Monday, August 14, 2017

The hurrieder I go...

Tomorrow, August 15, is Relaxation Day--a day to “kick back and do nothing”. I considered, ten years ago, that retirement = Relaxation Day X Forever. Wrong.

That was before

·        the Small Person and the Wee Bear Cub
·        deciding to write for publication, including indie publishing
·        And, of course, the day-to-day tasks of keeping house don’t end with retirement unless one is prepared to live in a chaotic state.

Sage Advice

But the old saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” is true. We have to take some time for ourselves--time to “wiggle our toes” (See last week's blog on Wiggle Your Toes Day.)

Tempering the ‘daily grind’

I like to keep a schedule as much as possible--bedtime, getting up, taking time to start my day with morning prayer and devotions, taking care of household chores, checking/deleting emails, going to sites I frequent and taking care of business there, and then on to the daily projects whether it be writing or, right now, genealogical research. Maybe the latter is my relaxation in many instances. On the other hand, sometimes the writing/marketing becomes really hard work!
When I know I have a long day at the computer  ahead of me, I like to turn on the essential oils dispenser (peppermint and orange the choices du jour right now) and pop a CD into the player--classical works best for concentration. The best of both worlds--work and relaxation--come into play here.
Taking breaks is essential--whether to walk around, go outside for the mail, or stretch out on the sofa with my Kindle.
Notice I didn’t mention ‘social media’ as a relaxation technique. While I do check Facebook, mainly to post on my author page, and look at news headlines, these activities can be anything but relaxing!

Where’s the rally?

I find it interesting that nowhere in my handy-dandy (and very heavy!) tome, Random House-Webster’s Quotationary boasting thousands of entries on a myriad of subjects, has absolutely nothing--that’s right, nothing!--on relaxing/relaxation. And why is that, you ask?
I wonder if relaxing is a politically incorrect term. These days people scurry around frantically to earn enough money for lavish vacations. What’s the purpose of such? Is it not to relax? So why is no one talking about it?

The last word

I spent most of my adult life raising children, caring for ill and elderly parents, and earning a living. Sometimes when I reflect on those years, the word ‘frantic’ comes to mind.
Now I have that scarce--almost extinct--commodity called time. I want to use it well. So for me, every day is Relaxation Day, no matter what ‘work’ has to be done. It doesn’t matter how fast I hurry, life won’t get any longer. Or, “the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get”! I don’t know who said that--have heard it all my life--and it’s definitely apt.

It’s time to slow down and live.

Friday, August 11, 2017

A little back-to-school writing exercise

Originally published 8/18/09
This isn't a new writing exercise by any means. Lists of "firsts" proliferate in ideas for teaching children how to write as well as motivating adult creativity. Making a list is as good a place to start as any. You never know when the light bulb will come on, and there'll be a new story in the making!

Here's my list (in no particular order of importance!)

1.    My first trans-Atlantic flight
2.    My first day away from home at college
3.    My first baby
4.    My first pair of high heels
5.    My first year of teaching (and that one already earned me a tidy sum!)

So grab your pen and paper and start listing. You'll probably come up with more than five. And if you need more ideas, follow the links below.

Book: History Begins at Sumer: Thirty-Nine Firsts in Recorded History by Samuel Noah Kramer available in paperback at

And, of course, there's the old standby: The Guiness Book of World Records

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Organizing on the cheap...

Browsing through old blogs looking for one I wanted to recycle, I found one on “Something for Everyone” posted as part of my “Resources for Writers” Series back in 2010. But just as I was about to nab it, I realized all the tips were out of date except for one, which I’ll repost here along with some new ones.

Organizing 101 on the cheap

  • Writers can be the most disorganized and also the most organized people around. Usually it’s somewhere in between. Here are some ideas which have worked very well for me. Old teachers never die…they just keep watching the back-to-school ads because they know this is the best time of year to replenish office supplies. On 8/8/2010, I posted the following: Now is the time to stock up on three-prong pocket folders cheap cheap cheap! I always watch the back-to-school sales and buy my limit. They’re perfect for organizing research notes, writing tips, market listings, and the thousand and one other things writers seem to hoard.  Stick a blank address label on the outside and specify the contents. Where to keep them? Visit your nearest Michaels or Hobby Lobby and look for sales on those pretty shoebox-size storage boxes. Put the cover on the bottom and stand the folders inside.

