Summer Lessons Learned the Hard Way

by Linda Yezak

Back when my hometown of Bryan, Texas, was a thriving metropolis of thirty thousand or so, back when I was in my early teens, my family would drive all the way to Collins, Georgia, population fiftyish, including pets and cattle, to visit with my dad’s side of the family.

These were the years when I had become aware of the things around me, conscious of life beyond the desire to sleep, eat, and play. So I was aware, for instance, that Bryan had several grocery stores to choose from, and Collins citizens—well, they had to go to a nearby town, smaller than Bryan and not near as pretty, but it was where folks bought their groceries. It was the same town they ran to when they wanted something to do, like sit at the malt shop and watch the only traffic light for miles blink. Hot town Saturday night.

These, among other long-lost reasons, gave me the impression that my cousin—who didn’t even live in town—must’ve been “backward.”

I can look back now and wonder just where on God’s green earth I got the gall to spew some of the silliness that came forth from my freshly-painted lips. I say “freshly painted,” because this was right around the time I began my road to sophistication, and the liberal application of too-dark lipstick and vivid blue eye shadow were mandatory for the journey.

And, by the way, Cousin dear, you’re a year older than me. Aren’t you wearing makeup yet?

She responded that Georgia summers—even as early as when we had visited—were just too hot to bother with makeup unless it was for special occasions.

“Well, in Texas, we have air conditioners. You know what those are, don’t you?”

She glared.

Later, she helped my aunt make tea. Steep tea bags in boiling hot water. Stir in the sugar till it dissolves. Pour over ice in beveled, quilt-pattern glasses. Very similar to the jelly glasses we had back home.

I rattled the ice in mine and with an air of magnanimity, chose not to mention that our glasses like these came with strawberry preserves. I tried the tea. It tasted different, which could be for only one reason: “We don’t use sugar. We use saccharin. You know what that is, don’t you?”

This time, my aunt glared with her.

After supper, my cousin grabbed the broom and swept out the kitchen and dining room. I took pity on her then. Bless her heart. All that hard labor. “We have a vacuum cleaner to do that. You know what that is, don’t you?”

Surprisingly, there must’ve been enough times tossed in with all this foolishness when I wasn’t being a complete jerk. My cousin invited me to join her on a walk.

We strolled the red clay roads in the steamy late afternoon, planted fields to our right, cattle and the hog pens to our left, and chatted about what teenage girls chat about. We probably even thrust out our budding chests and bragged on bra sizes, and who got whose first. (It burned me how much longer she’d been wearing hers!)

Before long, I saw a tree with a limb full of fruit hanging over a fence and just within reach. I jogged up to the tree to get a closer look at the fruit. “Well, would you look at that! Can you eat these?”

Unripe persimmon on tree in the season & fresh green leaves.

“Sure,” she said. “They’re best green.”

I took a bite—and puckered my painted lips so tight I could see them without a downward glance.

“It’s a persimmon tree, ” she said. “You know what that is, don’t you?”

Click to Tweet: Summer Lessons Learned the Hard Way via @InspiredPrompt – a short stop on a blog tour for @LindaYezak & Ride to the Altar, Circle Bar Ranch, Book 3 #summerfun #giveaway #NewRelease


Linda W. Yezak holds a BA in English, a graduate certificate in Paralegal Studies, and a bucket list as long as her arm. Among the things on the list is owning a stable full of horses, and since that’s not likely to happen any time soon, she tries to include horses in each of her novels. Until the day she can retire with her husband to their land in Central Texas and ride to her heart’s content, she’ll continue with her writing and freelance editing careers.

Ride to the Altar – Book 3, Circle Bar Ranch Series

Cattle are dying on the ranch–and not of natural causes. The financial loss to the Circle Bar has first-year owner Patricia Talbert questioning her every move. But to add to her stress, her father demands she return to New York and make amends with her mother. The depth of her resentment runs deeper than she knew, and the confrontation only widens the mother-daughter gap.

While she’s away, Talon Carlson discovers the reason behind the attack on the ranch, and it sends him on an emotional tailspin. How can he remain true to Patricia when his first love still plagues his mind from the grave?

As the gap grows wide and the attacks increase, both Patricia and Talon are stretched to the limit.

How many hurdles must they jump in their Ride to the Altar?


Readers! Linda is offering a giveaway package during her blog tour. When the two-week tour is over, all those who commented throughout the tour will be eligible for the drawing for the prize. This prize package includes a signed print version of the series, a 16-ounce Christian cowboy mug, a horseshoe picture frame, a Ph. 4:13 stretch bracelet, a cute set of magnetic page markers, and a Texas Rubiks cube.

