“Myth, Magic and Metaphor” by Patricia Daly-Lipe


In her book, “Myth, Magic and Metaphor,” Patricia Daly-Lipe certainly provides a muse! This book is a must read for aspiring writers. I found her book to provide insights and ideas for books that I hope to write. I kept a list as I read her book and hope to write a few of them. Her subtitle is “A journey into the heart of creativity” could be, a journey toward your inner muse. Lipe is an expert muse teaching you to find yours. She guides you to ponder the meaning of words, shows how they are crafted together in various eras by wide variety of writer. Lipe pulls together examples of creative writing from all genre to inspire and enlighten the reader. This is a book that I will absolutely read more than once.  Lipe talks about the mystery of writing, using music and art to write and in doing so opens your imagination to new realms of creativity. This is one of those books that I believe could also help provide some inspiration when suffering “writers block.”

Lipe is an expert in her subject and to paraphrase her; open your eyes, see the art, read a book, look at a painting, watch nature; the more you see the more you will have to write. I love the way she challenges you as a writer to see writing in all things at all times. She reminds us to tuck these words we experience into our writings. I found this book to be my muse, thought provoking and challenging me to write with every turn of the page.

Categories: Book Reviews | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

“From These Ashes” by Tamela Ritter

From these Ashes

“From These Ashes,” by Tamela Ritter, is one of those unique stories that you will remember for a long time.  Ritter is a master storyteller as she weaves this tale of searching, and wandering through family issues. This story of siblings, Naomi and Tim takes you to the mid west and gives you some glimpses of Native American life. I found this story riveting despite at times the characters enduring brutal and  painful experiences. Ritter is able to paint word pictures that lead you through many issues for Naomi and Tim in various life stages.  I continue to ponder some of the issues raised in this powerful story of sibling connection and family. It is a book unlike any other!

Categories: Book Reviews | Tags: , | Leave a comment

“Who Gets to Name Grandma?” by Carol Covin

Who Gets to Name Grandma

Carol Covin’s book, “Who Gets to Name Grandma” is a must read for Grandmothers and Mothers every where. This book takes a look at a serious topic in a humorous manner. There are many possible conflicts between mother’s and daughter’s, not to mention between the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law when a new grand child is born. Covin gives the reader some recommendations of topics to be discussed and boundaries to be determined all with helpful humor. I am not a grandmother, but I am an Aunt and I found that many of Covin’s suggestions would apply to any relative when a new baby is born.

This book includes resources to help in this life changing time. It would make a great gift to the new mother and the new grandmother. This is a great gift book.

Categories: Book Reviews | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Snow Angels and a Blessing?


My Snow Angels Hope and Millie

Remember, when you were young and it snowed? Remember, when  you could not wait to go outside to play in the snow? Recall, you and your friends and siblings would gather to make snowmen, have a snowball fight and make snow angels? That was my childhood idea of great fun in the snow.

Today I discovered the new definition of “Snow Angels” and an even better feeling in the snow. We had nine inches of snow overnight and as a home health nurse I had patients that had to be seen. I had bundled up to go outside and dig out my car to go to work. I walked out the front door to discover two of my dear neighbors had already shoveled the sidewalk in front of my house, the walk to my house and they were working on digging out my car! I felt so blessed by these two angels!

I had hurt my back helping my sister move a couple of weeks ago and it was finally feeling better. So, I was not looking forward to heaving a shovel full of snow.  My dear sweet neighbors reminded me what it feels like when someone gives you a blessing! It was such a wonderful exhilarating feeling! It took all the drudge out of work today. I was able to tell all my patients about the blessing I had received.

I frequently tell my patients to let their friends help them after surgery. I tell them if they do not allow someone to help them they are robbing that person of a blessing. I believe we are blessed when we help others. In helping others we feel good about ourselves. The hard part for many is in being the recipient of the blessing. I know it was a huge blessing to me today this small act of snow removal. Both Hope and Mollie were so kind hearted and they both had big smiles at having helped me. Hope said, “I do not want you to hurt your back and not be able to see those sick patients.” I felt blessed all day, I pray that Hope and Millie felt blessed all day for having helped me.

