It’s a beautiful spring


Ed and our dog with Kaedence and Robert, the youngest two of our grandchildren that inspired the name for Arkkade.

Our spring in Oregon has been very slow blooming. We had some wonderful warm days in the beginning of March and everything started to bud, but then the temps cooled. All the flowering bushes and trees have been colorful for weeks and only now are petals starting to fall. The green leaves on our oaks, maples, and cherry trees are also growing slowly. It’s been fascinating to watch and everything looks really healthy. My dogwoods are loaded with blossoms like they haven’t been for years.

This slow spring is reflecting how I am developing my new career as a romance novelist. I recently met Mary Buckham [again] and highly recommend her power plotting method and adore the new craft book about active settings.  It’s fun developing my writing process for these and future novels as it’s very different from the way I used to structure my writing time in the past.

We have a multifamily vacation to Yellowstone planned for this summer and all the details for that are finally confirmed. This is what I am using as my project deadline because even a creative process works better with a goal in sight. And there’s plenty of time to savor spring and play with babies.

Visions and what’s next

Arkkade-Mary face 31515At least once a year, or when I feel some type of change is pending in my life journey, I take the time for deep meditations with intent for guidance. This is no different than annual medical checkups – which I recommend. In my family we have as many scientists and medical professionals as we have esoteric practitioners; there are also teachers and writers and musicians, and all sorts of business professionals.

During 2005 – 2008, my annual life journey check-ups were with an awesome spiritual teacher-life counselor. Being able to review those readings years later are super fascinating. There was so much laughing on the 2008 CD! Laughter? During a life counseling session? Yes. There was also the assurance that I had the skills to counsel myself. As an aspiring romance novelist, and mother to four of the most amazing women on planet earth, being my own life counselor meant I could READ BOOKS.

Ahh, Nirvana.

In 2007 I started my own annual-checkup-deep meditation process. My intention was for insight regarding my future and chosen life purpose. And I did have a vision. It was short but very clear. I saw myself walking across a stage, thanking someone, then taking my place at a podium before a large audience in an auditorium. And it felt good. But that’s where the vision ended with no insight into what I would present, or why I was an authority on my topic. The clarity of the vision wouldn’t fade, and no other insight was forthcoming, so I accepted that public speaking was in my future.

A few months later I enrolled in the local community college. Public speaking was only one of my classes. I haven’t experienced that vision yet but I have done lots more public speaking and workshops in recent years. Last year I had another one of those clear visions. There was a whole lot going on in my life as I tend to be involved in more than one project, or agenda, at a time. So I was really surprised to have a very clear vision of myself in a long coat, wearing a hat, walking a small white dog. Everything else was very misty and surreal except this vision of me from behind, walking into the mist with this little white dog. It had to be a metaphor.

I’m very comfortable with visions being metaphors or similes.

There were so many dogs around me, one daughter has three and the other has two – and these are the homes where I was spending my time as granny-nanny. Plus, in Chinese Astrology the animal image for Ed is a dog. I’m a pig. I also knew that Ed needed a new dog. I also missed my Amber, a golden retriever, who left our family in 2006. Two weeks after we brought Arkkade home, when it was time to take her for a walk, it was a rainy day as is common in Oregon during the winter.

I opened the coat closet and instead of the hooded jacket I usually wore I noticed the old rain coat I had since we lived in New Jersey during the 1990’s. I put it on and saw a hat I had bought a few months earlier. I’ve never been a hat person but I had been shopping with my friend Gina a few months earlier,  and we went into this cool hat shop…

I was well into the misty fog of our heavily treed dead-end-road when I realized I was living that mist-enshrouded vision. Arkkade was unaffected as I stopped to laugh – she just settled into the overgrowth at the side of the gravel road and took a poop.

Little points

k & rkd 006 - croppedOur Jack Russell Terrier has been with us for two months now and my grammy nanny days are done as Kaedence went to her new preschool today. Her mom posted a picture of her ready for her first day on Facebook, then the next post was a tribute to Leonard Nimoy’s passing. Since I practically know the script for every Star Trek episode; and most of the movies, and most of the Next Generation series, I really had a “passing of an era” feeling this morn.

