The Right Word Makes All The Difference

Mom Writer + Dad Writer = Me Writer

History Through the Eyes of Ogden Owl — October 7, 2015

History Through the Eyes of Ogden Owl

Lee Dusing, over at Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Plus, has posted the picture on her site of this owl with his eyes bulging as he takes in some scene before him. Lee has asked us to write a caption or a story based on the picture — taken by Peter K. Burian.  So, naturally, I had to take up the challenge — even though I’m not much of an owl person in general. My story is below the picture.



Ogden Owl couldn’t believe his eyes. He was sure they must be bulging because he was straining so hard to see what was really going on. He’d lived in these sparse clumps of trees close to the sandy beaches of Kitty Hawk, NC, for almost three years now, and ever since he’d moved here, there had been some strange things going on.

Two human beings had spent months at a time out on the sandy stretches of land between the hills, half rolling – half carrying – some contraption that looked a little like a huge, ugly bird, but that seemed to be bound to move on the ground. Ogden was usually up doing his hunting during the night, and by morning, he was ready to get some rest, so he hadn’t bothered with the humans much, except to shake his head at their ability to waste time and energy out here on this almost barren stretch of land.

But early this morning, when he really should have been considering getting some rest again, he had noticed that the two human beings had an even bigger monster of a machine – even more ugly – and this time it made a horrible noise as they moved it across the ground.  They pushed it onto some kind of inclined track, and the next thing Ogden knew, one of the men seemed to climb right into the middle of the machine.

Ogden could hardly hold his eyes open, but he was determined to find out what was going on practically right under his nose. Suddenly the huge machine began moving along the inclined track, picking up speed, and then, to Ogden’s astonishment – and horror – it lifted up from the ground, all the time making a roaring noise. It seemed to catch the wind with its enormous wings and sailed through the air just like he did when he took off from his tree limb and weaved through the sky looking for food.

It couldn’t be! Surely not! Human beings flying??? His eyes stayed glued to the scene. For long seconds, the huge, ugly contraption floated and soared – and scared the heck out of Ogden.

When the machine came back down to the ground and sat down without breaking apart, Ogden took a deep breath. He hadn’t realized that he had been holding his breath the whole time he watched that ugly, noisy machine fly. He shook his head now and stirred restlessly on the branch where he sat. He sighed and stretched his wings a little, wanting to feel their strength once more before he moved back onto one of the hidden branches of his tree to get some rest. He felt sad – and fearful. He had a feeling that life was never going to be the same again after today.  ~


Wordless Wednesday, 10/7/15 —
Wordle 219 Writing Challenge: ‘The Case of the Copy-Cat Crimes’ — October 4, 2015

Wordle 219 Writing Challenge: ‘The Case of the Copy-Cat Crimes’

I just discovered a writing challenge called “Wordle,” which you will find at “The Sunday Whirl.”  It involves writing a poem or short piece of fiction that uses the words in a prescribed group for each week. Writers can use any form of the words that fit their stories/poems. Below, you’ll see the green box with the group of words for this week. If you’d like to take part in the challenge, just follow the link to “Wordle 219” for October 4, 2015 and join in.  My story is below the box of words.



Detective Becker pressed his left hand against his temple. It was tender from the pain where a migraine was threatening, but he had to go over this list of people who had received threats in the past month. The letters had all been made out in the same way: typed words that had been cut and pasted – one word at a time – onto a black sheet of paper and mailed in red envelopes. He’d sworn he’d figure out the nexus they shared that had made them victims of such a hateful attack, but time wasn’t on his side any longer, because the first two people on the list had already been killed.

His buzzer sounded, and his secretary reported that he had a call waiting on line one: his superior, Detective Holmes. “Yes sir,” Becker spoke into the phone. “What can I do for you?”

“The press has gotten wind of the fact that eight other people have received threatening letters. They’re pushing for a story, but, of course, we can’t tell them anything that could disrupt the investigation. I just wanted you to be forewarned that they’ll be waiting outside the front door when you leave the office.”

