Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Gift Of Visiting The Setting Of Your Novel (MS) With Your Grandfather (Samuel George Johnston) and Meeting Blog Friends

May is one of my favorite months. Most years I am blessed, by my brilliant husband, with a trip to my homeland to visit my family. Samuel George Johnston never ceases to amaze me. We lost Nanny three years ago, yet at 95 he still pushes on with no issues. To my surprise, Grandad George purchased an IPad before I arrived in England and was already on his way to mastering it, but he had a bigger surprise for me...

We were going on a road trip! Grandad (the correct spelling according the 1918 British dictionary) drove us from the south where he lives to Leek,in the north, where he was born and the setting for my MG manuscript (yet to be published). It took five and a half hours to get there, but we arrived safely and after a short nap we took off on foot...

The buildings, paths and walls were magical. I hadn't been to Leek since I was a little girl. My memories and research about the location were everywhere I looked. But I learned more about my grandad than I ever expected...

On the first night in Leek, we walked two miles to The Pride of the Moorlands. It looks like a typical pub, but it's far from that. This is the spot my grandad was born. Before the pub was built, a WWI corrugated steel Operating Theater stood here. After WWI, housing became an issue. My great grandfather acquired the Operating Theater and it became my grandad's birthplace and first home.

The owner of the pub and the patrons treated Grandad like an old friend. We each had a drink and then walked the two miles back to the former Talbot hotel, now a Premier Inn.

Grandad's second home was a couple houses down from the pub. After a quick pic...

We strolled down memory lane.

The Waterfall Cottages in Endon were beautiful and they were the birthplace and home of my lovely Nanny Phyllis.  They had been renovated, but...

The path behind the house leading to the privy had not been altered. My heart and mind raced with excitement as I saw pieces of my grandparents' love story unfold in front of me.

Nanny and Grandad were married at this Methodist church, not far from her home. Nanny taught Sunday School here.

We think this home was were Nanny's dad worked. It is one of the many places I mention in my MG Manuscript.

We walked up Sandy Lane. It connected Grandad's childhood home to his school. It ran alongside the cemetery.

Seeing my Great Grandfather Samuel George Johnston's grave touched my heart. From his grave you could see both the Pride of the Moorland and Grandad's second childhood home. He was a pretty amazing man. He managed Leek's first electrical company! One of his sons installed all the electrical lines in the then town.

You've heard of Rudyard Kipling, right? This is Rudyard Lake...The Kiplings honeymooned and spent holidays here and named their son after the lake. This was the location of my grandparents first real date.  Talk about a special spot! Grandad took Nanny out in a rowboat.

Although I don't mention this war memorial in my manuscript, it is located in the town square. Grandad walked around it and read the WWII soldiers' names and shared with me the ones he knew.

During WWII iron fencing was cut off and used for the War Effort.

My trip was full of places I recognized and of ones I didn't...

The Green Dragon held a special place in Grandad's heart. He and Nanny held their wedding reception there...a great story goes along with this place, as having a wedding and a reception in two different towns created great hardships during the war. (I'll leave that to another day.)

The Snug, the bar, the hall and The Room were important places in the Green Dragon. The Room has an exceptionally interesting story...

For most of my trip my hair was a great big fuzz ball. I figured out if I put it in a French roll, it looked a lot better.

The Mermaid Inn played a big part in my first version of my MG manuscript. But with help a great agent (Abigail Samoun) and critique partners, I realized my manuscript had to change in the last third of the story. The Inn is still in the story, but plays a much smaller role.

It's no longer a pub and inn, but can be rented as a holiday/event house. A bunch of blokes were having a bachelor party there and were kind enough to show me the mermaid in the capped well in the bar area. (Very cool!)

Do you see the green spire? It's made of copper and Grandad built it right before he joined the RAF. Ecton Hall or Ecton Castle has an amazing story behind it. It's located on Ecton Hill.

Ecton Hill was mined for copper and lead dating back to the bronze age.  The current owner's of Ecton Castle (Claire and Oliver) were wonderful. By the end of the day, I felt like I had made life long friends.

The green in this stone is an example of the copper. It was in one of England's beautiful walls that cover the countryside. We hiked to the top of the hill...

It was well worth the hike.The views were amazing. And Yes, 95 year old Samuel George Johnston did the fact, he led the way!

We walked carefully. We didn't want to fall in any shaft openings.... We went back to the hotel and had a long rest before a special friend came to visit us!

Penny came to see me! If you don't know Penny, she's a blog superstar and she Tweets! And...

We got along like fish and chips.... She brought along another special friend...Her beloved owner Gary Pennick!

Gary is a wonderful guy. He blogs about the world, mental health issues and being a decent human. It's important to realize how many people struggle and Gary stands up for them, if Penny lets him do a post.  :)

We had a lovely breakfast and visit with Gary and Penny. Penny has amazing manners and a wonderful smile! If you don't know them, please hop over to their blog Klahanie and say hello.

