2021: Expect the Unexpected – A Ray of Hope

It’s Sunday morning and already 43° outside.  For my dog, that is the magic number that allows the wooden front door to open so she can see the great outdoors through a glass storm door.  It is heaven for her.  The Blizzard of 2021 has been over for a while and it makes me enjoy the sunshine even more.  Spring is truly on the way.

In Oklahoma, and hopefully most of the country, the Covid-19 numbers are down.  However, we lost over half a million people before that started to happen.  My husband and I, as old people, have received both our vaccine shots and I even went shopping with my daughter for a while yesterday, masked up.  I see a ray of hope.

It’s been over eight months since my third back surgery and I still don’t have all my strength back.  My legs play out much too quickly.  I had my Medicare-allotted physical therapy and walked my dog back when the weather was warm, but I sit and write too much.  I gave up my gym membership last March and I’ve decided to go back now that I feel more comfortable about the virus.

I visited a different gym this week, which was touted to be much cheaper, but when they added on all the extras, fees, etc., I think I’ll join the YMCA again.  I’ve been a member there for over 40 years – my membership fees probably built the west wing – and they probably miss me.  I feel comfortable there and don’t get the vibe of “little old lady working out!” that I got at the place I visited.  I’m not an athlete, but I’ve always worked out, except this year, and I know it will help me feel better. 

When I was young, I was a swimming instructor and managed the city pool in the summer and taught classes at the Y during the winter. I loved it, but it didn’t pay very well.  Then I had to go to work and make some money year-round.  My family needed me.  But I always kept up my Y membership.  And now, I’m going back.  It feels like home. I might not venture into the water, locker rooms, and showers just yet, but I will use the equipment and clean it as I go.  I’m sure the sore muscles will hit me at first, but that just feels like home to me.  Masochistic you say?  Maybe but I think the world is getting back to normal.  I hope.

I’m still writing and always will.  I’m finishing up the family recipe/memory book and have plans for a new novel.  I need to do more marketing on books that are out there.  If you’ve read any of my books, pleased leave me a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, etc.  Writers love reviews.

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Of Memories and BBQ

It’s Sunday and beginning to look a lot like spring!  The snow is melting, and it was 38° when I got up this morning.  I’ve heard flocks of geese moving for the last few days.  There is a wheat field about two blocks from my home and they were probably looking for lunch, but they were huge flocks.  Oklahoma keeps geese year-round these days but the ones I hear overhead were moving.  I hope they know spring is just around the corner.  According to the calendar it is about 30 days away.

I finished writing Blooming Greed, the second in the Keystone Lake series, and The Wild Rose Press has agreed to publish it, though I haven’t signed a contract yet.  But it should hit the shelves within the year.

Instead of jumping right into the next novel (there are two potentials sitting on the computer) I got distracted by a different project.  My cousins and sisters are putting together a book with family recipes, pictures, and memories.  It has been so fun, and I already have more than 50 pages.  I’m still waiting on recipes to be sent to me, but one cousin, an artist, is doing the illustrations and possibly the cover.  I got phone numbers from my aunt and called up cousins I hadn’t talked to in 20 years – and they didn’t hang up on me! 

One of the things that is fun is that we all have different memories of the same situation – and different recipes for the same thing handed down from our mothers.  When this became apparent, I decided to make a section of the book for comparison. 

An example is my grandfather’s barbeque sauce that he slathered on chicken as it grilled on his homemade BBQ grill.  My mother said his recipe, given to her verbally, went like this: “Take a piece of lard the size of a hen’s egg and melt it. Then mix it with vinegar and salt and pepper and brush it on the chicken.” There were no measurements, but my memories of the barbeque sauce were wonderful. Two of my cousins had a different version and one even knew where it came from.  It was a secret recipe from an old man who was the barbeque chicken king at the annual Portia Picnic in Arkansas. 

But the book has brought back so many memories and in looking through a box of my mother’s mementos, I found the above picture of my grandfather’s hand-tooled leather wallet with Selective Service card, Lifetime Hunting and Fishing cards, and a drivers license.  Oh, the things that wallet had seen as he strived to raise a family of eight children during the Depression and my grandmother baked biscuits to feed them all.

Expect the unexpected.  I should have known when I started this project.  But it is a tribute to my family, and I think my grandparents would be proud. 

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Strawberry Sundae Delights

Good morning and Happy Valentine’s Day from the frozen tundra! Brrrr!  All of Oklahoma is covered in snow and we have lots more to come.  So, with that in mind, expect the unexpected.

