Poetry is fun! Try it, you’ll like it!


I know, last month was poetry month, but so what?  Poetry flows right through you, if you stop to listen.  Hear it?  It’s in your eyes, heart and soul when you look at nature or something else just as beautiful.  Walk down the road and you will see and hear all sorts of sounds and sights.


In my world, I see nature.  All sorts of four legged-furry friends scamper, run and jump through my five-acre wooded lot.  Birds sing and drop their seeds from our bird feeder and the squirrels scoop them up and a hurry.  The deer like the leftovers, too.

If you have a mind to do it, put all of this into words and watch it flow onto the page.  When finished, you’ll think—that came from me?  I don’t believe it!  So then go back and re-read it from the beginning to the end.  Did you add more to it?  That’s how you write.  Keep adding until you’re finished.

Here’s some fun poetry from my new poetry book.

Whispers From the Wind


Bees Buzz

Striped and yellow jackets swarm around gathering summer honey

buzzing in our quiet ears forcing us whispering weary and abundantly scared

Little children chase off far from the attacking buzz

Screaming and shouting for their mother’s who scream and shout

for the dad’s


We’re being invaded by buzzing bees!” the mother shouts. “They sting and hurt.”

“They give us deliciously, warm autumn honey,” the dad says, “which we will ooze onto a freshly baked slice of bread,

