Research Requires Fertilization – by KP Gresham

 Posted by K. P. Gresham

 

And here I am, talking about . . . excrement.

I had a professor one time (Professor Kulkarni at Rice University) tell me that all experiences are like tomato seeds. Plant them in your thought process and see what grows. We’re talking a basic simile here. And here’s what it has to do with research.

My hubby and I just finished a cruise through the Panama Canal. Now I am not currently writing anything that has to do with the Panama Canal (okay, one possibility), but the history and engineering of this incredible, world-changing slice through the earth is epic. It’s an experience I shan’t easily forget (dementia runs in the family, so I have to qualify that), and one that is definitely a seed I will plant in my garden (that would be my brain).

Yes, I just likened my brain to a pile of . . . excrement, but few will argue the point.

As Professor Kulkarni would say, you plant it and see what grows. Will it be a major plot point? Will it be the background story for a character? I have no idea, but I have confidence this experience (the Panama Canal cruise) will influence my future stories in some way.

That’s what experiences do for writers. Around every corner is an idea that might end up in a book. Perhaps it’s a fact you picked up on vacation, a secret in your own family’s past, maybe even something as simple as an overheard conversation. To be a writer is to be open to new experiences at every turn, and to nurture those experiences into something you can use in your writing.

So, for today’s lesson, here’s a re-cap. Look to every experience you’ve had or the ones to come for seeds that might grow into your writing. Research what’s interesting (or fascinating in the case of the Panama Canal) and use your curiosity to feed your creative streak.

Oh, and yours truly may indeed be full of . . . well, you know.

*****

K.P. Gresham, author of the Pastor Matt Hayden Mystery series and Three Days at Wrigley Field, moved to Texas as quick as she could. Born Chicagoan, K.P. and her husband moved to Texas, fell in love with not shoveling snow and are 30+ year Lone Star State residents. She finds that her dual country citizenship, the Midwest and Texas, provide deep fodder for her award-winning novels. Her varied careers as a media librarian and technical director, middle school literature teacher and theatre playwright and director add humor and truth to her stories. A graduate of Houston’s Rice University Novels Writing Colloquium, K.P. now resides in Austin, Texas, where life with her tolerant but supportive husband and narcissistic Chihuahua is acceptably weird.

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My Life: Humdrum but Useful

 Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeupThis post is by M. K. Waller

Where do writers get their ideas?

More to the point, where do I get my ideas?

When I blog, most of them are drawn from my life–things I’ve done, seen, heard, read about, or been told by trusted sources. It may take a while to choose one from the chaos that is my brain–my topic changed four times while I was composing this post.

But experts say, “Write what you know.”

So I do.

I’ve blogged about

a pebble changing the universe

extremism and the cat under the bed

pajamas and the Google fiber men 

Pajamas © Kathy Waller

no-cow branding

the life of an artist, parts I and II

hansel, gretel, cuthbert, and me

a parboiled goose

IMG_2679 (3)
Biting cat © Kathy Waller

a cat bite

eye of tot and toe of tad

feral chickens

my weird husband

Weird husband. © Kathy Waller

petting zoos and Methodists

girdles and teeth

going to Paris

starving in Paris

squirrels and seduction

W. F. Ward

a kiss

Everything on the list comes directly from my life. Humdrum as it is, it supplies little anecdotes I can share–even the errors, falls, parboiling, and girdles.

But my fictional characters are different.

They lurk in trees, find Mama cooking with ground glass, set fire to buildings…

I have never done any of those things, thank goodness.

Where did those ideas come from?

I don’t know. I’ll deal with that in a future post.

As soon as I’ve found the answer.

***

M. K. Waller aka Kathy Waller, writes short stories. Her latest, “When Cheese Is Love”, appears in Austin Mystery Writers’ second crime fiction anthology, LONE STAR LAWLESS. She blogs at Telling the Truth, Mainly.

One of These Things Is Not Like The Others

propic11_1This post by Lleander

Author of Fearless Fiction
One of these things is not like the others,

One of these things just doesn’t belong,

Can you tell which thing is not like the others

By the time I finish my song?