So remember, some times we are blessed and sometimes we are to be a blessing to others! Now go and bless someone in some small way!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment


The Write by The Rails Endless Possibilities Blog Tour 2014 has come to an end. I am grateful to the many great writers that inspire me and spur me on to write my best. I hope you have enjoyed reading all the posts on my blog written by my friends and fellow writers in my writing group, Write by the Rails. I thought you might like to visit some of the posts I made on their blogs. I want to thank each of them for their support and for hosting me on their blogs! It has been a great experience and I look forward to the next one! – Jan

Cindy Brookshire http://cookies4nataka.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/wbtr-blog-tour-guest-post-jan-rayl/

Dan Verner http://ltdanverner.com/2014/01/29/blog-tour-post-4-jan-rayl/

Katherine Gotthardt http://www.tenaciouspoodle.com/2014/03/guest-post-by-jan-rayl.html

Kristy Gillespie  http://kristyfgillespie.com/2014/03/13/write-by-the-rails-blog-spot-jan-rayl/

Linda Johnston http://www.lindasjohnston.com/blog.htm?post=947681

MC Rosenthol http://othersideofthenotebook.blogspot.com/2014/02/guest-blog-traveling-in-nd-by-jan-rayl.html

Nancy Kyme http://campfirememories.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/blog-tour-guest-post-jan-rayl/

Nick Kelley http://www.nickkelly.com/2014/02/27/guest-blog-writer-jan-rayl-on-travel/

Pip Ballantine http://www.pjballantine.com/2014/02/18/consideramemoir/

Shay Seaborne http://www.synergyfield.com/2014/01/jan_rayl/

Stacia Kelly http://staciakelly.com/2014/02/18/rain-sleet-snow-or-shine/

Tamela Ritter http://tamelajritter.com/?p=696

Categories: Write By the Rails 2014 Blog Tour | Leave a comment

If I hear “Thought Leader” one more time! by Guest Blogger Cindy Brookshire


End of the tour!


If I hear ‘thought leader’ one more time

Growing up, I knew I could provoke my brother with two simple words from a Three Stooges skit: “Niagara Falls.”

If you’re familiar with the skit (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yJBhzMWJCc), then you know, before the words left my lips, he was chasing me, and I was squealing for help.

This two-word trigger hits me every time I hear the phrase “thought leader.”

Admit it: it’s an overused flashpoint these days. I went to three meetings this week – one with a client, one with entrepreneurs and one with small business owners.  I was ready to shout “Niagara Falls!” if I heard it one more time.

I get it, the phrase is the Twix and Twizzlers of marketing strategy:  See me, eat me. Think it, click it. Brand it, buy it.  But I don’t want to. The best thing for my local economy is NOT to click on Amazon.com or succumb to big box brainwashing.

Like this Saturday, March 15 from 10 am to 2 pm, Zach Tamer, a local author, is signing his children’s book, “The Story of the Snugglefink” at Grounds Central Station on Main Street in Old Town Manassas. I can buy the book right Zach, and he’ll sign it. How great is that? If I’m a school teacher, Zach might even come talk to my class about writing and publishing.

As a writer I need to be aware that when I interview someone, they might be “thought leadering” me. And I have a responsibility to get past that. I’m not going to write what they want me to write. I’m going to think my own thoughts.

Next time you hear “thought leader,” remember how Moe, Larry and Curly pulled off that classic vaudeville skit. Think “Niagara Falls.” Then think your own thoughts.

 Cindy Brookshire blogs at www.cookies4nataka.wordpress.com.

Categories: Write By the Rails 2014 Blog Tour | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Guest Blogger – Kristy Gillespie

