Tag Archives: writing

Why NaNoWriMo – Deadline Or No Deadline?

I don’t know about other writers like you, but I find NaNoWriMo grueling.  I’ve had a birthday, and today is V’s birthday and his son has come to visit.


Other minor interruptions-Thanksgiving, a cold, pink eye, a five-day 5,000 mile trip to DE, and  a trip to AZ planned starting the 30th have ground me into pulp trying to finish writing 50,000 cogent words by Nov. 30th. My breakout novel is destined to be pulp fiction reflecting the state of my brain.



I wanted to keep up with a commentary on my blog with how things were going and what I was learning as I wrote. But guess what? I can’t sit that long. I’ve run out of procrastination hours. I need to write 5,000 words a day to meet my deadline. I can barely snap my fingers on my mouse hand. I’ve gained another three pounds on top of the ten I already had going into the month. My normal sleeping pattern, which is asymmetrical at best, disintegrated in the wake of the NaNoWriMo deadline.

All deadlines fossilize me. The whisper directly into my endocrine system. “You have to get up to go to Kiwanis, Marsha.”

Result  – I blog all night and oversleep on Tuesday morning.

learning, writing, blogging, reading, pets, dog

“You must go to the store today.”

Result – I dither around the house trying to plan my itinerary, deciding which stops to make when I go into Visalia until it’s time for dinner. Then I call Vince to bring home some take-out from Subway.

In the case of NaNoWriMo my back, shoulders and butt tell me to walk away from the computer, take a long, hot bath – or until I have a hot flash –  and head to bed by 8:00 pm This forces Puppy to move off my pillow to the center of the bed. At 10:00 pm my sore body parts scream at Vince to give me a massage. Puppy gives me a respite if he puts enough smelly stuff on me. As soon as he finishes,  she crowds all ten pound between us and pushes with all her might against my back forcing both of us to sleep on the edge of the king-size bed. Then my brain, or Puppy Girl’s pressure against my kidneys, wakes me up at 1:30 am and threatens to kill itself if I don’t go back into the office and sit down at the computer and start writing again.


Vince asked my why I had to do this. After all, I’m retired and still young. (though I’m not feeling it today – pink eye in both eyes) I have a whole lifetime to finish, right? Right? Of course he’s right, he usually is – annoyingly so, but then so am I, so why do NaNoWriMo?

Deadlines motivate me. When I wrote Images of America Woodlake, I started from scratch collecting pictures and information about Woodlake. I worked eight or more hours a day to finish by the six month deadline. About half-way through the writing process the publisher wrote me an email, “You’re doing a great job. We’ll give you an extra five books free if you finish in five months.” I ramped up production to get those five extra books – about a hundred-dollar value – so I had more to give away before I had to buy any to give away to all my contributors.

My amateur diagnosis – there is definitely something wrong with my brain. I guess it’s the reporter-brain training I had as a kid that is just now kicking in.


Motivations like due dates didn’t work on me when I was a kid taking journalism and working on the school paper. Nothing motivated me to finish something that other people besides a teacher would read.  Going public with my thoughts, narrow as they were, petrified me. I feigned illness if the deadline came, and I wasn’t ready – an unpleasant characteristic flaw of mine. No worries If you’ve known me for more than a couple of minutes, then you already knew there were holes in my perfect persona.

After I missed my first real assignment on the high school paper, covering the first football game of the school year by moving to another state 2,400 miles away, I made sure I stuck to more important beats. In my new school I covered the library. I thought nothing exciting happened in the library because I only talked to the librarian, stupid kid. How dumb was that? I just needed to look between the shelves, but that’s another story. The interview and fear exposing myself during the publication process terrified me for six years, and deadlines did not motivate me to do more than get sick.


Deadlines and contact with real humans who need me to accomplish something by a specific date still make me sick, but without them my life would be chaos. Dishes would pile up, beds would be unmade. No one would have clean laundry. I might leave the house, and might not. I would spend the day in bed reading one good book after another until my eyes withered into the back of my head. I would eat until I ran out of ice cream, potato chips and protein bars. Oh wait, I’ve just painted a picture of my life now when I do have a deadline.


The best thing about having a deadline is that it puts an end to something you are driven to do. They validate saying, “It will never be perfect, Marsha. You can stop now. You made it. You got the sticker for your blog. Now go clean your house and fix a nutritious dinner.”

And I do.

What works for you? Deadlines? No Deadlines? Tell me YOUR stories. :)



Flying Across the United States Is A Great Time to Read

I could have watched movies if I had downloaded the United app on my computer or iPhone BEFORE the plane took off. I downloaded it before I boarded to go home, but I was already engaged with Winn-Dixie, and it was more trouble than it was worth to figure out how to use the free movie service.  Books are more accessible.

You  can read Because of Winn-Dixie by Katie DiCamillo in about an hour and a half. Mama Cormier suggested this book because she thought it sounded too similar to the one I am rewriting now. Di Camillo uses a simple style which includes repetition without being unbearable. I enjoyed Opal’s adventures, yet is well-suited to a ten-year old’s reading level. It reminded me of a picture book for younger children only the author used words instead of drawings.

Opal’s mother left her with her preacher-father when she was young. At age ten she and her father moved to a new community.  Opal’s new misfit-type friends made her feel welcome as she introduced them to her new dog found in the grocery store, Winn-Dixie. Opal, in turn, drew these strangers together into her new community, enriching their lives.  I wish I’d written this one!

Because of Winn-Dixie

I finally finished Writing the Breakout Novel by  Donald Maas. I do this every time I sit down to write – read about writing. It makes me indecisive because I start one thing, then hate it, and start over. My manuscript gets chewed up before it even gets halfway done.  Nonetheless, I think it improves some each time. At this point, I haven’t written a good word in a week, which is 1/4th of the time I have to write. I can’t blame that on Donald Maass. This might be a better book to read between writing exercises, rather than during NaNoWriMo. But DO read it.

Writing the Breakout Novel

Finally, Change of Life by Anne Stormont lapsed over into my regular schedule because my iPhone tells me it took five hours to read, and I started it just before we reached San Francisco.