lick our lips and fingers, delight our tummy

with the first bite.”

~~~~~~~~~Barbara Schlichting 

Enjoy the day!  Enjoy the poetry from your surroundings high in the sky and under your feet!  Today is the day to begin to write what’s in your heart, mind, and soul.

Whispers From the Wind

Barb’s Books                                                                                First Lady Blog

Posted in adventure, Animals, Authors, books, Business of Writing, children's authors, national poetry month, national poetry month, poems, April, poets, poetry, unique | 15 Comments

As the Origami Folds, the Story Unfolds

IMG_1663by Neva Bodin

Recently I read an article re origami principles playing a part in developing surgical instruments, scoping body parts, and sending solar panels to the international space station.

Origami, folding one piece of paper into recognizable shapes with intricate details, is now a very advanced art form. It is thought to have originated in Japan during the 700’s after paper was brought to the country by Buddhist monks in the 600’s. (Paper was reportedly invented in China around 105 A.D. What a boon to writers!)


Our neighbor’s daughter folded these from small squares of paper while visiting us.

Examples of this art in this century include the folding of airbags in the cars so they may expand and open instantly, and transporting solar panels to space.

Now they are experimenting with a compressed folded robot that can be swallowed as a lozenge made of pig skin (used to love those pork rinds), or frozen in water which melts inside the body, then becomes an instrument to deliver medication to a particular spot in the body, or provide images of the area.

Reading about this remarkable technology, I began to see our writing as a form of origami. We unfold a story, expecting someone to “swallow it,” by first compressing lifetimes, experiences, etc. into pages pressed tightly together in a book. These pages connect the story so the beginning touches the end, with a myriad of folds and connections in between.


These she folded from the white wrapping around the napkins and silverware at the restaurant.

We fold these stories together, so people and their lives touch each other, intertwine and connect in such a way to create a world a reader may crawl inside and feel the connecting structure. We tighten the story, compressing a length of time into a few hundred pages, or maybe less. Reading the book is unfolding the story/creation. “As the story unfolds” is a common saying whether we speak of fiction or non-fiction.

“What’s most important is to breathe life into the paper,” said Eric Joisel, a well-known French origami artist. He died in 2010 of lung cancer after being featured in a 2009 documentary by Vanessa Gould about modern origami masters: “Between the Folds.”

We breathe life into our writing, as our story folds together, to be unfolded by an enthralled reader.


Another example of her talent. I believe she had a larger one like this on display at a museum in New York.

Posted in Creativity, Origami, unique | 15 Comments


Post (c) Doris McCraw


For those who are old enough, Carly Simon had a hit back in the day with the song ‘Anticipation’.  The words tell the story of someone who is anticipating a relationship. Listening to it the other day the thought ran through my mind that it is the feeling of what may come that is the joy and agony of life. Sometimes the excitement drives us further than we expect, but can also stymie us to the point of doing nothing.

Merriam-Webster define anticipation as:

  1. a prior action that takes into account or forestalls a later action hired more security guards in anticipation of a large crowd  :  the act of looking forward; especially :  pleasurable expectation looked forward with anticipation to their arrival

  2.  visualization of a future event or state :  an object or form that anticipates a later type

For creative people, I do believe anticipation is necessary to move us forward. We anticipate our work, be it story, painting, photograph, will have an impact of the world around us.  We hope our works will be popular, or at least liked by the people important to us.  It that doesn’t happen we can become discouraged, want to give up or move on and try something else.

The reality is, we want ourselves and that part of us, our creative endeavor, to be validated by the world around us. We want to know that we are seen, heard and appreciated. Too many times we get hurt and then hide the hurt so others don’t know the power of their reaction. We ourselves can be guilty, many times without realizing it. We are caught up in our own hurts, our drive, our lives. 

Perhaps it’s time to take back our power, live in anticipation and take the time to support the dreams of others as best we can. Life is short, but the anticipation of what may come, now that can keep us young.

For those who don’t remember the song, or would just like to hear it again, I’ve posted the link below. Enjoy and don’t let the anticipation get away from you. Follow the dreams you have, make them come true. Anticipate the best, it just might happen. After all as the beginning of the song says, “we can never know about the things to come, but we dream about them anyway…”


Doris Gardner-McCraw – pen name Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 

Photo and Poem: Click Here
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here
