Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

When I sit down to begin these essays, I never know what I’m going to write about. I do know, however, which topics I’m not going to write about. The top item on that list is politics.

Since y’all know I have an opinion about almost everything, you can surmise I also have a political opinion. It’s not my place, however, to share that with you. First, although I can argue that it does matter to Canada, and Canadians, what the American government does, since our two countries are so intertwined, I believe it is rude for me to say yea or nay with regard to either of your candidates for President.

I also, for the most part, don’t talk about religion. I believe a person’s faith is a personal thing, and that everyone has free will and the right to choose their own beliefs. Now here, at least, however, you may have gathered from some of my comments, and references over the past several years, that I’m a Christian. I’m pleased to have you know that—that’s me. I’ll also tell you I have never thumped a Bible in my life.

Since you know my faith, it’s time for me to confess to you that when I do sit down to write these essays, I take a few moments to pray, to meditate and yes, to await instructions. This past week and a half, especially, I’ve needed that prayer and meditation because something had been eating at me for several days—since Friday October 8th, in fact. Something had been on my mind, day and night, interfering with my ability to focus, and with my desire to “get on with it.” So this week my pre-essay crafting time was especially poignant for me. So I sat down, quieted my mind, opened my heart, and waited.

Instructions were received, so I knew what I had to write—but this one is going to be difficult.

I need to further preface this essay by telling you I’m not writing this for sympathy. At this point in my life’s journey, I don’t need the sympathy of other people; I have my faith. In truth, I’d really rather not write this essay at all. But I have been convicted by the Spirit to give my testimony. When that happens—and this isn’t the first time it has—I really have no choice but to do what I’m told to do.

My father died when I was eight and a half years old. I cannot, to this day, adequately convey to you the degree to which that singular event rocked my world. I do recall that only a few short months later, my mother “threw her back out” and had to, for several days, lay flat on the sofa in the living room, and needed help to get up.

I recall tearfully asking my big brother if Mommy was going to die, too.

I tell you all this, to let you know a little about the emotional state I was in beginning from the time I was eight and a half, onward. There was no such thing as counseling for kids in those days—at least there wasn’t for me. I felt alone, abandoned, insecure, the youngest of three. My brother was eighteen and a half, and my sister was fourteen and a half when our daddy died. My mother worked full time as a nurse, and had to work shifts—either days (seven to three) or afternoons (three to eleven).

I didn’t know at the time that my sister “ran wild”. I’d had no idea she’d been doing so even before my father passed. All I knew was my daddy had died, and life just wasn’t the same.

The first time I was raped I was nine years old. My mother was on the afternoon shift, my brother was out with his friends, and my sister, nearly sixteen years old at the time, received two male callers—one she took upstairs with her, and one she left downstairs with me.

These were grown men, not teen aged boys, and this was something that occurred several times for the next year or so.

I won’t give you any details, except this one: when my rapist was finished, he told me, “don’t you tell anyone. If you tell your mom, she won’t believe you. She will hate you, and send you away. They will lock you up.” That also became the threat, in subsequent times, with subsequent attackers, beforehand.

I guess you could say I was raped, and terrorized repeatedly.

That terrorizing is something that I believe all sexual abuse victims know very well—that most women, even those who haven’t been abused feel the echoes of in their souls—and something not even the most sympathetic, enlightened and well-meaning male will ever fully comprehend. In those days they called rape “a fate worse than death.”

That terrorizing—by others, and by tradition—is the reason why most women do not report sexual abuse. Situation normal in our society is still to blame the woman, the victim, or to simply not believe her.

It took me years to get help; if you need help, please, contact a mental health professional in your area, someone with whom you can feel comfortable enough with to get that help. I know how hard it is to reach out, but please, be brave and do so. And to comfort you, let me tell you what else I know, without a doubt, and without equivocation.

Only the most moronic of morons would ever suggest that a woman or women would open herself/themselves up to such scrutiny as she/they do when stepping forward and giving an account of sexual abuse, for the purpose of, and I think I have this quote right, “I’d don’t know, maybe because they want to become famous or something”.

And only the most ignorant and narcissistic misogynist would judge the validity of a sexual abuse clam by referencing whether or not the woman was “pretty enough” to violate.

Because we know better, all of us, we really do.

Sexual abuse, and rape, these are not at all about sex. It’s violence and it’s about power, control, and ego. And it’s a way for truly inadequate, pathetic, maladjusted and yes, evil men to make themselves feel powerful.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

National Chocolate Cupcake Day

Now this is my kind of holiday.
I love chocolate cupcakes....cake...candy...deserts...well, anything chocolate. But the cupcake is the best. I like to make the mini ones so I can pop the whole thing in my mouth.

Here's to the best National Chocolate Cupcake Day ever!

Monday, October 17, 2016

National Boss Day

National Boss Day is about, appreciating your boss.

I'm my own boss and I don't have employee's. That's what happens when you're a writer. But that doesn't mean I can't appreciate myself. 

Do you have a boss? Are you going to show them your appreciation?

October 17, 2016


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

This past Monday was Thanksgiving Day here in Canada. It’s a holiday we’ve always celebrated, at least during my lifetime. I believe I’ve mentioned before, that as a child in grades one through three, we always created pictures using the images of Pilgrims and Indians and pumpkins and that first Thanksgiving feast of lore, celebrating the first harvest in the New World.

