Post (c) Doris McCraw


We will soon be celebrating Christmas, a time of year of good will, food, fun, family and for some a time of deep connection to all that is. This is followed by New Years, and a time of new beginnings, resolutions and longer days.

The New Year comes at a time when the days are getting longer in the northern hemisphere, the sun rises higher in the sky, and we are ready to rid ourselves of the chill of winter. So also a time of resolution for what we wish to change, to accomplish, and be.


A search for the definition of Resolution brings up this: a firm decision to do or not to do something.

Searching for the definition of Revolution brings up the following: a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.

Now I’m not advocating overthrowing a government, or even our social order, but in the case of resolutions, I am advocating throwing over the old system of making resolutions that most of us can’t/don’t keep for a new system. So what you may ask do I wish to replace the old system with?

How about we give ourselves a break? It is silly to try to change a lifetime of habits, of learning, in one day, one week or even one month. Instead, let’s take the time to ponder where we really want to go,be and do. Let’s be realistic, let’s be pro-active and let’s be kind to ourselves and others as we make decisions.

  1. Ask yourself, what is realistic for me to achieve in said day, week, month and year
  2. Acknowledge we are human, and that life is full of interruptions
  3. Decide the one dream/hope/goal that is most important
  4. Break it down into steps/ideas that can be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time.

The system can be adjusted to each person’s needs. Through time, we know what works for us. Experience had taught us what our limits are, what our stumbling blocks are. This does not mean we don’t stretch, don’t try something new. It does mean, we don’t set ourselves up for failure.


For three plus years I’ve written a haiku five days a week. I still love that poetic form, but 2017 will see me cutting back on that practice. I will replace it with writing short stories/novellas and one novel. These are realistic and achievable. Are they written in stone, NO! Life can change in a heartbeat, but having something that brings you joy, that you can share with the world, that is what my revolution against resolutions is about. Sure semantics play a part in this, but semantics, the use of words has power. Chose them wisely.


Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. Watch for the release of her novel “Josie’s Dream”, part of a series mid-January 2017. Doris also writes haiku that can be found at – Check out her other work or like her Amazon author page:


“Never Had a Chance”

“Lost Knight, Out of Time”

“One Hot Knight” Summer Medieval Anthology

“Angel of Salvation Valley”


Fork in The Road

propic11_1By L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

I received the letter “F” for the A-Z Blog challenge.  Since my maiden name is Flory I thought about writing about that, but the Forked Road seemed better-suited to this blog.  I hope you enjoy it.

We have all been down the forked road, but why do some take the left fork and others take the right? Is it that left-handed people take the left and right-handed people take the right? I don’t think so.

I read an article once before I took my children to Disney World. The author of the piece said “Most people tend to take the right entrance to an attraction, while fewer take the left”.  In other words, if you want to get in to the attraction, bathroom, or gate, take the left line because you’ll get there faster. We tried it and the advice was right. We did find the time it took to get in on the left was speedier than the right.

We’ve all seen and traveled down many forked roads or trails throughout our lives.  Some curve Forked Roadaround an ancient tree while others are man-made. They may lead to the same place, or not.

Pretend you need a solution to a problem or have a big decision to make. You sit at the tip of the forked road trying to decide which way to go. Confused and anxious, the decision is waiting to be made. It may be a new move, a new relationship, or anything that will make a big impact on your life.  As you sit contemplating, you cannot decide, thinking about all the “What ifs?”

Deepak Chopra, an internationally known  New-Age guru says, “Get rid of the what-ifs.  It’s not an A or B situation. Don’t control or predict what will happen.”  His suggestion is to sit alone in a quiet place and be still. The answer will come; in fact, your heart always knows the right answer. It’s up to you to tune into your thoughts to know the right way to advance.

Decision-making is generally difficult for me and perhaps some of you who read this post have the same problem.  I know the issue, I really want to decide one way or the other, but the thoughts go around and around in my head until sometimes they make me physically ill and unable to reach a verdict at all.

I am definitely not a critical thinker and I’ve made snap decisions that ended up without the answers I sought. Sometimes the decision I made was not a good one, so when the next one comes along I worry that I will make the same mistake again.

A Therapist I know shared with me some insight about the forked road. She told me “A decision is just a decision and if it’s not right you can make another decision.”

