About Me

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Last Day Thoughts


Determination and perseverance have brought me to the last day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

I'm patting myself on the back for achieving the goal - to write and post a new blog every day in the month of January. Creating a new blog every day forced me into a routine. I'd have my first cup of coffee while checking email, Facebook, and posting the blog I wrote the night before to three sites besides twitter. Only after this was done--which took about an hour--would I make my breakfast. This was eaten while I wrote my Morning Pages a la Julia Cameron.

Toward the end of the month, I started drafting the blog the evening before and then tweaking it the next morning before posting.  Later in the day, I'd scan the Ultimate Blog Challenge Facebook page to find other folks' blogs that caught my attention so I could comment or tweet.

Now that the end of the month has arrived, I willingly give up the chore of posting every day. Not that I'll give up blogging. But, perhaps it will be more realistic to aim for one or two a week. I have to admit, my numbers haven't really changed that much as a result of this experiment. As soon as I find the time, I want to study my stats and see if I can discover a pattern that might guide me in the future.

I do want to shout out a big thank you to those of you took the time to drop in everyday and check out what I had to say.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Remembering A Cool Place I Visited

This is a take-off from one of the prompts that start...10 Things I Like...or some such like that.  I've always found it difficult to write to prompts so I usually ignore them. Instead I'll do some reminiscing about a place I visited that left an impression...both times.

Last summer I took my granddaughter to visit the Grand Canyon. We chose the day-long trip from Phoenix via a chartered van. God gave us a perfect day with bearable temperatures once we got there. Lunch had been arranged for us while we stopped in Sedona. At the canyon, we exited the van and followed the crowd to the canyon's edge.

To say the vistas were awe-inspiring does not come close to how they affected me. Apparently they affected my granddaughter the same way. At one point, I caught sight of her, outlined by the clear sky, as she stood on a precipice of land that jutted out into the canyon. She remained there for the longest time, just taking in the sight. It confirmed my time and money was well spent.

Actually. this was my second visit to the site. Way back in the mid-nineties, I did a cross-country trip with my father. Coming back from California, we arrived at the canyon barely thirty minutes before sundown. We scrambled toward the nearest lookout,hoping to get there before it got too dark to see anything, and were rewarded with the unbelievable light-show as the setting sun turned the canyon walls into a multi-colored, ever-changing  phantasmagoria.

If you've never been, I strongly urge everyone to visit at least once in their lifetime. It's a sight that will permanently rearrange your concept of this planet we inhabit.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Getting Into Blogging

Image result for page of handwriting
Never thought I would admit this, but I like blogging. I've been told a blog is simply the best, fastest, and easiest way to create your online persona. Well, only time will tell if that's true or not.

I've learned your blog posts should all serve larger goals. Aimless blogging is almost as bad as not blogging at all. So I'll try to focus on particular topics, such as little known subjects, odd phrases that have gone out of use or other things that readers might find informative. 

Maybe even something a bit more personal once in a while. It's been said more people will enjoy reading your blog if the writing is more approachable. Maybe include glimpses of my personal life  to help them get to know me.

I learned that advice is to be organized really well. The working title I chose opens the door to a variety of subjects and hints at the sometimes incongruity of situations.

Other recommendations are: don't copy-and-paste and not give credit where credit is due. I must remember to link back to the actual page from where I captured the information I share. To cite someone's content on Twitter, I can just include a "via @username". If I publish a post from a guest blogger, I should always mention the guest blogger's name, give them a short bio, and  include a link to their website.

Most importantly, I need to take the time to shape up my post. Preview the post and fix any typos, run-on sentences, or accidental its/it's mistakes. 

It's a work in progress but I keep reminding myself  there will always be more things I can do to make my posts better. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

How Do You Define Success?

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Success for some may be just a job to go to, a family that loves each other or keeping on in spite of  the constant physical pain they're forced live with. For others, there's that secret dream to fulfill, an ambitious project to complete, or a bucket list to achieve..

Our culture provides folks who's life's work is to cheer others on, showing ways that will clear the path to achieving their heart's desire. That's all well and good. But what about those numberless people who strive for the energy just to take one step at a time, one day at a time?

