2019 Life-Long Learning: Learning Through Travel

    In the early 1980s we traveled to Jamaica – and met a couple from Tulsa who became good friends. It was our first trip outside the United States, and we were not yet 30.  We left the kids with Grandma and embarked on a week-long island adventure.  Babes in Toyland.

Recently a long-time friend who I just reconnected with on Facebook posted pictures of their trip to Zimbabwe.  It rang some bells for me.  I too, had to post a picture. We journeyed 8000 miles in the year 2000 – yes 19 years ago. It was a dream of my husband’s since he was a boy.  I was amazed at the culture, animals and kindness of the people we met.  It was the first time I’d crossed the Atlantic.  

After my husband’s trip I said I wanted to climb the pyramids on the Yucatan peninsula. I’d read a book and seen pictures and since I doubted I’d ever make it to Egypt, the pyramids in Mexico were a good second choice.   I loved the trip and I climbed the pyramid at Chitchen Itza. Going up was not as frightening as the trip down.

Then we decided we could fly to Hawaii and we went to the farthest island in the chain, Kawaii. I loved the quaintness of the island where there were roads that often were only wide enough for one vehicle at a time.  We took a helicopter ride to the center of an extinct volcano and viewed tiny waterfalls flowing under the road with children playing in the water.  

Lately we’ve been staying closer to home.  The older we become the slower we move.  But I’m getting restless.  Today is my 66th birthday and I’m ready for something exotic. We’re talking about Washing DC in the fall.  It can be exotic, especially during election time!  But I’m looking forward to the architecture.

I’m currently reading Grandma Gatewood’s Walk, the Inspiring Story of the Woman who Saved the Appalachian Trail by Ben Montgomery. She hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine at the age of 67 – over 2000 miles on foot!  I feel like such a slug as I sit on the couch writing this blog.

Now that I’m retired and not making enough money for the trips I want to take, I could become a travel writer. You know, where they pay you to travel and write about it?  If my husband didn’t want to go, I could mail him a post card and check in on him and the dog now and then.

I think it is time for more adventures.  I don’t know how long I have to take advantage of them. Do you think anyone will hire me as a travel writer?  I long for adventure.

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2019 Life Long Learning: It’s a Party!

    Book releases can be life-long a learning process. Hopefully I did it with some finesse.

Last night 25 of my dearest friends joined me for a release party for my new novel, Blooming Justice.  You know they are good friends when they take time out of an early Saturday evening to show up at a local pub and join you for appetizers and celebration.  I sold out of my first batch of the book.  Some cousins came in from Texas! (surprise!) 

Blooming Justice released this week and I wanted to celebrate in style.  I asked Callahan’s Pub to set up tables upstairs and put out some food – and the rest took care of itself. I saw some people I hadn’t seen in years and met some spouses of others I knew from my writing club. It was very exciting. Friends, relatives and avid readers came together to celebrate, and I went away happy and very tired. I can’t figure out why I’m so tired, I really didn’t do that much.  It must have just been the excitement.

To see the work you, your critique group, and your editor put in for over a year now published in a bright shiny cover is a dream come true.  And to celebrate that feat with friends and family made it even better.  Now I have to finish the sequel!

Thank you so much to everyone who helped me celebrate.

What do you think of release parties for new books? Would you attend one? 

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2019 Life Long Learning: Counting vs. Working

    My sixth book will be released this week from my uber-talented publisher, The Wild Rose Press.  I am truly excited to show you Blooming Justice about a subject as current as the daily newspaper and I hope you will enjoy it.

Six books is a lot for me.  I looked up Stephen King and depending upon who you believe, he has either 88 or 58 published.  Maybe it was 88 written and 58 published.  I have a few that never made it to the publisher too. I think I counted 28 from one of my favorite authors, Anita Shreve.  I also found out she passed away last year, and I was unaware.  Maybe I was writing.

But I’ve never been very good at math and I doubt that numbers matter with this subject.  What matters is creativity.  Sometimes I have it and sometimes it eludes me.  I keep a mental file of ideas for stories and some of them come to fruition.  Others don’t.  My imagination works much harder than my fingers sometimes.

I find that when I’m publicizing a new book, my writing falls off and that has been the case this year.  While I was preparing to announce Blooming Justice, the others I’ve been working on suffered.  I need to get back to the keyboard.

But this Wednesday the 30th is the release day for Blooming Justice and Saturday night February 2, I am hosting a release party at Callahan’s in downtown Enid at 5:00.  Come by if you are in the neighborhood.  There will be appetizers on the table, and we can celebrate number six.  I’d love to see you.

I’ve learned that numbers don’t matter, but I still need to get back to the business of writing.  My creative side is missing out.

Check out Blooming Justice releasing Wednesday, January 30, 2019!

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2019 Life-long Learning: #MeToo

    I hesitate to use a hashtag for a cause that is as important and confrontational as the #metoo movement for a book promotion. But Blooming Justice is about a young woman who helps to bring a rapist to justice. So I believe it fits here. The story is as old as mankind and as current as the nightly news. 

I’ll bet not one woman reading this blog (and some men) can say they have not been sexually harassed, or worse, at some time in their lives. Many, like Erin in Blooming Justice, just decide it is not worth it and let it go. They get on with their lives and don’t look back. Bullying is about power and so is rape. Rape is not about the act of having sex but about making someone do the thing they don’t want to do and the humiliation that goes along with it. 

In Blooming Justice, Erin knows Todd from high school when he bullied for fun – before he escalates to rape.  She knows him because he sexually harassed her in front of the entire senior class.  She decides to just move on with her life. She wasn’t hurt, only embarrassed – and mad. Then she runs into him again on campus and starts hearing stories from other women he’s hurt. Sometimes you need to do more than just let it go if not for yourself, for the next person who will get hurt.  Sometimes you need to stop the violence.

Erin is luckier than Todd. She has a loving family and a mother and aunt who would die for her if they needed to.  Todd’s family hardly know he’s around and when he is, the harassment runs rampant.  He hates his parents and acts out by hurting others.

Erin’s aunt is an attorney in a very prestigious law firm in Tulsa and gets her a part time job at the firm while she goes to college at TU. Erin finds she is in the right place to make a difference when Todd begins to hurt the women on her campus. And this time she pushes back.

Set in Oklahoma on beautiful Keystone Lake, Blooming Justice releases on January 30, 2019 but is available in Kindle format for pre-ordering on Amazon now.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

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2019 Life-Long Learning: I’m not Getting Older, I’m Getting Better

    In my quest for life-long learning this week, I’ve decided, through trial and error, that I’m not getting any younger.  I know this because of an injured hip. 

I’ve always been active. I love the feeling after exercise; it’s like I’m clean on the inside. Blood is racing through my body. Exercise is the best medicine, I often quote, but how much is too much?  When young, I was a swimmer and taught swimming at the Y, managed Champlin Pool here in town and taught water exercise.  I taught classes all over town and even at home pools.  In the evenings after supper in good weather, the kids and I would walk, or I would jog in an effort to keep my weight down.  I still walk my dog in good weather and exercise at the Y.  I’ve had two (eekkk!) back surgeries, but still I work out.  I know better than to sit down in a rocking chair now that I’ve retired.

Then I hurt my hip back in the fall just by squatting (not leaning over) and picking up a small thing off the floor.  My hip has been yelling at me ever since. Some nights after coming in from my core strength class at the Y, I had shooting pains all the way to my ankle and knew it was a nerve being pinched.  I finally got tired of the pain and went to the doctor.  An x-ray was performed.  No, it is not broken, cracked, or anything serious (unless you count the excruciating pain). He said I had calcium deposits from an old injury and to take this medicine, massage the area and pretend it didn’t hurt. Sigh. I didn’t hope for something serious, but somehow this didn’t seem like anything worth going to the doctor over. But the anti-inflammatory I’m now taking orally seems to be helping.  I massage the area that hurts. I think it is getting better.

I think next week instead of core strength, I’ll just use the treadmill and weights at the Y and give the hip time to rest.  The moves in the class are making it worse and it needs time to heal.  But still I will move.  Not moving is the worst thing I could do.

So, what have you learned this week? Do you listen to your body and try to help it?  Tell me what you think.

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2019 Life-Long Learning: Blooming Justice

    I’ve been serious about writing for over 10 years and I find writing to be a life-long learning proposition.  In 2013 I published my first book and now I am about to release, with a little help from my publisher The Wild Rose Press, my sixth book.  It is a little different from the others. This story is a legal drama and coming of age story about bullying and rape. It is a story as old as mankind and I tried to show it from all angles.  The protagonist is young, but not naïve, and the antagonist is damaged with problems of his own.

Erin Sampson has grown up living with her single mother in Mannford, OK and watched her work long hours for little money.  Her aunt is an attorney in a successful law firm in Tulsa. Erin sees her aunt as glamorous and her life as exciting and Erin wants to emulate her. They are a close-knit family who will go to the ends of the earth for each other.

Todd Newman’s family was never close.  He and his brother were raised by a tyrannical father and mousey mother who was more afraid of their father than they were. Todd did not want to emulate his father, but the older he became the more he bullied his way to the top. Girls were just another conquest. Erin was no exception when he sexually harassed her at the senior prom.

When Erin goes to work for her aunt while attending college, she learns women on her campus are being raped and slowly she realizes who is the rapist.  She must stop him, and she does so by banning the women together and helping her aunt put together a case to hand to the DA.  There are plenty of roadblocks along the way – and then her best friend disappears after Todd warns her to stay out of his way.

Blooming Justice releases on January 30, 2019.  It is available for pre-order in Kindle version now.  I plan a release party after the 30th and will be talking about that more on Facebook later in the month.  Pick up a copy of Blooming Justice and find out if Erin finds a way to end the terror on her campus. Blooming Justice is the first in the Keystone Lake series.

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2018 Clearing My Life: Life-long Learning

    We’ve talked this year about clearing my life of physical, mental and spiritual things.  It seems most of my clearing was of the physical type.  I’ve scrubbed white woodwork, cleaned out cabinets, and found a light-weight Christmas tree that can be stored in a closet instead of the attic.  I’ve made a lot of progress.  I still need to clean the woodwork in the back bathroom.  I try to not look at it as I do my hair and make up in the morning, but it’s still there.  Maybe next week. 

I think next year we will talk about life-long learning.  Not just clearing my life of things I don’t need but learning things in life I do need.  My husband and I talked about taking a Spanish class from the local vo-tech.  I need that.  I took two years of French in high school and remember very little.  But I was a kid then and just filling a square.  This time, it will be because I really want to do this.  We’ll see how the old brains get along in the classroom again.

I constantly buy books and sit in on sessions about how to craft a story. I actually read those books and try to work what I learn into my writing. I am a firm believer in life-long learning, both mental and physical. I may try a new class at the YMCA for the physical me. I’m not even going to talk about trying once again to lose weight.  It is also a life-long learning event for me – a roller coaster of sorts.

I have new books coming out in 2019 and I’m always learning new ways to market them.  I can’t wait to show them to you.  The first one, Blooming Justice, will be released January 30, 2019. Yeah!

I’d love for you to chime in on what new thing you are trying and let me know if I am heading the right way.  Learning is more fun if you have people to discuss it with. 

Here’s to learning new things and living life to the fullest!

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2018 Clearing My Life: Cleared for Love

    Each week I write a blog to let you know what I’ve been up to.  I have to admit sometimes it is not easy.  I’m not that exciting. 

But yesterday as I sat on the loveseat in the living room working on edits to a manuscript, I saw the neighbor across the street pull out with a trailer behind his pickup completely full of new bicycles!  There are only two kids at that house and I wondered why he had a trailer full of new bicycles.  They were bright and shiny and obviously had not been used.  I mentioned it to my husband.  Then this morning, I found on the front page of the Enid News and Eagle (where it should be) a story about my neighbor and his generosity. https://www.enidnews.com/news/local_news/new-bikes-spread-christmas-cheer/image_f8697b94-2ac3-5b37-99e4-3a95704095fa.html  He donated new bicycles, through the fire department and first responders, to kids in need.  He has kids of his own and it is Christmas, but he used his own money to take care of other kids in need.  This is what the Christmas spirit is all about. 

My tree is up and presents wrapped. They are spilling out into the floor.  I have some desserts to bake tomorrow for our Christmas dinner on Tuesday at my son’s house and then I’m finished.  I announced to my husband I had not used a credit card, nor had I dipped into savings this year.  I was proud of my accomplishment. And then I saw what my neighbor did.  I felt like a bum.

I made a small donation to the Heavener Runestone Park – one of my favorite places, but there are so many in need. 

There was also a nice obit in the Enid News and Eagle for Doc Bryant – a kind soul who used his gift of music to warm the hearts of many. https://www.enidnews.com/search/?f=html&q=doc+bryant+&s=start_time&sd=desc&l=25&nsa=eedition  I never personally knew Doc, but I know his son and daughter-in-law.  After years of being a dentist he took his art to Austin and quickly became well known in the music scene there.  It is tough losing a parent at Christmas time, I know from experience.

