Category Archives: More Blogging Challenges

Liebster Award 2016

Version 2

I am pleased to announce that I have been given the Liebster Award for 2016. This marks the second year I have received the award; the first was for 2014. The Liebster Award is peer nominated, normally given by bloggers to other bloggers, and offers the opportunity to develop relationships with fellow bloggers and new readers. I accept this award and am honored to be part of this tradition. Thank you, Pat Garcia, for nominating me.

Pat Garcia is an inspirational writer of nonfiction essays and of fiction. She is an American writer, blogger, book reviewer, singer and musician living in Europe. Pat says her “heart lies in telling stories with a romantic twist that inspires.” You can find her uplifting stories on the Internet at: This is just one of her blogs, and it will lead you to her others.

The Rules

  1. Write a post about yourself, displaying an image of the Liebster Award.
  2. Link back and thank the blogger who nominated you in your post.
  3. Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  4. Pick 5 – 10 new bloggers (must have less than 300 followers) to nominate and ask them 11 new questions. Do not re-nominate the blogger that nominated you.
  5. Go to each new blogger’s site and inform them of their nomination.

I must tell you that I hesitated to complete the acceptance of this award. To write all this about myself seemed rather self-indulgent, and I and other authors have said much of this before. Ultimately, I decided to go ahead with it. I might attract some new reader, and my present following might dig up something of interest. In my wilder dreams, an agent might come along and say, “I must find a book publisher for you and avidly promote your work.” I should advise you, though – this is really long, so you may want to read it episodically or just go ahead and binge read.

Questions Asked by Pat Garcia

1. What does writing mean to you?

Digging up the clams at low tide …


  • The importance of the fourth estate – journalism: the function of the press in a democracy is checks and balances; also, incisive investigation and communication of global affairs and humanitarian conditions.
  • Truth – whether by nonfiction or fiction, for consensus observes there is more truth in fiction than in nonfiction.
  • Human Interest profiles about individuals who have accomplished something extraordinary and beneficial for society.
  • Exchange of information and ideas – learning how and what others think; reaching truth, acceptance and compromise.
  • The messenger.

Providing the magic carpet to fly readers to the lands of their imagination.

2. Where do you get your inspiration?

I love storytelling and I am driven to write. Ask me how I’m doing and I’ll say, “Let me tell you a story about that.” My father and my uncle were always telling us stories, so I got that gene. Plus, I am interested in everything: I read, research and ask a lot of questions about a lot of things.

People fascinate me: Before I was old enough to wield pencil and paper I was an observer: I was 2 or 3 years old when my mother would tell me to stop staring at the passengers seated across from me in the trolley car. I studied them, wondering who they were, what their lives were like. Thus arose the genesis of transporting characters from the real world into my imaginative stories. By the time I was 8 or 9, you could hand me a pencil and a yellow legal pad and I would sit content, writing a story. When I began reading, I derived inspiration from fairy tales, The Arabian Nights, the logical illogic of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Robert Louis Stevenson’s poetry (A Child’s Garden of Verses), children’s mystery (Nancy Drew) and biography books, and finally, F. Scott Fitzgerald. A great deal of my inspiration and influence develops from the set of 12 graded My Book House books my mother bought me when I was quite young.

3. Do you write fiction or non-fiction or both?

I write both fiction and nonfiction. I have been a journalist for years, writing features and human interest stories, and evolving to being an essayist, memoirist, short story writer and currently working on three linked novels. I especially enjoy the storytelling genre of writing creative nonfiction, intermixing fact and fiction.

4. Do you blog and if so, how often?

I blog. This is it. You are visiting and viewing my blog presently. I began writing my blog in May 2011, posting about twice a week; then, I was writing about caregiving for my mother who suffered from dementia. She died in April 2012. Since then, I have been posting on my blog as I feel necessary. I’ve taken the A-Z Blogging Challenge two years running, posting every day but Sundays throughout April 2015 and 2016. Lately I post intermittently. So, my blog has gotten dusty; and Moriarty, the Phantom of My Blog, although he does much work around here, such as hanging new headers, cleaning up after parties, and sometimes cooking meals which we share with his black, fluffy dog, Dickens, does not dust. So, I have to get busy dusting and I need to do that before I write another blog post so I won’t sneeze all over my pages, because then, Moriarty points out, the pages will stick together and my masterpiece won’t be much of a page turner.

