2021: Expect the Unexpected – OWFI Conference

This week was the annual Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. conference.  Due to the pandemic, it was virtual.  Not as good, but still I got to connect with friends and sit in on some very informative sessions.  I missed a few and plan to go back and watch them later. At least one deserves another look.  That is the good thing about a virtual conference.

I was a judge this year for the Unpublished Middle Grade novels.  I cannot tell you when I’ve bumped into so much talent in one place.  I’ve judged before, but it was a very difficult choice this time.  I found out who won last night and realized I knew at least some of the people whose works I read.  First Place went to A Story Unwritten by Jennifer Sneed, Second Place, Ron the Red, The Courageous Bearded Dragon by Dee Dee Chumley, and Third Place was awarded to Billie Holiday Skelley for Hypatia: Ancient Alexandria’s Female Scholar. I knew they were great writers and they proved it once again.

I stopped by the Happy Hour session for a few minutes even though I didn’t have enough time.  But still I got the chance to say hi to some old friends. 

I can’t wait for next year and hope that it is in person.  I was really tired by the time two days of videos were over.  In person vs Zoom is not even a question.  In person wins every time.  But we tried and my hat is off to the officers and webmaster for making this work.  They are all probably still in bed comatose after what they accomplished. 

You can still go to Bridging the Epic Gap 2021 Virtual Conference — Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. (OWFI) and pay to experience the conference.  Everything was recorded and can be watched again for some time. 

Ian’s Magic received an other five Star Review this week on the Barnes & Noble site.  Check it out!

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Ian’s Magic

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes have trouble getting my checkbook to balance.  Dumb stuff like math errors or not entering something correctly (or not at all!) make it impossible.  Math!  Ugh! But what if math were something you could do to make magic happen?  Or what if the numbers danced on your page?  They did for Ian.

Ian was in the fourth grade this year and math and other subjects had become harder.  He liked school and seeing his friends, but his little brother, Sean, had a lot more trouble with it than he did.  His red hair became the object of teasing and he’s seen Ian perform feats of magic using his math skills – like the day the vacuum cleaner ran itself while Ian did his math homework.  To Sean, life wasn’t fair.

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.

What would you do if your little brother were always interfering, you had to share the only computer in the house that sat in the dining room, and you just HAD to win the annual math contest at school this year.

Life can be tough for a fourth grader, even if math is easy for them.  Ian will learn not only math lessons but life lessons as he and his brother negotiate school, brotherhood, and friendships. But Ian will always remember that math is magic!

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Writing Conference Time

It’s writing conference time in Oklahoma!!!!

OWFI will hold their conference virtually this year due to the pandemic Bridging the Epic Gap 2021 Virtual Conference — Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. (OWFI).  It was cancelled last year but will once again take place on April 29 – May 1, 2021virtually.  Here is the schedule of events so you can decide if you want to participate – Bridging the Epic Gap 2021 Virtual Conference Schedule — Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. (OWFI). There will be approximately 30 speakers, editors and agents available to help you learn the art of writing and to pitch your manuscript to.  The annual writing contest winners will be announced virtually. Check out registration on the website.

On August 14, 2021 the Enid Writers Club (sponsored by Enid Arts Council and Park Avenue Thrift) will host Bernhardt at the Manz all day workshop with William Bernhardt.  The writing workshop will take place at the historic Champlin Manson in Enid and is free to the public with pre-registration.  There will be more information coming and the registration form will be on the Enid Writers Club website.

WriterCon 2021 takes place at the Skirvin Hotel in downtown OKC September 3 – 6, 2021Writer Con. There will be 60 speakers at different times, and you can sit in on their workshops virtually or in person. Check out registration on the website.

The Enid Public Library Enid Public Library – Enid, Oklahoma (okpls.org) hosts a summer Reading Program for both children and adults.  It is a good time to get caught up on the reading you’ve been putting off.

If you are a reader or a writer literature is calling your name.  Answer the call. 

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Beach Read!

It’s time for a beach read! Novella, Strawberry Sundae Delights, is available e-published and in the anthology, One Scoop or Two from The Wild Rose Press. It is a part of the Sandhill Island series and may be just what you need to get your warm weather started. Check it out!

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?

You can purchase a copy at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, The Wild Rose Press or fine bookstores anywhere. Get your beach read started!

https://tinyurl.com/y2qe84qx A Taste of Danger | The Wild Rose Press Inc

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

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Easter!

It’s Easter!  Do you have your Easter bonnet and is the ham cooking?  I hope your Easter is unexpectedly wonderful. 

Easter is a time of change.  It is a time of religious festivities if you are Christian and a time of rejuvenation of the earth.  We had a terrible cold snap here in the Midwest with temperatures dipping to a minus 14 degrees.  That is unusual for Oklahoma. Some of the plants didn’t make it over the winter.  I have a bush out back that really looks bad. And after the unusual October ice storm, my tree out front took a beating.  But spring is here.

Nature is resilient and once again I have forsythia blooming and my clematis has buds.  Some of the herbs in my garden are looking good. Even the hostas are coming up.  I see a tinge of green on the Bermuda which means mowing season is not far behind. 

Once more nature will rejuvenate itself and with it we can do the same.  Shake off the cold and begin to get outside again.  We’ve walked every afternoon this week and it makes my poor old body feel good.  The old folks take the old dog and amble around the neighborhood.  It is good to get out and check on the neighbors again. 

But don’t forget in your spring festivities to find a good book and sit in the sun and read.  Maybe a hammock, or a glider on the porch, or the local park; they are all good places to start a new book in a new season.

Happy Easter!  What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – The Writer’s Block!

This Thursday is April Fools Day!  I don’t know how you celebrate this obscure holiday (or if you do) but I have a unique way of doing it.  I interview on LA Talk Radio, The Writer’s Block – on April Fools Day The Writer’s Block | LA Talk Radio.  How appropriate.

Let me say the fool here is me, not the hosts, Jim Christina and Bobbie Jean Bell.  They are always fun to talk to and great listeners.  I was given their link several years ago and nervously approached them.  They interview writers (Jim is one himself) and they love literature.  Internet radio is an interesting idea to us old folks, but it has a large following. I try not to think about how many people may be listening in or I’ll freeze up and forget what I’m saying! Sometimes I do that anyway.  But Jim and Bobbie Jean always put me at ease, and it is an enjoyable time.  I’ve never met these people face to face, but we’ve become friends on the internet, and I enjoy my time with them. 

We will be discussing my two newest books, Strawberry Sundae Delights and Ian’s Magic and all things writerly. We might discuss my older books and my latest works-in-progress.

The interview begins at 6:00 PST or 8:00 CST at The Writer’s Block | LA Talk Radio.  Grab the computer and turn up the volume.  It is always a fun time with The Writer’s Block.  You can call in if you like, Jim will give the phone number, and we can discuss literature.  And you can tell us what you’re reading this week!

By the way, what are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – The Renewal of Spring

Yesterday was the first day of spring.  A time of renewal and breaking from the cold winter months.  Flowers bloom and Robins reappear (I still think they are here all winter). I read that sometimes Robins winter in our area but don’t sing during the winter.  My opinion is there’s not much to sing about in winter. They’re fairly smart birds.

Easter is just three weeks away and I’ve read more than a few articles on why we have an Easter Bunny. Easter is a Christian holiday, but it has been celebrated by other religions and pagans for centuries.  The Jewish faith celebrates Passover in a completely different manner for very different reasons.  Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Jews celebrate the delivery of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. 

So why an Easter Bunny?  That myth may have come from Germany who celebrated a goddess named Eostre (sounds sort of like Easter) who was a goddess of fertility.  What, after all, is more fertile than a bunny?  That’s where the term “multiplying like rabbits” came from.  But this bunny was very judgmental and decided if children were good enough to deserve gifts of colored eggs and candy.  Maybe that is why that ugly Easter Bunny at the mall scares children.

When my kids were small we always colored Easter eggs.  On Saturday evening after supper, the eggs were boiled, and the dye prepared.  I had probably just put the final touches on the Easter dress for my daughter or shirt for my son.  (Later they didn’t want Mom’s homemade items, but it worked when they were little).  They each had a basket (I recently found my son’s in the back of a closet.  It now holds extension cords to keep them altogether.) Their artwork went into their baskets to sit overnight while the Bunny came.  And he always did.  They got candy, toys and something that they needed – often socks and underwear.  The Bunny was nothing if not thrifty.  Then we all ate hard boiled eggs for a week. 

When I was a child my mother dressed up three little girls with hats, gloves, socks and shoes that matched the homemade dresses.  She often had a new Easter dress too if she had time to sew for herself. 

I often thought the renewal of spring and the donning of new clothes went hand in hand.  There was nothing religious about it, but we did wear them to church the next morning.

So, you have three weeks to get your spring ensemble ready, color your eggs, and maybe celebrate Easter as your religion dictates.  Any way you look at it, spring is a time of renewal of the earth and your spirit.  Winter is over and warm days are ahead. 

What are you doing for Easter?

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2020: Expect the Unexpected – and Enjoy Spring

Next week is the beginning of spring.  We had showers all weekend but this morning the sun is shinning off the puddles left behind.  It’s been a tough year on the world.  Of all the years in the past this one has probably been the worst.  But we persevered. 

My husband and I stayed in and  stayed down.  It was stressful and caused some arguments. But we didn’t get the virus – instead, we got the vaccine.  I hope it is as successful as originally thought.

I need to get out and do something that doesn’t involve my own four walls.  I have some plans for May but in the meantime I plan to go to the gym and walk my own neighborhood.  The dog loves that.  Dogs are funny creatures.  They love the simple act of walking around the neighborhood and wading through puddles. They love anything that involves getting out of their own house with their favorite human.  After the winter we just had, I feel the same.

My publisher just announced a writing retreat in Greece!  Research you say?  Fairly pricey research.  But if you want to make your novel real . . .  I have a feeling if I went to Greece, most of my research would be on the beach, shopping, eating, and not sitting behind the computer screen.  But the thought of Santorini is fabulous.

With spring comes the renewed hope for the world and a chance to once again get out and enjoy it – and each other.

Do you have plans for spring? 

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Two New Books, or Three!

I have two books out in the last year, Ian’s Magic, a middle grade chapter book for ages 7-10 (Published by Doodle and Peck) and Strawberry Sundae Delights, (Published by The Wild Rose Press) a Sandhill Island novella. The novella is e-published alone or in an anthology with two others titled Taste of Danger.  They are part of the One Scoop or Two series available at The Wild Rose Press website (http://thewildrosepress.com). The stand-alone books are both available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. This week, I signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for Blooming Greed, the second in the Keystone Lake series. Edits begin the end of March.  It will probably hit the shelves within the year.

I’d love to begin having some book signings to show you what I’ve been working on.  I was asked by The Enid Railroad Museum to have a book signing at their new children’s caboose in April.  I don’t have details on that yet. I hope to set up for Enid’s Comicon August 7 & 8.  

The OWFI writers’ conference in May has become virtual this year.  Last year it was cancelled.  This is a step up.  Maybe by next year it will be back to normal.  It seems that virus numbers are heading down, though it is hard to tell the way the numbers are counted.  But I got my vaccine and I know others are too.  It has got to help create some heard immunity.

Spring is 13 days away!  I set up a fun weekend with the Texas cousins in May and maybe things are getting back to normal. The weather the last few days has been fabulous. The Enid Public Library had a ribbon cutting for their new Seed Library. It is a free service where seeds are traded.  You can take what you want for free, and they love your donations.  The Friends of the Library and the Master Gardener’s Association have planted a pollinator garden on the east side of their building. Check it out.

I bought a copy of the new Stephen King novel, Later, and as usual, I love it.  I am addicted to King even though I get irritated at him sometimes.  I still go back for more.

Virus numbers are down, and the temperatures are coming up.  I see a ray of hope.

What are you reading this week?

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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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