Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey


Welcome Jacqui Murray #Laws of Nature


Today I’m excited to welcome our friend, writer, teacher and the queen of world-building, Jacqui Murray as she launches Laws of Nature, Book Two in the Dawn of Humanity series. It’s a fascinating read.

Before I share a little about the book, I thought it would be fun for Jacqui to tell us how she organizes her writing. Those who know her know she is extremely organized.

Here’s Jacqui!

I am by nature a scheduled person. I thrive on organization, logic, and an orderly approach. In the case of my writing, I have TODO lists all over the place–and follow them. This one is in Google Keep which keeps me synced across all my digital devices:


I had about ten items on the Laws of Nature TODO list, prior to launch, which I thankfully completed.
Prior to a final read-through, I spend a lot of time on Autocrit, figuring out if I’m communicating clearly. They have a lot of online tools to assist that process that go well beyond grammar and spelling. Some of my favorites are repeated words, cliches, weak starts to paragraphs, passive voice, and filler words. Here’s how I did at one point in my editing:


Once the book is written, publishing can be complicated. There are lots of option and their requirements are never the same. I publish print and digital to KDP–Kindle–and another Kindle format for educators called Ignite. Each has different guidelines for things like page size, submittal requirements, file type, with or without a cover, and more. I keep that on a spreadsheet:.


This is much more involved for those of you who also publish through B&N, Smashwords, Nook, and all the rest.
To organize my series in my own head, I post Milestones on the side of my blog, WordDreams. It tells readers when the next book in the series is expected and reminds me that I’ve made a commitment to a timely publication of books–at least one a year.

Tagline introduction

A boy blinded by fire. A woman raised by wolves. An avowed enemy offers help.


In this second of the Dawn of Humanity trilogy, the first trilogy in the Man vs. Nature saga, Lucy and her eclectic group escape the treacherous tribe that has been hunting them and find a safe haven in the famous Wonderwerk caves in South Africa. Though they don’t know it, they will be the oldest known occupation of caves by humans. They don’t have clothing, fire, or weapons, but the caves keep them warm and food is plentiful. But they can’t stay, not with the rest of the tribe enslaved by an enemy. To free them requires not only the prodigious skills of Lucy’s unique group–which includes a proto-wolf and a female raised by the pack–but others who have no reason to assist her and instinct tells Lucy she shouldn’t trust.

Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.

A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

Book information:

Title and author: Laws of Nature

Series: Book 2 in the Dawn of Humanity series

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Editor: The extraordinary Anneli Purchase

Available print or digital) at:Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU  Kindle India

Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman , the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Winter 2022.

Social Media contacts:

Amazon Author Page:        https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog:                                       https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                             https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

LinkedIn:                                http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest:                                http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                                   http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                                 https://jacquimurray.net


Eternal Road -The Final Stop by John W. Howell #NewRelease

Today I’m so excited to welcome our friend, writer and blogger John Howell as we celebrate his latest release Eternal Road-The Final Stop. John is one of my favorite bloggers…kind of like a second father to me. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll snatch up a copy today. I’m looking forward to this book, and I’ve shared the link with my father, as he enjoys all of John’s books. Isn’t the cover terrific! Congratulations, John! We’re so happy for you.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Jill, and for helping me launch Eternal Road – The final stop. I know you are busy launching your next book so I’m so happy you could help support the launch. Let me describe. Eternal Road is the story of two people finding their way through the selection process leading to the place where one will spend eternity. Yes, it is true. They both have passed away. James Wainwright just died in an auto accident. Samantha Tourneau died seventeen years before. Sam is James’s guide to help him decide where to spend eternity. This is not your usual thriller or paranormal romance. It is a piece of fiction that is a combination of inspiration, adventure, time travel, sci-fi, a touch of erotica, and a dash of spiritual. In short, it is a lot of things, but hopefully, a story that will make you happy to have read it.

