Adventures with My Timer


copyright yokim01 via

When I get up in the morning, my timer has put a window up on the monitor that says, “Good Morning!” and has a snooze button on it. Usually, I just click it closed.


The other morning, my mouse was dead. I got a new battery from my desk drawer, performed “resuscitation” on my mouse, and pronounced it alive.


In the process of installing a new battery, I inadvertently clicked something on my browser, bringing it to the front, covering up the timer window. I went about my merry way, drinking my iced coffee (yes, I drink iced coffee year round, even if I shiver while drinking it), clicking my way through my facebook feed.

Hmm…what was that? I thought I heard a cuckoo clock. There it was again, a soft little “Cuckoo, cuckoo.”

“Oh,” I thought, “it must be whatever hubby is watching on television in the living room.”

I got up, moseyed into the living room and…no cuckoo clock sounds. Good. That part of the show must be over. I sauntered back to my office.


I’m hearing the cuckoo clock again. And now, there are little springtime birds singing softly, too.

Say what?


My hearing loss prevents me from being able to pinpoint the source of a sound, so I’m looking all around, wondering where this is coming from. Could it be…my computer?

I turned the volume down on the computer, and, aha! The cuckoo clock shut up. As did the little birdies.

I’m thinking there must be something on one of the open tabs that is producing the sounds…you know how those ads play videos even when you don’t want them to…grrr! So I closed the open tabs, one by one. Still cuckooing.

I finally closed the browser.

And there, hiding behind the browser, was the timer window with its cheery message… “Good Morning!” So I clicked the button to close it, and the aviary chorus disappeared. Mystery solved.

So, now I know, if I don’t close the “Good Morning” window in a timely manner, I’ll be serenaded until I do.

It’s Just a Matter of Time


copyright Marcelo Gerpe via

Tommie Lyn dips her pinky toe in the water of blogdom. Is it safe to come out again? Unsure of herself, she tentatively gathers what courage she still possesses and takes a baby step into the blog light. And isn’t immediately struck down. Yes! She will try blogging again.

I haven’t written a blog post in quite a while now. Life has a way of directing you down paths you never expected to walk, away from what you had planned to do. But after a while, the dust settles and you can make choices again. And today, I’m choosing to post to my poor, neglected blog.

What’s prompting this choice? you may wonder. I’ll tell you. A writerly friend of mine has been pushing and prodding, cajoling and encouraging me to get back to writing. You see, after I published my last book, On the Red Clay Hills, an overwhelming reluctance to write settled over me… “Not gonna write anymore. That’s it. The last thing I’ll ever write.” But my friend wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. So, in deference to her, I decided to start off small. After all, an innocuous blog post…what could that hurt, right?

And on top of that, my friend recently got a fitness watch that has a sedentary alarm on it. The alarm goes off, she gets up from the computer, walks a little, maybe does a little household chore, then comes back and continues what she’s doing on the computer.

Say what?

I was impressed. I was jealous. I wanted one of those watches.

But exhaustive searches on Amazon didn’t turn up one I could use, because they all require syncing to a smart phone, and I don’t have a smart phone. I did have a smart phone for a while. Hated it. Got rid of it and got a phone I like. NOT gonna get another smart phone. Not even if it enables me to use a fitness watch.


Where there’s a will, there usually is a way. (Remind me to tell you later what setlace means.)

Turns out, there are timers you can download to your computer. FREE timers (which was a plus, because the fitness watches ain’t free, not by a long shot). I downloaded one, set it up to sound the alarm after 30 minutes of inactivity (I chose a doorbell for the alarm sound because it was loud enough for someone like me who has a hearing loss), and I was in business.

It may not be as fancy as wearing a fitness watch, but, honey, it works! It has me jumping up (well, maybe not jumping up–after all, I’m an old lady–but at least getting out of my chair) and doing some walking-through-the-house and some chore-getting-done-activities.

I’m impressed!

And it even spurred me to write this blog post.

Waffling? Who knew…

copyright DCWG

copyright DCWG

And, no, this post has nothing to do with politics.

Someone posted a video on facebook a while back that showed how you could cook more than just waffles in a waffle iron…brownies, omelets, cinnamon rolls, just to name a few things. Hold the phone! That stuff looked good to me…I had to try it. Unfortunately, my waffle iron had met its demise due to old age years and years ago. So I ordered a new one, a fancy-pants Belgian waffle maker from Amazon. And I tried some of the suggestions in the video (loved the omelet, but the cinnamon rolls? Not so much.)

Anyway, it wasn’t long until I was viewing lots of dishes with a new eye…is that waffleable? And I’ve tried a few, with varying results.


Hold the phone!


