Reading Life

This post is by Abbie Johnson Taylor.


Thanks to StephJ for inspiring this. Since I love to read as much as I love to write, here are my answers to some questions about how I read.


Do you have a specific place for reading?

Because of my visual impairment, I prefer listening to books, either in recorded or digital print formats. For this reason, I can read while eating, doing dishes, putting away laundry, etc. Most of the time, I prefer to read in the recliner that once belonged to my late husband Bill or in the back yard where he also enjoyed sitting. I like reading in these places because it makes me feel closer to him.

Do you use bookmarks or random pieces of paper?

The devices I use are capable of keeping my place when I leave a book and return to it later. They have bookmark features, but I rarely use them.

Can you just stop anywhere or must it be at the end of the chapter?

I try to stop at the end of a chapter, but some authors end chapters with cliffhangers, so that can be more easily said than done. Also, some chapters are lengthy, and if I start nodding off, forget it.

Do you eat or drink while reading?

Whether I’m reading or writing, I’m always drinking water. In mid-afternoon, I drink Dr. Pepper. Occasionally, I’ll listen to a book at the kitchen table while eating.

Do you listen to music or watch TV while reading?

Since I listen to books instead of reading them, this can be tricky, so I usually don’t.

Do you read one book at a time or several?

I read one book at a time. I finish it, or not, then move on.

Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

With my portable devices, I can read anywhere, but I prefer to read at home.

Do you read out loud or silently?

Most of the time, books are read to me, either by a human voice on a recording or by my device’s text to speech engine. Sometimes though, especially when reading poetry, I read material aloud to myself with my device’s Braille display.

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

It depends on the book. With a novel, I don’t dare skip anything because I don’t want to miss an important plot twist. With a book of essays, short stories, or poems, I skip material that doesn’t appeal to me.

Do you break the spine or keep it like new?

Most of the time, I’m not dealing with spines. Occasionally though, if I really want to read a book and can’t find it in an accessible digital format, I’ll buy a hard copy and scan it. When I do this, I try to keep the book intact.


Now it’s your turn. You can answer any or all the questions above, either in the comments field or on your own blog. If you do this on your blog, please put a link to your post in the comments field here. In any case, I look forward to reading about your reading life.


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

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It’s the journey AND the destination!

By Stephen Buehler

Stephen Buehler - Bouchercon

I have taken on an arduous task – converting my novella into a novel.

The Mindreading Murders is about a magician who’s making his big comeback. One of his assistants is killed after being a guest on a medium’s TV show. This medium has something to do with the magician’s tragic past. This leads to the magician investigating the medium and his “ability” to talk with the dead. They have several “Mind Off” competitions where each one demonstrates their respective abilities as the magician unravels what really happened to his deceased assistant.


The novella was written for an on-line publisher of novellas but the company went defunct. After a successful author read it and loved it, she thought it felt more like a novel and I should change it. To go from novella to novel I’d have to increase the word count by at least 10,000 words. The novella was 39,000 words and a very short novel is 50,000 words.

I have taken on that challenge. I began by adding small changes to scenes. This slowly increased the word count but it felt like the story was being tacked on. And I wasn’t happy with the way it was reading, too choppy and the additional words appeared to me to be just that, additional words. Really, the biggest obstacle was, it was not fulfilling my creativity. I wasn’t plugging away on it like I usually do.

While walking Seymour, my dog, it came to me. seymour-haircut-6-3-15What I had to do was make changes to some of the characters and hopefully that would provide all new scenes. Where in a novella I used thumb nail sketches of the characters now I could really dive into who they really are. For instance, the magician’s best friend went from being a nerd to a lady’s man who likes to flirt. The grandfather, a likable old magician now has a mysterious love interest. A character I had eliminated in the beginning of the novella now sticks around causing havoc behind the scenes. These additions have given The Mindreading Murders many new new organic subplots.

All of these changes breathed new life into the story. I wasn’t just adding words I was creating a whole new story by using the novella as a blueprint. Everyday I’m excited to get back to writing to see what happens next. Actually, some days I’m a little disappointed if I only get to make minor changes instead of new scenes and story lines.

I’m now at 51,000 words and I’m 2/3 finished with this new draft. Now I can call it a novel!



