2021: Expect the Unexpected – The One

This week we transitioned from Thanksgiving to Christmas.  We have less than a month to decorate, eat to excess, and buy all those gifts for under the tree. 

My hometown of Enid, Oklahoma started a new tradition this year.  A Christ Tree (The One). A 140-foot fresh cut tree set up near the downtown area at our local Stride Center (4) Stride Bank Center | Facebook. In recent years Enid’s downtown has been transformed into shops and restaurants, even a new hotel in an effort to bring in tourism. And this year it was the tree.

The tree, trucked in from California and paid for by local businessman, Kyle Williams, came in looking a lot like Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree. And then, like the one in the Peanuts comics, it came to life with a little love and decorations.  Actually, the tree arrived without all its limbs. But they were provided when the tree company stood it up, drilled holes in the trunk, and inserted the limbs it needed. It was then painted green with a preservative that should make it stay nice until the end of the Christmas season. Enid’s Tallest Christmas Tree – YouTube

Then Friday night after Thanksgiving Enid had the tree-lighting ceremony complete with live music, fireworks, and an ice-skating rink. It was estimated that some 30,000 people were in attendance for the ceremony.  Enid only has a population of 50,000.  I wasn’t down there fighting for a parking place, but however many people were there, the local restaurants could hardly keep up. Maybe The One will bring in tourism.  KJ’s Big Adventures -The WORLD’S TALLEST FRESH-CUT CHRISTMAS TREE. – YouTube

Enid is a medium-sized town with a small-town atmosphere and big-town ambitions. The tree will be lit each night through New Years and along with the other decorations downtown will provide a festive atmosphere. Come to Enid and check out “The One.” And be sure to eat at our restaurants and explore at our businesses.  We’d love to have you.

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Black River Memories

It’s Thanksgiving this week, a time to think of family.

My aunt passed away in the last year and due to Covid her children were unable to bury immediately. It took a year, but they finally were able to have the service. Our family is from northeast Arkansas in the Ozark mountains, and we gathered there once more.

In talking to my cousin about the funeral, we began to discuss our grandmother, a petite woman who raised eight children during the Great Depression with the bible in one hand and a spoon in the other—she was always cooking. That is when the conversation was drawn to her recipes and memories of picnics on her lawn with all the grandchildren.

It was a place of family gatherings when I was young, but the large family has dwindled, and we wanted to keep the memories of those gatherings alive. That is when the idea of creating a book of memories and recipes came to light. My cousin and I had contacted everyone else in the family for memories of their time at our grandparent’s house and recipes of our grandmother’s. We called the book Black River Memories Black River Memories: Chambers, Peggy, Descendants, Coats: 9798459526288: Amazon.com: Books because the Black River runs through the countryside there and we swam in that river many times. We self-published it on Amazon so everyone would have access to it and then sat around at my aunt’s house and reminisced. It was a wonderful time, and I was so glad we had a chance to get together.

Here is my grandmother’s recipe for our favorite cookie. Of course, it is in the book.

From Ethel Downing Coats (a/k/a “BaBaa”) 1902 – 1975

my maternal grandmother

Mix Together:

1 Cup soft shortening

1 ½ Cups Sugar

2 Eggs

Sift Together and Stir in:

2 ¾ Cups Sifted Flour

2 tsp. Cream of Tartar

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp salt

Mix together and chill at least one hour. Roll into balls the size of small walnuts. Roll each ball in a mixture of 2 tsp. sugar and 2 T. cinnamon. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until lightly brown but still soft approximately 8 – 10 minutes at 400 °.

What are you reading this Thanksgiving week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Graphic Novels

Expect the Unexpected just raised its little smiling face again this week.

I’ve published one comic book, Stone of Thor, for Okie Comics www.okiecomics.com. You can get a copy there is you’re interested. I wrote it based on my two books, Glome’s Valley  https://books2read.com/u/4ERZA0 and Return to Glome’s Valley https://books2read.com/u/bpzR0g  set at Oklahoma’s Heavener Runestone. It includes the main characters from these books on a new adventure. It was a fun venture into the art of comic books.

This week I was approached about adapting my new novel, Flatiron Death Grip, Flatiron Death Grip: Chambers, Peggy, Saenz, Gabriella: 9781953589101: Amazon.com: Books into a graphic novel.

My first call was to some good friends at my local library. They snatched up great examples. Neil Gaiman was my favorite though I found Shakespeare and The Great Gatsby in the pile they had waiting for me. Comic books/graphic novels aren’t just for kids anymore. The librarian explained to me that teaching the brain to imagine what happens between the panels is a great way to teach people to read. And then there is the art!

