It’s That Simple and That Complicated

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

I highly recommend Courage & Craft: Writing Your Life Into Story by author and teacher Barbara Abercrombie. In this clear and insightful book, Barbara shares the nuts and bolts of writing essays, memoirs, poems, and fiction. Here’s an inspiring excerpt from the Introduction:

Whatever it is you want to write, it’ll begin with you sitting down and opening a notebook or a new computer file. There will be no bolts of lightning, no muse floating overhead to tell you that the moment has arrived, that now is the time to write your story. Your parents, your spouse, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your kids will not announce out of the blue that you have talent and beg you to begin writing immediately. You will always, always teeter between believing you have all these wonderful stories to write and worrying that the wonderful stories will not be very interesting. Nor will your life be in such pristine order that there will be endless worry-free hours in which to write.

You can sit around for the rest of your life dreaming about writing your stories, longing to bear witness on the page to every amazing thing you’ve seen or lived through, and wishing for a message from above, that bolt of lightning, some signal that will let you know now is the time to start being creative. Or you can just buy a notebook or turn on the computer and begin writing.

It’s that simple and that complicated.

Source: Courage & Craft by Barbara Abercrombie, pp. xiv-xv

Spotlight on Mackenzie’s Last Run

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Gayle Rosengren. Today, Gayle shares her new release, Mackenzie’s Last Run.


Thirteen-year-old MacKenzie (Mac) Lawrence secretly blames himself for his father’s death. In his grief and guilt, he has pulled away from everyone, even his twin sister Tessa. When their mother announces her plans to remarry barely 18 months after Dad’s death, Mac is furious and runs away in an attempt to force her to break off the engagement.

Unfortunately, nothing goes as Mac plans. He ends up seriously injured, miles from home, unable to reach out for help, while clues he inadvertently left behind suggest he’s been kidnapped—possibly by Mom’s fiancé—and set his twin sister Tessa on a desperate search to find him. But she’d better hurry, because the clock is ticking, and Mac is running out of time.


“We’re not keeping anything from you, Mrs. Lawrence,” Sergeant Hernandez said. “I promise. It’s just that Officer Borkowski has been concerned by some of the unusual circumstances surrounding MacKenzie’s disappearance.”

Mom’s forehead puckered. “Unusual circumstances?”

The sergeant nodded. “The fact that MacKenzie didn’t take any money with him, for example. That’s very unusual for a runaway. And he didn’t take his bike either. Again, this isn’t the norm. Taken together with the bloodstains on the carpet, well, there’s another possible explanation that we can’t entirely rule out.”

The back of Tessa’s neck prickled. What was Sergeant Hernandez getting at? She looked at her mother, who was frowning at the police woman, twisting her hands together. “I still don’t understand. What are you trying to say?”

Beside her, Simon’s eyebrows snapped together. “Surely you’re not suggesting what I think you are.” He pulled Mom closer.

Tessa’s throat tightened.

“What is it?” Mom’s eyes were huge green pools of panic.

“We need to investigate the possibility that your son may not have run away,” Sergeant Hernandez said. “Someone may have taken him.”

Mom shook her head like Tessa did to get water out of her ears after a dive. Her mouth sagged open and she slumped against Simon. “No.”

Tessa’s heart cannonballed into her stomach. They thought someone took Mac. They thought someone broke into his room and took him! But that was crazy. Why would anyone want to kidnap Mac?

Author Bio and Links

As a girl, books were among Gayle’s best friends and inspired her dream of writing for children someday. It was a dream that only grew stronger over the years. Gayle majored in Creative Writing in college. Her first book, What the Moon Said (Putnam 2014) was a Jr. Library Guild selection and CCBC title, and her second, Cold War on Maplewood Street (Putnam 2015) won the Tofte-Wright Award for Children’s Literature. She has worked as an advertising copywriter, a pre-school teacher, a youth services assistant in her local public library; and a research assistant in the American Girl library. Gayle is a lover of stories whether she’s writing them or reading them.

