2016 Cultivating Gratitude: A Sale!

SecretsofSandhillIsland_w8259    If you spent your life believing your fiancé died in a storm and then found out your father had him killed, what would you do?  If you thought the people of your small town didn’t know who your father was – but they knew all along – what would you do?

Meg Stanford tried to live out her life in the small community of Sandhill Island.  She lived there as a child and had fond memories of the tiny beach house where she was loved.  Then everything was ripped from her.  Her father insisted they move to Corpus Christi, the man she loved died, her mother also died, and she was left to raise her son while living with a tyrant she called Father.

Sandhill Island seemed a haven for secrets like Meg’s but she was not the only one.  Alex, the artist who moved in next door to her vegetable stand, had his share also. And so did her son’s fiancé.

Meg has been living a lie since she moved back to Sandhill Island, but she is not alone.  The treachery is just beginning as she finds out the truth about her father and his business dealings and tries to make restitution to the neighbors she cares for.  And then the hurricane hits.

The Kindle version of Secrets of Sandhill Island is on sale at The Wild Rose Press catalog http://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/ for $2.99 through Cyber Monday. If you’re ready for some suspense and more than a few secrets, pick up a copy and let me know what you think.

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2016 Cultivating Gratitude: Family

snickerdoodles    Thanksgiving is next week and I’m sure you and your family have big plans.  Mine has been sending email messages for a week deciding on a menu.  The person who hosts the dinner takes care of meat and then everyone brings something.  I’m a planner and without a plan, I am sure we will not be able to pull this monumental task off.  Probably we could, but what if everyone brought only sweet potatoes!  So I plan.

I wrote a blog this week for a winter blogfest that needed to be about the holidays – winter, Christmas, or whatever holiday your family celebrates.  I wrote about Christmases at my grandmother’s many years ago and it brought back memories.  In a tiny house located in northeast Arkansas, there was more food than could be consumed and more than enough love to go around.  My grandfather’s deep baritone voice sang Christmas carols in the living room around a wood burning stove with a tea kettle on top spewing steam to moisturize the air.  My grandmother’s cookies fresh out of the oven gave the whole house a cinnamon scent and the fresh pine tree in the place of honor – the picture window – twinkled with lights and homemade ornaments.

The house smelled of Christmas; pine, cinnamon, and the bowl of oranges that sat on the dining room table.  It was Christmas, it was family, it was love.  To this day, when I smell these scents in combination or alone, that is the smell of Christmas in my mind.

To honor this time of family and love I am posting my grandmother’s Snickerdoodle recipe.  It might be the same as yours.  I don’t know where she got it – probably a recipe exchange at church or something – but it is a keeper.  Remember, chill at least two hours or overnight.

BaaBa’s Snickerdoodles

Mix together:

1 Cup soft shortening

2 eggs

Sift together and stir in:

2 ¾ Cups sifted flour

2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp soda

½ tsp salt

Chill at least two hours (overnight is better). Roll into balls the size of a small walnut (black walnuts, English walnuts don’t grow in Arkansas).  Roll in a mixture of 2 tsp. sugar and 2 Tbsp. cinnamon. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake until lightly brown but still soft (8 – 10 minutes) in 400-degree oven.

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2016 Cultivating Gratitude: Dr. Strange

doctor_strange_poster     I spent the afternoon with a good friend at the theater.  We saw Dr. Strange. It’s nice to find someone who shares my taste in movies.  I loved the special effects and story behind the Marvel character.  I’ve got to say; I didn’t know this character until recently but truly enjoyed the movie. Hollywood has recently dipped into the super-hero pond and caught some fascinating stories to tell.  Dr. Strange was another addition to their stringer.

The character, Dr. Stephen Strange, was a neuro surgeon who lost the use of his hands in an auto accident.  But like all super heroes, he found a way around his disability using magic and finally had to face his own shortcoming – and Strange had several.  The special effects were fantastic, and I didn’t even opt for the 3D effect.  There was plenty of comic relief about his name, and Thor even made an entrance at the end.

