Special Guest Post: “Using Canva Like an Expert,” by Marsh Ingrao

Isn’t this a great way to host a guest blogger?

I feel so welcomed, Colleen, Thanks again for asking me

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Colleen’s Guest Post Banner!

I hope that your readers will find the information about Canva helpful. I use it daily for multiple projects.

Please check out Colleen’s blog. I think she’s done a great job with it.

Source: Special Guest Post: “Using Canva Like an Expert,” by Marsh Ingrao

How to Compare Mr. Mercedes, the Movie, to the Novel Even When Haven’t Seen the Whole Series?

Movie Goers Can’t Help but Compare Mr. Mercedes to the Book

When you finish watching a movie based on a book, what’s the first thing you do as you come out of the theatre? You’re blinking to adjust to the light. You may have tears in your eyes, or you’re still laughing. The residual effects of the movie remain as “thought slime” affecting even the way you stumble out of the theatre.

You ask each other, “Did you read the book? How did it compare to the book? Which was better?”

If you haven’t read it, don’t you vow to your friends? “I’ve got to read the book!”

Right? And often I do, and a higher cost than the movie! But who cares?

ATT Mini-Series Mr. Mercedes Hooked Us

Did mini-series based on Stephen King’s novel, Mr. Mercedes, grab your TV viewing attention? My husband and I struggle to find shows we both enjoy watching, and I admit I had my doubts when it started. How can your mind grasp someone deliberately driving into a crowd of already desperate job seekers, who have already been waiting for interviews throughout the night? Because some of the real terrorism we’ve seen on the news, showing the series at this time seemed in pretty bad taste.

However, it was Stephen King, so we made it through the first night, ready to see episode two. By their third episode, we wanted to know what happened. So I bought not just Mr. Mercedes, but the Bill Hodges trilogy.

Comparing Mr. Mercedes the Book

Since I had already faced the objections I had in the movie, I dove into the book with gusto.

If you’ve already seen the movie, or in this case part of the film, you have solid visuals to represent the characters in your mind. Personally, I like that. Some of you do not and would rather picture the character yourself. Which do you prefer?

Differences started to surface as I read the book, but they didn’t disturb the enjoyment of either. We were traveling in the car for 10 hours, so I read parts to my husband as he drove.

Bill Hodges

Comparing Mr. Mercedes

Hodges’demeanor, looks, even though he reminds me of an old oak tree with plenty of bumps and scaly skin, his sweet gruffness made me fell in love with Bill Hodges in the movie. If you’ve watched the series, doesn’t he remind you of someone you know and love?

That picture carries back to the book for me. I have to admit that I don’t usually imagine what the person looks like as I read. I read for the sake of the emotions and thought process, and most of the time I don’t see any character.

Bill Hodges may change more in the movie than the book. He is not the drunk in the book that he is in the mini-series.

“When drinking broke up his marriage, he assumed he was an alcoholic. …Only now that he has his forty, alcohol no longer interests him that much. He forced himself to get drunk a few times, just to see if he could still do it, and he could but being drunk turned out to be no better than being sober. Actually, it was a little worse.”

The novel did not feature Ida, Bill Hodges’ neighbor. I rather like his attitude towards her in the movie series. He calls her an admirable woman, in spite of the naked pictures of herself she showed him. She still seems like Charlie Sheen’s mother in the first episode but starts to develop a personality in later episodes.

Brady/Mr. Mercedes

There was less in the book about the store drama between the manager, the female clerk, and Brady. The book devotes many pages to the letters from Brady. You also know what he thinks about his customers and people in general, but most of them occur outside the store when he visits them at home.

The job opportunity never came up in the book, so he doesn’t have a chance to picture himself slashing all the people in the restaurant and pulling a fire truck from his mother’s side.

The actor, Harry Treadaway, fit the part and portrayed the book as accurately as anyone could have, in my opinion. He is Eddie Haskel incarnate, grown up and big trouble, always nice on the outside, with horrendous thoughts.

The movie makes many changes from the book but they don’t detract from your enjoyment of either the book or the mini-series.

When the Intro Seems Too Long

Maybe you are a screenwriter and know how to inform the viewer subtly that something is going to happen. It seemed to me that the first part of the movie progressed too slowly. Our son got impatient. Yes, watching folks in line is boring unless Sheldon Cooper is in the line.

But the long introduction was necessary for developing the stories of some of the characters in line so that the horrendous act to follow got more empathy.

