Tomorrow is Memorial Day; the day we stop to remember those who have died, especially those who gave their lives to protect our country. In addition to the soldiers, I have several people I remember each year.  I remember all of my grandparents and I remember my mommy. I remember some who lived full lives and some unborn babies that never had to suffer the cares of the world. All of this remembering started me thinking about the impact those people had on my life. I’ve led a precious life, one filled with people who demonstrated what God meant a Christian to be. I was given a sweet childhood. This was due largely to the Godly examples of my daddy and my two mothers; Mommy who died suddenly when I was ten, and my mom, the one who has been my mother now for three-fourths of my life.

This contemplation led me to another topic. One of the things I learned at the conference this month was the idea of branding yourself. What? As I type, I can hear my Nebraska ranch cousins questioning my sanity. Who, in their right mind would want to brand themselves? Well, it seems the serious writer does. The idea is that if you can take the essence of who you are and express it in a succinct catchy way, you can get past the part of the brain that weeds out information before it is absorbed into the decision making area, thereby catching the attention of the publishers and readers. Whew!

What is my brand, the essence of Miriam?  What makes me different and unique? What do I have to offer? At the very next meal, I had an idea handed to me by one of the speakers. After visiting for a few minutes she said, “You seem to be a pretty down-to-earth person.”

“Well,” I replied. “I guess I am.” Yes, that would describe me. Quirky also describes me. Since my life didn’t take the traditional track I’ve had an eclectic background. I have a  worldview based on Biblical principles. I’m optimistic; my husband says I always see what he calls, “the sliver lining.“ (No, I didn’t spell “sliver” wrong.)  I love to have fun and have a child-like sense of humor. Children and the elderly charm me. I am an aunt who has trained her nieces and nephews that when she is old they WILL bring her chocolate in the nursing home!  My youngest niece even calls me “Aunt ChocaMimMim.”  I am deliriously and thankfully a wife, finally!

As a brand that’s a bit lengthy. After all, it’s supposed to be narrowed down to a catchy phrase or word. Whoa! Anyone who knows me knows that’s a difficult task for me to accomplish. So, I’m asking for your help.  If you have an idea of what my brand is, comment here. I’d love to receive your input.

Tune in on Tuesday as I continue this post. It was just too many words for one day! J Until then, don’t forget those who gave their lives so we have the ability to share our thoughts freely.

Have you ever thought you knew yourself only to find out you had a basic misconception?  This happened to me last week at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference when Angela Hunt discussed how to use personality tests to help develop characters in a book.  She suggested using the Myers-Briggs Personality system to assign a personality to your characters, thus giving an outline of all of their traits.  This makes the characters more believable for your readers.

I found this idea captivating, partially because I am an analytical person and I enjoy evaluating my own and others personalities but I also could see the value of this idea in developing a series of children’s mysteries.  Part of the challenge with this second book is making sure my characters actions remain consistent with their driving motivations.  

One of the areas of the Myers-Briggs, Angela explained could be  described as “Pilers vs. Filers”.  She said you are either the kind of  person who is always organized or one who has piles everywhere.  My immediate thought, considering how my office and house looked at that point, was that I was definitely a piler.  So when I got back to my room I punched the four letters I had chosen into my google and up popped a site describing “my” personality.  However, it wasn’t exact.  It seemed a bit off.  So, I proceeded to find an online test and I took it.  That test, believe it or not, said I was NOT a piler, but rather a filer!  No way!

Then I thought about it.  Hum, maybe that’s why I always loved taking my syllabi in college and plugging all of the assignments into my planner, then checking them off as I finished.  I do like lists, I just don’t always follow through.  I love having a plan.  In fact, I insist on having a plan even if it has to change frequently. So my next thought was this. . . am I just an undisciplined filer?  If I am truly a filer, if this is who God made me to be then I should live that in my life.  I no longer can use the excuse, “oh that’s just the way I am.”  So, from now on I’m going to strive to focus on being who I am. . . an organized person!  I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂

Good Morning.  I can still say that now, but will I be done with this entry before it’s afternoon?  Doubtful.  Oh well!  As you know I recently attended the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference at Ridgecrest in NC.  It was awesome.  I learned so much my brain was swimming.  It still is!  I told my husband the first night that I needed to hook my brain to an external hard drive and down load everything I had learned so there would be room for more.  I also told him he would have to be my external hard drive but he said he wouldn’t remember it all. 🙂  Thank goodness for notes!

I didn’t find an editor dying to buy my second book but I was kind of glad.  What?  Did she just say that?  Yes, indeed!  I learned so much about revising and writing that I am just itching to get back into my book and make it better.  I also began to realize a plot issue at the end which was verified after I talked to my friend, Dana who just read it to her class.  So. . . I’ll be rewriting the end. 🙂  I did learn some valuable information that should help when I get it ready to go.

There are so many things I want to share with you.  One thing I learned is that a blogger should blog at least three times a week.  So, this isn’t a promise but it is certainly a notice.  I will be making every attempt to blog at least three times a week.  Let me know if you enjoy the blogs, if you have any suggestions, etc.

