How to View Potential Rather than a Pile of Rubbish

Fascination With Old Buildings

When I visited Hockessin, DE two years ago, the site of the first Catholic Church in Delaware caught my eye as I drove on Lancaster Pike Road. It looked like a pile of rubbish. Old rubbish is so photogenic, so I knew I had to come back before I left town to do a photographic study of it.

However, Pastor Steve Trader from Trinity Community Church saw potential in it that most of us would have overlooked. Today, as you will see, the dreams are coming to life.

The First Church Building

According to one source, in 1772, the Catholic base in the area purchased the 16.5 acres at the order of Father John Lewis, a Jesuit missionary familiar with the area from his mission travels.

pile of rubbish

According to Deleware Online, the first log chapel on the site was built 12 years later beside a hilltop cemetery that remains there today. Probably only the cemetery remains today, but here are two decrepit buildings that stood on or near the property two years ago.

A mystery writer might use this setting for a scene for a murder, a buried treasure, or some ghostly tale. What would you write about this picture?

pile of rubbishFor a time, the property housed the only Catholic church within some 100 miles, according to Joe Lake, president of the Hockessin Historical Society. That would have been a trek for people without modern transportation. Local historians doubted if they attended church weekly.

The Old Barn Ruins in 2016

One sign on the property called these piles of crumbling rubbish the “old barn.” The two signs also confused me because I don’t think of barns and churches pairing up in the same building.

Since childhood, I have loved old barns. My grandfather used large machinery and worked out of their garage. It became the family joke that on every trip through rural Indiana, we played the game, “A New Shop for Grandpa.” It kept my brother and me busy and peaceful pointing out the most decayed buildings we could find along the two-lane highways.

Our family particularly loved the advertising painted on the sides like Eat at Joe’s Get Gas, or Dr. Pierce’s Pleasant Pellets.  This stone barn resembled none of those.

Using my best investigative skills, I noted the candy wrappers and fast food containers on the dirt floor. My weak imagination conjured up pictures of kids playing castle in the pile of rocks. Barnyard animals keeping warm when ten inches of snow pressed against wooden doors and church services were the furthest images from my mind.

pile of rubbish
St. Mary’s First Catholic Church in Delaware

I wondered how anyone could save this pile of rubbish, but the sign said that it was being reconstructed. At the time, I saw no signs of any construction activity except for the yellow caution tape around the entire project. The tape was no more sturdy than the crumbling walls.  Camera in hand, I plowed through the mud and darkening skies, like a reporter onto a big story for the evening news.

Life is no respecter of dried up bones.

The windows and doorways looked beyond repair.

‘This would not be the safest place to stand during an earthquake,” I reported to my imaginary audience.

April 2018 The Old Church Takes Shape

It was 4:30, the start of the golden hours for photographers. The cold April wind bent the trees making them groan as I pulled up my hood and picked my way cautiously across the boggy ground to check out the reconstruction site I had loved two years before.

Shadows of large nearby trees spilled across the cemetery and beckoned me to explore the reconstructed building. How could I resist?

pile of rubbish


The Mystery of the Barn Solved

With my limited imagination, I wondered who would turn a church into a barn? It seemed sacrilegious.

It turned out that the Mundy’s purchased the property from the Diocese as farmland in 1912. The Mundy’s maintained the old barn property as a dairy farm until the 1960s. Bill Mundy kept it as a cattle farm into the 1990s. Locals at that time called the property Mundy’s farm. I don’t know what they called it on Tuesday-Sunday.

Between the 1990s and 2010 property managers neglected the property. In 2010 it was burned and vandalized by teens.