Disney has come a long way in the last few years beginning with the Pirates of the Caribbean series and I’m looking forward to seeing the new ones.

This summer my friend and I caught up on movies we hadn’t seen in a while: all eight of the Star Wars, six Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and now we’re working on the Marvel Comic characters.  It is a tough job, but someone has to do it.

I recommend Dr. Strange if you enjoy the genre – or even if you don’t.  We might create a convert.

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2016 Cultivating Gratitude: Hello Autumn!

pumpkin    It’s November! And it is still warm outside.  I don’t know whether to gripe or be grateful for the weather.  We need rain, but in Oklahoma, when the rains begin in the fall, winter is right behind.  Last year we had a major ice storm the day after Thanksgiving. My flower beds need attention before the ice and snow.  The over waist-high basil should be dried and crushed for use in soups and sauces this winter. And I just got called back to work for the Christmas season.

November is NaNoWriMo month.  National Novel Writing Month is celebrated in lots of ways; in Enid, the public library is hosting a Tuesday writing blitz http://enid.okpls.org/homepageslider/come-write-in-this-november/ .  You can sit in the semi-quiet of the library and work on putting as many words on paper (or computer screen) as your fingers and mind can stand – to be edited later.  The object of the month is to get 50,000 words (a short novel) down before the month is through.  In case you’re wondering, that is over 1600 words a day or just over six and a half pages a day.  You can do that, right? Well, you can if you’re committed and organized.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and you know what happens after Thanksgiving – Christmas!  It is upon us once again.  I’ve started a small Christmas list and even bought a few things, stuffed them in the linen closet (the place of honor for future presents,) and began to peruse the sale flyers. 

My husband is griping because it is too warm to hunt deer.  But the deer are probably happy. As a long- time hunter, there was a time when he would be on pins and needles awaiting the season.  He has mellowed with age. 

It is still warm enough to walk the dog first thing in the morning.  Once winter hits, she’ll get walked in the afternoon sometimes and other days not at all.  But the weatherman has forecast rain for this evening.  I think I’ll make a pot of chili.  Maybe it will encourage the season.

What are you doing for autumn?

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2016 Cultivating Gratitude: The End of the World Would Suck – or Not

cover    It’s Halloween!  And in honor of my daughter’s favorite holiday we’re going to discuss The Apocalypse Sucks.  It would of course, if it weren’t so much fun to write.  I mean, if you can’t make fun of the apocalypse, what can you make fun of?

Sandra and Molly live in the corporate tower where they used to work.  They weren’t friends, only co-workers, but now they are family. The end of their world has come, and they are at the beginning of a new one.  Most of the people they loved are dead due to a fast-moving virus that left a “chalk outline” where the body fell and burned up. They are scrounging for food, but managing, until the bat creatures show up outside their window one night. Now nothing is safe.

However, some things never change. Bras wear out and lip gloss gets used.  What’s a girl to do?  Go to the mall of course – bat creatures or no.  So, armed with whatever they can find and taking the dog with them, they make another trip to the mall only to run into the bat creature they’d seen earlier.  But are they creatures, or are they humans.  Everything is different these days.

The story continues with the evolved humans after the virus and Molly and Sandra even find love once again. But life is still hard.  Humans and bat creatures don’t get along even when the creatures learn to talk around their fangs, and then there is rumor that the virus was man made.  Will it return and can it be stopped?  Maybe one newcomer has the answer to these questions.

The Apocalypse Sucks is a satirical dark comedy blending dystopia, and girl power with a little hope for mankind.  The story is funny, but humans will be humans in all that they do.  I hope you enjoy reading (or listening to the audio version) of The Apocalypse Sucks, published by Airship 27, as much as I enjoyed writing it.  It just goes to prove that even the end of the world can be fun if you put your mind to it!


What would you do if your world ended?

