What Makes a Natural Wonder?


I think it might be the “WOW” factor.

The seven “official” natural wonders are: Mt. Everest, Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, The Great Barrier Reef, Paricutin (Volcano in Mexico), Victoria Falls, The Grand Canyon, and the Aurora Borealis.

We’re not limited to these seven, of course. I found a listing of seven natural wonders of Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. And you know there are more than just the Great Barrier Reef down under.  I found these natural wonders listed on this website: Seven Natural Wonders.

What a fun bucket list item–to travel the world and see all these natural wonders up close, in person. Wonder how many times you’d say, “Wow!”

Writing Prompt: Just for fun, choose one of these seven natural wonders listed above, and plan a trip using not-so-normal transportation. Tell us about it in the comment section below. Extra Credit: also post this quirky travel plan on Facebook! Add a link to this post if you can, let us know you did it, and you’ll get an extra entry in the Once Upon a Christmas giveaway!

Paricutin attribution: By R.E. Wilcox, U.S. Geological Survey [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


3 Questions Wednesday with Shauna Williams

sw-author-photoPlease welcome Shauna Williams—author–to 3 Questions Wednesday.

So how did she answer our 3 Questions? Read on–

What books have fortified you as a writer? How?

Shauna: I don’t think there’s an actual list of books per se that I could label as having fortified me as a writer. It’s more like there’s a conglomeration of things in relation to books that has attributed to my writing as a whole. My Christian-based educational background having been the most influential. Through the various required Bible classes (which consisted of the Bible along with a related text book each year), my appreciation and understanding of the Word of God was established allowing for me to now write truths in a relevant manner.

My early love of reading would be another influential factor with Rainbow Garden by Patricia M. St. John, The Little House collection by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and the Mandie books by Lois Gladys Leppard having been some of my childhood favorites. As time moved on, authors like Lucy Maud Montgomery, Janette Oke, Grace Livingston Hill, Michael Phillips, Bodie Thoene, Larry Burkett, Francine Rivers, and Karen Kingsbury played a huge role in cultivating my love of the written word and further expanding my imaginative abilities. Now, as I’m in the process of writing my third novel, Amazing Faith, I’m finding reference books such as The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman and Common Mistakes Writers Make by Eva Marie Everson to be my go-to sources for, hopefully, influencing me past the early novice phase.

Great reference books! I’ve read them both. Now…

What secret talents do you have?

Shauna: Ummm . . . not sure these classify as “secret” or “talents”, but they’re all I’ve got. Lol . . . So, let’s see. I was once good at painting ceramics. I even won a few ribbons at the local fair as a pre-adolescent and even as a young adult. I can write awesome resumes and have done so for my husband and a few close friends. And according to my five-year-old son, I make the best homemade cinnamon rolls ever.

I’d like to judge that cinnamon roll talent.🙂 Last question…

If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?

Shauna: My go-to meal for guests is normally homemade chicken and cheese enchiladas that I pair with Spanish rice and tortilla chips. So, that’s what I’d make for you. Of course, I have sour cream, black olives, shredded cheese, and some of my husband’s homemade salsa on the side so you can dress up the enchiladas and chips however you like. For dessert, I’d serve you fresh-out-of-the-oven, homemade Ghirardelli chocolate chip cookies.

Wow! That sounds really good. Thanks, Shauna, for dropping by!

Shauna has graciously offered a giveaway of a Kindle version of Serene Courage. To be entered, please leave a comment.

Imperfectly Perfect Love

bookcoverfrontMaggie Grace Veck is a spirited, thirty-six-year-old woman whose seemingly perfect life will be put to the test when unforeseen circumstances begin to arise, causing her to question not only her choices and direction but her faith. Even though she is married to her college sweetheart and first love, she finds herself feeling lonely and forgotten because of his incessantly demanding career as a high-powered attorney. Their nice home, in an elite neighborhood, and the fast-paced bustle of city life are no match for her heart’s desire to return to her deep southern roots. Will she learn to rise above her circumstances and surrender her heart so she can fully grasp the essence of imperfect yet perfect love in order to become the person she was called to be?

This first novel in the Surrendered Hearts series is a powerful story of healing and renewal.


