Too Big for My Britches: A Look at What I Wanted to Be

by Allie Owens Crockett

cat-71494_1280It’s been a little while since you’ve heard from me, but I’m here today to continue our discussion on what we wanted to be when we grew up.

There’s nothing like the imagination of a child. I remember being asked in kindergarten and again when I was nearing high school graduation. What did I want to be? Well, something of the sort. And oh how my answer has varied over that stretch of time.

Once upon a time, I thought I might like to be a Veterinarian. When it became clear that I would become responsible for administering shots to sweet little puppies and kittens, my interest wilted. Other than that small diversion, I have always been undeniably drawn to the arts. I used to see commercials for Welch’s grape juice, or Manwich or whatever, and I’d think to myself, “Hey, I could do that!”. So I did. I would rig up my dad’s enormous camcorder and film myself being as fabulous as possible at nine years old.

At some point, between this age and middle school, I’d contrived the idea that I could be not just anything I wanted to be when I grew up, but EVERYTHING. I could sing, dance, write, act, paint, sculpt–yes–I wanted to do it all.

potter-622708_1280Somewhere along the way, I began to believe that the most creative people in the world are less successful than those who work at a bank, or a hospital or for the government. Hence the term, “starving artist.” Fortunately,  I soon realized this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Almost daily, by way of social media, I notice more and more Creatives, writing books, producing films, taking on all sorts of projects, and all manner of eclectic endeavors.

acoustic-guitar-15598_1280The refreshing thing is, not all of them are starving. Some may be. But many are actually  sustaining themselves, doing what they’d do for free, anyway. And I think that’s beautiful.

Even if you’re already doing what you love, we can all commit to doing it with more heart, and inspiring others to do what’s inside their own. Instead of outgrowing our dreams, what do you say we dare to dream up something bigger?

Until next time, #DoWhatYouLove

Picture Prompt!–What’s the story? You can write a sentence or a paragraph, but tell us about this picture:

Sneakers on a Pier3

Complete the prompt for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

Why Should Truckers Have All the Fun? by Linda Yezak

Linda YezakClimbing high in the saddle. Feeling all that power under you as you ride. Singing at the top of your lungs any song that comes to mind. Eating simple grub and seeing America first. Really. Why should truckers have all the fun? During my teens, we had a choice between biker or trucker heroes. I chose trucker. My favorite movies  were “Convoy” and “Smokey and the Bandit”–outlaws who defied the establishment on eighteen wheels instead of two. Since I never was much of a rebel, I’ll never understand where I got the notion that trucking would be romantic, but the idea of criss-crossing the country and seeing America through the windshield of a big rig attracted me like a trucker to chrome.

Can you imagine what stories a driver could tell? Doesn’t matter if the tales are based on what he sees or what he dreams up during long, boring stints, he’s likely to be an entertaining story teller over a breakfast of grits and java. I love grits and java. Even though the idea didn’t last long, at the time, I decided I would apply for trucking school right after graduation. I’d ride like a sight-seer on a mission. I’d sleep in the rig in a quiet park, make my deliveries on time, then bee-line home with a new delivery and a head full of stories, poems, and song lyrics. Back then, keeping it between the lines was good enough for me. The long stretch of highway could take me places I didn’t even know existed–and I’d get paid for discovering them.

As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve realized that big rigs don’t always fit down the side roads. There are other places I want to see, other things I want to experience. Besides, traffic is much slower.18 wheeler

These days I find myself navigating the highways of cyberspace more than those etching the face of the country. What I’m driving depends on the day and the reason to be out on the road. On a good day, I’m zooming down the fast lane toward publication. But more often than not, I’m traversing the side roads. Not necessarily a bad thing, if I can keep these jaunts in check.

Research leads to rabbit trails; whether or not they’re useful is a different matter. Networking and promotions takes me from house to house to visit friends, a fun, wonderful, dangerous use of time because time disappears quickly when I take these detours. I don’t get as many story ideas from this kind of driving as I do the other, so a modified dream exists. I keep my car gassed and ready to roll so I can do some “real” traveling. Refresh the soul and mind. Accumulate story ideas. Visit friends in the flesh. Both forms of travel–cyber and physical–are good for a writer’s life. All work and no play dulls the senses and bores the reader. All play and no work offers nothing to reader at all. Keep your tires balanced and your vehicle facing forward. Enjoy the ride.


