Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Worth Going Back: An Interview with Author John Williams

Worth Going Back: An Interview with Author John Williams
by Gina McKnight

On July 28th of this year, John Williams launched his new book Worth Going Back: A Memoir of Alaska (Monday Creek Publishing 2018). The launch had been planned since early spring and was highly anticipated by John and his wife Teddi – on their 50th wedding anniversary. John, a sincere diarist, was excited to share his journey from Albany, Ohio to Alaska. I met up with John and asked him about journaling, traveling, and much more…

Welcome, John!

GM: Your new book, Worth Going Back: A Memoir of Alaska is receiving great reviews in Athens County and around the country. What is the premise of your memoir?
JW: After we made a decision to drive to Alaska, our son Pete, who lives in Texas, sent to our house three items - a military gas can, a can of bear spray and a blank journal. On our first day from home, Teddi, my wife, mentioned I should put something in the journal. I logged the date and where we were. I then realized no one would want to read it but Teddi and myself, and then only to log picture taking dates. I also realized then that sites along the way triggered something in my mind that would bring back a part of my history. I also realized my grandchildren knew little of my youth or younger years. This would be a good opportunity for them to find out more about me. No TV, newspaper, phone service or any outside distraction was keeping me from following through. In the evening after I wrote my thoughts, Teddi wanted to listen to what I had to say. I would read it to her. As the trip progressed she appeared to be eager to hear what I was going to say next. So when the trip ended I sought out a way to put it into book form.

GM: Driving cross-country to Alaska must have been great fun! Of all the places you visited, which place stands out the most?   
JW: This is really hard to answer. Let’s start first with the negative side of things. The multitude of people in the Banff-Jasper parks of Canada surprised me a little, but I should have expected that. Very few things were negative and that was good. The beauty of the raw wilderness of the Yukon and Alaska stands out. I’ve heard people talk of the blandness of tundra areas, but I saw nothing but beauty in its shape and color. Winter might show the other side. The many natural lakes of the far north stand out. I didn’t expect to see so many. The glaciers that filled mountain valleys on the Glenn Highway of Alaska were impressive. If you ask me to pinpoint what stands out the most but not necessarily a place, it would be spending quality time with my wife Teddi right beside me weeks on end. That was perfect.

GM: How long was your journey from beginning to end and did you preplan the entire route?
JW: The journey started in the middle of July and lasted eleven weeks. We wanted to spend as much time as we could in a land that is limited in seasons of good weather. We wanted to connect with the land and the people that live there. We had routes planned before we started but nothing set in stone. If something appealed to us, we would spend more time at that spot. If I felt tired, we would stop. We would take hikes or maybe just sit by a lake and take it all in. All roads go somewhere and the one you drive by may lead to an amazing adventure. Fortunately, that part of the world has few roads so we didn’t miss much. So to answer your question of preplanning the trip; I would say yes to the main routes and no to any time limit.

GM: America has beautiful scenic routes and a lot of back country roads. Did you run into any hurdles or snags along the way?
JW: America does have beautiful scenic routes and a lot of back country roads. Teddi and I have been on more than our share. Because we were pulling a light camper, few places were actual snags. The dirt roads can last hundreds of miles, so supplies of gas were hurdles that needed to be addressed. Bad weather and construction cropped up once in a while but no more than at home. Scenic routes are everywhere. Our home turf of Athens, Vinton and Hocking counties here in Ohio are as scenic as anywhere. The fog lifting off Lake Hope on a cool autumn morning is pretty special. It’s the back roads of time that tug at the heart and makes life special.

GM: Your memoir, a journal, is detailed and inviting. Did you journal every day? What is the key to staying motivated to journal when on vacation?
JW: Funny you ask. To be out hiking a trail or paddling a stream or lake; even biking the back roads is the joy that drives me. To sit and write is actually more difficult for me. This trip leveled the playing field. The only time I didn’t journal was when with family, but I journaled most every other night. As time went on I looked forward to putting in print all the adventures we had that day. So staying motivated was part of the reward for actually doing the physical jaunts of the day. The evenings were welcomed for the rest but also to relive the day or days of the past all over again. I would say the motivation to journal comes from the things I do.

GM: What are you currently reading?
JW: Actually I’m not much of a reader but I like stories that are realistic. My daughter-in-law calls me a no-nonsense guy. The books I enjoy don’t have to be facts but reveal realistic life. A book I picked up after Teddi read it is by Lois T. Henderson about Lydia of the new testament of the Bible. It’s a novel but I can’t say if I like it or not yet because I’ve barely started. It’s a forty-year-old book but time makes literature better.

GM: What are you currently writing?
JW: I enjoyed writing Worth Going Back and the joy and inspiration of stories coming together. I‘ve started to compile stories of other great memories for a future endeavor. Nothing is etched in stone yet but we’ll see.

GM: What advice do you have for those planning a trip to Alaska?
JW: If you’re taking a cruise, that is no doubt planned for you. But if you’re driving you’re entering a different world; much time is essential. The distances are enormous and the prices of everything will shock you. Leave the designer clothes at home. Dusty roads are the norm. Clothes that keep you warm and dry are way more important. Spare gas wouldn’t hurt. Be prepared for a world that will grab you and not let go. My advice for your traveling in this natural country is to enjoy and try not to change or add to it. It’s perfect as it is.