Website | Twitter | Amazon Buy Link


Gayle Rosengren will be awarding a $100 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Gayle on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

New Release: Stories Through The Ages Baby Boomers Plus 2022

I’m thrilled to announce the release of Stories Through the Ages Baby Boomers Plus 2022. My entry, “Between Heaven and Earth,” was selected as one of the stories for this anthology.


Living Springs Publishers has the honor of presenting Stories Through The Ages Baby Boomers Plus 2022, a collection of sixteen outstanding stories by authors who were born in 1966 or earlier. We are incredibly fortunate to have many gifted and talented authors among the winners published in this, the sixth installment of Baby Boomers Plus.

The Blizzard of ’78 : Diane Lavin’s excellent relationship story wins 1st place in the 2022 edition of Stories Through the Ages Baby Boomers Plus. A blizzard is the setting. A reluctant mother facing her own demons must come to grips with the reality of a husband and daughter that she both loves and resents. The characters leap from the pages like the howling wind from the Blizzard of ‘78’.

Rounding Third: Author Elaine Thomas is the 2nd place prize winner in the 2022 edition of Stories Through the Ages Baby Boomers Plus. An unwitting love triangle with her dead brother’s best friend and the young boy next door set the stage for a young woman ready to start a new stage of her life. A fantastic coming-of-age story.

Mouth Sewn Shut: As the only witness to the assault and abduction of her sister, Martha is under pressure to remember what happened. Mary Ellen Fox, the 3rd place prize winner in the 2022 edition of Stories Through the Ages Baby Boomers Plus, has given us a look inside the mind of a troubled young girl.

Jimmy’s Swing: It is moving day from the family home and our heroine reminisces about her life with Jimmy while sitting on the swing he built for her. Emely Bennett has given us a poignant tale of moving on when life changes and an excellent surprise ending that makes sense after the fact.

Rightful Magic: A midwife and healer of the 16th century, who is running away from home, performs a good deed in a neighboring town. When things appear to go wrong, she is accused of witchcraft by the people she tried to help. A riveting story by Carol Campbell. Very creative and well written.

New Neighbors: It’s 1996, and a young environmental consultant is intrigued by the mysterious new tenants in the office next door. Something is up in the sleepy little town of Helena, Montana and she’s dying to find out what it might be. In her wildest imaginings, she could never have envisioned what the real story was and how it would light up the news media around the world.   Author Karen Ekstrom has given us an excellent story.

Waiting Room: Henry and Lillis deal with the stress of waiting on the results of a biopsy while at the same time dealing with their two adult children. The successful daughter who has little time for them and the son who puts in the time but not the effort. Susan Evans has given us a great story of family relations.

The Blessings of Grasshoppers: The grasshoppers used as bait to fish become the food needed for survival when a virus rampages the world. Adele Evershed has written a fantastic story of love, family, and the basic instinct to survive whatever the cost.

The Outing: A man gets up the courage to visit a gay bar. We don’t want to give the plot away, but Alan Gartenhaus has written a story that made us chuckle at the end.

Between Heaven and Earth: Frugalista, a superstar angel from the Depression era, reluctantly agrees to help boomer women and their older sisters deal with the after-effects of the 2008 recession. Her first client is a divorced, unemployed woman who has just received a cancer diagnosis. An inspiring and entertaining tale from Joanne Guidoccio.

Curse of the Cane Man: A newly hired detective investigates the disappearance of some local people. His inquiries turn up more than a simple tale of abduction. A story of intrigue by Michael Jefferson. Beautifully written and crafted with more than its share of gripping revelations.

An American in Paris: Rosemarie S. Perry shares her eye-opening month-long trip through Europe in 1972 as a solo traveler. It makes you wonder, was I ever that young and naïve, and would I do it again?

Migrations: A Vietnam veteran and Native American struggle as lonely outsiders in their own birthlands in this story set in the 1970s. A tale of the times by C. E. Reynolds.

A Night in a Rural Town: A man has car trouble in a rural area and must spend the night. From the moment he arrives he is treated to the friendliness of people in a small town. Through a chance visit with the local rancher, he is treated to an evening of fine country cooking and hospitality. A heartwarming story by J. R. Reynolds.

