Wisdom and a Few Other Things I’ve Picked Up Along the Way

Yesterday a Facebook friend, the kind I’ve known all my life, posted about bits of wisdom she’s picked up over the years from ministers, school administrators, her parents, and others, such as to watch out for “clever devils,” not to buy cheap foreign goods that will “crack up” when you get them home, and “not to embarrass the family.” That started me thinking about bits of wisdom I’ve picked up over several decades, and I’m going to share some of them.


My mother didn’t say not to embarrass the family but I knew that’s what she meant from Day One, and I went ahead and embarrassed them anyway. She did say a lot of other things, though. I wrote a whole blog post about them and submitted it to Listen to Your Mother. I was called to audition but wasn’t chosen, which is a shame, because the audience, which includes viewers of archived videos on Youtube, would have gotten a lot out of it.

At my high school baccalaureate service, Dr. McIntosh, a professor from the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, said we are told to feed His sheep, but we have to do it wisely, because if we pick up a lamb with a broken leg or a dependency complex and press it to our bosoms, we can do a lot of damage.

Reunion of Lipscomb Rifles, San Antonio, Texas, ca. 1950. My grandmother, Mary Veazey Barrow, front row left, wearing a big black hat.

My grandmother Barrow said knowing how to spell privy two ways–privy and privie–is very good, but, of course, not the nicest thing a little girl could know how to spell… I was seven and should have known better than to go around spelling words not approved by Texas State Board of Education. The other grandchildren were socially acceptable, and privy/privie probably fell under the heading of embarrassing the family, although my mother thought it was funny and laughed about it after my grandmother went home.

My parents, Crystal Barrow Waller and Billie Waller, in 1942.

My father said to carry plenty of cash. I was the only 11-year-old who paid for the Saturday movie with a five dollar bill and returned the change, even though he said I didn’t have to return it (and sometimes I wished I hadn’t).

He also said to keep plenty of gas in the car, so the day we ran out on the way home from Seguin, about two miles short of our destination, and were stranded with nothing but a two-lane road, a river bridge, and about fifty acres of cotton between us and the nearest gas pump, I felt justified in smiling a sweet I-told-you-so smile, because I had asked if we shouldn’t fill up before we left Seguin and he’d said no, we could make it home and fill up there.

My grandfather Waller said to go pour the warm beer down the sink and throw away the can, and I did, but before I did, I stuck my finger in the beer and tasted it, and then and there vowed never to drink beer, and I haven’t, because it tastes nasty and smells worse.

My grandfather, Frank Waller, taking a break from house painting, ca. 1952. I’m the one trying to tip the chair over.

He also said that when he was a boy, he knew a man who had seen General Robert E. Lee sitting astride Traveler, and I knew from his tone of voice that he felt honored just to know that man, and I also knew he felt honored because the man saw Traveler, not because he saw General Lee. Horses were important.

I don’t think he ever gave me any advice. The Waller tribe seemed to assume I wasn’t planning to embarrass the family, and that I ate with a fork instead of with my toes, and they didn’t ask me to say Good morning to anyone, and they didn’t tell everyone I refused to say Good morning because I was shy, when it was really because I thought Good morning was a sissy thing to say, and that Hi was good enough.

I liked the Waller family, although I could have done without all the built-in supervision, because my parents got a report on every nickel I spent on ice cream when I was downtown by myself–downtown was one block long, with a filling station, a grocery store, an ice cream parlor, another grocery store, and a Masonic lodge on one side of the street, and a skating rink, a post office, a cotton gin, and a doctor’s office on the other, and my uncle was the post master and had a picture window so he could see the ice cream parlor and practically everything else, and my father’s cousin and his wife owned and operated the grocery store and had even bigger windows, and my grandfather frequently sat with the other old men on one of the benches outside the post office–and, anyway, what else did they think a 6-year-old who likes chocolate was going do with a nickel?

My grandfather did one time tell my father not to smoke behind the barn but to come on up to the house, which is why my father quit smoking at the age of ten.

My high school English teacher told me to start with a topic sentence and give plenty of examples, and to read The Red Badge of Courage, but I abandoned it about a quarter of the way through, and I’m sorry that yesterday, fifty years after the fact, I felt the need to confess, but I’m not sorry I abandoned it, because it is the most boring book ever written, lacking dialogue as it does, but I did finish The Scarlet Letter,  another novel that has little dialogue and that would have more boring than the other one if I hadn’t been in a sweat to know what happened to Hester Prynne, although I thought she ought to give little Pearl a swat on the bottom and tell her not to embarrass the family.

