Archive for May, 2013

“Huckleberries” by guest writer, Olin Davis, from Tuesday’s writing group meeting

May 30, 2013

“Huckleberries! I crave huckleberries.” I whined in the most obnoxious voice that a twelve or thirteen year old could muster. “I want to go berrying with Clarence tomorrow.  I love huckleberries. I yearn for huckleberries. He said they are ready to pick right now. Can’t I go to the woods with him? I long for huckleberries!”

“You heard what your father said; The hay in the field will be ready tomorrow and you have to help.” My mother’s quiet and gentle response didn’t convince me.

“But everybody else could do the work and I could go pick huckleberries.” I glanced over at Dad. He didn’t say a word. I had seen that expression before.  It was a mixture of incredulity and disgust. I doubted he was going to relent but I had to try again. “Huckleberries are only ripe once a year and I’m hungry for ’em. Ple-as-s-e.”

Our good neighbor, Clarence White had just left our kitchen. Clarence had invited me to go with him tomorrow to pick huckleberries. “They are large and juicy sweet this year, ” he told us.  He was a woodsman who knew all the secrets of the dense forest across Wood Creek and beyond. He knew where  the biggest and best wild berries grew.  Several summers previously, Dad, my brothers, and I had gone with Clarence far, far into the woods to the huckleberry swamp that he knew.  The highbushes were as tall as a man’s head and loaded with the delicious treats.  It was easy picking. We filled milk pails to carry home.  My brothers and I ate as many as we put into the buckets. Our tongues and lips were blue.

The treat continued when Mother made huckleberry pancakes, huckleberry pies, huckleberry puddings and cake. She canned berries for cold days the following winter. It is no wonder I begged to go once more with our neighbor friend.


I was about to begin a new tactic of begging. Wouldn’t they be pleased that I was offering to bring food to the table? Dad jumped up from his chair and said, “All right, if you have to have huckleberries tonight, I’ll get you some.” I watched as he opened a kitchen drawer. He grabbed a flashlight , snatched a cereal bowl from the cupboard, and hustled outside into the darkness.


I was overcome with dread. I followed to the door and shouted, “Dad, come back! I didn’t mean tonight.” Did he hear me? He didn’t stop. I couldn’t see him.


“Let him go,” Mother said. I was shamed and terrified. I had caused my father to risk his life. He would have to cross the creek, walk across the huge hayfield, trek through thick woodland far, far back to get to the berry bushes.  There were no trails to follow. The journey was difficult in daylight but all he had was one little flashlight. I cried as I realized how wretched I had been. Why would Dad pay attention to my selfish demands tonight? That had never happened before.  What if he became lost and couldn’t come back? Would I have to milk the cows all alone in the morning?  It was all my fault. Mother kept on darning socks without saying a word.

Finally after what seemed forever, Dad came in the back door with a bowlful of berries. “Now,” he said, “Sit up and eat your huckleberries.”

I was quivering inside. “I’ll share some with everybody.

“No, you’ll sit there and eat every berry until they are gone while the rest of the family watches.”

“But, but…..I didn’t want them tonight. I wanted them tomorrow.”

“Oh, yes, you craved huckleberries. Now you have them and you’ll eat them.” Of course I did. They didn’t even taste good to me. Much, much later, I discovered that Dad had observed a huckleberry bush down near our pasture gate.  It yielded only one bowlful of huckleberries that night.


The next day as I drove the horses pulling the hay rake, I had alone time to think. Guilt and shame were spilling over each other in my mind. I had received something that I had selfishly desired without thinking of necessities. I also received another lesson in life.

My parents might have chosen a less effective means to deal with this belligerant kid. They demonstrated with actions. I might not have remembered the incident or the teaching the next 75 years if they had lectured, scolded, or flogged me.

My fondness for huckleberries has not evaporated even though they are called blueberries these days. If nothing is planned for tomorrow, let’s grab a pail and head out to the blueberry patch. 

                                                                                                                                   Olin Davis

                                                                                                                                    May 2013

thank you, Olin. May the huckleberry fields ever be rich and deep and your wife by your side laughter and smiles beneath a blue sunlit heaven.  Rachael


In Memory of my friend, Olin Davis, author of “Flashbacks”

May 30, 2013

 Olin was the first to tell you that writing of poetry was surely some ingenuous form of torture, and the practice of poetry writing only gifted to a certain few. That said, Olin was a fine poet when the spirit moved him. At my gentle insistence (we shared everything writings-wise, genres, forms, stories, and poems through the magic of cyberspace in wee hours when insomnia struck us both) he worked and revised this poem and entered it in the 2010 CNY Chapter Penwomen annual poetry contest. He was extraordinarily funny and could write light rhyming verse as well, but this poem to my eyes was simple and beautiful. He did not win or place, but I remember his face in the audience as that year was one of my first on the judges’ side of the table. He knew I was new to the penwomen and thus, nervous, so he was also there to offer moral support.  I ‘ve lost two dear friends in one month this spring of 2013. One too young, to a debilitating illness, one, an elder just beginning to fail and to grieve for doing so, who missed his beloved spouse.  They both were midnight email correspondents with me. They both were extraordinarily accepting and tolerant. Both knew things about me that nobody else does. There is something magical about the boundlessness of the cybersphere, deep in the night, when it stretches before your fingers like  magic while the rest of the world is asleep.

