balanceThe second attribute the two students chose was Balance. Here are their essays on how and where they can exhibit Balance.


Balance is very important. The definition of balance is “an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.” I need balance so I can do tricky things. Like climbing the huge rock at the recreation center. Or ziplining at Anna’s house.

I can use balance in most places. At home, I need balance when my brothers try to tackle me. And wrestle me. If I want to keep my head, hands, neck, and legs, I need to use my balance. Even if I’m on one foot, it’ll be hard, but balance is the key.

I can use balance at school. When I’m playing during recess and I’m playing on the balance beam (look, it even says it in its name) I need to balance. I guess, whatever I’m playing at recess, or whatever I’m doing, I need to balance FOR EVERYTHING.

I can use my balance in the community. How, you say? Well, say I’m riding my bike. I need to use my balance so I don’t fall off and hurt my leg by some of the sharp stuff that the bike is made of. I need to use balance for everything and balance is the key.

Hmm…if I need to use balance for everything and balance is the key, what make it important? If I lose my balance, I’ll fall and hurt myself every time I try to stand up. Now do you see why balance is important? But, I had one mistake in my essay. Balance isn’t the key. It’s you.


I need to use balance everywhere I go: at home, at school, or in the community. At home, I have to use balance a lot. I have to balance my chores and playtime evenly so that I will have time to do my schoolwork and to go to bed on time.

At school, when I’m playing kickball, it’s hard not to slip. So, I have to balance and round the bases properly. When playing dodgeball in P.E., I have to balance so I can dodge the ball when needed (like when it’s flying at my face).

In the community, I need balance, too. I have to balance when I’m at my friend Carson Breon’s house. He has a zipline on his play set, and if I fell, I’d hurt myself badly.

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speedThis week, I present another couple of essays from two of my students. One of their assignments was to take two of the attributes I had assigned to their form and write a one page essay on how they could use them at home, at school, and in the community. They picked Speed and Balance.

First up – speed.


I can use speed anywhere I go. At home, at school, or in the community. At home, when I’m running from my huge Great Dane, Lincoln, I have to go super fast because he can chase me and then tackle me.

I can use speed at school. When I’m in the track, I need to breathe so I can run fast. If I’m working on schoolwork, I have to take my time and do my work fast both at the same time.

I can also use my speed in the community. On Wednesday nights, I go to a church group called Cadets. If I’m about to be tackled in our “Midnight Street Fight” game, I have to flee quickly. I also have to make a really speedy car in Cadets that will go at least 10.5 mph in the Derby so I can win a trophy.


I can be speedy in plenty of ways. I could be speedy or quick almost everywhere! (Unless I am in a contest to see who can be the slowest for the longest…) But that’s beside the point. Having speed, ‘the rate of a measure of he rate of motion’ or moving quickly’ is a choice. I have to choose to do it and then stick to it – I must stay determined.

I can have speed at home. When I’m doing my chores so I can do something fun with my family, and I want to do it quickly, I can use speed. I can do my job quickly. But I cannot do that if I don’t stick to it.

I can also use speed at school. If recess has already started and I want to make it to the swings, I must speed up, stop chatting, and finish whatever I’m doing. If I’m trying to get a worksheet done, I have to speed up and finish quickly. But if I want a good grade, could I speed up? Yes. I have to have quality. You don’t want to go too fast. You want to have a pace. Sometimes it’s good to o slow and steady. Set you pace, and you’ll see it will speed up you time – just like in the mile run.

Another place I can use speed is in the community. Let’s say I’m picking up trash in the square. I want to make it to my brother’s baseball game. I have to speed up my work. That is a case where I must use speed. Even if I’m tired and I want to go slow. I have to stay determined. Because it will be worth it. (Especially when you’re watching you brother pitch to the grand-slam batter in the game.)

It’s kind of like the pilot fish and a shark. The pilot fish frees the shark from any kind of parasites, and in turn, the shark gives the pilot fish protection from predators. You see, you can have speed, and you can have determination and perseverance. But how do you persevere if you have nothing to try for? You have to do both, and everything will work out. Set yourself a pace. You’ll see.

