Writer’s Quotes Wednesday Writing Challenge: Writer’s Choice or Culture

Create a WQWWC Post

I took a one day break from Sunday Stills to celebrate the Independence Day holiday. My good friend Marsha is busy with her new property as they prepare to get it ready for its new AirB&B status! So I offered to return the favor to host her weekly blog feature Writers Quotes Wednesday Writing Challenge (aka) #WQWWC for her this week!

WQWWC Requirement

More About Writer’s Quotes Wednesday Writing Challenge

I have been participating lately…I originally misunderstood the prompt thinking it was more of a writing prompt responding to a chosen quote. Just shows you how wrong I was. Like my Sunday Stills photo challenge that has a prepared weekly theme, WQWWC also has a weekly theme. This week is writer’s choice!

If you think this is still a writer’s challenge, you would be right, sort of. As bloggers, we are all writers to some degree. Many of us focus on different types of writing, whether the subject and focus is poetry, photography, DIY, lifestyle, food, travel, and others. Most bloggers share their craft in several creative ways, combining photography with some form of writing.

Many bloggers also combine their posts into several challenges or prompts—i.e. photo, poetry, flower-of-the-day, color challenge, and more. Hot this month is Becky B’s square trees challenge. Need more inspiration? Check out Cee’s page For the Love of Challenges and click on the challenge of your choice.

If you were planning to share your trees anyway, why not search for a quote about trees?

For Writers Quotes Wednesday Writing Challenge, the sky is the limit. Especially this week as it is writer’s choice—that’s YOU, the writer.

WQWWC Suggestions

Now that you have the hang of it, let me take a moment to provide a few examples and illuminate the prompts.

Culture

As host this week, it is my sworn duty as a patriotic American to mention culture with a word or two about USA Independence Day, July 4th and what it has morphed into. While freedom and pride are the overarching themes, Americans love a party!

While many cities solemnly celebrate Independence Day with speeches, parades, and a little pomp, as it should be, most Americans are happy to have a summer holiday and blow off fireworks!

Erma Bombeck says it best…

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4th, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”

Erma Bombeck

Do you have a favorite culture quote from your own country?

Writer’s Choice

From here we explore writer’s choice, so share your creativity… c’mon, you can do it! I’m back outside to enjoy water and trees.

Like Marsha, who loves to combine photo and writing challenges in her posts, I’m linking some images to other photo challenges today.

Last week, hubby spent the week traveling back to Sacramento to bring back the rest of the items in our storage unit—bicycles, BBQ, random outdoor furniture, his tools, etc. Once he was done, he celebrated by doing his favorite activity—windsurfing!

Hans Schrandt Executes Big Jump
Hubby with a Big Jump!

I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.

Jimmy Dean

Shared for John’s On the Water LAPC and John’s CellPic Sunday

While hubby was camping in his truck and hanging with friends in the windy and cool Sacramento delta, my dogs and I endured the record heat by rising early. At 4am I was greeted by this amazing sunrise over the ridge.

Colorful dawn in the mountains

John Muir says it best with this quote:

How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!”

John Muir
Painnt Filter Forest
A serene walk in the forest. Image enhanced with Painnt

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” “Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”

John Muir

These wonderful Ponderosa pines that surround me are shared for Becky B’s squaretrees.

Now It’s Your Turn

What inspires you more, your images or quotes? Now you will be doubly inspired. Your choice or culture…maybe both?

Create a WQWWC Post

Post it on your blog and link to this post. Leave me a comment to make sure I see it. I will respond to your posts while Marsha is busy! For more information on the writer’s quotes challenge, visit Marsha’s page. Themes for the next few weeks are posted for those who love to plan in advance.

Last Week’s Freedom WQWWC Links

Marsha and I thank you for linking your freedom posts last week. Please visit if you can!

Sunday Stills is Back on July 11 with the Theme: Under the Trees

In the meantime, there is no reason for me to wait to share all the amazing Great Outdoors Bloggers links until July 11th. With 32 link-ups, you ‘all seem to love the great outdoors!

Have a wonderful week and thank you for linking to all the wonderful blogging prompts and challenges available.

SUPSIG

© 2021 Copyright—All rights reserved—secondwindleisure.com

Celebrate #Blue with Flowers

Blue and purple hydrangeas
Blue and purple hydrangeas

These blue hydrangeas have inspired me to share their loveliness for not only two photo challenges today, but to introduce a daily journal challenge for the month of July.

Journaling in July

Journaling has been a challenge for me most of my adult life. I did keep a journal when I was between 18-20 years old and still have the books. Nowadays I like to think of blogging as a way of keeping a journal, as I share thoughts about photography, fitness, and leisure.

With that said, I am joining other bloggers for Sue’s Journaling in July, with 31 days of journaling prompts to inspire our creative ideas. Each Saturday, you can link up with other bloggers and share your journal prompts. Please visit Sue’s post for more information.

Journaling in July

How Will I Do This?

Each week as I post for Becky B’s Blue Squares in July and my weekly photo challenge Sunday Stills, I intend to share within those posts, the journal prompts that inspired me that week. We can all use some extra inspiration, so for me, combining these challenges into two posts a week sounds like a great way to spend the month of July as I continue to (impatiently) recover from surgery.

This week I share the journal prompts that resonated the most with me.