That advice helped me to see more clearly that even if I make a wrong decision, I have learned from that one and can make a new choice next time. It also made me think about my fear of making good decisions and why it can actually be a learning experience that will help me each time I have an issue.

Here is a passage from the Bible that speaks of a “fork in the road”.

Ezekiel 21:19  Mark out two roads for the sword of the king of Babylon to come; both of them shall issue from the same land. And make a signpost; make it for a fork in the road leading to a city;roadsign

What do you do when you’re picking an editor for your manuscript? Do you research several editors?  If you get the list down to two do you waffle back and forth between the two choices or do you confidently choose the one you believe will have your best interests at heart?

Do you write your latest novel and at some point come to a place where the protagonist must go one way or another? Which fork in the road do you choose for her/him to follow?

Another bit of advice from Deepak Chopra says; “Find a place of total quiet. Make sure there are nomeditation distractions. Clear your mind and sit silently for maybe fifteen minutes. During that time don’t let thoughts race through your mind, instead, focus on the quiet. You may need to do this more than once, but it will put you in the right spiritual place to make the choice, and the answer will be there. Prayer is a very important part of the journey.”

When you stand at the fork in the road, remember this advice and you’ll make the right choice. But if you don’t, remember, you can always make another one!

Here are a couple of quotes on decision-making.

“Decision is a sharp knife that cuts clean and straight; indecision, a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind it.”

Gordon Graham

“Don’t even leap to actions and decisions before you’ve found that sense of natural calm, well-being, or enthusiasm.”

Frederick Dodson, Parallel Universe of Self

Courtesy of

I’d like to share one of my favorite poems by Robert Frost. I’ve always loved it but it means something different to me now that I’m an adult. See if the same applies to you.

The Road Not Taken

Robert Frost

 Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim

Because it was grassy and wanted wear,

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 Poem courtesy of

 Here is a link to an article on decision-making.

The meaning of Fork in The Road.

Bios of Deepak Chopra and Robert Frost

There’s even a joke about the Forked Road (a 2000 year old classic)


Books by L.Leander:

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders


Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)


You can also find L.Leander here:

L.Leander Website

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

L.Leander Books Blog

L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews





Those are NOT my monkeys!

propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Those are NOT my monkeys!3monkeys

Ever get into one of these predicaments? How do you handle it?

The school calls. The person calling apologizes, but the parent who was supposed to make 100 cupcakes for tomorrow is ill. Could you please take her place? What do you do?

  • Nicely ask your monkeys to get in their cage and give them a toy to play with?
  • Say no, sorry, I’m too busy but maybe next time, then spendcms_cupcake_1 the evening feeling guilty, even though you have a report that needs to go to your boss in the morning?
  • Say yes, feel totally overwhelmed, rush to get the report done while you bake and frost 100 cupcakes that you now have to drop off on your way to work and you haven’t even had time to sleep?

A friend calls with exciting news, although it isn’t about you and it isn’t about her. It’s a juicy tidbit about someone in your circle of friends. Do you:horses_1

  •  Shove your monkeys in their cage, say dinner is burning and cage_1you have to go?
  • Listen to your friend and file the information away in case
    there might be more to the story?
  • Add your take on what’s going on and gossip with your friend.
    You can’t wait to call another friend to tell her/him?
  • Tell your friend you really don’t want to talk about this and change the subject to something neutral, like making a fantastic dessert, or the awesome shoes you saw on sale in your favorite department store?

hotdogYou’re on the baseball food stand roster for your 5th grader. The game is in two days and the roster coördinator calls frantically, asking if you can pitch in and take over for her in Saturday’s game? Oh, and by the way, the candy bars, soda and sandwiches are low.
Could you please go to Sam’s Club and get them? You can bill them to the baseball fund. Please be sure they are there and put away in time for the game. Do you:

  • Immediately become frustrated that the chairman chooses to call you this late in the game, but put on your syrupy voice, and as you scowl, tell her “Of course, “I’d love to do it”, while you silently punch your thighs?
  • Suggest another person on the panel who might have a little more time?
  • Tell her your monkeys are ill and you really need to stay home with them because they might have monkey fever?
  • Explain that you and your beloved have a getaway planned for the weekend, but if she really cannot find another person, you’ll pitch in, then break the bad news to your spouse and feel extremely guilty?