5. Where is your favorite place or room to write?

I write in my studio at my iMac, listening to music, usually classical, looking out my window at the ever-changing dogwood and the activities of the birds, squirrels and my neighbor’s grandsons within its branches. Sometimes, too, I write by hand, using a favorite ballpoint pen, in my notebook, sitting in the chaise lounge between the perpendicular windows in my library. I believe it is necessary to write by hand. The process is slower, therefore allowing you time to think between the words and lines you are putting on the page; consequently, you go deeper into thought and detail and your writing flows like a soft stream over cobbles.

6. Do you have a regular routine, like writing in the morning or evenings? Or do you write whenever it hits you?

I like to write in the mornings, two or three hours; but sometimes I write best in late afternoon, for an hour or so, before dinner. I keep pen and paper all around the house and carry a pen and little notebook with me when I’m out, so I can capture that elusive gem the moment it rises above the ripples of thought.

7. Who is your favourite author? What kind of influence have they had upon your writing or upon you personally?

My favorite author is F. Scott Fitzgerald. He has taught me most of what I know about writing well. In pre-computer days, I read everything Fitzgerald wrote and everything written about him. I hand copied pages and pages of his essays on good writing and kept them in a file. Sadly, he died just before I was born. I chased after him to find the houses he had lived in nearby where I live – Wilmington and Baltimore – but found they had been torn down only a few years earlier. He is my kindred spirit and great inspiration, along with Thomas Wolfe and his marble angel. Thomas Wolfe’s childhood home still stands, in Asheville, and I have visited it twice. These two authors inspired me to believe in and discipline myself to write. They are my angels.

Additionally, the greatest short story writer, I believe, is Anton Chekhov, second only in talent to William Shakespeare. His nonjudgmental, incisive knowledge of humans and the human condition combined with his simple yet compelling storytelling approach the mystical. Too, there are Leo Tolstoy, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Edith Wharton, Daphne du Maurier and Jane Austen. My living favorites are Julian Fellowes, Adam Gopnik, Stephen King, William Least Heat-Moon, Orhan Pamuk, Gay Talese, Elif Batuman and T.J. Banks. I could go on.

Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy were friends. Chekhov wrote, “When literature possesses a Tolstoy, it is easy and pleasant to be a writer; even when you know you have achieved nothing yourself and are still achieving nothing, this is not as terrible as it might otherwise be, because Tolstoy achieves for everyone. What he does serves to justify all the hopes and aspirations invested in literature.”

8. Do current events in the world have an effect upon what you write?

Of course current events influence what I write: they saturate us. You’d have to be solitarily confined not to extract some effect from your surroundings, and even then you might find something. Every writer must be attuned to his or her environment, whether it be war, misogyny and genocide in a foreign land; the sound of a piano through an open window; the way a squirrel grips with its hind paws a dogwood branch swaying in the autumn wind while turning the red berry in its front paws as it nibbles it; or the aroma of authors in a library, of the bindings and pages of their books. A writer, by nature, is an observer.

William Least Heat-Moon wrote in Blue Highways, “It was the Texas some people see as barren waste when they cross it, the part they later describe at the motel bar as ‘nothing.’ They say, ‘There’s nothing out there.’” Heat-Moon proceeds, then, while “driving through the miles of nothing,” to test the hypothesis. He stopped. “No plant grew higher than my head,’ he writes. “For a while, I heard only miles of wind against the Ghost; but after the ringing in my ears stopped, I heard myself breathing, then a bird note, an answering call … I heard the high zizz of flies the color of gray flannel and the deep buzz of a blue bumblebee. I made a list of nothing in particular.” He lists 30 things, and then says, “That was all the nothing I could identify then, but had I waited until dark when the desert really comes to life, I could have done better.”