Stephen Buehler’s short fiction has been published in numerous on-line publications including, Akashic Books. Not My Day appeared in the Last Exit to Murder anthology and A Job’s a Job in Believe Me or Not An Unreliable Anthology.  He’s expanding his novella, The Mindreading Murders about a magician into a novel and shopping around his mystery/comedy P.I. novel, Detective Rules. On top of all that he is a script consultant, magician and dog owner.






your Profile PhotoThis post by Jennifer Flaten

As you know I love reading. It is one of my favorite things to do. There is nothing as satisfactory as losing yourself in a book. For me reading a good book can turn hours into minutes. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve started a book at 8pm and then stayed up until 2a to finish it.

So it is probably no surprise that I get a little thrill when I find new book I’ve been waiting for on the library shelf. Actually, since I don’t pay much attention to when an author has a new book coming out I like it even better when I happened upon a new book by my favorite author. Seriously, it can turn a ho hum what shall I read trip the library into a wish I had a self driving car so I could start reading on the ride home.

As much as I love discovering new authors there is something so comforting about reading a book with familiar characters. Or if the author doesn’t do a series, it is the joy of reading someone who can make you laugh, or cry. Whose words jump off the page at you and encourage you to stay up way past your bedtime reading that final chapter.

Of course, on that rare occasion you get a book that is a dud. For whatever reason, your favorite author has let you down. Maybe the plot didn’t work for you, or this time that little quirk the main character has isn’t that charming (perhaps it reminds you of an annoying co worker), it’s downright irritating.


Sometimes this can be remedied by putting the book in a time out. Other times it is necessary to skip the end and call it a day. There is always another book on the pile.

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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

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

Inzared, The Fortune Teller

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13 Extreme Tips to Publishing an E-book

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

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Broke-Beaten Down-But Still Blessed-That’s Bad-No That’s Good by Cher’ley

This blog by Cher’ley Grogg

I’m so broke I can’t even afford to *pay attention*. I’m so broke I go into KFC and lick other people’s fingers.

When everything is coming my way—I’m in the wrong lane.

I’m so broke, I went to McDonald’s and put a milkshake on lay-a-way.

That’s how I’m feeling. I drive an 18 Wheeler, and when it breaks down, it’s major money.

Image result for white 2009 freightliner coronado with a van trailer


Like a bad joke:

So far in the last two months we have spent almost twice as much as we’ve made. (That’s Bad) (No that’s Good) Praise God for Credit Cards, we would never survive without them (That’s Good) (No that’s Bad) With our health not being so good it will take us a long time to pay them off.(That’s Bad) (No that’s Good) At least we have a job. Ups and downs just like everyone else.


No matter how many books I write “Stamp Out Murder” will always be my baby. For the first time ever. I got a bad review. I didn’t argue with the person, but I did try to find him, there doesn’t seem to be such a person.

 On a warm autumn morning James arrives in West Virginia (That’s Good) (No that’s Bad). There’s a dead body in the Cheat River and he’s going to be accused of murder. (That’s Bad) (No that’s Good). He meets some old geezers, who are very funny. (That’s Good) (No that’s Bad) They tell him the mayor, who he’s about to do business with is not on the up and up. (That’s bad) (No that’s Good) It gives him a reason to hang around Wanton, WV and he meets Carolyn. (That’s Good) (Yes, that is Good). That’s very good.

Stamp Out Murder”.

This fast-paced novel is an adventure, a mystery, and a love story all rolled into one. There’s a bit of paranormal activity (or is there?), some lovable characters, and some disgusting villains. Come join the fun. Stamp Out Murder is only $2.99 right now on Amazon. Let me know what you think. The sequel will be coming out next year. Cancel Out Murder. Get to know the characters now, so you’ll be ready to spend more time with them next year.

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 JourneyBack 3The Journey Back-One Joy at a Time and the B&W Edition of The Journey Back
Boys Will Be Boys   The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys-An Anthology
 Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico 
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

A Wilder Rose by Abbie

Abbie J. Taylor 010This post by Abbie Johnson Taylor


Image result for Little House on the Prairie creative commons images.

When I was a kid, I read all the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, some of them more than once. To this day, I still remember the names of all the books and the order in which they were written: Little House in the Big Woods, Farmer Boy, Little House on the Prairie, On the Banks of Plumb Creek, By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years, and The First Four Years. For those of you not familiar with this series, these books in chronological order tell the true story of how Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Recently, I was fascinated when I read A Wilder Rose: Rose Wilder Lane, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Their Little Houses by Susan Wittig Albert.

