Honey Do’s by John E. Stack

School has been out for a few weeks now, and being a teacher, I have tried to read, rest and accomplish a few things around the house. Actually, I have rested a lot, read a number of books, but have gotten little done in in the way of honey-do’s. I have an extremely long honey-do list.  I had good intentions and I thought about it a lot, but sometimes life gets in the way and you have just enough time to read a few (hundred) pages in a book.

Well, before I could accomplish any of my chores, vacation time came along and we spent a week in the mountains of North Carolina. We visited the city of Franklin and stayed in a log cabin on top of a small mountain. It was absolutely beautiful. There were lots of antique shops, gem mines and waterfalls. In other words, there was something for everyone, even a bookstore for kids. The town was quaint, but had lots of attractions.

Several gem mines were located within 10-15 minutes so we took our little ones to screen for gems. They had a blast. We found rubies, emeralds, and lots of other stones.  I need to learn to cut and polish some of the gems. To pay what they wanted at the mine was crazy.

One afternoon, we spent several hours driving on cut-back mountain roads to look at waterfalls. It was sharp right, then share left, etc. Yeah, all the way up the mountain. We were able to walk behind one waterfall and there was another just off the edge of the road. On the way back down, we saw a group of people sitting on boulders in the stream. We decided to join them. The water temperature was about 50 degrees or below. I had never put my feet in water so cold.

Well, vacation ended way too quickly.

Oh yeah, honey do’s. Have you ever had a small project transform and mutate into a much larger project? My small project turned into a renovation of our master bedroom and bath.

It all started with a general comment from my lovely wife. Something like, “I think an old fashion barn door would look nice between our bedroom and our bathroom.” I responded that it shouldn’t be too difficult if we could find the hardware and rail.  I located a kit on-line and ordered it. That was my original project.

Suzanne started thinking and decided that our bedroom could use some freshening up. She started looking at colors and finally selected the correct combination. So, I needed to hold off on the door until I completed the painting. Okay, no problem. Then, it was decided that the bathroom needed to be repainted also, with colors similar to the bedroom. We also needed to replace the flooring in the bathroom, and the shower door.

Okay, now I was ready to start to work. Slap up some paint, replace a shower door, place some tile and then I can build my barn door. No, no I can’t. It seems that the carpet in our bedroom won’t match, plus it needs to be replaced anyway. Instead of carpet, we are going with an engineered hardwood. After that, I can build my door… maybe.

Looks like I’m going to be a little busy for the rest of the summer.  Gotta go for now, I think I hear my paintbrush calling.

By the way, since you have time to read, check out the link below. If you enjoyed my writing, share it with a friend and/or give me a comment. Have a great rest of the summer!

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.

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Can Subtraction be a Positive? by Sheila Deeth

It’s coming soon. The release date is August 1st. And the title is Subtraction. So now I need a blurb for the back of the book. But what’s in a blurb?

Subtraction - cover concept

Subtraction – cover concept

  • I could precis the story, beginning, middle and end. But then why bother reading all the rest?
  • I could precis the setup, but what should I include; how much, where, when and why?
  • I could give you a character sketch but the characters change… well, apart from the middle-grade misfits who plan on misfitting for several more years yet.
  • I could tell you it’s related to Divide by Zero and Infinite Sum, and no, it’s not about math… well, apart from the protagonist teaching subtraction to those middle-grade misfits in his class.
  • I could give you a sentence–Schoolteacher takes a road trip in search of missing child and finds himself…. maybe add love and cats for added interest (the cat’s important).
  • I could expand on the sentence, but that’s just just extra words.
  • I could ask you a question: Can Subtraction be a Positive? Then I could try to answer the question. And then…

Actually, I kind of like the question idea. If I subtract a negative number it’s the same as adding positives, so what if I subtract a negative thought? What if Subtraction is the story of a life worn down by negatives then turned around by subtracting negativity? Or is that too complex (I’m still working on book 4 of my Mathemafiction sequence, Imaginary Numbers).

Anyway, here’s what I’ve got so far… Three completely different blurbs, and a request that you tell me which (if any) makes you more interested in reading the story. Go on, please… subtract those negatives from my blurbs, send positive vibes, and help me make something great!

Version 1:

On a road trip to look for a missing girl, a schoolteacher finds himself. Love, cats and colleagues remind him the world’s not all evil, but can he truly forgive the darkness it hides? Is trust just weakness in disguise, or is it a gift, a freedom and a hope that things subtracted might yet be restored?

Version 2 (with questions!):

Can subtraction be a positive? Can loss be a gain? And can a lonely schoolteacher find himself (love and cats) on a cross-country road trip in search of a missing child? Subtraction is a story of love, loss and hope as strangers prove to be sometimes kind, dark places hide light, and middle-grade schoolchildren learn about math, acceptance, and generosity.

