Book Launch Partytime

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This past Saturday was my book launch for not one, but two books. Finding Abby was released in November. Life got in the way and I didn’t advertise, promote, nothing. With my recent release, Shear Malice, book three in the Melanie Hogan cozy mystery series, I decided to have a double release. And better yet, sharing it with a fellow author, Donna Schlachter and her alter ego, Leeann Betts. What a better way to celebrate literary success than with a fellow author!

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In each Melanie Hogan mystery I include a recipe from Nana’s kitchen. The recipe for Shear Malice is Nana’s Scrumptious Chocolate Zucchini Brownies. To stick with the theme, I made some for the launch party. While baking a recipe from scratch takes longer than opening a box, the results were amazing and well worth the time!

Next up? An author event in October with some cozy mystery authors. The planned theme is Cozy With Tea–a variety of hot teas, scones, a fire in the fireplace, and books, books, books.

And now it’s back to Camp. Camp NaNo, that is. A time for relaxation and fun, with virtual bonfires, smores, and campfire chatter with other campers. I’m sharing a virtual cabin with several fellow writers from the Longmont and Boulder area, and creating book four in the Melanie Hogan cozy mystery series, Shear Murder.

More to follow…

Camping

See you next week. Until then…

 

Carpe diem

The Glass Half Full

We’ve been getting so much rain here in Colorado this May that I’m beginning to wonder if we should bypass the umbrellas that are well stocked in the entryway of the stores or go straight for the sporting goods section to fetch some life jackets. I’m pretty sure we’ve passed up Seattle at this point. In fact, this evening we’re expected to get a significant amount of snow, so my husband and I are planning to set the alarm a couple of times throughout the night to go outside and save the newly planted flowers and newly leafed trees by brushing off the heaviness of the snow. Definitely not a typical spring here on the Colorado Plains. And to add a little more variety, we were a little too close to a tornado on Thursday evening.

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Probably not too smart to be standing out there watching, but I was with a bunch of friends as we all stood in awe of Mother Nature’s power ooohing and aaahhing as if watching a fireworks display. (I try to justify it by thinking we could have all held hands and our collective weight might have kept us on the ground. Okay, I’m reaching there…)

So where am I going with the whole “A Glass Half Full” concept? I’ve heard the phrase so many times over the years, as well as used it. But every once in a while I have an “aha! moment” and it really means something.

One of the few things in life we truly have control over is how we think about something. Whether we view it as a positive or a negative. And what we allow into our mind is usually what comes out in our thoughts and actions. Surrounding ourselves with positive people, positive influences, and positive media leads to positive thoughts, and…well, it all leads to a more positive, successful life. Some examples:

As tiresome as all this rain has been, not to mention that it’s expected to last all weekend, it gives me the opportunity to stay tucked cozily inside and get some good writing time in. I often complain that I’m so busy (more on that in a moment) there’s just not enough time to write like I want to. Well, here’s my chance. I can use those moments to do something I love (aka write) and have something positive to show for it, or I can let that time fritter away while I wish for something that’s not, and look back with regret.

I can complain about how busy I am in life and that “there’s just not enough hours in a day,” or I can be grateful for all of the opportunities given to me and all the experiences I’m privy to. I can worry about what time I’ll actually be able fall into bed at night or grateful that I have a warm, soft bed to fall into. This particularly hit home this morning as I was coming home from the recreation center and I saw a woman living under the steps of a church that closed several years ago. She had nothing but a sheet of black plastic to keep the cold rain out. Wow! Am I blessed!

This morning as we headed to the city’s recreation center to work out in a warm and dry facility since swimming has never been my strong suit (don’t get me wrong, running in the rain is one of the most refreshing and exhilarating activities, but dodging puddles and river overflow is a danger I’m not fond of), I said something to the effect of, “It would sure be nice to be able to run outside again,” complete with a tad of self-pity. Okay, maybe more than just a tad. My husband, the consummate optimist, replied–carefully–“but isn’t it nice that we have someplace we can still go and work out?”

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I’ve complained about my job in the past and about the negativity that breeds there. Since I’ve chosen to be more positive, to change the people I interact with, and to be the change I wish to see there, I enjoy my job so much more and am, therefore, more successful and effective. I have a job I love to do (helping victims of crime) and am suddenly finding more spiritual, kind co-workers. They were there before, I was just too stuck in the muck of what I didn’t like in the office to see them.

