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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2016 Cultivating Gratitude: Celts and Vikings and Swords, Oh My!

peggys-camp    I spent the weekend as a Viking once more.  The Heavener Runestone Viking and Celtic Festival was held at the Heavener Runestone Park again this weekend.  There were vendors and performers; I met people from everywhere and enjoyed the weather.

We woke up to fog both mornings in the lake outside our cabin at Long Lake Resort where we stayed. I left their gift shop a few of my books to sell sitting alongside many other artists and craftsman.

As we traveled up the mountain, we ran into low-lying fog, but clear at the top.  The mornings were a cool 42 degrees and warmed to 74 by afternoon.  A light mist fell for a short period, then it cleared to blue skies and sunshine.    swordplay

Kids sword played in the forest and food trucks kept us fed. Lorelei Sawtelle and Vinita Eggers came by to see me and I sold a few books and gave away some rocks with the sign of Thor.  I was under the pavilion this time and next to some wonderful artisans with jewelry, handmade dulcimers and harps, and crafts of all kinds.  I have no idea how many people attended but the forest was a constant movement of people, dogs, birds of prey, and even a horse or two.

 The forest has not brought out its autumn best yet in the color of the trees.  That will take another couple of weeks, but with the rains and cool nights, the fall should be spectacular. Check out the park at Heavener, OK near Poteau and the Talimena Drive.  Next weekend they have a balloon fest.  It is a great time to travel to southeast Oklahoma.  And you might run into a Viking or two.

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2016 Cultivating Gratitude: Grateful for the Heavener Runestone Park

sign-of-thor    This week I’m grateful to the Heavener Runestone Park, Park Manager Erin Bruesch, and staff.  I’ve been taken into the fold and they feel like family.  The Heavener Runestone Viking and Celtic Fest is once again upon us.  The festival is celebrated in spring and fall, the first full weekend of April and October each year.  I said I wasn’t going this fall, I didn’t have anything new to present, but they were insistent.  And you know, it is good to be wanted.

I sign copies of my book Glome’s Valley at the festival each year and I’m working on the sequel now.  I’d hoped to have it for this fall but three other books got in the way. But I will have one new thing to add to my table.  My friend Lorelei Sawtelle of the Oklahoma City Writers Club engraved some rocks for me.  Or maybe, Thor gave them to me. Whichever is the case, I have rocks with the sign of Thor to give away with the purchase of a book.

In Glome’s Valley (set at the runestone) Ethan was given a rock with the sign of Thor to protect him when he was alone in the valley.  He used it during the final battle to call for help, or maybe Sven did that with the app on his phone.  However it happened, Thor came to the aid of his friends. He too thought it was good to be wanted.

The electronic version of Glome’s Valley will be on sale for $.99 October 5-12 in honor of the festival.  If you can’t get there, buy the book electronically.  But we’d love to see you.  Come by and visit, I’ll be under the pavilion near the stage.

The festival is in Heavener, OK (near Poteau and the Talimena Drive).  Follow the signs.  It is over the railroad tracks, turn right and then left at the stop sign.  Parking will be easier with leaving your car at the bottom of the mountain and then transportation up to the festival.

I can’t wait to see you!



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2016 Cultivating Gratitude: A Poetry Workshop

picture-of-ben    The Oklahoma Arts Council presents Dr. Benjamin Myers Oklahoma Poet Laureate, 2016 – October 1, 2016, 10:00 am at the Public Library of Enid and Garfield County, 120 West Maine, Enid, OK 73701. Dr. Myers will be reading and teaching how to write poetry from your memories and there will be time to create some of your own.

The Enid Writers Club and the Enid Public Library will host the event which is free to the public. The workshop will be called “Making Poetry from your Memories” and is suitable for anyone from high school through retirement.

Dr. Myers’s description of the workshop is, “Everybody has a story to tell. This workshop will help you tell that story through poetry. Through a series of guided exercises, including instruction in poetic technique, participants will explore ways to compress their recollections into compelling, sharable poetry. Areas of exploration include the following: imagery, metaphor, diction, rhythm, line, and sound. Participants will have the opportunity to produce a poem during the workshop and to share it with the other participants.”

Benjamin Myers is the 2015-2016 Poet Laureate of the State of Oklahoma and the author of two books of poetry: Lapse Americana (New York Quarterly Books, 2013) and Elegy for Trains (Village Books Press, 2010). His poems may be read in The Yale Review, The New York Quarterly, 32 Poems, The Christian Century, Nimrod, Measure and other journals, as well as in general readership publications like Oklahoma Today and In Touch. He has been honored with an Oklahoma Book Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book and with a Tennessee Williams Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He reviews poetry and books on poetics for several publications, including World Literature Today and Books and Culture.

Dr. Meyer received his B.A. from the University of the Ozarks, his M.A., from Washington University in St. Louis, and Ph.D., from Washington University in St. Louis.

Join us in celebrating the art of poetry with Dr. Benjamin Myers at the Enid Public Library on October 1, 10:00 a.m. in The Great Plains Room.

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2016 Cultivating Gratitude: Grateful for “Find” Feature

fountain pen    I recently sent a manuscript to my agent/editor and she wrote back with some eye-opening information.  How many times could I use the word “was” in one story?  And to prove a point, she highlighted all of them throughout a 70,000-word document.   

I’d read and reread the manuscript before sending it to her.  We’d critiqued it in my writing group, my husband (also known as chief proofreader) didn’t mention it.  I’d become blind to my own passive writing. It is easy to fix a sentence that says “He was walking down the street.”  Simply change it to “He walked down the street.”  It shows more action.  However, sometimes it is not as easy.  I had to rewrite entire sentences and then the one above it didn’t work.  Then the one below it didn’t work.  But the final draft moved more smoothly and showed more action. 

 One of my friends writes everything in first person, present tense.  It is beautiful when she is done. The writing is up close and personal – you are in the moment. I cannot do that!  About half-way through I find I’ve switched to past tense and my characters have how no idea where they belong. And I’ve lost count of how many times I used the word “I.” But it is an exercise that makes you pay attention and tighten up your writing. 

You can also check your writing with the “find” feature in Word.  Look up your favorite words (you’ll be surprised how often you use them) and then discard or change them to something else. Look in the thesaurus if you can’t think of something yourself. 

Writing is an art.  It is a baring of the soul, but sometimes your soul is boring.  Give it more action so the reader will want to turn the page finding what comes next. 

Now I look for overused words and passive verbs after the initial draft is finished.  I have grown as an author.  Something that is, has become something that . . . was.

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owfi-meeting     I’m proud to say I’m a member of the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. (OWFI) because WE ARE OWFI! That statement started last year after our conference and caught on.   

I attended the board meeting today as a delegate from the Enid Writers Club.  These meetings happen quarterly and it’s where the magic happens. Reports from each committee, votes on finances, and networking with like minds filled the afternoon. It takes an entire year to put together a conference and can be like a full time job for the executive committee.  

The conference provides editors and agents to help you on your journey to authorship – or just put together that memoir for your family.  I always learn from the teaching sessions, and have fun at the banquets and costume parties.  I enter the writing contest and sometimes I do well, but I always learn something. 

I began attending OWFI conferences about 5 or 6 years ago and I shook like a leaf when I walked in the door – all the amazing talent around me, I felt like I was in pre-school.  But I was welcomed.  Now, years later, I’m still in awe but I know these people on a first name basis. I’m a published author and I and have met people who have taught me to write, to publish, to edit, to market and mostly to enjoy my craft.  They inspire me. 

 Join us on the first weekend in May, at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 1815 South Meridian, Oklahoma City, OK. As usual I can’t wait for the conference in May because #WEAREOWFI!

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