Go, Dawgs!

by Gail Johnson

We are talking football this month! Favorite teams, colors, and tailgating recipes. Woo hoo! Are you a fan?

Sanford Stadium Wikicommons author Pruddle

Sanford Stadium, Wikicommons, photo: Pruddle

No one would call me a diehard fan. That would be my son, the one with all the red, white, and black memorabilia. But I do enjoy getting together with family and watching a college game now and then. For my family, that includes the Georgia Bulldogs. Here are a few stats for those unfamiliar with Georgia.

Sinkwich_bulldogs Wikicommons

Frank Sinkwich, Wikicommons

Inaugural season – 1892
UGA Fight Songs – Hail to Georgia, Glory, Alma Mater, Going Back, and Bulldog Marching Song
National Championships – 1927, 1942, 1946, 1968, 1980
Heisman Trophy Winners – Frank Sinkwich, Herschel Walker

And who can forget Coach Vince Dooley and announcer Larry Munson?

Tailgating Recipe

No matter the team playing or the fan watching, food is a must. Who can say no to a bowl of hot chili?

1 pound ground beef (85-15)
1/2 roll Jimmy Dean roll sausage
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can Rotel
1 can black beans
1 can red beans
1 jar Paul Newman’s Fire Roasted Tomato and Garlic sauce (Trust me. It’s just tomato sauce)
Salt and Pepper
1 packet Chilo seasoning (Or use your own)
½ – ¾ cup water
1 bag nacho cheese Doritos
1 carton sour cream
1 jar deli-sliced Tamed jalapenos


Herschel Walker, Wikicommons

Place beef, tomatoes, Rotel, beans sauce, salt and pepper, chili seasoning, and water into a pot and cook until beef is done. Let simmer until ready to serve. Can be cooked in a crockpot. Serve in individual bowls over crushed Dorito with a dollop of sour cream and jalapenos. Enjoy.

Let the games begin! Go, Dawgs!


Click to Tweet: “If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat.” Herschel Walker #GoDawgs

Writing Prompt:
Unbelievable! Everyone in the stadium stood to their feet and waited for the referee…




Trekking the Indie Route

By Gail Johnson

Are you thinking about becoming an indie author?

For those new to the term, indie is short for independent. But that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. In fact, I suggest you don’t.



Choosing the indie route can be scary when faced with all the decisions that must be made between the initial idea of the book and the final product. But there are a few things you can do to make the journey a lot easier.


Writing Groups

I suggest joining a writer’s organization. If you’re a Christian fiction writer, that would be the ACFW. For a small yearly fee, American Christian Fiction offers classes, conferences, and critique groups. A critique group will provide invaluable feedback during the writing process.


Writing is a lonely profession. We need friends, offline and online, to keep us balanced. Friends help make the journey an exciting adventure. They are irreplaceable treasures and wells of encouragement.


correcting-1870721_1280Love’em or dislike’em, editors have a purpose. A good editor can make a book better. You will not catch all your mistakes, but another pair of eyes will uncover the elusive typo. Guaranteed!

Ask for references. Talk to your friends or other authors. Working with someone can be a dream or a nightmare. Success depends on a good working relationship.


Social media is a slippery slope. Too much of that and you lose writing time. Not enough and there’s no point. The point of media is interaction with others. Doing for others as you would have them do for you is good advice when thinking of media.

I want to share a few pointers I’ve learned in seven years of social media.  Don’t follow someone to get them to follow you, and then unfollow them. Not cool! And if you ask a question and someone answers it, respond. If you don’t, they won’t stay a follower.

Share their successes. There’s no reason to be jealous of another if their book comes out before yours. There are enough readers to go around. Be generous to promote them, and when your time comes, someone will do the same for you.

If you’re overwhelmed by your Twitter feed, may I suggest lists? Lists help separate your followers and those you like to interact with every day.


