Still Writing and Planning a LOVELY Retirement

I have struggled keeping up with this blog and totally ignoring promotion of my books as life moves on. I have a lot of hope, however, and continue to write. I have a third book in the works for my Danni Deadline thriller series and a couple of new writing adventures I’ve tackled in recent years. I’ll tell you more about those in the future.

I plan to retire, probably in January. I’ll be 62 in May and I’m ready to put my efforts toward the things I truly enjoy —my hubs, my daughters, my grandkids, and my writing.

To continue with the theme of vocabulary in this blog, I thought I’d throw out the word LOVELY.

Lovely, adjective (lovelier, loveliest) exquisitely beautiful: lovely views | you have lovely eyes. •informal very pleasant or enjoyable; delightful: we’ve had a lovely day | she’s a lovely person.

Published in 2016. Available on Amazon and at I love the way Danni Edens, newspaper reporter, grows professionally and personally as she tackles some tough shit in this book. Buy at

I chose Lovely County as the fictitious county in my books because much of northwest Arkansas was once named Lovely County.

Published in 2015 and now out of print. I plan to republish upon my retirement, and have revised the book some. I’m working on something special related to this book as well. More info coming on that.


This blog offers a different type of book review­—one that’s combined with vocabulary building. Words used in an interesting way or unfamiliar words are chosen for this blog.

If You Walk Long Enough

By Nancy Hartney

Nancy Hartney has a unique southern voice that immediately draws you into the lives she’s created as if each is a family member you know well. Her characters make you feel their pain, their joy, their struggles, and triumphs. Before you know it, you’re lost in the story and have to know more because you either love them or hate them to your core!

Hartney is known for her captivating short stories and commentary on southern life, particularly anything horses. Her work can be found in publications throughout the south. This is her first novel, but she has previously published two short story collections: Washed in the Water, and If the Creek Don’t Rise. Both are treasures of exemplary storytelling.

If You Walk Long Enough proves that Hartney’s talent for storytelling thrives in the longer format. The novel tells the story of two Marines returning home from Vietnam to find a different reality than what they left in the tobacco fields of South Carolina. We see how they’ve changed as well as how each struggles to meld back into a normal life despite rampant racism, struggling family life, lost love, and their war-ravaged mental states.

Nancy Hartney’s first novel is available in select bookstores and at

A Few Words from If You Walk Long Enough:

  • Nattered, Natter: verb. To talk incessantly; chatter. noun. A conversation; chat. 

If You Walk Long Enough, Page 8: Blue jays nattered around the bird feeder, keeping the smaller finches and sparrows at bay.

  • Gullah: noun1. A member of a population of Black Americans inhabiting the Sea Islands and the coastal regions of South Carolina, Georgia, and northeastern Florida. 2. A creolized form of English spoken by the Gullahs, containing many words and grammatical features derived from African languages. 

If You Walk Long Enough, Page 8:  Ellie paused, and twisted the phone cord around her hand, released it, and grew sharp. “Diana and I work together. On the Chamber’s Gullah project. She’s a hired consultant. The whole project’s for tourism. And historical preservation. That’s all.”

  • Farrowing, Farrow: noun1. A litter of pigs. / verb 1. To give birth to (a litter of pigs) or bring forth young. / adj. 1. Not pregnant – generally when referring to a cow.


  • Shoat: noun1. A piglet recently weaned, usually less than a year old.

If You Walk Long Enough, Page 61:  Their place, five acres including the clapboard house, nestled in a cluster of trees, mostly oaks with several pecan trees and a black walnut on the east side. A farrowing pen and shoat closure sat behind the house with a vegetable garden taking a chunk of the remaining land. 

  • Disquiet: transitive verb1. To take away the peace or tranquility of. 2. Disturb 3. Alarm / noun1. A lack of peace or tranquility. 2. Anxiety / adjective1. uneasy

If You Walk Long Enough, Page 63:  A vague sense of disquiet settled on him whenever whites were around. He resented being treated as if uneducated, a non-person. He watched Reid approach, and, finally, as an afterthought, spoke.

  • Klicks, Klick: noun1. A synonym for kilometer commonly used by the U.S. and U.K. military, which use the metric system almost exclusively for communication with allied forces. 

