I’m titling this “THE UPHILL TRAIL WITH THANKFUL HEARTS!”-a guest post by Collin Stewart

THE UPHILL TRAIL....WITH THANKFUL HEARTS.....My husband offered to write a guest post for my blog.  We enjoyed the travel writing workshop and will continue to travel and write together.  And at the end of his post, you will see why I admire him.  So glad he is my husband!

Sherida and I just returned from our WORDHARVEST workshop, Travel Writing and Blogging for Fun and Profit, presented by Lesley S. King.

Sherida and I enjoy traveling and writing.  We have always wanted to explore the options related to “writing up” our travels and to see if we could get them published.  We have enjoyed Lesley’s work in New Mexico Magazine and have attended and enjoyed various WORDHARVEST activities in the past so this workshop seemed a natural fit.  It was a fun class and very informative.

The class was well organized and covered the material very well.  Lesley started us with a bit of writing. Then she described the need for and processes involved with using social media as an aspiring or active author.  Being a non-participant in the wild world of social media, I none-the-less found those parts of the class interesting. I now can appreciate how valuable these tools are to an active author looking to sell into the market place.  Now I’m trying to figure out how to “monetize” my various hobbies via the Internet.

The venue at the La Tienda in Eldorado was comfortable and convenient. Our class had a total of five students.  All seemed to have a fun time and to enjoy the class. Lesley kept things moving along but provided adequate breaks.

I am a mining engineer and my writing tends to be of the technical variety.  So I was looking to experience a bit of creative writing in the class.  There was a lot of good writing stuff developed by the participants and some really interesting insights provide by my class mates.

I kind of went off on my own tangent, writing-wise, but the class was great and humored my somewhat different sense of direction.

Now, because you are a bit of a captive audience, here are a couple of things I worked on in the class. No, not travel writing, just creative contemplations on nature themes.


lying under a juniper tree

round blue-gray berries snuggled against gray twigs between green needles

brilliant blue sky

warm sun

cool breeze, drying sweat

rough rocks massage my achy back

tired muscles relaxing

eyelids closing

pink, glowing color fills my vision as my mind drifts, unencumbered

crackle of the radio telling me it was time to move to the next survey point


A haiku grew out of a few comments about Ponderosa pines……


Tall Ponderosa

red, brown, grey, black bark, rough feel

smells of vanilla


One writing exercise asked us to set up a sense of tension–two of my examples…..

The radio hissed quietly, “Okay, I’ve got the target sighted.  Just hold there back in the shadows for a few while I make the shot.”

I moved quietly into the junipers, hidden from the direct sunshine, merging with the shadows.  I sat, rough sandstone against my butt, my back slumped against the bark of a juniper.  Beads of sweat dried quickly in the light breeze. I shivered, waiting for my partner to make the shot. Then I could move on.


I remember the doctor’s words, “We may not be able to save the leg.  I want you to know that before you go into surgery.”

I felt it was in God’s hands. I would trust in the Lord.

I woke in the ICU.  They had saved the leg.  But nerves were dead, muscles damaged and starting to atrophy . But she had saved the leg.  Now into the recovery phase.  Adapting.  Mitigating impact on family.  Going back to work.  Trusting in the Lord.  Dealing / battling with Workers Comp.


I love his haiku!  

The first of Collin’s examples is from the perspective of a survey helper…not a hunter as I first was thinking…and I know he doesn’t hunt.

The second example is from an incident that changed our lives.  Six years ago, Collin was trapped in an underground coal mine for 22 hours–alone, with his right ankle broken and his left leg pinned by a heavy steel door.  It took a few hours to get him out of the mine and to the emergency room where he was in intensive care for two days and in the hospital for six weeks after several surgeries.  Various setbacks during that time tested his strength.  He returned to work in a wheel chair a week after being released from the hospital.  His disability is not obvious, but he has faced many challenges adapting to the leg orthotic, to the pain and to his physical limitations.  He has met these uphill trials and trails with great courage—always trusting in God.   


“I lift up my eyes to the hills–where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip–he who watches over you will not slumber;…The Lord will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your life;  the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”  Psalm 121

Lost in the mountains….finding my trail to writing….


Winding through juniper-covered mountains as we drive to Santa Fe to attend a WORDHARVEST travel writing workshop, I am looking forward to meeting New Mexico travel writer, Lesley S. King, who will be our guide on this adventure.  A year ago, after reading her article in New Mexico Magazine about the historic “Turquoise Trail” of mining lore, we drove along New Mexico Highway 14 through the Ortiz Mountains east of Albuquerque.  A souvenir necklace I purchased along the way was the inspiration for “Turquoise Remembrance” which won the 2011 Tony Hillerman Mystery Short Story Contest and became my first publication.

Gathering at La Tienda in Eldorado on this azure-sky morning, it is good to meet Lesley and the other participants who will share this experience.  While Lesley goes over our itinerary, a cool breeze floats through the open door.  Sipping a cup of English Breakfast tea helps me to focus on this trek through the mountains of my writing desires.  We will be finding our authentic paths, discovering our journey companions and deciding what gear to carry along.  To begin, Lesley is telling us to write something….. a moment of panic!  Which way to go?  What am I doing here?  I don’t know anything about writing!  I don’t even know what to begin to write!  But Lesley is a good leader and steps with me as I begin down this trail.

Where am I going?  She helps me learn how to discover my goals. Writing is fun!  And writing a blog is a way to be my own publisher, giving me freedom to write as I wish.

Who will be going with me?  We explore the various social media–Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest–learning how to connect with others.

What do I need to bring along?  Joy, appreciation, curiosity, enthusiasm.

The day has gone by quickly.  It is time to say good-bye, so I leave with a map in hand, but it is still hard to decide which path to take.  One blog or two?  How much social media?  Who is my audience?  What is the purpose of my writing?  Is my goal too lofty?  Is this too hard and too much work?   Do I have the time?

Driving home as the glowing sun sets in front of us, my husband and I are reviewing the day and what we have learned.  We are surrounded by New Mexico’s lavender sky and purple hills, and I now realize which mountain trail I want to take.  Not the one along the rocky summit and not the one through the swift creek.  I want to take the meandering trail by the bubbling brook.  I want to sit and chat with the others along the path as I snack on dried cherries.  I want to draw in the fragrant wild roses and the vanilla-scented Ponderosa pines.  I want to hear the melodies of finches and the chirping of a robin.  Yes, I want the peaceful trail with the companionship of others who enjoy discovering the journey.

As Lesley says in her book, King Of the Road, “Within a single lifetime, most people live many incarnations.  Career changes, family shifts and travel, all add to the journey’s richness.”  So maybe another time, I will take the trail to the mountain crest or the path along the cascading stream.  At this moment, I am adding to my journey through the mountains by joyfully writing what I love (my family, travel, romance, hiking, afternoon tea, food, cooking, history, historic hotels, faith, inspiration, trains, camping, reading) and with whom I love (my hero, best friend and husband of 41 years–Collin Stewart).  And the sun is shining!

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you.”  Isaiah 55:12

2011 Tony Hillerman Writers Conference

It was an honor to be selected as the Tony Hillerman Mystery Short Story Contest winner!

News from the 2011 Hillerman Writers Conference:

“Sherida Stewart of Farmington, New Mexico is the winner of the 2011 The Tony Hillerman Mystery Short Story Contest for her mystery “Turquoise Remembrance.” Stewart’s story was selected from among more than 100 entries and will be published in the February 2012 issue of New Mexico Magazine, co-sponsors of the contest. Stewart received a $1000 publication fee.”

A YouTube video of the conference highlights:

Highlights from the 2011 Hillerman Writers Conference