Saturday, December 16, 2017

December Challenge: Day 16 - Holiday Favorites

Holiday favorites. Everyone who enjoys the holiday season has them. Traditions, food, music and all give us memories, many sensory ones. So, what are your holiday favorites? I'll share if you will!

Holiday song: Carol of the Bells, but really I like them all!
Holiday cookie: cut-out sugar cookies, but only my mom's recipe which calls for powdered sugar instead of granulated
Holiday drink: eggnog, spiked
Holiday decorations: the stockings, definitely. They have our names, growing from two to five with our kids, and now we add one more with our grandbaby Henry!
Holiday tradition: Christmas Eve party with family and friends.
Holiday movie: Christmas Vacation

Okay, your turn!

Enjoy the rest of your evening!

Friday, December 15, 2017

December Challenge: Day 15 - Guess Who's Coming to Christmas?

   Guess Who's Coming to Christmas?

No, it's not Sidney Poitier. Don't know the movie reference? Look it up. Having special people, your family and friends gather together makes the spirit of Christmas come alive. And if you could invite any three people to your house on Christmas day, who would they be? I've been giving this some serious thought. I mean, we're talking about Christmas, right? My favorite holiday must have the perfect trimmings and people to enjoy the moment. So, who would I pick? Besides the ones already coming, that is 😊. For this list I'm going with people who are no longer among us. Kinda like ghosts of Christmas Past. Ho, ho, ho, E. Scrooge!

1) My parents. I'll count them as one since, well, they're a set. The last time they were alive and together was 1990. It would be nice to chat, share stories, give them hugs and kisses, introduce them to their great grandson Henry. Just be there. Yeah, I'd really like that.

2) Claude Monet because I love his paintings and I love French. Maybe we could parler en francais while he paints an impressionist scene of my family Christmas gathering. Cool gift, don't you think? Oh, and I could ask him about his obsession with painting sunsets, lily ponds, and hay mounds. πŸ˜‰

3) John Lennon because for one, he's my hubby's absolute favorite musician, and second, he'd sing his "This is Christmas" song to add to the holiday spirit. Then of course we'd introduce him to our son, Sean, named after his son Sean. I'm sure Johnny would share his stories of Christmases with the Fab four and his days in Liverpool. What could be better?

So for NEXT year...

That's my list. Now, what's yours?

Have a great evening!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

December Challenge: Day 14 -- When You're Too Tired and...

I'm sorry but I'm about done for the day. I addressed and made out thirty cards. That counts as writing, doesn't it? No? Maybe just a little, tiny... Ok. I give. How about a photo of my trees? They are awesome and should be recognized even if they have absolutely nothing to do with writing, but I did decorate, lots of decorating. *Puffs out chest*. Hey! How about this? If I list how to say Merry Christmas or happy holidays in other languages, would that count? Just a few, though. Like I said I'm done, pooped, finito.

Merry Christmas!

Felice Navidado

Joyeux Noel
Buon Natale
Frohe Weihnachten
God jul

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

December Challenge: Day 13 - Are You Happy Yet?

Time to write and I haven't any ideas in mind. This has been a pretty big challenge, posting everyday this month. It's like anything you do over and over until it loses the same effect. Right? I mean, how many times can you listen to the song "Happy" before you're not so happy? 
(Yeah.You KNOW I have to go there!)


Cause I'm happy.🎡

Clap along if you feel like Christmas is in the room.🎢
Cause I'm happy.🎡🎡🎡
Clap along if you feel that holiday is here for you.🎢
Cause I'm happy.🎡🎡🎡
Clap along if  you hear those steps up on the roof.🎢
Cause I'm happy.🎡
Clap along if you believe that Santa is really true.🎡🎡🎡

Here come bad news, my Christmas cards aren't sent.🎢
Well, that's okay, I've got days, but no more than ten.🎢
Yeah, and all those gifts missing under the tree. 🎢🎢
No matter what, I'll be fine, just wait and see.🎢
Here's why...

Cause I'm happy.🎡🎢
Clap along, if you feel like Christmas is in the room.🎡
Cause I'm happy.🎢
Clap along, if you feel that this holiday is here for you.🎢🎢
Cause I'm happy.
Clap along, if you hear that sound of steps on the roof.🎡
Cause I'm happy.
Clap along if you believe in the spirit of Christmas too.🎢🎢

Yes, enough silliness for one evening.