Version 3 (less existential, but still with questions):

When a misfit student disappears from math class, her teacher embarks on an epic cross-country journey to find her. But who is he really looking for? Why is the pretty new art teacher so keen to help? And where do all the cats come from?

Sheila Deeth is the author of the Mathemafiction sequence of novels. Find Divide by Zero and Infinite Sum, both published by Indigo Sea Press, where good books are sold, and look out for Subtraction, coming August 1st!

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Talking Trash

Do you have the new automated trash pick-up service in your neighborhood in which each trash container left at the curb gets completely automatically lifted, emptied and crushed, with only the truck’s driver present? No more three man trash guy teams; two for gathering and emptying and one for driving the truck? Well this service started here a few months ago and, call me old fashioned, but I miss my guys I waved to each week, and I worry about how many lost their jobs in the name of modern efficiency.

Homeowners here in my town received advance notice that one new trash receptacle would be delivered to each household and a schedule of pick-up days would be included along with the additional schedule for items for recycling. When my new container arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was huge! A gargantuan, blue, heavy, plastic, wheeled, garbage can that could comfortably hold several of me inside, it had a handle across the top rear surface so one could tilt it back on its wheels and roll it to the curb. I pulled out my yardstick and measured it: 30” x 30”x 45” deep, it came up to just below my shoulders. Maybe for a family of five or seven, it would be adequate with the two times a week pick-up schedule, but for me, that was WAY over the top! And my poor little 100 year old next door neighbor wouldn’t be able to get it to the curb at all since she used a walker. I solved that problem by putting them both out at the same time.

That got me to thinking, though, about when I lived in Germany. We had garbage pick-up once a week and the container we had was one small circular can approximately 15” wide at the top, tapering some to the bottom, and it was about 35” tall. I have no idea how other larger families managed. It was tough for us, three people. The main problem we had was the American packaging of the products we bought at the military base. We Americans love to put lots of packaging around small objects to fool ourselves into thinking we’re getting more for our money. We often don’t bother to flatten or break down boxes that things come in, either, because here in the U.S. there aren’t always restrictions about this. We’re a large country with the room, we think.

It’s actually rather comical watching me with American packaging even today, all these years later. For instance, I buy my orange juice in a half-gallon waxy cardboard container and when it is empty, I squeeze it in the middle with my fingers and then step on it to fold up the bottom and down the top, and while I’m stepping on it I reach down and screw the top back on the carton so no air can expand it even a smidge. Only if it is perfectly flat will it see the dark interior of my garbage can. I’ve caught my son looking at me with that, “Are you out of your mind?” look, complete with matching grin.

Now, I put my perfectly flat trash out once every three weeks unless an odor requires it go out sooner. I’m one person, I don’t generate much trash, but when I do, it’s FLAT!

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.

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A Rambling Man (Part three) from Chapter Eight–“Not My Time to Go”

Cline

They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Psalm 107:4 KJV

The next evening, I was nervous. I had no idea what Sherry looked like or what to expect. I was excited to meet her because she was daring, adventurous and provided an “escape” from the painful, depressing world I had experience in the past year.

I pulled up to her small, white-framed house in my Silver Capri. Sherry’s house had bright-green shutters and a bright-green awing that covered her tiny front porch. I got out of my car and walked nervously up the brick-paved sidewalk that led to her porch. I rang the doorbell. Within a few seconds, several young children came running to the door.

There was a pretty collie that wouldn’t stop barking at me. A rather large woman who looked to be about 350 pounds greeted me.  I asked if she was Sherry. She answered, “no sir, I’m Jeannie, the baby sitter.”  Jeannie held the door and asked me to come in.

As I entered the house, a pack of eight children ran up to me, and jumped on me as if I were their daddy. The house was an awful mess with clothes and papers thrown everywhere. There was a distinct stench that smelled like a backed-up sewer line.

Suddenly, around the corner came a slender, tall and pretty brunette wearing glasses and smiling. She held out her hand to greet me. As I placed my hand in hers, she held it for the longest time and smiled. She said coquettishly, “my, your hands feel mighty warm”.

I loved the attention that I was getting. I was willing to overlook everything about Sherry that perhaps made other men run as fast as they could. I was so hungry for female attention that even when I discovered Sherry had been married five times and had eight children, ages 3 through 12, I overlooked it.

I asked Sherry if she was ready to go to dinner.

“Yes,” she replied.

She kissed her kids goodbye and told Jeannie not to wait up for her, she would be in really late. She grinned at me with a flirtatious smile. We jumped into my silver Capri and sped away to the Silver Dollar Diner located on the east side of Cedar Rapids. It was about seven p.m. as we entered the country-style restaurant, and we were immediately seated in a corner table by the back window. We laughed and told jokes.  I felt a strong chemistry between us. We both ordered the country-fried steak with baked potato and salad. And for dessert, we ordered the banana pudding.