It is now available on Amazon in paper and Kindle. The Kindle edition is introductory priced at 99¢ until October 15th

Kindle Universal link

Paper universal link


James Wainwright picks up a hitchhiker and discovers two things 1. The woman he picks up is his childhood sweetheart, only Seventeen years older. 2. He is no longer of this world.

James began a road trip alone in his 1956 Oldsmobile. He stops for a hitchhiker only to discover she is his childhood sweetheart, Sam, who disappeared seventeen years before. James learns from Sam falling asleep miles back caused him to perish in a one-car accident. He also comes to understand that Sam was taken and murdered all those years ago, and now she has come back to help him find his eternal home.

The pair visit a number of times and places and are witness to a number of historical events. The rules dictate that they do no harm to the time continuum. Trying to be careful, they inadvertently come to the attention of Lucifer, who would love to have their souls as his subjects. They also find a threat to human survival and desperately need to put in place the fix necessary to save humankind.

The question becomes, will James find his eternal home in grace or lose the battle with Satan for his immortal soul and the future of human life with it? If you like time-travel, adventure, mystery, justice, and the supernatural, this story is for you.


Wyatt leans back in his chair and pulls a toothpick from his shirt pocket. “So, now that we have the arrangements settled, I’m wondering if I can ask a question.”
James lets Sam answer, “Of course you may.”
“Where y’all from?”
“What do you mean?”
“Where’s home?” Wyatt shifts the pick to the other side of his mouth. He picks up his cup, puts it to his lips, and squints over it to look at Sam while he waits for an answer.
“Well, ah …” Sam pauses. She looks Wyatt in the eyes. James can see that the man suspects something and won’t accept anything but the truth. “James and I come from another time.”
Wyatt sits still. The only indication that he heard Sam comes from the slight crinkle at the corner of his eyes. He sets his cup on the table and leans forward. “I figured as much.”
James can’t help himself, “So, what tipped you off? Does it bother you? Do you believe us?”
“Whoa, one question at a time. First of all, I do believe you ‘cos it’s the only explanation for the other things I’ve observed. Secondly, no, it doesn’t bother me, but I care. I’ve studied time travel, and to know it’s real excites me greatly. At least, I hope it’s real, and you aren’t pulling my leg.”
Sam leans forward with her arms crossed on the table. “I can assure you, we’re not pulling your leg, Mr. Earp.”
“No need getting upset. I’m in your corner. Now, mostly, your clothes tipped me off. I’ve never seen denims with such a tight weave before. The cloth we wear is coarse and unrefined. Your shoes don’t come from around here. In fact, I don’t think anyone can make shoes like yours. That thing on your wrist—” He nods at James. “—gave me a final clue.”
“My wristwatch?”
“Yup. Smashed as it might be, I never saw one like it. The band stands out the most. What’s it made of?”
“Fabric. Velcro fastens it. Here, take a look.” James unzips his watchband, and Wyatt pulls back from the ripping sound that the Velcro makes. James hands him the Apple watch.
Wyatt turns the device over in his hands. “My, my, my. Look at this thing. What material is it made out of?”
James scratches his ear. “Sort of metal but finished in black.”
Wyatt zips and unzips the band a few times. “This thing is magic. How does it work?”
“You know when you get a burr stuck to your clothes?”
Wyatt nods. “Yeah.”
James points to both sides of the band. “Velcro has one side like burr barbs and the other side plain. Put them together, and they stick.”
Wyatt turns the watch over. “The back of your timepiece has this circle.”
“It’s where the power cord attaches to the battery.”
Wyatt puts the watch on the table. “Battery?”
“Oh, my. I keep forgetting you don’t have the technology of power storage yet. We can capture power and store it for later use. We call the storage place a battery.”
Wyatt drums his fingers on the table. “Okay, then. This seems a little hard to understand. Just tell me what century you come from.”
“The twenty-first.”
He sits back. “Twenty-first? That’s not so long from now. What year?”
Wyatt strokes his chin. “That’s … let me think. One hundred-and-thirty-nine years from now.”
“That sounds about right.”
Wyatt sits forward again. “You have to tell me about all the advancements.”

