One Page

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

Recently I was reviewing some guidelines from a publisher. They wanted the usual information like my name, contact information, the name of the book I was proposing and the word count. Then I saw it the next requirement was an impossible task, a one page synopsis. I needed to share all the important parts of a 44,000 word book all on one page, all text.

SJBrown1 Goose

To give the publisher a true feel for the book I needed to relay the personalities of the two main characters and a sense of their lives. But there was so much to tell. There are roller skates, a sewing machine, costumes, telephone poles, oh and Betty stepped on a needle that was scary. I couldn’t add photos of the main characters when they were young and innocent, well kind of innocent.

SJBrown2 SistersLittle girls like ice cream, maybe if I took an ice cream break this would flow a little better. I had to remember to mention within the pages there is a race riot, a car crash, a séance, boyfriends, and the police, . Dribbled throughout the book were paper bags filled with mystery. This book is about life, there are airplanes, a hitchhiker, tumbling beer cans, and a circus.

SJBrown3 ElephantAt this point I was half way down the page and there was so much more to tell. This was a bit too long already. How was I ever going to get it all on one page? Maybe if I had a brownie I could figure out how to make this work. Nope, no treats until I am done.
I should have started with the title ”Suburban Sisters.” Did I mention this is a heartwarming tale about two sisters? The girls are good Catholics that attend church. There is a bit of a glitch in their perfect world when stolen money in the collection plate. However I need to let the publisher know that along with the jobs, men in diapers and guns there are touching family moments like Christmas morning, family outings and cute little babies.

SJBrown4 TreesOh crap, I am at the bottom of the page and I’m not done yet, DDELETE, DELETE, DELETE. Maybe a peanut butter cup would help.

The publisher’s guidelines state they respond to submissions in 4-6 months, it may take me that long to get this down to one page. I still need to add details like an ice storm complete with dancing power lines, a truck spewing a chemical fog throughout the neighborhood, fire, oh and a dog that shows up for Thanksgiving dinner. Now this blog is getting to long.

SJBrown5 TurkeyI haven’t even mentioned the girl’s parents yet. So much happens in the 12 years the book covers. Now I needed to DELETE, DELETE, DELETE and DELETE some more. I shortened a sentence here and omitted an event there but I need to add in details about when the girl’s world shatters. So I deleted some more. Two days later it was finished and I celebrated with some chocolate chip cookies.
In closing I will ask how do you tackle a seemingly impossible task. How do you reward yourself when you accomplished your goal?
Thanks for stopping by.

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Gratitude and Thanks


Post (c) by Doris McCraw

We are coming on my favorite time of year. I am partial to the Holiday of Thanksgiving. It is not a time of giving gifts. It has nothing except the heartfelt idea of being thankful. Despite how horrible we think life is, we really do have many reasons for gratitude and thanks.

The world around us is full of beauty, we have only to look.


We are surrounded by music, we have only to listen

How many of us have tried something new to eat, or savored the joy of eating an old favorite?


We hold our pets, our loved ones, the delight we take in that touch.


The smell of the air after a rain, of pine when you walk in the woods, or the rose you hold to your nose.


Take time to enjoy and employ all the senses, be thankful for all this world holds for us. No matter what happens, we have so much right in front of us, so much that makes our lives worth living. So tell that friend how much you appreciate them, hold your loved one close, and be grateful and thankful you get to experience life in all its glory. Remember the quote from my last post “It takes life to love life.”

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ” John F. Kennedy

Thank you.


Giving Thanks – Maybe

Kathy - greenKate Wyland


Next week is Thanksgiving in the U.S., a time to reflect on the things we are grateful for. Usually we think of new things that have come into our lives–new baby, promotion at work, new car.

Wedding partyWe’ve had several of those in our family this year, the latest being our older daughter marrying a wonderful man last month. But I’d like to talk about the “bad” occurrences that end up having good results. We’ve had a few of those too.

In March my husband had a mild stroke that put him in the hospital for a week. Turns out that one of his carotid arteries was 90% blocked and had been affecting his health and abilities for a while. Cleaning it out has given him lots more energy and clarity. He feels so much better. The experience also spurred a renewed emphasis on taking care of his health and evaluating the options. And that seems to be the only after effect of the stroke, for which we are extremely grateful.

houseJust two months later our landlord informed us that he was going to sell the house we’d been renting for a few years. We were faced with the unpleasant task of moving while my guy was still recovering and didn’t need the stress, or buying a house we’d never considered purchasing. After weighing the options we decided to take the plunge. Long term it should be a good investment. It feels good to be able to fix things the way want them. (Can’t wait to get rid of the outdated wallpaper.) It also feels good to be settled again. Each year when it was time to renew our lease I would start looking at other places to see if it would be worth moving. I won’t be doing that for a long time now. Instead I’m spending my time redesigning the landscaping and planning inside changes.