You gain readers by writing a good book. Hence all the above suggestions. Readers, like friends, are treasures. Treat them as such. You won’t regret it.


Some people don’t like blogging. I do! My website gives me a chance to connect with friends and meet new ones every week. Blogging also helps with weekly word count. Whether you blog once a week or five times a week, make a schedule and stick with it.

My Journey

book-2224934_1280So, you see indie doesn’t necessarily mean independent. 🙂 It takes a tribe. I knew I couldn’t do everything. In the end, I hired editors, a back cover copywriter, and a cover designer. I did the formatting myself using a template which I purchased from a template designer. My book will be coming out later this year. Woohoo!

So, if you’ve been thinking about trekking the indie path but you’re afraid you can’t do it, take heart. There is a steep learning curve, but you CAN succeed as an indie author when you have friends to help you along the way.

Indie authors, what are your suggestions for newbies?

Click to Tweet: You can succeed as an #indie author when you have friends to help you along the way.

Writing Prompt

You have your manuscript, back cover copy, and your cover. Make a list of the things you need to do to make your book a success.



Saving Money With Lists

By Gail Johnson

Do you like finding new ways to save money? I do. I also like sharing ways to save money. So I’m enjoying this month’s theme!

For this post, I decided to list ways to save on several items rather than one. Let’s begin with school supplies.

School and Writing


Whether you have kids in school or not, writers need school supplies. Or at least, this one does! I begin everything with pen and paper! I learned how to save money on used books when my children entered college. My son refused to buy new books when he could purchase used ones from Amazon. Moneycrashers.com offers great advice.



Who doesn’t like to find a bargain on a new outfit? ThePennyHoarder.com offers her advice on how to save when shopping for your next bargain. My favorite tips are one and seven.



Most of these ideas weren’t new to me. Others would take some discipline. Isn’t that what saving money is all about? See how many ideas you can keep from CashCowCouple.com



My truck isn’t that old, but it isn’t new, either. I usually tend to my truck and make the appointment for hubby’s car. I use local shops to help local businesses and to have a friend when I’m in need! I thought this article might come in handy.  Debtroundup.com offers suggestions when looking for a tune-up.



I added this last bit of information because I read one article on how to save money and his suggestion was to eliminate books! What?! Uh, no. I would suggest taking advantage of the offers on your device’s plan. With Kindle, you can get many books for free. Another way to save money on books is not to press the 1-click button too often! 😉 Check out TheHappyHouseWife.com for more ideas.

Do you have any ideas to add? If so, I’d love to hear them. Please leave your tip in the comment section to help others in their quest to save money.

Click to tweet: I’ve listed ways to save on several items rather than one.

Writing Prompts

Sally eyed the purple dress in the window. With her digital coupon and the 10% off sale, she could afford the…



Memorable Families

By Gail Johnson

Good morning, fellow-writers and readers! This month’s theme is family and children.

And why not? For years, we have enjoyed stories about families. Some of my favorites are Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, The Waltons, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and The Fighting Sullivans.

Do you have a family in your story? If not, you should think about adding one. Relatives make such interesting additions to a tale. Parents and siblings can be comical, irritating, sacrificial, or even murderous. As supporting characters, they usually stand in the shadows, far from the limelight until a remark or reaction catches our eye. At that moment, we are captivated and they are forever etched in our minds. Memorable.


Rex Whistler [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

For instance, ask anyone about Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and they can tell you something about each character although the story is about Elizabeth and Darcy. Who doesn’t remember the sisters–Jane, Mary, Lydia, and Kitty? Or poor Mr. Collins? And how could anyone forget Mrs. Bennet?



By Hugh Thomson (1860-1920) (Lilly Library, Indiana University) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.” Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


Love her or hate her, you can’t ignore Mrs. Bennet! Every time I read the book or watch the movie, she reminds me of a clucking hen gathering her uncooperative, strong-willed chicks. She doesn’t care about “the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.” She’s content with being a mother. She has one objective: getting her daughters married and saving them from poverty. Period. Is she a rude woman? Certainly. Nosey? Definitely. Loving? Unquestionably, in her own way. Is she perfect? Hardly. And that’s the beauty of it. All her faults are what makes her memorable.

