The Shakespeare Rule for Spoiler Alerts

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Don’t spoil the ending!

You think, “But the book is over a hundred years old. Everyone must know how it ends by now. Surely, I can talk about it before the new movie version comes out.”

NO! Don’t do it. You’re wrong.

Suppose a book or play has been made into a movie more than once. Suppose the original story was released decades or even centuries ago. At what point do “spoiler alerts” not apply? Does a “spoiler alert” renew itself every time a new cinematic portrayal of the work is released?

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Photo by Pixabay on

I think the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ Don’t spoil the ending, even on old works that “everyone” knows. Why? Because the explosive, exponential growth of reading and viewing material makes it impossible for people to have the same kind of cultural literacy that existed a few generations ago.

We’ve gone from three main television stations to hundreds. We’ve gone from best sellers reigning for months, to best sellers being on top of the book charts for a day or two. People will miss things, even great things because of the volume of material available. Also, given the fact that great literature doesn’t spoil like fruit and given the movie industry’s penchant for recycling stories, new generations can and will be introduced to old “classics” when a new movie version is released. To a new generation who weren’t alive when the book was written or when the play was first performed, that movie is new.

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Photo by Skitterphoto on

Most of Shakepeare’s plays, Treasure Island, Anne of Green Gables, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Frankenstein, Murder on the Orient Express, and It, to name a few, have all been made into movies more than once. You may think, “How much are we really giving away if we discuss the endings?” If the work portrayed in the movie is a classic in its genre, like Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, and generations of writers have built off of her surprise ending, adapting it to their own works, can we really not discuss the novel’s ending because a new cinematic version is released?

No, we can’t, because each new generation needs a chance to be exposed to the material as if it had been newly released.

For example, recently I sat down at a family party to watch the latest movie adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, featuring Kenneth Branagh as Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. Having read the book years ago and having written a short story that borrowed from Christie’s famous ending, I was extremely aware of “who done it,” but was looking forward to seeing if the movie was well done.

Making conversation before the movie, I mentioned the earlier versions of the movie and received in return blank looks. I was surprised to find no one else was familiar with either the book or the previous movies. As I took my seat, I was asked not to spoil the ending. None of the others in the room knew how the story ended.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, published by Agatha Christie in 1926, is frequently cited as having had a significant impact on the mystery genre because of its twist ending. With the spate of mystery novels featuring unreliable narrators right now, am I allowed to discuss how much those books owe to Christie’s Roger Ackroyd? Maybe in a book discussion after everyone reads whatever the book in question is. However, if someone made a new Roger Ackroyd movie for world-wide release tomorrow, a spoiler alert would renew suddenly.

photo of black ceramic male profile statue under grey sky during daytime
Shakespeare: Photo by Mikes Photos on

I have noticed that when a new version of Romeo and Juliet is released, it is openly discussed from start to finish without anyone worrying about “spoiling” the story for someone who hasn’t seen or read it. As far as I can tell, Shakespeare is the only exception to the “spoiler alert rule”.

Shakespeare’s works are so much a part of the public consciousness, that people know Romeo and Juliet both die even if they haven’t seen or read the play. So, how old and how well-known does a story have to be to reach this stage? If nearly one hundred years and hundreds of authors influenced, as in the case of Agatha Christie, isn’t sufficient, I’m not sure what is. A work may have to be at least as old and well known as Shakespeare’s plays before no spoiler alerts are required. We could call it the Shakespeare Rule for Spoiler Alerts.


N. M. Cedeño writes short stories and novels that are typically set in Texas. Her stories vary from traditional mystery, to science fiction, to paranormal mystery in genre. Her debut novel, All in Her Head, was published in 2014, followed by her second novel, For the Children’s Sake, in 2015. In 2016, For the Children’s Sake was selected as a finalist for the East Texas Writers Guild Book Award in the Mystery/Thriller category. Most recently, she has begun writing the Bad Vibes Removal Services Series which includes short stories and the novel The Walls Can Talk (2017).

One Step at a Time

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

This Blog began in May with a phone call from my daughter. She was looking to cross something off her bucket list and wanted me to accompany her. By the end of the call we had a plan to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail complete with tents, sleeping bags, food and water. Since my daughter like me is directionally challenged this is quite an undertaking for both of us.

Hiking TrailI originally planned to write a single blog detailing my prep for this trip and the hike itself. However I doubt anyone would sit and read a blog that long. So I am splitting this into 2 blogs. This one will cover my prep for the trip and the beginning of our journey. My next blog will cover the final leg of our trip.

The first thing I needed to do was get in shape. Yes I hike to capture critters on film. But this was a longer distance and I would be carrying everything I needed with me.

Deer I began by walking ½ a mile to the end of our street. I should mention that the hill just up from the house kicked my butt everyday for the first 2 weeks. Once I had concord that hill I began adding distance. Eventually I was up to 5 miles. Those five miles included 4 hills.

The next phase of my self imposed training was to add a backpack. I had never worn one before so I needed to get use to it. I began with my tent and sleeping bag attached. Then I added weight to the backpack each week.

At the suggestion of a friend I searched on line for hikers who had completed our route. Some made me a bit skeptical about attempting this, while others encouraged me and helped with some valuable information.

Meanwhile my daughter was training for a half marathon. I was sure she was much more prepared than me and continued to push myself daily hoping not to slow her down on our hike. By the end of August I was as ready as I was going to be.

I packed my backpack and put it on, and my heart sank. Then I remembered I still had the weights in there from my training. After removing the weights and repacking the backpack I knew this would be a challenge, but I could do this.

On the eve of our excursion my backpack was down to less than 20 pounds. We had a map of our route complete with landmarks and an elevation chart. Thanks to some fellow hikers we knew where we could refill our water bottles and where we were going to camp for the night. We allowed ourselves 3 days to complete our hike.

Hiking Start When our hiking day finally arrived our planned starting point wasn’t accessible so our first challenge was getting onto the trail. However we had my hubby dropping us off and he is really good at this sort of thing. So within minutes we were at the South Mountain Inn parking area. We strapped on our backpacks as a gentle rain fell. Just after 8 am we said our goodbyes and my daughter and I made our way onto the Appalachian Trail.

Guided by a series of white hash marks we wandered into the woods and left civilization behind and began to enjoy the tranquility of the trail. This leg of our journey had the most elevation and would be the most challenging for both of us. As the rain subsided we longed to reach our first peak and the well deserved rest we had promised ourselves. We had heard stories of snakes and bears along the trail but encountered neither. We did get a glimpse of a coyote and maybe a fox.
SJ Brown coyote

The Appalachian Trail is well marked most of the way. At the first road we encountered we experienced a few minutes of concern. We weren’t quite halfway to the shelter where we planned to spend the night; it was much too early in our journey to be lost. Finally we spotted that prized hash mark that told us we were still on the trail.

Hiking 2The next few miles were a mix of elevations speckled with occasional breaks and lighthearted chatter. We arrived at the Crampton Gap shelter at 1 o clock and decided it was way too early to stop for the night.
This seems like a good place to stop, for now. Come back next month and find out how our journey turned out.

Thanks for stopping by and letting me share my thoughts.

Connect with me on Facebook and be one of the first to see what I have been up and view my Sunday Shares.

My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap. Bennie the Butterfly and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website




Made His Mark: Daniel J. Boorstin, A Man and His World

renee kimball dog photo written by Renee Kimball


Education is learning what you didn’t even know
you didn’t know. ~ 
Daniel J. Boorstin

2018-08-09 renee kimball www Daniel_Boorstin copy wiki commons
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

There are many people who have never heard of Daniel J. Boorstin.  You may not know of him or his lifetime of work.  Boorstin is one of a group of modern historians who rose to prominence in the 1950’s and beyond.   At the beginning of his career, there was no internet and the general public was eager for information primarily found in books.

Boorstin was born in 1914 and died in 2004, at the age of 89.   He was a man of many talents, but in terms of authorship and approach he was truly unique.   To study all his work would take a lifetime.

He received the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for the last book of a trilogy he titled The Americans. The trilogy included:  The Colonial Experience (1958), The National Experience (1965), and The Democratic Experience (1973).

Boorstin’s gift was his laser-like insight and unrivaled ability of connectedness.  He was adept at evaluating trends and society, as well as history, and combining both into highly readable chronologies.  His writing details historical events, social change, progress, and scholarly viewpoints throughout the history of America and the world.  To say that Boorstin was the consummate researcher is an understatement.