GM: What adventure are you going on next?
JW: I’m giving that some thought. I’m thinking Teddi would like to go visit her ancestral roots back in Ireland. We can’t drive there but adventures aren’t always behind a steering wheel. We’ve traced family trees on trips to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Labrador, so visiting another Island would be fun. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Adventures don’t really have to be in other places. The best stories are those at home with family. We just had our fiftieth anniversary. What an adventure.

John’s book is available in hardcover from Barnes&Noble,, or you can contact John to receive a signed copy by sending an email to

See photos of John's trip to Alaska on Monday Creek Publishing's facebook page here!

Photo (c) John Williams 2018

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Monday, September 17, 2018

Milliron Monday: South High School Denver Colorado 9 17 18

Abbott "Pete" Smith, D.V.M.
June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010

Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and  Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography (Monday Creek Publishing 2017). A graduate of Colorado State University and a well-known veterinarian in southeast, Ohio, Dr. Smith continues to motivate and inspire. Follow along every Milliron Monday to revisit Dr. Smith's biography. 

Writing Pete's biography was a fun process. In many instances, Jody, Pete's widow, and I leafed through old photos, high school yearbooks, letters, and poems. There were many stories from Pete's high school days - many he shared with his clients. Some stories gaining momentum and grandeur with time. Through the internet, I was able to connect with a few of Pete's high school friends, including his prom date, Glenda, who resides in Hawaii! Glenda was kind to share a photo of her and Pete at their high school prom (right)...

Pete's yearbook is full of well-wishes from fellow students and teachers. A few having a profound impact on his life, encouraging him to persevere and follow his dream of becoming a veterinarian. Next week, I'll share some of the sentiments from Pete's yearbooks - The Johnny Reb.

Visit Milliron Monday to read past posts about Dr. Smith. Read more about Pete in his biography. I enjoy reading your great reviews! Milliron is available locally at Little Professor Book Center, Court Street, Athens, Ohio, and online from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks do not have to be purchased online to write a review.

Follow Milliron on facebook to view all of Pete and Jody's wedding photos.

If you have a story to tell about Dr. Smith, please send it to to be included in Tails of a Country Vet Volume II !

Connect with Gina

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Devil Between Us by S.C. Wilson

Available in Paperback, eBook and Audible here!
by S.C. Wilson  

🔥An Amazon #1 Best seller. Now available on Audible🔥
🎤 Narrated by film director/actress Jennifer Nicole Stang
In 1853, Jessica Pratt is only ten when her innocence is violently ripped away, revealing to her the cruelness of the real world. She flees, escaping the harrowing scene, finding herself lost and alone in the untamed Northern California wilderness. 

Fighting for survival in the unforgiving territory, each step puts her closer to peril, and further away from everything she has ever known.

Jessica is drawn into the sacred world of a mentor who becomes her family—the mountain her home. 

But the nature of life is change, and happy endings don’t last forever. When she loses everything again, she ventures off the mountain for the first time in years.

Jessica becomes Jesse in an attempt to protect herself in ways she couldn’t as a child. 

Soon, she finds herself at the mercy of emotions beyond her control in a world suddenly off kilter. 

Will Jesse maintain her new persona for her own protection, or will she let down her guard and confess her true identity to an unlikely new love?

In the end, it is fate that will decide.

About the Author
Shelly’s writing career started in 2010. She had a story she wanted to tell and sat down at her keyboard and started typing. Eight years later, and a head full of white hair, she was ready to release her book, The Devil Between Us.

Shelly resides on her family farm in northern Indiana, surrounded by her loving family, an entire cast of craziness, and a plethora of critters. She lives in Miami County, which was once home to legendary Cole Porter, and Frances Slocum, aka Maconaquah. In college, Shelly wrote her thesis about Frances Slocum, and has been fascinated by the woman’s tale ever since.

Shelly likes to sail around the Caribbean and thaw out her Hoosier bones during the winter. She enjoys watching the History Channel, and listening to 70s and 80s music.

 Available in Paperback, eBook and Audible here!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Sea Song by Franklin Levinson

Sea Song
by Franklin Levinson

Come go with me down to the sea.
We’ll build a grand castle, the cost will be free.
With shells for windows and driftwood trees,
A gate made of sandstone and grass of seaweed.

A parliament of minnows to govern this land,
A council of starfish to give them a hand,
Our jesters a dolphin, our chancellors an eel,
Our physicians a crawfish to see how you feel.

Our river is the ocean, the ocean’s our stream
The sun’s for our candle and the stars for our dreams
With snails for horses to ride ‘ore the hills
Made of ridges and ripples that change at will.

So come go with me down to the sea.
We’ll build a grand castle, where all things are free
Where the sea writes the music and the wind sings the song
The sand writes the lyrics and the waves dance along.

Franklin Levinson has been a professional horseman for nearly 50 years. At 13 years of age, he was the youngest registered polo player in the US. In his early 20s, he created and ran equestrian programs at large summer camps in North Michigan. He has always taught success with horses to be a life-enriching process for both horse and human and that horses are never naughty or bad. In his teaching, he states, “All unwanted behavior from a horse is a symptom of the animal’s fear and never deserves punishment.” He is adamant about humans not merely ‘using’ horses for selfish enjoyment. Franklin’s goal is that the horse and human become partners through the inspired and excellent leadership of the human.

Connect with Franklin

Friday, September 14, 2018

Thursday, September 13, 2018