Wedding Anniversary and Wind: A Good Match

What does a married couple do on their 3rd wedding anniversary? Well, windsurf, of course!

Windsurfing together on our 3rd wedding anniversary!

When we first started dating in 2009 I asked him to teach me how to windsurf. We were both aged 49 when he found me and I found windsurfing!

This photo was taken by a friend (on MY phone) on August 22, 2016, our actual anniversary.

The weekly photo challenge asks us to find A Good Match.

Out of the Shadows

This week’s photo challenge asks us to depict Shadow.

Not only did I get some great shots with the new camera, I got double pleasure with shadows and reflections at Coronado’s dog beach in San Diego last December.

Aero cavorts on dog beach accompanied by his shadow and reflection

Aero cavorts on dog beach accompanied by his shadow and reflection.

Legs cast shadows and reflections

Legs also cast shadows and reflections.

But, wait, there’s MORE!

In my post, How to Get 100s of Free Photos for Your Blog, I got a wonderful response and several bloggers found great uses on their blogs for some of my donated images!

Sally Cronin from Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life used one in her post, Weekly Image and Haiku—From a Grateful World and wrote a lovely haiku with it.

Blogger Marje from Kyrosmagica used a photo as her featured image (with some Canva editing), which featured me on her Author Spotlight!

Fellow blogger, Allison, at Allison D Reid, contacted me and asked to share her vast collection of gorgeous images of forests, streams and other natural settings. Like me, she has oodles of photos “collecting virtual dust” as she cleverly put it! You can also find the file of her images from South Chagrin Reservation in Bentleyville, Ohio.

Here is a wonderful example of one of Allison’s photos. It happens to fit the WPC shadow theme (but the credit is hers)!

Forest in Shadow
image by Allison D. Reid

As I said, FREE images really are available. No sign-ups, no passwords to remember, no gimmicks. Just click on FREE BLOG IMAGES for the link or visit my new page Free Photos for Your Blog.

Help us bring our unused photos out of the shadows!

Current folders include landscapes, flowers, animals, cityscapes and general office. Visit on a regular basis for new folders and photos added weekly.

New to the folder this week are the following:

  • “Donated Images, with subfolder, “Donated by Allison.”
  • Sports with subfolders: Climbing, Cycling, Group Games, and Water Sports
  • The folder “Landscape” was also updated to include a subfolder “Water.”

Do NOT be shy about using these. It will be up to you to choose and edit them for use on your blog.

I know many of you take quality photos! If you are a blogger with unused digital images laying around “collecting virtual dust” and would like to donate them to the blogging community, please contact me and let’s see if we can add them. I use the Pro edition of Dropbox with plenty of room, (so no worries on space!) and it is very easy to share.

Bring these photos out of the shadows so we may all enjoy them!

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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

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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How to Get Hundreds of FREE Photos for your Blog

Hundreds of free photos await you!

For those of you who have followed me for years or just recently, you may know that I am an avid, hobby photographer.

Frustrated with “free” stock image photography sites that promise photos that need “no” attribution, I take all my own photos for my blog and websites. My phone and now, my new camera, go everywhere I go. I’m always looking for interesting photo ops!

Truth be told, I am leery of stock photo services offering free images. Recently, Margaret at Sticky Readers mentioned Unsplash, a site boasting free stock photos.

I decided to check it out and found this article from 12/16 on Snappa Blog, 21 Amazing Sites with Breathtaking Free Stock Photos.

Many of these photographs are free from copyright restrictions or licensed under creative commons public domain dedication. This means you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. However, some photos may require attribution.

We’ve done our best to identify which license they fall under but we still advise you to do your own research and determine how these images can be used.” (emphasis my own).

No thanks, who has time? So much for “free!”

I did, however, open a free Unsplash account. While the images are free and stunning, they are not searchable. Subscribers get 10 new photos a week. I downloaded a few, not sure if I will use them on my blog. I’m an educator, so I feel comfortable using these images for my power point presentations, since they are not being published on my website.

