Short But Sweet

I hope everyone is enjoying the warm weather. This month my blog is going to be like a Minnesota summer—short but sweet. I am very busy putting the final touches on my book "Ryley." It's a Christmas book that will be out in October/November of this year. No, this isn't a typo. I'm finally going to get a book out there and I'm thrilled about it. Yes!! I believe it's a fun, fast read and I loved writing it. Here is a little more about Ryley: Executive, Ryley Sanders, is headed to the top of the advertising world. Her eye is on the executive director’s position at work and nothing is going to stand in the way of her goal. She's the golden girl of the agency and usually heads up projects solo, so when her boss hires hunky executive, Matt Kantor, to co-head with her on a major campaign, it puts a hindrance in her plans. She isn't thrilled about sharing the limelight with the new guy, especially when she wants to shine alone in the eyes of upper management. To top things off Matt has his own ideas that her boss agrees with. Will Ryley learn to work with Matt, and can they keep it strictly professional? I'm still hard at work on my trilogy and plan to publish it when I feel it's ready. Until then, I'm learning and growing with each step of this journey into the writing world. I feel if I'm pushing forward, I'm headed in the right direction. I plan to post updates on Ryley in my future blogs. This is all for now, I'm off to the woods to pick blueberries. I use a small bench to sit on while I pick because the plants are short, but the berries are deliciously sweet. I'm enjoying everything possible the summer has to offer and I hope you are too!  

The Glass: Half Full / Half Empty or Flavorless?

Someone told me summer is half over by the fourth of July. I frantically looked into how long summer is and found it runs from June 21st to September 23rd. That would make the middle of summer around August 7th. My discovery made me realize there's plenty of time to enjoy what summer has to offer. The whole half over theory got me thinking about the attitude of people when they reach age fifty. Many believe life is more than half over and technically they're right, but I think it's the flavoring we add to the remaining contents in the glass that makes the difference. If we are negative and are afraid to do anything fun, our life can get sour. If we don't forgive and hold grudges our lives will become bitter very quickly. Doing the same old thing all the time can make things bland and we all know variety is the spice of life. If we are melodramatic and tend to over react to everything that happens around us, we become salty to the rest of the world. I do believe being sweet is generally a good thing, but sometimes it isn't because there will always be people who will try to take advantage of our good nature. So what's the best all around flavor in the glass of life? Perhaps finding a delightful mixture of ingredients like: Positivity, forgiveness, diversification, calmness and kindness. Once you've added them all to your glass, don't forget to do the most important part—carefully blend them together with the spoon of love. Your glass will always be full no matter how long you live. Cheers!

A Sense of Accomplishment

I don't know of anyone that doesn't like feeling a sense of accomplishment once in a while. It doesn't matter if it's a simple thing like finishing a puzzle, or as complicated as building a house. There's a certain amount of satisfaction in achieving whatever it is you set out to do. For those who are truly passionate about a project it goes beyond getting it to completion. It becomes a part of them. A reflection of who they are to themselves and to the rest of the world. I remember my father would sit outside on a lawn chair for hours after he weeded his garden and marvel over his efforts. Whenever company arrived, a tour of his garden was always part of the visit. My grandmother also had a small vegetable garden, but her pride came from the rows of colorful gladiolus she grew. She displayed the bright flowers in several vases throughout her quaint, little house for everyone to see. When someone would make a remark about the flowers, it was easy to see the gratification in her eyes. Many of us love to sit back with a beer/wine or a glass of ice tea and look out at our freshly cut, weed trimmed lawns.The feeling of accomplishment likely makes that beverage in our hand taste a little better. Over the winter I had an opportunity to write a book for a Christmas series with a group of friends. Each one of us are writing our own book and I recently finished the first draft of my book titled "Ryley." The series will be out sometime this fall. I've enjoyed writing the book and believe the whole process will teach me more about marketing my trilogy. This experience has also given me a sense of accomplishment knowing I'm a big step closer to becoming a published author. I'm very excited and I promise to keep everyone posted on more details as they unfold.