Next week: Balance

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Wizard World: Comic-Con, Des Moines 2015


When I don’t have current issues or events to discuss and highlight, and when I don’t have author interviews or blog tours promote, I have presented the latest in several series of blogs written some time ago so that I would be ahead on posts and wouldn’t have to think of something at the last minute.

My current series are: Adult Truths, Food For Thought, Martial Arts Aspects, and Chapters, which usually involve some humorous complaint.

However, the Adult Truths will be ending soon and, again, I wanted to be ahead of the game so I’m not at a loss.

SAM_0159Thus, Wizard World. This company promotes Comic Con around the country and last weekend, it came to Des Moines for the first, but not last, time. At this event, several authors from the Davenport Writes team were in attendance (as seen on the banner above) to sell books and enjoy the event.

Oh yeah, there were a few celebrities who showed up and signed autographs and sat for pictures.

PART_1434148976045_20150612_173743-2William Shatner.

Lou Ferrigno, Cassandra Peterson, Dean Cain, Billy Dee Williams, wrestlers Paige and Seth Rollins, Michael Cudlitz, and Robert Englund and a few more. No, I didn’t spend the money for autographs or pics (Shatner’s quick pic came from a friend of an author friend) but I can say I saw them. (Well, all except Rollins. I did see Paige just as she was leaving. She is short.)

At the event, I took over 400 pictures. However, some of them disappeared. I don’t know what happened. I specifically remember the few that disappeared.

Anyway, here are just a sample of the characters (and characters) who agreed to pose for pictures. The rest I will throw in every so often and have a related post attached. So, until next year’s crop of Comic Con attendees, welcome to Wizard World Comic Con Des Moines, 2015!


Lots of vendors. 12 aisles. Selling everything from comic books (of course) to celebrity photos and cardboard cutouts ot movie prints to sugar bears. (Yes, live animals.)


A version of Captain America and Mario characters.


One of our authors, Miyoko Hikiji (the pretty woman in blue), with C.A.


Okay, I didn’t recognize ALL of the costumes, but they were all fun to look at.


These two switched out Sunday to Catwoman and Batman.SAM_0171

The Riddler and Miss Riddler.

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Food For Thought – Riccelli’s

3803 Indianola Avenue
Des Moines, IA

Lori Campisi has returned to her place of residence and reporting to her Washington, D.C. contact, John Hundt.


Mr. Hundt,

In my continuing effort to keep you ‘entertained’ by my activities here in Des Moines, I write this missive regarding my dinner earlier this evening.

I joined three of my colleagues at Riccelli’s. It is an Italian restaurant that offers more than just traditional Italian food.

The building is unimposing from the outside, but inside is filled with photographs of actors and actresses from the era that included Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, Marilyn Monroe, and Clark Gable. Since this was Saturday evening, the parking lot was filled and there were people waiting in the lobby.

The hostess, who also doubled as table cleaner/setter, and who never smiled, kept bustling back and forth from the cash register to the dining area. No wait time was given, or party names accepted, but the crowd was courteous enough to express who was next up to be seated.

When we were shown to our table I noticed that there were more tables empty than I had thought. Many of them hadn’t been cleaned and reset for the next diners. I realized that either the establishment was short-handed in staff, a bit unorganized, or a combination of the two.

The menu was extensive with a limited number of appetizers, but many entrees, a selection of wines, and desserts. The meals ranged from fried chicken (one of my coworkers ordered this and received four large pieces), Ribs, Chicken Livers, Orange Roughy, several steak selections, plus the standards like Veal Parmesan and Ravioli with Meatballs. Prices were not outrageous. $9.75 for simple spaghetti to $39.50 for Filet with Lobster tail. Most items stayed within the eleven and twelve dollar range with some of the steaks a bit more.

I should insert here that while waiting for a table I saw at least two take-out orders.

We ordered our drinks, then upon the waitress’ return, our food. I chose the broiled catfish.

Our meals were delicious. The catfish was tender, the salad seasoned just right.

