Summertime Girl ~ by Darlene Kuncytes

We are fast approaching the July 4th holiday, and summer in Ohio seems to have arrived. FINALLY! Although, usually, July 4th always meant the beginning of the end of summer, this year I’m forced to look at it in a completely different way.

We’ve had a horribly wet and rainy few months, and for someone

who craves the sun, it just has not been a fun spring. It’s been heart-breaking, and extremely difficult for those who have been flooded. Lake Erie is overflowing and we’ve had a few beaches near me wiped out because of it. I don’t ever remember that happening.

Summer has always hit late May to early June. The pool has always been open by Memorial Day, but not this year.

Not to mention that I’ve fallen so far behind in getting the yard ready that it has been stressing me out to no end, and the few precious days of sunshine that we have had so far have been sporadic at best.

I don’t know about you all, but being cooped up in the house drives
me positively batty! Not to mention my fur babies refuse to go out when it’s raining, which makes for a not so endearing battle of wills. Lol  And, I can’t really say that I blame them, either. Who wants to have to walk around in a swamp as you are getting pelted and drenched?

Living in Ohio, we have maybe 4 really good months of beautiful weather, at best. And believe me when I say that we covet those months! 


Now, I’m not saying that I don’t love fall, because I do! It’s also a favorite of mine. But, waiting months and months for that much needed vitamin D, ONLY to be denied week after week can get anyone’s panties in a twist! 

Then one day you watch the 8-day forecast, and it shows sunny and hot! For days!!! That right there is my Christmas! This is what I look forward to!
Sun! Swimming! Family coming in for vacation!


It means sitting outside and listening to the birds. Listening to the sounds of people mowing their lawns and getting that whiff of fresh cut grass!


It revitalizes me!  I find that I write more when I can sit outside. I have so much more energy. The bones don’t creak quite as much! And that is a very good thing!


I know to those of you who are lucky enough to have sunshine year around, this doesn’t mean much, but to a girl who spends approximately 6 to 7 months of each year covered up – summer is everything!


So, this month I want to remind everyone to just enjoy it! Do something different this year! Make the most of it!


Have a great July everyone!
Love, Dar



There is reality woven within the pages ~ by Joanne Jaytanie



Yes, I write fiction. My stories are created in my mind. Some might say that is a scary thought, but routinely an aspect of my story will stem from my life experiences. My newest release, Salvaging Truth is a prime example. And while I have no personal experience regarding salvage diving or the military, many of my family members do. They have served in the Navy, Coast Guard, and Army, and include my husband, stepdaughter, stepson, brother-in-law, and both my father and father-in-law.

Salvaging Truth is purely fiction, but it is supported by many fact-based details. Before I wrote the first word of this story, I extensively questioned both my daughter, Julie, and my husband, Ralph. Their combined military experience provided me with the bases of my story's plot.


Julie has served in the Coast Guard for 28 years...The first 10 years as active duty, and then she went into the reserves, where she still serves today. Julie served as a Radioman and ended her active duty as an Operations Specialist Senior Chief. While on board a Coast Guard cutter in 1994, her ship located and saved a boat full of Haitians. During their stay on the cutter, the crew even provided the Haitians, clothing and other personal items from their own lockers.

As an Operations Specialist, one of Julie’s duty stations was the San Francisco, Bay Area, which included the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ll bet that was interesting! After her active duty, Julie went into the Reserve Officer Candidate School. She was an instructor at the Chief’s Academy. She was stationed in Memphis as a Logistics Officer and recently transferred to Colorado Springs, Colorado to serve at USNORTHCOM; United States Northern Command. USNORTHCOM is a Unified Combatant Command of the U.S. military. Their job is to provide support for all non-military authorities within the United States along with providing protection for the national interests of the U.S., both within and outside of the continental United States.   