Check out the terrific trailer! I love the music!


John is an award-winning author who, after an extensive business career, began writing full time in 2012. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. He has written five other books that are on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. The paperback versions are also available in the Indie Lector store
John lives in Lakeway, Texas, with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

John is all over social media…check him out!

Blog Fiction Favorites




Amazon Author’s page

Buy John’s other books here:


His Revenge

Our Justice

Circumstances of Childhood

The Contract: between heaven and earth


Welcome Jacqui Murray #NewRelease

Today I’m excited to help our friend, writer and the queen of world-building, Jacqui Murray as she launches Against All Odds, book three of her Crossroads series. This trilogy takes the reader on a journey into prehistoric times where survival is never guaranteed.

Before I share a little about the book, here is a question I posed to Jacqui.

You often say these people squat. Don’t they sit?

There is nominal physical evidence showing that early man squatted rather than sat. This includes tell-tale divots and scratches in the femur, tibia, and ankle bone of Neanderthals that would result from squatting a lot. Though Neanderthals are a more recent Homo species than Xhosa’s People, I make the assumption if they didn’t sit much, neither did Homo erectus. Another reason we presume earliest man preferred to squat than sit is because it’s far more natural for the body, even now, and it’s quicker to get into and out of a squat should danger arrive. Try it—you’ll agree.

Here’s a little about the book: 

Xhosa’s extraordinary prehistoric saga concludes, filled with hardship, courage, survival, and family.


A million years of evolution made Xhosa tough but was it enough? She and her People finally reach their destination—a glorious land of tall grasses, few predators, and an abundance that seems limitless, but an enemy greater than any they have met so far threatens to end their dreams. If Xhosa can’t stop this one, she and her People must again flee. 

The Crossroads trilogy is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, a smarter version of himself, one destined to obliterate all those who came before. 

From prehistoric fiction author Jacqui Murray comes the unforgettable saga of a courageous woman who questions assumptions, searches for truth, and does what she must despite daunting opposition. Read the final chapter of her search for freedom, safety, and a new home.

A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

Title and author: Against All Odds

Series: Book 3 in the Crossroads series

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Available digitally (print soon) at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for  NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Book 2 in the Dawn of Humanity trilogy, Winter 2021.





Social Media contacts: 

Amazon Author Page:        https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog:                                       https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                             https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

LinkedIn:                                http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest:                                http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                                   http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                                 https://jacquimur ray.net


Why I Don’t Get Writer’s Block

By Jacqui Murray


An efriend writer originally published this as a guest post on their blog to help me launch Against All Odds August 2020. In case you missed it there, here are my anecdotal thoughts on how to add drama to your story:


I should get writer’s block. I write twelve hours a day, pretty much every day. Where it used to be a hobby, it’s now What I Do. Well, I teach also but that requires a lot of writing (because I teach online).

Before I explain why I escape that horrendous malady that over half of writer’s anecdotally report they suffer, let’s talk a little bit about writer’s block.

What is Writer’s Block?

Writer’s block is where you stare at a blank page for long periods of time, trying to write but are unable to find the right words. To put that academically:

“Writer’s block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown. This loss of ability to write and produce new work is not a result of commitment problems or the lack of writing skills.” —Wikipedia

According to Terry Pratchett:

“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.”

Why (I think) I Don’t Suffer From it

I write a lot of different stuff, fiction and nonfiction, for myself and others, blog hops and my own articles. Each seems like a break from the other. I divide my day into thirds, each devoted to a different writing event. That way, if I get stale on one task, I move to a different one.

“The wonderful thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting. The terrifying thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting.” ― J.K. Rowling

Here’s how to get rid of it

Jack London has this to say about curing writer’s block:

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” 

The folks at Master Class offer eight EASY ways to overcome Writer’s Block. I’m always suspicious that something labeled ‘easy’ isn’t but they had some good ideas including take a break, jump ahead in your novel, and freewrite. Still, I wondered if they would work so kept searching…

Darren over at ProBlogger suggests you make a habit of finishing any writing that you start.