Under New Ownership

In 2018 with a sturdy composition roof and completed walls, this edifice looked like it would withstand the winds and the rains. Trinity Community Church, an interdenominational Christian church that holds its roots in the Assemblies of God, plans a multi-use complex on this 16.5-acre parcel.

pile of rubbish

The windows and doorways have been shorn up. They look very tiny now compared to the more expansive stone walls.

pile of lrubbish

The recycle police would be proud to see the pile of stones that the builders have used to create the new building. The ongoing pile of rubbish still looks like a daunting work to me. But my only tool is an iPhone. Bancroft Construction Company has a few more resources and talent from which to draw.

pile of rubbishAs the afternoon shadows deepened, the headless shadows seemed to raise their arms and praise the Lord. Upside down they looked like headless dancers. Either way, the bid me farewell from the 1880s burial place of locals and Irish immigrants killed in nearby powder mill explosions.

The Diocese of Wilmington still owns the resting place for the heroes of the past. But the future looks lively for the Old St. Mary’s Church, Mundy’s Farm and new Trinity Community Church in Hockessin, Delaware.

Additional Posts About Delaware


What You Should Know About Alligators: Instructions at Gatorland

Want some advice about alligators?

#3 Orland0 Florida

Don’t come to me. I’m visiting here in Orlando, Florida with my California neighbors, Carmen and Taliah and friend, Janice from Tennessee. And we’ve come to Gatorland to see and learn about alligators.

GatorlandDo you love Strange Inheritances? This is not Gatorama, but Gatorland is farther north,  18 miles or 30 minutes from Orlando, also a family-owned business.


When to Visit Gatorland

I’ve been to Florida in August, and I don’t recommend it. However, going to Gatorland in March is perfect. There weren’t many mosquitos. The day I wore body lotion, the bugs loved me, but as long as I didn’t smell, the bugs didn’t bother me.

It’s warm in the sun, but walking through the covered pathways is pleasant even in mid-afternoon.


The covers provided some shade to the alligators as well. Unlike dolphins, which you will read about in another post, alligators don’t have sensitive skin. Their black coloring makes them almost invisible in the water.

The next gator would have been tricky to see if he had been cruising underwater.

Gatorland groups gators by age and color. The young ones are first in line.

Bigger than Life

Towards the rear of the walkway lives the Brutus of Gatorland, Chester. Just as I was closing in to take pictures of Chester, Carmen swooped in and shooed us down to the Gator wrestling show, which was well worth the rush. Poor Carmen, she had to mother all of us to keep us on track to see everything.

When we came back, Chester was pooped. Here is Diego Centeno’s YouTube video of Chester.

Real Gator Wrestling

Sure, it’s easy to wrestle a gator if you watch the actor. No sweat. He chose a volunteer to come out on the sandy platform with him to pick out a lazy gator. The youngster refused. So the youngster pointed to a swimming alligator instead of the sleepy sunbathing gators.

Mr. Gator Wrestler grabbed that little gator by the tail and dragged it ashore. Kicking the other gators aside, he began his show.


Miss Gator seemed to be dragging her feet a bit. She was not the shining star that Nicholas is. You’ll see him in another post.

The G-Wrestler asked the crowd to name the most dangerous part of the alligator. Some poor soul shouted, “Tail.”

Probably the respondent was a plant in the audience. Either that or he didn’t watch Mr. G-Wrestler drag Miss Gator out onto the sandy stage.

Mr. G-Wrestler proceeded to show us how easy it was to lose fingers and hands in the G-wrestling business. He somehow pried open the gator’s mouth and withdrew as it snapped shut.


It doesn’t take much pressure to hold a gator’s mouth shut. The trainer held it with his chin. I hope the gator smelled good.

Other Animals that Repulse and Intrigue

The next actors thrilled the audience by letting volunteers participate, usually with their eyes closed at first. The rest of the audience responded with appropriate scared noises, which didn’t seem to bother the volunteers. They had probably checked out someone’s blog post before going to Gatorland and knew what was coming.


You can’t see what he’s putting on her hand. It’s a tarantula.


Taliah’s favorite, though not venomous, was the snake. We saw the same snake curled up in his house, and we could have crawled into the house with him if we had chosen to do so.


