5 Things I’m Most Grateful For

Have you faced death, and then lived? It’s a wonderful, wonderful experience, but not one I’d wish for you.

Yesterday I celebrated being Cancer Free for 5 years with red velvet cupcakes from Costco and coffee made just the way I like it. Life is good…so good.

Feeling emotional, I was determined to let all that was in my heart pour out onto the page. That’s what I call therapy, but there was too much in my heart.  I couldn’t express myself. Hmmm …a writer without words. Can’t have that. So,  I decided to list everything I was grateful for. Screw grammar –  just get the ideas out. Again…couldn’t do it. Hmmm.  Finally, I decided to make a list of the top things I’m grateful for. (Warning: on the sappy side.)

I am most grateful for my:

  1. Children and grandchildren who I cherish.
  2. Husband who stood by me in the darkest of hours, and every day makes me feel loved beyond measure.
  3. Siblings who may live far away, but are always close in my heart.
  4. Friends who bring me companionship and joy.
  5. Writing that lets me, be me.

The ‘writer me’ says I’ve left too much out, but the ‘cerebral me’ says you got the gist of it. So maybe I’ll settle for my little list, for now, and revisit it later.

The ‘pain in the ass – won’t keep her mouth shut me’ says, “Wait a minute. What happened to God and things?” Indeed, what happened? I stopped and thought about that. They didn’t make the list.

My experience of God is embedded in the love of all five. And things, well they don’t fit in this list. Don’t get me wrong, I like things, but they don’t fit on this list.

Five years ago I promised myself if I got a second chance in life I’d do a better job of it, put relationships first and remember that life is all about love. I wanted to have everything I did reflect my beliefs.  I changed a lot of things in my life, but sometimes I  stray from my promise and get caught up in things that really don’t matter. (Twitter anyone?)

My plan for the next five is to keep working on my promise.  But as imperfect as I am, I am ever so thankful to be alive. I feel blessed.

Namaste

What’s on your Grateful 5 list? Any thoughts?

Note: The picture is the view I have on my daily walk.

Delicious Romance by Pat Amsden

In Better than Chocolate Pat Amsden tells the tale of two independent people falling passionately in love. Set in Chemainus, a small picturesque seaside town on Vancouver Island, the reader is drawn into the charm and warmth of the community and the hearts and lives of the people who live there.
The story begins when Elena’s over-protective father sends her an unusual birthday present:  a handsome business man called Brad. He’s assigned to help her start up the art gallery of her dreams. She’s reluctant to take his help at first, but he proves to be an excellent consultant and. ..so much more.
Torn between her feelings for Brad and her determination to start a business and run it on her own terms, Elena feels she has to make a choice between the two. But does she?
Amsden deftly pulls the reader along. She keeps you wondering how they’re going to make their relationship work …right to the last page. And you find yourself cheering them on.

“…his voice sending shivers down her spine… Right now it was a delicious torment thinking about what would happen when Elena’s [the art gallery] was open.”

I like Amsden’s characters. They’re the kind of people you’d like to have for neighbours, fully human and friendly. Her prose is so smooth the story inhales you, and the pace is just right, like a warm bubble bath.
I would recommend this book to readers who like sweet romance and in particular those that like love in a  small town setting.

Tasty Villains

My Goal:

I want to create characters that haunt your imagination, seduce your mind, and capture your heart piece by piece until you, the reader, scream, “Uncle,” and let them into your world. Is that too much to ask? I’ve always been drawn to character driven plots, from Chaucer’s Cantebury Tales to Dicken’s  Bleak House…to J.R. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Character’s rule in my imagination, and I work hard to create them in my work.

Easier said than done. There is an elusive art to creating a character that is both powerful and authentic. Some defining quirks are good, too many are bad, and it’s the balance that I am struggling with. I want my characters to be interesting, but real – not caricatures. I find myself editing my “guys” a lot.

Here is the introduction to my villain in the one of WIPs (work in progress). See what you think.

Enter the Villain:

“A warning alarm went off somewhere deep inside her. He was over six feet, in his late thirties and dangerously handsome. What was a man looking like him doing in her parking lot?…

Curly, jet black hair brushed his wide shoulders. A five o’clock shadow darkened his face giving him a sexy morning-after look. He had a square movie star chin. His faded blue jeans hung low on his hips. His black leather jacket looked soft…

And he was checking her out. Second alarm. She could feel his eyes, hidden behind dark, aviator sunglasses, sliding over every inch of her body. There was no doubt about it: she was being stripped. Watching his sexy smile slowly widen as he took her in made her feel warm in all the right places. She blushed. He was a potent, virile man who knew how to mess with her hormones.

…“Could I have a word with you?” His voice was low and held a richness that reminded her of aged Scotch.

… He was all-alpha male, oozing masculinity and dripping testosterone. Under different circumstances, she’d have liked meeting him. But not now. Not now.”

What do you think? Character or caricature? Any feedback would be most welcome.

Being a voracious reader can really suck

Reflections on my week.

In one word: “Crazy.” My grandson was born and we are busy welcoming him. When the baby powder settles my life may get back to normal, but I’m in no hurry. It’s a special time for all of us.

Scandal …rocks the KOD Chapter (Kiss of Death/Romantic Suspense chapter of the RWA). The former treasurer resigns admitting to plagiarism. Sad news for all.