Beach read!  We need a beach read with a Valentine twist. And I have just the thing, Strawberry Sundae Delights is set once again on Sandhill Island and is a romance with a little bit of suspense. 

Schoolteacher Sienna Schultz is still stinging from a bad breakup with her fiancé when she finds herself unexpectedly infatuated with a new man. While working her summer job at her aunt’s ice cream shop in the small tourist town of Sandhill Island, she meets Jake White, a college student from Corpus Christi who is working on a shrimper for the summer. Sienna is not ready for another relationship, but Jake is difficult to resist.

Sienna’s peaceful summer is shattered when a series of suspicious events unfold. Her aunt’s suppliers refuse to sell to her, putting the future of the shop in jeopardy. Then, when the store is vandalized, they wonder if someone is out to harm not only the business, but Sienna and her aunt as well.

Jake offers to help uncover who’s behind the incidents, which brings the two of them closer together. Can Sienna trust him…or is she headed for another heartbreak?

The novella is available electronically on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes, for your device. https://tinyurl.com/y2qe84qx

Strawberry Sundae Delights by Peggy Chambers | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

The novella is also available with two other great reads in an anthology through The Wild Rose Press A Taste of Danger the One Scoop or Two Series A Taste of Danger | The Wild Rose Press Inc.

Pick up a copy for a great beach read in the middle of a blizzard while you sip hot chocolate by the fire.  It’s sure to warm your heart as well as your body. 

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Football and Cold Weather

It’s Superbowl weekend and in my house that means we gather snacks and prepare to watch the commercials.  I don’t care about football, but some of the best commercials to ever come down the pike make their debut at the Superbowl.  It is pure entertainment.

I understand there will not be Budweiser commercials this year – and they were always the best – because Budweiser has taken the money they’d spend on those very expensive commercials and spent it on Covid-19 vaccine awareness. They have spent billions since 1983 on commercials along with Coke and Pepsi and opted out this year. Whether you are for or against the vaccines, it seems a selfless move on their part.  In the middle of a pandemic, football has taken a back seat. And I’m sure beer sales will remain high.

I’m still working on my family’s recipe/memory book and learning so many things I never knew.  I am also renewing relationships with cousins and family members.  This was a great idea.

A neighbor across the street died and we have a funeral tomorrow in the worst weather of the winter.  So far it is only extremely cold temperatures and not a lot of precipitation, I hope it stays that way.  It is about 70 miles to his hometown where the funeral will take place and we plan to go bundled up as long as there is no ice and snow on the roads.  The neighbor was a friend, and we want to honor his life by attending his funeral.

I got my first vaccine shot and have an appointment for the second one this week.  I hope it works.  Like everyone else I want life to get back to normal – whatever that is. My annual writing conference in May has decided to go virtual this year.  We cancelled it last year.  It won’t be the same without the camaraderie, but I will still learn something and as always it will enthuse me and about writing.

Next week is Valentine’s Day.  I hope you and your bestie have plans.  Ours is to cook our own Valentine’s dinner and not venture out – again.  But life goes on.

Whatever you do this week, it is probably the coldest week of the winter.  Stay warm, cuddle up and maybe read a romance story in preparation for Valentine’s Day next Sunday.

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Almost Spring

According to my calculations it is 48 days until spring.  The jonquils in my front flower bed are up about two inches.  We have cold weather in the forecast for next weekend but a fairly warm week prior to the onslaught.  It is the time of year I hunker down and wait it out. 

I’m a gardener.  I love to watch plants rising from the soil for renewed life.  Every year plant life comes back and with it comes my love of nature.  Spring is a magical time of year.

However, spring in Oklahoma can be dicey. But still, I look forward to it.  We had two small tornadoes in the northeast corner of the state yesterday – in January – hummmm. Well, bring it on.  I’ve learned how to deal with them having lived here most of my life.  Be prepared and stay calm.  Try not to end up like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. But she did have a magical experience.

I’ve been flipping back and forth with the start of two new novels – one is another Sandhill Island story and the second one is set on a Greek Island involving a modern-day Cupid story.  I can’t decide which one to work on.  What do you think? Sandhill Island or Greek island.

I’m also working with my cousins on a family memoir/recipe book for us.  It has involved trips down memory lane, and it is strange to see how others viewed the same experience.  I’ve loved working on this.