My first-grade teacher said that when I wanted to get a drink of water or visit the restroom, I should stand beside the door and look around the room to see if all the other students were there, and if someone was out of the room, to wait for him or her to return before I went out. I thought, and still think, that is one of the finest compliments I ever received, because it meant my teacher knew I, and all the other students, were mature enough to think and act independently, and to behave properly without constant supervision, and not to run away even though school was the last place I wanted to be, every day from the first day of first grade to the night of high school graduation.

I’ll stop now because I’ve run on long enough, but I’ve benefited from writing this post because when I began, I thought I remembered only a couple of bits of wisdom, but while writing, I remembered much more, and that proves that Writing Is Thinking, a bit of wisdom I picked up in the late ’70s from Professor Lamberg in the Texas Hill Country Writing Project at the University of Texas-Austin, which I participated in because my high school English teacher told me to, so I would be a better English teacher and not tell students to write the outline before writing the essay, the way English teachers have been (incorrectly) doing since the beginning of time.

If I kept on writing, I would think of more bits of wisdom, but, as I said, I’ve run on long enough.

And if you abandoned this post a quarter of the way through, that’s perfectly okay.


Note: The Red Badge isn’t the absolutely most boring book ever written. It’s tied with The Old Man and the Sea. I’ve written about that, too.


My high school English teacher is Patsy Munk Kimball. She’s the owner of River Bluff Cabin, on the San Marcos River above Fentress, Texas. It’s in a pecan bottom at the end of the road, peaceful and quiet, and only a mile or two to a convenience store that makes good hamburgers and real pizza, not the cardboard kind. Or they did the last time I stayed there. And the cabin is lovely. So anyone in need of a weekend retreat in that area might check it out.

The foregoing blurb was my idea, nobody else’s, and does not reflect the views of Writing Wranglers and Warriors, but I’m sure it would if the other writers had ever visited there.


M. K. Waller, aka Kathy, writes short stories and has published in MURDER ON WHEELS: 11 Tales of Crime on the Move, LONE STAR LAWLESS: 14 Texas Tales of Crime, and DAY OF THE DARK: Stories of Eclipse. She writes for her personal blog, Telling the Truth, Mainly, and at Austin Mystery Writers. She edits HOTSHOTS!, Sisters in Crime Heart of Texas Chapter’s newsletter/blog.


A New Adventure

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

I am always up for exploring new territory.  I eagerly wander wooded areas, fields and streams in search of wild critters to photograph.  I’m not picky any wild critter will do, big or small it doesn’t matter.



Recently I embarked on a totally new type of adventure.  Authors and photographers are always looking for just the right home for our work.  It might be a magazine, an on line journal, a blog or as part of an anthology, or maybe a publisher.



About 2 years ago my sister and I began work on a memoir.  We carefully crafted our memories into a work we are both proud of and now it needs a home. Finding it a proper home requires someone who knows the publishing industry better and we do, an agent.

Finding an agent can be a full time job.   Our search began on the internet on the Agent Query website.  There I found a wealth of information on hundreds and hundreds of agents.  This first phase of the search yielded 961 names.



By eliminating any agents not currently taking submissions, anyone that doesn’t specifically mention they accept memoirs, and anyone not with an agency, the list was reduced to 200 names.



This was an adventure like I had never experienced before.  My sister and I chatted, discussed and then went a step further. It was time to go back to the internet and look up our candidates on websites like Absolutewrite and WritersCafé.  We wanted to see what other authors had to say about these agents.  Then it was time to look a little closer at each agent and the agencies they worked for.  The Predators and Editors website helped out here.  While we are eliminating potential candidates we took any agents not in the USA off our list.


This brought they list down to 70 agents that worked for 48 agencies.  It was time to check out the agencies they worked for, and each agents track history and what they could do for us.  That took our list to just 21 agents.

The next step was to see what these agents wanted us to submit.  They each have their own criteria and we need to send them just what they want.  Once we had sifted through what we needed to send to whom we took a deep breath and did one last read through of the manuscript.



Just last week our first submission headed for Massachusetts over the internet.  This week another submission will go out via snail mail.  This time 25 printed pages will be mailed to New York City.   The plan is to send out one submission a week for the next several weeks while we wait.   It can take weeks or even months to hear back from an agent. The patients I have developed in the field will really come in handy now.