“Thanks for the warning. I slip out the basement entrance.”

“Have you figured out any connection yet between the two who are dead and the other eight?”

“I think I may have, Sir. All of these people served on a jury together about fifteen years ago. The decision of that jury was unanimous and resulted in the death sentence for the man on trial.”


“Malcom Leiberman.”

Dead silence on the other end of the line caused Becker to stay quiet and wait. He could hear that the wind outside had started blowing harder, and he knew the storm that had been predicted was almost upon them. Finally, Holmes responded: “You know, of course, that Leiberman was convicted of perpetrating a series of murders after sending out threatening letters to his victims.”

Becker sucked in his breath. “No sir … no, I haven’t had time to research the case yet. But that’s too weird.”

“Yes,” replied Holmes. “And now I think I know who we’re looking for. His brother swore he’d get revenge. But then he got sick with some disease that the doctors said was incurable, and he was hospitalized for years. I guess everybody forgot about his threats. I know I did. But we need to find out if he’s still alive, and if so …”

“I’m on it, Sir,” Becker said. “I’ll call you back as soon as I have the information.”

Two hours later, Becker walked into Holmes’ office with a medical report. “He’s alive all right,” he said, laying the report on his superior’s desk. “And living right here in the city.”

“You’ve got an address?”

Becker nodded.

Holmes rose from his chair and strapped on his gun. “Let’s go get him and save eight people’s lives.”


A Letter to Santa in October? —

A Letter to Santa in October?


Yes, I’m writing a letter to Santa in October this year. I felt it was really important to touch bases with him on something. So I’m posting this letter “special delivery” today.


Dear Santa,

I know you know who I am, but I’m not sure just which list you have me on. And since there’s just 2 1/2 months left until Christmas, I thought maybe I’d better get some clarification from you before it’s too late.  Could you please define the two words I’ve listed below?  Be as specific as you can — you know — with as many examples as possible. Feel free to use an extra sheet of paper if necessary. And I’d appreciate hearing back from you right away.  Time is of the essence in this situation.

Please Define the Following Words:




Thank you, Santa. I know you are a reasonable man.
I am anxiously awaiting your reply.

Your friend,
Sandy Conner




Friday Fictioneers — 10/2/15 — ‘Humpty Dumpty’ — October 3, 2015

Friday Fictioneers — 10/2/15 — ‘Humpty Dumpty’

Hurray,  I’m doing the Friday Fictioneers challenge this week. Just can’t seem to get it in every week, but I do like to take part when I can. If you’d like to join in and write a 100-word story based on this picture — by Marie Gayle Stratford — just follow the link to Rochelle’s place for the easy instructions.





Trying to look casual, he wiggled across the desk. Sherry, his owner, was on break. This was his only chance if he were ever going to connect with that hot pink number over on Wally’s desk. Wow, she was something else!

He was looking cool in his blue striped suit; she’d be impressed.

Whew!  This was hard work, but he was almost to the edge. Then came the dangerous part, but, hey, a mouse had to do what a mouse had to do. Love was worth the risk.

“Okay … at the edge. Now, one big jump, and …”

“Hey, Sherry, your mouse just fell in the floor and broke into a dozen pieces!”




Six-Word Saturday – 10/3/15 —
WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundaries — October 2, 2015
The Most Important Novel I Ever Wrote — Now Available at Kindle Store —

The Most Important Novel I Ever Wrote — Now Available at Kindle Store

REPAIRED COVER FOR FB FINAL - smallerSometimes people ask me which of the nine novels I’ve written so far is my favorite. And I have to answer that I feel like a parent with nine children, in that I can honestly say all of them are my favorites. They were born out of me. They are literally part of me. Every single one of them carries something of me out into the world and into the heart of every person who picks it up and reads it. And not one of them can supersede the others in my own heart.