For them, success is having food to set before their children at the end of the day. Success is finding a way to the job when there's no money to fix that flat tire. Success is making the paycheck stretch far enough to pay those basic bills.

We live in a country that flaunts its wealth. The media shines the spotlight on a way of life that is beyond the reach of so many. It's hard to remain content when you are surrounded by people who seem to have so much more than you do.

The biggest obstacle to contentment is the society that we function in. TV commercials and sit-coms depict lifestyles that are unrealistic for many.

Having a solid roof over your head; food to eat in the refrigerator; clothes to wear; shoes for your feet and enough money to pay your bills...those are hallmarks of success for many people in this country.

My definition of success would include one more -- to have enough left over to share with others who don't.


Saturday, January 27, 2018

Reaching Past Alzheimer's

I caught sight of the date as I exited the bank yesterday. A wave of emotion gripped me which I fought until safely ensconced in my car. January twenty-sixth - the birthday of a sister just one year younger than I.

So why did it make me sad, you ask? Because for the past six-seven years (I've lost count) she's been a resident of an Alzheimer's care facility.

My most recent visit was last June when  I made a trip to Phoenix with my granddaughter. I wanted her to have the experience of visiting the grand canyon but for myself, I was glad to have one more opportunity to see this sister.

You see, it had been at least five years since I last saw her--East Texas and Phoenix, Arizona are many, many miles apart, making travel almost impossible.

I didn't have high expectations because even on my last visit, my sister had not recognized or even acknowledged my visit. In fact, as her daughter and I sat on a bench after leaving her, I found myself mentally telling her goodbye. None of us expected her body to continue to function this long after her mind had left her.

So it surprised me when the sight of the date brought on an emotional reaction. Happy birthday, Angie, even if my words don't penetrate to where your consciousness has taken you.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Cacti of Texas and Other Esoteric Thoughts

Most cactus can be found in desert regions or else where, for one reason or another, the water supply is practically nonexistent at least part of the time. This lack of water produces the soft interior makeup of the cactus and is indirectly responsible for its hard, waxy skin and fascinating array of spines. (Cacti of Texas and neighboring States - Del Weniger)

I originally intended for this blog to be strictly informational about the various cacti that call Texas home. Naw!

As I typed the previous paragraph, my thoughts took off into another direction. Namely, the fact that a lack of water supply influenced the formation of the cactus. My subconscious decided I needed to expound on that on a human level. How much is our personality influenced by our surroundings?

My upbringing took place in a less-than-affluent situation. I was the eldest of eight children whose father was the only wage-earner. He earned his living working as a carpenter building full-sized  submarines models for Electric Boat. I have sharp memories of those early years when we were refused groceries at more than one store because we could not pay our bill.

This became a strong influence for me to make earning a wage the goal of my life. It became my primary goal, suppressing any desire I might have to satisfy my curiosity about the world I lived in. Married at what is now considered a young age, family started shortly afterward, any thought or possibility of furthering my education beyond high school was erased.

Co-incidentally, it was my marriage and a subsequent move to my husband’s home state, Texas, that fueled my desire to continue to learn. Nothing like being transported to an alien culture to expand the mind. As a result, I never hesitated to plunge into unknown territory whenever something caught my attention or curiosity. This opened the door to various adventures.

What about you? Can you look back at your life and see how, where you were, affected your actions and reactions?

By the way—the cactus photo above is called Glory of Texas (Echinocactus bicolor var. schottii.) Primarily a Mexican species, it occurs in two widely separated areas in Texas -- Starr and Brewster Counties. With a brilliant fuchsia flower whose petals shine with satiny smoothness and surround a scarlet throat, the Glory of Texas is the brightest, most exotic flowers of any cactus growing in our State.

And that's your botany lesson for today, folks.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Three Things I Enjoy Doing

What kind of activities bring you the most pleasure and satisfaction? 

One physical act I find quite satisfying is cleaning out flower beds and disposing of the year's-worth of fallen leaves something  I was able to do just this past weekend. My home is surrounded by trees, both deciduous and evergreen, which gives us a healthy harvest of leaves every year. Once I've collected all I possibly can for composting, because I live beyond city limits, I'm free to burn the remainder of this bounteous harvest. I thoroughly enjoy the smell of burning leaves.