I would have been happy to write this book also. With an enlarged family of characters and only a few outsiders Stormont manages to inflict everything horrible on the heroine that can possibly happen. She does things to that poor woman, that I just couldn’t bear to do in my Girls on Fire novel. She’s not very nice to her husband either. I cried a few tears with her, but I didn’t put the book down until the resolution. I think the worst secret, saved for the last pages might be little overplayed, for today’s reader, but for the time period in which it happened, not so much. Her husband kept the secret until 2009, and by that time, I didn’t think it should have had the painful impact on the heroine that the book seemed to imply that revealing the secret would cause.  I recommend this book, especially for women battling breast cancer. If I  am diagnosed with cancer, I’ll give this book to my husband!

Change of LifeThe other book I started to read, and closed quietly was The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. I thought this book would help me write a successful first page to my new novel, but it drug me all over the writing process.  It would take me an agonizing two hours and fourteen minutes to complete the remaining 81% of the book. Instead I opted to try to sleep my way to Philly with my seatback fully reclined at 89 degrees, every itchy inch of my dry skin making me want to crawl out of it, and shivering in the controlled airplane climate under layers of thermal and flannel wrapped in a down coat.  Sorry Noah.

How to Write a Synopsis for Your Next Big Project: A Synopsis

A fallen ego maniac, I had the idea that because I am so old and have written for so long that I must know how to do what I do every day – WRITE — and be pretty good at it.  hahaha Teachers think that, you know. In our defense, we have to or the kids would eat us alive. Frankly, we spend our whole careers learning to teach writing, so we should know something. But the truth is…

BOV 2013 Purple 5

After tackling one new writing project after another….

  1. First a blog, (I’m still learning new things every day.)
  2. I braved a NaNoWriMo novel.
  3. Carol convinced me to take a children’s story class, and I wrote several (almost ready) children’s picture book stories.
  4. Then a local history book for Arcadia Publishing Co.
  5. Now back to my novel.

SFW misc Benches 2

…I admit there are a few many things that  I don’t know. (duh!) Now I’m checking first with other experts to see what they say.  Writing a Synopsis is a link to a Writer’s Digest page – links to several articles about how to write a synopsis. Here is a synopsis of my favorite by Beth Anderson.

Does your writing meander?
Does your writing meander? Writing a synopsis ill help.

Seven  Sentence Synopsis

  1. Write a sentence that tells what your book or article is about, and names the major characters.
  2. Explain the beginning in one sentence.
  3. The third sentence tells the end of the book. Don’t pull any punches here. Spit it out. The boy gets the girl. The gorilla dies. The tooth fairy drops all the children’s teeth into magic water, and they change into dentures.
  4. Write a sentence about each major point of action in the story, and put those between step two and three.

That’s it. Step one, done.

Step Two – Write a One Page Synopsis

  1. Use your same opening sentence, then describe the beginning in a paragraph.
  2. Write two or three paragraphs describing the major points of action.
  3. Finish with a short paragraph about the end of the book.  Again, you don’t try to trick any readers here. A synopsis is to sell your book to a busy agent.

Step Three – Write a Three Page Synopsis

Add more action points and obstacles. Add secondary characters. Tell, don’t show!

Step Four – Write a Six Page Synopsis

Add more action points and obstacles. Add secondary characters. Make sure the road-blocks get more obstacally as the plot thickens. Characters never come out unscathed until the end of the book where they emerge scratched and smiling, prize in hand, and not a hair out-of-place.

Step Five – Write a Twelve Page Synopsis

By the time you add more obstacles and action points, your book is finished. All that remains is to add the dialogue and describe the setting. The best part is you know how it’s going to end.  Those pesky characters can’t sneak up on you and write their own script. Oops. They can?  Yep, these experts say they can, so watch out.  However, you have it pretty much in control.

No David's nose

Practicing Descriptive Writing Here – Brain Fog? – No, Real Fog!

It is not the clear-sighted who rule the world. Great achievements are accomplished in a blessed, warm fog.


If you can get away from it, fog is beautiful. This week Debbie Simorte, my Girls on Fire editor, asked me how the weather in Visalia could be sunny and foggy at the same time, like that was a Kansas City impossibility. When I drove to Los Angeles this weekend for a meeting, I had to drive almost to Tejon Pass before I found an example of what sunny fog looked like. Visalia had no sun that day, only fog. The freeway, I5 South, split the fog in half as it curled up for a nap against the mountains north of the Grapevine.


As I drove south, the light haze on east side of the freeway foretold of the clear skies awaiting me in Los Angeles. The beauty of the graduated fading fog enticed me off the freeway long enough to snap these pictures before I continued on my trip. I didn’t move much from one spot as I rotated from east to west to capture the entire scene for you.

My favorite feathering of fog

My favorite feathering of fog

Tinkerbell should be in this picture somewhere sprinkling magical fairy dust in the mountain canyons. It seemed unreal to me.

fog3 The arc of fog needed a rainbow marking its border, but none appeared. It remained stark white. Fog tried to bar the sun from entering the valley.  At about two in the afternoon the sun tried to burn a hole in the clouds as it had already done on the east side of the freeway. I couldn’t stay to see if it succeeded.



Not a dense fog
Not a dense fog

I stood behind the tree and tried to shoot up at the sun, but the effect didn’t please me.

foggy night
foggy night

I left the meeting at 4:29 PM the next day in a rush to get over the Grapevine while it was still light. Dropping into the Central Valley, the fog greeted me. It probably had never left. At at night fog no longer felt benign. I took this picture through my dirty windshield as I ripped through the fog approaching Bakersfield, I must have plowed the clouds away. On a closer inspection microdrops of dust on my windshield remained as a calling card of the fleeing mist. I look straight ahead. I could see clearly now. When I looked to my left, there it was. It hovered just off the freeway at a gas station ready to pounce on me again. Once Bakersfield’s lights no longer protected my car and me from the fog, the sky dropped puffs of translucent cotton air onto the road. My car became a vacuum cleaner sucking in white dust bunnies. The stronger the suction, the thicker the fog became. By the time I turned off the freeway onto a country road, I could see only three lines ahead of me. A car passed me going the other direction. I counted to six as I watched him in my rearview mirror, and poof, he was gone. Fog turned the roads I know so well into a strangers.

For those of you who have never experienced Valley fog, this is a taste of what the natives call “Tule fog.” How do you describe the fog in your area?

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.


Social Mediadizing Social Media: Three Tricks That Didn’t Work – Exactly As Planned

I consider blogging social media. Yet we need to use social media for people to notice our social media. Today I experimented with social mediadizing my social media. I don’t know how it will go, but here’s what I did.