 1121                                                Jaded
Jade has spent her entire life within the confines of the eye-color- obsessed Nirvana commune. She dreams of experiencing freedom but travel to the Outside is forbidden. Besides, she’s a dutiful daughter who never breaks the rules. As her seventeenth birthday approaches, however, she realizes just how little she wants to follow the commune rules. She doesn’t want to undergo another eye color surgery, or immediately choose a life partner, or follow her parents’ life paths of teaching or wine making. In fact, her green eyes suit her just fine, she’s never even been on a date, and she’s passionate about photography. And yet she’s resigned to do as she’s told because it’s easier for her to close her eyes and follow orders.
Her Grandmother Ruby’s murder is the catalyst that causes Jade to open her eyes wide for the first time in her life. She’s devastated yet determined to find the killer and their motive. With help from her mysterious friend Tyrian, and Peaches, the commune leader’s sweet daughter, Jade unearths dark secrets which include her mother’s illicit affair, her maternal grandparents’ escape from Nirvana, and a plethora of murders. To make matters worse, someone is hell bent on ending Jade’s mission for the truth, and that someone is most likely the killer.
Jade can’t continue conforming to an evil society and yet she fears the Outside is just as corrupt. If she resolves to flee and is caught, the punishment is banishment to the slave cabins…and blinding.
Although Jaded is considered a young adult dystopian novel, adults will be able to relate to Jade’s plight.
My blog, Keep Calm and Write On-http://kristyfgillespie.com/
Categories: Write By the Rails 2014 Blog Tour | Tags: | 2 Comments

Always wear clean underwear – especially when traveling


If your mother is anything like mine she told you more than once, “Always wear clean underwear, in case you get into an accident.”  You mom had a fear that if you got in an accident that God forbid the emergency room doctors and nurses would see your worn out dirty underwear.

How funny, even as an adult these trite sayings of mom stick with us. This blog came to mind because of a conversation with a sick friend. I said “take a shower you will feel better.” She said “I have to so I can put on clean underwear in case I have to go to the hospital.”

Now I have been a nurse for many, many years. I have worked in many areas including the emergency room. This is a conversation I have never heard.  “Hey Doc you have got to go see that guy in room three his drawers have more holes than a guy shot with a Saturday night special.” Never once has the topic at the nurse’s station been, “Ok ladies who wants to see the worst grayish old fashioned granny panties to come through this ER because I got the lady wearing them.”

“Airway, breathing, circulation, underwear,” Not part of the nursing assessment. We are far more concerned with the patient ailment than their underwear. I have heard, “room two broken femur, room three laceration, room four in labor.” Never once have I heard, “room one boxers, room two briefs, room three tightly whites, room four pink lace panties.”

Nor have I ever had a doctor write an order, “Send underwear to lab for cleanliness testing.”  No doctor has ever said, “Wait do not touch that guy, no CPR here, he has on contaminated soiled underwear.” The registration process does not say, “Name, address, birth date, clean or dirty underwear.” There is no board in the nurse lounge listing the names of the “Underwear Hall of Shame.”

The only things I recall concerning underwear as a nurse were as a supervisor counseling a nurse about her underwear and laughing with one patient. When one young nurse wore her white uniform with great big red hearts on her underwear that shown through I had to counsel her. I took her aside and told her I could see huge hearts all over her butt. She was mortified and wore her sweater tied around her waist the rest of the shift. The patient we laughed with was a lady who came in wearing a coat with nothing on under it except leopard underwear. She had been getting ready to go somewhere when she realized she left something in the car. She threw on her coat to go and get it and slipped in the ice and broke her leg. A passer-by called 911 and stayed with her until they came. When she came into the ER and we wanted to take her coat off to put her in a gown she said, “They are clean I promise but I don’t have anything on except my underwear,” we all laughed. Doc said he would give her a note to send to her mother that she was in fact seen in the ER with clean underwear on.

So mom’s ever where take note, tell your kids to drive safe and don’t worry about their underwear we really never look. Of course we would like them to wear some and that thread they call a thong does not qualify as underwear.

(I recently wrote this fun piece for my friend Cindy Brookshire’s blog and I just had to share on my blog too  check out my friend Cindy’s blog at  http://cookies4nataka.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/wbtr-blog-tour-guest-post-jan-rayl/ )

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Rising Writers Workshop March 29, 2014


Rising Writers Workshop is March 29, 2014  Hosted by Write by the Rails

Register now for the Rising Writers Workshop, a one-day event for high school and young adults, on Saturday, March 29 from 10 am to 4 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 9325 West Street in Old Town Manassas, Virginia. Only 60 spots are available.

