2022: Snow Day

It snowed yesterday in Oklahoma. Only the second one of the season. We might have gotten an inch if you stretched it some, and it was bitterly cold. In years gone by, I would have put on my Yaktrax and gone to work, my lunch packed, in dress pants and a heavy coat, prepared to come out and clear a windshield when the day was done. Then I would drive the treacherous roads back home to a warm house. At least I hoped it was warm.

But I’m retired now and falling on the ice—let’s just say I don’t bounce like I used to. So, I stayed in. All. Day. Long.

I had plenty to do.  I wrote for hours, took a nap, talked on the phone, baked a peach crisp, cooked supper, and watched a movie before bed where I read some before going to sleep.  I know how to party on a snow day!

I’ve been reading a Mary Higgins Clark novel.  She knew how to set a mood. You knew from page one something was wrong with that house!  Get out! But it is good to read the masters and learn from them.  She was a very successful author of 51 bestselling books, and she knew how to spin a tale.

I awoke this morning to fog coming off the snow.  It is supposed to warm up and the small amount of moisture we received from the snow will hopefully melt into our thirsty soil.  Oklahoma is in a drought. 

I plan to get out and enjoy the sun.  I am not sure what I’ll do today, but there is always something that needs my attention.  I spent an afternoon this week in the shower on my hands and knees with a  scrub brush.  I think I need to shop for a sponge mop with a scrubber on it.  Do they still make those? I’m too old to crawl around scrubbing nooks and crannies in a shower.

And then there is always the Mary Higgins Clark novel awaiting me.

What are you reading this week?

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2022: Ian’s Magic

In 2020 I published my first children’s book, Ian’s Magic. It released in the middle of the pandemic (yes, the same one we’re still dealing with). But I was unable to have a book signing or release party. It was a soft opening. But the little book has done well. I promoted it through social media and today I am still working on getting it into schools, libraries, etc.

It is based on a story I wrote many years ago for my grandson who came home from grade school so excited about the concept of math. For a non-math person, I was excited for his excitement and set out to join him in his celebration of the subject. The book went through many changes, and I found a publisher who would take it and run with it. Doodle and Peck Publishing out of Yukon, OK took a chance on the little book and added it to their growing library.

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.

No matter what his little brother thought, math would always be magical to Ian. Check out Ian’s Magic. Available on Amazon in paperback and hardback and at fine bookstores everywhere or online at Ian’s Magic | Universal Book Links Help You Find Books at Your Favorite Store! (books2read.com)

What are you reading this week?

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2022 – Blooming Greed

Like most of the world who celebrates Christmas I was busy the last few weeks. We had Christmas dinner at my son’s. My son-in-law’s mother had a heart attack and went into a nursing home. My sister had a heart attack and left her with blood clots in her lungs and legs. My granddaughter lives in Boulder where the wildfires hit, but she expects her apartment to be there when she is allowed to go back. New Years left us with below normal temperatures and snow. But it’s winter so what do you expect.

I expect to have an other hard day of writing since getting out is treacherous and then the week will once more become warm. ‘Tis the season. I still need to get my Christmas decorations put away and get back to working out at the YMCA. The pool heater has been broken!

But I have good news! Blooming Greed releases on January 26, 2022!!!!!! This novel is the second in the Keystone Lake series and once more has Erin solving a murder mystery, excessive land sales around the lake, and possible dam rupture. If you’re not from Oklahoma, Keystone Lake is a large lake in the Tulsa area and the setting for my two Keystone Lake mysteries, Blooming Justice and Blooming Greed.

Erin Shipley grew up on Keystone Lake before moving to Tulsa and becoming an associate attorney. Now, she’s back, representing a client who is concerned about the flooding and property values around the lake. Properties underwater are being bought and sold for pennies on the dollar by someone called T & H Realty. When her friend’s uncle, Jeff, dies mysteriously on the lake, Erin wonders if it has anything to do with the real estate scam and launches an investigation. The dam is old and zebra mussels are clogging it, not allowing enough water to flow out. If the dam breaks, it will flood downtown Tulsa and areas around it. But that’s not the only danger…whoever killed Jeff isn’t finished with their diabolical plan, and Erin and those she loves are at risk from more than just a dam break.

I can’t wait to show you Blooming Greed. Plans are in the works for a release party, and you will be invited.

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Christmas Around the Tree

Merry Christmas!  I hope yours was great—mine was.  It was smaller than usual, but the food and company were wonderful. 

We had Christmas dinner at my son’s again.  He’s a great cook, with a big enough house to hold the family and it takes a load of pressure off me.  I’ve hosted Christmas for many years and have two tables, kitchen and dining room. But after all these years to only have to bring food to an event is a godsend. 

My sister is sick, and my son-in-law’s mother is ill and those were the topics of conversation.  But we still had a great time.  Most of the grandchildren were there—one from Colorado—and it is always great to see them.  They are grown, but they are still my grandchildren.

