I am the daughter, sister, wife and mother of a Veteran!

         Members of the military impacted my life in many ways. My life  was certainly changed by members of my family serving in the armed forces.  So what better time than on this Veteran’s Day to honor them….those who keep us SAFE and FREE!  And to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us and their country.


Gerald Guyer (cousin)   US Marines**WWI – gave his life in Normandy, France ** Son of Gladys; nephew of Violet, my mother.

W. Jay Woods

William Jay Woods (father)  US Navy ** WWII –   South Pacific – PTSD.  He met my mother in San Francisco, where she owned a bar and grill.  He returned from war  an alcoholic, experienced rages and had a parrot named Butch.

John Cable, ‘Dad’

Johnny Cable (step-father)  US Army/Infantry ** WWII Southern Pacific. Lost an eye, suffered from jungle rot and PTSD.  At five years of age I remember not being able to run in and jump on the bed in the mornings to ‘wake up Daddy’.  He would awaken ready to fight the ‘Japs’ and in those first few seconds he was back in the jungle.   He was a wonderful father but the horrors of the South Pacific battles were never far from the surface. He later served on a ship in the Korean War as a meat cutter.  He was instrumental in serving the troops a HOT Thanksgiving dinner on the beach that year.

family histories, family secrets, story telling, writers
my mother, Violet

Violet Guyer (mother) US Armed Forces ** Wife, sister, and mother of members in the military. My mother, who I write about, was auntie to Gerald.  She married Jay (active Navy) and Johnny (active Army) and was a military wife for two decades. She was mother to Jack (US Air Force) and Doris, (US Marines).

Brother Jack

Jack Borden (brother)  US Air Force
** Loaded B52 bombers – hot spots around the world – 20+ years of service.  My brother would come home from far away places like Germany, Iceland, Africa, Panama and because he  didn’t have a hometown girl, he would take me, his teenage sister, ballroom dancing.


                            Doris Borden (sister) Joined the US Marines, Reserve and was upgraded to active duty when the Korean War broke out.


Jack Henderson, US Air force

Jack Henderson.  (first husband) US Air Force * While in the military, he was on a ship in the Pacific
and witnessed one of the first A-Bomb test explosions off Enewetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands.  

Robert Berry, Navy Seal

Robert Berry (second husband)   US Navy Seals, US Coast Guard ** 20+ years of service.  Robert was a Navy Seal, underwater demolition during the Viet Nam years.  He later served as a warrant officer aboard an icebreaker and was certified to scuba dive under the Arctic ice.


John Sugarek, Viet Nam

John Sugarek (husband)  US Marines ** Viet Nam –   John was my husband for 30 years. He was kind-hearted and funny and everyone loved him.  I witnessed two of his  flashbacks from battle in Viet Nam (twenty years later)  and he suffered, untreated, from PTSD. Partially due to the PTSD (I believe) he died at his own hand in 2006.  His fellow wounded warriors celebrate him at the Whiskey Battery Reunion, once a year.marines


We are all grateful to our military for their unswerving bravery, service, and loyalty and we honor those who have come home, battered but alive.



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Monday Motivation for Writers! #30

Pride Yourself on Your Great Dialogue!

Definition: the conversational element of literary or dramatic composition

I’ve often wondered if authors whom I’ve read, like Edna Ferber, wrote pages and pages of narrative/description because they never mastered the art of dialogue. Hmmm.

I got lucky because I began my writing career by writing stage plays. And they are nothing but dialogue. So early on I learned from, not only writing plays but, reading plays…thousands of them over the years.

To be good at it, I think one of the tricks is to write more and more dialogue and then write some more. You have to be able to get in that character’s head. What do they ‘sound’ like? Is their grammar messy? The character who hails from the Bronx, for example, is going to cut off words such as: walkin’, talkin’, eatin’, and so forth. There will be more idioms (such as ‘grill’, ‘to front’, ‘rachet’, ‘na’mean, and ‘spaz’)  than a person who was raised in a household where grammar and diction were more valued. You have to be able to switch characters and write ‘flavor’ into their speech. How would an eastern Indian, whosewriting, create, write, blog, authors
first language is not English, ‘sound’?  Now write it that way.  How would a southern ‘sound’? Be careful, people from Charleston, S.C. sound totally different from people in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Now, go back over your story and focus on how each character sounds. Is one character’s grammatical habits spilling over into another? Once in awhile I will read over my dialogue and suddenly one of my characters ‘sounds’ like me but they’re not anything like me. I let my own idioms slide right into my character’s mouth.  It’s disconcerting because it’s so easy to do. When you’re out and about listen to other people’s speech patterns, idioms and speech habits.