I don’t know when or if this project will finish. I have nine pages so far and I was exhausted. I want to see what the artist has accomplished. But it is a great way to take your work, condense it and have someone bring it to life with their art. Graphic novels and comic books are an art in themselves. The work that goes into them is tremendous. If its been a while since you read a comic book, or its longer cousin the graphic novel, find one and immerse yourself into that world. You’ll be glad you did.

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Daylight Savings Time

We just ended Daylight Savings Time—again. I was really tired of the dark mornings, but this evening, I’ll be tired of the early dark evening. Sigh. I am a sun worshiper. You can tell by my sun damaged skin. And if I had my way we would have more sun than dark. Twelve hours of daylight followed by twelve hours of dark is not enough light. But the universe doesn’t ask me.

As a retiree, I no longer have to hit the floor running at 5:45.  I can sleep until the sun comes up, which has been later in the last month. I was awake before seven this morning with the sun in my eyes. I smiled. Come supper time, I might not be smiling when it is dark before I get food on the table. When I was young, I remember going to the office in the dark and coming home in the dark many times. I don’t think my old body could manage that now, but I did it for years.

My sister lives in Arizona and they don’t participate in Daylight Savings Time. So, six months out of the year, I have to remember when I call her we are two hours ahead of her in Oklahoma. The rest of the year, we are only one hour ahead of her. So confusing!

But fall has fell and winter is on the horizon. We will have a freeze soon. We’ll just have to be happy with curling up with a good book or movie under a blanket with our hot cocoa by the fire. Actually, that doesn’t sound so bad. What am I griping about? Maybe the dark sky can be relaxing after all. And I got an extra hour of sleep last night.

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Witches’ Cliff

I’ve got a little Halloween story for you this week. Witches’ Cliff is a quick read novella and available electronically on Amazon Amazon.com: Witches’ Cliff (Deerbourne Inn) eBook : Chambers, Peggy: Kindle Store.

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.

Appearing from nowhere, the elderly woman, in a tattered dark dress stood in the middle of the road. Her wild hair strung with branches like she had fallen in the forest before stumbling onto the highway.

            Swerving to a stop on the side of the road, Penny threw open the door. Jumping from the car she raced back where the woman had been – and stood in the middle of the road turning around.

            No one was there.

            She spun in a circle three times, searching the woods beside the road for the woman. Where could she have disappeared? The woman was there – Penny saw her. But no one could be found in the area, now.

            A horn blasted behind her making Penny jump and twist around. The semi barreled down the highway and she leapt out of the way, running for her car. That was real, and much too close.

            “Go home.” The voice whispered in her ear. And once again Penny spun around.

What are you reading this week? How about a little Halloween read?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – The Beach Life

I took a little fall vacation last week and my husband and I and our cousins traveled to Corpus Christi. I am drawn to water like a magnet. When I was a kid my favorite TV show was Flipper. I dreamed of having a dolphin friend instead of a dog and living on the beach. I didn’t. But I have been able to visit the beach a few times in my life. I could live there. If for some unknown reason I missed my ride back home, I know I could survive on the beach.

We stayed on the barrier islands where Padre and Mustang connect, and our condominium was about a half-mile or less to the beach by way of a boardwalk. We could see the water from our balcony if we stood on tiptoe and looked to the right. The sand dunes protected the structure from hurricanes and was an easy walk, after you climbed the stairs.  My old legs complained about the climb, but my heart knew what was on the other side—the endless water and waves of White Cap Beach.

We visited the beach morning and evening. Our final night we stood for a while trying to get a shot of the full moon over the water, but none could do it justice. We drove into Corpus Christi along the beach until the road ended at the Naval Air Station and saw the sea wall and downtown murals around La Retama Park. I know they have First Friday Art Walks there, but we didn’t make it on the correct weekend. I wrote about the art festival in Secrets of Sandhill Island and wanted to see it. I was on a mission to research for another book.

We ate wayyyyy too much food. Of course, we had to eat at Snoopy’s Pier and other seafood restaurants over the water. We discovered breakfast was hard to come by on the beach since every other tourist had the same goal. But we were still full of food from the night before.

Years ago, when my parent retired, they spent their winters in south Texas near Harlingen. They made day trips into Mexico with their neighbors and hung out on Padre Island. Standing on the beach I became nostalgic thinking of them and their lifestyle. I found more than one PERFECT beach house to spend the rest of my days in. It wasn’t for sale, and I couldn’t have afforded it anyway, but I could dream.