Your boss comes into your office at quitting time. He wants a teamboss of managers to stay late and confer about some problems with staff and make some changes. You’re supposed to meet your friends at a restaurant across town in an hour. You have just enough time to swing by the house and change. You’re on salary. Do you:

  • Tell your boss to get a life?
  • Tell your boss YOU have a life?
  • Tell the boss you have to get home to take your monkeys outside because you don’t want them to pee all over the carpet and destroy the house. After all, you’ve already worked 9 hours without a break.
  • Say “what room are we meeting in?” make a hurried call to your friends saying you won’t be able to meet them, feel guilty about that and hope your monkeys behave?

Let’s look at the ramifications of each.

In situation one, you know you can’t possibly get 100 cupcakes done and at the school tomorrow unless you stay up all night and drop them off on your way to work and leave for work right after you drop them off. What would happen if you said NO, not this time, but you can count on me for another occasion, as long as I have enough time to make those little critters?

2monkeysSituation two is an ethical question. Should you be gossiping about your friend or even think of passing it around? Wouldn’t it be more fun to take the monkeys out for a walk (RIGHT NOW)?

And the third predicament.  Why don’t you say NO, I can’t do that on such short notice but you can count on me for another time.  I have a work project that needs to go to my boss in the morning.  As long as I get fair warning there’s no problem.

And situation four involves your boss.

Your boss just gave you a raise so you feel obligated. Do you worry that if you say no he’ll fire you on the spot? (You’ve just received a superior evaluation and got a nice bonus along with it).

I have a very dear friend I met in Mazatlan and she phoned me the other day. Imagine my delight when I heard her voice. We chatted about the hot weather and sunshine there and the snow here. She’s from Canada so knows all about cold weather. As we talked and caught up she mentioned that she had taken a part-time job she’ll be able to do on the Internet as she and her husband travel. She is excited about it and I’m happy for her. She’s been writing a book and I asked how that was coming along. She told me she shelved the project about six months ago because it was just not coming together and she had spent a lot of time worrying about it. I remarked that in therapy I have talked about the fact that I always feel guilty saying NO, so I put my personal life on hold and give the other person what they need or want. Then I feel overwhelmed and anxious because I’m not able the work done I need to do. My friend hesitated for just a second. Then she said something that has had me laughing (and thinking) a lot this week.

Her remark? Wait for it…………..

“Not my Monkeys, Not my Circus”




“Hmm,” I thought. Not my monkeys? Not my circus? Of course I think I’m a bit of a circus expert because my books are about a circus performer. I already have a circus. Do I really need another one? And, why in the world would I want monkeys at home anyway?

Take a deep breath. Isn’t it easier to say no than give your life up for someone else’s problem? What’s the worst that can happen? Even if it were a close friend, wouldn’t you rather be truthful? If you say no, won’t you breathe a sigh of relief and get those monkeys off your back? I’m not talking here about things you want to do because you have time set aside, rather expectations that come at you out of nowhere that you don’t have time for or want to do.sock monkeys
Of course, you don’t have to say “Not my monkeys, not my circus”, as you firmly and politely say no, but you sure can laugh inside as bigbanana_1the monkeys are jumping for joy. Think about this the next time you are called upon to do something you really don’t want to do. Just say no. You don’t have to make excuses. It’s your life and it’s in your hands. You have to stand up for yourself. No one else is going to. Oh, and give the monkeys a banana. It’s not their fault!

For a good article on saying NO, read this report at Mayo Clinic.


Books by L.Lwander







Links for L.Leander

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders (Book 1)

Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)


13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing

13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an ebook


You can also find L.Leander here:

L.Leander Website

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

L.Leander Books Blog

L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews






How Do You Deal With Stress?

propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

A couple of weeks ago I read an article on Yahoo! News that gave me pause for thought.  Dan Harris, an ABC News Anchor, shared a part of his life seen by millions around the world.  During a live broadcast, Harris had a debilitating panic attack.  Unable to finish his spot, he turned it  back to Diane Sawyer.  Harris couldn’t breathe and was as surprised as anyone when this occurrence happened.  He took a good look at his life to research reasons for the attack and discovered he had three very problematic areas.  One was his frenzied attempt to rise to the top,  another was reporting from Iraq, and the third taking occasional recreational drugs on the weekend.  He was very stressed.  When he saw a psychiatrist the doctor told him the attack was most likely provoked by the drugs.


