Category Archives: family relationship

Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,” wrote Dylan Thomas.

Thomas’ poem was looked at in the PBS show “Into the Night: Portraits of Life and Death” by Helen Whitney that aired on Monday, March 26, 2018.

This documentary allows us to think and even talk about mortality.   It does not provide us with any answers, instead, it raises many questions.

Do we go gently or raging against the dying light?

Are we in denial?

Do we think we will live forever?

Why do we try to prolong life?

Should we try to create immortality?

What do we say when someone tries to talk about death?

Are we prepared for death?

Would your family know how to access all your online accounts once you are gone?

Does your family know what your wishes are for funeral arrangements?

And so many more questions.  And of course, the biggest questions that no one has the answer to is: When am I going to die?

Even though this documentary is about death, it really showed me that is was also about LIFE.




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Filed under Authors, family relationship, Genre, Non-Fiction

Is that a family name?

“What is your name?” someone asked me.

“Cynthia,” I replied.

“Is that a family name?” they asked.

Well, yes and no.

Yes, there is a Cynthia in my ancestral line, but I was not named after that “Cynthia.”

Several years ago, when I started doing family genealogy, I asked mom if I was named after a family ancestor.

“No,” she said.

“Where did you get the name, Cynthia, from,?” I asked.

Mom laughed and told me this story.

“When your Dad and I were at the grocery store, Mr. Stewart asked if we had a name picked out.  We didn’t, so he suggested that for a baby girl her name be Cynthia Ann, after his mother.”

Yes, my parents went shopping at a grocery store and came away with a name for a baby girl.

I know, I know!  People go shopping at a grocery store for many things, but a name is not usually one of them.


Filed under Authors, family relationship, Genre, Memoir, Non-Fiction, parenting, Writing


Recently, someone asked if I would ever write a historical novel using one of my ancestors.  I answered, yes, if I had any that were colorful.

If any of you do genealogy, then you know how frustrating it can be to do research on your ancestors.  If you are lucky enough to have had someone do the research for you, thank your lucky stars!

One of my great-grandfathers seems to have been born under that cabbage leaf you hear so much about.  Where I grew up when children asked where did babies come from they were told that babies were found under a cabbage leaf.

Yep, Jacob was born under a cabbage leaf.

There is no other explanation for it! has no birth record for Jacob.  None of the Census records show his parents’ name.  Nowhere have I found where he was born.

Here is what I know about my ancestor, Jacob.

  • He fought in the American Revolutionary War.
  • He deserted while a soldier in the American Revolutionary War for a Pennsylvania Regiment.  This was not uncommon, as many soldiers did.
  • When he deserted he was headed for Hagerstown, Maryland.
  • Her married, Jane, however, I cannot find a marriage record and have only been able to guess her last name, which is not a “fact.”
  • Jacob and Jane moved to Tennessee.
  • I have found their children’s names.
  • I found Jacob’s and Jane’s death dates.

As with any family, there are stories – which most I have found not to be true.

So, to go back to the beginning – would I write a novel about one of my ancestor…I guess if I ever did, I could always write a historical novel involving Jacob’s parents since I know absolutely nothing about them.  That way, I could really write a historical fiction novel and know for a solid fact that is was pure fiction.


Filed under Authors, Books, family relationship, Fiction, Genre, Historical Fiction, Non-Fiction

The Lottery

No, I am not talking about the lottery where you buy a PowerBall ticket every couple of days or so.  And no, I am not talking about the state lottery you might play, nor am I talking about those scratch tickets you buy at the Mini-Marts.  I am talking about Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery,” that was published in The New Yorker magazine on June 26, 1948.

If I am not talking about lottery tickets as we know them today, then what is “The Lottery?”

The story described a fictional town where an annual lottery takes place to ensure a good harvest.  HUH!

How can a lottery ensure a good harvest?

On June 27, every year, children gather stones while the townspeople gather for the event.  Slips of paper are placed in a box for a drawing.  One slip of paper has a black mark.


Doesn’t this remind you of The Hunger Games

Anyway, once a family draws the slip of paper with the black mark, the members of the family must draw to see which one of them gets a slip of paper with a black mark.