Just Breathe

When we think about the spring/summer season what usually comes to mind is  being outside. We envision a blissful time to soak up the sun while enjoying leisurely walks, boating, gardening, or maybe just sitting on the porch with a glass of ice tea. Unfortunately, as the calendar fills up with graduation parties, wedding showers, weddings, anniversaries, reunions and birthday parties, we discover the lazy days of summer are only a myth. Don't get me wrong. I love to to get together with people I care about, but I can't help thinking the whole thing seems a little unfair. There's a small window of nice weather in Minnesota and those who are working get only the weekends or a couple of days off during the week to enjoy it. And most of their precious off time is spent doing chores or running errands. They look forward to the weekends only to find them booked up with social engagements instead of hobbies they're passionate about. In the summer I often find myself going to multiple events on the same day. I fail to enjoy most of them because I'm on the run to make it to the next party. It seems we are so afraid to let anyone down that in the end we let ourselves down. The whole idea of attending everything can be impossible and not to mention exhausting. You can't blame people for scheduling events when it's nice outside but wouldn't it be great to enjoy some of the season doing whatever you want?  A little free time to feel the sun on our backs while we sit still and let our minds wander. Over the winter my husband made a hammock and I can't wait to hang it in the yard. I want to lay down in the breeze and look up at the moving clouds through the trees and think about nothing while I bask in the gloriousness of the spring/summer day. I know the song by Anna Nalick 'Just Breathe' has been around for a while but it has a great message. If you get a chance to view the video here it is:  https://youtu.be/FcvXr-9XtgA   I hope everyone has some time for themselves this spring/summer to do whatever it is that makes them happy. And while you're doing it, take a moment to just breathe.

Lighten Up and Laugh

The sun played hide and seek (mostly hide) for most of last fall, making it one of the darkest autumns I can remember. I read some where that during months with less sun shine people have reported more hair loss than usual. It seems to me, if the hair loss theory were true, all of us would have gotten wigs for Christmas last year. Our gloomy fall was then followed by a dreary winter with record breaking snow depths and cold temperatures. Okay, we don't need to be reminded how bad the weather has been for the last six months. We are more than ready to put all that behind us and move forward. But moving forward has launched us into a transition phase. The  time of the year when signs of spring appear but the weather is still uncooperative. It seems we're in limbo and nice weather is close and yet so far away. We've managed to keep a good attitude the last six months because we're Minnesotans but really, how much more can we take? The question is: How do you keep a good attitude through this whole thing? How about laughing? A heard about a study that connects the ability to laugh at ourselves to higher levels of optimism, better moods and happiness overall. I learned that laughter can relieve stress and tension. Hearty laughter helps our bodies relax up to forty-five minutes after. Laughter is good for your heart because it expands the inner lining of your blood vessels and increases blood flow. It also can temporarily relieve physical pain and burn calories. Ten or fifteen minutes of laughter a day can help you lose three to four pounds in a year. A laughter study in Norway claims that people with a good sense of humor lived longer than people who didn't laugh as often. So after you're done pushing around mountains of snow and slush. Go inside and have a hot chocolate (or a glass of wine if need be) and watch a comedy flick or listen to a good stand-up comedian. Do what ever it takes to laugh at yourself and lighten up. Remember, life is short and laughter is what makes the world go around—so don't let it stop spinning.

Romance Before Hallmark

It's estimated that 145-150 million greeting cards are sold on Valentines Day each year. It's second to the biggest greeting card exchange day—Christmas. If each card averages around seven dollars that's—1.05 billion dollars—Wow! That's a lot of money. I would think those statics aren't just for one single company. In any case, it's America and everyone has the right to prosper. It makes me wonder what people did before Hallmark. I know some made homemade Valentines. They got out the construction paper, scissors, and glue. I would think putting the card together would be the easy part. But how strange it must have been for them to actually think about their feelings and write them down. It's likely the verses in the cards wouldn't have been as long, but more heartfelt. Short and sweet and to the point. The whole card would have meant so much more to the recipient. Especially the words, originally composed for them by their own true love. Not someone else's declaration of love. Nowadays, many people would say they're not poets and aren't capable of writing love verses, and most wouldn't take the time. I would tell them to write what's in their heart. How long would that take? And how romantic it would be for them to try? Put it this way, if my husband made me a card and wrote the verses, it would be framed on my wall. Oh well, any card I receive that brings me to tears has accomplished something special. Happy Valentines Day.

