Wednesday, August 30, 2017

August Links

Here are all of the links posted on my author page and shared on Twitter during August. Lots of goodies this month!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Gone Fishing (for Ancestors)

Time for a writing break--and I mean a long one! There are three boxes of genealogical research accumulated over a period of some 40 years which must be organized once and for all! That’s a pronouncement from my oldest son who says if I don’t get things together and write down all the family stories, they’ll be gone when I am! And although I don’t plan on leaving this life anytime soon, he’s right.
The edits for The Legacy of Diamond Springs are back, so those are screaming for attention, too. But I do hereby publicly vow to the world that absolutely NO new writing projects will be undertaken UNTIL I’ve crawled out of the last box of genealogy notes!

I’ll continue to blog three days a week about writing-related topics, and the monthly links will show up on the last day of September as scheduled. There may be a brief hiatus in October when I attend my 55th high school reunion.

Not a WORD from you young spouts out there!!

So while I’m not actually with my elusive ancestors, I’ll be with them in spirit, often berating them for not having left a better trail for me to follow. (Every good genealogist is buried with a yellow legal tablet and two #2 pencils--sharpened--in order to complete her research on the other side. That’s assuming, of course, she and her ancestors wind up in the same place!)
Over the course of 40 years I’ve dug up several really interesting stories. One of them is retold as fiction based fact in Four Summer Days, available at Amazon.  Who knows what I’ll turn up next?

“Mamma, he could’ve killed you! It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last!”
“He didn’t.”
“I could’ve killed him.”
Her mouth dropped open. “No, Tom! You’re your Papa’s boy. Killing’s not in you.”

After ten years of his stepfather’s cruelty toward his family, Tom Morgan determines to move his mother and two brothers to Texas where their uncle has offered to help them make a fresh start. Putting together his plans, he makes a bitter discovery: what drove his beloved younger sister Hannah to leave home three years earlier. As he struggles with his hatred and rage, his family’s survival weighs heavily, and he faces unalterable--and unimaginable--decisions.
Tom’s long life, spanning post-Civil War Arkansas to the aftermath of World War II, is haunted by what he is forced to do during those four July days in 1876. The love of his family, their abiding faith in his commitment to do what’s right for all of them, and the memory of his Papa, who taught him that the measure of a man is his respect for the lives of others as well as his own, helps him live--and die-- with the consequences of his actions. 

Based on an actual family incident, the true circumstances of which are forever lost in time, the author has crafted a story of perseverance and survival. Look for the sequel, Return to Morgan’s Mountain, which brings the family forward to a new generation.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Waiting in the wings...

When The Legacy of Diamond Springs went off to the editor, I solemnly promised my son I wouldn’t write another word (except for blogging, of course) until I’d organized the genealogy notes which had accumulated over the past 40+ years.

It’s going to be a six-month job at the very least.

But what about the other stuff hanging around? Like

Keeping Promises
“I’ll find you! I’ll find all of you, and we’ll be a family again!”
Eleven-year-old Nadine Parker watches the car drive away from Mercer Home for Children, taking her last sibling, and vows she’ll reunite all four of them someday. At eighteen, she walks away from her last foster care placement and wangles admission to nursing school despite her poor grades from hit-and-miss schooling. Graduating at the top of her class, she goes to work at Ft. Greenway Memorial Hospital and starts saving every penny.
She’s on duty in the ER when Dr. Paul Bradford, a veteran of Anzio and Normandy Beaches, tries and fails to save the life of a local farmer who tangled with a combine. He’s attracted to her, but she doesn’t really trust anyone. When she finally confides her story and her determination to find her lost sisters and brother, he offers to help.
But their success in finding two of the siblings drives them apart. Then the post-war polio epidemic literally knocks Nadine off her feet. Can Paul pick her up? Will her obsession with finding her brother be the last straw?

The Kate Chronicles
(partially published as A Very Kate Christmas)
 Christmas of 1880 brings Olivia and Dan Forrester to the ranch she built in the Texas Panhandle with her first husband.   Her three grown children have had mixed emotions about their mother’s remarriage, and when she and Dan decide to adopt a newborn baby girl found clinging to life in a line shack on the ranch, they are more confounded than ever.
Back home in Galveston, the couple revel in the miracle of the child they never imagined having in their lives. She’s their miracle--and they are hers.
Three volumes of stand-alone stories chronicling one hundred years in the life of Dr. Katherine Bancroft Forrester are inspirational reading for teens through adults.

Blest Be the Tie
 Do I even want to talk about this unfinished tome begun some forty years ago? Will it ever end? Your guess is as good as mine.

By 1932, the whole country is in the death grip of the Great Depression. On the first day of high school in the ranching community of tiny Danford, Texas, six students have no idea they’ll live through three wars and the loss of children and dreams and still be standing together at the ends of their lives.
only son of Dutch and Grace, who own the largest ranch in the county, knows he’s loved and how to reach out to those who aren’t
motherless, and essentially fatherless as his father works nights at the local chemical company and drinks away his days, angry at the world and determined to shake the dust of Danford from his feet
whose father went to prison for a crime he didn’t commit and got his skull split while trying to break up a fight between two other inmates, a bitter kid who only wants revenge
daughter of Polish immigrants whose widowed mother doesn’t speak English and works at the local laundry and cleans houses to keep a roof over their heads, always sees the glass as half full
living with an aunt-by-marriage who runs a boarding house for the chemical company’s single employees while her mother is in the nearby TB sanatorium, scared to death of her abusive guardian
daughter of the richest family in town, crippled by polio, and keeper of dark secrets which will haunt her the rest of her life

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Last call...

I posted this several weeks ago and only go TWO takers! So if you want your name in the pot, now's the time!

