Where have you been?

Researching the Oklahoma land rush of 1893 has been interesting and time-consuming. I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I blogged. My apologies, dear readers.

Life tends to interfere in many writer’s plans. Illness. Death. Work. Laundry. Home Repair. Vacation. Truly, life goes on. But creativity cannot be denied. It slips into our days in small ways. The key is to be grateful for every moment.

Make a note. Make a sketch. Leave a voice mail, just don’t forget. Capture the dream. Make note of the smells, sounds, sights and feelings you experience. They are the things that make stories real.

I love to write and learn new things. Please be patient. It takes a long time to write that first draft and edit and make it come to life. Thank you so much for reading my books, sharing your precious time with them, and letting everyone know if you enjoyed them. You inspire me. You make all the hours of work worth while.

Bless you, dear readers and Enjoy the Ride.

Save

November where are you?

Okay, what happened to November? It was here and now it’s gone.surprise

I looked back at the calendar to see just why and it appears to have been inordinately busy, with family visiting, holidays, and birthdays. All good things. Is it my imagination or does time go faster as you mature? I suppose scientifically it does not – but it appears to, none the less.

There’s always something that needs to be done – but do we make good choices? I confess I don’t always. Do we make time for the things that truly matter? I hope so. Some things can wait another day, like dusting and laundry. But sharing a conversation or coffee with friends are important. Make time for them.

Our children grow up, move away and have families of their own. Soon the grandchildren are grown as well. Time does not stop or slow down for any of us, no matter how much we want it to. Some days I am amazed how much time has passed in my life then I think of all things I’ve experienced and realize it’s been not only productive but incredible.

Will things slow down in December? Doubtful. Will I enjoy it? Absolutely. I’d like to repeat myself – make time for the things that matter and have a healthy, happy December.

Santa reading

Nathan Hill, Author of THE NIX

By now you’ve heard about THE NIX, Nathan Hill’s debut literary novel that has set the world on fire. Not only did I enjoy his book, but I love the man, who just happens to be my son’s best friend and I consider my second son. I’m very proud of him and his work.

Let me see if I can think of some other words with which to express my awe and joy in this work. The novel is epic, folks. The prose is amazing. I highly recommend it and although it is long, take your time and don’t miss a single word.

Nate will be at Watermark Books & Cafe in Wichita, October 25th, 6PM,  and my husband and I will be there. Come and join us, won’t you?

nathan-hill-banner

Editing my fingers to the bone.

Sorry, I’ve not been posting regularly lately, but I’ve been editing, editing and editing some more. The 1970’s YA novel is now a 1980’s YA novel because the youth today know the 80’s references and so do their parents. So, the story can promote discussion….YES!

The new title is “Every Move You Make: I’ll Be Watching” and yes it has suspense, romance, betrayal, friendship, obsession and abandonment, not necessarily in that order.

tvSTAY TUNED!!

Live and Learn and Pass it on

“Live and learn and pass it on” is a good motto, and one that hopefully will stay with me well into the new year.

So, what have you learned in 2015?

I’m going to give this a try myself and see what lessons I’ve learned this past year.

  • You really are only the age that you feel. (Some days I feel younger than others.)bonnie_jan_50s

 

  • Keeping your teeth healthy (brush, floss, don’t grind) is super important, unless you want to only eat soft foods after your teeth fall out. (Had two root canals this year.)
  • Most really good accomplishments started out with the thought that it couldn’t be done. (This includes skills that you thought you had to pay for – installing light fixtures, tearing up old carpet or wallpaper or ceramic tile. I learned how and saved some bucks.)
  • Exercise will keep you fit and feeling younger. (So will manual labor, but walking and yoga are more fun.)
  • Wcchipcookiesarm cookies from the oven are far superior to cold ones from the cookie jar. (Therefore, I only bake a dozen at a time and enjoy them fresh each day or until the dough runs out.)
  • Good cooking is all about the seasoning. (As is a good life.)
  • Enthusiasm is catching, not something you can teach.
  • Even when I have pain, I don’t need to be one.
  • When you drop a slice of bread it always falls jelly side down. (It happening to my grandson was a good reminder.)happy_person
  • There’s nothing more attractive than a smile. (It improves your face value.)
  • We can’t be lovable all of the time, but when we’re not is when we need love most.
  • Doing something in anger usually makes more work for later. (Especially when you’re stripping wallpaper.)
  • You find out who your true friends are when you have a terrible job that you need help with. (And help might be in the form of prayer or a hug, or extra hands to do the work. It all counts!)
  • I’ve learned that you don’t always get what you pay for. (Contractors is a perfect example. If they are called “Affordable” they do a cheap job.)
  • Receiving (and sending) cards is a fabulous way to reach out. (I love getting and sending surprise notes in the mail.)
  • An un-watched pot will either boil over or boil dry. Every time.
  • Laundry is never “done.” (Unless you are in a nudist colony, I guess.)
  • reading_lotsReading a good book on a rainy day with a quilt and fuzzy socks is awesome. (And I do this as much as possible, with or without the rain.)