 Mr. Harris sought to find healing.  He tried everything and nothing worked.  Meditation was suggested and, desperate, he decided to give it a try.

Mr. Harris’ idea of meditation was sitar music and chanting, but he knew he had antiquated ideas about the subject, a throwback to the era of the 60’s and 70’s.  He thought the idea might be a little crazy, however, he went to a class.  As he learned to breathe he found  peace.   Harris says the trick is to learn the breathing process to keep stress at a lower level.

Once he learned to meditate, Harris made it a daily habit, spending Meditatingbetween 1-2 hours a day.  He slowed down his life, looked around at things he had never noticed before; as his brain slowed down, and his work improved, he slept better, and quit worrying.  As Mr. Harris found answers in meditation he wrote a book entitled 10% Happier.  You can watch a video of Dan Harris’ breakdown here as he explains his experience and how he turned to meditation.

Though his earlier thoughts about meditation took a while to change, Harris overcame those preconceptions and learned to reap the benefits of meditation and relaxation.

I had much the same feeling when asked to try meditation as part of my therapy for Bipolar Disorder.  Although I had many of the same thoughts Mr. Harris did, I do know the quietness of prayer, so thought I could try it and decide then.

A free  21-day meditation from Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey was offered on the Chopra website.  I signed up, and from the first day I experienced relaxation, but it took  a few  months to learn to get quiet and kick the “mind monkeys” out of my head.  Mind monkeys are all the thoughts that creep inside while you try to stay focused and relaxed.  You’ll always have thoughts that come and go, but with practice you can ignore them.seafoam

 That meditation ended and there was a break before the Mentors Channel started with a 21-day Meditation, each session taught by different experts on the subject. When that program ended, I haunted YouTube for “guided meditation”.  Between the 21-Day classes I use YouTube and find many wonderful guided meditations.  My favorites on YouTube are those by ‘The Honest Guys.” You can search and find many uplifting and relaxing meditations from them, as well as those presented by other teachers. I prefer to have my eyes closed during meditation, although the experts say it doesn’t matter.  Meditation is your time and you should do it whenever and however you’re most comfortable. 

 I look for 10-30 minute meditations in the morning.  I get up early, make coffee, walk the dog, and meditate.  When I’m through I feel calm and ready to start my day.  I did this for several months when I had a couple of anxiety attacks and my therapist recommended I try doing an additional meditation at night.  Another 21-day Mentors Channel class started.  Instead of listening to a guided meditation, a duo sang meditations.  The name of the artists are are Deva Premal and Miten.  Deva has one of the loveliest voices I’ve ever heard.  She and Miten record together, but there are many earlier albums by Deva alone.  I now do one of these recordings before bedtime to relax.  Some of these are available on YouTube, (search for Deva Primal or Deva and Miten) but I’ve been buying songs one at a time on the iTunes store.  Here is a sample recording.

Doing two meditations a day worked well until I had a mood swing that drained me.  My therapist suggested I meditate four times a day until I felt better.  I did this by not changing my morning and evening meditations, but by adding a prayer here and there, listening to a 5-minute meditation, or sitting quietly for 5 minutes.  I’m still doing this because I have been in a severe depression for a couple of weeks.  I know it will change though.  The meditation helps as I breathe deeply and relax.

I’ve learned is that there is no right or wrong way to meditate.  I prefer guided meditations, as they seem to help me relax more, but there are scores of recordings that are just music.  Some tell you to watch the images on the screen but my mind wanders too much when I do that.  I prefer to close my eyes, listen, and feel the peace and relaxation through my body.  You’ll find what works best for you.sunset

Have you ever tried meditation?  Would you?  What are your thoughts on the subject?

Below are some links you might find helpful if you decide to try it.  I know you’ll reap benefits.

Explanation of Meditation on Wikipedia

The following video on YouTube is short and explains the benefits of meditation.

How to Meditate

My favorite meditations come from The Honest Guys on YouTube. Here are two examples.

 Blissful Deep Relaxation

 Guided Meditation for Health and Healing


Books by L.Leander:

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders



Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer





Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)




Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer




13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing








13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an ebook







You can also find L.Leander here:

L.Leander Website

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

L.Leander Books Blog

L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews






Kathy - greenKate Wyland


Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you keep them?