9. How often do you read? Do you read books in different genres?

I read daily – everything from the backs of cereal boxes to The New Yorker to the great classic novels. I read different genres; however, I am a classicist in general, and I prefer and most often read the great 19th and 20th century classics – American, British, Russian, French and German. Too, I like how Middle Eastern storytelling starts from the middle and scrolls outwards to the beginning and the end. In my childhood I read the great classics from around the world, so those set my foundation. I think you’ll find that great writers have read insatiably as children. In my early childhood no one had TV, so I had to read. Most of the books I read had no pictures, so I had to imagine the scenes in my own mind, a phenomenon which modern screen time little supports.

10. Please share a paragraph or two of what you are currently working on.

Shortly, Lisa entered the lobby. She looked about 16, a perky blonde with a good tan. She wore a short skirt and pumps, no socks. The first thing I noticed as she led me down the hall to her corner office, which turned out to be about the size of my apartment, was her distinctly pronounced sock marks. Her ankles were snow white. It’s like she had highlighted them. The white sock marks looked so neatly painted in nice clean lines. That set the tone for our interview. “Did you use a stencil?” I wanted to ask as I followed her down that long, narrow, dark hall, her ankles practically lighting the way. I think the least I would have done was apply a tanning preparation — better orange ankles than Casper ghastlies. –From “White Sock Marks,” an essay included in my to-be-published collection, Leftover Bridges.

Were I to live forever, I would know him anywhere: Connell. His head was turned to his left, his dark eyes fixed on something across the street, and he was about to run into me.

It had happened once before: We worked together at Shoreline Catering. I cut a diagonal across the catering warehouse floor to his office to tell him something. Just as I arrived at his open office door, he jumped up from his desk and walked squarely into me in the doorway.

“Did he plan that?” I wondered. I wondered for seventeen years, the whole time I was away, living in Princeton, New Jersey. I had arrived back in Southern California two months ago, in October, just before the rains began and the snow-mantled mountains embraced the L.A. basin. I loved this time of year.

“Connell!” I said. He was four feet from me and coming fast, as always.

He turned his gaze on me, his intense, dark eyes sparked from somewhere deep and scorched my soul. Time telescoped. –A short story, “These Eyes,” from Leftover Bridges.

11. Where and what do you see yourself as within the next ten years? Will you have relocated? Will you have become the writer person that you have dreamed of being?

In 10 years I will be 85. By then, if I’m still living, I might have relocated from Delaware to Southern California where I lived most of my adult life. As for my writing, I am on the retirement side of my 50-year professional writing career. I began with analyzing and summarizing legislation for constituents of a United States Congressman, and worked through marketing and sales copywriting to magazine and newspaper writing and editing, to ultimately blogging and book authoring and publishing. I have some things I’d like to clean up, though – finish and publish books I have been working on – novels and essays, and continue writing my blog as I see fit, while my books become bestsellers.

My Liebster Nominations

My Questions to Nominees

  1. When did you begin writing and what or who inspired you to dedicate yourself to writing professionally?
  2. Do you have a writing routine? Please tell us about it.
  3. Do you write at a computer, a typewriter or in longhand, or a combination of these?
  4. Do you have a designated space for writing? Where?
  5. Do you write to music? If so, what kind?
  6. What types of works do you read?
  7. Who is your favorite author and how has this author influenced you?
  8. What is your writing process from inception to completion and publication?
  9. Are you published? Through a publisher or indie? E-books or print or both?
  10. Please share a paragraph or two of a work in progress.
  11. Do you have an agent? If so, how did you get your agent? Otherwise, how do you market and promote your work?

–Samantha Mozart
October 8, 2016




5 Day / 5 Photo Blog Challenge — Yosemite Falls

Yosemite falls


This was my view of Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, Calif., when I stood at their base in Yosemite Valley that day in May. There are three falls, the Upper Falls, 1,430-foot (440 m), this plunge alone one of the highest waterfalls in the world; the Middle Falls, or Middle Cascade, 675 feet (206 m), a series of smaller cascades; and the Lower Falls, 320-foot (98 m).

The falls drop 2,425 feet (739 m) from Yosemite Creek, elevation 6,526 feet (1,989 meters) at the top of the upper fall, to the base of the lower fall into the Merced River in Yosemite Valley, elevation 4,000 feet. While Yosemite Falls are fed by a creek, some of the falls in Yosemite Valley are fed by living glaciers.