And tonight when the snow begins to fall? I can appreciate the beauty and purity of the white flakes and be ever so grateful that it will gone within a few hours. 🙂

So now, while the rain is beating on the roof of the house, the droplets creating artistic rivers down the window pane before me, and my cup of hot coffee by my side, I’ve got some time to enjoy working on my revisions so I can get my book off to the editor.

Today, you have a choice how you view your world around you. Whether you look at the glass as half full or…well, don’t even make the opposite an option.

“A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties” – Harry Truman

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Hodgepodge

There’s a lot that’s swirling around in my head these days, the top of that list being sheer gratitude for life in general. There’s something about starting and ending the day with a simple “Thank You” that makes all the rest in between all the sweeter. 2015-02-15 18.37.41 Estes Jan 2015 It’s hard to believe it was a few short weeks ago that my husband and I were enjoying our time in Estes Park for Valentine’s weekend, walking along the riverwalk in the falling snow, everything blanketed in a thick, pristine layer of white. Then cozying up in front of the fireplace with a cup of tea and a good book while the snow piled high outside the window. The weather this past week in Colorado has been beyond beautiful. Add to that the extra hour of daylight in the evenings–thank you Daylight Savings Time–and I feel completely rejuvenated. Once the sleep issues resolved themselves from the time change. But that’s a small price to pay for longer evenings and warmer weather. Yesterday I had the afternoon off work so I slipped into yoga pants and a T-shirt and camped out on the patio. I put my feet up and let the warm sun seep deep into my muscles, relaxing me into a state of bliss. The birds were flying in and out from the feeders, a squirrel ran along the top of the old wooden fence, three times, for the sole purpose of teasing Roxie, my dog, I’m sure–who took the bait hook, line and sinker–and the wind chimes chimed their magical meditative tune. I watched as Roxie settled into a state of complete contentment lying in the grass, head dipping as she dozed, and I savored every bite and crumb of a lemon muffin and every drop of a cup of coffee. It was better therapy than money could ever buy. While on the patio, I finished reading Louisiana Longshot: A Miss Fortune Mystery, by Jana DeLeon, an entertaining read that provided a healthy dose of laughter more than once, and one I would highly recommend. I will definitely be reading more of her work. I also tweaked the back cover copy of my book, Shear Madness, and have decided while editing that I don’t so much like the first person present tense. While present tense seems to add a sense of immediacy, it didn’t read smoothly. So on my next run through I’ll be changing it to first person past tense. I would be interested in hearing what you prefer–present tense or past? Which do you find easier to read? I’m thankful for all of my blogging–and blog reading–friends, and hope you all have a beautiful weekend. Carpe Diem

Light in the Midst of Darkness

The Soul

We have had some amazing weather in Colorado the past couple of days, and today was the best. I was running this morning in the warmth, even the breeze was gentle and warm, the sun’s rays reaching the depths of my soul. The renewed energy and lightness of spirit carried me for most of my run. And I realized how uplifting it is to have this break–or timeout, if you will–in the typically cold dark middle of winter. It gives me encouragement and a glimpse of  spring that awaits just around the corner. It has the same effect as when something good happens in the midst of a whole string of bad. It offers hope. I was even able to hammer out the run-through reading of the first draft of Shear Madness, making notes of changes that need to be made–characters that need to be further developed, the plot that needs to be deepened, paragraphs that may need to be cut, catching inconsistencies in timeline and settings, etc., most of that reading done while sitting on the patio in the sun. What a blessing.

And speaking of blessings, it’s exactly those blessings among the trials in this journey of life that offer us hope for something better yet to come. Those peaks that give us renewed strength and room to breathe after walking through a valley.

One of my peaks came this weekend when I was able to re-connect with a childhood friend over dinner.  We hadn’t seen each other for over thirty years, and yet we were able to recognize each other immediately and it was like we were able to pick up right where we left off.

Coincidence? Nah. I believe it was, and is, purely a blessing.

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Carpe Diem

 

T.G.I.F. – On Saturday

Gratitude

I’m a little late but didn’t want to let this post slip through the cracks. There’s so much to be grateful for that it seems a shame not to express it openly.

My top three for the past week:

3.)  Being a Minnesota girl, now living in Colorado for 17 years, going to the Minnesota Twins vs Colorado Rockies baseball game, sporting my Kirby Puckett jersey and cheering for both teams. It was a win-win. 🙂

2.)  My son’s “Good night Madre” in his own special tone as I call good night to him when turning in for the night. And the bonus when he comes out and gives me a hug. Is there anything sweeter?

