Favorite #104: Recreational Vehicles

Snack time in the RV.

Snack time in the RV.

Making Friends and Memories

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to take a trip to Orlando, Fla. in an RV with my daughter, Kristin and her husband, Brian. Making the trip with us were Kristin and Brian’s two little boys, Carson and Garrett (seen in the photo) and Brian’s parents who own the RV. As this was my first time, I was a little nervous, but once the trip began everything was good.

Since my final destination was different than my daughter’s, I only spent one night in the RV, but that gave me enough time to wonder about the experiences others have had. Posting a question on Facebook, I was excited to see the responses and thought you might enjoy reading them, too.

Sue Richardson: We’ve met so many wonderful friends in our travels. There’s nothing like going all over the US in your motel on wheels. Wouldn’t stay in a motel/hotel ever again. I have everything I need to live easily the rest of my life. We belong to a small club and each person has so much respect and love for the other. We have been to so many places together, shared so many meals, seen so many places we wouldn’t have thought about without the club. We have been to St. Louis together and went up on the arch which scared me to death – I don’t like enclosed places-but got talked into it anyway. There were 5 of us in one small elevator with seats and I’m moaning all the way up and the others are reassuring me that all would be well. We made it!!! and it was spectacular and then we had to come down!!! I closed my eyes and prayed all the way down. Won’t try it again, but glad I did it that one time. We’re scheduled to go to Pigeon Forge this fall for the National Quartet Convention and of course we have someone setting up the activities that we will be going to. Then, spring of next year we’re going to Paducka Kentucky.

Peg Roberchek: I’ve never RVd, but spent a year living in a Ford Econoline van traveling all over the U.S.

Linda Morgan Bost: I could write a book on my experiences in my camper. I love sleeping on MY bed, putting my clothes directly into MY closet, and using MY dishes. I love being able to take my dog with me on vacation. I have experienced a hurricane, a flood, numerous lightning storms, and many other experiences. During a hurricane we had to move our camper six or seven times. After the flood waters passed all the campers came together to put the campground back into shape for the owners. The owners took us all out to eat at a nice restaurant. I cannot imagine how scary it was for the victims of Cherrystone Camping Resort during the tornado where three people were killed. We have stayed in that campground three times. I would love to go back. Can you imagine 725 sites in the middle of the summer when it was probably packed and a tornado comes through? The best memories of my life have happened while camping, with families coming together, eating a lot of food, biking, hiking, kayaking, shopping, celebrating holidays, birthdays, swimming and best of all the time spent with my husband. I LOVE CAMPING!!!

Stasea Morris: My fondest memory of riding in an RV was when I was about 7 years of age in1981. That is when my parents drove us from Oregon to Idaho. The best seat in the house was above the driver’s seat on the top bunk. We would pretend to be floating angels flying above our parents and would guide them by what obstacles we could see ahead! (Because they needed our help … right?)

Cyndi Allison: I’d rather have a root canal than camp. I do like everything except sleeping outside in a camper or tent.

Evelyn Looney: On our very first camping trip to Dan Nicholas Park, we were in an old green pop-up camper. There were 6 of us and it was a bit crowded. Matthew was maybe 7 years old. His sleeping bag was slick and he wedged into the side next to the canvas. We had locked the door and thought we were snug for the night. In the wee hours of morning, I heard a small voice pleading with me to let him in! I felt around in the dark and counted bodies twice.  Each time one little boy was missing. How could it be??? Matthew had slid out the side while sleeping and the elastic closed back up after dropping him out. Nice that no bears were roaming around.

Sue White: Camping is a great family time. Our two children grew up with us camping for family vacation or just getting away for a few days. It is a way to stay connected and enjoy the small/big things in God’s world. Now that our children have children, we enjoy just getting together, meeting new friends. We are not ones to go on long trips. NC has a lot of wonderful and beautiful places to see. Being grandparents and watching our grandchildren enjoy camping makes it that much more enjoyable as a family.