  • Speaking of shoebox storage, I try to hit the 5/$10 sales and bring them home to use in the study closet. They keep the shelves uncluttered, and I can find what I want without searching for half an hour!

  • Visit the Dollar Tree for these fantastic calendars. They are perfect for a notebook, but I generally keep mine attached to my desk with those stickies that come off without removing the finish. I removed the calendar from the one on the right and replaced it with a weekly planner sheet. Using the monthly calendar on the left, I schedule each day within the planner on the right, including the names of the blogs I’m posting on M-W-F. A third calendar is my blog calendar and stays in the notebook which holds my very life! I try to schedule a month’s worth of blogs at one sitting and stay ahead writing them if at all possible. A fourth calendar is my “travel” calendar to plan trips, keep track of when I made reservations, what I paid, etc. If I were really on the ball--and someday I will be--someday--I’d have a marketing calendar to track promotions, payments, and so on. Since I don’t do a lot of that (and I should!), I can see the calendar coming in handy.

  • I repurposed two closet shoe holders for my desk. They hold all those things I need to be able to reach at a moment’s notice--rolodex, tape, stapler, hole punch, stamps, pencil sharpener--and much more.

  • The Dollar Tree also has these handy little organizers which fit right on my shoe-holder-shelves and keep them looking tidy.

I’d love for you to share your organizational tips with me and pass along mine to anyone who might find them useful!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Time to wiggle those toes...why?

Did you celebrate yesterday?

August 6, Wiggle Your Toes Day is about…toes! Toes are unique to a person and need airing and exercising. But that’s not what this blog is about. Read on.

What it’s really all about

When my two boys were growing up, they involved in so many activities that we seemed to stay in the car constantly shuttling from one to another. Finally, I said, “Enough!” Each boy could choose two activities, and the rest could take a hike. They seemed relieved to have permission to slow down.

Not long after that, I was talking to one of those mothers whose children must always be the best and in the forefront of all things. She detailed with great pride how many activities her children were involved in. I listened politely and then observed, “I think kids need time to lie on the top bunk and wiggle their toes.” She looked at me as if I’d uttered heresy. But I knew I’d made the right decision for my children and myself.

The never-ending story

Still, I lived at break-neck pace for years even after my boys grew up. Still working, now responsible for ill and aging parents who lived several hundred miles away, I juggled trying to earn a living with trying to do the very best I could for my parents. It wasn’t easy--but I’m not alone in having faced that mind-boggling dilemma.

Even after I retired, within two weeks I found myself the caretaker of a newborn three days a week. Not that I didn’t adore my first and only grandchild and glory in the very miracle of her existence, but I’d hardly had time to unpack. In fact, I was still unpacking, but that task became relegated to the hours she napped or the days I didn’t have her. After 18 months, I had to say, “Enough”, much as I’d done years earlier with her father.

Even now I sometimes have to give myself permission to lie on the top bunk and wiggle my toes figuratively speaking. I stay busy, but that busyness has evolved into a pleasant routine reminiscent of summers of my childhood: What needs to be taken care of gets done, and the rest of the day is mine with no apologies.


As of this week, with the final ms of The Legacy of Diamond Springs off to an editor, I’m keeping a promise to my oldest son--and to myself--to spend at least the next six months returning to long-neglected genealogy. Organizing, prioritizing research, doing the actual research will fill my days completely. I’ve written (seriously for publication) for ten years. Writing, rewriting, editing, deadlines, formatting what was indie-pubbed, marketing...time-consuming to the max.

 Now it’s time to take a break for the other pastime which I’ve always enjoyed.

It’s definitely time to wiggle my toes. 

In the Future…

I’ll still be blogging three days a week right here at The Word Place and continue to post the monthly “free reads” on my website. Publishing progress reports for The Legacy of Diamond Springs will be available. Expect some character profiles, the “story behind the story”,  and eventually a free chapter or two. The idea for an additional good news blog is still percolating, so stay tuned.


I still need you to weigh in on a name for the male protagonist of the aforementioned book. Go here for the original blog--more about the character and “what’s in it for you”!

Also visit my website for this month’s free read, “The Face of Love”.

Friday, August 4, 2017

A blinding light...