Snappa Blog’s article states “All photos on Unsplash are released under the creative commons public domain license.”

creative commons public domain

A lot of “lawyer-speak” here about Creative Commons public domain licensing. This is tricky business as a growing number of lawsuits are pending for copyright infringement violations of intellectual property.Better Blogging with Photography

Let me share an excerpt from my eBook, Better Blogging with Photography: Maximize Your Blog Using Your Own Images

In reference to copyright infringement…

A graphic artist friend, who is in this business, said this is the new, trending lawsuit. Other bloggers have described their terrible experiences of innocently using a random photo on their blog post and being sued.
Even posting the following so-called disclaimer on your blog is basically useless.

“This blog claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog belong to their respective owners. If there is an image on this blog that belongs to you and you do not wish for it appear on this site, please e-mail us with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.”

I still read wonderful posts from a LOT of bloggers using photos and images from the Internet. Most of these likely have copyright restrictions, so please BEWARE if you choose to use them. If you use images from the web, be careful. It is obvious that most of these images are professionally photographed.

Exercise extreme caution in using Google Images on your blog or website. Most images you see on Google are attached to someone’s blog post or business. Unless you get express permission to use those images, do not use them.

You may have heard of Creative Commons licensed images. Understand that although photo sites curate a host of images, not all of them are free, and some have restrictions on commercial use.

According to author Helen Sedwick, in her eBook, How to Use Eye-Catching Images Without Paying a Fortune or a Lawyer, “Do not rely on a Creative Commons license if there are recognizable faces, artwork, or trademarks in the image.”

Sedwick continues with this warning, “Creative Commons sites do not guarantee that they have the right to give you permission to use the image at all. You are using the images at your own risk.”

Again, what may appear to be free is not.

Even acknowledging the image’s origin may not be good enough. Most of us do not make money with our blogs, and having to pay upwards to $8000 for misuse of an image can be tragic.

By now you are saying “OK, I get it! How can I get quality images that are truly free?”

Why, thanks for asking!

But first…

A few months ago, I came across Gigi, a blogger who shares her own images in her weekly newsletters and on her website at A Warm Hello. She creates free, ready images for anyone who would like to download them. I am sure she would appreciate you visiting her site and subscribing.

But, back to the FREE images…

From her blog I got the idea of sharing my own images with other bloggers.

I have taken thousands of photos over the years and I am happy to share a variety of them with anyone who is interested.

I feel very strongly about this endeavor and would be comforted to know my fellow bloggers aren’t going to lose money in a random lawsuit over copyright violations.

This post serves as my announcement that FREE images really are available. No sign-ups, no passwords to remember, no gimmicks.

Just click on FREE BLOG IMAGES for the Dropbox link or click to visit my new page Free Photos for Your Blog

Current folders include landscapes, flowers, animals, cityscapes and general office. Visit on a regular basis for new folders and photos added weekly.

The images are untouched and un-edited. It will be your job to select and download them, then edit them using is a free online image editor. Many bloggers use Canva. I use the premium version of PicMonkey, but their free version works just fine!

Fellow blogger DG Kaye recently shared this post about Fotojet. I haven’t tried this one yet, as I am happy with PicMonkey. The point is to find an online image editor that works for you. 

I sincerely hope that you will take a look at the photos I have to offer. Let me know in the comments what kinds of photos you need for your blog…I may have what you need!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Graceful Athlete

Gracefulness comes in many forms, whether it is embodied in the images of birds, swaying trees, or beautiful art.

Athletes also embody their own forms of gracefulness as shown in this older photo of my daughter playing volleyball in her college years.

A graceful hit yet powerful hit scores!

I believe this photo shows not only the strength of an athlete in motion, but the gracefulness as she flies through the air to “put down the ball.”

Yesterday, she turned 29 years old. Happy birthday to my graceful daughter!

Another Graceful  photo for the weekly photo challenge.

Need More Inspiration? Attend a Blogging Event

Need more inspiration? Attend a blogging event

Have you ever wanted to meet a fellow blogger in person? For those of us who have had that pleasure, it is very much the treat you would think!

Here is a short list of bloggers’ events and conferences. At the end of this post, please leave a comment if you know of other events for bloggers.

Bloggers At Midlife (BAM2016)

Last year I had the pleasure of attending the Bloggers at Midlife conference in Las Vegas. This was a BIG two-day event with sponsors, speakers and swag! Really good swag.

