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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2020: Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – No Trick or Treat

Like everything else this year, we opted out of handing out candy for Halloween.  On the good side, I saved some money!  I bought one little bag of candy for us and there is plenty left.  With the pandemic we decided not to touch all those little hands.  For the first time ever, we turned off our light and shut the door before dark.  There is a pile of limbs at the curb so it would have been difficult to pull up and climb out of a vehicle to run for the door.  We even turned off the motion sensor lights over the driveway that might encourage someone to think we were home. To say I’m sick of this kind of living is redundant at best.  We all are, and it looks like things are only getting worse. 

We watched a movie and then I was up late because the caffeine in the chocolate made it difficult to sleep. But the full moon was fabulous.  I know because it shone in the window through the blinds as I wandered around in a caffeine stupor. 

The ice storm in Oklahoma last week left tree limbs strewn everywhere but we had no damage.  We’ve piled the limbs at the street for the City to pick up when they can get here. I know as the wind blows we’ll have more. Fortunately, we never lost power.

The elections will be over on Tuesday and the political ads can’t end soon enough.

But being stuck in the house has made me work tirelessly on a novel that has needed to be finished for some time.  I found plot holes and other problems that needed fixing.  I continue to work on it.

Halloween came and went uneventfully.  I missed the kids dressed up in costumes. I don’t have small children of my own anymore.  It would have been different if I did. Maybe the world will return to normal soon.

What did you do for Halloween?

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2020: Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – Witches’ Cliff

Witches’ Cliff novella from The Wild Rose Press, part of the Deerbourne Inn series.

Penny Winters flees to her birthplace in Vermont to consider the marriage proposal she left behind in Salem. Complicating her already difficult decision, she is smitten when she encounters handyman Liam on the porch of the quaint Deerbourne Inn.

A modern-day wiccan, Penny intends to contact her distant great-grandmother, who died on the cliffs when Willow Springs held witch trials. Penny needs advice, and the best time to connect to her ancestors is on Halloween. But she is not the only witch in Willow Springs, and they both have their eye on the same man. And who is the old woman who keeps appearing, telling her to go home?

Penny comes to the cliff to seek Grandma’s advice. But Halloween is an important holiday for a witch, and she is not alone on the cliffs that night. Penny will have to battle not only for Liam’s attention, but for her life.

It’s the week leading up to Halloween and I plan candy, ghouls, fun, but no politics.  Halloween can be fun and not really scary. I don’t plan to hand out candy with the pandemic and little hands full of viruses in and out of my candy dish.  I thought of just wearing gloves and carefully placing the candy into bags.  But in my experience, it wouldn’t happen that way.  I’ve had little girls, hyped up on sugar, run into the house and chase my dog down the hall.  No, not this year.

But the weather has changed, and I don’t think we can deny it is fall and Halloween. I have a suggestion for a quick read that is both fun and sweet. Witches’ Cliff.  It is a romantic tale with a paranormal twist. Check it out.  It’s a quick read that will leave you with a Halloween feeling.

What are you reading this week?

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2020: Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

Fossil Rim from the top of the hill – photo by Peggy Chambers

Last weekend my husband and I traveled to Glen Rose, TX to visit relatives.  Glen Rose is a small tourist town about 50 miles southwest of Ft. Worth https://www.bing.com/travelguide?q=Glen+Rose&l2sid=f8a986bb-6c73-a854-115e-8a1184e77829&form=PLACAB .  His cousin has lived there all his life. Glen Rose has museums, fossilized dinosaur footprints, river floating adventures, and a small-town atmosphere.

But in all the time we’ve traveled to this small city and visited with cousins, we’d never been to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center https://fossilrim.org/ .   We were amazed.  They are an international wildlife center with breeding programs for endangered species. And I’ve never met a more hospitable staff to both humans and animals.