Here’s an idea from Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature:

“One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph. I have spent many months on a first paragraph, and once I get it, the rest just comes out very easily.”

Mark Twain suggested:

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

Here’s what I’d try if I got Writer’s Block

  • Pet my dog more often. It’s centering.
  • Read the entire Twitter feed from Thoughts About Dog. Here’s a favorite: “gooooob morning. if you think i won’t lie down. where the sun shines through the window. with these paws crossed. all day long. you are out of your mind”
  • Figure out what the heck “a bridge too far” means. I have no idea. Or find a way to defeat a Mobius Strip.
  • Create a false post hoc–like the fallacy that a rooster crowing causes the sun to rise. In my case, it would be that writer’s block means you can’t write.

More on writer’s block

University of Illinois’ Center for Writing Studies

10 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block from Penguin Random House

7 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block from Writer’s Digest



The Occupation Thesaurus Writing Guide Is Here! #Giveaway

Hi everyone! Today I have something fun to share…a special chance to win some help with your writing bills. Who doesn’t need some extra help with their bills, right?

Some of you may know Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi of Writers Helping Writers. Well, today they are releasing a new book, and I’m part of their street team. Their books are an incredible resource for writers. I’m handing the blog over to them so they can tell you a bit about their Writer’s Showcase event, new book, and a great freebie to check out. Read on!

Certain details can say a lot about who someone is, like a character’s goals, desires, and backstory wound. But did you know there’s another detail that can tie your character’s arc to the plot, provide intense, multi-layered conflict, AND shorten the “get to know the character” curve for readers?

It’s true. Your character’s occupation is a GOLD MINE of storytelling potential.

How much time do you spend on the job? Does it fulfill you or frustrate you? Can you separate work from home? Is it causing you challenges, creating obstacles, or helping you live your truth?

Just like us, most characters will have a job, and the work they do will impact their life. The ups and downs can serve us well in the story.

Maybe you haven’t thought much about jobs in the past and how they act as a window into your character’s personality, interests, and skills. It’s okay, you aren’t alone. The good news is that The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers is going to do all the heavy lifting for you. You’ll be able to pick the perfect job for them and discover how to weave it into the very fabric of the story. (Here’s one of the jobs profiled in this book: FIREFIGHTER.)


To celebrate the release of a new book, Becca and Angela are running a giveaway from July 20th & July 23rd. You can win some great prizes, including gift certificates that can be spent on writing services within the Writer’s Showcase. Stop by to enter if you like!

Resource Alert: A List of Additional Jobs Profiles For Your Characters!

Some of the amazing writers in our community have put together additional career profiles for you, based on jobs they have done in the past. What a great way to get accurate information so you can better describe the roles and responsibilities that go with a specific job, right? To access this list, GO HERE.

Happy writing to all!


Welcome Gwen Plano #wouldyourather

Today I’m excited to welcome author and blogger, Gwen Plano. I met Gwen several years ago through our friend John Howell. She truly is as sweet and genuine as she looks. Many of you know Gwen, but for those who don’t, please check out her website and blog. I also hope you’ll grab a copy of her candid memoir “Letting Go Into Perfect Love, Discovering the Extraordinary After Abuse”. It’s a beautiful and inspiring story of survival, strength, faith and hope. Thanks so much for playing along, Gwen!

Would you rather live in an amusement park or a zoo?

I have a great love for the San Diego Zoo. As far back as I can remember, at least once a year, my parents would herd their tribe of seven into an old Pontiac station wagon and head to the zoo. We would spend the day there, walking the hills through the lions and giraffes, the gorillas and monkeys. I especially loved the penguins and Koala bears. I can easily imagine living there, sharing the night sky with meerkats and prairie dogs. As for making an amusement park my home, the very thought terrifies me. All the noise and lights, well, just not me.


Would you rather be stranded in the jungle or in the desert?