Sue Richardson said after reading the other stories, it reminded her of more adventures, so that’s why she’s included twice …

Sue Richardson: Our first RV was a pop-up camper. We went to Myrtle Beach, SC and it rained the first 3 days we were there, we were scheduled for 7 days. We packed up to head home, by the time we got to Conway, SC the sun came out, so we turned around and went back to the campground. When we got there we found out that a new RV had been drenched inside with water and our little pop-up had not let one drop in. Boy we felt superior!!!! We kept that pop-up for years and then graduated to a tag-a-long and now have a motor home. Nothing like camping and getting away from home and seeing the sights in your own hotel on wheels.

I hope you enjoyed reading these as much as I did and maybe they will inspire you to take a trip soon. Thanks everyone for sharing beautiful memories.

If you’d like to share your memories, leave a comment, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.





Favorite #103: TV Personality: Skipper Ed

Skipper Ed enjoying a visit from the Brownies.

Skipper Ed enjoying a visit from the Brownies.

Friend of the Children

Most children have some recollection of a favorite tv show they enjoyed as a kid. I have memories of the Mickey Mouse Club in the ’60′s with Annette Funicello as one of the featured child stars.

It wasn’t until several weeks ago that I learned children in the Jacksonville, Fla. area grew up during the ’60′s, ’70′s and ’80′s watching the Skipper Ed show. Although Skipper Ed’s daughter, Kelly Hain and I have been friends for about 8 years now, it wasn’t until she answered a question I posted on Facebook about dads, that I realized her dad, Edward McCullers. Jr. was famous.

Kelly said it was quite by accident her dad became a tv personality, hosting a kiddie show in Jacksonville, Florida. Hired at first for voice overs for commercials on NBC/TV affiliate WFGA, when the main character on an afternoon kiddie show became sick, Edward was asked to fill in. Acquiring a huge following, he eventually became host for the show and was given the name, Skipper Ed.

Girl Scouts, school groups and other children’s organizations participated in a televised segment of the program where they were first asked questions by Skipper Ed, followed by watching cartoons like Popeye and Pals. Televised live Saturday mornings at 8:00 and weekday afternoons at 4:00, at the end of each program, Skipper Ed signed off with his trademark phrase, “mind your manners.”

With an estimate of over 100,000 children on the show through the years, Kelly says even now when she goes back to Jacksonville from her home in NC, people come up to her and tell her how much it meant to them and how they remember, “mind your manners.” Some who were parents at the time said when their children were watching Skipper Ed they didn’t worry. Moms, especially, were grateful the show gave them time to fix supper.

Multi-talented, Skipper Ed not only hosted the children’s show, but also reported the news and interviewed celebrities such as Ginger Rogers and President Jimmy Carter. Even with all of his fame and recognition, he never forgot the children. A gentle soul who loved the youngest among us, Skipper Ed made a point to talk to them, making them feel important.

As a writer, it never ceases to amaze me the stories people are carrying around, hiding in their hearts. I’m glad Kelly took the time to answer the question on Facebook about her dad, sharing his memory with us. Not only would Skipper Ed be proud, but I know his fans will be, too.

To learn more about Skipper Ed, check out the following Salisbury Post link here. You can also Google the Skipper Ed show for more info, including past reunions. If growing up, you were a fan with memories to share, please leave a comment below.

Do you have memories of a favorite tv personality? Leave a comment, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.










Favorite # 102: New Hope Presbyterian Church

Being creative during author night event at New Hope Presbyterian Church.

Being creative during author night event at New Hope Presbyterian Church.

Community Outreach

It’s always heartwarming to see a church extend an arm of love and friendship into the community. It’s even more so when directed at children. New Hope Presbyterian Church in China Grove, NC has been hosting a number of programs for children the past year to show the love of Christ in a tangible way.

This outreach program started last year as a result of inviting children to Vacation Bible School. Victoria Byers, daughter of Pastor James Byers began going door to door in the community inviting children to come. With the church providing transportation as needed, the Vacation Bible School had such a great turn out, it grew into much more. Now, every Wednesday night there are activities for the children to do with different themes such as being a star for the week, a pine car derby (ending with a race), ice cream night and the most recent, book night with local authors.

Joy Roy, a member of the church and friend of mine, invited Marty Hartman and I, as local authors, to share our books and give tips on writing. Marty’s children’s book, The Adventures of Wally the Wheelchair teaches children about being happy with who they were made to be. My books also teach life lessons such as listening to your mom in Tired of My Bath.