So, leave us a comment, ask Linda a question, or share your own persimmon tale, and you’ll gain an entry to the contest.

Next up on Ride to the Altar’s blog tour:

Cindy Huff’s: https://jubileewriter.wordpress.com/

There is Fun to be Done!

“Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!” — Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

I don’t know about you, but I look forward to summer all year long. Even now, when I’m semi-retired and could actually take a vacation any time I choose. Well, almost any time.

But summer is the best time, don’t you think? While planning this post, I heard Dr. Seuss’ voice in my head. His books were just pure fun, and fun is what this post is all about. You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So…get on your way! — Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

One of my favorite all-time summer adventures happened in Colorado. We ascended Pike’s Peak (by car, of course) and on the way back down, stopped to take this photo beside a mountain lake.

When I was a kid, we didn’t really take vacations. We visited family. Grandpa lived in L.A., and we lived in Tennessee. So cross-country drives were a thing we did. My child’s mind was fascinated by the western scenes that passed by my window at breakneck speeds (Dad had a heavy foot). He also loved to hug the edge of the road in those high mountains and hear all of us scream. Mom didn’t scream, but she scolded him, which made us laugh. Ah, the memories…ah, the thrill of it all.

When my sons were younger, one of their favorite things to do in summer was to visit the grandparents in West Tennessee. Mom and Dad lived on a lake way out in the sticks. Dad never lost that sense of adventure. My boys adored him, followed on his heels all week. He taught them to bait a hook and drive a tractor, even though their feet couldn’t touch the pedals. We picked blackberries and took long walks.

Now, those guys are grown with children of their own, and Granddad’s sense of adventure firmly instilled in their hearts. I love that their children are reaping the benefits. Oh, the places they’ll go…

Hubby and I are contemplating an adventure of our own, but we can’t decide—mountains, or sea? Beaches usually win, but it’s been a while since we’ve feasted our eyes on the Rocky Mountains, or the Grand Canyon. Living “sort of in the middle” is a definite advantage, because we can head any direction and find diverse adventures. We’re ten or so hours from the Atlantic, ten or so hours from the Gulf of Mexico, a couple days’ drive from Colorado…where to, this time?

One thing is certain…it’s going to be fun!

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go… Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go!

Writing Prompt: Dawn broke over the open road, revealing scenes of grandeur. Arlene loved a good adventure, and this one topped them all. [Mountains, or sea? Finish the paragraph with your favorite view.]

Click to Tweet: Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!” — Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! #Summer Fun via @InspiredPrompt and author Betty Thomason Owens, @batowens: where to now? #travel #adventure

What’s Ahead in Social Media?

I’ve been watching the latest changes to our beloved social media apps and wondering, what will our future hold?

I thought I knew, but I was wrong. So, so wrong. Changes came more quickly than I’d expected, spurred partly by a need for accountability. Accountability is a good thing. The safety of our children is another good thing. But, will the pendulum swing too far?

Throughout the month of June, we’ve covered some of the basics of social media as it pertains to the writer. I was pleasantly surprised by a unified theme in many of the articles. What was it?

  • Less selling. More social interaction.
  • Build and keep friendships.
  • Be a blessing, not an irritant.
  • Serve others.

Hmm…

So, I asked my fellow Inspired Prompt contributors, what lies ahead for social media?

I have mixed feelings about social media and its future. From what I’ve heard from publishers and agents, there is not always a direct correlation between social media platforms and book sales. I still think word of mouth sells more books. That is better accomplished through meeting people face-to-face, which can happen through speaking engagements and, of course, writing a quality book.” —Harriet Michael

I enjoy social media, and see its value in promoting books and making connections with readers. On the other hand, there are unrealistic expectations for authors to have thousands and thousands of followers. I feel that quality writing is important, and social media can help in the promotion of quality work. I think social media will remain a part of everyone’s lives, but it will continue to evolve.” —Carlton Hughes

“I actually enjoy social media. I like meeting people and chatting. I believe if you view it as a place to build positive relationships instead of a venue to sell your wares, there will always be some type of social media that’s a positive for authors. I also believe you should follow the Golden Rule and promote others as yourself.” —Jennifer Hallmark

“I also like the idea of promoting each other through social media. That way, I can introduce my friends/followers to new authors and other authors can introduce me to their friends/followers. I think social media is here to stay, and can certainly add to interest in our books!” —Shirley Crowder

