Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Transfer Day, Taking Time Off, A Winner, and Being Thankful

March 31st marks the 100th anniversary of Transfer Day, the day when the Danish Virgin Islands became the United States Virgin Islands. This rare film from 1917 show the ceremonies.

I've thought long and hard about it... And here's how it's gonna be.

For the first time since it's inception by Arlee Bird, I will not be participating the the A to Z Challenge.

There are several reasons.
1. I'm trying to work on revisions for A PIECE OF THE SKY and it's taking longer than I thought it would. (There's some laziness and lack motivation involved but I'm determined.)
2. I couldn't come up with a theme.
3. I just can't seem to motivate myself to do it, plus do justice to all the participants and go around an visit everyone.
4. I feel like I'm loosing steam and inspiration. I'll be taking time off in July/August, too, but for other reasons. Maybe these breaks will be good for me.

So, I won't be around again until May 1st. While you wait eagerly for my return, you'll find me lurking around Facebook and Goodreads.

To everyone who is participating in the Challenge, have fun!
A Winner! 
As a Featured Follower on C. Lee McKenzie's blog The Write Game,  one lucky person has won an ecopy of one of my books. Click on over and see who it is! Thank you, Lee, for sharing your space and time with me.
Being Thankful
Today and everyday, I'm thankful to wake up each morning next to my Sweetie and fall asleep by his side.
What are you thankful for? Ever been to a 100th anniversary celebration for something? Are you participating in the Challenge? (Will you miss me while I'm away? Will you come back to visit when I return?)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Karen Walker, Still Me After All These Years

Please welcome Karen Walker and her latest contribution to the world of reading. This anthology is special in that it deals with the reality of aging.

STILL ME … AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: 24 Authors Reflect on Aging by Karen Helene Walker through MC Book Tours.

This is a charming, funny, and enlightening collection of essays about aging. In addition, Karen is offering a tour-wide giveaway featuring two (2) print copies (U.S. entries only) of STILL ME and two (2) eBook copies of STILL ME (International entries). See how you can enter to win below.

Poignant...Humorous...Brutally Honest!

A collection of personal reflections guaranteed to keep you inspired and entertained on that journey we all travel together: The Journey of Aging.

With a blend of grace, dignity, warmth and humor, women and men from 60 to 90 and from all walks of life candidly share the blessings and pitfalls of aging – from keeping dreams alive and keeping sex lives active to dealing with retirement, loss of independence and a growing sense of mortality.

STILL ME is available at the following sites: Amazon (print and Kindle), Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iTunes. Be sure to add it to your shelf on Goodreads.

Here are bios about each of the contributor's!

Rev. Clara Alexander is an ordained New Thought minister who creates and performs sacred ceremonies, including unique weddings, funerals, memorial services, baby blessings and house blessings. She is also a popular speaker, inspiring groups with her talks on how we cling to our grudges, how we overuse the phrase “I’m sorry” and how we can live the life we love.
Wendy Brown recently retired from a career in wildlife biology, where she studied sandhill cranes and whooping cranes as they migrated from Idaho to New Mexico. Wendy eventually found a permanent home in Albuquerque, where she and her husband enjoy the sounds of sandhill cranes from their deck. Since retiring from state government in 2014. 
Valerie Capps has bypassed the porch rocking chair to pursue her life-long passion for writing, thereby proving that in today’s world, life can begin again at 65! Valerie lives in Nashville with her husband and their spoiled-rotten Welsh Corgi.
Mary W. Clark retired from her law practice in 2007 and transferred her observation and composition skills to travel writing. She is currently working on a book about her father’s World War II experience flying “the Hump” from India to China over the Himalayas. Mary lives in Paris, Texas.
Fran Fischer: “I was born at a very young age and that happened 82 years ago, so I don’t remember much about it. I’ve crammed as much living into my life as possible, and I’m not through yet. I’ve traveled extensively and I even flew in the same zero-gravity plane that the astronauts trained in. I live in California with my first (and only) husband, and we celebrated our 62nd anniversary this year.”
Pat Garcia (Patricia Anne Pierce-Garcia Schaack) is an American expatriate living in Europe. An accomplished musician as well as a writer, she has been writing (and reading) since childhood.
Mark David Gerson is the author of more than a dozen books, including critically acclaimed titles for writers, award-winning fiction, and compelling memoirs. Known as “The Birthing Your Book Guru,” Mark David works with an international roster of clients as coach and consultant, helping them get their stories onto the page and into the world with ease.