No clue when I wrote The Legacy of Diamond Springs, but it never saw the light of day--and it’s looking doubtful that it will, at least not by the end of August as I’d first hoped.
It’s been through at least 5 rewrites/edits, and when I finished the last one, I was ready to do the happy dance. Alas--midway through the first pirouette, in a blinding light from the sky I saw the weakness of the villain and knew he had to be replaced.
Did you hear the thump as I fell back to earth again?
But once I knew who really should’ve been the bad guy, it wasn’t a question of if but how do I weasel him into the story without making too many drastic changes. That’s ahead of me.
For now, I have the character profiled and an outline of his misdeeds and motives for same. Now it’s just a matter of settling down to take the icing from the cake, remove the top layer, and replace the filling--which is about as “easy” as doing what I propose to do with this novel!

If you haven’t weighed in on a name for the male protagonist, be sure to scroll back to Wednesday’s blog--read about him--and leave a comment with the name you feel is most appropriate. Heck, come up with your own name if you like!
Anyone who participates is automatically entered into a drawing for the six-book Penelope Pembroke Cozy Mystery Series from Amazon.


Meanwhile, don’t forget to visit my website for the August FREE READ
“The Face of Love”
Just click on the tab for I’ll tell you a story…
and enjoy

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Why am I doing this?

What kind of author finishes at least five edits/rewrites and then decides to change the villain--requiring yet another rewrite within the “finished” ms? Not sure what words best describe such a person, but they all apply to me!

Here’s your chance to weigh in on another change:  the male protagonist’s name. Here are some facts you should know about him:
·        an award-winning investigative reporter for Behind the Story Magazine, a reputable publication with worldwide circulation
·        34, never married, only one serious relationship which ended when he didn’t want to settle down and quit traveling for the magazine
·        grandson of British diplomat in Italy who retired there and died, but his wife (the character’s grandmother) lives there still and has been a big influence on her grandson’s life
·        British mother met his father while “on holiday” in the U.S., fell in love, and stayed on
·        father was a newspaper editor who enjoyed acting in community theatre productions--died with a stage light fell on him when the character was 11
·        mother never remarried, returned to school, earned teaching degree, now works part-time as a travel agent--they have a close relationship
·        good manners but not afraid to be aggressive in pursuit of a story
·        ethical--won’t write a story that would adversely affect an innocent person
·        not cynical but doesn’t blindly trust people either
·        loves his job but thinks about a home and family more as he gets older
·        from the North--a damnyankee as he refers to himself when working in the South

He started out as Tor Whittaker.
He became Dirk Benedict
Now he’s Kelly Whitney

Does he look like a
or someone else?


Offer ends September 1, 2017

Monday, July 31, 2017

Your freebie of the month!

Announcing the August FREE READ 
now available at my website!

If you need a quick read for a solitary lunch or something for bedtime, a last trip to the beach or an afternoon on the deck overlooking the mountains,  look no further. Each month I offer a FREE READ at my website. Just click on "I'll tell you a story..." and ENJOY!

This month you'll find an always uplifting story about the love of a mother for her child.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

If you can't find just one thing're not looking!

Well, it's the end of the month AGAIN! (Where did it go?) It's time for a list of all the links I posted on my FB author page and Twitter during July. You don't have to miss anything--just click below on whatever looks interesting! 


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Good news, bad news, fake news, no does a body survive?

Once upon a time…

news was something we sat down to watch at 5:30 (national and world) and 6:00 (local). Now it bombards us all day long. Tweets. FB posts. Breaking news alerts on our phones. Televisions blaring in restaurants and coffee shops.

These days…

news is mostly opinion, “analysis”, argument, and a thinly-disguised “pass” for being nasty to/about anyone who doesn’t agree with the person running off at the mouth.

So what does one do?

For sure, we can’t live in a vacuum. We need to know what’s going on in the world, but the news doesn’t tell us. If we get a few facts here and there, it comes with a blatant attempt to tell us how to view those facts and what to think about them!

You already knew…

I didn’t have an answer to the conundrum when I started writing. My journalism teacher drummed into us the importance of facts--including the fact that a news story is far different from an editorial. Until (which might be never) those who bill themselves as journalists remember that one all-important fact, we won’t be getting any real news--good, bad, or indifferent.