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

Sunday, August 20, 2017

It's your turn...and don't you forget it!

President Ronald Reagan proclaimed Senior Citizens Day way back in 1988. As a young sprout of 44, I didn’t even notice!

Industries built around seniors…

Today there are multiple industries built around the burgeoning senior population: nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and retirement communities come to mind. Of course, there are AARP and AMAC (my choice) offering everything from insurance to travel discounts.

Discounts for seniors abound…

Scroll past the restaurant list already posted at the link above and find businesses which offer discounts to seniors.
Find the criteria for senior rates at many hotels.
Also, several theater chains offer reduced prices to seniors. Check the rates posted at the box office before asking for a ticket.

Being a ‘senior’ doesn’t equate with being ‘old’

Maybe you can’t move as fast…or indulge in certain foods without consequences. Maybe you don’t see or hear as well as you did. Just remember your IQ didn’t suddenly plummet to equate your age in years. You are older. Experienced. Wiser. Even wily and cunning.
Don’t let anyone doubt it!

Maybe you have to politely set straight some young twit who can’t even count change without a register--or a condescending sales person who insists on calling you ‘honey’ or ‘dear’.  Maybe you even have to say “Buzz off” to an adult child who thinks he can now tell you what to do or criticize how you choose to do things. Maybe you have to set limits for family who think you now have no life and should be available for whatever whenever!
Do it!

·        Wear those jeans and t-shirts with slogans.
·        Try that new restaurant.
·        Take that trip.
·        Say ‘no’ without guilt when you don’t want to do something.
·        Go to bed early if you want to, and when your body decides it’s had enough sleep, get up and make popcorn!
·        Take your vitamins.
·        Get enough exercise--which doesn’t mean a marathon at the gym unless you really enjoy it.
·        Have a picnic.
·        Take a day trip.
·        Browse the library and the mall without looking at your watch.
·        Don’t be intimidated by doctors who are convinced you either have or will have dementia sooner than later. (There’s money in that!)
·        Ask the nurse who calls you ‘Baby’ which nursing school taught her it was okay to disrespect anyone over 50.
·        Take care of your business and plan ahead. Don’t leave tomorrow to chance. Make those choices before you have to make them!

In other words…do what you like…when you like…
because you’ve paid your dues in this life.

It’s your turn--and don’t you forget it!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Slogging through...

I confess...
I have a sad confession to make: I am a hoarder!
No, no, my house is quite neat, clean, and organized--including drawers, cabinets, and closets. The recycling bins in the garage get transported regularly. Clothes I haven’t worn in two seasons go to the thrift store. Keepsakes are tagged and packed away.

So what is it I hoard?
Writing articles from the internet, that’s what! My finger hovers over delete and instead hits print. Or, I copy the article (with the link) and slide it surreptitiously into a folder by topic.
And there they sit, these gems of writing/publishing advice which hook me like a hungry fish in search of the perfect worm.

There they sit.
Don’t get me wrong--some get printed and put into a notebook I reference often. Others do not. What to do, what to do?

Recently I’ve begun thinning out the printed pages. With a yellow legal tablet at hand, I read each article and make note of what I might be able to use. Anything I even suspect I’ll never use in the foresee future gets passed over. Then the articles go into the “to shred” pile.
Eventually I’ll employ the same technique with the saved articles in My Documents. Then I’ll hit delete. Yes, I will. I will indeed! On the other hand, what’s the harm in just moving all the files to the external hard drive…just in case, you understand.

The final judgment

And what will happen to the notes? I expect they’ll stand in the final judgment--sheep to the right, goats to the left--and those chosen will enjoy eternity in that notebook I reference often. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I'll confess...

This is a recycled blog! But recycling is good.  Here’s a little gem from August 5 years ago.

Finding Unexpected Stories within Books

In the September 2012 issue of The Writer, Martha Lundin reviews Michael Popek's book Forgotten Bookmarks: A Bookseller's Collection of Odd Things Lost Between the Pages (Penguin, 192 pp, hardcover, $18.95.) What stories can be gleaned from items left behind when their usefulness as bookmarks has passed? He mentions photos, letters, cards, notes, poems, receipts, invoices, advertisements, and even official documents.

The review reminded me of my grandmother's Bible, a hardcover volume which she covered with a soft yellow chamois. How many times did I pop through the back door (our backyards connected with a beaten path where grass ne'er grew!) and find her sitting with it in her lap?
Amin's Bible

When my parents were both in a nursing home, but before they were willing to give up their apartment, I often walked through the apartment to be sure everything was in order. During one pass, I spotted the Bible on the bottom shelf of a table beside my father's bed. So the next time I visited him, I asked if I could have it. His reply was, "Of course! You can have anything you want." Being the only living child, I knew that, but out of respect for my parents, I would have touched nothing without their permission.

When I brought it home, I leafed through it, somehow sure that I would find something with a message for me. There were anonymous four-digit phone numbers jotted on the flyleaf, none of which I recognized. Between the pages lay cards, notes and newspaper clippings, but nothing jumped out at me and said, "She left this for you!" I'll admit being disappointed, even though I knew I really couldn't expect to find what I was looking for--whatever that was!

Still, after reading the book review, I'm tempted to go back and look again. Perhaps, unwittingly, she left me the idea for a brilliant story, even a novel. Who knows?

And perhaps the next time I'm in a used bookstore, I'll find a forgotten lottery ticket. Meanwhile, I'm going to suggested Mr. Popek's book as a purchase by my local library. Reviewers at rated it 4.4 out of 5 stars. Unfortunately, it's not in Kindle, but here's the link to take a look: Forgotten Bookmarks

What have you found hidden away between the pages of a book?

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