July 3 What Makes Me Feel Happy

At our ladies retreat in early May, we also had opportunities to journal over that weekend. A similar question “What feeds your soul” had me answer similarly that I love photography and usually take a picture of something when I see it. The hydrangeas pictured above symbolize my happiness as I enjoy a bit of gardening and can see my potted flowers grow and thrive in the warm California sun. Of course, I will shoot the flowers with my phone or camera so I can enjoy looking at them throughout the day, week or month.

July 5 What I Did Today

Since I’ve committed to gardening, the simple act of watering my flowers and plants daily is gratifying while I am staying close to home. The things we do each day needn’t be glamorous or electrifying, and I am rather grateful to have this downtime. But I admit that watering the front and back yards with a hose while walking with crutches is probably the most challenging thing I did all day!

If I had been asked this question this time last year, I would have written that my hubby and I spent the weekend at the Delta playing on the water, on our windsurf- or stand-up paddleboards. I am counting the days to July 26th when my cast comes off!

4th of July Weekend 2018

If you are craving some blogging inspiration, visit Becky and Sue at their links in the post. I’ve also submitted the hydrangeas for Cee’s Flower of the Day photo challenge.

© 2019 Copyright-All rights reserved-secondwindleisure.com

My Book Review of Journey To Aviad

Book Review Journey to Aviad by Allison D. Reid

Book Review Journey to Aviad by Allison D. Reid
original image by Allison Reid

I am pleased to share my review of Journey to Aviad, Book 1 of the Wind Rider Chronicles, by fellow blogger and author, Allison D. Reid.

Allison D Reid photoAbout the Author

Allison D. Reid is a Christian Fantasy author with a fondness for Medieval history. Her first published series, the Wind Rider Chronicles, embraces traditional fantasy elements but is also infused with deeper spiritual themes.

From the Author

“Real, three-dimensional, lovable characters are a must. A good story also has layers of meaning, so that you can read the same book more than once and catch different things each time. There should be an element of beauty and hope, but also plenty of mystery and suspense. I want to be moved by a story without being traumatized by it. I don’t deal well with dark, graphic, or tragic stories—they haunt me without mercy to the point where I wish I had never read them. The real world has enough trauma of its own!”

5 stars

My 5 Star Review

If you have ever read Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, you will enjoy Reid’s fantasy tale of two sisters who embark on a journey of survival and spirituality. This is an allegorical tale set in what may be medieval times. Whether it is in our Earth’s ancient past or far future isn’t clear, but the world and setting Reid builds is consistent and believable.

Reid’s writing is eloquent and riveting—I was drawn in to the mystery after the first few sentences. Her female main characters are interesting and multi-dimensional, with the capacity to grow and learn as the story unfolds.

Reid deftly weaves in scriptural themes and concept such as— “you must drink from my cup, for it is filled with living water, and you shall never thirst again”—without alienating the reader’s existing faith or lack thereof. She introduces the “Ancients” much later in the story as the counterparts to the Biblical Jesus, Satan and the Holy Spirit. Of course, Aviad is God, the Creator. You will begin to see the parallels as you read deeper into the story.

I recommend this book and series to young adults and those of us adults who have been around the block once or twice.

Here is a Synopsis of Journey to Aviad:

Young Elowyn, content with gardening, exploring the outdoors and climbing trees, is drawn to a shiny medallion lying in the shallows of the river. Upon closer inspection, she comes upon a tragic and frightening sight in the Shadow Woods not far from her home in Tyroc.

The Shadow Wood?
image by Allison D Reid

At the gruesome scene lies a slain bowman. Terrified of the wolf-like creatures only steps away, she snatches up the bow and medallion and quickly runs home. A severe storm erupts in the night feeding her unsettled visions of the bowman coming to her door. Upon awakening, she vows to return the items thinking she has unwittingly disturbed his haunted spirit.

The next day, back at the grisly scene, she sees the bowman’s body is gone, amidst large footprints and damaged underbrush. She encounters one of the wolf-like creatures but is saved by a stranger named Einar, who eventually proves to be a friend and mentor.

Elowyn’s adventure and ultimate journey begins as she realizes that a dark evil is slowly descending on Tyroc and into the Shadow Woods. Even at home, she feels unsafe, under the tyrannical influence of their greedy, over-worked mother, a weaver by trade.

Instructed by Einar to meet him deep in the woods, at an ancient shrine dedicated to Aviad, Elowyn waits for him, spending several nights alone. Here, she dreams and has visions instructing her to “wash in the temple basin to be ready for her journey.”

The story continues to unfold using narratives and back-stories to discuss the history of the Ancients, the coming evil, and the prophecies to which Elowyn and her sisters are linked.

Meanwhile, her older sister, Morganne, works endlessly with their mother to sew and weave fine, royal clothing for the Sovereign’s bride-to-be. Once their royal contract is finished, Morganne wants nothing more than to escape her life. Finally fleeing the abuse and disinterest from their authoritative mother, the girls take their baby sister and set out to escape the evil that is manifesting in their city of Tyroc.

As they journey over hundreds of miles, Elowyn confides in Morganne about her visions. Morganne, who studied the Ancient Scrolls briefly as a young girl, knows something of the scriptures, legends and prophecies, and confirms Elowyn’s visions likely come from Aviad.

At River's Edge
image by Allison D Reid

In one dramatic turning point near the end of the novel, Elowyn is led to an abandoned shrine in which the basin has been dry for millennia.

