Carnival Rides

merry go round2016 has been a Carousel ride for me that will obviously be research for future stories.  A big challenge was when Ed had to cut through four inches of concrete of our bathroom floor. We could not find anyone willing to do the job for him, not even locals who work for beer money. Lots of yucky details unlikely to show up in any future novels, but it was a turning point for our construction project. It’s been a once-in-a-lifetime project since March and may be usable living space in another month or two.

A high point was attending the Historical Romance Reader Retreat!  Check out the Gallery of pictures to see the gowns, the hats, authentic historic games and coins, high tea, grand ball, and glorious setting. The movie was The Law and the Lady and it was great for more reasons than watching Fernando Lamas on horseback. And of course there were Books and Authors!

In July I joined the local Aquatic Center and the swimming, water yoga and weight-training, has significantly improved my health and mobility. I also began reading Jane Austen books for the first time and these two additions to my time and psyche have helped me endure the drama of this election process between HRC and DT.

On election night, my sisters and I were vacationing at the Oregon Garden Resort, we all voted early, and it was good to be together for such a historic event. I’m sure there will be political drama and turbulent news up to and even after the new president takes the oath of office in January but I’m going to trust that America is great.

There have been many surprises and shifts so far this year to many of my family and friends, and some were nasty but opened doors to brighter futures. We will hope for the best and I’m going to make brownies for our Thanksgiving party.

Celebrate the Carousel!

Sunriver

Mercury retrograde is almost done and for me these weeks have been rocking with changes.

This was our campsite in Sunriver.

This was our campsite in Sunriver.

Our big adventure in Yellowstone is still weeks in the future but we needed to be out of the house this weekend, and wanted to do a full test out of our equipment and toys.  So we loaded up bikes and kayaks, hooked up the travel trailer, and went to Sunriver. This is a resort type area near Bend, Oregon and only a few hours from home and it is beautiful.  We’d been there a few years ago when our youngest lived there.

 

For this adventure, our plan was to kayak on Sparks Lake with our new little dog, Arkkade. We all had a wonderful time!

Arkkade liked it and now knows her favorite spot.

Arkkade liked it and now knows her favorite spot.

That's Mt. Bachelor

That’s Mt. Bachelor

There were lots of coves and byways to explore. We even heard water draining through a lava tube.

There were lots of coves and byways to explore. We even heard water draining through a lava tube.

 

There were lots of places to pull up on the beach for lunch.

There were lots of places to pull up on the beach for lunch.

Those mountains are The Sisters. It was a glorious way to spend hours!

Those mountains are The Sisters. It was a glorious way to spend hours!

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!

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.

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

Pause for Gratitude

When current events are troubling I make sure and pause for joyful noise. A Facebook link led me to a YouTube video of a really good children’s choir, which made me smile. But then I noticed in the list of referred links was one to the Eric Whitacre TED talk in 2011, where he shares his story about what led to his virtual choirs. The second choir includes 2051 videos from 58 different countries. It’s awesome. Listen and savor the harmonies that transcend race, age, or technology.

I’m very grateful for visionaries like Eric.

Ruffling Pages

I’m very tired and a bit euphoric. My author copies arrived from my publisher today. I am now holding a novel in my hand. My novel!

It was released in September of 2013 into the Amazon Prime program and by this February other ebook formats were available through Soul Mate Publishing and Barnes & Noble. And Now It’s In PRINT too.

The story to write this novel is a story of its own. Plus, one week after that initial release the Author Marketing 101 book I co-authored with C. Morgan Kennedy was also released, in all formats, with scheduled workshops and more for months. Grammy-nanny days were also claiming my energy, and there was a writer conference I co-coordinated this past March. (It’s all posted here on this blog.)

But now, The Book is here in my hand, and I am working on writing the stories that will be companion novels to this one. My universe has shifted. A dream I had is now a book I can hold.

IT’S PRETTY DAMN COOL!!!!!!!!

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