White Alligators Are Rare

Three of only twelve leucistic gators exist here at Gatorland.  Apparently, they are not personable.


It was hard to get up close, so I let Taliah take the first shot at him. She got a little annoyed with me taking pictures of her taking pictures, but it was fun watching her quickly manipulate the image with her thumbs before saving it.

GatorlandUp close, he didn’t look too scary since there was a glass wall between us and he had his eyes closed.


Birds Kicked at the Gators

A gator could snap a bird’s leg off in a second, but that fact did not seem to worry any of these feathery creatures. We saw one bird kick her spindly leg at a gator swimming towards her with his mouth open. The gator turned and swam away. That was not the response I expected.

This mutton-headed bird dared to bark orders to the alligators on the feeding deck. Don’t you love its geometric shadow?


Gatorland rated lower than Bloggy Creek but higher than most of the Animal Kingdom on the Entertainment Scale.


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Review: Story Genius by Lisa Cron for Struggling Writers

Brain Help for Struggling Writers

How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere)

What could be more appealing?

Truthfully, I’ve spent five years working on my novel with several years break, so I felt I was a prime candidate to read this book.  Reading through the book caused me to make significant changes in my drafts, and it is progressing. I would love to be a student in her class. Probably, she has met others who write as I do.

struggling writers

Has Lisa Read My Novel?

According to Lisa, I write by the seat of my pants, and she does not support that method of writing.

“And when you pants, there is no past. (uh oh) Without the past to provide context, that rose is just a plain old pretty flower, and who cares about that?”

So after reading Wired for Story, I went back and rearranged and rewrote my novel. What do you think? Is Lisa proud of me?

Turns Out My Brain’s Not Working

“The very fact that you can move things around is a telltale sign that the novel has no internal logic.” (Uh oh! ouch, ouch, ouch!)

So the plotters have it right. Right?

Next, I spent hours (days if you add up all the hours) plotting the book from beginning to end.

Wrong again.

“Plotters have it backward: the events in the plot must be created to force the protagonist to make a specific really hard internal change. And that means you need to know, specifically, what that internal change will be before you begin creating a plot.” Time to quit?

What About Polishing Your Style?

Not yet, there’s polishing it up. Get out your Grammarly and other editing programs. Take out all the times you used passive tense and “just” and “really.”

Maybe the award-winning novels go to those who can write beautiful prose and moving descriptions. I’d like to be able to do that, wouldn’t you? So I practiced writing narrative descriptions.

“Rather than inviting us in, the beautiful language is more like a waterproof sealant, locking us on the surface where all we can do is admire the words, rather than absorb the story that they’re meant to tell.”

Crud, I’m in real trouble here. How about you?

Who Reviews Books Anyway?

I do and my rating for this book is five stars. Even if I write no better after reading it, I enjoyed reading Story Genius.  However, I’m hoping that the book turns me into a story writing genius.

Lisa Cron tells us that we all recognize a good story. We are wired to do so. So, realistically anyone is qualified to discuss books. Do you review books? Feel free to share a recent or favorite review in the comment section.

Story Genius analyzes how to move from an expert reader to superb writer, which is not intuitive. If you’ve tried to write, you can attest to that fact.

Not surprisingly, some reviewers didn’t love the book as much as I have. Some of them even think she is insulting to her readers who just don’t get it when she hammers down her points. Unfortunately, I am one of those dunce students who needs all the extra help I can get.

Do you ever wonder if reviewers have ever tried to write or edit a book? I checked. Some of them have. So have I, but I’ve concluded that I’m not as critical of a reviewer as maybe I should be.  So if you want a review that reflects a biting critical analysis, check out these reviews on Goodreads.

What Other Reviewers Say About Story Genius by Lisa Cron

“I feel very mixed about this book. I teach creative writing, and I’ve tried to make a study of “what works” in popular stories. Liza Cron both hits and misses in this book.” Rebecca Rener, a writer, and editor.

