Research, a must tool for creating a story

By Marie F Martin

Research is what I needed to cement a story that had been running around in my imagination for some years.  I asked my husband if he’d drive me to the mountains about a 100 miles to the west of where we live. Elmer was a good sport and agreed. We packed a picnic, loaded up our two dogs, and enjoyed the ride gradually working up into the mountains.  We passed this lovely old school house.  I used this image as my guide to describe the Ferrells’  meeting house.

 school house (2)  We kept driving higher until we reached the home of a nice couple who agreed to show me their place.  The picture below is Elmer and the dogs checking out the skidder.  I saw a grannie’s fish pond and a still shack.  The nice gal told us her Granny’s whiskey was the best around.  The middle picture the Granny’s still shack.  There was a cold spring coming out of the mountain nearby so she had fresh wonderful water for her whiskey.  I wandered around the spring and followed it course for a little ways down the mountain.  There were scattered violets growing along the edge.  The gal told me that her granny had planted them years ago and they still kept coming up.  It was such a peaceful spot. We stayed awhile, and I heard stories of their ancestors and then we left the shy couple alone.  We drove into a nearby town and I found a church for my character Granny and a main street bar for Frankie’s brawl with the Hoffmans.  I have more pictures of my research on my website  We had such  nice day and I came away with a setting for Ratham Creek.


inspecting logging equipment.

inspecting logging equipment.

Still Shack

Still Shack

Granny's fishing pond

Granny’s fishing pond

5 Gifts To: YOU From: YOU

By Kathy Dunnehoff

The day after Valentine’s Day you may have leftover chocolate…

lucy and ethel chocolate

or flowers you’re still enjoying, but why not put yourself on the February gift list?

Here are my 5 suggestions for presents To: YOU  From: YOU…

  1. Watch Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on body language. It’s moving and wonderful and may just change your life.
  1. You know how bubble baths are yawningly common? Step it up with bath salts. I make my own for next to nothing with Epsom salt and a scented oil.
  1. Spend 30 minutes with the combination of your choosing: A beverage + A comfortable spot + Something you love to read.
  1. Look in the mirror once today and do not laser in on something you don’t like. Appreciate something you love. You can do this!
  1. You know the red cars phenomenon? If I suggest that you notice red cars, you’ll suddenly see them everywhere. Well, make a list of 3 things that make you happy and actively look for them. My 3 right now are: 1. Seeing signs of spring.  2. Moments when I’m laughing with my family.  3. Times when the writing flows.

Happy post Valentine’s Day gifting to you!

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Heart Matters

Karen Wills

In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, Hearts in Atlantis, Any Human Heart, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter…. Titles that include “heart” or “hearts” always cause me to investigate the book, play, or movie. Some words just carry strong connotative attraction, appealing because of our prior associations.

Heart means life, love, spirit, or soul. The word’s archaic origin includes encouragement and sympathy. It also can refer to the deepest part, the heart of the matter. Valentine’s Day finds us awash in cards with hearts, candy hearts, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, or, sadly, home listening to sad songs about broken hearts. Valentine hearts are usually red, taking us back to our life’s blood that our hearts keep pumping along, hopefully for years and years. Two people who are dear to me are each facing heart surgery in the near future. My heart goes out to them. They are brave, fragile, and cherish life.

When it comes to hearts, the quality I value most is that the heart is true: faithful and loving. I’m lucky enough to have found such an invaluable heart and married its owner. So I gave him my heart forever.

Happy Valentine’s Day!Antique Valentine 1909 01.jpg


Love Lives Here

We are the original star-crossed lovers!  Fifty-eight years ago we got reacquainted, engaged, married and began our journey.  Now we are entering our eightieth year celebrations…your birthday on Valentine’s Day and mine in July.  What a trip it is and how grateful I am that you decided to call me on that day in May.


Live Free My Love

My heart is wide open these days

When I look at you.

You feel so warm and close

So nearly dearly a part of me.

Even when we’re not touching

Your essence surrounds me.

Deep sounds of you rumble through my body

Vibrating the core of me.

My silence is shattered with a song

Elevating the day from silence to nonsense.

Songs speaking your mood, your thoughts

With lyrics revealing a being unclothed,

A public man of hidden passions

Wearing a cloak of laughter and control

Over pain lodged beneath a shield of

Casual concern masking the buried

Need for Yes to your dreams

And cheering your vision ever onward.

You are so elegantly human.

So overflowing with a child’s love.

Wanting to burst through reserve,

Wanting to dance and sail on the moon,

Wanting to float balloons at the center of the world,

Wanting love and joy and…

Dobish Torte.

Live free, My Love.

Ina Albert-Secher, February 2015

Valentine’s Day Birthday Message

A Writer on Fire

By Ann Minnett

I used to set my alarm for 5:00 a.m. to allow a couple of hours for writing before going to my fulltime job. At least one week of my annual vacations was set aside for nothing but writing. I started my first novel over one Christmas Break because I COULDN’T NOT START IT. I became a writer on fire.

What inspired me to stop tip-toeing around the literary pool and jump into the deep end? The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

Artist Way

The book/workbook guides the reader through a twelve week self-study to access the artist within that might have been squelched along the way. Cameron revised the book in 2002 and has since developed a cottage industry surrounding the book’s teachings, but I can only speak for the 1992 edition. Anyone who yearns to paint, write, sing, or create art of any kind should read this book and work through it with a group of like-minded others. An actor and aspiring writer were my study partners. We met weekly for twelve weeks to discuss what we had learned about ourselves, our motivations, and what was keeping us from beginning. Revelations all around!

I’m looking through my tabbed and scribbled copy now. (Buy the paperback book because you’ll write all over it.) What stands out are the written prompts exploring what censors me from expressing myself. I’m thrilled that my notes reveal the extent to which I’ve shed those burdens of self, yet some of the underlying fears of the artist’s exposure still niggle at me. From what I’ve learned, that’s common.

I have no stake in The Artist’s Way, but if you have a desire to create art and feel unable to commit, read this book with others who feel stuck. Discuss what you discover. I guarantee you’ll view yourself and your art with new eyes and hearts.


Burden of Breath Cover - Minnett