Blogged earlier today about my early addiction to books. Stopped for lunch, or would have posted it then. Addictions are nothing to be proud of. Almost every room in my house has a wall lined with shelves and crowded with books. For Christmas, most of my cleaning was moving the stacks of books to shelves or into closets so the kids and grandkids wouldn’t think I’m a hoarder. My new tablet at Christmas has over two thousand Kindle books saved. Okay, I am a book hoarder, but I try to be a neat one.

I’m not saying this to brag. I’m really embarrassed that I am such a book hog, but I love books. One of my secret fears is to have time to relax and nothing good to read.


Since I can remember, I’ve been making up my own stories, but I really didn’t start to write until my son was four and my daughter two. A stay at home mom, I went to take a writing class and left them at daycare for the hour or so I would be there. My daughter of course just walked out the door and started walking down the street. Luckily they noticed and my son ran out and caught her. We were all rather shaken, and I didn’t try that again.

Back then, in the seventies, there was no Internet, no free workshops, nothing. But the lovely teacher, Leola Archer, also taught extension classes at U.T., and I mailed in the homework. She was so encouraging to me to keep writing, and when it was good, told me where to submit my work.

Leola proposed I join her writer’s group, Pen Women, in Knoxville. All remarkable women, all multi-accomplished in their fields. Some were composers, others artists, photographers, but most were writers. They met on Saturdays, and my husband the angel watched the children. At the time you needed  three professional, paid for credits to join, and I had exactly three. Wonderful time. Have been writing stories, articles and books for over forty years.

Started a writer’s group when we moved to Cookeville because I missed my writer friends. Cannot encourage anyone too much to join a group of writers. The praise and criticism is priceless. Most of all, I love being in a room with sympathetic souls who do not think I’m any crazier than they are.


All those years I wrote, edited, submitted, queried, went to conferences to meet editors and other writers. Mailing submissions off with a SASE and return postage. The usual routine. Sold lots of stories and how-to articles, but only one book.

Then Pat Gentry dared everyone in our little group to post a book on Kindle. Bless her heart. It’s like any other compulsion now. I write and work on the book until it’s the best I can do, but instead of burying it in some computer that goes dead and swallows it whole, I clean it up and publish on Amazon. Since retiring I have quite a cluster posted there now, admittedly some of them are a little weird.


Tonight, just received a five star review on the new book, Joanna of Virginia: Fires Down the Shenandoah. Made me so happy I danced around the room.

Knowing somewhere, someone is paying money and taking down my book to read to while away an idle hour or sleepless night is priceless. I encourage everyone that has a story in your heart or crowding your head to write it. After all, the more you write the more you have to read – maybe even one of my books.

And this makes 31 blog posts this month. Yay, another dance tonight.






When I was a little girl, there were so many things to do, but not when the weather was bad. If the day was nice, we were out in the yard playing, like all the kids where we lived. We didn’t have a television until I was five, so that was never an option. The only phone we had was an old black rotary that was a party line. Although always forbidden, you could lift the phone and listen to someone else’s conversation, but if you breathed or giggled, you would get yelled at and would have to just ease it down.

We did the usual, played with dolls or paper dolls. When we didn’t have any we cut out paper dolls from the newspaper or catalogs, colored pages in our coloring books, and argued over everything. Mother would stop and make the newspaper dolls whenever someone tore the others. She just fan pleated the sheet , went snip, snip and opened it out to girls or boys holding hands. Then we would color on some clothes with our crayons. No matter how hard we tried to cut them out, they never came out as perfect.

Sometimes we would play jack rocks. These worked great on the tile floor or outside on the porch. You had to bounce the ball and pick up a jack, then catch the ball until you had all ten in your hand. Next time pick them up by twos, then threes, etc. Think eight’s were usually my limit, before one or more of the jacks would leak out of my hand.

Boys never played jacks or dolls. But we always wanted to play marbles and they would never let us. They were no fun inside. Even on a smooth made bed, marbles didn’t roll right, not like outside in the dirt.