“This book contains virtually no “brain science.” In fact, most of the citations and references in the back of the book cite direct quotes by other authors [often about writing], to the best of my count, I can only find five cited mentions of ‘brain science’.” Amy, who does not disclose herself.

“I was expecting more depth and substance involving interesting facts and tips on writing plot, pacing, character development, etc. in relation to science. ” Kelly Danahy a recent college grad who likes to write and read.

Some Favorite Quotes from Story Genius

“…most self-published books sell fewer than 150 copies.” Yikes! Hope you have done better than that if you have self-published. I haven’t tried it yet.

“Story is about how the things that happen in the plot affect the protagonist, and how he or she changes internally as a result.” (Underlined it a million times!)

“Anything that doesn’t impact the protagonist’s internal struggle, regardless of how beautifully written or “objectively” dramatic it is, will stop the story cold, breaking the spell that captivated readers, and unceremoniously catapulting them back into their own lives.”

Even Lisa Cron had a critical word to say about the author of one of my favorite writing books. “Whether we’re talking about your blueprint or the entire first draft of your novel, she (Anne Lamott) couldn’t be more wrong—someone is going to see it, and that someone is the most important person of all: you.”

“A broken pattern forces you to reconsider something that, up to that moment, you tacitly assumed you could count on. That’s how the brain rolls.”

Contents of Story Genius in Three Parts

1 What a Story Is and What It Isn’t (two chapters)

2 Creating the Inside Story (six chapters)

3 Creating an External Gauntlet to Spur Your Protagonist’s Internal Struggle

About the Author

struggling writers

“Lisa Cron wrote Wired for Story and Story Genius. In addition to writing her literary jobs give her a wealth of well-rounded experience.

Her list of accomplishments in writing includes a TEDx talk, Wired for Story. She has worked in publishing at W.W. Norton and John Muir Publications. Also, the Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency employed her as an agent. She worked as a producer on shows for Showtime and Court TV. Warner Brothers and the William Morris Agency used her as a story consultant. Since 2006, she’s been an instructor in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts MFA program in Visual Narrative in New York City. Finally, together with Author Accelerator CEO Jennie Nash, she runs the online Story Genius Workshop.

Lisa speaks at writing workshops, universities, and schools. She helps authors master the innate power of story.

She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lisacron”

Now What?

I hope this review helps you make a choice about what self-help book you read next about writing. Whether it does or doesn’t, I’d love to hear from you.  Like you, I write to make connections with people. Come say hi. 🙂 Post a link to one of your reviews.

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Why You Don’t Want to Overlook the Boggy Creek Airboat Ride

How Far Ahead Do You Plan Your Travel Activities?

#Orlando Florida #2

Think you need to plan activities months in advance of your next trip?

Think again.

My neighbors Carmen and Taliah (mother-daughter) from California and grandmother, Janice, from Tennessee, and I  started planning our trip to Orlando, Florida months ago. We bought tickets to Disney World and Universal Studios for several days (a mistake for us!)

Though I’m glad we went, the enormous crowds and hype at Disney World overwhelmed even Taliah, (12) the youngest of our all-girl travel party.

Boggy reek Airboat tours

Finding the Perfect Activity

Taliah lights up when she talks about anything with big nasty-looking teeth or venom, so Carmen found a couple of activities that looked promising.

First, she booked the Boggy Creek tour at  2001 E Southport Rd, Kissimmee, FL 34746, a mere twenty-four miles away from our resort. We packed sunscreen, and snacks, and headed out from Orlando to Boggy Creek.

Thanks to my expert driving and Carmen telling me to quit gawking and speed it up a bit, we arrived right on time to walk on to the boat.  Instead of standing in 120-minute lines for a three-minute ride, we enjoyed a relaxing half hour or more trip into alligator territory. I lost track of time, and we never felt rushed.

Boggy Creek Airboat Tours

The day was a perfect 82-degree March day in Orlando, ideal for spotting alligators.