It is easy to get jaded to visual images when we see bland-faced news anchors reporting horrific acts followed by the weather report then children raising money to help an endangered species, followed by the threat of war with North Korea.

Both the book and the movie took time to engage the viewers’ emotions, with a focus on the young mother, Janice Cray, waiting through the night with her baby for the remote chance of getting a job.

King’s Technique to Keep the Reader Engaged

While you know something is going to happen, or there would not be a movie, King speeds the anticipation in the book.  By recording normal conversations between the crowd waiting to apply for jobs he engaged the readers. Then he inserted a shocking prediction.

“Life is discovered on other planets!” shouted one of the young men who had been staring at Janice Cray – this was Keith Frias, whose left arm would shortly be torn from his body.”

Minutes later you read this.

“Hey!” Wayne Welland said, surprised. It was his final word.

The car accelerated directly at the place where the crowd of job seekers was most tightly packed and hemmed in by the DO NOT CROSS tapes.”


In my opinion, the differences won’t impede your enjoyment of both the book and the movie. If you are enjoying streaming the series or watching it live, I warn you that the story of Mr. Mercedes and Bill Hodges does not end until the end of the third book of the trilogy. I bought all three and raced through them during my glorious vacation in Sedona.

If you are an author, you owe it to yourself to read this trilogy if for no other reason than to admire how he can weave tales so expertly that you keep turning the pages

Amazon Biography

Compare Mr. Mercedes
Stephen King

“Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes The Bill Hodges Trilogy, Revival, and Doctor Sleep. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.”

Related Books

Always Write is an Amazon Affiliate, and your purchases provide scholarships for needy students.
 #1 in the Trilogy

#2 in the Bill Hodges Trilogy
#3 in the Bill Hodges Trilogy

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How to Use Word with WordPress Even If You’ve Struggled with Multiple Revisions.

Colleen’s Word Wisdom

My friend Coleen Cheesbro loves to experiment in blogging just like I do. I haven’t used Word to compose my blog posts. Have you tried it? If you haven’t, but love Word, Colleen explains how you can link Word to your blog post. She continues and explains how to use the new editor for WordPress, which I’ve never liked very well. She says it saves her time. Check it out.

Have you tried it? If you haven’t, but love Word, Colleen explains how you can link Microsoft Word to your blog post. She continues and explains how to use the new editor for Word Press, which I’ve never liked very well. She says it saves her time. Check it out.

She says it saves her time. One of her readers said it saved time making revisions. That would help me. Check it out.

Not composing in WordPress pushes me out of my comfort zone. Check it out.

Check it out.

Cool words of wisdom, thanks, Colleen.

Colleen's Word Wisdom

How to Use the New WordPress Editor & Microsoft Word Template for

Blog Posts

by Colleen Chesebro

Trying new things can be fun. I’ve written these instructions to help my fellow bloggers with instructions on how to use the blog post feature in Microsoft Word and how to use the new WordPress Editor. First, here are my instructions for using the blog post template in Microsoft Word and importing it into WordPress. Read more

Source: How to Use the New WordPress Editor & Microsoft Word Template for Blog Posts

How to Get an Easy 10,000 Steps in Sedona, AZ

Do You Sit Too Much?

#Which Way Challenge #Monday Walks with Jo

It’s not easy to squeeze in 10,000 steps after spending hours getting to your destination?

Here’s one way we solved our sitting dilemma in Sedona.

10,000 steps in SedonaDaily

It might easiest be to get up in the morning and walk in the neighborhood before starting the day. Try a walk down to the nearest shopping center. Grab your cup of coffee and continue back to your hotel.

Sedona 10,000 steps
Castle Rock on the left, Bell Rock in the middle.

Added to a one or two-mile walk at the start of the day, you will get in your anticipated steps even if you sit a bit along the way.

Sedona 10,000 stepsSit Happens

The data is everywhere. The Mayo Clinic states that walking 10,000 steps a day helps you:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Improve your mood
  • Improve your balance and coordination

The Ten Thousand Steps Program was first popularized by Japanese pedometers in the 1960s according to UC Davis Integrative Medicine.

How to Measure Your Steps or Mileage

You may have a Fitbit, but if you don’t, you can buy a simple pedometer. If I remember, I stick my iPhone in my pocket. When I’m photographing and forgot to put my phone back into my pocket, there goes my step count. But I get a good idea of how far I’m going each day.