An excerpt from Mark's contribution.
It’s Never Too Late to Follow Your Dreams
By Mark David Gerson

I turned sixty-two a few weeks ago, making me a few months older than my mother when she died and six years older than my father when he passed away. In less than two weeks, I will visit my urologist with the full expectation that he will order a prostate biopsy, my third biopsy in as many years. Given the post-election uncertainty that exists at this writing around Obamacare, which provided me with my first health insurance in nearly two decades, it is impossible to know what my options will be should the biopsy reveal a problem or, even if it doesn’t, whether it will be possible for that potential problem to be monitored in years to come.

I don’t share this here in order to paint a poor-me, doom-and-gloom scenario. I always do my best to remain positive in the face of life’s vicissitudes, and I am certain that things will work out for the best for me, whatever that turns out to mean. Rather, I share it because although I am not old by twenty-first-century standards, aging brings with it certain risks, whoever we are. Whoever we are, those same risks also offer opportunities. Perhaps one of the most powerful is the gift of focus.

When my mother was sixty-one, not long after she was diagnosed with cancer, she and I were sitting together on her living floor one evening, our only light the sickly sodium-vapor yellow filtering in through the venetian blinds from the street light outside. I had been over for my weekly dinner and Scrabble game and we were waiting for my stepfather to return from a class so he could drive me to the subway.
Holly Deuel Gilster plays “make believe” for a living. In other words, she is a professional actress and musician. Holly also loves painting with words as an accomplished poet, an award-winning short-story writer and a book reviewer for The Or Echo.
Aaron Gordon is a retired social sciences community college professor. He and his wife, Ellie, have been married for 65 years and have three children and grandchildren.
Ellie Gordon is a retired public school teacher who spent the best 20 years of her life in the classroom. A Chicago native, she now lives in New Mexico.
Karla “Rosie” Harper recently retired from teaching elementary school, freeing her to return to her early love of dancing. Today, when not helping out with her grandchildren, Rosie is taking dance lessons, spinning on a dance floor or performing in senior centers and retirement communities with Albuquerque’s Sugartime, as a singer as well as a dancer.
Linda Hoye is the author of Two Hearts: An Adoptee’s Journey Through Grief to Gratitude, available through major online retailers. A native of Saskatchewan, Linda currently lives in British Columbia (by way of Washington State) with her husband and doted-upon Yorkshire Terrier.
E.V. Legters hasn’t so much retired as she has exchanged one life for another — from rewarding years with career and children (while pursuing the arts on the fly) to a life with the arts at its center. She is the author of Vanishing Point and Connected Underneath and is currently hard at work on her third novel.
LD Masterson lived on both coasts before becoming landlocked in Ohio. After twenty years managing computers for the American Red Cross, she now divides her time between writing, volunteer work and enjoying her grandchildren. Her short stories have been published in several magazines and anthologies, and she is currently working on a new novel.
Kathleen Messmer not only runs a film production company with offices in the UK and the US, she is an avid photographer and wildlife advocate. In the unlikely event that she ever retires, Kathleen plans to live on a ranch with draft horses and pygmy goats and vineyards and fruit orchards, somewhere near the water. Oh, and a cowboy...maybe.
Karen Norstad has worked as cashier/gift wrapper, secretary, boutique seamstress, administrative assistant, manager of employee stock options, executive assistant, and budget analyst. Now retired, Karen’s life revolves around lounging about, wearing PJs until four in the afternoon, obsessing over the news, reading, fusing and slumping glass, practicing piano, keeping a small balcony garden and cooking.
Matt Nyman’s nonlinear career path has included working in the geological sciences, teaching high school, stay-at-home parenting and, currently, training tomorrow’s teachers. Poetry equently resides near the surface of his existence, occasionally erupting onto paper.
Jill Plaman was born and began aging in Milwaukee, but she has lived and worked in Albuquerque since 1977. She holds a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MSW from the University of Minnesota. Her special interests are travel, international folk dancing, reading, hiking and spending time with family and friends.
Maureen Polikoff is a clinical social worker/ therapist who has always pursued many other creative endeavors, including painting, playing music and, now, writing. A Connecticut native, she lives in New Mexico with her husband, Michael.
MaryFrank Sanborn left Boston 33 years ago, to apprentice with photographer Walter Chappell in Santa Fe. Still in love with the beauty of the Southwest, MaryFrank photographs, writes, hikes, travels, teaches yoga and meditation, makes soups on Sundays, and dreams of the ocean and whales.
Patricia Stoltey is the author of four mystery novels. The most recent is Wishing Caswell Dead. She lives in Northern Colorado with Sassy Dog, Katie Cat and her husband, Bill.
Susan Swiderski grew up in Dundalk, Maryland, where everybody calls everybody hon and eating steamed crabs is a sacrament. Although she’s happy in her adopted Georgia, part of her heart still lingers on the shores of Chesapeake Bay, explaining the setting for her novel, Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade. Susan is currently working on a trilogy, proof that this old gal is still a pathological optimist.
Jan Castle Walker is a retired teacher and an active artist. She lives in Davis, California with her husband, Mack.
Karen Helene Walker is a novelist, memoirist and essayist and the author of The Wishing Steps and Following the Whispers. When not writing, Karen is tap dancing, folk dancing or performing with the musical group Sugartime at retirement communities. Karen is currently working on her second memoir. 

