I Started Writing…

Today Writing Wranglers and Warriors
welcomes a new blogger,
novelist and consultant Keri De Deo.


 Posted by Keri De Deo

I started writing Nothing but a Song at the age of 14. I played violin and sang in the choir, and my mom, a musician and music teacher, told me about Ludwig van Beethoven, who had gone deaf in his early 20s. Horrified, I wondered how anyone could survive such a tragedy. How did Beethoven continue making music? I couldn’t imagine being deaf and still being able to sing and play violin. I couldn’t imagine how life could continue.

With that in mind, I started writing the story of a fictitious girl named Rebecca Kendall, who would lose her hearing at the young age of 19. She was a musician, same as me, but she wanted to be a singer. “Not a rock star, but someone special,” she reveals to her friend Stefan.

I think at some point in all of our lives, we dream of being a rock star. We bring that brush or comb up to our mouths and sing along to our favorite song. We imagine the cheering crowd and the fame of being on stage. I wasn’t any different, so I gave a similar dream to the protagonist in my story.

She wrote her own songs, played piano and guitar, and sang in her church choir for as long as she could remember. I described how she struggled to come to terms with losing her hearing, and I showed her anger and depression as best as I could. I gave her technology to help her sing—to help her know whether she was in key or in rhythm. At the time, those tools didn’t exist—well, not like I had imagined them. So, I put the story away, figuring it would never see the light of day.

At 17, I picked up the story again and made changes to the character, the storyline, the ending. I played with the descriptions and the character. I crossed out lines and rewrote some of the songs. I read it to my friends who liked the story, but didn’t think a handheld computer that could listen to tones and keep a person on key was very realistic. Again, I put it away.

For over 30 years, I carried that story with me through countless moves across the country: Arizona, Nebraska, Sweden, Wyoming. Despite the fact that it was buried in a 50-gallon tub full of my notebooks and writing, the story stuck with me. In 2016, I dug it out again after mentioning it to a publisher.

“I need good stories,” she had lamented to me as we discussed the latest book I was editing for her. She hadn’t met her publishing goal, and she was looking for stories to publish. Hesitantly, I mentioned my story. “I love it!” She said. “Send it to me.” I did. I warned her it was in bad shape—that it was handwritten in the scrawl of a teenager. She didn’t care. She loved the concept, so I dug my story out of that box, scanned it into the computer, and sent it on its way.

I waited with increasing anxiety. I worried about it being good enough. Eventually I received an email with my manuscript typed up in rough form. The excitement began. But it needed a lot of work before it would be ready. There were plot holes, inconsistencies, misspelled words, and old clichés. I read it, made changes, updated the technology, and read it again. Now, a handheld computer wasn’t impossible. I gave my character a smartphone and researched apps that she could use. I added characters and more modern descriptions, and when I felt satisfied, I sent it back to the publisher. It took nearly a year, several edits, two galley proofs, and several Skype conversations, but I had a book. I never thought a story I wrote at 14 would be published.

I’m glad I didn’t throw it away. I’m glad I didn’t listen to my friends who said technology like I described in my story would never exist. I’m glad I didn’t listen to the negative voice in my head and the naysayers who said I would never get published.

I look at that 50-gallon tub in the garage and wonder what else is in there.


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 December 5, 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 keridedeo.com!

Tap, Tap, Tap–Learning to Dance by Cher’ley


This blog by Cher’ley Grogg

Many of you have known me for a long time, and you know that my age is no barrier. I learn a few very new to me things each year. Earlier this year it was clogging, and now it is tap dancing. I even threw in some ballroom dance in between.

My favorite tapper:

Image result for tap dancing images

From the Blog A Conscious Rethink I read about learning.

The human brain is an amazing organ that most of us take for granted; it allows us to learn, to imagine, to remember things, and to communicate. It is a complex system of billions of neurons and trillions of connections that makes us, as far as we know, the only living thing capable of conscious thought.

What’s even more remarkable is that the brain can adapt and change in quite drastic ways when required. This process, known as neuroplasticity, is what’s behind our ability to learn new things.

But there is a problem – lasting, plastic change within the brain is only possible when you add one essential ingredient. Without it, any new neural connections that are formed are likely to fade quite quickly.

A Thanksgiving Song

I’m Abbie Johnson Taylor, and I wrote this post.


Here’s a little ditty I wrote and posted in 2015 that I’m re-blogging. Years ago when my grandmother was alive, I enjoyed walking to her house, even as an adult. Now, our town boasts a series of connected cement walkways that would have provided a scenic route from my house to hers if she were still alive.


The following is set to a familiar tune we associate with Thanksgiving. To hear me sing it while accompanying myself on piano, click below. Happy Thanksgiving!






