Category Archives: Writing


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.