Did you guess which thing was not like the others?

Did you guess which thing just doesn’t belong?

If you guessed this one is not like the others,

Then you’re absolutely…right!

© Joe Raposo, Jon Stone and Bruce Hart
My children loved this Sesame Street song when they were little. For some reason it’s always stuck in my head. Could it be the many, many times I’ve heard it?

I love to quilt. My eyes are happy as I take in the glorious hues of the fabrics, like blue summer sky, fall leaves and purple the color of Amish dresses. My hands smooth and feel each piece like it were precious diamonds, so glorious is the feel. Cutting out each piece is like a mathematical puzzle. I like puzzles, so this is another interesting part of quilting. Sewing each piece reminds me of the Dolly Parton song “The Coat of Many Colors” and I imagine Joseph in the Bible as he wore proudly the coat his father, Jacob, had made for him, his favorite son. As I sew the pieces I enjoy the construction and each piece that is sewn together to make a whole quilt. When the quilt is done I am in awe that I have put together a thing of such beauty.

Someone in Shawano County, Wisconsin must have had the same love for quilts and vision for a much bigger project. Since we live in Shawano County we love to go for a drive to take pictures and see each quilt.

Barnquilt

These are not the quilts I make. Instead, they are barn quilts, painted on the front or side of almost every barn in our county. Each barn quilt is lovingly painted on the old barn wood, either red, white or weathered gray, and are a stark contrast to the wood. Each barn has a different quilt, sponsored by an organization or family.

I’ve never seen such beautiful quilts. The paint must be much like the fabric for those who paint the quilt piece on the barn. Each color is vibrant or muted, depending on the kind of block depicted.bright-hopes-star-block_ArticleImage-CategoryPage_ID-799119
This Barn Quilt project is a protégé of the Shawano Chamber of Commerce. When I saw my first block I was intrigued. Then I began to see more and more of them on almost every barn I passed. That’s a lot, since Shawano County is almost totally a dairy county and farms are everywhere.

Whoever came up with the idea must have been a quilter with a vision. Who else could have thought of such an unusual way to showcase different quilts? People are now coming from afar to view the barns and their gorgeous quilt blocks. There is a 70 mile bike ride every year to ride through the beautiful countryside and look at the quilts. (Since I couldn’t even think of riding a bike for 70 miles, I’ll have to make do with searching them out with my car).

That takes me back to “One of These Things Is Not Like The Other”. Not one of these quilt pieces is like the other. That’s why it’s so amazing to take the time to view them. If you’re ever in or near our county, take the time to drive around and see them. You’ll definitely want to take pictures!

Books by L.Leander:

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

Inzaredonecover

Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)

inzaredtwocover

You can also find L.Leander here:

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

L.Leander Books Blog

L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews

Twitter

LinkedIn

Goodreads

Google+

What Enriches Your Life? by Cher’ley

This blog by Cher’ley Grogg

So tired.

I know from reading everyone’s blogs, this is the case with many of you. We go and go and go until we drop. So much to do and so little time.

I have arrived in Florida, with all its glory and heat. This is a retirement community, but I’m not retired. If I ever get time to spend in my new home, I’ll be happy. At least I think I will. I am hoping to do all the things I love, like writing, reading, painting, photography, riding my bike, yoga, swimming, walking on the beach and miscellaneous crafts. I try to take care of myself, and to take a little time to relax. I love long, long baths. Calgon take me away is my moto. I had to leave my hot tub in Wes Virginia, but they have one here at the Community area, 2 hot tubs, 3 pools, and a big gym. I will eventually get me another hot tub. I like getting up at 1 am or 4 am and spending a little time relaxing and easing my aching bones.

What enriches your life? Do you have time to do all the activities you enjoy? How important is exercise and eating well? I ask myself these questions. I also wonder why I can’t just relax and enjoy sitting around, but I can’t.