I grew up on a desert in Southern California. It was common to find tarantulas, scorpions, and rattlesnakes in our yard. My fair skin was usually shades of red, because we did not have sunblock back then. When I first saw Tarzan swinging from the forest trees, I was captivated. Could I do the same? Would I find a friendly monkey or maybe an ape? In my imagination, I joined Tarzan and swung high into the trees, ate berries from bushes and forged for roots buried deep. I know the desert, the hazards it brings. I love its silence and its eerie beauty, but if I were stranded, I’d search for my Tarzan in the jungle trees.


Would you rather be able to breathe underwater or fly?

Oh my, this is an easy one. Growing up on a farm, fifteen miles from the nearest town, I created alternate worlds and traveled to places I’d never seen. I used to look up to the clouds and I would imagine flying through their mist to mysterious lands with castles and kings and queens. Even today, when on a plane, I take a window seat. I watch the clouds pass me by and dream. Sometimes when I’m really happy and my heart soars, I close my eyes and let my spirit fly free.


Would you rather be recognized wherever you go… or live a quiet (monetarily successful) life of anonymity?

I am a quiet person and love anonymity. For many, perhaps most, this time of confinement and other restrictions has been very difficult. Since I am a bit of a hermit, I have been spared this burden. My confinement has helped me complete my first draft of The Culmination, and after a week, I will start to reread and prepare it for editing. I just might need to acknowledge COVID-19 for all the assistance it gave me.


If you were reborn in a new life, would you rather be alive in the past or future?

With either choice I wonder if I would remember my prior life. If I could remember, then I’d like to grow up in Dallas, TX and somehow stop the assassination of JFK. If I could not remember, then I would rather be alive in the future. The unknown always beckons me. A different time, a different location, how exciting!


Thank you, Jill, for inviting me to visit your beautiful site today. I am deeply honored. You asked that I share a bit about myself, and so I shall.

I have been retired since 2012 from higher education. I taught psychology for a few years and then was asked to assume a post in administration. For most of my 30 years, I oversaw Student Services, the branch of higher ed that includes residence life, health center, student discipline – all those areas that reside outside the classroom. I was effectively the “mom” to thousands of young adults and a supervisor to many. Earlier this week, I received a letter from a former colleague with an acknowledgement that means more than any award might bring. She wrote, “I think back on the care and compassion you brought in your leadership role every day and because of it, what a better place you made for me coming to work.”

Between travels with my husband and visits with family and friends, I write. I’ve just finished my fourth book and will send it to the editor very soon. Though this avocation is an accomplishment of no small measure for me, my greatest treasure and most profound source of joy has been and is my four adult children. It is they who have guided me through life’s mysteries and kept me close to my heart, close to the compassion my colleague mentions above.


Welcome Ally Bean #wouldyourather

Today I’m happy to welcome blogger Ally Bean. I know some of you follow her, but for those who don’t, be sure and check out her blog, The Spectacled Bean. Ally is the only anonymous blogger I follow, but I know if she were to pass me on the street, she’d stop to say hi. Thanks for playing along, Ally!

Would you rather be able to freeze time or travel in time?

I would rather be able to freeze time BECAUSE by lingering in the moment I could squeeze every last drop of goodness out of something wonderful.  Or thinking of Piper from the TV show Charmed, I could decide how to handle a difficult situation while I had it frozen in time.  Sounds like a win-win to me.

Would you rather be the funniest person in the room or the most intelligent?

I would rather be the funniest person in the room BUT I will suggest that to be funny one has to be intelligent, so it’s possible that the funniest person in the room is also the most intelligent person in the room.  Just saying…

Would you rather be able to breathe underwater or fly?

I would rather be able to fly BECAUSE I’d like to see the world as a whole from above.  Perspective is everything.  Plus, not to be too pragmatic here, the way the airline industry is falling apart, your own ability to fly may soon be the only way to travel the world.  

Would you rather have a lifetime subscription to Netflix or an unlimited gift card to Starbucks?

I would rather have a lifetime subscription to Netflix BECAUSE I can make my own coffee at home, but I cannot make my own interesting TV series or movie at home, now can I?  I like stories so therefore give me that Netflix subscription, please.