Not only was Boorstin adept at interconnecting facts, people, places, inventions, and abstract concepts into a smooth and interconnected whole, no one that I am aware of has written with the same clarity or ability as a historian – Boorstin has no equal.  He was also such a prolific writer; a published annotated bibliography was produced comprised solely of his work in 2000.

2018-08-08 WWW Renee kimball amazon The image - book cover - boorstein 51iKBhLpL4L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_
The Image

Daniel J. Boorstin is what I have personally dubbed “a place keeper.”  He is the type of historical and social writer who sees the pivotal in the mundane, marks it, explains it and knows what effect the event had at a certain point in time, and the impact it could have in the future.  Boorstin was one of the first to literally name certain social conditions.  He was the first to coin “image”, the “non-event” and the “celebrity”, all concepts either invented, or first dissected, by him.” (Hodgson, 2004).

But who was this man? Why is his writing so important to us today?

Boorstin was born in 1914 in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Russian Jewish Immigrants.  His father was an attorney who represented Leo Frank, and despite being found innocent of the rape and murder of a young girl, Frank was later lynched by The Klu Klux Klan.  Anti-Semitism forced the Boorstin family to relocate to Oklahoma.

After completing his early schooling, Boorstin went first to Harvard Law, graduated, then studied at Balliol College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.  During 1938, he joined the Communist Party for one year. He dropped his affiliation when Russia and Germany invaded Poland.  He never returned to the Communist Party, and fully denounced it when questioned in later years.

He received his doctorate at Yale and was hired as a professor at Swarthmore College in 1942. Later, Boorstin became a professor at the University of Chicago, holding that position for twenty-five years.  He later attained the position of “Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions,” at the University of Cambridge.  In 1974, he became the Librarian of Congress upon the nomination of then President Gerald Ford, and retained that position for a full twelve years.

He married Ruth Frankel, in 1941.  Their marriage was a solid one lasting the rest of their lives.  Ruth was also Boorstin’s editor. “Without her,” he was quoted as saying, “I think my works would have been twice as long and half as readable.”

Boorstin is most famous for the trilogy, The Americans; however a second well-known trilogy spanned an all-encompassing study of man and the world in which he lives.   That trilogy included : (1) The Discoverers: A History of Man’s Search to Know His World and Himself, (2) The Creators: A History of Heroes of the Imagination and (3) The Seekers: The Story of Man’s Continuing Quest to Understand His World Knowledge Trilogy.

These works are maps from where man began, his creations along the way, the curves and changes that mark man’s historical progress, and their effects on society. They are important because Boorstin is a place finder and a place keeper who shows our progress as a country, society, and habitants of this large world that we all are a part – and guides us to something better in ourselves.   These works are lasting works, we can all learn something from Boorstin’s achievements.



Daniel Boorstin’s books cited above are available from Amazon,


Hodgson, Godfrey. Obituary – Daniel Boorstin. Prolific American social historian who charted the corrupting influence of advertising and spin on political life. The Guardian U.S. Edition.

Mon 1 Mar 2004 03.59 ESTFirst published on Mon 1 Mar 2004 03.59 EST.

Daniel J. Boorstin. Wikipedia.

Encyclopedia Britannica. Daniel J. Boorstin. American Historian. The Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

The Washington Post.  Langer, Emily.  Ruth F. Boorstin, writer and editor, dies at 95. December 6, 2013.


A former paralegal, Renee Kimball has a master’s degree in criminal justice. Among her interests are reading and writing. She is an active Animal Advocate, fosters and rescues both dogs and cats from shelters, and works with various organizations to find them forever homes.


Finding Books – Saving a Language and a Culture – by Renee Kimball

 Posted by Renee Kimball

 “There are ways to recover, say tomato seeds, but language is an oral medium . . . it is gone if direct speakers are dead and nothing has been done to document it.” – Keren Rice

In 2013, Raveena Aulakh reported that “half of the world’s 7,000 languages” faced extinction by the end of the 21st century.

Why would this matter?  When a language is lost, so is its culture.

In 1980 Aaron Lansky began a life-long quest to save Yiddish books.  Only 23 years old when he began his search, he was told there were maybe “70,000” Yiddish books left in the world – they were wrong.

Over the next 25 years Lansky and his friends saved 1.5 million Yiddish books and, in the process, created The National Yiddish Book Center, with a membership of 35,000 people– the largest group dedicated to the preservation of Jewish culture in the United States.