Another time-filling occupation that relaxes me is piecing together patchwork quilts. I'm not much for designing a work of art with intricate stitching. My joy comes from the combining of colors and prints to create a pleasing whole. Once the pieces are assembled into a quilt top, I use the least time-consuming means to attach the three layers together into a whole...my sewing machine. I've been know to use buttons scattered across the top to hold the layers together. Or, a stitch of knotted yarn here and there. The finished product is not anything to brag about, but when passed along to one of the homeless people I send them to, I know the warmth they provide is appreciated.

Since the prompt suggesting this blog was 'three of something', I need to include one other activity I find satisfying...and that is painting with oils. It's something I've only begun to do again in the past year after my brushes had remained retired since the birth of my second son some forty-odd years ago. I've never had any formal lessons; something I hope to remedy sometime in the future. But again, I think it's the occupation of playing around with the oils and mixing colors to fill my needs for just that exactly right color which gives me the most relaxation.

What distracts you from the stresses of everyday life and helps you set aside those nagging problems? I'd really like to know.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Four Eyes

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'Four eyes' - A stupid insult to people who wear glasses, which makes no sense at all. But something I heard often while growing up.

I got my first pair of glasses when I was only four years old. Previous to that, I had to wear a patch over my right eye for a period in an effort to correct what was diagnosed as 'lazy eye.' Seems like the glasses have always been a part of who I am. As I matured and grew into adulthood, I never considered switching to contacts because a secondary condition ruled out that possibility. 

But, kids can be cruel sometimes when their only intent is to appear joking. It caused me to grow a thick skin very early in life. A thick skin that has served me well. Ignoring the taunts also taught me to believe in myself. A trait that gave me confidence to tackle challenges...challenges that I'd never entertained in my imagination.

Got me to wondering about all the hype these days about bullying.  At times, I was the target and, even though my memory is blank on that, I'm pretty sure I did my share of bullying. Seems like that was just part of growing up...that exchanging of sometimes hurtful remarks.

So why is it being viewed as such a serious problem? Why is being bullied so demeaning that it leads victims to take their lives as the only option they feel they have to stop it?

I  don't have an answer. But, being personally involved with a teenager who considered self-destruction an answer, I know bullying is a serious problem that needs to be exposed.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Bad Weather? Good Reading Time

We've managed to survive a couple weeks of real winter for our part of the country. Freezing temps kept me inside, huddled next to a heater. To be honest, once I got my body to a comfortable temperature, I really didn't mind being housebound. It gave lots of time to read.

Wasn't aware of how many books I'd gotten read in such a short span of time. So...what have I been reading? Here's a list of books that helped me pass those long, cold hours.

  1. The Man Who Talks To Strangers by Caleb Pirtle III
  1. The Little Town With a Big Heart by Michael Hawron
  1. The Scribe Midnight BBQ by Guy Morgan
  1. The Encouragement Letters by Shanna Spence 
  1. All The Way Home by Mariellen Langworthy 
There were also a couple I'd downloaded to my Kindle: The Bridesmaid Got Waylaid by my friend, Kassy Paris and  Marriage and Murder by another favorite author, Diane Harman.

With a change in weather this past weekend, I abandoned my to-be-read stack and spent several pleasant hours out of doors, cleaning out flower beds. In doing so, I was pleasantly surprised to see the green shoots of daffodils are already are couple inches high.

Spring can't be very far behind.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Down Memory's Path

Had to drive my brother to a meeting in Mineola and decided to treat myself to someone else's cooking. It was my first time back to Kitchen's  since my husband died last March. We frequented this place for a late breakfast often. Seemed a bit odd to be sitting at a table alone.

I perused the menu and decided I was hungry enough to order a Western Omelet. Memory click - this was the very first meal I ordered after my arrival in Texas. I won't confess how many years ago.

As I ate, faint strains of a radio playing in adjacent room drifted my way. At one point, I recognized Willie Nelson singing his famous Pancho Villa song. My husband thought old Willie was one of the greatest, right along with Johnny Cash, and this tune was a favorite of his.

Surprisingly, I didn't shed any tears although I have to confess, at times, the brought-back memories did threaten to overwhelm.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Four Leaf Clover Trivia

Green Four Leaf Clover Pin
What could be more of a Summer tradition than looking for a four leaf clover? Hours of laying in that bed of grass, spreading plants with our fingers as we seek the one odd combination that held a promise of good luck.