A Saturday Night: A simpler time when kids played outside. A group of boys decide to “go harvesting” from a Jewish sukkah, which puts them in danger from local gangs and on the radar of the local police. A very entertaining story by Gerald Ryan of how appearances aren’t always what they seem.

Dodge City: Ann Worrel writes a coming-of-age story about a young man who draws a low number in the Vietnam draft lottery. Rick receives conflicting advice from his family, his friends, and a former military man who tells him…’Don’t Go!’ What should he do? Excellent story by Ann Worrel

Excerpt (Between Heaven and Earth)

April 2009

Head angel Mark’s gaze lingered on the bottle of Johnnie Walker Scotch whiskey. Tempted to have a second drink, he decided he couldn’t risk it. Not today. Not ever. Tearing his gaze away from the Scotch, he headed toward the East Wing. As he neared his destination, he struggled to recall the details of his last conversation with the Frugalista angel, but nothing came to mind. Definitely a good sign. If he couldn’t remember, then no inappropriate comment had been made.

He found Frugalista reading in her usual corner. “Greetings. It has been a while since we last spoke.”

“Um…hmm,” Frugalista paused for a fraction of a second, “Seventy-one years, three months, and seven days.”

Mark started to question her numbers but quickly changed his mind. How could he argue with such precision? “These are difficult times. The first- and second-tier angels are burning out and refusing to take on new assignments. HE is not pleased.”

Frugalista tsked, “If those humans don’t change their ways, it will get worse.”

“I’ve had to send in third-tier angels, and the results have been disastrous. They can’t handle this economic tsunami.” Images of the lingering after-effects of the 2008 recession flooded his consciousness. Layoffs. Home foreclosures. Longer lines at food banks. “I need your help.”

“I retired at the end of the Depression and made it clear I could no longer help in the trenches. I spent one decade training two tiers of angels, and they trained a third tier. Even if a few are burning out, millions of third-tier angels are still willing to help.”

“They may be willing, but that third tier cannot help. There have been several aborted attempts, and I had to send in first and second tier angels to do damage control.”

“You want me to retrain the third tier?”

“No, I want you to inspire and motivate the first and second tiers. We have enough of them to do the job, but they are burning out.”

Frugalista gasped. “You want me to retrain both tiers?”

“No, I want you to get back in the field and work your miracles.”

Her book fell to the floor, “This…this is beyond me, Mark.”

“It’s been over seventy years since you walked the Earth. Many angels don’t know or have forgotten what you are capable of.” He raised his voice. “You read, meditate, and isolate yourself from the others. When was the last time you left your comfort zone?”

Buy Links

Amazon CA | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Make Your Growth A Priority

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

A long-time fan of bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff, I look forward to reading their emails and blog posts. Here’s an excerpt from a recent email:

Eventually you will end up where you need to be, doing the right things, alongside the right people. Patience is the key. But remember that patience is not about waiting, it’s the ability to maintain a positive outlook while working hard for what you believe in…

Today, I want you to realize that there are literally thousands of people in the world who live their entire lives on default settings, never realizing they can customize everything. Don’t be one of them. Don’t settle for the default settings in life.

Dare to make edits and improvements. Dare to make your growth a priority.

The truth is, you won’t always be a priority to others, and that’s why you need to be a priority to yourself. Learn to respect yourself, take care of yourself, and become a reliable part of your own support system. Your needs matter. It’s time to start meeting them.

Don’t wait on others to choose you. Choose yourself today!

Seriously, it’s not your job to curb or contain yourself in order to become someone else’s idea of a worthwhile human being. You are amazingly worthwhile and capable right now. Not because other people think you are, but because you are in full control of the next step you take.

If you feel differently, or if you’ve been holding yourself back recently, realize that the real battle is in your mind. And your mind is under your control, not the other way around.

You may have been broken down by adversity or rejection or stress, but YOU are not broken. You are not stuck! So don’t let your mind, or anyone else, try to convince you otherwise.