Of course we’ve also had purely bad things happen with no silver linings apparent. A nephew with cancer that has metastasized throughout his body, family and friends who’ve lost their jobs and haven’t found new ones, my horse Glory who is going blind from cataracts. (Unfortunately, unlike with people and dogs, surgery isn’t an option.)

The same kind of thing happens in our stories. Our protagonists are challenged and by facing the problem are changed for the better.

In my book Wyoming Escape, Mikela runs and hides from a killer at a dude ranch. To her surprise she encounters a man she can trust (a new experience) and who is willing to risk his life for her. She also finds a “family of friends” that accepts her at face value, which in turn helps her change how she interacts with her real family.

In my current WIP, when Callie Burns finds a dying man, the ranger who answers her 911 call is the epitome of the type of man she avoids at all costs. By the end of the story, she has changed her views of him and a number of other things.

How about you? What are you grateful for? Any mixed blessings?



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?


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A Bounty of Blessings

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

It’s the month we celebrate several things including veterans, pets, America. Thanksgiving is around the corner and in the United States this is a holiday which means more (or should) than planning the trek to stores that are open for “Black Friday”/Thanksgiving Thursday.

Anticipating spending this Thanksgiving in Montana with my parents, I cannot help but reflect back to nearly a year after my mother’s first knee replacement surgery. It was a difficult time; her recovery was slow and painful, but within a few months she was walking better than she had in several years. This past May she went through a second knee surgery, this time on the other leg, and her recovery was much quicker and now her walk is much smoother and much less painful. A great blessing!

Mom and Dad_treeI’ve experienced many blessings this past year, including several magazine writing assignments, a new book, and healthy pets (despite several ups and downs). My husband and I have also experienced sorrow, in particular the loss of his father. As we look to celebrate Thanksgiving with my parents, we also look forward to sharing Christmas with his mother. Friendships surround us as well, people we enjoy being with and people who have helped us in time of need. And, our pets give us special companionship, help us smile and keep us warm at night (especially lately!) Another great blessing: our family and friends, both humans and four-leggeds. And yet another: the increase in my writing, including venturing into a new genre!

Cody FaceWith the onslaught of a bitter cold, snowy winter, I look around me and see a multitude of other blessings: warm shelter, food in the pantry and on the table, machines which wash clothes and dishes, blankets, beds, and two running cars. I have a stable job in addition to the writing work I’m doing and my husband’s business has picked up since spring. We have a bounty of blessings for which to be thankful for this year … including those which we often take for granted.

As this year draws to an end and a new one looms on the horizon, may we be ever mindful of the bounty of blessings each of us receives while looking forward to great goals and new challenges.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving table

Gayle & Mary outsideGayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. Her latest book is a follow-up to the devotion book: Devotions for Dog Lovers Volume 2: Sage Advice. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including the latest dog book The Dog Did What?, released August 2014. She also writes for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric Network), Crossroads, Creation Illustrated, and Our Town Casper magazines, as well as for the Casper Journal, River Press, and Douglas Budget newspapers. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. Visit her website at

SageBigAdventureFront-small     Walking_FrontCover_smallSageLearnsShareFront-small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_FinalDog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014  Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover

The Juggler by Erin Farwell

IMG_3021_1In a recent post I discussed how I find autumn to be a time of reflection. Over the last few days I’ve been asking myself “what was I thinking?” The past several weeks have been very busy and I’ve had no time to ponder life beyond the next item on my to-do list.

This has been a year of challenges starting with the Great Flood in February culminating in the new freelance writing gig with its steep learning curve and constant deadlines. In addition I’ve been helping a friend with her craft shows (Megan creates stunning jewelry pieces of silver and natural stones) as well as working a few of my own to bring in some extra dollars. I’m also teaching art classes, which I love, and helping my daughter with homework. Seventh grade math is killing me.400951370_refi_clock_ticking_xlarge

Our kitchen is still unpainted, the entryway closet is a shell with no storage capacity, and the dining room holds the boxes of all of the dishes and other things I can’t put away due to lack of said closet and a missing kitchen island. We are hosting Thanksgiving soon, with several of my family members staying with us so the clock is ticking, ticking, ticking. We are soon reaching the point where we will need to finish these projects or plan to have everyone eat dinner on TV trays.

Fortunately my family loves me and the most important thing is that we are all together rather than whether the trim is painted in the study or the dishes all match. We will have a wonderful time, talking, playing, laughing, and generally enjoying each others company.

