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.


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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2020: Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – The Scent of Christmas

I walked in the door at Lowes near the garden area and it caught me by surprise – cinnamon. Not the common fertilizer and weed killer smells. It smelled like Christmas. It took a while to find where they hid it. The scent was somewhere in the store. And I followed my nose. Up high above my head, I found them. Cinnamon pinecones.  The scent of Christmas.  I had to have those – later – closer to Christmas.  If they were still there.  I love the scent of cinnamon no matter the time of year, probably because it reminds me of my mother’s snickerdoodle cookies and Christmas as a child.

But cinnamon isn’t my only love. I loved the smell of a real evergreen in the living room. The smell of an alpine forest inside for all to enjoy.  Unless you were allergic to it as my son was.

Growing up, like many families, we always had oranges in our stocking.  We never had a fireplace, but we still hung the stockings somewhere for Santa and in the morning they would be full of nuts and oranges, our presents under the tree.  I was never sure why oranges.  They weren’t a winter fruit – not local to where we lived.  But it was a tradition.

Cinnamon, evergreens, oranges. I found a potpourri once called Scent of Christmas and I think it smelled like all of these together.  It was so strong, I had to let it sit on the porch for a day or two so we could breath, but it was Christmas.  Add some nutmeg and cloves and you have almost found it.  Maybe the scent of my mother’s mincemeat pie.  Many people don’t like mincemeat, but it was a staple in our house for the holidays and it had every spice and herb available in it. 

Why are the holidays such an olfactory experience?  Why do we remember the spices and sweet treats from our childhoods? They were from the good times. A simpler time in our lives.  Remember waking on Thanksgiving morning to the smell of turkey roasting?  Mom had been up for hours working tirelessly so we could gorge ourselves and then take a nap on tryptophan while she cleaned up the mess.

Now the best smell of Christmas will be family. I’ll remember my mother’s perfume as I hug my daughter. Fresh washed children run through the house squealing with delight. Warm sweaters and warm smiles, soon the room will warm with all the bodies until we have to turn on the ceiling fans and turn down the heat.  The smell of food and love are one whether we realize it at the time or not.  Probably not. But the scent of Christmas is full not just of things we ate but people we loved. 

Family is the true scent of Christmas, but cinnamon . . .

Merry Christmas this week. I hope it is an aromatic one.

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2020: Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – And it Snowed

It’s 12 days until Christmas (I think there’s a song about that) and we have snow here on the Great Plains!  If you’re from up north, you would laugh at our little snow, but it can shut us down.  At least me.

I woke up this morning, looked out the window and said, “No, I’ll stay home.” I have Christmas baking to do and of course I can always clean, do laundry, and there are the final edits on that novel that need to be finished. Since I gave up my gym membership last March, I try to exercise at home.  Not as effective, but at least I’m moving off the couch.  

I love Christmas and the family dinners, etc.  The dinner is small these days since we have grown grandchildren and then there’s the pandemic.  We don’t even want to talk about that.  But I still look forward to seeing my children, and their children, and eating too much.  We will still celebrate Christmas.

My writer’s club had their first Zoom meeting, and it was mildly attended.  We’ll do better in the future.  I meet with my daughter and some friends for yoga online on Saturday mornings.  I keep finding ways to stay busy.

I talked to LA Talk Radio, The Writer’s Block yesterday and I scheduled an interview with them again.  I love these people.  We’ve become friends and they are so much fun to talk to. But they are busy and the next date they had available was April.  April first, April Fools Day!  Perfect I said, it works with my personality.  But I can discuss my latest books and works in progress.  It will be fun.

I also ordered copies of Ian’s Magic yesterday and talked to a writer in the UK who wants to guest blog on my website.  I can do a lot from the comfort of my love seat.  But yes, I need to get up now and then. Maybe I’ll cook breakfast for a change.

What are you doing on Sunday morning?  Is it snowing where you are?

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2020: Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – Persevering Petunias

Perseverance is a word that best describes the petunias that came up in my garden this year.  Several appeared voluntarily from the ones I planted last year. Seeds I didn’t’ realize were in the soil. I never went to the greenhouse. I was surprised to see them and decided to transplant them into pots that were strewn around the garden to protect them – then more appeared.

They popped up in the garden and bloomed in colors from white, to pink, to purple.  They managed to survive the Oklahoma August (some people don’t do that) and bloomed through fall.  They are still going, and it has frozen several times.  It was 29 degrees this morning and we long ago quit watering and covered the hydrants outside for protection from the elements. The flower is beginning to fade a little but every morning it is still there.

It’s been a tough year for the whole world.  The pandemic threatens to take out humans and animals alike – but still the petunias bloom.

We had an ice storm in October that tried to kill most of our trees – but still the petunias bloom.

We had a little snow – but still the petunias bloom.

Thanksgiving is done and we’re into the Christmas season.  My tree is up, and I’ve started my shopping – but still the petunias bloom.

Maybe they are the hope that this world needs at a time when hope is in short supply.  Persevering petunias could become our mantra and our symbol of hope.

What’s in your garden this week?

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2020: Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – Ian’s Magic

Ian’s Magic has been a long time coming.  The middle-grade chapter book was one of the first things I wrote and has been through many changes.  But in February it will be available for purchase.  In fact, you can pre-order it to your Kindle now at https://tinyurl.com/yxnszumv .

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.

Math magic is not the only thing that Ian has to deal with in the fourth grade.  He has a little brother who is jealous of his talents and he has to hide his ability to perform magic from the rest of the world. And if his math is not correct, the magic doesn’t work.  He learns a lot about life and how math is used in everyday things and sometimes he wins the day.  But what happens if you get the ratio wrong when mixing hair color for your little red-haired brother? Or can his little brother help him using physics when he falls off a cliff and gets stuck in a tree? Brothers can be a pain, but sometimes they are helpful.

I am truly excited about this book and I can’t wait to be able to show it to you.  Maybe by spring I’ll be able to present it in person at a book signing or craft show, but in the meantime check out Ian’s Magic.  You’ll agree, math can be magic.

What are you reading this week?

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2020: Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s Thanksgiving week!  There will be turkey, stuffing, pies and lots of overeating.  I will join in  those festivities, but Thanksgiving will be different this year.  Fewer people are traveling and  that is a good thing physically, maybe not emotionally. 

Covid-19 has taken its toll on everyone.  Hopefully, you are not one of the many who contracted the virus but if you did, and you lived to tell about it, you have antibodies.

My family is split this week on gathering for the holidays.  My Oklahoma City group is having their own celebration and so are the Enid ones.  We will be a smaller group of about seven.  We’ll have the same menu, but fewer people around the table. My son has taken over the hosting and that pleases me.  It seems to be harder and harder to host a big celebration than it used to.

When my kids were young, and their grandparents were alive, my small house was stuffed to the brim with people and food.  The windows open and ceiling fan going from all the body heat, still it was warm in the house.  Kids ran and giggled, and grandparents smiled. Well, my children are adults and so are their children these days, but we’ll get together – most of us.  Some have opted out of the festivities because of the pandemic.

My husband and I discussed that yesterday was opening day of deer season in Oklahoma. I had forgotten.  He always hunted the week of Thanksgiving. In the last few years, he gave his deer to a family who would eat it – venison was never my favorite. But in the last 48 years, this is the first time I know of him not getting up at the crack of dawn to freeze and take down a deer.  I always felt it was the caveman in him feeling the need to provide for his family.  The fact that there was meat at the grocery store was beside the point. 

Things have changed.  We hired a painter for the first time ever.  We’re do-it-yourselfers.  I purchased a pie crust and used it in a quiche this week.  I’ll go back to making my own pie crusts. 

But Thanksgiving is a celebration for families.  We can still eat too much and gather with a few – but still the feeling of giving thanks for our lives and our families is as strong as ever.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving this week? Happy Thanksgiving!

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2020 Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – Ice Storms and Tree Trimming

If you’ve ever lived with a sweetgum tree, you will understand.  Last year was the worst.  We’ve lived in this house for 24 years and the house was built in 1980.  I can only assume the tree is 40 years old since it was probably planted when the house was first occupied. 

Sweetgum trees put out balls, the size of an English Walnut, every year that look like tiny landmines with spines all around.  It is natures way of moving the seeds from place to place by way of hooking in animal fur and transporting to other areas.  Then new trees can sprout.  Every year we rake up over a dozen lawn and leaf bags full.  The tree also has roots that stick out above the ground just waiting to trip old people like us and makes it hard to mow around.  My husband hates that tree.

But in the summer the tree protects our house from the hot west sun in the afternoon and has been home to many birds and squirrels.  My husband rescued a juvenile Mississippi Kite who fell from the tree and was unable to fly.  Robins and Sparrows have frequent arguments over the best place to build a nest.  Blue Jays drive away squirrels and nature continues on as it should.

The historic Oklahoma ice storm in October really hurt the old tree this time.  It is not the tree’s first experience with ice storms, but my husband trimmed it substantially when it warmed back up.  I can now see the neighbor’s house! I’m sure the sun will help the grass grow underneath it next summer – unless he has it taken out.  That seems to be the plan. 

I will miss the tree that has caused us back-breaking work for years.  It’s lush green leaves turned into a carpet of leaves to be raked every fall – and then there were the sweetgum balls.  The house will not look the same. It already seems bare.  But as we age, we can no longer look after things the way we used to.  Maybe it is time to let it go.  But I’m sure I will miss it’s shade and so will the wildlife that live in it. 

What are you doing this week?  Raking leaves?

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2020: Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – Two Releases!

Once again it comes in groups.  And I’m not griping. Expect the unexpected.

My novella, Strawberry Sundae Delights has been combined with two others into an anthology titled A Taste of Danger, part of the One Scoop or Two series.  The original novella is available only electronically, but because a lot of people (like me) want to hold a book in their hands, The Wild Rose Press https://www.thewildrosepress.com/product-category/shop/special-release-paperbacks combined novellas of similar genres into paperback books and printed them.  So, you can purchase them either way!  If you like short beach reads on your electronic devise, get the novellas.  But if you must hold a book in your hands, get the anthology and there are two more besides mine in there by the talented authors Julie Howard and Wendy Kendall.

I also got word this week that we are on track for my middle grade reader, Ian’s Magic, to come out in early 2021 and I have a cover.  So cute! Doodle and Peck publishes this book, and I am really looking forward to showing it to you.  It was several years in the making and has had more than one story line.  But I love the finished product.  It is a story of brotherly love (well, sometimes) and magic and you might learn something too.  Ian loves math, unlike a lot of his classmates, but he can perform feats of magic if he gets his math correct.  Otherwise . . .

You can pick up a beach read – or three in one book – or you can learn math the magic way in a few months.  Perhaps you’d like both?  I’ll keep you updated.

What are you reading this week?

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