether you’re into music, a perpetual student, or a writer trying to deepen your well to draw from, this class is for you–and you don’t need any experience in music to join. He’ll teach to your level.

Colm is smart, funny and charming, and he’s very passionate about teaching.

From his home to yours–it’ll be great craic!


All the details are in the video. What’re you waiting for?

Part Three of an Interview with Thea Kelly, and a chance to win some cash!

One of these men is my Uncle Martin Regan.

One of these men is my Uncle Martin Regan in Enniscrone, Ireland, 1955.

Ireland has long fascinated me. The sheer rich history of the place and my connection to it through my mother have always caused me to seek out stories, music and conversations with those lucky enough to be from there.

This is part three of my interview with Thea Kelly, from Cape Clear Island in Ireland. Parts one & two are available through the previous posts.

You mentioned travelling. Have you been to any other countries?

I’ve only ever been to Germany to visit my grandmother. It’s a bit of a yearly tradition to be honest! I’m going there at the end of July again to see her. Because I’ve only ever been there, that bites in big time into my craving to travel! I want to go everywhere!!

My other ambition is to travel the world! I keep a diary of all the places I discover and plan to visit them when I am older. Places such as Dinant in Belgium, or Tropea in the south of Italy. My number one destination is the U.S though. Ever since wanting to work for NASA, and having a unusual interest in WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) I gained a bit of an accent and a strong desire to travel there. Someday I will! 🙂

Do you have any questions for me?

Thea: Do you or did you have an American Dream? 
It’s funny that you should ask about the American Dream. We don’t really call it that–it’s just usually mentioned in terms of goals, or ambitions. I was actually listening to a fellow Kelly’s music (Ryan Kelly of Celtic Thunder, from Northern Ireland) and he has a great song he wrote called “American Dream.” I think that’s something people from outside the US call it.
For me, when I was about your age, I wanted to be an elementary school teacher, get married and have seven kids. (I’m the middle of seven, myself). But my dreams changed. I became an American Sign Language interpreter, and worked in schools for nearly twenty years.

The Martin Family, waaay back when.

The Martin Family, waaay back when.

And I only have one daughter. 🙂
My gorgeous daughter

My gorgeous daughter

I guess my dream now is to become successful enough at my writing to support myself with that income, and continue to try to entertain people with my books. By the way, I’m honored that my little translation project was your strangest assignment. 🙂 I love languages, and am always interested in learning more.
What’s high school like? I’ve always wanted to experience it! 
The education system sounds a bit different than yours. Education is free here until the age of 18, or 19, unless the student has special needs o disabilities. Then they can stay until they are 21. High school is either for grades 9-12, or 10-12, which translates to ages 15-18. Students have six classes per semester, and are allowed to choose which teachers and which hour (we call them periods) they would like to take, but have to satisfy requirements of the state for which classes. English, Math, Science, World Languages, Fine Arts, Shop, Physical Education, and History are all required, but most students satisfy the requirements by the time they become a senior and can choose their electives then. Classes are about an hour long, with occasional short days for school-wide assemblies, or teacher training.
College, then, for us is after graduation, and students must pay or earn scholarships or grants to attend, as well as passing the required tests and applying to the college/university of their choice.
Do many natural disasters happen where you are from? Like volcanoes or earthquakes? 
We do have some natural disasters here. We’ve had several earthquakes; the biggest one was in 2000, I think, on Ash Wednesday. It caused lots of damage. We’re supposedly due for another one soon. Our quakes are different than the kind that occur in California, because of the way the plates are stacked under the earth.
We’ve also had a few small tornadoes, which has only just occurred recently. We often have impressive thunder & lightning storms, and we flood often.
And, oh yeah, Mt. St. Helens blew up on May 18, 1980. That mountain, as well as Mt. Rainier and several others in the Cascades and Olympics are active volcanoes, but had been quiet until Mt. St Helens blew her top. I remember watching the huge ash cloud rise into the sky and come our way. We were lucky, though. We only got traces of the ash from the eruption. The people living on the other side of the mountain were pretty much buried in it.

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens

Would you ever come to visit Ireland, and if so which area?
I would love to visit Ireland! That’s one of my dreams, for sure. My mother’s family is from County Mayo. Her parents moved to England, where my mom was born and raised, and then she emigrated to New York, when she was just sixteen. So I would love to visit. I feel a connection to the land, and the people there. County Mayo would probably be my first stop, but I’d really like to spend several months exploring everywhere. I hear Bray is a particularly nice area, and I’d love to try some of the trails that Ireland is famous for.
The rain definitely wouldn’t bother me. 🙂 In fact, my mom and dad decided to settle here because our weather, and all our green, reminded her of her home, and of Ireland, where she visited each summer.
From the previous answer regarding slang used in Ireland:
What does “throwing shade” mean?
“Throwing shade” is a term they use here for giving someone a hard time, and not usually in a good way. It might be a snide remark, especially one made under one’s breath, or an eyeroll,rolling eyes something like that. It can be combined into other terms; for example, my colleague here said “such shady boots” when another employee mentioned the schedule in a negative way (which is something we create).
I often misuse it, so I’m probably not the best judge. And my daughter (she’s 21) won’t let me use it at all. 🙂
I want to thank Thea for graciously agreeing to answer my nosy questions. I love her enthusiasm! This, then, is an open invitation to Thea and her mom to visit. We’d love to host you here, my daughter and I.
Calling all musicians!
In my previous post, I included the song that “Molly” wrote for “Cáel” for The Celtic Captive. Here’s the challenge:  Create the melody for the song and perform it in any style. Shoot me the video on either my facebook page @https://www.facebook.com/jmartinstories or send it to me by email: jmartinstories@gmail.com, or just post it in the comments below.
The winning two entries will win a $100 movie prize package, and two weeks of dedicated tweets/publicity for the video.
Be sure to leave your contact info so I can get in touch with you!
Good luck! I’m looking forward to hearing your music!

Three things an Irish teen thinks you should know before you visit Ireland–an interview with Thea Kelly

In my second book, The Celtic Captive, my protagonist Cáel Moore’s first language is Irish, having grown up in a Gaeltacht (an Irish speaking community). Though fluent at both Irish and English, whenever he is disoriented, feeling ill, or is in the, um, romantic way, Irish is his go-to language. When Molly Evans first meets him, he is feeling all three of those things.

The only two Irish phrases my mom, an Irish girl from County Mayo, by way of Maltby, England, taught me are “go raibh maith agat” which means “thank you,” and another phrase I can’t mention here. 🙂 So, I needed an expert to help me ensure Cáel’s language was correct.

That person is Thea Ní Cheallaigh (Kelly) from Oileán Chléire or Cape Clear Island in the southwest corner of Ireland. Thea, and Thea’s mother Dorothee Uí Cheallaigh, have a translation business called Ionad Foghlama Chléire. “Cape” as Thea calls it, is a Gaeltacht. It is also a 45-minute boat ride from the mainland.

Thea Kelly and her friends, Síle and Lucy

Thea Kelly and her friends, Síle and Lucy

Thea was kind enough to answer my many questions regarding her life as an Irish teen, and her view of Americans, in particular.

Here is part one of the interview. Part two will be posted next week, on July 8th.

So what’s it like to grow up in a Gaeltacht?

Growing up in a Gaeltacht isn’t much different from growing up anywhere else in Ireland to be honest. I think the real special aspect about where I live however is that fact that it is an island! One really has to adjust to coping with this certain lifestyle, I was born into it so I know nothing else. Continue reading