Ed is in Cleveland’s frigid climate for a while. His brother is having long term medical treatments so Ed cleared his schedule to be there for his family so everyone can rest a little easier.  He said Lake Erie is frozen and he could probably walk (or ice skate) to Canada. The snow piles on the side of the roads compare to Mt. Hood roads during ski season, though it hasn’t started yet this winter.

KGH - RED 2-20-15

They are adorable and worth every long day and strained muscle I endured.

My astrology forecast for March stated I should hibernate for the first half of the month. That is my plan, sort of, as I have set up my storyboards around the dining room and spread all my binders across the table. Once I get in the groove I should make substantial progress on at least two novels. Ed used to travel extensively for work but it’s been a few years and it is strange at how quiet the house is today.

Welcome to the Year of the Sheep!

Imagining Literature

My love of reading began with Science Fiction and Fantasy novels and were one of the reasons I had no dream of being a writer as a child. I could not imagine building a whole world but have always loved experiencing other planets; and dimensions, and times, and species, and… This love as a reader has never faded and I am thrilled that this form of storytelling is finally being valued as literature.

Some of Ursala K. Le Guin’s quotes in her speech are stellar.

I rejoice in accepting it and sharing it with all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long, my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction, writers of the imagination. Who, for the last fifty years watched the beautiful awards go to the so called realists.

Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of art.

Books are not just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art.

We will need writers who can remember freedom.

Ursula included some very pointed comments regarding the business of authorship and publishing in her acceptance speech and I applauded them as if I was in the room.

Fabulous February

1 - a cousin

Kaedence – March of 2014

Spring will come to the northern hemisphere in about six weeks, not because a groundhog shadow matters but because that’s when spring happens. I saw a fun photo on Facebook that stated: “Only in America do we accept weather predictions from a rodent but deny climate change evidence from scientists.”  (This quip had thousands of Shares and Likes, and lots of comments.)

This is my first week of no more scheduled grammy-nanny time. They are no longer babies, they are now active beyond my abilities to keep up with one, or two. I loved it, I’m glad I did it, I’m a little sad too – they grow so fast! I will now just be an occasional babysitter, as needed. And my knees and shoulders are pleased, well, they are recovering. Yes, I talk to my joints as they tend to interfere with my actions when my activities, diet, and sleep schedule are inconsistent, as they have been for over a year.

I’ve had a few Mercury Retro glitches but none worth explaining. The moon is full in a clear sky tonight and I was able to read my astrological forecast for February. There’s all kinds of buzz in astrology sites about the new energy but no one is sure what to call it and I really don’t need it labeled. I just feel pleased.

I’m pleased that I can look at the past two years and check off some big life accomplishments, and I’m still standing. I’m pleased that the huge upheavals and extensive challenges during recent years are now stories to tell. And, the world still hasn’t ended as predicted for 2012.

February used to be THE Winter Blues month. I’m anticipating fabulous days.

What I’m Doing Now

what I remember Most 350I’ve been reading books, this weeks choice was Cathy Lamb and I read both Julia’s Chocolates and her latest What I Remember Most.  I highly recommend her books for the stories and the writing style! Eventually I intend to read all her novels but two in one week was almost binge reading. I read A Different Kind of Normal when I first met Cathy two years ago.

I’ve been getting to know our new little dog. Ed and I have taken excursions with her locally, and to the coast for an overnight. She’s great in the car and is starting to socialize and behave better now that she’s been part of our family for a few weeks. She makes sure I take a brisk 20 minute walk at least twice a day, and she’s a really good snuggler.

My grammy-nanny days became only two days a week, since the holidays, and I really needed to rest. These grandchildren are both toddlers now and will be moving into a more structured and interactive day care schedule soon. I will then become the on-call grammy and I am looking forward to me days and weeks, taking more short trips, and making my novels the priority of my time and energy.

The change in awareness from being an aspiring novelist, for years, to now being published really has been a big deal for me. It’s funny that I have counseled others about this shift, yet now I really get how disorientating (and thrilling!) it is to autograph my book. The way I approach my writing is different and more professional now too.