Heal yourself, and grow beyond the default settings in life, by refusing to settle for the way things have been.

Choose to take up a lot of positive space in your own life starting today. Choose to give yourself permission to meet your own needs. Choose to honor your feelings and emotions. Choose to make self-care and personal growth top priorities!

Note: I highly recommend subscribing to Marc & Angel’s website.

Interview with Mariëlle S. Smith

I’m happy to welcome writer and writing coach Mariëlle S. Smith. Today, Mariëlle shares her creative journey and new release, 365 Days of Gratitude Journal.

1. What was your inspiration for this book?

The true inspiration behind the 365 Days of Gratitude Journal series was having found a practice that really worked for me and wanting to share it with others so they could reap its benefits too. The inspiration behind this specific volume was wanting to create a more ‘feminine’ version, one that had a different kind of beauty than the more stylish and ‘clean’ first volume.

Basically, I wanted to create something that would make everyone, especially my mother, go ‘Ooooh, pretty!’

2. Describe your writing space.

I just moved six weeks ago and now I finally have a separate office again instead of having a giant desk taking up a too tiny corner of the bedroom!

Aside that desk, which is one of those desks that can adjust in height, I have a Deskbike to make sure I keep moving during the many hours I spend looking at my laptop screen. It’s like a stationary bike without a steering wheel, so that it fits under your desk and you can type as you cycle.

The room includes a built-in wardrobe, on which I’ve created a personalised Kanban board with rainbow-coloured washi tape, and I use the long wall as a place to stick my ideas when I’m plotting/figuring out my next book. Right now, it’s covered with index cards for my upcoming book, 99 Writing Prompts and Journal Exercises to Cultivate Courage and Kick Imposter Syndrome to the Curb. Since that takes up quite a bit of space, all my novel ideas have been relocated to the back of the door for now.

3. What is your favorite quote?

That’s a tough one, since collecting really good quotes is part of my job…

I’ll have to go with this one by Brené Brown, which is one of the first things I put up in my new office:

‘No matter what gets done and how much is done and how it’s done, I’m enough.’

The full quote is ‘No matter what gets done and how much is done and how it’s done, I’m enough and I’m worthy of belonging and love and joy’, but that’s the part that’s often quoted and the part I put up where I can see it when sitting at my desk.

4. Any advice for aspiring writers?

Write the story that’s in your heart.

It never hurts to understand the genre you’re writing in because it’ll help you tweak your story to fit the market and reader expectations better. However, I’ve coached too many writers who got so caught up in what others told them to write, they lost touch with why they started writing that story to begin with.

I’m all for learning from others because it’ll help you grow as a storyteller, but, in the end, once you’ve absorbed all that knowledge, you have to make it your own and trust your own vision.

It’s really about learning how to differentiate between the right and wrong kind of advice for you and your specific situation. And that can take a while. I still find myself leaning towards the wrong advice, but I’ve become much faster at recognising that something isn’t for me.

5. What are you working on next?

I’m in the middle of preparing a Kickstarter campaign for my new book, 99 Writing Prompts and Journal Exercises to Cultivate Courage and Kick Imposter Syndrome to the Curb, and its companion card deck, Cards for Creative Courage.

The book will include the 99 prompts and exercises from my 52 Weeks of Writing series that speak to dealing with our fears and our feelings of not-good-enoughness and that will help you develop a stronger author mindset.

Card for Creative Courage includes 52 inspiring messages that will help any creative person, whether they write, paint, quilt, bake, sing, to listen to their heart, not their fears, and choose courage every time.

This is the first card deck I’ve ever created and it’s going to be exclusive to Kickstarter, so I’m really curious to see how the campaign will go once it launches, which will be… somewhere in October if all goes according to plan.


‘The more grateful I am, the more beauty I see.’ Mary Davis

*** Now available in black-and-white AND full colour! ***

Gratitude is not just about ATTITUDE.

Gratitude is about PRACTICE.

But how do you create a gratitude practice that sticks?