 Stamp Out Murder

 

My characters in Stamp Out Murder have activities, and hobbies, but they don’t stay nearly as busy as I do.

James is a collector, he collects stamps and Civil War Memorabilia. He also enjoys photography.

 

 

 

 

Carolyn is a musician, and enjoys looking at antiques.

Does your characters have more activities than you? What do they do for fun? What do you do? If you make your way to Florida, give me a shout—it’ll give me a great reason to go to the beach and to attend some of the local events.

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores. And she has a new one that is freshly published with 11 other authors. 

Stamp Out Murder”.
 The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren
The JourneyBack 3The Journey Back-One Joy at a Time and the B&W Edition of The Journey Back
Boys Will Be Boys   The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys-An Anthology
 Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico 
Fans of Cher'ley Grogg,AuthorAnd please join me on my Facebook Fanpage, that’s managed by one of my most faithful fans: Cindy Ferrell
Here’s a link to Cher’ley’s WEBSITE

 

 

Down Memory Lane

propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

sewingbasket

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books by L.Leander:

INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders

Inzaredonecover

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008FD5O1E

 

INZARED, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)

inzaredtwocover

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C83YH1K

 

Video Trailer for INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders:

http://youtu.be/lQHtsFQGAP0

 

Video Trailer for INZARED, The Fortune Teller

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCtBFcnxHAU&feature=youtu.be

 

13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing

13ext

 

 

 

 

http://amzn.to/Vlcq2v

 

13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an eBook

13marketingtipscover

 

 

 

 

 

http://amzn.to/Xu0Qk0

 

L.Leander’s Website:

www.lleander.com

 

L.Leander’s Reviews and Interviews: http://lleandersreviewsandinterviews.wordpress.com/

 

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/L.-Leander/e/B008IVRNU8

 

Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/lleanderbooks

 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/lleander11

@lleander11

 

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/lleander11

 

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6441993.L_Leander

 

Google+: https://plus.google.com/100076816458862731821

 

 

 

 

Christmas Past with Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

propic11_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

The following is from the diary of Bertha Maude Anderson before she became Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders. The year is 1842, when Bertha was ten years old, seven years before the saga begins.

I woke up, stretched my arms in the cotton nightgown I wore, jumped out of bed and dressed quickly. It was cold in the loft of our cabin and although Ma and Pa were up and building a fire, I knew I had chores to do. It’s Christmas, I thought. Just once I wish we had money so I could buy somethin’ for Ma, Pa, and Ezra. I climbed down the ladder to the main room below, where I could already hear Ma making preparations for breakfast. My snowbarnbrother and me donned coats, hats and mittens and headed for the barn, wading through the fresh snow that had fallen during the night.

“Bertha, Ezra, get your chores done and get in for breakfast.” Could always hear Ma’s voice wherever I was because it carried and echoed through the hills surrounding our home. ‘Course, sometimes I ignored it. We lived in Brower’s Gap, North Carolina, where there wasn’t many folks with money enough to do Christmas for their families.

“Be there in a minute,” Ezra shouted, winking at me. Watched my brother pull the cow’s teat and squirt a perfect line of milk into the barn cat’s mouth. They’d been laddercatdoing this ever since I could remember and the cat waited anxiously each mornin’ for the milking to begin. In the cold months we seldom took long in the barn, but the cow still had to be milked and fed and the horse and mule droppings cleaned up before we forked down hay from the loft and gave them a little grain. We left the pigs because they got leftover scraps from our meager meals along with some mash. We headed to the Chicken Coop and gathered eggs before we filled the feeders.

I stopped to drink in the beauty of the mountains. As far as I could see there was a world of white. It was wooded all around our farm and our closest neighbor was a couple of miles away. Raised my eyes heavenward and begged God to help me find gifts for my family.

“Come on, Bertha,” Ezra shouted, as he stamped his way to the house. I’m hungry and all you want to do is stand out in the cold. What’s wrong with you, girl?”