Betty and I will be patiently waiting

So have you had any new adventures this summer?  Are you forcing yourself to be patient while you wait for something?


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First Job

This post by Jennifer Flaten

My daughter officially started her first part-time job. She is working for a local restaurant. She is super excited to be making money, plus she is the first of the twins to get a job, which gives her bragging rights.

Her excitement about her new job has me thinking about my first job. When I was 14 my mother had me enroll in a teen job bank run by the local bank. I can’t imagine something like this would fly in this day and age.

Kids put in there names and were matched up with homeowners looking for cheap labor. In my case, I got a woman looking for “light” housekeeping. She had a cute house within walking distance of mine.


She wanted dusting and vacuuming etc, nothing a teen can’t handle, except for the birds. She had several large parrots, a cockatoo and a cockatiel. I don’t mind birds, my family has owned parakeets and even had a cockatoo but not more than one at a time!


Her house was loud! I mean LOUD. All the squawking-constantly. The birds didn’t seem too enamored of me and they weren’t afraid to show it. I didn’t last there too long. For a long time afterwards I would always imagine I heard her birds squawking when I walked by her house on my way to my new job.

What was your first job?

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Ye-Gads Electronic Failure


This Blog  by Cher’ley Grogg

Q: Why did the computer keep sneezing? A: It had a virus! Q: What is a computer virus? A: A terminal illness! Q: Why was the computer cold? A: It left it’s Windows open! Follow this link to Read more.

Not just on one electronic. My laptop and phone went down at the same time. Without my phone, my tablet was also worthless. Major Electronic


Did you miss me? I wonder if anyone online missed me. We are all so busy in our own little worlds, I wonder if we even know when someone’s been missing online (and sometimes in real time) for days.

I dropped my laptop, broke the screen (sniffle). Ye-GadsDamaged Laptop royalty-free stock photo

It was still under full warranty,  but it was a nightmare trying to get it ready to be mailed off. Serial numbers and model numbers are always on the back of the laptop, yes? No. There was a model number, but it wasn’t the same as the one they had on record. So I began calling HH Gregg. I say began calling because it took several calls to get it all straightened out. I won’t go into detail here, but if you want to know more just let me know.  I did have a very nice person on the phone who worked with me and finally got everything sorted out between my laptop and the warranty folks. He even said he’d print out the return label and mail it for me. When I went into the store to give him my laptop, he wasn’t there. I informed the other man that James had left the label and the box for me in the office. The man begrudgingly went to the office and came back with a large box, I handed him my laptop, but he didn’t grasp it. He said they would not mail it for me. Again briefly, I ended up buying a box for $16.00 to access the free return. The laptop is on its way.

  The phone was also a nightmare. I was not sure what I wanted perhaps a newer version of the one I had. It just so happened the Note 5 had all the same features, and the lady said they were running a special. No contract, and for $150.00 I could get that phone and the case. I was jubilant. Went home and started downloading my favorite. The next day at church I went to take a photo and got the message–not enough memory. Back to the phone store, we went right after church. Turns out, there is only 32 gigabytes total, not expandable. Got a different phone, take it home upload my favorite apps, search for a way to cast or mirror it to my Smart TV, it was not compatible, plus the cord was not a USB cord so I would not be able to hook it to my laptop. So I return the third time.

    “Forget it!” Frustration oozed from my very being. “Just reactivate my husband’s old phone with my number, and I do not want to be charged another restocking fee!” The manager stepped in and got us new phones that we are so far, happy with, but as we were leaving. He says this will only slightly increase our bill by $30.00 each. To me, $60.00 more a month is more than slightly, plus we had already paid $300.00. Had to go, we stopped in there on our way to the truck. Ran out of time. I hope I never have another Electronic Failure, but I’m sure I will.

Years ago, (yes when dinosaurs walked the earth), phones were for phone calls, the Internet was dial.up, and even if it was slow, (turn it on, make a cup.of coffee, wash the dishes before it connected)but, there were no ads, no popups, and if something didn’t work right it was an easier fix. I was so much more productive, only worked two games of solitaire before I got down to business. I was so much calmer.

How’s your electronic life? How’s your frustration level? What makes you scream Ye-Gads?

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores.

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)

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


propic11_1_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

Last weekend we had my husband’s son and family at the lake for the weekend. Altogether there were eleven of us. Lucky for us, we have the best couple that camp next to us and they offered their camper to the kids so they wouldn’t have to pay for tent camping. TheyP1130558 also offered their camper in the woods for the overflow. That became a necessity, as we have redone our camper and there is now no room for guests to sleep.

