Hallelujah! Christ arose!

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18

Empty Cross

On this Good Friday, it is important to remember: one tragic, ill-advised and cruel event changed everything. Despite all the ways God’s loved people have misconstrued it all, despite the multiple religions that claim to know it all, despite every doubting Thomas, Christ’s act of sacrifice rings through the ages. The people at the foot of the Cross did not know that in three days Resurrection would happen. They only knew their friend and teacher was dead at the hands of jealous and fearful men. The first Tenebrae service I ever attended was shatteringly emotional. I’d never seen the altar striped, the Cross draped in black, the light extinguished. The worshipers leaving in silence and reflection. Even knowing the outcome would be Resurrection Day – Up From the Grave He Arose – it brought home what was done to Christ the Savior. It brought home what He did for me.



Blog Recognition: Thanks a Bunch!

My sister blogger, Aiming Flamingo, has nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award. Thank you so much Aiming Flamingo! Readers and followers are essential elements of the conversation that happens in the blogosphere. I very much appreciate your support.


I’ve been blogging for several years, had a website, and created a web zine. It was driving me crazy trying to keep up with four blogs, a website and the zine. I decided a little over a year ago to put everything under “one roof,” hence the title of my blog, One Roof Publishing.

I cover a lot of territory in the blog, writing Q&A posts about events and people, posting inspirational essays, writing about health and wellness, and anything else I can think of, including occasional short fiction. I welcome Followers and am always looking for new essay and article ideas. If you would like to guest post on my site, send your query to

I am a writer through and through. I have indie published several books and am close to publishing a new novel. I also do writing for hire through my business, Write Stuff Writing Services.

I’m not much for handing out advice, but that’s part of the process of passing the Blogger Recognition Award around. So here goes: My two pieces of advice for new bloggers – your best shot at getting readers is to know who you want your readers to be (target marketing), and posting regularly.

Below are the sites I’m recognizing. It is indeed an eclectic mix that shares one thing in common and only one: these are all folks who have a passion for something. I find that admirable and inspiring. Passion puts the pizzazz in life.

Dr. K. L. Register, The Ninth Life
Edge of Humanity Magazine
Momentary Lapse of Sanity
Windy Lynn Harris
Success Inspirers World
Gabriella Clark
Kate  Barnwell Poetry
Haddon Musings
Kathleen Rodgers
Sarah Flores Blog
Be Inspired!
Charles French
Author Kristen Lamb


Now it’s your turn. The rules are simple.
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to his or her blog.
2. Write a post to show your award.
3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
5. Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
6. Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated and provide the link to the post you created

I hope you can make the time to join in the support and recognition of other bloggers.

WRITE STUFF: Give Yourself a Gold Star

7 Affirmations to Improve Your Business

If I was 12 inches taller I’d be skinny

How many times have you looked in the mirror and found a flaw? If you say never, good grief, what planet do you live on? Most of us are self-critical, sometimes to the point of being oblivious to what makes us unique. We seem to have a beast inside bent on bellyaching about our multiple deficiencies. Do you obsess about being too tall or not tall enough? Too thin or too heavy? Not pretty/handsome enough? Too pushy? Not pushy enough?

I'm a winner!You have your list and so do I. Do you apply that self-critical flaw-finding attitude to your business?

  • I can’t succeed.
  • The economy is against me!
  • I can’t afford to carry enough inventory.
  • Everybody shops out of town!
  • I’m afraid of the competition.
  • Advertising costs too much and it’s a waste of my limited resources.
  • Marketing eludes me. I can’t figure it out.

When you add your own night terrors to this list do you start to sweat? Are you on the brink of throwing in the towel, going to bed and covering up your head? STOP! Before you lie down with a cold compress – or knock back a numbing libation – get a grip! Perhaps you’re thinking is getting in the way of your business success.

But I’m only 60 inches tall, that’s not going to change

Challenges are real. There is something to be said for critical evaluation. SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis exists for a reason. The list above clearly represents the outcome of looking at weaknesses.

So how do you bring your future, the future of your business and the future of your community’s economy into perspective? Let the bellyaching beast of negativity off its leash and listen up. Evaluation does not mean you must find every flaw. Yes, you need to know what your weaknesses are, but also be certain you know and embrace your strengths. I may only be five foot tall and nowhere near thin, but anyone who knows me will tell you it has rarely held me back, even when standing still might have been wiser.

You are a star, and don’t you forget it

After hearing the bellyaching beast whining and begging for the scraps of uncertainty and fear left behind in the wake of your mental self-abuse, give him his freedom, open the door and let him go. When you see his tail wagging as he crests the horizon, take pen in hand and write down why your skills, services or business benefits others. It is freeing. It reminds you of your successes and puts the bad times in perspective.

