Spring Busy-ness

Near the end of March, things get really busy around here. I’m busy judging various writing contests and acting like I know something. I’m an officer of a couple of organizations, one of which requires several hours of work per month.

My house is in dire need of a good Spring cleaning, and my yard…don’t even get me started. I need to schedule my schedule. So my blog posts have been a little skimpy lately. I doubt anyone really noticed, because everyone is so very busy. After all, it’s Spring.

So, since I really need to be cleaning and reading and writing, etc., this post will end with a couple of announcements and a meme. Well, maybe not a meme, because I forgot to make one. Anyway, I hope you’ll bear with me through all this busy-ness, because in a short few weeks, I have another book coming out. I’m so excited! And…there will giveaways! So watch this space.

Short, short stories!

Do you like to write really, really, really short stories? Like, for instance, six-word stories? Quite a challenge, I know.

During the month of April, at Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My! we’re having a little fun with six-word story prompts. Each of our Monday and Friday posts will offer a 3-word prompt for you to finish as a six-word story. That means you only have to come up with three words to finish the story. The best of those entered will be publicized on Facebook and Twitter on a weekly, or even bi-weekly basis (if we have enough entries). Then the Writing Prompts crew will vote on their favorite. The winner will receive a gift card and even more publicity!

Sounds like fun, huh? You might want to click on over there now (here’s another link) and follow the blog so you’ll get an email when we post. This month, we’re talking about our favorite modern authors. Next month, it’s tips on cleaning (Ugh–just in time for spring cleaning).

One other really cool thing about the Writing Prompts blog–every Wednesday–we feature a different writer in a post called “3 Questions Wednesday.” Those writers almost always give away a book to one reader. All you have to do is leave a comment on their 3 Questions Wednesday post. But pay attention to the interview date. If they’re giving a book, it’s usually the next week after their post runs.

So that’s all my important news for now. I have to get back to my work-in-progress. I left my protagonist in a mess!

The Winter That Almost Wasn’t

This is my usual stance in Winter, waiting for that first glimpse of Spring!

But this year, the first glimpse of Spring happened in … December! When we should’ve been shoveling snow, we were worrying over sprouts.

 

Here we are in mid-March with buttercups, crocuses, and forsythias blooming.

We’ve already had high seventies and sunshine.

And then, today … snow flurries and twenties … but we know it won’t last. You can’t hold back the Spring.

Forty years ago, we had two of the coldest winters on record. In 1978, the Ohio River froze over. I’d never seen anything like that. And now, the 2016-2017 winter almost wasn’t. Not complaining.

I’m even looking forward to these guys. ⇒⇒

I’m planning new ways to outsmart them.

What’s the weather been like in your area?

Coming up: Exciting News!

See you back here next week.

A Bowl of Lemons

lemons-368914_1280What comes to mind as you look at this photo?

Most of us think of the saying, “When life hands you a bowl of lemons…”

What does that mean? Sometimes life is tough, bitter, sour to the taste. So what do you prefer to do with a bowl of lemons? beverage-1030150_1280

Many of us will do this⇒⇒⇒

Be sure you have plenty of sugar on hand, (honey, or other sweetener). You’re going to need it.

When I was in first grade, we lived in San Diego. A lemon tree grew in our back yard. I’ll never forget sitting in the car on the street, the day we arrived at this rental home. The song on the radio–Lemon tree, very pretty…

It was a small, but very pretty tree. The blossoms smelled amazing. The lemons were large and beautiful. But you can’t really bite into them, unless you’re one of those who really love the sour taste. Is your mouth reacting to a memory right now? Mine is!Funny man Discharged

So, back to life and its situations. Sometimes things don’t go well. Sometimes it really does seem that you’ve been handed a bowlful of lemons. Less than perfect. What you do with what you’ve been given says a lot about your character. If you smile and make the best of it, you’re adding the sweetener to the bitter, sour taste and making it more palatable. (That’s my dad in the photo–being very silly–but looks like he might’ve taken a bite out of a lemon.)

They say it’s good for you to drink a cup of warm water with lemon every morning. Adds a bit of zest to your life, energizes you, and keeps you regular. It could even help keep your weight down. Now that’s making the best of it, isn’t it?