Posted in Brave and Courageous, Creativity, Dreams, Encouragement, future plans, unique, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Clueless…but worth it!

SONY DSCThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

I’ve often commented longingly, even enviously, when fellow Wranglers have posted an update on them having gone to a Writers Conference since I’d never had the experience of one. I am now delighted to say I am no longer a conference wannabee because…I went to my first ever Writers Conference a few weeks ago. However, the story of it isn’t a short one…


SAW – the Scottish Association of Writers – has hosted a conference every year since its inauguration during the 1970s and this year was their 48th. To join SAW you need to be a member of a writing club but since there wasn’t one local enough, I didn’t attempt to join SAW when I was first published in 2011. It was by chance a couple of years ago, I realised that I could join a group named The Writers Umbrella as a ‘postal’ member and in turn then join SAW, which I duly did in 2015.

Since the SAW conference was the same March weekend as my grandson’s 2nd birthday party in 2016, I didn’t attempt to attend that conference. On the other hand, this year (2017) my grandson wasn’t having an official birthday party, apart from my husband and I going over for a late afternoon meal and birthday cake at their house on the Sunday.

I still wasn’t going to be able to sign up for the Friday through Sunday full event but I could attend the conference as a Saturday day delegate and go to the Gala Dinner on Saturday evening. I find any public event quite daunting because I have a serious hearing problem but I signed up for the Saturday deal. I ‘virtually’ knew one attendee, a fellow Crooked Cat Books author, who was going to the event and we arranged to find each other at some point during the day.

The Westerwood Hotel is about 150 miles drive from my home but it also just happens to be about a mile and a half from where my sister stays. I popped down on the Friday night and stayed with my sister and B-I-L. On Saturday morning I arrived at the hotel just after 9 a.m. (my B-I-L plays a great taxi driver).  This proved to be way TOO EARLY because the first workshop I‘d signed up for didn’t start till 10 a.m. (in my defence, I hadn’t been sent a full weekend schedule). It wasn’t a problem though because the ‘meeter and20852118_s greeter’ invited me to join those in the main hall where the second batch of competition adjudications were taking place. I’d no idea what was going on, me being a complete newbie!
I watched person after person going forward to the podium for an award or certificate having won some competition or other – and knew none of them. Poetry; Flash Fiction; Short Stories; Prose Essays, Non- Fiction; Junior ‘First Readers’; Picture Books…there was an endless succession of categories, winners and runners-up. The excitement in the room was palpable, the surprise unmistakable and I only realised why when everyone went for a coffee break.

My Crooked Cat colleague, Rosemary Gemmell, waved me over to join her when she recognised me wandering around like a knotless thread. In the excitable and very noisy hubbub of something like 200 people milling around, she seemed to be trying to tell me that I had to make sure to speak to a lady named Myra Duffy about something that had happened on the Friday night. There was something I should know but it was better that I waited for Myra to explain it. The name Myra Duffy rang a bell but I couldn’t remember why I knew it. While I frantically tried to tune in to the conversations, Rosemary was called away to do something admin. I found the whole situation so bemusing and a bit of a blur.

Coffee Break was a rushed affair since the second adjudications had over run their slot but I learned the palpable excitement was due to the fact that all of the entries to the competitions were sent in with a pseudonym being used by the writer, this being the way that SAW finds it best to impartially judge when they have no idea who the entrant might be. Perhaps that’s common to most of these Conference competition rules? I have no comparison to go by.

Two excellent workshops over, I was in the dining room for SAW award Barbara Hammond Trophylunch when I met up with Myra Duffy. I was stunned to be told that The Taexali Game, my time travel novel for early teens, was placed joint second in the Barbara Hammond Trophy Competition for Best Self-Published Book, 2017.  Myra then told me the competition was unusual because the adjudicator actually sees the name of the author because they are sent a paperback version of the published book. AHA! Now it made sense. I had sent a copy to Myra’s address back in September 2016, one of three different competitions that I had entered The Taexali Game for.

It was lovely to bThe_Taexali_Game_Cover_for_Kindlee told by Myra that choosing a winner was nearly impossible but she had eventually settled on one and had decided to award the next two joint second.

Also amazing is that I have a two page breakdown of the criteria she officially used to decide on the winner and runner ups. That, I can tell you as a debut self published author,  is like gold! I’m also jumping for joy because she posted a great review on Amazon for The Taexali Game.

I’m really sad not to have heard her adjudication at the Friday night dinner but she gave me a copy of her ‘speech’ that was relevant to my novel. And I had a photograph taken with me holding my certificate at the very splendid Gala Dinner on the Saturday night. me 1