Boggy Creek Airboat tours

Once on the boat, we all donned our protective ear muffs. Across the channel, you can see the big fan thingy behind the driver that makes all the noise.

Boggy Creek Airboat ToursWe couldn’t see through all the plants, but our guide recognized animals bopping up their noses in the bog from miles away. We zoomed towards them in our noisy airboat.

Helpful Florida Swimming Tip: Learn to Recognize Alligators From a Distance

“How did you see alligators from so far away?” we asked.

“You learn to recognize them from a distance when you swim with them every day. I grew up around here,” he said.

Yikes, swimming with alligators. There’s an adventure you probably haven’t considered. Unfortunately, this park doesn’t offer a guided tour of swimming with alligators. Sorry!

Soaring Over Boggy Creek

Have you ever taken the Disneyland ride, “Soaring over California?”

Boggy Creek Airboat toursSoaring over Boggy Creek felt about the same.  You thought you would stay in the watery pathway, then suddenly the driver plowed the boat through various plants growing wild in Boggy Creek and Lake Tohopekaliga. Unlike “Soaring over California,” we actually felt the spray as we soared – best ride ever!

Boggy Creek Airboat Tours

This shallow freshwater lake, covering 22,700 acres reminded me of what early settlers must have experienced on Tulare Lake in Central California where we live. The difference is that California settlers drained the shallow 13,670-square-mile Tulare Lake in the 1800s to farm it.

Like Lake Tohopekaliga, Tulare Lake once housed thousands of turtles and fish. Unlike this lake, there were no alligators, or were there?

Boggy Creek Air boat tours

Remember I told you how noisy the boat is?  Apparently, the noise doesn’t bother the alligators. They didn’t budge when we approached them. We also did not get too close.

Gator and Snake Sighting

boggy creek airboat tours

Taliah wanted to see alligators and snakes. Maybe you can see the alligator here, but it is too hard for me. Taliah got a better picture of it.  She took a picture of her screenshot, which enlarged the photo.

And there he is, Mr. Al I. Gator.

Boggy Creek Airboat Tours

Do you think you’d want to swim in Boggy Creek and Lake Tohopekaliga?

Snaking  Our Way Through the Lake

Our trip didn’t stop there. After oohing and ahhing over Mr. Gator, we zoomed off and came across this black snake.  Again I marveled at our guide’s eyesight.

Can you imagine seeing this little guy from a half of a  football field away?

Despite humans being his biggest enemy, this black racer didn’t move a muscle as the boat clamored down on him, Nor did he squirm away when we parked inches away.

Would you want to kill this sweetie?

Boggy Creek and Lake Tohopekaliga.

Notice, he posed agreeably for pictures. His lack of venom disappointed Taliah. If he had white inside his mouth instead of on his chin, then we would have been looking at one of Florida’s most venomous snakes.

You would not want to swim around with cottonmouth snakes also known as water moccasins. Even the venomous snakes rarely bite humans unless they are provoked. I’m not sure if cottonmouths would consider a noisy water boat as threatening to them.

After we left the boat, we stopped to see the other attractions, mostly gators.

Don’t forget to tip the driver.  He was awesome!

Gator Wrestling

This next picture may be too traumatic for you. I wrestled a gator while I was there. I’ve since healed, but it took a while. I don’t think I’ll go into the gator wrestling business like we saw at Gatorland.

Boggy Creek and Lake Tohopekaliga.

Most of the gators sat quietly within a fenced area sunning themselves. These gators look young and healthy, unlike the one I wrestled.

Did you know that some alligators are white? I’m going to show you those in one of my next Floridian posts.

Boggy Creek Airboat tours

Other Native Floridians

There was another surprise for me when I turned around from gator gazing. This man stood almost nose to nose to me. Glad we both brushed out teeth that morning, though I’m not sure I smiled.