Purchase on Amazon here


Serene Courage

bookcoverpreview8-frontEmily Faith Johnson is no stranger to the dark recesses of loneliness, pain, sorrow, and despair. Her life is marked by unrelenting abuse, from the verbal onslaught of her bitter, alcoholic mother to the physical aggression perpetrated by godless men. She copes as best she knows how—existing in a fog while numbly going through the motions of life. Then, one day, four months before her twenty-first birthday, everything changes when she wakes up in the cab of a tractor trailer, faced with the fear of the unknown, the offer of a man she barely knows, and the promise of a complete stranger. Will she be able to find the courage necessary to attain a better life free from abuse? To trust a man who makes her question everything she knows to be true? To believe in a God whom she knows nothing about? To rise above her past to become the woman she was meant to be?

This second novel in the Surrendered Hearts series is a beautiful story of redeeming love. All novels in this series may also be read as stand-alones.

Purchase on Amazon here

sw-author-photoShauna Williams is an Alabama native, a stay-at-home mom, and a member of the ACFW. She is a born-again Christian, saved by the grace of God. She is married to the man she considers to be her best friend and soul mate, and together, they have two beautiful children and one spoiled-rotten calico cat.

When she’s not attempting to snag little snippets of free-time to write, she can be found spending time with her family and reading. Even from a young age, she has always enjoyed getting lost in the midst of a good book, and in 2014, she finally found the courage to release her very own novel.

Her goal as a writer has always been to inspire and encourage others to seek God and remain faithful to His calling in their own lives through the struggles, lessons, and triumphs her fictional characters experience. “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” (II Peter 3:18).

Natural Wonders – Victoria Falls

Natural Wonders – Victoria Falls



Today’s post is brought to you courtesy of Wikipedia, and moi!  It’s gorgeous country, and someday I’d love to visit there!



I have learned that missionary David Livingstone is the first know European to discover the falls in 1855.  He named them Victoria Falls in honor of the British monarch at the time, Queen Victoria. The falls occur on the Zambezi River, running along the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe.







Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls. In height and width Victoria Falls is rivalled only by Argentina and Brazil’s Iguazu Falls. See table for comparisons.


There are two islands on the crest of the falls that are large enough to divide the curtain of water even at full flood: Boaruka Island (or Cataract Island) near the western bank, and Livingstone Island near the middle—the point from which Livingstone first viewed the falls.



When the river flow is at a certain level, a rock barrier forms an eddy with minimal current, allowing adventurous swimmers to splash around in relative safety a few feet from the point where the water cascades over the falls. Crazy daredevils!



Before 1905, the river was crossed above the falls at the Old Drift, by dugout canoe or a barge towed across with a steel cable. In 1905, with the influx of European influence and settlement, the first bridge across the Zambezi and [Cecil Rhodes] insisted it be built where the spray from the falls would fall on passing trains, so the site at the Second Gorge (of five gorges) was chosen.



The national parks contain abundant wildlife including sizable populations of elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, and a variety of antelope. Vervet monkeys and baboons are common. The river above the falls contains large populations of hippopotamus and crocodile. African bush elephants cross the river in the dry season at particular crossing points. Above the falls, herons, fish eagles and numerous kinds of waterfowl are common.







Mopane woodland savannah predominates in the area, with smaller areas of miombo and Rhodesian teak woodland and scrubland savannah. Riverine forest with palm trees lines the banks and islands above the falls. The most notable aspect of the area’s vegetation though is the rainforest nurtured by the spray from the falls, containing plants rare for the area such as pod mahogany, ebony, ivory palm, wild date palm and a number of creepers and lianas.[12] Vegetation has suffered in recent droughts, and so have the animals that depend on it, particularly antelope.


Writing Prompt: What is your favourite attraction about Victoria Falls? Did you learn something new from my (humble) little post? Would you like to visit the falls?


Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_Falls



ME - 041115“I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!


Ms. Mason has been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013. She resides in the Upstate of South Carolina. She has three novels published, the unsavory heritage series. Tessa, Clara Bess and Cissy are available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. She also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. She will also be working on a personal compilation of poetry to be released in 2017.