This workshop is Speakers and panelists leading interactive discussions on poetry, publishing, science fiction, punk writing and more will include:

Charlottesville poet Sara Robinson, Cricket Design Works copywriter Sarah Crossland, fiction writers Robert Scott and Matt Iden, poetry and prose writers Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt and Zan Hailey, cyberpunk author and musician Nick Kelly, holistic health doctor and author Stacia Kelly, BristowBeat.com executive editor Stacy Shaw, and humor writer and marketing pro Kelly Harman. The workshop is sponsored by Write by the Rails, the Prince William Chapter of the Virginia Writers Club in conjunction with Woodbridge Senior High School’s Center for the Fine and Performing Arts (CFPA) Creative Writing Program.

Lunch will be catered by Old Town Manassas coffee shop Grounds Central Station.

Students and alumni from the WSHS Creative Writing Program will lead afternoon mini-sessions in free verse, hip hop, spoken word, the punks, fan fiction and more. The workshop culminates in an open mic session with great door prizes and giveaways.

Registration is only $25.00, including lunch and snacks, thanks to partial funding provided by Prince William County. Download a registration form, due March 22, atwww.writebytherails.org. Questions? Contact Linda Johnston at 703-926-4229 or email swindon53@gmail.com.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Guest Blogger – Linda S. Johnston

1121MayCottage                                   Back in Broadstairs

The train tried to rock me to sleep but I resisted.  We had started the day in Bunratty, County Clare, Ireland, and were now on our to Broadstairs, England, a place I knew of only from my mother’s stories and a faded, red, fifty-eight-year-old tour book.  Too excited to doze, I watched as the green fields of Kent came into sight.


My husband, Clay, and I had been hiking in Ireland for ten days that fall of 2010 and added this side trip in memory of my mother who had died the year before. In 1952, she had come to England, toddler son in tow, on a military transport plane full of other dependents, to join my father.  He was stationed at an air base near Broadstairs a small town that hugged the chalk cliffs of the southeast coast. I was born near there the following year. Growing up, I remember my mom talking about her experiences, the anecdotes always ending with the fact that on a clear day she could see across the English Channel to France.  That made quite an impression on her. What an adventure it must have been – this place a world away from the Mississippi farm where she grew up.


Once the train pulled into Broadstairs, Clay and I took a cab to the Royal Albion, a hotel that had been advertised on the pages of the old tour book I had looked through so many times growing up.  The quaint building had kept vigil over Viking Bay since 1776 and had housed the likes of Charles Dickens who often stayed there on extended writing trips.  Oscar Wilde checked in occasionally.  The North Foreland lighthouse, easily seen from the hotel, is thought to have been the inspiration for the title of Wilkie Collins’ famous detective novel, “The Woman in White.”


After settling in we made our way down to the beach where bright, jelly bean-colored cabanas had been buttoned up for the season.  Like the waves coming onto the sand, I felt emotion wash over me as I thought about my mom.  I could see why the place had captivated her.  I turned slowly, taking in the scene.  I wanted to absorb everything about the place at that moment—the charming old hotels that sat like sentinels at the top of the cliffs, the blue and white rowboats that rested against the boathouse, and of course, the view across the Channel.


The next morning after a full English breakfast to fuel our exploits, Clay and I headed for number three Shutler Road, my first home.  We left the Royal Albion, and headed down Promenade Street to Church Square.  In the months leading up to this trip, I had looked up the address many times on Google maps, even checking the “street view.”  I think I needed to reassure myself it was a real place.  We walked a few blocks, made a few turns, and then there it was, the street sign set into a low brick wall.  It was as if I were walking into one of the scalloped-edge black and white photos in my mom’s album.  It could not have looked much different than it had so many years earlier, when she would take us out for an afternoon walk, my brother in his little wool cap and short pants and me tucked snugly into my pram.


I walked slowly up the narrow road lined with small red and brown brick attached houses, until I came to number three.  It looked just as lovely as I hoped it would – red door, white lace curtains, red geraniums in the window boxes, and a sign that read “May Cottage.”


I whispered as if my mother were listening, “I’m here Mom, finally back in Broadstairs.”


Linda S. Johnston is the author of “Hope Amid Hardship: Pioneer Voices from Kansas Territory”  http://www.lindasjohnston.com/

Categories: Write By the Rails 2014 Blog Tour | Tags: , , | 5 Comments