If You Walk Long Enough, Page 184:  Several klicks outside his base camp, Reid had passed a makeshift Vietnamese civilian clinic compound. A Quonset hut sat among a jumble of small sheds and storage areas, covered with tattered pieces of plastic and corrugated metal. A freestanding tent, open sides yet suffocatingly hot, offered shade for the weekly medicine and food distribution. Scattered crude shelters housed the families of wounded and sick, until they either died, or found a way back to their village. Outside cooking rings, in various stages of use, smoked constantly, like trash burn-barrels dotting Reid’s rural Carolina homescape. 

  • Plumeria: noun1. Known as frangipani or Lei flowers, is a genus of flowering plants in the family Apocynaceae. Most species are deciduous shrubs or small trees native to tropical regions. 

If You Walk Long Enough, Page 202:  The whoomph of choppers, crinkle of body bags, and slap of Uncle Ho sandals became one sound. Metallic smells blended, hung unpleasant in the air overwhelming the delicate perfume of plumeria. Everything merged.

  • Abdication, Abdicate: verb1. To cast off, discard. 2. To relinquish (as sovereign power) formally. / intransitive verb1. To renounce a throne, high office, dignity, or function.

If You Walk Long Enough, Page 257:  He flipped the lighter open, lit up, and clicked it closed. He cupped the tip of his cigarette in his hands, hid the bright glow, took deep a drag, and exhaled. “Chinese filtered into the Nguyen dynasty centuries ago. They are the ones that forced the French abdication and started that bloody damn civil war. Then here we come, men-boys strutting along, waving guns, ready to save the world from Communism.”

Definitions are a mix from Merriam Webster’s, The New Oxford American Dictionary and others.

FULL and humble DISCLOSURE: I’m truly honored to say Nancy is a beloved friend. We share a writing critique group, a publisher, and a love for the craft. She’s also a retired librarian for the Fayetteville Public Library, where both my daughters were lucky enough to work part-time as library pages while students in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Don’t let that diminish a word I’ve said about this fantastic storyteller or you’ll miss out on a great reading experience. 

Find out more about this fantastic author at

Nancy Hartney, author and poet

“The word is only a representation of the meaning; even at its best, writing almost always falls short of full meaning. Given that, why in God’s name would you want to make things worse by choosing a word which is only cousin to the one you really wanted to use?” ― Stephen KingOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

The Log-Line: Can You Pitch Your ENTIRE Story in ONE Sentence? — Kristen Lamb

I’m working on a Log-Line for my planned revised Book 1 in the Danni Deadline Series and Book 3. This is an awesome How-To from the wonderful Kristen Lamb. If you’re writing and not following Kristen, you’re missing out on some of the best advice and motivating blogs for writers. Check this one out if you need some Log-Line advice:

Log-lines. Sigh. I introduced this concept in my last post , Writer’s Block: Is It Laziness or a Critical Part of Being a Longtime Author? 2,619 more words

The Log-Line: Can You Pitch Your ENTIRE Story in ONE Sentence? — Kristen Lamb

A Lovely Name

As I complete the final edits to prepare for the publication of a revised edition of the first Danni Deadline thriller, I found this blog explaining the Lovely County connection.

Lori Ericson, Author

Choosing names for fictional characters and places can be a challenge. A writer has to be careful to make sure names of various characters aren’t too similar, fit the characters, and are something the reader can remember.

Book cover by Casey Cowan, Oghma Creative Media

While writing A Lovely County, I started out with the real names of the locations I envisioned in Northwest Arkansas. But later in the process I decided it was best to come up with fictional names so as not to disparage actual places. I decided on the name Lovely County because of its historical significance. The title has taken hold in my writer’s mind. I plan to name the next book in the series A Lovely Murder, which is likely to be followed by A Lovely Grave.

Although fictional, the name is based on the historical Lovely County, which was named for William Lovely, an Indian Agent who purchased land…

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The Literary Citizen Has Arrived!

I’m so excited about this new magazine! And not just because I’m a featured author in the inaugural edition of The Literary Citizen. Thank you, Karen Nelson, for all your efforts for fellow writers.