As an entrepreneur you should take stock from time to time. Go somewhere quiet, where you will be able to think uninterrupted. Take a notebook and pen. There is something to be said for the tactile feel of the implements in your hand as you see your entrepreneurial spirit come to life through the words flowing onto the page.

Affirm your commitment to success:

I started this business/service (aside from money) because____________.

There is never any one reason entrepreneurs go into business. While earning a profit is likely at the top of the list there are other compelling reasons that fired and inspired you to put out your shingle. Name those reasons. Embrace them.

My business/service is unique in these ways_____________.

If you don’t have a response to this perhaps it’s time to think carefully about what you offer that no one else does, or think of an add-in that will make you stand out from the crowd.

Investing in my business through promotion has value because_________.

There is a rule of thumb that you should commit a percentage of your annual income to advertising and promotion. I would add, use that money wisely and well. No matter how much you want to support every publication and cause that “represents youth,” consider what you do in context of your business success. There are other ways to donate that don’t involve spending your much-needed promotional dollars.

My business has loyal customers. I’m going to reward them by______________.

When was the last time you e-mailed, called or in some way communicated with your customers? It’s less expensive to retain a satisfied customer and get them to buy again than it is to draw new customers to your door. And remember this – activity begets activity. If you have your old customers coming in the door, new customers will follow.

I will make sure my employees like their jobs and convey that to our customers.

If your employees aren’t on your side and don’t enjoy their jobs it will show in your bottom line. Take care of your employees (even if the only employee you have is you). If employees are not confident in their ability to take care of customers, if they feel inadequate, if they feel you don’t care about them, they will not do their best. They will do the minimum and not very well.

I will participate actively in associations that advocate for independent entrepreneurs.

Belonging to a business association is an opportunity for networking, yes, absolutely. Aside from that, you have something to offer. What can you contribute that will improve/promote all businesses? Rising water lifts all boats. Be part of the rising tide.

I will post a list of my business successes where I can see it every day, beginning with the day I opened, my first success.

Remember your successes. That first big sale. Meeting your first payroll (including paying yourself!). The “thank you” from a customer who benefited from your service. Keep track of the positive influence and impact your business has had and continues to have.

Moving forward

When business is stagnant or beginning to slide, remember this is a bump in the road, not a wall. Small business continues to be the backbone of the economy. Your success determines the health of the local economy and the national economy. Take time to celebrate your entrepreneurial strengths. It will be good for you, and it will be good for your business.


Sharon Vander Meer is an entrepreneur, author, blogger and freelance writer. To tap into her skills to your benefit e-mail Type Write Stuff in the subject line.

Your comments are appreciated. Please share this article by clicking on one or more of the buttons below. To receive automatic notification of updates to One Roof Publishing and Write Stuff, please subscribe (top, right).

Three to present at EN Forum

Entrepreneurial Network Forum, Monday, Feb. 6, 5:30 to 7 p.m., in the back room at Borracho’s. Featured presenters will be Sharon Vander Meer, Write Stuff; Mike Ulibarri, Ulibarri Farms Candy Shoppe; Sara Jo Mathews, Borracho’s Craft Booze and Brews.

Entrepreneural Network Forum

“The Entrepreneurial Network is so important for similar reasons to why it is important to have a business organization,” said EN facilitator Andrea Gottschalk, who has held that position for three years.

She functions as a one-on-one business coach where she helps a start up business or expanding business in every way possible to be successful. “I do that by listening to their individual needs and try to find answers to any questions they may have. This help may be through my own business experience. If I do not have the answer, I refer people to business experts in their field or to valuable programs that are being offered through the Regional Development Corporation.”

Gottschalk said there is technical assistance, market research, alternative micro loans, investments through the venture acceleration fund and much more accessible through the network. “Every business is unique,” she said. “It is my goal to help each and every client that comes to me for help in the best way possible, and to help them succeed in their own way, to the best of their abilities.”

Gottschalk said a business owner must rely on his or her own talent and experience.”I help them focus on what they are good at, encourage them to build on that in their business, and remind them to not overextend themselves. If you can talk somebody out of a very bad idea and save them from a lot of trouble, then that is a success too.”

Entrepreneurial Network forums occur about every four weeks featuring between one and three business owners talking about the goods and services they have available. The event is free and open to the public. Typically it held at the El Fidel Hotel Wolff’s Den room.

“It’s a great way to promote your business and network with other like-minded people. You get updates on what is new in town and who does what, when and where. If you need any assistance with your business please call me at my store, Unikat, 425-6113. It is a completely free service and exists in four Northern New Mexico communities: Taos, Rio Arriba, Mora and of course here in San Miguel County. It is sponsored by the RDC, Los Alamos National Laboratories and Las Vegas First Independent Business Alliance.

