2018 Clearing my Life: Preparing for Fall!

    Cold weather is coming!  Today is the day – the day that the cold air is coming in along with more moisture.  Fall is here, and winter is on the way.  With that in mind, I brought in a couple of plants, just in case the meteorologists are correct about a possible freeze.  My geranium decided to try one last time to bloom before the cold air arrives.  I’ll bring it in and see if I can keep it alive this winter.      I don’t make any guarantees.

My family and I attended the Greek Festival in Edmond yesterday (Oompah!) and dined on Gyro sandwiches, some wonderful Greek beer and wine and of course Baklava for dessert.  I bought a lovely scarf of silk and pashmina wool.  And as usual, just for the sake of our health, we brought home an assortment of Greek desserts. I know it is fall when the Greek Fest comes around and I even got to wear my new fall poncho.

I’ve gone to work for the local YMCA substitute teaching some classes that I sometimes attend (not the heavy-duty, extremely athletic ones, but the old lady ones). It keeps me active and helps others when the regular teacher needs some time off.  It won’t interfere with my writing and who knows I might loose some weight. (unless I continue to eat Greek desserts).

Fall is a time when Mother Nature prepares for a long winter’s rest. It seems to energize me and make me want to try new things.  It is soup weather instead of salad weather and maybe with my increased time at the Y, I won’t put on the inevitable winter pounds this year.

What does fall do for you?  Do you rest, or does it energize you?

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2018 Clearing my Life: SWOSU-Sayre Literary Festival

  I was asked to speak at SWOSU-Sayre’s annual Literary Festival https://newsok.com/article/5609767/swosu-sayre-fall-literary-festival-to-be-held-on-oct.-5 this last week.  I found myself immersed with a great group of people who love literature as much as I do.  Terry Ford and her staff put together a great day with vendors, speakers and even a pumpkin decorating contest.  I even received a student anthology of writing put together by the school and handed out at the festival.  

Other speakers were Bob Avey of Broken Arrow, who writes Detective Kenny Elliott series of crime fiction, and Landry Brewer, recipient of the 2018 SWOSU Bernhardt Academic Excellence Award. He has a new book about Maurice Halperin, a University of Oklahoma professor who was accused of being a communist and spy.

There was even a free lunch and lots of participation by high school and college students from Sayre and surrounding communities.  It was a great time as we shared our love of literature.

I look forward to more of their festivals and thank you SWOSU-Sayre for inviting me!  

(Oh, and I helped a friend with her garage sale and clearing her life this week.  I try to keep you updated.)

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2018 Clearing my Life: Clearing Another Novel?

    I’ve been working for some time on a pulp fiction novel based on three short stories I’d written in the past.  If you’ve read my work, you know I don’t follow on particular genre.  I probably should pick a genre and stick with it, but I love suspense and I love fantasy, so I write both (with a few children’s books sprinkled in for good measure).

The latest novel has really been difficult for me because I have too much going on.  I know I need one central theme and one goal for the main character.  She has one.  I used characters from the three short stories as backstory and the novel has evolved giving in depth personalities for my characters. I have a story arc. I have a climax and an ending.  What I don’t have is long enough word count. 

Even a short novel needs to be at least 50,000 words and mine sits about 45,000.  Should I give my characters more background?  Should I add another character who could be sprinkled into the existing story (I have another short story that might fit).  I’m at a loss.  I’ve worked on it so long, I can hardly make myself read it anymore, except for the newer parts.  This book has just not worked out like I imagined.  I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.  J. R. R. Tolkien I’m not and now that I’ve tried to put all these stories together into a cohesive narrative I am even more in awe of people who lace together epic tales with countless characters and subplots. 

Should I throw up my hands and go on to another book?  Should I put it aside for a while and write something else?  Should I clear my life of this novel and forget the whole thing? When do you know you’ve gone too far and need a break?

What do you think?

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2018 Clearing My Life: Rollin’ on the River

    For the last 6 days my husband and I have been the guests of Village Tours on their Autumn River Cruise https://villagetours.net/tours/. Another adventure cleared from my list. We started in Oklahoma City and drove north by way of Hannibal, MO to the Mark Twain boyhood home and museum on the Mississippi River.  I could imagine Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer’s escapades when I climbed the berm to the river.  It was less than two blocks to the river from his bedroom window. I even found the Becky Thatcher house. Being a reader and writer, I roamed the gift store afterwards looking over a multitude of volumes of America’s greatest storyteller.

We continued north to the Presidential Museum and Library of Abraham Lincoln.  We didn’t actually get to see the library, but the museum could have kept me captive all day.  The wax statues themselves were worth the visit.  I have never seen such detail.