1.)  God revealing to me that when others are irritating me, it’s usually not them, but rather a reflection of where I am and my own mental state at that moment.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  John F. Kennedy

I would love to hear the top of your list for the week.

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All is Grace.

 

 

Thankful Thursday – The Luxury of Education

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I was at a COVA (Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance) Conference for work up in the mountains this week, in beautiful Keystone, Colorado. While I sat on the balcony of my hotel room writing this it occurred to me–right after I recovered from the surprise of looking up and seeing a big, fat, black crow with an imposing fat beak and beady eyes, like he came directly from a Halloween horror movie, sitting and staring at me from no more than five feet away, which led me to finish this inside of my hotel room — that education is something so many of us take for granted, while it is truly a luxury.

The classes I attended ranged in diversity from The Victims of Cults to Elder Abuse and Mandatory Reporting to A Survivor’s Story of Trauma and Beyond, followed by walks around beautiful Keystone Lake and on trails in the woods to digest, ponder, and process the information.  And as I walked I realized those classes taught me far more than what they were intended to.  Not only were they educational for my career, but for life in general.

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The top educational takeaways I received from the conference are:

1.)  Five people can hear the same exact words, but depending on where each is in life, or what each is going through, there will be five different perceptions of the same message.  For instance, years ago I heard an instructor say that after a crime, the victim will never return to normal as s/he once knew normal to be, but s/he will develop a new normal.  As someone who works with victims of crime, that insight had always stayed with me.  However, when I found myself the victim become survivor of a crime, I struggled to make sense of that sentence, and it meant something completely different.

When we, the class participants, spoke with one another between classes or at meal times, it was educational in and of itself what each got from the same class. One conversation made me feel like we were in different classes, when in reality we were hearing the same speaker at the same time.

2.)  Each and every person has so much to bring to the table–diversity, backgrounds, experiences, perspectives–that rather than cut your own experience and opportunity to learn off at the knees, limiting your potential growth, accept each person for exactly who they are, appreciating what they’re bringing to the table, rather than close your mind by judging them as different. Fight the urge to judge, and allow each difference to enrich your life.

3.)  Something a very dear friend once told me, and that was reinforced by listening to conference speakers and participants: Sometimes what we go through in life seems hard because it IS hard. Simple as that.

4.)  When the end of something fun is nearing (ie: the last evening/day of the conference, the last couple days of a vacation, the senses awaken, trying to experience all one possibly can, so as not to waste a single minute. Since each day of one’s life is one day closer to the last, none of us knowing when that day will be, wouldn’t it benefit us to live each day as if it were the last, living and experiencing life to fullest?

5.)  Your past does not need to determine your present or your future.  You have the control to make the choice to change and make your life a better place.

6.)  Not wanting to hang with the group does not make one “anti-social” or a “snob”.  Some people are truly comfortable with their own company and enjoy processing life in a solitary manner or with close friends and family.  The next time you see someone sitting alone in a restaurant or at a movie, don’t pity them and assume they’re lonely. Chances are good they are there alone by choice.

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By the time I had finished writing this, the earlier mentioned crow kept flying low over my balcony, eventually perching in a space all too close to the chair I had been planted in only a moment before.  It would have served him well to read number six–I was alone by choice, and his company was not welcome. 🙂

All is Grace

Colorado Floods

Even too much of a good thing is not good.  And while rain in Colorado is typically a good and welcomed thing, it has now worn out its welcome.

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The city in which I live vaguely resembles the small fictional town of Chester’s Mill in Stephen King’s Under the Dome.  While we sit directly in the center of cities with homes and streets getting washed away and loved ones missing, and though we’ve been receiving record breaking rain, there have been no catastrophic rains causing the damage that is occurring in the cities surrounding us.

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A comment I heard plays in my mind–a familiar comment heard amid tragedy:  “How can God allow this to happen?”

I believe it’s important to remember that God is not the author of evil.  I believe God will use evil and catastrophe to bring out the good in people.  To encourage people to be there for one another.  To empathize with and help one another, bringing humanity to it’s best.

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Natural disasters can be especially devastating because despite the immeasurable pain and loss, there is no where to place the blame.  Mother Nature is too big and powerful.  But God is bigger and more powerful.  God will bring people together and He will heal.  He will restore and make whole again, bringing the situation under control.

Today may we lift up in prayer all those who have suffered devastating pain and loss from the floods, that their lives be fully restored, and that they feel His healing presence.

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All is Grace.