Agitations of a Writer: Grammar, Content, and Dog Stealing

All writers and editors live in a constant state of frustration. Each and every blog, social media post, newspaper article, etc. are filled to the brim with incorrect grammatical phrases, punctuation errors, and badly written content that make us shake our collective heads. We usually grit our teeth and walk away, but today is not that day. My writer and editor friends will surely feel my pain, and I hope the rest of you get a kick out of the frustration that lives in the mind of a writer. Disclaimer: For you PETA-type people out there, don’t get your dander up. This post is not about dogs. If the subject was purple Chevys, I would have written the same thing.

I read the following letter on a forum a while back. As a writer, I’m agitated by the grammar. The more I look at it, the more I’m frustrated by the content. I copied and pasted it exactly as it appeared, and I have wasted my entire morning ripping it to shreds writing a blog about it.


found_collar_black2__33877.1362773206.1280.1280_2“I have a community question, that needs to be anonymous.

There is a dog running around my street that is severely malnourished, to the point that you can see every single bone in ther body, and they have other dogs in small pens in their backyard. I have gotten the one wondering in my back yard with a bowl of food and water. Where can I call that isn’t a high kill shelter? I believe the dog is considered an aggressive breed, but he is the sweetest thing ever.” – Anonymous Liker


While this letter is probably written by a good-deed doer, and I am all for rescuing neglected and abused animals, the post has many issues one simply cannot overlook. Grammar is the least of its problems.

“I have a community question, that needs to be anonymous.” 

There’s no need for a comma in this sentence. Why would a question need to be anonymous? Oh, you meant the person asking the question wishes to remain anonymous. Oh.

“There is a dog running around my street that is severely malnourished, to the point that you can see every single bone in ther body, and they have other dogs in small pens in their backyard.”  

Where does one even start? This is a run-on sentence with two topics – the dog and ‘they.’ “You can see every single bone” is an exaggeration. It is not possible to see every single bone unless you’ve dissected the dog, in which case we have another problem. We understand the dog is skinny, but this exaggeration leads us to believe that nothing else you’ve written here is completely true either. I’m going to ignore the “their” typo, but who is “they” in the last part of the sentence? I’m thinking you mean your neighbors? Wait! If you know this is your neighbor’s dog, why don’t you take him home? Hang on to that thought for a moment.

I have gotten the one wondering in my back yard with a bowl of food and water.

1005-alternate-1-440x400Is this a different dog? Do you have THIS dog in your possession? This sentence has me wondering how you knew this dog was wondering. Was he sitting on your back porch in the pose of The Thinker? Oh, you meant wandering, as in roaming around. Why didn’t you say so? Was he carrying a bowl of food and water with him? (…which would probably be TWO bowls, but that’s neither here nor there.) Did you mean YOU had the bowl (singular) of food and water? I’m so confused.

(photo credit: Rodin’s Thinker, National Gallery of Art, exhibiting how I’m feeling at this moment.)

Let’s continue…

“Where can I call that isn’t a high kill shelter?”

I understand the question, really, I do, but I don’t understand how over thirty people responded to the original post with phone numbers and names of shelters, and not one person noticed that the writer had STOLEN her neighbor’s dog. The wish to remain anonymous now makes more sense.

I’ll mention the obvious here. This was posted on a forum, using the Internet, which has “The Google” as my elderly friend calls it. Just look up a number.

There should be a dash between high and kill as this two-word adjective (see what I did there?) is describing the shelter.

“I believe the dog is considered an aggressive breed, but he is the sweetest thing ever.” 

Finally, a sentence written correctly, but after the exaggeration and the fact that you’ve stolen your neighbor’s dog, I’m not inclined to trust your judgment. I may want to imagine you sitting next to a malnourished Rottweiler, but what I envision is a busybody old lady with a dirty poodle on her lap.





Rooms Adorned Etsy Shop Coming Soon

facebookprofileIf you haven’t noticed, I pretty much took the entire year off from blogging and writing in 2017. I moved into a new home December 2016 and spent the year working on the house and getting the garden going.

In the meantime, I’ve also been working on two books and started a new “day job” with a national manufacturing company. Even though I’ve been busy, I’m still always looking for the next “thing.”