Yiddish means “Jewish,” and has its foundational roots in Hebrew, Aramaic, as well as multiple European languages.  For hundreds of years, Jews faced forced relocations across all of Europe. With each new environment, Yiddish accumulated new words, meanings, and pronunciations reflecting the local areas.  The marginalization of Jews prohibited them from displaying or documenting a separate Jewish identity but speaking Yiddish linked Jews as a people.

Lansky knew Yiddish was dying as a form of communication, but for him, Yiddish books represented a written history of the Jews as a people and as a literate culture.  Despite Hitler’s programmed genocide and push for destruction of Jewish culture, Yiddish language and literature managed to survive even the Holocaust moving with their owners across Europe, into the United States, and other countries.

Newly arriving Jewish immigrants to the United States spoke Yiddish as they arrived from war-torn Europe and they brought their Yiddish books.  In fact, Yiddish literature was still published in America up to the 1970s when it began to wane, the Yiddish language and its speakers and readers were disappearing.  Lansky was determined to find these remaining lost gems of literature and save them for the future.

Lansky’s quest was not an easy one.  But he preserved and in 1980, Lansky quit school, withdrew his savings, and rented a U-Haul setting out to rescue whatever Yiddish books he could find.

Lansky’s persistence paid off when elderly Jews who had heard of Lansky’s search, contacted him.  It began with a few, then many, elderly pleading with Lansky to take their Yiddish collections.  Elderly Jews agonized that they had no one to care for their books and their children had no interest in Yiddish or reading it.

For many, the books were often times left with Rabbis or thrown out.  Lansky was not one to shy away from jumping in dumpsters or traveling distances to save these discarded books regardless of the weather and his lack of resources.  Lansky’s search grew and Rabbis were soon transferring stacks of discarded books his way.

Yiddish Book Center, by John Phelan [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons
Books held by their owners for years were given to Lansky.  To these aging Jews, each book was more than just a story, these books were living things and monumental memories. With each donation, the owner gave a part of their heart, their family, and their remembrances to Lansky for safekeeping.

Along with each book, a story was told.  The act of both the giving and the story telling were, in Lansky’s terms, a “cultural transmission” but even larger than that, “Book by book, he was placing all his hopes in me” (Lansky).

Lansky returned to graduate school and while finishing up his master’s degree in 1980, along with help from his father, friends, and two of his professors, the foundation for the National Yiddish Book Exchange was conceived and incorporated.  (Now changed to National Yiddish Book Center).

Outwitting History is Lansky’s story of his search for a lost language, and what he found along the way represented more than just books.  Lansky’s search takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster that travels across people’s lives and time and the books they treasured.  It is about a love of language and books and the survival of a people.  It is also about a 23 years old’s quest to save a culture and one cannot help but be amazed at his success.  What he found was not just books, but a history of a people.

“This book is an adventure story: It tells how a small group of young people saved Yiddish books from extinction.  It’s also the story of the Yiddish-speaking immigrants who owned and read those books—how they sat us down at their kitchen tables, plied us with tea and cakes, and handed us their personal libraries, one volume at a time. The encounters were almost always emotional:  People cried and poured out their hearts, often with candor that surprised us all.” 


Outwitting History – The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Booksby Aaron Lansky, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 2005

“Dying languages: scientists fret as one disappears every 14 days.” The Star By Raveena Aulakh, Environment, April 15, 2013.

Yiddish Book Center.


A former paralegal, Renee Kimball has a master’s degree in criminal justice. Among her interests are reading and writing. She is an active Animal Advocate and fosters and rescues both dogs and cats from shelters and works with various organizations to find them forever homes.


The West Virginia 6 Pack


Let me tell you about the West Virginia 6 Pack. No, I am not talking about a beverage or food of any kind. The WV 6 pack is what I am calling 6 people from WV who traveled to Delaware to visit the beaches along the bay and rescue some wild critters.
Our little group consisted of me, my hubby Jay, our Granddaughter, two former neighbors and their grandson. This was the first year we were able to include our granddaughter in this annual rescue mission. She is 13 and lives in the Parkersburg WV area so just getting her to our home was a 5 hour drive.
The following morning we were up before the sun for the 3 hour drive to Delaware. There we met up with the rest of our group. We were all anxious to get started despite the nasty weather that greeted us. We donned our rain gear and proceed to the beach to brave the wind and rain.