My only concern was the wait time for the food. Our bread came after we were done with our salads and for the entrees, we sat for at least half an hour. The waitress faulted a malfunction in the kitchen and apologized. She didn’t mention if the malfunction was mechanical or human.

Save for the lengthy wait, the food was good, and I’d recommend visiting if you’re in town.

Until next time, have a good evening.



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Chapters – V

C05“The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.”

What did you expect the beach to be? Covered in tile?

Some of these complaints are more inane than others. I think my snarky comment, while made in jest, brings up a valid point. What did these folks expect when they went to the beach? A beach, one for tourists, is mostly sand. There are rocky beaches but they would have complained about too many rocks, I suspect.

This common sense expectation holds true for many things. In a past blog I discussed being reasonable when it comes to hotel prices. If you walk into the Marriott, you don’t expect to get a room for $50. Why? Because it’s not that sort of hotel. You should know that going in.

Books, too, hold certain expectations. For instance cozy mysteries aren’t going to have excessive amounts of profanity or sex, if any. The actual murder and the sex are all ‘off screen’ as it were. The heroine may stumble upon the body and see that a knife is sticking out of the corpse’s neck, but that’s as much as the reader is going to know. You’re not going to read about the seeping blood, the maggots, the detailed slice across the guy’s neck before the fatal plunge, the neck gristle and muscle showing…too much? Okay, sorry.

Each genre has certain rules to follow for a book to be a success. There are exceptions and you can get away with a few things, in rare cases. (Obviously, you’re not gong to see hot, steamy, lusty, busty, throbbing, heaving, bosomy genitalia in YA books. If you’re self-publishing this sort of stuff, you might get a visit from the porn police.)

Readers expect certain things from books. In gritty serial killer thrillers, you expect a bit of gore and profanity. You expect to see the blood.

Years ago when I was reading Ludlum’s novels, I was amused at the times he used italics for emphasis. In fact, I defy you to find more than ten pages in any Ludlum novel where he doesn’t use italics. It’s expected. The intensity is such that it almost requires it.

In regards to my books, I warn people that there is going to be profanity (not a lot, but some) and in Beta, there is going to be a sensitive topic discussed. I’ve also told people that I think I’ve written it in such a way that people are not going to stop reading because they’re disgusted. With this subject matter, when the bad stuff happens, I break a rule and tell you what is happening, rather than show it. However, you will get the idea and be able to move on.

Authors who write series have fans who expect certain aspects of the story each time. J.D. Robb’s ‘Death’ series will have some good humor, steamy sex, and technological standards in the each of the futuristic stories. Rex Stout will have fine meals, beer drinking, and subtle humor in the Nero Wolfe mysteries. Sparkle Abbey’s Pampered Pet mysteries will show the constant battle for a gaudy brooch between the main characters.

Fans enjoy and expect these things and as authors we cannot disappoint. When Stout died and the publishing company wanted to continue the stories, they accepted submissions from authors on where future Wolfe mysteries might go. In the end, they settled on Robert Goldsborough because he stayed as true to the character as possible. I think they did right by this. I don’t think people would have responded well to Nero Wolfe riding a motorcycle. (This is true, one writer had him doing this.)

What expectations from what authors do you have?

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Times Of Future Past, Second Week

More pictures from the TOFP event.

036One of the vendors.049Two Ladies

078Not sure. He claimed to be Sherlock Holmes. Go figure.

079Hawkgirl.084Lara Croft086A gentleman and his lady.033Two cool dudes.

013Knight of the Realm

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Times Of Future Past

005Where can you find Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, and Beverly Crusher from Star Trek all watching belly dancers moving to everything from Jimmy Buffet to the Time Warp? At the Costume Fair – Times of Future Past.

This was the first year for this event held out behind Sleepy Hollow Park in the same venue as the annual Renaissance Fair.

The event also hosted several authors, dressed appropriately, selling books. Attendees were able to watch skits at the huge castle, Romans sword fighting in front of their king, hear Indian tales, and superheroes saving mankind. They could practice archery and knife throwing.

Hippies and pirates, southern belles and Superman.

I was in attendance, but unable to take too many pictures, but an author acquaintance took, uh, well, a bunch of pictures and sent them all to me. Thanks, Dan for overloading my email server. Lol.

