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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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Of Memories and BBQ

It’s Sunday and beginning to look a lot like spring!  The snow is melting, and it was 38° when I got up this morning.  I’ve heard flocks of geese moving for the last few days.  There is a wheat field about two blocks from my home and they were probably looking for lunch, but they were huge flocks.  Oklahoma keeps geese year-round these days but the ones I hear overhead were moving.  I hope they know spring is just around the corner.  According to the calendar it is about 30 days away.

I finished writing Blooming Greed, the second in the Keystone Lake series, and The Wild Rose Press has agreed to publish it, though I haven’t signed a contract yet.  But it should hit the shelves within the year.

Instead of jumping right into the next novel (there are two potentials sitting on the computer) I got distracted by a different project.  My cousins and sisters are putting together a book with family recipes, pictures, and memories.  It has been so fun, and I already have more than 50 pages.  I’m still waiting on recipes to be sent to me, but one cousin, an artist, is doing the illustrations and possibly the cover.  I got phone numbers from my aunt and called up cousins I hadn’t talked to in 20 years – and they didn’t hang up on me! 

One of the things that is fun is that we all have different memories of the same situation – and different recipes for the same thing handed down from our mothers.  When this became apparent, I decided to make a section of the book for comparison. 

An example is my grandfather’s barbeque sauce that he slathered on chicken as it grilled on his homemade BBQ grill.  My mother said his recipe, given to her verbally, went like this: “Take a piece of lard the size of a hen’s egg and melt it. Then mix it with vinegar and salt and pepper and brush it on the chicken.” There were no measurements, but my memories of the barbeque sauce were wonderful. Two of my cousins had a different version and one even knew where it came from.  It was a secret recipe from an old man who was the barbeque chicken king at the annual Portia Picnic in Arkansas. 

But the book has brought back so many memories and in looking through a box of my mother’s mementos, I found the above picture of my grandfather’s hand-tooled leather wallet with Selective Service card, Lifetime Hunting and Fishing cards, and a drivers license.  Oh, the things that wallet had seen as he strived to raise a family of eight children during the Depression and my grandmother baked biscuits to feed them all.

Expect the unexpected.  I should have known when I started this project.  But it is a tribute to my family, and I think my grandparents would be proud. 

What are you reading this week?

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Strawberry Sundae Delights

Good morning and Happy Valentine’s Day from the frozen tundra! Brrrr!  All of Oklahoma is covered in snow and we have lots more to come.  So, with that in mind, expect the unexpected.

Beach read!  We need a beach read with a Valentine twist. And I have just the thing, Strawberry Sundae Delights is set once again on Sandhill Island and is a romance with a little bit of suspense. 

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?

The novella is available electronically on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes, for your device. https://tinyurl.com/y2qe84qx

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

The novella is also available with two other great reads in an anthology through The Wild Rose Press A Taste of Danger the One Scoop or Two Series A Taste of Danger | The Wild Rose Press Inc.

Pick up a copy for a great beach read in the middle of a blizzard while you sip hot chocolate by the fire.  It’s sure to warm your heart as well as your body. 

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2021: Expect the Unexpected – Football and Cold Weather

It’s Superbowl weekend and in my house that means we gather snacks and prepare to watch the commercials.  I don’t care about football, but some of the best commercials to ever come down the pike make their debut at the Superbowl.  It is pure entertainment.

I understand there will not be Budweiser commercials this year – and they were always the best – because Budweiser has taken the money they’d spend on those very expensive commercials and spent it on Covid-19 vaccine awareness. They have spent billions since 1983 on commercials along with Coke and Pepsi and opted out this year. Whether you are for or against the vaccines, it seems a selfless move on their part.  In the middle of a pandemic, football has taken a back seat. And I’m sure beer sales will remain high.

I’m still working on my family’s recipe/memory book and learning so many things I never knew.  I am also renewing relationships with cousins and family members.  This was a great idea.

A neighbor across the street died and we have a funeral tomorrow in the worst weather of the winter.  So far it is only extremely cold temperatures and not a lot of precipitation, I hope it stays that way.  It is about 70 miles to his hometown where the funeral will take place and we plan to go bundled up as long as there is no ice and snow on the roads.  The neighbor was a friend, and we want to honor his life by attending his funeral.

I got my first vaccine shot and have an appointment for the second one this week.  I hope it works.  Like everyone else I want life to get back to normal – whatever that is. My annual writing conference in May has decided to go virtual this year.  We cancelled it last year.  It won’t be the same without the camaraderie, but I will still learn something and as always it will enthuse me and about writing.

Next week is Valentine’s Day.  I hope you and your bestie have plans.  Ours is to cook our own Valentine’s dinner and not venture out – again.  But life goes on.

Whatever you do this week, it is probably the coldest week of the winter.  Stay warm, cuddle up and maybe read a romance story in preparation for Valentine’s Day next Sunday.

What are you reading this week?

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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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