Some folk traditions assign a different attribute to each leaf of a clover. The first leaf represents hope, the second stands for faith, the third is for love and the fourth leaf brings luck to the finder.

did you know the occurrence of four leaf clovers are 1 in 5,000 three-leaf clovers? The earliest mention of “Fower-leafed or purple grasse” is from 1640 and simply says that it was kept in gardens because it was “good for the purples in children or others. 
whatever that refers to.

Four-leaf clovers were Celtic charms, presumed to offer magical protection and ward off bad luck. Children in the Middle Ages believed if they carried a four-leaf clover, they would be able to see fairies.

 The Italian automobile maker Alfa Romeo believed in the luc of a four leaf clover. Ever since the 1923 Targa Florio race, they have painted a four-leaf clover on the side of their racing cars. 

There are farms in the US which specialize in four-leaf clovers, producing as many as 10,000 a day (to be sealed in plastic as "lucky charms"). The youth organization, 4-H, uses a green four-leaf clover with a white H on each leaf.

Its popularity led to a song being written about them.  I'm Looking for a Four-Leaf Clover was written by Mort Dixon and became a hit for Art Mooney and his Orchestra.

So, if you are down on your luck and just a little bit superstitious, go find yourself a four leaf clover.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

An Author's Woes

How many times do you read through a manuscript on its way to seeing your words in print? I just finished getting a book republished under a new imprint. First published in 2007, Living With A Depressed Spouse, lost its publisher a couple years ago when Tate Publishing cut their losses.

You'd think since the book has already had a published life, the manuscript would be in 'print-ready' shape. Well, in the process, my new publisher sent it back for another look-over since the person doing the formatting wanted my approval for what had been done.

Guess what? After a careful read-through, I had a short list of typographical errors and missing letter mistakes that needed correcting.

Being an indi/small press-published author means having to go that extra mile to make the published work as near to perfect as possible. The recent revolution in how books are published now makes it possible for anyone to produce a book. No more multiple submissions to publishing houses and waiting months for the rejection. No more query letters to multiple literary agencies as you seek an agent that will sell your manuscript to a buying publisher.

There isn't a host of editors between submission and publishing to tweak your manuscript. Download a file, go through an easy-to-follow process, and boom! you have published a book. For indi authors, the ball is in your court and you alone are responsible for putting out the very best you are capable of producing.

So, in spite of the many, many pairs of eyes that have already looked over this project, I didn't hesitate to spend hours reading those now-familiar sentences and paragraphs. And my efforts were rewarded.

Want to check out Living With A Depressed Spouse? It's available as an e-book  https://www.amazon.com/Living-Depressed-Spouse-Gay-Ingram-ebook/dp/B07939QHKC/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Friday, January 19, 2018

Giving Wings To Dreams

Came across an interesting person while searching for a tidbit to share. Let me tell you about Katherine Stinson Otero. (1891-1977) 

As a young girl, Katherine was intent on traveling through Europe. She just had to come up with a means to fund her trip and came across a job offer for pilots to perform air shows and make up to $1,000 a day. 

Initially it was difficult convincing anyone that she was capable of becoming a pilot. Standing 5 feet tall and weighing 101 pounds, no one thought she would be strong enough to manage an airplane. She obtained her pilot's certificate at the age of 21. She liked flying so much that she gave up her piano career and decided to become an aviator.

Billed as the “flying schoolgirl,” she traveled across the country, appearing at air shows, and performing such feats as diving 1,000 feet, racing automobiles, and turning loops. 

Katherine became the first woman to perform a loop, at Cicero Field in Chicago, Illinois, and went on to perform this feat some 500 times without a single accident. She became one of the first women authorized to carry airmail for the United States. She is credited as the first skywriter; the first woman to fly over London, and the first woman to fly at night.

When Katherine was denied admission to the air service in World War I, she became an ambulance driver for the Red Cross in EuropeShe retired from aviation In 1920 and married airman Miguel Antonio Otero, Jr. in 1927.