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E.L.Doctorow

“People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.” Logan Pearsall Smith
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Monday Motivation for the Writer! #20

R U Passive? waiting for your muse to strike and help you write your novel or story?  Back in the day, a muse was thought to be a creative spirit that unleashed your creativity. If you weren’t creative, it was the muse’s fault. 

R U External?  Setting an external reward for completing your daily writing task.  Usually food, drink or an activity such as watching your favorite TV show.

R U INTERNAL?  Ah, now we’re talking!  Writers need to examine their own brains to get that motivation working.  Your pain/pleasure receptors, in your brain, need adjusting if writing is painful.  If your writing causes you more pain than pleasure, waiting for a muse or an external reward is all you have. 

You need to write for the sheer joy of writing. Writing becomes the motivation for writing. Writing becomes your addiction.  Turn off the negative voice in your head that tells you you’re a crappy writer, have no talent…you know the voice I’m talking about.  Reinforce yourself by making positive statements, to yourself,  about your writing.  Take the time to admire that well-turned sentence, page, or chapter that you just wrote!

“Writing is a journey of discovery because until you start, you never know what will happen, and you be surprised by what you do~~expect the unexpected!” Mini Grey

“Writing is not a calling…it’s a doing!” Trisha Sugarek

Monday Motivations for the Writer! #17

TS. My friend and best-selling author, Jodi Thomas, did me the honor of contributing to Monday Motivations.

‘The hardest thing a writer does each day is sitting down to work.  In 28 years as a working writer, I’ve published 45 books and 13 novellas.  The hardest thing wasn’t learning to write but learning to manage time. I picked up a few tricks but it is still the dragon I fight every day.

Jodi.photo (Small)
Jodi Thomas

Build your nest.  I find this makes it easy for me to step into fiction.  It doesn’t matter if your nest is in a secret room in the attic or a small desk in a hotel room. It needs to be your nest. I usually start with a notebook. 

My facts book, my bible for the series.  It includes all characters’ names and basic facts.  Maps of the area—if you’re making up a town, make up the map.’ ~~Jodi Thomas

‘Peace and rest at length have come, All the day’s long toil is past; And each heart is whispering “Home, Home at last!‘- Thomas Hood

Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.’- Robert Frost
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Monday Motivations for the Writer! #16

Why momentum is more important than quality. Blasphemy, right? Wrong. Momentum is more important, in this writer’s opinion, than quality.

The writer with momentum is an author who is MOVING FORWARD.  Writing every day, six or seven days a week, if only a page or two a day.

The writer who is so stuck on ‘quality’ that they have only written one book in their life time, and they are still writing it, is the writer who is not moving forward or growing.  If you only write one or two words a day, your manuscript is moving forward.

Many writers, who believe a,s I do, say that if you leave a project for a month, six months, a year, it is likely that you will never go back to it. And during that time the doubt creeps in: “who do I think I am?” “I’ll never be a great writer.”  “I’m no good at this.” “My mother was right, I’ll never amount to anything….” “how good could I possibly be?” “I should go get a day job.” “How dare I?”

Remember, Quality gets layered in, draft by draft. Some newbie writers think that the first draft should be perfect. Sorry, that’s simply not the case. You’ve heard me say over and over:  ‘that’s what rewrites are for.’
Quality is a multi-draft proposition. Momentum is the only thing that will get you a FIRST DRAFT!

Write until it becomes as natural as breathing. Write until NOT writing makes you anxious.” Unknown

The role of the writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.” Anais Nin

When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.” Brene Brown

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Watch for more interviews with authors.  December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY
Joshua Hood, author of ROBERT LUDLUM’S THE TREADSTONE RENDITION, April:  H.W. ‘Buzz’ Bernard, WWII historian


Monday Motivations for the Writer! (#15)

When characters stroll into your story….LET THEM! A little while back, I completed an interview with FreshFiction.com and was relating to the interviewer that several characters had walked into my story (Song of the Yukon) quite unexpectedly.   I welcomed them in. It happens to me frequently.  They contribute interesting tributaries to my main story stream. Even though I had to stop and do some extra research, it was so WORTH IT!

Keep writing, my fellow writers!