Each one, of course has it’s own special strengths — as far as I’m concerned. (Of course, there are probably a few people out there who don’t think any of them have “strengths,” because, let’s face it: no one ever writes a book that everybody will like. It’s just a fact of life.  But not to worry: we don’t write for those people. A true writer writes for himself first — and secondly for all those people who will find great pleasure in reading his work.)

So back to my point: each book has its own set of strengths. When I look at the list of titles, I’m reminded of certain people who received help or encouragement or a good laugh when they read certain stories from that list. And I see each novel as offering its own specific gift to the readers.

However, sometimes we find ourselves writing a story that carries so much more potential for touching and changing lives than the average book does. Somehow, we just know that one particular story has an extra special gift to give the readers, and when we’ve finally written the words “The End,” we sit back and say, “Wow, this is an important book.”

That sense of importance — of special significance — came to me when I finished Repaired By Love, the third book in The Smoky Mountain Series. I truly believe this book is the most important book I’ve ever written. The reason is simple: This story has so much to say about the way of salvation and a joyous relationship with the Lord that it could easily be the only tool necessary to lead someone to make a decision to turn his heart over to Jesus Christ. I make that statement, not because I’m the author, but because I sincerely believe that the Lord Himself orchestrated that book to accomplish just that purpose.

Of course, I pray and believe the Lord to lead me in writing what He wants written in every inspirational novel I create. And the main focus in all of those novels is to help people come to know the Lord better and see that He wants to be involved in our everyday lives — helping, guiding, healing, and protecting us. I hope I’ve been faithful to Him in every book I’ve turned out. But in this one particular book, I sense a special anointing from Him to touch hearts that have never  yet opened up to Him at all. I am still in awe of how the Lord led certain people into my life and then used them to plant the seeds of so many of the characters in this book — and how He carried me along with the plot that I didn’t even have a plan for in the beginning.

When I wrote Repaired By Love, back in 2004, I said to a number of people: “If I could have written only one book in my whole life, this is the book I would want to have written.” Eleven years later — and having written five other novels since then — I still feel the same.

I hope my readers will be blessed by it as much as I have been.

Readers can find the digital Repaired By Love at the Kindle Store at a special price for the next two weeks. From today through October 16th, the novel will be on sale for only $1.99.  After that date it goes back to the same price as all the other books in the series ( 3.99).

To read an excerpt from Chapter One click HERE.

(And don’t forget, if you don’t have an e-reader, Amazon has a free app you can download in just a few minutes that will let you read all e-books right on your own computer. Just follow the link to the book page, and you’ll see the notification about the free Kindle App.)


I Just Can’t Make Up My Mind ….. — September 30, 2015

I Just Can’t Make Up My Mind …..

BLACK SMILEYOkay, I know what you’re saying to yourself: “Good grief, she’s changed themes again!”  And you’re right, of course.  You see, the problem is that I just can’t seem to decide which one I like best right now.  And added to that situation is the fact that my blogging students are coming to the lesson where they get to choose their own themes, and I’ve been sort of shopping through the possibilities for them as well.

When I begin the blogging classes, I put every student on the same theme — one of the fairly basic themes offered by WordPress that will let them learn to handle the technology without too much hassle. That way, the whole class is seeing the same thing on their screens at the same time, and it’s easier to teach them how to maneuver. But tomorrow they get to change to a theme of their own choosing.  They’re looking forward to it.

And as for me — well, I think I’ve finally made a decision. I’ve tried about three different ones this past month, and kept each for a few days each. I can’t really tell how much I’ll like or dislike a theme with just a preview. It takes several days of actually using it to know for sure. There are several things I like about this Lingonberry theme right now, so maybe — just maybe — it will get to have a home here for several months. But, as I’ve mentioned previously, I get bored easily, so sooner or later, even this theme too shall pass.

If you have a favorite theme and would like to share why you chose it and what you like about it, share your thoughts and experiences with us in the “Comments” window below. My students would appreciate your input as well, and I’ll be sure to pass along what you share.