“Nothin’”, I replied, as I followed him to the cabin. Must have been about ten years old at the time, as I recollect. Life was hard up here on the mountain and although I loved it I also hated it. Love because it was so beautiful and hate because we were so far removed from the rest of the world and we barely eked out a livin’.Mtns

We entered the house and a blast of icy wind followed us in.   We shook the snow off our clothes, washed up and set at the table for breakfast. It was just like any other day and I tried to keep my feelin’s to myself. Seemed like Christmas was forgotten.

My Pa blessed the food and we inhaled the hot cornmeal mush and biscuits Ma made every morning. It was warm and filling and I was beginnin’ to thaw out since the fire in the fireplace was putting out plenty of heat by now. Still, snow and wind blew in through the logs of the cabin where the chinking had worn away. We’d grown used to it, but it was uncomfortable, all the same.

Helped Ma clean up while Ezra and Pa went hunting. They hoped to find a fat deer to eat through the lean months of winter.

“Ma,” I said. “Can I go outside for a little while?”

She usually said no and gave me one task or another to help her with, but, strangely enough, she said “You can go out for a while but be back here in time to help me with the noon meal. Your brother and Pa will be hungry when they get in from huntin’”.

Quickly, I put on my damp leggings, hat and mittens. “Come on Beau”, I called to our old dog, who lay on a hand-woven rug next to the fireplace.” Excited to go alongbeau with me he bounded to the open door and jumped into the swirling cloud of snow.

We made our way into the woods in the opposite direction from the one Pa and Ezra had taken. Had lots of time to think in this nothingness, this pristine world of snow diamonds that surrounded me.

The snow was gettin’ deeper now and I tired as we trudged along. Suddenly I spied red berries peeking through snow. Holly Berries, I thought. Might be I can make a bouquet for Ma to enjoy and the table will be real pretty. Very carefully I dusted the snow off the tops and carefully picked several stems and held them tightly as I walked, so as not to lose a single red berry.

Old Beau and me traipsed farther into the woods, where I noticed a piece of wood whittlethat must have fallen off one of the trees, but now had no branches and looked to be well-seasoned. “Ezra will love this,” I said to the dog. “He’s always carvin’something or other.” I was doing good but saw nothing that my Pa would like. I imagined his work-worn hands as he sat in the old rocker by the firelight, dozing off and on. He was always tired from all the hard work he did. I searched high and low but nothing caught my eye.

Was then I remembered the stone, the special one I’d found in the crick last summer. It was different, with flecks of gold, black and pink. I put it for safekeeping in a hole in a tree by the river so I could rub it and daydream. I called it the wishing stone. It was off apiece, but Old Beau and me turned toward the crick and waded through the snow that had become heavier and deeper than when we left. Finally reached the tree, put my hand in the hidey-hole and retrieved the stone. It glittered in the snow on my mitten and I thought again how pretty it was.rock

Laden down with our gifts, the dog and I turned for home. Another half-mile of trudging our way through the snow and ice and we’d be at the cabin door. It was hard, but I got through it by singin’ songs and thinking how happy my family would be with the presents I’d found. We came to the cabin and the door flew open.

“Where on earth have you been, child? I told you to be home in time to help me with the noon meal. That time has come and past – it’s late afternoon.”  Ma was hard understand.  We didn’t get along much because she was so strict and I was a free spirit, forever testing her patience.

“Sorry, Ma.” I hung my head. “The snow was deeper than I thought.”

“Well, git on in here and dry off.” She pulled me inside and brushed me off, taking my sodden coat and boots and hanging them on a rack by the fireplace to dry.

Was then I seen it. A Christmas tree. A real Christmas tree! It was a little scrawny, but I didn’t care. It was decorated with bits of old fabric from clothes too patched to wear, a bird’s nest Ezra found last Spring, strings of popcorn and little pieces of fabric tied to branches. It was the most beautiful tree I had ever seen, and the first in my young life in our cabin.tree

Ma handed me a cup of hot coffee with plenty of milk to warm me and sat me down to dry off in front of the fireplace next to Beau. I felt warm and cozy. Pa looked at me from his rocker, his tired eyes fixed on me.