The waterfalls in Yosemite Valley cascade from November to July. The best time to see all these falls is at the spring snowmelt, May and June, when they are at their resplendent fullness. They dry up completely or dry to a trickle by August. Yosemite Falls freezes in the winter.

Yosemite Valley has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth; and, John Muir notwithstanding, I am not alone in my perspective. I am awed. To be in the Valley on the banks of the green Merced, embraced by sequoias, incense cedars, sheer granite cliff faces carved by the glaciers, rising 3,000 feet above you, and the sonorous crystal waterfalls lifted and dancing on the wind is glorious. It is heaven on earth.

Here is a live, streaming view of Yosemite Falls as you read this today:

I nominate Gwynn Rogers Gwynn’s Grit and Grin, to continue this 5 Photos/5 Stories challenge.  Gwynn lives way up there in the Pacific Northwest. Writing from a peninsula overlooking a bay in the Seattle area, Gwynn finds humor in situations that even Erma Bombeck might have found a stretch.

Rules: for 5 photos, 5 days challenge:

1) Post a photo each day for 5 consecutive days

2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, a paragraph — all entirely up to you!

3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation! This is fun, not a command performance!



5 Day / 5 Photo Blog Challenge — The Maggie S. Myers

  the Maggie s. myers

Historic Delaware Bay Oyster Schooner

Unloading at Dock: The Maggie S. Myers with he r sails furled and her dredges.

Unloading at Dock: The Maggie S. Myers with her sails furled and her dredges.

The Maggie S. Myers is believed to be the oldest, continuously-working oyster schooner under sail in the United States. The historic Delaware Bay oyster schooner has never been out of commission. Her captain, Thumper, and crew work her nearly daily on the bay dredging for conch, blue crabs and oysters. She is living history.

The Maggie S. Myers is owned by my Bowers Beach, Del., friends, Frank “Thumper” Eicherly IV and his wife Jean Friend. They bought the Maggie in 1998 when she was about to be scuttled. The moment they saw her, Jean said, “It was love at first sight.” Since then Thumper and Jean have devotedly invested tens of thousands of dollars into her restoration.

The Maggie was built as a two-masted Delaware Bay oyster-dredge schooner in Bridgeton, N.J., and commissioned in 1893. She is 50 feet long and 18 feet wide. The 24.62 ton schooner can carry her weight in oysters. Her masts were removed when she was motorized in the 1940s. She is listed on the National Historic Register.

Maggie Coming Through the Cut

The Maggie with her day’s catch coming through the cut from the bay to dock on the Murderkill River. Thumper sews her sails.. (Robert Price photo)

When the Maggie was built, below deck she had four berths and a woodstove for cooking. She and her crew would stay out dredging the bay all week, then sail to Philadelphia with oysters piled up to wheelhouse windows, unload their catch and be home to spend the weekend with their families.

“She’s low to the water and dredges by hand,” Thumper rhapsodizes. “She turns on a song, like a snow goose flying around in the air.” I can tell you his claim is true; I piloted her briefly up the serpentine Cohansey River in New Jersey at sunrise that morning in 2004 on the way to the boatyard to restore her mast.

The last I heard, recently, the Maggie was at the boatyard having her second mast restored.

Here is a link to an in-depth story I wrote about the Maggie, published under my Carol Child byline in the Delmarva Quarterly,The Low Whistle of the Wind.” This story provides a link to the boatyard where you can see stunning photos of the Maggie’s restoration.



5 Day / 5 Photo Blog Challenge — Redondo Beach Pier & Harbor

 Redondo beach Pier & harbor

Redondo Pier & Harbor

Redondo Pier & Harbor

There are the Santa Monica Mountains, across the Santa Monica Bay, in the background. This place still feels like home to me. I lived in Redondo Beach, Calif., most of my adult life, for 30 years. It is where I raised my daughter. Over the years we lived there, we watched big Pacific storms wash ashore fishing boats permanently anchored out in the bay, and partially destroy earlier piers standing on wooden pilings; on the end of one pier was a dinner-house restaurant, Castagnola’s, washed over by huge waves.