Hmm, hmm, happy🎡, happy🎡, happy🎡...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

December Challenge: Day 12 - Coming to You Live from my Consciousness

My day recapped in a stream of consciousness... sort of. Should be interesting 😁

I hate mornings. My body is stiff. I have a sinus headache...must be the drastic cold, snowy weather. My head is a barometer! Coffee. I need lots of coffee to clear the headache and loosen the stiffness. I miss my younger self, sometimes. 

Relax while watching the news. Relax. News. Now, THAT'S a contradiction! I'm playing the odds in my head on who's gonna win that election in Alabama. Two cups of coffee and a bagel. I'm good to go. Max looks ready to go too! The wind is fierce. He doesn't like it much, but he takes care of business. 

Time to pay a visit to the Verizon store. Father-in-law needs a phone before he goes into assisted living. Explain the situation to the attentive sales person. Ask my questions. Say what?? I need the pin number??? Great. I don't know the pin number. In fact, I very much doubt HE knows his pin number! Note to self: tell hubby to bring parents' phone home so I can take it to Verizon and let them do their thing. 

Next, stop at store to buy gift cards for groomer and hair dresser. Tis the season! I couldn't manage without those ladies 😊. It's nearly noon. How'd that happen?! Lunch sounds about right. I'll join hubby in a meal before he leaves for work. TV? More election fodder and details about the bombing in NYC. It's something every day, isn't it?

Make copies of admissions packet, then it's time to drop it off at the assisted living facility. I do believe the temp is colder than this morning, AND the wind is kicking butt! AND of course I have to park a mile away 😒. Have a nice chat with the director. Meeting to sign papers next week? Check. Arrange for doctor to do final exam on father-in-law? Check. Inform her of furniture moving day and of father-in-law's move-in day? Check. Check. And we're done...for now. 

Home sweet home.  I think I'll take a nap. A short one. Got lots left to do. An hour later...🀣 I need to make a list. Shopping tomorrow for party supplies and other items. Too many items. I'm thinking of all the other "too many" situations. Like holiday decorating, addressing cards, wrapping presents...oh so many presents. Yeah, all that. 

The tree is messy. Lots of fake snow-covered branches lose a lot of fake snow. Just sayin'. Tree's up. My floor needs swept. I mean, how is this fake tree any less messy than a real one that drops needles? Drag boxes filled with all the Christmas decor out of the closet. Amazing how a nine-by-ten room's floor space is not enough for a half dozen boxes. Overflow goes in the hall. I stare at them for a minute. Maybe save some for tomorrow? Yeah, that sounds like a plan. 

Dinner for me? Couple of eggrolls. For Max? Kibble. Now, I can settle down and relax. Until the phone rings. The social worker. (She can't get ahold of hubby. I'm  person number 2.) Father-in-law is having a fit. He's confrontational, wants to go home, and hates everyone at the rehab center. I tell her if they can't get him to calm down, call me and I'll talk to him. Twenty minutes later... He won't listen to reason, even from me, now decides he doesn't want to go into assisted living. Oh, boy 😞. He tends to have these spells in the evening. Maybe sundowners? It's very frustrating and I'm having a meltdown. 

Glass of wine and it's all good. Until tomorrow. Then more errands. Taking Max to the groomer, shopping for those items on my list, visiting my hair dresser for cut and color, and, oh, how about those Christmas decorations? Yeah, tomorrow's another day!

Cheers, all! πŸŽ…

Monday, December 11, 2017

December Challenge: Day 11 -- It's Very Punny Today!

It's been a day...a week...okay, months! Personal stuff, family stuff, has been a downer, very tiresome, and oh so much work! The holidays will perk me up, even though I've left just about everything, except the shopping, to do at the last minute! (You should see the bedroom where boxes and boxes of packages are stored. Come to think of it, no. No, you don't want to see. I don't want to see. *shudder*) 

So, this is why I thought it would be nice to tell a few jokes, bring some levity to my humdrum mood and to everyone else's. And I'm a sucker for puns. I love puns! I hope you feel the same. Otherwise, you may want to walk away from this post right now. Cause it's about to get very punny in here! You ready? Okay... drum roll, please! tadumbrrmmmm...