Then as now, my favorite thing was books. When I was little it was looking at the pictures and being read to. We didn’t have a lot of money and my parents felt toys were foolishness. We were always making things to play with and the toys or books you got at Christmas were special.

At school, I was so excited to learn to read. It was from the Dick and Jane series, with little Sally and Spot along for mischief. Can’t remember the cats name, but remember Miss Kelso holding an index card to cover all but one line while you read out, “See Spot Run. Run Spot Run,” and variations of the same.  I can remember having enough money saved and the thrill of buying my first book.

But the real magic came when I was old enough to walk up to town, about a mile, with my sisters. They would go to the dime store or drug store to spend their ten cents, but I always went to the library. It wasn’t a grand place, there was a gym in one half of the building and you could always hear someone bouncing a ball as they dribbled up and down the court. Can’t remember anyone yelling or carrying on, just the slap, slap of that ball and the stale smell that filtered into the room with its walls of shelves and books. My goal was to have my name on the card of every book in that room. But unlike this card, in ours, only the librarian stamped the date and wrote your name down.




I start every new year the same, making resolutions. The first month ends tomorrow and I have already cracked a few.

Image result for images cracked egg

Promised my husband I would buy no ice cream this year. Snuck in some vanilla ice cream bars on a trip to the store, rushed to hide them behind a frozen pot roast as soon as I got home. I’ll beg for mercy (if he finds them before I eat them). After all, in forty-eight years of marriage, he has never beaten me.

I took another blog challenge, and here I sit, two minutes before midnight and I need three more blogs. If I post this one (late) tonight, then I’ll only have to write two tomorrow, when I get home from swimming (to burn off the ice cream, I know, I know). Sometimes it is tough being a weak human. I do have high goals and good intentions but alas, I am a weak soul.


Nothing wild. I started reading a book on my tablet, then read some of my 800 emails. We went out to eat with friends tonight, something we never do. Have never been a social person, but she is another writer and it was such a special treat. We all talked so long, my husband and hers, she and I, that the little waitress came around three times to ask if we needed anything else.

I ate half a slice each of pecan and chocolate pie for desert. Still doing the 5:2 diet and fasted yesterday. It does say eat what you want the other five days – but I think I fractured the diet pretty good today. Might weigh tomorrow to see.

Tonight, instead of researching and writing, I sank into my recliner and indulged in two episodes of Antique Road Show. I always wonder why, as much junk as I’ve accumulated, I never see anything like it on the show. Unless it’s at the end where the people laugh about their not so valuable treasures.

Such a nice day.


Tomorrow I’ll be good. Write a blog when I get home from the Y, eat a salad, work on my new book, and write another blog. At least, that is what I intend to do.

th2b9fv1pm  Not sure this really works, look at POTUS.

Of course one can look at it this way. th54l9h4xc

But, I’m always prone to regrets. Think these two point to the truth as I’ve always known it. Have found my greatest joy comes from not being a slacker, but by making a list and crossing off things as done at the end of the day.


Of course, I’ve finished another post, so not totally bad. Deleted a bunch of emails today and my new book, Fires Down the Shenandoah, Joanna of Virginia is finally live on Amazon. Instead of feeling guilty, I’m headed to bed, early for me, to finish reading that little novel and get some sleep. Will close with my special plea.









Believe it or not, my husband has always accused me of doing this, thinking too much. I have trouble falling asleep because my mind just keeps churning. Reading helps, but not when I find a really good novel to read, then I’m awake even longer trying to finish it.

Found this article very thought provoking, because I wrote last week about judging myself. It is something we all do more and more these days. With social media often our only social input, it is hard not to be confused by it all. See a lot of bullying and hate in what flows past in the polluted streams. Shame, but everyone seems much more judgmental than in the past, of ourselves and of others.


On Twitter and Facebook, I saw followers praising and ranting about President’s new orders. Also in my feed, were well written articles stating diametrically opposed reports.

One argued security feeds have reported increased risks, these were countries previously targeted by last President as security risks, and last President had a six month’s ban earlier in his administration against a Muslim country without a single protest.

Other article stated undeniably that there had been no Islamic attacks in U.S. in the last ten years. Called this President racist, anti-Muslim, and a hater.

Not sure if the truth can be published any more, or if there is anyone willing merely to state objective facts without telling us what they mean and how we are expected to feel about them. The already prejudiced viewpoint of the reporter seems to color all they report. Last year’s divisive election year rhetoric has not died down.

Would like to read the facts and truth – like the good old days. I’m pretty sure we had a Boston Marathon bombing, a terror attack on a dance club for the LBGT, and a recent attack at a Florida airport. Sure there are many I can’t remember. Think each of the attackers announced the attacks were for Allah. But maybe that wasn’t Islamic extremists, maybe immigrants given citizenship so no longer citizens from these countries, or all may have been attacks by radicalized Americans.

My memory is not as good as it used to be, so I’d like to read a list, a report, some facts. I miss the integrity of the fourth estate and objective reporting. I’ve always loved reading, taking in a string of facts, and developing my own opinion. I no longer get a major newspaper, or a local one, had little but a reprint of Internet news and police reports of local crimes. Read my news online from three or four networks and social feeds these days, because the television sources seem far too biased for me.

But now, a good liar can write and post anything they want on the Internet, and fake news looks like real news and I can’t even tell the difference. They all read like fiction to me.


So late at night, when I should be sleeping, my brain that craves answers and logic churns. thfr3g3qhcImage of art by Alex Grey

Making it hard to slip back to 1861 in my novel. Did sketch out the contents for the first two chapters. Of course, am blogging late. Will try to catch up on the posts tomorrow. When maybe all the news, will be good news.

Peace to all and keep smiling. Always found when I smile, I actually feel happier. Think brain scientists have now proved it to be true.







Busy working out some details for my next Civil War Wives story, now that the first is due to be released in a day.

Always start with images. Know my girl will be one of the thousands of Irish immigrants running from poverty to opportunity in America. It opens in 1861, the year the war begins and unfortunately she meets her true love on the boat from Ireland. Brendan Conner is more than a charmer and has already plotted his destiny upon landing, but he can’t resist sweet Erin Quinn and doesn’t see any reason he should.

Almost as soon as they arrive, he is swept away in the fever of the emerging war and joins old friends to enlist in the Union cause under the charismatic Thomas Meagher. He is excited to be part of the fighting Irish of the 69th. She of course is terrified. Although her sister has sent the ticket and she promised to join her in the linen mills to work and repay her, her heart is breaking that he will be thrown in harms way so soon. Unwilling to be separated, she comes up with a daring plan to enlist too.

My great niece sent me an article last year about the many women who fought disguised as men during the war and I have been excited to write a story about one ever since.

Sorry about not posting a blog yesterday, will try for two tomorrow.



So I sit, spinning stories in my head. Gathering more silk for my web by  busily researching history, which I love to read and study. There are diaries and accounts that document people’s lives, both the immigrants, and those who fought in the war. It is easy to get lost in the beauty and horror of imagining the circumstances of their lives. War is a tragic world in which so many young flowers bloomed only to die on blood soaked fields for causes that most little understood or truly believed in.

Not sure when I’ll ever get into the writing but need to start soon or I’ll never be done. Wish reading and noodling wasn’t always the fun part. Names, places, dates will change, but some scenes or elements are already vivid in my mind and probably won’t change. Others I won’t know about until I write the story. Exciting, fun part of writing is when all I’ve planned starts to change as the characters come to life and take over the book.abrahams

Found another useful article or checklist, this by Erik Bork, an outstanding Emmy winning screenwriter for HBO.



Need to relax and feel at peace in order to create. Whenever I take a minute to read emails, Twitter, and Facebook these days, my calm disappears. Breathing deeply, looking at these soothing images, I hunt for my state of feeling calm, peaceful, and untroubled.

It seems to remain just out of reach. Another cold front moves in tomorrow, promise of even colder weather by Sunday with a chance for snow Sunday night. When I taught school, there was nothing more exciting to me than the chance of snow in the forecast. Cold and soft like a blanket to wrap our world for a minute in comfortable peace.