SJBrown BeachOne by one we approached the horseshoe crabs that were in distress. The motion of the waves they rode to shore on forced some of the horseshoe crabs onto their backs. Like turtles horseshoe crabs cannot always turn themselves over when they land on their backs. Some beckoned to us by waving their claws, while others chose to save their strength and remain motionless.

SJBrown Crab ClawThis annual journey to lay their eggs could leave numerous horseshoe crabs baking in the sun if people didn’t come to their rescue. Migrating shore birds also come to witness this yearly occurrence. They come to gorge themselves on horseshoe crab eggs before continuing on their journey to their summer homes.

SJBrown BirdsOur strategy is really quite simple we walk along the top of the waterline flipping horseshoe crabs as we go. On our return trip we venture along the water’s edge. Our little group saved dozens of Horseshoe crabs, a turtle and a blue crab, all before lunch.

SJBrown Horseshoe Crabs

SJBrown Crab 1On the long ride home we discussed our plans for next year. Yes my granddaughter wants to do this again, despite the hours of driving required. She does think we should pack our lunch next time.

As a wildlife photographer and author I have been traveling extensively throughout the United States for over 15 years. I am always accompanied by my husband and spotter in my pursuit of the next critter encounter.
My work has been published internationally in books, calendars, greeting cards, magazines and newspapers. Sharing my photographs and written words are a way to share my wildlife encounters with others and possibly inspire them to explore their creative side.
My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website




IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

Have you ever wondered what goes into a field trip for a wildlife photographer? January is when I plan out large portions of my year. As snow piles up outside Jay and I spread books, maps and the trusted atlas on the dining room table. We have notes from shows we have watched on the public broadcasting station and migration maps as well.

SJBrown1After reviewing all this we pick a direction and plan out one trip at the time. The desired destination dictates if we will be on the road for just a few days or 10. This year’s 10 day trip will have us zig zagging from state to state and spending extra time in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.
We budget for things like gas, food and places to stay. While we spend our days in refuges, parks and out of the way places. We need to plan to be in areas that offer food and lodging each night, but still close to the next day’s sunrise destination. I promise Jay one decent meal a day, and a bed to sleep in, anything beyond that is a bonus.

SJBrown2Before we hit the road we stock up on things like film and snacks. All the camera equipment needs to be ready to capture that magic moment when I encounter a critter. Over the years I have accumulated a number of camera bodies and lens’. This year my largest most expensive lens needed to be replaced before we hit the road. The only good thing about this is that it didn’t happen while I was on the road.
We plan out shorter trips as well. Two or three day trips include locations in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina. On each of these trips I load the car with two camera bags, a tripod, raincoats, hiking boots, water shoes, and a duffle bag. Jay packs his duffle bag and the cooler. Longer trips require us to find room for additional duffle bags and food. What I may need to grab in a hurry goes in the back seat for easy access.

SJBrown3Over the years we have learned to plan for anything. Weather, traffic accidents, and lack of critters can divert us from our planned route. On a trip to Tennessee we spent very little time in the state. Instead I captured most of my critter images in Kentucky.

SJBrown4While in Main we struck out at our planned destination and traveled another 3 hours north to get shots of a mama moose and her offspring. The rainy conditions in Georgia pushed us to spend an extra day in Florida on another trip.

SJBrown5Wildlife photography is so much more than having a camera and a love of critters. However this is something I am passionate about and I plan to keep doing it for many years to come. Our next trip is just a few weeks away.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you plan a few adventures of your own.

As a wildlife photographer and author I have been traveling extensively throughout the United States for over 15 years. I am always accompanied by my husband and spotter in my pursuit of the next critter encounter.
My work has been published internationally in books, calendars, greeting cards, magazines and newspapers. Sharing my photographs and written words are a way to share my wildlife encounters with others and possibly inspire them to explore their creative side.
My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the birds I see, Clancys Cat Nap and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website

Connect with me on Facebook and be one of the first to see what I have been up and view my Sunday Shares.

Join my E mail list and be the first to hear about my latest adventure.