Like most everyone else I used to make resolutions every January 1, but in recent years I stopped. I never seemed to keep them, so it was a waste of time. This year however, I’ve stepped back into the arena and made three I intend to keep this time around.

treadmillMy primary goal is to lose weight and get in condition again and I have a big prod to keep this one. I’ve been living with arthritic knees for several years now and almost had a knee replacement two years ago. At the last minute I discovered my doctor was beginning to use a stem cell procedure called PRP and decided to try that instead. The PRP helped considerably. I was able to walk normally and even do stairs—slowly. However, it has become apparent that I will still eventually need replacements.Unfortunately, I became fairly sedentary in the last year which is not good for my knees. At my daughter’s wedding at the end of October, I made the mistake of trying to dance and twisted my right knee. The next day I couldn’t walk. Apparently I’d caused micro-fractures in my tibia in the areas weakened by the arthritis.

So now I face either trying a procedure that would shore up the bone for a while or biting the bullet and going for the full replacement. Before I make that decision I want to be in the best shape I possible, so I am religiously exercising each day. This resolution may not last the year but either procedure will require significant physical therapy, so by the time I’m finished, exercising may be a sustainable habit.

decisionMy second goal is one that has been on my list for years—to get my office more organized. For me being organized means making decisions. Where do I put this? What do I do with that? And I hate decisions! Please somebody, anybody do it for me!

One thing that should help me get things in order is a new desk. I got one just before I hurt myself and between that and the holidays, I haven’t accomplished much. Now as my resolution, I plan to spend at least 20 minutes each day working on my mess until things are in order. Let’s see how long that lasts!

writingMy last resolution is to write on my books daily. I go in spurts on this one. I do write a lot, but often it’s for blogs or other things. I’ve been having real problems with finishing my stories. (There have been some extenuating circumstances—family emergencies and the like.) My goal is write at least an hour a day on my works-in-progress. I’ve been doing pretty well on that so far. I’m determined to get both of my stories finished and out ASAP.

I actually wrote this piece a week ago and already I’ve fallen behind. I’ve been pretty good on the exercise front, but am having problems with losing weight. I keep telling myself that muscle weighs more so eventually I’ll start dropping. I’ve done a fair amount of writing but haven’t reached the every day goal. The biggest failure is my office. I still haven’t gotten into working on it daily and haven’t made much progress.

(To be fair to myself, I have had some major distractions…but still.) Time to reaffirm my resolutions. I’m determined to keep them this year.

How about you? It’s half way through January. Are you still keeping to your goals?


Forewarning Cover

Healing is her life. Will it be her death?


Wyoming Cover - 4x6 - #2.

Wyoming Escape
Two dead bodies. One dirty cop.
Is she next?


Cover - Images - 2.

 Images – A Love Story
She’s learned to hide from life.
Should she hide from him?


Connect with Kate Wyland:
Website :


photo credit: <a href=””>Mr.TinDC</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;
photo credit: <a href=””>One Way Stock</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;
photo credit: <a href=””>swimparallel</a&gt; via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

A bit of a challenge

AWBR x 600
This post is by Nancy Jardine

“A guid new year to ane an’ a’
An’ mony may ye see,
An’ during a’ the years to come,
O happy may ye be.
An’ may ye ne’er hae cause to mourn,
To sigh or shed a tear;
To ane an’a baith great an’ sma’
A hearty guid New year.
A Guid New Year to ane an’ a’
An’ mony may ye see,
An’ during a’ the years to come,
O happy may ye be.

(The beginning song of this video is the above one, the words coming in a few bars after the introduction. The rest of the video is from old footage of New Year celebrations.)

Happy New Year to everyone… even if my greeting is coming a few days late!

This song is a traditional one which was often sung when the New Year had just turned in Scotland. In the earliest Scottish Television programmes to greet the New Year (during the 1950s) the above one was popular. It was also popular at my own house when the New Year party was in full swing. Like Auld lang Syne, people sang bits of the song that they knew, though few ever knew all the words. My mother and father may have been the exception because they did know the whole song and kept the sentiment going from beginning to end as they nodded to neighbours at strategic points, extending the greeting to everyone over the course of the song.
I’ll tag on a couple of Scottish sayings I remembered at New Year, phrases that were sometimes traded between my mother and her sisters on Ne’erday – New Year’s Day.

