2021: Expect the Unexpected – Almost Spring

According to my calculations it is 48 days until spring.  The jonquils in my front flower bed are up about two inches.  We have cold weather in the forecast for next weekend but a fairly warm week prior to the onslaught.  It is the time of year I hunker down and wait it out. 

I’m a gardener.  I love to watch plants rising from the soil for renewed life.  Every year plant life comes back and with it comes my love of nature.  Spring is a magical time of year.

However, spring in Oklahoma can be dicey. But still, I look forward to it.  We had two small tornadoes in the northeast corner of the state yesterday – in January – hummmm. Well, bring it on.  I’ve learned how to deal with them having lived here most of my life.  Be prepared and stay calm.  Try not to end up like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. But she did have a magical experience.

I’ve been flipping back and forth with the start of two new novels – one is another Sandhill Island story and the second one is set on a Greek Island involving a modern-day Cupid story.  I can’t decide which one to work on.  What do you think? Sandhill Island or Greek island.

I’m also working with my cousins on a family memoir/recipe book for us.  It has involved trips down memory lane, and it is strange to see how others viewed the same experience.  I’ve loved working on this.

I got out and walked the dog in the Oklahoma wind yesterday and loved it even though it almost blew me back home.  I think I’ll do that again today.  Short walks are good for us this time of year getting us ready for the longer ones when it warms up.  The dog’s arthritis is kicking up in the cold weather and moving those joints is good for her as well as me.

So, 48 more days until warmer weather.  Plenty of time to decide which novel is next and finish up the recipe book.  And then there will be gardening and walks.  Life goes on.  Life is good.

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Ian’s Magic

This year’s theme is Expect the Unexpected – a tag line for my writing since I write more than one genre.  But it also describes the year we’ve had as a planet.  You all know I’m talking about the pandemic.  I’m tired of being home, and tired of the news, but at least I’m not on the front lines taking care of patients or being one of them.  I’m bored, not sick – thankfully. So, I write.

But in an effort to get away from the political drama, virus, and humdrum of everyday life, I bring you magic! The magic of math!  As a kid I was intimidated by math.  I learned early on not to trust my brain and use a calculator.  That might have been a mistake, but it served me well. 

When I became a grandmother and my grandson was in early grade school, he loved math.  It was predictable.  If you did this, then this would happen!  Magic!  Unless you got the problem wrong. And from the young mind who saw the magic adults didn’t came the idea for a book – Ian’s Magic.   

Ian was a young boy with grade school problems.  He had a brother, and they didn’t always get along, he tried to get to know a new kid in school with a big mouth and boastful ways, and then there was Thomas – another student who loved math as much as he did. Thomas was his nemesis with the annual math contest coming up.  Ian wanted to win the iPad this year, so he wouldn’t have to share the family computer, but he could fail. 

Ian knew that math was used in everyday life like helping his mom with her checkbook.  He also learned that mowing the lawn for his dad made more money than cleaning out the neighbor’s shed. He learned that ratios didn’t always work when you were mixing hair color to make your brother’s red hair blond. But what his little brother taught him was ”in physics, weight and mass or something, two pulleys cut the weight in half if you are hoisting something up.” And that might have saved his life the day he fell over the cliff and his little brother hoisted him back up. But his brother wasn’t magic and couldn’t make the vacuum cleaner run itself while he did his math homework.

Check out Ian’s Magic a middle-grade chapter book that makes math fun – and magic!  Published by Doodle and Peck and illustrated by the uber talented, Marla Jones. https://tinyurl.com/yxnszumv

Ian’s Magic by Peggy Chambers, Paperback | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Strawberry Sundae Delights

It’s a cold January day here in the Midwest. No snow, but the wind comes sweeping down the plains.  I need some warmth and to hear the sound of the surf in the distance.  And what better place to experience that than Sandhill Island? Here’s a new novella about the characters who inhabit the tiny island off the coast of Corpus Christi. 

Strawberry Sundae Delights takes place in an ice cream shop on the island.  In the summer on the beach what is better than ice cream?

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?

Strawberry Sundae Delights adds new characters to the island and revisits some you may already know.  It is a romance with a hint of suspense. Summer on an island with a new love – ahhhh.  Could life get any sweeter?

Strawberry Sundae Delights is an e-published novella available through Kindle, Nook, iTunes and distributors everywhere.  It might be just the warmth you are looking for this winter.

https://tinyurl.com/y2qe84qx

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

Expect the Unexpected. What are you reading this week?

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2020: Expect the Unexpected – Math Magic

With the week we’ve had politically, it is time for something fun.  Expect the Unexpected. 

Ian’s Magic is a fun romp through grade-school math.  Really, math can be fun!  My checkbook register is never fun, but if I could balance it magically, it might be.  And Ian can – even if his mom can’t.

Ian keeps his math magic a secret because Papa said he should.  But Papa might be magic too. 

