774x1228This post is by Nancy Jardine.

Authors are often quoted as having the most amazing imagination but I’m not always sure that’s an instinctive attribute for all writers. Personally speaking, I need a little bit of help to kick start my imagination when I’m writing. Once I get that little extra push, I’m right into the scene and then my characters can take over in their imagined setting.

When I write my contemporary mysteries my imagination is helped by my memories of a place where I want to scene set. In my contemporary mystery Topaz Eyes, I used a number of locations in cities that I’ve visited. When I decided to have one of the ‘cousins’ in the story live in Vienna, Austria, I just had to turn on my memories of central Vienna and the wide open old streets popped up.

Vienna 2002

But I also know that my memories can be fickle and a bit selective so in the interests of accuracy I turned to the internet to give me current photos of where  I was thinking of. That little research on the internet was useful when I was writing Topaz Eyes because the trams I was seeing in my head were red during my visit in 2002. The current ones in the area I was writing about have been the bright yellow tourist designed ‘Ring Trams’ for some years now. (c. 2010?)

www.123rf 9570038_s

There are still red trams operating on the original tram lines in Vienna but they’re not where my scenes are. After my research on the internet, as I wrote the scene where my main female character Keira was being pursued by her unknown stalker, I was ‘seeing’ her escaping from a bright yellow tram.

In my historical writing it’s not so easy to create visual images for my locations.  I want authenticity and credibility in my stories but I can’t look back at photographs of my places to see what that landscape was like 2000 years ago. The contours may be largely the same but the vegetation is unlikely to be similar since recent centuries of farming (since the 18th century) and forestry methods in north east Scotland have altered the original picture. That means I need to seek help from other places.

Nancy & Crannog
Scottish Crannog Centre, Loch Tay

I can add things that were already very ancient like standing stone circles of the stone and bronze ages, or stone hillforts, or stone brochs but my imagination definitely has to work a lot harder on things that were made of wood- like Celtic roundhouses and crannogs which have mostly deteriorated to nothing over the millennia.

What helps sometimes with my ‘scene imagining’ for 2000 years ago Scotland is looking at the artwork of some relevant artists  like the famous Angus McBride, or from illustrated children’s non-fiction history books of which I still have a large selection! Celts wranglers But I need to remember it’s that particular artist’s interpretation. Other artists,  archaeologists and historians may interpret things differently. And so do I!

In Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series, when writing about my character General Agricola thinking about the Emperor Domitian and the Senate being back in Ancient Rome, I find it a little helpful to look at ancient sculptures. The friezes, and the carved fascias of ancient buildings also give me clues as to what the environment was like. Things my character Agricola is remembering as they were almost 2000 years ago. My visit to Rome last year helps me a bit but of course, what I saw last year is only what has survived and not the Rome of Agricola’s era  in all it’s colourful glory.

SONY DSCVirtual imagining processes of ancient places are fabulous and I love to see any that are shared with me on Social Media. Looking at Pompeii, or Portus (the artificial harbour of ancient Rome), or Athens or Ancient Egypt is fascinating.

So, last week, when I saw a FutureLearn course entitled ‘Rome: A Virtual Tour of the Ancient City being advertised I just could not resist enrolling. Click the link above, scroll down to the little video window and see what’s on offer. You might like it, too but there’s not much time to enrol since it starts next week, 9th October! (I loved my last year’s FutureLearn course on Hadrian’s Wall’.)

I’m hoping this Rome course will give me some ideas for polishing my character named Agricola a little better, or that it’ll be useful for the next book in the series BUT—most of all I hope that it’ll be fun!

Guess I have to get my head down now and finish my current writing!

What are your thoughts on Virtual imaging? Do you like seeing the way gifted visual imaging creators present these ancient places?

Nancy Jardine writes: Contemporary romantic mysteries; time travel historical for early teens and historical fiction for adults. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the Scottish Association of Writers and the Federation of Writers Scotland.

multiple new TEYou can find her at these places:

Blog:  Website:   Facebook: &

email:  Twitter @nansjar

Amazon Author page








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

Procrastinate? Who Me? by Cher’ley

     This blog by Cher’ley Grogg

A farm boy accidentally overturned his wagonload of corn on the road. The neighbor who lived nearby came to investigate. “Hey, Willis,” he called out, “forget your troubles for a spell and come on in and have dinner with us. Then I’ll help you get the wagon up.” 