It wasn’t until I became much older, that I realized the concept of the holiday we celebrated was in fact American. This didn’t bother me, of course. There are more similarities between Canadians and Americans than a lot of people truly realize.

That said, the way our two countries came into being is vastly different, and that difference is ingrained in our innate and distinctive ‘national’ characters.

The United States came into being as the result of the melding of Continental Congresses and armed rebellion—the War of Independence in 1776.  Canada came into being as the result of the melding of Confederation Conferences, and an act of British Parliament—The British North America Act of 1867—nearly a hundred years later.

Those national births, so different one from the other, go a long way toward explaining the major difference between our two peoples: Americans hold as a sacred right, that right to bear arms; Canadians don’t have that ingrained in their DNA. Arms are not a national symbol to us, as they played no part in the foundation of our country.

And yet, Canadians joined their American neighbors to fight in the same wars since the twentieth century, and on the same side in those wars. Canadians were automatically at war on the same day as Great Britain in the first Great War; Canadians hit the beach on D-Day during the second Great War. Canadians have served in Korea, Viet Nam (in that case, volunteering to serve in the US armed forces in order to do so), have been stationed in Kandahar and our Navy participated in Desert Storm.

Yes, by the numbers, our losses have been less than those of our neighbors to the south, but our Military is so very much smaller, that proportionately, our losses were actually greater.

When we give thanks at this time of year, it’s for the same basic things as our American friends. We’re grateful to live in a nation that is mostly peaceful. We’re grateful to be raising our families in societies that value democracy and the rule of law, and individual rights. We’re grateful for these blessings, and the opportunity to pursue our dreams, and to make our own way in the world.

We’re good neighbors, and good friends. We have each others backs, and are ready to help, when help is needed.  Our Thanksgiving is always in October, I would suggest, because this is harvest time for us north of the 49th. We even have our own version of black Friday—but we get two of those: our own, and the one the day after the American Thanksgiving, too.

We really do have more in common than that which makes us different. Going forward, I know that we will remain good friends, good neighbors, and staunch allies.

To my Canadian readers, I hope you had a good Thanksgiving!


Monday, October 10, 2016

10 Ways to Breathe New Life Into an Aging Book

10 Ways to Breathe New Life Into an Aging Book

Does your book need a little something extra to get going every day? By this I mean, once your book has been out for a while, you may be wondering if it’s time to move on or keep marketing it.  My answer to you would be “it depends.” If you don’t plan to write any other books and don’t plan to update this one (if it’s non-fiction) then I would suggest moving on, completely. But if writing is your passion and you plan to do more – or to update the book or books you have out – then yes, by all means keep pushing it.

If If a book is relevant, there’s no reason you can’t keep promoting it. This varies to some extent for fiction vs. non-fiction, however many of the guidelines for these books do apply in a crossover sense. Marketing you can do for one, can also apply to the other.
  1. Keep Those Reviews Coming: Reviews can easily make an older book look relevant. People are still reading it, still reviewing it, so it must be worth reading. Even just a few new reviews per month can make a huge difference.
  2. Update content as necessary: As I mentioned above, if you have a non-fiction book that needs updating, you should update it. Even for fiction books that are older, I’ve known some authors to update things like switching a character’s use of a Blackberry to an iPhone, or updating pop culture references. Most of this is pretty easily done with a few quick word searches and yes, it does mean that you have to reformat the book – but if you want to keep it fresh, or if you’re planning to use this book as a carrot to draw readers in to your newer books, this may be worth it.
  3. Update your Amazon Book Page: One thing that shouldn’t stay static is your Amazon book page. I always recommend updating it when you update the book, get an award, big new blurb, etc. Even sometimes just updating the copy can be helpful to refresh the page
  4. Change your Book Cover: This is an odd trick, but it works. I’ve tried this a few times with books across fiction and non-fiction. What I’ve found is that changing up the book cover can often help to spike the book on Amazon. More than that, a new cover can really help attract new readers.
  5. Run Regular eBook Promos: Running regular promotions for your eBook can really help to keep up your momentum. I recommend trying one promo per month. This doesn’t mean you have to reduce the price to zero each time. One month, you can discount the book by $2, or make it half-priced, and then another month, mark the eBook down to zero. It’s just a great way to keep the book top of mind with your audience. Plus, eBook promos done regularly can help trigger your Amazon algorithm.
  6. Play with Pricing: Pricing, much like eBook promotions, is also a great way to play with the Amazon algorithm. Pricing a book at .99 cents for a day can really help boost purchases. Make sure to share any promos/pricing changes to your social media fans. The needle won’t move far if you change your price in a vacuum. A note on this: I’ve had authors approach me, concerned that this will upset their readers and I haven’t found this to be the case. We all stumble on sale items after we’ve bought something.