The first Redondo pier, 1889-1915, was built to facilitate delivery of timber and oil from ships to trains.  It was destroyed by a storm. The second pier, 1895-1929, built nearby, in front of the Hotel Redondo, was V-shaped and had a railroad track on one prong. It was destroyed by a storm.

In those years, Redondo served as the Port of Los Angeles. It was a bustling harbor where passenger trains and Henry Huntington’s Big Red Electric (trolley) Cars brought people to enjoy superb saltwater fishing, shops, restaurants, the world’s largest saltwater plunge and poking around in the mounds of moonstones on the beach. These natural mounds of gemstones are said to have been five to six feet deep and 40 to 50 feet wide. They’re not there now, and I’ve never been able to find out what became of them.

Back then, residents of inland cities such as Pasadena and Glendale summered in their beach bungalows lining the broad boulevards along the cliffs above the beach. The streets above Moonstone Beach where the Hotel Redondo stood bear the names of gemstones––Ruby, Diamond, Sapphire, Emerald, Beryl, Pearl, Garnet, Topaz, Carnelian…. The bungalows charmingly graced Catalina Avenue and Broadway when I first moved to Redondo. They disappeared in the 1980s when they were replaced by high-rise apartment buildings and condominiums.

Built on a bluff overlooking the Santa Monica Bay in 1889 with an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, each of 225 rooms “touched by sunlight at some time of the day,” the $250,000 Hotel Redondo embraced sweeping views of the Santa Monica Mountains along the Malibu coastline to the north, the 1,000-foot altitude Palos Verdes Peninsula to the south, and the vermillion sunsets to the west.

Alas, the gods smiled on Redondo in a roundabout way, saving the city from becoming an industrial port and keeping it for the beach people, the upwardly mobile and for families and children: The grand, red-turreted Hotel Redondo was done in by Prohibition, razed in 1926 and sold for $300 for scrapwood. Its near twin, the historic Hotel del Coronado, built on Coronado Island off San Diego in 1888, continues to host guests in grand style.

During Prohibition, the gambling ship Rex operated three miles off shore. As the Redondo harbor declined, the San Pedro harbor bustled, and San Pedro became the Port of Los Angeles.

In the stead of the Hotel Redondo, today jutting out over the harbor, high over the waves in water as green and clear as an emerald, stands the bustling horseshoe-shaped Redondo Pier, with its restaurants and shops. Built in the early 1990s on concrete pilings, the present pier has outlasted its predecessors lost in El Niño storms every few years.


The ramp down to our beach when we lived in Redondo. (Kellie Child Soucek photo)

Weather in Redondo is sunny and in the 70s F nearly every day — except in June, when the “June gloom” sea mist rolls in and hangs around. The steady salt breeze off the ocean wafts aromas of ice plant (a succulent planted to keep the cliffs from sliding), sea urchins and Mexican food.

A brief history of the Redondo Pier

A brief history of the City of Redondo Beach — This paints a colorful picture of what Southern California was like before the throngs arrived in the 1950s and ’60s.

The land on which the City of Redondo thrives was once Rancho San Pedro, part of a land grant the California (Mexico) government gave to the Juan José Dominguez family in 1784.


5 Day / 5 Photo Blog Challenge — The Quest for Human Equality and Dignity

appoquinimink friends meeting house

Appoquinimink Meeting House

Appoquinimink Friends Meeting House

They rode beneath vegetables in hay wagons; they came packed in shipping crates; they ran through the swamps in the night, reaching for the light in the distant window, the bounty hunter hot on their heels. The Appoquinimink Friends Meeting House, in Odessa, Del., provided a safe hiding place when you were a slave running up from the South for your freedom, where you could get food, clean, dry clothing, money and be guided on your way to the next stop. The Meeting House, added to The Network to Freedom in 2008 by the National Park Service, was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

This, one of the smallest Friends Meeting Houses in the nation, placed on the National Historic Register in 1972, has just one room with a small room upstairs.  img032There are no windows along the pent eaves on the sides of the building. Local Quakers, some at the expense of getting caught and losing their own property, hid runaway slaves in a small alcove under the eaves, pictured here.  Prominent among them was conductor Thomas Garrett, born in 1789 on his family’s farm, Thornfield, west of Philadelphia. The Garrett family held abolitionist beliefs. When Thomas was a boy, a family paid servant was abducted by men intent on selling her as a slave in the South. The men were tracked down and she was returned. Thomas never forgot the incident, though, and it served to intensify his abolitionist beliefs. Coincidentally, I grew up in Drexel Hill, Pa., on land that was once Thornfield. The Garrett home still stands and is open for tours.