You can follow Karen and the other authors along on their tour by checking out the schedule HERE.

To enter, click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient.

Thanks for stopping by today. Be sure to check out this charming book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Do you know Karen? Follower her? Are you familiar with any of the contributors?

Monday, March 13, 2017

#InkRipples, Tropes, C. Lee McKenzie, and Being Thankful

#InkRipples is a monthly meme created by Kai StrandMary Waibel, and Katie L. Carroll.
The idea of #InkRipples is to toss a word, idea, image, whatever into the inkwell and see what kind of ripples it makes. We provide the topics and will be blogging about them on the first Monday of the month. You can spread your own ripples by blogging about the topic any day of the month that fits your schedule, just be sure to include links back to the three of us please (KatieKai, and Mary).

This month the subject is: TROPES

A trope is literally a figure of speech, or cliche, which means it's often overused. Here are a few examples of types of tropes. You can go HERE for more.

If I've heard it once, I've heard it a hundred times. (exaggeration)
Her explanation was clear as a bell. (irony, sarcasm)
His not the brightest bulb in the room. (understatement)
She's a witch. (metaphor)
Man of the cloth. (metonymy: where a word or phrase is substituted for another)
Turned up missing. (oxymoron: where two words or phrases contradict each other)
The old rocking chair complained when I sat in it. (personification of an inanimate object)
I struggled to understand lightening, then it struck me. (pun)
Does a bear poop in the woods? (rhetorical question: a question you don't expect to have answered)
She's as American as apple pie. (simile)
Boots on the ground. (synecdoche: when a part of something is use to represent the whole)
She opened her home and heart to the orphan. (zeugma: when a verb is used with two others words and each has a different meaning)

Of course in literature, movies, and TV there are many overused tropes.

The main character viewing him/herself in a mirror and describing him/herself
Having an incredible adventure only to wake up and discover it was a dream
Using a magical devise or element (wand, stone, ring, weather etc.)
The hero being in a horrific fight and minutes later jumping up to say, make mad passionate love to the heroine

It's hard, in this day and age to come up with something new.

This month I'm honored to be the Featured Follower on C. Lee McKenzie's blog The Write Game. At the end of the month a lucky person will win an ecopy of one my books, winner's choice! Be sure to drop by and say hello.

Anansi and Company                           A Lizard's Tail                       The Bowl and the Stone

Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for continued good health!

What are you thankful for? Care to share a favorite or hated trope? Do you have difficulty avoiding them?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Texas Roots, C. Lee McKenzie, and Being Thankful

Today is the 181st anniversary of the fall of the Alamo which occurred on March 6th 1836.  
This post is longer than usual.

I have deep roots here in Texas. It is thought that my great-great grandfather may have been with a group of men who were responsible for destroying bridges across various rivers, preventing Santa Anna's army from retreating. I'm not sure how much of that is true, but he was an early settler.

James Thomas Miller
James Thomas Miller, at the age of 15 or 16, arrived alone in Texas from Scotland, before 1836. (fact)He was given land grants  to land in present day Houston, grants that were only given to those people who participated in the Texas Revolution. He abandoned the land and, it is believed, headed north with a Major Bird and other men on a surveying expedition, ending up in the small outpost settlement of Dallas.  (fact)There he got new land grants and met the beautiful Sarah Haught.