  • What did the guy say when he walked into the bar? "Ouch!"
  • Did you hear about the guy who got hit in the head with a can of soda? He was lucky it was a soft drink.
  • Did you ever try to eat a clock? It's very time-consuming. 
  • I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. It's impossible to put down.
  • Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I'll show you a A-flat minor.
  • Is old rope good enough for a hanging? Frayed knot. That stuff is bad noose.
  • What did the grape say when it got stepped on? Nothing, but it let out a little wine.
  • Why can’t you hear a pterodactyl go to the bathroom? Because the “P” is silent.
  • What kind of shoes do ninjas wear? Sneakers.
  • I started a band called 999 Megabytes — we haven’t gotten a gig yet.
  • What is the difference between ignorance and apathy? I don’t know, and I don’t care.
Now for a few holiday jokes to fit the season!

  • Why was the snowman looking through carrots? He was picking his nose. 
  • What do snowmen have for breakfast? Snowflakes, of course.
  • Why couldn't the skeleton go to the Christmas party? He had no body to go with.
  • What goes "oh, oh, oh!" Santa walking backwards.
Okay, I've tortured you enough, but hopefully got a chuckle or two out of you!
Enjoy your evening...until tomorrow!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

December Challenge: Day 10 - Christmas Trimmings and Childhood Memories

I'm sure somewhere in your childhood you remember making all sorts of crafts in school. My first--one my mom kept forever--was a tiny hand print in plaster from kindergarten. Then there were the special cards for mother's day and father's day, the Easter basket made of construction paper with shredded crepe for grass, the turkey with colorful feathers--mine had an abnormally shaped beak--and of course the Christmas ornaments, using glitter and glue, crayons and markers, bright paper colors of red, blue, green, and many others. 

It's nice that tradition has carried on through generations. My children made plenty of those school crafts, and like my mom, I've kept quite a few of them. Of course, projects have become a bit more sophisticated. Ceramic pottery replaced paper constructions in many cases. But those ornaments for the tree, those were the best. Some had their photos attached, along with the year--a chronology of their lives of sorts. Ornaments made in various shapes, globe shapes, candy cane shapes, tree shapes, all kinds of shapes! But the best part were the proud smiles on their faces as they rushed off the bus, how they jumped up and down, squealing with excitement, while they pulled their treasures out their book bags and hung them on the tree. 

It's probably overdone, said too often, but it's true. These homemade trinkets are the most precious sentiment one can give and receive. They bring the holiday spirit closer to what it should be. So, lose the commercial fanfare, the insane, over-the-top frenzy and greed of who can out-spend, out-decorate everyone else. 

Remember those sweet smiles, the sheer joy on their faces, the spirit in their eyes and those precious homemade gifts. Those are the best. 

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

December Challenge: Day 9 - Layer by Layer

Had a fun time at Painting with a Twist today. My snow globe is not bad for beginner status. The best part was spending time with my daughter and friends. 

After my post from yesterday, I'm looking at the painting as a process, like my writing. It's a true comparison.
  • start with the background -- my story setup; 
  • fill in the bottom with table and snow -- plot events and synopsis; 
  • add evergreen trees -- characters, their roles, motives, descriptions; 
  • paint the globe base -- the main goal, climax, denoument; 
  • dot with snowflakes and draw the final touch, the star -- fleshing out the story until it's fantastic! 
See? The process of creativity is found in all mediums, writing and painting included. Sharing the work and socializing with all my fellow artistic wannabees? Just like book signings and author expos. Now, reviews are an entirely different animal! Haha. 

What gets your creative juices flowing? I'm sure there are plenty of other talented people out there who have great things to share. 

Enjoy your evening! Until tomorrow. 😊

Friday, December 8, 2017

December Challenge: Day 8 - It Starts With a "Whoa!"

Good evening! Hope all is well with you. I've been mulling over what to write about today. Several ideas popped into my head, but I'll go with this one. How my brain works an idea is complicated. Whether it's in writing or problem-solving or planning, I have a process. Let's take writing, for instance. I get this idea, some kind of inspiration from people watching or reading an article in the news or just a random personal thought where I might think, "Whoa, now that would make a neat story!" For example, when I wrote my latest project, a mystery, a cozy mystery, I had been watching Arsenic and Old Lace on the classic movie channel. I do love Cary Grant πŸ’“. He plays the role of a  Broadway play writer. His two elderly aunts are kooky as they come. They've decided killing off lonely old men who've come to their house as potential borders is the charitable thing to do. So they poison them with a dose of arsenic in their wine. It's comical. It's dramatic. It's full of murderous fun. 