She cleans the basin and places Morganne’s old drinking cup and some herbs in the basin, as reverent awe wells up inside her, remembering the words “If only this basin was filled with living water, I would gladly drink.”

With nothing more to be done, she quickly leaves to finalize their preparations for the next part of their journey.

As they leave the next day, people are shouting the news that the once-dry shrine is alive! A monk tells them that it is a “wondrous sign from the Ancients…the restoration of the shrine was foretold in prophecy, and I never thought I would see it fulfilled in my lifetime.” But Morganne cautions Elowyn not to tell anyone about her part in this.

Once Elowyn understands who Aviad is and her place in the prophecies, she asks Morganne to read more from the ancient texts.

“They were no longer simply ancient tales meant to be quietly kept in leather-bound volumes on dusty shelves. They were lessons in history that had begun to merge with the present in ways (Elowyn) could not have imagined.”

The more Morganne reads, the more she believes the words are written on her heart where they shall live and grow, and cause her to grow.

Like many chosen heroines, touched physically and spiritually by their Creator, the sisters are led to the point where they can begin to fulfill the ancient prophecies. As dark forces conspire around them at every turn, so do the forces of Good as Aviad sends visions and spirits to gently guide them on the right path.

Whatever your spiritual beliefs are, you as the reader will easily empathize with Elowyn and her sisters as they continue their mysterious and mystical journey upon which Aviad has set them.


I hope I have intrigued you to visit Allison on any of the sites listed below.

Where to find the book: Amazon Kindle and paperback

Follow Allison’s Blog:  Allison D. Reid Christian Fantasy Author

Allison’s Goodreads Page

Facebook: Journey to Aviad

 

I encourage you to sign up for her newsletter. Currently, Journey to Aviad is free to new subscribers and she may still offer a coupon for the second book in the series, Ancient Voices: Into the Depths.

Allison is also a photographer in her own right, as you can see by the images used in this post. In fact, she donated a huge folder of wonderful images of trees and forests to my shared folder where all bloggers can use free of attribution.

You can check this out here: Free Photos for Your Blog. Click the DROPBOX LINK then look for the file “Donated Images.” These are all free to use and other files were recently updated!


As I begin the process of writing my next book “No Excuses Fitness” I am developing a mailing list and newsletter with a focus on fitness. I think her newsletter and posts serve as a great example for other authors of how to engage readers, new and current, to keep them interested in her books.

Read my book reviews on For the Love of ReadingI am one lucky blogger to know so many of my peers who are writing and have written books in a variety of genres. Are you a blogger with a story to tell? Let this blogging community be an encouragement to you!

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Book Review of Toni Pike’s The Rock of Magus

Book Review The Rock of Magus by Toni Pike

Book Review The Rock of Magus by Toni Pike
original image by Unsplash, edited for publication

I am pleased to share my review of Toni Pike’s book, The Rock of Magus: Code Red in the Vatican, the second in the Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller series.

Author Toni PikeAbout the Author:

Toni Pike is the author of The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series: “The Magus Covenant,” “The Rock of Magus,” and “The Magus Epiphany.”

She is also the author of “100 Secrets to Love, Health and Wealth,” a guide to finding a job and creating a life that you love.

Toni believes that coffee and long walks are an essential part of any day. After starting her career as a veterinary surgeon, she taught high school and later had a successful career in the public service. Toni lives in Canberra, the capital city of Australia, with husband Jon. Her main passions are writing, travelling, and spending time with family and friends.

 

From Pike’s Amazon page:

A CRISIS IS BREWING IN THE VATICAN – AND ONLY ONE MAN CAN PREVENT DISASTER…Jotham Fletcher is back in a race against time to stop a sinister cardinal, a libertine sect and a homicidal priest.

“FEATURING: a fast-paced and gripping plot, murders, police investigations, a political conspiracy, terrorism, religious mysteries, fascinating historical details, Vatican traditions, a love story like no other and an ending that you won’t see coming.”

5 stars

My 5-Star Amazon and GoodReads Review:

If you enjoy religious conspiracy thrillers, you will love Pike’s exciting, fast-paced adventure that takes readers to Rome and into the Vatican.The Rock of Magus, A Jotham Fletcher Mystery

Similar to Dan Brown’s main character, Robert Langdon in The DaVinci Code, Pike’s central character, Jotham Fletcher, also possesses unequaled expertise in a particular subject, in this case, the shadowy, religious figure Simon Magus.

I find it fascinating that Pike built her series around this little-known historical figure, a magician and cult leader at the time of the Apostles. Magus is mentioned in the Bible in Acts 8:9-24 as he tries to “buy” the anointing of the Holy Spirit, but was rebuked by the Apostles as a sorcerer and wicked charlatan.

The heart of Pike’s adventure lies in this fictional, 21st-century Simonian Sect, whose cult followers are nothing short of fanatical, according to her series.

Pike sets the scene for suspense, thrills and twists that lead readers to believe that Fletcher may not solve this mystery, as insurmountable odds stack against him and his female partner. I found the book to be a nail-biter and a page-turner!

The characters are believable, with Fletcher expressing doubt at one point, but using his shaky confidence to navigate the labyrinthine Vatican grounds as he and Madena attempt to solve the mystery.