1. I edited my WP page about blogging and added a page, “Marketing Your Blog.”

2. I googled hashtags for Twitter because people told me to include # hashtags after the messages so that they go to more people. Google found several blogs that had already done the work of finding hashtags for authors, bloggers, photographers, editors… I cut and pasted some hashtags onto my new WP page and credited the blogs. Easy peasy.

hashtag tweeting3. Then I told my twitter world all about my new page on WordPress that will help me to market my blog using hashtags. At the end of the link to my tweet, I copied several of the recommended hashtags.  Hold on. I’m going to check my page views. Be right back… I’m back. (… means pause)

twiddle my thumbs

So far no one has noticed my new page, not one click, hashtag or no hashtag.  But my Twitter account buzzed all day. I got 2 new followers, 1 person retweeted a post, two people wrote their own description and referred their followers to my post, and 6 people liked it. That was pretty amazing to me.  Thank you Twitter friends. :)

While I’ve Twittered, I ignored my FB fan page, and I’ve lost one poor soul from my likes. Fell off my wall, like Humpty Dumpty and is probably lying in a broken gooey heap at the bottom of the internet somewhere dark and ignored.

Humpty Dumpty


Social media is like juggling. I get one media up in the air, and the others crash down on my head. It amazes me how many followers some of my Twitter-happy experts have. Into the K’s.

Really? Remember the 1960s ads that promised that you could make $5,000 from home without a high school education just by licking envelopes? I think I sent in a few envelopes when I was 10.



One tweeter published 200 more tweets than I did over the couple of years we’d both been tweeting, but listen to this – He had about 43K followers and I have 415. So I asked myself, am I tweeting too much? The less you tweet the better you feel, so don’t tweet yourself at every meal?

One self-proclaimed twitter expert said, “Tweet your posts two times a day because people might miss them otherwise.”

follow me


But If I do that I’ll end up with twice as many tweets as that 43K guy and have 418 followers, and he will tweet maybe two times and have 86K followers. (Not that I care, really, I think it is an interesting phenomenon.)

cat, pet, writing, blogging

This is pretty boring to most of you, but elementary teachers birdwalk.

writing description.
writing description.

Yesterday, when I wrote the description of the house that I thought I asked you to describe, I obsessed about the angle of the downward slope of the roof.  I drew it on a piece of paper, then I asked Vince to estimate it. Then I measured it with a protractor. He was right, 3 degrees.

Now does anyone honestly care that my fictitious character, Sarah Clay’s house in Girls on Fire has a roof that slopes from east to west by 3 degrees? I doubt it, but I probably spent 10 minutes trying to figure it out.

fingers crossed

By the way. it turned out that the way I posted my pictures yesterday some of you Ralph thought I needed a description of this girl with her fingers crossed. He came up with some creative descriptions.

Brandi Jo Newman, another person who stole Another Day’s picture and photoshopped her out of it. :(


Tell me what you did this weekend.  I hope you did something more useful yesterday than I did.

And how do you mediaize your social media?

Thanks for the pictures, Google.

Three Easy Tips To Spice Up Dialogue Elementary Students Can Learn

writing with students

What we don’t teach students – and I did not know to teach – surprised me as I’ve studied how to improve my writing to publish my work.  As a teaching consultant, I wrote constantly.  As a teacher I thought I did a good job teaching students how to extend their thinking into writing.  I taught them general principles that worked for both non-fiction and fiction writing.  But I missed these EASY steps to make dialogue more interesting.

1.  Add body language.  

Body language, facial expressions, and unspoken communication constitute an estimated 70% of what people understand.   But readers can’t see the characters.

Ask students to describe angry, sad, happy or worried.  Include this description before or after the quotation.

Notice how the body language helps make the dialogue more interesting in this scene.  Tani invited her friend Vanessa to move in with her after fire burnt down her house.

“You have problems, Vanessa, but at least you have Jesus.”

“True enough, even if I am not great about going to church.” Vanessa looked down and started picking at her split ends.

Tani changed the subject.  Why don’t you come stay with me for a while, Ness?” She looked around living room, with lace curtains, and colorful couch. Everything was in its place. Tani pursed her lips together in a tight confident smile and tilted her head as she glanced from one side of the room to another.

Vanessa backed away from her a couple of steps.   It’s sweet of you to open your home, but Babe, you would  kill me after one or two nights! I’m not easy to live with. I would mess up your routines!”

“My routines are helpful!” Tani put her hands on her hips. “You’re just jealous because I can find things like my glasses and robe!”

“You got me on that one Tani.”

Twisting her hair, Tani broached the subject Vanessa shied away from.  “We could go to that new senior singles group at church together if you stayed here for a while. You know I hate to go alone, and you are so friendly.”

In addition to the website, I google images and try describing them to get the right emotional effect.

What do these movements mean?

Websites like this help students (LIKE ME) describe body language for various emotions, and remind me what certain movements mean.


  1. Silence speaks louder than dialogue. In counseling, as in the written word, silence carries the heaviest loads. Tension is palpable, and I would bet if you have not read Isabel Allende’s Daughter of Fortune, you will go check it out now.

“Does Eliza mean nothing to you?” Miss Rose rebuked him.

“That’s not the point. Eliza committed an unpardonable offense against society, and she must pay the piper.”

“As I have paid for nearly twenty years?”

A frozen silence fell over the dining room. The family had never spoken openly about Rose’s past, and Jeremy was not even certain that John knew what had happened between his sister and the Viennese tenor…

  1. Add interruptions to dialogue. Barriers and interruptions also add tension to already tense situations. The conversation in the dining room continued. As readers we are still reeling from Miss Rose’s secret revelation when Isabel plays the next dialogue card.

“Paid what, Rose? You were forgiven, and protected. You have no reason to reproach me.”

“Why were you so generous with me but cannot be with Eliza?”

“Because you are my sister and it is my duty to protect you.”

“Eliza is like my own daughter, Jeremy!”

“But she is not. We have no obligation to her; she does not belong to this family.”

“Oh, but she does!” Miss Rose cried.

“Enough!” the captain interrupted, banging on the table with his fists as plates and cups danced.

Interruptions might also be people coming in at the wrong time.  No one was more skillful at interrupting than Kramer.  Dialogue with Kramer around never got boring.

Distractions make keep a long conversation from being boring.
Distractions make keep a long conversation from being boring.

Have students write dialogue as they normally would leaving plenty of room between each speech.  Then have them go back and add one of these three techniques.  They might do the same to another writer’s dialogue.

