Fall’s Inspiration – William Cullen Bryant


The Tale of a Book Title

Book titles and covers are important because the old adage — Readers do judge a book by its cover — is true. So, how can an author know beforehand what’s going to resonate?

Wiser people than me have come up with three criteria.

  1. A great title needs to create an image that synthesizes the story and suggest the story’s meaning or theme.
  2. The cover must also grab the attention of a casual book searcher.
  3. A title must describe the contents while being so piercing and articulate that readers will take notice.

Recently, I rebranded three previously published individual titles into a series. I considered coming up with new titles for each book, but each book already had an ISBN and the content was not changing. It wasn’t necessary.

Instead, I used a branding tagline or blurb (below) and a graphic — the ribbon — to link the books.

PROMISES series 

Two men and one woman met at Eighth Army Headquarters, South Korea in the turbulent Vietnam War years and found their lives linked together forever. The PROMISES series tells their stories through the decades that follow.

In making my decision, I examined my titles based on the expert’s criteria.

  • Book 1 is Love in the Morning Calm, Prequel to the Pendant’s Promise.

With love in the title, a reader gets the story will be a love story. The picture of Headquarters, Eighth Army identifies the setting as a military. A knowledgeable reader may also recognize that another name for South Korea is Land of the Morning Calm.

Conclusion: I may have I tried too hard.

  • Book 2 The Pendant’s Promise

The cover design with the Pendant, the Vietnam Wall, and the word promise signal another love story. I love this cover because my very talented daughter designed it. With the rebranding, my current graphic designer, Jim Peto at Petoweb.com, enhanced the graphics.

Conclusion: The title and the cover artwork make a reader notice.


  • Book 3 Until He Returns

The old Army green color clues a reader of the setting and time frame. The title suggests whoever needs to return is in the military. (Those who have read the first two books will know the character has been MIA since book 1.) Close examination reveals the character’s name on the dog tags.

Conclusion: Unsure whether this title hits the mark the mark or not. While the dog tags are clearly visible on the paperback cover, the tags are not readable on the eBook thumbprint.


  • Book 4 Promises to Keep

This is the final book of the series, which will be out next month. The title ties back to the second book’s title and the series title. The couple clues the reader it’s another love story. The sunset background suggests the end of the day and the last of series.

Conclusion: It synthesizes the story and suggests the story’s theme.


Overall, I give myself a generally good grade for my titles. What say you?

Should you want to read any of the books, simply click on the buy links on the sidebar. The buy link for book 4 will be added next month.


Fall’s Inspiration – Albert Camus


ONCE UPON A GAME…Playing Bridge Activates Brain Cells

Welcome new guest blogger Carolyn Wedel. She and I met at a bridge club. She told me she was an avid reader and, sometimes writer. No surprise we struck an immediate friendship. She shared some of her work. I thought her articles would make fun blog posts and convinced her to become regular blogger. Enjoy her first Once Upon A topic below and then be sure to check back on Tuesdays for more tips and thoughts from this multi-talented lady.

ONCE UPON A GAME…Playing Bridge Activates Brain Cells
A Guest Blog by Carolyn Wedel

Do you like to challenge your brain? Do you like to play cards? Do you like to interact with others?

Research shows playing challenging card and domino games can stimulate brain cells. I’m on board with that.

I grew up playing cards. My early beginnings were Canasta, then as an adult, I learned to play the domino game called 42.

One of the characteristics of 42 was it has trumps. Before I learned about 42, I had no idea what a trump was. It sounded foreign to me.

After playing 42 Dominoes, I discovered the game I dearly love to this day, which is called Bridge.

The person who introduced me to the game said it had trumps. Well, I knew what trumps were, so I thought how hard could this game be?

I laugh about that comment today.  Bridge is by far the most brain challenging card game out there.

Bridge is not hard once you learn the basics, but it is challenging.

Playing Bridge requires you to focus, stretch your brain cells, and interact with others. Since I’m a competitive person, this was right up my ally.

Did you answer yes to any of the questions at the beginning? If so, I highly recommend you find a bridge club near you and start playing bridge.

You can choose to play socially, called Party Bridge, or competitively, known as Duplicate Bridge.  But either way, your brain cells will grow and you’ll make lifelong friends.


Carolyn Wedel’s business life is over (retired) and now she applies her computer skills for the Bridge Community.  She is an avid player of games and sports, which included riding English Dressage competition.  She is a Certified American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) teacher and earned the level of Bronze Life Master this year.  Another love she has is the needle arts…embroidering towels, apparel, and other items, with mostly a bridge theme.

And with a little time left over, she cooks for her husband.


Grandparenting Adventures

Recently I supervised my daughter’s two dogs and three teenagers while she and her husband went on a business trip.

My two dogs came along with me. That brought the total to four dogs – Buster (on the couch), Daisy (behind the couch), Sully (on the hassock) and Finnegan (on the floor) plus three teenagers, who shall remain nameless.It was quite an adventure.

We were up and out the door between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m. each day. My two dogs were loaded in the car. Daisy secured in her kennel. We strategically blocked the fourth dog, Sully, from running out into the yard and refusing to come inside when we opened the door to exit.

That only happened once.

I simply herded all the teens back inside and Sully came to the kitchen door eager to be with us. We only lost a few minutes. Thank you to my excellent dog obedience trainer who shared that advice.

Mealtimes together were a different story with the kids’ varied schedules. I was determined we should sit down for one supper meal together the way we did back in the dark ages when their parent was a teenager. It was a challenge.

We did manage it once, but it was the faster meal on record. Two literally inhaled their homemade wraps and headed out for their evening activities-drama practice and workout at the fitness gym. The other dashed upstairs to do homework.

Cellphone and electronic turn-in happened at 10:30 pm. The hour was a bit later than my regular bedtime and when I attempted my usual reading in bed, I fell asleep after one page.

I told their parents not to worry it would be easy peasy. And it was. The teens had their routines and only needed an adult around in case something weird happened. Which it didn’t.

It was fun to be involved with their everyday routines even for a few days. I definitely have a new appreciation of the task of raising teenagers that my daughter and son-in-law face.

I’m ready to go again. Well, maybe after a day or two of rest.


Non-morning Crew

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

It is a well known fact that people can be divided into two groups:  morning people and non-morning people.  There are some of each in my family.

I happen to be the morning person which is why I go to the pool at 5:30 am.  Rachel is not a morning person which is why she has a coffee maker next to her bed.

Bill, the Chinese student living with us, is also a non-morning person.  He is a senior in high school this year and I recently asked him what he plans to do in college when I am not there to make sure he gets up.  He said he would schedule all afternoon classes.  I told him it doesn’t work that way.

The dogs also fall into these groups.  Most of ours wake up ready to take on the world.  Coco, however, comes out of her kennel just long enough to grump at everyone then goes back inside.  Eventually she joins the rest of the pack.

I recently discovered that, contrary to what people think, not all chickens are happy with morning either.

Lily, the D’Uccle (or duseldorfer as I call her) has not been out with the chickens when I feed them in the mornings. I panicked at first because she is littler and could easily be carried off by the dreaded hawk.

I found her, though, in the nest box.  She has joined the non-morning crew. At least she doesn’t have anywhere to go in the mornings.


Fall’s Inspiration – Lauren Destefano


Do mushroom rings appear in your yard?

As seasons transition from spring to summer or fall to winter, there’s lots and lots of rain and these little mushroom rings pop up in yards.

Fairy rings, as these sprouting mushrooms are called, frequently appear after wet weather. The bizarre rings are also found in parks and woods.

The mushrooms don’t last long, but the fungi living under the ground can grow for many years. You can spot a fairy ring when there are no mushrooms by a visible circle. Sometimes the circle is lush and green other times it’s a ring of dead grass. It depends on the type of underground fungi.

Fairy rings need nutrients in the soil to grow mushrooms and, without obstructions to inhibit outward growth, can grow as large as a quarter-mile like the one in Belfort, France that is thought to be over 700 years old.

The arcs appear in lawns because we fertilize to nourish the mushrooms. Organic stuff especially offers plenty of food for a fairy ring. Over sixty mushroom species grow from fairy rings. Some are even eatable, but be cautious some of the mushrooms can also be poisonous.

For me the most interesting part of fairy rings is their mysterious reputation and mystical legends.

Also called elf circle, elf ring, or pixie ring, these arcs of mushrooms are said to be portals to unearthly worlds where fairies and witches dance. According to English legends, the mushrooms serve as stools for fairies after nights of revelry.

Many folk beliefs paint fairy rings as dangerous places, best to be avoided as this illustration title Plucked from the Fairy Circle depicts.

By T. H. Thomas [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Entering a ring on May Eve, Walpurgis Night (the Swedish Halloween night), or Halloween night was considered especially dangerous. That’s when sacred fairies and their clans are said to appear within the rings in angry and scary moods

Source: commons.wikimedia.org File:Fairy_Rings_and_Toadstools_by_R_Doyle.jpg

It makes me smile to think of friendly fairies dancing around in our yard’s fairy rings or resting on a toadstool.

But, you won’t find me out looking around on a Halloween night.

If you prefer not to have fairy rings growing in your yard, you can destroy the mushrooms using your lawn mower. That offers a temporary fix but doesn’t kill the underground fungi. Here’s a guide that will help you permanently remove fairy rings: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/kill-fairy-ring-mushrooms-45931.html


Quiet on the Farm

A  Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I developed a great system for feeding the ducks who, by the way, eat cat food. During the day if I threw it out, the chickens would eat it.  If I waited until the sun went down and the chickens were in the coop, I could throw cat food to the ducks and they could eat in peace.

This plan resulted in soft quacking every evening to remind me it was dinnertime. Male ducks have quiet quacks so the noise is soft which is nice.

All our ducks are male and unfortunately could not tell the difference between a duck and a chicken.  This is not so nice for our chickens.

We had to pen the ducks up away from the chickens and look for a new home.  After several weeks, a man who lives out in the country came and picked up the ducks to put in his pond.  His pond was full of weeds and he needed someone to eat them.  Enter the ducks!

I was sad at first because it was so quiet at night.  Then we got this picture:This is so much better than the kiddy pool we used for them.  All the ducks can swim at the same time.

Now when it is quiet, I think of this picture, and smile.


Thoughts on Shells – Lindbergh