Boggy Creek Airboat Tours

After wrestling an alligator, nothing much scared me anymore. I think he was disappointed when all I said was, “Oh, hi,” and moved out of his way.

Boggy Creek Airboat Tours

Voted “Best Activity” By Our Party

We enjoyed our day at the humongous Theme Parks. However, I hope I’ve convinced you to go places other than Disney World and Universal Studios if you visit Orlando, FL

Even my young friend voted this as her favorite activity until we went one more location. I’ll tell you about that one in another post.

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#1 Thrill of a Lifetime

Though this isn’t a walk in the park, it is a journey. For more walks/journeys check out:




Warning: You Can’t Put Down Anne Goodwin’s Sugar and Snails?

Do You Love to Solve a Mystery?

Don’t lie. You love it. According to Lisa Cron, we are hardwired to find patterns and solve mysteries as we read.

Not only do we love to solve puzzles, we won’t stop reading until we do.

That’s what happened to me.

You won’t put Sugar and Snails down once you start it.

Always Write Rating – Sugar and Snails: A Five Star Book

Sugar and Snails

Read to Learn

However, I did not read this book to solve its mystery. I read it to improve my writing. Lisa Cron who wrote Wired for Story and Story Genius says that you can’t naturally learn just from reading stories. We get too involved in the tale. However, Norah Colvin told me that reading Sugar and Snails might help me learn how to reveal my protagonist’s secret. Wow, Anne Goodwin wove a powerful story that you must read whether you write or not.

Here are some tips that will make your books shine.

A description should emote, not just describe.

  1. Here’s a description of drinking water during dinner with her love in Chapter Five. “I glanced at the water jug, slices of lemon floating on top amongst the eroded chunks of ice, as light as my head felt. … Even on iced water, I felt a little tipsy.”
  2. Silence: “Silence flooded the space between us, thick with accusation and shame.”
  3. Her new love: “Simon’s hair was a little shorter than when I last saw him, adding a beguiling touch of innocence to his manly good looks.”

Everything revolves around the protagonist’s emotional state.

  1. She was not a party-goer. “cheeks aching with the effort of looking as if I were enjoying myself, wondering how soon I could take my leave.”
  2. “hid my clenched teeth with a smile.”
  3. “Three miles of small talk before I could collapse into bed.”

Every action has a consequence that must be explained.

Readers get sidetracked if they think you aren’t going to answer their conjectures.

  1. 15% into the book “I’d put it behind me, exactly as Ms. Thompson had advised me all those years before. Pack it away and my feelings with it; lock it up and throw away the key. The whole damn lot of it: Cairo; Fiona; Simon Jenkins. But I couldn’t shrug off the memory of Geraldine Finch.” Don’t you wonder who these people are?
  2. She’d had problems at work.
    1. 17% into the book – “Colin’s alleged transgression had occurred before I’d teamed up with him – but I’d been tainted.” Don’t you wonder, how was she tainted and what might happen to her as a result? I did.
    2. 45% into the book you read this about her new boss. “Garth knew about the charges against Colin Carmichael.” So my question is, did he set her up?

Books that Inspire

Writing is a chance to inspire humanity and change the world. It’s about the only thing that can. I am changed by this book in more ways than in developing my writing skills, and you may be as well. A book that inspires has to dig deep into the emotional being of the protagonist and build layer upon layer. This book does it. This is the emotional level of book that I want to achieve, so I’m still rewriting. Tell me if reading this book helps you.

About the Author

Anne Goodwin

“Anne Goodwin loves fiction for the freedom to contradict herself and has been scribbling stories ever since she could hold a pencil. During her career as an NHS clinical psychologist, her focus was on helping other people tell their neglected stories to themselves. Now that her short fiction publication count has overtaken her age, her ambition is to write and publish enough novels to match her shoe size. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was published in July 2015 by Inspired Quill and shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, was published in May 2017.” Goodreads

Have you read a book recently that has inspired you to either write or simply do something about the message of the book?

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