(You've got to love my fuzzy hair do, right?)

You would think my adventure was over, but...
                                                                   I will continue it next week.

When you get the chance to meet one of your blog friends...
                                                                                      Go for it!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Happy Book Birthday to Tracey M. Cox

Talk about a cute book!

What kid doesn't like bubble gum? On top of all of the cuteness, it's an educational book. It is a counting and learning colors activity book.It's also a great book for teaching sorting. As a teacher and mom I can see all the fun you can have with this book. Get your own bowl of bubble gum gumballs and do the activity as you read the book. Too much fun! Kids all love books that involve food activities!

Tracey not only wrote it, but also did the adorable illustrations! If you don't know Tracey, she is a wonderful resource for writers! You can check her out on her website, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, on UTube and you can purchase her adorable book on Amazon. You can also check out all the books she has published!

Please check her out! We've been writing friends for close to five years. She is a great inspiration and an example of a working writer.

See you on next Wednesday, when I reveal who I had a meeting with in England...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I've Been A Naughty Blogger...

Have you ever noticed bird footprints in the snow? They go this way and that way and this way and that! Well, that kind of describes how I've been going for the last few months.

I've been editing for people, working on my own writing and submitting, traveling, visiting family and old friends and am now about to celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary with a remote fishing trip in Canada. I can hardly wait. If you read my last post on character development, you'll know this trip is research. (Don't tell my brilliant hubby though.)

I WILL be back in July to share some special pictures from England. You will never believe who I met over there???

Hope your summer is going well and I will catch up with everyone in July!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

ISWG-Knowing Your Characters

It's the first Wednesday of the month and it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group posts. If you haven't heard of the group, pop over to the blog and check it out, then check out the Facebook group. It's a great group full of supportive people including our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh. Who continues to motivate us even in his busy published life.

So I'm super insecure on a few sending query letters and talking to agents and editors at conferences, but I'm pretty confident about knowing my characters are "realistic." So I'd like to share one of my techniques with you I'm using for my current WIP.

The main character, Brittney, has runaway from home and is going to survive on a trail until things get too tough. As an adult, my life has been pretty blessed. So now a days roughing it would be a Motel 6. To immerse myself into Brittney's life I had to become (kind of) her. I spent a lot of time on the trail she would be hiding on, looking for resources, places and ways to build shelter, how to avoid being seen and how to get to small communities if she (I typed I there, LOL) needed to. I also needed to know what tools she would need to build a shelter, to protect herself and to capture or catch food.

Shelter is pretty darn important, so that was my first focus. I thought about the surroundings and how I could use the leaning trees and the cliff faces to make a lean to with some smaller branches. I didn't have a hatchet, but I had a bow saw, so I cut down a smallish tree with it and cut it into pieces.

Then I thought maybe Brittany would chop down a tree with a hatchet. She might want to use bigger trees for shelter.
Let me tell you...know one though I could chop down a tree with a hatchet, but I did and I learned a lot.
The main thing I leaned is Brittany would not chop down a tree with a hatchet. There would be no reason to cut down a tree this big unless she was planning to build a log cabin, and she is not physically well enough to do I learned a big lesson about my character that day. Plus I showed my husband, daughter and in-laws I would chop down a tree with a hatchet.

I knew Brittany would need fire, so I collected some tinder from the scrapping the bark off the first tree I sawed down and let it dry in an Altoids tin. It's a good survival tool to keep a little dry tinder in or other small items, like fishing gear. (I'll be trying that theory out later.) Plus, if you get a fire started you can save a hot coal in it and move it from one location to another. (From what I've read.)
 My good friend Lenny Lee send me a survival bracelet for Christmas and it has a fire-starter on it. So one night I worked and worked trying to get my box of tinder to ignite. Finally, my husband said go get some dryer lint and add it to the tinder. Wham O! I MADE FIRE!!!!!! It was so exciting! 

Sorry for the long post...I have been dying to tell you about how I get into my character's head/life for a long time. I hope it helps some of you get into your character's head a bit more.

Have a wonderful month! Thanks for stopping in!


Thursday, February 25, 2016

And The Winners Are...

And the winner of KISSED BY AN ANGEL is
 Martha Ramirez!

You can buy 

for little to nothing and help these precious children!

And the winner of HOW TO SAVE YOUR DYING CHURCH is Connie Arnold!

Pastor Jon White's book 
 can be purchased at

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Faith, Charity, and Love (and a two book giveaway)


 My title probably doesn't make sense with the photo of my kiddo...but it will. I couldn't find the picture of my pastor holding her on the day she was Christened. Pastor Jon, long gone from our old church, as are we, is still my spiritual guider. I go to him in confidence and trust that he will lead me in the right direction. He is an amazing man who tells the truth and sometimes the truth ruffles comfortable peoples' feathers. I know he's ruffled mine a time or two, but I know what he is says is right and he says it because he wants me to be a better Christian and person. Please don't be offended if you aren't Christian. I expect you aspire to be better in the eyes of your Lord too.