Look afront tae where ye’ll live means Look only to the future because that’s where you’re going to spend the coming days of ….2014. Reflecting on the past year is a good thing to do, but since you can’t ever totally re-create those days look to new ones.

Another lovely, if slightly fatalistic, saying is Whit’s fur ye’ll no go by ye! – meaning…What’s meant for you in life you’ll receive. You also have to add a little more to this one which is that the more you put into life the more you’ll get back, whether it be for your own efforts and rewards, or in how you deal with people, familiar ones or strangers.

Sometimes, putting more into your life may mean a bit of a challenge and who doesn’t love a challenge? I think most people can react a little better when they have something challenging to focus on, but the trick is to manage it without getting too bogged down, or too hysterically nervous about meeting the challenges.

I used to love trying new physical adventures, still do, but now have some limitations having got to that ‘certain age’ where the brain’s conception of possibilities doesn’t quite match up with the speed of the body’s reactions. I’m definitely NOT planning to go and jump out of an aeroplane for tandem skydiving and depend only on a parachute – even if I have a big hunky instructor gripping my waist as my daughter had some years ago at Lake Taupo in New Zealand. However, I am quite happy to try some new things with my very adventurous granddaughter who gets her love of thrills from her mum and dad. The little one happily tackles the flumes at the leisure pool and loves slides and swings of any kind so I’m just wondering if at 2 and ½ years old she might be ready to go ice-skating. What do you think? I’m open to suggestions.
It’s a New Year, so one of my resolutions will be to find something suitable for us to try out together and 2014 is going to be quite a challenge in other ways, too, for all of us. My granddaughter is watching the baby bump grow pretty large in her mum’s tummy. She doesn’t have the excitement and anticipation that we adults have as we wait for early March, when a little sister or brother for her is due to appear, but I’m sure she’ll be excited when the baby does arrive!

Do I have any other resolutions not covered by the song at the beginning of this post? Not too many, not really, but most would be to do with my writing.

Spring, perhaps around March, is the projected launch of Book 3 in my Celtic Fervour series of historical romantic adventures set in AD 71-84 Britannia. Additionally by then I also plan to have my time-travel novel for early teens published which also involves the Roman Empire in Aberdeenshire, though at a later time era of AD 210. Yes, I know it does sound as if I’m obsessed with history and the ancient Roman invasion close to home and that would be TRUE!

Before then I have to focus on collecting enough votes during January and February for my ancestral mystery thriller, TOPAZ EYES, to go forward to the next section of THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE Fiction category 2014. This is quite a prestigious competition where nominations can only be made by a publisher and not an individual author, but it is the PUBLIC who do the voting and not a panel of judges.

Anyone can vote, so if you feel inclined I’d be so delighted if you could click the link and vote for Crooked Cat Publishing and Topaz Eyes.

Again, my best wishes to you for 2014!

More verses of the above song are on my blog today at

Find Nancy Jardine’s novels at her Amazon author page
Also available at B &N, Smashwords, amazon UK

Journeys on Mt. Everest

doris curiosityBy Doris McCraw

I have recently been re-reading the about the expeditions on Mt. Everest to locate the bodies of Mallory and Irvine.  The two books, “Ghost’s of Everest” by Jochen Hemmler, Larry A. Johnsonand Eric R. Simonson and “Detectives on Everest” by Jochen Hemmler and Eric R. Simonson tell the story of the expeditions research and adventures on Mt. Everest.

George Mallory
George Mallory (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those who don’t know the story, in 1924 George Mallory and Andrew Irving disappeared less than 1, 000 feet from the summit of Everest which stands at 29,035 feet. There was questions as to whether they did in fact summit in 1924. The official record of reaching the summit goes to Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

These book are more than just about finding Mallory’s body, they are also about a group of people dedicated to finding the truth.  The preparation and dedication of this group of climbers in 1999 and again in 2001 is truly awe-inspiring. The books are full of photographs and first person accounts from the climbers.

Imagine reaching a base camp at 16, 900 feet to get acclimated before heading up the mountain. From there you move up and back from camp to camp to further acclimate yourself.  This acclimation had to be accomplished  in the window of opportunity the mountain gives you.  At any time you could be caught in snows and winds.  The group did in fact find Mallory’s body on the 1999 expedition and successfully summited Everest.  On their return trip in 2001 they found themselves in a rescue effort that is miraculous and inspiring and telling tale of human endurance. It is also a tale of selfishness and selflessness.