“Well, youngun’, he said. “Reckon it’s Christmas Day and we might ought to celebrate like other folks. Don’t have much but our family and that’s reason to be happy. This year is different. Ezra wanted to surprise you and it looks like he did.”

I looked at the tree in awe. “Thank you, Ezra. Thank you, Pa.” I breathed in the scent of pine as I closed my eyes. It was a scent I never tired of and even better inside on a snowy day. I was so happy I had to wipe my eyes so Ezra wouldn’t tease me about bein’ a crybaby.

Once I was warmed up we sat around that tree and sang Christmas carols. The tree seemed to swell and grow bigger and bigger as we sat there.

“Wait, I brought presents,” I exclaimed.  Wait just a minute. I stepped outside and dragged in my booty. “Ma, this winterberry is for you. I thought it would look nice on the table for Christmas and then you can use it for your potions.”

holly“That’s right nice of you.” She took the branches from my outstretched hand and put them in some water. A woman of few words words and little affection, she returned to her seat. I felt a sense of sadness. Maybe she didn’t like it after all.

“Ezra, I found you a nice piece of oak to whittle on. It’s already seasoned, I think, and should be ready to use. My brother admired the piece, and reached over to hug me. “Thanks, sis. It’s a mighty fine gift.” I beamed, knowing he genuinely liked what I had given him.

“Pa, I saved yours for last, I said. It’s somethin’ special I found in the crick last summer.” I handed him the stone and it sparkled in the firelight. “It’s a wishin’ stone,” I said. “You hold it in your hand and wish for what you want. I think it’s so pretty and I held it often last summer.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.”

“Looks like a gift I’ll use a lot,” Pa said as he fingered the stone, turning it over and over in the light to inspect it. He laid his head back in the rocker, closed his eyes and rolled the stone over and over in his hand. I knew he appreciated the special gift I’d given him.

“Well, since you got gifts for all of us, ain’t right you get nothin’ in return,” my Ma said in a sharp tone. She reached behind the Christmas tree and there in her hand was the most beautiful doll I’d ever seen. She had a sock face and I recognized it was one of mine I’d worn through, all darned now. Her features had been embroidered on and she had yarn for hair. She wore a dress from an old shirt of Pa’s and red underwear from the ones Ezra had worn for so long there was holes everywhere. I could do nothing but stare. Ma thrust the doll at me. “Don’t you like it?” she said. “I spent many a night by the coal-oil lantern sewin’ on it whilst you were asleep.”

burlap doll

“Oh, Ma. She’s so beautiful. I love her and I’m going to name her Anna, after you.” I took the doll into my arms and hugged her tight. Thought I saw a glimmer of happiness in Ma’s eyes, but it was gone as quickly as it had appeared.

Pa and Ezra gave us their gifts but nothin’ was as special as Anna. I still have that ragged little doll that accompanied me everywhere I went. I fashioned a sling for her and she did every crazy daredevil thing I did right along with me. At night when I went to bed, hers was the last face I saw and I kissed her forehead. I whispered, “Thank you for a very special Christmas, Ma.” Then I’d go to sleep.

We never had another Christmas like that, which is why I remember it so well. Times was hard and money tight, so we got things like mittens and warm clothes Ma stitched or mended. But I had gotten my wish. I’d found presents that Christmas for all my family, which was the most special thing of all.

 

 

 

 

 

To Jot or Not-Memory Joggers and Calendars by Cher’ley

This Blog  by Cher’ley Grogg

You’re away from home, and your calendar is not. What do you do?

 

 

***

 

  • a. Roll it up like a sausage and take it with you
  • b.Take a selfie with the calendar in the back ground
  • c.Use a whole pad of Post-it notes and take the notes with you(Sticking them on any surface that will hold them)
  • d. None of the above (I have a mind like a steal trap, and I never need a calendar)

 

What are some ways to keep track of tasks and important information?

