Aspirations and Resolutions

This is the time of year when many people review their aspirations and make resolutions for achieving them. I am one of those people. This year, I looked back at journals that covered fifty-plus years of my life and saw that, year to year, I had similar resolutions: I aspired to exercise more, lose weight, and become a published writer. That these aspirations/resolutions remained so constant through the years should tell me something about myself, but I haven’t quite decided what.

I have made some progress toward my goals. For example, I now weigh fifty pounds less than I did in 2013. I have self-published nine novels, and five of them are selling well on Amazon. So I have made progress on many of my aspirations, but some still need my attention. I am working to lose another fifteen pounds, exercise daily, and improve both the amount and quality of my writing.

I recently read that you should never say you are an aspiring writer because that tells everyone you are a beginner. I understand that is what some people might think when they hear the term, and I would add some specific details to it. (I love specific details.) I believe we can always become better at what we do, and I aspire to become better at portraying the hearts and minds of my characters in ways that will engage my readers in a story that will take them on a vicarious emotional journey.

Not only do I aspire to write better fiction, I aspire to become a more regular blogger. Of my three blogs, this one has been my most neglected. My most recent post before today’s was in 2018. My goal this year is to post once a month to each blog. I broke through with some success on weight and writing fiction. I am determined to make this the breakthrough year on blogging.

If you would like to, please comment and share your aspirations for the coming year.

Posted in Aspirations | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Ending the Border Children Crisis: A Modest Proposal

It seems like every morning there are more news articles on the horrible effects of separating children from their parents. One blog post that spells out the damages being done to the Border Children is Sally Edelstein’s “What Are We Doing to the Children? When Administration officials (from the President to the Attorney General and all other supporters of this cruel policy) are challenged about their horrendous treatment of children, the one thing they say that is true is this: Congress needs to act.

What do our mealy-mouthed elected U.S. Representatives and Senators have to say in return?

  • They have several bills lined up but none of them will pass.
  • If anything does pass, the President won’t sign it.

In effect, they are saying there is really nothing they can do.


How about this modest proposal?

  • Round up all U.S. Representatives and Senators and LOCK THEM UP in the Capitol Building. Don’t let them out until they have passed a law that takes care of this problem.
  • Take away cell phones, email, and all other means of communication with the outside world. Especially stop all communication with their families. If it’s good enough for children in a strange country, it’s good enough for people who were elected to do a job and aren’t doing it.
  • Stop all Congressional paychecks until the Crisis of the Border Children is resolved by law.
  • Pass a law that puts an end to policies that punish innocent children and get those children who have been separated from their parents back with them.
  • If Congress passes a law and the President won’t sign it, they need to do what the law allows:
  • Override the Veto!

So U.S. Representatives and Senators, whether it is Guts, Spine, or Balls, show that you have enough of the appropriate body part to stand up to the President and his Administration and stop the cruelty that is being inflicted on these children.

Most of us have always believed our country was better than this. It’s time for Congress to prove it.

Posted in Citizenship, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Empty Space to Bookstore in Five Days

Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore

Ellen Plumb’s City Bookstore

Just five days ago, the storefront at 1101 Commercial in Emporia, Kansas, was empty. That was before Marcia Lawrence, proprietor of Ellen Plumb’s City Bookstore, gathered together a band of booklovers who cleaned the space, hauled in dismantled shelves, and put them back together again. Today was “soft” opening day, with Marcia greeting customers with coffee and conversation.

Books by Kansas authors line the shelves.




While waiting for books from national distributors to arrive, local writers are enjoying the ample display space their books are receiving.




You’ll find poetry, history, mystery, and essays. Check out the Kansas Notable Books by authors Mike Graves and Cheryl Unruh.




And here are four of my novels: two historical, one young adult, and one suspense. I have another suspense novel on order.




Marcia hasn’t forgotten the youngest readers, providing big pillows for them to relax on in the children’s section.



Coming Soon: Special Events

Marcia has some great special events lined up. For more information, visit Ellen Plumb’s Facebook page.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

In Search of a Fly Swatter

flyswatter-30020_640When I moved three years ago, I lost my fly swatter. Every summer since then, when flies zoom in through a momentarily opened door and begin buzzing annoyingly around my ears and landing on fruits, vegetables, or other food in the midst of preparation, I put a fly swatter on the shopping list. Then I forget the list or can’t find the item in the store.

Of course, flies aren’t the only insect that can be exterminated with a swatter. Recently, a wandering wasp made it into the house and flitted from window to window, searching for a way out. I ducked for cover as he darted this way and that, almost hitting me as he swooped by. Opening a door for him to fly out didn’t work. It just gave additional insects a port of entry. Bonnie, my relentless writing friend, said I should spray the wasp with hairspray. I had my doubts, but she said it would coat him and cause him to die.