My husband, Ralph, is a retired career Naval officer who has spent most of his life on or around boats and ships or under the sea. As a Naval officer, he served as a deep-sea diver, a qualified deck officer, and Chief Engineer on board one of the largest US Navy ocean-going salvage tugs. Ralph was a Navy Salvage Engineer for the Pacific Northwest, where he planned, supervised, and participated in diving and salvage operations. When at sea, he served as Officer-in-Charge of many ocean tows, salvage, rescue, and deep diving operations around the Pacific Ocean, which included deep ocean recoveries, trans-oceanic towing of tandem barge tows, and a USN ex-aircraft carrier. 

I gained experience and knowledge from Ralph during the years we worked together in our forensic engineering firm. I’ve incorporated this insight into my Miss Demeanor, P.I. Series. I was the business administrator of the firm. I also accompanied and assisted Ralph on accident sites. He was involved in more than 400 investigations covering mechanical failures, truck--semi, vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, boating, SCUBA, and slip and falls.

Love's Always Paws-Able, Forever Christmas in Glenville Collection, and The Winters Sisters Series, are all anchored in real life details. You will find at least one Doberman as a part of the cast of each of these books.


Prior to focusing on my writing full-time, I spent nearly every weekend at dog shows: competing in confirmation, obedience, rally, and agility. I have since left the days of showing dogs behind, but not my love of the breed or sport.


I came up with a way to merge both the dog shows and my beloved breed in my stories. The Doberman is a greatly misunderstood breed. It is my hope that by depicting the breed’s true nature by showing the reader its intelligence, commitment, dedication, tenacity, and unconditional love, they will come away with a better picture and clearer understanding of the breed. The Doberman truly is a unique breed, for it was bred for companionship.

Yes, my books are fictional. But, if you take a good look, you will find a thread of reality woven within the pages of each story.




Until next time...
Joanne






Summertime Magic ~ by Jennifer Daniels

Every year, spring comes and goes, but as summer is now officially
here, we still see the benefits of spring and all it brings us to enjoy... That is the growth of all life: the trees, flowers, and the new babies that our wildlife.

As I mentioned before, I live in Upstate NY, in the woods. I often
get to see firsthand the new life that joins the world during these two seasons. One of the fun things is seeing the tons of frog eggs we find on the side of our road where the spring run-off flows. It doesn’t take long before the polliwogs will be swimming all over, and soon enough, the frogs will be
singing to us all night long. Along with the frogs are Painted and Snapping turtles that crawl up into the yard and lay their eggs, so far we have seen only one in the yard this year (and I forgot to take a picture).

Every year we have certain animals return, like Mama Robin. This
year she has laid her eggs in the front entrance of the barn. When she collected her nesting materials, she happened to make it out of a blue tarp we had outside on the roof of our small building. In this picture you can only see three of her babies but there are actually four. They are so cute and fun to watch, but we try not to disturb them, which is hard to do being that she is in our barn. Mama is never to far from her nest. 


Other friendly faces we encounter are the turkeys and their poults running after their Mama’s. When they are born they are so cute and puffy, but the cuteness doesn’t last for long.

We have two woodchucks that live on our property and my son has named them Filbert and Mrs. Filbert, but of course as I was trying to get a picture of them, wouldn’t you know, I couldn’t find them. Mrs. Filbert has quite a large waistline, this is the first year we’ve had a Mrs. around, go Filbert!

In the evening we go for drives, enjoy an ice cream treat, and on the drive home look for white-tailed deer and their fawns. The deer are so pretty and deep orange in color and the fawns are so cute with their little wobbly legs and the spots on their backs.

Tonight, my son and I went for a ride and got this picture of the sun

setting after a beautiful summer day. Now, I just need to get out onto the lake.

A huge thank you to my son for taking some of these pictures for me and going on our short walk together the other evening. The mosquitoes and deer flies were so bad, we didn’t stay outside for long.

That is just a taste of the animals that are literally in my back yard. I hope you get out and enjoy this summer and all that nature has to offer in your backyard. Also, since its just around the corner, I want to wish you all a Happy and safe 4th of July.

All photos are property of Jennifer Daniels.