“All In A Night’s Work” — ‘Anybody Got a Story’ Writing Challenge — September 29, 2015

“All In A Night’s Work” — ‘Anybody Got a Story’ Writing Challenge

Here’s my story to meet the challenge from the picture below. I  had first thought we’d keep these stories pretty short but then the more I thought about it, the more I realized that a picture like this almost demands a good bit of detail. So I extended the rules to allow each writer to use his own discretion. I did suggest trying to stay below 2500 words, but I have to admit that I wasn’t far from that limit myself. There’s still two days to take part, so if you’re interested, here’s the link  to the original post that explains how to participate.


When Inspector McGregor arrived at the scene, he found the car, empty, with the driver’s door standing open, exactly as the caller had described.  Refusing to give his name, the caller had simply reported what looked like an abandoned car sitting on an abandoned street, across from the printing plant.

The plant was shut down for the night, but security lights were on in the front, and evidently someone was still working in two of the offices upstairs. Inspector McGregor looked at his watch. They were certainly keeping strange hours. It was 3:30 in the morning. Even the bars across the street and in the next block had been closed for an hour and a half.

McGregor stood looking toward the plant, thinking, when suddenly he saw a face in one of the dark first-floor windows. The outside security light, with its eery blue cast, threw enough light on the window that even the split-second appearance of the face was clear enough to tell it had a fragile look about. It almost had to be a woman or a child.

Time to call for backup, McGregor decided, and radioed the station to pass on the information he had, get two more units on the way, and get a phone number for the printing plant office. “Look up Peter Hampton’s home number as well,” he said into the phone.  “Whoever’s in the office now may not answer the phone, and I want him down here with a key immediately.”

When he signed off, he punched in the printing office number first. The street was so quiet he could actually hear the office phone ringing, but after five rings, the answering machine picked up. He hung up and immediately called Hampton’s house.

The machine picked up at the house as well, but before the message played through, Hampton had picked up the phone. “Yeah, Hampton here,” he said, his voice thick with sleep.

“Mr. Hampton,” this is Inspector Alan McGregor with the metropolitan police department.”

“Police!  What’s going on? What’s wrong?”

“I don’t want to alarm you, sir, but we have an unusual situation going on at your plant right now, and I need you to get down here and open up the door so we can get in and take a look around.”

“What do you mean unusual situation?  And how do I know this is really the police?”

McGregor gritted his teeth, but at the same time, part of him was glad that Hampton didn’t just take off running in response to a call from someone without positive identification.

“I’m going to hang up, Mr. Hampton. And I want you to look up the number of the 7th precinct and call it. Ask them if they have an Inspector McGregor working on a case that involves your plant. They’ll verify everything I’ve told you, and then you get yourself down here. Understand?”

“Yes … yes … I can do that.”

“Don’t waste time, Hampton. I need you here now.”

“Yes … alright. I’m looking up the number now. I’ll hang up.”

“Fine,” McGregor answered.  “And thank you.”

By the time he’d ended the call the other two patrol cars had joined him. He had requested no sirens, but their lights were flashing. Whoever was inside looking out had to know they were about to get a visit from the police.  “Any ideas at all about who or what, Alan?” one of the other officers asked him.

“Well, I’d bet a month’s salary the face I saw belongs to a woman or a child. She could be in there with a couple others, and they could be in the middle of a burglary. Or she could have run inside for protection from something else.  This car door standing wide open tells me the second possibility is more likely.”

“Sounds reasonable. But why would somebody running for safety park on this side of the street if they were going into that building?”

McGregor shook his head, deep in thought, and just then Peter Hampton drove up, slammed on his brakes, and jumped out of the car. McGregor met him at the front door of the building, and Hampton unlocked the door, all the time emphasizing that the lights upstairs should not be on. “No one is supposed to be here at all, Inspector,” he insisted.

“Okay, it helps to know that. Now, you go back to your car, Mr. Hampton. We’ll take it from here. We don’t want you in the middle of anything that could be a threat to you.”

Hampton gladly obeyed, and McGregor and two of the officers eased through the front doorway. The other two officers had gone around the back to make sure no one left from that direction.

McGregor flipped on the overhead lights in the front reception area. “Police!” he shouted. “You need to come out into the open and identify yourself. The building’s surrounded. Come out where we can see you now!”

“Please! Please don’t shoot,” a thin shaky voice answered. “It’s only me, Carla Watson,” the voice continued, and slowly a young woman raised up from behind a desk on the right side of the room. She held her hands up as if in surrender, and she was shaking with fright. “Please, I was only hiding from some men who were chasing me. Honest. I didn’t mean to break in.” Her voice broke then and she began to sob.

McGregor told the other two officers to check out the rest of the building, and he walked closer to the girl. “Are you here alone?” McGregor asked.

“Yes,” she answered, trying to stifle her sobs. “Could I please get a tissue out of my pocket?” She asked, looking at him pitifully.

“Sure. You can put your hands down and come out here and sit down.”

She obediently moved from behind the desk and walked to a chair in the waiting area, at the same time digging into her sweater pocket for her tissues. When she had blown her nose and managed to get control of the tears to some extent, McGregor propped himself on the corner of a desk and asked her for her story.

“I was coming out of the Family Savings store and three men were standing out in the parking lot. They started to make suggestive comments to me and when I just hurried on to my car, they started following me. I jumped in  and locked my door and got my car started, but they were right beside my door, banging on the window. I managed to take off though, but they jumped into their car and followed me.

“It was awful, I tried to go fast enough to lose them, but they kept up with me. Finally, I came to a red light and just ran through it. I should have known they would do the same thing. There was almost no other traffic on those streets, and I kept turning abruptly, trying to lose them.  Finally, when a truck came across the road between me and them, they had to come to a stop, and I managed to turn two more corners and found myself on this street.

“A friend of mine works at the printing plant, and I remembered her saying that sometimes the ink odor is so strong they often open one of the windows on the back side of the building — one on the alley. I saw the lights on upstairs, and I just hoped that maybe I could find a window open. I pulled the car up on the other side of the street, hoping that if the men found the car, they’d think I had run in that direction and would start looking for me there. That would give me more time to get away.  I ran faster than I’ve ever run to get to the alley, and I prayed the whole way that the window would be open. It was. I crawled in and closed and locked it behind me.”

“But you didin’t go upstairs to get help?”

“Well, after I’d gotten in and walked toward the front of the building, I realized I didn’t hear anything upstairs that sounded like people moving around or talking. I figured someone had just left the lights on by mistake, so I decided to stay down here — at least until I could glance out the window a time or two and make sure I wasn’t followed.”

“And did they follow you?”

She nodded her head and then shivered. McGregor stepped over to her and patted her shoulder. “You’re safe now, Carla. Just tell me everything you can about them.”

She nodded. I glanced out once and saw that they were getting out of their car and heading down the street the other direction as I had hoped they would. I didn’t think they’d try to get into any buildings that were locked, so I thought I was probably safe in here. But I did try to glance out another time or two to see what was happening. They finally came back and got into their car. But while they were gone from it, I managed to look at it long enough to get the license number.”

“Good girl!” McGregor said now, patting her shoulder again. Then he pulled out a pen and pad and took down the number she gave him. She also gave him a fairly good description of two of the men.

McGregor nodded his head as he wrote out what she said. “Yes, I think I many know one of these guys already. And if it’s who I think it is, he’s out of prison on parole, and this is going to go down hard on him.”