You might imagine then, what a curious phenomenon I found at age 10, when our family moved from Drexel Hill 30 miles south to Wilmington, Del., to encounter segregation — separate water fountains, restrooms, schools, movie theaters…. Delaware was a border state during the Civil War, divided. Indeed, before the War, many runaway slaves hidden in the Appoquinimink Meeting House came from plantations in lower Delaware and the adjacent Eastern Shore of Maryland. Here is a link to the magazine story I wrote about The Appoquinimink Friends Meeting House and the Underground Railroad: The Quest.



5 Day / 5 Photo Blog Challenge – Bodie Ghost Town

It is my pleasure to take up this 5 Day / 5 Photo Blog Challenge for which my good friend, author and blogger Susan Scott, Garden of Eden Blog, has nominated me.

bodie state historic park


Bodie Alley

Bodie is described as haunting, desolate, captivating. It is. I was there.

Bodie State Historic Park, Calif., is a ghost town, “preserved in a state of arrested decay.” Interiors of the 110 remaining buildings are untouched as they were left, and it looks like some people left in a hurry, their belongings still strewn about.

In 1859 William (Waterman) S. Bodey discovered gold near here. Mr. Bodey didn’t have much time to revel, though, for in November that same year he died in a blizzard.

In 1861 a rich strike was made and a mill was built.  Over the next years the railroad and the telegraph came and the population swelled from 20  to 10,000. It is said there existed three breweries, 65 saloons, an abundance of brothels, a Chinatown, opium dens and a Wells Fargo Bank. There were gunslingers and shootouts. It was a full-on Wild West town. Bodie became the second or third largest California town and one of the earliest United States towns to acquire electricity. The big strikes were soon depleted, though, and the town slid into decline in the 1880s. Miners moved on to Tombstone, Ariz., and other legendary places. Bodie was officially labeled a ghost town in 1915, after the last newspaper closed. The ghost town was designated Bodie State Historic Park in 1962 when the last residents left.

Bodie, just north of Mono Lake, a salt lake, is located at Bridgeport, Calif., near the Nevada border, just below where the eastern border of the state bends to the right. Bodie is northeast of Yosemite and about 75 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe, on high, open hills. The Clint Eastwood movie “High Plains Drifter” was filmed at Mono Lake. The production company built a large façade town at Mono Lake just for the filming.

Even in its boom days, I wonder how residents survived Bodie winters. It is one of the coldest places in the U.S. Up in the Eastern High Sierra Nevada Mountains, elevation 8,375 feet (2,554 m.), where the winds sweep through (up to 100 miles per hour, according to Wikipedia), Bodie has a subarctic climate — temperatures even on summer nights can drop below freezing. The most snow recorded in one month was 97.1 inches in January 1969. Bear in mind, the snow doesn’t melt until spring. The population of Bodie is now a few park rangers and assorted ghosts. The rangers use snowcats to get around through the deep snow. The park is open in the winter, but only to those with skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles. I have visited Bodie in the daytime, in May. I dream of returning with a digital camera to take a nighttime Ghost Walk.

The ghost town is a National Historic Landmark.

The timeline on this site linked below is interesting, plus there are some great photos:

Here are links to more Bodie history:,_California

The movie “Hell’s Heroes,” released in 1929, was filmed in Bodie, just before the second big fire in 1932, leaving Bodie as we see it today:



Liebster Nominations

      Thank you, T.J. Banks ( for nominating “The Scheherazade Chronicles”! I am pleased to announce that I have won an award for this blog.  After receiving the Liebster Award, my good friend and author T.J. Banks of … Read more »