I decided a cozy mystery set in a Bed and Breakfast with a cast of actors and theater buffs would be great to write. There are the Bellwethers, elderly siblings as crazy as the Brewster sisters. Some references to the Golden Hollywood era, then throw in a murder or two, a bit of romance, and lots of quirky behavior to complete the set-up. And there I had a beginning, someplace to start. Then, the hard work started. Write the story!

Here's one of my pitmad tweets for Boarding With Murder that I used during the Twitter contest last night...

Paradise B&B, the perfect place for a relaxing stay in a quaint and friendly town, but a killer is lurking. The elderly Bellwether siblings are accused of murder, and new B&B owner Alexis wants to help, if only they didn't act so guilty. Cozy spin on ARSENIC & OLD LACE.

And that's how it's done! 

Enjoy your evening!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

December Challenge: Day 7: Who Knew?

Who knew? I never had a chance, not one second to stop and think, "Wait! Shouldn't I be writing? Sharing another creative or *cough* pointless post?" It's 11:51 pm. I jump out of my seat, gasp and groan and sigh. I forgot. Totally, tragically forgot. Sorry 😒.

I spent my evening--the time I'd usually be writing my daily challenge--tweeting my Twitter pitches on #pitmad, an opportunity for writers to pitch their work to agents and editors. And yes I forgot. So very sorry.

I'll try harder tomorrow. Promise. And maybe I'll share some of my tweets!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

December Challenge: Day 6 - Frazzled But Full of Cheer

Sorry this is coming out so late. A tangle with my printer lasted several rounds and the printer won. 😝 

That said, first up...did you figure out the anagram greeting? Wishing everyone a holiday of happiness and plenty of family memories. Maybe you'll try creating a few of your own. Or rise to the challenge of going "Bach" and compose a music cryptogram! Enjoy πŸ™„.

Speaking of frustrated and frenzied, this time of year lays it on heavy. And that's when despite the holiday challenges your life is doing it's usual thing, normal routines. But life's not fair and most people have some kind of trouble or baggage they carry around. Remember that. When someone at the store snaps at you, think about why, what kind of baggage that person carries. We all get so wrapped up and focused on our own lives, we forget or ignore what's around us. A kind word, a smile, a selfless gesture, it's a gift that costs nothing but a little effort. Fill Christmas cheer with those gifts.

People I hold dear are suffering. Old and frail, scared of the changes in their lives, trying to hold onto what's familiar, and all while keeping their dignity. We make every effort to help and guide them. It's hard to remain constant and strong, but we do it out of respect and love. 

The smallest kind gesture you give to others lifts them little by little. It's the decency in all of us that should come out, not just at Christmas, but everyday and in every opportunity. Remember that, too.

God bless, and have a wonderful evening.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

December Challenge: Day 5 - Mixed Messages That Turn Out Fine

I love writing exercises, especially super challenging ones. Now, before you decide this will be blah, boring stuff, hold up! It's gonna be interactive and fun. Why? Well, what if an exercise turns out to be cipher and its meaning reveals something awesome? Like hidden treasure or a plan for a covert mission. Think Three Days of the Condor. (Don't know the movie? You should watch it. Seriously should.)

I used coding in one of my novels. Interesting fact: classical musicians often hid their names in music compositions with note placement on the staff representing corresponding letters. Kind of neat, right? One of the most popular music cryptograms was created by Bach, aptly named B-A-C-H motif. 

But I'm not going to draw a staff and play with notes. Sorry. How about anagrams? You know, taking a word and rearranging the letters to form a new word or phrase, but only using each letter once. For instance the word anagram could become nag a ram. Crazy and total nonsense, but a neat way to disguise what you're meaning. 

So. Let's try this. See if you can figure out my message. And good luck! (Give me a moment... *flexing fingers and brain muscle*. I'll make it easier with one word of the original message on each line. 

Whigs in
yon reeve
daily oh
shape pins
ply ten
fly aim
rose mime.

Too hard? Here's a secret... use this link to decipher anagrams: Anagram Solver

Then try this one to make your own! Anagram Creator

*Check back tomorrow for the answer 😊

Enjoy your evening and here's to mixed messages!