Pike’s research is extensive and written from the perspective of having visited Rome. I personally love it when authors write from their intimate knowledge of a subject and from the locations they have been.

I highly recommend this adventure series and am looking forward to book #3, The Magus Epiphany.

Check out the The Rock of Magus on Amazon.


I am always thrilled to read books published by fellow bloggers!

In fact, Sue Loncaric, who writes the incredible blog Sizzling Toward Sixty, introduced me to Toni Pike, with whom she went to high school in Australia. You never know who you will meet in the world of blogging! Read more about Toni on Sue’s blog Becoming an Author in Midlife.

To find out more, please join her on Facebook (Toni Pike – Author) or follow her on Twitter  @piketoni1

Read and follow Toni’s blog at ToniPike.com 

You can also follow Toni on her GoodReads Author Page

What books have you read lately? Have you left a review for the author?

#Book Review – #Better Blogging with Photography by Terri Webster Schrandt

I am very humbled and happy to share Author Tina Frisco’s post of her book review of my eBook, Better Blogging with Photography.

I love the fact that other bloggers share and promote each others’ works by buying, reading, reviewing and sharing. Without “blogging” I would never have considered writing and self-publishing my own book. Watch for my book reviews later this week.

TINA FRISCO

Terri Webster SchrandtAlthough I don’t own a smart phone or digital camera (yet!), I’m very interested in photography for many reasons, not the least of which is to generate my own photos for use on my blog. I’m so impressed by Terri Webster Schrandt‘s book, Better Blogging with Photography, that a digital camera has just moved to the top of my Absolutely Have to Purchase bucket list! Read on and learn why… 

Purchase Better Blogging with Photography  HERE 

************* 

My 5-Star Review  

Better Blogging with Photography by Terri Webster Schrandt

A Gem of a Little Guidebook 

If you’re considering using photos on your blog to generate readership/sales, or simply to make your website more attractive and appealing, reading this book will ignite your enthusiasm and give you the tools needed to begin. 

Terri Webster Schrandt has condensed her knowledge of photography and blogging into a terrific little resource guide.Better Blogging with Photography

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My Book Review of Have Bags, Will Travel

Kaye shares valuable advice for navigating airport security, planning for purchases and dealing with germs.

Kaye shares valuable advice for navigating airport security, planning for purchases and dealing with germs.

I am pleased to share my review of Have Bags, Will Travel, written by fellow blogger and author, D.G. Kaye.

Author D.G. Kaye About the Author
Canadian D.G. Kaye is a non-fiction writer of memoirs about life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues. She is the author of five books to date: Conflicted Hearts, Meno-What? A Memoir, Words We Carry, Have Bags, Will Travel, and P.S. I Forgive You.

You can follow Debby on her Amazon Author Profile. Did you know an Amazon author profile is set up to publish your blog posts?

Speaking of blogs, head over to Debby’s blog DGKayewriter and read her recent post Caribbean Tales and Tips and Shopping, if you didn’t get enough of this book. Debby’s blog is not just about her fabulous books, but includes reviews of other bloggers (myself included) and lots of great blogging advice!

Once on Debby’s blog, consider following her social media accounts.

Now for the book! To get you started, here is an excerpt from her chapter Airport Security:

Book Cover Have Bags, Will Travel DG Kaye
Used with permission

“Returning home from a vacation is always a nerve-racking event for me. Instead of flying home and basking in the memories of the wonderful time I’ve just had on vacation, I repeatedly go through my receipts from the trip so I can carefully calculate how not to exceed the fixed limit we’re allowed to bring back without penalty. I must remember which receipts correspond to the tags I’ve already cut off so I can take them out of the pile. More math!

Most people don’t worry about such things—but I have to. It’s practically like my face is on a milk carton: HAVE YOU SEEN THIS WOMAN SHOPPING? For decades now, I’ve been consistently pulled over at customs. A planeload of people pick up their luggage and sail through the exit doors to freedom, and one person (and her husband) get singled out for interrogation. This happens on ninety percent of my trips. Why is it that I’m picked out of two hundred and fifty passengers to be interrogated? I lament, but I’m familiar with all the tricks by now: don’t wear flashy jewelry, don’t dress up, try to blend in. I can’t help it, though. I have what I’ve identified as shopping face. . . “

Check out Have Bags, Will Travel on Amazon!

5 stars My Five Star Review:

What I love about this novella-length book beside the fact that it’s a fast, entertaining read, is Kaye’s hilarious look inward at herself and her serious addiction to shopping. Her book reads like a series of fun blog posts, highlighting her signature, conversational style, while sharing useful travel information!

A seasoned traveler (well, except for the over-packing part—but life is short, right?), Kaye deftly reminisces her early days of travel when life was simple and “travel was a joy.” (Before TSAs!). She then describes how her obsessive shopping habit has created the need for smart packing and planning.

With everything she has purchased over the years, one would guess she has an extra house for all her goodies! Kaye’s love for travel and adventure is evident as she shares hilarious exploits and nail-biting moments on her many trips that include London, Paris, Venezuela, the Greek Islands, and on to Las Vegas and Arizona.

Kaye shares valuable advice for navigating airport security, planning for purchases and dealing with germs. Her idea of packing sockettes in her purse to wear through the TSA line after removing her shoes is brilliant.