When it was over, my daughter and I realized we didn’t take one picture!  This is just unheard of in our family. But maybe we were having too much fun to drag out the cameras. 

I have leftovers, but not a ton.  There were only ten people around the table, and we didn’t have to prepare as much food as sometimes.  That is a good thing.

But the love was what brought us together.  My son is off this week and going fishing. My son-in-law is probably heading out to see his mother. My granddaughter is off to Colorado and back to work.

Christmas dinner is never enough to see my family.  I want an entire week, but that’s impossible. They have lives to live and projects waiting for them to finish. But the feelings of Christmas live on in our hearts.  When you get busy this week—and you will—try to remember the feelings of being around that table with the people you love, and it will once more warm your soul.

Family is everything.

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Teen Authors

Last week we discussed the book and craft expo at the Enid Public Library.  I saw lots of old friends and talked to the public who attended. But the best part of the book signing was the little book that was gifted to me. 

The public library has many missions besides just checking out books.  They have projects for teenagers and children—there are even crafts for adults.  But I’ve volunteered with the Teen Authors before and truly enjoy working with them. 

One day I met with them to discuss writing a story.  I was unsure of the ages of these kids and when I got there, they were much older and wiser than I originally thought.  My prepared speech was not going to do what we needed it to do.  So, I winged it.  We began by brainstorming ideas for a story.  Each student spoke up and they came up with a  main character and his goals and motivation.  One of the students took notes as they threw out ideas and over a two-hour period they developed a story.

I never knew what happened to that idea. But at the book and craft sale the Teen Authors had a table of their own.  They had printed their book with illustrations and gifted me a copy.  There was an acknowledgement in the front thanking me for my help.  I was so excited!

I came home with the book of Slippy’s Escape and it has the place of honor on my bookshelf.  You never know how you can affect someone with your actions.  Kids are such a sponge absorbing everything around them.  They did a wonderful job, used their imaginations, and crafted a book of adventures.  I hope they write more.  I can’t wait to work with them again.

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Book, Bake, and Craft Expo

The Public Library of Enid and Garfield County hosted a Friends of the Library Book, Bake, & Craft Expo yesterday.  There were 20 authors, a baker and some crafts made from books.  Lovely!  I attended and met up with some old friends. 

The Grinch was there with his little dog Max and the public came and went. Some seemed surprised when they just walked in the door to return a book and found the entire downstairs filled with books for sale. 

It was a great time to catch up with old friends.  (Did I fall asleep talking to Sheldon Russell?) With the pandemic, there have been fewer get togethers than the past.  I hope we can continue to do such things.  I sold some books and bought some books (I always do) and talked literature with like minds.  I’d love to do it again soon.

It is Christmas and what better time than now to buy and read a book. 

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected: The Gift of Books

It’s Christmas and what better time to give the gift of books. If you have a child on your Christmas list, give them the gift of living a life outside themselves. Books can transport you to places you might never go.

Ian’s Magic https://www.amazon.com/Ians-Magic-Peggy-Chambers/dp/1735830615/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=ian%27s+magic+peggy+chambers&qid=1638714309&sr=8-1 is a middle grade reader for 7 – 10 years. Ian learned at an early age that he could perform feats of magic—if his math problems were correct. If not, things might not turn out right for him. But as a grade schooler, he has problems that need solving that can’t be solved on paper with a pencil—like a little brother. And he MUST win the annual math contest this year. The prize is an electronic tablet, so he won’t have to share the family computer. But Thomas wants to win too, and he might be better at math than Ian. Is it fair to win the contest using magic?

Glome’s Valley Glome’s Valley: Chambers, Peggy: 9781717076243: Amazon.com: Books is a young adult novel for 10-15 years. Ethan traveled to the Heavener Runestone for the summer with his archeologist dad and is bored while his dad studies the stone. For something to do, he hikes the hills and runs into a boy about his age who is dressed in Viking garb. As they begin to play in the forest, Ethan meets other inhabitants and soon realizes that the boy is a ghost of Vikings that inhabited the forest centuries before. And Glome has friends and foes; energetic fairies and smelly trolls who have been fighting a war for many years. Ethan is pulled into the war and sneaks out at night to help his friends not knowing that there are forces who want him to fail. His dad finds an app on his phone to help him locate his son and summon Thor for assistance.

Return to Glome’s Valley Return to Glome’s Valley: Chambers, Peggy: 9781521912201: Amazon.com: Books takes place 14 years later when Ethan returns to the place he played as a child and finds not much has changed in the forest, except for him. He meets Trondelag, the dragon and a young girl who might be his doppelganger from when he was young. Glome and the fairies let it slip that the Vinland Maps, an archeologists dream, lay hidden in the forest right under his nose. But Trondelag tries to convince Ethan not to risk his life for a piece of paper that would make him famous. Will he have to summon Thor again for help?

It’s Christmas and time for gifts. What better gift than a book. What are you reading this week?

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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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