The next day, the wasp buzzed past my head. I yelped and grabbed a can of hairspray. I whirled too quickly, stumbled over a book, and almost fell, all the while with my finger on the sprayer. I was happy that the only thing polluting the air was hairspray and not insect poison, but neither are good for breathing. Even with all my stumbling and flailing about, I was able to get some spray on the insect, but it only slowed him down. He managed to burrow between the venetian blinds and the curtain where I couldn’t get a clear shot. Obviously, I needed that swatter.

While shopping that afternoon, I stopped at Dollar General. I didn’t have much hope because I had looked there two or three times in previous years. A quick tour of the store brought me to the same conclusion: no fly swatter. Just as I was winding my way around boxes of new products waiting to be put away, I happened upon a sales clerk who asked if he could help me. I asked if he had a fly swatter. He laughed. “I’ve been here four years and we’ve never carried them. But they just came in this order. I put them out twenty minutes ago.” He fetched one for me, and we headed for the checkout where a line was forming.

While he was ringing up my purchase, I mentioned the wasp. A lady behind me cautioned about trying to kill it with the swatter. She said the injured wasp would release an odor which would cause his buddies to swarm after me. Luckily, my wasp was a loner in my house, so I bravely whacked him the next time he buzzed me. The previous hair spray contact had slowed him down and burrowing in the curtains did not save him this time.

Besides being able to enjoy my home wasp-free, I have been reminded of a valuable shopping lesson: If you don’t see what you want, ask. The item might have just come in.


Posted in Nature | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Beware of Walmart Family Mobile

If like me, you believed Walmart Family Mobile was a pay-as-you-go, month-to-month plan, you would be wrong. I am finding out the hard way. I signed up for a plan for a family member who was subsequently unable to pay the bill. When his phone service was turned off, I didn’t think anything of it because my understanding was that users paid for service in advance. It makes sense that if the service has been turned off, there should be no charge.

First billing letter

However, I soon received a bill dated May 9, 2016. The letter stated the service had been suspended and the balance due was $39.99. I did not believe I owed the money, but I sent a check dated May 16, 2016, for the requested amount along with a letter stating that I was cancelling the service and under no circumstances was it to be re-established. I wrote “paid in full” on the check. The company cashed the check.

Second billing letter

I thought that was the end of it. Not so! The next letter I received from Walmart Family Mobile was dated May 31, 2016, and demanded another $30.00. Since the telephone number for the customer service department does not allow the caller to talk to a live person, I wrote another letter expressing that the service had been discontinued, and when there is no service, there should be no charge.

Third billing letter

The third letter I received from Walmart Family Mobile was dated June 13, 2016. The explanation for the additional $30.oo charge was that it was for the billing period from April 9 to May 8, 2016. Since their first request for payment was dated May 9, 2016, I can’t help wondering why this $30.00 amount was not part of it.

In every letter after the first one, there is the sentence that reads: “Please submit payment at your earliest convenience to ensure your cancelled account is closed in good standing….” I take that as their “polite” way of threatening to ruin my credit if I don’t pay what I don’t owe. I have decided that I will not pay a bill I should not owe.

I looked online for reviews of Walmart Family Mobile and found a long list of complaints similar to mine. I also learned that the Kansas Attorney General’s Office for consumer affairs doesn’t handle complaints involving telephone service . I have been told the Federal Communications Commission does. I am filing a complaint with them.

Please pass the word along that if you do business with Walmart Family Mobile, you may be charged for services you did not receive.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Speed dating a book

Library book sale $10 bag

Library book sale $10 bag

If you’ve ever been to a library book sale, you may be able to appreciate the need to speed date a book. You are standing with your paper bag in a narrow aisle. People are coming down each end toward you with their own bags or boxes. Someone is trying to look at books on the table behind you, squeezing a little closer than you’d like. The person to the left is studying the book in your hand, looking as though he is ready to grab it if you put it down. After all, he is interested in history, too, or he wouldn’t be at this table.

Quick! Make a decision and move on.

You put the book down, scoot your half-full bag a few inches with your foot and start checking the contents of the next box.

My most recent library book sale

I attended one day of the sale and bought one bag of sixteen books, a bargain at $10. I usually attend more days, but my house is full. Still, I cannot resist the lure and the possibility of finding just the book I need for whatever purpose comes to mind in the brief time I hold it in my hand. At this sale, I chose the books pictured above for the following reasons: category, title, cover.

Category Matters

Over the years, I have been through a number of category phases. For a long while, I bought books on health, fitness, weight loss, and diabetes. Cookbooks that aided those obvious goals were also high on my list. Gardening was a short-lived topic since everything I plant dies of neglect. I’ve also given up on books about fixing things, recognizing quite quickly that making repairs was not part of my skillset. If something breaks, I toss it and buy a new one. I’ve always bought almost anything that had to do with how to write fiction. I also buy books on writing non-fiction and poetry, but those forms have never been first on my list.  Currently, the history table is my first stop. I now have three bookcases of books on various aspects of 18th and 19th-century American history.