Word Count: doesn’t count this week. I’m editing, so I keep cutting words, and my numbers are shrinking.

Social Media: I can’t keep up with my e-mails let alone figure out how to manage Facebook or Goodreads. Twitter and Triberr accounts are going well. I can’t believe anyone can do it all.

Being a voracious reader can really suck… .  I work hard at crafting words and then at the end of the day I open a book and  WAMO I get blown away with the beauty of the prose inside.  Good authors make it all look easy.

Currently I’m reading Jeff Abbott’s, Black Jack Point, a suspense thriller. He hooked me in the first paragraph:

“In shimmering heat, Jimmy Bird smoked a cigarette and paced off a rectangle of dirt. About the size of a grave, a little wider, a little longer. Jimmy wasn’t good at math – that algebra in high school where they mixed letters and numbers together had been his undoing- but he could eye a piece of ground and calculate how long it took to clear and dig to a certain depth. Ditches. Garden beds. Graves. The earth on Black Jack Point fed salt grass and waist-high bluestems and Jimmy pictured a hole six feet across, six feet down. He figured it would take him and his partners three hours of steady digging, being a little slower in the dark. Then an  hour or so to sort through the loot, load the valuables on the truck, and good-bye poverty. In a few days he’d be poolside in the Caribbean, chatting up coffee-colored girls in bikinis, fishing in water bluer than blue, buying a boat and lazing on its warm deck and watching the world not go by.” (Onyx Press, p. 3)

It’s so well written it makes my eyes pop and rattle around inside my brain. “…watching the world not go by.” Where did  he get such a brilliant line? How can he condense so much character and setting into one paragraph about digging a hole? Amazing.

And it leaves me feeling…very, very green.

Yup…being a voracious reader can really suck sometimes, but the alternative is worse:)

Do you have favourite first paragraphs?

And then…there’s the B.C. teacher strike scheduled for Monday . Cheryl Angst states the teacher’s position well on her blog. The line that rang most true for me is: “I didn’t teach last year. I performed triage.” That is what teaching in a BC classroom feels like these days, and though I’m now retired and won’t be walking the picket line, my heart is with the teachers and the students of this province. Our education system is falling apart. We need fair bargaining, more support for students and a vision of how to make things work in our changing world.

We all know that there is a limit to the pieces of straw you can add to the donkey’s back before it breaks. There is also a limit to how many students can be squeezed into a classroom lacking in resources before the education system becomes so weakened that learning is only a hopoeful byproduct.

What are your thoughts?

Mimi Barbour Delivers a Story to Warm Your Heart

Today I am trying my hand at a book review. Let me know what you think.

Together for Christmas is multi-published author, Mimi Barbour’s, fifth book in her Vicarage Bench Series. It is a delightful story of two people falling in love, inside one body. Yes, you heard me right – one body.

After a fall, Abbie Taylor’s  spirit leaves her body and takes up residence in Marcus Chapman, a handsome, independent  man. Trapped in the closest and most intimate of spaces, they get to know each other and themselves. The dialogue is witty and the plot is fun. You find yourself cheering them on, as they fall hopelessly in love.

Barbour spins a difficult to tell story with ease. Her prose is smooth. Her characters rich and her plot fast paced. She delivers the well deserved happily ever after ending perfectly. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys sweet romance with imagination.

When Your Baby has a Baby

When your baby has a baby

The sun shines brighter,

the air smells sweeter,

and the hum of civilization fades.

When your baby has a baby,

love’s grip on the universe open up and swallows you whole,

the earth tilts on its axis,

and your heart bursts with joy.

When your baby has a baby,

you glimpse the beauty of eternity,

the mysteries of life,

and know the world will never be the same.

____________________________________________

*Dedicated to baby Minimac, born this weekend. He’s perfect.

*Yes, I  know I am an Oma, not a poet, but sometimes only poetry will do.

Any comments on how you feel when a new baby is born into your family?

Are You a Work in Progress?

I am. Are you?…a work in progress?

“Being a ‘work in progress’ is a great state to be in. – Stop berating yourself for being a work in progress.  Start embracing it!  Because being a work in progress doesn’t mean you’re not good enough today; it means you want a better tomorrow, and you wish to love yourself completely, so you can live your life fully.  It means you’re determined to heal your heart, expand your mind and cultivate the gifts you know you’re meant to share.  May we all be works in progress forever, and celebrate the fact that we are!”(Marc and Angel Hack Life …Practical Tips for Productive Living)

Sometimes, well to be honest most of the time, I feel like I should be “more”. You know, “more”  as in more mature, more successful, more skinny, more funny, more…just plane more.  I admit it I’m a work in progress, but I like what Marc and Angel say about embracing it as a dynamic “state of being.” I’m going to give it a try.

Reflections on my week:

Accomplished: Hmmm…not much. I’ve been twittering, triberring and blogging on the road with my smart phone. It’s what I call an all thumbs week. I got little done on my manuscript, but it’s perking in some part of my brain.

Social Media: continues to fascinate me. According to Triberr I now have a reach of 70,700. It boggles my mind.

My goal is to connect with readers and tell stories. I need to keep my goal clear and focused. Tech formats and platforms are side concerns. This epiphany hit me between the eyes as I read the article, “Do You Know What Business You’re In? What the Publishing Industry Can Learn From Kodak.”