I have never always been a little star-struck, but when I walked into the room at the preliminary cocktail meet-n’-greet, I was indeed star-struck. I heard myself saying out loud to my fellow traveler, Elena Peters from Canada, “Oh, look, that’s Carol Cassara,” and “hey that’s Kathy Gottberg!” I recognized their faces from their profile photos.

I felt like I walked into the Who’s Who of the blogging world. When a couple of bloggers recognized me, I thought I would die happy!

I know, I gush! But there is nothing like meeting people for the first time after spending months engaging with them online! Building a face-to-face relationship with other bloggers just makes those online friendships that much more dear!

BAM ConferenceAlthough BAM is not coordinating an event this year, you can keep up with information. The 2016 producers were: Teresa Kindred, Sharon Greenthal, Anne Parris, and Beth Rosen. See more on the BAM Conference Facebook page. 

 

The Third Annual Bloggers Bash, London

Many of you have already heard of the wildly successful Bloggers’ Bash held in London. This is the third year, to be held June 10, 2017. Even though it is a one-day bash, the group always looks like they are having a fun time. Visit Sacha Black’s blog for details.

U.S. Blogging Event

A Joyful Process announced a new US Blogging Event that takes place in Chicago, August 26, 2017. Votes are being taken on the blog now.

International Food Blogger Conference

Coming to my home town of Sacramento, California, on September 29-October 1, is the International Food Blogger ConferenceIFBC. Obviously I am not a food blogger, but you don’t have to be a food blogger to enjoy the conference.

Some of the sessions from the two-and-half-day 2016 conference included general topics like “From Blog to Business,” Marketing, Writing & Tech Breakout Sessions, Culinary Travel Writing, Learning About Corporate and Professional Blogging, Freelance Blogging. Of course, there were food-related sessions, too.

After all, the famous Northern California wine country is less than two hours away so attendees can count on tasting some extraordinary wines as well as craft beers! Oh yes, and food!

Interested bloggers can get discounted registration fees by agreeing to write three blog posts about the event. No problem-o! I’m already signed up!

All of these events take an enormous amount of work from committees mostly made up of volunteers. If you do get the chance to attend one, please thank the host committee profusely!

On the downside, attending an event or conference is not always do-able and creates a little blogging/travel envy. The above-mentioned events may be geographically challenging for many of us.

Sure, we love to see the video of the event afterward, being shared and re-blogged all over…really, we do!

What If You Can’t Attend a Blogging Event?

The next best thing you can do is to try to meet local bloggers from your own area, city or state. I have been very lucky to meet several fellow bloggers this way. I have found local bloggers by reading their “About me” page. Now you may see why those descriptions might be helpful.

There is just something about going to lunch with another blogger and talking about blogging that is super exciting!

I initially searched google and Facebook for bloggers’ groups in Sacramento. I discovered the Sacramento Bloggers  group and am now an active member. We are a small group but we have already met twice.  The other day, Maria of Sew Travel Inspired, one of the members, called me to talk about some blogging issues and ideas! It was great to just talk and not type for once!


Do you know of any blogging events coming in 2017 or 2018? Please share in the comments and I will update this post or write a new post to include those!

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Eight Simple Ideas to Inspire Your Blogging

8 simple ideas to inspire your blogging

Another New Year’s inspirational post? Not exactly…

The blogosphere is full of inspirational New Year’s posts. And why not? It’s that time of the year to dust off the good ideas you may have left behind last year and refresh them. Or not.

This post is about finding new inspiration for your blog and its care and feeding. Can you believe some folks’ resolutions are to STOP blogging? Oh, the horror!

Well, that could have been me!

In 2016, I left the comfort of blogging on WordPress dot com, for the world of self-hosting. I envisioned taking my blog to a business level (with no real plan in mind, other than tying it in with my consulting business), having been inspired by many fellow bloggers who have done so. For many, self-hosting is a wonderful and valuable experience. However, there are limitations. Losing your followers is a big one, followed by endless social networking and just plain work!

I retired for a reason!