 

  • The value of human touch is priceless, especially when the touch is filled with love.
  • Not seeing your kids or grandkids for a year is TOO LONG.
  • I’ve learned that storytelling is what helps us touch, teach and support one another.
  • You can learn something from everyone you meet.
  • Be generous with praise. It costs nothing and reaps huge rewards.
  • You can find anything through Google. (My husband does it all the time.)
  • Don’t wear white if you’re planning on eating salsa or tomato sauce. (Nuff said)
  • Moving is really hard physically, emotionally, and financially. (Sometimes it’s worth it!)
  • Pick your battles. Not everything is worth fighting about.
  • Nothing is more delightful than a baby’s laugh. (Toddler giggles are up there, too.)baby_kissyface
  • Be kind. Always.
  • Make time to do the things you enjoy.
  • While humans plan, God laughs.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. I’m sure before I drift off to sleep tonight I’ll think of another lesson learned. The point is living and enjoying the days we have on this earth. And taking care of each other, too.

dancing_minions

No free lunches

Folks, there really is no such thing as a free lunch.  But I have to admit I love discounts, coupons, and sales.  If I feel as though I’m getting something extra I am that much happier with my acquisition.  I wouldn’t have nearly as many great books in my library if I hadn’t had a coupon or got them at the used bookstore at a great price.  How does that apply to writing, you ask?  It means giving your reader more than they expect.  More twists, surprises, mystery, things that will keep them reading. Giving them a bigger helping of fun!

kids_icecreamI got a call from a friend who said, “It’s all your fault I don’t get anything done.”  She was reading Patchwork Family and was having trouble putting it down.  That’s the kind of news authors want to hear from readers. That’s how I want to feel when I’m reading, as well.

reading_lotsWhat makes the book so hard to put down? Is the character multi-layered?  Is the plot unpredictible?  Does the tension keep increasing? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself and share the answers with the author.  Is there a surprise?  As a reader, I like plausible surprises.  Personally, I don’t like loose ends.  I must be satisfied with the resolution of the conflict, but that doesn’t mean everything is tied up with a big blue bow. It means, things make sense and feel mostly resolved. 

snoopy happy danceGive readers more than they paid for…give them a GREAT read instead of just a good one. That’s my goal as an author. One more thing Readers: Be sure and leave a review when you finish a book, good or bad – they are helpful to other readers and to the author, too.

Furry Family

Many of my friends (and I) are animal lovers. We aw over puppies and kitties and all the fun videos out there. We post photos of our pets and love telling stories about the silly things that they do. They keep us company. They love us unconditionally. They protect us. They are friends. They are family. We are pretty goofy about our pets and spoil them fairly rotten. With a few exceptions they have the run of the house, because they live here, too, and have proven to be trustworthy. They want to please their people. We love our furry family and have had several dogs over the years. I hope you’ll enjoy your pets and if you can’t give them a good home, please find them one. All they need is a warm, dry place to sleep, water and food, and affection. Heck, that’s basically what all creatures need – human or otherwise. Here are some photos of some of the animals that have shared our home.

DSCN1329 maggie_sleepSONY DSCreindeerMatt12252011Ha. Just making sure you were paying attention! Enjoy the journey, folks.