Anyway, I thought for this week and next, I’d give you all a taste of this year’s costumed event. Being the first year, attendance was pretty low, but next year should see more promotion and more fun.

003 004 006 008 011 017 021 028

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Adult Truth #18

#18I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.”

And when I’m bored, I usually eat. Usually I get bored at home on my nights off. You know, it’s three in the morning and there is nothing on television and I’m bored with watching downloaded television shows or movies. I long for either a salty snack or something sweet. Sometimes both. One following the other.

“But, Mr. Brayton,” you say, “how does this relate to writing?”

In one sense, it doesn’t. In another sense, I look at it as time away from everything. Work, family, bills, and writing.

I wanted to discuss how I relax.

Sometimes I can relax by doing nothing except watching the shows and movies on my computer.

However, I have found boredom creeps in and stays for awhile if I don’t have something planned. Then boredom confuses me because I know I want to do something, but not sure what I want to do. And, everything I think of doing takes preparation time or driving time and I end up not doing anything because I don’t want to spend the time preparing or driving.

Yes, I know. I really need a girlfriend. Why do you think I’m so bored? Now, I don’t want to whine and groan about the lack of romance in my life, but I do want to discuss this in relation to boredom and how I relax. When I had a girlfriend, my time could be filled with the relationship, even if we only sat around reading books or watching television. Without a girlfriend to share time with, well, it’s boring.

Anyway, onto relaxing, which is what I really wanted to discuss. How do I reinvigorate the creative juices, get energized for the time I need to be working or writing or even paying bills?

Racquetball: I haven’t played in years but I love the sport.

Fishing: Several lakes and ponds and rivers around the area, although because of the new job and the busy schedule, I don’t get a chance to go out as often.

Bicycling: Planning on more outings this summer.

Walking: Usually I do this with a friend but sometimes I’ll grab a book and read while I walk. This confuses people because they don’t understand how I can do both.

Exploring: I don’t do as much anymore because of gas prices but I love to take off in a random direction and see what rarely driven roads I can find.

Sitting: A lot of times I’ll just head down the river and sit, read, and enjoy nature.

Fires: No, I’m not an arsonist but I used to love to go to the campground or the river, gather up what branches I could find in the woods, and as night fell, I’d listen to an audio book and create a fire. The wood gathering made for a pretty good workout, especially with some of the larger chunks of wood and the distance I carried them.

Writing: yes, sometimes, I’ll write to relax. Maybe out at the park or someplace else quiet.

I’ll admit, sometimes when I’m ‘relaxing’ I get lonely because I have nobody beside me enjoying whatever activity I’m engaged in. I think about my life and all of the mistakes I’ve made and I wonder about the future. I don’t wish to get too philosophical or delve too deep, but, you know, sometimes it all gets to me.

The feeling doesn’t last too long, because soon hunger demands my attention and then I’m realizing I didn’t bring any food with me and I’m stuck miles away from the nearest restaurant.

Yep, boredom and hunger share a very fine line.

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Around The Globe With Diane Munier

On this warm May morning I pick up this week’s featured author and she sets the transporter’s controls for…wait a minute, where are we going?

Where is this place? What a shabby looking coffee shop. Uh, Ms. Munier, you realize I don’t drink coffee.

She doesn’t care, orders two brews and we sit at a rickety and scarred wooden table and look at each other in the dim illumination. I look at my drink. Smells good, but I think I’ll divert her attention away from my not drinking it by conducting the interview.

1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

I am a very private person who leads an extroverted life. I am more content to have a voice from behind the curtain than before it. I am a practiced listener and an observer. I love people but I renew by being alone, and thinking and creating. I don’t think of myself as fascinating, but I am fascinated by life and it intensifies as I age.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

People might be surprised to learn how well acquainted I am with fear.
3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as rocket scientist?

Math for sure. But writing made sense to me. It started young. It was a way to capture my thoughts and develop a voice.
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

J. R. R. Tolkien. I’d like to see how much whiskey he’d drink with dinner.
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book(s) be great company?