It was a scorching hot, muggy weekend, but since all campers had a/c we made it through. Ralph’s son has five children, ranging in age from two – nineteen years old. It wasn’t too hard to find things for everyone to do because our campground has everything. The sixteen year old loved the golf carts and became the official limo driver. She even took our little Patty dog on rides and Patty was in seventh heaven!

The baby (boy) was teething and cried almost constantly but we managed to get through it. The next child is 6 (boy), and he just wanted to do things with his dad (mostly swimming).   Next is a boy whose only want was to fish with dad (which they did and he caught a tiny fish and threw it back) and the next two are girls, 16 and 18. The nineteen -year old brought her fiancé and his mother.

file2971342078807Ralph cooked all weekend and enjoyed it, but got a little tired after the second day. His son was in charge of the campfire and it never went out. I ate my share of marshmallows and am not sure I want them again for a while.

It was Christmas in July at the campground and one campsite won the best decorated. We had a golf-cart parade in the afternoon on Saturday, and there was also a hayride. Add the swimming pool, hot tub and ice-cream shop and everyone was happy.

I learned a couple of unusual campfire cooking tips from our daughter-in-law that I’ll pass2012-09-29_17-41-02_140 along just in case you camp or know someone who does.

Omelets in a Bag

Use sandwich size re-sealable bags. Put a couple of eggs in the bag and squish the eggs a bit. Add anything you wish for your omelet such as tomatoes, ham, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and whatever else you like. Drop the bag in a large pan of boiling water (no more than three or they will touch and ruin). When the eggs are done, lift out of the water, open the bag and put on a plate. Yum!

Stuffed Bananas


Peanut Butter

Small Chocolate Chips

Slice banana lengthwise, spread peanut butter on each side and fill with chocolate chips. Wrap in heavy tin foil and put in the campfire. These are delicious, but since the bananas got left home, we made up a new recipe that was just as good.

Tonka Pie (Pudgy Pie) Banana Delights

Butter two slices of bread and put in the pie maker. Spread the inside of the bread with peanut butter. Add Banana Crème pie filling and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Sit pie maker in campfire until done. Delish!

The weekend wound down on Sunday and as everyone was packing the baby found a big file0001464074176mud puddle. Before we caught him he had mud all over his new shoes, in his hair and was soaking wet. It was so cute, but meant his dad had to take him to the outside shower, clean him up and put new clothes on him.

I doubt whether the family was as tired as Ralph and I were – Monday we rested all day. Since we lead such a quiet life this was quite a change!

Wherever you are, I hope you are enjoying the days of summer. School is right around the corner and after that, cold weather. We are planning to enjoy every day we have left!


Books by L.Leander:

Inzared Queen of the Elephant Riders Video Trailer

Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders







Inzared, The Fortune Teller Video Trailer

Inzared, The Fortune Teller (Book Two)







13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing







13 Extreme Tips to Marketing an Ebook




You can also find L.Leander here:

L.Leander Books

Amazon Author Page

Facebook Author Page

L.Leander’s Book Reviews and Interviews





Miles of Memories – Part 2: Two-Footed Friends & Family

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

Earlier this month my husband and I traveled through and to several states to visit friends and family, covering several thousand miles. Last week I wrote my thoughts on four-footed friends that have impacted my life. This week I’m remembering the two-footed friends and family that those 4,000-miles brought to heart and mind, some of whom we visited.

Greg and I spent time with his family in North and South Carolina and with some of my relatives in Mississippi. We also shared great times with a few of his friends, including one whom Greg hadn’t seen in more than 40 years – they had been good friends in high school but had lost touch over the years. That happens to many of us and made me think about the advantages of Facebook, email, and texting. Reconnecting with people who played a major role in one’s life is important, and the older I get, the more I recognize that fact.

Friends_IowaI grew up in Iowa but haven’t lived there since I was 17 years old. I’ve been back for visits periodically over the years, however, since my maternal grandmother died in 1990, those visits have been very few. My mother was an only child and so was I, therefore, direct family no longer lives in Iowa. I do have several childhood friends, however, that I enjoy sharing time with, and I hope to do that again in the near future. My last visit was nearly four years ago – I do hope to return, perhaps for a booksigning with the latest muse as well as visits with my friends. Burlington has a wonderful bookstore downtown, called Burlington by the Book, and in 2012 I had a signing there and several of my childhood friends came by. I believe it’s time for another one day soon!

