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.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

IWSG, A Random Thought, Six Impossible Things, 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:  Dolorah @ Book Lover,Christopher D. Votey, Tanya Miranda, and Chemist Ken

This month's question is: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?


This is a good question for me as I haven't written a thing since Irma/Maria hit the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in September of last year. So, to answer that question, in this case, writing hasn't helped me get through it. When I was younger, oh so much younger than today, my angst filled self wrote a lot more.

But there's good news. Inspired by the theme for the next Insecure Writers Anthology Contest, I've actually turned on my computer, opened a blank page, and written almost 2000 words. I have all of next month to fill out the story, polish and submit. It won't matter to me if I get included, what matters is that I've had a fresh, new idea, and am developing it.

As I'm not longer going to be post Hurricane Updates (unless something important needs to be said) I'm going to haul a few things out of my closet.

A Random Thought
A quote from Sophocles who, it appears, did quite a bit in innovating playwriting.
Sophocles pushkin
One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is love.
***
ImageChef.comIt was the White Queen, from Through the Looking Glass, who said to Alice: "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." 

When life gets you down, think of or believe, six impossible things before breakfast. Take a deep breath and close your eyes. If you are aren't smiling by the sixth thing, think of six more. Keep thinking of impossible things until you smile, or until you understand that life itself is impossible. Yet here we are.


Here, for your entertainment, are Six Impossible Things. You can believe them or not as you wish.


1. Being carried away by a swarm of butterflies.

2. Living inside a giant Sequoya.
3. Having tea with Lao Tzu.
4. Discovering the Lost Continent of Mu.
5. Flying with Superman.
6. Being awarded the Nobel for Literature.


Being Thankful
American Snout
Today I'm thankful for the nice rain we've had, the cooler temperatures, and the swarms of mostly snout butterflies that these conditions have produced.

What are you thankful for? Have any impossible things to share? Has writing helped you through rough times?

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

IWSG, Hurricane Update, 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:  Toi Thomas, T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler!


This month's question is:What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?
I went the self-publishing route because the older I get the harder it becomes to have the patience to go the traditional route. 

Hurricane Update - One Year Later
Unless there is something news-worthy, this will be my last hurricane update post. 

My sister has a new stove! She christened it by making a "proper stove top pot of coffee." 

Tomorrow, the 6th, marks one year since St. John, St. Thomas and the British Virgin Islands were blasted to smithereens by the worst hurricane in living memory. I remember clearly being on the phone with my sister at the height of the storm. She was hunkered down in a bathroom when she told me in her calm, steady voice, "We lost the porch roof." I was on the National Hurricane Center site trying to figure out where the eye was and how much longer she was going to have endure the howling wind. Together we figured out they had gone through a calm probably a portion of the eye and were now experiencing the back half of the winds, the worst winds. Another 2 or 3 hours we figured...

I won't go into the anxiety I felt or show pictures. You can see plenty of them HERE.

Suffice to say, you just can't put good people down. For my sister and me our main concern was for our tenants and rental property on St. John. Overnight our income disappeared. Our anchor renter, a restaurant called Morgan's Mango, had suffered a devastating kitchen fire in 2015. Our tenants, Carlos and Maria, with help from my sister and me, were able to rebuild the kitchen and get back up and running. Then Irma hit.

For a while is was questionable if they'd be able to rebuild, particularly since their home had also been destroyed by the storm.

Before and after Irma
That's when Kenny Chesney, and his Love for Love City Foundation, stepped in, giving the money needed to rebuild the restaurant.
Kenny loves eating at Morgan's Mango and he may love Carlos and Maria almost as much as my sister and me.
Here he is hugging Carlos not long after the storm.

Without Kenny's help I'm not sure where we'd be.
Carlos and Maria hanging the new sign.

Morgan's Mango today.



Among the few things to survive both the fire and the hurricanes were these 2 platinum records that Kenny had given to Carols and Maria sometime before the fire. 
They have been ensconced, warps and all, in this collage.
Morgan's Mango is back up and running. And though rents still aren't back to what they were before the storm, we believe in the silver lining, and we thank Kenny Chesney for his hard work and generosity.