    If you get a lot of flack, or find your readers are pretty vocal, offer them an Amazon gift card for $1 or whatever the pricing difference is (they have to show you proof of purchase). When I had an author offer this, she got no takers – the readers were just satisfied that she was willing to honor the sale price. I think you’ll find that your readers just want to be heard – but unless you’re doing hefty discounts like $10 a book, most of them won’t be so upset that they never want to read your stuff again.
  7. Tie into Current Media Hook: While this mostly fits into the non-fiction category, it’s a great thing when you can find a national (or regional) angle to your book that the media might love. I’ve known authors to do this for books that are going on five or more years old who have done very well. You can use it to pitch media, or you even on your blog and in social media. Finding a great book hook that has some national interest can go a long way to getting more current attention for your book.
  8. Keep blogging, Stay Busy I see a lot of authors who seem to leave their own promotion party as soon as the book hits a year old. They stop blogging, rarely show up on social media anymore, and forget pitching. What does this tell your potential readers? If you aren’t interested in your own book, why should anyone else be? Stay active on your blog, even if it’s just once a week – get into your social media and keep talking, your readers are listening and once you stop talking, they will move onto someone else.
  9. Too late for a review? Try This! But what if it’s just too late to pitch bloggers or reviewers for your book? Well, then what about offering to write guest blogging pieces, or suggesting a book excerpt or author Q&A. Or, better yet, maybe approach less-high profile bloggers who can still give you some nice exposure, but aren’t so tied to book street dates the way some of the very high profile bloggers are. Exposure is exposure, whether it’s a review, mention, excerpt, or guest blog. Don’t just assume that because your book has aged, that it’s aged out of the market as well.
  10. Every Update Deserves A Repitch: If you update the book in any way, you should consider a fresh repitch of it. The Amazon date may show that it was published in 2014 or 2015 – if you have made specific, helpful, or significant changes and you just republish the book to the same page (a lot of authors do this to keep the reviews in tact). If this is the case, make sure that anyone you pitch knows that the book is newly updated and make sure your book description reflects that as well. For example, you could say something like: Newly updated as of October, 2016! In big, bold letters – so it’s easily visible at the top of the book description. And, as I mentioned, if you are pitching it to bloggers or reviewers, make sure they are aware of this as well.
Ultimately, it’s up to you, the author, to determine how relevant your book is at any given time. But, just because it’s been a year or two, or even more(!), since your older book was published, doesn’t mean that you can’t breathe new life into its marketability.  Whether you draw parallels between topics presented in the book and current news, use it as a promo for new books, or simply update the content, you have the power to get the word out. Just like ebook promotions don’t do anything in a vacuum, share any new information with your followers and in your newsletter. And maybe, giving your book a little kick will resuscitate it sufficiently to kick it to number one in its category!

Keep in mind that we are here to support YOU. If these ideas spark a desire to take your book marketing to the next level, please reach out to Amy Cornell, my programs manager, at You will love Amy, and she can always be counted on to provide honest and customized recommendations for your book!

Reprinted from Author Marketing Experts, a full service book marketing and publicity firm. Find out more at:

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Indie Author Day

October 8, 2016
For More Information:
During the Inaugural Indie Author Day on October 8, 2016, libraries from all across North America will host their own local author events with the support of the Indie Author Day team. In addition to these local programs, each library’s indie community will come together for an hour-long digital gathering at 2 pm Eastern featuring Q&A with writers, agents and other industry leaders. Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity for libraries and authors to connect on both local and global levels! If your library is on the list, then head on over to a local event. If not, tune in for the live webcast, watch my blog  tomorrow for a new post celebrating indie authors, and celebrate your own accomplishments.

Reprinted from Author Marketing Experts, a full service book marketing and publicity firm. Find out more at:

Friday, October 07, 2016

I’m A Snowbird? by Natasha Moore

Snowbird? How did that happen?

When I hear the term snowbird, even now the first thing that comes to my mind is the Anne Murray song that was popular when I was in high school. And since that song was released in 1970, I imagine you can guess my age within a few years. Those years have flown by! Just as I never thought I’d ever be sixty-one, I also never thought I’d be a snowbird.

Nowadays snowbird generally means: “a person who vacations in or moves to a warmer climate during cold weather.” (per

When I was younger, I thought people who wanted to escape the snow and cold were wimps! Granted, our home is in western NY State, where frigid winter air blows across Lake Erie and causes what meteorologists now call “lake effect snow”. Back when I was growing up, it was called a “blizzard” or just plain “snow.” Come on, we’re a hardy bunch, I thought only a few years ago. We don’t need to leave our friends and family to travel south the first time the furnace kicks on. We know how to drive on snow-covered roads. We can handle the cold. Why would we want to go south where a million old people go during the winter?

But now that hubby and I have retired from our day jobs, now that our bodies are not so forgiving after shoveling snow, now that we have time for activities we can’t enjoy while we “hibernate” for months on end…well, traveling south where people can actually enjoy the outdoors in the winter sounds a whole lot more appealing. Not that we consider ourselves old!

We don’t fly south like many snowbirds do. We pull a fifth-wheel trailer, taking our winter home with us. We now own a tiny sliver of Florida, a site in one of those fifty-five plus RV parks I used to make fun of. And we’re having a great time. We’ve made new friends. And we have family and old friends in the state (other snowbirds – ha!) and can travel to see them without worrying about state of the roads. (just the traffic – hey, nothing’s perfect!)
I don’t apologize for leaving family behind from January through April (and I may rub it in when I just got out of the pool, or when our temp is 85 and at home it’s 15). I do miss the grandbabies, though! Thank goodness for smartphones. I get texts with pictures almost daily, so I can still watch them grow. And since I can take my laptop with me wherever I go, I can keep writing my new series of Silver Fox Romances. No, none of my characters are snowbirds…yet.

Choose Me

Available from:

Eve Corcoran hates being a cliché, but after her husband leaves her for a younger woman, she’s surprised how much she enjoys being on her own. When the empty nester hires the contractor next door to renovate her new apartment, her surprising feelings for him threaten to turn her new life upside down.