Jane Austen’s family isn’t perfect. Her characters make good and bad choices. They laugh, cry, and argue.  But eventually, they come together to help each other and in the end, all is well just like a family should be. Nothing like a happy ending!

Now it’s your turn. Think about one of your favorite families. What stands out in your mind? Were they good all the time? Were they bad all the time? I would suggest they were a mixture of the two. Think about how you can take those memorable traits and add them to your story? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Click to tweet: Do you have a family in your story?

Writing Prompt: Take one supporting character from your favorite family and build a story around them.




Fiction and Fur Babies

By Gail Johnson

And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the ground after its kind: and God saw that it was good Genesis 1:25 ASV.

How’s your WIP coming along? Making progress? Or stuck on how to make it better?

How about adding a fur baby?

I know dogs and cats are not unusual or exotic like a monkey or a boa constrictor. Eww! But when you take the perfect breed and add a quirky personality you can create a unique story. Especially if you allow the reader to hear the pet’s thoughts!

Some of the most memorable movies starred a cat or a dog. Remember these?

Cat Movies
The Aristocats
Oliver and Company
Homeward Bound I and II

Dog Movies
Lady and the Tramp
101 Dalmatians
Turner and Hooch
Marley and Me

The most recent one made is A Dog’s Purpose starring Dennis Quaid.

As you can see it would be just an ordinary movie without the dog. The dog is the reason you want to watch the film!

Do Your Homework
If this pooch and kitty idea sounds like something you’re interested in, the first thing to figure out is what kind of dog or cat your main character would have. Then ask yourself the following questions:

dog-450543_1280What type of a person is my main character? Athletic or sedentary? City boy or country girl? Park runner or trail hiker? Apartment or house dweller? Truck or car? Once you’ve answered all your questions, then the next thing you’ll want to do is find the breed that will best fit the lifestyle of your main character.

This step also begins with questions. Does the animal help with work, either on the job or on the farm? Heelers are ideal for sheep and cattle. German Shepherds are used in military and police work. Labrador Retrievers are workers and companions, whereas a Shih Tzu is just for companionship. They make perfect fur babies. I should know. I own one.

You may want to go deeper and ask about the sensitivity of your character’s nose. Individual dogs smell worse than others. My sniffer is extremely sensitive. Is your character a clean freak or a slob? Clean freak, here. Some cats and dogs shed worse than others. A Shih Tzu doesn’t shed like an average dog but rather like a human. Their hair must be cut.

cat-1551783_1280For cats, you ask the same questions. Work or play? Some American Shorthair cats make great mousers on the farm whereas the Persian Cat, like the Shih Tzu, make great fur babies. Some cats are elegant while others are fat and lazy. Think Garfield.

As you can see, whether you mean to imply it or not, the animals tell a lot about their owners. And it’s a great way to add another layer to your story.

Researching the Breed
According to reference.com, there are 340 recognized dog breeds of which only 167 are acknowledged in the United States. Additionally, there are 55 cat breeds allowed in competition, with the officially accepted number varying between associations. That’s a lot of cats and dogs! So where do we begin?

dog-220393_1280Why not start with cattime.com/cat-breeds and dogtime.com/dog-breeds/profiles? Both sites share pictures and information about each animal. Another idea would be to visit the local kennel or ask a veterinarian.

God created an array of animals to add an interesting layer to our world. Adding an animal to your WIP can and will add layers to your story and to your character. So which one do you have in mind? Cat or Dog?

Writing Prompt:

She had only been gone for twenty minutes. How on earth could one Labrador puppy do so much damage? Nancy checked her watch. Thirty minutes before her guest would arrive. Where could she get a new…