I had to good fortune to hear one of the climbers from both expeditions, Jake Norton,  speak about the expeditions. The effort, training and sheer determination to summit the worlds highest mountain and still climb about near the top of the world looking for clues about the fate of the early climbers was amazing.

I am inspired by these men and their accomplishments.  Yes, these tales are inspiring, but they are also cautionary. They are about making choices that sometimes are the right ones, as the rescue points out, even at the cost of your dream. These stories leave you feeling determined to follow your dreams. These climbers did and their story has been captured in words and pictures that can inspire you to work to achieve the impossible.

For a bit of my own efforts visit:

Do You Know Your Heritage?

propic11_1_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Sherry Hartzler did a wonderful post yesterday on listening to your ancestors talk about their lives. She said that hearing the words rather than reading them after people are dead and gone gives you a different perspective on family and heritage. I agree and would like to share with you an event we attended last weekend that is along the very same lines.

I’m not sure if I’ve blogged about this or not but my husband is adopted. It gets babyyvery complicated if I try to explain the story to you but suffice it to say that he was taken in by his mother’s aunt (who he called Ma for the rest of his life). His real mother wasn’t even known to him until he was six or seven and got teased at school. At that point “Ma” sat him on a kitchen chair and patiently explained what had happened and how glad she was to have him for a son. His Ma and Pa were in their mid-fifties when they agreed to take him in as a newborn, so it was like growing up with grandparents. The couple owned a small dairy farm in Wisconsin and my husband was subjected to a strong work ethic and the occasional trip to the woodshed. As an only child he missed out on a lot of the camaraderie and fun siblings have together growing up and instead spent a lot of time with adults and animals on the farm.

ralph1Ralph and I married nearly three years ago and I began asking questions about his family. He had always been teased in grade school and called names. He went to an Indian Mission School (only because it was the closest school to their rural farm). When he went to work his nickname was “Indian” – and although he took the ribbing with a grain of salt he did wonder. It was not an easy path to find out his heritage and it began with the government of our state, who refused to give him a clear birth certificate. I was able to do more research and reached someone who could help. We also made a trip to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, where his grandparents are buried. After a lot of dead ends we found someone who was a shirttail relation and the journey began in earnest. After nearly three years of paperwork, phone calls and emails we got word this winter in Mexico that Ralph is Chippewa Indian of the Chippewa Sault Ste. Marie Tribe. He cried when he heard the news. He kept repeating, “Now I feel like I belong somewhere.”

This weekend we attended our first powwow, at the Oneida Reservation in Greenroyalty36 Bay, Wisconsin. We were totally unprepared for what we saw. Not just the Oneida clan, but also Potawatomie, Cherokee, Ojibwa, Menominee and many other Indian tribes were represented. In full headdress and ceremonial costumes, the dancing was superb and the cadence of the drums mesmerizing. Each clan walked together in the opening with generations of family members proudly wearing the crests, beads, motifs and headdresses of their ancestors. Stories were told and songs were sung. Small children walked with elders. Teenage boys stood tall in their costumes and posed for pictures. Little children were adorable in their tiny moccasins and plaited hairgirl teens two

When we arrived at the powwow we were treated with respect (because we are elders.) We were taken to a prime parking space and a golf cart took us to special seating reserved for the elders (so we would be comfortable under the shade trees.) Often members of the Oneida tribe stopped by to see if they could do anything for us. This is amazing because there were probably three thousand or more people watching and six hundred dancers. We were very impressed.royalty39

So, to add to Sherry’s post about hearing stories from your ancestors, she’s totally right. And the various Indian clans strive to keep their culture alive. They are proud of their heritage and anxious that the rest of the world joins them to learn about their ancestors. They are amazing storytellers and even though the day was  bright the 90’s we stayed to enjoy the festivities.

royalty12And Ralph? He was in his glory. We bought him trinkets and t-shirts and made the day totally about him. He hated to leave but there is another powwow in August at the Menominee Reservation near us so we’ll go again this summer. He can’t wait until we get moved to Michigan so he can join in his own Chippewa festivities and be part of a family. How about you? Do you have traditions or background that is different? Do you have living relatives who tell you who you are and where you came from?  I’d love to hear about it!