Ian is in grade school and even if he loves math, he has problems – like a little brother who is jealous of his abilities and parents who expect him to clean his room. But he knows he can use math magic in everyday activities like balancing his mother’s checkbook, keeping score in baseball, and proportions of hair color to make his brother’s red hair turn blond. Then he learns physics can get you out of a jam when you fall over a cliff that Dad said to stay away from.

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.

Ian’s Magic is a middle-grade chapter book available for pre-order from Amazon https://tinyurl.com/yxnszumv and will release from my publisher Doodle and Peck on February 10, 2021.  A great birthday gift for me!

Check out Ian’s Magic and leave me a review.  Reviews are magic!  What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Living a Good Life

Each year I decide on a topic for the blogs I write.  Sometimes I get off the beaten track, but this year the pathway is clear.  “Expect the Unexpected” is what I’ve chosen.  For some time, I’ve wanted a tag line for my writing and since I write more than one genre, this seemed like a good tag line and topic for this year’s blogs. 

With the pandemic and all that has come with it in 2020, the tag line could mean a lot of things in 2021, but I think it stands for hope – the hope that the world will not go back to normal but will go on to better things.  Maybe mankind has learned a few things and maybe we will try harder to take care of ourselves and each other.

So, to begin the year let’s Expect the Unexpected and learn to live kindlier.  Max Ehrmann said it best in 1927 when he wrote a poem about living a good life.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

— Max Ehrmann, 1927

                What unexpected things are you doing this week?

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2020 Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – Author Mick Arnold

Mick Arnold writes for The Wild Rose Press and that is how I became acquainted with him. He lives “across the pond” (pond?) and I’ve never met him face to face, but I am truly enjoying his historical novel A “Wing and A Prayer.” I’m sure you will too! Help me welcome, Mick Arnold.

Hi Peggy. Many, many thanks for having me today on your blog, I very much appreciate it.

Hands up who’s heard someone say, I could write a book…only I don’t have the time. I always want to shout at them. Well, make the time!

            My new book, ‘A Wing and a Prayer’ isn’t one of those. Saying this, I also have to say, it wasn’t planned. At no point in my relatively short writing life had I ever planned to write in this genre. I thought I’d be writing, or attempting to write, Women’s Fiction/Romances. Next thing I know, I’ve written a World War 2 Historical Saga –actually, as I write this, book 2 is with my publishers and book 3 is a quarter done – and received a publishing deal. Isn’t life strange?

            So, how did it come about? Well, after ‘The Season for Love’ my body decided the best thing it could do would be to ‘break’ for the best part of two years. At times like this, you discover who your friends are. One of them gave me some very good advice. Don’t try and pick up something you’d been working on, try something new. By going for an unrelated project, I should find myself somewhere I hadn’t been. Somewhat to my surprise, it seems to have worked.

            I’ve always loved history, specifically anything to do with flying. As it happened, the same day this was suggested to me, I saw a program called ‘The Spitfire Girls’ and that sparked the idea that perhaps I could come up with a story set in the Air Transport Auxiliary. A day or so of trawling the internet and the next thing I knew, I had actually planned out about 50% of the first story. I hadn’t set out to write a mystery, yet the girls seemed to migrate towards that thread of their own accord and the rest of the story – how four girls (men, of course, also served in the ATA in much larger numbers) from different walks of life came to live and work together – wrote itself around this thread. Indeed, the first scene in the story finds one of the girl’s sisters being found dead in the cockpit of a Tiger Moth biplane! So, the Air Transport Auxiliary Mystery Club was born.

            I served for over sixteen years in the Royal Air Force, travelling all over the world and, of course, the United Kingdom. Some of the bases I served on were once visited by these brave people I’ve written about and I feel honoured to play a small part in keeping their story alive and in, perhaps, bringing it to a new audience. Their bravery needs to be heard about and with this story, the first in the ‘Broken Wings’ series, I hope to be able to perform this task I’ve set myself.

Check out “A Wing and A Prayer” and let Mick know what you think. Writers love reviews!

What are you reading this week?

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2020: Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – The Scent of Christmas

I walked in the door at Lowes near the garden area and it caught me by surprise – cinnamon. Not the common fertilizer and weed killer smells. It smelled like Christmas. It took a while to find where they hid it. The scent was somewhere in the store. And I followed my nose. Up high above my head, I found them. Cinnamon pinecones.  The scent of Christmas.  I had to have those – later – closer to Christmas.  If they were still there.  I love the scent of cinnamon no matter the time of year, probably because it reminds me of my mother’s snickerdoodle cookies and Christmas as a child.

But cinnamon isn’t my only love. I loved the smell of a real evergreen in the living room. The smell of an alpine forest inside for all to enjoy.  Unless you were allergic to it as my son was.

Growing up, like many families, we always had oranges in our stocking.  We never had a fireplace, but we still hung the stockings somewhere for Santa and in the morning they would be full of nuts and oranges, our presents under the tree.  I was never sure why oranges.  They weren’t a winter fruit – not local to where we lived.  But it was a tradition.

