Category Archives: Dreams and Goals


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.






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.



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.




First week gone, and my goals haven’t changed, but so many of the posts in my Facebook feed were negative tonight, thought it might be a good time to reflect on this past year and wish for a more positive new year. Seems the election has divided America into two warring camps, as evidenced by the speeches in the Golden Globe awards – a ceremony about film, not politics (usually). Fear the leap from the old to the new may be too far for many to cross. Always believed that hate is a two headed worm, devouring the host as much as the one it is pointed at.

One: Wish America could heal and unite as one country. We face a complex world, full of terror, uncertainty, and many, many enemies. Instead of insulting each other and continuing the snide put-downs, we need to join together to offer help and participation in moving everyone forward. Of course, this image of the video game World Conflict shows our children are playing at the alternative already. Is this really what Americans want? Intelligent caring people need to find points of mutual need and agreement instead.


Two: Wish we could have our push-button digital world without the loss of the industrial and commercial world that most of us grew up knowing. Do not see that happening. Time is here to  revamp education with more emphasis on apprenticeships and the jobs that are actually out there. Also need increased value placed on jobs of service, such as teaching, nursing, farming, developing self-sustaining energy, and cultivating biological diversity.

Not sure how wonderful factory life was, but it did enable the average American to have a steady paycheck, nice home, and two week vacation. Perhaps if we can revamp and change the psychology of service jobs, pay more, offer greater prestige for those who do them – we could have  a better social network than the one that has failed so many in our country. I’ve always believed work makes a person happy, having nothing meaningful to do creates a sense of worthlessness that mere words cannot erase.


Three: Wish we were planning more for the future. Rebuilding the infrastructure so children don’t have to drink lead or other poisons with their water, develop new power grids and communication centers so our country is self-reliant, replace our deteriorating interstate system and prepare for the new self-driving cars.

Think according to many religions, not just the Mayans, we are living in end-times. If you are a believer, you know hating others does not lead you to a better place. Although global warming may not be real, climate change is, and with increased volcanic and seismic activity as well as close flying comets – we need to focus on human survival for the next apocalyptic event. We have opposable thumbs and the gift for gab, so hopefully we can find a way for mankind to survive.


These three are really selfish wishes. When people are calling names and sending hate-messages, murdering others because they’ve bought into all the hate rhetoric, even attacking the helpless and weak – it is hard for me to escape to my imaginary world and write in peace.

Please, let us have peace.



2017, A Brand New Year


I have a little sign, that hangs over my toilet, I suppose for any man who wanders in to read.  It says, “Every day is a gift….” Guess that means a new year of 365 of them is like a sleigh full of presents from Santa.

Looking Back at 2016

Did not start last year with fixed goals, just to write every day and see how many books I could create and publish. Of course, also to lose weight, and get fit, and reduce the clutter, etc..

Accomplishments: I only created four new books last year, three in my new Mountain Wives Series and a mystery novel called No Visible Tattoos. The latter came from reading too many WikiLeaks and listening to all the vitriol of the past election about sexual harassment. Main reason to write, to clear the mind.mountainwivesc5

Sending a check tonight to the Dollywood My People Fund. Thanks to those who bought the book, it will be four times bigger than if I had just written a check the night of the fires.

I participated in both Camp Nano and Nanowrimo, writing 50,000 words in a month, and completed both. Did at least one blog challenge and almost completed it, maybe one post short. Need spurs sometimes to write, and challenges help.

If I had written a goal for the year, it would probably have been to write six new novels. So I kind of failed at that one. I did write a couple of short stories and have nearly finished the first novel in my new Civil War Wives Series, so almost five done.

Did lose a little weight – but unfortunately, it has since been found and returned. I exercise at the Y at least three or four days a week, and if I am fitter, I cannot imagine what it would be for. My husband assures me I am no worse, so it must be helping.

We recycle and I give a box of treasures away each week, but I cannot tell they are gone. Think the elves must keep replacing the clutter.

Looking Forward to 2017

Writing goal will be to write at least six new novels. I hope to live long enough to write one for each of the 34 states in the Civil War. Good to have a long-range goal, even if unrealistic. Unfortunately, I belong to a little Facebook group, and most of the ladies boasted their goals were twelve new books this year. May have to drop out, since being retired means doing as I please. Working full-time at a hobby doesn’t exactly fit.