  1. I have my Google Calendar synced with everything that I can, but still that’s not always convenient.
  2. I used to use a little tape recorder, but now I have a recording program on my phone that I use.
  3. Email is my friend. I email myself all kinds of things. I have a folder that holds my emails to myself, from there I can send them elsewhere if I need to.
  4. I have some (some-as in zillions) of post-a-note pads that I use. Can’t seem to get away from jotting things down on paper. But, now I sometimes take a smart phone photo of important numbers I may need later. These are phone numbers or notes that I will need on a short term basis.

Save an hour or more on your tasks.

Some additional programs:

  • Here’s a link to a To Do List program. It has the ability to add longer notes and descriptions. Todoo.
  • If you have an IPhone or IPad here are 50+ To Do apps available to you  Of course, there are equivalents for the Android system.
  • I found this article about getting organized. Track multiple-changing tasks. 

Finally, I got a little app that works great for me. It’s a Shopping List app, that you can type into or use your phones voice options and record your list. Right now I have 5 folders on mine:

  1. Inventory Food Cabinet
  2. Inventory Truck cabinets
  3. Places to Go
  4. To Buy
  5. To Do

I can add more folders if I’d like to, but these work out pretty good right now. So what I mainly use is my Google Calendar, my phone camera, and my Shopping List App.

***What do you use to keep track of everything?***

Photos courtesy of the Morgue Files.

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 Journey Back-One Joy at a Time   and the B&W Edition of The Journey BackThe JourneyBack 3

 

Boys Will Be Boys   

The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys-An Anthology

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

When is a song a story?

propic11_1_1

This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

If you listen to as many songs as I do you’ve probably listened to the stories they tell.  The trick is to tell a story in 3 1/2 minutes or less, although established artists can get away with much longer songs.  Some songs don’t tell a story but contain a line that gives a message.  For instance “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” makes you light up when you hear it but doesn’t tell a story like a book.

I’ve written and copywritten at least five hundred or more songs.  Some I didn’t like but figured I could come back later and work on, and some I’m proud of.  Today I’m sharing with you a song I wrote in Mexico.  I made several trips to Tucson by bus or car so am familiar with the city.  When the words came to mind I set this story song in Tucson.  When I write songs I pick up my guitar, start playing and it’s then the magic happens.  My mind starts with something I’ve seen, heard or read.  The music and words always come together when I compose but many people don’t write that way.  It’s a lot like writing books but in this case it has to be as much of a story as you can tell in a very short time.

Today I’d like to share with you “Painted Angel” a song I’ve sung on stage many times and a favorite of my audiences.  Unfortunately, a year ago, after  my concussion, I got really hoarse and can no longer sing.  I’ve been to doctors and am going in for a scope next week.  It hurts not to sing because it’s always been a passion and I’ve sung since I was very little (with my father).  However, I am lucky to have songs I’ve written, published or not, and I am learning to deal with the loss of my voice.  It’s all up to God.  I’ve used my voice for His glory in church all my  life and if this is something I must bear, so be it.

This time I actually have the song to share with you, but the only recording I can find is pretty  basic, so it’s definitely not professional.  But you’ll get the idea.

I almost always write story songs because I enjoy making the characters and settings tell a tale.  I hope you enjoy it too.

.

PAINTED ANGEL

 Ridin’ on the rails of sunshineangela

Nothin’ could hold her down

Packed her bags goodbye mom and dad

Kicked the dust out of that town

Ran out of money in Tucson

Things weren’t ain’t been goin’ too well

Instead of the heaven she was dreamin’ about

She’s been out there goin’ through hell

 

CHORUS:

She’s just one more painted angelKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Underneath a desert sky

If she don’t get home she’ll be

A painted angel ‘til she dies

 

Writes home to her sister

Says things are happy and brighthomeless girl

Her faded tears between the lines

Erase the hungry sleepless nights

Nothin’ left of her pride

It ain’t worth much these

Sleepin’ in a cardboard shelter

With a bottle of cheap rosé

CHORUS

 

BRIDGE:

She dreams about the old timesbride

When at last she closes her eyes

The boy she thought she’d

And the wedding she fantasized

She don’t care about tomorrow

Yesterday’s scattered on the ground

But if she had the bus fareOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

She’d be on the next Greyhound

CHORUS

©Linda Stewart

Here’s the link to the song.  Hope you enjoy it!