So, here it is…

I’ve always created all the artwork for every house I’ve ever lived in. I’ve painted, sponged, stenciled, tiled, and grouted my way around two states. Since I’ve been working on this new house, I realized I’m making more than I have room for, and I really enjoy creating it, so I decided to start selling my work on Etsy. My new shop is called Rooms Adorned. Make room for HAPPY! Everything is handmade. Everything is one-of-a-kind.

The grand opening will be April 1st!  Rooms Adorned

Below are a couple items that will be in the shop at the grand opening. Mark it on your calendar, and please stop by. April 1st! Bookmark the store Rooms Adorned.

I’ll post another blog before the grand opening and show you the inside of my art studio and lots more cute stuff!


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My Family Tree Held Together with Tape

I’ve been talking for years and years about painting a cool family tree in my house and putting family member’s pictures on it. I’ve researched trees, both stick-on vinyl types and painted ones. I’ve looked at wallpaper. I’ve investigated some artists. I’ve counted the number of ancestors I have pictures of and realized it needs to be a pretty big tree and will cost an arm and a leg to buy that many frames. I also realized that that many frames probably won’t fit on one wall. And for clarity, the pictures probably need to be all different sizes. I don’t know how to make this look good.

Planning how to put it together, I couldn’t make heads or tails of how to display the pictures. Mom’s family on one side and dad’s on the other? That’s logical. But we’re not just talking immediate family. I want to put most of the pictures I have, and that goes back to my 4th greats, not to mention the paintings of my family in the 1600s in England. Do I put grandparents lower and greats higher and so on? What if I have more on mom’s side than dad’s side? Also, I’m from Mississippi, so some of mom’s side intertwines with some of dad’s side. LOL.

After a whole year of staring at the blank wall in my office, one day I just grabbed a quart of paint, a handful of paintbrushes, and started painting.


tree 1The tree is about a foot wide at the bottom, so I started with a big, fat paint brush and some really scary black paint. I aimed for the middle of the wall, fighting with the corner of my desk that was too heavy for me to move. Next, I grabbed the next size smaller brush and started painting random branches. This is the point where my trophy husband came home from work, walked into the office, stared at the wall for a minute, shook his head, and walked out. Yeah, I know it doesn’t look that great, but just wait! I’m an artist. You have to trust me. Then again, he’s been here before. Poor guy.






tree 2Step two. I used a smaller paint brush to extend the branches and then another smaller one. Starting to look like a tree, no? A little skimpy, but still, a tree! It’s going to need to be a lot bigger than this for all my pictures. I’m thinking of taking it all the way to the ceiling and as wide as it’ll go.









tree 3Step three. I used even smaller brushes. The tree’s getting bigger. Of course I’m climbing across my desk and standing on a chair to reach this high, so I have to keep getting down and backing up to make sure it’s symmetrical. I don’t want it perfect, but I do want it to at least look like a healthy tree. My knees may be getting a little tired. Trophy husband’s also asking about dinner. Umm, I’m in the middle, you’ll have to order a pizza. Poor guy. But in my defense, he already knew we were having pizza when he came home and saw the beginning of the tree.







tree 4Step four is a smaller brush and a smaller brush. Need. More. Branches. My arm is getting tired now.












tree 5Step five is the smallest brush I could find, like one of those out of a paint-by-number box. I’m not sure the branches go as small as I want, but my next step would be to use a Sharpie. I don’t think trophy husband would approve, and I’m not sure you can re-paint over a Sharpie. Sounds like that might be a problem if this thing doesn’t turn out.

I stared at it for a while, wondering if I should make it even bigger, maybe take it across the ceiling. For art, that would be cool, but for a family tree, I don’t know how I’d put pictures up there. I decided to stick with the wall.





tree 6Step six. The next day, I randomly taped pictures to the wall to figure out how I wanted to display the photos I have. It’s kind of looking cool just doing it randomly.














tree finishedStep seven. After living with it for a couple days, I decided to stay random. I also decided to not frame anything. I like the freedom to add and move the pictures as needed. I used two rolls of cellophane tape.

So, there it is.

My family tree.

Painted by hand and held together with tape. That seems fairly philosophical.