Need your help and inspiration. What would you like me to write about? Love hearing from readers. Signed up for a ‘500’ words a day challenge from Jeff Goins, so plan to blog every day this month.

Still hope to learn the other key, marketing. Plan to develop an email list some day. Certainly, past time from all the gurus I listen to. Remains on my to do, rather than done list.

Hope to finish my novel this week. If you’re interested in being a Beta reader and getting an ARC copy, please give me a yell at

Hope your New Year looks as bright and shiny to you. With a new President and lots of prayers, hoping it is a much-improved world. Last year’s was a tough one.



This month’s Goals

Participated in two challenges this month.

Ultimate Blogging Challenge

This is my last post in the Ultimate Blogging Challenge that Paul Taubman and Danni Ackerman run several times a year. Not sure how many times, but this is my third round since I played at it twice last year. Thanks to them there are over a hundred blogs on my site to read. Yeah! Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

The goal was to write a blog everyday this month and to post comments on two other people’s blogs and to report back on that. I wrote 28, since this one is over the midnight line, and it’s 29, not sure if it will count. I tried hard. I commented on other people’s blogs, their Facebook page posts, replied to their Twitters, etc.. But I didn’t post back and report after the first week, took too much time and not all the things I commented on were by members in the UBC.

Since I didn’t make 31 am I a loser? Technically, yes. But I feel pretty good about getting another 29 posts up on my little old site. Someday, someone will stumble across these in cyber space and either learn something new, or feel confident they can do better.

I did my best, tried my hardest, and enjoyed the experience. I learned to post more images, categorize most of the posts, add in music and video. As long as I’m learning I’m happy.


Went to camp in the spring and managed to finish my novel Widow Mouse. It’s for sell on Amazon at along with the other dozen books and other work at

Went to camp this month and wrote more words, over 33,000, on Wild Violets.  But I forgot to change my goal before validation started, so came up 17,000 short of the 50,000 goal to win. As a dummy, when I posted my words for validation, it shouted winner, since I’m over 53,000 words on the novel. Had over 30,000 when camp started, but had one of those crises where I deleted, then my crazy computer got sick and deleted some too, and 53,000 is about what I have now. I still need at least a week more of words to finish the book, so don’t feel worthy of the banner this time. But here it is, might as well wave it. Winner 2016

To be a Winner

When I grew up, very few people ever had a book published. Only a handful could ever claim to be a best-selling author. Very few people were ever declared a winner.


Now, everyone gets a pat on the back and is told, bully for you, you tried hard, therefore you are a winner. Professional athletes compete in the Olympics and if there is a competition of some kind, it is an Olympic Sport. If there is a category on Kindle, there is a Best-Selling Author Title for that Category.

Waiting on the real thing, but glad I was able to make the effort. Can’t wait for the next challenge, maybe I’ll actually be a winner.





If you want to make a basket, you have get out on the court and aim at the goal. As President of a writer’s group for over thirty-five years, I know a lot of writers. Most of them want to be successful, published authors. Currently, the majority have one or more books up on Amazon. How? They wanted to write a story that interested them and that only they could create. They studied how to write, read a lot, and wrote a lot of stories. Then they either found help or figured out the steps to self-publish. Some have been more successful than others. One or two have been traditionally published.

The problem with writing and publishing your book is the difficulty in finding an audience to read what you write. Here are a series of articles addressing the problem.

Notice that in 2002, the author advised against it because there were 80,000 books published each year.

In 2013, this author is advising against self-publishing a book because there are 800,000 to 1,000,000 books published each year, and building a platform to get noticed is no longer easy.

This is the most positive article I could find on self-publishing. Basically, it advises writers to write more books and pay for professional services to compete, while expecting to earn much less on each book.

A last list of ten self-publishing trends. I couldn’t find the number of titles being loaded onto Kindle this year, my guess is it is probably double the numbers in 2013. In one Facebook group I belong to, one writer had just finished writing seven novels in nine weeks. The competition is fierce. Since I’ll be lucky to complete three or four things this year, it is discouraging.

Personal Goals for 2016

To finish my Mountain Wives Series – another week should give me time to finish Wild Violets, the third in the series.

To write the third Ghost Warrior story – to complete that series. Unlike the Western Wives and Mountain Wives Series – my blood-thirsty, half-breed warrior does not have an audience yet. But his story is still rattling around in my head and I need to clear it out so I can finish other things.