Kaye’s chapter “Admitted Germ Freak” resonates with all of us as we hear more of the dirt, grime and germs associated with hotel rooms, public restrooms, and restaurants.

***

Like Kaye, I do love to shop and often bring souvenirs and must-have bargains and other items home with me, whether by plane or by car.

I would like to say I’m a travel buff myself, but I have not traveled abroad other than to Mexico (I live in California so that’s not saying much!). The very thought of over-packing, paying extra fees or having my bags gone through at airports, makes me want to travel by car! My hubby and I have paid for a heavy, extra bag at airports in Mexico, but that big duffel was filled with windsurf supplies like wetsuits, harnesses, helmets and other water-related gear for both of us. I think I brought four pairs of shoes for my last windsurf vacation, and one of those pair was my water booties!

Spring is just around the corner and travel for many is imminent. Pick up Have Bags, Will Travel today!

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My Book Review of The Heart Stone Chronicles: Part 1, The Swamp Fairy

Heart Stone Chronicles: The Swamp Fairy book review

Heart Stone Chronicles: The Swamp Fairy book review

It is with great pleasure I share this review of The Heart Stone Chronicles: Part 1, The Swamp Fairy, by Author Colleen M. Chesebro.

Colleen ChesebroBut first, let us go back over two years ago, when I first met Colleen in Fall 2014. Her blog was then called “Silver Threading.” She introduced readers to The Swamp Fairy. Here is an excerpt:

“It was a warm morning in November the first time I saw the swamp fairy. The fog curled around the tops of the trees and the autumn breeze smelled of fragrant flowers, even though the early frost had killed all the wild flowers. I inhaled the intoxicating fragrance and peered into the dense foliage near the road. It was a lovely peaceful morning.

I was out for my regular morning walk. I had taken the narrow back road behind Blackberry Ridge where I lived. This morning I could hear the chirping of birds, as tiny bugs hatched on the warm autumn wind, buzzed about my head. I saw something darting about in the underbrush. At first I thought it was a bird. Whatever it was it made a pleasant humming sound. The humming had a mystical quality to it.

My heart started to beat faster as I approached the bushes. I could barely see her she was so tiny and brown. She blended right into the dead and frost browned leaves hanging from the branches…”

And the legend of the swamp fairy was born!

How many of us have had visions or have seen supernatural beings? I saw a UFO once…but, that’s for another post…or not. My point is we all have abilities to be in touch with the supernatural, whether or not we believe in it.

I was entranced by the notion that she saw a fairy. She deftly hooked readers about the swamp fairy and built the lore of the Naiad nymphs even then. She wrote numerous posts that gave readers an intimate and fascinating view of her creative process as she began to write her book.

From the Author:

The book reveals the story of Abby Forrester, a 14-year-old orphaned girl who is entrusted with saving a community of fairy nymphs from certain ecological destruction. Along the way, Abby learns about friendship, love, and what it means to actually belong to a family.

Colleen’s writing explores ecological situations in the multicultural world of today. She combines real-life historical events into her writing to create experiences that will continue in the hearts and heads of her readers.

5 starsHere is my 5-star review:
The story centers around Abigale, a young teen uprooted from Chicago to live with her aunt in Florida. Insecure about starting over, she is already aware of her uncanny psychic abilities but is reluctant to understand her mother’s legacy, left to her in the physical form of a green calcite pendant. Surrounded by friends and extended family, she uncovers a complicated and unlikely destiny and fights hard to preserve it.

The Swamp Fairy Book CoverImagine being new in town and holding on to startling secrets—the ability to telepathically communicate with animals, as well as the swamp’s very treasures—the sacred calcite stone, the rare, pink sundew plants, and the fairies. Explaining these revelations to anyone would certainly make Abby more of an outcast than she already feels.

One can’t help empathize with Abby as she navigates through her own insecurities while discovering her growing strengths and staying true to the fierce love for her friends, family and, of course, the fairies.

Chesebro’s characters are carefully crafted and lend relevance to the story as it unfolds. The town’s welcoming teenagers who quickly befriend Abby are artfully tempered against the bullies who treat her with disdain.

Even if fantasy is not your genre and fairies aren’t your “thing,” they make a minimal appearance here, but enough to generate the lore around which the hub of this charming story revolves.

Chesebro’s setting of the swamp area in gulf-coast Florida is deftly and descriptively written where readers can feel the humidity of the warm sunny days as well as hear the buzz and hum of the insects associated with the South.

The author includes her own haikus that also set the tone for each chapter. “A foggy sunrise, winding a path towards day, the sunlight triumphs.”

The story moves along at a quick pace with a satisfying ending that sets up the plot for the next book in the series. Although this book is geared toward teens and young adults, I recommend this book and series for anyone who cares about the environment, relationships, and real family values.

I look forward to reading Colleen’s blog, Colleen Chesebro, Fairy Whisperer, as she hopefully shares again her creative processes as the next story unfolds.

The book is available in paperback and Kindle formats on: Amazon.

Find Colleen on Goodreads.


Read my book reviews on For the Love of ReadingI am one lucky blogger to know so many of my peers who are writing and have written books in a variety of genres. Are you a blogger with a story to tell? Let this blogging community be an encouragement to you!

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Glimpses Book Review and Author Round-Up

Glimpses Book Review and Author RoundUp

Glimpses Book Review and Author RoundUp
original cover image used by permission

If we were having coffee today, I would share with you my review of a fabulous new book from one of my favorite bloggers!