This Show was inspired by the books

This is a fictionalized account of the lives of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, spanning ten years between 1928 and 1938 while they were collaborating on most of the books in the series. Telling the story mostly from Rose Wilder Lane’s point of view, the author gives a brief account of Rose’s life growing up. The family was forced to move from their South Dakota home after Rose accidentally set the house on fire at the age of three by putting too much wood in the stove. They settled on a farm near Mansfield, Missouri.

Rose felt guilty for causing the fire and resented farm life. A free spirit, she finally left home at the age of eighteen and became a journalist, traveling all over the country and overseas, getting married and divorced, and giving birth to a son who died as an infant. She finally returned to the family farm in Missouri in 1928 when she felt obligated to help her aging parents. She built them a separate house on the property, wired both houses for plumbing and electricity, and took over the main farm house.

To tell the truth, Rose Wilder Lane was more her mother’s ghost writer. She never wanted credit for the books. Laura wrote the original manuscripts by hand, and Rose typed them, editing and rewriting as she went along. At first, Laura didn’t like her daughter’s revisions, but after Farmer Boy was rejected the way her mother wrote it, she grudgingly agreed to let Rose do the revisions.

Rose not only wrote magazine articles but also fiction, which her mother despised. This was one of many sources of tension between mother and daughter. Several of Rose’s sshort stories and a couple of novels were published during this ten-year period.

Susan Wittig Albert describes other stresses Rose faced during those years. Needless to say, the stock market crash in 1929 and the ensuing depression caused financial worries. Although Rose and her mother lived in separate houses, her mother constantly phoned or stopped by for tea, interrupting her writing. Her writer friends often visited or stayed with her for long periods of time, and her mother didn’t like any of them and was disturbed by gossip about them in the small town. Rose also took in two teen-aged orphaned boys and cared for them as if they were her sons. This all became too much for her, and in 1935, she moved to Columbia, Missouri, so she could be on her own. In 1938, she left Missouri for good and moved to New York where she started doing more political writing.

With her daughter’s help, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the first eight books in the Little House series. After These Happy Golden Years was published, Laura wrote The First Four Years on her own. This details her early life with her husband Almanzo. Since Rose didn’t have a hand in this book, readers wImage result for Little House on the Prairie creative commons images.ere disappointed because the prose wasn’t the same as in the other books.

According to the epilog, Laura Ingalls Wilder died in 1958 after being diagnosed with diabetes. Rose Wilder Lane lived for another eleven years. The book also provides a bibliography of material by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and others.

As I said before, I read all the books in the Little House series including The First Four Years. I must have been around twelve when I read that one, and I didn’t notice a difference in the prose, but kids don’t notice these things or care. It’s all about the story.

Reading these books helped me put my life in perspective at such a young age. I became thankful for electricity, hot water, and plumbing and was glad we didn’t have to deal with blizzards, drought, or grasshoppers. As an adult, reading A Wilder Rose gave me a glimpse into Rose Wilder Lane’s writing life which I found intriguing. I recommend this book to adults interested in learning more about Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane.

Did you read the Little House books? Were there any favorites that you read more than once?

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of:

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome


Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

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That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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Descriptions, From Tell to Show by Cher’ley

This blog by Cher’ley Grogg

She swooped into the book store. Her fiery red lipstick matched her bright red dress which fit her like the skin on an apple. She wore too much sky blue, eye shadow and her cheeks flashed as pink as a Florida Flamingo. Her fluffy, black hair with white roots resembled a bird’s nest. She batted her dark black, fake eyelashes at the clerk. She tilted her head to the side, with a slight smile, and then she licked her lips before she leaned toward the young man. It didn’t seem to bother her that he drew back. She continued with sultry movements, tossing her hair and sticking one curvy hip out. When she was sure she had his full attention she leaned in showing a little cleavage and whispered in her huskiest voice, which now sounded cacophonous, “Where are your books on knitting?”

Did you enjoy this paragraph? I could have said, “The cougar walked into the book store and asked where the knitting books were.”



I’ve been studying descriptive paragraphs this week. Here’s a clip about deepening the elements. Follow the link to this blog Writing for Success.  for a little more about these next couple of sentences. Grey the color of storm ready sky or the ironic half-smile the felt as familiar to me as a hug. A little more research revealed an essay about the development of entertainment media and how the instructor broke it all down.
In it, she describes TV-watching in her family to make a point about how central TV was as a form of entertainment in the 60’s.