Monday, December 4, 2017

December Challenge: Day 4 - Taking Inventory is Crazy Stuff

Closer to the end of the year is when folks tend to reflect and take inventory of what they've done and have accomplished these past twelve months so they can figure out New Year's resolutions --which are way too hard to keep!. My idea will get a bit quirky at times, absolutely not your average assessment, because I throw all sorts of items into the mix and see what comes out! I have no shame or apologies to give for the following ... 😁

In this past year...
  • I've written two manuscripts, both mysteries, with a total of 130k plus words. Phew!
  • I've written a dozen blog posts--definitely catching up this month with my December challenge.
  • I've participated in one blog tour to promote my final book in the Lilly M Series -- A Bride, a Groom, and Happily Never After.
  • I've queried my Con Series manuscript,  Don't Judge a Con by Her Cover to --dare I say it?-- almost 100 agents. Confession: I've sent them in a frenzied flurry rather than pacing them. *sigh*
  • I've submitted my manuscript Grave Maker Blues to several small, independent publishers (I'd estimate a dozen.)
  • I've submitted my contemporary romance manuscript to a few publishers. (I'd say 5.) 
  • I've attended brainstorm days with my local author's group once a month, minus a couple when I had to, HAD TO miss for personal reasons. Much fun, very productive. 
  • I've attended ZERO local Sisters in Crime meetings this year! Gotta work on that. 
  • Attended a really fun and informative workshop/conference for authors on editing sponsered by RWA. Those ladies know how to rock!
  • I've spent an average of three hours a day on social media, which adds up to *GASP!* 1,095 hours for the year!!! Definitely need to work on that!
(Here comes the quirky and not at all useful but possibly interesting to some! 🀣🀣🀣 )

  • I've eaten pizza, lots of pizza! We'll say once a week which means 52 times. Yum!
  • Coffee? Probably 730+ cups total, which means using 50 small cartons of creamer. Yes, I cannot, can not drink it black.
  • Washed an average of 2000 dishes by hand, (using my dishwasher maybe once/week cuts down the number. AND this doesn't count utensils, pans, etc.)
  • Cooking meals? Yeah, I'm not a fan. I try to cook enough of each dish so there are leftovers, and hubby often fixes meals on the weekends. So, let's say, hmm, between 150 and 200 dinners. Not bad.
  • Eating out? Huh? What's that?!! 😜 Seriously, I'd say maybe a grand total of 10 times with hubby this year. Then I do meet with a book club once a month, of course at a restaurant! Add another dozen. So, total of 22 this year. 
  • TV watching? Oh, boy. I'm about to reach the tsunami of numbers! Let's see... have to add up the programs on network television, others on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Ah... okay, for real? A grand total of 1352 hours. Geesh. Oh, yeah. Better add in one to two hours in the morning of news five days a week = 500+ hours. Total = 1852 hours
  • Books read? I'll say 20 maybe. Blame it on the TV programs for it not being more! 😍
  • Sleep? 2920 hours... approximately. This includes naps, oh yes, gotta have those! And with only 7 hours of sleep at night, which I can't swear are quality hours!
  • Trips to the grocery store = I'll say 70? Once a week plus several one-item trips. 
  • Times I swear?  No way could I say for certain. I'll guess ... maybe 120? Yeah, I'm a saintly soul. HAHA!
  • Trips outside of Ohio? Only once this year, though it's usually three. Lots of family stuff kept us home. πŸ‘ΆπŸ’˜
  • Trips to the doctor? Twice.  To the dentist? Twice. 
  • Exercising? Ahhhhh. Okay, I walk the dog most days when weather permits. That's about a quarter mile. Let's say I go maybe 4 days a week, (being generous) that comes to 52 miles for the year. Sounds so much better totaled up that way! 
  • Housework? Pa-leese. *snort*
  • Online shopping for Christmas gifts? Waaay too much time, but oh so satisfying on Christmas day! Especially since we have our first grandbaby to join us this year! Love you, Henry! πŸ’•
  • Time spent writing this post? 44 minutes. 😀 Guess I'm out of here. Got more TV to watch and shopping to do!

Enjoy your evening! And happy holidays! 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

December Challenge: Day 3 - Keeping the Rhythm

Christmas shopping for my grandbaby, Henry, has me remembering all the children's books I enjoyed reading to my kids. Then I started thinking about all those stories with clever rhymes. One of my favorite authors is Dr. Seuss. The wonderful Cat in the Hat! And that got me thinking about what I learned a long time ago, how the rhythm of words is a part of one's style.

Of course, it goes way beyond the written word. In fact, when you think about it, rhythm is everywhere. It's the slow beat of waiting anxiously. Building faster when time flies or you're bursting with excitement. It's syncopation, the melding of emotions like sad to happy to angry and back to happy. I like that. Who wants to be the redundant hum drum, the same, lame dame? And I feel that way about writing, too. Guess that's why I'm in the mood for some crazy rhythm and rhyme, slow, fast, whatever I can make it. Hmm, now, let's see ...