After the success of her first 365 Days of Gratitude Journal, writing coach Mariëlle S. Smith brings you Volume 2. Same journal but with an entirely different look!

After years of barely surviving her own emotional minefield, Mariëlle discovered the transformative power of practising gratitude. But, like no one else, she knows that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is easier said than done.

365 Days of Gratitude, Vol. 2 is an undated, guided journal. Complete with inspiring quotes, daily prompts, and recurring check-ins, it was designed to help you create a sustainable gratitude practice too.

Commit to the life-changing power of gratitude today and order your copy now!


Gratitude journaling brings me so much. It slows me down. It reminds me to take deep breaths in and out. It stops me from pushing myself too hard, too often. It brings me joy. Happiness. Appreciation. It reminds me of all I have going for me, no matter the kind of day it’s been.

It really has been the key I was looking and ready for when it showed up in my life.

But, even now, after years of practice, I have to consciously decide to do the work. That it came at the right time and with the structure I needed doesn’t mean I don’t get off track, especially when the going gets tough.

I used to become angry and utterly frustrated with myself when this happened, but now I simply sit myself down (read: force myself to take a break) and return to my practice. And because it’s such a simple, structured practice, it’s easier to pick up again than I often think.

Of course, some days or even weeks will be easier than others, but that’s another thing gratitude journaling has brought me. No matter how far I stray, I am grateful for having something to return to. For all the days I ignore my practice, I’m grateful for all the days I do pick up my journal and let the miracle that is life unfold in front of me.

Purchase Links

All purchase links can be found here.

Amazon | Deluxe Edition Amazon | Barnes & Noble Black-and-White Edition | Barnes & Noble Full Colour Edition

Author Bio and Links

Mariëlle S. Smith is a writer, writing coach, and editor. She lives in Cyprus, where she organises private writer’s retreats, is inspired 24/7, and feeds more stray cats than she can count.

Website | Facebook | Blog | Goodreads | Instagram | YouTube


Mariëlle S. Smith will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Mariëlle on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

When You Forget Why You Started

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

On Fridays, I receive Hope Clark’s newsletter, Funds for Writers. Here’s a thought-provoking essay from a recent email:

When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” – British economist Charles Goodhart (Goodhart’s law)

This quote says that basically, when you set a goal, and you become hard focused in meeting that goal, you can easily forget what drove you to set the goal in the first place. The measure, so to speak, becomes the details in the goals instead of the original mission.

Metrics, for instance. When you set goals in terms of hours, dollars, sales, hits, reviews, and followers, and that’s what you get up in the morning to which to give your attention, you begin chasing the metrics. Your original goal turns murky.

In another instance, you may notice what’s popular and think, I can do that. That applies not just to books but also to short pieces, even journalism. You see what is getting attention, say on sites like or popular blogs. Or in terms of books, you see the best-selling genres and shift gears to write those instead of what you originally started writing.

You are chasing success. You are trying to find the easier road, or at least the road someone else has cut out ahead of you.

My first mystery series is The Carolina Slade Mysteries. Many New York agents replied saying nobody wanted to read about an amateur sleuth like her, especially from the South, especially rural. Good writing, they said, but they didn’t like the protagonist enough nor her setting. I, however, loved her. I developed her, fleshed her out, and eventually I sold her, quickly learning that strong female mystery protagonists were my thing.

I’m so glad I didn’t detour and write about vampires.

Sign up to receive Hope Clark’s newsletter here.

Blurb Blitz: Home to Clare Harbor Box Set

I’m happy to welcome author Jacie Middlemann. Today, Jacie shares her box set, Home to Clare Harbor.


They started out as strangers…but didn’t stay that way for long…

A devoted granddaughter willing to do whatever it takes to keep everyone safe. Strangers who meet during the worst of conditions and become friends in the midst of chaos. Unexpected romance under the most unlikely circumstances. A puzzling mystery with its roots in historical events that took place centuries ago. And a storm that hides an ominous purpose that could change all their lives forever.

Sara knows before she walks into her grandparent’s home that her grandmother’s greatest fear will never be the storm or the threat it poses but instead the unknown that lays just beyond her front door. She knows too its cause and grieves that there is nothing she can do to change it.