The forum on Feb. 6 will be at Borracho’s on Bridge Street in the back room, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Presenters will be Sharon Vander Meer, Write Stuff; Mike Ulibarri, Ulibarri Farms Candy Shoppe; and Sara Jo Mathews, Borracho’s Craft Booze and Brews.

Disclosure: This information is presented to promote the Entrepreneurial Network Forum. In this case, I am taking part in the event and wish to thank Andrea for including me.

One Roof Publishing Digest

I’m changing my website look with the idea of making it more user friendly. Not sure I succeeded. I liked the old theme that popped up with a nice display of ten recent posts with a photo. The new theme may do that, but if so, I haven’t figured it out yet. Please let me know what you think by commenting at the end of this post or by e-mailing me at It is a work in progress, so more changes are coming.

Following is a digest of links to recent posts you may have missed. I hope you will take time to check these out, like, comment and share.

Q&A with Ron Querry

Ron QuerryRon Querry should be an actor in a Western movie. He has the craggy good looks, air of romanticism and steely-eyed stare of a cowboy hero. He would scoff at such a description, but his tongue-in-cheek memoir tells a different story. Creative license aside, I See By My Get-Up reveals a man much inclined to finish what he starts, and one who learns by observation, intuition and application. Despite growing up in an age of disillusionment and questioning everything, Querry kept on course when it came to education and earned his Ph.D. in American Studies in 1975. He spent a few years as a professor at the University of Oklahoma, and taught at Highlands, Lake Erie College for Women, and conducted seminars on Native American Literature in Italy. Read more…

Q&A with Andrea Gottschalk

WelcomeBeing in business is a challenge and an opportunity all wrapped up in one great adventure. When you’re good at it, you share your expertise with others who are dipping a toe into the entrepreneurial waters. With more than thirty years of experience under her belt, Andrea Gottschalk of Unikat Fine Jewelry has grown her business and reached out to help others. She believes in working in concert with other business people and making the most of networking opportunities. She has an abundance of talent as a jewelry designer and creates a customer-friendly shopping experience as a business owner. Her insightful responses to the Q&A reveals a woman who enjoys what she does, and who remains grounded in the essentials of business ownership: making wise market decisions and operating within your means. Read more…

Q&A with Nancy Colalillo

nancyNancy Colalillo is one of my favorite people, fearless in the face of just about everything. Her entrepreneurial spirit brought an exciting book store to Las Vegas several years ago. After she sold that successful enterprise, she went out on a limb and opened Paper Trail, a card and gift shop. This venture has been so well received, she has now moved to a bigger space – 166 Bridge Street – and expanded her card and gift product lines. There are darling baby items, a card for every occasion, gift books, gift wrap, lots of gift ideas and plenty of new merchandise. This locally owned and operated business is a jewel of a shop. Read more…

Q&A with Michael Ulibarri

Christmas GoodiesThe Ulibarri family’s route to its new shop at 161 Bridge Street has been circuitous and – as is often the case with small businesses – not without challenges. What it has continued to have is faithful customers who love the candy they make. The store came out of a family who personifies “family first” when it comes to making decisions. Read more…


One Roof Publishing is a free site. I have elected to not monetize it with annoying pop up ads. I use this site as a link to my work as a writer. If you enjoy One Roof Publishing and would like to see it continue, I will appreciate you buying my books, available online. Click on a book image to the right or go to Books on this site to order one (or all  🙂 of my titles. Your purchase will be greatly appreciated.



Q&A: Author Ron Querry

Discovering where things are going…

Ron Querry

Ron Querry

Ron Querry should be an actor in a Western movie. He has the craggy good looks, air of romanticism and steely-eyed stare of a cowboy hero. He would scoff at such a description, but his tongue-in-cheek memoir tells a different story. Creative license aside, I See By My Get-Up reveals a man much inclined to finish what he starts, and one who learns by observation, intuition and application.

Despite growing up in an age of disillusionment and questioning everything, Querry kept on course when it came to education and earned his Ph.D. in American Studies in 1975. He spent a few years as a professor at the University of Oklahoma, and taught at Highlands, Lake Erie College for Women, and conducted seminars on Native American Literature in Italy.

I See By My Get-UpLong before he entered into marital partnership with the “rancher lady” heroine of his book and his life, Querry was (and is) a cowboy. He writes that people get the impression from reading Get-Up that he lacked experience working on a ranch. “I poke fun at people in my writing—mostly I poke fun at myself. In Get-Up, I took the role of the effete university professor trying to be a cowboy in order to woo the beautiful rancher lady. This was tongue-in-cheek. I find that I often have to explain to people that my feet weren’t nearly so tender as I made them out to be. I look back now and see that for most jobs I ever took in academia, I left a ranch job.”