Greg and Patrick_Cardinals_July 2016Greg’s friend in St. Louis, whom he hadn’t seen in nearly 40 years, met us at Busch Stadium where the St. Louis Cardinals were playing the Milwaukee Brewers. The game was GREAT! With the Cards winning 7 to 1. And my husband, who loves his St. Louis Cardinals (Greg graduated from a high school in St. Louis in 1973) spent most of the game catching up with his friend, who is a chiropractor in the city. They reminisced and shared about their lives today. After the game, a fireworks display reminded us of the upcoming 4th of July, and thereafter, Greg and I and Patrick and his girlfriend met shared a few hours at a neighborhood bar, sitting outside in the warm night air, sharing, laughing, and learning. It was a fun night!

cookseys mansfields irwinsA week later we were in Mississippi staying at my cousin’s house. I hadn’t seen her since I was 17 years old; she was about 10 then. As adults, we connected via Facebook and have been following each other and with me learning more about her family, including the fact her youngest son is in the movies – he’s one of the young boys in Free State of Jones. Greg and I saw the movie before our trip, and we both agree Cade Mansfield Cooksey did an excellent job! While we visited at their home, we met the family dogs (my cousin Lynette is also a big pet fan, especially regarding dog rescue) and also reconnected with my uncle and aunt, Lynette’s parents; Greg and I had seen them in St. Louis of all places about six years ago when we went to a ballgame and they were in town for a convention. It was fun to reconnect with the family!

gayle_carolina beachVisiting Greg’s family in North and South Carolina was also very enjoyable. I had not been out there in more than eight years. Our sister-in-law took a day off work and drove me to Carolina Beach along the Atlantic Ocean. I rarely have opportunity to see the ocean so it was a very special day for me. Greg spent each of the four days we were there with his brother and his mother and had a wonderful time. I, too, enjoyed sharing time with them, and as a family, we all gathered for a grill-out on July 4 and then a picnic at a park near my mother-in-law’s senior apartment complex the next day.

IMG_1194My parents will be visiting later this week. My dad turns 80 on July 28, and we are planning a small gathering of friends at our cabin on Saturday to celebrate. I was blessed to help celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary last month with a trip to Yellowstone and Teton national parks, where we shared day trips in and around the park. My parents have had a major influence on me through the years, especially regarding appreciation for nature and animals. We spent many times during my childhood camping and traveling, being outdoors and raising animals. I look forward to hosting my parents and to celebrating dad’s special day; having the cabin is an added benefit and my parents enjoy being there — the outdoor force is certainly strong in my family!

Greg Gayle Mom Dad_cabin

Even though Greg and I didn’t get to spend time in Iowa, I certainly thought a lot about my childhood residences (we first lived in Burlington then moved to a small acreage about 15 miles north) as we drove through Nebraska and Missouri in particular. I, too, was (and am) a Cardinals fan (made a great fun rivalry with my mother and grandmother who were Cubs fans) and one time Dad took me to visit Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home outside Mansfield (how appropriate – that’s my maiden name!), Missouri; Greg and I also visited the Wilders’ Rocky Ridge Farm in 2007. A stop in Nebraska during this July trip took us to HyVee Grocery Store, which I remember well from my childhood as Burlington also had/has HyVee – I got to see Santa and his reindeer there when I was eight – and Sterzings Potato Chips, which are made in Burlington and are a major LIKE for me and my parents, were on the shelf.I bought two bags: one package now awaits my parents’ arrival this week; Greg and I ate the other as we completed the trip and finished it after we returned (it’s been difficult to NOT eat that second bag!).

potato chips_sters

That 4,000-mile drive earlier this month helped remind me of the importance of family and friends. Memories of yesteryear still impact me today, and I’m grateful to the people in my life who have helped shape it. I hope you, too, have wonderful childhood memories and that you are able to stay connected with the people who have positively impacted your life.


Gayle_signing photoGayle M. Irwin writes inspirational pet stories for children and adults. She is the author of six books, some for children and some for adults and families, and is a contributing writer to six editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul. She is also one of the writers featured in Memories from Maple Street USA: Pawprints on My Heart, released in July from Sundown Press, with a story about the positive life lessons dogs can epitomize. The book is available in both e-format and print format. Learn more about this new publication at http://sundownpress.blogspot.com/2016/07/new-release-memories-from-maple-street.html. Learn more about Gayle and her writing and speaking endeavors at www.gaylemirwin.com.