Just goes to show - determination and grit will take you places you never dreamed about.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Inspired by Real Life

I’m often asked—where do the ideas for stories come from? The inspiration for my latest novel, Not Bound by Blood, came by way of a short piece I came across while googling the internet. It told of sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Robinson being the first woman to win a gold medal in the 100 meter dash. Until the 1928 Olympics, athletics for women had not been on the program. As a member of the American relay team, she garnered a silver medal also.

I decided she would become one of my main characters in Not Bound By Blood. I wrote—close to authentic—about the discovery of Elizabeth’s talent by a high school coach. With his encouragement, she ran her first race on March 30, 1927. At her next race, she equaled the world record.

My character, Miriam Meyer, mimics the life of Betty, as she was known, to the extent she’s involved in a plane crash (just as Betty experienced the crash of a plane being flown by her cousin.)  Although given a slim chance of surviving, Betty’s strong spirit drove her recovery and she competed again in the 1936 Olympics to capture gold in the 4 X 100 meters relay race.  

You can read all the inspiring details of her life by going here: https://www.olympic.org/elizabeth-robinson.

If I've intrigued you enough to want to read my story, go to: https://www.amazon.com/Not-Bound-Blood-Gay-Ingram-ebook/dp/B01EQIJ7CS/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


I was scanning through old pictures and came across this one. My husband had a knack for capturing great shots and I've always thought this was one of them.

You can almost read that determined squirrel's mind - now, how am I going to get from here to there?

You see, the wooden object just below him is a fully-loaded bird feeder. Thing is, if he tries to lower himself to the shelf below, the feeder will start swinging and he won't be able to stay attached. However, squirrels are great gymnists and have the ability to twist their bodies into sometimes ridiculous, and what looks to me to be impossible, positions to achieve their objective - food.

Kind of reminded me of myself sometimes. How I manage to get myself into impossible situations to achieve my goal. But...we won't go there today.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

On The Road With Helen Keller

In her autobiography, Midstream, Helen Keller wrote about her experiences traveling about the country. Blind and deaf because of an illness when she was only eighteen months old, Helen's writings struck me as lyrical and filled with descriptions that appealed to the senses. May I share a short passage?

"My life had been as it were 'between the budding and the falling leaf, and I had felt along my veins the thrill of the vine and blossom. inter and spring had brought me wind-blown messages across marsh, brook, and stone-walled fields. I had felt God's great freedom all around and free life's song the only sound."

How was it possible for her to create such a visual picture?

Through a friendship with Martha Washington, the young daughter of the family cook, the two developed a sign language of more than sixty signs by which they communicated. When she was six years old, Anne Sullivan came into her life. This began a 49-year relationship between teacher and pupil. 

At ten years of age, Keller began speech classes at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in Boston. She would toil for 25 years to learn to speak so that others could understand her.
This speaks to me of persistence and determination. I marvel at the power of the human spirit that overcame such tremendous obstacles and gave the world such a compelling message of hope.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Collecting a Lifestyle

Collecting a Lifestyle
Most people are collectors at heart; an inner urge to gather to themselves some unique objects that give meaning to their lives. The phenomenon of E-bay and appeal of magazine articles devoted to the subject reveal a vast majority of our country’s population are enamored with objects and avidly collect them.

I’m a collector of figurines. Not just any type or style, I focus on figurines depicting old men and women dressed in the attire of our country’s frontier period. These plainly dressed people are engaged in simple activities like throwing feed to chickens at their feet or carrying a basket of carrots just pulled from the garden. I began this collection with a gift from an older woman I’d befriended and helped with chores she found too difficult to do in her advanced age.

“This will remind you of me,” she said with a smile as she handed me a six-inch bisque statuette of an old woman. The model wore a plain skirt that reached her ankles and her hair was pulled back into a bun at the nape of her neck. That began what has become an obsession for me.

As I wander second-hand stores, flea markets and yard sales, I keep a lookout for companion pieces. At first, I concentrated only on female figures. Then one day I came across a matched pair. Two elderly folks who obviously spent a lifetime of companionship together and had now entered their twilight years. He sits and plays with the puppy at his feet, tempting the animal with a possible snack in his outstretched hand. She stands with hands folded, looking down at the cat winding itself around her feet. How could I separate this charming pair?