(1) As I was growing up in the 60’s, television was the only entertainment my family knew of the electronic sort. (2) The 7 o’clock nightly news was such an important part of our family that my dad knocked a wall down and built a huge cabinet in its place just to accommodate our 19-inch black and white. (3) No one was allowed to talk or make a sound when the television was on; all eyes were glued to the moving and flickering image. The box commanded absolute respect.(4) In the daytime, “the television needs its rest” my mother would say, as she patted its pseudo-wooden top and covered it with a doilie she had made herself. (5)There is no doubt that TV was as central to our lives as it was to the lives of all our friends during that period. (adapted from an essay by Angeline Chan, used with permission.)

  • Notice the writer’s use of action verbs (knocked, glued) and her use of sensory words (19- inch, black and white, huge, talk, sound, flickering)) to paint a picture of the scene in her living room. In the final sentence, she states the main point of the paragraph: that TV was central in families’ lives during the 60’s. The appearance of a topic sentence at the end of a paragraph, rather than at the beginning is common in descriptive paragraphs, and it works well for this kind of development.

Do you think about these elements when you’re writing?

Give me an example of your descriptive paragraph.

I have a hard time writing descriptive language, because my first writing instructor taught me to be as frugal with words as I could when writing. I don’t think I actually caught on to what he was teaching, but I mostly wrote stripped down paragraphs. Now I’m trying to re-educate myself.

It hasn’t been that long ago since I had a little B/W  TV in our bedroom.

Cropped screenshot of Dan Blocker from the tel...

It got the UHF channel on which we watch PBS and retro shows. I loved Bonanza, B/W or colored.

Do you have suggestions or thoughts about my being retrained or the blog in general? Let’s roll up our sleeves and get descriptive. 


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. She will have 3 more coming out this summer. 

Stamp Out Murder”.
 The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren
The JourneyBack 3The Journey Back-One Joy at a Time and the B&W Edition of The Journey Back
Boys Will Be Boys   The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys-An Anthology
 Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico 
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




For CCThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

Some fantastic milestones have been reached in my household this week.

My trusty dictionary describes milestone as:

1. A stone marker set up on a roadside to indicate the distance in miles from a given point.
2. An important event, as in a child’s development, the history of a nation, or the advancement of knowledge in a field; a turning point.

Earlier this week my grandson, almost 10 months, made the transition from doing flying belly shunts to what we call proper crawling. What does that mean for me? The days of parking him down nearby with a set of toys to play with will no longer pass muster. He’s on the move and on the move very, very quickly.

20150117_101926 Jan 2015 My solo childminding stints are going to be a lot more energetic now that I’m going to be split in half running after my 3 year old granddaughter and grandson. I’ll just have to make sure they’re travelling in the same direction!

The other major milestone for me this week is that I’ve eventually done and dusted all edits to my YA time travel adventure ‘The Taexali Game’. I can now move on to learning how to check the formatting for uploading to Amazon (that might be a big challenge for me). All I need now is for my front cover designer to come up with a spectacular image and when the front cover is decided on, that’ll be another milestone that I’ll have passed.

As one of my fellow Wrangler bloggers mentioned a couple of days ago – I need A PLAN. A big marketing plan because I’m hoping for a local market for my YA novel as well as a global one. Therefore, that being the case, I’ll need to be sure I know where my milestones are going to be placed. Am I going to be setting large pieces of stone in high visibility places like my favourite Ancient Romans did? Maybe not quite that. I may be covering some reasonable distances within my home area of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, to events when launching the novel but my markers are more likely to be on the virtual map.

In my neck of the woods, ancient milestones are still to be found at the edges of many roads, though none of those (to my knowledge) are from Roman times. In my Celtic Fervour Series (AD 84), and in The Taexali Game (AD 210), the Ancient Roman Army travel many, many miles to reach Aberdeenshire. The distance is some 600 miles from landing on the south coast of England, but since their roads were mostly of the simplest flattened earth type in Scotland it’s unlikely that they had stone markers on them. From my research on Roman tactics, it’s probable that the markers were of wood on the campaign roads in Scotland. Wood is great in the short term but not so lasting in the long term.

I’ll keep that in mind because I’ll need to have some short term milestones as well as long term strategies in place for MY PLAN.

milestone with inscriptionWhen the Romans settled in an area in the longer term, some of their milestones resembled the one on the right. Around 117 Roman milestones still survive in the UK, though few are in good condition.
The second one below with the inscriptions (Llanfairfechan, Wales) would most likely have been picked out in red paint, as was usual, for easy viewing.
The very organised Romans set out these mile markers at reasonably precise distances, the stones laid at every 1000th double-step.