Cinnamon, evergreens, oranges. I found a potpourri once called Scent of Christmas and I think it smelled like all of these together.  It was so strong, I had to let it sit on the porch for a day or two so we could breath, but it was Christmas.  Add some nutmeg and cloves and you have almost found it.  Maybe the scent of my mother’s mincemeat pie.  Many people don’t like mincemeat, but it was a staple in our house for the holidays and it had every spice and herb available in it. 

Why are the holidays such an olfactory experience?  Why do we remember the spices and sweet treats from our childhoods? They were from the good times. A simpler time in our lives.  Remember waking on Thanksgiving morning to the smell of turkey roasting?  Mom had been up for hours working tirelessly so we could gorge ourselves and then take a nap on tryptophan while she cleaned up the mess.

Now the best smell of Christmas will be family. I’ll remember my mother’s perfume as I hug my daughter. Fresh washed children run through the house squealing with delight. Warm sweaters and warm smiles, soon the room will warm with all the bodies until we have to turn on the ceiling fans and turn down the heat.  The smell of food and love are one whether we realize it at the time or not.  Probably not. But the scent of Christmas is full not just of things we ate but people we loved. 

Family is the true scent of Christmas, but cinnamon . . .

Merry Christmas this week. I hope it is an aromatic one.

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2020: Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – And it Snowed

It’s 12 days until Christmas (I think there’s a song about that) and we have snow here on the Great Plains!  If you’re from up north, you would laugh at our little snow, but it can shut us down.  At least me.

I woke up this morning, looked out the window and said, “No, I’ll stay home.” I have Christmas baking to do and of course I can always clean, do laundry, and there are the final edits on that novel that need to be finished. Since I gave up my gym membership last March, I try to exercise at home.  Not as effective, but at least I’m moving off the couch.  

I love Christmas and the family dinners, etc.  The dinner is small these days since we have grown grandchildren and then there’s the pandemic.  We don’t even want to talk about that.  But I still look forward to seeing my children, and their children, and eating too much.  We will still celebrate Christmas.

My writer’s club had their first Zoom meeting, and it was mildly attended.  We’ll do better in the future.  I meet with my daughter and some friends for yoga online on Saturday mornings.  I keep finding ways to stay busy.

I talked to LA Talk Radio, The Writer’s Block yesterday and I scheduled an interview with them again.  I love these people.  We’ve become friends and they are so much fun to talk to. But they are busy and the next date they had available was April.  April first, April Fools Day!  Perfect I said, it works with my personality.  But I can discuss my latest books and works in progress.  It will be fun.

I also ordered copies of Ian’s Magic yesterday and talked to a writer in the UK who wants to guest blog on my website.  I can do a lot from the comfort of my love seat.  But yes, I need to get up now and then. Maybe I’ll cook breakfast for a change.

What are you doing on Sunday morning?  Is it snowing where you are?

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2020: Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – Persevering Petunias

Perseverance is a word that best describes the petunias that came up in my garden this year.  Several appeared voluntarily from the ones I planted last year. Seeds I didn’t’ realize were in the soil. I never went to the greenhouse. I was surprised to see them and decided to transplant them into pots that were strewn around the garden to protect them – then more appeared.

They popped up in the garden and bloomed in colors from white, to pink, to purple.  They managed to survive the Oklahoma August (some people don’t do that) and bloomed through fall.  They are still going, and it has frozen several times.  It was 29 degrees this morning and we long ago quit watering and covered the hydrants outside for protection from the elements. The flower is beginning to fade a little but every morning it is still there.

It’s been a tough year for the whole world.  The pandemic threatens to take out humans and animals alike – but still the petunias bloom.

We had an ice storm in October that tried to kill most of our trees – but still the petunias bloom.

We had a little snow – but still the petunias bloom.

Thanksgiving is done and we’re into the Christmas season.  My tree is up, and I’ve started my shopping – but still the petunias bloom.

Maybe they are the hope that this world needs at a time when hope is in short supply.  Persevering petunias could become our mantra and our symbol of hope.

What’s in your garden this week?

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2020: Fewer Possessions, More Experiences – Ian’s Magic

Ian’s Magic has been a long time coming.  The middle-grade chapter book was one of the first things I wrote and has been through many changes.  But in February it will be available for purchase.  In fact, you can pre-order it to your Kindle now at https://tinyurl.com/yxnszumv .

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.

Math magic is not the only thing that Ian has to deal with in the fourth grade.  He has a little brother who is jealous of his talents and he has to hide his ability to perform magic from the rest of the world. And if his math is not correct, the magic doesn’t work.  He learns a lot about life and how math is used in everyday things and sometimes he wins the day.  But what happens if you get the ratio wrong when mixing hair color for your little red-haired brother? Or can his little brother help him using physics when he falls off a cliff and gets stuck in a tree? Brothers can be a pain, but sometimes they are helpful.

I am truly excited about this book and I can’t wait to be able to show it to you.  Maybe by spring I’ll be able to present it in person at a book signing or craft show, but in the meantime check out Ian’s Magic.  You’ll agree, math can be magic.

What are you reading this week?

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