In other news: 

Former President Clinton has visited St. John twice this year to see how things are progressing. He, along with Expedia and Michael Bloomberg, have announced solar projects for both St. John and St. Thomas. Story HERE.


The death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria now stands at 2,975 which far exceeds that of Hurricane Katrina at 1,833. Story HERE. This, of course, has not been a leading news story.

Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for my sister Erva, my husband Stan, Kenny Chesney, and the people of the Virgin Islands. Live long and prosper.

What are you thankful for? What publishing path are you considering or have taken?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

IWSG, Hurricane Update, 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: Erika Beebe, Sandra Hoover, Susan Gourley, and Lee Lowery!


This month's question is: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey? 
Don't expect to get rich. Although making some money is a nice reward, be realistic knowing that your books are among many millions and that it's hard to make your voice heard amid the thundering hordes. Therefore I would advise being content with knowing that at least you got yourself published, that you are out there, that SOMEone, SOMEwhere will read you story and enjoy it. 
***
Hurricane Update - Eleven Months Out
Meanwhile... Here are a few stats about the state of tourism. On St. Thomas there are approximately 954 rooms available compared to about 3,000 before the storms. On St. Croix, there are about 990 compared to 1200 before the storms. The big hotels are still not opened and most won't be until the fall of next year. Before the storms 848,411 cruise ship passengers visited St. Thomas compared to 637,597 since the storms. Visitors to St. Croix have gone up, 24,743 pre-storm, 48,836 post.

Book Drive for the School Libraries
I got this lovely form letter from the Office of Senator Janelle K. Sarauw, thanking me for the books I sent and encouraging me to send more and to ask others to do the same. So that's what I'm going to do. Please consider sending new or gently used books for grades K through 12 via media mail (it's cheap!) to:

Janelle K. Sarauw
Legislature of the Virgin Islands
PO Box 1690
Charlotte Amalie
St. Thomas, USVI  00804

A BIG THANKS to those of you who have sent books.


Songs for the Saints
I've never promoted "famous" people, but in this case I'm making an exception.

Kenny Chesney's new album Songs for the Saints is now available HERE on Amazon. All proceeds from the sale of the album go towards the continued recovery of the US and British Virgin Islands.

He's really done a lot for the islands. He was among the first people to help bring in supplies and evacuate people. He donated musical instruments to the St. John School of the Arts (which lost all of theirs) and told the kids if they learned to play them he'd fly them and teachers up to the states to see one of his concerts, which he did recently. Since the storms he's flown out and re-homed over 1000 dogs that were stranded or abandoned. His Love for Love City Foundation has helped many, many people including, without his knowing it, my sister and me.

Here's a video where he explains how he came to write the songs.


A look back.
It's hard to believe but, a year ago this month (just a month before the storms) I was visiting the islands. Here we are, a few of my classmates and me at a mini-reunion. None of us knew that just a few weeks later our lives would change. And yet, everyone survived, life goes on, and rebuilding is underway.
Seated L to R: Me, Seba, Judy.
Standing L to R: David, Maurice, Margaret, Ronnie, LeRoy
Note adult beverages on the table... :)

Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for resiliency and the people who help make that resiliency a little easier.
Where there is hope there is movement forward.

What are you thankful for? Any publishing pitfalls you'd warn writers about? Please send books to my beautiful islands. And if you like Kenny Chesney's music, buy his album.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

IWSG, Hurricane Update, 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.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Nicki Elson, Juneta Key,Tamara Narayan, and Patricia Lynne!

This month's question is: What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)? I'd like to say I have some ultimate goals. But I don't...

Hurricane Update - Ten Months Out
Things are about the same for my sister. This is her lovely kind-sized mahogany four-poster bed. It now sports a tarp for a canopy to keep water off when the ceiling overhead drips during a rain. Obviously the dogs are comfortable. In the corner you can see the hand pump on a sink for pumping water out of the 40,000 gallon cistern. 

Other News
"The U. S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have been placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places." Story HERE  The islands are now included with places like Mt. Vernon and Rt. 66. The history of the islands (I'm talking European involvement) is older than most of the United States, starting with Columbus. The oldest building on St. Thomas is Fort Christian, built in 1671. It survived the storms, but so many didn't and are in desperate need of repair.