Snow blankets, chilly days
Give me time
To write this rhyme,
Line after line.
Isn't it fine?
I hear the sounds of each syllable,
The beat,
So neat.
It's a real treat
To share the moment
I want you to--Say!
Did you hear it?
Did you tap to the rhythm and rhyme?
Keep time?
Each line?

I'd give you more,
More beats and rhyme,
If you ask, to
Complete the task.
But there's much to be done.
I have to run.
I'm busy,
So busy,
It's made me dizzy
How busy I am!

I'll end this
In total bliss
To say season's greetings.
I enjoy such meetings
With you
I truly do.
But join me again,
Another day
I'll have more to say.
So for now...
No more time to rhyme.
Good day!

Enjoy your Sunday! Until tomorrow...

Saturday, December 2, 2017

December Challenge: Day 2 - A Day in the Life

You might call this entry a cheater. Way too easy! But it proves one thing...I need to time-manage my life better to accomplish more!

7:30 am: Rise and shine! Get dressed and drive to daughter's to feed and let the dog out. (They're on vacation.)

7:50 am: Stop at McDonald's for two coffees to go.

8:00 am: Home, eat breakfast, watch the news (heartbreaking stuff... Tax bill passed, which is the biggie. Mike Flynn, shame on you. Wonder who goes next?); drink second cup of coffee, turn tv off (disgusting, depressing, don't need it)

8:45 am: Take Max for a walk. Nice sunny day, a bit chilly but tolerable.

9:15 am: Shoot off email to Senior Living coordinator, asking more questions. Time is getting closer for in-laws.

9:15 am: Check my emails and surf the net -- no news from the agent or publishing world. *sigh* Not that I was expecting it. Holidays are for everyone to take a break. 😊

10:00 am: More coffee and time for edits and revisions on my current masterpiece, or what could be, after all those revisions.

Noonish: I'm cross-eyed and irritated and maybe a bit edgy (Put down the coffee, woman!) Open packages delivered...lots of Christmas gifts = $$$ Oh, my charge account is ready to explode!)

1:00 pm: More edits...that won't last long. I'm frazzled and fried in no more than 30 minutes!

1:30 pm: Max is whining. Time for another walk.

2:00 pm: Oh joy. Another delivery. The Roku equipment. Must hook up for hubby. Drat! I have to enter user names and passwords for every app again?! Amazon. Netflix. Spectrum. Grrrrr.

2:30 pm: Tada! Mission accomplished, but my hands are shaking and eyes crossed again from punching in all those letters and numbers...up, down, across, repeat. Time for a quick snooze.

4:00 pm: (Nooooo. The snooze didn't last THAT long. I just can't remember what I did was it 3 to 4?) Time to order pizza. Go get pizza. Eat pizza. Watch TV while eating pizza.

5:00 pm: Read a bit... literary women's fiction titled HALSEY STREET. I must say it's not bad. I may finish this one.

5:30 pm: Stare defiantly at my WIP. Nope. No more edits. Not today. Promise. Check email. Answer from Senior Living Coordinator gives me hope this plan may actually work!

6:00 pm: Last walk of the day, Max. I mean it! He agrees. Makes it short and conks out when we get home. Haha.

6:30 pm: Time to drive to daughter's and let out the dog. And feed her. (They won't be home until tomorrow.)

7:00 pm: Stop for gas. Go home. Stay home. Pleeeease. Watch a holiday movie or two, maybe a glass of Christmas ale to go along with the festive mood. Ooo! ELF is playing! One of my favorites! "Santa's coming! I know him!"

Yeah, it's a rough life. Lol. 😁

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, December 1, 2017

December Challenge: Day 1 - Ghost of Christmas Past

It's common during the holidays to recall memories of the past. Both happy ones and sad. It's true.  But we try to keep the happy ones close, the ones that give us pleasure and hopes for Christmases to come. We may dig through photos, watch family videos, or share stories during family gatherings. So, today I'm sharing one of those.

It was 1955 or maybe '56. I have a photo. A young girl of four or five leaning forward, hugging her rocking horse with eyes closed. She'd fallen asleep, refusing to end the magic of Christmas Eve and this special ride, even though her parents had tried to coax her to bed. The horse would be here in the morning, waiting for her, they reasoned. The girl, her eyes wide and wet with tears, cried. So, they left her to rock on that horse until she fell asleep, then carried her off to bed.