SageBigAdventureFront-small   Sage Finds Friends_front cover   Walking_FrontCover_small   Cody Cabin_New Book CoverImage   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014   Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover   Spirit of America book   Pawprints Book



Miles of Memories – Part 1: Four-Footed Friends

Gayle & Mary outsideThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

My husband and I recently returned from a nearly 4,000-mile journey through several states as we visited friends and family. The journey brought back many memories as well as reconnections with people I hadn’t seen in many years (more on all that next week). Some of the memories stirred included thoughts on the four-footed friends I had, especially when I was a child growing up in Iowa.

Winding through the roads of the Midwest (Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, and a touch of Iowa) stirred the senses and the heart. From seeing great blue herons in ponds to listening to red cardinals chirp in trees (and I don’t mean the St. Louis baseball team, although we all chirped for joy when the Cards beat the Brewers 7 to 1 on the Friday night Greg and I sat in Busch Stadium!), my mind and heart drifted back to childhood days in and around Burlington, Iowa and the animals that impacted my life. Those impacts helped shape me into the person I am today: an appreciator of nature and a lover of animals, especially pets.

My first pet was a calico cat named Precious. She was a stray that followed me home as I walked from my friend Shelly’s house. I was seven years old, Precious was about three months old. My father disliked cats but because I could be cagey and precocious as a youngster (I am an only child afterall!), Precious became a member of our household, a role she had for the next 10 years.

My very first dog was a pup from a litter my dad’s German Shorthaired Pointer Lil had. Sadly, most in that family were sickly when born, and Whitey, as I named the skinny white with liver-colored spotted runt, only lived a few years. But, during the short time we shared, we ran the fields and forests of our Iowa property, chasing butterflies and lightening bugs together.

Bridgette and Gayle
Gayle and Bridgette, western Montana, 1983

When I was 16, I chose an 8-week-old German shepherd mix puppy as my canine companion. I adopted her with money I’d earned from chores done on the farm and at the house, as well as helping my aging grandmother at her home in town. I named the honey-colored, curly-coated dog Bridgette. She was my constant companion during the remaining years in Iowa. We explored the hills, feed the flocks of chickens, ducks and geese, and rested in the shade of hickory and cedar trees. When my parents and I moved to Wyoming in 1978, Bridgette helped calm my nerves with her tranquil presence as I entered a new school system (and a much bigger one!) during my senior year of high school. I became a busy college student and our walks together became less frequent, but my dear mother stepped in and filled my shoes as Bridgette’s human companion. When my parents moved to Montana, Bridgette went with them, and when I would occasionally visit, her forgiving, kind spirit welcomed me back as if I’d not deserted her. We explored the mountains of Montana near my parents’ home for the next several years, and today, her bones are buried on a striking vista overlooking the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana, a place she, and my parents, dearly loved.

Ama Cat_sleeping_haircut
I adopted Ama from the Bozeman, MT Humane Society in 1990. She lived to be nearly 19 years old.

The joy I received from those animals of my childhood stuck with me through adulthood, encouraging me to continue sharing my life with pets. Since those early days of canine and feline companions, I’ve experienced delight with other pets, including Sam, a cocker spaniel who shared my life from 1989 to 2000; Ama, a long-haired orange tabby who became princess of the household, reigning from 1999 to 2006; Sage, the blind springer spaniel Greg and I adopted after our marriage and whose life inspired me to write books and short stories; Cody, the cocker spaniel who came to us as a nearly 10-year-old and lived to be nearly 18; Bailey and Murphy, whose mother was a feral cat but who accepted help from our rancher friends in order to give her kittens a better, more stable life than she had – these sisters will be 11 years old next month; and Mary, the springer/cocker mix who helped Cody live to be as old as he did just by sharing the house, the couch, and the cabin with him (and us humans) – and who braved the recent 4,000-mile journey that’s refreshed and replenished my special pet memories.

Sage and Cody inspired many books and stories.