** History Teachers – try this to spice up a history lesson after reading a piece of non-fiction text.  Have the students create a dialogue between important players in the event they are studying.  Then have them go back and add in these techniques.

If you liked these tips James Scott Bell has many more in his book How to Write Dazzling Dialogue:  The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript. 

The 7 Tools of Dialogue by James Scott Bell, found in Writers’ Digest

Images from Google.

Easy Changes to Spice Up Dialogue that You Can’t Teach Elementary Students

Elementary teacher

After retiring from over twenty years in education, I discovered that I’ve been writing dialogue incorrectly. Not only have I been writing it wrong, I taught it wrong. In my defense, I would not WANT elementary students to know some of these secrets.

Woman and two young children outdoors holding volleyball and smi

  1. To write great dialogue EVERYBODY fights – Yikes! As a teacher, I mediated fights all day. I hate fighting, but as an author, if characters don’t fight or at least disagree, it’s hard to tell them apart. Intensity can vary from teasing to screaming.  I tried it.

no pictures

Tani enjoys arts and crafts, home decorating, and shopping. Vanessa suffers from depression over losing  her home to a fire, and starting over again.

“You need pictures.” Tani declared.

“I had pictures.”

They’re gone, Ness. Your place has no personality. Let’s go shopping.”

This wasn’t a huge fight, but it helped to set the scene, and made it a little more interesting than just saying.  Vanessa had no pictures on her wall, and needed to go shopping.


From The Fault in our Stars by John Green, sixteen year old Green Hazel has terminal cancer, and her mother is trying to help her through depression.

“I refuse to attend Support Group.

“One of the symptoms of depression is disinterest in activities.”

“Please just let me watch America’s Next Top Model. It’s an activity.”

“Television is a passivity.”

“Ugh, Mom, please.”

“Hazel, you’re a teenager. You’re not a little kid anymore. You need to make friends, get out of the house, and live your life.”

“If you want me to be a teenager, don’t send me to Support Group. Buy me a fake ID so I can go to clubs, drink vodka, and take pot.

“You don’t take pot, for starters… You’re going to Support Group.”


elementary writing

  1. Cut out words especially off the beginning of dialogue. Teachers have to pull words out of elementary students to get efforts like. “I have a cat. My cat is gray.” We struggle to teach them to add adjectives, adverbs and connecting words to make their writing more interesting. Then teacher becomes a writer, and the word on the street is, “Less is more.” I tried this with my character, Sarah, who is always in a hurry. Even Vanessa improved with a few cuts to her tendency to wordiness.

So, I thought it was just a gimmick at first,” she had told Sarah during their daily phone call the next day.

Well, did you even check up on their credentials?” Vanessa had visualized Sarah with one hand on her hip and her eyes rolling.

Of course, I looked them up online. I think they’re legitimate.” Vanessa played Spider Sol while they talked.

“Never mind, don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it tomorrow. I’ve got a call. I’ll talk to you later.”

According to James Scott Bell, shorter sentences speeds up action.  What do you think?

“The fire is raging out of control,” shouted 4’s chief. “Don’t go in there.”  (DUH!)
  1. Use dialogue to reveal the unknown not the known.  Dialogue is not an excuse to be redundant. Eliminate repetitive information. On the other hand, elementary teachers spend all day diverting disaster by repeating known information. I changed from teaching fourth to first grade. I was not ready for all the repetition I needed in my dialogue.

giving directions

“Put your pencils at the top of your paper so I will know when you’re done.” Without this reminder, pencils might work as a drumstick, baton, or a sword.

“Put your pencils, down.” You think they learned it the first time, but looking around, you see papers with extra drawings, drawings on someone else’s paper, and in worst cases, drawings on the desk.

This is not the case for authors. They must not show something that either the readers or the characters already know.  I crossed out “duh” words in my next attempt at dialogue.

Fred, four years Trixie’s junior, could move quickly when necessary, but not fast enough to avoid eight ounces of water that sprayed him from the waist down, when Trixie got mad during her birthday party.

The party’s chatter died suddenly to see how Fred would handle his soaking trousers. He stood up and undid his belt and unbuttoned his top button.

“Trixie, you got Fred’s pants all wet,” Fred’s girlfriend Edith said.

“Guess I’d better take these wet pants off!”

The crowd gasped in unison.


These seem like minor adjustments, but as I read over my manuscript, I found almost every conversation sounded better when I followed these spicy tips: provoke characters into fighting, cut their words short, and don’t use dialogue to repeat information everyone already knows.

Thank you Google for all these pictures.

If you liked these tips, you’ll love the book by James Scott Bell, How to Write Dazzling Dialogue:  The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript.

Dazzling Dialogue

Thanks to my new friends, Catherine and Irene who “liked” me on TC History Gal Productions.  Hope others will join me as well even though there are no prizes that I know of besides getting better acquainted.  :)

Images of America: Woodlake, Step One



There I was, minding my own WordPress and Blogger blogs, trying to Twitter, connecting to LinkedIn, finding friends on Facebook, and deleting hundreds of emails that I signed up to get.  Everyone had an offer for me to make me better at all those things.  It was offer overload.  I’m not sure why I didn’t delete Ginny’s Wednesday, May 28, 2014 email asking me if I wanted to write a book about Woodlake.

My name is Ginny and I am the California acquisitions editor for Arcadia Publishing. We publish local or regional pictorial history books as part of our Images of America series. I’m interested in starting a similar project about Woodlake and came across your blog while researching potential authors. You’ve got a great style and voice and your experience and knowledge of the area would make you an excellent candidate to author the book. Is this something you might be interested in?

I fell for it almost as hard as I did for my first my spammer compliment on WP.  She sent some attachments about the company, so I wrote her back.

Hi Ginny,
That would be so fun!  Let me look this over, and I’d love to talk to you!
And my friends say I’m shallow!!! hahaha
She called me the next day, and I remember talking to her for quite a while.  She gave me a six-day deadline to complete a 10 page proposal including a book outline with 10-20 sample pictures and captions.   Only she forgot to send me the proposal form!  On Monday she wrote,

Hi Marsha!

I just realized I had not gotten the proposal to you last week as promised! It is attached to this email. The most important sections are the Author Information, Book Information, and Schedule – everything else can come later (including sample images/captions). Please let me know if you have any questions! I look forward to speaking to you soon!