Writing prompt: As I climb into my big rig to carry a load of ___________ to ____________, I expect to find ____________ along the way. Sure enough, I do, and . . .



GtLaR Front Cover FinalGive the Lady a Ride
Patricia Talbert is a high-class social coordinator from New York. 
Talon Carlson is a rugged bull rider from Texas. 
He thinks she’s too polished. 
She thinks he’s insane. 
Opposites aren’t quick to attract when the lady who enters the cowboy’s world is on a mission to sell the ranch. But a box of letters changes her mission–letters of unshakable faith and a love deeper than anything she’s ever experienced. 
Soon she finds his integrity appealing. Her spunk draws him in. He has the faith she craves; she may be the love he longs for. But faith and love aren’t achieved in a single weekend. 
To buy time to explore the possibilities between them, she issues a challenge: “Teach me to ride bulls.” 
From here on, they’re in for the ride of their lives.

Linda W. Yezak lives with her husband and three cats in a forest in east Texas, where tall tales abound  and exaggeration is an art form. She holds a BA in English and a graduate certificate in Paralegal Studies. Thirty years later, she’s finally putting her degree in English to good use, combining it with her natural inclination toward story-telling to create fun, unique novels, which include Give the Lady a Ride, The Cat Lady’s Secret, and The Simulacrum. Her non-fiction works include Writing in Obedience, co-written with Hartline literary agent, Terry Burns. Amazon author page: Twitter: @LindaYezak Facebook: LinkedIn: Goodreads: 777 Peppermint Place: AuthorCulture: Newsletter: Coffee with Linda:

I Want to Be…I Haven’t Got a Clue

What did you want to be when you grew up?

by Amy C. Blake

file0001393562293Um…no clue. That’s how I would’ve answered the question as a kid. In fact, I didn’t declare a major in college until I finished up all the core classes they’d let me take. However, the main character in my Christian suspense novel, Whitewashed, is altogether different.

Eighteen-year-old Patience McDonough knew from age six exactly what she’d become and why.

surgery-688383_1280She knew without a doubt she’d be a doctor like her grandpa McDonough, one who treated the whole person, not just his or her symptoms. She also knew she’d attend Verity College in Hades, Mississippi, and she didn’t back down from her goals one inch, no matter how much her parents objected.

As you can imagine, part of what Patience learns in Whitewashed is that her plans for herself don’t always match up with God’s plans for her. And guess whose plans have to give when our plans don’t match up with God’s? You got it. Ours.

What about you? Did you have big plans for the future when you were a child? Did you know just what you wanted to be when you grew up? Or were you more like me, clueless?

The amazing thing for both types–the certain and the clueless–is God has it all figured out regardless. Remember Jeremiah 29:11? “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

God has His children (and all our dreams) in the palm of His hand. He knows His plans for us, and we can be content in the knowledge that His plans are best.

Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Use your imagination and tell a little about the Carly’s choice. Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

Writing Prompt:  It was finally happening. What Carly had dreamed about her entire life. She’d gotten her diploma, she’d gotten the position, now she was actually becoming a …



blake family 2 (2)Amy C. Blake is a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mother of four. She has a B.A. and an M.A. in English from Mississippi College. She contributed to Barbour’s Heavenly XOXO’s for Women, Book Lover’s Devotional, and Every Good and Perfect Gift. Amy wrote short stories and articles for Focus on the Family,Mature Years, Significant Living, Vista, Encounter, and other publications. She won awards at St. Davids Christian Writers Conference and West Branch Christian Writers Conference. The Trojan Horse Traitor quarterfinaled in the 2011 ABNA contest. Her juvenile fantasy novel The Trojan Horse Traitor, releases in November, 2015, and her new adult suspense novel, Whitewashed, released February 15th.