All it Takes ~ by Grace Augustine

I’m a huge fan of America’s Got Talent. Last week one of the acts
was a choir comprised of kids from Detroit under the direction of a passionate man who believes in these kids 100%. The announcer, Terry Crews, was so moved by their story and performance that he gave them the opportunity of moving the directly to the live show by pressing the Golden Buzzer.

“All it takes is one person who cares…” Crews said.

I thought about this statement the rest of the evening and into the next day. All it takes is one person who cares enough to make a difference in your life. One person. One person who draws alongside of you. One person who cheers you on. One person who loves you for who you are. One person who says, “You can do it.”

I didn’t have that my growing up years. I was born in Shelby, Montana. My dad died when I was 9.
Kathryn & Frank Augustine
My mother remarried and it was over 9 months later, when he died, 2 days after my dad had the prior year. We then moved to Cut Bank, a "town to the west." It was then my mother spent the majority of her time catering to everyone else’s needs, and I was in the background.

Through an unfortunate course of events, and for my own safety and sanity, I ran away from home the middle of my sophomore year in high school. I stayed with friends until the situation at my house was a better environment for me.

During this time, one person drew along side of me…talked with me, spent time with me, became my big sister and confidante, and taught me how to stand up for myself. That person was Ms. Janet Smollack. She was my 10th grade English teacher.

I owe a lot of who I am today to her gentle guidance and teaching and
Janet Smollack Liharik
 her loving ways of bringing truth to light in my life... all things I’d not experienced. The shepherding, the love, the prayers, the faith

base she taught me are my foundation. They are who I am.

Years have passed, forty-seven of them to be exact. We have kept in touch throughout each one. We spoke only yesterday, and with each conversation, I still glean a lesson. She is ever the teacher…ever the sister...ever the best friend.

One person who cares makes a world of difference to someone who is struggling. It doesn’t matter what their struggle is, if you can be that difference, please do so. Our world is filled with so much haughtiness and hatred, with ego and anger. Be the difference. It must start somewhere, why not with you and me?

My years in Cut Bank, Montana, living in the Pacific Northwest, and personal experience are a foundation for my writing. In The Acorn Hills Series…each character of each book has a part of me and pieces of my memories of that gentler time.

Book 3, Sultry Sensations, has the most of me in it. While there are
copyright Grace Augustine
some parts that didn’t happen and are only imagination, other parts are factual. It’s about an overweight girl from the wrong side of the tracks who takes charge of her life with the help extended her, some that came from her high school English teacher. You can learn more about my books HERE .

Please, never think yourself better than anyone. You aren’t that special little darling you think you are, because each in our own way are special...none more so than the other. We all are fashioned the same way, and technically, each of us have the genes of the other. We’re related. And while you shake your head and say, “Yeah, but some of those relatives…” take a look in that mirror. Are you the best of the best or is it because you think having  money makes you the best, or a large home, or many successful kids and grandkids? Some of the wealthiest people monetarily are some of the poorest on earth, yet some of the wealthy are as common as your next door neighbors. Be that odd one out. Be the one who cares enough to make a difference in someone’s life. You won’t be sorry. It will warm your soul and give you even more purpose than you think you have.

For my dear, sweet friend: Thank you, Jan, for always being there, always knowing what I need to hear, and always imparting wisdom--whether Divine or your own. I love our phone chats. You are forever in my heart.

To the rest of you reading this, remember…someone once took a chance on you. Whether you chose to accept it or reject it is yours to own, but nothing says that you can’t be that difference for someone else. Pass it on, people. It costs nothing to be kind.



photo by glazimg.pw
 

Petroglyphs?—Exacta?—Trifecta? Beer and Burger?~by Ralph Duncan


“Hey, that guy at the next window just bet on #1 to win.” “That sounds like a really good bet.  Number 1 just won the last race. And that was my next pick. I am going to put 5 on him right now.” Pretty experienced I was, just having finished the instructions on how to read the Ruidoso Downs Race Program.