To me there is nothing like enjoying a few moments with a hot beverage while reading a good book.

Hugh Reading Glimpses
This may be YOUR reaction while reading Glimpses. photo used by permission

Let me introduce you to Hugh Roberts, blogger at Hugh’s Views and News.

Roberts says that he chose the title Glimpses because “that is what you are about to get—glimpses into the everyday lives of people who are about to be led up a path they were not expecting.”

Not only is he a brand-new author, fellow bloggers tell me he is possibly the nicest gentleman you will ever meet in person or in the blogosphere!

You can view his book on Amazon.

5 starsHere is my 5-star Amazon review:

Glimpses is a delightfully twisted set of short stories inspired by author Roberts’ blog. If you follow his blog, you may recognize a few of his terrifying tales reminiscent of stories in the sci-fi genre of Twilight Zone or Outer Limits peppered with a dash of horror. “The Truth App” is the piece de resistance in this collection of 28 stories. Roberts’ biting wit and deft tale-telling will have you reading on the edge of your…well, your reading device! A great read that will have you begging Roberts for more!

If we were having coffee today, I would urge you, readers, to support your fellow bloggers’ publishing endeavors. I am proud to know a growing number of bloggers who have self-published works. Not only am I astounded by their writing abilities, but also by their encouragement of my writing as well. Many of these bloggers self-published their first book within the last year!

Judy Martin
Janice Wald Mostly Blogging
DG Kaye Writer
Ali Isaac
Sally G Cronin
Marsha Ingrao
Jo Robinson
Ronovan Writes
Toni Pike
Margaret Andrews
Marcia Meara
Tina Frisco
Linda Bethea
Jessica Edouard
Kathy Gottberg

And publishing in 2017:
Colleen Chesebro

Please stop by and visit their blogs where you will find links to their books. Give yourself or a friend a lovely holiday gift of a book. And if you enjoyed it, please leave a review on Amazon! We authors really appreciate those reviews.

coffee cup celebrates weekend coffee shareJoin Part-Time Monster’s blog for the Weekend Coffee Share!

 

 

Thanks for stopping by!

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Who Has a New Book? I’m a Guest Author on D.G. Kaye

Better Blogging with Photography cover

Better Blogging cover

I am honored to be a guest author on DG Kaye’s Guest Author Friday feature today! She is a prolific author with many books. Please visit Debby’s website for the rest of the article!

Originally written and published on:

Who Has a New Book? Terri Webster Schrandt – Better #Blogging with #Photography

I Am a Self-Published Author!

Cover Better Blogging with Photography

After several weeks of cobbling together a couple of blog posts and a whole lot more information, I can proudly share that my first self-published e-book, Better Blogging with Photography: Maximize Your Blog Using Your Own Images, hit the Amazon Kindle store!

I want to thank the Academy…woops, wrong dream!

Seriously, I want to acknowledge and thank fellow blogger Jo Robinson,  a self-published author in her own right, for her services, support and encouragement. Check our her page for the launch of her newest book, Writer’s Publishing Workbook!

Let me just say to you, my fellow bloggers and writers, that if I can do this, so can you.

Once you publish on Amazon, you can create an Author’s Central page. And here is the link to Amazon for the book. I would not mind one little bit if you decide to buy my book!

I will share a post in the near future about my self-publishing journey. Now, onto my next book!

 

I Lost My Oreo

How Emotions Can Inspire Your Writing

How Emotions Can Inspire Your Writing

I just spent a fabulous weekend at a blogger’s conference in Las Vegas. I am truly inspired by the incredible bloggers who are published authors or are living their dreams through their online businesses.  BAM Conference 2016I share this post from a year ago as a testament to writing personal essays using our deepest emotions to tell a story.

This was the second year of the Bloggers At Midlife Conference. If you want to take your blog and writing to the next step, consider attending this conference or other similar conferences.

This was part one of a writing challenge series. If you are new to my blog, I hope you enjoy reading this post.


 

 

Oreo was my beloved 14-year old Springer Spaniel-Australian Shepherd mix. He was 12-weeks old when he and his twin brother were brought to the SPCA. My daughters and I had just gotten a Chow puppy and were taking him home when we saw the cute, freckle-faced black and white pups.

The next day, I came home from work for lunch to check on our little Chow and he had died. Weeping, I wrapped him up in a towel and brought him back to the SPCA. The vet later told me he had died from an infection brought on by the neuter surgery. Who performs neuters on 6-week old pups?

But that is not the story.

Within two days, the SPCA said I could take one of the black and white puppies we had seen earlier. We brought him home and named him Oreo for all the Oreo-cookie crumbs that freckled his nose. Here is what Oreo looked like when we got him (yes, that is me back then).

Oreo-My-Dog
Oreo was 12-weeks old when we brought him home from the SPCA

Fast forward to 2011.

In early 2011, Oreo had already exceeded his estimated life span by two years. Dogs his size usually die by age 12 or 13 years old. I attributed his extra years to going with us to the delta when my husband entered my life in 2009. Oreo loved the delta. In 2010, we acquired Aero, our brown cocker mix, who also kept Oreo company in his last year on Earth.

When Oreo died, I wasn’t even in town.

