#ReblogAlert – This Week on #StoryEmpire


Another week filled with great stuff on #StoryEmpire. Be sure to check out these terrific posts!

MONDAY: D. L. Finn’s post on Writing and Our Health is wonderful! If you’ve suffered stiffness, back issues, poor circulation, or overall fatigue from too many hours at the computer, she has some great suggestions for you! You can read her post HERE.

WEDNESDAY: Craig Boyack has a terrifically interesting post today that I think many of you will enjoy. Check out A Trick That Works for some fun and helpful tips on changing up your writing environment. You can read his post HERE.

FRIDAY: Staci Troilo’s post today is entitled Words of Wisdom, and that’s just what it is. Some fantastic quotes here that really make you stop and think. You can read Staci’s post HERE.

And there you have it folks! See? I told you it was great stuff! 😀

#GuestDayTuesday – Artist Nicki Forde

Hi, Everybody! Today, I’m going to introduce you to one of my best friends, artist Nicki Forde. I’ve known Nicki for years, and though we began our friendship as gardening buddies, it has transcended far beyond labels of any kind. Simply put, Nicki is one of the nicest, most talented, and truly generous souls I’ve ever met! 

Years ago, Nicki told me I needed to start blogging as a way to express myself, so I did, and nearly 20 years later, I’m still going. She also told me I should start writing books, and I did. Whether I’ll hit twenty years doing that is doubtful, but I can still count on her for encouragement and steadfast support. And best of all, when Nicki was still a graphic designer, she began creating my book covers, which I LOVE. Happily, even though she’s moved on from graphic design to some wonderfully beautiful and often whimsical art of her own, she says she’ll always find time for my books. How lucky am I?  


I’ve asked Nicki here today to tell you a bit about herself, and to share some of her fantastic art with you. Yes, she takes orders and does commission work.  Here is a painting she did for me of our late dachshund buddies, Maks & Potter. More below on how you can reach Nicki to commission portraits of your own pets and much more. Now, without further ado, please welcome a very special guest to The Write Stuff. Take it away, Nicki!


Thanks for having me, Marcia.  Hi, everybody!

I’m a Native Floridian from Okeechobee with a lifelong desire to create. I began drawing as a toddler, doodling horses and eating crayons. My mom said I must have been impressed with the Budweiser Clydesdales when I saw them walking up and down our street by the train tracks in Fort Lauderdale. I’m not sure where those horses were headed, and I have only the faintest memory, but it was my good luck they needed a break from their journey right then. I can say, I’ve never been the same since.


Moving to Okeechobee only fueled my love of horses since it was cowboy country, and there was a horse on every corner. I knew where each horse was within a walkable distance from my home. I’d jump fences, crawl through barbed wire, dodge angry bulls … all to reach a horse peacefully grazing in a pasture. I trespassed, and had no shame. I braided manes, added flowers to tails, and petted and loved on each horse that would let me. When I wasn’t trespassing to pet horses, I was home drawing them.

 I went on to study Commercial Art at International Fine Arts College in Miami. From there I began a 25-year career as a graphic artist. My days of doodling horses were over, and instead I found myself working insanely long days meeting media deadlines and unrealistic expectations. In 2014 I discovered the love of my life, and with this sweet man, I found myself thriving. I was inspired to paint illustrations for our wedding invitations and reply cards, and after that I made time to paint a few more until I had enough to open an Etsy shop with the idea of making wedding invitations based on my paintings. I joined the local art center and started exhibiting in festivals, art markets and local competitions. 

The more art I made and shared, the more commissions I began receiving. I quickly discovered fine art commissions are far more rewarding than graphic design work, so I began pruning my graphics customers until I found my core group. This group happens to be all women-owned or managed businesses, where  they value the work and experience I provide and respect basic boundaries. Initially it wasn’t easy to fire my clients because our societal constructs tell us we should strive more, work harder, display our stress induced, sleep-deprived high blood pressure as a badge of honor. But I was truly tired and decided to follow my heart. 