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are  thrown on the scrap heap.’~~George Bernard Shaw

An original writer is not one who imitates nobody, but one whom nobody can imitate.’ Francois Rene De Chateaubriand

‘I’m not the heroic type, really. I was beaten up by Quakers.’ ~Woody Allen

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Watch for more interviews with authors.  December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY
Joshua Hood, author of ROBERT LUDLUM’S THE TREADSTONE RENDITION, April:  H.W. ‘Buzz’ Bernard, writing for TOM CLANCY.  


Monday Motivation for a Writer! #14

How to Love Not Hate Rewrites

A writer has to find a way to love rewrites. No matter how good you are at writing your first draft I guarantee you will find an awkward sentence structure, typos, or a section not germane to your story.  Best of all, if you’re like me, you’ll discover extra content when exploring unfinished business in your story.

Love those rewrites! You’ll have a better book for it!

Rewriting is a large part of the whole job. And get rid of stuff that’s not working. Just pare it down until it’s a beautiful thing you can hand in, probably late, to your editor.”~~ Kurt Loder

“More than a half, maybe as much as two-thirds, of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn’t say I have a talent that’s special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina.”~~ John Irving

“Artistry is important. Skill, hard work, rewriting, editing, and careful, careful craft: All of these are necessary. These are what separate the beginners from experienced artists.”~~ Sarah Kay


                    ‘As a writer, I marinate, speculate and hibernate…and rewrite.’  Trisha Sugarek


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Watch for more interviews with authors.  November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY



Monday Motivation for the Writer! #12

                      How to Write Rich Characters.

After many years of writing, my characters just show up in my head, but it’s my job to ‘flesh them out, and’ breathe life into them. Many times I will meet or see a character in

 real life, and they inspire a character in my storytelling. If you’re a new writer, take the time to write it down. It’s not the same as a few random thoughts about your character. Some intangible thing happens when I put pen to paper and get to know who my character is.

Read through your story and write down EVERYTHING the other characters say about the character you are creating. These exercises do not have to show up in your book. They are merely ways to research and explore who your characters are. When I am editing and rewriting, I look for additional ways to bring my characters to life.

I keep asking myself about the character’s motivations, goals, and needs.

One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time.

 Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. Something more will arise for later, something better.”
— Annie Dillard

A director becomes a diplomatist, a financier, a pedagogue, a top sergeant, a wet nurse, and a martyr, the kind of martyr who used to be torn into pieces by wild horses galloping in all directions at once.” ~Margaret Webster, Stage Director (This quote SO applies to writers, I thought I would include it.)

(Watercolor portraits by Trisha Sugarek)

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Watch for more interviews with authors.  December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY


Monday Motivations for the Writer! #7

You know a story has been rattling around in your brain.  TODAY is the day you will find time to sit down and write the first sentence, the first page. But you say, “I can’t get going. I can’t write it. Where do I start?”

Sit down and write an essay about yourself. Write down everything you’ve always wanted to say…but couldn’t or wouldn’t.  
Somewhere inside that essay are the bones (the outline) of your short story, your stage play, or your novel. It may not be even a whole sentence. It may be just a phrase. So look closely, as it may be hiding in plain view. 

Don’t worry about what will follow.  The story will lead you. If you are very lucky, your characters will take over and tell you their story.

‘It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.’ William Faulkner

“Writing is a Tryst with the imagination and a love affair with words.” Unknown

The reader, the book lover, must meet his own needs without paying too much attention to what his neighbors say those needs should be.” ~ Teddy Roosevelt

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‘As a writer, I marinate, speculate and hibernate.’  Trisha Sugarek


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Watch for more interviews with authors.  November:  Horror writer, Kevin J. Kennedy, December: Marc Cameron, writing for TOM CLANCY



Life Coach, Shaman Monahan’s “Moment” (conclusion)

Jennifer’s first home in Guatemala ; a one room hut.

My plan was to stay in El Remate for three months, visit several Mayan sites, and write my second book. In that time, I was “adopted” by a local family, made a bunch of friends, connected with Guatemalan shamans (and participated in several traditional ceremonies) and began sponsoring the education of a couple of the local girls. El Remate quickly became more “home” than “vacation spot.” I extended my rental by another two months, and, just as I was getting ready to leave, bought a piece of land, drew out plans on graph paper, and gave them to one of my new Guatemalan friends to build my house.