Visit my website to view more of my images

S J Brown Photo vertical




 How do we define a senior season individual? We usually immediately think of gray hair, wrinkled skin, stooped bodies, slow minds, forgetfulness, dentures, and canes.

Typical statements by seniors are:

My life is almost over

            I am too old to cook, clean, drive, exercise, etc.

            All my friends have died

            I feel so alone

 Or we do know those in their senior season who are thriving, surviving, and striving toward their goals and dreams.

Here are some interesting facts about famous authors who achieved their goals in their senior years. Laura Ingalls Wilder began writing in her mid-forties when she was working as a columnist and a freelance writer. She took all her years of growing up and published Little House in the Big Woods at the age of 64.

Penelope Fitzgerald graduated from Oxford and launched her literary career in 1975, at the age of 58. By the age of 61, she published her first book and two later won the Booker Prize for her book, Offshore.

 At the age of 70, John Howell started writing full time. He won honorable mention in a short story competition for Writer’s Digest in 2012. Since then he has four published books.

When he was 66 years old, Frank McCourt published his first book, Angela’s Ashes.

 Diana Athill is the oldest category winning author in the history of the Costa Book Awards. At the age of 91, she won the Biography Award for her memoir Somewhere Towards the End.

 At the age of 70, Mary Wesley’s first published novel was Jumping the Queue, published in 1983.

The conclusion I came to in researching and writing this article is that our age is only a chronological number and it is what we do with the days in our lives that truly matters. I encourage everyone to follow your dream, do not let age or any other factors slow you down.

Making it better

SJBROWN author picBy S J Brown

Each of us in our own way tries to make the world a little better. Writer’s help people escape their daily woes and immerse themselves in another place and time, making the world a little better.

SJBrown1I know a number of teachers that don’t end their connection with their students when the bell rings. They run after school programs, and tutor students. They go to work early and stay late with each student they guide they are making the world a better place.

Anyone who has met me, read one of my blogs or checked out my website site knows, like most wildlife photographers I feel a connection with nature. I try to do my part of make the world a little better. At home I grow my own veggies, compost, buy reusable products, and recycle.

SJBrown3 All of my paper and cardboard waste goes to a local nonprofit that recycles it and uses the money in local schools. I buy potted Christmas trees instead of a cut one and gladly share information on being more environmental friendly with friends and neighbors.

When I clean out my linen closet the sheets, towels, and blankets go to the local humane society. Once we were settled in our home Jay and I realized we had too much furniture. Instead of taking these items to the dump or selling them at a yard sale I listed them for free on a local website. When I remodeled my office I had several sliding glass doors that a gentleman from the area was thrilled to get. I am constantly finding ways to keep things out of the landfill.

SJBrown4Away from home I work with a number of other volunteers planting trees along stream beds. I do presentations for children and adults about wildlife, sharing my love of nature. I am a member of a local gardeners exchange group. There we exchange ideas, information and plants making our little corner of the world a better place.

Occasionally I will take friends or family members out into the field with me giving them a little different perspective on the natural world. I tag monarch Butterflies and take part in citizen science projects.

SJBrown2I buy books from fellow West Virginia writers whenever I can. My little purchase wouldn’t make a difference to Stephen King, but certainly counts to them. I have begun writing book reviews as a way of helping my fellow authors get a little more exposure.
There are so many ways each of us can make things a little better for another person, a critter, or even the world we all share. Take a minute or two and share with me how you accomplish this I am always open to new ideas.

Thanks for stopping by.

As a wildlife photographer and author I have been traveling extensively throughout the United States for over 15 years. I am always accompanied by my husband and spotter in my pursuit of the next critter encounter.
My work has been published internationally in books, calendars, greeting cards, magazines and newspapers. Sharing my photographs and written words are a way to share my wildlife encounters with others and possibly inspire them to explore their creative side.
My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the birds I see, Clancys Cat Nap and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website

Connect with me on Facebook and be one of the first to see what I have been up and view my Sunday Shares.

Join my E mail list and be the first to hear about my latest adventure.

Visit my website to view more of my images

The Best Books You Never Read

IMGP6507By S J Brown

The world is filled with unfinished manuscripts. They are stuffed in drawers, stored in a computer file, or sitting on a desktop waiting to be completed. Many years ago I joined a writers group. I admit some members were working on works that apparently weren’t that memorable since I don’t remember all of them.