Would you rather write in a rooftop garden surrounded by city noises — or in a quiet studio with cows as your neighbors?

I would rather write in a quiet studio with cows as my neighbors BECAUSE as much as I like to visit a big city to experience the frenetic energy, I prefer to live in stillness surrounded by nature.  Oddly enough when this subdivision was new we lived near cows, and let me tell you when they *moo* they’re not as quiet as you might think they’d be.


Welcome Merril Smith #wouldyourather

Today I’m happy to welcome friend, poet, author and blogger Merril Smith. For several years, Merril and I have followed many of the same blogs. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her. Since she’s the first poet to play along, I was excited to read her answers. Thanks for playing, Merril!

Thank you very much, Jill, for inviting me to play “Would you rather?” I always read these posts with great enthusiasm, and I’m pleased to be on this side of things today. I see the world in many shades rather than simply black and white, and as you’ll see from the way I’ve answered these five questions, I’m not good at answering survey questions because I want to add disclaimers or ask, “but what if?” to every response.

I guess I’m full of contradictions though because I’m also good at taking and writing tests.

Would you rather be able to freeze time or travel in time?

I would never want to live in one moment. Wouldn’t that be boring? I would love to travel in time, but I would only want to be an observer. I wouldn’t want to risk changing any timelines, and I enjoy my comforts: running water, indoor plumbing, coffee, and chocolate. I also wouldn’t want to risk being hanged as a witch because of the things I know. However, I would love to be able to go back to see some of the couples I wrote about in my dissertation/first book, Breaking the Bonds. History is written based on the facts we have—but there is generally little documentation for ordinary people of the eighteenth and early nineteenth-century. Of course, I’d also like to “go behind the scenes” with famous people—Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Ben Franklin, and others.

Would you rather always have a healthy heart or always have a healthy brain?

This is a tough one. I don’t want a mental OR physical decline. But it was sad to see my mom not really with it, and I don’t want to be like that. I’d have to say I’d want a healthy brain, and hope that I’d also have a healthy body till my heart stops.

Would you rather speak all languages or be able to speak to all animals?

Hmm. . .if I spoke all languages, wouldn’t that include animal languages, as well as those of alien space creatures? If not, I would still choose to speak all languages. I’m only fluent in English, which is just sad, and makes me feel like the Ugly American. I do my best to communicate with animals, even if I don’t speak their language.

Would you rather live in a museum or a zoo?

So . . . anyone who knows me, knows that I love museums. I love animals, too, but I don’t like to see them in cages (though I know that’s not the standard now). I’d pick a museum with gardens, and I’d probably pick an art museum with a large and varied collection. And if I also have that language skill above, it could be anywhere in the world! I’d certainly have lots of material for ekphrastic poems and stories.

While answering this question, I was reminded of a StoryCorps story of a man who grew up living in a library because his father was the custodian. He could go and read any book after hours. I love this story, and I think living in a museum would be a similar situation.

StoryCorps story:


Or there’s this animated video version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNeFhMnP7dA

Would you rather be able to breathe underwater or fly?

Breathing underwater would be a very useful skill, but I would love to see what it’s like to fly.  I love watching birds fly, and it looks so easy for them, but it seems incredible, too. Of course, since I have no sense of direction–and I get motion sickness–flying could be a problem.


Merril’s Bio:

Merril grew up in the Philadelphia, PA, suburbs and now lives in New Jersey, near Philadelphia. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, Doug, and they have two grown daughters. She taught pre-school for a few years, then went back to school to get a Ph.D. in American history. She’s written and edited many books on history, sexuality, and gender, and she is also a freelance test writer for TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication). She began a blog several years ago, vaguely intending it to be a history blog of some sort, but the poetry muse took hold of her, and the blog has become a mostly poetry blog. Some of her poems and short fiction has been published in Black Bough Poetry, Nightingale and Sparrow, Wellington Street Review, Twist in Time, Vita Brevis, and Ghost City Review. She is working on a poetry collection.