But now that I’m retired, it isn’t the same. No waking early, drinking hot chocolate while listening to the snow bird report of area school closings – hoping mine made the list so I could play hooky. If school were closed, I would have an entire day to work on anything I wanted, usually some story or book I was writing. If not, an added day for reading.


I grew up poor without ever knowing it. One of five children with loving parents, I always felt blessed with a rich life. We farmed and usually had plenty to eat. Both my parents worked, had since they were little more than children. We were all healthy and were beholding to no one, something very important to both my parents. Momma always told us, “If you want only what you have, you’ll always be happy.” Of course the Buddhist monk’s quote is a little more eloquent, but I think it’s saying the same thing.


This election has been the most divisive and stressful I can remember. Saw on television tonight, people are still protesting. Rather confusing. Thought they recounted votes because the Democrats thought there was cheating, now it’s the President wanting to check the election results in some states for the same reason and everyone is going nuts again. Not sure whether Clint sees it the right way, or old Will, but I really  want the hatred to stop and sanity to return.


Decided to follow a little good advice. Will avoid the news and Twitter until I get this new novel underway. Put the last changes in today on the old, had to post by noon, then sure enough got a few more changes in my email. Will have to wait until after it’s live on Amazon on the 30th to slide the last three corrections in. Could have been worse. Of course, other readers have the book and may send me more. Reminding myself I will be glad to have a little something more to do on it.

Listen to a lot of webinars and read about how to brand yourself as an author and develop a following, etc. Suspect I never will, since my mind flits to so many places and I keep writing odd books. Have decided to leave those wild hairs hiding in the computer. But today I felt inspired by this image and wrote myself a little book. Actually made me feel happy. All that I was looking for in the first place. If the beauty and sweetness of that  innocent face can’t bring a sense of hope and serenity, nothing can. Happy writing.





Waiting, hoping to get additional feedback to make more changes in the morning on Fires Down the Shenandoah: Joanna of Virginia. Few hours still left. Trying to occupy my mind with working out the next book or two. Would be great if I could write multiple stories at once, just don’t seem to have the mental capacity for that.

Looking at more outlining tools and advice. Here are another couple of articles that I found useful.

This one talked about eight different ways. Includes the first article’s and more so will only discuss it.

1.In the Snowflake method, one just keeps adding to the central idea. Normally my books start with a vision of the main character(s), and once I have them in my head and a really difficult problem for them to tackle, I spend a lot of time visualizing and working out the story in my head before I write a word. Probably why I’m so slow.

2. The next method the summary, I’ve used several times. State the story in a single sentence, then tell the story in a paragraph, then rewrite as a page, then make a list of scenes, and off you go.

3.Have also used the third method, the skeletal outline, at least since I tried my hand at screenwriting. Don’t think any of my scripts were very good, but it is a great way to see the bones of your story and the major turning points and incidents. As mentioned in previous posts, the Save the Cat outline available online is very useful for this.

4.Flashlight outlining was new to me, just shining a light on the details of what will happen in the scenes. Similar to the last two methods. As I said, I have to visualize the scene happening before I can write it so maybe this is what the author meant.

5.Free Writing is something I’ve used to come up with a flash story or start something when my brain feels blank. Suppose you could come up with a novel idea that way, although I never have.

6. The Visual Map sounds like the mind-mapping that I’ve talked about before. Like the author, I can’t read my handwriting enough to follow what I’ve written down. But I think the idea is to figure out the connections of your story. Suppose if I sat and typed the jottings down as an outline quickly enough, I would remember enough to come out ahead.

7.Contextual Preparation, working out the details of where the story happens, and doing an interview or filling out a questionnaire for your character. I’ve known writers who did a lot of this. One had a color coded notebook with a section for each part of her novel. Not sure she ever wrote the book, but she knew everything about it. Wish I were that organized and patient.