 

Survival Tools

No, I’m not talking about the zombie apocalypse now (okay, maybe, just a little). As writers what are your survival tools?

zombie_writer

Here’s my list:

  • Pen & paper (or pencil, but you’ll need something to sharpen it – a knife might be good)
  • Computer (but in case the zombies knock out the electricity see first item)
  • Good books to read (you can never have too many of these, and good books inspire- Question, do Zombie’s read?)Zombie Reading
  • Writer Friends (preferably not the walking dead)
  • A good light source (critical for reading and writing, but candles add a nice touch and can be used as defense weapons)
  • Generous supply of coffee, tea, chocolate or your favorite muse stimulating snack
  • zombie_ice_creeamReaders (a total must, but not to be confused with the item above)
  • A means of communication (telephone, cell phone, newspaper, Facebook, Twitter, word-of-mouth, road signs, theater marquees, magazines, posters…I guess it all depends on what’s left)
  • Print books (eBooks won’t be working when the infrastructure collapses, guys, but real books can keep you company, can be used to teach you how to do a field dressing or what plants are edible, can be used to throw at advancing hordes, can be burned if you need heat or fire to cook with…ah, I think I’ve stumbled onto something here…)

What were your survival tools, again?

Patchwork Family Update

snoopy happy danceI’m so excited I can barely sit still at work. Belle Books confirmed that PATCHWORK FAMILY is coming in March, final edits will be coming soon, and I get the opportunity to give input on the cover. How Cool Is That?

With FEISTY FAMILY VALUES I saw the cover in my head, or a reasonable facsimilie of it, anyway. This time, not so much. I love the cover for FFV, the Victorian house, the fall leaves, the roses…all of it put me back into the story and invited the readers to come in and join the family.

So, what kind of a cover will speak to PATCHWORK FAMILY readers? To me this family is like a crazy quilt my grandmother made when I was a little girl. The people in the story are the pieces, and while they don’t exactly fit together like an engineered drawing, they are bigger and of different shapes, somehow when you put them all together they make this beautiful creation – a family. What a lovely thing that can be, all be it, a bit messy.

crazyquilt2For those of you who do not know, PATCHWORK FAMILY starts about a year after the close of FFV. The teens are a year older and that much more unpredictible, having all sorts of hormonal fluctuations that teens are known to have. They are running Annabelle ragged, and her ticker starts acting up, too. Sam would love for Regina to marry him, but she prefers the relationship to remain as it is, after all it took her a long time to get to where she is now – out of the family home, and into the arms of real love.

Tillie and Joe still live across the street, keeping an eye on things, and lending a hand like friends will do. As usual, Tillie is the voice of reason and referee when needed. Don’t you just love friends like that? We all need them  now and then.

PATCHWORK is more Peggy (the eldest grandchild), Annabelle and Regina’s story. You’ll be glad to know there are a few new characters popping in, most notably Tom Malone, the missing father to Peggy, Tad and Megan. Yup, there’ll be some fur flying at the Riverside home, so stay tuned…

Learning to dance in the rain.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

happy_rain

When I was still in grade school I used to love to go out in the rain barefoot and walk along the edge of the street where the water rushed down to the storm drain. It moved so fast that all manner of interesting things got caught up in the flow. It was amazing how many worms were washed up from the soil and tickled my toes as they slid by on their way to who knows where. A very watery adventure, in my youthful eyes.

As a teen I remember crying copious tears over sad songs, missed phone calls, and lost loves. Ah, the emotional upheaval of youth. raindropsThe tears fell like rain (yes, there’s a song about that).

In my thirties I worked for an advertising agency and we had an outside ground breaking ceremony to commemorate a new business being built. We had a tent, but when I asked the director if we shouldn’t procure sides in case the weather got bad he laughed and said the weather would hold. HA. Not in Kansas. My new silk blouse and flowing skirt were marred by mud, as were my nice patent pumps. We strung boards from the street across the muck so people could walk to the tent and get out of the rain. What a mess. All for the lack of contingency.

I’ve learned in my fifties that you can never be too prepared and you can never be prepared for everything. So, when it rains you may as well look at the bright side. It’s going to water the flowers and make the grass grow (husband grumbles about mowing again). It washes the air clean (Love that smell). And I love the feel of the rushing water over my toes when I walk down the edge of the street. Still. friends_n_rain

Do you dance in the rain? Do you picture Gene Kelly and the lampost? I do. How about the two buddies in the photo above. Looks like fun, doesn’t it. Hey, next time it rains, give me a call and we’ll go out and play.