It occurred to me how many good people there are in the world.  Every day I read the paper and watch the news and wonder how this world keeps from exploding with the trouble I see. And then I remember the kind souls who work behind the scenes collecting bicycles and playing their music and know that the good still outweighs the bad.

I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, or whatever you celebrate. Be kind to your neighbors, not just during the holidays but always.

We can all make a difference.

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2018 Clearing My Life: Too Many Story Ideas?

    As a writer, sometimes I get so tired and overwhelmed with my own ideas, I want to quit. I need a vacation.  I have a bad case of wander-lust most of the time.  Maybe it is the season and the stress that goes with it.  I don’t really have that much stress these days since I retired.  I can do what I want.  And then the red leather recliner where I write calls my name.  You have work to do, it says.

I found out recently the release date for Blooming Justice is January 30, 2019. That is just around the corner!  This book is about a young girl growing up and learning how to fight her own battles and when to enlist help. This story is as controversial as anything on the news these days, and as old as mankind. I want a release party and I have marketing to prepare. So much to do! I hope you are as excited about it as I am.

I’ve been working steadily on the third book in the Sandhill Island series. I have a good outline and I’ve started writing. Maybe that is why I get overwhelmed.  I have lots of ideas and only so much time can be spent in that chair before I get stir crazy.

A picture popped up on my screen saver the other day with a scene from a Greek Island and another idea came to mind.  What if I wrote a story set in the Greek Islands. . .? I’ve always wanted to go there.  I checked my pocketbook and it said I should research online. (sigh)

I put my ideas into a folder on my computer for a later date.  I don’t want to forget this idea, but I am getting overwhelmed again. Just put things in order and do one at a time.  Breathe.

And then I got a response from another publisher about another potential book.  A book I’ve been working on for at least 10 years.  It needs work they say (sigh, again) and they are probably right.  But once again I get excited!  I can do this! All those long hours with my rear in the seat might be paying off again! Or not.  I don’t know yet.  But as usual I will try.

There are always ideas crawling around in my head, just itching to get out. Clearing my life of story ideas.

I can’t quit.

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2018 Clearing My Life: Christmas as it Should Be

   It’s Christmas and there are a million things to do.  I think back about how I used to make Christmas happen with kids at home, a job during the day, limited funds, Christmas cookies baking, and still I managed to make it happen.  I hope with some grace.  Maybe not always. It should be easier now.

I have a new tree this year that signifies a change in my life style.  It is smaller and more compact.  I can put it in a box on the shelf of the closet and handle the weight of the tree alone.  It is not going back in the attic where we might fall climbing to get it.  I can tug it out of the box and then pull it up to its intended height – stretch out a few branches – and voila I have a Christmas tree! I took several boxes of old ornaments and decorations to the local thrift store yesterday.  It is time to downsize.

A good friend wrote a piece about being a million points of light that I wish I could use here, but the gist of it was being a light for the world and yourself during this time of year.  I try. It is important this time of year to remember to take care of yourself as well as others.  I don’t feel very sparkly with the current Christmas “cold” I’ve come down with, but it is only the Rhinovirus, not Cancer. I’ll survive. I have more than one friend in the hospital right now – I guess that has to do with our age.

The picture at the top is the new tree with one wrapped gift.  I have finished my shopping but have not started to wrap.  I also need to work on sending out Christmas cards.  I really don’t think of these things as chores, but with the virus dragging me down, I have trouble getting things done.  And the post office would not like me licking envelopes right now. EEEKK!

I seem to have a Christmas tune or two rattling around in my head that I’m sure I picked up from Christmas specials on TV or maybe in a store or two.  But I find them pleasant, not annoying like they might be if I was working in the store all day bombarded by the songs meant to make shoppers over indulge.

It is a good Christmas so far.  My family is healthy, and we plan a dinner at my son’s once again.  My adult children step up and take care of a lot of things these days and I just show up with a side dish and a festive smile. Grandma’s here!

I hope your Christmas is full of love and joy.  Take time for yourself and let some things go.  You don’t have to make fudge just because you used to.  No one needs it anyway.  Savor the season and wrap yourself in its warmth.

Merry Christmas.

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