SJ BRown 2

Then there are those few that stuck with me. One I know was a very well written manuscript. The text introduced me to another way of life among the pine trees of New Jersey. The author did a fabulous job setting the scene with few words.

Every word had a purpose and as a reader I felt I had been there with the little girls as they ran through the trees giggling. I could feel the fabric of their worn homemade cotton dresses. Their fear of the booming voice of their mother brought back memories from my childhood.
The author wasn’t sure she would ever publish it, but she was enjoying working on it. Sadly, “Ode to a Pine Tree” was never published, the author passed away before completing it.

SJ Brown 1Another member of our little group was working on a murder mystery set in 1965. As a retired lawyer he wanted input on the legal aspects of the manuscript. His attention to detail was astounding. Nothing and I mean nothing was included in book unless it was around in 1965. He researched everything from food, to cars, to hairstyles, to furniture and more.

SJ Brown 3One of the main characters was Native American and his beliefs played into the story. His lawyer was a down on his luck lawyer that believed his client was innocent. Proving that would be one of the biggest challenges of his career.
Within the story the author scattered tiny details. These details would come together in a surprise ending. Since the author moved out of the area before this book was published. I may never know if it was published. I do know it isn’t available on Amazon under the working title “The Crooked Knife”.

SJ Brown 4Unless you are a member of my family I am sure you have never read “Alice.” This is a book my mother worked on for years. Her chapters were hand written on a series of yellow legal pads. Mom passed away before her book was completed.
She wanted her manuscript to be a trip down memory lane for family. Although I did take on the task of placing Moms works on a typewritten page, and getting it printed, it has never been made public. My sisters and I decided to honor Moms wishes and print a limited number of copies for each of Moms siblings and of course a copy for each of her girls.

SJ Brown 5

Like many authors I have more than one manuscript in the works. Hopefully I will be releasing one of them in the near future. Meanwhile I am putting the finishing touches on another.

Do you have a project or two that has been percolating for a while? Maybe it is time to pull those pages out of the drawer, or open the file and make sure your book isn’t one that no one will ever read.

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Cover 3-26-23


So, You Want to Write A Book…

Keri De Deo



This post by Keri De Deo


When I meet people and mention that I’m an author and editor, they often launch into their book writing aspirations. They end the discussion with the statement, “But I don’t know where to start.”


Yes, Lewis Carroll said, “Begin at the beginning,” but it’s not as simple as that.

Editors and agents want the beginning of a book to capture its audience from the first sentence and to entice the reader to continue to the end.

That’s a daunting task. So, of course, if thinking about this beginning, you’ll never begin. Rather than “begin at the beginning,” begin writing where your idea starts. You can figure out the beginning later.

Diana Gabaldon, a favorite author of mine, speaks about “kernels.” These are small snapshots of characters, descriptions, images…short sentences that start an idea. From there, she develops these ideas into larger and longer texts. Sometimes, these ideas make it into the book, but sometimes, they hit the editing floor. That’s OK.

I repeat: THAT’S OK. Every thought you have for a book or a character or an idea does not have to end up in the book. It doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. It simply means that it’s not meant for the reader. Hold on to those pieces, though, because they could be useful in developing your character.

It’s also important to develop the habit of writing. Write daily–whether it’s in the morning, afternoon, or the middle of the night. Many famous authors write best in the morning, but morning writing isn’t necessarily the best time for all writers. I tend to write best late at night when it’s quiet except for the occasional owl or coyote. That’s my best time, but it may not be your best time. Explore your writing time–see when it flows the best, and then stick to that time and write, write, write.

Don’t worry if it’s good or not–just write. You can figure out if it’s good later, and if it’s not good, you can fix it. Writing is an art, but it’s also a skill that we must practice if we want to improve.

So, good luck with that book! Keep at it, and you just might find yourself among the published authors!

{A previous version of this was posted at}

Keri De Deo, owner of Witty Owl Consulting, lives in northern Arizona and works as a writer, editor, researcher, and instructional designer. She is author of the young adult novel Nothing but a Song, released in December 2017. She loves technology and finding innovative tools for a happy, healthy life. Keri spends her free time with her husband kayaking, hiking, and walking her two beautiful dogs, Maiya and Lilla. To learn more about Keri, visit her website or follow her on Facebook (@authorkeridedeo) and Twitter (@thewittyowl).