If you don’t have a device to measure your steps, measure time. Most people can walk one mile in at least twenty minutes. At that rate, one hour will earn you three miles, and you’re three-fifths to your goal. The remaining 40 minutes is easy just walking around from chore to chore.

But the point is to start moving.

Sedona 10,000 stepsHead Out of the Bell Rock Inn Parking Lot

If you’re looking for a great vacation spot where getting in your 10,000 steps is a pleasure, you can’t find a better place than Sedona, AZ. This walk measured about 7,400 steps. I ended the day with nearly 12,000 steps.

Sedona has two main highways, 179 and 89A and a million roundabouts. This trip we stayed at Bell Rock Inn Diamond Resort on Highway 179 across from one of the most beautiful rock legends in Sedona.

“In 2006, The US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration awarded State Route 179 its highest designation within the National Scenic Byways Program: the All American Road designation. … It is a tourist attraction onto itself.” The Premier Gateway

For views, Bell Rock Inn ranks a 5 even though it’s probably the smallest of the four resorts we’ve stayed in Sedona. The neighborhood walk ranks about 5 as well.

Bell Rock Diamond

Just outside the door of our suite the sidewalk that lines the highway spans about 4 feet wide and runs for miles. So this morning I headed up the road. I walked past Famous Pizza. At 7:30 no one but the crow wanted pizza. He did not pose as I approached him to take a portrait shot.

The shopping center next door

Along the way were two more hotels, a Holiday Express and one other as well as a strip mall. I watched early morning tourists pose next to the mural which spans the restaurant. It was about 70 degrees at 7:30 this morning, perfect for a walk.

Sedona 10,000 steps
Castle Rock

As you head north on Highway 179 back towards Sedona, you can see Castle Rock to the left and Bell Rock near the middle. Low maintenance plants and red rocks line the sidewalks adding interest.

Sedona 10,000 steps
Bell Rock predominant in the background

Even though the traffic can be heavy, especially in the spring, the sidewalk provides a beautiful safe place to walk. I took this picture of the Jack’s Canyon sign for our friend Jack, who did not know he had a Canyon named after him.

Highway 179 has scenic turnouts at the rocks so that you can park and walk. Like our son did, you can take a trail almost to the peak of Bell Rock without having to rock climb.

Sedona 10,000 stepsAlong the way, you meet a few passersby. Most of them are doing what you are exercising, not chatting.  Headed away from Sedona, the view is not as spectacular, but there’s more shade. I stayed on the shady side going both directions.

Sedona 10,000 steps
Shops in the Sedona suburb of Oak Creek

I passed at least four strip malls like this one during the 1.5  or 2-mile morning walk. This is the Village of Oak Creek. We ate at Cucina Rustica, a beautiful Italian restaurant behind the white arch on our last night. More sitting and eating, so I was glad for the morning walks.

In the spring there might be two miles of traffic caught up on the 6-mile strip from Highway 17 to Sedona. You may be able to see yourself in this link to the live webcam.

Sedona 10,000 steps
Golf Course next to Bell Rock Inn

Another walking option is to golf and weave your way around among the beautiful shade trees. The beautifully maintained Country Club golf course is open to the public, one block from Bell Rock Inn.

The gardeners don’t appreciate the public walking on the path during golfing hours but you may walk undetected and undisturbed early in the morning and after 5:00 at night.

Sedona 10,000 Steps

These wildflowers with their bulbs and tiny flowers borrowed my camera/pedometer for a few seconds.  These look like Penstemon, Golden beards. Any flower experts out there to back me up?

Sedona 10,000 steps

These juicy cacti fruits, prickly pears, bloomed ubiquitously in September. You can pay $10 to harvest them. Our Pink Jeep tour guide suggested that nobody would notice if you just picked one. You needed to pick with great care, though. The fruit has to be peeled, and it will stain you bright red.

Sedona 10,000 steps

Heading back to the resort you can see Bell Rock on the left and Courthouse Butte on the right. Courthouse Butte has also been known as Cathedral Rock, which makes it confusing to visitors who hear both names used interchangeably.

These formations are all sedimentary rocks, sandstones, limestones, and shales. Guides don’t recommend them for rock climbing as they are very soft.

Some believe that Bell Rock is a spiritual place with special energy called a vortex. Everyone I’ve known to hike up there, including me, has come back from the hike at a level five – tired to level ten – exhausted and not a number one level – energetic, though.