Throughout the years of his career John has covered numerous battlefields including those that are a result of nature’s unyielding tempest. He fears this might be the worst one yet.

Mel didn’t expect to spend more than a few days in the large house where they’d taken refuge. She figured the storm would pass by and then they’d be off to their next assignment. The last thing she expected was David Payne.

Despite the fact that Lance was the bane of her teenage years, Tish knows that without the help of her father’s assistant, that the trip to North Carolina likely would have been a lot more challenging than it was. She’d been unequivocally terrified but his presence gave her strength she didn’t realize she had. She wasn’t certain how she felt about that…or him…or that he no longer irritated her the way he used to.

When Gary arrived at his family’s home in the mountains of North Carolina, he’s relieved that Sara and her grandparents along with their elderly friends are already there. But he is unable to take an easy breath until Tish finally arrives with Lance…and is not at all surprised at what he hears from Lance about their trip and the potential dangers they’d just barely been able to avoid.

He’s determined to do everything he can to keep their location safe…and unknown. Their knowledge, skills, and ingenuity are their greatest defense. For a time they would have to depend on themselves…it hadn’t take long to discover that the storm was never their greatest threat…but what is could change all their lives for the immediate future…or longer.

If you enjoy uplifting and heartfelt women’s fiction, young and older heroes and heroines filled with courage and compassion as they share joys and triumphs, and united they face and overcome tremendous challenges and tragedy, this book is for you.


“I’m so sorry, dear. I know I’m being foolish,” Maisie said quietly.

“No one could ever accuse you of being foolish, Grandma,” Sara said meaning every word. “We’re in a scary situation that none of us have ever been in before. You’d be far more foolish if you claimed it didn’t bother you.”

“It’s not just the storm,” Maisie admitted slowly but she kept her eyes steady on those of the young woman sitting next to her.

“Tell me, Grandma,” Sara asked softly. She knew sometimes if her grandmother was able to give voice to her fears it helped to diminish them.

Lord only knew that she’d talked with enough professionals to learn ways that could successfully help her grandmother to cope with the many fears that too often held her in their grip. She knew at the moment the primary one came from not being in familiar surroundings…not being in her own her home. Everything else was peripheral to that.

But at the moment there was little she could do to remedy the greatest of her fears.

“I won’t be able to go home, will I?”

The trembling voice that was filled with so much more than just fear broke Sara’s heart. She knew it was the exact same fear of so many others who were her grandmother’s age.

“Oh, Grandma.” She wrapped her arms around the frail shoulders that had once been so strong and sturdy. They had been her buffer against the world for so many years during her childhood and all the years after. She could do no less for her now.

********The box set is on sale for $0.99********

Author Bio and Links

Jacie Middlemann lives in Texas with her husband and a couple of cats who believe they rule…and sometimes they do.

When she’s not watching classic sitcoms or working on a needlework project for one of her kids, she loves to read women’s fiction and sometimes a good mystery suspense.

Amazon | Goodreads | Amazon Buy Link


Jacie Middlemann will be awarding a $50 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Jacie on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

Stories Don’t Die Easily

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In A Year of Writing Dangerously, author and teacher Barbara Abercrombie shares anecdotes, insights, and solutions. Here’s one of my favorite stories:

Let’s say you’re growing tomatoes. Some of you will keep a very tidy garden, and you’ll secure your plants on poles with little wire twists, feed and water your tomatoes regularly, and be alert for pests who want to eat them. Finally, one warm summer day, you’ll harvest some delicious tomatoes.

Others of you will not be so tidy, and things might get out of control. Maybe your vines will creep where they’re not supposed to, the poles will collapse, a few evil green worms will appear and scare the daylights out of you, and you’ll have a tomato jungle on your hands. But tomato plants are hardy, and one warm summer day, you’ll harvest some delicious tomatoes.

This is not unlike writing stories. Stories don’t die easily, and we all go about writing them in our own way.

Source: A Year of Writing Dangerously, p.220