My collection has multiplied as husband, family and friends shower me with new additions. As a birthday present, my husband on year splurged on an elegant couple dressed in the attire of English gentry of the nineteenth century. Another came from a sister whose hobby is painting ceramics. She sent me one of her creations, a woman seated in a rocking chair, open book in hand. I especially treasure that one because I'm such a voracious reader.

As the number of figurines increased, I called on my husband’s carpentry talents to build custom shelves on which to display them. My collection now numbers over fifty and gives me great pleasure.

Some kinds of collections come together with ease. Like all collections, once you begin them, they grow. At times the adventure of seeking out and finding unique figurines not yet in my collection will take over my life. However, after several years, finding a unique and different figurine to add to my collection of old men and women becomes more and more elusive. I continue to get enjoyment from my burgeoning collection of figurines.

But there are some collections that people should never begin; the collecting of grudges, jealousies, self-pitying and envies. That type of collecting does not bring pleasure. We all know someone who keeps a mental checklist of hurts and slights received through the years. He or she takes it out for reviewing on a regular basis, recalling over and over those inflictions as if polishing something cherished. Those who collect reasons for self-pity never seem happy with their collections and find it easy to add to the accumulation. They appear to exhibit a radar-like sensitivity to exchanges that will enhance their collection, sometimes rearranging events to position themselves on the receiving end–just to add another item to their collection.

It’s hard to befriend someone who collects jealousies and envies. Nothing satisfies; they’re never content with what they have. This discontent places the other person in opposition. No matter how hard you try to get along, they will always question your intent, twist your well-meaning words around, make something you said in innocence become a put-down or slur.

There’s a way to avoid allowing those kinds of collections from growing in our lives. Galatians 5:22 speaks about the right kind of collecting. As we gather the fruit of the Spirit this passage talks about–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control–there will be no room for those other collections Instead of grouching because the checker is slow, send that tired cashier a gentle smile. Driving an older friend to a doctor’s appointment is guaranteed to earn you a hug of gratefulness. Now that’s a collection I can make room for! 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

I found an egg.

I found an egg. Minuscule and pale blue. A bluebird egg. I almost stepped on it as I walked from house to office. It lay in the dirt, a far distance from any of the bluebird nesting boxes my husband constructed and mounted about our acreage.

How in the world did it get here? “Perhaps stolen from its nest by a ‘robber’ bird,” my husband surmised. Or could the parent birds themselves somehow have known it was defective? Did they carry it away and discard it in flight? Such a mystery surrounding this fragile object.

I gathered up the frail thing and laid it beside another in a older nest my husband had brought me some time back. But the puzzle of how it ended up in the middle of my daily path continued to nag at me. Its image remained in my mind, prompting questions throughout my working period.

Was there a message to be learned from this incident? Immediately a host of proverbs came to mind—beauty is in the eye of the beholder; one man’s trash is another’s treasure, or how about, found treasure is appreciated treasure.

The possibility that the bird parents instinctively knew this egg would not produce a baby bird kept coming to mind. That they deliberately expunged it from their nest. And what, I asked myself, does that say to the human condition?

An egg symbolizes expectations, hopes for the future, a dream realized. Could this mean there might be times to discard a dream, intuitively knowing the reach is beyond fulfillment? Perhaps the possibility exists that achievement of this particular dream, one we’ve clung to and stubbornly tried to fulfill, will not bring the satisfaction desired?

Like the bluebird parents disposed of a defective egg, perhaps we need to examine our dreams and goals.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

New Year Changes I've Noticed

Since I accepted the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post a blog every day in January, there have been some adjustments in the way I allocate my time. Would you be interested in my morning and/or daily routine? Sorry, here it comes.

To begin with, I find myself leaving the bed thirty minutes earlier in the morning. Not by intention, just happening. Grab that first cup of coffee and set myself before the computer. Take care of business that's come by way of emails. Then I move to my Blogger page; hopefully I've got something I prepared the day before to post. A last look-over to check for typos or missing words/letters - something I'm real famous for doing since this laptop keyboard doesn't always respond.

Today's blog posted to my author page, on the thread at Ultimate Blog Challenge, tweeted, Google+ and shared on my Timeline. Move to Facebook and send birthday greetings to those who are celebrating today. Check for any fresh postings to groups I'm a member of. Then a scrolling of notifications to see if there's a conversation where I need to respond. If an hour hasn't passed yet, I'll go back to Blogger,com and add some words to a developing blog.