Over the Bridge and Along the Creek




Over the bridge and along the creek to Grandma’s house I go.

My cane knows the way. I will not stray as through the leaves I go.

Over the bridge and along the creek, now Grandma’s house I spy.

Hurray for the turkey, stuffing, and yams and Grandma’s apple pie.


Over the bridge and along the creek to Grandma’s house I go.

My dog knows the way so “Forward,” I say as along the path we go.

Over the bridge and along the creek, now Grandma’s house we spy.

I must insure my trusty guide does not eat Grandma’s pie. Ruff ruff.




I’m the author of a romance novel, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My work has appeared in The Avocet and Magnets and Ladders. I have a visual impairment and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my late husband, who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. Before that, I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home and other facilities that served senior citizens. For more information, please visit my website and blog.



Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.





It Happened On This Day

Post by Doris McCraw


It’s July 10, 2017 and do you know what happened on this day? I’ve always found these pieces of history fascinating. Maybe it’s the researcher in me, or maybe it’s just an insatiable desire to know. 

Whatever the reason, I did a bit of searching and guess what I found?

  • In 1821 the United States took possession of Florida which they had recently purchased from Spain.
  • In 1850  Millard Fillmore was sworn in as president, the day after Zachary Taylor died.
  • In 1890  Wyoming became the 44th state admitted to the Union.
  • In 1913  The temperature in Death Valley, California, hits 134 °F (57 °C), the highest temperature ever to be recorded on Earth.
  • In 1925 – Scopes Trial: In Dayton, Tennessee, the so-called “Monkey Trial” begins. John T. Scopes, a young high school science teacher accused of teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act. This event became the basis of the play and later the film “Inherit the Wind”. It starred Spencer Tracy, Dick York, Gene Kelly along with other well-known actors.
  • In 1938  Howard Hughes set a new record by completing a 91-hour airplane flight around the world.

Like the Scopes Trial, pieces of history have the potential not only to help us understand where we came from, but it also gives us great prompts to tell our own stories. The events I listed are what fascinate me. Today is also the birthday of William Blackstone, know for writing the commentaries of law for England, and the basis for the teaching of law in England and North America. 

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I also would be remiss if I didn’t let you all know that Nikola Tesla was also born on this day. Since he had a laboratory here in Colorado Springs, he is a favorite for many who live here. His legend also brings visitors from all over the world. If you’ve never thought about him, the one thing he predicted was the use of cell phones, and that is just the beginning.

July 10 is also National Pina Colada day…so while you are catching up on the history of the day, sit back, relax and enjoy a Pina Colada. The Pina Colada Song – Escape 

Doris Gardner-McCraw -also writing as Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Hidden Talents

Post (c) Doris McCraw


We all have hidden talents.  It is something that can be a journey to excitement, joy, and maybe even a little pain. 

How many people say, “If only…” or “I’d love to, but…”? What would happen if you did that ‘if only’, or tried that ‘I’d love to’? 

Are we defined by our limitations or by our pushing the boundaries? Sometimes we are so busy, we don’t even know we gone past where we said we couldn’t go. 


It is in those times of pushing, or busyness that we come to know what are hidden talents could be. Of course, it helps if we give ourselves credit. Not the kind of credit where we say, “Hey, look at me” to the extent we exclude others. It’s the credit we get when we make the journey and bring others along with us. By finding our ‘other’ talents, we can offer the world even more.

When we find the voice to sing, the story to tell, the piece of history to share, we are making the whole world richer. Do we always get credit? No. Do we stop? Sometimes. But the joy, excitement and pain are there to drive us forward, to develop those extra pieces of ourselves. We may choose to share it with the world, or just our close friends, or even just with ourselves. The key it to take the journey, to push beyond where we think we can go.


Some of us were blessed with people who foster that journey. Others of us have had to push when the pain of not pushing became to great to stop ourselves.  

So, to those who want to be singers, who want to write that story, who want to paint that picture, we salute you. Share your talents. Not everyone liked Picasso, Mark Twain or Paul Robeson, but these three scratched that itch, and created something special. We all have that potential. Remember, you never know whose life you may change, and for that reason alone, find and share that ‘hidden talent’ so that it shines forth into the world.

Doris Gardner-McCraw writing as Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here 
Photo and Poem: Click Here 
Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here



Useless-Time Sucks-Aggravation by Cher’ley


This blog by Cher’ley Grogg

Seems,  every time I find something I really like, it gets discontinued. There have been several programs over the years that I used a lot and then they were no more. Remember the sheep?

Image result for computer monitor sheep?

I want you to know I spent a half hour trying to download a version of the Scmpoo Sheep. I was unsuccessful. Yesterday I was trying to find a Google Calendar that would work on my sidebar. I used to have Google Desktop, and I loved it, but of course, it was discontinued—I imagine it’s at the sheep farm where retired computer programs and games go. I spent a couple of hours trying to find a sidebar that would have a notepad and a calendar. I wanted them both to stay open when I was working on other things on the internet.