“That’s mighty nice of you,” Willis answered, “But I don’t think Pa would like me to.” 

“Aw, come on, son!” the neighboring farmer insisted. 

“Well, okay,” the boy finally agreed. “But Pa won’t like it.” 

After a hearty dinner, Willis thanked his host. “I feel a lot better now, but I just know Pa is going to be real upset.” 

“Don’t be foolish!” exclaimed the neighbor. “By the way, where is he?” 

“Under the wagon.”    




What to do When Life Gets in the Way!

I chunk it out–doing as much as I can in one setting, and then returning as often as necessary. Admittedly, I procrastinate, which drives me crazy. I AM NOT A PROCRASTINATOR. I Am Not a Procrastinator. I am not a procrastinator. I like to have everything done ahead of time, but life happens.

If I were not a procrastinator, I would not have almost 2000 emails in my email InBox, and none of them are spam. Maybe I will get some of them sorted later tonight. After I … But, on more important issues, (like writing a blog post), I typically do not procrastinate, except for this one.  I had most of it done, but here I sit in a rest area in Texas, in the middle of nowhere finishing my blog.

In 2016 I made a decision to not start on any new projects, and I didn’t (except for a short story for Prairie Rose Press), but neither did I finish any that I had started. So this year I will be doubling down. It will be easier since I will be writing more blogs for Writing Wrangler and Warriors. That forces me to be sitting at the computer. It’s amazing that sometimes the busier a person is the more they can get accomplished.

stop wishing, start doing royalty-free stock photo

 Ways to Overcome Procrastination

1.-Set Goals -A necessary component of effective goal-setting is to choose a goal that is challenging enough to be interesting but not so difficult as to be unattainable. There is a risk of fatigue through time invested or effort expended toward your goal, and disappointment if the goal is too challenging and or not met.

2.- Plan for Interruptions-One of the easiest ways to do this is to plan breaks. Only check Facebook or Twitter when on a break. (Set time for your break-15 minutes, ½ hour, all day), whatever, but stick to your goals. Unexpected interruptions- regroup. Make your next project shorter so you have more time to finish the one you’re on.

3.-Set deadlines for at least a day ahead of time, perhaps 2 days or a week. (I always figure this blog is due at least a day before it actually is due–then I post it early and set the scheduler)

Here’s a link to 15 more ways to help with Procrastination.

***Do you say, “I am not a Procrastinator”? Then… you end up being late on your projects or deadlines? How do you handle Procrastination or Interruptions? ***

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

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

All About the Girls 5(3)

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

Expect the unexpected!

ccnancyjardineThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

Something Unexpected.

With regard to my Christmas gifts, that has been my mantra for pretty well all of my married life since 1974. My lovely OH buys me bunches of flowers randomly and regularly throughout the year – so I don’t expect them at the traditional Christmas, Valentine’s Day etc. What I can never anticipate, or guess at, is what my Christmas gift might entail!20170109_121708

Personally, I’m rubbish at thinking up exciting gifts for him so I’m totally surprised that he still thinks ahead and gets extremely unexpected things for me. In 2016, I hinted (strongly), probably from October onwards, that I needed a new phone…and I got one! But I also got a very long, fairly narrow brown box. It wasn’t too heavy so what on earth was it, I wondered as I ripped off the wrapping paper. Could it be something for my neglected garden?

Christmas of 2015, I got this dinky but excellent little projector to use when doing my PowerPoint presentations on Roman Scotland, and/or my novels to various types of local groups.

20170109_1200101Having my own little projector connected to my laptop means that I can present my information anywhere, so long as there’s a blank wall that I can use to project onto.

Having my own projector is infinitely preferable to borrowing equipment at the venues since it always takes time to work out the connections etc to my laptop from different paraphernalia.  The Miroir projector is small but it works really, really well.


There was one of my engagements when the best ‘wall’ to project onto wasn’t actually very blank. It was a textured papered surface that wasn’t a single uniform colour- even though the organiser had claimed it was a ‘white’ wall – so my images weren’t as sharp as I’d have liked them to be. Generally, I go to these appointments on my own but it just so happens that my OH went along with me since our car was a ‘bit sick’, with coil problems or some such issue, and was on a go-slow. (It was booked into the repair garage but not till the next day and OH just wanted to be sure I’d not break down in the depths of rural Aberdeenshire) When we arrived, eventually,  I got set up and he went off for a wander and a coffee.

