Monday, November 26, 2018

#Giving Tuesday: Use Your Head and Your Heart for Giving, End Alzheimer's

Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story blog.

Focused on Story by J.Q. Rose
What is Giving Tuesday?
Giving Tuesday #GivingTuesday is on Tuesday, November 26, 2018.  According to Wikipedia Giving Tuesday is always the Tuesday after the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. This movement "was created as an international day of charitable giving at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season. Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a response to commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season."

When I think of giving to an organization, I assume the gift would be a monetary donation. But according to the Giving Tuesday website, a person can also give of their time, goods, and their voice. 
End Alzheimer's Disease
Today I'm using my voice through my blog to bring awareness to fight Alzheimer's Disease, "the only cause of death in the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented, slowed or cured", according to I'm sure you have known someone in your family or a dear friend who suffered from this disease. You have seen him or her deteriorate because AD has ravaged their brain. So many of those who lost a loved one because of this disease remark that they lost the person way before death took the victim.

The Alzheimer's Association states that "Alzheimer's is an epidemic worldwide." Click here to read the facts that back up this statement. 

The Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s® is the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.  Click here if you would like to join a team in your area to participate in the next walk.

I lost my friend and mentor to AD. I hated to see how she suffered and how her family and friends felt helpless to comfort her or make her better. 
Deadly Undertaking by J.Q. Rose
Paranormal romantic suspense

A handsome detective, 
a shadow man, and a murder victim
 kill Lauren’s plan for a simple life.

I wanted to raise awareness of the disease, so I included a character suffering from AD in my romantic suspense novel, Deadly Undertaking. She is the mother of the main character and plays an important part in the story.

I have pledged to donate the royalties from the October through December sales of this book to fight Alzheimer's Disease. But you don't have to buy my book to donate money or offer your time and voice to this organization. Please help any way you can.

Thank you. I hope this blog post has raised your awareness and concern about this disease.

Use Your Head and Your Heart for Giving
Giving is a good thing, but not everyone who is asking you to give is good. Scammers will try to take advantage of kind hearts. It's important you use your head as well as your heart to make a wise decision to support an organization that will make the best use of your dollars. So, please, whatever charity or person you choose to support, talk to your friends about it or research online to make sure the money or time you give will be used toward actually making a difference in their stated mission.

I use Charity Navigator to find out about groups. I especially like to know what percent of the monies donated are spent on administration fees. 

Other sites recommended by the "New York Times" are GuideStar and BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Click the highlighted names of the sites to research charities and help make your choice no matter what time of year you wish to make donations.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Thanksgiving Quotes from a Bear and a Wise Person, Happy Thanksgiving from J.Q. Rose

Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story blog. Can you feel the buzz in the air as we prepare for Thanksgiving? 

Enjoy a couple of quotes from some very wise people, er, one bear and one very wise person. 

Bountiful harvest


Squash on your Thanksgiving table this year?



The Psalm of Thanksgiving

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving
from J.Q. Rose

You may know that President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. But who was the woman who convinced him to do it?? Check it out at my publisher's blog, Books We Love Insiders blog. Click here to find another trivia question for Thanksgiving Day fun.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The 5 W's in Story: Sandy Carlson's Tales of the Lost Schooner, Giveaway

The 5 W's of Stories
Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story blog. We continue with the popular series, The 5 W's in Storytelling. Guest authors tell us about the who, what, where, when and why in their stories. This week our guest is multi-talented author, Sandy Carlson. She's a Michigan writer, like me, so we have become friends online. Today she is sharing one of her books based on Michigan history written for middle-grade readers. Her thorough research of the times is evident in her book slipping in information about Michigan, so while the kids are reading and being entertained, by ghost stories in today's book, they are learning history too!

Giveaway: Please leave a comment to enter the drawing for a chance to win a paperback copy of the book to a winner within the United States or an eBook to a winner outside of the US. Deadline for entry is 10:00 pm ET, Sunday, November 18.

Hi Sandy! Welcome. I've taken my Dramamine so I can sail the Great Lakes on the schooner with you!

Tales of the Lost Schooner by Sandy Carlson
Historical fiction ghost stories set in the mid-1800’s

Thanks for inviting me to your blog. Hello to all who’ve dropped by to visit. Today I am sending out the 5-W’s of my middle-grade historical fiction novel, Tales of the Lost Schooner.

In the mid-19th century, 12-year-old Honor Sullivan finds himself and his two younger sisters as street urchins, abandoned by their mother. They decide to join The Orphan Train, taking children off the streets of New York to the frontier “out west” for a better life.

Before getting on the train to their final destination, Honor is shanghaied to work aboard a schooner. He keeps planning on jumping ship (if only he knew how to swim) to reunite with his sisters. He knows the town destination is Dowagiac and is in Michigan, but that’s all. 

