You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

We often hear you can’t judge a book by its cover. True, you can’t tell the literary quality of a book by its cover.

With the help of a graphic artist, the author’s story can be depicted on a books cover. It can provide the reader with; time period, location, and a glimpse at the protagonist. The title should also tell the story. In the Westward Sagas, I had in mind a different name for the first book. Once the manuscript was finished and I read it from start to finish, I knew it must be named Spring House. Book 2, Adam’s Daughters, was named from the start because the story was about Patriot Adam Mitchell’s three oldest daughters growing up in Jonesborough,TN. The Chester Inn, the town’s oldest existing building, is on the cover with Peggy, Ibby, and Rebeckah sitting in a farm wagon dressed as farmer’s daughters in 1790 dress. Time, location, and vocation are visually established.

Book 3 in the Westward Sagas, was originally to be Adam’s Sons, as I traveled and did book signings, buyers of the first books asked about Peggy. I brought her back into Book 3; Peggy soon became the protagonist. The book was renamed Peggy, which I announced on this blog and elsewhere.

Those who have read advanced copies of Book 3 say this is truly a book about The Children of the Revolution who; survived a great battle on their farm, witnessed the destruction of their home, and became part of this nation’s first generation.


Living Small

After two months of RVing with two 75 pound dogs, it is amazing how we have adjusted to 300 sf of living space. The 31 foot Domani fifth wheel, with both slides out, meets our needs.

I started RVing eight years ago with an entry level RV, which was not up to the demands of our long distance travels. Now, three years into the 2009 Domani, we are getting settled in.

I retrofitted the Domani to suit our needs. A dining table with four huge chairs was removed, and the bulky sofa and matching chairs were replaced with a cherry wood writing desk and two comfortable leather reclining chairs. The galley has a convection/microwave oven, gas range, refrigerator and freezer. Most of the cooking is done outside on the grill or in dutch ovens. The Domani came with an outside entertainment center underneath the awning; the main salon has a 32” wall mounted TV and a 21” in the bedroom.

I gave up the tent and sleeping bag years ago for the comfort of a queen size bed with pillow top mattress. Now a necessity for all the aches and pains of my life’s many mishaps.

This is our last night in Long Beach, California. In the morning, we head north to summer quarters. I will stick that well worn Willie Nelson CD in the player and sing along with the Red Headed Stranger “On the road again, going places I have never been, seeing places I may never see again.” 

Daisy and Lulubelle at home in their RV


Snake Proofing Your Dog

It’s sad to lose your four legged friend for any reason, more so from a painful rattlesnake bite. Even if your dog successfully completed snake avoidance training, as discussed in my previous blog post, they still can be bitten by a rattler in the field or on a hike in the great outdoors. With snake avoidance training and annual rattlesnake vaccinations, the chance of death by a rattler bite is greatly reduced for your dogs.

Daisy and Lulubelle, my yellow labs, received two shots each of the rattlesnake vaccinations the first year and then once annually. The shots don’t prevent a snake bite, but immunizes the dog to the snake’s venom. My longtime vet Dr. Pat Richardson, DVM at Broadway Oaks Animal Hospital, San Antonio, Texas says “should a bite occur, the rattlesnake antivenin will reduce the severity; allow more time to get to a vet with fresh vials of the expensive antivenin, which has a short shelf life, cost about $500.00 a vial. A large hunting dog that has not been vaccinated could require three to five vials. A dog on antivenin may not need any and can be treated with steroids and antibiotics.” My dog’s vaccine was $35.00 per shot at Broadway Oaks, inexpensive protection for my best friends and outdoor companions. Dr. Tom Vice, DVM; founder of Broadway Oaks Animal Hospital and avid outdoorsman, was one of the first vets to utilize the snake vaccination for dogs. For more information go to

This is the snake that ruined the picnic for the bluebonnet pickers.


Snake Avoidance Training

Living in Texas with dogs bred to hunt, it’s a sure bet that you or your dogs will encounter a poisonous snake. My yellow labs, Lulubelle-8 and Daisy-11, both graduated from Snake Avoidance Training (S.A.T.) by the time they were a year old. It’s a good way to ensure your best friend doesn’t stick his/her nose into a rattlesnakes business. 

S.A.T. is simple; the trainer puts a shock collar on your dog, the only time I have ever allowed one on my dogs. The dog is put in a pen with a live defanged rattler. When the dog gets within striking distance and the rattler lunges at the dog, the trainer gives the dog a good shock at the moment of the strike. Fortunately, my dogs got the idea the first time. I don’t think I could watch my girls take the hit a second time. The collars were taken off and never put on again. Sometimes a refresher course may be needed.

Twice, this training has kept me from tangling with a rattler. Lulubelle encountered a rattler shortly after her training, which may have saved me from a snake bite. She was ahead of me on a seldom traveled trail, with lots of growth. She went on point…that tail went up as did the hair on her back. She didn’t bark, but made a nervous growl. There was a 6 foot long rattler curled ready to strike. She made me aware of the snake’s presence, but made no attempt to go near it. We both made a wide detour and my girl earned her treat. 

Don’t try this yourself—ask your vet, breeder, or check with a hunting club. Hire a trainer with lots of experience in S.A.T. See my next blog about snake proofing your dogs.


Texas Bluebonnets

GOOD NEWS! Last summer’s drought, plentiful winter rains, and the wildfires of last year have set the state up for an abundant crop of bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas. For those that don’t know, the bluebonnet is to Texas, what the shamrock is to Ireland.

It is still early, but from the bluebonnets I have seen that have already bloomed, the plants are healthy and thick with pods. It looks like bluebonnets will be plentiful in the Hill Country of Texas, more so than in years past. Get your camera ready, load up the kids and the dog, and head to the Hill Country.

There is help to plan your outing; check out which is a very informative site for updates on Texas wildflower conditions. If you have an extra special photo of your trip to share, please send to and I will post it on my author’s page. While there, I would appreciate your liking my author page, and friending it.

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