After I paid for our meal, we drove around the city in my silver sports car. We acted like two silly little children-giggling and carrying on.  We parked the car by the river in downtown and talked for hours. Eventually, Sherry moved close to me and pressed her lips against mine. She was done talking. It was about 11 p.m., but the night was just getting started.  #MikeSimpson; #NotMyTimetoGo; #Indigoseapress; #angels; #ThorntonCline

 

(Part four to be continued in August)

 

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FINAL LANDING PAD

           I am so happy that we have finally moved into our very last house. My days of packing and unpacking are done!
As there’s lots of work to do in a previously owned house, there’s lots of work to do around a new house. Most of the work, for me at least, is outside.
I’ve always loved adding flowers to the perimeter of all houses in which we’ve lived. Past houses included creating new beds, sometimes significant, complete with a bench or two and a path through the garden. I’m afraid I’m way over the new bed syndrome. In fact, I’m not even terribly enthusiastic about adding the flowers, vines and such to my perimeters. It’s hard work!
Impatients

          Two houses ago, I discovered perennials. I used to plant mostly annuals. Not anymore. For this house, I’ve planted several annuals for that immediate wow effect. Fortunately, I now live in South Carolina where winters are mostly mild. I expect some of my annuals will come back, e.g., Lantana. One year in Tennessee, where we lived twice for a total of 31 years, my Impatients along a fence border came back. I’ve planted Impatients on the shady side of this house. However, I’m not holding my breath they will come back. After all, the first two years we lived here were unusually cold ones. So, perennials have become my new BFF.
gazing ball

I’ve bought about a half dozen ready to plant perennials such as coneflowers. I love coneflowers. This year, there seems to be a wider variety of new colors. Not only are there the traditional white and pink coneflowers, but there’s yellow and orange that add a lot of wow to any garden.
Now that I have some color in my perimeter garden, I’m relying on buying perennials from catalog nurseries who have, in recent years, expanded to the Internet. I am an avid internet shopper.
Like gardening, I used to be a regular mall shopper. I loved going to the mall. It didn’t matter that I would return home empty handed. I liked looking. Not anymore. It’s too time-consuming, and now, I’d rather get my walking time in walking our dog with my husband. So, the Internet has been a BFF for a long time. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m one of the original avid Internet customers.
One of my favorite catalog/internet nurseries is Spring Hill located in Ohio. I’ve bought from them for probably twenty years and four previous houses. Their prices are reasonable, the variety is significant, the plants hardy and, if some of them don’t make it, they will replace them the next planting season. I bought about a dozen plants this spring and lost only three. I’ll order more plants in the fall. In the meantime, I can’t wait for my hard copy of their catalog. I love looking through the hard copy as I plan what I will order and plant next.
Once I am satisfied that I have filled my gardens with ample flowers and vines, the next target is early spring planting, e.g., daffodils, tulips and such. I was under the impression that those cold weather bulb plants wouldn’t do well in SC. However, the landscaper who mulched and created a beautiful stone edging for my gardens told me they love South Carolina weather. I hope he’s right. I’ll make sure by asking the question of nursery owners. I love spring bulb flowers, so, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that two fall seasons from now, I’ll plant spring bulbs.
My last two homes, I bought worm castings from a company called Worms Way. Castings, when spread in the flower beds, become live brown worms which are the very best way to aerate your gardens. Plus their waste creates wonderful compost. Castings are inexpensive and natural. Worms Way evidently went out of business, but good ole, dependable Amazon had several suppliers. So early spring, I bought castings and spread them throughout the gardens. As I dug holes for my first few annuals, I also dug up a big juicy worm. I was thrilled to see the little guy or gal. I knew I had lots more who were deep in the ground aerating away.
I also bought a compost bin from Amazon. I tried composting several years ago but wasn’t successful. This time, I also bought a thousand red composting wiggler worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. They came packed in a box and secured from crawling around in a green bag. Once my compost bin was put together and set up over the right spot behind a few bushes, I followed the instructions to loosen the soil about 18” X 18.” I then opened the bag dumped in the worms, and the traveling material then covered them with wet newspaper. They will rehydrate and become visibly active as they begin to break down the grass clippings, pine needles, egg shells, banana peels and a few other worm-tasty goodies. I’m looking forward to the worms producing nutrient-enriched compost I will feed my flowers. There’s an added value my compost bin and the wigglers will provide. Because I’ve never been a vegetable gardener, I can dump my dog’s waste into the bin as well. The wigglers will do their job of breaking the waste down into compost.
Not only am I a lover of beautiful flowers, but I also love what is called yard art.