It is through gratitude to all these animals who have touched my heart and life in such magnificent, beautiful ways that I wrote “Lessons from Dogs – A Tribute” which is published in Memories from Maple Street USA: Pawprints on My Heart, released last week by Sundown Press. Although Sage and Cody are the main focus of my short story, I wrote it with all my pets in mind, as well as the animals I’ve known through family and friends. I’m honored to be part of this publication, and through it, as well as my other stories (such as those found in Chicken Soup for the Soul and the ones published in Prairie Times) and books (like Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, Sage Find Friends, and Sage’s Big Adventure) perhaps I can impact the lives of pets, and those of people, for the better. Education and inspiration are the goals of my writing as well as to make a positive difference for pets and people, including adoption and rescue. For truly, pets adopt and rescue us when we adopt and rescue them. Animals, when we let them, certainly do leave pawprints on our hearts and upon our lives. I know mine surely have!

gayle and sage_smaller


Gayle_signing photoGayle M. Irwin is an author, writer, and speaker who enjoys sharing about the human-pet bond. She writes inspirational pet stories for children and adults. She is the author of six books, some for children and some for adults and families, and is a contributing writer to six editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul. She is also one of the writers featured in Memories from Maple Street USA: Pawprints on My Heart, released last week from Sundown Press, with a story about the positive life lessons dogs can epitomize. The book is available in both e-format and print format. Learn more about this new publication at http://sundownpress.blogspot.com/2016/07/new-release-memories-from-maple-street.html. Learn more about Gayle and her writing and speaking endeavors at www.gaylemirwin.com.

Pawprints Book   Chicken Soup_DogDidWhat_Cover   Spirit of America book   Walking_FrontCover_small   SageBigAdventureFront-small   Sage Finds Friends_front cover   Cody Cabin_New Book CoverImage   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final  Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice Cover   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014

Monday, Monday


propic11_1_1This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

As a 60’s child I was immersed in the music of the time and it’s still my favorite music. Is there anything better? Bob Dylan, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Little Richie, Peter, Paul and Mary, and way too many more to mention. This music filled us with food for thought (what do some of Dylan’s lines really mean?), sun-filled days (the Beach Boys), and of course, Monday Monday by the Mamas and the Papas. The first part of the song has lyrics that are everlasting and show off John Phillips writing excellence.

Monday, Monday so good to me

Monday mornin’, it wasn’t all I hoped it would be

Oh Monday mornin’, Monday mornin’ wouldn’t guarantee

That Monday evenin’ you would still be here with me

© John Phillips


The harmonies, Mama Cass’s strong lead voice and the cohesiveness of the band led the group to win a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for this song on March 2, 1967. Also, Monday, Monday was the group’s only number-one hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. (Wikipedia)

As a writer it’s good to look at and listen to favorite music, as it can give you the feel for the plot and movement of your words. I have to write in complete silence, but I do research before and after I write. I often listen to favorite tunes to get a feel for the passion and reasoning the song presents so that I can make my own story flow. It’s also a good way to hear how songwriters create a plot.

As a songwriter myself, I often spend a lot of time reworking a song to get the story told in under 4 minutes – not an easy feat. As an author I have more time to play with, but I must be careful to fill in the cracks and keep the writing smooth and the plot in the forefront.

I love weekends. Although my husband and I are retired, Monday is the start of a new week527725_10151585269811000_632304641_n and all the things to look forward to. Mondays give us time to plan our week, do some new things, or sit back on the deck and watch the birds and squirrels eat the food we put out for them while I read and my husband putters in the flowers.

I have always liked Mondays. No matter how the weekend goes, Monday is the start of a new week and new adventures.

So, thanks to John Phillips for writing a song that will stand the test of time and be recognized for years to come. Even though the song has a feeling of uncertainty, the music is so uplifting that you can’t help but think of Monday as an exciting day of the week.

What about you? Which is your favorite day of the week? Why? I’d love to hear your comments!

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Metaphors Are Fun, Creative, & Therapeutic by Cher’ley


This Blog  by Cher’ley Grogg

Metaphors Are Fun, Creative, and Therapeutic indeed.

     Lenny: Hey, maybe there is no cabin. Maybe it’s one of them metaphorical things.
Carl: Oh yeah, yeah. Like maybe, the cabin is the place inside each of us, created by our goodwill and teamwork.
Lenny: Nah, they said there would be sandwiches.

The use of metaphors enriches a writer’s story. Metaphors are the cherry on top of a banana split. Some people eat the cherry first, but many save it until last. The metaphorical cherry is the very last tantalizing bite of a delightful desert.