When it comes to fiction, I was into vampires and other supernatural beings before they were popular. Now, I pass them by. I still like a good mystery, and young adult fiction that centers on family also gets my attention. I have always enjoyed historical fiction, but now I seek it out first, again because the fiction I am writing is set in the 19th century.

Non-fiction Finds

As in sales past, the most recent was a treasure trove of non-fiction American history. Here are some of my finds:

The Historian as Detective: Essays on Evidence edited by Robin w. Winks. After the title, it was the book blurb on the front that pulled me in: “The adventurous search for clues to scholarly hoaxes, forgeries, and lost and misleading documents, and the evaluation of evidence in man’s study of his own past.” Ever since I tried to figure out whether there were any buildings in Pawnee, Kansas Territory, besides the one where the first territorial legislature met, I’ve been wondering about evaluating sources. This book might help. It also might give me some ideas for future stories.

The Ohio by R. E. Banta, a part of the Rivers of America series. I picked this one because I had read another book in the series, The Kaw by Floyd Benjamin Streeter, and been impressed with it. I was also looking for a setting I could use for the backstory of the True and Pierce families. The description on the inside of the book jacket sold me on the book: “The Ohio . . . begins in dark mystery with mastodons and mound builders, glints through the sombre moonlight of savage forests and the bloody colonial frontier. It flashes into the full daylight of dynamic middle America of the nineteenth century, and it rolls on today past the infernal glow of steel furnaces, thundering manufacturing cities, and seething populations–into a future with immense implications.” Okay, so people were bumping me from either side, scrunching behind me while I stood making up my mind. I decided if the writing inside was as interesting as that on the flap, I had to have it.

The Reshaping of Everyday Life 1790-1840 by Jack Larkin. The time period captured my attention along with a back cover promise of “an astonishing range of activities. These include infant feeding; the care of chamber pots, privies, and grave yards; the use of broadside ballads, parlor songs, and communal dances; the celebration of holidays and routines of travel; the production, design and use of clothing and household items; even the treatment of pets.” Wow! What a combination. And there’s more. Information about important historical events is easy to find, but finding the small details of everyday life is often difficult. This book was another must-have.

Come back for Part II

I’m only through the first three books and this post is already too long. If you are interested in additional historical finds, come back for the next library sale post. In the meantime, if you like historical fiction and family sagas, check out my Pierce Family Saga blog. If you like to influence what books are published, check out For Want of a Father, the second book in the series and nominate it for publication if you like what you see.


Posted in Historical Novels, Historical Research | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Poker Walk at C of E Park, Week 2

C of E Park, Emporia, KS April 12, 216

C of E Park, Emporia, KS
April 12, 216

The Poker Walk

Yesterday was cool and sunny for the Walk Kansas Poker Walk at C of E Park. A jacket was too warm, but walking without one too cool. The beautiful white blossoms on the tree I photographed last week had fallen and been replaced with leaves. I worry about the tree behind and to the right of the center one because it appears to have several patches of dead leaves. Since I don’t know that much about trees, I may be stressing for nothing.

I made the trip around the pond five times and ended up with three fours for my poker hand. It beats last weeks pair of tens. We’ll see what next week brings.

Update: My Kindle Scout Campaign

There are 17 days left to nominate my historical novel, For Want of a Father, for publication. The novel is book two of the Pierce Family Saga and set in 1859, Kansas Territory. It is about fathers, daughters, and expectations. My Kindle Scout campaign pages has had 159 views so far. If you have not already nominated it, I would appreciate your help in making my dream of publication for it come true. If you have already nominated the book, thank you for your support.


Posted in Kansas | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Poker Walks at C of E Park, Emporia

April 5, 2016 C of E Park, Emporia, Kansas

April 5, 2016 C of E Park,
Emporia, Kansas

Tuesday April 5 was the first Walk Kansas Poker Walk of 2016. When I attended these walks in 2015, I was struck by the seasonal changes and have decided to document the weekly changes this year. Come back next week for the next photo.

Another Walk Kansas Event

Tuesday evening, Ronda Miller presented a program on “Gluten and Your Gut.” I already had some opinions of gluten based on my years as store manager for General Nutrition Centers, and, having a lifelong interest in nutrition, I wanted to know more. Ronda made three excellent points.

  1. It is important to get a doctor’s diagnosis before you attempt to go gluten free. If you get rid of gluten in your diet before you have a test for celiac disease, the results will not be accurate.
  2. Don’t get your health advice from .com or .net websites (like this one). Look for .gov, .org, or .edu for reliable information. A good source of information is the Celiac Disease Foundation.
  3. Read labels. Even though a product does not naturally have gluten in it, product storage and/or preparation may result in cross-contamination.

My Kindle Scout Campaign

Unrelated to Walk Kansas is my Kindle Scout campaign for my novel For Want of a Father. If you have not already nominated For Want of a Father for publication, please visit my Kindle Scout campaign page, check out the book cover and description of the book. If you like what you see please nominate the book. The campaign runs until April 30. If you have already nominated the book, thank you for your support.

Posted in Health, Kansas | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment