They’re All Uncertain Times

Events of the last week prompted me to write about uncertain times for today’s blog post. It soon occurred to me that all times are uncertain because we cannot see into the future.

We tend to think the time we’re living in is more unpredictable than any other time, but if you’ll stop and think about it, you might see that life is and always has been full of doubts, worries, and stress. The unknown can do that to you.

I think about the uncertain times my known ancestors lived through:

English-speaking Lowland Scots being taken into the Gaelic-speaking Kintyre Peninsula in the southwest of Scotland to be tenant farmers in the 1600s and being required to attend a church where only Gaelic was spoken;

Scottish immigrants crossing the Atlantic and settling in the Carolina backcountry/wilderness in the 1760s; and

Those Scottish immigrants facing the American Revolution and not knowing what the outcome would be.

On December 23, 1776, in “The Crisis,” Thomas Paine wrote the following:

“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”

My ancestors lived through those times. The deaths of my Morrison great-great-great-great-grandparents during the American Revolutionary War left my great-great-great-grandfather orphaned at the age of nine. He and his siblings were cared for thereafter by his uncles and their wives, but it must have been more than frightening.

Then came the following trying times:

War of 1812;

American Civil War;

Reconstruction Era in The American South;

My maternal great-grandmother’s death in childbirth in 1881;

My paternal great-grandfather’s accidental death while felling a tree for lumber to build a kitchen in 1886;

Spanish-American War;

World War I;

The Great Depression;

My paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather both dying as young adults;

World War II;

Korean War; and

Illnesses and epidemics.

Living in the age of modern medicine and miracle drugs, it’s difficult for most of us to empathize with our ancestors who lived with the possibility of dying or watching their children die of typhoid fever, tetanus, flux, or polio.

When the Salk polio vaccine became available in the late 1950s, I did not fully appreciate what it meant to my parents. For me, as a child, I just remember our family going to the gymnasium lobby at Harrisburg High School on three Sunday afternoon after church to get an oral vaccine on a sugar cube.

The 1960s and years since have brought the following times of uncertainty:

Vietnam War;

Civil Rights Movement in the United States;

Numerous wars in the Middle East;

Rumors of more wars;

Terrorism; and

Incompetency and recklessness in The White House. (Don’t blame me; I didn’t vote for him!)

All of my ancestors down through my grandparents were farmers. I can’t imagine a life full of more uncertainties than one in which one’s livelihood is at the mercy of the weather.

I believe that God created the world with everything we need to not only survive but thrive. Human beings have brought on many uncertainties by not being good stewards of the world that God has entrusted to us – its animals and natural resources. Come to think of it, we have created most of the uncertainties ourselves – war, poor planning, poor agricultural practices, greed, and envy.

Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, volcanoes, and wildfires happen, but even many floods and wildfires are caused by man’s carelessness.

I attended two funerals in less than 48 hours last week. One was expected after a long battle with cancer, but the other one was quite sudden. Life is full of uncertainties.

Reviewing some of the events and hardships my ancestors faced, and the things I’ve witnessed in my 64 years has helped me put recent events and concerns in perspective.

The sun comes up. The sun goes down. The world keeps spinning around and revolving around the sun. What an amazing world!

simon-hesthaven-216108 (2)
Photo by Simon Hesthaven on Unsplash


Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading Killers of the Flower Moon:  The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann and Among the Living by Jonathan Rabb.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have lots of productive writing time.


Words That Give Me Trouble


Writing keeps me humble. There are words I worry about now in my writing that I used to not be concerned about. Since I’ve claimed aloud to be a writer, I feel the spotlight on all my written words. Sometimes I come up short.

Memory and Age

Memory and age begin to take a toll. Words that I used to spell or remember the definition of without a second thought now fall into the “need to look it up” category. Some words I’ve thought to be synonymous aren’t quite equal when examined. I continually learn of words I have used incorrectly all my life. It happens often enough that I’m losing my confidence.

Mark Nichol’s list

After creating an account on StumbleUpon last week, I stumbled upon Mark Nichol’s article, “50 Problem Words and Phrases” In today’s blog post, I’ll share a few examples of words that give me trouble.