By that time all four of the other officers had scouted out the entire building and reported that no one else was on the premises. McGregor sent one man out to get Peter Hampton, and when he had checked out the situation himself, he came to the conclusion that the janitor had evidently left a couple lights on. “He’s new and, frankly, I’m not sure how reliable he is.” He thought for a moment. “Well, evidently, from what I see now, he’s pretty unreliable. I’ll have a serious talk with him tomorrow. But I don’t see anything out of place – and nothing seems to be missing – so I’d say he’s probably the one who left the lights ——”  He stopped abruptly and looked at Carla. “Hey, how did you get in here anyway!”

She explained about the open window in back and then added. “I’m just so grateful it was open, and so glad the lights were on,” said Carla. “I don’t think I would have thought about trying to get in here if they hadn’t been. So … please … Mr. Hampton, don’t be too hard on your janitor.”

Hampton couldn’t help but grin. “Well, Missy, I guess if his leaving those lights on and the window open saved you from some serious harm, I’ll have to give him another chance to prove he’s dependable.”

McGregor chuckled, as did a couple of the other officers. Then he turned to Carla. “Is there someone at your home so that you won’t have to be there alone for right now?”

“Yes, my sister lives with me there,” she said. “And, as a matter of fact,” she added, looking at her watch, “I bet she’s starting to worry about me right now. My cell phone was dead, or I would have called her and told her to send help. I picked up one of the office phones here, but I couldn’t get it to give me an outside line. I couldn’t figure out all the buttons in the dark.”

“Well, I’m going to follow you home right now, and I’ll go in with you and talk with your sister. Then tomorrow, I’ll get in touch with you and let you know how we’re doing at making sure those men don’t get it into their heads to pull the same stunt with some other young lady. We may need you to identify a couple of them if we can bring them in. Are you willing to do that?”

“Can I do it without them seeing me?”


Carla nodded her head. “Then I’ll be glad to.”

“Good,” McGregor said, taking her arm gently. “Now let’s get you home.” They started for the door, and McGregor looked back at Peter Hampton. “Thanks for all your help Mr. Hampton. I hope you can still get a little sleep before you start your work day.”

Peter Hampton chuckled. “I don’t know, Inspector. When I get home, I’m going to have to fill my wife in on all that’s happened. And she’s not one to be satisfied with a summary. Like any good woman, she wants all the little details, and she wants them in chronological order. I figure I’m up for the day, but, all in all, I feel good knowing I could be a little help in keeping crime off the streets of our fair city. ”





Anybody Got A Story??? — Writing Challenge — September 23, 2015

Anybody Got A Story??? — Writing Challenge

There must be at least a hundred stories in this picture. Anybody got one?  You can use as many words as you like (but try to stay under 2500). Just post your story on your own blog and hop over here and put the link in the “Comments” section below.  The challenge will end next Wednesday, September 30, at midnight U. S. Central Time. Hope a lot of you take part.

Please remember, this site is G-rated.  Thanks.



WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Grid — September 20, 2015
Seven-Word Sunday — 9/13/15 — September 13, 2015
On Sale for $.99 — Novel # 1, Smoky Mountain Series — September 10, 2015

On Sale for $.99 — Novel # 1, Smoky Mountain Series

SET FREE COVER - GREEN BKRD # 1 - tiny for blogSet Free To Love, the first novel in my  Smoky Mountain Series is currently on sale at Amazon’s Kindle store for just $.99.   The regular price of $3.99 has been suspended for the next 7 days.

Book two in the series, Cameron’s Rib, is now available on Amazon, and book number three, Repaired By Love, will be available next week. Book number four, Jonah’s Song, should go digital in October, and book five, This Fire In My Heart, is still a bit of a mystery because it isn’t completely finished yet.

Amazon will run the sale on Set Free To Love until midnight September 16th, U.S. Pacific Time. I hope several of you take advantage of the special price to check out the series and get to know all the wonderful people who populate the other books as well.

Just follow the link to read more about the story and learn a little about how the series was birthed.

I also want to say a big THANK YOU to all of you readers who have read books 1 and 2.  I’m so thrilled that you were blessed by them.



Caught By The Cinquain Muse — Again —
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