Although an obviously sophisticated betting strategy, if not interesting, I should back up and start this story over.

I have made many trips to New Mexico, an adopted homeland for my family and where I spent my collegiate years. Most of the trips in the last 10 years or so have been to a sleepy little artsy town nestled high in the Sacramento Mountains about 2 hours north of El Paso, Texas. I have written about Cloudcroft before. Literally in the clouds, Cloudcroft is named after an English description of a clearing covered in clouds. It is where my parents retired and were buried; in a beautiful mountain meadow in the James Canyon Cemetery, just behind the old “Cowboy Church.”




It is also adjacent to the noted Mescalero Reservation whose tribal members are direct descendants of some of the most famous of Native Americans (namely, Cochise and Geronimo).


This visit however, was to visit my brother and his wife who were also retiring in those mountains and had begun building their home. This, after cruising the Caribbean for about 5 years.

After running errands in preparation for a foundation, concrete pour, and ordering trusses and lumber package, we decided on our last day that we would take off and drive about an hour and half up to the resort town of Ruidoso, also known as the quarter horse racing capital of the country. 

Our trip required us to head down the mountain to the desert floor of the Tularosa Basin. Our plan was to hike the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site trail near Tularosa. The trail is not long, just a little over a mile round trip, but boasts over 20,000 petroglyphs. As much as we were looking forward to this hike, the temperature on the desert floor topped out at over 100 degrees and we decided that it would be too smart for two mature gentlemen to get out in that kind of heat. “Beer and a burger” at Ruidoso it was, then. It was a great drive and a great time for the only two male siblings in our family to do some catching up. 

Now when we are together and begin talking about serious stuff, the conversations usually begin something like, ”Here’s the thing about that….” It was as if all clarity about the particular subject matter would be achieved and all myths and untruths would be dispelled. Today’s topic was tiny houses and the Tularosa Basin. Today those topics overlapped, with many very tiny houses, most occupied and some deserted, scattered out into the desert. The Basin itself has its own history, which would eventually come to be significant to the US as a whole.

Stretching over 150 miles, north to south, it started out life as an ocean. Over time, as the scars on the mountain slopes reveal, the ocean dried up and formed what is now the stretch of gypsum sand known as the White Sands National Monument. It is also home to the White Sands Missile Range Nuclear Test site and site of the world’s first atomic bomb detonation. We also know it as the Trinity Site.

Covering the requisite mileage on the desert floor, we left the heat of the desert for the cooler (about 15 degrees) mountain retreat of Ruidoso.



It was a learning experience and a lesson in how to read a racing program. What’s the bet? How do you place a bet? How do you pick a winner? Your guess is as good as mine. But, it was a good day to spend with a brother. 


Two days after I arrived back home my brother texted me this headline from a local newspaper.


“Authorities say a visitor has died on a hiking trail at White Sands …” Temps were 99 degrees plus.—Glad we picked the beer and burger.





Lakeside Living 4: Swan Song by Ruth Ross Saucier

     I was sitting by my picture window one morning, marveling at the view—or, actually, at the complete lack thereof. Normally, I was 30 feet away from waterfront. However, 
overnight an impenetrable winter fog had blanketed my mountain lake, obscuring everything except the very edge of the lake, perhaps ten feet of water.  The grass was frosted over hard, leaving not a hint of green.  In fact, everything before me was some shade of white or gray: frosted grass, a solid white wall of fog, and a thin strip of silvery water.  The white out was complete, the fog curtain blocked everything.

     The utterly still, gray-and-white panorama lulled me quickly into fantasy.  Perhaps I wasn’t living on a little mountain lake at all, but on a great ocean. Just beyond the fog was a grand vista of sailing ships and a tree-lined harbor.


     But as I began to elaborate on my time-killing fantasy, the perfectly frozen tableau inexplicably began to change. The solid, flat wall of fog began to balloon out in two areas near the water level.  The fog wall bulged out, getting bigger and bigger with no clue about the cause. 