The due date was still Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Among other things the proposal application asked about my background, community involvement, businesses that might carry the book, and dates that might affect the release of the book.
Woah!  Intensive!  I guessed a lot! So I sent her one picture I had scanned from a neighbor, and wrote a caption for it. (This wasn’t it, but it’s awesome, don’t you think?) I wrote a 200 word summary of what I thought I might write, and spent the rest of the day completing the form.  Looking back over the proposal as I write this, I see I missed a question.
Business name Contact person and affiliation to business (if known) Address/City/State/Zip

Phone ###.###.###

Local insight and personal connection
Joe’s Drugs


Joe Smith, owner


321 S. Main Street

Anytown, DC 98765

(123) 456-7890

Town pharmacy that carries local themed products. Owner Joe is my brother-in-law.

I made my June 4th deadline.  On June 12, 2014 I received this reply along with  450 more words and two attachments of instructions.

Hi Marsha,

I hope you are doing well! I am pleased to inform you that your proposal,Woodlake, has been approved. I am delighted to have this opportunity to work with you in adding Woodlake to our Images of America series!

I had my first opportunity to publish history, starting with 4 scanned pictures out of over 200 necessary.

I hope I won’t bore you, but I want to spend a few posts outlining the steps I took from start to finish to write this book so I don’t forget it.  I sent my final draft in with all the pictures on Monday.  I need something else to do!  hehehe!!!  Along the way, I hope it will help some of you in your writing journey.

Thanks for all your support and encouragement along the journey. NOW, I write histories!  :)

Every Day You Learn Something – Sometimes It’s New

“In three words I can sum up what I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”  Robert Frost

I’ve had an amazing week learning about our little town and the surrounding area.  There is only one book in the library about Woodlake, published in 1971.  I have a digitized copy of that book.   This week I had the privilege of thumbing through the original handwritten manuscript of that little book housed in a 1950s-style blue canvas three-ring binder.

Grace Pogue ~ Within The Magic Circle copy-1

I have the original manuscript of her other book, The Swift Seasons, in a little blue canvas binder as well, which I am going to digitize starting today.  I get excited about the little things I’m learning or at least surmising.  Yesterday on one of my interviews Robert took me outside to his back yard.

“Want to see the old Antelope School?” he asked me.  “This is it.  It used to be on Grandma Fudge’s property.  Then it moved to Blair’s property, and then they brought it on skids here.”

Antelope School

Robert and I shared information back and forth for several hours.  “This is so much fun!” he told me.

What I know about Antelope School is that it was first built in 1870.  Woodlake erected a new Antelope School in 1895.  So would this have been the new 1895 school, or the 1870 one?

Antelope school3

The builder didn’t date the school anywhere, least of all the floor boards, but look how wide they are.  Keep in mind that we cut down big trees back in the 1800s.  This picture came from Linda and Bob Hengst.


When I came back from Linda’s house, Vince said, “What were you doing all that time?  You were over there for three hours!”

In the evening I started the boring work.  It takes 30 seconds to copy each picture, but I have someone to talk to the whole time.  I copied about 45 of Linda and Bob’s pictures, and 75 from Robert. At home it takes about 1 minute to create a TIFF file for each picture, and another minute or so to resize it for my blog so I can see what I’m writing about as I write each caption.  Finally I pick which pictures I know enough about to caption for the day, and that takes at least 20 to 30 minutes to write 50-70 words.  You wouldn’t think it would take so long, but here’s the deal.

  1. I wasn’t there when it happened.  I don’t know the people, usually the place, because they aren’t around any more, or the time.
  2. Usually I just have a name to go by, if that on the picture – that’s about 2 words.
  3. Sometimes I have a little story.  That’s about 20 words, if I’m lucky.
  4. I have tons of books about things like trains and floods in Tulare County, Native Americans, and the general history of Tulare County.  I have an 1892 Atlas of each township in Tulare County with the names of all the property owners at that time.
  5. I have notes from all the people I’ve interviewed, and sometimes audio files.
  6. I have a few newspaper articles that are photocopied, but all the archives from the Woodlake Echo have been destroyed, so all those pictures and original articles are gone.
What do you think Abe and Carl discussed? I’ll give you a clue. It has to do with college.

So every picture is a bit of a puzzle piece, and I do my best to sort through my evidence, and write the best 70 words possible for each picture.   As of last night I had finished 109 or about 60% of the required 180-200 pictures.  As I talk to more people, I’ll have to narrow it down, and throw some of them out, I’m sure.

A friend asked me what I do all day, and how much time I take writing my book (probably wondering why I hadn’t been calling her much :)).  It seems like I don’t do much, but I don’t seem to have much time to do tons of other things.  I have lots to talk about – as long as you are interested in Woodlake’s history.  Otherwise, I’m kind of dull.  I chose the think I’m focused.  :)

Marsha climbingcr

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough – Mae West

My First Give Away

After being a teacher and a consultant for over twenty years, I produced my first original “How To” give away.  It took hours of editing to produce.   If you are interested in being on my email list, and getting free PDF articles from time to time, you can email me at tchistorygal@gmail.com.


The article is “Ten Tips for Editing Before Your Editor Reads Your Novel.”  Editing takes me three times as long as writing!  WOW!

“What Did You Do Today?”

Don’t you hate it when your mate comes home from a hard day at work, or your boss comes up to you and says those words?  Moms do this to their kids all the time.

When it happens to me, my mind immediately goes blank.  I am programmed to answer something, so I do a quick mental scan.  I made the bed, I think.  Maybe my husband did it while I was typing on the computer.  I posted two articles, one for Manny and one for me. That’s fun stuff, so it doesn’t count.  I shouldn’t even mention it.

SFW K & S working

Kalev and I walked two miles.  That’s impressive.  I made lunch.  It was good, but hardly noteworthy when expounding on what I “did.”   Here’s the most time-consuming, “I answered emails.”  Again that activity falls into the ho-hum category.  Let’s see, I edited an article or two for “What’s Happening in the Foothills.”  That might be impressive if it hadn’t taken me two hours to tweeze out 75 words with the help of a Style Writing program that keeps shutting down.  I posted the assignment for my writing class online.  My last assignment didn’t get award-winning stars and A+ remarks from the teacher, so that took a while, too.

making lunch

So when my husband came home and asked me that intimidating question, I knew he would not be overly impressed with my morning’s work.  But now you know, I worked really hard yesterday morning, and accomplished quite a bit.  It just didn’t look impressive.