Normally I am fairly calm and focused but now I am a juggler, struggling to keep all of the balls in the air. A few have gone splat, others have been dropped into the “completed” bin, juggling1but most are tossed from hand to hand, into the air and back, on their journey from the top of the to-do list, to the middle, then bottom, and back to the top again. I can’t complete a task without seeing ten more behind it and the weight gets heavy.

Just when I am ready to throw my hands in the air as a sign of surrender, my daughter comes home with a hysterical story of middle school life or my husband unexpectedly takes care of some of my chores and my burden is eased just a bit. Still, the projects line up and there is always something else that needs to be done.

Christmas is coming on the heels of Thanksgiving, and the house will be ready or it won’t. We might eat Thanksgiving dinner in the kitchen and maybe the Christmas tree will thanksgiving-dinnerbe set up smack in the middle of the study, yet it will all be good. Life is sometimes messy and disorganized but that doesn’t stop me from celebrating it.

This fall is not one of reflection but work and projects and chores, but that’s okay. I have family coming to visit, holidays to celebrate, and a husband and daughter I love. Who needs nostalgia when you have that?

Learn more about me at:

ShadowlandsAHE New Cover8149g0+Rz-L._SL1500_


Black Friday

propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Black Friday. We begin to hear the never-ending commercials for the event in October and November.   Somehow Thanksgiving gets shoved aside as people eagerly anticipate the biggest shopping day of the year. I am not a fan, and here’s why.

You can read more about Black Friday HERE.

In my day (I’m sounding like an old lady again) Thanksgiving was a revered holiday.dinner It originated with early settlers of America and the Indians who owned the land coming together to make peace. As the day’s popularity grew, it became a time for reflection, thankfulness for our world,  families, the food on our tables, and most importantly, a God who loved us. No store was open in my Thanksgivings of the past. The whole world took a break to be thankful and it was almost as if time stopped for 24 hours while we counted our blessings. We watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning and then helped Mom get things ready. We usually had cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles and anyone my turkeyfolks thought needed companionship. After eating our fill, the kids would run outside to play Duck, Duck, Goose in the snow. We played until we were wet and half-frozen but when we came in to dry off there was pumpkin pie! At the end of a special day with relatives and friends, I always felt full of love. At dinner we each said something we were thankful for before my Dad led us in prayer to bless the meal.

Read more about the 1st Thanksgiving HERE and HERE

Read about Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade HERE


Thanksgiving is a time for families to get together to reminisce. The table is laden with food and everyone goes home with leftovers to enjoy later.

Enter Black Friday. It has commercialized Thanksgiving, but I harbor no bad feelings for those who love it. My sister, her three girls (whose husbands care for their children), a cousin and a few friends leavesnowroad immediately after the Thanksgiving meal is over and drive to Green Bay, WI, where they have secured motel rooms. Since my sister lives in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula, they are only a 2-½ hour drive from Green Bay. They love the time together and although I’m always invited, I politely decline. It’s not my cup of tea. The entourage checks into their rooms and go out as soon pajamasas the sales start, often in their pajamas. They shop the sales they want and go back to the motel to sleep for a while. They do more shopping the next morning, then head to Appleton to catch the sales there. Another night in their Green Bay Motel and they’re on their way home, their cars laden down so much that the tires groan under the weight.moreshops

It’s not that I hate to shop that I don’t go along. Give me a music store, a bookstore,a fabric shop, or a yarn shop and I’ll make haste to get there.  Just not on Black Friday.  It makes no sense to me to stand in long lines for something that will probably be sold malleatout by the time your turn comes. I like to rest the day after Thanksgiving, often sewing or reading before hubby and I tackle the leftovers. I contemplate the life God has given me and the blessings I sometimes forget to count. I’m not fond of crowds of people pushing and shoving their way through stores, trying find a parking space, and waiting in the food court to get something to keep you sewinggoing. That being said, I love the stories my sister brings back about the wonderful deals they got and I’m very glad they have a good time together.

Call me old-fashioned, but I still think of Thanksgiving as a time to be thankful; a day of rest and relaxation with family you may not have seen for a while. When I was working I protected Black Friday, because it was an extra day I could do something I wanted to do but never had time for.

What do you think about Black Friday? Are you a lover, a hater, or ambivalent? I’d like to hear your thoughts.