I will always remember the year I met Olin. I had fallen in love, or so I thought, with a neighbor woman. It was destined for disaster, but my life was filled with upheaval when I first came to the Canastota Writers group for the first times 2004. When the brief affair flamed out as it was destined to do from the very start, I wrote a poem about it. I brought it to writers group and read it aloud, knowing full well that the poem was clearly about one woman grieving the loss of another woman’s love. I had no idea who would think what of me nor did I really care. I was in too much pain. When I finished reading,  silence stretched respectfully on. Then Olin spoke. He said, looking into my eyes with his  wonderful warm gaze, “I imagine there is not a person sitting here at this table, who has not had a heart broken. We can all relate.” With those simple words, I knew he accepted me. Immediately he took up residence in my heart.

I was proud of this work of his that I am publishing to follow.. I am happy to own copies of his memoirs. I loved how he read his piece this Tuesday past about huckleberries, assuming the voice of a querelous and whining twelve year old with as much as gusto as I assume the creaky ancient tones of a retired warrior dragon.

Thank you for working on this longer than you would’ve without my friendly bothering, Olin. Thank you for your friendship and support. Thank you for all the manuscripts and short stories and poetry you read and commented on through the years. Thank you for your honesty. I have only one regret, that we never did take the time to share that cup of coffee at Friendlys or Dunkin Donuts that we’d spoken of since 2008. With much love, I give you “Holland in April” by Olin Davis, guest poster on writer raebeth’s weblog.








Riots of color

burst over landscape;

flower field hectares

reach toward horizon.

A rainbow bouquet:

gold, crimson and plum

rows framed by canals,

Dutch farms in blossom—

tulip, daffodil

and hyacinth hues

shape a visual feast

and mental keepsake.

Olin Davis

Jan. 2011   

Bloemakkers near Haarlem,

The Netherlands 4/2001





more Magical news about coverage in advertising

May 17, 2013

I am happy to report that I was able to take advantage of the April,  National Poetry month discount on ad space offered by Poets & Writers magazine. Their July 2013 issue will feature a color cover of the book and ad for TCTEW. May 22, 2013, my essay taken from this blog, “That First Omelette”  which was a non fiction finalist in their multi genre contest, will be published in They, too, will advertise TCTEW. You can also find info on purchase at the website of Finishingline Press on their FaceBook fan page. I may not have mentioned it before, but for those who enjoy my artwork and are poets and writers but not visual artists, I am an artist for cover work for FinishingLine Press. Check it out. I can custom design a cover to your specs. This weekend we start the filming of TCTEW the reading/trailer. Be on the look out for it on youtube and other places.

I am also donating prize packages to the 16th Annual Poetry SuperHighway Poetry contest. For the duration fo the contest, Rick Lupert, the host of Poetry Superhighway will also advertise TCTEW as well as my chapbooks that are available.

Time to shake out the purple story telling cape again…see you in the forest…

Reviews of The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods

May 17, 2013

I am happy to report reviews are beginning to come in on my YA fantasy (really for all ages) on on the book’s page and on Goodreads. Feedback is so far five stars. TCTEW is going on the road, on tour now, too. I’ve asked  messenger dragon, Gabrielle, to swing by to pick me up and then we head for Clifton Park and Eastline Books Saturday June 8 at 1:00 p.m. I will be there. Icarus Aloft’s head publisher, Vince Potenza will also be on hand. After the reading, there will be time for Q & A and books to be signed. Im hopeful that all the books Gabrielle stuffs into her messenger pouch will fly out of there into happy hands and hearts of new readers and  new wanderers of the magical woodland where Ambergris, the great ursine wizard watches over all who pass under the hemlocks’ skirts to dance a reel or two with the Power of the Great Mother. Writing from The Treehouse, the balcony of which is now a fabulous colorful garden mixture of vegetables, herbs, house plants in their summer togs, and annual blossoms; where spirit cats cheek themselves on windchimes and their music rings softly through the air,where at night glow-in-the-dark hummingbirds and , no doubt, faeries come out from their slumbers of warm rooms ‘neath cedar shacks to dance and change colors from deepest purple through to bright green to hot pink and rich reds, I remain Writer Raebeth.

Hope to see you somewhere magical on the roads or in the sky soon.

The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods, Icarus Aloft, Selkirk, NY 2013

May 11, 2013

The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods, Icarus Aloft, Selkirk, NY 2013

Cover art and book by Rachael Z. Ikins
Available now! On Amazon , at readings, through

Never Stop Asking for a Story:my take on the promotional trail

May 11, 2013

Writing and or illustrating it is the fun part of making a book. Marketing it is less enchanting even if one is a fantasy author. There are no magical solutions to arriving in the top ten on the best seller list. Many excellent writers are never read. If a writer is using a small or indie press, the plus side of that is the author has much more back and forth dialogue and control of things such as artwork and design. On the other hand being picked up by an agent and then a big house appears to most folks as the true pinnacle of success.