Then I close the computer or go to Red River Radio to stream some classical music. Prepare breakfast and carry it to the writing desk in my bedroom. This is where I do the Morning Pages recommended by Julia Cameron - three pages in a lined notebook, handwritten with as few pauses as possible.I accentuate the writing with sips of orange juice and bites of breakfast.

That done - both the writing and the eating - It's time to get dressed and face the day's responsibilities. So, when do y
ou work on your fiction writing, I hear you ask? Hmm-m-m. You see, this blogging thing has taken over for the month of January, so any other writing has gone on the shelf temporarily.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Places I Write

Acting on a prompt from our fearless leader, Paul Taubman, I did some digging to locate pictures taken over the years of my writing space and how it's evolved. The above photo is from years back when I turned part of our spare bedroom into a writing space. Take a closer look at that "antique" computer.

When my husband retired, he needed the space for his drafting table and a computer of his own. That's when I moved out of the house and into this little cabin we'd had built originally for a shop. The herb business 'went south' and gradually the cabin got filled up with all the stuff I needed to engage in my hobbies.
It's amazing how much I was able to stuff into that little 10 X 14 building. It became my writing/crafting/sewing and lately. my painting space. This little building served those activities of my life for many, many years. Here's a picture of one corner.
Since my husband's death earlier this spring, I did some re-arranging. I moved the table and chairs out of the dining area of my house and set up two desks across the space; one for writing and one for social media stuff. I especially appreciate being able to scoot my chair from one station to the other. (Call me lazy.)

My workstation in the house also includes a collection of healthy house plants just out of sight on the left. This area has proved to provide a perfect environment for the plants.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Your Name Is Mud

One of those old westerns is keeping my brother entertained on this cold, dreary day. Listening in from another room, I heard a character referred to  by the name of Dr. Samuel Mudd. 

Dr. Samuel Mudd was widely reviled for his part in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. He is the doctor who gave medical help to John Wilkes Booth's broken leg acquired in his escape after shooting Lincoln in 1865. Mudd was convicted of being Booth's co-conspirator, although the evidence against him was ambiguous and circumstantial, and many historians argue that he was innocent of any murderous intent.

Got me to thinking about a saying that's been around a while...'your name is mud'.  Ever wonder what this phrase is all about? I did and went looking for an explanation. Seems like 'your name is mud', was in general circulation long before Lincoln was assassinated. 

The word began to be used in a figurative sense as early as the 16th century to refer to things that were worthless or polluting. That usage was later extended to apply to people, as listed in the 1703 account of London's low life, Hell upon EarthMud, a Fool, or thick skull Fellow.

The combination of meanings of 'decaying and worthless' and 'extremely' was enough for the association of it with someone's name to become an insult - hence 'your name is mud'.

So, that saying doesn't really have anything to do with the infamous Doctor Mudd. He just had the misfortune of being stuck with the name.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Sharing About Blogging

Image result for a writing muse

Having chosen to accept The Ultimate Blog Challenge to post a new blog each day through the month of January, today I'll address my experience of actually doing just that for a whole week.

Most helpful is an email sent every day with suggested prompts to consider by Paul Taubman.  However, at times, my muse refuses to consider those suggestions. Other times, I'll read in his email the exact same idea that came to mind the previous evening.

For me, the challenge is in coming up with topics to write about that others would find interesting to read. One strategy I've developed is to keep my Blogger.com page open on the computer at all times. It makes it easy for me to sit and jot down a partial draft to be expanded later during my normal writing time. Kind of like keeping paper and pen beside your bed to capture those brilliant ideas that come in the night.

Here are some helpful hints I came across that I try to keep in mind:
  1. Be interesting.
  2. Be conversational — raise questions, invite contributions, discuss what’s happening on other blogs, leave some loose ends, and respond to comments made by readers.
  3. Link to external sites with relevant information.
  4. Monitor other bloggers in the same space and attempt to build reciprocal links with them.
  5. Tag posts so that they are easy for search engines to find.
  6. Inject some personality into posts, and include observation and anecdote.
  7. Credit the original source of all content embedded in posts.
  8. Make use of multimedia whenever possible and think about a post’s layout.
  9. Make sure posts are seen by a second pair of eyes before publication.
  10. Place a link to blog posts on relevant social media.
 I may be forced to dig out those pages of suggested blog topics buried somewhere in my desk drawer.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Love My New Cover

Don't you just love the new cover?