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2016 Cultivating Gratitude: And Marigolds!

marigolds2    This year I had a ton of homely little plants come up in the garden – left over seeds from last year. And I encouraged them.  I fertilized and hand pulled weeds instead of using weed preventers that stop germination.  And the garden is a little overgrown, but I have lots of color and butterflies this fall.  When I walk out the front door, I am surrounded by a cloud of butterflies that are happily munching on my flowers preparing for winter.

I’ve never seen so many Marigolds. I looked them up and their many uses and here are a few:

Marigolds are used for medicinal purposes.  They are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties;

The color in the flowers has been used in dyes and makeup;

They were used during the Civil War and World War I to prevent infection in wounds;

In the garden, they attract bees, butterflies and ladybugs;

Chickens love to eat the dried flowers and they will help to eliminate mites and darken their yolks;

You can chop them into a salad for a spicy flavor and Vitamin C;

They can be dried for potpourri;

They can be used as a spice in cooking or boiled into a tea;

The tea can also be used as an insect spray;

And growing them around the house deters mosquitos.

I’ve never used any of these ideas, but I know they attract Red Spiders in the garden and keep them away from other plants.  When the plants become webbed, I pull them up and throw them away.  They are a good border plant to keep bugs out of the vegetable garden.

Whatever their uses, they are a joy to the eye.  Their scent is slightly spicy – which I guess bugs don’t like – and they handle the Oklahoma heat in the middle of the summer. Homely, yes, but lovely especially when the growing season is coming to an end.

I’m drying their seeds and if you want any, let me know.   marigolds

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2016 Cultivating Gratitude: A Sequel

Glome's Valley Cover    I’m enjoying working on the first draft of Return to Glome’s Valley.  Maybe more than the first. I hope to have it ready by spring.  I’ve enjoyed working on this story as I did the first.  Some of the visitors to the Heavener Runestone Viking Fest mentioned research I should do and things that needed to be included in the next story.  Then I thought, dragon.  Every good Viking story needs a dragon.

Here is an excerpt from the draft:

Green slimy water rushed over his head washing the sand from his nose still packed full of dirt from the fall into the creek. He gagged on stagnant pond water – full of germs and bacteria. Not a problem if you were a ghost but he was still alive. Suddenly he felt the bottom with his foot and pushed off the springy mud feeling himself catapulted up and out of the pond. He opened his eyes and found he lay on the ground hearing Glome’s laughter over his choking coughs.

Ethan rolled over onto his back wiping slime from his eyes and breathed deeply. The dragon flies were once again floating over the top of the pond when a slender grey tongue snatched one from the air and sucked it back down in to the water.

“What was that?” Ethan crab-walked backwards and coughed until he could no longer breathe.

“I think you just met Trondelag. She’s in the pond sometimes. She helped you out of the water. And she finds dragonflies a delicacy.”

“Tronde what?” Ethan stood and smoothed his wet hair from his face.

“Trondelag. She’s a dragon.” Glome looked closely at his sword speaking nonchalantly.

“A dragon? Living in the pond.” Ethan wondered if Glome made fun of him again.

“Well, it is a really deep pond – and it goes back much further than you can see. There are tunnels under the hill. She lives there.”

Ethan stared at the once again serene pond full of cattails that seemed impossibly deep a minute ago. “What do you mean she helped me out of the water?”

“Well, you sprung out like you were thrown. You didn’t do that yourself.”

“I pushed off from the bottom.” Ethan leaned over the side looking deep into the water.

“No, she pushed you out. You would never find the bottom of that pond.”

Ethan looked at his friend with narrowed eyes; sometimes hard to tell when the little Viking was kidding, but he’d seen some strange things in this valley. Glome leaned on his sword looking off into the distance. Ethan cleared his throat. Dragons in the pond, huh? They’d talk about it later.

I love writing fairytales, especially if set in Oklahoma.  Return to Glome’s Valley will be available soon.

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