Querry spent summers when he was a teenager working on farms and ranches. In Mexico he rode for a year with a retired Mexican Cavalry officer who’d been on the Mexican Olympic Team in 1968. He was a horseshoer in the ‘70s, had a training stable in Santa Fe for some time, and was the director of a large Equestrian Center at a private women’s college in Ohio.

Writing has always been a part of his life. “I wanted to write from the time I learned to read. I published my first piece when I was 16—I was paid $75 for a story in the magazine section of a metropolitan Sunday newspaper.”

Querry is an internationally acclaimed author of mixed Native American and European American descent. Many of his writings depict the intersection of white and native worlds. For his official bio go to

ORP: You are a member of the Choctaw Nation, a teacher, a horseman, and a cowboy. Talk about how these different aspects of your life experiences influenced your writing choices.
Everything is fair game when it comes to writing. That old saw that says “write about what you know” is only useful if you know something. Always it’s necessary to learn about something in order to write about it honestly and well.

ORP: How did teaching inform your writing discipline?
I cannot think of any way that the act of teaching has informed my writing. I can, on the other hand, say that my writing is informed by everything I’ve ever done, or seen, or heard . . . so maybe my teaching shows up, somehow, in my writing. But I cannot describe it.

Querry's BooksORP: You spent time writing articles for newspapers, some of which ended up in, “I See by my Get-Up.” How did you decide to write this book?
It was in the early 1980s and I had been teaching for a number of years at the University of Oklahoma. The publication of the anthology I’d put together—Growing Old at Willie Nelson’s Picnic—and the circle of writers to whom it had introduced me persuaded me that if I really wanted to make my way by writing—and to run with those writers I so much admired and envied—it was time to do so in whatever full-time manner I could stand. I’ve long held to the notion that it’s a far better thing to weigh in with the other players—win, lose, or draw—than it is to continue talking to oneself or others about wanting to do something—in this case, wanting to write.

I left Norman and came to live in New Mexico again. I lived in a small, adobe house on the Pecos River near Santa Rosa owned by a friend in the horse-breeding business. I helped with the horse chores during the day and typed on a manual typewriter in the evening. I read. In order to have an income, I wrote pieces for livestock publications and newspapers. I met and courted a strong ranch woman and I wrote about that fine adventure in I See by My Get-Up, which was published by the University of New Mexico Press and later by the University of Oklahoma Press.

Get-Up describes the transition from my life as a University professor to that of a full-time rancher in short vignettes, most of which had been written and published in the livestock journals and newspapers I was selling work to. The Director of the University of New Mexico Press saw one of my pieces in the Albuquerque Journal and got in touch with me to see if I’d thought about doing a book. Of course, a book was what I was aiming for, and so it was a done deal.

ORP: The book’s content is personal and mostly humorous. Toward the end, it is painful. You write about the heartless and business like way co-inheritors of Lake Ranch insisted on disposing of the property, and in effect, booting Elaine and you off the premises with little notice. Talk about the choice to write about that, and whether you were satisfied you did.
Yes, it is painful. It was many years before I could drive I-40 where it bisected the ranch if Elaine was with me.

I am by nature honest—sometimes to a fault, I suppose. I wrote that final part of Get-Up as it was happening—that part wasn’t humorous, of course, but it was part of the story. As for being satisfied with it . . . absolutely we are satisfied with it. It’s been with three publishers, so far, and has sold very well with all three.

ORP: I listened to an interview you did with an Arizona PBS station in which you talked about your first novel, The Death of Bernadette Lefthand. Describe for readers how you came up with the premise for the book.
It was 1986 and we were living in Taos. Elaine was the chief photographer at The Taos News—I was struggling to focus on a writing project and feeling relatively useless.

Listening to the radio one morning, I learned that Larry McMurtry and Leslie Silko were to give talks at Fort Lewis College in Durango, in a couple of days. I knew and admired both Larry and Leslie, hadn’t seen either since my days teaching at Oklahoma, and thought that being in touch with them and hearing their talks might give me a boost. Durango was just a couple hundred miles from Taos, and it was the fall of the year and the drive alone promised to be beautiful.