Come visit me at:












Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas, Natural Wonders, Victoria Falls, Zambezi River, Zambia, Zimbabwe, David Livingstone



Fractured Memory by Jordyn Redwood

Jordyn-35eToday we welcome Jordyn Redwood, pediatric ER nurse by day, suspense novelist by nightto discuss her latest release, Fractured Memory.

Hello, Jordyn! How long have you been writing?

Jordyn: I started writing when I was very young. As long as I can remember I’ve loved writing stories. One of the first pieces I ever wrote that I can remember was about a rabbit that had to go to the hospital. I guess I was always destined to be a nurse and an author.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

Jordyn: I’ve always loved suspense. I love reading suspense novels and watching psychological thrillers.  I guess it’s built into my DNA since I’m also what’s called a “trauma junkie” who are people who love working in the ER. I guess it’s the thrill of getting that feeling of living on the edge without the risk of putting your life in danger.

What are some of the references you used while researching your book?

JordynFractured Memory was a story drawn almost exclusively from my own experiences. This was done intentionally as this novel was written during a contest and had a very short deadline. That being said, I researched trusted internet sources for types of amnesia.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Jordyn: Since this book was for Love Inspired Suspense I got to develop my romance writing skills. This was both fun and a little terrifying because it’s hard to know when you’re first delving into romance what’s coming across as authentic versus what’s coming across as just cheesy. I definitely went to some friends who are also romance authors to make sure those scenes came across with the right touch.

What do your plans for future projects include?

Jordyn: Currently, I’m under a two book contract with Love Inspired Suspense so one of those novels will release next year. The first one asks the question—what would you do if the only doctor who could save your sister’s life disappears? I’d also really like to release an indie book sometime next year and am working hard to develop the skills needed to manage more than one book project at a time. Time will tell!

Thanks so much for dropping by, Jordyn!

Fractured Memory

Fractured MemoryUnited States marshal Eli Cayne saved Julia Galloway’s life once…and he’s prepared to do it again. But his task would be easier if she could remember him—or the murderer who almost put her in an early grave and seems to be hunting her once more. To protect Julia from the latest threat against her life, Eli has to consider the possibility that he put an innocent man in jail. Julia has no memories of the serial killer called the Hangman, though, and no reason to trust Eli. But with the killer getting closer, she must work with Eli to confront her past—and the feelings growing between them.

Jordyn-35eJordyn Redwood is a pediatric ER nurse by day, suspense novelist by night. She hosts Redwood’s Medical Edge, a blog devoted to helping contemporary and historical authors write medically accurate fiction. Her first two novels, Proof and Poison, garnered starred reviews from Library Journal. Proof was shortlisted for the 2012 ForeWord Review’s BOTY Award, 2013 INSPY Awardand the 2013 Carol Award. Her latest novel, Fractured Memory, released July, 2016. You can connect with Jordyn via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and her website.

Natural Wonders: A “Mammoth” Good Time

By Sandra Ardoin

With over 400 miles of explored tunnels, Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, one of our national treasures, is the largest cave system in the world. Its environment changes with the rainwater dripping through the sandstone layers to the underlying limestone, to underground rivers and eventually into the Green River.

The park was established in 1941, but two hundred years after the first formal tour in 1816, hubby and I approached the kiosk outside the Visitor’s Center. No spelunker, it was my first experience in a cavern. I walked up to the counter and asked the ranger on duty, “What tours do you have for old people?” (Okay, we’re not old old, but we get closer with each new ache.)

dscn1605-copyI’m sure the polite man gave me a mental eye roll before telling us about the one-eighth-mile Frozen Niagara tour to see the stalactites and stalagmites. Then he mentioned the Domes and Dripstones Tour, which encompassed more territory, plus the Frozen Niagara. We’d driven a long way to see a bunch of underground rock, so it was the Domes and Dripstones or bust.

Before the tour began, we were told that those who were claustrophobic (check mark), afraid of heights (check mark), and had knee issues (well, on occasion—see above paragraph) might want to reconsider. Really? Did they think they were dealing with a couple of wimps? Bring on the bus to the cavern!

dscn1603-copyAs we approached the cement, bunker-type entrance at the bottom of a sink hole, I thought of the TV show Lost and that underground bunker. I didn’t relish being part of a resurrection of the show and hoped we’d eventually “find” the exit.