At our northern-most destination of Peoria, Illinois we boarded the Spirit of Peoria paddleboat for the next three days https://spiritofpeoria.com/.  The three-story boat is powered by its paddle which is not just for decoration. The boat was comfortable and spacious, but the food was to die for!  The chef would come by daily telling you to be sure to save room for her grandmother’s sweet potato casserole and the deck hand smoked the brisket on board for 7 hours prior to dinner.    There was entertainment daily with musicians and storytellers and you could always sit on a deck chair and watch the river go by.  I was fascinated by the bald eagles, herons and the monarch butterfly migration we saw as we idly watched the world from the point of view of a major river.  If you could secure a rocking chair in the shade, you could spend your retirement there.    We spent three days on the Illinois and then the Mississippi Rivers going through locks along the way and seeing cities from an entirely different view than you would by car. Each night the bus would pick us up and take us to another lodge for the evening and we were stuffed with food along the way.

   Finally, in St Louis we visited the Arch – the Gateway to the West – and we took the elevator to the top to take pictures, then headed home to Oklahoma the next morning.  Our bus driver and tour guide, David and Pam Harms, were fabulous professionals with an eye to detail.  We may have been over fed, but not neglected. 

If you need a vacation and don’t want to drive, I highly recommend Village Tours.  They have all levels of tours for every person and every pocket book.  Check them out!

I’m ready for my next adventure. 

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2018 Clearing my Life: And the Rains Came

    For the last few years, I’ve had some beautiful crepe myrtle bushes in my front flowerbed.  They provided color and took up a lot of room and then I had flowers and groundcover around them.  I made the mistake of planting daylilies years ago and they tried to take over.  This year I even cleared a space for some kale and beets in the flowerbed.  I love to experiment.

But the older I get the less I like to weed, water, and those daylilies were becoming a pest.  Then last year the aphids hit the crepe myrtle bushes.  I started off trying to spray them with organic spray, but the aphids laughed.  Then the flies arrived.  I had created a little eco system and the flies found out about the aphids and dinner was served. The bushes, however were next to the front door and the flies found there way in. 

I pulled out the big guns and sprayed with something a little more toxic, but the aphids had taken over and were not going to quit.  At the end of the summer we cut down the bushes.

This spring the bushes came back and it took them no time to grow waist high and bloom beautifully.  Soon the aphids were back and with them the predator flies. It was time for a change. I hired my grandson to dig out the bushes along with the daylilies and I kept the groundcover. In browsing Pinterest, I found lots of gardens that had river rock and shrubs and I decided to completely change my front flowerbed. It would require less water and work.

I dug for days clearing my life of tiny bulbs left over from the daylilies and some ornamental grass that was left behind.  Then we marked the areas that were to be rock and the areas where I would plant English Boxwood bushes.  This could work! 

And then the rains came.

I am so close to being able to finish this project.  I researched and found out the best time to plant English Boxwood was late fall.  If I had my garden all ready before then, it would be easy to slip the bushes in later.  But you can’t rake smooth, lay weed barrier cloth, and spread river rock when the water is over your shoes.

I am beginning to think the rain we desperately needed will never end.  I just want to finish my garden, but Mother Nature had other ideas. I hope to be able to show you the finished project someday, but right now, this is how the garden looks. 

So much for a garden that is easier to work in.  I may never have this project finished. Wish me luck.

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2018 Clearing my Life: Old Friends are Like a Warm Quilt

   Friday I was honored by the flight simulator instructors from Vance AFB with a quilt handmade by the wife of one instructor. I had the best job in the world at Vance for 15 years. As an Office Administrator for CSI (Contract Simulator Instructors) I started that job in 1995 in the front office with 23 retired military pilots.  They taught the Air Force students to fly, and I kept the office running for them.  We lost that contract 15 years later and by that time we had 85 instructors and one Office Administrator.  I had help and lots of things changed in that 15 years, but what was most important was that I worked with 85 of the best people in the world. 

I’ve had a varied career, starting with working in flower shops, managing municipal pools, and teaching swimming. Later when the kids were older I went back to school and received my paralegal certificate from OU then worked for years in law offices.  I met and worked with some wonderful people and learned more than I could have ever imagined.  And then I went to work for the flight simulator instructors at Vance. 

I felt like Danny DeVito when I first crept onto that military base and asked for directions to the sim building.  “Can I buy a vowel?” Military lingo is a language all of its own. You couldn’t sling a dead cat without hitting a retired Lt Col, and there I stood in my heels and suit from the law office among a sea of flight suits – many of them Viet Nam era.  I quickly learned what the insignia on the shoulders meant and thank God for name tags. 