Sedona 10,000 stepsYou can see that even the small rock formations provide a lot of shade. Building this highway caused some controversy as it tore up some of the beautiful rock formations.

Sedona 10,000 stepsWalking away from the resort seemed like the path would end at any time. Each time I thought I would walk to the end and turn around, the road curved around some vegetation, and disappeared from sight. So like a woman hypnotized, I kept walking and walking. Finally, I accepted that the sidewalk might not go all the way to heaven, but it could easily go on for many miles.


I hope you enjoyed Scenic AZ Highway 179. It reminds me of the Arizona Highways magazines my grandfather loved in the 1950s and 1960s. There I was, living his dream, walking along one of the most beautiful Arizona Highways.

Call to Action

If this post brightened your day, please leave me a comment either here or on social media. If you want to make my day, reblog or share this on social media. I’d love to return the favor. 🙂 If you have a related post link, feel free to leave it in your comment section.

For more walking and hiking posts, check out #Which Way Challenge #Monday Walks with Jo.

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Why You Shouldn’t Always Give Five Star Book Reviews

Introducing Kevin Cooper

Five Star Book Reviews
On Reviews by Kevin Cooper

Kevin Cooper has created an amazing website for reviewing books and highlighting authors with interviews and allowing authors to rave about their new and upcoming publications. Kevin strongly believes that writing honest and sincere reviews is the best way one can support authors. He hosts an annual book award which is a crystal diamond-shaped paperweight engraved with the book award acknowledgment and year.

I really like his style, and asked if he would be interested in doing a guest post for Always Write. He agreed.

If you write or read book reviews you will appreciate his insight into writing a great review. This is part one in a series.

On Reviews

This is the first of a short series of four posts covering reviews where I shall discuss writing reviews for all the star ratings. From when we shouldn’t write a five-star review, to why we should write lower star reviews, and how to do so in a constructive manner.

Series One

The Five-Star Review

The five-star review is probably one of the easiest reviews to write no matter what genre(s) you’re into.  You love the work, there are no issues surrounding grammar and sentence structure, the plot is excellent, and the story entices you to keep reading. In some cases, you probably love the work in as much you want a sequel or wait eagerly in anticipation for the author’s next work to come out. Everything you say in your review screams out something like, “Guys, you gotta read this book… It’s fabulous!”  This is usually followed by great praise for the author. If this is not the case, if the book you have just read doesn’t quite tick all the boxes for you, then it shouldn’t be a five-star review.

There are many reasons why you give five-star reviews for works that are found lacking:

  • You know/like the author.
  • You don’t want to offend the author.
  • The author gave you a five-five star review and you feel obligated to return the favour.
  • You don’t like being negative.
  • You’re afraid that if you criticise, the author may retaliate.
  • You only write five-star reviews.

The reasons can be endless, but either way, you look at it, it’s dishonest to other readers, and you are deceiving yourself if you think you are doing the author or yourself any favours.


Because, if a reader buys a book based on your review and it does not live up to the expectations that you have influenced, there could be serious repercussions. They may they take it out on the said author by leaving a very negative review, they may even criticise your review. They most certainly will never rely upon any future reviews you write.

However, I don’t want you to be deterred from writing a five-star review. What I just said above, is probably a worst-case scenario. All I want to do is for you to start thinking about whether you should or shouldn’t write a five-star review. If you have to think about it, you probably shouldn’t. There is nothing wrong with writing a four-star, three-star, or if necessary even two or one-star reviews. Be honest, be constructive, and let folks know why you chose to give any particular star rating.

Join me as I continue my short series, On Reviews. My next episode will cover the four-star review where I will discuss how the four-star review can be as rewarding to write a five-star review and the positive impact of a well-written four-star review.


Five Star Book Reviews

Kevin Cooper is an author & songwriter. He studied in both England and in the US. Since returning to England, Kevin authored several works and recorded/released a few of his songs. He is working on several projects which include a fantasy, and working towards his first full music album.

Books and Music By Kevin Cooper

Five Star Book Reviews
Books & Music by Kevin Cooper

Animal Tales, The Wizard, The Girl and The Unicorn’s Horn. Miedo: Living Beyond Childhood Fear. Miedo 2: A Reckoning With Fear. The Devil’s Apology. Reflections. Music Releases: All I Can Say. Magical. Elaine. Christmas Time!