There are over 9000 people in my family tree. Thankfully, most of them weren’t photographed.


Witch Dance

I’ve been working on a new book called Witch Dance. I went down to the real place and took this photo at a nearby location…

bynum mounds photo

Here’s what my amazing book designer came up with, using MY photo. He’s awesome.



Just south of Tupelo, Mississippi on the Natchez Trace lies a place of mystery called Witch Dance.

When Thomas and Margaret Speedwell took their twins to Witch Dance for a weekend camping trip, they never imagined they would be pulled into a vortex of witchcraft, tragedy, and karma. One of the girls goes missing; the other won’t say what happened on the other side of the hill.

The tragedy pulls together a cast of characters from Margaret’s childhood and beyond – Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians, Toltec ancestors, the extinct Hopewell tribe.

With the help of a childhood friend, a concerned newspaper reporter, and visions by a strange old woman, a two thousand year old mystery begins to unfold, uncovering missing children throughout generations. Who is taking them? Could it be the infamous witches of Witch Dance?


Here’s an unedited snippet…unedited being the key word there. You, my friends, are the very first to get a sneak peek! 🙂


Emily and Sarah squealed as they raced each other toward the pair of small hills that sat at the edge of a field. No tree or bush grew on top of the mounds. They were simply two barren knolls of smooth earth, offering neatly manicured grass and clear views of the surrounding land. These hills, historically known to be the ancestral burial grounds of the Hopewell Indians, are today known as the Bynum Mounds, a minor tourist attraction on the Natchez Trace Parkway.

The six-year-old girls raced to the hills as fast as their legs would run. This was nothing new. They raced everywhere. They’d done so since before they learned to walk, crawling faster and faster to beat the other to the prize at the end of the race. Born mere minutes apart, they held the typical sibling rivalry, vying against each other for the prized possession, the favorite toy, or the brightest crayon. But, their favorite competition was racing to the next spot, always endeavoring to be in the lead.

Margaret and Thomas Speedwell had driven down the Natchez Trace from Nashville for a long-overdue getaway with their girls. They arrived yesterday, excited for their weekend camping trip at a place just north of the Bynum Mounds—a campground called Witch Dance.

Witch Dance sounded like a fun place to spend the weekend. It sported an elaborate history, rumored to be the place where witches held their eerie rituals and ceremonies. Legend has it that witches danced around bonfires, and where their feet touched the ground, no grass ever grew again—even until this day. The sign at the entrance stating the legend about the witches was a popular place for souvenir photos by the people who frequented the site – families, ghost hunters, and the curious. The Speedwell family didn’t come down for a ghost hunting expedition. This weekend was simply a chance for Margaret, Thomas, and their girls to shed the stress of their everyday lives and have a little fun.

“I wish they wouldn’t run ahead like that,” Margaret grumbled from the parking lot.

“It’s okay. Let them run,” Thomas replied. “We can see them from here.”

Thomas sensed his wife’s tension, marked by a crease of concern peppering her forehead. He gently reached for her hand as they strolled from the parking lot toward the mounds, following their daughters. The lack of shrubbery and trees made it easy to keep an eye on the girls, but the clear line of sight didn’t help Margaret relax.

“But they always run; through the grocery store, the playground, the parking lot. I’ve scolded them a million times, but I can’t get them to stop racing, no matter the punishment for disobeying.”

Thomas squeezed her hand. “You should let them run as much as they want. Someday they’ll win medals in track or become world-class cross-country runners.” He chuckled softly, attempting to lighten her mood.

Margaret puckered her brow. Thomas knew his carefree tone of voice wasn’t going to make her concerns disappear. He knew she wanted her girls to be proper ladies, not sweaty athletes.

He felt her stiffen when they heard Emily shriek and they both watched the girls run up to the top of one of the hills.


Emily shrieked as Sarah grabbed the back of her pink shirt, attempting to catch up, but the material slipped from her fingers. Emily stretched her arm back for Sarah to grasp, and they both laughed as Sarah grabbed on and Emily pulled her forward. The curly-headed blondes crossed over the ridge on the top of the hill and began their descent down the other side when they suddenly stopped in their tracks, their eyes wide at the vision looming in front of them.