What did you do today?  (hehe)  :)

How to Do a Short, Quick Post

Readers like short posts.  I’m going to time myself.  It usually takes 2 hours at a minimum to do a post.  It’s 10:07.


  1. Bulk process pictures as you take them.  I label them SFW to distinguish them from others.  They are saved at #3 Quality in Photoshop so they don’t take long to load.
  2. Don’t use too many pictures, or use captions and put them in a gallery.  I like the slide show the best.  The pictures are a nice size.
  3. Write about the picture.  PG like to help cook.  Sometimes I drop things on the floor.
  4. Don’t over think it.  (Good advice, Marsha, now just take it!)
  5. Add tags and categories
  6. Add a poll to see if your readers like your post.  Most of them will write comments instead, but at least you are offering an easy way for people to interact.
  7. Tell your readers they are important.  They are!  I adore my readers, so many have become really good friends.  Those close friends who read my blog at home make me feel even closer to them.

It’s 10:20, and I’m going to press publish.  If it doesn’t like my grammar, it will take me a little longer, but this is a record fast post for me.  How do you think I did?


How to Conquer the Mountain of Manuscript Editing

You think you’ve done a great thing when your screen is filled with words and maybe some pictures.  As you read each chapter and smile, your accomplishment amazes you.  Pity the poor NSA person who has to read every keystroke because you’ve already made many changes before you completed the chapter.

Manny in prison

You finish.  It’s 50,000 words, and there’s a plot, characters, a setting, all the things it needs to turn it in to NaNoWriMo.  So you cut, paste, send, and they send back a verification.  You are done.  Take it to the publisher.  Right?  Not so fast.  There could be an error or two.  Oops, that was almost a month ago, and what happened?  Maddie sent me a great article she wrote on editing, so I’m working through it, but here are some additional tips I’ve found as I’m climbing the editing  mountain RANGE.

Manny's Big Boy pants

  1. Put on your big girl/boy pants.  Be prepared that some people won’t like things, or that the mistakes will overwhelm them, or they will be bored.  I’ve done a lot of writing, so I know to expect this, but it is always difficult at first because you have been smiling at your cleverness for a whole month, and you think everyone else is going to be blown away by what a magnificent writer you have become.  You need some of that self-confidence, or you’d never write in the first place.  If your writing is really horrible, probably you’ll never hear from the reader again, so accept the criticisms as a good sign.
  2. Enlist the help of close friends and family.  My husband didn’t read every word. In fact, he got stuck on Chapter One, and hasn’t finished it yet.  Nonetheless, he has been a great help.  I’ve gotten ideas from lots of other readers, and we talk them over.  For example, one reader said, “Take Trixie where you’d never go, and let her respond.”  Do you know how difficult that is to do?  My thought was where in the world could I take her?  My husband suggested a male strip tease club.  Sorry, I’ve been there – only once when I was in my 20s, BTW.  I begged my date to take me when we were in the big city of San Francisco.  It was a shock to see how ugly those girls were.  We stayed a few minutes, and left. After shocking my husband with this information, we got down to business and brainstormed where I might “take Trixie” that I’ve never been, and he came up with a great idea that ended up not being a place at all.  It means some research and adjusting, but it is very doable, and I’m pleased with the results.  I’m still smiling, so far at my little creation.
  3.  Get readers from outside your family and local area to read and help you see what is unclear.  One reader told me to explain what made my setting unique.   MORE research comes into play at this level of revision.  I used several books about my target city.  I looked up controversies on the internet.  I spent quite a bit of time looking at what others said about where I set my story.  I am very familiar with the place.  The investigations gave me new perspective.   So once I had the feelings are on the paper, I needed to go back and add those things that are unimportant to me.  It might be different to you.  You might notice the way things look, and have to go back and add the emotions.  Everyone is unique.  I had to cut back on my dialogue, and give the readers a little background information.
  4. Don’t worry about people liking or disliking certain characters.  One reader told me she didn’t like the character that I based mostly on my personality.   Oh well, my favorite character ISN’T me.  I can go back and change things about her/him.  Give him/her different interests, reactions, looks, setting, family.  I can even change “me” into a man or my male model into a woman. You name it, with the flick of a finger, you and your friends (who are your other model characters) are no longer in the book.  So don’t get hung up on whether someone likes your favorite character or not. It’s nothing personal. Different people appeal to different folks. That’s good.
Manny and Justina
Manny and Justina, with just a few easy changes! :)

So now it’s all good, (for now).  Darla says I’ll be done when I’m 64.  But YOU are ready to follow Maddie’s plan of attack.   http://breezybooksblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/editing-your-own-work/

Many thanks to Carol, The Eternal Traveler, for the many pictures she sent of Manny traveling the world over.  The photoshopping is mine.  You can catch Justin at theadventuresofjustinbeaver.wordpress.com.

Any guesses about where Manny is in these pictures?  Setting IS important, yes?



5 Ways to Use Keyword Planner to Write Content

One of the questions that many bloggers express is, “How to I write content articles from home and make money?”  To find out I began my blogging experiment, and got sidetracked having way too much fun just writing about my experiences, and hearing back from other folks.  However, as my spammers informed me, that is not how to make money writing content as an independent contractor.  Here are 5 simple ways to use Google’s Keyword Planner to help you earn income from your writing.

keyword search2

Know What People Want to Read

First, if you want to write content posts, you have to know what people want to read. This post is the result of using Google’s new product called Keyword Planner.  This is Google’s newest tool to help advertisers use the right buzz words in their ads to target the biggest market.  It is simple to use.  Enter a few words to start that have something to do with what you know.  I chose:  “blog, content, education”.  You enter your website, and choose a product category, and press enter.  Even if you don’t have a product, you can pick something from the list that describes your website.  It is surprising which words are popular, and which are not.  You can see what readers search most often, and you can also find out how much competition you would have for buying an ad for that word.  The chart also tell you the cost of purchasing that word so your article places high on the Google search engine.  It could cost me as much as $212 a day to buy 0-49 clicks some of the words I found and go to the top of the heap on the search engine!  You bid on how much you would like to pay.  Yikes!  :)

Use the Highest Use Words in Your Post Title

Maybe you don’t want to pay for a Google Ad.  Use the statistics you found to write a title for your post.  For example, “content writers” is a popular search, while “how to write a blog” is not even though both choices are about writing content.  If you use the word content writer you will get higher traffic than if you don’t use those words.