yard art
I recall the first gazing ball I placed in a garden in the backyard of our first house. The red gazing ball sat atop a concrete column. My next door neighbors had never seen a gazing ball. In fact, the female neighbor asked me if I was trying to call home, ala ET fashion. I regret leaving my last red gazing ball atop a wrought iron ball stand for the people who bought our last house. Red gazing balls are hard to find. However, a trip to one of my favorite brick and mortar stores, Hobby Lobby, sent me home with a short stand and a multi-colored blue/pink ball. It’s pretty where it currently sits.

yard art 2
I have other yard art in my gardens such as shepherd hooks with hanging plants, bird baths with sun generated fountains, and melodious wind chimes. My gardens are looking good. I even ordered a second wind spinner like the one I already owned. It’s sitting in the garden I share with a next door neighbor and has the utility box in the middle. I do love wind spinners. This one I have is my favorite. It reminds me of the tall ships of yesteryear.

wind spinner 2
Finishing off my outdoors is my love for birds. I love feeding the birds.
When we began visiting the lot our house sits on; I noted there weren’t too many birds in the area. Surrounded by trees, we chose to back up to one of the two lakes versus the wooded perimeter. I wasn’t confident that I would attract a lot of birds right off the bat. I suspected that I would be able to attract a pair of bluebirds since I did see several. Thus, one of the first things I did was set up my bluebird house. One pair built a nest around the middle of March. I watched the parents build the nest, feed their babies and carry out the small white sacks of poop. Years ago when I began attracting bluebirds, I read they will not nest in a used nest, even their own. I was about to open the box and pull out the nest when I noticed they were back in the box. They had their second nestlings. I lost track of when they began nesting the second time when I noticed that the male was sitting on one of my shepherd hooks with nesting material in his mouth. I walked far enough away to note that he was building a nest in another birdhouse. I thought, hmm, I wonder if there’s a reason they didn’t return to the same box. When I opened the box and put my hand in the nest, I felt an unhatched egg. This time, I pulled the entire nest out of the box. Within a day the pair began building their nest in the original box. I’m told that in South Carolina, bluebirds will nest up to four times each season. I’ll have to keep an eye on the box since I would love to encourage a fourth nest.
Bluebird numbers have declined over the last few decades due to competition with sparrows and Starlings. I’m happy to help the population build to a healthy population again. I’ll keep these birds coming back to my yard all year long too by continuing to feed them mealworms.

blue bird house
We have a Wild Birds Unlimited down the street. They sell live mealworms that are packed in oatmeal. Stored in my refrigerator, I can feed the bluebirds these live worms. I also bought a bag of dried mealworms. In the past, I haven’t had much luck with bluebirds eating the dried variety. However, this pair seem to love both. The dried worms are less expensive and easier to store.
I do also have a nice variety of other species that include: cardinals, sparrows, purple finches and the cutest little birds I can’t identify. This little bird makes a squeaky sound much like the squeaky sound of a dog’s squeaky toy. One of the couples nested in a box hanging from one side of a double shepherd hook. I need to take a photo of them and ask the people at Wild Birds Unlimited if they can help me to identify this sweet bird.  Backing up to a lake is fun for bird viewing as well.  It’s a new lake, however, we already have a few Egrets, two Blue Herons and a small Green Heron who visit frequently.  Oh, did I mention, we also have our very own alligator?
alligator on bank

In the past, I’ve been fortunate to attract hummingbirds. I did not expect that I would attract these little acrobats this year. However, I put out a feeder in April.

hummer2

To my surprise, two little gymnasts showed up almost immediately. They must have been waiting for me to come along.
I’m well on my way to finishing planting so I can have years of enjoying my flowers spread and bloom with little more needed from me than to feed them, compost around them and provide sufficient drinks of water. I’m looking forward to my low-maintenance yard in the not too distant future; one that’s alive with color, butterflies, hummingbirds and the songs of birds along with chimes singing to a soft breeze. All will soothe my soul as I sit on my upper deck or lower patio reading or falling to sleep.

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The Woods – 7 Return to the House (1985) by LV Gaudet

1The Woods:

1 – The Woods – The Dare (1985)

2 – Thirty Years Later – The Old Bennet House is for Sale (2015)

3 – The Woods – Jesse Hears a Noise (1985)

4 – The House – First Entry in 30 Years (2015)

5 – The Woods – Return to the House (1985)

6 – The Woods – Inspecting The House (2015)

 

1985

The boys race back, crawling over the rotting downed tree, and through the woods.  They can see the house through the barren limbs of the trees, branches that stick out, their branching fingers trying to block their view of home.  They push through those branches, some twisted in odd directions, misshapen bony arms that were broken and healed to grow that way. They focus on the house through the trees.  Home.

They break free of the woods into the sudden freedom of their yard. Their boots slip on the snow, sloppy wet from the early spring melt.