This was such a long time ago, and my memory has faded like many have. Yet I wonder what had been in that young girl's mind. Was it just the ride that gave her joy? Or was there more? The magic of Christmas still lived in her heart. Santa on his sleigh, delivering presents to girls and boys; a plate of cookies and milk left to say thank you, which she found empty next morning; the tree smelling of pine with its twinkling lights and sparkling with tinsel sitting near the window; the joyful sound of caroles; warm cookies out of the oven lathered with icing and covered with green and red sprinkles; smiles and laughter of family and friends gathering to celebrate... All those and more. Did she think of those things while she rocked on her horse? Was it part of the magic? I'd like to believe she thought this. I'd like to believe magic lives inside all children. And maybe, just maybe it can live inside everyone, young and old.

Here's to the joy! Until tomorrow...

Thursday, November 30, 2017

December Challenge

Hi to all, and wishing you the happiest of holidays! 

Taking the advice of a super agent lady, I'm rising to the challenge. Write each day in the month of December. A few words or hundreds, it doesn't matter. Those words don't even need to connect day to day. Just write. 

My challenge will be a pot pouri of various thoughts. Some personal, others may be creative. 

Today I'll start with a poem about the upcoming holiday. Not sure how this will come off, but here goes... (And yes, I'm getting a head start. We'll call it a test drive. 😊)

The holidays are seldom empty or easy.
They go by in a blur, in a tumble of tasks,
To shop, to decorate, to bake can be pleasing.
To have time for them all is what I ask.
It's stressful and comforting, a paradox of sorts.
A love-hate relationship I'll never abort.
So, what do I hope for, one wish I'd send?
To bless me and my loved ones, both family and friends,
With a holiday of peace and good will that never ends.

Until tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Back on Track

It's fall and, well, it's FALL! How did the summer flash by and I didn't notice? Busy life. Busy writing, busy with personal stuff. Busy. Not an excuse. Just an explanation. So, what do I post today? 

I've been struggling a bit with my current WIP. Or maybe it's me struggling with my writing overall. My motivation has suffered. I can guess why. I've always been the singular-focused kind of person. I spend twenty-four seven on one goal. All others end up with my leftovers, which isn't much. And for the past four months the goal has been to get my work published. I have queries and submissions going out in every direction to agents and publishers. It's grueling, disheartening, discouraging, but I'm always ending with a "let's stop whining and send out some more emails!" It's the kind of attitude which throws you into a revolving door situation, but it really helps. You don't quit.

Now back to that WIP. I think I've found something to keep me on track. It's called Pacemaker. No pun intended, although I would say the program has been able to "jump start" and revive my pulse to write on a regular basis. Pacemaker is a free word count tracker/planner. You set the word count goal and your target date to finish your project. And zap! You're good to go. 

Each day, I have a word count to complete and each day I record whatever gets done. And each day I hope to meet that goal. The planner will adjust accordingly for the remaining days' word count. If anything, it's put me back on a schedule. I'm writing steadily instead of once or twice a week at best. With any luck, I'll have my WIP baby finished by November.

I know this post is short, but I'm itching to get back to writing and meet my word count! Go Pacemaker! Here's the link...


Try it out!

Happy reading and writing, all :-)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Who Reads What? Some Interesting Stats

Being that author person, the one who always wants to know what's on the other side of my mirror or window or door (choose whichever metaphor you like), I seek out articles on readership, who's looking at what. Does anybody actually read anymore? This question posed by someone who obviously doesn't. *sigh* Yes, it is sad. I feel badly for those who think that way, for all they are missing...but let's move on. The Article. I stumbled upon one published a couple years ago, (see link below) that focused on Nielsen ratings regarding mystery/crime readers. That is my niche, so if you aren't into reading mystery, don't write mystery, you may want to move along. :-) 

Nielsen colleagues dove into the task to gather stats, asking questions... How do you acquire your reading material? What type of mysteries do you prefer? Where do you discover new authors? Interesting results given in a beautifully illustrative graph (again, see link below) show a couple of important facts--at least for me as an author of mystery. One, over 60 percent of readers are ages 45 and up with 28 percent being 65 and older. Makes me think about my story details like how old should my characters be? Does it make a difference if I use modern slang or references to modern culture that the older crowd may not understand? I'm thinking not. After all, I'm of a certain age, and those things don't bother me. Another fact finding detail: 70 percent of those readers polled were female. 