For several months, Oreo had been losing weight, had lost his hearing, and had cataracts. He never lost his strong sense of smell, so he could maneuver pretty well around the yard.

In late June, at the delta, Oreo got severely tangled in his long lead to which he was tied next to our trailer. We tied him up so he wouldn’t wander over the levee and get hit by a car. Most of the time, he could be off his tether under our supervision. On this particular Saturday morning, having gotten tangled again, I drove the hour drive back home where he would not have to be tied up. When we got home on Sunday evening, my daughter said that he had fallen down the two steps from our backyard deck. He was unharmed but this was not a good sign.

I took him to the vet shortly after. He had gotten into very bad shape very quickly. In a few days, we were travelling for a 5-day vacation in Yosemite. I felt in my heart that Oreo should be put out of his misery and hoped the vet would agree. Instead, she prescribed him some pills (for older dogs). Although I was relieved and hoped that Oreo would get better, that did not happen.

My daughter’s friend agreed to look after Oreo while we were in Yosemite. There is very little phone service in the high country, but we happened to be visiting Yosemite Valley one of the days.

That is when I got the phone call. When Darla checked on Oreo, she found him sprawled across the deck stairs where he had fallen again. He was very near death. While trying to reach me, she and a neighbor put him in the car and took him to the closest vet.

As the vet described Oreo’s condition over the phone to me, wanting to run tests (why??), I told the vet to put him down. In writing this, it sounds so cold and factual, but since I wasn’t there, I cope with this by being so. Darla agreed to stay with Oreo while they injected him with the life-ending serum. She was the last person Oreo sensed.

To this day, I carry the guilt and immense sadness that I could not be by my dog’s side as he was euthanized. I can barely write this even now.

We requested the vet to freeze Oreo’s body. When we came home, my husband dug a deep hole in our backyard under Oreo’s favorite pine tree and buried him there. My husband made a cement grave stone and we managed to use Oreo’s own paw to make a print in the wet cement.

Once Oreo was laid to rest under the tree, what amazed me is how our puppy Aero reacted. He could smell Oreo and spent several days laying on Oreo’s grave, sniffing and “crying.” Sometimes he would run around the yard looking for him.

I am consoled by the knowledge that Oreo had some extra time on Earth and a puppy companion in his last days.


 

I have wanted to write this story for a long time and this prompt for Writing 101 was as good a time as any.

Grief is a powerful emotion that can be tapped to write compelling personal essays worth reading. Stories such as these can be serialized as I did with this writing prompt. Part two became the back-story, then part three continued the theme to celebrate Oreo’s wonderful life.

Thank you to panel experts Susan Maccarelli and Jill Robbins for presenting the topic “The Art of Crafting Personal Essays that Get Published.”

How Writing Built My Blog

To write is human, to edit is divine. Stephen King

To write is human, to edit is divine. Stephen King

Imagine my excitement when Hugh Roberts asked me to write a guest post and be his featured blogger for March. I stand in very good company with previous guest bloggers whom I have followed because of the nature of the content they share. If you’ve been a reader of Hugh’s blog long enough, not only does he share great blogging tips but he’s written a fabulous set of fiction stories and hosts the increasingly popular weekly photo challenge.

What can I share with Hugh’s readers?

For my guest post today, I’ve decided to approach this from a writing perspective. This a blog after all. Most bloggers write.

So as they say…once upon a time…a writer was made.

The Making of a Writer
I started my “official” writing journey as a cub reporter for the high school newspaper in my senior year. By the second semester I was promoted to news page editor. Near the end of that senior year we entered San Diego county’s high school news competition. Not only did the newspaper win first place, I won first place as reporter for the news category. Totally unexpected given that this was my first year.

Sidebar: My writing journey really started at age five when I started reading…everything. I loved school because we were required to read.

Once in college I realized that I had decent writing skills and excelled in classes like organizational communication. It was much easier to write about facts in non-fiction than to write fiction.

I took those skills into my career in recreation and leisure services (yep—parks and recreation!). I wrote pages of public service announcements, developed, wrote and edited marketing content for publications and catalogs advertising recreation programs. I already had a great eye for proofreading and corrected many of my colleagues’ writing mistakes. I became so successful that I did this for the entire department for 15 years. I eventually managed and wrote website content for our ever-changing online aquatics pages.

The Making of an Editor
In the meantime, I looked for part-time side work to supplement my single-parent income. I knew that I was a good proof reader and copy editor because of those experiences I acquired. When I was introduced to the editor of a local monthly magazine, I asked her if she ever needed proofreading for the publication. She said that her proofreader had just quit and was looking for a new one. She gave me a stack of pages and said, “I pay $10 an hour, so log your hours and we’ll see how you do.” I ended up editing content for her magazine for eight years. She also referred me to other side work proofreading and copyediting books and other publications.

Eventually, most proofreaders were put out of work as computer technology increased. If you ask me, editing and proofreading programs and apps leave a lot to be desired. As writers and readers, how many typos do you see in published works?

Speaking of published works, I managed to publish several articles in PRB Magazine. You can read Aquatic Management Training  or an earlier article Tap Additional Revenue Streams .

The Making of an Educator
In 2007, I decided to enter the graduate program in Recreation Parks and Tourism Administration. My ultimate goal with a master’s degree was to be able to teach part time at the university in the department. During grad school, I grew fascinated with the four generations in the workplace and how culture and historical events shaped the values and characteristics of each generation. There’s nothing like writing a 90-page thesis to hone your writing skills, not to mention learning to take criticism of your work. From this I learned a lot about my particular writing style and my continued love for non-fiction writing.

