A Good Match – WPC – 02/22/17

027.jpgFor the weekly photo challenge this time our subject is a good match. When I was searching for someone to spend my life with I prayed quite a bit about the type of girl that would be the best match for me. I wanted someone who shared my beliefs, not only as a Christian but those that would have to do with our family when we had one. God blessed me with an exceptional partner for my lifetime and also with two fabulous kids which I consider to be a very good match.



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Against the Odds – WPC -02/15/17

Our challenge this week is to ferret out something from our photography collection that shows a situation that is against the odds. While I have a large photograph repository at my disposal it did  not take me long to identify what I wanted to share. It is two pictures from the early to mid 1970s when a freak weather occurrence rolled up snow in our yard.

You may find it hard to believe, but my brother and I had nothing to do with the roll of snow I am pointing to in this photo. It was a natural occurrence and a fantastic one at that.




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Shadow – WPC – 02/08/17

The Weekly Photo Challenge has asked us to find photographs of shadows this time and I know that I have some of my miniature Sheltie somewhere, but I could not track it down. So I included three I found during the search. I look forward to seeing others finds.


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Skywatch Friday – 2/03/17 – Joe O., VA, USA


Xunantonich Mayan Ruins, December 2015

For Skywatch Friday

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Conventional Wisdom is Wrong


For the Discover challenge this week I chose to take apart a cliché that drives me nuts: The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side. If this is conventional wisdom then you can color me unconventional. People are fickle when it comes to many things: jobs, marriages, churches, where they live, what they drive and so on. We all know plenty of folks who jump from thing to thing looking for the better experience. They have swallowed hook, line and sinker this cliché: The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side.

Is it really? Ask some of those people who have made a choice to change. Ask the person who sacrificed their marriage for another. A friend and I were talking about this a few years ago. If the decision was based on an action or habit that the other did not like what are the chances someone else will have a different opinion? People are people and not every change is going to work out in your favor.

Understand me I know there are situations when a change MUST be made. But if it is being made with the assumption that different will surely be better then it is likely to find oneself back in a similar spot. Greener grass still has to be cut. What seems greener from afar may just be getting the best sunlight but may be flawed close up.

I guess in summary what I want to say about it is this: take time to really judge your situation against what you see as the better one. With all the resources at your disposal work really hard to complete the due diligence before you take a leap you may well regret. We all have the capacity to change our current situation to make it better rather than throw the baby out with the bath water. Oh no, there is another one!


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First Chapter, First Paragraph – 24th Jan. 2017

first-chapterThrough Al Forbes of Sunday Photo Fiction fame I discovered a new weekly opportunity to join other readers in sharing some good book titled you might want to read. Each week, Bibliophile By The Sea hosts an opportunity to share your reading by posting the First Paragraph from the First Chapter of the book you are currently reading. I found this quite interesting as I don’t always take a lot of time in bookstores to ferret out a good read.

This is also intended as a social exercise where you can drop in on others participating to give them your thoughts if it is an author you are familiar with or to ask about a new book or author you may not know much about. My book is part of the Vince Flynn series about a C.I.A. agent named Mitch Rapp. Unfortunately Mr. Flynn Succumbed to cancer last year, but there is a new book that was published in late 2016 in which a new author selected by Mr. Flynn will continue to series.



It was nearing ten o’clock in the evening when Mitch Rapp decided it was time to move. He stepped from the sedan into the April night, popped his umbrella, clutched the collar of his black trench coat, and set out across a rain-soaked East Twentieth Street. He navigated the puddles and swollen gutter without complaint. The weather was a blessing. Not only did it clear the streets of potential witnesses, it also gave him a reasonable excuse to hide his face from the city’s ever-increasing array of security cameras.

Rapp had traveled to New York City to decide the fate of a man. At an earlier point, he had debated the wisdom of handling the situation himself. In addition to the inherent rish of getting caught, there was another, more pressing problem. Just six days earlier a series of explosions had torn through Washington, D.C., killing 185 and wounding hundreds. Three of the terrorists were still at large, and Rapp had been ordered, unofficially, to find them by any means necessary.

I find my self gravitating to this kind of novel and I love when I find another author with this style. Sometimes the language is too objectionable for me, but the world has certainly seemed to embrace that change. I believe this is the twelfth book in the Mitch Rapp series, so there is quite a bit of history that ties in to the characters involved. Mr. Flynn does a great job of filling the reader in on the backstory of each character so that even if you are new you don’t feel lost.