The night of the presentations the children were divided into four groups with each group going to a different station. Marty and I were two of the stations, while making book marks and choosing a free book were the other two stations.

The children seemed to enjoy the planned activities, with some of the older children even asking questions about writing and publishing. At the end of the event, everyone was treated to an ice cream sundae. Joy says in addition to the themes each week, any child having a birthday that month is also treated to a cupcake.

After the event I had a chance to talk to Marty. He said he was impressed with the diversity of the children for such a small town as China Grove and was quite happy he could make use of the four years of Spanish he took in high school. He thought it was great a church such as New Hope is providing a place for children to have fun and fellowship each week. Joy said during the school year the children even get help with their homework. Wouldn’t it be awesome if more churches were providing programs such as this?

Congratulations, New Hope Presbyterian Church! For your efforts in reaching out to families in your community, you are my favorite place of the week. To learn more about New Hope and their programs, check out their website.

Do you know of a church in your community that is making a difference? Leave a comment, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.



Favorite #101: Freedom

 Freedom isn’t Only for People

Sweetie, enjoying a little attention from Mary Ann.

Sweetie, enjoying a little attention from Mary Ann.

The Fourth of July is always lots of fun with parades, picnics and celebrations. Last year  when asking the question what does freedom and the Fourth of July mean to you, the responses were as varied as the number of people answering. To me freedom means the opportunity to be who we were made to be.

Although we normally think in terms of people, recently I heard a story about a cow who not only has lived her entire life being who she was meant to be, but does it in such a sweet and gentle way, her owners have rewarded her by letting her roam freely in the pasture for the rest of her days.

I first heard about “Sweetie” when her owner, Mary Ann Moore called, saying she had a story idea. Intrigued to learn it was about her cow, I laughed and said, “Tell me more.”

Mary Ann explained “Sweetie” was an eighteen year old cow who acts more like family than a cow. Thinking there might be a story in there somewhere, I agreed to visit. Wanting her husband, Eric, to be a part of the conversation, she said she would call back with a day and time.

Sitting in the cool remodeled basement of Mary Ann and Eric’s home, as I looked around, I saw mementos of years gone by, including pictures of Sweetie. After we talked for a while, Mary Ann then began to explain about “Sweetie.” She said, “It’s not unusual for one of the cows on the farm to have a baby at any given time, but Sweetie’s birth was unusual because her mom was a young heifer.” Six-month-old heifers generally don’t get pregnant, but since she was given to the Moores as a gift, no one suspected until it was too late. Holding out little or no hope for the premature baby calf, when she was born, everyone knew it would take a miracle for her to survive.

Although Eric believes in miracles, he says it wasn’t a miracle that kept Sweetie alive, but Mary Ann’s mothering that did the trick. He believes Mary Ann willed that calf to live, bottle feeding her for months.

Giving her the name, “Sweetie,” because that’s exactly what she is, Mary Ann said, “Through the years she’s been more than just a cow, she’s almost like one of our family. She interacts with Eric and me when we’re outside and if I’m mowing, Sweetie walks alongside the fence wanting me to throw grass her way. When I call her by name, she always turns to look.”

Not only beating the odds of surviving when born, Sweetie has beat the odds in other ways too. Most cows usually have their last calf by the time they are 12 or 13, but Sweetie had her last one at 17. During her lifetime she’s had 3 sets of twins, along with 11 single births for a total of 17 calves. Now at the ripe old age of 18, Mary Ann said they let her roam freely, enjoying life. Pretty much the only rule they have for her is she can’t go near the bull.

Sweetie may not know or understand about freedom or relationships, but she’s one lucky cow because she pretty much has what everyone wants, which is to love and be loved, eat a little grain each day, have a barn to live in and freedom to come and go.

In the final analysis, Sweetie’s freedom isn’t really luck, but a family who cared enough to make it happen. It’s the same in the real world, freedom isn’t luck, but people caring enough to make it happen. Even if we can’t serve in the military, we can all do something. One of the most important “jobs” we’ll ever have is to educate the next generation, teaching them what’s gone before.

Thanks “Sweetie” for the lesson today. To learn more, check out Sweetie’s story in the Salisbury Post.