Hope to write another story to  include in an anthology again this year. Have no idea if any of the Anthologies I’ve been in have a few or a lot of sales, but I enjoy doing the group publishing thing.

To start another series. Widow Wives, about women who lose their husbands during the bloody Civil War and still have to move forward to raise children and find happiness.

To keep writing. Somebody has to break the odds which are longer and longer in publishing. Believe it’s like the lottery ticket, highly unlikely that you’ll ever win, but sure-fire certain you won’t, if you don’t buy a ticket or write that book.






Reaching for Reassurance

Since I’ve shared my self-doubts before, it should come as no surprise that I worry that retirement might be the wrong time to start a career as a writer. One of the articles in my email  was from Screenwriting University on that very topic. Apparently one shouldn’t despair. Several successful screenwriters broke into the business as late as their mid-thirties to forties. Since I’m well beyond that, didn’t feel too reassured.

Who Decides How Old Is “Too Old” for a Screenwriter?

Searching Harder

On line, found the usual list of 10 to 20 people who became successful at an older age. Most end with Harlan Sanders, age 62, when he made $2M from his fried chicken franchise. But I’m well beyond that age and not interested in frying anything.

Found a better list on Business Insider and saw two who inspired me. Since they started later than me and made big successes in the creative arts, figure there is still plenty of room to hope. Grandma Moses, was an artist who started painting at 72 and sold a painting for $1.2 M. Harry Bernstein, a lifelong writer, whose memoir was written at age 96, became a bestselling author.

Old Dog, New Trick

When we reached the sushi restaurant, I watched the three grandchildren ordering sushi, Grandpa, and my son also. Of course I chickened out and ordered Kung Pau stir fry. Way too spicy – just what I deserve.

Afterward, we went to an Indian Ice Cream place for desert. They offered fascinating choices – Pista Kulfi, Lychee, Mango, Anjeer, Kesar Pista and lots of other wonderful, strange concoctions. Everyone ordered something. I ordered strawberry – absolutely delicious.

Had a wonderful time visiting. Realize that all the limits on my life are ones that I’ve set. Still not ready to be a world traveler. I’m sure I would starve. Still determined to become a successful author.

How about you? What are your goals, limits, and determination?







Planned to write two chapters today, at least three thousand words. Wrote 894, and the few that will be this blog. Since it’s after midnight, guess it doesn’t count for the 7th anyway. I must confess, I was led into temptation by listening to too many webinars on how to make money on the Internet. Think I’ve listened to three (replays – never remember to listen to the live broadcasts, even if I set a reminder). As pointed out, I’ve never been good at selling anything, never wanted to sell anything. But tonight, if I were honest, I’d have to admit, I would love to have a day where I sell a hundred books.

It means not just blogging, but figuring out an opt-in page with an irresistible give-away as a hook, an email campaign, Facebook ads, an up-sale at the end of my funnel, etc.. Hence my wasting time listening to the spell-binders who know how to do all those things.

Dottor Faustus


Unlike Faust in this little etching, I’ve resisted all but one. I bought a system last year, when they promised it was a one-time fee of $99 and would do all those things to promote my books and bring me tons of loyal readers. It didn’t, and they wanted the same fee this year again – definitely not. Several are offering thousands of dollars worth of training for cut-rate prices. Only a $1000, or $497, or $99, or $27. Suspect they are all the same boiler-plate offer. As my husband says, if they were really making $2 million a year from their web site, they wouldn’t need to sell to poor writers like me.

Still, there is the lure of writing a book in 10 hours and making thousands every month from it. Trouble is, it means making the money from some poor dreamer who can’t afford it, any more than I can. Tonight, if I’d signed up for all of them, I would have access to all those secrets. How to write a best seller, promote it, and earn millions, and all  for about $2300. Think only the $27 was a one-time fee, others, monthly amounts. Apparently, the biggest way to make money these days is selling to gullible fools.



I listened as intently as to a Politician in full-froth or an Evangelist out to pray for my soul for a monthly pledge of … I do love the rhythm of the sales pitch, the enthusiasm it raises for actually doing something someday. But it stole time and concentration from my writing and I will try to resist tomorrow. Hope to catch up in my CampNaNoWriMo count.

I find it easy to resist the temptation to give some millionaire all my money, but I did succumb to chocolate cake again. After all, it’s national chocolate day and I’m very patriotic.






Silver Dreamer