     Finally, the pregnant fog spheres burst open to reveal pristine white swans: the first I had ever seen on the lake. The swans glided by, not even disturbing the surface water and producing an elegant tableau in white and silver. A moment later, they disappeared--leaving behind nothing but the fog wall and the secrets it guarded.

     
     But wait--were they royal swans? Was my lake a feature of castle gardens? My fantasy took over once more.

Have You Seen or Heard a Ghost? ~by Kim Hornsby


I write ghosts or unexplainable occurrences into my books and I’m not going to brag or apologize for it. I just do. I never started out to write about ghosts and I’m not a freaky ghost-loving fanatic, but those things just seem to creep into most of my books whether they were included in the character list or the original storyline, or not. I’ll be writing a perfectly sweet little story and the next thing I know something moves the curtains or there is a tap at the window that can’t be explained.


When I was a child, I was very frightened of ghosts. Even as a teen, I remember being told to say out loud that I did not want any ghost to present themselves to me. Apparently, the spirits that surround you will protect you from anyone coming through if you let your parameters be known. I was not open to messages, or visions from the other side. At all. I believed and I was terrified. I was a reluctant believer.

My grandmother was a believer and when my grandfather died, she felt him in the bed with her for the nights afterwards. I grew up hearing these stories. When she died, my aunt tried to contact her with an Ouija Board and a message came through for me that only my grandmother and I knew about. 

               Kim Ghost Hunting 
Over the years, I’ve had a few occurrences, including the vision of my recently deceased dog going around the corner a few days after his death. I saw him and so did my daughter who was ten at the time. We both couldn’t believe it. Now, it seems like we might have imagined it except for the fact that we both saw him.

I wrote my latest book series about a woman who was used by her mother as a child to do ghost readings in houses. Bryndle Moody is all grown up now and has a YouTube show called Moody Paranormal Investigations in which she investigates ghosts and films her findings. She’s a medium, which is different from a psychic, although she is also psychic. And, she’s newly blind. When she inherits a house on the Oregon Coast with a ghost that gives her back her sight in his presence, she never wants to let him go. But his request is to find his bones from 1850 to let him pass on.

I’m not sure where I got this story from, but it’s now evolved into 4 short books that involve ghosts, mystery, and lots of snarky humor from Bryndle. For this series, I drew upon stories my readers tell me about their experiences with ghosts to write a series with no gore, horror, little swearing and very little hanky-panky until the 4th book and by then you are ready for it. It’s a continuing series with cliff-hanger endings that lead you to the next book. If you pick up the first one, which is only .99, you might need to keep going to the next. I keep my books cheap so everyone can enjoy my stories.

Have you ever seen or heard a ghost? I’d be very surprised if you haven’t whether you knew it or not. Do tell!


Street Fair Season! ~ by Lexa Fisher


The weekend of May 18th and 19th kicked off my favorite part of summer with the first street fair of the year in Seattle's University District. 2019 is the 50th anniversary for this street fair and average attendance for the two days is 150,000 people!

I especially love street fairs for the locally crafted wares. There are booths with T-shirts, handmade soaps, jewelry, candles, honey, and of course plenty of food choices.


Local honey from Shipwreck Apiary
Local honey is a favorite of ours, and we learned a lot when we asked the honey vendor about a rare variety, fireweed. It turns out that the fireweed flower grows primarily at high elevations, and around here a beekeeper needs a forest service permit to place hives in most of these areas. Placing forty hives would have cost the beekeeper at Shipwreck Apiary $3,000.00, so he had no fireweed honey to sell this year.


My favorite balsamic vinegars and oils


Balsamic vinegar is my go-to salad dressing and my favorite brand OMG! was there this year. OMG! is also available year-round at Seattle's Pike Place Market. We bought strawberry fig, vanilla fig, peach white balsamic, and an herbed oil for oven-roasted vegetables.



Delicious looking! But too pretty to burn?