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The Greatest ________ In The World ? A President Comes, A President Goes

I wrote this in anticipation of the inauguration coming in three days. I hoped the Discover feature from the Daily post would tie in nicely, but I can make it work. https://dailypost.wordpress.com/discover-challenges/greatest-in-the-world/

On January 20th of 2017 something fascinating will occur. For the 46th time a peaceful transition of power will occur as Donald J. Trump assumes the office of the President of the United States from Barack Hussein Obama. When that group of government and political visionaries known as the framers of the constitution met in the late 1780s to create the seminal document that guides the way the political process works I wonder if they had great confidence what they were trying to create would stand the test of time? I would like tot hink the words I write today will still have revelance and even some power over two centuries later, but then I am not writing such a document as the United States Constitution, am I?

As a resident of the United States I can say I watched 2016 with consideravle trepidation. My beloved nation was rocked by so many separate incidmes it was difficult to feel much confidence in the direction of our nation. Let me assure you this is not a politically skewed rant blog post. I am not here to declare one office holder is better than the other. I simply have an opinion about what is happening just like everyone else in the world. Mine is no better than yours, but it is no less important either. I ask if you read and have a comment keep it civil. I believe in everyone having a right to their opinion, but I will not engage in an angry exchange in the comments.

The range of trouble inflicted upon the United States in 2016 may not have been the worst in the country’s history, but it was the worst in my recent memory. For sure the country had it much worse during the late 1700s when we were trying to declare our independence from England. Or during the early 1860s when we nearly destroyed our nation when we allowed our differences to split our nation in two. Less than fifty years later the first major war on foreign soil and another three decades later rocked our foundations two more times. No, 2016 wasn’t barely that bad, but for a civilized nation it was frightening enough.

While it certainly is not the only problem facing the United States, the gun violence of 2016 was on a scale that just made you sick. I have the utmost respect for the men and women who strive to keep the peace. My son is nearing completion of a college degree intended to help him pursue this dream. Sometimes when I see what we witnessed in 2016 I hesitate to feel this is the best choice of profession. During the election cycle both presidential candidates along with the office holder of the job voiced opinions about he right and wrong ways to deal with this issue.

There are many who believe removing firearms from people’s hands will eliminate the problem. As far as history confirms people were killed long before gunpowder was created. The problem is deeper than the tool employed to commit the act, it is more about the mindset. The thing is one solitary man sitting in an office at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue cannot do anything to change that on his own. We are foolish to invest so much passion in that belief.

When an election is completed there is usually half the country satisfied with the outcome while the other half is not. That is the nature of a democracy. Unless the party in power has been exceptionally good or bad usually after two terms there is a change of power. Many do not agree with the words of the new president. But then I hear plenty of folks who did not agree with the words of the president getting ready to vacate the office during the last eight years.

Many will argue a billionaire has no place in this office. When the framers of the constitution created the office of president they certainly did not do it with the goal of always having a career politician. George Washington was a farmer. Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower were soldiers. Jimmy Carter was a peanut farmer, Ronald Reagan was an actor. The list of unique experience sets goes on and on. Being president is not a job you can necessarily train for before you take the oath of office on the steps of the United States Capitol.

To circle back to the idea of all that plagued the U.S. in 2016, there was also tons and tons of political drama. It seems the presidential process gets longer each cycle. Like many Americans by March of the election year I am already worn out with it. Insert the back and forth between candidates and all the F.B.I., C.I.A. and other alphabet government agencies and you have a recipe for bad soup.

Add to that the usual up and down economic news which can be spun any number of ways and you had a long line of people believing the United States was headed nowhere very fast. Again some will state that the president will be able to change all of this when he gets into office. Have we forgotten the 535 souls in Congress who have to agree with this ideas? If you have ever tried to get your family to agree on a vacation or what to have for dinner you will agree this is not a sure thing.

I guess what troubled me most in 2016 was the reaction to the election. Perhaps I spend too much time listening to the television reports or noticing what is on Twitter, but the sheer audacity of people claiming to not support the winner of the election floored me. I have voted in nine presidential elections. Of those I have been in both groups, happy with the winner and disappointed as well. But either way I know the man elected is definitely my president. He is the man I will pray for to lead our nation as we continue to be a part of this world. Sure I will pray he does things that agree with my beliefs. But as I stated in a previous paragraph opinions are something we all have.