Over a hundred people took our tour, with hubby and me almost bringing up the rear, so it was slow going as we descended into the abyss. I’ll admit, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if there was an earthquake. Nope. No wimp in that bunny-hop line.

The way was well-lit and the path relatively smooth. No problem, except when we were forced to pause in a tight, low-ceilinged spot. (One of us found out the hard way that you need to watch your head. I won’t say which one, but for once, it wasn’t me.) Occasionally, it seemed the whole ceiling was propped up by one small, well-placed rock.

dscn1591-copyWe spent two hours going down, around, and up, exploring the limestone caverns with their sometimes wet, but mostly, dry walls. I’d come prepared to freeze in what the website said was a constant 54 degrees. About halfway through, I removed my sweater.

Twice, we stopped in large “rooms” with rows of benches to listen to the tour ranger provide more information about the caves. Once, we were in a “dome” room. Unlike the walls with their jagged protrusions, the ceiling was smooth, looking somewhat like stucco with cracks running through it. To me, the dripstones resembled a hanging mud dauber’s nest.

When we stopped in the second room, the ranger explained about the crickets in the cave, one of numerous species of insect and animal life that live there. These aren’t your typical crickets. They’re thin and lighter in color, and they don’t make noise. To show us why they’re silent, she turned the lights off. Yipes! You’ve heard the axiom about it being so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face? I could touch my nose and still not see my hand. I’ve never been in such pitch blackness. But crickets are a bat’s prey, and bats track by …? Yep, sonar. So, the insects don’t sing.

dscn1614-copyFinally, we reached the Frozen Niagra. Beautiful! Stalactites, stalagmites, and columns of limestone.

From there, we were given the option to take a shortcut to the exit and avoid nearly a hundred steps. Phfft! Didn’t I say we weren’t wimps?

Before leaving the underground, we passed walls populated by those crickets I mentioned, and then ducked beneath a bat hanging from the ceiling—the latter much smaller than I’d expected and seemingly unimpressed by a bunch of temporary explorers.

dscn1624-copyAt the end of the tour, they bused us back to the visitor’s center where we were required to walk over a bio mat with soapy water to clean our shoes. Unfortunately, a disease called White Nose Syndrome is killing the bats and, of course, they don’t want it spread from cave to cave.

We drove to the ferry that crosses the Green River. While the ferry is no longer made of wood and hauling animals and wagons across the strip of water, it can carry three vehicles and was so smooth I only knew we were moving by watching the scenery.

A little history about the river and the ferry from a park sign:


There’s much more to do in the park than wander tunnels. You can camp or stay in the hotel, hike, bike, and horseback ride. But if being underground is your thing, there are numerous cave tour options, including one in which you can prove how adventurous you are when you “climb, crawl, squeeze, hike and canyon walk” for six hours. Crawl on, but you won’t see me on that one!

All right, maybe I can be a little wimpy, but I didn’t ache the next day nearly as much as I expected.

Writing Prompt: I bent almost double, hands on my knees, as ragged gasps erupted from deep inside. The darkness enveloped us, with only the small point of the flashlight to lead our way. How did I get trapped in Mammoth Caves with such an enthusiastic tour guide? Suddenly…

Sandra Ardoin_HeadshotSandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, antique store prowler. Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Join her email community to receive occasional updates and a free short story.arm-cover




3 Questions Wednesday with Aaron Gansky

aaron31Please welcome Aaron Gansky—author, –to 3 Questions Wednesday.

So how did he answer our 3 Questions? Read on–

What books have fortified you as a writer? How?

AaronThere are several books I’ve read that I’ve loved that have not necessarily influenced my writing style. I think more in terms of authors than particular books. With that in mind, I’d say Flannery O’Connor has had the greatest impact on my writing, and some of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s works. Raymond Carver, Tim O’Brien, Bret Anthony Johnston, and Cormac McCarthy, too. If you want books, I’d say A Good Man is Hard to Find, Corpus Christi, The Great Gatsby, The Things They Carried, and The Road. These books have really helped define my voice–my thirst for vivid imagery and poetic prose, but also a sparse subtlety. Each word is important, and melodrama is absolutely not allowed.