Making Resolutions or Changes?

Like every year, some of my friends and family members have told me about their New Year's resolutions. I know that learning and implementing a different behavior is always a battle and I'm impressed by their good intentions. But I wonder, Why not make the changes instead of just working on them? Tell yourself, This is what I want, and go for it. This year I've decided to make changes instead of resolutions. Last fall, I attended a workshop and was told the title of my book didn't reflect a romance novel. I also learned that most editors and agents in the current market are more interested in a trilogy than most individual books. Soon after the workshop, I attended a retreat and was basically told the same thing: The title of my book should be easily recognized as a romance and trilogies are selling. Luckily, a few years ago I interviewed a group of farmers in the Montevideo area and learned enough information to write a three book series. Things about their history and the struggles they endured in the early to mid-seventies. And of course, a good romance always adds something special to the mix, making it all the more heartfelt. I mulled for weeks on what would be the best title for my novel. It had to be something that reflected who and what my book was about. And that answer is—sugar beet farmers. So, I've decided to change the title of my book to "Heartbeat of Desire." I'm now editing my second book called "Revenge in a Heartbeat." The third book which I'm still outlining is going to be called "Only a Heartbeat Away." The series title will be "The Heartbeat Series." I recently entered Romance Writers of America's largest contest for unpublished writers—The Golden Heart Contest. This is the last year for the prestigious contest, and it's the biggy for someone who hasn't yet published. Just qualifying in the contest could be the key to a good promotion for my series. The nominees are announced on March twenty-first of this year. The winners are then announced at RWA's convention in New York City in July. After that time, anyone who entered the contest can get the results of their scores. I'm hopeful this year knowing last year I had some good scores. I did some editing since, and as you know, placed second in the modern history category of the RTTA (Romance Through The Ages) Contest. The rest of this winter I'm planning on finishing the second and the third book as well as getting organized to Indie-publish this spring or early summer. I'm still on my journey and there is so many trails to explore. I wish everyone good luck this year on achieving whatever it is that fills them with the heartbeat of desire. Happy trails to you!  

Christmas: Keeping it Magical

It can't believe it's Christmas time again. I'm not ready. Maybe I've been procrastinating because I generally dread all the hoop-la involved. Don't get me wrong, the best news in this world is the birth of our Savior, but almost everyone agrees the commercialization of the holiday is the worst. Each time I tug the newspaper out of the mailbox and a  stack of heavy ads fall onto the ground, I find it irritating. Or when we put on the television or radio and we're bombarded with a parade of annoying and repetitious commercials. If I had a dollar for every must have or die, electronics commercial I've seen, I'd be a millionaire. And don't forget about that person who finds a new car with a giant bow on it in their driveway. We don't know if the couple later argued about the payments, but we do know for sure, it got everyone in the neighborhood talking.

I do love Christmas and believe in giving gifts and don't want to be labeled Grinch or Scrooge. So I asked myself what was it about Christmas that made it so magical when I was a child? So, I decided to compose a list with a few of those things. 

The smell of: The Christmas tree, cookies baking, oyster stew on Christmas Eve, the house when the family gathered for Christmas dinner, a new doll, cakes baking in an Easy Bake oven, and of course Christmas candy and chocolate. 

The feel of: Tearing wrapping paper, the velvet on a Christmas dress, a hug from Grandma.

The sight of: The Christmas tree before and after Santa came, colored lights reflecting on the snow, relatives you hadn't seen for a while, the anticipation in the faces of my brothers and sisters, cookie crumbs left from Santa on a plate. 

The sound of: The squeal of excitement, caroling, Christmas Eve mass, singing "Silent Night" and thinking about the quiet, wondrous night a bright star lit the sky above Bethlehem and someone was born who changed us all. 

There are so many things that fill your senses and make Christmas a glorious time. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, make a list. I hope you can feel some Christmas magic all over again. Merry Christmas to everyone!