I didn’t notice him sneaking in at the back of 40 plus audience near the end of my presentation- but he had made a mental note!


Yes, that lovely long cardboard box contains a small portable table-top screen so that my presentations don’t depend on a dodgy wall. Brilliant! What a thoughtful present and I love how light the screen is to carry and so easy to erect.

My main problem, now, is a technical one. I’ll need to work out how to ensure the image size from my PowerPoint slides fits the screen when the projector is on a nearby table along with my laptop (There’s a very short connection between laptop and projector) At the moment the image is way too large and overlaps well up the wall behind the screen and all around it. To make the image fit the screen, the projector would need to be at the back of the room and that’s not very practical! I’d either have to have a huge long cable to join projector and laptop or I’d have to go back to a ‘class’ situation where I’d be giving information from the back of a large room. That doesn’t work well for the kind of talks I give where I need to make direct eye contact with my audience.

My next presentation is to an approximately 50 strong audience on the 2nd February. Do you think I’ll be able to work out how to make the adjustments before then? If you know how to do it—PLEASE SHARE!

Have a lovely week! 

Nancy Jardine’s Celtic Fervour Series of historical romantic adventures is set in first century northern Roman Britain whereas her contemporary romantic mysteries are set in fabulous world-wide cities, Topaz Eyes being a finalist in The People’s Book Prize 2014. The Taexali Game, her Teen time-travel adventure, is set in third century Roman Scotland.

Her week vanishes in a blur of regular grandchild-minding, gardening, reading, writing, social media marketing and blogging—not necessarily in that order.  She keeps up with Roman Scotland archaeological developments which are invaluable for the local presentations she gives on her novels, and on Roman Scotland. Regular book signing & selling sessions at local Craft Fairs are great fun. Watching TV Drama and the news is a luxury – as are social events with friends and family but she does a creative job to squeeze them in. An ex-primary teacher, she continues to learn something new every day and recently completed a fantastic course on Hadrian’s Wall! She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Scottish Association of Writers.


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Blog  Website   Facebook &  email  Twitter @nansjar




Make a Connection

Jennifer FlatenThis post by Jennifer Flaten

We are having internet trouble. It started last week. One evening the internet just stopped working. It was right in the middle of kid TV time (they were watching Netflix) and I am positive you could hear the kid’s cries of dismay from a state away.

After verifying that it was a service provider problem and not a “dog knocked the cord out of the box” problem I reluctantly called our provider. I am sure I am not the only one who really, really-I mean really doesn’t like calling a company for technical service.

The irony in this situation is I have paperless billing so I really needed to go online to find the provider’s telephone number. Thank goodness for internet capable phones!

While the service was down we all experienced the “boy I’d like to *_____* insert internet based thing, only to remember Hey! We don’t have service.file3881264104997

I remember using dial up, back then you couldn’t talk on the phone and be surfing online at the same time. Now, I can’t believe how ubiquitous the internet is, I can watch TV, talk on the phone and surf the internet all at the same time (and sometimes from the same device).

I do all my writing research online. In fact, without internet I can’t do anything work-at least from home-related, as all my files are in the cloud, same with the kids. Their school requires them to use Google Drive for school-based projects.

After the obligatory stop in on-hold purgatory, I was transferred to technical services. To my surprise, it wasn’t a human being but an interactive computer program.

Yes, it was cool and yes, it meant I didn’t have to actually talk to anybody but it made me realize that this particular problem happens so much that they can automate the process to fix it. This is probably not a glowing endorsement for the internet provider. What was nice is the robot didn’t have tone-oh you know the tone all help desk representatives get-the one that says “are you sure it’s plugged in/turned on….really, really sure?

Naturally, the call only solved my problem temporarily. The connection remains spotty so I will have to call again. Meanwhile, my son put himself in charge of monitoring the modem. He shouts out “It’s ON” when the online light comes on and then everyone races to get their internet related work done.

I am avoiding calling the service provider, because now I know the robot won’t be able to help me this time. I just know the service reps first question will be “is the cord connected”.