I’m happy to say, the majority of my time is now spent making art and running my fine art business from the  studio in our historic downtown Leesburg home. It’s work that fills my soul. I have a wonderful problem of not having enough time to add new art to my Etsy shop because of the commission work that comes in, such as pet or people portraits, murals, and hand painted furniture. Right now I’m finishing up a 20”x20” painting of a large mouth bass as a birthday gift for my customer’s husband. Also in the works is a 3’ round table that I’m painting luna moths and fireflies on. Next up are 3 old saws that a customer wants paintings on. My style is somewhat loose and intuitive, and it’s evolving. It’s always surprising to me when I finish a painting because I just never really know what the final result’s going to be. It’s a joyful process that’s taught me to trust in my ability and in my inner voice. 

Goals for my art business this year are to create several series of paintings to submit to licensing agents so my art can be applied to fine art prints and home decor and be sold in stores like Hobby Lobby, Target, or Home Goods. I’d also like to get my art in a few more galleries and have a space at Queen of Hearts Antiques in Buford, Georgia to fill with hand-painted vintage furniture and original paintings. For my Etsy shop, I plan on adding small original paintings on wood panels or chunky canvas. The few times I’ve been able to add original pieces to date, they’ve sold  right away.

Horses remain, to this day, my favorite subject to paint. They hold a special magic for me, and when I paint them, I feel a connection to something divine. So follow me on instagram (@nickiforde) or check out my website: www.drawingonmyheart.com to see new horse art, among other subjects, as I complete them. If you would like a commissioned painting from me, you can reach me through my website, Instagram message or Facebook Messenger.



“My mission as an artist is to create a positive impact by making art that uplifts, and my mission as a human is to live with joy and compassion. “





Thanks so much for sharing with us, Nicki, and I want to take a moment to let folks know that very soon, Nicki and author Melanie Wagner will be publishing a brand new children’s book. I’ve seen the proof copy, and it is adorable! As soon as is Wailin’ and the Chicks is available on Amazon, Melanie will be visiting us to talk about their collaboration on this project. And you’ll get a sneak preview of some of Nicki’s fine illustrations, too. Here’s a little taste to whet your appetite.

In the meantime, you can contact Nicki at the links below to commission a painting of your own, to order things like boxed greeting cards and prints, or just to let her know you’re a fan of her work. She’d love to hear from you!

Drawing on My Heart Website:    www.drawingonmyheart.com
Etsy Shop: www.etsy.com/shop/DrawingOnMyHeart
Instagram: www.instagram.com/nickiforde

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DrawingOnMyHeart

#ReblogAlert – Good Stuff from Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Blog

It always makes me happy to share Sally’s weekly update posts. They are crammed full of everything she’s shared during the previous week, and there’s always, always something for everyone included. Stop by and take a look, even if you’ve visited during the week. It’s quite likely you’ve missed a few goodies. You can read this week’s Smorgasbord Weekly Round-Up HERE.

#ReblogAlert – Good Stuff From #StoryEmpire

Some great posts from the wonderfully talented folks at #StoryEmpire this week. If you haven’t already stopped by, here’s what’s been going on:

MONDAY:  Is Your Writing a Business or a Hobby? by Mae Clair. You definitely need to check this one out, especially if keeping track of expenses and how you should be handling your taxes, etc, is a foreign concept you haven’t quite grasped yet. VERY helpful post! You can read Mae’s post HERE.

WEDNESDAY: Show, Don’t Tell by Gwen Plano. This beautifully done post from Gwen struck a real chord with me, as she reminds us that memories are tricky issues and photographs can prove yours might not be as accurate as your recollections would have you think. Good advice here, and some touching photos, too. You can read Gwen’s post HERE.

FRIDAY: Don’t Talk Like That: How to Write Good Dialogue – Tags & Beats: by Harmony Kent. Harmony takes another look at how to write dialogue properly, focusing on beats and tags. This is a real problem area for many writers, and her examples and suggestions are right on target. You’ll definitely want to read Harmony’s post and can do so HERE.

And that concludes my new Friday feature, recapping a great week on #StoryEmpire.  Hope you enjoy these posts as much as I did.