Outside the fort




Inside the fort

The living or drawing room


All the furniture is native mahogany and dates from Danish times.

The dining room



 The bedroom


"The Hole" where they put prisoners in isolation. Close the door and there's no light. 

Here's a report on the fiscal and economic conditions in the islands since the hurricanes.

The reality of the situation can sometimes be very harsh and hard to bear. A person died for want of a blood transfusion because the hospital was out and has no way to storing it for any length of time. 

That said, St. John is getting into the swing of things for the 4th of July Celebration! It's a double holiday, as on the 3rd of July, 1848 the slaves won their emancipation, but the news didn't reach St. John until the 4th. St. John is proud to celebrate both American Independence and Emancipation.
Pictures were taken by Rahda Speer of the Food Fair that kicked of the week-long celebration. 



Also, the book drive to fill the school libraries is coming along. Here's a Facebook post from Harold De Frieze.
"My amazing mother Anna De Frieze started working with Senator Janelle K. Sarauwon on the book drive she had going. She just finished getting 27 pallets of books ready for shipment down! You both inspire me to do good things!"


Thanks to all who have sent books. If YOU would like to help fill the school libraries, send new or gently used books to: 
The Office of Senator Janelle K. Sarauw at:
Legislature of the Virgin Islands Capital Building
Charlotte Amalie P.O. Box 1690 St. Thomas USVI 00804
The cheapest way to send boooks is through Media mail (up to 70lbs) with USPS.
***
Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful to have traveled another revolution around the sun. 
Always nice to have another birthday, which was on the 28th of June.
My birthday bouquet from my sweet Hubby.
***
Happy 4th of July, everyone!
What are you thankful for? Any ultimate writing goals? Got plans for the 4th? 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

IWSG, Hurricane Update, 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:  Beverly Stowe McClure,Tyrean Martinson, Tonja Drecker, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!


This month's question is: What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?
Probably titles, though often I've come up with titles that have given me the story idea, as with A Piece of the Sky. But other stories have been more difficult to title, as with The Bowl and the Stone, which my sister suggested. As for names, I often research those, because I like the idea of having a hidden meaning that speaks to the character's character, and that process can take time.

Hurricane Update - Nine Months Out
Things are perking along. But all are a bit nervous as the 2018 hurricane season begins. So many homes still damaged, so many roofs in need of repair, including my sister's.

Speaking of which, she has adopted a new cat, her name is Calypso.

And here are a few links to some good and not so good news.
Arrangements are being made for all the plant debris to be turned into mulch and will be available for distribution. There were plans to burn all the brush debris, but people fought that proposal. Story HERE.

Here's a podcast, in English, about what's going on in Puerto Rico. My cousin, Frances Boulon, who has a doctorate in psychology and is a professor at the University of Puerto Rico, talks about the mental health of the people on the island. Story HERE.

St. Croix had it's annual Agrifest three months late, but it happened! Story HERE

The US Department of Education is sending $$ to help both public and private schools. Story HERE

The coral reefs are showing signs of recovery. Story HERE

Still in recovery mode, FEMA is only now looking at ways to help people repair their homes because, unlike Texas and Florida, there is no temporary housing available in the islands. Story HERE

The death toll in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria is at over 4,600. Story HERE

The Westin Hotel on St. John is working hard to be opened by January of 2019. Story Here

And lastly, the school libraries lost all their books and the shelves are empty. If you would like to help fill those shelves consider sending new and gently used books via media mail. Facebook post and information below.
Image may contain: night and indoor
As we slowly continue our journey of recover, we come across many disappointing discoveries.
Trying to bring back any sense of normalcy for the children on island continues to be a difficult task.
There are many things that would never even cross your mind.
If you were to tour the schools since the storms, one thing you would see is EMPTY LIBRARIES! Between the storms themselves & the mold to follow, every book in ever school has been destroyed!
Please join us in helping return the joy of reading to the children on island!
You can do so by sending them to:
The Office of Senator Janelle K. Sarauw at:
Legislature of the Virgin Islands Capital Building
Charlotte Amalie P.O. Box 1690 St. Thomas USVI 00804
The cheapest way to send mail like this is through Media mail (up to 70lbs) with USPS.
Please help us by SHARING this post & TAGGING your friends who are lovers of books and reading.