A discarded bike lies on the ground, half buried, sticking out of the snow like the skeletal remains of a man fallen in an odd position.

“The grass,” Kevin calls breathlessly as they run for the house.

“We must have imagined it,” Jesse pants.

They charge into the house again, kicking off their boots, racing past the comic and discarded socks, to the kitchen again, calling.

“Mom!”

“Mom?”

“Mom!”

She isn’t there.  They search the house again.

“She’s not here.”

“Next door?”

Jesse frowns.

“Come on,” Kevin urges.

They head to the back door again, pulling their boots on, and going out.  They go around to the side, heading for the front.

“Kevin! Kevin!” Jesse cries.

Kevin blinks, disoriented. It’s hard to breathe, a crushing weight is pressing down on his chest. He tries to move and can’t. He’s pinned down.

Kevin is laying on his back in the snow. He stares at the bare branches of bushes pushing up through the snow around him and the bare branches of trees above.

“Jessie? What’s happening?” His voice is cracking with fear.

He is pinned beneath the rotting fallen tree they had climbed over earlier.

“How?” he croaks.

“Kevin?” Jesse’s voice is shaky.

Jesse takes a step back, staring fixatedly ahead, stopped by a tree behind him.

“Kevin, what’s happening?”

Before him is the rotting old stump, its sharp splinters and points of shattered wood sticking up, soft and crumbly with rot. He feels vertigo, the world seems tilted, and he feels the sickening sensation of falling.  Falling on the sharp jagged edges sticking up from the stump. He imagines himself impaled and his blood oozing out to drip down the stump, staining the snow and rotting leaves.

He turns and staggers away, looking for Kevin.

He takes four or five steps before he spots him.

“KEVIN!”

Jesse runs and falls on him, clawing at the snow and the downed tree, his fingers scratching at the rotting wood, trying to dig at the ground still hardened with the winter frost.

He’s sobbing as he frantically tries to dig his brother out.

 

* *   ***  **  ***  **  ***  **

20170629_174708.jpg

Author’s Note

Summer is here, and with it another year of every night busyness running around officially ends with the closing ring of the school bells.

This weekend we celebrate Canada Day here in the Northern part of North America and it is a big one inspiring a more intense round of both celebrations and protesting the act of celebrating the country.

This year Canada celebrate’s 150 years of Canada’s anniversary of confederation.  Whether that is good or bad depends on which side of that argument you are on.

Across Canada, people are asking, “What is Canada to you?” in an effort to determine that hard to pin down intangible thing, the Canadian identity.

In our new world, this 150 year benchmark celebration also brings the (no surprise) never ending threat which hangs a darker cloud over the world: ISIS’s war against the world and threats of attacks during the celebrations.

While our police and military will stand on guard for us against all threats, including terror, drunk drivers, and possibly the occasional summer spider; and scores will celebrate hugely this weekend; I will have a nice quiet summer weekend with friends, deep fry, wine, and a small local book signing.

Go Canada!  All of us who make Canada what it is: the indigenous celebrating more than 150 years of  making this country what it is today, the immigrants and refugees from around the world who add so much diversity, whether they are new first generation people welcomed to our country, or second or third or older generations,  and the generations born here whose ancestors colonized this great country.  For better or worse, we are all a village.  Together, we are Canada.

 

Follow The Woods installments

 

L.V. Gaudet is the author of Where the Bodies Are and The McAllister Farm
where the bodies are

 

What kind of dark secret pushes a man to commit the unimaginable, even as he is sickened by his own actions? Find out in Where the Bodies Are.

 

The McAllister Farm-cover 1

Take a step back in time to learn the secret behind the bodies in Where the Bodies Are:  The McAllister Farm reveals the secrets behind the man who created the killer.

 

Link to purchase these books by L.V. Gaudet

 

 

Link to reviews of Where the Bodies Are on Angie’s Diary

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Seaside Daisy? Am I Crazy? by Sherrie Hansen

What started it all was a stretch of wind-swept, treeless terrain and a bright blue cottage built from timber washed ashore after a shipwreck. I’ve always loved the notion of “if these walls could speak”. And building a house out of second-hand lumber sounds just like something a Hansen would do.

Ireland - blue cottage

How many men died aboard the ship this cottage used to be, trying to navigate the churning waters of the Atlantic, I’ll never know, but these much-treasured, repurposed boards live on as part of their legacy.