I enjoy social media. It helps me stay connected with people from all over the world that I’ve met throughout my life. It gives me snapshots of what’s going on in their lives. I think social media is here to stay and can be equated to conversations at the water cooler or across the backyard fence with a neighbor.” —Bonita McCoy

So, what’s your take? Do you have an opinion? Please share in the comments section. And be sure to join us in July for a brand new topic: Summer Fun! 🙂

Click to Tweet: What’s ahead in social media? I thought I knew, but I was so, so wrong! Our contributors weigh in on the subject via @InspiredPrompt #socialmedia #marketing

3 Questions Wednesday with Ann H. Gabhart

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday!

This week’s guest is Ann H. Gabhart, bestselling author of over thirty novels, which include her popular Shaker series. Most of these novels are set in her home state of Kentucky. I love reading about her nature walks and “Shaker Wednesday,” on her author page and blog.

Welcome to the Inspired Prompt blog, Ann. First question—Can you describe yourself in three words?

Country. Storyteller. Blessed.

There’s something very endearing about these words. I think your stories reflect “blessed country storyteller”. Now, second question

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Oh wow, I think I should write a story about Hawaii, but hmm, I don’t know much about volcanoes and might not want to find out more firsthand. I could go to Scotland. Those Scottish heroes are always so handsome and manly. Or I could tour Texas. In a state that big I should be able to find enough story ideas to last me forever. But I really like writing stories with Kentucky history and settings. It would be a waste to take a fully paid research trip to Kentucky, but it might be fun. However, I feel like I need to go somewhere more exotic. So, I’m going to Australia. Maybe a ranch in Australia. Do they call them ranches? See, I need to do research. I do know Australia has some great history and if I go there I’ll find out about the climate and take hundreds of pictures and surely find a story somewhere. So, mates, let’s pack up and head for the Outback.

I love the way you think! And if you find yourself on a station in Australia, I’ve no doubt you’ll come back with a pouch-full of stories to tell! That brings us to question number three—

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

“I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”

But I really doubt anybody would ever want to make a movie of my life unless they wanted to market it as a sleep aide. I’m blessed that there wouldn’t be enough drama in my life to keep folks from yawning. Then again with a little fictional finesse most any life can be turned into an interesting saga, right? I did marry young and was a teenage mom. I grew up on a farm and was a farmwife. I’ve had lots of dog friends and some strange encounters with cows. Maybe I should focus on the dog theme and come up with another blockbuster, tearjerker dog story movie. With, of course, that fictional finesse to make everything just a bit more intriguing to the movie goer. 🙂

Perfect! I laughed out loud as I pictured strange encounters with cows. Most of our lives probably fall into this category, but who we really are and what means most to us in life could at least garner a good Hallmark movie. Thank you so much, Ann, for giving our readers a glimpse into your life.

Readers, Ann H. Gabhart has a new book releasing soon, so I asked her to tell us a little bit about the story:

The germ of the idea for River to Redemption came from a true story about the actions of a slave in Springfield, Kentucky during the 1833 cholera epidemic. Unaffected by the disease, he heroically took care of the sick and dug the graves to bury the fifty-five cholera victims. Years later, the town of Springfield rewarded his actions by buying his freedom. My story is a fictional imagining of how that might have happened and what kind of man Louis must have been.


River to Redemption by Ann H. Gabhart

One young woman must stand up for freedom—and perhaps find her own in the process.

Orphaned in the cholera epidemic of 1833, Adria Starr was cared for by a slave named Louis, a man who passed up the opportunity to escape his bondage and instead tended to the sick and buried the dead. A man who, twelve years later, is being sold by his owners despite his heroic actions.

Now nineteen, Adria has never forgotten what Louis did for her. She’s determined to find a way to buy Louis’s freedom. But in 1840s Kentucky, she’ll need all of the courage and strength she possesses—and more.

ANN H. GABHART is the bestselling author of over thirty novels. Ann’s novels, including her popular Shaker series and her new release River to Redemption, have Kentucky backgrounds. Ann also writes about family life, love and sometimes mystery (as A.H. Gabhart).  She has three children and nine grandchildren and enjoys life out on her Kentucky farm. To find out more about Ann, visit www.annhgabhart.com or join the fun on her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/anngabhart or Twitter @AnnHGabhart

Click to Tweet: 3 Questions Wednesday’s guest is Ann H. Gabhart, author of over thirty novels. Learn more about her and leave a comment for a chance to win a book via @InspiredPrompt. #author #interview

Instagram Your Life

Snap a photo, send it to Instagram—instant sharing!