8. Outlining Software is also something I’ve never used. There are a lot of programs, especially for screenwriting, like Story Board, Story Weaver, etc. that sound wonderful. Scrivener, the magical word processing program a couple of my friends use, is supposed to have wonderful outlining options. According to Gregg Brickman, you can put in images of your characters, plot summaries for chapters or even break it down to scenes, then use the notecards from the bulletin board to write your back of the book summary, etc. Someday, when I get over my fear of learning it, I intend to fall under its spell.

Happy Writing.




Posted the changes last night that early readers sent. Today have more from another reader. None are the same mistakes!

For over twenty years, we used to sponsor a regional writer’s contest through Cookeville Creative Writers’ Association. I remember the poetry contest was always the hardest for the judges to pick a winner. We had three judges per Category, and I asked each to list their top ten favorites in order. Three winners, three honorable mentions, and if there were enough entries we would have a few ‘also notable’ awards. One year, each of the three judges chose ten poems that were different from each other.

So we met, the three judges sat, read the top three poems they’d picked and argued for their merits. It wasn’t the 2016 election, but almost as loud and passionate. It did teach me an important lesson about writing. What we like is subjective, what we see as an error or awkward, may read like a poetic line to another reader. It has given me the confidence to become an Indi-published author.

I’m not a perfectionist but am pernickety. Still, I’m always amazed that what I’ve spent weeks editing still has so many errors. If I run it through Grammarly, it may have me take out a comma and Paperrater or Hemingway may insist I put it back in. Now I just smile and make the changes, grateful that I have a chance to get it right. Love you, readers.



Wanting to write faster. Feel like an old hand with the Nanowrimo contest, having done it a number of times, and finished the 50,000 words in a month all but one time. But I joined a group on Facebook where the members keep themselves busier by posting their word count each day. When one writer announced she wrote 22 books last year, and three others announced their goal was twelve new books this year, I kind of faded away. There have to be some benefits to retirement. Not turning my writing into a real job and a chore seems to be one of them. If I can get four books this year like last, I will try to be happy. From the chart above, I feel better knowing that I’m not the slowest, even if I’m nowhere near the fast crowd.


At the last meeting, I reminded some of our beginning writers that if you can stop writing, you should. It can be a terrible taskmaster. But I’m afraid I’ve become addicted to it and as Hemingway says, ‘only death can stop it.’ Every article I read before retweeting, every book, every film or news broadcast, all spark ideas in my mind and then I have no peace until I arrange things to make a story that satisfies me.

I felt happy to see this brilliant image of an Oscar Wilde quote. Certainly, have a buzzy brain and if I ever get it trained, hope it will misbehave in a most entertaining way.

Happy writing.



Tonight we have company. Trying to be sociable, but dying to finish the new updates received back from two Beta readers. No matter how hard I try, there are always little errors that I’ve missed. Love having friends and readers who will help me spot and correct these. Does that mean the book is now perfect? Well, for tonight it is.

Love the satisfaction of having a list and crossing off today’s objectives. Of course there is still the email to deal with, from last week’s list. Now over 1100 and something. Would be funny, if I hadn’t been deleting two or three hundred a day the last couple of days. So tempting to just dump into the round can and look at a clean window. For now, will resist that temptation.

My list includes, start the next book.

Just taking a breather for now, tomorrow looks like a better day to begin something new. It isn’t as though I’m taking a day away from writing every day. I’ve been pretty good about keeping ‘My 500 words’ a day pledge. Even the day I missed blogging, I was writing and formatting, working on this current novel. And I did double up the next day. The one thing I’ve not done is to submit the blog before midnight. So even though I’m writing today, it is so late, that I will be posting tomorrow. Glad the month ends soon. Wish it were about a week longer though, so I could get caught up.


Have a friend, Eric Beaty, in my local writer’s group who has written a nice book on scheduling, setting goals and managing tasks. It’s full of wonderful material on how to actually do that. He’s also taught the group a couple of sessions on mind-mapping and two of the writers last meeting had put his advice into action and mind-mapped their next novels. Another reason to cultivate friends who share your interests but who are smarter than you.