Can you hear them marching…sin..dex…sin…dex…  ?

Why was this important to them even on roads that were unpaved? Marching from milestone to milestone improved the efficiency of the infantry and the timing across a route could be better reckoned. Once the roads were established, soldiers and supplies could move very quickly throughout the Empire.

Efficiency is something I definitely could do with!

milestone inscription Wales LlanfairfechaIn Scotland, there are some remains of Roman roads, mostly across the central belt between Glasgow and Edinburgh (the shortest point of Scotland from west to east). The remains of some of these roads are roughly along the route of The Antonine Wall (built AD 142) though some of the milestones were laid down during earlier Roman campaigns in AD 83/84 (or maybe even earlier since recent evidence is redrawing the dates of Roman occupation).

You’ll find more Antonine Wall info here:

In the third book of my Celtic Fervour Series After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks – my Celtic warriors shadow the advance of Agricola, the Roman Governor of Britannia (AD 78-86) as he marches his troops from northern England to the north-east of Scotland. The flattened earth of Agricola’s legions, thousands of soldiers, left a legacy because it’s very likely that in AD 210 the Roman Emperor Severus marched along those same roads to the north-east of Scotland with some 30,000 men. The Emperor Severus and his thousands of men appear in my YA time travel The Taexali Game.

Like Agricola had done, Severus also came (probably annihilated a lot of Celtic warriors) and then he left Scotland fairly quickly, his troops marching back down south passing all of his milestones along the way- though the Emperor was carried the whole way in a litter. I should add at this point that the Emperor Severus hadn’t been in good health for some years (and don’t blame the infernal rainy Scottish weather or the delightful Scottish midges, *smiley face*here because we’ve got a lot of that/them). Severus made it to York in northern England via his vastly improved ‘metalled’ roads in England and died there in AD 211. Severus was apparently a very superstitious man and believed his soothsayer who had earlier warned him that Eboracum (York) was where he would die. (Make of that what you will but Severus was most likely very arthritic and quite old for the era at around 66 years of age)

Until roughly the mid 20th century many of the trunk roads in Scotland were partially laid down on what were still casually referred to as ‘the Roman Road’.

The Romans never properly conquered Scotland but I still drive on parts of their legacy even after almost 2000 years.

Back to my PLAN.

  • Any ideas as to where I should place my marketing milestones?
  • I’m thinking of writing an early Press release and sending it to the local newspapers, and some national ones.
  • I could also try the local radio stations and see what they can come up with.
  • Maybe I’ll try to book a venue for a real-live book launch as well as a virtual one on Facebook.
  • A next milestone will be to find an affordable print option because if I take my novel around the public libraries and schools in Aberdeenshire, I’ll need some print copies for display.

Hmm… any suggestions?

Meanwhile have a great weekend.

Nancy Jardine’s novels can be found via her Author Page at  Amazon US ; Smashwords ; B&N ;  and other major ebook sites.

x3 on blackCeltic Fervour series set in northern Roman Britain AD 71-84



Nancy Jardine Award Finalist The People's Book Prize 2014Award Finalist mystery thriller – Topaz Eyes

Contact Nancy at her: BLOG  WEBSITE

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Down Memory Lane

propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

I don’t outline my books. I guess you’d call me a spontaneous writer. But I do write out a few notes for reference. The following is how I would write the notes for an autobiography. I could write for years on the memories these facts evoke.

I am the eldest of four children. Two sisters, two years apart, followed me. We got a brother when I was eight and we were all thrilled.

One of my first memories is of sitting on my mother’s lap listening to a book she read to me. She always had time to sit down with any of us to do something we liked.readingbaby

Another memory is music, falling in love with it when, at the age of two my father put me on a picnic table at our family reunion, picked up his guitar, and said, “Sing for everybody Linda.” And sing I did. I loved it.

My Father was a day run truck driver when I was born. When I turned one, he bought me a teddy bear, came home and told my mom he had quit the trucking job. He couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing me grow up. He got another job the following day that mybearallowed him to be home evenings and weekends. I still have my bear, and although his fur is worn and he has embroidered eyes (because I ate the beaded ones) he still sits on my nightstand to this day, a memory of simpler times and childhood.