#FirstLineFriday#2 Submissions Are Now Closed – Here’s the Answer to Our Quiz and the Names of Our Winners

Submissions for #FirstLineFriday are officially closed now. My thanks to all who emailed me with their guesses. Today, I’m delighted to say we have FIVE  WINNERS!  Congratulations go to:

Janet Gogerty, Alex Craigie, Darlene Foster, Harmony Kent, and Teri Polen. Thanks so much for playing, ladies, and for being so quick to recognize this opening line!

Now, without further ado, here’s the answer to today’s quiz:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” is the opening line to 1813’s Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  Those who love the classics will be very familiar with this one, I’m sure, while many will not have read it yet. I do recommend giving it a try, to see why a book written over 200 years ago has remained so popular for so long.

The novel follows the character development of Elizabeth Bennet, the dynamic protagonist of the book who learns about the repercussions of hasty judgments and comes to appreciate the difference between superficial goodness and actual goodness. Its humor lies in its honest depiction of manners, education, marriage, and money during the Regency era in Great Britain.

Pride and Prejudice has consistently appeared near the top of lists of “most-loved books” among both literary scholars and the reading public. It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, with over 20 million copies sold, and has inspired many derivatives in modern literature. For more than a century, dramatic adaptations, reprints, unofficial sequels, and many, many films and TV versions of Pride and Prejudice have portrayed the memorable characters and themes of the novel, reaching mass audiences.


Austen’s most popular novel, the unforgettable story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.

Pride and Prejudice is a novel of manners by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of the British Regency. Elizabeth is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London. Page 2 of a letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra (11 June 1799) in which she first mentions Pride and Prejudice, using its working title First Impressions.

Set in England in the early 19th century, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Mr. and Mrs Bennet’s five unmarried daughters after the rich and eligible Mr. Bingley and his status-conscious friend, Mr. Darcy, have moved into their neighborhood. While Bingley takes an immediate liking to the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, Darcy has difficulty adapting to local society and repeatedly clashes with the second-eldest Bennet daughter, Elizabeth.

Though Austen set the story at the turn of the 19th century, it retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of many lists of “most loved books.” It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature, selling over 20 million copies, and receives considerable attention from literary scholars. Modern interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen’s memorable characters or themes.

A True Classic that Belongs on Every Bookshelf!


And that wraps up this week’s quiz, folks! Again, congratulations to our winners, and for the rest, best of luck next time!

#FirstLineFriday will be back in two weeks.  See you then!


#FirstLineFriday – #FreeDownloads – #GiveawayContest

Time for another #FirstLineFriday folks, and today I’ve chosen something I suspect will pretty easy for many of you, though it could be challenging for quite a few, as well. Still, it’s a pretty good opening line, whetting one’s curiosity as it does. Hope you’ll enjoy it.

PLEASE READ these simple rules, just to refresh yourself on how this should be done. Thanks.

  1. Be one of the first five people to email me before the game ends at 4:00pm, with the title and author of the correct book. 
  2. Do not reply here on the blog. Email only: marciameara16@gmail.com
  3. Honor System applies. No Googling, please.
  4. Submissions end at 4:00 P.M. EST, or when I receive 5 correct answerswhichever comes first.
  5. Winners who live in the U.S. may request a free download of any one of my books for themselves, or for someone of their choice. OR, if they’ve read all of the offered books, they may request a free download of my next publication.
  6. Winners who live elsewhere may request a mobi or PDF file of the same books, since, sadly, Amazon won’t let me gift you from the site.

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for! Put on your thinking caps, because here is today’s opening line:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” 

Remember, email answers only, please. Thanks! And now off I go to await your guesses. 





#MondayMeme #MondayBlogs

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And there you have it for this Monday!

Some Screen Shots for Earlier #EditorWars Post

For anyone who are still confused.

After clicking on the Save button in Step 5 of the previous post, you must navigate to the Black Administrator Bar. When there, go to POSTS/ALL Posts, which opens this white page:

Click on the ADD NEW Drop Down Menu, and you get this menu, where you can click on either Block Editor (bad idea) or Classic Editor (Yes!)

Hope this helps some, but if not, let me know and I’ll see what other way I can help make it easier. No one should have to go through what I did yesterday!