Anticipating my “new life” as a full-time writer I’ve also been researching some of the social media options. I have always kept my Facebook activities rather exclusive to family and friends but wondered if there was some value to taking that up a notch like many of my friends who have author pages. I’m not sure if it is good or not, but I recently added a lot of sites to my Facebook news feed and it has been fascinating to be able to see how many people feel entitled to profess their opinions so aggressively! Some people are downright nasty and others seem woefully ignorant. I’ve remained an observer and am extremely cautious about even clicking the “like” button.

I understand that digital media and online communication is here to stay but it’s still in its infancy. Controversy has always been a great way to grow an audience when someone has an agenda to promote. But what I’m seeing is a lot of belligerence and belief bashing.

I was recently reminded that it is only two years since we dodged the 12/20/2012 apocalyptic event to end the world. Now it’s as if a whole lot of people are trying to create some new high drama fear factor. Or maybe there are many people who really do believe that their way is the right way and they are also educated enough in the art of debate to impress and garner disciples online.

I started blogging in 2009 and have stayed true to my original intent to use the personal journal style for my posts, most of the time. (I do enjoy posting webbit tours.) Now I am content to continue that style here as I begin year six of my online activity. What I do elsewhere is often part of this story.

Happy New Year

Sherri & Janelle on New Years Eve 2014

Sherri & Janelle on New Years Eve

2015 has begun and I’ve read a few articles forecasting the energy of the stars and numerical changes to the date. I’ll just sum it up… during the next six to eight weeks we’ll be galloping through the final days of the Year of the Horse and eventually trot into the Year of the Green Wooden Sheep-Ram-Goat.

Even though the calendar New Year begins on January 1st, the energy change from the Horse to the Sheep will occur between February 4th and February 19th(apparently it takes a while to slow down a racing Horse into a slow trot of a Sheep!)

2015 is a year of Peace, Art, Tranquility and Harmonious Co-existence.

My knees are looking forward to trotting around meadows.

My grammy nanny days are fewer and more random now so I can  focus on creating structure for my writing time. I was delightfully surprised by the reactions of my family when I gifted them with autographed copies of my novel. It was a humbling feeling that they were so thrilled with such a simple gift. I also got a warm and fuzzy feeling that they are glad I’m finally getting deep into the next books with characters they’ve already met.
Puppy eye fixI wanted to add simple daily exercise to my days but I hate gyms and using machines. I prefer classes like Zumba and Dancersize but those are only available at certain times and days, and may only run for a few weeks. Instead, we visited the Oregon Human Society and returned with Arkkade (pronounced as Our Kady). She’s two years old, a Jack Russel mix with soft hair. She only weighs twelve pounds and curls into our laps nicely. Her name includes the initials of our grandchildren; Robert, Kaedence, Kiernan, and Devon.
 Arkkade takes me for a walk twice a day, even when it’s a bit rainy.

Holiday Nostalgia

K-R playtime cropped

They grow so fast. Last Christmas she was still a baby and he wasn’t even born yet. Now they are driving!?!

This holiday season has been layered with memories and nudges of past years. I know this is common for many at this time of year. Feeling nostalgic is part of the energy of the season and includes remembering all the special people who are now ethereal beings instead of dinner guests. I appreciate that I have some fascinating ancestors and none of them would have fit into the “normal” category.

I’ve actually never met anyone who fit the “normal” definition on any level. Have you?

Everyone in my life, past and present, are unique individuals engaged in a dynamic human experience while building multi-layered stories. They saw their stresses; the failures, the financial challenges, the insurmountable cliff, losses, and the horrors brought forth in the news. I see mine and refuse to publicly address politics or religion because I’m woefully unarmed, and also because I consider both as historical data.

I see everything through my “writer” filter and this week there have been synchronicities – meaningful coincidences which I must acknowledge –  to remind me of my writer goals as a novelist, memoirist, blogger, marketing guru, and business professional. But that’s for the rest of the year.

During the Christmas and New Year holiday weeks I’m devoted to making cookies, casseroles, and decadent appetizers.

Last year, my sister gifted me with a DVD of a 1956 Broadway play called, “The Stingiest Man In Town” as it was our/my childhood holiday soundtrack. My daughters will probably recognize the “yes, there is a Santa Claus” song as I often sang it. The fat man in a red suit who invades our homes to leave stuff in our socks was not my version of the Christmas spirit.