We drove up to Durango arriving about noon and got a motel room. The talks were scheduled for that evening and so we went out to explore the town. I am, by nature, unable to pass a bookshop without going in. At least I am unable to pass a small, independent bookshop—the kind of place that, sadly, has grown rare. I don’t recall much about the little, used bookshop itself, but I came upon a title by a writer/photographer friend of ours in Taos—Nancy Wood—that I didn’t know about and had never before seen. Out-of-print, the book, When Buffalo Free the Mountains, is a non-fiction account of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe of Indians in southern Colorado, and is illustrated throughout with Nancy’s photographs. The book was a fine first edition hardcover with a dust jacket and cost, as I recall, something less than twenty dollars.  Later, we returned to the motel to prepare for the talks on campus and I laid the book on the bedside table.

The talks that evening were well attended and well received. We visited with Larry and Leslie both before and after their presentations and agreed to meet the next morning for breakfast at their hotel. I remember we had a fine visit in the course of which I mentioned that Scott Momaday was just then doing a residency in Taos at the Wurlitzer Foundation and that he had told me he was working at finishing up a Billy the Kid novel. (The Ancient Child, 1989)  McMurtry was very interested in this, saying he was doing a Billy the Kid novel, as well. Anything for Billy appeared in 1988.

Anyway, after the talks that evening, Elaine and I returned to our room. I was thumbing through Nancy’s book, looking at the images, two of which struck me in particular and became the inspiration for this, my first novel—my first attempt at fiction of any kind.

The first photograph showed a young Indian woman sitting in a lawn chair holding an infant on her lap. The woman is dressed in a beaded dress and her hair is done in braids. She is, it appears, at some sort of  powwow or other doin’s. The caption on the photo states that the woman is Regina Box holding her infant son and that the picture was taken five months before her death.

On another page there is a photo of a young Indian man singing at a drum. He wears jeans and a down vest and his hair is in braids. The caption says he is Jim Box and that he is shown at a Bear Dance shortly before he killed his wife.

I can tell you that to this day I have never read When Buffalo Freed the Mountains. But The Death of Bernadette Lefthand began with those two photographs.

ORP: You have said you come from a family of storytellers. What is at the heart of a good story?
I wonder what I was thinking when I said that? I  can’t think of anyone in my family who might ever have been considered a storyteller.

I’m not sure I know what’s at the heart of a good story.  I believe I’ve managed to tell some good stories with my novels and my memoirs. And I recognize a good story when I hear/read one. But I do not believe there is a formula or any rule for making a good story.  Probably that is why I have no truck with so-called “creative writing” courses or with writing groups.

ORP: Talk about your writing process. Do you know from the beginning where you intend to take a story?
I think. I stew. I pace. I make cryptic notes that you would find meaningless. I stare out the window. I talk to myself. I eavesdrop. I study. I immerse myself in the place I’m writing about.

Understand, I do not begin with an outline of any sort.  I might have a very vague idea as to where I’m going with the story early on, but I listen to what the characters say and feel and do, and go where they take me.  When readers tell me that they were “surprised” by something—some turn of events—in my fiction, more often than not I can tell them truthfully that I was surprised, as well.

ORP: You said in the PBS interview that you like to “discover where things are going.” Talk about what that means in the development of character and plot.
I’ve done a number of PBS interviews over the years. I suspect what you refer to was in the writing of Bernadette. I had never before written fiction. I didn’t know how to proceed, so I simply began to write with the individuals in mind who were in the photographs I described earlier—the woman with the child at the powwow and the man that I assumed had later killed the woman. My aim was to “imagine” the death of the young woman—I suppose that was the plot. My aim was always to make the characters as real as I could—that must be character development.

I will tell you that Bernadette is told through different voices. This was because I found that in the telling I would come to a point where I wanted the reader to know something that the narrator at that moment wouldn’t know. So I had to develop another voice—another character who would be able to articulate what the first character could not or would not know. And I was concerned that those different voices not be confused with one another—I sought to accomplish this though not only speech patterns, but also visually with typeface in the published book.

ORP: In the Bernadette book and in Bad Medicine, the stories are shaped by Native American culture and spirituality. What were the challenges in getting characters right so they pop off the pages and engage readers?
I’ve long been a student of American Indian culture and lifeways. In Oklahoma, when I was very young, there were Indian folks everywhere. But it wasn’t until I began to visit/live in New Mexico, that I can recall seeing “Feather Indians,” the kinds of Indians that were in movies and, later, on TV.

I probably know more about the cultures and lifeways of Navajo and Hopi peoples, Taos Pueblo and Jicarilla Apaches than I do about the Choctaw Tribe of which I am an enrolled member.  The protagonist in Bad Medicine is Choctaw, but he is working on the Navajo and Hopi Reservations.

I worked very hard getting these characters right—and I believe they are right. The reader will have to determine whether or not they “pop off the pages.”

Both my novels have been translated into French and German and have never been out-of-print in Europe.  In fact, both are appearing early in 2017 as “Classics” from my German publisher in both print and e-book forms. Bad Medicine has also been published in Sophia, Bulgaria, but I have never seen a copy.