After Rick Best lost his wife, he never expected to fall in love again, especially not with the mother of his daughter’s best friend. He’s gone on enough rescue calls with the volunteer fire department to know life can change forever in an instant, and he can’t understand why Eve resists grabbing a second chance at happiness.  

Rick wants her to choose a life with him, but Eve is holding on tight to her newly-found independence. As she keeps pushing Rick away, however, being on her own starts to feel a whole lot like being lonely.


Eve couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that Rick had been naked while she’d been talking to him. Naked. Nude. Sans clothing. All that masculine skin with nothing covering it. She blew out a shaky breath.

She’d seen him in swim trunks often enough over the years. Both of their houses had pools, and since Amy and Heather had been joined at the hip for most of their lives, and Eve and Cathy had been friends, the two families had often been at one or the other’s houses.

But that was back when he’d been Cathy’s husband. When she’d been Don’s wife. Back then Eve had been able to appreciate a good looking man without coveting him or getting turned on. Those kinds of thoughts had never even crossed her mind.

But now…as she paced the scarred hardwood floor, Eve found herself getting all tingly at the thought of Rick having been naked while they shared words. And even more shivery knowing he was rushing over here as soon as he covered up that naked body. 

What was wrong with her?

Crazy as it was, she dashed into the outdated bathroom to check her reflection in the mirror. Her hair was a mess. She shoved her fingers through the strands, trying to fluff them up a little. She’d left her purse, and the brush inside, down in her shop and she didn’t have time to run down and get it now. 
Her lipstick was down there too. She bit her lip. Her face looked so pale when she didn’t have lipstick on. At least she was still in the dress and heels she’d worn for work, so she felt as if she had at least some of her armor in place.

What was she getting so worked up about? This was Rick. She’d known him for years. He’d seen her hundreds of times. It wasn’t as if he was going to care what she looked like. He was coming to look at the apartment, not her. She should be getting her thoughts together on the work she’d like to have done, not primping in front of the mirror.

There was a knock at the door at the bottom of the stairs. “Eve?”


Eve dashed to the stairs and then forced herself to slowly descend the steep steps. Her foolish heart was beating wildly. She seemed to have no control over it. She crossed the entryway and took a deep breath before she opened the door. “Hi. Thanks for coming right over.”

Rick was one of those guys who seemed to get better looking as he got older. While he’d been long and lanky, almost skinny, when he was younger, he filled out a pair of jeans and a T-shirt real well now. The silver at his temples and threading through the rest of his hair sparkled beneath the light. 
And the crinkles around his brown eyes when he smiled? 

There were those tingles again.

Eve realized she was just standing there, blocking his entrance. She cleared her throat and hoped the heat she felt in her face didn’t stain her cheeks red. “Come on in.”

He had a clipboard in one hand and began his inspection as soon as she closed the door behind him. 
“This is a nice-sized foyer. Is there anything you want to update in here?”

Straight to business then. She frowned and looked around her. “I hadn’t thought about it.”

He pointed down with the corner of the clipboard. “The floor is worn and some corners of the tiles are coming up. It wouldn’t cost much to replace it with a durable vinyl that would withstand the rain and snow. A new coat of paint on the walls would brighten the space and you could get away with keeping that old ceiling fixture. It adds character but not a whole lot of light.”

Eve nodded slowly, looking at the space with new eyes. He was right. “I can see you know your 

The corner of his mouth quirked up. “Did you have any doubt?”

Her breath caught on a laugh. What was wrong with her? The first thought to pop into her head was, 
I’d like to see your stuff. 

“Um, come on up. I think the stairs are safe and sturdy.”

“Lead the way.” 

Rick followed her up the stairs and all she could think about was him staring at her ass. And that she liked the thought of him staring at her ass. It was as if she’d been dropped into an alternate universe.
Natasha Moore

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

Well, it certainly is autumn, at least in my neck of the woods.

The last few days have been chilly and wet—all right, comparatively chilly at around fifty to 60 degrees. The rain really is a blessing, even if the combination of cool and damp plays hell with my arthritis. My beloved has also been feeling the affects of “uncle Arthur” in recent times. He came in the door from work the other day, and I knew he was suffering. Friends, I have to tell you, this getting older is not for the faint of heart.

This year as winter approaches, I feel a particular urge to prepare to hunker down, and I’m not sure where that urge is coming from. There is so much uncertainty in the world, so many people afraid of so many things—a real sense that something bad is just around the corner. It almost seems as if this pessimism has become an infection, infiltrating our water and spreading into our air, a contamination that is quickly becoming a global pandemic. Such an almost palpable thing is this sense of impending doom, that it seems as if in the last couple of months, we’ve slipped back a few big paces on the societal-evolutionary scale.

There is a part of me that wants to run out into the woods, find a deep cave or dig a deep hole, and hibernate for the next few months. Or maybe I can settle for crawling into bed, pulling the blankets over my head, and sticking my thumb in my mouth. Why, oh why was I in such a darn rush to grow up, when I was a kid? I never knew just how good I had it. If only I could go back to the good old days…but of course I can’t. There is no going back to the good old days for anyone, and there are no do-overs in the real world.

It just goes to show you that no matter how deeply a person believes in maintaining optimism, the pull of the dark and the dank and the dangerous is very real, and very strong. Even the faithful feel the tug of fear, depression, and surrender. The difference, of course, lies not in what one may feel at any give moment, but in the choices one makes in the face of such emotions.