I don’t fix cornbread often anymore because I’m the only one who can eat it (for poor hubby anything with baking powder in it is a no-no). And I don’t want to eat it in front of hubby since he can’t have any. But I thought waffled cornbread wouldn’t be so tempting for him, and I could get my corn fix.

So I tried it just now. And while it’s not as good as a crunchy-crusted pone, it ain’t half bad.

I don’t know how other recipes for cornbread would hold up, but mine worked great. See, when I make cornbread, I don’t put eggs in it. I don’t put fat in it. The only things that go into the bowl are self-rising cornmeal and buttermilk. That’s it. The buttermilk makes it hold together like an egg or flour would, and it makes it moist like oil or grease would. It’s perfect.

The only thing I plan to do differently the next time I fix it is, I’ll leave it longer and see if it gets crunchier. Because for me, crunchy crust is the most important feature of good cornbread.

How about you? Do you use your waffle iron for cooking other than waffles?

On the Red Clay Hills


copyright Jesuino Souza via stock.xchng

I’m hard at work on the next MacLachlainn story … meaning, my fingers are typing sporadically, but in between the typing bouts my mind is lost in the writing daydream. Like each of the other MacLachlainn stories, I’m also spending an inordinate amount of time reading and researching the time and place where the story takes place.

When I write a contemporary story, there’s a minimal amount of research I have to do to make sure the story facts are accurately portrayed. After all, I’ve lived through this time period myself … I know what things are like. Except for specialized knowledge about places and products, I pretty much know enough to be accurate.

Not so when I write stories set in the past. I have to glean knowledge and understanding by reading materials written by those who either lived in those times or have studied them. And so my historical novels take much, much longer to research/write. (You should SEE the stack of books in my office!)

I’ve been studying the time period for this novel, which will be titled “On the Red Clay Hills,” for over two years now. There’s still a lot I need to know, so I’ll keep doing research even as I write.

So … it may take me a while to get to “The End” of this story, but … I’m on my way!

Ingenious (and Helpful) Inventions

My tablet, set up on the Bluetooth keyboard...and Scribbles II on the screen.

My tablet, set up on the Bluetooth keyboard…and Scribbles II on the screen.

When hubby surprised me with a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico last year to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, the cover story he gave to get me to the Port of New Orleans, without my being any the wiser, was that we were going to spend our anniversary at a nice hotel in Nyawlins. So I took my laptop along, planning to join my chat group each evening while we were away from home.

But it turned out we were on a ship, not in a hotel, and I couldn’t get online via my laptop. So it was just so much dead weight. (I did write a blog post about our cruise, but still…)

Hubby had always said that he didn’t EVER want to set foot on a ship, after all the time he’d spent on Navy ships. But he had a blast, as I did. He had such a good time that he decided that the best way to check off the last item on his “States I’ve Visited”  bucket list…i.e., Alaska…was by taking a cruise to said state. And so he had our travel agent book us on a cruise at the end of August.

In the meantime, he bought me a Samsung Galaxy Tablet and a Belkin Bluetooth keyboard to go with it. They are small enough to fit in the back pocket of my pocketbook. So the tablet accompanies me everywhere I go, and, if it appears I might have an opportunity to write, the keyboard goes along for the ride.

While they aren’t as heavy as my laptop, they aren’t exactly light as a feather either (hubby says the weight of my pocketbook makes it a lethal weapon). But that’s beside the point. I can go anywhere equipped to write should the opportunity present itself.

On the 4 ½ hour flight from Atlanta to Seattle, I whipped out my tablet and keyboard and got some serious writing done on Scribbles II: Escape. (The flight from Pensacola to Atlanta is barely long enough attain altitude, drink the cup of water the flight attendants serve, then come in for the landing…not long enough to do any writing.)

Through much of the trip on board the ship, I was like so many other passengers, glued to the dining room windows or out on the fantail, mesmerized by the gorgeous scenery. (Don’t ask me why, but while the open decks were too, too cold and windy for me, the temps outside on the fantail were pretty comfortable.) But during the times the ship was in open waters, with no scenery to miss out on, hubby read and I wrote.

And I wrote on our return flight to Atlanta, and by the time I got home, I discovered I’d added 10K words to my manuscript! Too cool. So, I love my tablet/keyboard combination. Do you have anything that’s helped you with your writing?

Working on a “Bucket List”

Seattle, Washington - © Tommie Lyn

Seattle, Washington – © Tommie Lyn

Last year, we ticked off one of hubby’s bucket list items: visit North Dakota. That left one item on his list: visit Alaska. And we took care of that last week. We embarked on a cruise ship in Seattle that was headed “north to Alaska.”