Ireland - daisies fence

Have I made my case? Writing a book set in Ireland is a perfectly fine thing to do. Still, I felt like I was cheating on Scotland the whole time we were in Ireland, Wales and southern England last month. Everyone who reads my blog knows that my love affair with Scotland has taken me through over five weeks of exploration of the bonnie country (in both 2007 and 2016) and five Wildflowers of Scotland novels – WILD ROSE and THISTLE DOWN, a prequel novella, set at St. Conan’s Kirk on Loch Awe, BLUE BELLE, in and around Tobermory’s rainbow tinted harbor and cottages, castles and white sand beaches on the Isle of Mull, SHY VIOLET, set in Dornie at the magnificent Eilean Donan Castle, SWEET WILLIAM, in the nearby highlands and on the Isle of Skye, and now, GOLDEN ROD, set against the backdrop of Wester-Ross and lovely Lochcarron’s wooded shores.

the-wildflowers-of-scotland-novels

GOLDEN ROD is almost ready for the press. I’m very excited to know that soon, people will be holding freshly printed copies in their hands and reading the story of  Katelyn O’Neal, a well-intentioned but naïve American who inherits a castle in Scotland. Katelyn is thrilled to have an opportunity to sell Lachlan Castle to a wealthy bidder who is a client at the PR firm where she words because her twelve-year-old niece is dying and needs a very expensive, specialized treatment. Then she meets the “rightful” heir, Rod MacKenzie. As the “legal” heir, she has every right to cast Rod out of his home, and to destroy the beloved garden that is his legacy. She has no other choice if she wants to save Kacie’s life. But when a desperate pair of 500-year-old ghosts intervene, the whole course of history could change.  GOLDEN ROD is a two-week romp through a lifetime of legends that I think you’ll find both amusing and uplifting.

Golden Rod Front Cover Final

But now, even as GOLDEN ROD is being birthed, a lass named SEASIDE DAISY is calling out to me. She hails from Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way and a town named Dingle. My fickle heart has already fallen in love with the people and places of Ireland’s western-most peninsula.

Ireland - daisy sea

Sea caves and standing stones dotting the shoreline, pale lavender and white seaside daisies with yellow centers bent almost flat from the pounding rain and wind – but still blossoming, and even thriving – tell a story of perseverance and determination that captivates my imagination.

Ireland - Daisy lavender

Colourful shoppes filled with driftwood sculptures, fuchsia fairies dangling from lacy branches, and sea glass and beach pottery made into jewelry, call out to me.

Ireland - driftwood horses  Ireland - fairies  Ireland - vase

Constantly changing, ever dramatic skies and rainbows appearing and disappearing in the mist stoke my curiosity until I know I cannot NOT tell this story.

Ireland - beach

Ireland - rainbow

Bicycles. Black-faced sheep with curly horns. Hidden beaches, abandoned bothies, and crumbling battlements… The Wild Atlantic Way. Wild in what way?

Ireland - bicycle  Ireland - sheep

Overgrown rose gardens, fuchsia hedgerows, quirky hat hires, seafood chowder and Irish stew…  It may be a bunch of blarney, but it’s all so exciting and new!

Ireland - flowers  Ireland - fuchsia

Ireland - Hat Hire

Ireland - Seafood chowder

Scotland, it’s been swell. You know I’ll be back. There’s Aberfeldy, Dornoch, St. Andrews and Portree – and many more amazing castles waiting to be explored.

S - Inverary Castle

But I need to find out about this new place and its wild, wonderful ways.

Ireland - sun beach

Read GOLDEN ROD. You’ll agree with me when I say that after all they’ve been through, Rod and Katelyn need a vacation – or might it be a honeymoon? Perhaps they’ll find themselves on a ferry boat traveling across the Irish Sea? Michael and Isabelle from BLUE BELLE might be there, too, on a bicycle built for two, because Isabelle loves to pedal and Michael needs to know if Daisy will give Cavan Donaghue her answer true. Don’t you?  Only eight pages in and I’m already crazy over the likes of these two.

Ireland - daisies Sherrie Hansen’s Bio:
Twenty-five years ago, Sherrie rescued a dilapidated Victorian house in northern Iowa from the bulldozer’s grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn.  Sherrie has also lived in Colorado Springs, CO, Augsburg, Germany, Wheaton, IL, and Bar Harbor, Maine. She grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota. After 12 years of writing romance novels, Sherrie met and married her real-life hero, Mark Decker, a pastor. They now share homes in 2 different towns, 85 miles apart, and Sherrie writes on the run whenever she has a spare minute. Sherrie enjoys playing the piano, photography, traveling, and going on weekly adventures with her nieces and nephew. “Golden Rod” is Sherrie’s tenth book to be published by Indigo Sea Press.

Links:

http://www.facebook.com/SherrieHansenAuthor
http://sherriehansen.wordpress.com/
http://www.BlueBelleInn.com or http://www.BlueBelleBooks.com
https://twitter.com/SherrieHansen
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2870454.Sherrie_Hansen

https://www.pinterest.com/sherriebluebell/

Wildflowers of Scotland Novels by Sherrie Hansen (3)

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The End Times by John E. Stack

We are in the end times and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. What? No, not THOSE end times, but kids are out of school and report cards come out next week.  Teachers are still working.  The end of the year is full of surprises for students and teachers alike.  I do many things like writing, foster parenting, drawing, woodworking, helping take care of a seven-year-old, and the list keeps going.  But, out of the many things that I do, my main job is that of a middle school teacher. 