I grinned like a Cheshire Cat when my B-I-L picked me up on the Saturday night.

The drive home on Sunday morning was a long one…but I had a quite a tale to tell when I got home.

If I manage to attend the conference next year I’ll book into the hotel for the 3 days, regardless of whether I enter a competition or not!

Was it worth going to? Absolutely! I’ve made loads of new writer friends and I’ve even joined yet another group as a postal member. They’re based about a 90 mile drive away but I’ll try to meet up with them at least once a year. 


Nancy writes historical romantic adventure; contemporary romantic mystery; and time travel historical adventure. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the Scottish Association of Writers and the Federation of Writers Scotland.

You can find her at these places:

Blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk  Website: http://nancyjardineauthor.com/   Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG & http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G

email: nan_jar@btinternet.com  Twitter @nansjar


Amazon Author page http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere



Posted in competition, conferences, unique | Tagged , , , , | 19 Comments

NASA releases plans for deep space exploration

Mike Staton

Mike Staton wrote this post.

Hey, gather close. I’ve some news for you. Late in March, NASA unveiled plans for human Mars missions.

What? You heard nothing about them? Some space sites reported on the announcement, but the traditional news media ignored NASA Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenmaier’s presentation to the space agency’s advisory council. That’s sad, since Gerstenmaier finally offered up missions for NASA’s huge SLS rocket and its four-person spacecraft, Orion.

DSG orbit change Okan 170 Nathan Koga

The solar electric power engine for the Deep Space Gateway fires to change the space station’s orbit around the moon.

Critics of SLS and Orion have been complaining for nearly a decade that the rocket and spacecraft have no actual missions to justify their $24.8 billion cost. Well, NASA now has missions for SLS and Orion – out to the late 2020s.

The space agency – with the help of the nation’s new space companies like SpaceX – intends to build a small moon-orbiting space station and a larger reusable transport ship to carry astronauts to Mars and back.

The low-key unveiling was probably deliberate, some space supporter say. Politically speaking, these are turbulent times, and NASA needs to tread carefully. Once upon a time, bipartisan support was a given when it came to NASA. Is that still the case three months into the President Trump Administration? When President Obama sought to end NASA’s new monster rocket and make Orion a rescue boat for the space station, Republican and Democrats in Congress said NO, and kept NASA on a course for eventual manned deep space exploration. Can that kind of cooperation continue in today’s heated political climate?

Hab module towed to moon Okan170 Nathan Koga

Space artist Nathan Koga depicts the Gateway’s habitation module being towed to moon orbit by an Orion spacecraft sometime in the early 2020s.

NASA’s plans for the next decade for SLS and Orion are affordable – as long as the space agency doesn’t do business as usual. Agency officials need to use the government/private enterprise system that produced the privately owned cargo ships flying to the space station and the manned taxi craft now in development. In fact, use it in a stripped down version with fewer regulations and less government bureaucracy. NASA’s centers don’t need to be designing the space station and transport craft down to the last bolt. That’s the Apollo way. NASA’s budget won’t be awash in funding. President Trump’s going to ask NASA to do more with less. That means allowing companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX to build the craft their way.

Orion docked to partly built DSG-Okan170

The artwork shows Orion docked to the unfinished Deep Space Gateway, NASA’s next mission if the politicians provide sufficient funding to make it happen.

Gerstenmaier says NASA still has the can-do attitude. “There’s nothing this agency cannot do,” he said in a news release. “If you can give us a clear direction, and give us reasonable resources, this agency and its contractor base will accomplish what you want.”

Phase 1: Deep Space Gateway

That’s right… NASA’s small, moon-orbiting space station will be the gateway to deep space including Mars. The agency will spend the 2020s learning how to live and work in lunar orbit – three days from Earth – as preparatory work for trips to Mars in the 2030s. The spacecraft that will fly to Mars will be tested at the Deep Space Gateway (DSG). The interplanetary craft needs to function for years, not weeks or months. There will be shakedown cruises long before the reusable craft fires its engines and heads for Mars.

SLS and Orion

The Saturn-class SLS rocket and the Orion spacecraft atop it are prepared for launch in the Vehicular Assembly Building.

Just like the International Space Station now in low Earth orbit, the DSG will have international and commercial partners. Already, Japan may supply a lab module, and Canada, a robotic arm. Private companies will upgrade their cargo ships to supply the DSG.