Here's the real gut-puncher, though: many frequent readers aren't buying books. They get them free. Probably waiting for those deals on Amazon or participating in book swaps where you trade in your book and get another in return. Oh, and of course, let's not forget libraries. I'll admit, I get the budget urge to find bargains, freebies, and such. Confession: I don't use the library as much as I used to because I can't seem to finish a book in time before I have to return it, or I'm on a long, infinitely long waiting list. Also, it didn't surprise me to find that 69 percent of heavy buyers are expert readers. Reading does that to a person. Frequent reading = expert reader. 

The concern stated by the author of the article is that if the mystery audience is the older crowd, what happens when they, well, are gone? As he puts it, the genre will need some new victims. Yes, I can see that. However, what's to say that the younger crowd, when older, won't turn to mystery? I've certainly gone through my stages. For ten years or more, it was horror/suspense with King, Koontz, and Saul at the top of my list. When I was in my early twenties, it was romantic suspense with such classic greats as Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt. Yeah, I was certainly a romantic. Then, for the past twenty years I've pretty much stuck to mysteries of all sorts -- gritty crime, psychological thrillers, legal thrillers and of course, cozies for my "be amused and laugh and get all warm and fuzzy" moods. Authors like Patterson, Cornwell, Johansen, and Brown on the more serious side. Evanovich and Joanne Fluke, to name a couple, on the lighter side. 

So, what's an author to do if he/she wants to grow a younger audience? One suggestion is Wattpad. Yes, I said Wattpad. Authors like the one mentioned in this article ( Elizabeth Spann Craig) tried it out and gained lots of readers. Caution: readers, not necessarily buyers. It's an interesting social media forum where you can upload chapters of your work and readers will flock and send you all kinds of nice comments, questions, etc. With luck, the trolls will stay far away. Below, I've placed another link to tips on using Wattpad, for those who'd care to check it out. 

As for me, I'll trudge along, cranking out story ideas, writing those mysteries, hoping people will notice, enjoy, and read more. As you might know, often, it's not how great your book is. It's getting noticed. If you're not, then who will ever discover how fantastic a writer you are? (Says any author who doesn't find their work rise in the Amazon rankings!) 

Cheers all. Happy reading and writing!

Who is Reading Mysteries?

Learning about Wattpad

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Stuck in Limbo and All Those Other Uncomfortable In-between Moments

Stuck in the middle, hanging by a thread, twiddling your thumbs, caught in limbo... all these expressions and many more describe those moments in everyday life where you WISH you were moving BUT you're really sinking in quicksand, treading water ... okay, I'll stop with the metaphorical phrases. And it doesn't matter what it is you're trying to accomplish, you will find yourself in those in-between moments where nothing seems to be going anywhere. It's a struggle, and it's a gift to figure out what keeps you in that place and how to get out of it. Some people use mind over matter. You think positive and then you move forward, or at least in some direction other than standing still. Make sense? Okay, let's try it in reverse. Matter over mind. You see that obstacle in front of you, the one keeping your feet planted, growing roots ... sorry, at it again ... that obstacle, the one that won't budge? Well, back up, find some other "matter" to work with, i.e. another item on your to-do list, another goal you have in mind, and tackle that. Maybe your obstinate stinker pushing your buttons will give up and fly away. OR maybe you will come up with another solution later on to tackle your stubborn buddy. Never know.

Of course, there are plenty of situations where you have no control, someone else is in the driver's seat and you must be patient and wait. I got that. You all see that. Doesn't make it any easier being in limbo, but at least you know it's not your move. Ball is in their court. Wait for it. Keep busy doing something else. (How many times have you heard that one?!) Sure, you'll want to move on to the next step, the step somebody else needs to take care of, and there's nothing you can do to change the process. So, you wait for it. What's that other saying? Patience is a virtue? Says the person who had all the patience of a hundred people, I'd imagine.

Now, I get to the tie in... writing. It's a process. A very, very long process. You write. You finish a book. You query said book. You wait. And maybe wait some more. A process. And all the editors, publishers, and agents know this, too. Here's another tip--overused, overcooked, but totally true: get busy doing something else! Write another book. Plant a garden. Build a tree house. Do something! After all, a watched pot never boils. Okay, okay, I'm done. No more adages. Just saying good luck to you all, whatever your goals may be. Cheers!

Here's a post with a few more tips on how to cope with the query waiting game:
Tips for Query Waiting