 

 

 

 

A Tribute to Bucket Head

I've decided to embrace the new season by refusing to let cold weather bring me down, especially today. It has been ten years since our son passed away and there hasn't been a day we don't think about him. Throughout his life time, we had some tough times but many good ones as well. I had to laugh when I found this picture while digging through some old photos. Both of our children loved to dress up in old clothes and play for hours. Our son would often put a pail on his head and pretend he was a super hero named "Bucket Head." Bucket Head protected the neighborhood and his family, especially his sister and the cats around the farm. He would fly into outer space and nothing, not bullets or laughter about the bucket on his head, could hurt him. Every Bucket Head adventure always ended with a happy ending and a hug. Now, as I look at the picture, I wish I could be more like him. He loved the world and wanted it to be a safe place, and didn't care what other people thought he should do. In his own words, he wanted everyone to be happy no matter what. I guess that's how he believed every episode in this world should end. We will always love and remember our brave hero who fought against some of life's greatest challenges and conquered them in his own way. Long live the memory of Bucket Head!

Three Red Drops

Halloween is around the corner and I've got a spooky tale to tell. A few weeks ago two close friends of mine, Phoebe and Dan, let me in on a recent experience of theirs and the story made a chill run down my spine. They booked a dinner cruise aboard a river boat based in a popular southern Minnesota town. To extend their get away, they decided to stay in town for two nights at a bed and breakfast not too far from downtown. The B&B was an elaborate, well preserved mansion built in 1884. It had a three stories and each room was named after a famous author. They arrived on Wednesday afternoon and checked into the Lewis Carroll bedchamber on the third floor. Carroll was the author of "Alice in Wonderland" which was written in1865. Phoebe and Dan went out and did some shopping then returned to the B&B after dinner. The weather was a little unstable with rumbling thunder and occasional flashes of lightning and they decided to stay in for the evening. They toured the historic mansion and soon discovered they were the only guests in the whole inn. Calling it a night, they climbed the stairs to the third floor and once there, watched the sheer curtains in the hallway gently blow away from the tall windows. Both Phoebe and Dan giggled on the way to their room and commented that it looked like a scene from a horror movie. Moments after they turned out the lights, Phoebe got up to go the bathroom and Dan rolled over with closed eyes but was still awake. He felt a wave of cool air pass over him and opened his eyes. A woman stood by the door and Dan assumed it was Phoebe.  "Where are you going?" he asked. "Are you going downstairs for some water?" When the woman turned, he could hear that she was crying and knew it wasn't his wife. Her hair was pulled back and up and she wore what Dan called "a long, old fashioned dress." She stared at him and sobbed,"He wouldn't even kiss me." Dan blinked a few times and the woman disappeared. Phoebe asked Dan who he was talking to when she returned from the bathroom and he told her what had happened. My friends aren't not the superstitious types and they blew it off as some kind of crazy nightmare. The next morning they went downstairs for breakfast and didn't lock the door of their room knowing they were the only ones there. The two staff members were busy downstairs making breakfast and Phoebe informed them they didn't have to make their bed but they would like more towels. When they returned to their room, they found the door was locked. This struck them as strange knowing the staff was busy downstairs and the door had to be locked with a key that was in Phoebe's pocket. Again, they shrugged it off and went to town and did a little site seeing. They returned early in the day to freshen up for the dinner cruise.The inn keeper apologized that no one had been to the third floor yet but she would get them cleaned towels right away. Phoebe pulled up the bedspread before the inn keeper got to the room and three, red, glass beads shaped like drops flew onto the floor. They looked like something used in flower arrangements or for decoration. It was strange because no one had been up to the third floor and had the beads been on the bed all night they would've surely landed on the floor earlier. On Friday morning when they were ready to leave Phoebe asked Dan if they should take the glass beads with them. He wanted to forget the whole incident and told her absolutely not. She put the three drops on the mantel above the fireplace in the Lewis Carroll bed chamber and they left. Days later at home, Phoebe went to wash her glasses and was stunned to find one of the red glass beads inside the cleaning cloth in her purse. She was frightened and decided to leave the bead in the garage on the work bench instead of the house. For good measure before leaving the garage she stated,"Evil spirits go away" then bolted for the door. When she grabbed onto the door knob, somehow she cut her hand. This story is true and scary to me because the people involved are very credible. I don't know what the significance is with the three, red, glass drops but if anyone does please let me know. Happy Halloween to all!