The DSG won’t be like the International Space Station. Plans don’t call for it to be continually manned. Astronauts will be aboard only while Orion is docked to it. It can support a crew of four for 42 days.

Assembly of the DSG will begin in 2022 or 2023 with launch of a power and propulsion bus and be finished by 2026 with delivery of an airlock – altogether, four flights of the SLS and the Orion. That’s right, the Orion will transport the DSG sections to what’s called cis-lunar space.

SLS launches

The powerful SLS rocket thunders away from the Kennedy Space Center sometime in the 2020s. It’s on a mission to build the Deep Space Gateway.

The power and propulsion bus will be based on the now-canceled Asteroid Robotic Redirect mission, the Obama administration’s plan to bring a piece of asteroid back to the moon for investigation by Orion astronauts. The bus is a 40-kilowatt solar election propulsion system (SEP) that’s an order of magnitude more powerful than any SEP system operating today. The SEP bus will allow the DSG to maneuver between an always-in-sunlight halo orbit to other orbits that could be used for other applications – including lunar landings. A lunar module is not part of NASA’s plans right now, but a private company could build one and use the DSG for staging a tourist mission to the surface. Or NASA could buy landers. According to Gerstenmaier, the bus will also be equipped with 12-kilowatt maneuvering thrusters as well as chemical propulsion capability.

Next, a SLS rocket will launch a manned Orion and a habitation module to the DSG in 2024. The hab module will be docked to the power and propulsion bus. The DSG will be ready for Orion’s four astronauts to perform possible scientific experiments. The mission will last between 16 and 26 days.

jap lab towed by Orion to DSG

The Japanese science module is towed to the nascent Deep Space Gateway.

Another four-person crew launches in 2025 with a logistics module and a Canadian-built robotic arm. At this point, the DSG will be able to support a four-person crew for up to 42 days. The final manned flight – set for 2026 – will see astronauts deliver an airlock to the DSG. Also, two commercial cargo flights have been scheduled for 2025 and 2026.

Phase 2: The Deep Space Transport

When construction of the DSG is finished, NASA intends to launch its manned interplanetary craft to the lunar space station for shakedown testing. Called the Deep Space Transport, or DST, the exploration vehicle will be much larger than the lunar gateway station. Remember Skylab, the first U.S. space station launched in the early 1970s? NASA converted a third stage of the Saturn V moon rocket into a spacious space station, then used one of its last Saturn V’s to launch it into orbit.

The Saturn V third stage was 6.6 meters wide, which made Skylab the same diameter. SLS has a fairing diameter of 8.4 meters, and Gerstenmaier says the DST will be designed to take advantage of the large volumes and mass that can be launched by the SLS rocket. If the DST is supplied by Bigelow Aerospace, the spacecraft will be an inflatable design that would be truly gargantuan. The 41-metric ton manned vehicle would be launched in 2027 by a cargo version of the SLS rocket.

Deep Space Transport

The Deep Space Transport, the spacecraft NASA hopes takes astronauts to Mars in the 2030s, leaves the lunar gateway station for a shakedown test drive.

NASA wants the DST to support an astronaut crew of four for missions lasting up to 1,000 days – or nearly three years. It’s to be reusable. The space agency wants it to be able to complete three round trips to Mars. The DST won’t be a Tinkertoy like the ISS now orbiting our planet. Its interior will include a flight deck, hab section, science lab, exercise area, greenhouse, medical quarters and logistics section – everything needed to make voyages to Mars.

Later in 2027, an Orion will deliver a four-man crew to the DST, which will be docked to the gateway station. This crew will test out the DST on a 191-221 day mission with the craft still docked to the lunar station. The ship’s supply section will need to house all replacement equipment (the ship will also have 3-D printers), since Earth will be too far away for NASA to launch resupply cargo ships like it does for the ISS.

SEP for deep space

Near Earth, the Deep Space Transport is seen firing its solar electric power engine.

Another four-man crew will test the DST in 2029 in a one-year test drive with the spacecraft undocked from the gateway station. If all goes well, NASA will be ready to embark for Mars in the early 2030s. That first mission will be an orbital mission with possibly a landing on one of Mars’ two moons, Phobos or Deimos. A later mission will be a landing mission.

Mars beckons. Will we set sail?

# # #

I’m an author with three fantasy novels to my credit – The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. The books make up a trilogy titled Larenia’s Shadow. A fourth novel, this one a historical romance set during the Civil War, is scheduled for publication in October. It’s called Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep. All my novels can be purchased via the website of my publisher, Wings ePress, as well as the websites of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Posted in unique | 17 Comments

Celebrate Earth Day

gayle-at-estesThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

It’s Earth Day!