Connect with Merril D. Smith:

Blog: Yesterday and Today https://merrildsmith.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @merril_mds

Instagram: mdsmithnj


Welcome Irene Olson #wouldyourather

Today I’m excited to welcome friend, author, blogger and advocate, Irene Olson. Honestly, I can’t recall how or where Irene and I connected, but she’s been a tremendous support to me and my father during our caregiver journey. I admire Irene for her willingness to share her own personal experience with Alzheimer’s and its ever-changing effects on family dynamics. Thanks for playing along, Irene!


Would you rather live in the middle of nowhere, with no people or stores within a 10-mile radius, or live in a busy city?


That’s an easy one for me because I currently live in a rural area 10 miles from Seattle, WA in a neighborhood where I can’t see my next-door neighbors’ houses because of the forest-like environment that surrounds me. My husband and I love to hike but when we are not able to do so, our 3-mile walks through our neighborhood give us the sense of being in the wilderness without having to get in a car to travel there. But I am also a sociable person so knowing that many of my family members reside in the same state where I live, gives me warm fuzzies because I know a hug with them is just a short distance away.


Would you rather have someone clean for you or have someone cook for you?


I really don’t mind the process of cleaning as it gives me great satisfaction to witness the transformation from dust bunnies that hide in every corner of my house, to nary a dust particle in sight. And I’ll let you in on a secret…our three-year-old grandson’s fingerprints on our windows bring me joy, a joy that prevents me from wiping their existence from my purview more often than not. Someday the little guy’s fingers won’t be so little and most likely the joy in discovering bigger prints won’t compare to the feelings upon coming across them now. COOKING is something I really don’t enjoy so if someone could create menus and dishes that knock my socks off, I would sign up for that service faster than you could imagine. I am blessed, however, with a husband who cooks far better than I – a feat I attribute to him being an engineer by trade. He just knows how to combine ingredients to make them shine almost as bright as my smile when I taste them!


Would you rather be able to take back anything you say or hear any conversation that is about you?


If it were possible to take back thoughtless or ill-conceived words, that would be a gift I would choose above all else. I have certainly grown wiser and more careful in my later years but my earlier years weren’t nearly as thoughtful. Full transparency: as a college freshman, I was missing my family and my then boyfriend very much. On a Friday night while studying with my dorm room open, three young men knocked on my door and one of them exclaimed, “Why is someone as pretty as you stuck inside tonight?” Instead of accepting that very generous compliment, my emotions got the worst of me so my response to this innocent young man was, “I babysit kids taller than you!” Hurtful and inexcusable words that cannot be taken back. I still grieve having said those words forty-eight years ago; I just hope he hasn’t had to live with those same words all these years later. I hope you all won’t judge me for my past sins – I have judged myself far worse than any punishment you could ever mete out.


Would you rather publish one insanely great-selling book and never write again, or publish a string of 15 average-selling books over a 20-year period?

One best seller would really float my boat, especially if the title was Requiem for the Status Quo, written to honor my father’s Alzheimer’s journey, and those similarly taxed with the disease as a patient or a caregiver. I am friends with several authors who say they can’t help but write – I am not one of those authors. I am working on a project right now that greatly inspires me to get it out there for public consumption – but unless another idea/theme enthuses me as much as Requiem or my current work-in-progress (WIP), that novel may be my last published piece. Perhaps if I started writing for publication in my 30s or 40s I might feel differently, but that was not the case, so I’m quite certain my WIP will be my publishing swan song of sorts.

Would you rather never be able to write or never be able to read?


Write. Hands. Down. I read non-fiction and fiction every day and have done so for more decades than I can count. Reading brings me joy, even when its offerings sometimes bring me to tears. I don’t necessarily read to escape, but I most definitely read to re-situate myself elsewhere. I think there’s a difference. I love my life, but I am not averse to experiencing something other than my personal journey. If I can learn from the successes and mistakes of others, just as I have learned from my own peaks and pitfalls, then I have complimented the writings of others, just as their words have complemented my own life.