Ketchican, Alaska - © Tommie Lyn

Ketchikan, Alaska – © Tommie Lyn

Our first port was Ketchikan. And, as you can see by the accompanying photographs, I took my camera with me and had fun snapping lots of shots of the picturesque town and its surroundings.

Ketchican, Alaska - © Tommie Lyn

Ketchikan, Alaska – © Tommie Lyn









Tracy Arm glacier - © Tommie Lyn

Tracy Arm glacier – © Tommie Lyn



Then we ventured into fjord territory. The scenery in the Tracy Arm was gorgeous, and we saw an actual glacier. Breathtaking!





At first, I was a little concerned about the ice in the water (Titanic, anyone?) but the chunks were fairly small.

Tracy Arm fjord - © Tommie Lyn

Tracy Arm fjord – © Tommie Lyn







Juneau, Alaska - © Tommie Lyn

Juneau, Alaska – © Tommie Lyn


Juneau was next on the itinerary, and it presented me with plenty of opportunities for taking pictures.






Skagway, Alaska - © Tommie Lyn

Skagway, Alaska – © Tommie Lyn

And then, our last stop before heading south again was Skagway. Hubby told me of all the people on a quest for gold who came through Skagway on their way to the Yukon (he knows about those things, you see. Gold prospecting is his beloved hobby, and he’s read everything he could get his hands on, from historical data to all the how-to books.)

Whales feeding, Victoria, British Columbia - © Tommie Lyn

Whales feeding, Victoria, British Columbia – © Tommie Lyn

Victoria, British Columbia was our last port before returning to Seattle, and one spectacular (to us) event that we saw while we were docked was only partially visible. Several killer whales had corralled some food, probably fish, and were having a meal, complete with surfacing, splashing, and a show of fins. I belatedly decided to try to photograph it, but all I got was a dark shape which you can see in the water beyond the mast on a nearby ship. Oh well. You can pretend you see the whale…

What about you? Do you have a bucket list you’re working on?

KEY: Knowledge Empowers You

Image copyright  Ivelin Radkov, via BigStockPhoto

Image copyright Ivelin Radkov, via BigStockPhoto

Are you old enough to remember Schoolhouse Rock?

I am. My kids watched it on Saturday mornings, and I watched it with them. Those animated segments taught math, English, (the “Conjunction Junction” song still gets stuck in my head sometimes, LOL), and other things, even the Preamble of the Constitution.

Recently, I asked people who’d watched Schoolhouse Rock back in the seventies if they learned anything from it, and everyone had (including me…I learned how a bill proceeds through Congress).

Which brings me to ask another question…if they were an effective teaching/learning tool, why were they discontinued? Especially in the light of dismal performance of our public schools today.

What about the schools in your area? Are the children learning? Or are they being indoctrinated and made to conform to standards set by people who don’t have their best interests at heart? Is it time parents insist that schools use curricula that give children a good foundation, that teach basic reading, writing, math, and history, rather than forcing a social or political agenda upon them?

Or are the children being dumbed down.


Georgia Guidestones

Image copyright SeanPavonePhoto, via BigStockPhoto

Some writers plot. Some don’t. I happen to belong to the latter category.

When I begin a novel, sometimes I have a vague impression of where I’d like it to go. At other times, not so much.

And another thing. Some writers can determine what they will write. Like, they may decide, “THIS time, I’m gonna write a romance.” Wish I could do that. When I started tappa-tapping the keys a couple of weeks ago, I DID decide I was gonna write a romance. Unfortunately for me, my fingers didn’t get the message.

Now, I’m several thousand words into what promises to be yet another thriller: Scribbles II, sequel to Scribbles.

Have you ever heard of the Georgia Guidestones? AKA, American Stonehenge? When I learned about them a couple of years ago, they crept into the novel I was writing at the time…but they didn’t fit. Red pencil time. I cut them because they didn’t fit that story. But I saved what I’d written about them, thinking one day, some day, maybe, they’d be part of another story.

So. When I started typing recently, expecting a romance to magically appear on my computer monitor, imagine my surprise when I saw the indicators that the Georgia Guidestones were on the horizon in the developing story.

Oh, well. I suppose I have to bow to the inevitable. This story is gonna write itself, and apparently, those granite blocks standing on end in Elbert County, Georgia, with their creepy engraved message, will be part of it.

Let the tappa-tapping continue.


Image copyright BigStockPhoto

Image copyright BigStockPhoto

There’s writing, and then…there’s writing.

These days, I enjoy writing novels, but…I’m actually typing them into a computer, not writing them by hand.

Why? Because, increasingly, I can’t write…not by hand, anyway. Actually, I’ve never been able to write well.