When I was five my mother taught me to sew – simple things by hand. It wasn’t long before I moved on to the sewing machine, winning several ribbons in 4-H during my teen years. A friend taught me embroidery, another taught me knitting, and still another taught me to crochet. I feel as if I’ve sewn my whole life and I enjoy each and every project.  If you’re interested in learning more about 4-H here is a link:



Until I was six we lived across from an apple-canning factory. I can still smell the odor of the fresh apples and the decay when the season was done. For my sixth birthday I got a baby buggy and was I excited! So excited, in fact, that I plunked my baby into the buggy buggyand took off for Grandma’s house to show it to her. Grandma lived across a busy highway and when I got to her house she brought me straight home. Like a dog with a bone, I spent the next month staring at our hall closet, where the buggy had been put on a top shelf so that I would learn a lesson. That incident was harder than getting a spanking.

We moved when I was six and again when I was nine.   My memories of the first house are great, because there was a lake at the end of our road and even though my Mother couldn’t swim a lick, she took us there every lifeguardsummer day and allowed us to play in the water. I’m sure I got my love of swimming and later, my Certified Red Cross Life Guard badge because of those magical afternoons. When we moved to the next house (a renovated funeral parlor) we spent our summers at Red Cross Swimming lessons, bused back and forth the three miles to the lake. What sunny days those were! Here is a link to the official Red Cross swimming site (although I don’t see the Lifeguard class listed any more.

My sisters and I loved to play dress-up and walk around the block.

dressup Mom took us every once in a while to a thrift store to get things, and one of my aunts regularly gave us clothes, hats, shoes and jewelry to play in. My favorite costume was an evening dress with long gloves to match. It was chartreuse and made of satin. I felt very beautiful (like a princess) every time I wore it.

In the sixth grade I became a cheerleader, something I tried but didn’t like. I’d rather be on the sidelines sneaking a look at whichever book I was reading at the time.  Here is a link to some interesting benefits of kids reading books:;_ylt=A0LEVylvrLRUe4kAr85XNyoA?p=benefits+of+reading+for+children&.sep=&fr=yfp-t-472

That sixth grade year I also began school music classes. Until that time we had chorus in our classroom for half an hour each morning, belting out such classics as “Oh My Darling Clementine”. I cherished those times. I got a part in a musical put on by our class. It was heady stuff!

trophyIn the seventh grade I won the County Spelling Bee. My parents were very proud, and so was I, because I won a book and a trophy to display in my school. Since I inhaled books, as much as the air I breathed, the prize couldn’t have thrilled me more.

When I started band, we didn’t have a lot of money so a friend offered me a clarinet. I played it until I was about 15. We movedbandagain that year and because I had to give the clarinet back I decided to take drums. The school provided them and I could use a practice board at home. My Dad’s boss offered me an Alto Sax that his sons didn’t want to play, so my band teacher got me started on that, and all through high school I played the drums if we marched in a parade (my sister played drums too), and altosaxthe Alto Sax when we did concerts. In addition, I played in a 5-piece Recorder ensemble. Our little school band placed top in the Northern Michigan region my senior year and we were elated. My band teacher always made me feel like I could play anything.

I never loved sports, but did well in softball, track, and basketball. Books and music were so much more important.

My best friend was a preacher’s daughter and her family had horses. We had many good times together riding through the fields and ridingwoods near her home. Once we even saw a black bear! Lucky for me I was a pretty good rider by then because my horse got spooked and headed off to no man’s land with me hanging on like a cocklebur.

I watched stars on summer nights, played in the leaves in the fall and tobogganed and ice skated in the winter with my siblings. My favorite season was spring, because I leavescould get my bike out of the garage and ride all over, inhaling the sweet scent of apple blossoms and lilacs and the sharp tang of pine trees. There was still a chill in the air and wild geese honked overhead as they came back to the pond where they summered. I loved watching the trees bud and the thought that the end of school was near (even though I loved school).

There is so much more I could tell you about my childhood but I’ll stop here. As I write this and remember, I realize what a fairy-tale childhood I had. A mom and dad, three siblings, Freckles, the dog, and a cat. But most of all we were blessed with love.threegirls

Do you take time to remember your past? What are some of your favorite childhood memories? Do you use them in your writing? I do.

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Time-travel adventure allows for…hindsight?

Nancy Jardine March 2014This post is by Nancy Jardine


It’s an amazing thing. A dictionary definition of hindsight will give you something like this: – understanding after the fact; retrospection; observation or perception of what was.