Pastor Jon's book, HOW TO SAVE YOUR DYING CHURCH, is not just for churches, although that is what he would like...He'd like small struggling churches to read this in Sunday School and see if they can get a message from it and help their church bring more disciples to Christ. For me reading it, it helped me see some of my shortcomings and some of my strengths.

Don't let the plain cover fool you! It's set up like the standard church bulletin. The lessons in it are well worth the read and then discussing with a friend or in fellowship. I am giving away a copy to one lucky reader on February 22nd.  Please spread the word.

Pastor Jon White's book HOW TO SAVE YOUR DYING CHURCH can be purchased at


I love this woman! Robyn Campbell is the most caring, passionate woman around and if you don't know must have just gotten your first computer last week.  Don't worry she will find you!

Robyn gives so much to the writing community. She is always helping others and reaching out to people. She home schools her children and her son Christopher has Sturge-Weber Syndrome. He has so many battles in his life and she keeps on fighting for him.

One of the amazing things she has done is compile an anthology called KISSED BY AN ANGEL and all the proceeds go to the foundation. The book is LOVELY! It is full of beautiful uplifting stories about children who find a special gift of sorts within themselves. The book is appropriate for children aged 8 to 12, but I believe anyone with a gentle heart would love this book. And if you like short stories that's another plus!
Eleven amazing writers worked together to create this wonderful book for the Sturge-Weber Foundation. You can buy this KISSED BY AN ANGEL for little to nothing and help these precious children!

I'll be giving away a copy of KISSED BY AN ANGEL  on February 25th.


I love Jon and Robyn. Please help me help them share their books with the world. Just hitting the tweet my post button may bring more people here and give them more exposure...Sharing on Facebook would be great too.  I'm not so good at the fancy helicopter thing.

In your comment tell me which book you would be interested in. I'll put your name in an extra time if you tell me you Tweeted my post and another time for putting it on Facebook. (I'll trust you.) And yes, because I'm old school...I will be putting names in two jars and drawing from them on the 25th.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

ISWG--Looking For Love? Looking For Fiscal Responsibility? (I've got some answers to help you find a happier you in 2016.)

 Yay! It's the first Wednesday of the month and it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group posts. If you haven't heard of the group, pop over to the blog and check it out, then check out the Facebook group. It's a great group full of supportive people including our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh. Who continues to motivate us even in his busy published life.

My IWSG post today will hopefully help you become more happy and loved and financially stable in 2016.

I don't often rant about a particular book, BUT this is the best life changing book I've read EVER! The title makes you think it's only for people in love, but it can help you understand all the people you know better. I've been married for almost 30 years and reading this book showed me how to communicate and express love better to my husband and my adult daughter. If you are in a relationship, any kind of relationship....husbands & wives...husbands & husbands...wives & wives...boyfriend & girlfriend...parent & friends... boss & employee....any relationship can benefit from reading and studying this book. I had so many OMG moments as I read it.

Basically, we all have a language of love. Some people need quality time, others need gifts, others need their loved one to do things for them, and others need to have a physical relationship, and others need words of affirmation to feel loved.

If you were driving a car and the gas tank was empty, the car would not run. Well, relationships are the same...If your love "tank" is empty you won't work and your relationship will go stale and possibly end. So you need to find a way to fill up your "loved one's" love tank. This book will show you how to do it. (I did want to edit it because there are a lot of technical things that made me cringe.) 

I think this book is so amazing I bought two extra copies to give as Christmas presents. It's an easy read, it probably only took me three hours to read it. But I'm going to read it again and work on finding out what love language other people who are important to me have. It will make me a better wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend and more. 

I HIGHLY recommend you read The Five Love Languages this year it will help you improve all your relationships, if you put in the time and attention.

I've been listening to Dave Ramsey for years. If you want to get your finances in order you might want to start listening to his FREE podcasts. We've been living by his philosophies for many years, even before we knew about his programs or podcasts. When you grow up poor you want stuff, right? When you are intelligent you want to further your education, right? So you do things...borrowing money, buying things on credit because you want them, because you deserve are working hard at school...It's hard to see your friends who didn't go to school working and making you buy on credit.  Then you graduate with credit card debt and student loans that have to be paid back. (This is my story.) But even before we heard of Dave we set a goal of paying off all our debts as fast as possible. We started with the small bills, once they were gone we went to the next biggest bill until all of our student debt was gone. (We did all of that without Dave.)

Dave teaches you to become debt free....YOU HEARD ME...Debt free. Living in your own means is hard (unless you are wealthy), but when you do that and become debt free you will start to acquire wealth, if you make good choices.

Once you are debt free, you can be more generous than you ever thought possible and you will sleep  without worries.

I URGE you to download and listen to a few of Dave's podcasts. If you are ready to listen and to become debt free he can guide you.

In 2016, I want you to learn how to have a full tank of love and a big pile of money saved up because you are listening to Dave and getting debt free.

Happy New Year My Friends!