 

All photos courtesy of Morguefiles.com

 

Books by L.Leander:

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders

INZARED bookcoverkindle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)

InzaredTheFortuneTeller_Feb19_1

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing

13ext

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an ebook

13marketingtipscover

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Twitter

LinkedIn

Goodreads

Google+

 

 

The Old Stone

Image

This post by Frank Larnerd

     The rains uprooted the stone, near the stairs to the house. Flat and rectangle shaped, it seems to be crawling up from the earth, struggling through the grass and dirt of the hillside. The stone is the color of cheap hotel pillows, marbled with white seams of chert. It lays flat on its belly, creating a small cave, or opening underneath its weight. The one exposed side is smooth, though chipped and warn on the corners. It looks to be about two feet long, a foot wide, and nearly seven inches thick.

      I stop and kneel at it. Already the street lights are on and the sky is closing its curtains of indigo and purple. The air is full of the sound of passing cars, zipping off to anywhere else but here. I put a hand on the stone. It’s warm, even in the lateness of the day.

Image

      Hunkering further down, I try to peer into the opening under the stone.

     Darkness.

     I reach out and then instantly draw my hand back. Thoughts of spiders and poisoned fangs.

     I feel eyes on me. I turn and glance around to the parking lot.

     Empty.

     I take a deep breath and reach into the darkness.

     When no spiders attack, I turn my hand over and touch the underside of the stone. It’s cold and gritty with harsh lines on its face, jagged and pronounced. My fingertips explore them, like a gypsy reading a palm.

     After a while, I stand up, knees complaining. The sun has slipped behind the mountain, taking the daylight with it, leaving its last faded streamers of blue to die alone among the night.

     Ignoring my knees, I go to the stairs, wondering if I should tell them about the tombstone.

Hey, RadioShack, where’s the next TRS-80?

head shotPost by Mike Staton.

Back in the spring of 2011 I emailed a newspaper analysis piece to my friend Sharon that forecasted what 10 American corporations would likely fold in the next several years. Sharon had just started a new job at one of the Las Vegas-area RadioShack stores. RadioShack was one of the corporations predicted to join dead corporations like Circuit City, Eastern Airlines and Borders.

Just days after the Fort Worth, Texas-based retailer announced the closure of 1,100 “underperforming” stores, Sharon turned in her resignation after some soul searching. She wasn’t a slave to her job like many of us. Earlier this month she’d gotten notice that her battle to get Social Security disability had been won. For her, a job is now a way to supplement her monthly disability payment, not a survive-or-starve necessity. Sharon has arthritis and dystonia, and by the end of her workday, she’d be limping badly.

Some business experts say RadioShack may not survive.
Some business experts say RadioShack may not survive.

Perhaps because working a retail job is such a painful struggle for her, she always tried doubly hard to make sure the store’s customers left satisfied with the service she gave them. But as the retail chain’s economic fortunes suffered, Sharon witnessed the after-effects trickling down to store level. Sales associates were going-through-the-motions zombies drawing a paycheck.

RadioShack’s Facebook page shows the corporation’s zombie problem appears to be spread out across many stores nationwide. Over and over customers say they are outraged by the rudeness of sales associates. One example that typifies the comments: “I was just appalled at the rudeness that I received and indirectly being called a scammer when I was following the promotion rules. The rudeness is what really ticked me off.”

A survey by Huntsville-based DealNews pinpoints the problems RadioShack corporate heads face to turn around the retailer’s downward spiral. RadioShack is too expensive, selection is limited, and no one shops online. Forty-one percent of the survey’s respondents went to RadioShack in 2013 to buy cheap electronics accessories like cables, smartphone chargers, memory cards, cases and batteries. Thirty-two percent said they bought “hobby electronics” like soldering irons, capacitors and other do-it-yourself widgets. Troubling, only 6 percent went for small electronics like cameras and tablets with another 6 percent for a phone. Only 2 percent went there for big home electronics purchases like televisions or speaker systems, and no one said they bought computers from RadioShack.