The story starts on the streets of New York City. Then we follow Honor on the schooner, The City of Cheektowaga, from Detroit and around Michigan’s lower peninsula to near the southern tip of Lake Michigan.


1854, to be more precise.

Honor needs to find his sisters, make sure they are safe and placed out in good homes.

To keep him from missing them so much, a shipmate tells true ghost stories from around the Great Lakes as they pass those very spots. (The reader also learns a lot of history of early shipping on the Great Lakes.)

If you’d like to leave a comment about how you deal with missing loved ones, please share. Thank you for visiting. Remember any comment will enter you in the drawing.

Tales of the Lost Schooner by Sandy Carlson
for Middle-Grade Readers

Back of the Book: 

The schooner’s captain pulled 12-year-old Honor Sullivan apart from the other orphans. Captain Klaus claimed he needed a strong lad like Honor for a sister he didn’t even have. But Honor has a sister – two of them. The last he’d seen of their fuzzy red heads was the end of September 1854, as they headed down the ship’s plank for the Orphan Train, going off to be placed out with a new family.

Tricked by the captain, and sailing around Michigan’s Mitten, Honor learns the ropes and duties of a sailor. He passes the time aboard down in the dark hold, listening to Old Salty’s tales of shipwrecks and ghosts. The stories won’t distract him for long, though. As soon as he can, Honor plans to abandon ship and go in search of his sisters.

Buy Link: Amazon

About Sandy:
Sandy grew up boating on the Great Lakes. She loves and appreciates each of the five in their unique ways. She also grew up telling ghost stories to her siblings, cousins and friends. Among other places,
Author Sandy Carlson
she’s lived in Cleveland, in Buffalo, in Wisconsin, and in Michigan – a state with 3,126 miles of freshwater coastline.

Filled with the wonder of history, longing adventure on the inland seas and loving story-telling, she’ll be a’tellin’ stories until the day she dies, me maties.

Click here to visit Sandy online at her blog.

GOOD NEWS: Dr. Bob Rich is offering a FREE BOOK EDIT for the winner in his current contest. I'm thrilled to discover my entry, Looking Through Rose-colored Glasses, made the short list! You can read the 1000 word submission along with the other entries at his blog, Bobbing Around. Click here to see the 10 entries. Vote for 3 of your favorites. Deadline for voting is December 23. Thank you.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Veterans Day: Thank You for Your Service, Veteran Stan Hampton!

Summer Travelogue Series
Please note: Originally published on the J.Q. Rose Blog in 2015, but I feel this story of a veteran who served in Kuwait and Iraq is perfect for Veterans Day. Thanks, Stan.

Hello and welcome to the most unusual travelogue you've ever experienced. Meet Stan Hampton,  full-blooded Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to thirteen wonderful grandchildren, multi-genre author, published photographer, and photojournalist. This man of many talents also served in the U.S. Army. Today he takes us behind-the-scenes during his deployment in Kuwait and Iraq, 2006-2007. 

I'm afraid you won't get tips on where-to-go for a great meal or what tour companies to use for sight-seeing. Stan said, "O
ther than three missions into Iraq, or going further south into Kuwait to a big camp, most of my time 'in Iraq' was working and watching DVDs or listening to music in my tent." Join Sergeant First Class Stan Hampton as he experienced his tour through pictures and stories.

Learn more about Stan and his books after the "travelogue."

# # # #

A Soldier's Tour in Kuwait and Iraq with Sergeant First Class Stan Hampton

            It used to be that a journey began with the words, “All aboard! Tickets please, tickets!”
            Then journeys began with, “For the safety briefing, please direct your attention to the stewardess closest to you.” (Or words to that effect.)
            My most memorable journey began on a hot, humid day in southern Mississippi as I and other Soldiers watched a large airplane being loaded with some 400-600 duffel bags (average weight 40-50 pounds each), to be followed by us (some 300 Soldiers) with full backpacks and individual weapons.
            To back up for a moment, the Coalition Forces in Iraq were supplied in great part by logistics (supply) convoys escorted by gun trucks that rumbled out of Kuwait all hours of the day and night. A Wisconsin Army National Guard field artillery battalion was given such a Security Force, SECFOR, mission. They were short of personnel; Cavalry volunteers from Nevada and Arizona, and volunteers from Maine, stood up Company A, and supplied a few individual Soldiers to the other companies.
            Our destination, after two months of pre-deployment training in Mississippi, was Convoy Support Center (CSC) Navistar, a mile south of the Iraqi border. Convoys bound for Iraq picked up gun truck escorts, and convoys coming out dropped off their escorts. During the coming year many Soldiers would spend six months or more escorting logistics convoys on the most dangerous roads in the world.
All aboard!