Amy’s Website

Amy C. Blake Facebook author page

Amy C. Blake Twitter page

Whitewashed-Business-Card (1)Eighteen-year-old Patience McDonough has a plan. Despite her parents’ objections, she will attend Verity College in Hades, Mississippi, and live with her grandparents. She’ll complete her degree in record time and go on to become a doctor. But things at the college are strangely neglected, her class work is unexpectedly hard, Grand gets called out-of-town, and Poppa starts acting weird—so weird she suspects he has Alzheimer’s. On top of that, she has to work extra hours at her student job inputting financial data for the college—boring! But soon her job gets more interesting than she’d like: she finds that millions of dollars are unaccounted for and that something creepy is going on in the Big House basement. She discovers secrets tying her family into the dark beginnings of Verity, founded on a slave plantation, and she is forced to question the characters of people she has always trusted. Finally, confronted with a psychotic killer, Patience has to face facts—her plans are not necessarily God’s plans. Will the truth set her free?

Buy Links:

Paperback copy on Amazon

Kindle edition on Amazon

Paperbackcopy on Mantle Rock Publishing


I Want To Be….

104 (2)What did you want to be when you grew up? 

By Holly Michael

Returning to my earliest memory, I move forward through the years. Occupations and aspirations fly through my mind: a mommy, a teacher, a nurse, a psychologist, a writer. A look back in time reveals that my career choices matched up with the current influencers in my life.

As a very young child, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I answered, “A mommy.” I loved dolls, played house, and dreamt of having my own daughter to cook meals for, read books to, then say prayers with and kiss goodnight.


Entering school, I wanted to be a teacher because Mrs. King was the keeper of colored paper, scissors, and plaster of paris. I wanted to teach children how to tell time, read, and make amazing Mother’s Day gifts.


In elementary school, I landed in the hospital with mononucleosis. What could be better than making the sick well and fixing broken bones? file000480371600

As a heartbroken teenager facing my sister’s traumatic death, I wanted to fix wounded hearts. My high school counselor and pastor provided answered to my questions about life and death and how to go on living after losing the one person you loved the most in life. I planned to become a psychologist.file0001946946654

Once, years ago, when questioning God if I should be a writer, the Lord spoke to me through a dream, showing me a strong, muscular hand holding onto a pen. The powerful hand thrust toward me. “Write,” He said. Even if I was confused, God–The Creator and Ultimate Influencer–knew what I would be when I grew up.

Writing is a dance with God, a prayer. I do my best to ask and listen to what God wants me to write. In my writing, I express emotions I’ve experienced–happy and inspirational moments as well as awful and unjust tragedies.

Today is Good Friday, the most beautiful tragedy. Jesus’ Passion is filled with heart wrenching emotion, expressed in the Bible.

According to GOTQUESTIONS.ORG, there are about 200 names and titles found in the Bible that reflect the nature and role of Christ. But, today we celebrate the one historical event that made Jesus the Savior of the World through His death on the cross for our sins.

By knowing who He is…we have life and hope.

By knowing Him…we can boldly be the people whom God has called us to be.

Photo Good Friday by Holly Michael

Photo Good Friday by Holly Michael

Writing Prompt. Do as I did. Look back to your farthest memory and scan through your early years of what you wanted to be when you grew up. What or who influenced you? Whatever memory stands out most in your mind, write about it.


3 Questions Wednesday with Tracy Ruckman

Today’s 3 Questions Wednesday guest is Tracy Ruckman of Write Integrity Press, Pix-N-Pens Publishing, and Imaginate Magazine.

Tracy Ruckman HeadshotWe’re so glad you could join us, Tracy. First question:

Which author would you never get tired of, and why?

Tracy:  Would it be cheating to say all our authors? 🙂 However, if you mean authors other than our own – I’m not sure I have an answer. I love series, so I read from series to series as I can. Right now, while I’m in graduate school, all my “fun” reading consists of screenplays and textbooks.

I appreciate your love of your own authors’ books, since I am one of those authors! Now…

Who is your favorite fictional villain?

Tracy: My head seems to be in TV shows as I think about the answer to this question. A few years ago, after some recommendations, we binged on a couple of series we’d not previously seen. Both series consisted of ensemble casts, with numerous villains, and some of them became my favorites.

When we were watching Prison Break, I felt guilty the entire time I watched because I kept rooting for them to break out. At the time, I remember thinking what great writers they had – to make people like me (normally not lawbreakers at all) – cheer on the “bad guys.” Of course, Michael Scofield and Lincoln Burrows weren’t villains, but the heroes of the story, even though they were in prison. But the villain that still boils my blood is the character of Theodore ‘T-Bag’ Bagwell. Robert Knepper did such an incredible job with the character that to this day, if I hear his voice, I get the creepies up my spine.