Then what happens, I end up downloading all these zip file openers, and download managers that I don’t need, so I have to waste more time taking them back off.

Why-O-Why can’t you just get what you ask for or get a no way answer? What would you rather get, a stumbling through of all kinds of programs that unrelated to what you are searching for or a plain old No-No Way Jack-Nope-Not Possible-Thanks, but no thanks? Technology Woes and Time Sucks.

And why would you ask about sheep and your search gives you wild and crazy zig-zags? How are they related?


Family Tree Maker, I bought the original, the Family Tree Maker II and then III, IV, and V. Now it’s  useless. I’m hoping I can get my family tree information which I saved on a CD (before DVDs), to transfer to my computer so that I might update it someway. I gave a couple of feeble attempts and didn’t get anywhere, so I know this is going to be a major time suck.

I did find a program that would allow me to upload my videos from my Camcorder after the original program discontinued. It took me a while, but at least I can still use the recorder. I figured out a workaround for my very expensive digital camera that is only a few years old because that program discontinued too.
Records, 8 track tapes, cassette tapes, micro cassette tapes, VHS tapes, CD’s, DVD’s, Flash Drives, External Hard Drives, Cloud Storage, and so it goes. I’m not sure if there is something newer, perhaps you know.

Normally I try to find solutions to the Woes, but in this case, I think the solution is, don’t try to bring the past back. What’s gone is gone. I even donated things from my garage yesterday, a perfectly good microwave, because I updated to a built in one, my TIVO, my Qualcomm communication system, a GPS, and some other old electronics. Maybe some Geek can revive these expensive electronics that have been discontinued or replaced by newer models.

How many old cell phones do you have lying around?Magellan Blazer12 GPS Receiver.                                              How about Wireless headsets? What programs did you love that are no more? Do you spend a lot of time trying to find comparable programs? 

Cher’ley’s Books are listed below and on sale at Amazon and local bookstores. Her newest book is an Advanced Coloring Book and she has one that is freshly published with 11 other authors.

Stamp Out Murder”.
 The Secret in Grandma’s Trunk” This is an especially good book for your Tween Children and Grandchildren
The JourneyBack 3The Journey Back-One Joy at a Time and the B&W Edition of The Journey Back
Boys Will Be Boys   The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys-An Anthology
 Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico 

All About the Girls 5(3)

Four Moons and Fair Ladies Four Moons and Fair Maidens

Memories from Maple Street U.S.A: Pawprints on My Heartlink coming soon

Wonders of Water      Advanced Coloring Book

And 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

Gratitude and Thanks


Post (c) by Doris McCraw

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

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


We are surrounded by music, we have only to listen

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


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


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


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

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

Thank you.


The Power of Music and Books

Sarah M. Chenby Sarah M. Chen

For some reason, this is the summer of nostalgia. I’ll be attending concerts of artists I’ve always wanted to see when I was younger. Tomorrow night, I’ll be seeing Sting and Peter Gabriel at the Hollywood Bowl. Peter Gabriel is an artist I’ve always wanted to see (sorry, Sting). I still cry on cue when I hear the song, “In Your Eyes.”

It reminds me of the time I spent in Paris after high school graduation. I was homesick and listened to that song over and over until I felt better. It also reminds me of a boyfriend in college. We had a tumultuous relationship that ended horribly and desperately. Yet, I still think fondly of him every time I hear that song.

A couple years ago, I finally saw the film “Say Anything” which of course had that famous scene with John Cusack holding up the ghetto blaster (Remember ghetto blasters? Maybe it’s boombox but we said ghetto blasters.). He stands outside Ione Skye’s window, blasting that song and it became one of the most romantic scenes in film for Gen X-ers.

We saw it at one of those outdoor movies, over at Exposition Park, and Ione Skye showed up with about a dozen “Lloyds” who all raised their ghetto blasters above their heads to honor her and the film. 20140524_185607It was perfect. So now I think of that moment when I hear “In Your Eyes” as well.

Guns & Roses have reunited and are on tour and I’ll be seeing them next month. I loved Axl Rose and listened to my “Appetite for Destruction” tape cassette (yes, I had the tape cassette) over and over. “November Rain” from “Use Your Illusion I” reminds me of the summer I spent in Washington, D.C. interning at a TV station.

It was a wild crazy time as I’d never lived in a different state so far away from home before. I played that song over and over so when I hear it I think of 4th of July picnicking on the Mall, riding bikes over cobblestones through Alexandria, VA with my roommate, and our endless happy hours with too many Rolling Rocks in trendy Adams Morgan.