I got out and walked the dog in the Oklahoma wind yesterday and loved it even though it almost blew me back home.  I think I’ll do that again today.  Short walks are good for us this time of year getting us ready for the longer ones when it warms up.  The dog’s arthritis is kicking up in the cold weather and moving those joints is good for her as well as me.

So, 48 more days until warmer weather.  Plenty of time to decide which novel is next and finish up the recipe book.  And then there will be gardening and walks.  Life goes on.  Life is good.

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Ian’s Magic

This year’s theme is Expect the Unexpected – a tag line for my writing since I write more than one genre.  But it also describes the year we’ve had as a planet.  You all know I’m talking about the pandemic.  I’m tired of being home, and tired of the news, but at least I’m not on the front lines taking care of patients or being one of them.  I’m bored, not sick – thankfully. So, I write.

But in an effort to get away from the political drama, virus, and humdrum of everyday life, I bring you magic! The magic of math!  As a kid I was intimidated by math.  I learned early on not to trust my brain and use a calculator.  That might have been a mistake, but it served me well. 

When I became a grandmother and my grandson was in early grade school, he loved math.  It was predictable.  If you did this, then this would happen!  Magic!  Unless you got the problem wrong. And from the young mind who saw the magic adults didn’t came the idea for a book – Ian’s Magic.   

Ian was a young boy with grade school problems.  He had a brother, and they didn’t always get along, he tried to get to know a new kid in school with a big mouth and boastful ways, and then there was Thomas – another student who loved math as much as he did. Thomas was his nemesis with the annual math contest coming up.  Ian wanted to win the iPad this year, so he wouldn’t have to share the family computer, but he could fail. 

Ian knew that math was used in everyday life like helping his mom with her checkbook.  He also learned that mowing the lawn for his dad made more money than cleaning out the neighbor’s shed. He learned that ratios didn’t always work when you were mixing hair color to make your brother’s red hair blond. But what his little brother taught him was ”in physics, weight and mass or something, two pulleys cut the weight in half if you are hoisting something up.” And that might have saved his life the day he fell over the cliff and his little brother hoisted him back up. But his brother wasn’t magic and couldn’t make the vacuum cleaner run itself while he did his math homework.

Check out Ian’s Magic a middle-grade chapter book that makes math fun – and magic!  Published by Doodle and Peck and illustrated by the uber talented, Marla Jones. https://tinyurl.com/yxnszumv

Ian’s Magic by Peggy Chambers, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Strawberry Sundae Delights

It’s a cold January day here in the Midwest. No snow, but the wind comes sweeping down the plains.  I need some warmth and to hear the sound of the surf in the distance.  And what better place to experience that than Sandhill Island? Here’s a new novella about the characters who inhabit the tiny island off the coast of Corpus Christi. 

Strawberry Sundae Delights takes place in an ice cream shop on the island.  In the summer on the beach what is better than ice cream?

Schoolteacher Sienna Schultz is still stinging from a bad breakup with her fiancé when she finds herself unexpectedly infatuated with a new man. While working her summer job at her aunt’s ice cream shop in the small tourist town of Sandhill Island, she meets Jake White, a college student from Corpus Christi who is working on a shrimper for the summer. Sienna is not ready for another relationship, but Jake is difficult to resist.

Sienna’s peaceful summer is shattered when a series of suspicious events unfold. Her aunt’s suppliers refuse to sell to her, putting the future of the shop in jeopardy. Then, when the store is vandalized, they wonder if someone is out to harm not only the business, but Sienna and her aunt as well.

Jake offers to help uncover who’s behind the incidents, which brings the two of them closer together. Can Sienna trust him…or is she headed for another heartbreak?

Strawberry Sundae Delights adds new characters to the island and revisits some you may already know.  It is a romance with a hint of suspense. Summer on an island with a new love – ahhhh.  Could life get any sweeter?

Strawberry Sundae Delights is an e-published novella available through Kindle, Nook, iTunes and distributors everywhere.  It might be just the warmth you are looking for this winter.

https://tinyurl.com/y2qe84qx

Strawberry Sundae Delights by Peggy Chambers | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

Expect the Unexpected. What are you reading this week?

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2020: Expect the Unexpected – Math Magic

With the week we’ve had politically, it is time for something fun.  Expect the Unexpected. 

Ian’s Magic is a fun romp through grade-school math.  Really, math can be fun!  My checkbook register is never fun, but if I could balance it magically, it might be.  And Ian can – even if his mom can’t.

Ian keeps his math magic a secret because Papa said he should.  But Papa might be magic too. 