  1. Compare to / compare with – Compare to implies only similarity; whereas, compare with   implies similarity and contrast.
  2. Each other / one another – Use one another when more than two are involved. (Who knew?)
  3. Jealousy / envy – If I am jealous of you, I resent your having something. If I envy you, I   covet something you have. (I’ve didn’t realize there was a difference until reading Mr. Nichol’s article cited above.)
  4. Since / because – As stated by Mr. Nichol in his article, “Informally, these terms are  interchangeable, but in formal writing, since should be used only to refer to time.” (This one from Mr. Nichol’s article was new to me, too.)
  5. Transcript / transcription – Mr. Nichol stated, “A transcript is a thing; a transcription is the process of creating it.” (I know I’ve been guilty of using “transcription” when I  should have written “transcript.”

I need to keep Mark Nichol’s list of “50 Problem Words and Phrases” handy as I’m writing. The more I read about the sometimes subtle nuances of words, the less confident I am in my writing.


Self-Editing The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina

I’m having flashbacks of the days when I had to follow the 1,000+-page gold standard of American English, The Chicago Manual of Style, as I self-edited the manuscript for my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.* That’s when I began to realize that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.


Writing keeps me humble.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. (Among other things, I’m reading Camino Island, by John Grisham.)

If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time and a better memory than I have for spelling and proper word usage.


*Shameless Plug:  In case you haven’t purchased a copy of my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, please look for it at any independent bookstore. If it’s not on the shelf, please request it. If that doesn’t work, you can order it from


Extreme Abbreviation



Today I’m giving you a glimpse of what I deal with on a daily basis while I attempt to be a writer. No one told me I would have days like this back in 2001 when I took that fiction writing course.


I received an e-mail from LinkedIn. It mentioned “productivity bots.” I Googled that, since I didn’t know what it was. In addition to being the larva of the botfly, a bot can be an app that performs an automated task. I even heard bots mentioned in a recent U.S. Senate hearing. They’re everywhere! They’re everywhere!


On May 9 I received an e-mail from Hootsuite’s Global Webinar Team. The headline was, “Prove the ROI of Your Social Strategy Tuesday, May 23, 2017 11am PT/2pm ET.” Nowhere did the e-mail explain what ROI is, so I “Googled” it and learned that ROI is Return on Investment.

I suppose anyone who didn’t already know that didn’t need to register for the webinar. Or perhaps I should register. Maybe I would learn how my minimal financial investment in social media is translating into readers and followers. Or maybe not.

Lead Gen Tips

Someone followed me on Twitter. His profile said he offers “lead gen tips.” I had to Google that, too, because I didn’t have clue what it meant. Since my search brought up 10,800,000 results, I must be the last person on Earth to know that “lead gen tips” is short for “lead generation tips.” With that knowledge, I knew a little more than I had before, but not much.

The “lead gen tips” Google results had titles that contained words and phrases such as “The Best,” “A Complete Guide,” “30 Actionable,” and “63 Lead Generation Strategies.”

That last one came from a person or company called Marketing Wizdom. I don’t know about you, but I’m leery of people who deliberately misspell words in a company’s name or elsewhere. I became aware of the dangers in this years ago when my sister was a literacy tutor. It’s inconsiderate to people who are struggling to learn English or who are learning to read to misspell words. But I digress.

Other search results included the following:  “30 … Tips & Tricks,” “32 Clever,” “Best… Tips and Tricks,” “4 Tips,” “5 … Tips,” and “10 Tips.”

That was just on the first screen. I stopped there.

I couldn’t help but notice that all the websites listed above got the memo but the last one. That was the memo saying you’ll get more hits if you don’t put “10” in your blog post title.

When I got to the bottom of the screen, I noticed that one of the “Searches related to lead gen tips” was “lead generation definition.” Now we’re getting somewhere! I clicked on that and the definition that appeared in the little box on the screen stated, “the action or process of identifying and cultivating potential customers for a business’s products or services.” Okay. Now I understand “lead gen tips.”

Extreme Abbreviation

Something else I understand is that I will never be able to keep up with today’s business and computer jargon. I’ll keep trying, though. Just like taking shorthand in high school (yes, I’m that old!) ruined my handwriting, I’m afraid texting has resulted in extreme abbreviation in all forms of communication. (Is “extreme abbreviation” a term, or did I just coin it?)

If you liked today’s blog post, I invite you to read my May 9, 2017 post, What is a Conversion Habit and Do I Need One?

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah, for Monday’s book club meeting while I’m trying to finish reading Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees. I’m also reading World of Toil and Strife, by Peter N. Moore, for research purposes. I’m also still reading The Source, by James A. Michener, when I have time. At this rate, it will take me a year to read the entire book!