ORP: How is writing memoir and nonfiction different from writing fiction?
For me they differ very little. In terms of difficulty, fiction is the most difficult for me. Probably because of my near-obsession with getting it right. People are often surprised when I say that I have done far more research for the fiction I’ve written than for any other form.  If one gets something wrong in fiction—or if a reader perceives something to be wrong—one is likely to hear about it. The truest lines I have written, for the most part, are in my novels.

In the case of memoir, those individuals who are written about—family, friends—will very likely disagree and dispute what’s written (everyone wants you to write about them until you do), but the typical reader is more apt to accept it as the writer’s experience. If you want to be loved by your family and friends, it is important not to write about them.

 ORP: You’ve travelled extensively and been recognized nationally and internationally for your work. How did you and Elaine end up in Las Vegas?
I’ve lived in Las Vegas off and on much of my life.  My great-grandparents came here at the turn of the 19th Century and owned property in Montezuma—someone in my family has owned property here ever since. My mother gave birth to me in Washington, D.C. where she’d gone to work during World War II. She brought me here when I was three-years-old. I lived between here and Oklahoma growing up. I attended and taught at NMHU, I have a daughter who went to primary and middle school here, and attended Robertson. I worked on various ranches in San Miguel County. Work kept taking me away from this area.

Elaine has roots here—her mother was born in Las Vegas, her grandmother attended Highlands when it was a Normal College. Her grandfather George Bibb and his brother Dee Bibb came here in the 19-teens. George ranched outside Santa Rosa, and Dee stayed on here.  Many Las Vegans remember Dee and his wife Mabel.

We did travel extensively throughout the American Southwest and Mexico and Western Europe. Besides New Mexico we’ve lived in Oklahoma, Arizona, and central Mexico.

When we decided some ten years ago to stop our wanderin’ ways, we wanted to come back to northern New Mexico. We’ve not regretted it for a moment.

ORP: You put together an amazing non-motorized parade that was a centerpiece for the Las Vegas Cowboys’ Reunion Centennial Celebration in 2015. Talk about why you took on that challenge and what it meant to you for it to be such a success. Was it telling a story but in a different way?
Elaine’s grandfather and uncle, George and Dee Bibb, were very much a part of the Cowboys’ Reunions in the 1920s. In 2012, Elaine and her cousin—upon learning that the first Reunion was in 1915—struck upon the idea that there should be some kind of celebration for the 100th anniversary in 2015.

We initially tried to get others involved, but, you know, it seemed so far away and involved so much . . . we ended up taking on the challenge ourselves. The focus of the Centennial evolved into five specific events: A sit-down dinner sponsored by the Highlands Foundation; a non-motorized, all-horse parade kicking off the week-long celebration; a Ranch Rodeo sponsored by the Charles R Ranch; a month-long exhibition of Reunion Memorabilia collected and curated by Elaine; and a BBQ and visit with many of the old-time cowboys who had participated in earlier Reunions.

The parade was, as you say, an amazing success. We had hoped to attract maybe 30 or 40 mounted cowboys and cowgirls to ride—we worked very hard to attract more than 115 horses and mules and horse-drawn wagons for what was one of the quietest and most dignified parades this city has seen in decades—not a single siren. The Governor and the First Gentleman rode horses, as did cowboys and cowgirls from across New Mexico and neighboring states. People came from as far away as Mississippi and as close as Las Vegas to walk the 2-mile-long parade route that traversed both Old and New Town to help make it a safe and orderly happening. We were, as you can imagine, sore from grinning at this spectacular event. Almost a year and a half later we continue to have people come up to us to talk about and reminisce about that day.

I suppose you could say that, taken as a whole, the Centennial Celebration was itself a story.  I know many, many people from across the state and the Southwest spent long hours in Elaine’s exhibition studying the photographs and other memorabilia and recalling stories and people they hadn’t thought about, as they said, “in ages.”

ORP: What is the one thing you want readers to know about you as a person and as a writer.
I’ve had to deal all of my adult life with the fact that people very often think I am angry or sullen,  surly or grumpy, or just unfriendly. That’s just the face I was dealt. In fact I’m just thinking and listening—making mental notes.  I’m a writer, after all.  And as such, you should know that I’m likely storing away pieces of what you say, of how you look and act . . .

ORP: What are you up to now?
I’m honored to have been chosen as a judge for the Texas Institute of Letters’ important Best Novel and Best First Fiction Awards for 2016. This requires me to read closely upwards of thirty novels and collections—a task that while sometimes delightful, can be tedious since entries range from important literary works to the kinds of formulaic genre fiction that I’ve never been much taken by.