On a perfect late summer day with a clear blue sky and bright sunshine, a large cloud rested on the other side of the hill. Not a puffy white cloud—more like a menacing shadow. It slowly swirled and circled about a foot above the ground as if some imaginary wind was trying to create a tornado, but there was no wind, not even the slightest breeze. The shape and movement resembled the twister the girls had seen in the movie with Dorothy and Toto, but there was no dirt or debris or witches or houses in the vortex, just blackness.

The girls froze and squeezed each other’s hands. Emily wanted to scream, but she could only open and close her mouth like a fish washed up on a beach. No sound came. It was as if the shadow had sucked all the air out of her lungs. The black maelstrom quickly increased in size and volume as the whirling winds began to howl, starting first as a low hum and growing louder with each passing moment. The hum grew to an ominous sound, simultaneously emitting an ear-piercing shriek and a low agonizing moan. The girls instantaneously released each other’s hands and covered their ears against the painful sounds. The turbulence continued to expand, growing larger and larger as it moved closer to them.

Even with her hands over her ears, Emily thought she heard human voices mumbling something beneath the roar of wind. She narrowed her eyes and cocked her head as if doing so would make the voices clearer. She couldn’t take her eyes off the vortex, but she felt Sarah reach for her arm. Sarah took a step forward, trying to pull Emily forward with her, but Emily pulled back and Sarah’s fingers lost their grip. Emily didn’t want to go forward. As a matter of fact, everything in her gut told her to turn and run in the opposite direction. Run back to her mother, back to her father, back to safety. She sensed a great wickedness in the sight before them, something evil in the whirling darkness. She knew a malevolent presence lurked inside of the shadow. It watched them from the blackness, wanting them to come closer. Sarah grabbed a handful of Emily’s shirt and pulled harder. Emily pulled back again. She turned to run, the pink cotton material of her shirt, again, slipping from Sarah’s grasp. Emily ran back the way they had come as fast as her legs would carry her. She was certain Sarah would follow. Sarah always followed.

The moment she reached the top of the hill, the roaring stopped. The sound of the whirring, the voices, the wind instantly vanished. She saw her parents casually strolling, hand-in-hand, toward the hill. Why weren’t they running? Didn’t they hear the horrible tornado that almost devoured their children? Emily turned around to look for Sarah, but there was nothing behind her but the bright, sunny valley below. The tornado had vanished. There was no sound, no vortex, no Sarah.

Emily collapsed like a rag doll.

Stuckey’s Bridge on the Travel Channel

maxresdefaultThe Travel Channel has a show called Most Terrifying Places in America. They’ve been on for a couple seasons now, and they’ve finally gotten around to the most terrifying place I know of – Stuckey’s Bridge.




I was born in Meridian, Mississippi, near the bridge, and heard the creepy legend of the man locals refer to as Ole Man Stuckey my whole life.

Legend has it he was a member of the notorious Dalton Gang, but he was so evil, he was kicked out. He found his way to Lauderdale County, Mississippi where he opened an inn on the Chunky River.

At that time, the river was used to transport goods and produce down to the gulf. Ole Man Stuckey was known to pace the old bridge every evening at dusk, waving his lantern, and offering travelers a warm meal and a soft bed.

In 1901, the Virginia Bridge and Iron Company began rebuilding the 50-year-old wooden bridge. During the project, they discovered bodies buried on the banks.

The townsfolk were suspicious about the creepy man who ran the inn and rounded up a posse to go find him. The mob took him down to the bridge, tied a noose around his neck, and hung him from the new iron rails of the bridge.

His body dangled over the river for five days. When the sheriff cut him down, he splashed into the river below.

Strangely enough, the ghosts around Stuckey’s Bridge today don’t seem to be the victims. The ghost seems to be Ole Man Stuckey, himself. Unexplained lights are witnessed. Footsteps on the bridge and loud splashes into the water below are heard. An apparition of a man walking across the bridge, waving a lantern, is occasionally seen.