What does freedom mean to you and what traditions are you passing down? Leave a comment, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.






Favorite #100: Blogger, Adrienne Smith

Educating and Helping Others

Blogger, Adrienne Smith

Blogger, Adrienne Smith

After publishing my first children’s book in 2010, I was advised a smart career move would be to brand and promote my books through a website and a blog. The website was the easy part because my web designer did all the work. The hard part was the blog.

Although writing about my experiences as an author is important, I knew if that’s all I talked about, then I wouldn’t have many followers. Trying to find my special place in the blogging world, I discovered it quite by accident the first time I made a visit to Sweet Frog Yogurt. To be perfectly honest I didn’t like yogurt, so I was skeptical, but after taking one bite, I wasn’t skeptical anymore.That’s when it hit me. Since I write a human interest column for a local newspaper, the Salisbury Post, I thought why not carry that idea into my blog, choosing a favorite person, place or thing to write about each week. Writing about topics over the past two years from author, Hope Clark, to dentists, firemen, preschools and grandchildren, I’ve had a lot of fun deciding a favorite each week.

As with anything there’s always people along the way who have helped in the process of growth and maturity. My blog is no exception. This week my favorite person is Adrienne Smith, an author, blogger and teacher from Texas who was kind enough to take time out of her busy day a few weeks ago to give me advice.

Although I had been following Adrienne for about a year, even at times leaving comments on her blog, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I contacted her. After reviewing my blog, right away she noticed people were having to register to leave comments. Explaining that step could discourage comments from fans and followers, she shared through email how to correct the problem. Now that it’s easier to leave comments, I hope you’ll leave one today.

Adrienne’s an entrepreneur whose passion is to help others achieve success online, sharing what works best for her through writing about her own experiences. While she writes most of her blogs, this week she invited a number of experts to share their ideas about a wide range of topics from google to influencer marketing. As a subscriber, I find all of her tips helpful.

Thanks, Adrienne, not only for all your great tips, but for educating bloggers on what’s “hot” and what’s “not.”

What person or person(s) have been instrumental in helping you succeed with following your goals or dreams. Leave a comment, message on Facebook, Twitter or email at dicysm@yahoo.com.





Favorite #99: Preschools and Daycares

Learning and Growing

Having fun at Castles Daycare Academy

Having fun at Castles Daycare Academy

Earlier in my career as a kindergarten teacher, I was always appreciative of parents who understood the importance of readiness skills in the classroom. To develop these, parents often enrolled their child in a local preschool, where through play and hands-on activities they had opportunities to practice early literacy skills such as recognizing letters, sounds and basic sight words. While educational modules are an important component of the preschool experience, just as important is social and emotional development, with skills such as how to get along and be more independent part of that curriculum.

As a grandmother wearing a different hat today, I get to see firsthand what preschoolers are learning through the experiences of my three-year-old grandson, Carson. Excited to participate in the end-of-year program at Salem Lutheran Church Preschool, recently, Carson couldn’t wait for the big day. Having a theme of farm and farmers, the teachers made sure the children were dressed in appropriate gear of over-alls, straw hats and red bandanas. Singing and sometimes giggling throughout the performance, the children proudly showed off their accomplishments and knowledge. It was obvious from the response of the audience that everyone enjoyed the presentation, truly amazed at what the children had learned.

Although I enjoy my visits to Salem Lutheran Preschool as grandma, I also enjoy visiting other preschools as an author, reading and sharing my books. An especially interesting visit happened this past spring at Castles Day Care Academy in Charlotte, NC. Before I could do my presentation, the children surprised me by performing part of their normal morning routine, including the Pledge of Allegiance, Bible verses and songs. Amazed at their memorization skills, I was also amazed at their beautiful voices. The children sang, clapped, danced and rapped songs about the planets, days of the week, letters, sounds and numbers. I was so moved with the moment, I even joined in singing and clapping, This Little Light of Mine.

Although I started in education as a kindergarten teacher, I retired as a music teacher, so with that background, one of the things that impressed me most was how all the children, ages 2-5, were participating. Not only were they singing every word, but they were moving and dancing as well. Later, talking with Cynthia Knight, the owner of Castles Day Care Academy, she explained it’s easy to teach children concepts when music is a part of their learning process.