Books by L.Leander:



 105182105411181CDPby Neva Bodin

Walking and getting nowhere has never appealed to me. So when I started the treadmill at the Fitness Center at our local college this week, I was glad to see something besides a news program on the overhead TV. Frasier should make the time go faster, I thought. Only the last half left, but sitcoms aren’t usually hard to pick up in the middle.

It soon became evident that for some reason, obviously explained in the first half, Frasier’s obituary had been published, and his dad was now getting a boatload of snack baskets. As the funny quips born of this snafu progressed, I saw something that actually made sense!

First Roz convinced Frasier he wasn’t dead yet! So he should quit moaning because people thought he was, and start doing what he wanted to do in life. Pumped up and enthused, Frasier went home and started writing his own obituary. Wow! I thought, that’s really a neat idea!

Roz Doyle

Let me interject here that an artist friend and I once joked about publishing our own obituary just to become famous—you know it seems artists become or are more famous after their deaths. And we certainly needed some kind of help!

Frasier explained that he was listing all his accomplishments, not yet accomplished of course, that would sum up his life. There certainly were some that were a little off the wall, like discovering some rare stone in Peru, etc. But I liked the concept.

Everyone should have a mission statement, something we associate with organizations. A mission statement states your purpose, your reason for existing.

I for one have a lot of interests, find lots of reasons for living, and therefore take a lot of unscheduled paths in life. Some of which are inescapable, some I elect, and some take me too far off the main road I wish to travel.

“Set up waymarks for yourself, make yourself guideposts, consider well the highway, the road that you take.” says Jeremiah in his book, chapter 31, verse 21.  Some translations say “the road that you traveled.”

Either way, it has been sage old advice to consider the road you take in life, know what’s the goal at the end, and where should we place the guideposts to keep us on the main road as much as possible.

I’m a visual and tactile learner. Since I like to swerve off course, and am easily persuaded to detour for sights, I have decided I need little crafted signs that I can pick up frequently, and say, “Oh yeah, that’s where I want to go!” (I’m not talking actual physical places now, although Hawaii could always be added.)

If I want my obituary to say I was a writer…I better spend some time honing that craft. If I want to have the cleanest house in town, I might have to scratch being a writer! Little side-trips, like doing dishes, laundry, or such, might—I say just might—be necessary, but I need to keep the main goal in sight.

It seems people have been veering off course for ages. Now, which of the fifty interests that I have on my list will steer me off my main course?


Thoughts On The Future

Post by Doris McCraw

doris curiosity

The future you shall know when it has come; before then, forget it.  Aeschylus

How many of you have had or wanted to have your future told? There is palm reading, card reading, psychics, all willing to give you a glimpse of what is to come. People want to know they will be safe, they will have plenty of money, that they will be happy.  It’s human nature.

Does anyone have a key to the future? Can anyone know for certain what will happen in the next twenty-four hours of their lives?

We have and will continue to have disasters, accidents and any number of negative events in our lives.  We will also have days of joy, sunshine and pure unadulterated love. We want the last and try to escape the first.

The Fortune Teller by Caravaggio.
The Fortune Teller by Caravaggio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I believe the future is only the past again, enter through another gate. Arthur Wing Pinero

Pinero in the quote may or may not have it completely correct, but there is a certain truth to his thought.  We may in fact keep getting the future we don’t want because we continue to repeat actions that lead to the same results. We have all heard the variations of the quote. Do what you have always done and you will continue to get what you always get and  Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, and on and on.

The future is the worst thing about the present. Gustave Flaubert

Flaubert may have something here.  If we continue to only think about the future, we can’t see what is in front of us. How many times have we driven through a town only to get on the other side and missed everything there.  Have you ever planned to go pick the grapes you saw two days ago only to find the wildlife have beaten you to it. In our quest to get to our hopes and dreams we miss the gifts right in front of us.

Albert Camus, Nobel prize winner, half-length ...
Albert Camus, Nobel prize winner, half-length portrait, seated at desk, facing left, smoking cigarette (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present. Albert Camus

If we want to have a great future, stop worrying about it. Do the things that make your heart sing and feed your soul.  I truly do believe you can do that and still make a living.  We may have to trade our hours for dollars, but our off hours are our own.  If we give our all to being present in the present the future can take care of itself.