Well, Earth Day is actually tomorrow. What is Earth Day? Celebrated in many countries throughout the world since 1970, this special day was started in the United States and founded Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin as an awareness event to the effects of pollution on the environment. It was a time that Democrats and Republicans came together for the greater good, of the people and the planet – passage of Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act came on the heels of Earth Day.

squirrel on gate_blog photoAs most of you know, I love nature. As a child, I spent many hours in the fields and forests of Iowa, roaming the acreage my parents owned. Dad taught me about conservation through the establishment of brush piles, creating shelters for birds and small mammals living on our property, and creation of nesting boxes for wood ducks. The two-acre pond on our land provided water for all wildlife species and swimming areas for ducks and geese, as well as habitat for fish species like bass and catfish. We were an outdoors family, enjoying the activities of camping, fishing, hiking (and, for my dad, hunting). Red squirrels, cottontail rabbits, bobwhite quail, great horned owls, various songbirds, red foxes, and white-tailed deer, among so many other species frequented our property. From Iowa to Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and back to Wyoming again, I’ve experienced the beauty of nature. And, I enjoy each facet of that majesty.

I’ve worked with children throughout the years, educating them on the value of outdoor splendor. As education director for Montana’s Grizzly Discovery Center during the mid-1990s, I created on-site and off-site programs for kids and for teachers. I shared the importance of preserving habitat, which is not just for bears but is also shared by other creatures. While working at the International Crane Foundation in Wisconsin, I again shared about the majesty of nature, in the form of stately wild cranes and the importance of habitat. I worked with Forest Service officials both in Montana and Wyoming to create educational programs, and I once envisioned developing an educational center to teach the ethics of environmental stewardship.

I’ve planted trees, grown flowers for hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees, and set out bird feeders. And I’ve taught children the joy and beauty of nature writing.

front yard feeder and water_blog photo

cody-cabin-cover2In my book Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest, one of my goals is to educate children about the value of the outdoors; I also desire to help kids garner a greater appreciation for nature. So many children these days have little to no outdoor opportunity or experience. Video games, Legos, and other occupiers of time harness kids to screens and non-outdoor activities. Even those who live near natural beauty spend less time in the outdoors than kids of 20 or 30 years ago.

So this Earth Day, take some time to do some good, for both people and the environment. Take your kids or grandkids outdoors for a walk. Make a game of finding flowers, birds, and butterflies while taking your stroll. Go for a bicycle ride with your family and help your community be cleaner through a family litter pickup. Recycle. Participate in a community-wide clean-up. Plant trees in your yard or through a community project. Create a flower garden that helps bees and butterflies and certify your garden or yard through the National Wildlife Federation as a habitat space – that signage (like the one seen below that’s posted near my front yard) helps educate others in your neighborhood. Even go to a movie — a specific movie, that is: DisneyNature is releasing “Born in China” specifically for this Earth Day weekend, with donations from theater tickets going to help endangered animals in China.

There are so many things we can do, big or small, to help nature, whether in our communities or beyond.

NWF Sign_blog photo_rotated

What will you do to help preserve the great outdoors? My plan? Plant some bushes helpful to songbirds, butterflies, and bees. My husband and I have lived in our home for 10 years now, and my blind dog Sage died five years ago – I’ve been wanting to create an outdoor space in her honor for years, so this is the year to do so: celebrate Sage and her love for the outdoors and celebrate our 10th anniversary at this house with a project to help nature.

I hope you enjoy doing something special this weekend, too. Happy Earth Day, everyone!


Gayle & Mary outsideGayle M. Irwin is the author of several inspirational pet books for children and adults, including Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest, which is available in print and Kindle versions. Her newest children’s book A Kind Dog Named Mary about her springer/cocker mix is now available; the book teaches children about kindness and pet adoption — the release coincides with this year’s Children’s Book Week and Be Kind to Animals Week. She’s also a contributing writer to seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books, including last year’s release The Spirit of America, in which she wrote about the nation’s national parks. She enjoys sharing about the human-pet bond and about the value of nature. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.

Mary book cover

Posted in conservation, Creative writing, earth day, Freelance writing, Nature, taking care of the planet, unique | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

Vacation-Dream Spot by Cher’ley

Source: Vacation-Dream Spot by Cher’ley