In January, 2011, six weeks after I completed the master’s program, I was hired as a lecturer for a university teaching in the recreation, parks and tourism program. Fast-forward to 2016, now retired after 35 years as a parks and recreation practitioner, I continue to write and create 4+ hours of lecture material each week. I then present them to Millennial students with somewhat short attention spans.

The Making of a Blog
Once I finished and published my thesis, which focused on the four generations in the leisure workplace, I used my research and literature review to construct and offer presentations for trainings and workshops. Soon after, I started a blog on WordPress. The blog was devoted mostly to generational training and information and was slow to progress because it was the equivalent of writing a research paper for each blog post… and even I got bored with it.

There is a lot to be said for leisureI continued to realize the importance of good writing once I started blogging. However, academic writing using references was tiring. I got discouraged and let it fall by the wayside. On a random day in September 2014 I logged into WordPress and saw the invitation for WordPress’ Blogging University 101 and 201, which helped me develop my blog to what it is today.

My blog became about the perspectives I had on life, work and leisure. I have come across very few blogs that focus on leisure, play and recreation. I’ve noticed some bloggers do blog about travel, lifestyle, and fitness, but they don’t introduce the broad concepts of leisure in the sense of the value it provides. I bring that perspective of how valuable leisure is in our lives from the points of view of practitioner and leisure educator.

The Making of a Published Author?
This summer, I hope to get started on writing and self-publishing an e-book about finding time for leisure.

 

My Penance is Paid

La-Jolla-Sunset

La-Jolla-Sunset
A light at the end of the tunnel

Divorce is never good. I put something into place 20 years ago this month…my separation and subsequent divorce. It has taken 20 years to pay this penance.

I got married for the first time at the ripe old age of 20. My husband was 23. Not only were we kids, we were still attending college. Luckily I was smart enough to finish my undergrad degree three years later without missing a beat, get employed, and have my first child, all before the age of 25.

Without going into the details of why I chose to initiate the divorce after 15 years of marriage, let’s just say that it was necessary for my self-esteem, my children and my finances.

CalPERS-logoIn California, retirement and pension programs are considered community property. This means that in a divorce settlement, spouses are entitled to each other’s pensions and other assets. I worked for a public agency that paid into CalPERS, our retirement system, beginning in 1986. Once our divorce was finalized, my ex was entitled to $11,000 of my retirement account.

I did not know that would happen. Not that anything would have changed.

At the time, I was pretty naïve about these subjects. I was told in 1995 that CalPERS did not pay off the spouse, but put money into a retirement account, but even that information was sketchy. Now that I was a single parent at age 35 with a busy job, and raising two young girls with no help, the last thing on my mind was how my future retirement was affected.

At the time of our divorce, we were attending a church and had been active members for several years. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to divorce as a Christian? Christians do not divorce. And those that do, well let’s just say…it’s awkward. We are supposed to be above the earthly issues and if there is trouble, seek counseling through the church (which we did). The pastor was chagrined that someone in his flock would dare divorce. Suddenly he wanted to get in our business when he had never given us the time of day before.

Needless to say, once my husband left (I kept the house, the car, the bills, etc), I stopped attending that church. I had several friends who were supportive and some had left that church for similar reasons. In a year I started attending a new church.

Ironically, that pastor’s adult son went through a divorce soon after.

Despite my belief in God I felt tremendous guilt for putting the divorce in motion. My husbands’ family disowned me, and only communicated with me when they wanted to visit my daughters.

I continued to pay the penance of guilt, but I was determined to not relent. My ex promised to do better but I was not interested in going back to him. I did not particularly care if his family ever spoke to me again.

For the two years we were separated, I got no monetary help from my ex. He had trouble keeping jobs. If I had asked for child support, I would have had to PAY him alimony since I made much more money than him.

He eventually met a woman he decided to marry two years later, but we had not filed for the divorce. We amicably filed, each paying a small sum to the paralegal who handled the filing.

Once the divorce was final, and he remarried, I filed for child support. I got the huge sum of $200 per month.

Unfortunately for me, his fiancé was greedy and had been through a nasty divorce a few years prior. She also worked for a public agency and knew something about CalPERS. She coerced him into taking his share of the retirement. Even though he was entitled, he originally had no plans to do so. So $11 grand was taken out of my account and paid to him in a check.

It was rumored they used the money to fund their wedding in Kauai in 1998. Nice, huh? Tragically, she passed away in 2005 due to breast cancer. Upon her death, her family promptly forgot about her widowed husband.

In 2003, I discovered that CalPERS had a community property re-deposit program. After some paperwork, I could pay my retirement fund back at $130 per month on a 15-year payment plan. I wish I had known sooner.

When I retired in 2014, I still had more payments to make to CalPERS, I quickly discovered I had two options: continue to pay the $130 out of my pocket on my pension income, or use my vacation leave balance to pay the difference. The monetary value of my sizable amount of vacation time transferred to my 401K account. A portion was transferred to PERS tax free to pay off that re-deposit.

I hand-delivered the check to the CalPERS office in early May and paid my final penance, 20 years later to the month.

After a 20 year journey, my penance is paid.