Sarah Haught Mil
(fact) James and Sarah were the second couple to be get a marriage licence in the settlement of Dallas. Sarah came from a large family who settled in Texas from somewhere in the east. (fact)A couple of her brothers ended up settling in the Hill Country near where I live.  (fact)Sarah and James's only surviving child, James Munro Miller, was born at Porter's Bluff, Texas in 1847. (fact)In 1850 they sold the land to make the long and dangerous journey to California. Because of debts they owed, a contract was written explaining that once the land was sold the money would be used to repay the debts. What is very interesting and unusual is that Sarah is included in the contract, in that it states she understands what will happen and agrees. She then signed it! (I have held the original grants and the contract in my hands and have copies.) Family stories say they traveled to the Gulf of Mexico, and got on a ship that took them to Cuba where they spent upwards of a year waiting for another ship to take them to the Panama. With young James Munro in tow (he would have been somewhere between three and five years old) the family walked across the Isthmus, surviving all kinds of dangers, from deadly snakes to deadly diseases. Once on the Pacific side they got on a ship and sailed to California. Sarah had three other children, but none of them survived.

(fact)When fortune in the goldfields was not to be found, Sarah and James moved to Victoria on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. (fact)Their son, James Munro and Eliza Vincent were married, probably in San Francisco as they owned and operated a bookbinding and printing business there. When a horse thief was hung from their second floor sign they decided the city was too rough a place to be raising a family and moved to Victoria. Eliza had nine children. My father's mother, Sarah Eliza being the youngest, was born when Eliza was a 42 years old, a scandalous age! 
James Munro Miller and Eliza Vincent Miller
My great-great grandfather James Thomas died around 1864. In 1865 Sarah married Simeon Duck. In 1920 at the age of 91 Sarah, who drove sulkies quite late into her life, died from breast cancer. My father, born in 1916, had memories sitting on her lap.

I wish I had known their history years ago. I wish I were younger as I believe Sarah and James's story to be a romantic historical novel on a grand scale. To write it, though, would take a great deal of research, and I just don't have the time or energy... 
This month I am honored, thrilled, and delighted to be the Featured Follower on C. Lee McKenzie's blog The Write Game. Each week she will be posting something about me and my books. At the end of the month some lucky person will win an ecopy of one of my books. The winner gets to choose between: 

Hope to see you at Lee's! 

Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for the blogging community. For all the support I get, please know I'm open to supporting you as well. If you have a book to promote or a cover to reveal, I'd be happy to give you a shout out here on my blog, Facebook, and/or Twitter. Let me know!
What are you thankful for? How far back can you trace your ancestry? Are you interested in genealogy? Do you follow Lee?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

IWSG, Being Thankful

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts, Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson!

This month's question is: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Indeed I have. I reworked a short fantasy into a novel. It has potential, but who knows when I'll get back to it.

I also reworked what were nothing more than a string of notes into my novel, A Lizard's Tail. The story idea dates to the mid-1970s, but I didn't begin writing the novel until around 2000. Then, I didn't get it published until 2014. So, to those of you who think you're taking too long to write your book, do not be discouraged. 
It's never to late to begin, 
and never too late to finish!

Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for the stories and novels I have completed. I'm also thankful for the ones that are still works in progress.
What are you thankful for? Ever reworked an old story to make it new? What's the longest it's taken you to write a novel? 

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Visit to Sacred Sites

Things happen for a reason. My Puerto Rican cousin Frances, was in San Antonio at a week-long psychology convention. She has a PhD in Educational Psychology and teaches at the University of Puerto Rico.

Frances (right) and me at a restaurant on the River Walk. Me in mid-sentence. You can tell we look kind of related. Same nose. :)

Hubby and I decided, almost at the last minute, to treat ourselves and spend a couple of days in the city. We haven't been to SA in a loooong time, like 15 maybe even 20 years. We decided to stay at the hotel where we spent our honeymoon 31 years ago, The Emily Morgan,which was built in 1924. Emily Morgan was taken captive by Santa Anna six weeks after the fall of the Alamo. It is believed she was "distracting" him when Sam Houston attacked which led to the Mexican army being defeated and Santa Anna being captured. (An aside here. Santa Anna made his way down to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands and built a villa there -- which still bares his name. Great little history about it HERE.)