28277124_10156046534958326_2362995188662457275_nWe taped the episode for the show last week, and in typical Stuckey-style, there were a few strange occurrences while we were there. A couple phones when crazy for a few minutes. A drone used to take footage of the river and the bridge crashed. We all heard it splash into the water, but when we ran onto the bridge to look over the railing for it, we saw it up in a tree. I wonder what the splash was…

I’ve written three books about the legend (available at Amazon, click here). That’s why they asked me to participate in the show. It was fun to go back home for the day, and I loved being out there again. It’s a cool place and it was a beautiful spring day! I’m very grateful my part of the show was wrapped up before nightfall.



Here’s my cousin dressed up to play the part of Ole Man Stuckey! This picture was taken long after I skedaddled out of there by Stuckey Bridge Canoe and Kayak


Sweet Dreams…

Maury County’s Worst Christmas

This is where I live…right in my back yard. This Christmas day, we are blessed.

Historic Maury County

Maury County has seen many joyous Christmas seasons since its founding in 1807. With so many cheerful tales of Christmases past, it would be hard to single one year out as the best Christmas in local history.

But, one year is agreed upon as the worst Christmas Maury County has ever seen—Christmas 1864.

Frank H. Smith, in a special December 1904 edition of the Columbia Herald, wrote, “At this, the most prosperous Christmas tide that Maury County has ever known, it may be interesting to recall some incidents of this season forty years ago, the gloomiest and most depressing holidays our country ever had.”

SmithPhoto2 Frank H. Smith (third from the left) sits on the front porch of the Athenaeum Rectory with his siblings.

Why was this the “gloomiest and most depressing” Christmas? Simply, the Civil War was the cause of this county-wide depression.

After the fall of Atlanta, Confederate…

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Searching for Scandinavia

I finally did it! I had my DNA done for my ancestry quest. I knew most of it.

 Europe West 24%
 Scandinavia 21%
 Ireland/Scotland/Wales 20%
 Great Britain 14%
 Europe East 9%
 Iberian Peninsula 6%
Most of the family I’ve traced hail from England, Scotland, Ireland, and I assume a few snuck in there from France and Spain way back in the day, hence that small percentage from the Iberian Peninsula. But 21% Scandinavian?? I have no idea where that came from. Norway, Sweden, Denmark? No clue. Though “Viking Princess” suits me. 🙂
scandinavian woman
While I was searching, I ran across a new line I didn’t know I had. Apparently these folks were from Switzerland. Really? Where does that fit in?
A great great grandmother on my mother’s side was a Spencer, and a few generations before that, one of the Spencer wives was a Flournoy. I had never heard of these Flournoys and traced them back to their first entrance into the U.S. in the early 1700s.
My 8th great grandfather was Jean Jacques Fleurnois – in American – John James Flournoy. He came to Virginia in 1705 before sending for his family in 1717.
Name: Jacques Flournoy
Arrival Year: 1705
Arrival Place: Virginia
Source Publication Code: 613
Primary Immigrant: Flournoy, Jacques
Source Bibliography: BOCKSTRUCK, LLOYD DEWITT. “Naturalizations and Denizations in Colonial Virginia.” In National Genealogical Society Quarterly, vol. 73:2 (June 1985), pp. 109-116.
Page: 111
His son, my 7th great, John James Jr, was born in Geneva on 17 Nov 1686. He would have been about thirty years old when he arrived on the Virginia shores in 1717. He was son of Jacques Flournoy of Geneva and Julia Eyraud. He settled in Williamsburg where in 1720 he married Mary Elizabeth Williams, daughter of James Williams and widow of Orlando Jones. They set up house in Henrico County, VA and over the next nineteen years, they had about eleven children. Records say John James Jr. died in Henrico Co in 1739 at the age of 52.
He had a son named John born 1726 and died 1825, so the record below must have been his grandson and namesake. This would not be one of my direct ancestors but interesting none-the-less. The following is on file in the Archives Dept. State Library in Virginia.

Point of Fork, 18 Aug., 1783. I do certify that Jean Jacques Flournoy enlisted with me the first of Oct., 1782, in the Va. Contl. line, to serve three years, and was in actual service until the 22 of August following, at which time he died, and that he received only four months pay. Signed, Jacob Brown, Lieut. Quartermaster and Paymaster of the 1st Va. Regiment.

Thank you for your service, Sir, for our freedom, and for your ultimate sacrifice.

This an interesting web that will require more research.

Still haven’t found the Scandinavians!