I’m a beach bum at heart. I hummed Kenny Chesney in my head all week and sipped a few Margaritas. I can’t wait to go back. In the meantime, I’ll write another beach story.

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Literature, the Common Bond

Literature was my very favorite class in school. I loved reading. I was often told I was “out picking daisies” when I wasn’t listening in class. My mother said I was “telling stories” when she suspected what I said wasn’t exactly the truth. I come by this writing thing naturally.

But literature is the common language of all mankind. Cave walls told stories, in picture form, of incidents in history. Maybe some of them were true. Stories were told around campfires when clans gathered at night. Most of those weren’t true, but stories pull us all together.

In the year 2000, my husband and I traveled to Zimbabwe for a trip of a lifetime. We stayed in a camp and my husband went out daily with professional hunters and trackers and some days I stayed in. It was a lot of hiking, and besides, I had a Stephen King novel that I read as I sat by the Zambezi River that was the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. I also watched the local wildlife from my chair as the workers in the camp went about their daily lives. I felt like it was a National Geographic special right before my eyes.

Part of the week, children who belonged to one of the professional hunters came to spend the week with Dad. They were on break from their boarding school. One little boy, about 10 years old, came over and sat with me and we talked. Most American kids would not have struck up a conversation with an adult they didn’t know. I tried to think of things to talk about as we sat there 8,000 miles from my home, when along came an inch worm on the arm of the chair.

“Oh, look,” I said, “a Pushmi-Pullyu.” I instantly thought this boy will not know what you are talking about. My kids and I used that term even though it wasn’t what the animal looked like in the Dr. Doolittle book.

He sat quietly a moment and then said, “My teacher has been reading Dr. Doolittle to us in school. Are those animals real?”

And instantly this boy, who lived a world away from my world, and I had a bond. Literature. He knew who Dr. Doolittle was! And he knew the wonderful, though fantastical, creatures of that piece of literature written in 1920–long before either of us were born.

Literature brings people of all cultures together. It is a common bond and a goal worth pursuing whether you are reading or writing. What is your favorite piece of literature?

What have you been reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – October the Transition Month!

It’s October and time for ghosties and ghoulies and three-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night. I don’t know if I’ll do the Trick or Treat thing, but I did get out the few decorations I still have and decorated for fall. It is the end of a season and the beginning of a new one. It’s October. I don’t know if I’ll do the Trick or Treat thing, but I did get out the few decorations I still have. It is the end of a season and the beginning of a new one.

For all the gardeners out there, I hope you don’t think badly of me, but I’m tired of watering and weeding. I am cleaning out the iris garden and getting ready to pull out what’s left of the herbs once we have a freeze. It is the middle of the month and last year we had a massive ice storm the end of October. It is a month of transition.

I have two works-in-progress—okay, maybe three. I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again, but here I go on a whim. In my mind, a new story arrives on the back of the change in weather. But I am ready to write throughout the long winter months. I don’t do NaNoWriMo, but I am prepared to sit and create as the weather cools and nights become longer.

Blooming Greed, the second in the Keystone Lake series, should have a release date the first of the year and I always have something else waiting in the wings.

Not a ghost story, Flatiron Death Grip, does have a zombie, vampire, and some werewolves though they are superheroes trying to get along and save the world. It’s available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle format Flatiron Death Grip: Chambers, Peggy, Saenz, Gabriella: 9781953589101: Amazon.com: Books.  Pick up a copy and leave me a review. Authors love reviews. That’s how they sell books.

What have you been reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – High School Reunion

This weekend was the 50th reunion of my high school class. I have no idea how that happened.  50 years ago, I was a bright-eyed teenager with the world at my feet.  My husband and I met in high school and married young, had our children young, and then settled in staying in our hometown. We’ve only moved three times.  It would take a crowbar to get him out of this town.  We have traveled a lot, just always coming home to Enid, Oklahoma.

The Enid High Class of ’71 originally had 652 members.  We’ve lost a few along the way.  But this weekend there were about 100 in attendance.  With the pandemic, I’m sure there weren’t as many as their might have been otherwise. 

It was a two-day event with mixers that almost got rained out, breakfasts, tours of the high school which has tripled in size since we were students there, and a cocktail/appetizers/dance on Saturday night at the local country club.  A lot of us old folks were home to watch the 10 o’clock news. 

Many of the group at the age of 68 were the walking wounded.  Some couldn’t make it at all.  But when the music began with songs of the ‘60s and ‘70s it was like we were back in high school.  Some danced, others didn’t, but we caught up with old friends and some who were mostly acquaintances back in the day.  It is interesting how after 50 years; you sit and visit with people who were not your best friend back in the day but had a ton of fun catching up with them. 