It is really hard to keep the faith and believe that everything will work out the way it’s meant to be when all the news is so darned dismal. Most of my energy is being used in this very endeavor—keeping the faith, and believing.

I decided to pull in a little, and instead of focusing on the big picture which, at the moment, seems to have gone “off station” a bit, I’m focusing instead on the little things.

First, and always, I count my blessings. Yes, you may hear strains of Bing Crosby singing that song from the movie, White Christmas—and by the way, do I ever miss musicals! But counting my blessings is important because it puts me in the only frame of mind that will see me through the tough times ahead. That attitude is gratitude, and if I fill myself up with being grateful for all the many blessings I have, there’s not much room left for negative thoughts to grow.

I have a roof over my head, and in case any of y’all think I live in one of those fancy houses, think again. Mine needs a lot of work, fortunately most of it cosmetic. Seriously, my living room ceiling looks like it wants to come down, but it’s looked that way since 2006. Some things are getting done, little by little, but as I said, we have a roof. We have four walls, and a working furnace, clean water coming out of the tap, and this house, such as it is, is mortgage free.

We have food in the cupboard and the freezer, and our bills are paid each month. There’s nothing “rich” about the way we live, except for our attitudes of gratitude.

So I am going to hunker down. I’m going to appreciate the heat that comforts me, the water that quenches my thirst, the food that sates my hunger—and the fellowship I find both live and online, a connection to others that if we let it, can sustain us all through the darkest of times.


Sunday, October 02, 2016

Halloween Websites 2016

So the same old story I tell every year as I update the list of sites:
     I was born on Halloween, so I naturally favor that day. My birthday parties always had fun Halloween related activities like dunking for apples and carving jack o'lanterns. And every wore a costume. I was ALWAYS a witch, or at least as far back as I can remember. But I'm sure my mother dressed me in other costumes when I was very little. On my 18th birthday, I ended my days of trick-or-treating with one last outing. After that, I was the one at the door greeting the ghouls and goblins and witches.

I still love Halloween and I love to see what everyone else is doing for decorations. Pinterest has been one of my go to sites for inspiration. But I also visit a lot of other Halloween oriented sites. If yours isn't on my list, feel free to add it in the comment box so I can visit.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

My late mother-in-law proclaimed, many times, that being a grandmother was the best role she ever had. It didn’t take me very long, once I stepped into that role myself, to agree with her.

It may surprise y’all to learn that, as a parent, I was a world class smart-ass. I was! I didn’t consciously become one, either. I think “smart-ass” was my default personality mode when the stress of life—that special combination of children, job, husband, and financial challenges—combined together and got to be too much.

Some of my zingers caused a great deal of eye-rolling and moaning among my kids, but I have to tell you, looking back at those comments even now, I chuckle. I realize that some of my responses weren’t my own originally crafted words. They’re just the words that emerged from my mouth when the moment was right.

There are a couple of instances and exchanges that particularly come to mind:

Kid: But you SAID I could have that! Me: I most certainly did not. Kid: YES YOU DID!! Me: (sighing). I know you believe you understand what you think I said; but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant. Kid: I don’t get it. Me: Precisely.

Then, of course, there’s the universal-kid response when you are trying very hard to get them to comply with your parental will:

Kid: You can’t make me, because this country is a free country. We live in a democracy! Me: This country might be a democracy, but this family isn’t. It’s a benevolent dictatorship. However, if you don’t toe the line and do as you’re told, the dictatorship isn’t going to be so benevolent.

Of course, inevitably, came the time when out of my mouth, despite all my previous vows that it would never happen, came my mother’s words:

Kid: But why do I have to do it? Me: Why should I keep a dog and bark myself?

Then there was my middle child, who thought he was equal to his father and me—and he actually stuck to that tenet from the time he was about twelve, for the remainder of his life
I explained to him, gently, that he wasn’t our equal, and never would be. I would never be an equal to my parents, and he would never be an equal to his. That didn’t work. So then I tried another way, and this one I’m pretty sure is original. I told him that the world was comprised of us versus them—and that he was a them, not an us. This was a constant back and forth between us during most of his teen years. And then he became a father, himself. That was a humbling time for him, and I know that at the bottom of everything he loved his children with all his heart.

One day, he came over to visit and he grinned and grinned, because, he asserted, he’d finally figured out that, being a father he was finally an “us”.

I grinned right back and told him, that no, he was not an us. He was still a them. He was always going to be a them as far as we were concerned. But that baby of his? That baby was definitely an us.

Grandparents and grandchildren are natural allies against a common adversary, after all. I think it’s an immutable law of nature. And being a grandparent is…well, pretty grand. And because the law of sowing and reaping is another immutable law of nature, we parents are given great rewards when we become grandparents.

Number one kid as parent: Mom, you wouldn’t believe it! First this kid did that, and then that kid did this. I tell you, I have the children from hell!

Me: Oh, don’t be silly, sweetheart. You couldn’t possibly have the children from hell. I had the children from hell!

Then, another time:

Number one kid as parent: Mom, you wouldn’t believe it! I was in a hurry, picking up my spare pieces of lumber from the kitchen floor after making that repair—and I nearly threw my back out when one piece wouldn’t budge. He’d nailed that piece of scrap wood to the kitchen floor!