Cupcake and parfait candles! We experienced power outages three times last winter, so candles were just a prudent purchase, with a cherry on top (of the whipped wax frosting). These smell as delicious as they look!



Our favorite local soaps

Our favorite Washington-made soaps were here again this year, and we stocked up for a few months. Stormy Mountain soaps are made in the small central Washington town of Entiat. Stormy Mountain will also be selling at Seattle's (in)famous Fremont Solstice parade and street fair June 22nd.



A handsome man I saw buying soap. The same guy I married fifteen years ago. 😊

The Heart of the Working People Part 2~by John Brown

The Book of John Chapter 1 ~ by John Brown

photo courtesy of John Brown
I began my career in the oil industry in 1977 at age 21, working for an Alberta, Canada-based oilfield service company. We worked mostly in northern Montana but were transferred to the northern Canadian Provinces in the wintertime when the swampy muskeg, or peat bogs, froze. The freezing temperatures, which often reached below -50 degrees Fahrenheit, allowed drilling rigs and other heavy equipment access to the remote areas.
February 1978 found us contracted to work on several oil wells
near the village of Rainbow Lake, Alberta. A long, rutted, rough gravel road from the main highway led to the hamlet deep in the Canadian bush country. The town itself consisted of very few permanent buildings and many pre-fab, temporary camp-like structures that are common in remote boom towns. Our “hotel” was essentially trailers slid together with a common hallway and bathroom, where cots sufficed for beds, but it was a warm, welcome respite from the brutal cold. After stowing our bags in our room, we headed out to a drilling rig, where we worked most of the night.

At morning’s light, we moved down the road to the next well site.
The drilling rig we left to go to the H2S well
The wells in this area were notoriously known as having high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide, or H2S, an extremely poisonous gas that is deadly in small concentrations. Seven hundred parts per million in the air will render a person unconscious at once, with immediate death if not rescued. We had not been supplied with self-contained breathing gear as all available units were needed at the drilling rig.

We rigged up on the well to complete our work as a general work crew, known as roustabouts, prepared the wellhead for us. The well had more pressure than was anticipated and had to be bled down so our operations could commence. They were blowing the well’s tubing down via a flare pipe downwind from us. Something went horribly wrong and the gas diverted to an open tank directly upwind from us.

I was near the wellhead and had a sensation of suffocation, so tried to warn my co-worker. I yelled, “Gas!” as my knees buckled. I do not remember hitting the ground.

My parents always had a big Sunday dinner for as long as I can remember. Suddenly, I was transported home to that dinner table. Home… with Mom, Dad, and my older brother, Rob; eating roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and apple pie for dessert. Home and safe. I started to take a bite of food and felt violently ill.

The roar of our work truck’s power plant was my next sensation, followed by intense cold and inability to see. I tried to rise, but kept falling back. I knew I had to get away, but could not. I heard my co-worker, Ted, ask me if I was alright. He had been throwing snow in my face and was pulling me back down each time I tried to rise. Ted had heard my warning yell and saw me go down. He was overcome when he came to help me, but had regained consciousness before me.

We saw two more people down and tended to them as the people who evacuated the site returned to help. One man had stopped breathing and Ted administered CPR and rescue breathing to revive him.

We radioed in to Rainbow Lake that we were coming in with four H2S victims; thankfully they had a medical clinic. After we spent several hours on oxygen, the other two men were flown out to a hospital for overnight observation.

Later, we found out that the roustabout who was bleeding the well down saw what was happening and somehow shut the well valve before he was overcome. We also found out that this particular well had been tested at 350,000 parts per million of hydrogen sulfide!

photo courtesy of Pexels.com
Apparently, God had a plan for me and it was not my time. We should have all died that day on that frigid, remote well-site.



John Brown continues working in oilfields on the rigs. He and his wife reside in Northern Montana.





Meet Our Members ~ American Artist Ralph Duncan

Ralph Duncan, American Artist

I learned early in life that producing something with your hands not only allows you to realize your creative vision but also gives you a feeling of self-sufficiency. Throughout my life, I started to develop a passion for art of all kinds, influenced by some explorations early in life and a grandmother who was a well-known New Mexico painter.