Jan Morrill Writes

I first met my friend, author Karen Nelson at Ozarks Writers League. She served as President of OWL following the end of my term in 2013.

Karen is a multi-talented mom, author, photographer, editor, webmaster and entrepreneur, which brings me to my happy announcement that she has published a new online magazine, The Literary Citizen, which is a great resource for writers and readers. Inside, you’ll find lots of information about online events, tips and encouragement.


I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to introduce you to Karen and her new magazine!

Jan: What inspired you to start an online writing magazine?

dsc_0190-2Karen: As a long-time member of my local writing organization, I had noticed that there wasn’t an effective way for writers to connect with other writing groups or to isolated areas. I was inspired to take action after a presentation on what it meant to be a literary citizen…

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Interview by Author David Todd

I’ve known of David Todd as an engineer who works for a local firm I deal with a lot as city planner. We met recently at a panel discussion his firm hosted and realized we were not only fellow authors but Facebook friends. He’s been super supportive of the release of A Lovely Murder, the second Danni “Deadline” Thriller, and offered to interview me on his blog. Thanks, David, for the support!

Here’s a link to my interview by Author David Todd on his webpage:


Book of Words: Skeleton’s Key by Stacy Green

I’m using this blog to offer a chance at building a better vocabulary through the books I read. I’ll provide a short review of the book followed by a few words I think the author used in an interesting way or that might not be familiar, at least to me. In this case, I included “antebellum” because the definition states that it can be used for the period before any war, and I found that interesting. I’m only familiar with it being used before the American Civil War.

Photo from the Facebook page of Stacy Green. She attributed the photo to Melinda VanLone, author.

Photo from the Facebook page of Stacy Green. Green attributed the graphic to Melinda VanLone, author, who created it for Green’s Delta Crossroads Trilogy.

Skeleton’s Key (Delta Crossroads Trilogy, Book 2) by Stacy Green

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Skeleton’s Key and just picked up two more books by Stacy Green. She’s a fantastic storyteller. I love the characters and felt their pain, tension and thrills as they struggled to sort out the complexities of the puzzles of murder and the history of an antebellum home. The book’s plot reminded me a little of the Nancy Drew mystery, The Hidden Staircase, one of my very favorite books when I was much younger. Saying that, I must add that there’s no doubt that Skeleton’s Key is for mature readers. It kept me guessing throughout and surprised me with a twist in the end. Her Delta Crossroads Trilogy is fantastic, but this author is quite prolific. I intend to check out more of her work!

Words from Skeleton’s Key:

Warded: Any of the internal ridges or bars in a lock that prevent the turning of any key that does not have the grooves of corresponding size or form.
“Dani again examined the locking mechanism. ‘It’s warded.’ ‘Meaning a skeleton Key probably opens it.’”

Spanish moss: A flowering plant that often grows upon larger trees, commonly the southern live oak and bald-cypress in the lowlands and savannas of southeastern United States. It’s also native in much of Mexico, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Central America, South America and the West Indies. It grows hanging from tree branches in full sun through partial shade.
“At night, under the silvery glow of the moon, the wisps of Spanish moss were ghostlike-the spirits of the past weaving their way through the twisted branches of the tree.”

Daguerreotype: A photograph taken by an early photographic process employing an iodine-sensitized silvered plate and mercury vapor.
“Hard to tell with the state of the picture, and the fact that it’s a daguerreotype further distorts the color.”

Antebellum: Occurring or existing before a particular war, esp. the American Civil War: the conventions of the antebellum South. The origin is Latin, from ante ‘before,’ and bellum ‘war.’
“After the dust settled, Jaymee inherited one of the town’s other flagship antebellum homes, Magnolia House.”

Definitions are typically from The New Oxford American Dictionary through Kindle, or from Wikipedia.

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is… the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” — Mark Twain

Do you look up words as you read?

Book of Words: Lamb to the Slaughter

I’m using this blog to offer an opportunity to build a better vocabulary through the books I read. I’ll provide a short review of the book followed by a few words I think the author used in an interesting way or that might not be familiar, at least to me.