Lost is the other show we binged on. Sawyer will always be my favorite – and Josh Holloway is from the county where I live! – but Linus is the unforgettable villain. Anytime I see Michael Emerson on screen, I want to yell at him! LOL!

You’ve chosen some great villains. I’m in complete agreement with Linus. One last question:

What project are you currently working on?

Tracy: So many projects, so little time. 🙂 Our Valentine book goes to press the week I’m answering these questions, so look for The Love Boat Bachelor on Kindle. Then, in the next few months, we’re launching new releases by Joan Deneve, Tammy Blackburn, Fay Lamb, Betty Thomason Owens, Marie Wells Coutu, and … I know I’m forgetting some. Bookmark the blog to get the latest updates:

We’re also in the process of launching a new digital magazine for readers and writers. IMAGINATE will include articles for writers, as well as creative pieces like short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and special features for readers. We’re currently accepting submissions and advertising, with a deadline of April 1. The quarterly magazine will debut on June 1, 2015. For more information, visit our website:

This is exciting! You have some wonderful projects in the works. The Writing Prompts Crew wishes you great success on all of these. And thanks so much for taking the time to complete our 3 Questions.

Readers, please read Tracy’s bio then leave a comment to win (drum roll) a three – book bundle (Kindle E-books)! Reader’s choice of three books in a series, or three separate books from Write Integrity Press or Pix-N-Pens Publishing (see the list below–some links are supplied so you can see them). Again, please leave a comment to be entered to win this valuable prize. The winner will be contacted via email and you can let us know at that time, which three (3) books you’d like.

More about Tracy Ruckman:

Tracy Ruckman is publisher, student, screenwriter, wife, and mom. She’s seeking her MFA in Screenwriting, and stays busy with her three publishing companies. In her spare time (in her dreams), she loves to cook, travel, explore.

Books from Write Integrity Press and Pix-N-Pens Publishing

Amazing Grace Series by Fay Lamb:

Stalking Willow

Better Than Revenge

Ties That Bind Series by Fay Lamb:



Nonfiction for writers: The Art of Characterization, Fay Lamb

The Sisters Redeemed Series, Jerusha Agen:

This Dance

This Shadow

This Redeemer

For Such a Moment, Marie Wells Coutu

Cracks in the Ice, Deanna Klingel

Towdah, Sheryl Holmes

Imperfect Wings, Elizabeth Noyes

Entrusted (Adirondack Surrender Series), Julie Arduini

Amelia’s Legacy (Legacy Series), Betty Owens

Multiple Authors:

A Dozen Apologies

A Ruby Christmas

The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt

A Little History of Cartooning

by Betty Thomason Owens

Cartoons have been around for centuries. Even the cave dwellers drew cartoons on the walls of their caves.
Were they:

1. Documenting history?
2. Lampooning local government?
3. Entertaining the kids?
4. Drawn by kids?

Fast-forward a few years:
Woodcuts and mezzotints are used in the early printing process. Those were a bit like rubber stamps. Artists carved their cartoon or illustration backward, so when the print was made, it showed up correctly.

Long before you could attach a file or snap a shot of something and post it to Facebook or include it on your latest blogpost, illustrators and artists created cartoons. These were often political in nature. Imagine that.

Political and editorial cartoons usually express one man’s opinion–also called lampooning and often involves caricature. Have you ever had someone draw you in caricature? They will usually overemphasize and under-emphasize some of your features to make it slightly comical, but still recognizable.


An editorial cartoon of Andrew Johnson and Abraham Lincoln, 1865, entitled “The Rail Splitter at Work Repairing the Union”

This is a well-known example of early political/editorial cartoons. Notice the detail (click on it to enlarge). As you can see, it’s hand-drawn with a pencil. Most of today’s cartoons are a lot more professional, but personally, I still love the look of pencil drawings.

Note: I’m providing links below for modern examples, since most are copyrighted and require fees for use.