Over time, this passion manifested itself through carving wood, building studio furniture, and generally exploring various art mediums. However, intrigued by the exploration of light and shadows that graphite drawing provides I began a formal atelier program led by the artist Jonathan Hardesty to hone my classical drawing skills.

Today, I strive to create visual art that has a clear basis in drawing skills and shows a liberal use of mixed media. My work is very much inspired by the work of accomplished artists and teachers like Mary Whyte, Ian Murphy, and Eileen Sorg. Most of the time my subject matter comes from the sea and my life as a sailor, deep-sea diver, lover of the ocean, pilot, engineer and designer, and naval officer.

To visit Ralph's member page, view his artwork, social media links, and read his prior blog posts, please click RALPH'S PAGE

The History of Fathers Day ~ via History.com


On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday.

The next year, a Spokane, Washington , woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful: Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on June 19, 1910.

Slowly, the holiday spread. In 1916, President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day.

Today, the day honoring fathers is celebrated in the United States on the third Sunday of June. In other countries–especially in Europe and Latin America–fathers are honored on St. Joseph’s Day, a traditional Catholic holiday that falls on March 19.

To read the full article, please click FATHERS DAY

To all of the Fathers, from all of us at Originality by Design, we wish you a wonderful day.

Must Sew ~ Jacquolyn McMurray

Next week I’m going to teach a class of middle school students how to sew. I only hope I will be as good a teacher as my first sewing instructor.


My grandma taught me how to hem tea towels when I was only about eight. We sat side by side on her sofa and she showed me how to make small even stitches. And here’s the clincher—she was totally blind. Her fingers seemed to have superpowers. 

Photo by alexandra munoz on Unsplash

Even at eight years old, I could sew for more than an hour while talking with Grandma.  I still love the methodical push and pull of needle and thread through fabric.

At twelve, my parents gave me an electric sewing machine for Christmas and I’ve never been without one since. Over the years my projects have included making a tent on a treadle machine, sewing clothes for myself, including full length gowns, and designing and sewing Christmas tree skirts for our two grown children.


My biggest project to date was designing and sewing our daughter’s wedding gown without benefit of a pattern. 



Most of my free time these days is spent writing. Despite my passion for telling stories, each year I complete at least three sewing projects. Since our grandsons were born, many projects have centered around them, like the teddy bear I made our two-year-old for Christmas. 












This tote bag is one of many I’ve sewn over the years that incorporates our local coffee mill burlap bag. I’ve made about a dozen unique totes. Someday I’ll keep one for myself!






I’m not sure what my sewing projects will entail this year, but one thing I know for sure—I’ll enjoy creating them.






Life of an Indie Author ~ by Joanne Jaytanie



There is a multitude of balls to juggle when you're an indie author. The primary one is to produce a quality story, a story that readers will be interested in reading. Lucky for me, I love that part of my job – if I didn’t, I’d be in the wrong business, right? However, you can't just write a story, throw it up on Amazon, and believe it will sell like the next Harry Potter series. It could, but chances are it won't. To get to this step in the process, you need to:

  • Be dedicated and disciplined to writing every day. This is something I continually work on.

  • Find a few great editors. Have your manuscript read and edited. Rinse and repeat, over and over. And no matter how many times you do it, something will slip through.

  • Find a fantastic book cover designer.

  • Get your ISBNs. Every book has its individual ISBN. Every format, print, audio, eBook, has its own ISBN.

  • Format your manuscript for the company where you want it published.

While you’re editing your manuscript, or even before, you should be doing marketing and promotion. Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are a must. Create a website and a newsletter. Join writers’ groups, do book signings, podcasts, book trailers, and write blogs.

I just happen to know of a blog that always supports the Arts.


Support other authors and they will support you.