With our ages, the class will have a reunion every five years instead of ten.  I had a great time and plan to attend the next one. 

“Many are good, but better are none than all the class of ’71!”

What have you been reading this week?

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2021:Expect the Unexpected – Gabriella Saenz

I recently released a new book, Flatiron Death Grip,  through Airship 27 Productions.  It is in the pulp fiction genre and the publisher always pairs the writer with an artist to bring the story to life.  The color cover is painted by Ted Hammond and the inside black and white illustrations were done by a relative newcomer, Gabriella Saenz (Gabs).  Rob Fortier, one of the owners of the publishing company, teaches a class on comic book writing and met 16-year-old Gabs in his class.  He immediately saw a world of talent  in her and asked her to do the inside illustrations for my book. Now that the book has been released for sale, I wanted to introduce her to you.  So, I asked her a few questions.  Here are her answers.  And when I asked for a headshot so you would know what she looks like, she sent me a self-portrait of the artist. Beautiful!

Here is an inside illustration created by Gabs for the book.

I give you the artist (drum roll!) Gabriella Saenz!

1. What drives you to draw/paint? My art reflects my emotions and what is happening around me and in the world. For me, drawing and painting is my outlet, my motivation, and my voice. Seeing people enjoy my creations and it’s story is the best motivator!

 2. What type of art do you draw/paint and why? My focus at the moment is comic book art and illustrations. I love to tell stories and pairing that with art in a complete book is golden! I have started to dabble in Animation, which brings my story art to life! Honestly, pen, markers, inks, acrylics, watercolor, or digitally, all are my favorites! I’ve even painted with coffee and chocolate… because why not! You can create with anything!

3. What type of art do you most admire? I’m pretty eclectic when it comes to types of art I admire. If the art moves me and grabs my attention, that’s the best!

 4. Who is your favorite artist? My top three favorite artists are Steph Luna @lunarjokster, Laylie @ukelaylie and Frida Kahlo.

5. What’s your drawing schedule? Do you draw everyday? There is almost never a moment, I am not drawing, thinking about a character design, or itching to grab a pen to create. So, yes, I draw every day, no surface is safe! Ha!

 6. Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you create. Separate room? In the kitchen? At the dining room table? My bedroom is my art haven! Thankfully, it is big enough that I keep half of my room dedicated to art and creating. I have a big art desk that is right next to a large sliding window for plenty of sunlight. Along with my desktop computer and my Surface laptop are piles of markers, pens, inks, paints, watercolors, canvases, and sketch pads. My happy piles of artwork add to the chaos! A lighted architect’s table rounds out my art tools!

7. Are you the kind of artist who needs total quiet to compose, or are you able to filter out the typical sounds of the day and use your tunnel vision? I have a habit of immersing myself in my art. I put in my earbuds, and I do my art. I don’t notice the time passing. There is always sound in my background, whether it be movies, anime, or music.

8. Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind? If not, why not? When I write, I have specific music playlists for each mood I’m feeling at the time. The kind of music I like ranges from K-pop, indie, and R&B.

9. How did you come up with the ideas for my manuscript, Flatiron Death Grip? Flatiron Death Grip gave me an urban legend meets vigilante superhero vibe. The characters were born out of their personalities from the book. I made the decision of drawing the illustrations in black and white to have the “look” of a newsprint comic.

10. What 3 words describes you, the artist? Expressive, curious, impulsive.

11. Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to art! Not only do I do art, but I have been training in Taekwondo for about the same amount of time. Currently I’m working on a weapons form as a 2nd degree Black belt!

12. If you had to give up one necessary-can’t-live-without-it beauty item, what would it be? Eyeliner

13. What three words describe you, the person? Strong, Loyal, Kind

14. If you could sing a song with Jimmy Fallon, what would it be? POM POM by Baby Storme

15. Favorite sound– Rain

16. Least favorite sound- Chewing noises

17. Best song every written– Immigrants (We get the job done) by K’naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, Residente

18. Worst song ever written– Yummy by Justin Beiber

19. Favorite actor and actress– Simu Liu and Angela Bassett

20. Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? (It can be anyone living or dead) Batman, Because he is rich and cool.

21. What’s your version of a perfect day? If I could draw all day and no interruptions.

Where can we find you on social media? @brushstroke80 on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tik Tok

These are some more examples of her work:

Flatiron Death Grip is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle version at Flatiron Death Grip – Kindle edition by Chambers, Peggy, Saenz, Gabriella. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com. Check it out and leave us a review! 

What are you reading this week?

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