All of which brings me to…

an idea which has been tickling the back of my brain for a couple of weeks: namely, an additional blog which will act as aspirin, acid-blocker, and calming potion for those of you who are, like me, le fed up. Perhaps some good news with a little inspiration thrown in here and there will go a long way to arming us for the battle against

Good news, bad news, fake news, no news

watch for an announcement here soon.  THE WORD PLACE will continue to be for all things writerly with links, tips, and occasional blatant self-promotion of a new book (I do try to keep that to a minimum). The new as yet unnamed blog may include more than the written word--that is, short videos from Windows Movie Maker and also my own attempts to “talk” an occasional blog rather than write it down, and perhaps invited guest bloggers who have something bright to share!

The classic Disney movie Pollyanna

featured a rather endearing character by the same name, who introduced the sad, grumpy people around her to  the “Glad Game” invented by her now deceased missionary father. Face it, folks--we need to get glad, which won’t make the bad go away but perhaps smooth its rough edges a bit.

Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, if you haven’t made it over to my website to read this month’s free story, there are a few days remaining before it’s replaced with a new one.
Just click on “I’ll tell you a story” and enjoy!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Three sites you can't afford to ignore!

I’m using my blog today to share a three of the promotions which landed in my email inbox this week.. One is FREE, and the other is a purchase.

Melanie Rockett
Marketing and Promotion for Authors and Publishers
is offering a updated FREE PDF of her book How to Get More Book Reviews.  Visit her here to get the PDF and learn more about her services. I just downloaded the offer and hope to learn something new. It’s been frustrating to have people accept free copies of my books with the agreement to review (good or bad) and then receive no review. I can see evidence of sales, too, but no corresponding reviews. Since reviews are often the defining criteria for acceptance to promote on a particular site, they’re important! So--I’m anxious to find out what I’ve been doing wrong and what I can do right!

Sandra Beckwith
emailed me about something called BC Stack which is offering “a bundle of 65 digital products and services, includes my top-selling product, Build Book Buzz Publicity Forms & Templates”. Check it out here. I’ve browsed the products but am still considering the expenditure. However, considering the collection would cost a small fortune if purchased separately, it seems to be worthwhile.

the site I use to create promotional material
has new web banner, Facebook covers, and Kindle book cover templates which you should check out if you’re in the market for such. There are FREE and PAID components at the site, but it’s easy to use and has been very useful for me.


Just a reminder--this is the last week for “Aloha, Arizona”, the July FREE READ at my website. A new story will go up soon!  Just click the tab for “I’ll tell you a story…” and enjoy a quick lunchtime read on a hot summer day. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Back to (writing) School at Fiction University

Someone recommended Fiction University to me a while back. It’s the brainchild of Janice Hardy who
created Fiction University as a way to pay forward the support and advice she received during her path to publication, and to share her love of writing and passion for helping writers improve their craft. (Description “lifted” from her “Faculty” page.)

Under the tab Online Resources, the site has valuable links to further reading on topics such as
·        Must-Visit Writing Sites
·        Agents and Querying Resources
·        Writing Conferences
·        Editors
·        Publishing Sites
·        Community Sites
·        Critique/Blog Sites
·        Author/Blog Sites
·        Blogging Blogs
·        Book Review Blogs
·        Fiction University Reader Blogs

You’ll find her well-organized Site Schedule here.

Take a few minutes to visit Fiction University and look around. I’m betting you’ll leave as a dedicated student!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Finding a better way...

Do you find yourself hung up on reading just one more great article linked on Facebook? Did you ever wish you could come back to it later? I found a (very time-consuming) way to save those links for future reference, but Sandra Beckwith of BuildBookBuzz showed me a better way in her blog post How to Save a Facebook Link to Read Later.

You’ll want to visit her website BuildBookBuzz and click on every single tab for tons of great information.

And for a daily marketing tip delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for 365 Daily Book Marketing Tips--a steal at 99 cents!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

That sticky question for writers...

I’m scaling back on blogging this week as I try to juggle grandchildren and winding up final edits on the WIP. So, this is short but sweet--and well worth clicking on the link below!

Do You Need to Request Permission?

Jane Friedman has put together a fantastic flow chart to help writers decide if they need get official permission to use a quote or an image in their own work. Also included in the post is a sample letter which can be used for asking that permission as well as some ideas for finding who to ask!

And, as this is the middle of July, you only have two more weeks for this month's FREE READ at my website.  