Generosity is a whole different sound track.

Added: Here’s a link to an animated version:

There is a spirit in the world of generosity,

That bring good things to all of us whoever we may be.
So, I believe in Santa Claus for it can’t be denied
That he is generosity – personified.

Yes, there is a Santa Claus for children everywhere,
Though you may watch the chimney tops and never see him there.
People say his magic sleigh flies in the sky above,
But you might find it anywhere you find unselfish love.

Oh yes, he really does exist, and Santa Claus will live,
As long as hearts can realize how good it feels to give.
So when you are feeling blue, keep up your hope because,
If there is kindness in the world, there is a Santa Claus.

The Real Setting for my Story World

Taken from the corner of the fuel doc on 12-1-2014

The west corner of St. Helens Marina taken from the corner of the fuel dock on 12-1-2014

One of the main settings in my novel Checkmate First Mate is St. Helens Marina, Oregon. It’s a very real and dynamic location even though the characters, homes, and businesses in my novel are all creations of my imagination. It’s been at least ten years since I visited St. Helens Marina, until today. This picture shows one of the river homes amid the moorage slips. It also shows the steep hillside with homes facing the river, but the one I created in the novel doesn’t really exist.

path up the hill

The path that leads up the hill from the marina still winds through overgrown bushes with uneven rock steps.

The family ownership aspect of the marina was spawned by a conversation with a lively old local seaman, many years ago. I do not remember anything else of his story, it may have been a historical fact or rumor. It’s really more a memory of a story and was probably from one of our first visits to the marina.

It was one of our favorite excursions, navigating Multnomah Channel from the Willamette River to where it joins the mighty Columbia at St. Helens.

There are two scenes in the novel which feature the path up the hill and I was happy to see it is still there, and as raw and overgrown as I remember.

cropped town

Cropped town hallThe old town section of St. Helens looks as charming as I remember with the historic buildings and classic movie theater. For a Monday afternoon in December there were a lot more people and cars in the historic district than I expected. It also felt very spruced up and cared for with pride.

Two enticing shops were stocked with local crafts and antiques. There was a catering/bakery with enough aromas sneaking through the cracks, of tightly sealed doors, that my mouth watered in the brisk winter air.

The smell of buttered popcorn surrounded the entrance of the movie theater even though it was closed. The windows were sparkling clean and the interior featured red velvet and gold braided ropes reminiscent of the luxury and magic of attending the cinema. It has not been turned into a high tech multiplex.

Now you know St. Helens and the marina are a real place you can visit even though the people and places featured in my novel are fiction.

The one factual piece in the novel relates to the cabin cruiser “Clown-N-Around” which was the boat we owned from 1998-2005. I was driving when the drive shaft broke and we were actually caught in the channel with nothing but a tiny oar. We did need a rescue but the current had taken us almost back to where we launched so it was more like a 20 minute tow, and there were lots of recreational boaters out that day, and no big barge was barreling down on us. Nor did we try sculling or harnessing the wind.

As of this week I am finally able to work on companion stories for some of the cast of characters introduced in Checkmate First Mate. I needed the inspiration of a road trip to local settings and some sections of St. Helens will probably appear in this new story.

Here’s some other scenes and views of the area that readers of my novel may recognize and enjoy!

Melanie and her mom Angela have a fun scene at a pavilion in the park and it looks bigger and better now.

Melanie and her mom Angela have a fun scene at a pavilion in the park. This one is bigger and more square than the one I featured.

Looking west, with a large cargo ship in the channel on the Columbia - probably half a mile from where I took the picture.

Looking west, with a large cargo ship navigating the channel on the Columbia, I think it is probably a quarter of a mile from where I was standing.

Looking north-east from the park in town. That's probably Washington and some of Sauvie Island.

Looking north-east from the park in town. That’s the Washington shoreline and a point of Sauvie Island.

Power in Poetry

My grammy nanny days are now a more reasonable two days per week. I’m getting my energy back, and working on my next novel. I’m also returning to – having the time and energy to make public what I find as super cool stuff online. Here’s another webbit I want to share. A teacher who has four core principles for his students and they are posted on the classroom wall.

Read Critically

Write Consciously

Speak Clearly

Tell Your Truth


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