Marketing and promotion is a must if you're publishing your own books and even if you're a traditionally published author. You've put in the blood, sweat, and many, many tears. You don't want your book sitting around, collecting cyber-dust. You want it READ! 

And don’t forget the continuing education: on-line classes, conferences, workshops, workbooks, and my favorite – writers’ retreats (and not just because there is wine involved.) I am a firm believer in the school of thought that you can never stop learning. Things change, they evolve. What worked last year might not work now. What works for one author might not work for you. Something new is always on the horizon.

I’ve simplified the process, but I’ve touched on most of the main points. It’s a tough business, but a fulfilling one. I’ve made so many amazing friends. Friends who are near and dear to my heart, people who will always be in my life.

To be successful as an author, you will need three things - Discipline, Dedication, and Determination.

What am I doing now? I’m continually promoting. I am finally working on a course I should have started months ago. Twice as Bad is in the editing loop. I’m revising my series bible for The Winters Sisters Series by reading through the books and refreshing myself with the details so I can jump back into book 5. And I can’t wait to get started!







Until next time…

Joanne 

Passport in My Pocket ~ by Author Elle Rush

After two years of saving and planning, we’ve bought plane tickets for a trip I’ve wanted to take for thirty years. This fall – finally – I will be heading to the lands of Avalon and Hogwarts. United Kingdom, here I come!

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel, but never to Europe. Now we
have two weeks to experience a thousand years of history. We will be touring Edinburgh Castle, checking out Hadrian’s Wall, visiting Bath for all things Jane Austen, and running around London until our shoes wear out, including a rest stop at a West End Theatre performance. We don’t know if we’ll ever return, so we are doing as much as we can in the limited time we have.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my hometown of Winnipeg. Last summer we did a stay-cation and hit a bunch of tourist spots that locals generally don’t bother with. But spending our vacation days at home was a choice we made in order to save for this trip of a lifetime.

While I grew up with Canada’s “Anne of Green Gables” and America’s “Little House on the Prairie”, I also read my fair share of classics set in England. Sherlock Holmes and I dashed off on many adventures from his flat on Baker Street, Jane Austen took me on many a stroll through Hyde Park, and Agatha Christie probably set at least one murder in one of the small country villages where our train will stop. Soon I’ll be able to see them for real. My imagination has already visited a thousand times and I fully believe it will live up to the expectations. 

Since I’m a writer, I hope to come back with a dozen story ideas and a hundred places to set them. It would be so cool to be able to set scenes in a London pub and be able to make it authentic. Or to describe the noise and confusion of Piccadilly Circus. Who knows, maybe my readers will end up with a Scottish hero, accent and all!

I’ve set books in other locations that I’ve visited. The couples in
my Resort Romance books have visited Cuba, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. If I learned to snorkel or wandered through a Mayan city, my readers can, too. Writing those books was almost as good as having another holiday. (Almost but not quite. Even a book can’t overcome a blizzard outside your window in January, no matter how good your imagination.)  I hope to do the same with my UK adventures soon.

I don’t think anyone resents travelling for fun, but it isn’t possible for everybody. If you can’t do it for real, I hope you can do the armchair version. Whether it’s non-fiction tour guides, history books, or novels, you can get away any time you like. Reading is almost as good as the real thing. Plus, inevitably you get much better pictures in a book. You won’t have random photos of your shoes appearing in your camera roll, and nobody’s heads will be cut off.   Bon voyage to you and your future adventures!

Elle Rush is a contemporary romance author from Winnipeg,Manitoba, Canada. When she’s not travelling, she’s hard at work writing books that are set all over the world. From Hollywood to the house next door, her heroes will make you sigh and her heroines will make you laugh out loud.
   She has degrees in Spanish and French, barely passed German, and has flunked poetry in every language she ever studied, including English. She also has mild addictions to tea, her garden, bad sci-fi movies, and HGTV.

Photos supplied by Elle Rush

Being Independent ~ by Bruno Skibbild

Forgive me for my spelling and grammar. English is not my first language reading is fine, talking better - and singing in English is almost ...