QUoting YA fantasy author with Scholastic Diana Zimmerman author of “Kandide,”
ever year 300,000 good books fall by the wayside into obscurity due to lack of exposure.” On are 3, 000.000 books.How to stay visible becomes the ultimate question, long enough to reach a table at one of the big book fairs to then be noticed and picked up by a bigger house.

There are countless hours without pay that an author labors away on social networking, blogging, emailing groups, make short films to post on youtube, advertising, finding links to link with, networking with fellow writers and artists, and ever in search of more public reading opportunities to read from your works, sign books and greet fans.
If you ve ever gotten a bargain book, or gone into Barnes and Noble to the bargain tables, how quickly does a book fall from the best seller list to the obscurity of the bargain table. And let’s take Barnes and Noble as a whole separate topic. In order to have a reading or an art exhibit at a Barnes and Noble you must have a book on their shelves. They are very particular about which books they choose. Once on the bargain table, what size royalties do you imagine the author is receiving? Even James PAtterson has bargain table books. Why do you think authors like him or Dean Koontz are so prolific? Because you have to keep making new product, fresh product to stay current.
At this point I have to ask “Why then, would anyone want to become a writer?”
Why not cheat, as it were, in these days of massive self publishing of the vanity route that so dismayed John-Boy Walton back in the day? When I was in school writing my first poems, I was taught never to fall for a vanity publisher. MAkes perfect sense for an older person who wants to leave his memoirs to his family.
So it remains the formula of query letter, sample chapters sent to an agent of your genre and waiting. Lots of rejections.
I decided since my mother is frail and elderly and I wanted to go with a small publisher for Book 1 of my series of “The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods.” That way, was I lucky enough to find a small publisher who would pick my book up, she’ d be able to participate. It has only been a week or so since the book debuted, but I continually sell out of copies and more invitations for readings appear in my in-box and reviews post on My mother is in a rehab facility due to a bad fall. Her copy lies constantly on her night stand. Any and everyone who has entered her room hears that her daughter wrote and published this book. I ve sold quite a few there.
One of my mottos or credos is to help other writers. Writers help each other. I am finding, like karma, when I do reach out to someone and it is successful for them, often it comes back to me successfully furthering my path as well.
It is fabulous to read to a standing room only crowd. It is marvelous to win prizes for excellence in writing. It is amazing to walk into someone’s house and see a copy of your book lying on their bed. It is wondrous when someone shyly asks you to sign the book to someone special and to say this or that.
We write because we can ‘t help it. I certainly can’t stop. Its what I do. It is a small percent magic and the vastly larger percent sweat, swearing, and determination. One of my poetry publishers, has a title of his own work “Never Stop Asking for Poems.”
I say never stop asking for someone to tell you a story.

vonnie Winslow Crist at a book signing

May 11, 2013

vonnie Winslow Crist at a book signing

Guest Blogger Vonnie Winslow Crist on HItting the Promotion Trail

May 11, 2013

Hitting the Promotion Trail by Vonnie Winslow Crist


I love to imagine stories, then jot them down. I enjoy researching, revising, and polishing a story. I like sketching, then painting cover art. Quiet talks with other writers, readers, and fans about my fiction are fun. But I do NOT like to promote, even though I realize promotion is a necessary part of building a reader base and letting people know that a book is available.


I’ve thought a lot about why many writers and illustrators, me included, hate the promotion part of the book business. I’ve decided it’s because when we draw attention to our books, stories, or artwork, we feel like we’re bragging somehow. For me, it’s not about “look at what I’ve done,” so much as inviting readers to enter the fantastical worlds I’ve created. It’s about telling a story around a campfire and having people listen.


And so, with an eye to promotion, I invited you to visit a few guest blogs and interviews I’ve done recently:


Thanks to romance writer, Allison Merritt, for inviting me to guest post Speculative Romance:


Thanks to fantasy author, Jennifer Allis Provost, for inviting me to guest post Where the Magic Begins:


Thanks to the wonderful author, Jaleta Clegg, for interviewing me on her blog:


Thanks to fantasy author, J. Michael Squatrito, Jr. for inviting me to guest post Location Matters in Fantasy:


And last, but certainly not least, thank you to Douglas R. Cobb for interviewing me for The New Yorker Times (and asking very specific questions about The Enchanted Skean):


I hope you’ll read and enjoy the interviews and guest posts, and I hope I get more comfortable doing book promotion!


Vonnie Winslow Crist is the author-illustrator of a YA fantasy novel, The Enchanted Skean, a collection of YA-friendly fantasy short stories, The Greener Forest, and other books. To find out more about her, visit her website: , blog: or Facebook page:  Her books can be found at: