Looking Back at 2016

imgp6488By S. J. Brown

Since 2016 is almost over I thought I would reminisce a bit.  For several years I have been sharing my images on Facebook.   I share a new photo each Sunday so there are many photos that my blogging buddies don’t get to see.  So I thought I would include the 10 most popular photos from 2016 on my last blog of the year.

For many of us 2016 was a roller coaster year, with plenty of ups and downs.  The snow in the beginning of the year came up over 3 feet here.  When I was finally able to get my feet down on solid ground Hubby and I headed out for a few photo trips.

This year I collected nearly 900 books for one of the libraries that flooded in Southern West Virginia. I helped plant over 150 trees and spent time with some gardening friends, when I wasn’t out taking pictures.   I tagged 20 monarch Butterflies and flipped dozens of horseshoe crabs.

My sister and I completed a Memoir and are currently working on books 2 & 3 in the series.  Perhaps years from now we will collaborate on Senior Sisters together.  2016 brought us scorching hot temperatures, new adventures and lots of fond memories.  I photographed Tree Frogs, Bald Eagles, bunny rabbits and baby birds.  I trudged through the snow to capture White Tailed deer, and sunk in the mud to zoom in on Water Fowl.

  I am currently working out the details for a few photo trips in 2017.  I will be heading North for one trip, East for another and South for yet another.  While I work out the details I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season. 

I hope 2016 was kind to you.

May 2017 welcome you with open arms and make you smile. 


Connect with S. J. Brown on Facebook , be one of the first to see what she has been up and view her Sunday Shares.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367

S. J. Browns coloring books feature sketches based on her photographs.

CBCover Acover

Cover 3-26-23Back Cover 4-24-2013Close up and Close Encounters is available on Amazon  at


Or get your autographed copy at S. J. Brown website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com

S. J. Brown’s children’s pictures books are only available through S. J. Brown.

You can order your copies from her website S.J. Brown

Cover All the Birds I See Cover

Thank you for stopping by. I hope I can count on you to comment and share this blog.

History of Dolls by Barbara Schlichting

IMG_3075(1)Since my A First Ladies Mystery series is set in a dollhouse, 
I thought it’d be interesting to learn the history of dolls.


Doll origins date to the beginning of time. Women passed their dolls 
down to their daughters as toys. In ancient times, they were considered 
part of religious rites and ceremonies. Greek literature supports this theory.

Nurenburg, Germany, records show dollmakers in the early fifteenth century. 
Dolls have been handmade for centuries, using clay, fur, wood, wax, clothespins,
rags, cornhusks, and let’s not forget the Russian stacking dolls. 
This names a few of the types of dolls.
Fashion dolls were popular in the 1300’s. With the settling of North America, 
women made dolls for their daughters. Porcelain and bisque dolls became 
popular in the 1800’s. After WWII, doll makers began manufacturing them 
with plastic, rubber, and other durable materials. Vinyl changed the doll 
makeup, allowing the head to have hair. Mass-marketing has taken 
over the market. Traditional dollmakers are now using materials from the 
past, which I like the concept since it connects the past with the present.



How to Tell if Your Slip is Showing!



propic11_1_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

If you are a woman many of you have run into a problem with your slip showing below your hemline. Not only does it look unprofessional, when someone brings it to your attention

sundress-336590_640you are embarrassed. I’ve actually seen a woman standing near me whose half-slip fell right down to her feet. And then there’s the woman returning from the bathroom with her slip and skirt tucked into her pantyhose. Although it’s hard not to laugh you take pity on her and quickly tell her the problem (hey, it could have happened to you!).

Why am I writing a blog post about how to tell if your slip is showing? I am speaking of how it relates to writing. Your writing can slip if you are not careful. Slips of the tongue can make a sentence mean something entirely different than what you intended. Slips with characters names can throw your reader into confusion.

adult-18598_640Slips in the plot of the book can cause a reader to put the book down because he or she doesn’t like your writing style. If your location shifts and the reader has to make his way through the murky waters to find out what you mean, oops, another slip!

How to avoid your slip showing? Edit, edit, edit. Be sure you have read your book many times to catch problems. Have a group of proofreaders you trust give the book a read andtypewriter-801921_640 tell you of anything they catch and be open to changing it. It’ll only make the book better.

Since none of us want our slips to show, it’s only logical we pay very close attention to the plot, the protagonist, the location, and the overall feel of the book. Believe me, you’ll feel a lot better if your slip isn’t showing and you’ll gain readers because they like the professionalism and tune of the writing.

Make sure your slips fit!


My Books can be found on Amazon.com

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

Inzared, The Fortune Teller

13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an E-book

13 Extreme Tips to Publishing an E-book

Videos for both of the Inzared books can be found on You Tube

You can also find me here:

Amazon Author Page










Fun with Book Promotion by Erin Farwell

IMG_3021_1Writing is hard work. You have to create believable but inventive plots and characters people care about or hate depending on their role in your story. The setting must support the world you’ve created and the ending must satisfy the readers so that the want more. After all this hard, challenging, and satisfying work, you finally have a book: a real one that you can hold in your hand, turn the pages, and hold up to say “I wrote this.”

After the joy of birthing your new “baby” comes the hard part – marketing the dang thing. While we love our work and hopefully so do our friends and family, we still need, want, crave others to like it, too. So we do launch parties, book signings, Goodreads Giveaways, Facebook posts, bookstore queries, and anything else we can think of to tell people about this precious piece of ourselves that we have launched into the world.

Recently, a fellow author, Lois Winston, invited me to contribute to an author cookbook featuring dessert recipes along with our thoughts on love and writing as well as a blurb about our books/stories. The idea is that people will get some great recipes and maybe find a few new favorite authors in the process andIMG_6458 the writers will have another forum to connect with potential readers.

I jumped at the chance, offering my family’s recipe for Hidden Treasure Cookies, aka chocolate cups and caramel cups. This is the recipe that one child, upon tasting the cookies for the first time, turned to her mom and asked, “Can we adopt Miss Erin?” Yes, they are that good and one of the gems of our Christmas cookie trays. My thoughts on love and writing were pretty basic, yet true from my perspective but the recipe… so good.

The result of Lois’ effort is an amazing book entitled Bake, Love, Write and includes recipes and inspirations from 105 authors. In addition to the book itself, a group of the contributors are holding an electronic scavenger hunt during the month of October. I had never heard of this before but thought – why not, and I’m so glad I did. The participating authors have hidden a Halloween icon on one of the pages of their author websites and have donated a book, e-book, or swag item as prizes. Contestants must go to the author pages, find the icons and report their findings to be eligible for prizes which will be chosen through Raffle Copter. You can learn more and participate if you’d like here.

What a brilliant way to get people to read our author pages, learn more about our books, win prizes, and have some fun. Now if only I knew another group of connected authors with books to promote who might want to participate in a scavenger hunt…?

The recipes in Bake, Love, Write are awesome as are the authors themselves and it’s a wonderful way to take the drudgery out of book promotion. Check it out and tell me what you think.

Also, today is my husband’s birthday so a quick shout-out to him. Happy Birthday, Mike!

You can learn more about me at:

Erin Farwell

ShadowlandsAHE New Cover8149g0+Rz-L._SL1500_

Photograph = Thousand Words

Post, photos copyright by Doris McCraw








This is an extra post this month. I thought instead of my usual post, I would share some photographs and give you some options for writing thoughts, stories, or poetry.  It would be great if you would share a sentence or two about a favorite posted photo. Now, as the say, on with the show.


6-2-2014 early summer 011


1. The ice-covered forest…..

2. What a tangled web….


10-19-2013 Victor Murder Mystery 121



1. The gate had stood for many years, to keep them out or…

2. The blue sky drew them like nothing else, even bars couldn’t contain…


9-10-2011 end of season trip 131


1. A resting place or place of rest

2. The shadows cast were not their own


cabin wp 09 1


This one I leave to your imagination.


There are so many wonderful images in the world around us if we take the time to see. I have a camera most of the time to capture pieces of the world. They in turn feed my creativity.  Many a haiku and short story has come from seeing a headstone, the color of a flower or a person walking alone.

My short story “A Home For His Heart” came to fruition from a photo I took while wandering the high country. In fact it ended up as the background for the cover of the book. Below is the photo in its entirety.

October Mtn research trip 092

Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend. Rest, relax and count the blessings we have been given. Until next time…HAPPY WRITING!

Cover for Home For His Heart

HOME FOR HIS HEART by Doris McCraw, available on:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords

Follow my haiku post five days a week at: http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com

“Film & Photography on the Front Range” : the stories of the people who made film and photograph history on the Colorado Front Range. You can buy online at: http://www.amazon.com




Your Cover Is the Bridge to Your Readers by Stephanie Stamm

Steph_2 copy (2)We work hard to make the content of our books just right. But the first thing any potential reader sees is the book’s cover. If that potential reader does not find the cover compelling, she or he will never pick up (or click on) the book and find out how wonderful it might be. A great cover can’t carry a bad book, but a great book (at least if it’s by an unknown writer) will never be discovered without a great cover.

I can’t even imagine how many books I’ve read that I wouldn’t have if their covers hadn’t called me to learn more about what lay behind them. Certainly, I’ve read plenty of books based on the recommendations of friends or due to reviews or because they’ve reached the best seller lists. But all those books I just discovered on my own? Yep, I first picked them up because of their covers.

That’s why, as Cher’ley Grogg pointed out in her blog post from earlier this month, book covers need to be eye-catching and to pack an emotional punch. A cover also has to convey some specific information such as:

  • The genre of the book
  • The book’s target age group
  • The mood or feel of the book

Readers are looking for specific types of books. Your book is looking for a specific type of audience. Your cover is the bridge between your book and its readers. The cover communicates to your target audience that this is a book written for them.

A Gift of Wings Cover
Current Cover

Later this year, I will be releasing the second volume of my Light-Bringer series, A Gift of Shadows. In preparation for the book’s release, I’ve not only had a cover designed for Shadows, but I’ve gotten a new cover for the first volume, A Gift of Wings. The current cover speaks to the relationship between Light and Dark that is at the heart of the novel, but it doesn’t readily convey the book’s genre (urban fantasy), its target age group (New Adult/Young Adult), or its feel. If I want to reach my target audience, I need a cover that communicates all those things.

New Cover

I now have one that does that. 🙂 And, today, blogger extraordinaire L. Marie is hosting a Makeover Party for A Gift of Wings. Please pop over to her website, take a look at the stunning new cover (designed by cover artist and fantasy writer Ravven), and check out L. Marie’s interview with me. If you leave a comment on L. Marie’s post, you’ll get a chance to win a copy of the made-over book. Also, please check out Ravven’s website for some more of her beautiful designs and for some very informative posts about the process of designing a book cover.

Have you experimented with multiple covers for a book? If so, what did you learn?



Connect with Stephanie Stamm:





Stephanie Stamm is the author of the New Adult/Young Adult urban fantasy A Gift of Wings(She is working on the sequel.)


Click here to check out the new cover









She has also contributed stories (one fictional and one true) to the following volumes:

Undead of Winter Front Only Into the Storm Cover

Cover to Cover-Judge a Book by Its Cover by Cher’ley

This Blog by Cher’ley Grogg

Do you Judge a Book by the Cover? Of course you do. That’s the first thing you notice and then you proceed from there. Perhaps the first chapter or the back cover. Sometimes we scan from Cover to Cover.

From an expert, JK Waters

Jeri – JeriWB Author & Editor. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://jeriwb.com/_br

Designing the cover is a crucially important step in the success of your book. After all the cover is the portal to your reader. It is your

Guess What?
An interesting cover, I thought. Guess What? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

opportunity to capture their imagination, set the mood, and pull them in and get them to click that button to buy your book. Readers are assaulted with thousands of titles online and in book stores. If your book cover is boring, doesn’t convey your story, or is poorly done they will not stop on the image, much less spend money on your book. So how do you create a stunning cover that will grab your reader’s attention?






5 Expert Tips on Creating a Winning Book Cover. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://jeriwb.com/coverdesign-5-expert-tips-creating-winning-book-cover-30108/_br

She gives 5 steps to Creating the Perfect Book Cover

  1. Capture the Readers Attention
  2. Evoke Emotion
  3. Hint at the Story without Being Cluttered
  4. Be Visually Pleasing
  5. Be Simple

Here’s a link to her Book Cover Creating Page

When I did a search of Boys Will Be Boys—The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys, this ISBN Directory came up. I liked the looks of it, so I’m sharing it.  Perhaps your book will come up that way too.

Boys Will Be Boys-The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys – Buy … (n.d.). Retrieved from http://isbn.directory/book/9781499728859_br

Fascinating, funny, and fabulous stories furnish an insight into raising and caring for boys. There are photos, poems, Aesop’s Fables, a bit of scripture and many tips from parents who have shared some of the best and worse times they have experienced while touching the lives of many young men. All twelve authors have brought a different perspective about their contact with boys, some as parents, some as aunts or uncles, some as teachers, some as sisters and brothers, some as nieces and nephews, and some as daughters and sons. This will be a book you will want to turn to over and again for guidance, inspiration, and laughs.

Boys Will Be Boys-The Joy and Terrors of Raising Boys 



I used a couple of editing tools to get this cover ready. When I got my first proof, the photos were all blurry. A friend Sue Brown, who is also a photographer from West Virginia, said that every time you touch a photo you lose quality. Doesn’t matter if you are resizing it, or reshaping it, or putting a border around it—the less you mess with the original, the better the quality. She was right. Here’s a link to the Facebook page of SJ Brown. Check out some of her photos.


I am very proud of the cover for this book. On the front, I tried to post a photo from each author, and I loved the photos of the 12 Authors. The back cover features(I have put links to their facebook pages in case you’d like to check out more from them) Steve Scott, Del Grogg, Gloria Alden, Dreama Pitt, Theresa Jenner Garrido, Dusty Wallace, Mike Staton, Cher’ley Grogg, Misty Montega, Linda McKeel Scott, Maxwell Taylor, and to round it off Frank Lanerd. Each story told in the Author’s voice, and each author has their chapter with photos and bios.

I had to find the perfect background to begin the cover. My sister-in-law Carol Dicken had taken a beautiful photograph of a rainbow. The colors worked perfectly and gave me a place to start. Then you have to make sure you’re working the background in the right size, to fit the cover space. With me, it took a lot of trial and error, but with more talented people, it would have taken less time and effort, I’m sure.

The font and the color of the font are also crucial. A lot of covers use yellow, and I did in The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk, but on Boys Will Be Boys—The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys, the red stood out.

I ran the Cover of the Boys are stupid... book.cover by all the Contributors and ended up with this cover. So do you like this cover?

I thought this was a cute cover. Got my attention.





**Have you tried to create your own covers? Do you have someone who does your covers? Do you judge a book by its cover?**


Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores. And she has a new one that is freshly published with 11 other authors. 

Stamp Out Murder”.

The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren.

The Journey Back-One Joy at a Time and the B&W Edition of The Journey BackThe JourneyBack 3


Boys Will Be Boys   

The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys-An Anthology

Fans of Cher'ley Grogg,AuthorAnd please join me on my Facebook Fanpage, that’s managed by one of my most faithful fans: Cindy Ferrell

Here’s a link to Cher’ley’s WEBSITE