Hugh Laurie is the king of TV medical metaphors. “The liver is a cruise ship taking in water. As it starts to sink, it sends out an SOS. Only instead of radio waves, it uses enzymes. The more enzymes in the blood, the worse the liver is. But once the ship has sunk, there’s no more SOS. You think the liver’s fine, but it’s already at the bottom of the sea.” (Dr. Gregory House in the “Locked In” episode of House, M.D.)

The website Metaphorology speaks of some psychologists who have been using the term “metaphor therapy,” and they help patients choose better metaphors. For example, a dentist who felt timid, and was unable to express himself in a group was likened to soft clay.

With the therapist’s guidance, he questioned this metaphorical view and replaced it by seeing the clay harden into something else. Steel was the new metaphor he decided on; battleship steel, to be specific, and he even imagined the rivets in it. Within days, he went to a convention with hundreds of other dentists, and when an issue came up that was important to him, he spoke up. He never did this before, not even in a small group.

Metaphors speak for themselves. Aristotle describes a metaphor: Those words are most pleasant which give us new knowledge. Strange words have no meaning for us; common terms we know already. It is a metaphor, which gives us most of this pleasure. (Aristotle’s work on persuasion of the Rhetoric)

In other words, metaphors should strike up a memory, bring a smile, or add depth. A tool that is well used by many writers and overused by others. An overused metaphor is eating sugar by the spoonfuls. The sweetness coats the tongue and causes gagging sensations.


***Try one of these exercises and post your results in the comments section. Describe yourself using a metaphor. Describe your weather using a metaphor. Describe the dearest person/thing in your life right now, this minute, using a metaphor. What are some overused metaphors–How could they be made fresher? (I have written a small book on metaphors.)***

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores.

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)

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




The Fresh Breath of Spring


This post by L.Leander, Author of Fearless Fiction

It’s time for planting and all around us are farms with tractors making rows and planting seeds. The smell of the fresh dirt never ceases to make me feel good – a deep earthy scent that you know will soon yield crops.


We have many Amish farms in our community and we see them with teams of horses and discs as they prepare their own fields for planting. It’s like being in a time standing still but I’d venture to say a lot more work than the farmers using machinery.


We’ve been planting, too. Last year my husband planted a wildflower garden for me just like one my mother had at our farm when we were young. It was such a good feeling to see and smell the flowers and watch them sway in the breeze and open up to the sun. This year we cleaned up our rock garden at the lake and totally planted all wildflowers. I can’t wait to see it bloom. Our tulips are up and beautiful as are our daffodils. Some of last year’s flowers are popping up through the ground and each day they get a little taller.


Ralph has planted his favorite (hollyhocks and sunflowers). Last year he had twelve, eight, six and four foot sunflowers that were grand. They are majestic and this year he planted all the seeds he took off the heads, plus more packages. We may end up with a back yard full of sunflowers!

When I was a young wife and mother I loved putting up food for the winter, but I wasn’t so good in the garden. The want-to was there, but I didn’t seem to have the know-how and a lot of my plants died. Thank goodness for a mother-in-law who grew a huge garden and gave me lots of fresh vegetables and fruits to can.

I’m lucky to have a husband with a very green thumb. We’ve given up planting vegetables and fruits and switched to flowers. I do a lot of the prep work and I love raking and clearing the spots for seeds to be sown. I even got to plant a few seeds of my own, with Father Nature standing over me, of course.

Now all there is to do is wait. Flowers, vegetables, fruits – all reaching to the sun and begging for gentle rain. I can’t wait for the corn to be ripe because in our area there are big corn roasts almost every weekend when it’s ready. Nothing better than getting an ear of corn from the roaster, dipping it in a can of melted butter and standing around with friends laughing as the butter drips down your arms 0nto the ground.


I’m ready to enjoy summer (already have a hoarde of books to read, writing, knitting, coloring, journaling and sewing). We are moving to the lake lot next week and won’t move back home until October 15. What I most look forward to in the summer is the sound of loons on the lake, geese returning home, red-winged blackbirds, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, cardinals and blue jays all chattering at the bird feeder, plus the squirrels and chipmunks yipping and gathering peanuts in their cheeks. Throughout all this gentle patter I sit on the deck, watch the lake, and listen to children laughing as they  play in the water while I read. Ah, the glory of it all!

Hummingbird Feedermale cardinal




L.Leander is the author of the Inzared series (available on Amazon):


Inzared the Fortune Teller

and books for authors (also available on Amazon):

10 Extreme Tips to Publishing an e-Book

10 Extreme Tips to Marketing an e-Book

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