You can read about the origin and rules of Duck, Duck, Goose HERE

Watch a video of the game HERE


Books by L.Leander:

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

INZARED bookcoverkindle










Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders


Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

Inzared The Fortune Teller Book Cover











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






Giving Thanks

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

I walked outside from the Central Wyoming Rescue Mission’s administrative offices, having just conducted an interview with the mission’s director for an upcoming story. Though the sun shone brightly, the temperature chilled a person to the bone, hovering around 12 degrees F. Snow still lay on the ground from a system that swept through a few days earlier. As my car’s engine revved then steadied to take me home, I thought of those whom the Rescue Mission serves, the men, women, and children without a home of their own, many even without a car, and certainly at times without hope.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????Wyoming’s homeless population is one of the highest, if not the highest, in the nation. According to federal figures, my state’s homeless numbers increased a dramatic, and frightening, 252 percent in three years (2009 – 2012). Casper’s Rescue Mission serves nearly 850 people every year and serves more than 36,000 meals. The number of women and children who need these services has also increased, especially in Casper, where rent rates are equivalent to a big city such as Denver, yet many single moms make $10 an hour or less. Our Central Wyoming Rescue Mission is and has been filled to capacity in its women’s shelter; soon a partnership between the Mission, another agency, and the City will take shape in order to create another facility for single-mom families, addressing that overwhelming need: serving working poor women and their children.

Upon arriving home, to a house with central heat and food in the fridge and on the shelves, and prior to writing stories for which I’ll be paid, I thought of all that I have to be thankful for. With Thanksgiving just a few days away and my mind and body in overdrive like the Energizer Bunny, I took some down time to quiet my mind and spirit to reflect upon what I had learned at the Mission and, in response, to reflect upon what I have to be thankful for:


  1. My family – I have a dedicated husband and caring parents (I’m an only child, in case you think I’d mad at siblings!) and I am grateful for a loving, close family.
  2. A home and the modern conveniences therein – I don’t have to wash clothes in or haul water from the nearest river and heat in this wintry cold is just a crank of the thermostat away.
  3. Great friends – near and far, old and new, virtual and present.
  4. Special pets – past and present, they give me comfort when I’m sick or sad, and offer great companionship and inspiration in my life.
  5. Work – to pay bills and help my community.
  6. Writing and Speaking Endeavors – to impact lives and share my passion.
  7. Health – though I’m more than a half-century old, my health is pretty decent; the aches and pains of aging are NOTHING compared to those dealing with cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other dramatic diseases.
  8. Mountain property and cabin – a sanctuary just 20 minutes from my house, at which I’ve gotten many story and book ideas and the opportunity to write them.
  9. Ability and Opportunity to Volunteer — to make a difference in the lives of pets and people.
  10. God – His grace and mercy have bestowed all the above and more, and my eternal future lies with Him.

These are just a few things for which I’m thankful. I am blessed beyond measure even though I don’t have much in my bank account or retirement fund and I haven’t written a New York Times bestseller. Despite the fact I’ve felt like a dog chasing its tail the past several months, I have work that brings home enough to pay bills. I’ve taken time nearly every day this month to give thanks, especially for the small things that I’ve taken for granted far too long. Visiting the director of the Central Wyoming Rescue Mission was a wake-up call, not only to the suffering and strife in my community as well as in this country, but to my own selfishness and ungrateful heart.

My dining table will be filled with delicious food on Thursday. The kitchen cupboards are full, the fridge and freezer are stocked to the max, and soon my family’s bellies will be bursting. Yet, there are numerous people in this country and around the world with little to nothing to eat, no warm shelter, and no caring family to surround them. In addition to my own blessings, I am thankful to and for the people such as at the Rescue Mission who help those in need. I am only one person, but I live in a community, in a nation, and together, we can help those who struggle. Food, a gently used coat, warm gloves, and a few toys for the children will be some of my contributions this year. I am blessed, and I want to share blessing with others who don’t have.

child in winterThis Thanksgiving, as I join my mother who has a new knee (and continues to improve each day), my father who is planning a family trip next September when he’ll be 78 years old, my hard-working husband who encourages me along my writing path, and my pets who brighten my life (and yes, they will get a nibble of turkey!), my heart is overflowing with awareness and gratitude.

I hope you all have many things for which to give thanks and that you and your family enjoyed the most joyous, blessed Thanksgiving ever!

Thanksgiving table

Gayle M. Irwin is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure and Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog. Her newest work is a Kindle and paperback as well as an email project titled Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. She weaves positive life lessons into her writing to encourage readers. She is also a contributing writer to editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul and to articles in Creation Illustrated magazine. Learn more at She will be sharing Thanksgiving with her parents, husband, and pets, giving thanks to God for all her blessings, including her blind dog Sage, gone now for more than a year, but who still lives in her heart and in the pages of her books.

SageBigAdventureFront-small         Walking_FrontCover_small        Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final