March 30, 2020

Happy 10th Anniversary to An Eclectic Muse

Today is 

An Eclectic Muse's 


I can't believe it, but the proof is in my first post, dated March 30, 2010:

Getting Started With This Blog Thing

In 2010, a lot of people didn't know about blogs, so my first post tried to explain the concept. I, also, talked about my plans for this channel.

A lot has changed in that plan over the years, but I'm still here and churning out information related to writing.

People all over the world read my blog. This amazes me, but my stats tell me that my readers come from:

  • United States
  • Russia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ukraine
  • Canada
  • Czechia
  • Unknown Region
  • United Kingdom
  • China

Not sure where that unknown region is, but this is my audience. Maybe it's aliens from outer space!

Those stats also indicate most of you find me through Facebook or Google.

What are the most popular posts?

I thought you'd never ask.  My top three posts are as eclectic as this blog's title. Starting with the most popular, they are:

I reviewed my tags and discovered that after writing and fiction, my most prolific tags are:

How has this blog changed?

During my first year of blogging, I tried to use the blog for multiple purposes. Over time, research indicated that successful blogs have a main purpose, so I shifted to a writing focus. I, also, started a second blog on faith at that time. Currently I post in both blogs each week and write posts for other blogs.

Under the new focus, I use this as a platform to teach about writing, to publicize other writers' works, and to explore my own writing journey. In the early years, I even participated in a few contests and made the short-list for a speculative fiction contest called The Rule of 3. My final story appeared in this post:

Raker's Return to Renaissance

I still love that story, and the novelization of it is on my TBW (to be written) list.

I couldn't do it without you!

Thank you to everyone who ever chose to visit this blog, comment, or share it. You keep me going when it's hard to decide what to write about.

Happy 10th Anniversary!

March 25, 2020

Social Distancing Lemonade: How Our Writing Group Did It

My granddaughter's artwork
When life gives you lemons...

We can look at this social distancing experience as lemons. I have had my lemon moments in the past week. Just read last week's post! But we're adapting. One of my writing life adaptations happened Monday night. Well, the culmination of it occurred Monday night. I spent Friday through Monday getting ready for it.


Our writing critique group. I run the local chapter for the South Carolina Writers' Association. We meet two times a month. In. Person. We look forward to this time of sharing and giving feedback on each other's work. Determined to not let that disappear, I began exploring options to hold our meetings online.

And found Zoom.

I participated in a Zoom meeting with 150 other people a few days before I began looking for an online option. This platform works amazingly well. You can:

  • See everyone who chooses to be seen
  • Mute or unmute participants
  • Mute or unmute video options
  • Share files on screen
  • Use a chat box for information beyond the scope of what's happening in the meeting
  • Access it will little issues or problems

Overall, it was a huge win for us. Most importantly, we were able to connect with our writing tribe. We had fourteen people in attendance, some who haven't been able to attend in some time due to caregiver responsibilities. With a bit of think-ahead strategy and planning, it came off without many hitches.

If you're interested in trying it out, here's a short video that instructs people how to access it from a tablet, smartphone, PC, or a Mac. A shout out to Chip Reaves at Bigger Brains* who saw the need for something quick and created this video.

How To Join a Zoom Meeting

I'm not going to say our first run was perfect. My computer froze at one point, but I'm working on a solution before our next meeting. The response from the group has been incredible. Some of our members admit to being Luddites, but it worked in the end. See what they had to say:

  • Good meeting.  Zoom seems to be the way to go.
  • I thought overall it was a success. Looking forward to the next one.
  • Overall, my thoughts are positive.  This can work!  
  • Things went really well last night. Much better than I had imagined. 

So how are you handling your group, in-person meetings? What's working for you? Please share them in the comments of this post so others can find something that works for them.

How are you making Social Distancing Lemonade?

*FYI, I'm one of Bigger Brains trainers, and we currently have
several training videos for free on YouTube, including 
our popular Microsoft Teams Essentials training
 and my complete library of Excel 2010 classes.

March 19, 2020

Week 1 of Captivity and Social Distancing

Image courtesy of

Week 1 of Captivity

How our week has gone so far:


We went to church, possibly for the last time in a month. They had taken great precautions with how the Lord's Supper and the general mingling should occur. Most of the congregation was there, with many of our elderly members missing, which I anticipated.

I teared up when they announced we wouldn't meet again until Easter (hopefully). My church family is dear to me, and the church is there to encourage us in tough times. I do support the decision. It makes sense, and we're trying to continue encouragement from a social distance.

In the afternoon, we got the ominous message I'd been praying not to see for another week: schools were closed. I struggled to rethink my plans for the week and offered to help out the single mom across the street. She needed help with the kids on Wednesday and maybe Thursday, and I told her no problem.


Can I survive this nightmare of crazy kids at home? That was the question foremost in my mind. My granddaughter is ADHD, and when she's ramped up, she's loud. No really. She's LOUD. I spent a large part of the morning begging her to use an inside voice. The request fell on deaf ears.

Food shortages because, ya know, kids at home, created the need to go to the groucery store. So much for social distancing!

 My granddaughter kept begging for things that I knew were out of stock. She refused to believe me without seeing proof. We were there two hours! When we managed to find a somewhat short line, we still stood in it over thirty minutes. Of course,  my grandson kept asking to go to the bakery. If I had a dollar for every time I told him we were not getting out of line, it would have paid for my groceries!


I had scheduled my taxes for Wednesday but moved it to Tuesday in anticipation of the neighbor's children staying at my house. I hoped there would be very few people there. It's a small office, so the kids could play on tablets quietly during my appointment. (That part worked, fyi.)

BUT, I needed to finalize some details (originally planned to do Monday and Tuesday). My grandson didn't go fifteen minutes with out interrupting me. The result? I left out multiple pieces of information and subtotaled my Excel spreadsheet the wrong way. My grandson was swarming my office by then. I teach Excel, have done so for years, but I'm no match for an eight-year-old ADHD, OCD boy, so I only discovered the error once we were at the appointment.

Image courtesy of pixabay

In-home schoolwork today! Woohoo!

I picked up my grandson's Chromebook and assignments as well as the schoolwork for one of the children I had volunteered to watch that day.

My granddaughter and the older child use Google Classroom already, so they got right to it. For the younger two, it was a struggle. The volume of work bowled me over, and, the chrome books were not cooperating. We couldn't access most of my grandson's assignments. So, instead of getting some of my work done while they worked, I spent most of the day trying to get him working on something. On anything.

I'd hoped the neighbor's kids and mine would be able to play some, but the work took up the whole time they were here. We went right up to dinner time, and my grandson couldn't finish most of his due to messed up connectivity with the websites.

I can't imagine what these teachers went through to get these assignments set up in time. They're staying available for questions during regular school hours, too. We don't pay these men and women enough.


So, here we are today. After getting the kids dressed, fed, and other typical morning tasks, they are working. My grandson has only interrupted me six times since I started typing this post. I'm sure I'll have to check on his progress soon, but it's smoother today. [Edited to add: now he's in the room with me so I can keep an eye on his progress. He's, also, trying to get the dog to type his answers.]

Thankfully, the school district fixed most of the connectivity issues.

One week almost in the books.

Hopefully, I'll survive the remaining weeks of captivity and get some writing done, too!