I have observed many things.  Some kids will find out that they are not as smart as they think they are.  And, some parents will find out that their kids aren’t as smart as they thought they were.  Some will find that their child was smart and could do the work.  Others will find out that their smart child doesn’t work up to their potential.  And, a lot of this will be the teacher’s fault.

Now-a-days, almost everyone gets promoted, whether they need to or not.  Sometimes the child is just too old be with younger children.  I think fifteen is the maximum age for kids to stay in middle school, so off they go to become someone else’s problem.  Sometimes those children have an epiphany in high school and realize that their free ride is quickly coming to an end and making minimum wage is not enough to survive on.  Others never get it.

I was blessed this year and taught some super kids and I will miss them.  I had an unusual assortment of teaching positions this year.  On one day I taught math study skills to multiple classes of middle school boys and on the next day I was the in-school suspension teacher.  At the end of the second quarter, a teacher went out on maternity leave and I was asked to take over her classes.  Job Change!!!  I became a sixth grade math teacher.

I’m in my nineteenth year of teaching math and I have never taught sixth grade more than one day when another teacher was absent.  It scared me to death.  These were little tiny sixth graders, except for the couple of eleven-year-olds that stood over six feet tall.  I was told I needed to tone down my personality.  But, no matter how hard I tried, that 8th grade teacher inside of me (yeah, the loud one) kept sneaking out.  But I made it to the end, and some of the sweet children actually cried when I had to leave.  They were either tears of joy or sadness, I’m not sure which.  I’ve always said that I bring joy into the life of everyone that I meet, some when I come into the room and others when I leave.  I choose sadness.

But, just like children get promoted, so do teachers.  I spent time in sixth grade and next year I get to spend time in seventh grade.  I don’t get to teach math, though, I get to teach Social studies, American History, to be exact.  Now, I’ve spent a lot of time in the social studies classrooms, usually to harass the other teacher, but never to teach.  That is unless you count my student teaching nineteen years ago, when I taught two math classes and two social studies classes.  Maybe it’s because I’ve lived through a lot of US history, not most, but a lot.  In all actuality, a friend of mine retired and my school lost a math position, so in order to keep me at the school I was selected. Therefore, I still have a job.  There are few things better than a regular paycheck.

So, now I’m out for the summer and real work begins.  Don’t start on how teachers are so lucky, because we get two months paid vacation, ‘cause we don’t.  We are employed for 10 months, so we can elect to have those checks paid over twelve months or we have to figure out how to save and pay ourselves for those two months.  Anyway, I will probably work harder over the next two months than I did most of the year.  My honey-do list awaits.

By the way, since you’re reading my blog, click the link and check out some of my other writings.

 

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.

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How Not To Write A Novel by Sheila Deeth

The problem with being a published author is that friends sometimes assume I know what I’m doing. I don’t. But I am learning. So here is a list of things I’ve learned about how not to write a novel:

  1. Don’t write what you don’t know. My first novel, written in elementary school, included a woman getting pregnant and giving birth six weeks later. I suspect if I’d had any readers they might have said this couldn’t be true.
  2. Don’t tell your characters to go away. In high school and young adulthood I still wanted to write. But every time I started a novel this character, someone awfully like me, demanded I let her take over. I didn’t want to write about her. I wished she’d go away, but of course, she wouldn’t. Characters rarely obey.
  3. Don’t write about yourself. Hoping to dispel my intrusive stranger, I tried my hand at autobiography. It didn’t work. She  was there again, complaining, “No, that’s you. It didn’t happen that way to me.” I gave up and wrote her story instead, and learned a lot from her. Later she introduced me to someone else, a character in my first-ever published novel, and at last she stepped aside. Thus Infinite Sum was born.
  4. Don’t forget the timeline. But that was later. Before then I gave up on writing novels, assuming they’d need too much time. I stuck to short stories–tons of them–where the same set of characters kept reappearing and meeting over again. One of these turned out to be a murderer, much to my surprise (probably his as well), at which point I decided to stick the stories together into a novel. All went well until my wonderful editor pointed out that one sister aged two years while the other didn’t change. Time for a timeline! Lesson learned.
  5. Don’t expect it to sell. Still dreaming, I still hope that first novel might turn into the start of something spectacular. It’s called Divide by Zero. It’s a tapestry of small town lives woven around a small town singularity. It’s moderately invisible on Amazon. But…
  6. Don’t stop writing, because the more novels you have out there, the better chance you have that one might sell. (That’s the mathematician in me, checking out the odds…)
  7. Don’t write in first person. They told me that long ago and it was easy when I wove Divide by Zero together. With so many characters each chapter clearly belonged to someone else–first person would have been hopelessly confusing. But my second novel was different. My character wanted to tell her tale her way, which meant I had to make sure I wrote in her voice and never mine. Harder work than I expected.
  8. Don’t write from multiple points of view. I didn’t hear this instruction until too late. Divide by Zero was inherently created from multiple points of view. But Infinite Sum enjoys just one narrator (yes, first person), so it’s more straight forward. Then comes my third novel, with two viewpoints warring, and a cat. It’s called Subtraction, and it due for release on August first.
  9. Don’t try to change the time and place. With Subtraction speeding toward release, I’m working on novel number four. In its first life this one was set somewhere else with different characters living in a different time. Now I’m reworking it for the Mathemafiction Series. I have to check up when people started using cell phones, computers, reading online, wearing different clothes… Whatever possessed me to think I could do this? (The characters, of course. They insisted I’d got everything wrong first time.)
  10. And finally don’t rewrite before rereading. Sadly, I needed that piece of advice before Imaginary Numbers took over my life. I don’t even remember where the plotline is meant to go. But the characters aren’t concerned. They assure me they’ll take the right way this time, implying, of course, that I got it so terribly wrong before. They’re bossy, my characters. And they really don’t care one jot about my flagging self-esteem.