Me: Oh, dear, sweetheart, that’s horrible. Horrible! Your father and I never had that problem. You must be doing something wrong. (A special note here. Number one kid is also a world-class smart ass. He just rolled his eyes and laughed.)

Yes, being a grandparent is grand indeed. I’ve been a great-grandparent now for three years, but that role isn’t as hands-on fun as the simple grandparent role. In fact, I’m almost certain I have the progression of roles finally figured out.

We are an us, our kids are a them, their kids are an us…and yep, our kids’ grand-kids are definitely a them.

At least they are to us.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

I couldn’t help but notice, as I made my way to Indiana at the beginning of this month, and then home again, that not only were the trees still all vibrantly green, but the sky still held that deep, summer blue it gets in July. I mention this today because that trip was not so long ago.

And then, just last Wednesday—a week to the day after I came home from my trip—I was driving to have lunch with a friend who lives in a rural area not so far away from where I grew up. And as I drove, I noticed the trees were beginning to turn to their autumn colors. Some had traces of orange, some of yellow and red. But it was more than a couple trees here and there, and it was for the entire 25-mile drive.

There are a lot of things I don’t understand in this life. I don’t understand how the days can be slow and fast at the same time. And I don’t understand how the trees can begin to go from vibrant green to twinges of fall colors in so short a space of time—especially when we haven’t even had a frost yet.

The sad truth is that the older I get the less I realize I know.

I truly enjoyed my time away the first week of September. Despite the glitch of having to get a new battery for my car at the last minute, I consider my solo excursion to have been a success. The lady in the box, aka my GPS, got me there and back without a problem. As for the visit itself, I was so happy to reconnect with a woman I greatly admire. Other people talk of being brave and exuding dignity, but my friend, author Kennedy Layne lives it every single day of her life. She’s overcome challenges many can’t conceive of, and now, having done so, has found her happy-ever-after, and is reaping the benefits of having lived and walked in faith.

That’s not to say the challenges have ended. The truth is that life is a series of challenges for us all, challenges that exist for the sole purpose of our overcoming them. We never know when or from where these challenges will spring. But they’re certain to find us. Our growth as human beings—our growth in character and our growth in faith—relies on these challenges being a constant factor in our lives, and in our efforts to face and surmount them.

A life lived in a bubble, with nothing to challenge the mind, the will or the soul—in short, a life without challenges, would be boring in the extreme. Living our lives day by day, where one day is the same as the next and the next, would seem long, and a punishment of sorts, were it not for the challenges that appear before us, from time to time.

Life can be hard. It can sometimes seem as if you can’t catch a break, or even as if no one knows or cares what you’re going through. There may even be days when you break down in sobs so soul-deep, so wretched, that you think nothing will ever be right again.

But it will be, I promise. It won’t be the exact same as what was, because along with challenges, the other constant in life is change.

Things will get better. Because the truth is that while challenges come to you, and to me, and to everyone, they don’t come to stay.

They come to pass.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

On the morning of September 11, 2001, the Ashbury’s—news junkies who generally could be counted on to know what was going on in the world at any given moment—were clueless. It was a different day for us, because it was the day we went to the travel agent and paid for a vacation we were about to embark upon with our son, Anthony, and his fiancée, Sonja. We were taking a 7 day cruise to the Bahamas, out of Fort Lauderdale, leaving the first week of December.

I’m not sure why we didn’t have the car radio on as we drove, first into the city and then off to work. We left the travel agent, and I took my beloved to his job, and then I went on to mine. About ten minutes away from my destination, I turned on the car radio for the first time that morning and fell, with the rest of you, into a most terrible day.

That wasn’t the first most terrible day I’d lived through; I still recall the day President Kennedy was assassinated. But this time, I was an adult, with an adult’s understanding and an adult’s tendency to worry about what might happen next.

Twenty-six Canadians died alongside so many more Americans on that most terrible day. Though we do not carry the depth of the wound to our national soul as our neighbors to the south do because of this attack, we have mourned. We have stood with you, because we are good neighbors. We opened our homes to you when all air traffic over our continent was grounded, and some of you were stranded. Although sometimes it is forgotten by both of us, the truth is, we have your backs to the best of our abilities, just as we know you have ours.

That day fifteen years ago fundamentally changed us all—individuals and society alike. Some of those changes were positive, but not all of them were. The one change I regret is the degree to which we, as a society—a North American society—have allowed fear to enter into our lives and control us.

Fear has encouraged us to surrender some of our freedoms, payed for in blood and bone and sinew by our ancestors. Fear has made us regard those not like us not only as being different, but as a being a possible threat to the common good. Fear has lain within the dark recesses of our psyches and in some cases, sadly, grown into gross hatred.

The legacy of this most terrible day must never be left to languish in the annals of history. We must never forget those who died in New York, office workers trying to flee downstairs and rescuers racing upstairs toward peril. We must never forget those who died in Arlington, airline passengers and soldiers alike.  We must never forget those brave airplane passengers who, upon discovering events of just moments before, rose up and challenged murderers and died heroes’ deaths in fields of Shanksville.

Plain and simple, above all possible political rhetoric, we must never forget.


Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

I am what is often referred to as a “grammar Nazi”. It has occurred to me that perhaps this is not a complimentary term at all. However, since the meaning behind the name is to imply that I am a person who likes proper grammar, I choose to accept the title and wear it proudly.

