January’s Cold Truth



This post by Cole Smith


Do you know what it’s like to have a January birthday?


January's Cold Truth


It’s cold.



And though I used to resent it, over the years I’ve grown to appreciate my special month. It’s more than just finding the silver lining; I look forward to these days. So, January haters, brace yourselves. Like a chill wind from the north, here are a few reasons I savor the brief days:



All the magic happens in the dark and cold.


If you think about it, a lot of our favorite story elements are set in cold darkness. I’m not only talking about the Snow Queen, either. Rumpelstiltskin showed up at night. Beauty finds the Beast nearly dead in a cold, dark, abandoned castle. The princess pitched the frog prince against her bedroom wall at night. (And we somehow forgave her for this, why? Because it was the end of a long day?)

Gathering stories, the Grimms must have appreciated that there’s something powerful about short, cold days around the hearth. It’s only natural that, in the days before digital entertainment and giant snowplows, families crafted stories to pass the time—and the truth. Nothing preserves old wisdom quite like a story.

It’s said the darkest hour is just before dawn. Add some chill to that hour, and it makes for some amazing, magic moments.



January Rebirth



There’s more free time for introspection.


In the hectic springtime and jam-packed summer, it’s hard to find time for stillness. And who wants stillness, when the weather’s so fine and there’s so much fun? In a culture that worships multi-tasking and constant busyness, it’s nice to have an excuse to slow down.

Still moments are when we reflect and evaluate. We take stock and find insights. Think about the times you’ve had an epiphany. It probably wasn’t during a summer softball game…


Regeneration takes rest.


In one parable, Jesus said, “…unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” Life has seasons, and regeneration has a cost. To be renewed, we have to have a time of rest. Skip it? Risk burnout.

Even other climates have monsoons, an occasional desert rain, or dry, wasting periods. Nature uses seasons as a reset button, to store up energy. Like the early daffodils, we recharge so that we can burst forth in shocking beauty.


January's Cold Truth


So on this, the next-to-last day of January, 2018, I’m grateful. Thank you, January, for the cold that brings my family closer together, basking in the cozy warmth and rest of home. I love the sunrises and sunsets, the short hours of daylight in between, and the few, fleeting Quadrantid meteors streaking across the night sky. Thanks for the long evenings that will be reclaimed by yard work and busyness, come spring.


January—do you love it or hate it? How do you spend the long evenings of the new year?


* * * * *


Cole Smith is a writer, teacher, and mountain biker in West Virginia. She enjoys good coffee and great stories. She shares inspiration, encouragement, and tips for creative overwhelm at www.colesmithwrites.com.


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How I Fell in Love with My Ideal Partner by Abbie Johnson Taylor

In the winter of 2002, I was single and living here in Sheridan, Wyoming.  A couple of months after subscribing, I decided to pose a question on Newsreel, an audio magazine where people with visual impairments could share ideas and music and trade or sell items. Being a writer who attended workshops away from my computer on a regular basis, I wanted to know if there was any way to transfer a document from a braille note-taker to my computer. At the time, most note[takers didn’t use standard word processing formats, so the answers I received weren’t satisfactory.


One of these came from Bill Taylor, who lived in Fowler, Colorado, where he grew up and where he owned a computer store for twenty years. I don’t remember his answer, but I do recall him asking me about my writing. I responded that I wrote fiction, nonfiction, and poetry and that I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home. He then wrote back and said his mother lived in a nursing home. We had a little something in common.


Over the next couple of years, we corresponded, mainly by email but occasionally by phone. He’d downloaded over a hundred songs on his computer, and he sent me some of these on cassettes. I emailed him some of my writing. In the spring of 2003, when I started work on my first novel, We Shall Overcome, I sent him chapters, and he responded with feedback.


In the spring of 2004, on our way to visit my brother and his family in New Mexico, my father and I decided to stop in Fowler to see Bill, although it was a bit out of the way. Bill and I visited for about half an hour, and I discovered that he, like me, was a fan of Dr. Pepper. The following December, we returned, on our way to New Mexico for Christmas, and took Bill out to breakfast. At that time, he suggested we kiss under the mistletoe in his living room, but I thought he was joking.


In January of 2005, I received a braille letter from him in the mail and the shock of my life when I read it. He was asking me to marry him. At first, I thought he wanted me to move to Fowler, an idea I didn’t like, since I’d lived in Sheridan for years and wasn’t about to start from scratch in a new town. However, when I spooke to him on the phone after receiving his letter, he told me he wanted to move to Sheridan. He was tired of his home town, where there wasn’t much to do. Although I still didn’t know if I loved him, this was definitely a game-changer.


A couple of months later, he came to Sheridan to visit and proposed to me officially at a restaurant in the presence of family and friends. Something clicked, and I said yes.


In July, he moved to Sheridan, and I quit my job at the nursing home. In September, we were married. I wish I could say that was the end, and we’re still living happily ever after, thanks to Newsreel, but that was not to be.


In January of 2006, Bill suffered a stroke that confined him to a wheelchair. He spent nine months in the same nursing home where I’d worked, and I brought him home in September of that year. We’d hoped he would be back on his feet some day, but in January of 2007, he suffered a second stroke, not as severe, but bad enough to set him back to the point where he could never walk again. I cared for him at home until he passed in October 2012.


Despite the trials and tribulations of him only having the use of one arm and leg and me being his caregiver, most of our time together was happy, and we both looked forward to the arrival of Newsreel each month, first through the mail on cassette, then via digital download. You can read our complete story in a memoir I published in 2016, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.


If I hadn’t met Bill, I probably would still be working forty-hour weeks in the nursing home and may not have published four books. If not for Newsreel, I wouldn’t have met Bill. I hope this audio publication continues for at least another sixty years.


Now it’s your turn. How did you meet your ideal partner? Was it love at first site, or did it take a while? Maybe the song you hear when you click below will inspire you. It’s one I wanted to sing at my wedding but didn’t think I could.


Annie’s Song


I’m the author of a romance novel, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My work has appeared in The Avocet and Magnets and Ladders. I have a visual impairment and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my late husband, who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. Before that, I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home and other facilities that served senior citizens. For more information, please visit my website and blog.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.



Emotional Atmosphere

Today Writing Wranglers and Warriors
welcomes a new blogger,
novelist Noreen Cedeño


  Posted by Noreen Cedeño

Did you ever get the feeling that something was wrong in a room or building or space? Can you sense tension in a room, even when no one is there but you, and you aren’t tense? Do old churches and graveyards have a sense of gravitas? What about Ground Zero in New York or Auschwitz? Can you feel a sense of atmosphere in certain places even if you don’t know the cause? What are we sensing when we sense that something is wrong, and we can’t identify a source?

In places where the history is apparent, such as graveyards, prisons, or battlefields, we have a reason to ascribe a particular emotional atmosphere to the space. Where we know that people died too young, grieved losses, or feared for their lives, we can put ourselves in those historic people’s shoes. We can blame our imagination for the shiver that goes up our spine when walking by the Alamo at night. We can tell ourselves that we are having a sympathetic reaction to the emotions felt by the many who died there. We can remind ourselves that we are walking on blood-soaked ground. Knowing the history of a place allows us to shrug off the emotion associated with the space because we can find a logical explanation for our feelings.

However, where we have no apparent logical explanation for the feelings a space inspires, to what do we attribute those feelings? For instance, I was talking to a high school librarian recently about this sense of atmosphere in spaces, when she said, “I know what you mean. It’s like that creepy stairwell in the 700 building.” She went on to explain what she meant. I went home that day and started to tell my son about my conversation with the librarian at his school, intending to ask him if he ever noticed anything about one of the stairwells in the 700 building on his campus. I never got to finish the story. He interrupted me in the middle and said, “Oh, I’ll bet she means that stairwell in the 700 building. It’s creepy. It’s just like the other stairwell in the building, but the other stairs don’t bother me. Only that one.” What he said matched what the librarian said. I asked if he had discussed the creepy stairs with other students. He said no. It didn’t occur to him that others might have noticed the stairs were creepy too.

I was mentioning the stairs to my sister when she said, “I know what you mean. I drove by a building today that I’d never seen before and it creeped me out. It bothered me so much, that when I got home, I went and looked it up to see what it was. I found out it was built originally to be an asylum for mental health patients over a hundred years ago.”

How did she sense that building was creepy just by driving by? Where she lives, there are lots of old buildings. None of the other ones bothered her. Both the stairwell and the building were unremarkable except for that sense of atmosphere.

I write books and short stories based on the premise that emotional atmosphere can be detected and deciphered to help solve crimes. However, outside of fiction, where I can bend the subject matter to my will, I wonder what’s really creating emotional atmosphere. Human perceptions were honed over millennia to detect danger and warn us of threats before we could consciously put the pieces of data together to understand what we were sensing. When a place triggers an emotional response without any apparent cause (not smells, appearance, sounds, touch, or any other obvious sensory input), some sort of subconscious sensory input must be involved. But what?


N. M. Cedeño writes short stories and novels that are typically set in Texas. Her stories vary from traditional mystery, to science fiction, to paranormal mystery in genre. Her debut novel, All in Her Head, was published in 2014, followed by her second novel, For the Children’s Sake, in 2015. In 2016, For the Children’s Sake was selected as a finalist for the East Texas Writers Guild Book Award in the Mystery/Thriller category. Most recently, she has begun writing the Bad Vibes Removal Services Series which includes short stories and the novel The Walls Can Talk (2017).

What Editors Want

Keri De DeoPosted by Keri De Deo

In his book, On Writing, Stephen King talks about two different kinds of writing: writing with the door closed and writing with the door open. First, you write with the door closed. That means you write for yourself. After you’ve done that, you open the door and revise your writing with the audience in mind. This is the step you must make before turning your writing over to an editor (or anyone else).

When you turn your work over to an editor, you want to put your best foot forward. As a freelance editor, I work daily with writers, and I’ve compiled a list of what I look for in good writing. Of course, every editor harps on his or her own pet peeves, but for the most part, we look for the following components:

  • Exciting Content

Before you start worrying about word usage, syntax, grammar, etc., your writing must contain a good story. Give us drama, plot, and a rise and fall in action. Make sure to complete your research. Has the story already been written? If not, go for it! If it has, can you do it better or in a more interesting way? Writer’s Digest provides an excellent list of cliché stories to avoid.

  • Accurate Content

A good editor checks your content for accuracy. If they find inaccuracies, they’ll send it back to you for changes. You might think this only applies to non-fiction or historical fiction. But it applies for all writing. Even if you write fantasy novels, physics and scientific facts matter for readers to believe your story. Before writing my book, Nothing but a Song, I played with several phone apps to make sure the apps I described actually existed. I also did research about the Deaf culture and using sign language. It helped make the story more believable. (At least I hope so.)

  • Active Voice

We all have heard that saying “Show. Don’t tell.” This is where it comes to play. Rather than saying “she was smart.” Show me by using active voice. “She rattled off equations in a few seconds.” You also accomplish this by avoiding helping verbs (i.e. “to be” verbs). Don’t know what those are? See this list. You can’t avoid them every time because sometimes you need to mark a change in tense somehow, and helping verbs do this. However, if you can replace them, replace them. If they’re irreplaceable, leave them. For help in writing more active sentences, visit this link. (Yes, count how many helping verbs I used in this post. I tried to avoid them!)

  • Polished Writing

Nothing makes me put down a book faster than silly mistakes. Typos happen, but they can be avoided by having several people read your draft. Don’t pick a person who won’t be honest. Pick someone you know will give you constructive feedback. Embrace criticism! Avoiding it encourages bad writing. You need feedback if you want to improve. Also, if you read your writing out loud, many errors will show up. Then have someone else read it out loud to you. If they stumble, make that sentence smoother. If no one else has seen your manuscript, don’t send it to an editor. You might just get it back quicker than you think.

Editors care about your writing, but they also care about their reputation. They won’t put their name on something that fails to meet their standards. Some editors might return your manuscript if the writing falls flat. So, make sure to send your best work to an editor and prepare for changes. As my writing teacher always said, “It’s never done; it’s just due.”

Keri De Deo - nbs book coverKeri De Deo, owner of Witty Owl Consulting, lives in northern Arizona and works as a writer, editor, researcher, and instructional designer. She is author of the young adult novel NOTHING BUT A SONG, released December 5, 2017. She loves technology and finding innovative tools for a happy, healthy life. Keri spends her free time with her husband kayaking, hiking, and walking her two beautiful dogs: Maiya and Lilla. To learn more about Keri, visit her website keridedeo.com! You can follow her on Twitter @thewittyowl and on Facebook @authorkeridedeo.


Dream by Abbie Johnson Taylor

I woke up in a hospital room. In the next bed, a friend of mine, with whom I attend water exercise classes at the YMCA, was talking, apparently, to someone visiting her. It wasn’t clear how I got here, but I had a vague recollection of being sick at home and another friend stopping by and taking me to the emergency room, where I was admitted after a battery of tests.


How had my friend gotten into my house? As sick as I was, it would probably never have occurred to me to unlock the doors so someone could get in, let alone call for help. I’d given my friend a key once so she could stay in my house while I was out of town, but she’d long since returned it to me.


Now, I felt a lot better. I didn’t seem to be attached to an intravenous drip or other equipment. Maybe I should get up, find my clothes, then call a nurse and say I was ready to go home, I thought, but as I lay there, mulling this over, I kept dozing off. I realized that I was still weak and needed rest.


It was only a dream, I realized with relief, as the brightly lit hospital room dissolved into the semi-darkness of my bedroom, and my clock radio came on, signaling that it was time to get up, but it was so real, I thought. As I pulled myself out of bed and started getting ready for my day, I remembered that my late husband Bill had a similar experience when he suffered from West Nile virus two years before we were married. He was sick at home for three days before neighbors looked in on him. He was in bad shape by then, so they called 911. To make a long story short, he was laid up for three months. Was my dream a prediction that this would happen to me?


How about you? Did you ever have a dream that felt so real that you were disappointed or relieved when you woke up? Was this dream based on something that happened to you or someone else? Do you think it’s a prediction of what could happen to you?


Now, please click below to hear me sing about a different kind of dreaming. I hope that for you, bad dreams don’t come true and good ones do.




I’m the author of a romance novel, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My work has appeared in The Avocet and Magnets and Ladders. I have a visual impairment and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my late husband, who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. Before that, I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home and other facilities that served senior citizens. For more information, please visit my website and blog.





Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.





Rice Pudding: A Story of Disaster

Posted by M. K. Waller


Christabel’s sister Chloe, who would have done what Christabel did if she hadn’t been busy elsewhere doing who-knows-what


Ever had one of those days
that no matter how hard you try,
you screw up everything you do?”

My niece posted that on Facebook tonight.

Yes, I have. The Day of the Rice Pudding Fiasco.

One day back in the Ice Age, my high school faculty scheduled a potluck lunch for the day before Thanksgiving. Usually we celebrated with Tex-Mex, but burritos had become boring, so we chose a Southern theme. For me, that posed a problem.

For several years, I’d been depending on a local grocery store’s rotisserie chicken and Chinese buffet and several restaurants for meals, and I’d forgotten how to cook. I’d also forgotten what to cook. I needed something that wouldn’t tax my vestigial culinary skills. Fruit salad was the obvious choice, but I wanted a dish that would look like I’d done more than peel bananas and open a few cans.

The easiest thing I could think of was rice pudding: Cook rice (leftover is fine). Mix beaten eggs, milk, and sugar together. Add rice. Set a large shallow pan containing about a half-inch of water in the oven. Pour pudding mixture into baking dish; sprinkle with cinnamon. Set baking dish in pan of water (I don’t know why) in the oven. When the blade of a case knife stuck in the center comes out clean, remove from oven. Serve hot or cold (it’s better cold).

I’d watched my mother make it–without a recipe–dozens of times. It was always delicious. It also qualified as Southern.

Granted, certain details had escaped me. Like how many eggs and how much sugar, milk, and vanilla. And whether vanilla was an ingredient at all. And how high to set the oven temperature.

Minor details.

I set to work boiling and beating. I slid a large, low-sided pan into the oven, filled it with a half-inch of water, and closed the door. Then I set an enormous flat CorningWare dish on the table, near the oven, and poured in the mixture of pre-rice pudding.

As usual, I had made almost more than the dish would hold. Sweet, eggy milk lapped at the sides. The CorningWare was heavy, and its contents made it heavier. I steeled myself for the task of getting it into the oven without slopping liquid onto the floor.

I turned and opened the oven. I turned back.

That’s when I saw Christabel.

Christabel LaMotte, named for the poet in A. S. Byatt’s Possession, a big, black, velvety, green-eyed hussy of a cat, heavy as lead. She had an agile mind and a healthy sense of entitlement.

And she was sitting on the floor, eyes trained on the edge of the table, calculating the distance, the angle, the thrust required to launch her to that higher plane.

“Don’t. You. Dare.”

She dared. Before I could grab her, she achieved liftoff.

But she’d forgotten to factor in the CorningWare dish. Landing off balance, she belly-flopped into the eggy mess. Again before I could grab her, she scrambled off the other side of the table and ran out of the kitchen, down the hall, through my bedroom, and into the living room. I followed, yelling, “Stop,” and, “Come back here,” and, “You’re ruining the carpet.” Things like that.

I finally caught her in the dining room–about three feet from the kitchen door; she’d made a whole circuit–carried her back to the kitchen, closed both doors, set her down, and said, “Bathe!”

Then I went to the living room, flopped into a rocking chair, listened to Dan Rather, and let milk, eggs, sugar, and a trace of vanilla and cinnamon dry and stick to a stretch of long leaf pine and three rooms of carpet.

After Mr. Rather reminded me to count my blessings, I returned to the kitchen and found Christabel sitting just where I’d left her, staring straight ahead, eyes gleaming with repressed rage and resentment, ebony underside covered with goop.

I fetched damp cloths and a towel and joined her on the floor. She didn’t like the bath much more than she liked the goop, but she tolerated it.

Damp but clean, she retired to hunt for her misplaced dignity. I cleaned up gunk. The carpet came out in fine condition, but I my Southern dish was gone with the wind.

Still, the makings of rice pudding remained. A miracle–except for a thin film the size of cat paws plus belly, it was all there, in a CorningWare dish. The oven was hot.

No one would ever know. Christabel was meticulous about personal hygiene. Heat would kill any kitty germs she’d left.

I had only to roll back the clock to the second before Christabel became airborne.

But I did not yield to temptation. The stakes were too high. One black hair on one fork, and my pristine reputation would have been history. Nearly a dozen eggs, no telling how much sugar and milk, several cups of rice–I scrapped it all.

The next morning on the way to work, I stopped at the grocery store and picked up a package of Oreos. Good old Southern food.

Now. I started this piece with a question about a day spent getting everything wrong. But then I wrote about one little culinary disaster spanning less than a half-hour out of twenty-four. An English teacher would say I didn’t follow instructions.

But believe you me, the five seconds it takes for a cat to make a hard landing in uncooked rice pudding is equal to a whole week of screw-ups.

And speaking of rice pudding, a while back, I posted about a 1000-word scene I wrote and then scrapped because it wasn’t right. Several people complimented me on my willingness to let it go.

What I didn’t make clear is that the 1000 words, taken as a whole, were pretty bad. They were first-draft, just-get-it-onto-the-page-quality words that resulted in a very bad scene.

They weren’t words I could have revised and revised and turned into a high-quality scene. There was cat hair all over them. They had to go.

But they didn’t go very far. In my documents folder there’s a file labeled Excisions. That’s where the hairy words live.

Because I never know when they might start to shed.


I first posted about rice pudding on Whiskertips. This seemed a good time to share it again. Christabel and Chloe aren’t with us any more, but they’ll never be forgotten.

I blog now at Telling the Truth, Mainly, and occasionally (about cats) at Whiskertips.

Obsessing on elf ears…

Mike Staton
This post by Mike Staton.

Please forgive me. I’m so embarrassed. I just don’t know if I can actually write this post. I’ll do my very best. You see I have this peculiar fascination with ears – not with any old ears. Elf ears… the long pointed ones that project out from the heads of lady elves.

My admission is not something that makes me proud. I’d rather have a fascination with ice fishing or deep-sea diving. Spending way too much time looking at paintings of elven princesses sporting ears that nearly reach to the top of trees is an obsession that has nearly ruined my life.

Elf Girl1
Those elf ears of hers are darn right scary. Her armor is frightening as well.

I’ve never married. Who would want to marry a man who only desires exotic women with ears that look like Bowie knives? A human woman could never measure up.

Think about it. An elf wife could be my personal assassin thanks to those ears. She could enable me to rule the world. They obviously provide super-sensitive hearing that would augment her already mythical talent at stealth. That’s why I would want my wife’s name to be Stealth. Steel-like cartilage would turn them into daggers that could easily slice open a throat. A rival of mine thinks he’s going to have the premier one-night stand of his life, but instead learns that her kiss heralds his death.

Have you ever seen the ears of a male elf? They’re so embarrassingly small compared to the females. More like Star Trek’s Mr. Spock ears. They barely peek through thick, long hair. No wonder elven societies are matrilineal. The men can’t hear as well and they definitely can’t turn their ear tips into killer daggers. Their ears are only good for one thing – tickling the belly of their elven lover. Better than lips against female flesh.

Elf Girl2
Girls with big ears have a way with really big kitties.

Elven males are not really much use at all – except during war when they can walk point on patrol in a thick forest. Better that an elven man dies in an ambush than one of the females perishes. That’s why the females are longbow archers. With their stiletto ears, daggers holstered to their waists and their bows strapped to their backs, they are the fiercest warriors in all seven realms.


But I live on Earth, and there’s not an elven woman to be seen – not in 75,000 years. So I’m doomed to be womanless.

Elf boy4
Poor males… such short ears.

Wait… someone is motioning to me from across the room. Speak louder please. A dwarven woman? You’re right. I hear they have really beards. They’re short, no more than four-and-a-half feet tall, but that’s fine by me. Our babies would grow up to be ferocious warriors, especially if they sprout up to human height. There’s only one problem though… there’s no dwarves on Earth, again not in 75,000 years. Shoot… I’m out of luck!

# # #

I’m an author with four published novels that include a sword-and-sorcery fantasy trilogy – The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. The fourth novel is a historical romance set during the Civil War. It’s called Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep. I’ve begun writing my second Civil War novel – Deepening Homefront Shadows. All my novels can be purchased via the website of my publisher, Wings ePress, as well as the websites of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Countdown to a prophecy

My first step to starting the year right was to send my book to my editor. After a nail-biting week I received the file back and to my relief she liked it. There weren’t major changes and the story was pretty solid. I accepted the grammar changes and fleshed out scenes she thought needed a little bit more. The file is back with her and my wait started again.

In the meantime I created a Facebook cover photo featuring the book. Also updated Twitter with a cover photo. Once it goes live I’ll post everywhere I can think of. I will be so happy once it’s out in the world, finally. It’s been a long time coming.

I first conceived the story in July 2015. Yes, almost three years ago. Why did it take so long to actually write it and get to a point where I can release the story? Fear. I’m releasing it under my name. If the story is horrible, if people hate it, they’ll know I wrote it. For my other stories it didn’t matter because they’re under pen names. No one will know it’s me if they don’t like them. I have twenty of those out there. But I vowed to stop hiding behind those names and release stories under my name. Start advertising them, tell family and friends, and hopefully at some point be able to do this writing thing full time.

The cover I posted before is now the old cover. I’ll keep it for something else perhaps. Maybe something that is more romance than science fiction. Or maybe I’ll add a spaceship to the cover and use it for a different scifi romance. I have a new cover! It’s below with the blurb again!

The Princess Prophecy

An ancient throne. An unknown prophecy. A reluctant princess controls the fate of the world…

Sophie thinks she’s a typical college freshman. She spends her days making friends and coping with classes, until her whole world changes forever. A group of strange men try to kidnap her, and the only thing that saves her is a long-lost friend who’s sworn to protect his princess…

Nathan tells Sophie that she’s not only half-alien, but she’s royalty on another planet. To make things more complicated, she’s forced to go to that planet to take the throne… or her entire kingdom will suffer.

As Nathan helps her train for her second life, she can’t help but fall for him. But when their ship comes under attack, she wonders if any of them will survive the journey.

Check out my website: http://www.cindycarroll.com
Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CindyPCarroll
Like me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorCindyCarroll
Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cindypcarroll


IMGP6507 By S. J. Brown

I hope everyone has been keeping warm in these frigid temperatures. Freezing temperatures add a whole new set of challenges for a wildlife photographer. It is a bit harder to sneak up on my subjects in layers of clothes and warm boots. Warm thick gloves make it a little harder to focus the camera and hit the shutter button.

1SJ Brown Waterfall

The cold can kill camera batteries quickly. Even keeping the camera tucked into my coat doesn’t work well for long. Any pictures I take in the extreme cold tend to be close to the shelter of a car or building. So in colder temperatures I rely on luck a bit more. Most critters only venture out into the cold to eat, so they are harder to spot.

So I try to concentrate on other things while I wait for the temperature to rise. This is the perfect time of year to work on those unfinished projects. Personally I have finished 2 articles I had outlined, scanned a bunch of images, and completed a few more chapters on a manuscript. Then I laid out a print Ad What do you think? Is it too crowded? Does it make you want to check out my website?

2 Book Maniacs ADThe local critters interrupt me a lot when I am working in my office. I have 6 windows and a set of glass sliding glass doors. So every bird that flies to the feeders catches my attention. Each squirrel that wanders past the doors distracts me. Before I know it I am behind the lens and my writing comes to a halt.

4SJ Brown DoveWhen I am writing I need quiet with no distractions, no television, no radio, no family members asking questions. I tend to be more productive in the evenings when the house is quiet, its dark outside and the woodstove has the house nice and warm.

What challenges do you face in the winter? How do you tackle those challenges?

3SJ Brown Rabbit  Thanks for stopping by and stay warm.

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Grow Old With Me

IMG_1659aby Neva Bodin

Well, today is my birthday and I ain’t no spring chicken any more. I’m not sure I’d even be fit for the soup pot if I was a chicken. OK, I’m 73!

There are so many “forwards” re old age, most of them funny and almost all of them true. Recently, one said we had job security in translating cursive writing soon for younger generations! Since I’ve translated doctors’ writing for many years, I think I qualify.

I often think of the ways I’ve changed since childhood, and the ways I’ve stayed the same. Physically of course there are huge changes, which others can see more clearly.

My mirror tries to get the truth across to me, but my brain won’t accept it. When the hospital I worked at put up pictures of employees when young (I provided my nursing graduation pic) and current, back when I was in my 40’s, I couldn’t believe my boss didn’t recognize me in the younger picture! How could he be so blind?

But does anyone else hang onto their inner child the way I do? While experience and maturity has blunted some of my immature ways, or hammered them into more reasonable behavior, there are some fears and insecurities I refuse to grow out of.  I imagine I will take them to my grave. Fear of the dark is one. (And others I won’t admit to.)

Perhaps that has helped me to be more understanding and empathetic with others who deal with these insecurities and fears. I believe it also helps me get into my character’s skins more easily when I write. For they are the things of conflicts and sometimes erratic behavior.

“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!”
― Robert Browning

I thought I’d be serene, wise, motherly, able to handle anything that comes along by this age. I must think again.

I never stop changing; I am always learning, and should always be ready to embrace a new challenge each day. For certain, like ocean waves that wax and wane, the challenges will keep coming, no matter my age. We must be like trees, ready to bend but not break, and to dig in and become stronger, come sun or rain.

Sometimes I have to tell my inner child to stop whining and make me act my age. Although, at this age, now I don’t want to act my age!