As Scarlett and I like to say, I’ll have another chance at this, tomorrow. Like this series of quotes, I know they are about art, but all seem to apply to writing as well, or making music, sculpture, anything creative.


I’ve written before about the New Renaissance in Art and creativity. With Amazon, Etsy, Pinterest, and this article names fifteen more, it is possible to earn money by being creative.

Two different writers this week asked me about publishers. There are the Big Five Publishers in the U.S. now: Hachette, Harper Collins, MacMillian, Penquin Random House, Simon & Schuster. Last year there were six, but Penquin and Random House merged.

If you look at the world, there are 56 Big Publishers in the latest article I found. Of course there are thousands of small publishers ready to help you publish a book.

If you are looking to publish an ebook, according to Dione Shaw, there are three major publishing sites. Quoting his/her answer from the forum Quora.

Amazon/Kindle is the biggest name in the eBook market.  Authors can easily self-publish their eBooks on Amazon’s website.  It is also possible to create a cover using Amazon’s tools.

Smashwords (dot) com is another major eBook publishing website.   Smash words distributes to iBooks (Apple), Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Overdrive, Scribd, and more.  Instructions for self-publishing on Smashwords are here: A Guide to eBook Publishing on Smashwords

Smashwords does not have a cover generator similar to Amazon. Individuals will need to create their own covers and abide by Smashwords rules.

Google is a third platform to sell your eBooks on, but it does not have a self-publishing option. Google books/play accepts PDF, .epub, and .doc documents for sale on their website.  Google does not require a cover for publication, but it is recommended to submit a cover.”

Lot of opportunity out there. I’m still only publishing on Amazon, because I am a slow learner and it is all that I can manage now.

Good luck to you and add something on your creative list for tomorrow.








Only have a couple of more days to make any last minute changes, since I posted Fires Down the Shenandoah on Preorder. Luckily, have already received feedback from two readers and will be making changes tonight and tomorrow.

Books are never really finished. All of this will be worth it, if someone buys the book and can get lost in the story long enough to block out some of the insanity of the real world for a little while.


Would have finished already, if I hadn’t gotten caught up in watching football today. Both games were wonderful, but could spot the winner at the end of the first quarter in both.

As my Dad would say, I didn’t have a dog left in the fight. I’m sure the Super Bowl will be an awesome game with the Falcons facing the Patriots. Good luck to both and may the better team win.

Not sure why I still love football. Peyton retired, and I really only cheer for our local team now, the Titans, to keep myself engaged in watching. But it is a virile sport, and one never knows what the final outcome will be. It’s also exciting, when you finally pick a team to cheer for. With anything athletic, which I am not, it is just mesmerizing to see what a chiseled, fit, talented, well trained body can do. Some of the passes and catches are breathtaking. Love the game.


Wrote about the phenomenal Harriet Beecher Stowe the other day. Here is another awesome one.

Missed an episode of Victoria, on PBS. They made the mistake of scheduling it opposite the football game. Looks like a wonderful new series. Maybe as fun to watch as Downton Abbey, although that program will be hard to beat. The most remarkable facet of that series, even outshining the acting, is the phenomenal writing. It is incredible to me that one man, Julian Fellowes, wrote every word of the entire series.  Almost everything on television is written by a committee of writers. Also like the fact that in the 1970s, he wrote romantic novels under the pseudonym of Rebecca Greville. May have to binge watch all of Downton Abbey sometime, think it’s free with my Amazon Prime. More about him here, Julian Fellowes .


Part of the Ultimate blog challenge is to write and share more about yourself. By now, you probably know what a boring person I am. I’m interested in learning and observing the world around me. Always trying to make sense of it, to understand the motives of others, and the value of what I see others doing. Here are a few things I found inspiring today when looking for a single quote to include.

The first quote pretty much summarizes why I write rather compulsively these days. Being retired is one of my favorite phases of life. Writing makes me feel productive and happy. Wish all people who see work as a punishment or curse could do enough of it to realize what joy and satisfaction it can bring at the end of the day. When I goof off, I always feel I’ve wasted a perfectly wonderful day. The second is also very true. I write to try to understand life.