I wish public school teachers had the freedom to incorporate more of this “tool” into their day, but instead it seems there’s less and less time for music and the arts. With all the research that shows music and the arts help the development of the brain, you would think administrators would embrace them in their schools and communities, but with funding cuts they seem to be one of the first items to go. Hopefully, preschools will continue to lead the way by demonstrating in various ways such as performance and hands-on activities the importance in a child’s development.

Through the years, “believing a good foundation is what builds the house,” Cynthia has nurtured and taught over 500 children in the same location at Castles Day Care Academy on Barrington Drive in Charlotte. As I watched the children’s smiling faces that morning, I could understand why she doesn’t have to advertise because it was obvious her students are growing and learning, knowing they are loved, not only by Cynthia, but by everyone on her staff.

To read more about my visit to Castles Day Care Academy, check out this Salisbury Post link. If interested in learning more about the programs offered at the daycare, check out their website at www.castlesdaycare.com

Do you know of other preschools going above and beyond in teaching children, inspiring them through positive “tools” such as music? If so, leave a comment, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com








Favorite #98: Dads and Granddads

A lesson about nature from grandpa.

A lesson about nature from grandpa.


Sometimes it’s fun to ask a question on Facebook and see the response. This week I asked what is special about your dad and what are some of your favorite memories. The response was overwhelming and heart warming, to say the least. See if you don’t agree …

Sue: My dad took me to the drive-in when I was a teenager and we had a great time. The movie was “White Lightning,” starring Robert Mitchum. Another fun time was when my mom was in the hospital and it was up to my dad and I to cook the meals. One day Daddy wanted fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy. Well the fried chicken and mashed potatoes went along fine, but the gravy was another story. I had seen mother fix it, but was not sure of the amount of drippings, flour and water. I added the flour to the drippings and then the water, but it wasn’t enough. Daddy came in and added more flour, so then it was too thick, so I added more water. When all was said and done, we had enough gravy to serve all the Duke Power Plant employees, but even so, it was pretty good. My mother got a good laugh out of that story. (Growing up, Sue lived near Bucksteam Power Plant).

Joy: One of my favorite memories is eating ice cream in Dad’s convertible with the top down. I’ll never forget his face when he turned around to see us covered with ice cream!

Carol:I had been begging for a dog, so my favorite memory was the Saturday Dad and I loaded up in the Chevy Nova and drove to Landis to pick out a dalmatian puppy! I named her “Queenie” and loved her so much! She would ride on the Spencer Fire Dept. Fire trucks.

Jessie: My dad was a very busy man with work, but he never ever turned down a chance to play catch in the backyard with my brother and me. He played basketball with us all the time, even installing a light outside so that we could play into the wee hours.

Grace: My dad is a servant. Always wanting to help fix what needs it.

Leanne: Getting up before the sun to go deep sea fishing.

Lydia: My dad met NO stranger.

Betty: My daddy worked at Rowan Flour Mill in Cleveland, NC, and a part of his job was to go around to different stores taking orders for the flour. During the summer, he would let me occasionally go with him. At just about every store, he would buy me a piece of candy, a soft drink, or ice cream. It was a wonderful day spent “helping” my daddy!

Kelly: My daddy was on television for thirty years. He had lots of children on his local show. He believed good manners were extremely important. He’d always end his shows with the phrase, “Mind your manners.” He taught my brother and I how to be mannerly and to this day when people find out he is my dad, they’ll say something about “minding your manners.”

Janet: My daddy always brought me a pack of juicy fruit gum home with him after work. I would search his pockets and he’d say, not today and laugh. Bit it would be there!

Laura: My dad was an amazing man! He taught me so much about life. Looking back now I wish I would have paid more attention to the details. I was probably one of the few 5 yr. olds in Rowan County that could operate a backhoe!

Angela: My daddy taught me how to drive a stick shift on Mountain Rd. when I was about 13 years old! I grew up on that road and the part we lived on was dirt. One Sunday when we were getting ready for church, Dad and I got in the truck to ride up to the yield sign and back. I think we were trying to give my mom time to finish getting dressed. Anyway, I had on these little high heel Candies and when I turned the wheel to turn around, my foot slipped off the clutch and I threw a “doughnut” and scared the crap out of myself. My daddy thought that was the funniest thing ever! I was able to share that story with Vance, since we’re teaching him how to drive a stick shift!