Finally!  Upon returning home I found something in my mail that just excited me beyond belief.  It was the certificate for the copyright on my book.  WOW!  That was an awesome way to start the post-conference time.  It’s already framed and ready to go on the wall.

So, for more updates about what I learned at the conference stay tuned!  Until next time, Good AFTERNOON!


I hope you noticed the blog posting I shared today from Rhonda Cratty.  Happy Birthday Sherlock Holmes!  Today is the date that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born, therefore it must be Sherlock Holmes birthday too.  I have another reason to celebrate.  Today is my niece Mandy’s birthday and she turned thirteen!  Fortunately for Aunt Miriam she woke early and emailed me.  Here is what her email said:
It’s my birthday!  It is 6:14 and I am still not completely awake.  Mom, still with her eyes closed on the couch, says, “Happy birthday.” It sounds more like she’s saying it in a dream.  I hope the rain will leave and my friend Scufflen will show up!  Scufflen is my squirrel.  He’s really sweet and likes potato chips.  Yesterday he let me get half a foot from him.  He sat there and ate a pine cone and watched me.  He is a great listener!  I can tell him anything at any speed or loudness and he won’t mind.  He’ll just eat and make a few squeaks now and then.  I found out something last week.  Squirrels would rather you talk and let them know you’re around than when you’re quiet. This is because that tells them you aren’t trying to sneak up on them. 
Bye, Mandy
I say it was fortunate because I had lost a day by working Thursday night, and I wasn’t expecting her birthday until tomorrow.  I would have felt like a terrible aunt if I’d forgotten.  My nieces and nephews are my muse.  When I was writing my first book they were the children in my head.  They were the voices that kept my book true.  Oh, I remember being a child but without their voices the book would have sounded like an adult telling about some children! 
Mandy is an aspiring author and is working on a chapter book as well as some children’s humorous stories.  She has more imagination in her little toenail than I have in all of my being.  Now that I live half way across the country it is wonderful that I have writing to connect me to her.  She, along with my other nieces and nephews have been reading the rough draft of my second book and are a valuable critique group.  They are noticing things I didn’t think children would (silly me) and finding gaps in my plot. 
So, while the rest of the world may be remembering today for Sherlock Holmes birthday, I’m remembering it for the fact that God gave me twelve nieces and nephews and today, most especially a niece named Mandy!

Flat Stanley came to visit this past weekend.  He arrived by mail, just like in the book, and we were so excited to see him.  My husband decided Flat Stanley needed the royal treatment!  So, he got the full tour.  Now, some of you may not be familiar with Flat Stanley so let me tell you a little about him.

Flat Stanley is a character from a children’s book.  In the book, Stanley is flattened by a bulletin board (I think that’s right) and he remains flat.  He isn’t killed, harmed in any way… he’s just… well, flat.  FLAT AS A PIECE OF PAPER.  So, his family puts him in an envelope and sends him off to California for vacation.

Now, I have to say, I have some nephews in particular that are quite jealous of this ability.  Especially Ben, the one who sent Flat Stanley to see me.  So, now you know who Flat Stanley is.  But why did he visit us?

Flat Stanley offers wonderful teaching and learning opportunities.  My nephew Ben wrote a letter (letter writing is an important skill) to ask us to show Stanley around our community, take a picture or two, and send him back.  When a class room full of Flat Stanley clones arrive back in Ben’s classroom they will have a wealth of information from all of the places they were sent!  I wish I was teaching elementary school just so I could do a Flat Stanley project!

Ben wrote the letter to me, but he added a note at the bottom.  “Show this to Uncle Bruce, too,” it said.  So I did and boy, did Uncle Bruce have a ball!  First, Uncle Bruce took a picture of Flat Stanley with a bag of grits.  Can’t get more Southern than that!  Then we took Stanley in the convertible downtown Newberry where he saw the opera house, the town square, the memorial, the book store (with Aunt Miriam’s book), an ice cream store and the Chamber of Commerce.  That evening we took Flat Stanley to Columbia, the state capital.  I even got to see some things I hadn’t seen before.  There is an amazing African-American memorial at the capital, as well as the Confederate Memorial and the capital itself.  The gardens around the capital are beautiful. For supper we took Flat Stanley to Maurice’s BBQ where we introduced him to mustard based BBQ.  Then it was off to Krispy Kream to see how they make their fantastic donuts.  We had to try some of course.

On Sunday Flat Stanley had his picture taken with Aunt Miriam at church, and on Monday he went to Newberry Hospital to visit one of Aunt Miriam’s friends.  All in all, I think Stanley enjoyed his visit.  I think though, Flat Stanley’s got the biggest kick out of his new uniform.  Uncle Bruce felt he needed a Confederate uniform so, yep, you guessed it!  Uncle Bruce designed one on the computer and Flat Stanley was mailed home in historic garb!

Thank you, Ben for sending Flat Stanley to visit and I sure hope that you get to come soon yourself!