Ian is in grade school and even if he loves math, he has problems – like a little brother who is jealous of his abilities and parents who expect him to clean his room. But he knows he can use math magic in everyday activities like balancing his mother’s checkbook, keeping score in baseball, and proportions of hair color to make his brother’s red hair turn blond. Then he learns physics can get you out of a jam when you fall over a cliff that Dad said to stay away from.

Ian Conner learned in the first grade he could perform magic using math. And this year, the prize for the annual math contest is $500! Ian really wants to win, but he knows classmate Thomas Martin will be stiff competition.  Thomas wins every year.  And this year he has a college tutor helping him prep for the contest! 

Ian decides to study accelerated math, hoping it will help him win. But when the day of the competition arrives Ian must make a difficult choice – hope his studying helps him win fair and square – or cheat using his “math magic” to win the contest.

Ian’s Magic is a middle-grade chapter book available for pre-order from Amazon https://tinyurl.com/yxnszumv and will release from my publisher Doodle and Peck on February 10, 2021.  A great birthday gift for me!

Check out Ian’s Magic and leave me a review.  Reviews are magic!  What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Living a Good Life

Each year I decide on a topic for the blogs I write.  Sometimes I get off the beaten track, but this year the pathway is clear.  “Expect the Unexpected” is what I’ve chosen.  For some time, I’ve wanted a tag line for my writing and since I write more than one genre, this seemed like a good tag line and topic for this year’s blogs. 

With the pandemic and all that has come with it in 2020, the tag line could mean a lot of things in 2021, but I think it stands for hope – the hope that the world will not go back to normal but will go on to better things.  Maybe mankind has learned a few things and maybe we will try harder to take care of ourselves and each other.

So, to begin the year let’s Expect the Unexpected and learn to live kindlier.  Max Ehrmann said it best in 1927 when he wrote a poem about living a good life.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

— Max Ehrmann, 1927

                What unexpected things are you doing this week?

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2020 Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – Author Mick Arnold

Mick Arnold writes for The Wild Rose Press and that is how I became acquainted with him. He lives “across the pond” (pond?) and I’ve never met him face to face, but I am truly enjoying his historical novel A “Wing and A Prayer.” I’m sure you will too! Help me welcome, Mick Arnold.

Hi Peggy. Many, many thanks for having me today on your blog, I very much appreciate it.

Hands up who’s heard someone say, I could write a book…only I don’t have the time. I always want to shout at them. Well, make the time!

            My new book, ‘A Wing and a Prayer’ isn’t one of those. Saying this, I also have to say, it wasn’t planned. At no point in my relatively short writing life had I ever planned to write in this genre. I thought I’d be writing, or attempting to write, Women’s Fiction/Romances. Next thing I know, I’ve written a World War 2 Historical Saga –actually, as I write this, book 2 is with my publishers and book 3 is a quarter done – and received a publishing deal. Isn’t life strange?

            So, how did it come about? Well, after ‘The Season for Love’ my body decided the best thing it could do would be to ‘break’ for the best part of two years. At times like this, you discover who your friends are. One of them gave me some very good advice. Don’t try and pick up something you’d been working on, try something new. By going for an unrelated project, I should find myself somewhere I hadn’t been. Somewhat to my surprise, it seems to have worked.

            I’ve always loved history, specifically anything to do with flying. As it happened, the same day this was suggested to me, I saw a program called ‘The Spitfire Girls’ and that sparked the idea that perhaps I could come up with a story set in the Air Transport Auxiliary. A day or so of trawling the internet and the next thing I knew, I had actually planned out about 50% of the first story. I hadn’t set out to write a mystery, yet the girls seemed to migrate towards that thread of their own accord and the rest of the story – how four girls (men, of course, also served in the ATA in much larger numbers) from different walks of life came to live and work together – wrote itself around this thread. Indeed, the first scene in the story finds one of the girl’s sisters being found dead in the cockpit of a Tiger Moth biplane! So, the Air Transport Auxiliary Mystery Club was born.

            I served for over sixteen years in the Royal Air Force, travelling all over the world and, of course, the United Kingdom. Some of the bases I served on were once visited by these brave people I’ve written about and I feel honoured to play a small part in keeping their story alive and in, perhaps, bringing it to a new audience. Their bravery needs to be heard about and with this story, the first in the ‘Broken Wings’ series, I hope to be able to perform this task I’ve set myself.

Check out “A Wing and A Prayer” and let Mick know what you think. Writers love reviews!

What are you reading this week?

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