Hubby and me at the entrance to The Emily Morgan.

At right, her tower and flag flying.

The Emily as seen from the across street.

And across the street from The Emily is this place.
 That's right, The Alamo. It turned out to be special as February 23 through March 6th marks the 181st anniversary of the siege and fall of the Alamo. Although I didn't get any pictures, enactments and readings were/and are happening each day. Every time I walk through those doors I get covered up with goosebumps. There's a special energy inside that is tangible to those open to it. Heroes died within these wall, their blood soaked into the soil beneath the flagstone floors. 
A model of how The Alamo looked after the siege.
What was left of the actual mission building.
The back wall of The Alamo.
After The Alamo, we took Frances to Mission San Jose, 
the construction of which was begun in 1724.

 The mission walls enclose an area of about four acres. (Outside the wall.) The walls and the mission have undergone extensive reconstruction and restoration.

Inside the walls.
 The walls are actually rows of small rooms where the Spanish missionary monks endeavored to get the Native American peoples to live.

Mission San Jose. The dome and much of the walls has been restored or rebuilt.

Originally the entire building was plastered and painted with geometric designs that had a decidedly Moorish feel to them.  Only a small section has survived. 
The front entrance. The section of painted plaster that remains
 is on the right wall that is bathed in sunlight.

The famous Rose Window. From the National Park page: "La Ventana de Rosa, the Rose Window, is located on the south wall of the church sacristy. The window has been described as the site where the Host was shown to gathered mission celebrants during the Feast of Pentecost. The window, sculpted ca. 1775, has been the object of both legend and admiration. It is considered one of the finest examples of baroque architecture in North America. The meaning behind the name is currently unknown, but legend has it named for Rosa, the betrothed of Juan Huizar who many believe created the window."
 It was a nice visit. We couldn't have asked for better weather. 
As for Being Thankful, this is it.

What are you thankful for? Every been to The Alamo? Is it a place you'd like to visit? Do you enjoy visiting old churches and buildings? 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Titles to Write By, The Monday Muse, Being Thankful

"Titles" is an occasional blog post in which we play with a single word and turn it into, what else, titles! Afterwards the object is to pick one of them and write a little something.

It was Ray Bradbury, in his book ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING, who taught me about making lists of words and turning them into titles. If you haven't read it I highly recommend it.

For no particular reason, 
today's word is:

The Waffle House
Wet Willie the Waffle Whiffer
Waffle Misses Monkey
Waffle, Waffle, Who's Got the Waffle?
Waffling Waffles
The Awful Waffle
To Waffle or not to Waffle
Waffle Has Two Meanings
In which we dress up as one of the nine muses and pretend we're Greek.
Waffle Misses Monkey

Sometimes a long ago memory arises out of nowhere. It pops up while you're doing the dishes, searching for that lost sock, or watching TV. The thing you're doing isn't the trigger that releases the memory -- like a helium balloon rising out of the dark depths -- it's something else, something mysterious and metaphysical.

I've wondered, when it happens to me, if the person  who has suddenly come to mind isn't thinking of me.

Such was the case the other day when Monkey's face swam up from the depths. Intelligent and well read -- studying psychology -- Monkey was not a GQ model. He wasn't homely either but sat somewhere between the two extremes. He'd acquired the nickname in elementary school because his large round ears stuck out from the side of his head like a pair of  wings, and though the name was meant to be derogatory, Monkey made it his own.

What he didn't have in dashing good looks he made up for with dashing chivalrous behavior. He was kind, humorous, attentive and I fell hard. Because I loved waffles he'd occasionally bring them to me at work, or made them on a Sunday morning. It's why he called me his Sweet Waffle. Our friends even introduced us as Waffle and Monkey, always a good conversation opener.

But youth, being in a constant state of flux and change, doomed our relationship from the start. Our parting had nothing to do with anything either of us did, it was just the way things were. He went on to get his doctorate, and I was left behind.

So thoughts of him took me by surprise and for a moment a sad, wistful melancholia settled around me and held me close. It was warm and comfortable. I'll always remember Monkey with fondness.

"Waffle misses Monkey," I thought, and wondered if he ever missed me.
Today I'm thankful for the rain we got, even if two inches of it came in 30 minutes!

What are you thankful for? Have another waffle title to add to the list? Even have a long ago memory of someone pop up that made you feel happy/sad?