Friday, July 14, 2017

The temptation to vent

We all have it, some of us more often than others. But in a word--don’t.

Wasted time and space

I should’ve taken my own advice when I wrote this on my Facebook page last week:

I MUST vent.
(I’ll spare you the venting.)
I can’t stand it. I am DONE, people. DONE, do you hear?
The rant is ended. Amen.
(It should have ended before it began.)

Now--I didn’t trash anyone. I used no abusive language. But--it was, in the scheme of things, unimportant, and I couldn’t do anything about the situation anyway. Therefore, it was a total waste of time and space.

The difference between venting and speaking out

There is a difference between VENTING and SPEAKING OUT. It takes no courage at all to explode with wrath. It takes a great deal of courage to stand up and be counted for one’s deeply held beliefs.
I will speak out. I will try not to vent.

The problem is, people (and I include myself in this) seem to feel that their fellow humans are out there actually salivating to hear the pearls of wisdom which spew from their mouths (or their keyboards). The news media in particular is in such a rush to “get the story out” that they end up having to retract--and make themselves look like idiots. But I’m not writing to bash the media. They can do that to themselves.

Most people my age were taught

1.     good manners
2.     to tell the truth
3.     to keep our mouths shut when it wasn’t necessary to open them
4.     hurting people with gossip and criticism wasn’t nice
5.     that there were consequences for saying what didn’t need to be said
6.     that we would be better respected for keeping our own counsel publicly and sharing it privately when appropriate

Opening Pandora’s Box

But it’s like Pandora’s Box, isn’t it? It’s been opened, and all the nastiness has been released, and it can’t be put back inside and sealed up. However, one creature remained in the box--Hope. I’ve read the story of Pandora (from the 1939 volumes of Child Craft) to my granddaughters, and I love the ending of this myth adapted from American author Nathaniel Hawthorne:

“As long as you live,” said Hope, “I promise never to leave you. Sometimes you will not be able to see me, and you will think that I have gone away forever. But again and again and again, when perhaps you least dream of it, you shall see the glimmer of my wings on the ceiling of your cottage. You must trust my promise that I will never leave you.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A peek in the bottom drawer

Today I’m going to treat you to a peek into the bottom drawer of my file cabinet where I keep story ideas. But let me warn you--it’s full to overflowing--and I’m well aware I won’t live long enough to write all the stories begging to be told! (This is why I have the Small Person who writes almost as much as she reads!)

A few ideas from the many folders

14th Scottish Castle Losing Its Fight
Pickin’ and Ginnin’ at Louisiana’s Frogmore Plantation
Ex-Police Chief Arrived in Arkansas in Covered Wagon
Civil Rights
Slaves, Freedmen Spied on South During Civil War
Civil War
One Couple’s Civil War:  Letters Trace Civil War for Writer’s Forbears
Winecoff Hotel Fire, Atlanta GA, December 7, 1946
Former Lunatic Asylum Now a Lure for Ghost Hunters
Human Interest
Chaplain Receives Medal of Honor 62 Years After Death
World War II
“We had to do it”--When the men went to fight, the women did the jobs left behind
Western History
Buffalo Bill Wild West Performer Reburied

And these random clippings/print-out I pulled from bulging folders are only the tip of the iceberg!

How do you write from a story already written?

1.      Choose a story and read it carefully.
2.      Jot down any points which touch your heart or make you wonder.
3.      Create a new setting.
4.      Create new characters.
5.      Create a plot from a key word--example “reburied” or “had to do it” or “letters”.
It’s not so difficult after all. And with a drawer full of articles collected from newspapers or printed out from the computer (I probably have 50-60 pages of information on the Winecoff Hotel fire!) you’ll never lack for ideas.

Getting started

1.      If you take a newspaper, clip articles which catch your eye. You don’t have to read them immediately. If you subscribe online, copy and paste to a document.
2.      Pick up flyers and brochures wherever you travel or stop in.
3.      Carry a notebook and jot down what you see and hear.

The most important part!

Set up a filing system with labeled folders. It takes much less time than you imagine to fill those folders. If you don’t have a filing cabinet drawer available, get one of those “banker’s boxes”--they’re reasonably sturdy and hold a lot. But GET STARTED! Time is passing, stories are being lost--and you aren’t getting any younger. And if you have a Small Person in your life, encourage her imagination and creativity every day!