But it’s so easy to be melodramatic. :) Now…

What secret talents do you have?

Aaron: Not sure how “secret” it is, but I used to be a musician. I was in a rock band for a number of years. I wrote a lot of our music and lyrics. Performing was fun, but it was also very taxing. Some years ago, I co-wrote a rock-and-roll romance with a friend of mine. It was a lot of fun. I’m hoping we find a good home for it soon.

That sounds like a fun talent. Last question.

If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?

Aaron: I’ve had some good comments about my spaghetti sauce. I’m not much of a cook, but I approach the kitchen the way I approach a novel. I know enough to make something tasty, though I seldom know what it’s going to be when I start.

Sounds good. Pass the garlic bread. Thanks, Aaron, for dropping by!

Aaron has graciously offered a giveaway of winners choice of any of his books. To be entered, please leave a comment. Read about two of his books below…

Who Is Harrison Sawyer?
His son … a stranger … now dead. 

Desperate to rediscover his estranged son, Marshall Sawyer 9781941103449-perfectpreview-1cropagrees to finish the autobiography Harrison began before his untimely death. But the passages described in the book do not match the life Marshall remembers with his son. Together with his daughter-in-law and a professional football player friend, Marshall embarks on a journey to find out the truth. What happened to the boy in the missing years after Harrison ran away at age fifteen and his marriage years later? As he begins to investigate, he soon discovers a dangerous plot — one that puts his life in danger and the future of America at risk.

The Blood Sword
 Soon after their defeat of the abomination Belphegor, the 9781941103203-perfectpreview-2Hand must turn their attention to the Blood Sword, an ancient, cursed blade. Securing the deadly artifact is the next step in their quest to find a way back to their home in North Chester. But the task is far from easy. Erica soon sets out with Ullwen of Varuth, a staunch ally, on a quest to find her parents, leaving the others to search for the blade on their own.   

The search for the Blood Sword eventually leads the Hand to Yarborugh, the Nameless Heir, a drunken half-dwarf, and Langley of Errul, a contentious half-elf politician. Together, the group of five plumb the depths of an ancient elf military post crawling with corpses to attain the cursed blade. Meanwhile, Erica and Ullwen must find a way to infiltrate Alrujah, a city that shares the paranoia of its ailing king. As animate statues wield terrifying magic, the group faces certain death. 

aaron31Aaron Gansky is the author of The Bargain, The Book of Things to Come, The Blood Sword, and Who is Harrison Sawyer. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from California State University of San Bernardino. He went on to earn his Masters of Fine Arts in Fiction from Antioch University of Los Angeles. He lives in the desert of Southern California with his wife and three boys.


It’s Time For Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway II!


Christmas will be here before we know it and YOU can help the Writing Prompts Crew celebrate! When you leave a comment on any of the regular posts (Mondays and Fridays) from now until November 29th, your name will go in the drawing for some great prizes. We’ll announce our winner on December 1st so you’ll have your gifts early this year if you’re one of our winners. But you have to enter…

You will once again love this year’s celebration! We’re giving away a basket full of goodies! One blessed winner will receive a Barnes and Noble gift card while others receive books—among other things—just our way of thanking you for visiting our blog.

  • When you go to the extra trouble of leaving a comment, you’re entered.
  • When you answer one of our writing prompts, you receive another entry.
  • Bonus entry: There’s one more way to gain an additional entry in the giveaway that only our blog readers will know about!

You’ll find a Christmas picture in the sidebar of this blog. (Hint: it says “Once Upon a Christmas). :)⇒⇒

If you have already “liked” our Facebook page, click on over there and comment in the top post on our Writing Prompts Crew Facebook page—you can just type a single word or a phrase to tell what the picture is. (We’ll have a special holiday post pinned on the Facebook page). For instance, if you see a picture of a candy cane on the right side of our blog (sidebar), go to the Facebook page and type “candy cane” in the comments. Got it?

If you haven’t “liked” our Writing Prompts Crew Facebook page, you can find it here. Just click “like” and you’ll be able to enter. (You can actually click that picture over there and it should take you to the Facebook page). Be sure to come back, though!

Be vigilant! The pictures may change several times, so you can reenter on the Facebook page whenever you see a different picture.

christmas tree