Once a family member draws a slip of paper with the black mark, they become the scapegoat or the sacrificial lamb that will cleanse the town of its bad doings.  The townspeople gather around the unlucky person and stone them to death.

Not quite like The Hunger Games, but similar.  In The Hunger Games, teenagers are selected from a district to compete with other districts in a game of “to-the-death.”

If you travel to one of the districts from The Hunger Games, the dates on the tombstones might be close, but probably not exactly the same day.

How would you like to browse a cemetery and realize that someone died on the same day every year for many decades?  What would you think about that?

Well, I don’t know about you, but that would be one lottery I would not want to participate in.


*** Note, both Shirley Jackson and The New Yorker received hate mail over this story.***

***This short story was made into a movie.***


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Filed under Authors, family relationship, Fiction, Genre, Movies

Time Flies Right Past Me!

I opened this blog and realized that the last post was nearly three weeks ago.  Where has time gone?

I have been busy with my 40-hour week job, my home chores, and being a Heritage Consultant for the Koester House Museum.  The museum applied for and got a grant from the Kansas Humanities Council (KHC).  As part of the grant, the museum needed a Heritage Consultant.  Apparently, there are not many in my area, so when small museums apply for grants and they ask where can I find a Heritage Consultant, KHC points them in my direction.

No, this is not part of my 40-hour work week job.  It is something I do on the side.  Now, if I could make a living at being a Heritage Consultant, I would do it because I enjoy going to different museums and seeing what they have and what they need help with.  Unfortunately, when I work with grant recipients, the pay is on the very low end of the scale.

The Koester House Museum is located in Marysville, Kansas.  The house started out as a two-room home and over the years more space was added on.  Today it is a two-story house.  It is surrounded by a brick wall that was created to keep the flood waters out.


Sarah Koester Morrison, great-granddaughter.  Photo courtesy of the Marysville Advocate.

Sarah is standing in front of the home.


Sarah wrote a book titled Memoirs of the Charles F. Koester House, An Intimate Portrait and it is told from the perspective of the house.  This book is on my “to read” list.

Anyway, the project I  have been consulting on is one of cleaning and cataloging 1,200 books. The museum has a few volunteers that have cleaned the books and they are now in the process of putting the books into LibraryThing so they can be found in the Library of Congress online catalog.  As part of my job as Heritage Consultant, I taught them how to clean the books using “best practices” and I taught them how to use LibraryThing.

Once the project is complete, the museum will begin to use the books in displays/exhibits and during tours of the house.  It is the hope of the museum that the Kansas Poet Laureate will read from some of the poetry books in the library when he does a presentation in the near future.

For this Heritage Consultant, I find joy in watching people’s eyes light up when they find something of interest or learn something new.  It is truly rewarding.


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Filed under family relationship, Memoir, poetry

September is Preparedness Month

With Hurricane Havey causing havoc in Texas and Louisiana, it is once again time to think of your own Preparedness.


Where do you start?

By breaking the plan down into parts each week, it becomes manageable and not overwhelming.

Week 1: Prepare a household inventory.

Week 2: Review your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to see what is covered.  If you do not understand your policy, make an appointment to visit with your insurance agent.

Week 3: Build a “Grab-and-Go” kit.

Week 4: Create a communication plan.


To help get you started you can download a pdf of the “Survival Journal” that my husband and I use.

Print off the pages, fill them out and put them into plastic sheets and put into a 3 ring binder and put in your Survival Container or Grab-and-Go Kit.

Survival Journal

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Filed under Books, family relationship, Non-Fiction, Writing

Featuring Children, Tweens & YA Authors

Are you a Children’s Author?

Do you write for tweens?

What about Young Adults?

I am paying it forward in 2017 by featuring authors on my blog.

Sign up for me to feature you on the Feature Calendar page!feature-md

Occasionally, there will be bonus material, giveaways, reviews and more!


