Saturday, October 17, 2020

Easy-peasy Brainstorming #5 Ws + How #Perseverance

Looking for a quick-and-easy way to brainstorm? 

 Use the "5 Ws + How.


Good writers have a secret

I'd like to share with you.

Five friends will help you do your work,

They'll serve you well and never shirk:

    Where and When and What and Why,

    But most important, Who.

Once you know Who is "the star,"

Your story is begun.

Once you tell What happens,

The story's much more fun.

    And when you add, Where, When, and Why,

    Your story's almost done.

 Now read this quick example

Then give the friends a break.

You'll find that they are good and true,

You'll learn what they can do for you.

    Perhaps you'll write a story

    An editor will take!  

From YA edition, Writing Smarter, not Harder workbook

 * * *

One of my favorite ways to encourage myself (and others) to keep going when things get tough is to quote,  "One foot after the other, the little dog reached Dover."

I've never cared to go to Dover, but the little dog's perseverance in getting where he wanted to go intrigued me. Just for fun, I decided to brainstorm.

Who is the little dog? Who is he going to see? Who did he leave behind? Who, if anyone, accompanies him? Who sent him? Who is waiting for him to come?

What road does he take? What does he see along the way? What keeps him going?

When did he start? When does he expect to reach his destination?

Where did he come from? Where is he going? To see the Queen? The White Cliffs of Dover? The English Channel? Relatives?

Why did he start his journey? Why is he determined to put one foot after the other, even though his paws may get sore from traveling? Why didn't he hitch a ride on the back of a carriage and ride instead of walking?

How far is it from where he started his journey to where it will end? 

 Once these questions are answered, the story or article almost tells itself.

* * *

Mini-outline,  Sunday Suspicion (Juli Scott Mystery #7)

Who (star): Juli Scott, Junior in high school

What she wants: Some peace and quiet following her latest mystery.

When? Now. 

Where? Bellingham, Washington

WhyShe loves helping solve mysteries but after Mysterious Monday, Trouble on Tuesday, Wednesday Witness, Thursday Trials, and Friday Flight, followed by a frightful Saturday Scare, Julie and her Lunch Bunch friends need time to enjoy school, family, and church activities. 

How can this happen when anonymous threats lead to the most baffling mystery yet? 

Sunday Suspicion completes the Juli Scott Mystery series.

Sunday Suspicion (A Juli Scott Mystery Book 7) by [Colleen L. Reece] 

Available at 

Friday, October 2, 2020

How I Celebrated my 85th birthday #Beating the Blahs

Looking for ways to beat the blahs? Do something that makes you laugh, preferably at yourself.

I wrote a poem.

On a gray and foggy morn

Many years since I was born,

I looked into the dismal sky

And said, “Oh, dear, how can I

Do something cheery

And beat a day that's  dull and dreary?

“Yesterday my family came,

Cards and emails did the same.

More good friends are also due;

I need diversion until two.”


Then a bright idea struck,

No longer was I sad or stuck.

“Aha!" I cried. "At seventeen

I wrote a mystery book for teens.


“The perfect day to dig it out,

For I recall I had no doubt:

That it would sell, although my first.

(Ouch. 😘 Turned out to be my worst!)


So, “The Staircase Mystery” lured,

Although for months I only heard

“Not for us,” until one day

Fortune changed and smiled my way.

The book that I secretly claimed

Would put dear Nancy Drew to shame

Had brought a contract, and high praise!

After months, and years, and days.


I let out a joyful holler . . .

Then, “Eighteen hundred dollars?”

They want me to pay them money?

What a joke--but not so funny.


"It may as well be twice the fee . . .

Well, they won't get a cent from me."

So the manuscript lay hidden

For decades,’til at last, driven

By morning dark and dreary

I needed laughs to make me cheery.


It took so long to polish my poem, I decided to wait and read the manuscript after visiting with friends and taking a walk in the sunshine. Now my house is filled with gorgeous bouquets, cards, and many email greetings from wonderful friends.