I would hope they would provide you with a magic carpet ride into the fictive dream and lift you seamlessly out of your hostage situation. I hope they would deliver you home with many wonderful things to think about.
6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.

I used to write and then rewrite. I was perpetually frustrated by things like how to move a person across a room. I would obsessively rewrite. But that struggle kept evolving. Now I write relying more on my senses than worrying about moving someone across the room. I write from inside the characters. Concerning locations: I absorb places. They get inside. Then I start to wonder who lived there. Then they start talking. I often visit locations. Sometimes it’s all Google and imagination. Sometimes it’s incident first and I let a story develop a story around it. Sometimes the inciting incident never shows up but it gets the story going. Sometimes it’s a character first. I have to hear the voice in my mind, get them talking and then the rest comes. I try to live in touch with my honest voice. When I write from that real place I seldom have to rewrite.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

Write. Allow yourself to write garbage. Tell yourself it’s going to be garbage. You’re searching for a point of entry. It just might end up being gold. But you won’t know if you don’t write. The biggest percentage of success comes from having something on the page. An idea is nothing. It dies with you.
8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

Believe in something bigger than yourself. Believe there is a bigger picture than what you can see. Accept that you are small. Do not mistake smallness for insignificance. Believe you are gifted for the world. Be generous with your gifts. What you believe must bless the people you live with or you really don’t believe it. Forgive or you will grow bitter. Own your crap. Repair what you can. Never cut yourself off from children or old folks. Speak less. Listen more. Laugh. Be honest. Be thankful. Eat cake.
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

I must write. I must breathe. I will be breathing and writing. I have much work to be published.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

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Around The Globe With Robert Utero

This week I pick up the featured author and we transport to a Florida beach. It’s evening at the waterfront restaurant. I’m having seafood, of course and we’re both enjoying the food, the sea, and the sand. Content. Happy. Peaceful. He waits patiently until I remember I have an interview to do.

1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

My name is Robert Uttaro. I love music, basketball, teaching, and I was fortunate enough to write To the Survivors. I am not the most fascinating person in Boston, but one thing that makes me unique, I guess, is that I am a rape crisis counselor.  

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

I used to play guitar in a heavy metal band when I was in high school.

3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as rocket scientist?

I did not consider myself a writer and never once tried to write a book until one experience changed my life. This experience was a dream I had. I woke up from this dream and said, “I have to write a book”. I interpreted this dream as a vision from God. I sat down at my computer that morning to write and that is how the book To the Survivors began. God inspired me to pursue a career in writing.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

I would like to eat dinner with Marilyn Manson because he is a very intelligent human being with fascinating ideas. I would like to listen to him talk about his life and is current thoughts on the world and religion.

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island or suffering from a four hour layover at the airport, why would your book(s) be great company?

To the Survivors will be great company because it will give you deep connections to other people, hope and faith.

6. Share your process of writing in regards to: plot and character development, story outline, research (do you Google or visit places/people, or make it up on the spot), writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.

To the Survivors is non-fiction and includes interviews, written stories, and poetry of men and women who have been raped and sexually assaulted. This book does not have character development, but the people in the book and their stories are quite moving. For me, I write when I can, especially when something inspires me. I can go months without writing a word, and then write a lot in a couple of days. This can be at any time during the day and night. In terms of editing and revising, my editor and I revised again and again and again. We both edited the whole book at least ten times.

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

Write, write, and write some more. Don’t worry about where or how to begin. In fact, don’t worry at all. It’s imperative to not be nervous, to not fear anything, and to fight through whatever blockage one may have. Write from your heart. Believe in yourself and your abilities, and don’t stop writing if you have the desire to write.

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

Our time on this earth is less than a blink of an eye in terms of eternity. I believe in God, and I believe God loves us more than we can even fathom, even if we do not believe God exists. As Jesus says, “Seek and you will find.”

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

I am currently writing a second book, but most of my focus right now is on teaching, working, and spreading To the Survivors to as many people, schools, libraries, rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, and religious/secular organizations as possible.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

People can go to my website at or email me at If interested in To the Survivors, you can check it out at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and other online retailers.

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