This computer ruled the computer world in the late 1970 and 1980s and helped keep RadioShack thriving back then.
This computer ruled the computer world in the late 1970 and 1980s and helped keep RadioShack thriving back then.

So RadioShack’s customers are people who go there to get widgets and accessories, something which online Amazon can offer at much cheaper prices and with a much larger selection. Ninety percent said they do their RadioShack shopping in-store; only3 percent say they buy online. That’s bad news for the future of RadioShack; more and more people are buying their tech stuff online.

Comments following online business stories can be educational. From one commenter: “Why is it still called Radio Shack? Does the current generation even know what a radio is? Why would anyone go there when there is Walmart, Best Buy, Target, Home Depot and a cell-phone kiosk in a mall or online?”

RadioShack boss Joseph Magnacca’s strategy to save the retailer begins with the closing of 1,100 stores across the nation following a 20 percent drop in yearly sales. Analyst David Strasser at Janney Capital Markets said Magnacca’s move reminds him of Circuit City’s survival tactics in the months before its 2008 shutdown. Strasser told clients RadioShack’s revamped stores “are great, but simply not enough” to “warrant survival of the whole company,” given falling sales and rising inventories. Strasser said the slowdown in the wireless phone upgrade business will make a RadioShack turnaround even tougher as will severance and closed-out store buyout costs. “They simply don’t have the gross profit to cover it,” Strasser said.

Similarly, an office supply and electronics retailer, Staples, announced store closings a day after RadioShack, but it also said it plans a doubling of its online store by the end of the year. Analysts are more optimistic about Staples’ future than RadioShack’s.

RadioShack paraded a new TV commercial for the Superbowl that pundits generally liked. To sum up its theme, RadioShack said “you need to be able to laugh at yourself.” Called “The Phone Call,” the ’80s call and say they want their store back. RadioShack employees watch as legions of celebrities from the ’80s ransack the store. The commercial says RadioShack has been stuck in the past too long. However, RadioShack managers can also learn from the ’70s and ’80s when the retailer embraced innovation, not just surface aesthetics.

RadioShack has been around since the 1920s as this old ad shows.
RadioShack has been around since the 1920s as this old ad shows.

Of course, I mean the TRS-80 computer and its upgraded models that carved out a respectable niche in the personal computer market in the late 1970s and in the 1980s. The TRS-80 helped RadioShack delay the economic decline it’s experiencing today. As CB radio sales fell off in the ’70s, RadioShack bosses looked for another technology winner that would spearhead sales in the years ahead.

In an earlier era, build-it-yourself radio kits were the big money items for RadioShack. Initially, the retailer’s executives thought a build-it-yourself home computer could play the same role. Luckily, RadioShack hired a computer nerd from Silicon Valley, Steve Leininger, an employee of chipmaker National Semiconductor. Like Apple’s Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Leininger was a member of the Homebrew Computer Club, whose members designed their own PCs for fun. Leininger convinced company bosses to build a fully assembled, plug-and-play computer. He designed the TRS-80, which was unveiled at a New York City press conference in early August 1977. The TRS-80 along with the Apple II and the Commodore PET 2001 took the nation by storm. The TRS-80 software was just as important as the hardware and included the Electric Pencil word processor and a bevy of games.

Now in her mid-50s, Sharon laughs and says the 1980s were very good to her. They were also good to RadioShack. When Sharon still worked for the retailer, she liked to brainstorm on ideas for RadioShack’s next killer product, the 2015 TRS-80. Now, though, she’s looking at how to develop a successful home business. RadioShack needs more Sharon-types and fewer zombies. Sadly, it seems the bosses are aiming for improved aesthetics, not an innovative killer product.