In my early teens, I loved reading H.G.Wells’ novel – The Time Machine. Fantasy isn’t my most favourite genre normally, but reading The Time Machine took me back to Victorian Britain and then on to the adventures the time traveller experienced. With hindsight, I realise I loved the Victorian historical aspects almost as much as I loved the adventures. time M

I suppose I also liked the idea, back in the early 1960s, that I was reading a novel written by someone considered to be one of the ‘Fathers of Science Fiction’, if not THE founding father.

The couple of film adaptations I’ve seen, based on the book, have been entertaining interpretations – but for me it’s all about the mind-sets of those Victorian characters and about the historical settings of their ‘normal’ time that appeals the most. The DVD here is a fairly recent one.

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Detials of the original H.G.Wells story can be found here if you’ve never read the book:

Over the years since that first reading, I’ve read other time- travel novels and realised the amazing variety that has been produced. There are ones which are more firmly in the sci-fi category, where the characters (human or otherwise)  time-travel to other planets on purpose, or set definite courses for other worlds or alternative earths. I enjoy them, but they are still not my most favoured genre.

There’s currently a plethora of time- shift plots of the Outlander/ Diana Gabaldon type available to read where a character time-slips- and not necessarily because they want to, but because some uncontrolled event makes it happen. In this type of novel, the character must make decisions which will affect their life when they return to their own time. In effect their future will be set according to what they achieve for themselves in their ‘past’ experience. I think it’s very hard to avoid anachronistic details from slipping into this kind of novel and when they do, I’m afraid it grates on me as the reader. For example, someone in 17th Century Scotland isn’t likely to have reached for the shampoo bottle to wash their hair in the shower!

ttwThere are the time-slip novels like Audrey Niffenegger’s ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ where the main character, Henry, finds himself popping in and out of his own life, making appearances as a younger or older man, finding his circumstances confusing till he realises where he is in time and with whom. There are many varieties of this parallel time idea. Keeping track of the plot in this kind of parallel time shift writing seems very demanding.

(Image from :

There are also those novels where the adventure takes place firmly in a past time, where the protagonists are whisked back either to a pre-set time, or to one which is randomly chosen. The time adventurers spend a while, generally with a quest to fulfil, and then return to their own time enriched by their experience but their futures are not dependent on their actions in that past time, because they have generally done nothing major to ‘change’ time in a way that would have a devastating effect on the long-term future.

I’m sure you’ll be able to add to this short list of time-travel types. What other ones have you read?

The mechanisms of the time-travelling are also fascinating and can vary so much, as can the ultimate purpose of the novels. There are time ‘portals’ in the form of a mirror (there are lots of time- slip romance novels using this mechanism just now), or a wardrobe as in the ‘Narnia’ novels, or a physical vehicle as in Dr. Who’s Tardis,  or H.G. Wells’ time machine.

I’ve, so far, only written the one time-travel novel WIP for early teens but I’ve really enjoyed being able to have my characters use the value of hindsight in different ways. Whisked back in time to 209 AD, my trio of kids find themselves in an adventure which scares them silly, confuses them, shocks them and makes them alternatively frustrated and desperate. Sometimes these emotions are produced because they feel physically threatened, but often it’s because they feel a huge responsibility- with the benefit of hindsight they know what’s about to occur but have to be so careful of their involvement in that it makes no major changes to the course of history. To fulfil their de12985694_smanding mission they use hindsight knowledge, facts gained about the era they are plunged into. This writing genre has allowed me to write about an era I love, ie Roman Scotland, and also given me the opportunity to make it a mystery ‘of sorts’ since there are definite goals/ quest set  for the kids to fulfill.

In this time-travel novel, like in my main historical writing, I’ve needed to have my historical details sharp as the tacks on the hob-nailed Roman sandals of the advancing Legions. Now I need to keep plugging on, to polish that little guy’s armour and get my story ready for the editor.

Have a lovely weekend, however you spend your time!

ps. As an update to my last blog post here on Wranglers. In many ways, the members of the present Scottish Parliament would have liked to have been able to use the value of hindsight before the Scottish Referendum of last week. If they had known how close the YES to independence camp were at 45% of the vote, they might have been able to persuade another 6% of the very high turnout to vote (84%) YES. I would have been posting my today’s blog post from a very different situation in Scotland.

Nancy Jardine writes contemporary mysteries and historical adventures– available in print and ebooks.

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