            Mississippi, July 2006 – someone (I claim it was not I) after watching the loading of the aircraft and as we prepared to board, announced with some trepidation, “That thing better have some big b***s to get us off the ground.” We refueled in Maine, but less than hour over the Atlantic we had to turn back due to a maintenance problem—but that is another story.
Dust storm

            First Dust Storm, 2006 – the average 130-135 degree heat was unbelievable. There are no photographs or video that gets across that feeling to those who did not deploy. People saw the first eerie dusty tendrils stretching toward us from the west, and a lot of people rushed outside to get photographs of this first dust storm. It sure wasn’t our last.
First mission

            First Mission, September 2006 – aside from insurgent activity (which I never experienced), traffic accidents were a common hazard during these convoys. After taking the driver of an 18-wheeler to the medical clinic at CSC Cedar, located off of Main Supply Route Tampa, after such an accident, the gun truck I rode in returned to help with security as the pair of damaged vehicles were recovered. It felt a little strange to be carrying a real weapon with real ammo, and ready to use it. By the way, I was 52 years old when I deployed. This mission lasted from shortly before midnight until after dawn, and I slept for close to 10 hours after returning to Navistar. War is definitely for the young.
Homw away from home

            December 31, 2006 – noteworthy not for the event, but for where I was; a desert with a 3,000+ year old history. Here is my air conditioned corner of home. It was also the first time I heard gunfire in celebration of New Year’s. The night sky over the Iraqi village a mile away was lit up like a curtain of World War II anti-aircraft fire.
American Soldiers are the greatest tourists.

            Doing the Tourist Thing, 2007 – someone once claimed that American Soldiers were the greatest tourists there are. Based on the number of film and digital cameras, and cell phones in use, I believe it. Long story short, after escorting some asphalt trucks to a small plant in Iraq, we checked on the progress of the “Bitumen Road” under construction, and visited a Persian Gulf War battlefield littered with Iraqi tanks taken out by A-10 ground support aircraft. I am carrying a replica 1863 Cavalry guidon; whenever I went into Iraq I carried guidons, Army bears, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) shoulder patches (the parent unit of our Nevada Cavalry squadron), and 11th ACR pins, that I mailed, with letters, to my children and grandchildren. Not long after this photo was taken, Iraqi Police showed up from a nearby post. Talk about the OK Corral! But, after several tense moments of armed Americans and Iraqis facing one another, all ended peacefully—but that is another story.
Camp Virginia

            Camp Virginia, 2007 – the Iraqis and Kuwaitis wanted the border crossing near Navistar for trade/economic reasons, so as soon as the Bitumen Road was completed, we had to move. In May. Two months before we were to leave Kuwait. Air conditioned tents look the same no matter where you go, but Camp Virginia was like a vast desert metropolis compared to the little hamlet of Navistar.
Company Headquarters Building

            The Front Porch, 2007 – the porch of our Company Headquarters building. And another sand/dust storm. Once, after a long storm, I entered the large mess hall (dining facility), and I could barely see the opposite end of the huge interior. The dust hanging in the air was that thick. Breakfast still tasted good, though a little crunchy!
the Great Ziggurat of Ur (Talil Air Base)

            The Birthplace of Writing, June 2007 – my original enlistment was up in October, and I wanted more time to think about staying in the Guard. So what better place for a writer to do a one-year extension, than the Great Ziggurat of Ur (Talil Air Base) in ancient Sumeria, where writing was invented? This was after the ceremony. Italian food followed shortly afterwards.
Going home

            Going Home, July 2007 – there are no words to describe “The Day” of loading duffel bags, and waiting for buses to take us to Ali Al Salem Air Base. That night, with gun truck escort, we were driven to Kuwait City to catch a midnight flight home.
Ft. Lewis, Washington

            Fort Lewis, Washington, July 2007 – and there are no words to describe the smell of rain in the air, the smell of trees and green grass, and hearing real trees rustling in the wind. Or the caress of the cool night air. Or the feeling of being at the end of the deployment.
Back home

            Home, July 2007 – after demobilization processing we flew back to Las Vegas. A pair of old buses, escorted by siren-blaring police cars, carried us from McCarran Airport all the way down the Strip to the Armory on the north side of Las Vegas, where families and friends waited.
            By necessity, I have omitted a lot of details, including feelings of loneliness, looking forward to mail, holidays with an extended Soldier family and friends, dinner at an Italian place surrounded by tall blast walls (in case of mortar or rocket attack) at Talil, and the emotional shock and grief about fellow Soldiers Killed In Action and Wounded In Action.