So those are my ten don’ts. And now for my dos.

  1. Do read.
  2. Do write.
  3. Do listen.
  4. Do let someone else read what you’re writing.
  5. Then listen well to their advice. It’s sure to be better than mine.

Sheila Deeth is the author of the Mathemafiction Novels, published by Indigo Sea Press. Her first novel, Divide by Zero, weaves a tapestry of small town lives around a singular death. The second book, Infinite Sum, presents the story of a wounded woman finding a path through the infinite sum of troubles in her past. Book three, Subtraction, will be released on August 1st. It tells how a man who’s lost everything might seek a missing child and find himself. And in Imaginary Numbers… Who knows? The novels explore guilt and forgiveness, and Sheila begs your forgiveness for her inability to tell where Imaginary Numbers will go.

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Medicare Redicare

For the last three years, I’ve had the same Medicare company and so this year I assumed my healthcare appointments, coverage, providers, etc. would probably remain pretty much the same as in previous years. However, I’m finding changes and they’ve kind of surprised me. A couple of days ago, I received a letter from my company stating they are “making it easier to take charge of my health.” Are they saying it’s going to be easier for ME to take charge of my health, or that they are making it easier on THEM to take charge? Hmmm.

I decided to continue reading to see if the answer lay further on. Ah, ha! The very next sentence stated my company was working with another company to bring a mobile clinic to my neighborhood in order to give me preventative health screenings close to home. And these screenings would be custom geared to my specific health needs and could be completed in one appointment. Then to top it all off, these screenings would be provided to me at no extra charge. Gosh, I feel as though I’ve won the lottery! All I needed to do was call a certain phone number and I could get scheduled. Wow, huh?

I couldn’t decide what to do with the letter, so, like Scarlett O’Hara I left it sitting on the counter in my kitchen and went on with my day. Then the next day, I received a phone call from a cute sounding young man from my company (we’ll call him “Brad” since he may have called you, too) who asked if I’d gotten a letter from them recently about this screening company. I told him I had and he said he was calling to get me signed up and scheduled for an appointment. How efficient! “Brad” explained that when the results came back from the different tests conducted, they would be sent to my primary doctor and she would discuss the results with me in a subsequent visit.  I told him I thought that would work out well since I was already scheduled to see her for a checkup in early August.

I secretly was thinking it seemed strange to me to have this company schedule screenings this late in the year since each Medicare year begins in January. I may have already had these screenings because I see my primary doctor for a checkup about three times a year, as it is, and each time she covers a screening or two—but what do I know.

I asked “Brad” where the location was of this screening place and he told me it was a mobile unit near my local Winn Dixie grocery store. Then he asked me if I was able to climb a few steps. I told him I was old, but not too old to get into a trailer. I guess it must have been the way I said it, because “Brad” burst out laughing, which caused me to get tickled, too. I was becoming fond of “Brad.” He told me I had a good sense of humor and suddenly I thought of him calling seniors all day who were likely seriously obsessed with their own health issues and probably not much fun to talk with. Poor kid. I asked him if his job was tedious and he said, not at all. He was helping people get the care they needed. Okay, his reply may have been scripted, but he answered so quickly, I felt he was being sincere. Now I was ready to adopt “Brad!”

So I can honestly say I spoke with someone today who seemed to sincerely care. How often do we feel that way these days? I hope all you other seniors out there get a call from “Brad.”

 

Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month.

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