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Space: A Love Affair

Post by Doris McCraw

doris curiosity

It is in our genes. The desire to explore to know what’s there.  From ‘Star Trek‘ , ‘Star Wars‘ and Arthur C. Clarkes “2001, A Space Odyssey“, space is a part and parcel of our dreams and thoughts.  Who hasn’t spent time looking at the stars and wondering what was up there?  As a child my love of space was to stand outside, look up and pick the stars I wanted to visit. I even used to plan my trip, as long as it didn’t involve flying.  I can hear you laughing. I know, space ‘flight’ is part of the package. You are probably wondering where all this is leading.  The Space Symposium!

What is the ‘Space Symposium’? It is the premier gathering of the global space community, which is how they describe it. This one was the 29th year.  Even though NASA didn’t make it this year it was still a great event. To wander the displays, the booths and talking with the people is heaven for anyone who has the slightest interest in space. For me, one of the greatest parts of the event: the young people who attended. They showed interest, asked intelligent questions and overall gave a person a good feeling about where these young ones will take us in the future. If you would like to see an overview of the week you can visit and then the link to the 29th Space Symposium.

This image was selected as a picture of the we...
This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Farsi Wikipedia for the 8th week, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I also realized that this event could be seen as the story and characters of a book. You have the main characters, that would be the larger companies that attended, and then the secondary characters, the smaller companies.  Each has a part to play, but not all are in every story, just like not all the companies are a part of each others final product. However, everyone needs to be seen and their specialties evaluated, just like we do when composing our stories. Who knows when the contact you make at a symposium will be a part of the final product.  Sometimes we just meet characters that will not leave our consciousness until we find a place for them, even if that is in a future story.

Maybe some day I will write a story about this amazing event, but I would have to make it a space story or a mystery about satellites, space travel or…  That is for another time. In the meantime, look up, enjoy the stars, the Milky Way and the sky.  Follow your dreams or as Smashmouth sang at the opening ceremonies “You might as well be walking on the sun.”

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Dependent on Technology

Alethea Williams

This post

by Alethea Williams

When I first started writing, my desk was my kitchen table and my tools were one of my kids’ leftover lined notebooks that were four for a dollar at the back-to-school sale, and a Bic pen that  couldn’t have cost more than that.  I wrote longhand for many years.

Old and New

My first word processor cost $200,at that time a lot of money to me.  It had no hard drive and stored everything on big floppy discs.

It soon developed an electrical short and ate up all my work.I had   a Commodore computer for a while.  I think these  computers had 256k of memory.  Commodores had  a sort of cult following, with users writing programs that were published  in a magazine for others to copy.  It  seemed like a toy to  me.  It was a gift from my dad, and when I got  rid of it, it   still looked brand-new because I  never used it.


I went to a DOS-based computer, expensive in those days, and again started saving my work to disc.  I had a manual of DOS commands – that still comes in handy sometimes, although I have the feeling Microsoft would rather its casual users didn’t know too much about messing  around with a computer’s operating system.  I don’t remember how much memory this computer had but it wasn’t much.  And I had a dot-matrix printer which I heard a lot of moaning about from editors at conferences who  had to struggle to read those submissions.  Ah, the good  old days, when editors actually accepted unsolicited submissions!

Computers kept getting faster and cheaper, with more memory.  I got my first laser printer, which turned out beautiful manuscripts on 20-lb. bond paper.  Still, the rejections came in.  I couldn’t understand it.  Wasn’t I doing everything right?  I was certainly spending a lot of money on tools for writing.

My latest computer is an all-in-one with cordless  keyboard and mouse.  Goodbye tangles of wires, hello inability to  stay connected to the downstairs modem, so yesterday I had to go buy a range extender.  I compose directly to the computer nowadays, and I save my work to a thumb drive. No more yearly purchase of a thick guide to editors and agents, all that information is available online.

Submissions are sent as an e-mail attachment, so no  more paper, printer, or postage expense.   Publishing is a self-serve option now, with Lulu and Book Baby and CreateSpace.  Some of the bigger publishers offering do it yourself book services.  And promotion is almost entirely online although I’ve seen some authors lately having postcards printed to be sent out announcing their book signings.  The novelty of using slow, old-time advertising is getting them noticed.

The “business” of writing has changed so much.  There might still be pen-and-paper writers out there, but I don’t personally know of any.  How about you?  How dependent are you on your computer for your writing?  Do you think technology has made you a better writer?

I did get published, thanks!  You can get a copy of my award winning novel Willow Vale from:  Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or the publisher.  Follow me on Facebook, and Twitter at @actuallyalethea.  Read my personal blog at Actually Alethea.