While my house was being built, I traveled to Japan, Cambodia, and Thailand, and then loaded all my belongings on a cargo ship and moved to Guatemala. I had taken a few trips to Guatemala during the construction process to pick out materials and see how the house was coming along, but it was an entirely different experience walking into my completed house for the first time. I felt as if I were truly home since every aspect of the house is a reflection of me. Unlike most houses in this area of Guatemala, my house was a two-story home with lots of windows. Painted off-white, it had a terra cotta red Spanish-style roof and a small, secluded patio in front. A handmade wooden door painted slate blue with black iron decorations

Participating in a Mayan shamanic ceremony for rain in Chuarrancho.

opened up into a small foyer from which you could see the entire first floor – kitchen, dining room, living room and an office that was defined by some half walls to give it structure. Tucked in the back corner off the kitchen was a half bath. The Spanish feel continued in the house, with terra cotta ceramic tiles in the kitchen and bathroom and ceramic wood tiles in the other spaces. I had selected a sage-green color for the kitchen cabinets and black concrete for the countertops and island that separated the kitchen from the dining room.

Jennifer at a Mayan archeological site.

The floating staircase with a metal railing that mimicked a tree with branches and leaves that I had drawn out for the builders was a new concept for them, but they had stepped up to the challenge. Each concrete step with a hardwood top was anchored to the wall, giving the impression that each step was lightly floating above the other. The master builder also happened to be a metal worker, and he crafted the railing himself. At the top of the stairs was a meditation space, and then a short walkway to the master bedroom suite – which took up the rest of the second floor. A large sliding door in the bedroom led to a second-floor balcony that ran the entire length of the back of the house.

Visiting a shop in Lake Atitlan.

Set in an undeveloped area of the jungle, the house was remote enough from the village that I had complete privacy but was close enough that I could easily visit friends or go to the lake. It was also remote enough that there wasn’t any electricity available, although running water was. Solar panels on the roof, connected to storage batteries that were housed in my bodega, provided all of the energy I needed to run my house. I loved that my house was powered by the sun, and therefore green and caring for the jungle that I was living in.

My yard was filled with trees, plants and flowers, and hummed with the energy of the jungle – toucans, parrots and hummingbirds were easily spotted, as was the family of howler monkeys that used the trees as part of their “food highway” through the jungle. A whole host of other animals also made the area their home. One day an ocelot even ran through my yard! Relaxing in my hammock on the second floor balcony off my bedroom quickly became a favorite pastime, since I was at tree-level with the birds and monkeys and could not only watch them, but also feel as if I were part of the jungle.

Jennifer with other shamans after Spring Equinox ceremony at Uaxactun.

I quickly got into a routine and filled my days with consulting and shamanic work; writing; planning for and hosting an online radio show; volunteering at the local library and children’s center; and spending time with friends. To this day, my home in Guatemala is my sanctuary and fills me with peace.
If someone had told me that I would quit my job, build a house, and move to Guatemala prior to my accident, I would have laughed at them. But that’s how these life-changing moments work: they throw you for a loop so that you look at everything differently, and they put you on a different trajectory than you could have imagined. In retrospect, my accident was a gift. It allowed me to truly get to know myself and what I am capable of and gave me the opportunity to experience life in a more authentic way than I ever had before. Oh, and do it while wearing six-inch heels!

What’s your moment?

Did you miss Part 1 of this fascinating article? 

About Jennifer B. Monahan
Jennifer is a business strategy consultant, shaman and coach who helps people all over the world live purposeful lives that not only bring them more joy and freedom, but also help them make the impact they want on the world. Her first book, “This Trip Will Change Your Life: A Shaman’s Story of Spirit


Evolution,” chronicles her experiences meeting and training with a Mayan shaman in Mexico and has won six literary awards, including two first-place Body, Mind, Spirit Book Awards and a 2017 National Indie Excellence Award. Her second book, “Where To? How I Shed My Baggage and Learned to Live Free,” describers Jennifer’s time living in a thatched-roof hut in Guatemala and then travelling to Cambodia, Thailand and Japan. It has won seven literary awards, including Winner in the 2019 Beverly Hills Books Awards and Silver Winner in the 2019 Nautilus Book Awards.

She is a regular contributor to Medium.com and Sivana East, has had articles published on Inc.com and MindBodyGreen.com and has a podcast, Living A Courageously Authentic Life, on BlogTalkRadio.com. She is in the process of writing her third book, a handbook for people looking to define, create and live their courageously authentic life. When not traveling, Jennifer splits her time between Guatemala and the United States. You can find Jennifer at SpiritEvolution.co.


My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry, October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary.
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