At the same time, it is a task that is all-consuming, so I have had to put on hold until early in 2017 the final stages of preparing my new work for publication. The work is another memoir, this one titled “Permanent Record.” I think it’s a fun book and I’m eager to get it out there.

Photos provided by Ron Querry

The Signing Experience

Book SigningI’ve done several readings at Tome on the Range in Las Vegas, NM, featuring my books. Every time I do one, I’m a wreck and second-guess whether I said the right things and whether people received my reading well. On Saturday at my most recent reading and signing, my friend Jim Terr recorded portions of the readings and the following is one clip of three he will be posting. I thank those who could make it on Saturday, and to those who couldn’t, I hope you enjoy this clip. And by the way, buy the books! You can find Finding Family at Tito’s Gallery or Tome on the Range. The poetry books you may buy directly from me. Contact me  at, or order through the click buttons in the right column.

Video: Jim Ter

Review: The Case of Aleister Stratton

Book CoverSpeculation about the mind being able to move objects, influence others, and create a reality outside of human experience is the stuff writers use to great effect in novels deemed science fiction or fantasy or simply weird. The one thing we know is that the mind is complex. The little connectors in our heads fire off minute bits of information every micro-second within every second.

In The Case of Aleister Stratton, author and poet K.G.V. Barnwell explores how our dreaming selves may influence the course of our waking lives, especially when the dreams are devilishly bent toward revenge and retribution.

Barnwell sets the premise by identifying herself as the compiler of the story, not the writer, a reporter of events, a chronicler of someone else’s intriguing tale, one that could be told in the chill night of Edwardian England or in the modern era.

The story’s tone and style evoke a haunting aura not unlike that of Edgar Allen Poe, another poet with a penchant for writing about the bleaker side of human nature. The scholarly professor who becomes part and parcel of the ominous adventure enters into it uncertain about what he will learn and baffled by his own acquiescence, a willingness or curiosity to know why (or if?) Aleister Stratton did what he said he did.

How that revelation lives on after the Professor’s retirement causes the reader to wonder just how powerful the mind can be, and the consequence of unleashing that power. Do dark dreams lead to dark outcomes? Ask Professor Harold Richard Holland, the inheritor of the tale. He can tell you.

The Case of Aleister Stratton is a quick read novella with a satisfying – if mystifying – conclusion.

In a 2015 Q&A on One Roof Publishing, Barnwell described herself as an “English romantic poet and writer, living a variety of lives in and amongst the diversity and beauty of the city, sea and countryside.” This novella is a departure from her usual work, a reflection of the author’s muse seeking new outlets for her creativity and imagination.

The Case of Aleister Stratton is available worldwide through Amazon and other online book distributors.

Image from Amazon












Review: Blood on the Tracks

Blood on the TracksStop. Think for just a minute – if you can – about the worst that can happen to you. Do you believe it is some dread disease, getting hit by a semi walking across the street or finding out you’ve been betrayed? Now project that horrific thought onto someone you trust, someone you would lay down your life for, someone who has laid down their life for you… someone whose body you’re going to have to pick up piece by tiny piece to the point the only way to identify that someone is through DNA, because there’s not enough left to ID any other way.

Those are the memories Railroad Police Special Agent Sidney Rose Parnell lives with day in and day out. As an Iraq war vet whose job was working in Mortuary Affairs, Parnell returns to civilian life seeing ghosts, suffering from somewhat controlled PTSD, and generally attempting normalcy in a chaotic world.

Her problems didn’t begin in Iraq, but Iraq didn’t make them any better. Now she is faced with a mystery associated with the Burned Man, a badly wounded and scarred vet whose fiancé has been brutally murdered. Parnell, and her war-zone trained K9 partner, Clyde, are brought into the investigation by the Denver Major Crimes unit because of her particular expertise with rail riders, hobos who crisscross the country stowing away on trains. The Burned Man, the prime suspect in the murder, is a known rider and Parnell has a sense of who he is as a damaged veteran, and what he will do next.

Her investigation, complicated by an icy Colorado winter, takes her into the dark world of a savage gang of rail riders, who she believes are responsible for the death of the Burned Man’s fiancé. But there is so much more at play: a secret from her time in the military, family loyalty, and her own tarnished childhood.

This is a complex story crafted with deliberation. Sydney Rose is a heroine who doesn’t want to be thought of as such. She is admirable, tough, and takes ownership of her flawed life. She lives by her own code and with as much integrity as she can muster against odds that sometimes seem stacked against her.

Hard to believe Blood on the Tracks is Barbara Nickless’ first novel. It is indeed a page-turner that keeps you reading. The characters are people you care about, or who you can’t wait to see dealt justice, even if it’s the vigilante kind.