In September, shortly after re-launching my eBook, my images slowly and systematically began disappearing off my posts. Because I was still associated with WordPress dot com, I successfully used their happiness engineers to aid me with the problem, as well as migrating it all back to dot com. I am much happier here. Since I “came back” I now have almost 300 new followers.

For most of us, blogging is a hobby, a creative outlet for writing, sharing and connecting. Overall, I want to be able to simply blog about what I LIKE and not what some random “how-to” book suggests to be successful. Just what IS success anyway? A blog with 20,000 followers? Sure. A blog where the writer happily posts whatever they feel inspired to write? Another yes.

Whatever the reason you blog, is yours alone! Own it and be happy to share your thoughts.

However, if you are looking for a little inspiration, try one of these simple ideas now.

8 Simple Ideas to Inspire Your Blogging

Start with the easy ones first!

1. Spruce up your blog site with a new theme, or simply add a new header and fresh color schemes! When I moved back to WordPress dot com, the Premium package was discounted, so I splurged and have many more options for customizing the look of my blog.

  • Debby at DGKaye Writer just posted helpful blog information using widgets.  Small changes make for big differences in the appeal of your blog and help motivate you when you look at your own blog!

2. Reach out and leave comments on other blogs rather than just pressing “like.” (I know, sometimes I do that too when I am in a hurry and want to acknowledge the post). It might take an extra moment or two, but we bloggers ALL love comments!

3. Take part in WordPress challenges. Many bloggers offer their own challenges, whether it is photography, flash fiction, coffee chats, etc. Challenges help you focus on a subject and provide a daily or weekly structure to your posting schedule, while providing subject matter for your blog.

Try these intermediate ideas for sharing and networking!

4. Start your own link-up. Or partner with another blogger who does link parties. Link-ups are a great way to network your blog. I have met countless bloggers through this system.

  • Inlinkz seems to be the easiest method for offering link-ups.

5. Get more involved in another social network—for example, if you don’t tweet, try it!  I recently flipboard started Flipboard, a magazine-style app for saving and collecting articles. I added a button for Flipboard for easy sharing at the bottom of my posts. It’s doable for WordPress dot com users. If you are using Flipboard, please follow me here! If not, at least check it out.

  • Janice at Mostly Blogging turned me on to Flipboard with this post.

6. Explore a local MeetUp with other bloggers.

MeetUp is an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings in various localities around the world. Meetup allows members to find and join groups unified by a common interest, such as politics, books, games, movies, health, pets, careers or hobbies.

Because of my growing photography interest, I recently clicked on MeetUp’s explore page and found a local, nature-event photography club. Even if you don’t meet other bloggers, connecting with others in a leisure interest may inspire you in ways you didn’t imagine!

If you REALLY need inspiration, try these more advanced tips!

7. Start a specialized Facebook group tailored to your blog. I am surprised at how many bloggers do not use social media to promote their blog posts.

Facebook groups are more complicated but yield great results for networking. The newest one on the block is Big Up Your Blog hosted by Suzie Speaks. Visit her blog where she has instructions on how to join.

Is starting your own Facebook group a daunting task? This IS the advanced section after all. However, simply joining a Facebook group should be much easier.

I haven’t started a Facebook group yet, but I do have a Facebook page. Second Wind Leisure Perspectives, is set up just for my blog and its posts. It is meant to be separate from my main Facebook page. These are all simple to set up via WordPress.

If you take photos, Instagram is an easy way to share photos from your blog or just for fun. Instagram allows you to share the photo through Facebook and Twitter as well. All of these social networking sites are accessible from my blog’s sidebar and can be set up on your blog site in a similar fashion.

8. Do you have a lot of posts centered around a particular subject? Consider using those to create and write your own eBook. My eBook was inspired by this post, How to Use Your Photos to Generate Blog Ideas and Readers.

Better Blogging coverFrom this and other posts, I was able to write my eBook, Better Blogging with Photography. Perhaps my eBook will provide some inspiration for you. Click the above which will take you straight to the book on Amazon. It’s on sale for 99 cents for the month of January!

I am proud to know a growing number of bloggers who have self-published books within the last year. There is an incredible amount of inspiring authors in this group: Glimpses Book Review and Author Round-Up

What will inspire your blogging this year? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments!

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