When I was a first-grader, we practiced forming the letters of the alphabet, both upper and lower case. With pencils. On blue-lined sheets of pulp paper in our Montag Blue Horse writing tablets (anyone remember those?) I was never able to do a good job at this.

Mama would “tsk, tsk” over each paper I brought home. She gave me encouragement and instructions on how to make my writing…well, readable. But no matter how much I tried, my scribblings remained just scribbles.

One afternoon, I brought home a paper that made Mama ecstatic. “See?” she said. “I knew if you kept trying, you’d get it right.” She proceeded to point out the smoothness of the strokes, the regular, consistent size of the letters…until she came to the name in the upper right-hand corner of the page. It didn’t say (all crookedy and messy) “Tommie Lyn.” Another little girl’s name was on the paper. (I wonder how her mother reacted when she saw my paper and thought, for one horrible moment, that it was her daughter’s.)

I was careful after that to make sure my papers didn’t get mixed up with someone else’s. Poor Mama, I don’t think she could have taken another disappointment.

My handwriting got worse when I advanced to the next grade and started learning cursive, and it never got a whole lot better. It was never anything to write home about, but it was at least legible. Until lately. During the past several years, it has steadily deteriorated as I’ve aged, and now, no one can read it, not even me. These days, the only way my hen scratching can be deciphered at all is if I print the letters.

Like I learned to do in the first grade.

I’ve Been Tagged!

Cherokee Rose © SeanPavonePhoto

Cherokee Rose © SeanPavonePhoto

The writers’ blog hop simply asks ten questions about your current story, and then you tag five other writer-blogger friends to participate next week. Bethany Jean over at My Saviour My King tagged me. Thanks Bethany!

I’m posting about Across the Wide River, the third novel in my historical series.

1: What is the working title of your book?
Across the Wide River

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’d written the rough draft of High on a Mountain, the first book in the MacLachlainn saga, and titles for three sequels came to me: Deep in the Valley, Across the Wide River, and On the Red Clay Hills. I didn’t know what the stories would be about, but all I need is a title and a keyboard in front of me, and a story will flow.

3: What genre does your book come under?
It’s historical fiction.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I rarely watch television or go to movies, so I’m totally unfamiliar with the current list of popular actors. However, since my most of the characters are Cherokee, I googled Native American actors and picked these (because of copyright constraints, I’m not posting photos of the actors, but links to photos if you’d care to check them out):

Yonvusdi MacLachlainn, the main character, would be played by Eric Schweig

Coinneach MacLachlainn, Yonvusdi’s uncle, would be played by Adam Beach

Wayaunega, Coinneach’s uncle, would be played by Wes Studi

Susanne Bertrand would be played by Michelle Trachtenberg

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A young boy loses his home when his father dies, and throughout his life, he wants to go home.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
It will soon be self-published (currently being edited).
7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I tried to write it during NaNo 2009, completed the 50,000 word challenge, but had not done the research necessary to make the historical part of the story accurate. When I began the research phase, I realized I had to throw out everything I’d written and start over again, which I did about a year ago. With all the interruptions I’ve experienced since I started over, it has taken me about a year to write the first draft (or second draft, if you count the discarded NaNo false start).

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
That’s a difficult question to answer. There are some elements in Yonvusdi’s childhood with his grandparents in the first part of the book that might be compared to “The Education of Little Tree.” But for the rest of it, which includes the Trail of Tears, for instance, I’m at a loss as to a book to compare it to.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
This is a continuation of the story of Ailean MacLachlainn’s family, and I was inspired to write Ailean’s story by the experience of the Scottish ancestor of a friend of mine.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
One event in the story is one some people have heard of but don’t know much about…the Trail of Tears. Although it’s a painful period in our nation’s history, we need to know what happened then. And I think there’s an inspiring lesson for those who study the history of those days…the Cherokee people suffered the loss of their ancestral lands and lost loved ones (it is estimated that at least 4,000 Cherokees died during The Removal to Oklahoma, and some put that figure as high as 6,000…..and that is out of a population of about 15,000 people). They experienced much hardship, but they didn’t give up. They overcame obstacles that might have destroyed a lesser people, and they survived and are thriving today, both in Oklahoma and North Carolina.

NOTE: The image at the beginning of this post is of the Cherokee Rose. The legend of the Cherokee Rose says that Cherokee mothers cried on the Trail of Tears, and the elders prayed for a sign that would lift the mothers’ spirits. The next day, a beautiful rose began to grow everywhere a mother’s tears fell. The petals were white, representing the mother’s tears, the center of the flower was gold, representing the gold taken from Cherokee lands, and there were seven leaves on each stem, representing the seven clans of the Cherokee. The Cherokee Rose grows wild along the route of the Trail of Tears.