Norma: There were five of us kids with 19 years between the oldest and the youngest, but my dad always found ways to spend special time with each of us. He played cards with us and often took us on individual motorcycle rides to see the ships at Port Canaveral, Fla. He built us wonderful playhouses that were so nice you could live in them. He made each of us feel valued and taught us how to value others. I remember him saying over and over, “Don’t’ sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff.” After serving in WWII and seeing the things he saw and enduring the things he endured, I imagine everything else was “small stuff.” I’m so thankful for the dad I had and more thankful because of Jesus I’ll spend eternity with him. Can’t wait for that day.

Connie: My dad always letting me put my little hand in his big hand when we would go to a new school or when I was afraid.

Sam: My dad came to see our eighth grade talent show. He was self-employed by that time, and he was always hesitant to take time away from his work, especially at 10:30 in the morning on a work day. But he took the time to come see our show. I’ve never forgotten it, and it’s one of my lasting memories of him.

Carson: Everything we did was special. Miss him so much.

Brenda: Everything was special. Miss his smile. Love you DAD and miss you!

Vickie: Being small, all the water skis were too big. I wanted to learn to water ski like all my cousins, so Dad made a pair for me! I had to wear a size bigger tennis shoe to keep them on, but I got up after a few tries. He worked so hard bending the wood over an old barrel with a fire in it! The skis were blue with a white stripe!

Sylvia: Always bringing chocolate home!

John: Dad would come home from work “dead tired,” but not too tired to chase four kids through the house with a balled up piece of aluminum foil for a game. He would toss it at us and hit us with it. Drove Mom crazy as she tried to cook supper.

Betsy: My dad equipped our old fiberglass rowboat with a little 20 hp. Mercury outboard motor and when he saw my sister and I trying to steer it sitting sideways, he decided to install cables and a steering wheel facing the bow so that we could be more comfortable. We had many fond memories of pretending we were race boat drivers, flying across the water in a hydroplane! Despite the fiberglass slivers and having to bail the rowboat out after a heavy rain, we loved that boat and took it out every chance we had. He kept the gas tank full and every summer made sure we had a blast on Lake Chautauqua. He built friends and neighborhood kids a huge raft so we could play King of the Mountain on the raft out past the dock as well. We were full time water bugs-day in and day out. Some of the best memories from growing up.

Robin: My trips with daddy when I was little and having coffee with him as I got older. I lost him to lung cancer in 2007.

Joyce: My dad had an antique car and loved to ride around in it. He let me drive it one time and I didn’t even know how to change gears! He loved to hunt-mostly rabbits. Took us to the beach every summer even though he had to stay covered up from the sun because he burned so badly.

Monica: His kindness towards all people. He was one of the most unselfish people I have ever known in my whole life. He had a heart of gold. Many people I already  knew told me this after he died. One good-hearted man!

Ginger: I have lots of good memories of my grandpa. He loved me and I loved him. Period! I remember going with Grandpa to the store and getting each of us a Little Debbie double decker oatmeal cookie. We’d eat it in the car and then he’d tell me not to tell Grandma because he wasn’t supposed to eat stuff like that. Of course, I didn’t tell. He was my buddy.

Lisa: My dad was a wonderful man! Always there for me and for anyone! I had a wonderful childhood because of this man. My dad loved to farm and loved his cows and loved to fish and taught us all about it. He still loves his wife of 60 years. My mom is now in a nursing home due to having a stroke almost 3 years ago. Even though Dad’s in the early stages of dementia, everyday someone takes him to the nursing home so he can sit with his wife. He has a heart of gold! I’m thankful for my dad who has taught me so many life long lessons.

Thanks so much to everyone for sharing their memories of their dad or granddad. If you would like to add yours to the list, leave a comment, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com






Favorite #97: Author, Hope Clark

Hope, enjoying a moment with her six-month-old dachshund, Winnie.

Hope, enjoying a moment with her six-month-old dachshund, Winnie.

Guest Blogger and Friend, C. Hope Clark

I first met Hope Clark when she was a clinician at a writing workshop I attended in Cleveland, NC, five years ago. Learning great tips from her about marketing and writing, since then, I follow her blog, subscribe to her newsletter, Funds for Writers, and value her opinion. Graciously accepting my invitation to be a guest blogger, in this post, she gives tips on development of a story.

The Easiest Way to Come Up With a Story

By C. Hope Clark

As I was creating this post for Dicy, I noticed the words at the top of her blog page: “she blogs about her favorite people, places, pets and things.” Many of you are readers, but some of you want to be writers, too. However, sometimes it’s difficult to come up with an idea . . . a really good idea. I’m about to make that easier for you. This idea might make you readers want to start writing, too.

Who are you writing about?

First, come up with a character. You can make her (or him) like someone you know, or you can just create a unique person who is pure fiction. Now, list her favorite people, places, pets and things, just like Dicy mentioned. Add to this list items like where she lives, where she goes to school, who her parents are, her hobbies, her favorite music. You get the idea. Create this person in every way possible. That list is long, isn’t it?

Sort your character’s likes.

Now, put these items in priority. Which are the most important to her? List her top three first. As for the rest on your list, if you like, you can just put them in three layers of importance in case you have like 50 things (numbering those in order would take you forever).

So, you have the top three people, places, pets or things she can’t do without. Next you have a high priority category containing a group that she almost can’t do without. And so on down to those of medium importance. She might be crazy about her pet dachshund, her little sister and her school. Or a guy might be fond of football, his Halo game, and the blonde girl who lives down the street. Or consider a girl who loves living at the beach, reading romance stories, and eating coconut milkshakes.

Oh, no!

Now . . . take those things away. How would she or he react? How would they feel? Who would they turn to? What if they could not find these things ever again? Or what journey would they have to undertake to get them back?

Then, when your character thinks she is making progress in fixing her original problem, take away two or three things from the next list. In doing this, you are shaking up her world again. It’s like losing your favorite friend, and another friend captures your interest instead. Then just as you settle in to liking this new friend, you lose her, too!

Your mind is exploding!

Your mind is now probably crammed with story ideas, a plot rolling out of your head. You can see your character going nuts, or maybe hiding her secret, or getting angry. She has a goal, a mission. It will not be easy, but she has no choice, because she just lost the three things she loves most. Then she lost the second two of three things she loves the most.

Now you have a story.

That’s how you write a good story. You create conflict and drag your character through all sorts of obstacles to reach the end. Wow, bet you have a story in your head right now. And the marvelous part of this exercise is that you learn more about your character, and by the end of the story, surprise . . . your character is wiser. And you will be, too.


C. Hope Clark is the author of the award-winning Carolina Slade Mystery Series, and the upcoming Edisto Beach Mystery Series. www.chopeclark.com She also educates writers through her website FundsforWriters.com, an award-winning site that reaches 40,000 readers each week. www.fundsforwriters.com . And she’s friends with Dicy.

Hope, thanks for being a guest blogger and for sharing your ideas about plot and character development. I definitely took notes and know others will, too.

For those of you who have been following my blog, leaving a comment has been made easier, so please leave your comments and thoughts about today’s blog. Otherwise, message me on Facebook, Twitter, or email at dicysm@yahoo.com.

Thanks, Dicy




Favorite #96: Overton Elementary School

Overton students technology savvy ...

Overton students technology savvy …

Leader in Technology

This past March I was invited as an author to career day at Overton Elementary School in Salisbury, NC. Setting up for my presentation, I was pleasantly surprised to learn Overton’s classrooms are some of the most technologically advanced classrooms in the state of North Carolina. Tech facilitator, Christopher Painter, while helping me set up, explained some of the innovations the students experience firsthand.

Mr. Painter proudly said, “Each classroom is equipped with an iPad cart, interactive whiteboard, iMacs, cameras and a verity of other tools, creating the opportunity for a truly innovative learning environment. The goal of these digital tools is to inspire innovation among our teachers and transform learning by leading the digital conversion. At the heart of the instructional design-model is the goal to embed foundational skills of LITERACY into all facets of what happens at Overton.

“One of the apps the students find most engaging is Tellagami. With this app, they are able to create a video and by customizing an avatar or character, explain with their voice a concept. They create the setting using photo editing and photo collage apps on their iPad, importing it as the background of their video. By doing this, students are creating an engaging product that builds literacy and promotes higher-order thinking skills.

“The variety of work students are doing is astounding. They literally walk around school with the internet in their hands, carrying their own personal music recording and video production studio, having access to more information than any other generation.”

Here are some of the reasons students and teachers at Overton like the innovative technology  …

1. I-pads can be used everyday for looking up things.

2. Makes good presentations for classroom projects.

3. Saves paper.

4. Technology helps with understanding “stuff” better. If I have a question, all I have to do is google.

5. You can make a video book.

6. Can make I-movies and not only choose the music, but record your voice.

Laura Zimmerman-Clark, a third-grade teacher, said, “I don’t have as many behavior problems with technology because it engages the kids. Learning is right at their finger tips. I especially like that Apple TV makes it where you can see each other’s work.”

Gone are the days where students are sitting in rows all day, pushing a pencil. With a one-to-one ratio of students to digital devices, they now have the ability to research from a much broader base. Although as an author, I still love books, and believe there will always be a place for books in the hands of a child, in order to reach the next generation, we must be open to new options.

Congratulations, Overton Elementary School!  Principal, Betty Tunks will be proud to know you are my favorite school of the week for leadership in innovative technology in the Rowan-Salisbury Schools. If interested in learning more about the technology program at Overton, click here.

Do you know of any schools or educators who have gone above and beyond, bravely leading students into the future? If so, leave a comment, message on Facebook, or email dicysm@yahoo.com









Favorite #95: Memorial Day

Photo by Wayne Agee, taken at Post 115 in Kannapolis, NC.

Photo by Wayne Agee, taken at Post 115 in Kannapolis, NC.

        A Time to Remember

Traditionally, Memorial Day is spent relaxing and having fun with  friends and family. While family time is important, President Clinton and Congress, in 1997, fearing the true meaning was getting lost among parties, picnics and parades, proposed a Moment of Remembrance. First suggested by the humanitarian group, “No Greater Love,” this moment has been observed for almost thirty years now at 3:00 on Memorial Day, with communities often playing “Taps,” at that time.

I have a special place in my heart for soldiers and their families because of the lessons learned from my dad. Even though I knew he served in the Army during WWII, it was only after his death eight years ago that I discovered he was in the 9th infantry. It was while looking through some old photo albums, that I found a newspaper clipping of an interview he did for a local newspaper, the Salisbury Post. In the article, Dad talked about landing on the beaches of Normandy. He said, “The Germans were shooting the fire out of us, until finally we broke through and made our way to Cherbourg.” Looking like a skeleton when the war was over, he weighed only 130 lbs on a 6′ frame, and yet he was one of the lucky ones because he made it home.

Senior Master Sergeant, Jim Fero, a member of my church and a retired military officer of the United States Air Force, found his own special way to honor the fallen soldier four years ago. The idea came after reading a list of names in the local newspaper. Wanting to share with others just how many were being lost each week, he asked if he could read the names at church during morning announcements. The congregation was so moved, the reading of the list has been ongoing ever since.  After names are read, prayers go up for the families. It’s been a blessing to hear the list grow shorter and shorter, with only one name read this past Sunday.

Wayne Agee, a retired veteran from the Navy, has also found a unique way not only to show respect, but to educate. Having a collection of military memorabilia, he shares his collection through displays at Legion Posts, including American Legion Post 115 in Kannapolis, NC and Richard’s Coffee Shop in Mooresville, NC. You may wonder why at Richard’s Coffee Shop, but this is appropriate because it’s a place where veterans hang out for encouragement and fellowship. To learn more about Richard’s Coffee Shop, check out a recent Salisbury Post story or their official website.

Although Jim and Wayne have found their own unique way of honoring the memory of the fallen solider, there are many other ways, including helping the families left behind, visiting veterans in the hospital, or donating items such as candy, toothpaste and deodorant to a local veterans hospital. One by one we can make a difference in the lives of those who served. After all, they made a difference in ours.

How does your family or community celebrate Memorial Day? Do you have a unique story? Leave a comment, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.