Lamb to the Slaughter (Book 1 of Serentity’s Plain Secrets) by Karen Ann Hopkins

Lamb to the Slaughter takes the reader into the Amish community through the eyes of a newly elected female sheriff. It’s a well written story of murder, religious prejudice and poisonous pride. It’s the first book by Hopkins featuring Sheriff Serenity Adams that’s a great start on a series of mysteries with an intriguing protagonist and a glimpse into a different way of life. So far, the author has published four Plain Secrets books with the latest released in May. I’m ready to read book 2, Whispers From the Dead and find out what’s next for Sheriff Adams.


Words from Lamb to the Slaughter:

Rumspringa: (in some Amish communities) a period of adolescents in which boys and girls are given greater personal freedom and allowed to form romantic relationships, usually ending with the choice of baptism into the church or leaving the community.
“You see, we don’t practice rumspringa in our community. If a teenager has wild oats to sow, they typically leave.”

Dolt: A stupid person. The origin may be a variant of dulled.
“You already know that our community has the rule of hands-off courting, but I’m not a dolt. I know what goes on behind the barns and in the sheds.”

Nitrile: An organic compound containing a cyanide group bound to an alkyl group. They’re not latex, but stronger and allergy safe.
“He left for a minute and returned with nitrile gloves, which he held out.”

Pensive: Engage in, involving or reflecting deep or serious thought.
“Bobby had a pensive frown fixed on his face again when I said, ‘Maybe with the abundance of corn available, the smaller scavengers weren’t interested.’”

Piqued: A feeling of irritation or resentment resulting from a slight, especially to one’s pride.
My curiosity was piqued and I looked at Heather.”

The last two in this list, pensive and piqued, are words I know but rarely use. Any words you hear or read often but rarely use?

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is… the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” — Mark Twain

Definitions are typically from The New Oxford American Dictionary through Kindle.

Every Word is a Choice and Opportunity

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is… the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” — Mark Twain

As a newspaper reporter, I was taught to write at an 8th grade level. Editors stressed that wasn’t literal. It meant we should avoid using words that force the reader to seek out a dictionary to understand the meaning. I try to do the same in my writing.
As a reader, however, I love to come across a word that isn’t familiar or is used in a way I find intriguing. Words and how they are used are interesting to me, and even at this age in life, I love to learn something new and maybe something about myself along the way.
In this blog, I plan to take a few words from the books I read and share the fun.
I’ll offer a short review, tell you a little about the book, and then provide a few words the author used in an interesting way or might not be familiar, a least to me. You’ll see the definition and how it was used in the book.

Dark Waters by JB Turner
This book had a little more of a spy-thriller theme than I normally read, but I enjoyed the read. It’s about an investigative reporter (which is right up my alley) in the Florida Everglades investigating the murder of a young man who’d contacted her the day before wanting to provide her with some top-secret government documents. The reporter, Deborah Jones, has her own life and the life of her longtime boyfriend and editor threatened as she fights to discover the truth. She soon realizes the implications of the investigation run deep in national politics. Deep Waters is a real thriller from the first page to the end.

img_2517Deep Waters words:

Bonhomie: cheerful friendliness; geniality.
“It reminded him of the Middle America he loathed. Bowling shoes, customized bowling ball, the beer, the head-splitting music, and the fake bonhomie.”

Detritus: waste or debris of any kind.
“All around was the detritus of humankind, playing out their days in air-conditioned malls, like consumer battery farms, being force-fed a sludge of sugar-rush drink and chili dogs, and copious quantities of piss-poor Bud and Michelob.”

Tacitly: an adjective that means understood or implied without being stated.
“From these Islamic schools a wave of young Muslim men emerged who, tacitly backed by CIA dollars, were organized to fight first the Soviet Union — before they turned their attention to the West.”

Wahhabism: Wahhabi is a strictly orthodox Sunni Muslim sect that advocates a return to the early Islam of the Koran and Sunna, rejecting later innovations. It’s the predominant religious force in Saudi Arabia.
“She had remained single but, like the majority of people in Saudi Arabia, she adhered to Wahhabism, the strict theological interpretation of the Koran.”

Stygian: an adjective of or relating to the Styx River.
“He stared at the Stygian darkness of Biscayne, car lights moving slowly across the causeway.”

What interesting words have you come across lately?