In 2008 a freshman senator from Illinois inspired a great number of folks with a message of hope. It resonated with so many that the election of the first African-American in the political history of the United States made news around the world. It was this same kind of energy that mobilized the large turnout of voters for Donald Trump. Pollsters across America were shocked that their numbers did not jive with the elections results. I think so many people are so fed up with the parts of the political process that they do not want to tell those asking questions what they really think.

You have to wonder if the result of this election will have any impact on the thought that one vote does not matter. For those unhappy with the results of the election it must be understood that the difference was simply a collection of those votes that do not matter in specific areas. I heard several folks opine they would not vote because there was no good choice. I dis agree. We have a choice and that in itself is something too many residents of this world cannot enjoy. We will see a peaceful switch on the 20th of January and that is something in which we do have a choice. We should support our president whether we selected him in the voting booth or not. We will be judged as Americans according to his success or failure regardless.

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Mountain Sunrise – Sky Watch Friday – 1-13-17

062Sky Watch Friday is a weekly Link Up where participants share a photo of the sky with others in the Link Up and those who stop by to watch the sky. This is my first time in a while, but I have been collecting sky photos so I could try again. This is a southeastern facing sunrise across my neighbors fence toward Whitetop Mountain and Mount Rogers in Virginia.


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Transcript – Bridging the Past

This is for the weekly Discover Challenge. This week the subject is Transcript.

I am one of those who has the knowledge of before and after the digital age. I can remember when everything was either written or in print. I still remember the fascination of bring able to create something before I sent it off to a printer to have it in physical form. It is quite a difference from the reality of today. That is why this particular Discover Challenge is coming our way this week.

When I first started writing I was in my teens. At that time I did not have a personal computer because they were hardly personal. Beyond that the price was in the thousands of dollars for basically a souped-up typewriter that could save files. My first hand written novel pages were on loose leaf paper written in pencil with a mechanical pencil.


This is some of the hand written pages of my first novel series.


Eventually I began to assemble them in binders for better access.

Shortly after this I finally got the new technology of a personal computer that significantly improved my ability to get my writing in a form more presentable to show another. During that time I was able to print my manuscripts and enter three of them in a local writing contest. Unfortunately these particular manuscripts are now only available on paper because the word processing program I used at that time became obsolete about as quick as computer operating systems improved.

So now I have the unenviable task of transcribing these manuscripts into a current word processing program. I am thankful that I now am familiar with the Microsoft suite of programs that will not likely become obsolete any time soon. I wonder how many others have experienced a similar situation in their writing adventures. https://dailypost.wordpress.com/discover-challenges/transcript/

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Names – Graduating Seniors

DPname.JPGI needed a minute to think of a photograph I have that suits the Weekly Photo Challenge theme of Names for this week. But eventually I remembered the perfect photo to use. My daughter graduated from high school in May of 2016. She was one of four students in our church to reach this plateau. As we begin to think about the graduation party the potential issues with four separate parties and the distance between we considered having one big party. In order to do this we had to have one huge cake. I called it the L.A.I.M. graduation party which was a big joke, but I think it was exactly the best way to accommodate these friends and their wish to share their achievement.


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The Reason I Write – One Liner Wednesday – 1/04/17

“To write a story is to create a new world with the positive and negative traits we choose as our favorites.”


I am new to Just Jot It January from Linda G. Hill, but it looks like a lot of fun. This is the January 4 response.


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1 Million Steps to 2017 – SUCCESS!

Early in 2016 I remember a specific illustration used by my pastor during a Sunday morning sermon relating to goal setting. His point was that if you set a single goal when you head out for a work day you may find yourself taking your entire day to finish the one task. But if you set multiple goals you are more inclined to attack more goals. Of course this needs another caution not to take on more than you can finish, but that is implied.

Now I have seen my share of moon cycles, meaning several hundreds of them so this knowledge was nothing new, but it was presented in a way that stuck with me even to this day. Having goals or direction means you are more likely to accomplish something you can point to as your success. I just finished a post yesterday laying out several writing golas I want to achieve in 2017. With this in place I have a solid, mapped out direction which will serve me well.

If you have been on this blog before you know I also had a goal for the last quarter of last year to measure of 1,000,000 steps on my Fitbit over the 92 days from October 1 through December 31. I tend to favor round numbers and while 1,000,000 seems a mighty number when you divide it out over 92 days it becomes much more manageable. In fact it is just 869 more steps on a daily basis than the standard goal delivered to you by Fitbit of 10,000 steps per day.


In the beginning of this journey during October the weather was much warmer and dryer, so getting the steps in was not too tough. But eventually the cooler, damper weather caught up with me causing more effort to accumulate the needed activity. Of course my dog doesn’t care about weather, so she still wants her daily exercise so I have an ally in getting me up and out often each day.

As I begin a new year I will set new goals so I can continue to make strides toward being more active and hopefully more healthy while shedding a few pounds accumulated during the holidays. I know some of you probably got a fitness tracker for a present this year so I hope your experience is something like mine if not better.


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My Writing Goals for 2017

joesAh the new year dawns! The time when all possibilities fill our tables. I particularly enjoy this time of year because I find a full tank of enthusiasm and little resistance to set new goals and dream new fantastic dreams. Sure the execution of those goals and dreams will have to withstand all the impediments, hurdles and stop signs, but the more developed plan in place the more likely you are to succeed.

I saw the evidence of this in my second attempt to complete the 30 day National Novel Writing Month this past November. On the surface it doesn’t sound so intimidating to attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days, but execution is key. I approached the process different in my second attempt, laying out twenty chapters to begin the month. With this plan I was able to skip to a chapter I was excited to write when I felt myself getting bogged down.

So what are my goals for 2017? To increase and improve all phases of my writing. Not only do I want to write better, I want to write more. You see my goal is to finally break through this year and sell to a publisher. If I can do that I hope it will require me to produce at a higher rate. So here specifically is what I want to accomplish in 2017.

  1. Publish a manuscript and submit for publication. With the completion of NaNoWriMo 2016 I have the equivalent of seven manuscripts in my stable. Of these I have enterd three in writing contests with two honorable mention awards and a second place for creative writing. But as of today I have not sent them to an agent or publisher. This year that is going to change.
  2. Find an agent. This is a function of the first goal, but no less important. To capture the interest and attention of an agent is something I do not have a lot of experience with obviously. I am working hard to leverage all the helpful tips and posts by authors on WordPress and Twitter as far as this task is concerned.
  3. Find a publisher. Again this is just an extension of the main goal. Here is my first obvious statement, but I would love to find a publisher that wants to publish all my work. I have reworked one of my ideas to create franchise characters because I see the value in a book series. I would love to be able to roll out a continuing set with these characters.
  4. Write more. I began adding posts on WordPress just over four years ago with a single blog, Joe’s Musings. Since then I have added other blogs, including a faith based one, Living the J.O.Y. Principle, Chasing the Blooms about flowers, Fiction Playground for my fiction and Alpine and Clinchport Railroad which is about my newfound hobby of model railroading. In total I wrote 119 posts over all my blogs which generated 5,502 views. I try to rotate posts between blogs so I can build the number of followers on each, but in 2017 I would like to write at least 250 total posts.
  5. Write every day. I got a Fitbit the last day of January in 2016. Since then I have a daily reminder of how much activity I accumulate from the time I wake until I pack it in for the day. As a result I am on pace to accumulate over 4 million steps for the full year. I think I can accomplish a similar goal if I commit to write at least 500 words ever day. Right now I am around 600 words with this post and have already posted a fiction post of 200 words so I can check off today as meeting my goal. If I write 500 words every day of 2017 I will total at least 182,500 words. That is roughly the equivalent of two novels! Of course if I do NaNoWriMo or Camp Nano I will be doing more like 2,000 words per day so that number could be much more. I even snagged a nifty new calendar to use to chart my daily progress.006
  6. Develop my stable of writing friends. Online friendships are tricky, but can be beneficial. There are many of you I have come to know and respect for your insight, wisdom about writing and publishing and just how to manage the entire process. I would like to develop my network of particular talents such as editing because I know that is a need. I also realized during NaNoWriMo 2016 that encouraging others is a huge need. This dream we all have is brutal at times and giving others a little of yourself is a small thing to you but can mean a whole lot if you are struggling.
  7. Attend Writing Classes and Conferences. I see so many offers for classes and conferences to help you learn more about all phases of the process, from plotting and character development to Querying, developing your pitch and dealing with agents and publishers. I could use help with all the above and I know it. The difficulty is knowing which is worth taking the plunge.
  8. Enter writing contests. I have done some of this, but it is a matter of finding out about contests with enough lead time to get a work written, edited and polished in time to get it submitted. Time management is always a struggle for anyone trying to accomplish broad goals, so nothing spectacularly surprising in the pursuit of this goal.
  9. Read more. I like to read. Not as much as I like to write, but I love a good story. I realized that when I was made aware of how much I like television. Seeing a story in visual format locks you in to a specific interpretation however. When you are reading the author gives you a framework, but you can color in the lines however you want. I also love to interact with authors. This happened with a book I read a couple of years ago and wrote a review on Amazon.
  10. Read and watch more critically. What I mean by this is to learn how the best and most successful tell their stories. Understand what it is about the books and programs I watch that draws me in. That will pay benefits as I work to get my writing noticed and published by the industry.
  11. Find a good place to try out my new story ideas. As I said in another paragraph I love to tell a story. One of the pitfalls is that I can get deep into a work in progress when another germ of a story idea bubbles up into the development space. I need somewhere to give these ideas a “fly test” to see if they are worth a flash fiction run, short story treatment or something with novel potential.