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time and don’t have to spend as much time as I do using search engines to translate abbreviations and jargon.


P.S.  I think all the images I’ve included in my blog posts until today were photographs I had taken. I discovered a free stock photo website,, a couple of days ago. Today’s image is from that site and was taken by Pim Chu of Thailand.

11 Things I’ve Learned about Social Media since February 21, 2017

Certain social media platforms continue to be the bane of my existence. My February 21 blog post was 5 things I learned about Social Media this weekend. I continue to learn things. Some are more useful than others. Here are 11 things I’ve learned about social media since that earlier blog post.

  1. The first word in my blog post title is the most important word, as far as Google is concerned. (“11” probably isn’t the best choice, although I’ve read that it’s better than using “10.”)
  2. I need to use long-tail keywords in my blog post title, within the post, and also in subheadings. (I had to Google “long-tail keywords.”)
  3. Long-tail keywords are a targeted search phrase of three or more words. An example is “How to write a” or “How to get to.” These are the type of things that will bring your post up on page one of a Google search. Most people don’t move on to page two. (Since I’m still learning the craft of writing, I can’t very well title a blog post, “How to Write. . .” anything.)
  4. For $9.99 per month I can pay (an Amazon company) to tell me how people are finding my website and blog. That’s not in my budget. (I think I’ll just keep relying on WordPress analytics.)
  5. The “block” feature on Twitter comes in handy when creepy-sounding people follow me. (I think I’ve blocked three people so far.)
  6. One of those social media intricacies is “avatar.” Why can’t we just call our ideal reader an ideal reader? There is too much terminology springing from social media. (Yes, I am officially too old to be using this stuff!)
  7. With a free account, will send out automatic weekly “Thanks for following me” Tweets; however, those Tweets include a flashy advertisement for That was embarrassing!  This seemed to continue even after I went into the website and deactivated this feature which I admit I should have be aware of when I signed up. In order to prevent the ads, you have to upgrade to a business account, which is pricey for someone in my situation. I’m still trying to determine how to best manage social media.
  8. isn’t working out for me so far. Since I majored in political science in college, the site automatically sends me government questions. Since it has been 40 years since I was in a political science class and since my interests lie more in the realm of the craft of writing today, I wish they’d send me questions (and answers) about writing.
  9. A few of my pins on my “Novel in Progress:  The Spanish Coin” board on Pinterest have been repinned by others, which is encouraging. (I hope they remember me when my novel gets published!)
  10. I read that the best times to Tweet are Monday through Thursday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Reading this on a Thursday night was not as helpful as it would have been on Monday morning. (It seems like this recommendation would depend on where in the world you live, but what do I know?)
  11. (And this is a constant) The more time I have to spend learning the intricacies of social media, the less time I have to read good books and work on my writing. (Actually, I learned this before February 21, but it deserves to be repeated.)

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. (I just finished reading The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, by Jennifer Ryan, and I highly recommend it!)


The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, by Jennifer Ryan

If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.

If you like my blog, please share it on social media by using the icons below. I would appreciate it.




11 Things I’ve Learned about Writing

A blogging tip

A blogging tip I read last year was that a blog post titled “11 Things. . .” will attract more readers than one whose title starts with “10 Things. . .” so that’s what I’ve started doing. I’ve been writing about 11 things I’ve learned about a different subject each month.

I worked on my list of 11 things I’ve learned about writing a couple of months ago. I easily came up with nine things. I forgot to look at that list again until last night. My sister asked me what my blog post was going to be about. When I told her it was supposed to be 11 things I’ve learned about writing but I only had nine things on my list, she said, “I guess you have two more things to learn about writing!” We laughed, and I knew I had to work her quick comeback into the post.

Funny as her response was, I realized that I don’t have two more things to learn about writing. I have 2,000 or 2,000,000 more things to learn about the craft! There will always be something to learn about writing.

11 things I’ve learned about writing

  1. Mine will never be good enough.
  2. Since it is unlikely that my writing will ever measure up to that of the great writers, I should compare my writing today to my writing of yesterday and always look for improvement.
  3. If I wait until my novel manuscript is perfect, it will never be published.
  4. If no one ever reads my southern historical novel manuscript whose working title is The Spanish Coin, I must remember that my efforts were not wasted because I had a blast doing the research and the writing!
  5. There are many rules a novice fiction writer must follow, but established authors don’t have to always abide by those rules.
  6. Have your second novel well underway before you start trying to get your first one published.
  7. To be a good writer, you must be an avid reader of good writing.
  8. There is always room for improvement, so eventually you have to stop editing your work, submit it, and move on to the next project.
  9. Books about the craft of writing don’t all agree on the fine points of writing, so at some point you must rely on your gut and what feels right to you.
  10. Some days words come easier than on other days.
  11. Writing is hard work.