I recently made the decision to reissue a book that had originally been published in 2007. Living With A Depressed Spouse's publisher, Tate Publishing, had experienced problems and gone into bankruptcy. Although supposedly out of print for two years, I continued to see notifications of books sole but had not received royalty payment over that period. So, I decided to re-issue it again myself.

Since the original book cover was the property of Tate Publishing, I needed a new cover designed. Acting on the recommendation of a writer friend, I contacted Jo-Anna Walker Thompson of Just Write Creations. (https://www.justwritecreations.org/)​ She came Highly recommended by my friend, Nancy Hudgins, who writes steamy romance under the name,  Dana Wayne, Author. (https://www.amazon.com/Dana-Wayne/e/B01GGDXSR6/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1514682393&sr=1-2-ent)

I quote from Jo-Anna's website: Jo-Anna has been designing since 2015. Just write. Creations also deals with company branding and works with both Independent and Traditional Authors.

This was my first experience in working with a professional book cover designer and I am so happy I found her. She took my concept for the cover, aimed me to the site she uses for photos, and cheerfully made all the tweak changes I requested.

So, if you're needing a cover designed for your next book, fiction or non-fiction, please go to her web ste and check her out. I know you'll be as satisfied as I am. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Way My Mind Works

 My writer friend Vivra Beene has a quirky sense of humor. When she published her first book some time back, I thought she and her publisher came up with a catchy title, A Baker's Dozen... (http://amzn.to/2D4JgAZ). It's a collection of stories with a paranormal twist to the endings. 

I got to wondering about that phrase - a baker's dozen. So, never one to deny satisfying my curiosity, I reached for a book I keep handy just for this purpose and found the following...I paraphrase:

"By the middle of the Twelfth Century London bakers had formed an official brotherhood which later split into the Company of Brown Bakers and the Company of White Bakers. (Does this mean they had to choose between white flour or whole wheat flour?) A law passed in 1266 stipulated that exactly eighty loaves of bread were to be baked from a standard sack of flour. If found selling underweight loaves, thereby getting more loaves from the sack, there were dire consequences.

So bakers added an extra loaf of bread for every twelve they sold to make up for any underweight loaves. Small price to pay since they could have their ear nailed to their shop's window if caught under-weighing their loaves of bread. 

That information came from an interesting book called The Book of Totally Useless Information by Don Voorhees. It's just jammed with the kind of information you need to be successful on the TV show, Jeopardy. And you can check out my friend's blog & book here: www.justvivra.com

Now...aren't you glad you stopped to read this? 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Author Name Game

Image result for groups of people

Ever find yourself seated at the computer, struggling to come up with just the right name for your character? You're wanting something that will convey the gender, the age, the nationality and reflect the setting of your story. Since I write mostly historical fiction and strive for authenticity, all of these factors are important and need to be considered.

Much earlier in my writing career, before the marvel of internet became available, I added The Character Naming Sourcebook produced by Writer's Digest published in 1994 to my library. (That really dates me!) What I liked about this resource was that it not only gave you the meanings of first and last names, but also included hints to choosing historical, science fiction, fantasy, mystery and action names. It even included advise on naming your setting. I found it really helpful and this book has remained on my go-to shelf.

Don't know if this book is still available, but I highly recommend it.

Recently someone clued me in to a site called  fantasynamegenerator.comit generates real names based on sex & nationality. This site is a wealth of links for different categories of names.

Need a boy's name? There's 100 Boys NamesChildren Name List Boys, or Boys Name - Free Download to search and find just the right name for your character.

Need a female name? How about Female NamesFamous Women Names - About.com, and List Of Girls Names - Download?

So if you find yourself stuck, trying to come up with just the right name for your unique character, do a bit of scrolling at one or another of these sites. Just think of all those interesting character names you'll come across, just waiting for their story to be told by you.

Me? I'm a book-in-hand person so I'll stay with what works for me.