As Shakespeare famously said, “that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet”. Although between you and me, lately, roses don’t seem to have an odor any more, sweet or otherwise. But I guess that’s another topic. 

Even though I can be a stickler for proper grammar, I do commit errors of both syntax and spelling all the time—especially in the first draft of my manuscripts. Most of them are rooted out in my second draft, but my editor could tell you I really do need her services. In my defense, I will only say that I do try to get it right, but sometimes, I fail.

A few years ago, at a time when e-book authors were first coming into their own, and complaining because they were treated like “hacks” in the publishing world, I once wrote an essay, the point of which was: if you don’t want to be treated like a hack, then please, for the love of all that’s grammatically correct, be careful what you post on line. Check your spelling, check your grammar. Edit to the best of your ability.

I got very badly burned over that essay, as I recall. Apparently no one believed I was making a general observation. Several people—people whose online posts I’d never actually read, mind you—all thought I was of course talking about them. I was even temporarily booted from a group where I posted my essays because someone thought I had made a personal attack on someone else in the group—the prime definition of “flaming”.

That was several years ago, and I still don’t really understand what happened in that fracas. I don’t make personal attacks, even if I have been the recipient of same. The personal attacks that bother me are the ones I don’t understand. If I understand where the vitriol is coming from, I can generally deal with it. If I’ve screwed up, I’ve found the best thing to do is to immediately accept responsibility, and then apologize and move on. If I haven’t screwed up, I’ve found the best thing to do is apologize and move on. The willingness to offer apologies regardless of culpability might be because I am Canadian. Who knows?

But apologies don’t cost very much, and the more you use them the more familiar you become with them. That’s not to say they’re not sincere. They are. I’m always very sorry when someone has taken something I’ve said to mean something I didn’t intend. Hurt feelings are always a cause for regret, and therefore I’m always sorry for them.

I’m reminded of that incident because I’ve discovered that lately, I’ve been becoming less picky about the grammatical errors I’m encountering on line. Mostly, I suppose, because there are so many of them, and I feel somewhat overwhelmed by all I have to do in that medium to begin with. But while I don’t actually point out errors, or necessarily even talk about them specifically, my inner imp is always quick to mock them.

In response to any “thank you” I might give, I’m told, “your welcome”.  My inner imp says, “my welcome what? My welcome presence? My welcome smile? It can’t be my welcome example of good grammar, because if it was, you might have said, “you’re welcome”, instead.

Sometimes, people agree with me. They do! And they let me know that by telling me, “I think so to.” My inner imp perks up. “To where? To the train station? To the airport? Or maybe, you meant, “I think so, to make things better.” But if you wanted to make things better, you might have said that you “thought so, too.”

That damned inner imp lives, I believe, just to get me in trouble. As I’ve said, I’m not that picky anymore, when it comes to conversational posts on the internet and I do keep my mouth, or fingers, shut. I can’t help but notice them, however, because that is the way I am. And I’m even coming to believe that most of these errors are caused by the authors of same having too much to do in too little time and therefore sometimes relying on spell check—just like me.

However, these kinds of mistakes—any mistakes, really—in a book are still just as unacceptable to me today as they ever were. They still pull me out of the story, an experience that ranks right up there with bumping into an unforgiving and unexpected wall, and landing on my butt.


Monday, September 05, 2016

Pears Make the Perfect Partner for Wholesome Snacking

NewsUSA) – Adults everywhere are reaching for healthy snacks to fuel their families, and a fresh pear’s juicy, subtle flavor pairs well with snacks such as almonds, walnuts and cheese. America’s snacking obsession is about to get fresh with portable, packable, pair-able pears.

In season nearly year-round, fresh pears are mainly grown in Oregon and Washington by 1,600 families, who produce about 84 percent of the nation’s fresh pear crop. Pears are available in a range of varieties, from the signature-sweet Bartlett to the crisp, woodsy Bosc to the juicy Anjou.

A recent usage study commissioned by USA Pears showed that 46 percent of pear consumers eat them as mid-morning and afternoon snacks. Pears are often considered best eaten fresh and just-sliced, making them a perfect partner for wholesome, simple snacking — think sliced pears atop whole-grain toast, wrapped with prosciutto, dipped in nut butters or partnered with blue or aged, hard cheeses.

Half of all eating occasions in the U.S. are now snack-driven. According to a recent Mintel report on snacking, 94 percent of Americans snack at least once a day, compared to just 64 percent last year. Thirty-three percent say they are choosing healthier foods this year compared to last year, with an emphasis on simple ingredients. Millennials are leading the way and are more likely than any other demographic to snack multiple times throughout the day.

Pears are a nutrient-dense, fat-free food, an excellent source of fiber and a good source of vitamin C for only 100 calories per serving. To tell when a pear is ripe, simply check the neck.. If the pear gives slightly to pressure near the stem end, it’s juicy and ready for snacking.

With a warm growing season in the Pacific Northwest, a greater number of high-quality fruits are available at a 
“snackable” size — perfect for throwing in a lunchbox, purse or string bag on the way out the door.

Looking for more simple snacking tips? Think outside the cracker box:
* Slice pears atop whole-grain toast
* Wrap pear slices in prosciutto
* Pair pears with blue cheese, parmesan or aged white cheddar
* Dip pears into yogurt
* Pack a pear with a small portion of nuts
* Smear slices with almond or cashew butter
* Sprinkle diced pears onto chia pudding

Visit for recipes, ripening tips and more.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

In two day’s time I will leaving on a journey that I have wanted to make for the last three years. On my own, I’ll be driving to Indiana to spend time with one of my writer friends.

It’s not as far a drive as you might think, since the woman I’ll be visiting lives in the northern half of Indiana. I’ve never driven there before, but I have a Garmin, and I sort of know how to use it. And yes, I’m anal enough that I’ve printed off driving directions from the Internet, just in case.

I’ve always enjoyed driving. That was a good thing because I used to drive about 120 miles every day, ferrying my husband to and from work, as he doesn’t have a driver’s licence. This was something I did for a good couple of decades. In the beginning, it was actually half of that, as I was going to work as well, so it was one trip to and one trip home per day. But in the last several years that I chauffeured him after I no longer worked outside the home, the daily task consisted of two round-trips, which would have been two days worth of driving previously.

Fortunately, my daughter took over playing chauffeur to her dad a few years ago, because it wasn’t only distance that was a factor. Two round-trips to the rural community where my husband works took nearly three hours out of my day. More, actually, because I would have to go back to bed after the very early morning run. I’d be getting out of bed again around ten, and then having to leave to get him at around three-thirty. That severely cut into my writing time. When my husband and daughter both expressed the opinion that I should be putting more books out there, I challenged them to take something off my already very full plate. I’m very grateful they came up with the solution they did.

In return for the chauffeur service, we pay for all of our daughter’s gas, almost all of her vehicle repairs, and her daddy takes her on a vacation each year.

I haven’t undertaken a solo trip away from home since I flew to Texas in 2013. I don’t have the travel bug the way my husband does, and the lack of going places hasn’t bothered me except that I really want to spend time with my friends who live in the U.S.

My husband and daughter will be going someplace tropical in November, during which I will be home alone (or as alone as one can be living with a neurotic dog and an unpredictable cat). Father and daughter enjoy traveling together, and I really am happy to stay here and write.

I’m excited about this trip. I’m really looking forward to a couple of days of brain-storming story ideas, and simply catching up. Those who spend their days creating worlds and stories know how energizing it is to spend time with someone of like mind. Creative minds coming together is a truly beautiful thing to experience. It is, to me, the greatest natural high.

I’d begun to wonder if this trip would ever happen. Originally, I thought I’d have that gallbladder surgery, and then be good to go. But it didn’t happen according to the time table I wanted. It was delayed a couple of years while the doctors made certain that all of the symptoms I was having had to do with that particular organ, and were not something else.

Finally, as you know, the surgery took place last September. I’d always planned for either an early spring or an early fall trip, because my friend is very busy, with a schedule filled with professional commitments and deadlines. Now I’m actually counting down to the day of departure.

I won’t be packing a whole lot because I’ll only be gone a few days. I’ve never been a fussy dresser, and I don’t tend to wear make-up unless it’s an extremely special occasion. I think I was too lazy to ever develop that habit, and now at 62, I’m comfortable letting everyone see my naked face.  I was once asked by a female manager, at the company where I worked for more than a decade, why I didn’t wear makeup? She said she believed I could almost be pretty if I did. I immediately replied that I was so beautiful in my natural state that were I to wear makeup, the rest of the women who were my co-workers would feel woefully inadequate by comparison—so out of kindness to them, I abstained.

Yes, I’ve always been a smart ass and rarely at a loss for words when being insulted.

Fortunately for me, this visit will be spent with true friends, in a private setting. My writing friend doesn’t judge a person based on outside appearance, and neither do I. That shouldn’t surprise anyone.

We’re writers. We’re far more concerned about what lies beneath the surface than with whatever may superficially cover it up.


Monday, August 29, 2016

No Shelf Required With E-Readers at Your Fingertips

With hectic schedules ruling the day, people often underestimate the importance of taking time to relax and recharge—even if for only a few minutes.

To that point, why not do so with a good book? Whether you’re curled up on the couch after work or simply on your lunch break, eReading companies such as Kobo have enough options to keep you interested—and relaxed.

No matter what age you are, there’s something for everyone’s taste or preference.

The 20s can be fraught with stress and tension. You’ve left the comfort of home, so now what? 
Consider books that will help direct you on your own path. There is “How to Be Interesting” by 
Jessica Hagy and “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—And How to Make the Most 
of Them Now” by Meg Jay.

The 30s might have you pondering marriage and family, in which case, “Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential” by Eileen Kennedy-Moore and Mark S. Lowenthal might be informative and invaluable reads. For a mind-candy read that’s sure to entertain, try 
“Bridget Jones’s Diary” by Helen Fielding.

By their 40s, people are looking for a little romance or a thrill. Books such as “Inferno” by Dan Brown, or “Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert may have just the appeal you’re looking for.
In your 50s, the kids are (hopefully) out of the house, and you now have time to read and travel. To that end, “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova and “Live By Night” by Dennis Lehane could be the thing to toss in your suitcase.

The 60s, or Golden Years, mean retirement and the ability to enjoy the things you love most. Whether it’s spending time with family, keeping fit, or curling up with a good book, there is “Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter or “Paris” by Edward Rutherfurd.

As well as offering instant access to millions of titles online, digital reading companies offer a cornucopia of eReading device options and free reading apps for most smartphones and tablets, making it easy to expand your “just read” list. Whatever your age—young or old, married or single—books are a source of entertainment, escape and inspiration, but most of all, enjoyment.
Learn more at