Until my next blog post

Until my next blog post, I hope you have a good book to read. If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.


11 Things I’ve Learned about Grammar & Spelling

  1. Everyday is an adjective. (Spell-check wants me to change “everyday” to two words. Don’t trust spell-check.)
  2. Every day is a noun.
  3. Spell-check cannot be trusted when it comes to possessive tense. It thinks every “s” should be preceded by an apostrophe. (Pet peeve alert!)
  4. Anytime is an adverb that means “at any time.” Anytime is sometimes a subordinating conjunction. When used as the latter, it generally means “every time that.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives 1926 as the year the word “anytime” came into general use. It is not found in The Oxford Dictionary.
  5. Any time must be two words when used in an adverbial phrase, such as “at any time” because “at” must be followed by a noun or a noun phrase. (Okay. I admit it. I’m lost!) Bottom line: When in doubt, use “any time.”
  6. When you have placed an apostrophe after a noun that ends in an “s” for more than 50 years, it is difficult to adopt the new practice of adding an apostrophe and an “s” in such cases.
  7. The Chicago Manual of Style is an excellent 1,000-plus-page grammar guide. It will confirm that you know how to write while simultaneously confounding you and teaching you that you haven’t mastered grammar after all.
  8. After being taught that “President” is always capitalized when naming the president of the United States of America, I learned the hard way while editing my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, for Arcadia Publishing in 2014 that The Chicago Manual of Style demands a lower case “p.” I had to swallow my pride and write “president Andrew Jackson” and president Franklin D. Roosevelt” in my postcard book. The new lower case rule will never look correct to me!
  9. The older I get, the less confident I am about spelling.
  10. I’ve learned more about punctuation by studying the craft of writing in my middle age than I learned in school.
  11. As demonstrated by The Chicago Manual of Style, there are way too many grammar and punctuation rules for the English language! I have, no doubt, broken a dozen of those rules in this list of 11 items.


Until my next blog post, I hope you have a good book to read. (***Shameless book promotion alert!***  Have you read The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina? Ask for it at your favorite bookstore, or order it from Amazon.) If you are a writer, I wish you productive writing time.


Twitter:  @janetmorrisonbk

Facebook:  Janet Morrison, Writer

Pinterest: (I have boards on writing, blogging, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Great Smoky Mountains, music I like, quilting, knitting, needlepoint, crocheting, politics, health, hearing loss, Southernisms, books, authors, Scotland, faith, penmanship, dogs, Maxine-isms, genealogy, the Carolina Panthers, and lots of recipes. I invite you to follow my boards that interest you.)









11 More Things I’ve Learned about Twitter


On July 22, 2016 I blogged “10 Things I’ve Learned about Twitter.” Since then, I’ve learned 11 more things.

  1. Twitter should come with an owner’s manual or a teenager to teach those of us in our 60s how to use it.
  2. I’d still rather be working on my southern historical novel than writing Tweets.
  3. Twitter continues to be maddening and takes more of my time than I want to give it.
  4. Some days it seems like Twitter is really just a contest to see who can accumulate the most followers.
  5. I grow weary of trying to improve my follower : follow ratio.
  6. There are some things I’d like to Tweet about but I have to be conscious of my author brand.
  7. The older I get, the more I believe I must show my authentic self if I’m going to project my true brand. (Yes, #7 conflicts with #6.)
  8. It’s amazing how many followers from Australia I can pick up by Tweeting in the middle of the night in the USA.
  9. I recently read that you have to manually cut and paste another person’s Tweet in order to retweet it – as well as adding “RT” and the original Tweet author’s username. Who knew? I thought that’s what the “ReTweet” button was for. Hence, the importance of #1 above.
  10. I’d been on Twitter for months when I learned that you need a “header image” as well as a profile picture. How are you supposed to know that since. . . well, please refer to #1 above.
  11. Any link you paste into the Tweet box is automatically shortened to 19 characters. I would have known this months ago if. . . well, please refer to #1 above.

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Until my next blog post in a few days, I hope you have a good book to read. If you are a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.