Instagram’s motto is: Strengthening relationships through shared experiences.

This was the premise for the original version of Instagram, and the younger set loved it! These days, everyone’s getting involved. As a result, Instagram is evolving.

With Instagram’s newest feature called “stories,” you can create a series of photos somewhat like a slideshow. So you can showcase those wedding pics or vacation snapshots in a quick story that will disappear … at the end of the day. Wait a minute—isn’t that kind of like that other platform—Snapchat?

Exactly!

You can snap photos throughout the day and add them to your story. Best vacation ever? Share it with your friends.

Researching your next novel set in Ireland? By all means, share the highlights with your readers. That’s an attention-getter! You may glean a harvest of followers with that one.

Disappearing what? You can shoot a photo and send it to a particular friend. As soon as they look at the photo, it disappears. There’s something a little sneaky about that, but if you’re interested, you’ll find the directions here: How to send disappearing photos in Instagram. Take care what you send, though. Just because it disappears doesn’t mean it’s not out there somewhere…seen by someone.

Instagram is another great way to connect with readers. And let me just say, it’s not another way to advertise your books. It’s a chance to engage readers, and gain their interest and attention by sharing your interests.

Are you a bird watcher? Share your beautiful photos of birds. Love hiking or early morning walks? Snap photos along the way.

Need suggestions? Look up one of your favorite authors and study what they share. One of my favorites inspires me daily with her morning walks in the country (she lives on a farm). Another posts what she’s cooking that day. Two very good suggestions, but don’t just mimic them, make them your own.

So far, I’ve talked about ways to connect with readers in a personal way, which I believe is the best way to make friends. But, what if you want to share your latest and greatest book release? Or a book that’s on sale?

Honestly, I hate to see Instagram go the way of the overstuffed Facebook profiles chock-full of ads. But, there are tasteful ways to get your message out there. I’ve seen some very high-end brands doing this, and if it’s artfully done, you can make a positive impression.

For instance, snap a photo of someone reading your book. Tell a story. Some companies hire storytellers to craft ads and marketing campaigns. Put your writer’s brain to work finding unique ways to market yourself and your books.

Remember the ad, “What’s in your wallet?” Involve friends and family members, and have them show what’s in their book bag, purse, briefcase, suitcase, or on their E-reader. Your latest release is there, of course.

Take the book along on your travels. Post a shot of a beautiful landscape or building with your book in the foreground. Just imagine it!

These are only a few suggestions. I hope you’ll be inspired to create some truly unique scenes. But don’t make it all about your books. Remember, social media is for connecting with people. Most of us are uncomfortable with an in-your-face salesperson pressuring you to buy their product. Don’t be that person. Have fun with Instagram, and don’t forget to visit your friends there.

A few helpful hints about Instagram:

  • Double-click on a friend’s picture to “love” it. You can also click the heart beneath the pic.
  • Click the little speech balloon emblem to comment on the photo (keep it short).
  • Click the paper airplane emblem to send the photo, or share it with a friend.
  • Click the ribbon emblem on the far right to save the photo. You’ll see “Save to collection”—click on that to save. You can also choose to view saved photos.
  • Instagram has some pretty cool filters for your photos, but don’t overdo. Less is definitely more.
  • Same with hashtags. Instagram has its own unique set of hashtags. Google “Instagram hashtags” to find the most popular ones. Just don’t overdo it.
  • Post often. You can post the photos from your phone on both Instagram and Facebook in a single move.
  • Super-simple icons at the bottom of your phone screen make moving around in Instagram easy.
    • Home
    • Search (easy way to find interesting stories)
    • Add photo (from your files)
    • Heart (who has liked your photos)
    • Profile

There are so many more things you can do in Instagram. You’ll find helpful tutorials and articles on the internet if you’re ready to get serious with your Instagram account. The best way to learn is to jump in and start posting. Just remember to add value with what you post. Your friends will ❤ you for it. 🙂

Click to Tweet: #Instagram is a great way to connect with readers. It’s a chance to engage with others, gain their interest and attention by sharing your interests. Instagram Your Life via @InspiredPrompt from @batowens. #socialmedia #marketing

Writing Prompt: Selfies from Marcella’s latest dog-walk adventure made a great story for Instagram, especially when Don Juan, the Great Dane, caught sight of…