Filed under Action Adventure, All Saints Day, Animation, Authors, Autobiography, Awards, Biography, Body, book blitz, Book Expos, Book Fair, Book Launch, Book Reviews, Book Signings, Books, Children's Books, Christian Romance, Christmas, Comedy, Coming of Age, Cookbooks, Crime Fiction, Dark Fantasy Romance, Day of the Dead, e-books, Easter, family relationship, Fantasy, Fiction, Genre, Good Friday, Halloween, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Holidays, Inspirational, Interesting Blogs, Mardi Gras, Marketing, Memoir, Military, Mind, Mother's Day, Movies, Murder Mystery, Mystery, New Age, New Years, Non-Fiction, Paranormal, Paranormal Fantasy Romance, Paranormal Romance, Paranormal Urban Fantasy, parenting, Picture Books, poetry, Quotes, Recipes, Religious, Romance, Romantic Suspense, Self-Help, Self-Help, Self-Publish, Social Networking, Songs, Spirit, Suspense, Thanksgiving, Thriller, Travel, Traveling Kansas, Urban Fantasy Romance, Urban Fantasy/Horror, Veteran's Day, Videos, Western, Writing, Young Adult

Christmas Eve

Again, no books!

Wishing all my family members and friends from all around the world a wonderful Christmas Eve filled full of magic and love.

Oh, Holy Night!




Filed under Christmas, family relationship

2 Days Before Christmas

No books today!

Instead, I am going to tell a favorite Christmas story.

In 1988, my husband asked me what I wanted or needed for Christmas.

I am a simple person and I don’t need or want much of anything.  I thought about what to say to him and this is what I said: “I want a Christmas Sock stuffed full of fruits, nuts, and candy just like when I was a kid on Christmas morn.”

I didn’t think much about it in the coming days, however, I should have known better.

You see, the first Christmas we spent together after meeting, he asked me the same thing and my response was: “I want a red jeep, a million dollars, and a trip around the world for two.”

On Christmas day, I got exactly what I asked for, but not in my way of thinking, yet it was funny.

monopoly-money2I got a red plastic toy jeep that was parked in the driveway between two vehicles.  I got a million dollars of Monopoly Game money and I got my trip around the world for two by him placing a world globe in the middle of the living room floor and walking me around it.

So, you see.  I really should have seen what was coming.

76881450e85d781040c3eebd9b0d8b04mixedchristmasnutsOn Christmas morn, 1988, I got up and there on the back of a chair in the dining room was one of my hubby’s sock stuffed full of fruit, nuts, and candies–all from my childhood: apples, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, English walnuts, hazelnuts, etc. and the ribbon Christmas candy, etc.

It really did bring back my childhood memories and tears flooded my eyes.

So, this year, when you hang your stocking with care, ask your parents and/or grandparents what did they receive in their stockings on Christmas morn.

One thing is for sure, it was probably nothing electronic!

Enjoy yourself today and this evening and on Christmas Eve, don’t rush around like a chicken with its head cut off.  Instead, enjoy your family and/or friends, eat what you want (in moderation), and laugh.

And if you are a church going person, go to church and enjoy the candlelight service.

Wishing Peace to Everyone!

Merry Christmas!

Cindy Harris

P. S.  Don’t forget to leave a comment so you can be entered into my giveaway of a $25 Amazon Gift Card.  Drawing to take place on January 7th.



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Filed under Christmas, family relationship, Genre, Holidays, Memoir, Non-Fiction

Two Unforgettable Christmases

Title: Two Unforgettable Christmases
By: Morgan St. James
Publisher: Marina Publishing Group
Publication Date: November 23, 2011
Genre: Non-Fiction






Author Morgan St. James reminisces about two Christmases during her childhood. The family’s move to Miami from Chicago in 1949 when she was nine was a culture shock for the young Yankee who was smart, wore glasses, wasn’t good at sports and wore shoes to school, She felt like an outcast. See what she experienced that Christmas.

Back in Chicago by the time she was ten, things were much better, but the family had no money. To her that was the best Christmas ever. Find out why.


Author Bio:

morgan-headshotThis former interior designer is now a frequent panelist, moderator or speaker. Having written over 600 articles about the craft and business of writing, St. James was inspired to write WRITERS’ TRICKS OF THE TRADE as an easy, fun-to-read guide for writers and authors at all stages of their careers. Available in Kindle, eBook and paperback. She presents writers workshops and co-hosts the WRITERS TRICKS OF THE TRADE show on Blog Talk Radio, as well as publishing the semi-monthly eZine of the same name.






Facebook and Twitter: @MorganStJames


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Filed under Authors, Books, Christmas, family relationship, Genre, Memoir, Non-Fiction