The area around Glen Rose, on the Brazos and Paluxy rivers, is hilly and lush.  Some of the animals roam around and you can feed them, others are inside pens for their safety and yours.  I made friends with a giraffe who kissed me on the head.  Or she was trying to get my attention to feed her more. I’m going with the kiss option.  Of course, we missed that photo op. 

The day we were there they were preparing to transport a rhino to a zoo in New York.  They have small Mexican Wolves and the larger Gray Wolves as part of their endangered species program.  But I was most impressed with the cheetah exhibit.  Part of their breeding program centers around an area known as “lovers lane” where the cheetahs are allowed to get to know each other and if they show signs of liking each other then they are placed together with the hopes of having offspring.  Everything I saw with the staff showed their great love of animals and they worked hard for the benefit of the animal.

There were antelope that were being bred and reintroduced into the wild in Chad, Africa where they are dying out.  Once again they may roam their native land because of Fossil Rim’s breeding program.

I want to go back and visit Fossil Rim again.  I was so impressed with the staff and animals and I hope they continue to be wild and free on the acres of west Texas and then some day back on their own turf.

What did you do this week?

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2020: Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – Feeling Blessed.

I am blessed.  Feeling stuffy and achy this week, I made a trip to the urgent care for a Covid-19 test.  They tested me for the Covid virus, Flu, and Strep.  They all came out negative and I was told it was an upper respiratory virus (cold?).  But I had several things to do this week that included meeting people outside my home, and I wanted to be sure.  In a couple of days, the stuffy/achiness disappeared, and I decided it was allergies after all.

My sister’s daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter have all tested positive for Covid-19 and are quarantining at home. I am praying for their family. 

On Tuesday I met with the Enid Public Library’s teen authors and talked to them about publishing.  I could talk about writing forever.  And they were happy to have me. 

Wednesday I had a doctor’s appointment with my neurosurgeon for a follow up on this summer’s  surgery.  He said things were proceeding well.  The vertebrae are fusing as they should, and I am in less pain all the time.

I am reading my first steam-punk novel.  I’ve seen Jules Vern’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Wild Wild West.  I love fantasy and when you combine it with steam powered engines, it can be fun. So, I downloaded a copy of The Bloodless Assassin by Celine Jeanjean. It is a series and very imaginative.  I love the way it moves and the quirky characters.

I’m feeling grateful for my health and praying for those who are sick.  There are so many.  I hope you are well and living your life to the fullest in spite of the pandemic. 

What are you reading this week?

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2020: Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – Comic Book Script!

I got a box of my first comic books this week and I was so excited to see them in print!

This was a first for me learning about comic book scripts.  I had a lot of help from Jeff Provine at Okie comics and I received a copy of a script from A.I. Jones as a template to try to learn from. 

I’ve been in love with the myth of Vikings in Oklahoma since the first time I visited the Heavener Runestone Park.  I’m their biggest fan.  I looked around that forest as a writer and I could see a fairytale.  And I wrote one, Glome’s Valley.  I don’t know if Vikings were in Oklahoma before Columbus discovered this continent for Europe, but they traveled all over searching for land.  Their home was a series of fjords and they needed land to grow crops so they looked elsewhere.  Some believe that the carvings on the runestone are a date, other’s say it was a Viking marking his territory – Glome’s Valley.  But I think the forest is magical and so I wrote my own fairytale about it. 

After the two Glome books were published I met Jeff Provine at the Author Fest in Enid.  He publishes Okie Comics – Comics by Oklahomans, for Oklahomans. We talked about my books and the story set in Oklahoma and I decided to write a short story to go with the books.  Then he suggested I write the script from the short story.  Augggg!!!  Okay, I decided, I’ll try.  I never would have made it without his continuous support, but the comic book script was finally finished and then Mike Kennedy told the story in pictures.  His illustrations are beautiful, and I am so happy he took on this role.  Thank you, Mike!

You can read Stone of Thor for free at https://okiecomics.com/ and if you want a paper copy they can be ordered from Okie Comics for $5.00.  It is a continuation of the first two books and uses the same setting and characters in a new adventure.

Thank you to Jeff Provine, Mike Kennedy, and A. I. Jones for their help in this book. And thanks to everyone who enjoys the lore of the park.  I couldn’t have done it without your support.

What are you reading this week?

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2020: Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – Author Jean M. Grant!

    My guest blogger today is Jean M. Grant. She is the author of five books and writes in the romance and women’s fiction genres.

Title you are promoting: A Hundred Lies, a Scottish medieval romance with a fantasy twist. It is the final book in a trilogy, but each book can be enjoyed as standalones. 

Summary of above title in 30 words or less:  Rosalie is on the run after telling one too many lies. When she seeks solace in the arms of a laird’s son who is a true Seer, can the power of the Ancients save her from death?

We know each other through The Wild Rose Press who publishes some of our work.  Do you publish with other publishers and who? Not yet. I’ve published 5 books with The Wild Rose Press though.

What are you working on now? I am writing a contemporary romance. It’s based on a story my aunt told me and I was intrigued.

Favorite quote (from any source): “God doesn’t give you what you can’t handle. I just wished he didn’t trust me so much” – Mother Teresa. Also, “Do or do not, there is no try.” – Yoda. I wrestle with both of those sayings. It’s hard, what life throws at you sometimes. Lastly, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a (hu)man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” – Ben Franklin. I like his attitude. It’s not about wealth of money, but wealth of life. I start my days early. Each day we get a new sunrise to try again even if yesterday was not so great.

Who is the author/artist that inspires you the most, and why? Artist – Claude Monet. I find serenity and peace in his Impressionism. I am a nature lover and I just find myself turning inward with a sigh when I see his paintings. Author – I admire Diana Gabaldon’s courage and innovation. She wrote some great long books that were not the romance “norm.” There are naysayers everywhere and not everyone loves her work, some have criticism, but reading is subjective. To each their own. She was/is also a scientist and I was one in my early days.

If stranded on an island, what one book would you keep with you? Not sure I would bring one book. I enjoy books but once done, I usually never read again (except for a few in the Outlander series). I think I would need some sort of MacGyver type manual – to help me make a raft, hunt, build, survive. Or I would just invite Bear Grylls to join me (and my family) on the island.

What are you reading right now? I just finished my third book by Amy Harmon. Oh, I love her! She is my new favorite. She blends historical, romance, fantasy, and women’s fiction into one. She’s almost literary in her ways. I just finished “Where the Lost Wander.” So good!

Tell us 3 fascinating things about you: I love sharks and went to school for marine science, I am a bit obsessed with my flower gardens, and I once won the lottery ($10k on a scratch ticket) in college – I used the money, $7200 after taxes, to buy household and college needs – no wild spending.

Describe your ideal workspace…and then tell us about your actual one: Ideal – Oh I would love a she-shed surrounded by my perennial gardens. It would need to be heated and cooled, no bugs, and have a coffee pot. Preferably this would sit on a plot of land in the mountains, near woodland. Real-life – my desk used to sit in my children’s playroom, among the dynamic chaotic daily grind. Now that they are older and I am not as great with tuning out and multi-tasking, I moved it up to my bedroom. Not ideal, but quieter. It takes them more effort to come up and ask for things. Keep in mind, they are 11 and 13. Not wee babes anymore.

What advice do you have for other writers/artists? I live by the 3 P’s, which after having a rough time lately, I need to remind myself for life and writing: Patience, Perseverance, and Putting in the Time. Anything worth working toward takes time, oh so much, patience, oh so much, and resilience.

Where can readers find you online?

They can find me here:

Website   Twitter   Facebook  Goodreads  Bookbub  Instagram Amazon Author Page

 

It was great having you here, Jean, and I know we all wish you continued success.  Pick up a copy of A Hundred Lies and as always, leave a review if you love it.

Find it here: Amazon  Barnes and Noble  iBooks  Bookbub  Goodreads Kobo Google

 

Bio:

Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines. When she’s not writing or chasing after children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.

Full BLURB:

1322, Scotland

Rosalie Threston’s fortune-telling lies have caught up with her. Uprooted yet again, she’s on the run from a ruthless English noblewoman. She flees to Scotland and seeks refuge in the arms of a laird’s son who happens to be a real Seer.

A bloody past and inevitable future plague Domhnall Montgomerie. He avoids physical contact with others to ease the painful visions. When an accidental touch reveals only delight, he wonders if Rose is the key to silencing the Sight.

Mystical awakening unravels with each kiss. But can Domhnall embrace his gift in time to save her life, even if it means exposing her lies?

Optional Excerpt:

Rosalie huffed but shuffled around him. “Excuse me, Sir Montgomerie.”

“It’s just Domhnall.” Shame skittered to the forefront of his mind. He lived a privileged life, hardly understanding the commoner, try as he might by pacing the streets afoot. In his mind, all people were equal, though society and nobles held other opinions of the lesser born. Not him. Not if he became laird. When. He sighed. When he became laird. Despite his parents’ noble upbringing, they celebrated every man, woman, and child’s God-given gifts. All should have opportunity. Here, men and women were treated fairly, as fair as they could get with the demanding barons and the king.

He was trying hard to help a woman who maybe didn’t want his help. When would he learn he could only help others so much?

Burned. Dead.

He blinked away that pain. Why now? Why remember that awful memory? He’d only been a lad himself at the time. He hadn’t understood the power that rested in his visions. He swallowed. “Here.” He grabbed a crate from her, his hand accidentally brushing hers. A cool rush traveled up his fingers to his elbow. His blood pressure dipped, darkness luring him. No, he chided. Blazes, no! He commanded the vision to relent. The black curtain crossing his eyes quickly dissipated as blood flowed to his fingers. His extremities instantly warmed.

What was that?

Had he successfully halted a vision midstream? It had been years—years!—since his last true vision, if he didn’t count the strange man’s reappearance this week and Venora’s chilling words. Och, plus the misstep with that drunkard in Edinburgh a month ago. He picked up another crate, handed it to her, deliberately touching her fingers, testing the radical idea. Heart in throat. Bold. So bold. Nothing. Nothing but an attraction to the golden-haired lass welled within

him. No vision. Only interest. Only…

He wanted to try again. And again. 

What are you reading this week?

 

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2020: Fewer Possession, More Experiences – Virtual Reality

    It’s been a few weeks since I attended, virtually, WriterCon 2020 in Oklahoma City.  I’m still having fun going back and watching some of the presentations.

I also tried a virtual copy of  Dr. Lisa Marrota’s Mindful Muse OK Creativity Retreat. I am not finished going through that, but I’m certain I’ll love all of it.

Virtual seminars and conferences are something we never even thought of a few months ago.  If we couldn’t go, we just missed out.  I hate to say it, but maybe this pandemic has done some good.  We’ve come together in spite of the virus – nothing can keep us down.

Sitting in the old leather recliner that used to belong to my father-in-law, I’ve learned new things about marketing my books, and more importantly, how to relax and let my muse guide me.

I miss my friends at these conferences and the interaction that takes place, but I may have learned more with a glass of tea next to me as I took notes and thought about whether or not I could do this, than the hustle and bustle of a conference.

I’ve practiced yoga with my daughter’s yoga class on Saturday morning in my bedroom with the laptop set up on the trunk at the foot of the bed. I came away relaxed and ready to face the day – and I got to talk to my daughter who lives 100 miles away.  It was much better than I thought it might be.

My writing club is communicating by way of email and our website this year.  I hope to get the critique group up and running virtually soon.  We can do this.  We have to.  We still need human interaction and as usual, necessity is the mother of invention.

What are you reading this week – virtually or otherwise?

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