I left the base when our company lost the contract and my job disappeared into a pool of paperwork, but not until I helped the instructors apply for their own jobs with the Federal Government.  Then I went back into a law office in an oil and gas company. But the people I worked with remained my friends.  I knew their wives, children, and grandchildren.  They were family, not just co-workers.

I still have breakfast with the old codgers every couple of weeks now that we are all retired, and Friday morning they presented me a quilt of honor because they said I could herd cats (them).  They were always grateful for the work I did. 

Thank you, CSI, for your friendship and the quilt I will always cherish.  

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2018 Clearing My Life: First Friday Event and Booksigning in Downtown Enid

   Next week, Friday, September 7, 2018 is First Friday in Enid 5-9 pm. http://www.mainstreetenid.org/first-friday.html. It has become a rich celebration of the arts, music, food, and fellowship.  Enid comes together once a month from April to October on the first Friday night of each month and there is much to celebrate. 

This First Friday Event, I will be signing and selling my books outside of A New Chapter Bookstore and Café at Randolph and Washington. (weather permitting, otherwise inside)

First Friday is a great art event and the new bookstore in Enid has become focal point of the celebration.  If you haven’t visited the bookstore, First Friday will be the time.  The event covers the downtown square and businesses along the route.  That particular block has Boomerang burgers, the Breezeway, which always has live music, and businesses all along the street will be open for late night shopping.  Be sure to start at one point on the square and cover the entire area.  Lots of businesses and restaurants will be open and you might bump into old friends. 

Come by the bookstore and browse, check out my books, and see if they have any Walking Tacos left.  They will be sure to have coffee, tea, and pastries. Start your Christmas shopping or get books for back to school.  They have all the Sequoyah Award books for 2018.

A New Chapter Bookstore and Café, and author Peggy Chambers, will surely have something you need.  I will be clearing my life of books hopefully into your hands.

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2018 Clearing my Life: OWFI

    #weareowfi! was used a couple of years ago to celebrate all things having to do with Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. Those days came and went, and we are still a great group of writers supporting writers even if I haven’t seen that hashtag in some time.  Breaking into the publishing world is a tough nut to crack and you need all the support you can get.  And at OWFI, you get the support you need and want.

I cleared an afternoon so I could attend the quarterly meeting of OWFI today to celebrate another year of planning one of the best writers’ conferences in the country.  We have speakers from all over the world come to our little corner of Oklahoma and writers as well.  The contest alone is noteworthy and the agents, editors and publishers who attend make you feel you can do anything. And of course, you can.

It is a great opportunity to rub shoulders with the real deal and find a way to get someone besides Grandma to look over your manuscript.  And they don’t have to say they love it like Grandma does – but they’ll help you see what is good and bad in it, Then you can go back home and fix it.  Or, you might just land a great publishing contract!

I love OWFI and the cause it represents. I also love the people who run it both behind the scenes and out front.

Come join us the first weekend in May in Oklahoma City and find out what all the hoopla is about.  Come for the contest, camaraderie, and contacts – the three “C” s – and make some new friends while you’re at it.  https://www.owfi.org/

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2018 Clearing Your Life: Booksignings!

    I cleared my life of a few books at A New Chapter Bookstore yesterday afternoon.  I had a book signing with four other Oklahoma authors. Five authors in one location. It was a beautiful Oklahoma afternoon and I was surrounded by books and good friends.  What more could an author want? I came home and ordered more books.    

A New Chapter Bookstore has been a boon to Enid since Hastings went out a few years ago.  They have new and used books, they stock the latest that the schools are using for their literature classes, Sequoyah Award books, New York Times best sellers, and books by local authors. If they don’t have it, they’ll order it for you. You can sip coffee and tea while eating a muffin or bagel and they even sell a Walking Taco on Friday and Saturday nights.

It was such a great location, I decided to schedule another book signing with them for the First Friday Event in Downtown Enid on September 7.  I will be set up outside the door for the foot traffic (weather permitting) and will be just down the street from live music.  Enid has made the First Friday Event a major gathering for families. There will be food, art and music downtown from 5 to 9 and there will be lots for you to do, see, smell, and hear – a virtual cornucopia for the senses! And you’re bound to run into an old friend or neighbor.

Join me on September 7, 2018 from 5-9 at A New Chapter Bookstore and Café, 232 West Randolph (the corner of Randolph and Washington); we’ll talk books and listen to music.  Maybe we’ll even eat a Walking Taco! Come see what the local author has to show you and enjoy the late summer evening in beautiful Downtown Enid’s First Friday Event.


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