As I reach the 1000 word mark of this post I seem to be running out of ideas for the goals I want to achieve. Maybe I will revisit this post as other goals come to me, but if I can take a solid swipe at what precedes this paragraph I will feel 2017 is a success. Perhaps I can even add selling X number of copies of my published book during the next 364 days. I invite you to return to see an update to this post in the coming months. Series posts such as this will help to fulfill the more writing and posting goals. I saw other ‘goals’ posts in the Reader feed this morning so I will be checking other’s posts to see if they have goals that trigger something in me.



Posted in 2017, Blogging, Blogging Challenge, Fitbit, Novel, Personal Goals, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Photo Challenge: Path

Weekly Photo Challenge – Path


This photo was taken when I visited Belize in 2013 on my second international mission trip. It was an overcast day so the picture is not as nice as I would have liked, but this path certainly was enticing.


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Can I Be A Published Author? – Discover Challenge – 6 Dec 2016

DisChallenge1206.JPGThis week the Discover Challenge asks this: This week, tell us about a moment in which someone asked you a question you weren’t sure how to answer, whether because you didn’t know, were too uncomfortable, or thought you might offend or confuse the other person.

There is one question constantly on my mind. Years ago it was this: Will I meet someone? What will I do for a job? Will I have children? Where will I live? These are all questions most people have in their life at one time or another. With time all these questions found their answer. But there is one question I ask my self many, many times. Can I be a published author?

I have been writing for a long, long time. I won’t bore you with my age, but you can know that I have authored six manuscripts, but as of yet have not published one. Part of it is fear I suppose. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of the unknown. I believe I am a good writer but what if no one agrees? Another part is the mystery of the process. Traditional or Independent? Self-publish or let the professionals do it? It is enough to make me stark raving mad!

Over the years I have received feedback to buoy my belief I know how to write. I submitted three of my novels in writing contests, receiving awards all three times. But the ugly specter of doubt came to visit and questioned how many competitors I faced. Other writers know what this feels like as you have likely felt the same thing. I also have had friends read my work and give me great feedback. But they are friends that mean well, but may not be truthfully helpful when it comes to an honest opinion.

But I want you to know something. I am tired of the questions that remain unanswered. I want to beat the odds. I want to finally say I am a published author. I want to se my work in print.

But understand me when I say published author I just don’t mean a book in print. I mean an author who routinely sells his work. I want to launch a career for the rest of my life. I want to see my novels on a shelf in whatever bookstore I visit. As it is now I feel such a yearning for this when I enter a bookstore that I avoid them quite often. It is such an unquenchable thirst that sometimes I get pretty troubled about it.

Thankfully through this year’s National Novel Writing Month and through making connections on Word Press I feel like I have found others with the knowledge and insight to help me move forward. I feel more confident now than I ever have that I will begin to answer this question. I cannot wait to enjoy the answer.

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