Bio: Irene Frances Olson writes from passion and experience. She was her father’s caregiver during his struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, and would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Having previously worked in the assisted living and memory care industry, she was not new to the disease—nor was her family immune.

After her father’s 2007 death from Alzheimer’s disease, Ms. Olson worked as an Alzheimer’s Association support meeting facilitator and concurrently, she worked for the State of Washington as a Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTC) – an advocate for adults living in LTC settings. The author maintains a blog www.babyboomersandmore.com, also known as Living: the ultimate team sport, focused primarily on elder issues, and her writing journey can be found on her author website: www.irenefrancesolson.com. Irene hopes to make a difference in the lives of others by writing novels that encourage those who just might need another cheerleader in their corner. Her latest and most joyful role as of late is as a grandmother to her grandson and a future grandmother to his sister or brother that will enter her world in September.



Welcome Jacqui Murray #wouldyourather

Today I’m excited to welcome friend, author, teacher and blogger Jacqui Murray from WordDreams. Most of you know Jacqui, and you’ll probably agree with me when I say she is one of the hardest working and busiest writer and teacher out there. I know you’ll enjoying learning more about her. Thanks for playing along, Jacqui!

If you were reborn in a new life, would you rather be alive in the past or future?

I have an unrequited love of life lived in the wilds, when survival depended upon wits, being able to turn the impossible into the norm. Since my books are set 850,000 years ago, I’d definitely choose in the past.

Would you rather be the funniest person in the room or the most intelligent?

That’s easy–the funniest. Intelligent people can save the world and solve the impossible but my experience is their intelligence isn’t always appreciated. I mean, who wants to be around someone who’s always right? But the funny guy–she entertains, makes you laugh, and you want more. I’ll choose that.

Would you rather speak all languages or be able to speak to all animals?

Oh of course–speak to animals! I read a lot about the body language of horses, dogs, wolves, and all sorts of animals. It is amazing to understand that their laughs (chimpanzees) and tail wags (dogs) don’t mean what they would if we did it. I love it!

Would you rather have a lifetime subscription to Netflix or an unlimited gift card to Starbucks?

Since I don’t frequent Starbucks, Netflix it is! I’m way to frugal to spend so much on coffee. I don’t mind others doing it, it’s just not for me. I also rarely eat out. Another frugality. For that one, it helps that my husband is an excellent cook.

Would you rather live in the middle of nowhere, with no people or stores within a 10 mile radius, or live in a busy city?

If ‘the middle of nowhere’ included an internet connection, I’m there! I am looking for a retirement home and have found several that were perfect—isolated, mountain views, lots of space around me—but lousy internet. I kept looking.

Just a few of Jacqui’s books:

Born in a Treacherous Time – on Amazon

Survival of the Fittest – on Amazon

Quest for Home – on Amazon

Against All Odds—planned publication: late Summer 2020














Blurb for Jacqui’s latest book, The Quest for Home:

Driven from her home. Stalked by enemies. Now her closest ally may be a traitor.

Chased by a ruthless and powerful enemy, Xhosa flees with her People, leaving behind a certain life in her African homeland to search for an unknown future. She leads her People on a grueling journey through unknown and dangerous lands. As they struggle to overcome treachery, lies, danger, tragedy, hidden secrets, and Nature herself, Xhosa must face the reality that her most dangerous enemy isn’t the one she expected. It may be one she has trusted with her life. 

The story isset 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, a smarter version of himself, one destined to obliterate any who came before.  

Based on a true story, this is the unforgettable saga of hardship and determination, conflict and passion as early man makes his way across Eurasia, fleeing those who would kill him. He must be bigger-than-life, prepared time and again to do the impossible because nothing less than the future of mankind is at stake.

Connect with Jacqui:

Amazon Author Page:  https://amzn.to/2XcIVZ1

Blog:    https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                             https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

LinkedIn:                                http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest:                                http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                                   http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                                 https://jacquimurray.net


Jacqui’s Bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.