Use the High Search Words in your Ad Boosters

Many people who write blogs, like me, have fan pages as well.  Most serious content writers sell their content, gather their reader’s email addresses, and offer a product. On their Fan pages they have advertising, and they pay for that service.  If you are going to pay to gather attention for your services, it just makes sense to know what words attract the most searchers.

Use the High Search Words to Combat Writer’s Block

Maybe you are not trying to make a fortune writing your blog, but you wake up and think, “What am I going to write today?”  And you draw a big blank.  This is pretty normal, which is why challenges and contests are so popular.  The trick is how to weave in what you already know into a great article that people want to read.  Keywords is the tool which makes that great – not just good-  post possible.   I just went down the list of possible keywords, chose ones that I knew something about, and narrowed it from there to high versus low-key words.  From my list I had only 10 words.  That made it easy to pick only one of those which was a highly searched keyword.

Use Your Stats to Search for Key Words

My top searched key words are “authentic assessments for social studies.”  I entered those words into the Google Keyword Planner.  I had 25 people this month who have searched for some variation of that subject. Google showed that only 560 people have searched for that topic.  I feel that I got a pretty good market share with my old article, so I don’t think I would ever consider buying an ad for using those words.  There is low competition for the words.  A much more frequently employed word would be “education websites.”  The cost for buying those keywords is high as well.

Google Ad Words


Monday Ask Marsha: Assorted Questions

Do you hide your journal in the closet and bring it out in the middle of the night?  That’s what I used to do.  It had everything in it.  My gripes of the day, poems, pictures I drew of my guinea pigs, lesson plans, goals, prayer requests for people I couldn’t even remember, heartaches, books I read, and on and on.  I actually loved my yellowing journals which I kept for nearly 20 years.  When I married my current husband, I reread some of my entries, and thought, “What a whiney individual you are, Marsha Lee.   Someone (Vince’s son) is going to find this after you die, and think you are a shallow woman.”  That did it.  I shred those puppies.  And I cried.  I missed them.  But I was no longer shallow!  (hahaha)  You can’t prove it anyway!  :)

This is a journal I didn't shred.
One of my journals – NO I didn’t quit my day job to become an artist!  hahaha

My new friend Andrea and I discussed journals and blogging, and the similarities and differences.  We both have destroyed paper journals along the way of life.  Anyway blogging is sort of like a journal on steroids.  You write, and people actually listen and respond.  It’s amazing.  But what if you want to write something just because you’re a graphomanic?  What if you have secrets that you need to confess.  God listens, and I believe he even forgives, but after you’ve confessed for the 1,000th time, maybe you’d better write it down so you know you’re forgiven.  Maybe you want to remember some juicy gossip about the neighbor (husband, wife, boss …) – just in case.  Maybe bits of conversation that may show up in your next best-selling novel should be recorded in a journal, but not on your blog.  I don’t know why people need to write journals, but some of us do.  What do you do to keep them safe from prying eyes – your mother-in-law, your teenaged kids, your dad?  hmmm

I have two secret stashes.  One is Google Drive, and the other is a private blog that I’ve shared with just a few trusted friends because the work is SO unfinished.  I also use Dropbox a lot, but not for my journal.  I can get that on my phone and my computer without signing in, and so that is not secret enough for my deepest, most sordid tales.

What about you?


An other question came from one of my favorite new blogging friends, JT Weaver.  He asked me if I was Marsha Lee or Marsha Ingrao.  A lady at work asked me the same thing when I first started my blog.  She thought I’d gotten a divorce.  Sorry all you handsome 80 + year old men who think I still look young at 61. (Actually my mom’s 88 year old cousin would rather have a 20 year old – go figure!) But, no, Jane and JT, I’m still married.

Lee is my middle name, and I hated it most of my life.  Then my friend, Anna León, who was also my boss at the time, started calling me Mar’cha Lee’, and I loved it.  After that, I used my name with pride.  When I started this blog, I was nervous about telling anyone who I REALLY was – (like I was famous or something!!! hahaha).  So I used Marsha Lee to throw people off!  I actually thought it sounded kind of cool.  Maybe I’m Chinese???  Sordid fact:  I almost dated someone named Mark Lee once, and decided 1) he was kind of weird, and 2) I didn’t want to be Marsha Lee Lee.

I still think Marsha Lee sounds kind of cool, so I keep it.  That’s who I am now.  I’m still a little nervous about being Marsha Ingrao online, but Dianne is Dianne Gray, and Maddie is Maddie Cochere.  I guess I can be Marsha Ingrao.  But I like Marsha Lee, too.  :)

Send me your questions – anything.  I’ll see what I can do with answer them as best I can.

I’m excited! The Eternal Traveler asked me to do a guest blog post for her blog.  It will be coming out sometime next week, I think.  In the meantime, if you don’t already, check out her site.

Piggles Again

Yesterday I got a comment from TOM, the other Marcia, and she told me I needed a tablet and a stylus to draw.  Since she is an artist, and I definitely am not, I decided to try it.  V dropped me off at Best Buy, and they told me that I needed a Bamboo tablet.  They were only $99.00, and I decided that would be worth the amount of entertainment I would get from it.  So it came home with me.

After going through the tutorial ad nauseum, I wondered if I could draw a house for Piggles.  It looked like a square with a triangle on top.  So, NO.  There are no images in my mind for houses.  I have to see pictures, I guess.  So I went back to Piggles, and drew her again, using the same photograph, but this time using the stylus, and coloring in a background color.

Piggles was my favorite guinea pig of all times.
Piggles was my favorite guinea pig of all times.

So here is the Old Piggles, drawn with the mouse

Piggles 2

And here is the new Piggles, drawn with the stylus.  You can see that I am still not an artist. I just don’t have the eye, but it was my best try for as long as I want to sit doing it.  You can tell me what you think.

Featured Blog

Featured Blog

This seems the perfect place to feature my new friend, Marcia, or T.O.M. as she calls herself. There must be something to the name because she is married to Mark, and my first husband was named Mark.  Very coincidental.  So it only makes sense that since she taught me about this product and gave me a mini-art lesson that I should feature her blog.  Like my other friend Darla Welchel, who I plan to feature later this week – warning Darla, I’ll be over camping on your site, Marcia loves to read and review books.  I get one book read, and they probably are reading 10.  The important thing is that the books get read and reviewed.

Marcia's site

The other interest that she and I are sharing is writing.  I am so new at this sport as well, in spite of writing for a living in my job, teaching writing to children, having a few articles published in journals and magazines, and even a few pieces of poetry.  Books are a different matter.  Marcia, however, is all over art work.  She emailed me some of her work, and they are astounding.  You are just going to have to discover T.O.M. for yourself.  She’s astounding.  Too bad she’s not single, Ralph!  She’s got a great sense of humor, too.

A Truly Retired Day

V is home, so my alone-time retired day is over, but I thought I’d share what it was like to be truly retired today.

While I waited for the guy to fix the cabana, I spent several hours writing my first fiction book (short story – whatever it turns out to be), a romantic mystery about a therapist named Amanda Church.  V named her.  She’s beautiful and 41, widowed, smart, independent, and funny.  (Hold on there Ralph, she’s not real!!!)  I’m up to chapter two.

Of course I read blogs and answered comments and emails, but I wasn’t overrun with emails full of things I need to do, like normal, so I took my time and explored new sites.  I made a few phone calls including an appointment with a man in our area to get learn more about the history of Tulare County.  His family was one of the first settlers, and in fact, started the first school in this area.

Yesterday when I was making a Valentine’s Day card for V I discovered that I could draw in Photoshop.  Now, I am not much of a drawer with a pen and pencil, (Dianne Gray’s gherkin-faced salesman looked pretty sophisticated to me) and have even less control with the palm of my hand, but I actually drew a flower – like you would see a first grader draw.  I actually scribbled all over V’s card, and had a great time. Fortunately I also made him chocolate chip cookies and yummy soup and sandwiches for dinner.

I don't think I'd win any card making contests!!!
I don’t think I’d win any card making contests!!!

So today, I tried drawing again.  This is what I came up with after a couple of hours, maybe.  The time disappeared.

Piggles was my favorite guinea pig of all times.
Piggles was my favorite guinea pig of all times.


So that was my wonderful, lazy, retired day.  What did you do today?


Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer.

Kristen Lamb, author of Are You There Blog?  It’s Me, Writer., writes non-fiction in a folksy, easy to understand style.  Read like good fiction, the pages of this how-to book practically turned themselves.  Writers and bloggers can immediately apply her tips to improve their blog, Facebook and Twitter platforms.

In spite of the fact Are You There Blog?  It’s me, Writer. was easy to read I found myself highlighting, taking tons of notes, and rereading to make sure I didn’t miss anything.  I had to discipline myself to keep on track.  My thoughts were screaming, “Wow, I need to go to Facebook RIGHT NOW, and remove my birthday, but I did a little self-talk “Take notes, Marsha.  Copy down the tips you want to remember.”  Because LEARNING SOMETHING is the goal of reading a non-fiction book, it IS a different skill than reading fiction.

Common Core Standards for English Language Arts always lurk in my brain whenever I read now.  Across the United States, by the time they start high school, students will spend 70 percent of their school day reading non-fiction materials.  I would recommend this book for students from 6th grade up.  Common Core Standards also put a greater emphasis on writing than ever before.  Teaching students to blog, and having them interact with each other as well as others, means less editing for the teacher, more interest and commitment from the students.  For language arts teachers this book will address reading and writing standards at the same time.

Even young students can respond to a teacher’s blog about a topic.  This doesn’t mean that the teacher has to “write” every “topic” on their blog.  They can copy paragraphs or quotes directly from a book they cite.  By high school many students will have a Facebook account.  Lamb’s book teaches them to use it safely and wisely.  They also learn to use Facebook as a marketing tool to market themselves.  We often overlook, or feel too pressured to teach, the importance of the “soft” skills in education, of how to get along with people, how to motivate them, and get them to like us.  Those skills are an integral part of DOING social media.  Kristen Lamb integrates those skills as she explicitly teaches basics of blogging and using social media.

“Giving is when you take your time to read their blog, to repost their story and to congratulate their writing goal on Twitter. Giving is when you write a nice review of someone else’s book unsolicited and expecting nothing in return.”

Lamb, Kristen (2011-05-07). Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer (Kindle Locations 572-573). Who Dares Wins Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Students will learn that “people love feeling good” and that “a positive attitude is a key ingredient for a hit blog that connects with others in a meaningful way.” (Ibid Location 1519)

These soft skills that students learn will be useful to them no matter what profession or trade they choose to enter during or after high school.

Kristen’s book is available on Kindle, which means that note taking will be easy for students (and teachers who are beginning bloggers).  When a quote is copied from the book on the computer the biographical information is automatically noted.  WHEW!  That was EASY!

Mike Lebsock, 8th grade history teacher, President San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social STudies (SJVCSS), John Adams in Colonial Williamsburg

Mike Lebsock, an eighth grade teacher in Fresno, posts a blog entry then has his students write one response to his post, and one response to another student’s response.  How easy that would be using this book.  The teacher doesn’t have to write his or her own content.  He or she simply copies right from the book into the blog.  The biographical information is automatically there as well.

Are You There Blog? is easy to read, but that doesn’t mean that there is NO academic vocabulary.  The academic vocabulary is primarily content-based and can be grasped within the context of the book.  However, for students using Kindle or other e-readers, they can open a window with the definition of an unfamiliar word by just passing the cursor over a word and stopping.

When I started this review, I struggled with recommending it for Common Core because it was such an enjoyable book to read.  After analyzing how the book can actually meet many elements of Common Core I have changed my mind.  Non-fiction books can be enjoyable, and enjoyable books can be academic.  Read and enjoy Kristen Lamb’s book, Are You There Blog?  It’s Me, Writer. with your students – – or just for yourself.

Today’s Featured Blog 

My blogging friend Rommel, has taught me so much.  He was one of my first visitors before I knew squat, he had nominated me for an award.  I didn’t even understand what an award was.  He kept coming back when I was working full time+, and hardly had a second to visit any blogs, there was Rommel commenting on my blog.   Then recently he featured me on his site.  Who knew?  What a kind thing to do.  So it is with great honor and pride that I introduce my first Featured Blogger, Rommel.  The post that I chose, although he writes great travel stories, posts amazing pictures from all over the world, I fell in love with Once in A Blue Moon, a poem.  This is how it starts.

Another special post.

Here goes…

You know what…. I need to pause… An image first.

Can’t you just picture a vibrant young man venturing out on unfamiliar waters, writing a poem?