And this is just the beginning…

From the Publisher
Barbara Nickless is an award-winning author whose short stories and essays have appeared in anthologies in the United States and the United Kingdom. An active member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, she has given workshops and speeches at numerous writing conferences and book events. She lives with her family in Colorado. Blood on the Tracks, which won the Daphne du Maurier Award and was a runner-up for the Claymore Award, is her first novel.

Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781503936867
PRICE $14.95 (USD)

“Blood on the Tracks” on


Change is challenging

I posted this about two years ago and – with a few updates – I think it is worth repeating. Although WordPress has been more of a challenge than I anticipated, I’m glad I switched. An important lesson I’ve learned is that you can go to You Tube and get clear instructions on how to do most anything.


BloggingFive thoughts about moving to WordPress

When I decided to move to WordPress two years ago, it was with trepidation. It was a bit of an adventure and a huge learning curve… or so I thought. I had tried multiple times to get everything under one roof, meaning everything under one website/blog/writing and author platform. I had suspected for some time that WordPress was the way to go, but quite honestly I couldn’t figure out how to make it happen. In fact, I created a whole new language around building a WordPress website, and it involved behavior I was not proud to admit. Not much gets my goat, but trying to figure out WordPress was at the top of the list. What made it even more painful is that everyone else seemed perfectly capable of figuring WordPress out. I’m not brilliant, but the thing is, WordPress doesn’t take brilliance; it takes patience, a characteristic I have in short supply.

The scary thing is that I have built a website from the ground up on another server/host platform, and while it wasn’t easy, I could figure it out. Not so with WordPress, until I listened to an archived tutorial on Writers Digest by Jane Friedman. She made it so simple I’m embarrassed I didn’t work it out on my own. So here are some thoughts if you’re considering making a change to WordPress

It is simple… unless you make it hard

WordPress uses unique terminology. So if you don’t know a widget from a doodad, don’t worry. In case you’re wondering, a widget defines a tool to add functionality to your website/blog, a doodad is just another name for a thingamajig, which WordPress isn’t using anyway. What I did was try to use the hunt and peck method (that had worked for me on another site) to “force” a template to do my bidding. The templates have constraints, and you can waste a lot of time on a quest that leads nowhere. WordPress is designed in such a way you can grow your website’s complexity and functionality as you gain experience. It is an open source platform used by a broad spectrum of individuals. You can use it for free or upgrade to a premium package for under $100. Follow the instructions and look for help in the forums if you’re struggling. And you can find help for free on YouTube, or go to this tutorial at Writer’s Digest. Jane Friedman’s presentation is on point and worth the $16.99 I paid for it. After three (or is it four?) years of banging my head against my stubborn preconceived notions I finally have my website/blog all under one “roof” and I couldn’t be happier.

Free is good; premium is better

I started with the free site. While it has appeal, I knew from the outset of my unnecessarily long journey that I wanted a .com address that was my own. I did not want it to include the “WordPress” site as part of the name. Being professional starts with appearing professional in all your communication and a critical component of that is your website. looks better and more professional than johndoe/, don’t you think? However, if what you can afford right now is “free” go for it until you get your online equilibrium.

A house with many rooms

Before I got where I am today with my website/blog, I was managing (poorly) four blogs that I posted on rarely if at all, and a website I maintained sporadically. I’m a one-shop stop writer, and I couldn’t for the life of me manage my time around my web presence and still get writing done on my latest novel. I completed most of the books I’ve written before my test of wills with WordPress started – however long ago that was. I published my latest book “Finding Family” in July 2014. During the time I was working on it – and for nearly a year before that – I didn’t touch WordPress. Copywriting, alumni magazine development for a small university, hosting a couple of radio shows, and community volunteerism kept me busy. But my web presence was hanging fire, going nowhere. When I did update the site, which is separate from the blogs, I had to post teaser paragraphs on the main site with links to the blog site. It was like having a five-room house with a different roof on each one. Drove me nuts. With this site I can do it all without undue angst… I hope. Bottom line, WordPress is my one roof. It’s up to me to make it work.

Experience not necessary

I have come to believe that if I had never experienced another design platform, getting set up with WordPress would have been easier. I brought a lot of notions about web design to the table. Start at square one and follow the instructions. It’s easy peasy.

Is it a website or a blog?

Don’t stress about this. A rose by any other name, etc., etc. Your web presence is important enough for you to spend time making it professional and accessible. WordPress provides the tools. It’s up to you to put them to work. I consider to be a website with a valuable blog component. The truth is, blogging is as only as good as the attention you are willing to give it. Call it what you want, but feed it often and with worthwhile content.