It got me thinking how music, especially certain songs, have such power. I can even recall the smells and sounds around me. It’s such a visceral experience. Does anything else do this so intensely? I guess photographs would do that, but it’s such a literal experience. You see the photo, you recall the moment it was taken and who you were with and where you were. Perhaps movies do, and yes, there are films I absolutely love, but it doesn’t transport me like music does.

I then thought of books that I love. When I recall my favorite books, like TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD or A LITTLE PRINCESS, I can’t remember where I was when I first read it or who even recommended it to me. (I guess my mom gave me A LITTLE PRINCESS). The book doesn’t bring back any memories or sensations of my past, not like music. I may recall who told me about an author or where I first saw the book or where I purchased it, but it’s not that same overwhelming emotion I get when I hear a certain song.

20160717_115525There is something else I feel when it comes to my favorite books. I get this fierce protectiveness over it, like it’s the best book ever and nobody will tell me otherwise. Thus, everyone else needs to read and love this book. “You HAVE to read this book!” Maybe it’s the bookseller in me. I get excited, and probably a little too intense, talking about a book I love. I talk about the characters like I know them personally, because, come on, I do.

It’s interesting to me how both types of art, music and books, elicit such strong emotions and reactions yet in completely different ways, at least with me. Anyone else feel this way with certain songs? Books? Other art forms?



Sarah M. Chen juggles several jobs including indie bookseller, transcriber, and insurance adjuster. Her crime fiction short stories have been accepted for publication online and in various anthologies, including All Due Respect, Plan B, Shotgun Honey, Crime Factory, Out of the Gutter, Betty Fedora, and, Dead Guns Press. Cleaning Up Finn is her first book available now with All Due Respect Books. www.sarahmchen.com


Summer Poetry and Music


This Post by Abbie Johnson Taylor

The following poem appears in the spring/summer issue of Magnets and Ladders. To hear me read it and sing two songs I associate with summer, click here.




Warmth ushers in flowers’ fragrance,

new-mown grass, steak on a barbecue,

happy cries of children, thud of ball against pavement.

Oh, to sit on the back patio, hear a ball game on the radio

while a summer breeze caresses the back of your neck.


Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of:

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome


Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

Visit my blog.



Awards and Rewards

Post by Doris McCraw

edit hhj spc

As I’ve been watching the ‘TONY’ awards tonight, the topic I had been playing with coalesced. The thought of receiving awards for what we do may only be surpassed by the rewards we get for doing it. Or perhaps not.

Let’s begin with a definition of the two words:

Award according the American Heritage dictionary means – Something awarded or granted, as for merit

Reward according to the same dictionary means – something paid to a person for the return of something or A consequence that happens to someone as a result of worthy or unworthy behavior

Katherine L Bates 009

We are involved in a creative industry. one that can be very competitive

Much like the award shows that honor excellence in performing, we as writers are also in competition with others who follow this creative path.

In a live performance, it is rarely just one person. There are so many who contribute to a successful show. While writing is considered a lonely profession, if we are honest with ourselves there are many who are involved in what we do. Our family, our friends, editors, publishers, and the people who are the inspiration for what we write.

Would be be honored to receive and award for what we do? I would guess the answer would be yes.


Can we be happy with the reward we get by doing and having our work out there?

That answer is a very personal one. For me, yes. As an actor, I received many an accolade for my work. As a singer, the same can be said. Still, it was the act of doing the work that was the most joyous part. When on stage, the world fell away and I was wrapped up in the joy of the moment.

As some may know the phenomenon known as “Hamilton” is huge in this year’s awards. Here is a clip of the author talking about his inspirations: https://youtu.be/h7YTPuEMgaE To me this is the joy of doing, following the passion. Sometimes you get awards, sometimes you don’t.

So do you want awards or rewards?

For myself, I know the rewards I get are internal. No one can take them away. Would it be nice to be an award-winning author, well, I’ve had that also. Of the two, reward wins. When I hear a reader say they enjoy my work, that means so much. To move, to educate, to bring a smile or tear, that is the reward I love.

Here’s to finding your voice, your star, your awards and rewards. The dreams we have are not impossible. It is the journey and the people we share that trip with along the way that make anything possible. I end with a piece to make you smile: https://youtu.be/YshgmStEZh0

Angela Raines is the pen name for Doris McCraw. In addition to Historical Romance, Doris also writes haiku, posted five days a week at: http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com.  She has posted over one thousand haiku.“One Christmas Knight” Medieval Anthology

“Angel of Salvation Valley”  http://amzn.to/1P4JVV8

“A COWBOY CELEBRATION”  http://amzn.to/1GzwJhw

HOME FOR HIS HEART  http://amzn.to/1GJhpSu

Author Page:http://amzn.to/1I0YoeL