            So, this is my travelogue from 2006-2007.
# # # #
Mainstream Military Fiction
Better Than a Rabbit's Foot by S.S. Hampton
Back Cover:
Sergeant Jerry Stanton is a young soldier serving in the War in Iraq. He is a gunner on a gun truck nicknamed “Lucky Bear,” one of those tireless workhorses that escort supply convoys from camps in Kuwait to destinations scattered throughout the war-torn country. In the early morning hours before a scheduled mission, a dust storm howls across his camp and threatens to bring convoy operations to a halt. Worse, the camp receives word that a gunner from his company was killed by an IED while on a convoy mission in Iraq. Unlike most soldiers, Jerry doesn’t carry a lucky charm, but upon receiving news of the death of the gunner, he begins to mull over the merit of a good luck charm—only, what would work for him? Perhaps mail call will provide the answer.
Read an excerpt from Better Than a Rabbit's Foot at MuseItUp Publishing
# # # #
Author Stan Hampton
Stan Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, and a published photographer and photojournalist. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class;he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007) with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.

            He has had two solo photographic exhibitions and curated a third. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.
            As of April 2014, after being in a 2-year Veterans Administration program for Homeless Veterans, Hampton is officially no longer a homeless Iraq War veteran.
            In May 2014 he graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. A future goal is to study for a degree in archaeology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology (and also learning to paint). He is currently studying in a double major in Art and Creative Writing at University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
            After over 14 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters.
# # # #
Hampton can be found online at:

# # # #

Thank you for your service, Stan. I was certainly enlightened by your account of your experiences in Kuwait and Iraq. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Insecure Writers Support Group: Stretching My Creative Muscles, Dr. Bob Rich's Free Book Edit Contest

IWSG Badge
IWSG Blog Hop---the first Wednesday of every Month.

Hello and welcome to the Insecure Writer's Support Group Blog Hop! It's my pleasure to share co-hosting duties this month with these awesome bloggers. 

Click on the co-host's name to take you to her site. Please like, comment and/or share.

What is the Insecure Writer's Support Group?

Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database, articles and tips, a monthly blog posting, a Facebook and Instagram group, Twitter, and a monthly newsletter. To find out more, click this link: 
 Insecure Writer’s Support Group

The purpose of the group is 
* to share and encourage. 
* Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. 
* Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. 
*It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! 

You're invited to become a member of this supportive group. Click here to sign-up to join.

November 7 question (optional)
How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?

I was in a pretty creative job before I started my writing career--floral designer. My husband and I owned and operated our full-service flower shop, greenhouse, and garden center business for almost 20 years. When I got home after work, I had not one ounce of creativity left in me. 

I didn't start writing seriously until we sold the shop. Seriously--meaning writing for money. I wrote freelance articles using mycreativity to develop a story from the facts. But after several years of "just the facts, ma'am" I yearned to stretch my non-fiction muscles into writing fun, made-up stories with quirky characters and situations.

Luckily, I have enjoyed publishing fiction for readers through a traditional publisher as well as continuing to write non-fiction eBooks as an indie author. The self-publishing side has led me to formatting eBooks and creating book covers. (You know, the best advice is to have a professional design the book cover and I agree. But I do have fun playing around with making them too.) 

I enjoy using canva to use my photos and royalty free photos and videos from Pixabay and Pexels to design graphics for my blog and social media. I can spend hours fussing over the right color, the right font, the right mood. I re-discovered the fun of Photofunia just recently. Not too much creativity needed for that, just silly fooling around. Loved the Halloween selections. Here are a couple of "fun photos" they offer.
Autumn bookmark

Happy Halloween greeting--used for my author FB photo
Do you enjoy taking photos? Please leave a comment below. Thank you.

Now I look forward to visiting other participating bloggers. I'm sure there are a lot of creative blog posts in this group. 

Use the list below to meet new bloggers and re-connect with old friends

GOOD NEWS: Dr. Bob Rich is offering a FREE BOOK EDIT for the winner in his current contest. I'm thrilled to discover my entry, Looking Through Rose-colored Glasses, made the short list! You can read the 1000 word submission along with the other entries at his blog, Bobbing Around. Click here to see the 10 entries. Vote for 3 of your favorites. Deadline for voting is December 23.

COMING UP on the Focused on Story Blog

The Five W's Guest Author Event
You're invited to share the who, what, where, when and why of your story on this blog.
Contact me for more information.

November 14--Guest author Sandy Carlson shares the Five W's in her MG tale, The Tales of the Lost Schooner.

Tales of the Lost Schooner by Sandy Carlson

Mother's Day Excerpt from Arranging a Dream, Happy Mother's Day, Working Moms

YouTube VIDEO: Mother's Day Excerpt from Arranging a Dream Hello and welcome! I wanted to pop in to wish you moms, grandmoms and those w...