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Vacation-Dream Spot by Cher’ley

This blog by Cher’ley Grogg

What is a vacation-dream spot? 

A  husband and wife booked a city bus tour in Athens, Greece. We were told to wait in the hotel lobby at 7 a.m. and hop onto the bus when it arrived, which they did. First red flag? Their guide spoke only Portuguese. Second red flag? The bus stopped at a port, and everyone was herded onto a boat. It turns out that they, two 69-year-olds, had boarded a 12-hour party-boat tour of the Aegean Islands with a Brazilian tour group! They had no IDs and very little money, so they decided to stay put (instead of getting off at one of the island stops), drink a few beers, and get some sun. Lesson learned: Speak up at the first red flag.
This is a story from Vestina Forkel a residence of Orangeburg, South Carolin.

My husband and I are planning our mini vacations around 3 spots. One is our house in Florida, the other is our kids’ homes in OH, and the other is our grandkids’ home in TX. We see relatives at each one, so they are all good. This is one of the advantages of driving a truck.

We are thinking about taking a cruise in the next year or so. We have never been on a cruise, except we took a cruise to nowhere when our kids were young.

This time of year vacations come up a lot. Here is a link to 50 favorite vacation spots 

Hwaiian beach

The beach or if you prefer the mountains, some people even enjoy the dessert. The Mountains

Berry Springs Lodge in the Smoky Mountains







A mountain view-breath taking.



I was curious about what the best time of year to think about taking a vacation, I had always heard August. I think it was until they started beginning the School year in August instead of September.

Favorite vacation months in the United States.


Image result for Dusty Wild West free images

Margaret Branson isn’t on a vacation, but she’s getting to see a terrain she only dreamed of. This is her Vacation-Dream spot. Going from a city back “East” to the Wild West is an eye opening experience for a young lady. She had always been under the protection of her Daddy, and now she was all alone, relying on her instincts and her inner strength.


Four Moons and Fair Maidens


She has never seen an Indian, and now she is making arrangements to bring the Indians and the Calvary together. She has some great news articles and fantastic photographs to send back to the Cincinnati Newspaper that is owned by her father. Join her for many adventures.  


***What is your Dream Vacation Spot? Do you prefer hot or cool? Do you have a vacation planned for this 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 

All About the Girls 5(3)

Four Moons and Fair Ladies Four Moons and Fair Maidens


Memories from Maple Street U.S.A: Pawprints on My Heartlink coming soon
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
Posted in Hard Times, Historical Romantic Western, Indians, unique, Vacations | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Memories of an Antique

IMG_1663by Neva Bodin

Memory is the capability of retaining or recalling mental impressions, facts and feelings. This past week was a walk down memory lane for me, although my house causes that walk too. Please notice the double entendre of my title!

To explain the past week, we visited my family home to determine if we should have an estate sale. We will, and the auctioneer examined every nook and cranny that he could. And of course, as I followed him around, many emotions kept pace with me. Each room holds many memories as well as the items there. I am the last survivor of my immediate family.

Our current house is full of antique furniture and other articles accumulated over 100 years plus by family members. A friend visited my house and said, “It’s like visiting a museum!”

I took many snapshots tonight and will share some of them. Although there are more antiques than those I will show, I think you’ll still get an idea of my past life! Walk with me down memory lane.

I  am sure I’ve shared enough for this time. Toys were built to last years ago, and were very much like the adult’s items.


All eight of my children (dolls/teddy bears, etc) rode in this doll carriage at one time or another.


My family had many conversations on this party line phone. It had an idiosyncrasy other phones didn’t. We could hear the neighbors without picking up the receiver. Great “rubber necking!” When my cousins wanted to call, they whistled into their phone and we heard the whistle and picked up. Other neighbors didn’t know we were on the phone unless they picked up too. Our ring was “two longs.” The small sewing machine, all heavy metal that really sews, was my sister’s.  She was 15 years older than me. The red one was from my dollhouse and is plastic.


I loved to crank this phonograph and listen to the old records. A couple favorites: I Just go Nuts at Christmas; I’ve got Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes. My cousin and I danced to this when it was relegated to the attic, causing my mother to come see what all the stomping above the ceiling was. I found the metal evening purse hanging on the front in my sister’s things.


My dad would sometimes play his violin in the evenings before TV came to dominate. Some years ago I rosemaled (a type of Norwegian painting) the case and now I’m practicing playing. I played a screechy tune for our cockatiel today and he gave me a wolf whistle. Shows how much he knows about music. The afghan it’s sitting on was made by my mother.