Being Thankful

Today I'm thankful for flowers from our yard, gathered into bouquets.





What are you thankful for? Which do you find harder, coming up with a title or a character's name? Got a few books to spare to send to the children of the VI? Do you like to make bouquets from flowers you gather in your yard?

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

IWSG, Tick Tock... it's HERE, C. Lee McKenzie, Hurricane Update, and Being Thankkful

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: E.M.A. Timar, J. Q. Rose,C.Lee McKenzie, and Raimey Gallant!




Got a lot going on here today. Forgive me for this being rather long. BUT, there are books and people to acknowledge!
***
Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime

Insecure writers take the leap and submit their stories to this newest anthology!

Tick Tock: A Stitch in CrimeAuthors risk rejection every time they write and submit their work for publication. It's the reality of this business. And with rejection comes that dreaded INSECURITY. "I wasn't good enough. " "My story sucked." "I wasted my time." But we have to let these self-doubts and negative thoughts go. Send them packing because if we don't we may as well take up a new career. 

Instead, put all of those nagging doubts into perspective: "My story might not have been a fit this time." "It didn't suck, but maybe I can make it better." "No writing is a waste of time. I'm chalking this up to practice and learning to be a better writer." 

Last year, a lot of us took a leap of faith and wrote stories to the theme of Tick Tock--that ticking clock that just might beat those characters who are racing it against it to survive or save others. This is an old theme, but one that never ceases to keep us reading. 

Here's some of those races against time that you'll find in this anthology: Can a dead child’s cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? Can a killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?

Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglass, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.

Add it to your Goodreads TBR List, Preorder your copy today. Also available at B&N Enjoy the stories, and please leave us a REVIEW!

***
Some Very Messy Medieval Magic 
(Dancing Lemur Press, 5/15/2018)
Here's the wonderful C. Lee McKenzie to tell us a little about herself and her newest middle grade coming out this month!

Hi Bish,
Many many thanks for helping me tell people about my latest book. First, here’s just a tad about me, not enough to bore readers, I hope. 

Armed with a Masters of Arts in Linguistics I teach creative writing workshops, write my own books (I don’t have celebrity to interest a ghost writer), promote and market those books, all while trying to lead a semi-normal life, sans take-out.    

I love to read. I love to hike, and eating is right up there with everything that gives me joy. I’m a country girl at heart, and only venture into big cities when I have to. 

A question that people ask me a lot these days is how I juggle marketing and press of my books and still continue to find time to get the stories in my head down on paper.

This is the biggest challenge I face, actually. I find that as I network online, do workshops, read and edit manuscripts, and do presentations I have less and less time to write, which is what I got into this business to do. The only way I can do all of this and not become a permanent part of my computer chair is to have a system. Mine is to blog once a week, visit other blogs twice a week (becoming more difficult because of the numbers), go to all my social media (FB, Twitter, Instagram) at least once daily. I also try to visit my groups on FB, and if there's something going on, I like to poke my nose in or leave some information. I use the scheduling feature as much as I can. 

Because I'm the Social Media Liaison for The Insecure Writers Support Group, I try schedule all of the re-occurring things like FB and blog posts for the month. The rest of the time I give to IWSG is finding interesting partners or promotional opportunities to enhance our group.


People also ask me how I learned to market my books.

My answer is I realized I had to use the old Sink or Swim tactic. That's how I did it. I didn't know diddly-squat about promoting anything, let alone a book--my book! When my first book came out, I was invited to join a debuting writers group, and they helped a lot. So many of them were PR savvy and very willing to share. That probably saved my writerly butt. The rest has all been by trial and error--a lot of error. I’m still not good at branding. And part of that is because I write and read just about anything that interests me. It would be much easier if I only wrote Young Adult or Middle-Grade, but I can’t do that, so my branding is just ME. 
And now my promotional moment is here! My new book is called Some Very Messy Medieval Magic (Dancing Lemur Press, 5/15/2018). It’s the third book in The Adventures of Pete and Weasel series. The first two are Alligators Overhead and The Great Timelock Disaster. 

I do have one more stand alone called Sign of the Green Dragon. I think it will stay a single book. At least, that’s my plan at the moment.