 The story goes on . . .

So, I whiled away the hours.

As the story over-powered

Even amateurish writing

(For the story is  exciting ) 👮


Now the fog and gloom have lifted. 

I reached THE END and feel I'm gifted 

By the story done at night

In the rays of pale lamplight. (A kerosene lamp. We had no electricity.)


* * *

Gifted? In spite of all the book’s flaws? Yes. Why?

The rest of the story.

I was close to tears. “All that time I spent writing. Wasted.”

Dad put it in perspective. “Not at all, Colleen. It taught you a lot. By persisting, you wrote a full-length book [190 double-spaced typed pages.] You had a wonderful time. You created characters, a plot with lots of action, and a believable setting.  Readers knew in the first paragraph what the boys wanted. You continued to submit even though no one bought your novel. Those things will all help you when you write other books.”

He chuckled. “You also have some great chapter titles. My favorites are ‘The Cave of Horrors’ and ‘The Spook Cruise.’ They are intriguing without giving away the contents."

Dad was right. My first book-writing experience, even the false flattery from the vanity press (I hadn't known such places existed) that praised the book (!) proved valuable.

The full story of this incident, including excerpts from The Staircase Mystery plus the acceptance letter, are included in Lamplight to Limelight: Journey of Joy. The title traces my often-rocky road to authorship from dreaming of becoming an author to the fulfillment of my dream and contains timeless writing tips learned along the way.

It includes a bonus book, Countdown to Christmas.

Luke 2:16 tells us that after the angels announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds in the field, the shepherds “came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.”

Their gift was joyful adoration that the long-awaited Messiah had come. They worshiped Jesus, then went forth to spread the good tidings.

Our greatest gift is to welcome Jesus into our hearts and homes every day of the year.

Award-winning authors Colleen L. Reece and Julie Reece-DeMarco present heart-warming stories and suggestions for activities designed to bring families closer to our Lord and one another while preparing for Christmas during Advent.

 Both titles also available on Kindle. 

Countdown to Christmas

Books available at



Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Rocky Road to Authorship #Perseverance #Learn from Others



Have too many rejections plus well-meaning friends discouraging you until you are ready to trash your computer and throw away your pens and paper? If so, read on. 

Emile Loring, the author from whom I learned the most about writing, dedicated one of her 50  books to a friend who helped her on "the rocky road to authorship." Knowing that she struggled made us sisters in the craft. It encouraged me to "keep on keeping on" when mountain-sized boulders blocked the way. If my role model refused to quit when the going became tough, so would I.

It helped that some of her heroines were or wanted to be authors. I shared their triumphs and learned from their mistakes. 

Lucy Maud Montgomery, is the author of the beloved Anne of Green Gables series, a poignant look into the life of a young girl with big dreams. The Emily of New Moon stories are even more so. I just finished re-reading the trilogy and heartily recommend to any writer seeking encouragement. Published in 1925-27, the titles tug at the heartstrings and bring peals of laughter.

It seems that everything the eleven-year-old orphan does is wrong. Emily Byrd Starr can get in trouble with her Aunt Elizabeth, the rest of the clan, and their hidebound community without trying. Chief among Emily's "offenses," is her burning desire to write and one day become an author. Much of the stories are told in first person diary entries. Note: I normally don't care for either first person or too-long diary entries, but the writing and plot transcend my aversion.

When Emily is fourteen, she longs to go on to high school. Aunt Elizabeth agrees--but at a terrible cost. Emily must give up her "insane desire to write" except for school work. Emily cannot do this, but finally compromises. She may still write poetry but nothing that isn't actual truth. No more stories created in her fertile brain. The best she can do is jot down plot and character ideas and save until she finishes high school. It is like cutting out part of her heart to not write fiction, but there is no other way to get an education.

Although filled with excitement, humor, gossip, school doings, misunderstandings, persecution, friends and enemies, and at last romance, the books most vividly portray the struggles of a girl who will let nothing stand in the way of realizing her dream. Success comes years later but only after a kindly old man finds Emily's novel in the attic long after she stopped submitting it, He stuffs it in a cracker box and sends it to a publisher Emily never dared approach. He does not include return postage for fear that doing so will encourage them to reject his beloved Emily' book.

The publisher loves the book. Folks who formerly scoffed at the idea of an upstart thinking she could ever become an author does a complete turn around when the book proves a success.

A different way of life, a different era. Yet feelings and dreams of those who cannot quench the desire and feel compelled  to write remain the same. Thank you, Emily, for persisting.



Emily of New Moon books

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Recipe for Reaching Readers #Blogging Benefits #Marketing #Writing to Inspire and Entertain

 Want to reach readers the easy way? Read on.

Four years ago, a marketing expert author friend set me up with a blog. I wondered if anyone would read it. A few days later, I discovered that 70 persons had visited the site.
Reece's Ramblings has now had almost 16,000 visits--over 300 last month alone. People are reading what I have to say. Teasers appear on my Amazon Author Page. 
The benefits of blogging are numerous.
When the pandemic struck, man found it difficult to concentrate on writing. Creating short, inspirational blog posts help others and ourselves. The response to my recent post on overcoming fear confirms the crying need for encouragement.
An article reminiscing about my many years as school secretary in my home town of Darrington, Washington, brought a flood of comments from old friends. Many came from student office girls in a program I created in the 1960s. What joy to reconnect with those young women who went on to use the skills learned in high school throughout their careers and lives.
Another "looking back" post concerned the success of our small, but scrappy basketball team's phenomenal success (winning tournaments) and brought a wave of special memories. Such as the swish of the basketball through the net as the final buzzer sounded that won the Darrington Loggers yet another state tournament.

Tips, tricks and shortcuts I learned during my 40+ years as a full-time author (as well as countless mistakes--ouch) help struggling writers "keep on keeping on." . A former logger's daughter from a town that grew trees, not authors, I held fast my dream--although only getting serious about writing at age 40.* This offers an example in persistence to those who are discouraged and ready to give up. Some have gone on to find a pot of gold at the end of their rainbow.  

The beauty of blogging? Freedom to choose

  • We are free to write what we wish. No editorial restrictions except those we  impose on ourselves.
  • We can include memories, current events, opinions, significant quotes, helpful advice, humor, inspiration, and a gazillion other things.
  • We can feature others. I periodically interview fellow authors.
  • We can target a specific audience, such as children, families, writers, business persons, or present a wide variety of material from many genres. (I do.)
  •  We can illustrate with book covers and free illustrations. 
  • Blogging connects us with others. This is especially important while we are grounded. First, COVID-19, now dangerous air quality from fires spewing smoke across the miles require us to remain inside. 
  * * *
If you don't have a blog, consider creating one. Choose a title that identifies contents, and an attractive illustration. Reece's Ramblings promises a kaleidoscope of posts. The photo is of White Horse Mountain near Darrington. The scripture reflects my faith in God and love for His Creation. The plaid shirt and baseball cap indicate simplicity.
Some consider blogging a chore or too time-consuming. I  consider it a way to help make this sometimes-crazy world a little better place by encouraging others. 

Lamplight to Limelight by [Colleen L. Reece]

   *Story of writing career appears in recently issued Lamplight to Limelight: Journey of Joy. 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Fear Not #Overcoming Fear

Having trouble driving out fear in the midst of the present crisis? Consider this.

According to an ancient legend, an old man met Pestilence when it drew near a certain city. 
"How many lives will you take?" the old man asked. 

Pestilence named a number.

When Pestilence had done its worst,  the old man accosted it as it left the city. "You said you would only take _____ many lives," he cried. "Instead, you took ten, nay, a hundred times that many!"

"Not so," Pestilence said. "I took what I promised. Fear took the rest."

* * *

Fear is one of life's most insidious enemies. It sneaks up on us when we are least expecting it, silently does its work, and leaves us emotionally crippled. We cannot keep fear from coming, any more than we can keep birds from flying over our heads. We can, however, refuse to allow them to take up permanent residence there. Fear should be treated the same. It may not be easy, but the alternative is living in perpetual dread of what is happening, or what may happen.

Franklin D. Roosevelt in the midst of the Great Depression encouragad Americans:

* * *

One of my favorite scenes from the story Pollyanna, is when she tells the minister that the Bible has over 600 "happy" texts, such as "Rejoice and be glad." She adds that her father taught her it had to be important for it to be there so many times.

I haven't counted the verses. I also haven't counted how often the Bible tells us not to be afraid, but according to those who have:

I have no magic formula to erase fear from my life. I do, however, rely on teachings instilled in me in childhood. 

1. Consider and face the very worst thing that can happen.
2. Refuse to dwell on it ahead of time, agonizing over what may never take place.
3. Think of the best possible outcome.
4. Accept that whatever comes is part of life and move on as quickly as possible. Fill my mind and life with positive thoughts and actions.
5 Tune out gloom and doom. Take one day at a time.
6. Take control of those things I can control, decisions as small as deciding what time to get up. what to eat and when, which outfit to put on so the gal in the mirror looks cheerful, when and where to take my daily walk.
7. Encourage those facing harder struggles than mine. 

One of my favorite anonymous sayings is: 

Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered... - Daily Effective Prayer |  Facebook\

My prayer for you is that you may be given strength to overcome fear and find joy, peace, love, and moments of happiness even in these uncertain days.

Isaiah 41:10: Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Double the pleasure #Two-story books #Money-savers

Remember the old Wrigley's Doublemint ad? "Double your pleasure. Double your fun."

Two-story books can double your pleasure, fun, and save you money. If you have books too short for stand-alone titles, consider combining. Two of my most recent titles do this and are earning great reviews.

The "Remembrance" Book: Two Heart-warming Family Stories by [Colleen L. Reece]  The Book of Remembrance: Two Heart-warming Family Stories for readers of all ages

Laura Ingalls Wilder, beloved author of the Little House books, said, “If I had a remembrance book, I'd write about . . . Pa and Mr. Hanson and how they walked and looked and talked and how we wondered what they said.”

Join Carol (Colleen) and her family on a 3500- mile Vagabond Summer driving trip. Encounter car trouble, a bear, two parades, a prairie dog town, lions roaring in the night, and much more.

Wishbooks and Promises brighten the family’s lives, along with their wonderful lamp, a mysterious friend for Carol, an uncle’s desperate prayer, and Carol’s daring plan to get a bicycle when her parents cannot afford to buy her one..

Chapters shows God’s loving care and can be used for bed-time reading or as part of family devotions.

Lamplight to Limelight: Journey of Joy

The new paperback edition of Lamplight to Limelight: Journey of Joy (Kindle single) includes a bonus book. 

A small girl’s vow: “Someday I am going to write a book.” A seemingly impossible dream. A town that grows trees, not authors. A determined child.

A 17-year-old’s decision: “I am going to write a book this summer.” A turning point. Typing by kerosene lamplight.

A 40-year-old’s decision: “I am going to start a book now.” A heart-breaking beginning. A lesson learned. A window opens.

An 84-year-old woman’s promise: “I shall continue writing books.”

Join logger’s daughter Colleen L. Reece (165+ books, six million copies sold) as she relives her often rocky road to “someday.” Decades of laughter and tears, heartache and rejoicing, sustained by faith and the assurance she was called to write.

Bonus Book.  Countdown to Christmas: Making Holidays Meaningful

Luke 2:16 tells us that after the angels announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds in the field, the shepherds “came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” Their gift was joyful adoration that the long-awaited Messiah had come. They worshiped Jesus, then went forth to spread the good tidings. Our greatest gift is to welcome Jesus into our hearts and homes every day of the year.

Award-winning authors Colleen L. Reece and Julie Reece-DeMarco present heart-warming stories and suggestions for activities designed to bring families closer to our Lord and one another while preparing for Christmas during Advent.

Author page