My mom used this cookstove till I was four or five. She’d been married 22 or 23 years by then and it had been moved to the “new house” just built when I was two. Before that my parents lived in a two room house–kitchen and bedroom–with three kids. My grandma’s tall cupboard sits beside it. They sit in our family room now. The dishpan, water dipper and coal pail were well used items by all of us.



My little pretend family and I had our lunches at this table.


Posted in Antiques, Neva Bodin, childhood, Memories, unique | 15 Comments

Book Festival Season is Here

by Sarah M. Chen

I’m seeing posts about how “it’s that time of year!” Or “Spring is in the air!” Unfortunately, in L.A., seasons all blend together, and sure, I’m noticing a few more flowers but it’s definitely not the spring vibe of almost anywhere else in the country. Actually, I learned recently that because of all the rain we’ve had, there are more bugs than usual. Yuck. Not something that makes me excited for spring (unless it’s Superbeetle of course!)

But I can think of one aspect of spring that has me excited—books! April is the start of book festival season and since I work as a bookseller, this month is always our busiest time of year. I know I can’t plan anything during April or else I earn the wrath of my manager. April 1 was Literary Orange which launches our official Book Festival Season followed by the Pasadena Festival of Women Authors on April 8. The next two festivals that close out April, the LA Times Festival of Books and YALLWEST are free and draw thousands of people. I look forward to these two all year.

Here’s a bit of history on the LA Times Festival of Books: It originally started in 1996 at the UCLA campus which is MUCH better than its current location, USC (yes, I’m biased because I’m a Bruin). The festival is the largest book festival in the U.S. and around 150,000 people come every year. The LA Times Book Prizes which actually began in 1980 now coincides with the festival. There are multiple stages, like the Cooking stage, the Children’s stage, the Music stage, and the Poetry stage. There is a Mystery/Crime Fiction section which is where I have always spent the majority of my time, although for the past two years I was in the YA and Kid’s section because I worked the Harper Collins Children’s booth and the Disney Publishing booth, respectively.

Last year at the Disney booth. I was having fun despite the look on my face. That year, it was pouring rain plus our computer system crashed!

I have a special relationship with LATFOB (as I refer to it). My first time attending was 2006. I was fresh out of a divorce and eager to start a new chapter in my life. I made a decision that I was going to take this writing thing seriously instead of writing stories here and there but not doing anything with them. I stumbled upon the Sisters in Crime booth and met Darrell James. He was so friendly that he convinced me I should attend a Sisters in Crime meeting. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to write crime fiction (although I enjoyed reading it) but I did go to a meeting. And then another. I wrote my first crime fiction short story. My goal was to one day sign at LATFOB and then in 2008, my dream came true. I was thrilled.

The “Little Sisters” anthology writers and a new fan – 2008

James Ellroy at The Mystery Bookstore booth – 2010

My love affair with LATFOB shifted when I went from festival participant to worker/slave. That started in 2010 when I was a bookseller for The Mystery Bookstore. I met James Ellroy which is something I’ll never forget.

Joseph Wambaugh signing at the MWA booth – 2012

After that, I started working for Mysterious Galaxy, another indie bookstore. This year, I’ll be signing at the Sisters in Crime booth which I’ve been doing for the past 9 years. But in addition, I’ll be signing at the MG booth which makes me feel “I’ve made it” as an author. And yes, even though I work for MG, it’s tough to get a signing slot at their booth and this will be my first time.

After the craziness and excitement that is LATFOB, the following weekend is YALLWEST. This is another huge festival and it’s all things YA (hence lots of screaming tweens). The original is YALLFEST which is in Charleston, SC. The organizers realized they needed to have one on the West Coast, especially since they’re both from here so YALLWEST was born. It didn’t launch until 2015 in Santa Monica and Mysterious Galaxy wasn’t the official bookseller until 2016 and me, a crazed nerdy YA fan, was ecstatic. It was a REALLY big event last year and I was dog tired after the weekend but it was a happy tired. I think we didn’t know what to expect and now we do (did I mention screaming tweens!?).

I’m gearing myself up mentally, emotionally, and physically for both of these festivals. What I love most is being surrounded by so many people who love books. It’s a wonderful feeling.

How about you? Any book festivals in your area or other festivals that you look forward to?


Sarah M. Chen juggles several jobs including indie bookseller, transcriber, and insurance adjuster. She has published over twenty crime fiction short stories with Shotgun Honey, Crime Factory, Betty Fedora, Out of the Gutter, and Dead Guns Press, among others. Cleaning Up Finn, her noir novella with All Due Respect Books, is a 2017 Lefty finalist and IPPY award winner. https://sarahmchen.com/

Posted in Book Festivals | Tagged , | 17 Comments