800px-Benjamin_Franklin_-_Join_or_DieBenjamin Franklin was one of the earliest Indie writers. Yes, he self-published, and was best known for Poor Richard’s Almanac. He was a very busy man. When he wasn’t electrocuting keys, he wrote, taught, mentored, helped draft the Declaration of Independence, wrote books, made a fortune, printed…well, you get the picture. At a critical point in American history, he created this cartoon to encourage the colonies to join together during the French and Indian War.

Dr. Seuss Goes to War

Dr. Seuss Goes to War

Another famous cartoonist was Theodore (Ted) Geisel. You may know him better as Dr. Seuss. He drew political propaganda cartoons during World War II. He took a lot of flack for it, also, but his signature style shone through those cartoons. There is no doubt who drew them. If you’ve read many of his children’s books, you’ll know he was very concerned with politics (Butter Battle Book, for one).

As an aside, cartoonists were also utilized by the war departments of some countries including Great Britain, to work on accurate maps for bomb crews.

My Grandpa Christy was an armchair politician. He drew cartoons for local “rags” — tiny hometown newspapers. He kept a scrapbook of those. I tried to get my hands on it in time for this post, but it didn’t happen.

His favorite subjects were (then) Presidents Nixon and Johnson. Why? He loved to draw big noses. He had one. He also had big ears and the biggest smile I’d ever seen. An omnipresent smile. Mom has many pictures of Grandpa, and that smile was in all of them. Except in the picture I have of him when he was about five or so, but they were warned not to smile for photos in those days.

20150313_134209Grandpa had a great sense of humor, which is one very important requirement in a political satirist/cartoonist. Open your newspaper and turn to the editorial pages. You will probably find at least one editorial cartoon. They are almost always political in nature. They can seem snarky, even cruel. Apparently, the ruder, the better.

Political/editorial cartoons sometimes make you laugh, but more often make you think. And that’s their reason for being.

Here are the promised links to some present-day quality political and editorial cartoons:

Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

Writing Prompt: Senator Douglass opened the morning paper and was shocked to see…


Research in the Trenches


By Betty Thomason Owens

Research is not limited to bookwork or Google searches. Sometimes, it’s hands-on. There are times when you need to go there. Choose an exotic locale for your next book, and you can write off a vacation in Bali. Okay, maybe not.

Research is not only necessary when writing historicals. And your setting is not the only reason to research. If your protagonist is a clerk at Walmart, or an associate at the Apple Store, this may require research, unless you or someone close to you has the experience. Maybe your main character wants to be a great chef. She needs the best schools and internship, a post-grad job in a world-famous restaurant. Research.

RoyaltyFreeImage-OrangutanA friend of mine used a zoo as a setting. Her MC inherited the zoo upon the death of her estranged mother. For her preliminary research, she worked alongside a zookeeper (or technician) for a day, scooping manure, preparing food, and whatever other chores were the daily requirement. Her careful research continued as she wrote. Questions arose and she jotted them down. These required a personal phone call to her contacts at the zoo. She made good friends along the way who later became readers and marketers of her book. Win-win!

Brainstorming can release ideas. Think of the coolest professions and locales (places you can go). Now, pinpoint one, and construct your story around it. Then launch out to do your research, answering all your questions. Remember to make connections on the job or at the locale so you can do follow-up as questions arise. This is research.

Research may be watching movies. It could require listening to music or going to a ballet, or visiting a historical site, such as a battleground or national park. Don’t just walk around and observe, take photographs, talk to the park rangers.

I made a recent trip to the Pacific Northwest and traveled down the West coast on Highway 101. I took dozens of photos and talked to people along the way. I don’t have a story with this setting yet, but it’s a possibility. I now have research to fall back on. I just have to go through the photos and look at my notes.

You can do research any time, even while waiting at the doctor’s office. Try listening to the conversations around you. Jot down the humorous or goofy things you hear. Sometimes you see things that amaze you. People leave their children unattended or have what should be a private conversation on their cellphone. These are definitely going into my notebook for later use.

Most important of all, be aware of your surroundings. You can drop a story anywhere, in any situation. You’ll bump into some wonderfully weird people out in the world, quirky characters to populate your novel. You never know when your next great idea will show up. Research is everywhere.

Leave a comment to be entered in this month’s contest. You can win a $10 Amazon gift card.

photo credit: Kenny Teo (zoompict) via photopin cc

photo credit: ucumari via photopin cc