If you'd like to see what else I've written my Amazon Author Page has all of that. I’d love people to visit my website http://cleemckenziebooks.com  When they do, they can take advantage of a gift. I offer one of my unpublished short stories to my visitors. 
Thanks again, Bish. 

Here's my review of Some Very Messy Medieval Magic.

This is the third of Ms. McKenzie's Time Lock series, and my favorite to date. Pete and Weasel have to go back in time to save the life of an important historical figure and keep history on it's correct course. Only trouble is, it's 1173 England and both boys (not to mention Pete's familiar Fanon the alligator) are totally out of their element. They don't know quite how to behave as medieval boys, or speak the same English. But they must succeed, or the world they know may well cease to exist!

Some Very Messy Medieval Magic is fast-paced without being breathless. In this book the reader gets closer to Pete and Weasel and their relationship and sees it begin to become more personal. One understands them a bit better and how, even though they have opposite personalities, they have a few things in common which bring them closer together.

There is magic and monsters, humor and bravery. And, there's a hint that Pete and Weasel may have another adventure in the future
.

***
Hurricane Update - Eight Months Out
Carnival happened last week on St. Thomas! Despite the storms, people came out to celebrate. The crowds were thin. Certainly not as many tourists as there usually is. The Children's Parade and the Adult Parade (held on Friday and Saturday 4/27-28 respectively) had about half the number of entries as in former years. Still, it warmed my heart to see people were happy and having a good time. 

From the Adult Parade
A Moko Jumbie, in traditional garb. He symbolizes healing. 
Behind him is the Rising Stars Steel Pan Youth Orchestra

 From the Children's Parade
A splash of wonderful color.

 And... 
the stark reality that, at the end of the day, many people returned home to a blue FEMA roof.
This is just one residential area on St. Thomas. 
So much still to be done.

Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for Moko Jumbies in all their various guises and for all they represent: 
A Healing,  guiding, protecting spirit of love and celebration.


What are you thankful for? Have you read any of Lee's books (I've read them all). And how about Tick Tock? Congratulations to everyone!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

IWSG, Hurricane Update, 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: Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Renee Scattergood, and Tamara Narayan!


This month's question is:  When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

I'm in such a slump right now I don't know how to answer that question. I'm struggling to even get this post out! And by the way, I'm working today, so I won't be coming around to visit. And I'm working tomorrow (Thursday) too. I'm often so tired at the end of the day it's about all I can do to stay awake for a TV show! IF I do get around to visit your blogs, it'll be Friday or over the week-end. Notice that big IF.


Hurricane Update - Seven months out
Things are about the same in the islands. There's good, there's bad, and there's ugly. Like the rat infestation at my sister's house, which occurred after Hurricane Marilyn in 1989. It's something most everyone has to deal with. My sister, who has been bitten by just about everything, including a baby octopus and a ground spider (aka tarantula) can now add a rat to the list. It was "stuck in a glue trap. I'm whacking at it with a broom stick, and it's front legs are free so it manages to crawl, angrily, over my foot and bite my right 'ring' toe. No big deal. At least we have healthy rodents." She treated the bite with iodine and aloe and it's healing without a problem. That's life on a tropical island.

Thought I'd also share this drone video taken less than 2 weeks ago of the National Park Campground at Cinnamon Bay, St. John. The campground remains closed and I don't know when work will begin with clean-up and rebuilding or when it will reopen. The walls that remain of the building on the beach are all that's left of one of the oldest buildings on the island, over 300 years old. The huge rain tree in the opening shots is struggling to come back.

I won't lie, this make my heart ache. I have to keep reminding myself that nothing stays the same, that up and coming generations will have no memory of what it was like "before", and that nature has a miraculous way of returning, even if it's different from what sang in my heart as a child. What is gone, is gone. The beach and the ocean, however, remain beautiful as ever. And... there is still so much more work to be done.




Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for beautiful spring weather and flowers in our back yard. We even had some much needed rain. (Do you see the bee?

And feeding bees sugar water!
Since I kept bees for a while, I like giving them a little kick-start in the spring.
Plus, the hummingbirds are back in force!

What are you thankful for? How do you pull yourself out of a writing slump? Do you feed bees?