I prefer to make lemon cream pie with all those lemons, which doesn’t help keep the weight down, but it puts a definite smile on my face. I am one who will take an occasional bite of a lemon. I love the sour taste.

tea-with-lemon-783352_1280Whatever your preference, make the best of what you’ve been given. Put on a smile when you don’t feel like it. People will marvel at your strength and be encouraged by your attitude. It’s like mixing up a big pitcher of lemonade and sharing it with your friends. You’ll feel better, too.

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When I Am Afraid

girl-1246525_1280“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
     In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?”–Psalm 56:3-4 NIV

cat-393294_1280If you struggle with feelings of fear, you are not alone. Most of us do, at one time or another. The words of this psalm, penned by David after he’d been captured by the Philistines –wait–isn’t this the same bunch whose champion, a nine-foot-tall giant–fell to the shepherd boy, David?

Yes.

He’s down, but not out. He’ll be back. He knows they can’t harm him–at least, he’s pretty sure–because he’s the Lord’s anointed. But that doesn’t stop the temporary feeling of fear.

Notice I said temporary.

dog-708376_1280Before the actual physical circumstances change, David will talk and sing and praise his way out of the stronghold of fear in his life. Breakthrough. This is an important key. Sometimes you have to take a stand. Sometimes you have to talk your way out of a bad spot, if only in your own mind or spirit–convince yourself–remind yourself of who you are and Who’s you are.

There’s a great example of this type of praise tactic in Psalm 31:

“Praise be to the Lord,
    for he showed me the wonders of his love
    when I was in a city under siege.
22 In my alarm I said,
    “I am cut off from your sight!”
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
    when I called to you for help.

23 Love the Lord, all his faithful people!
    The Lord preserves those who are true to him,
    but the proud he pays back in full.
24 Be strong and take heart,
    all you who hope in the Lord.”

In the beginning of that Psalm (verse 1-5), David gave himself and his circumstances to the will of his Father in Heaven. He was hoping to live, and not die, as the rest of this Psalm shows.

From the cross, Jesus quoted part of verse 5: “Into your hands I commit my spirit;” –He didn’t finish the quote, perhaps because He knew His fate was different. Jesus gave himself up to the will of His Father in Heaven, trusting in His ultimate deliverance. He had a greater outcome in his sights.

But David prayed, “Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.”

Ultimately, we have to trust that God will deliver us, one  way or the other. Sometimes, it’s the only answer.dontdarequit

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Featuring: Ann Gabhart, Author

Welcome to my brand new, once-a-month feature page. First up, is fellow Kentucky writer, Ann Gabhart. Ann lives a life that some of us dream about. Her vistas include fields and woods instead of privacy fences and garages (my view right now). Ann GabhartShe often brings her Facebook followers along on her walks with her dog, Oscar. We get  the occasional glimpse at her heavily-populated bird feeder, or a lovely flower garden. You can follow along too, by “liking” her author page at https://www.facebook.com/AnnGabhart/.

Ann’s writing voice is often quiet and peaceful, like the land that surrounds her. But she has plenty of grandchildren to keep her young and vibrant. I love to check in with her, read her latest blog post, newsletter, or Facebook status. These often include pictures from her morning walk.

But enough about that. Ann Gabhart made a name for herself writing a different sort of “bonnet book”–Shaker novels. If you know anything about the Shakers, you might be surprised that she found a way to add romance to their lives.

anng-1I’m a big fan of her Rosey Corner books, and also the Hollyhill books. And the local historical novel, Words Spoken True, holds a permanent spot on my bookshelf.

But I am intrigued with the new cozy mystery novels she’s writing. Called “The Hidden Springs Mysteries”, these novels are also set in Kentucky. The first of those, Murder at the Courthouse, was published in October, 2015. [By the way, it’s free on Kindle right now–click the picture of the book to go there!]

About the book: After a few years as a police officer in Columbus, Michael Keane has no trouble relaxing into the far less stressful job of deputy sheriff in his small hometown. After all, nothing ever happens in Hidden Springs, Kentucky. Nothing, that is, until a dead body is discovered on the courthouse steps. Everyone in town is a little uneasy. Still, no one is terribly worried–after all the man was a stranger–until one of their own is murdered right on Main Street.

As Michael works to solve the case it seems that every nosy resident in town has a theory. When the sheriff insists Michael check out one of these harebrained theories, his surprising discovery sends him on a bewildering search for a mysterious killer that has him questioning everything he has ever believed about life in Hidden Springs.

Bringing with her a knack for creating settings you want to visit and an uncanny ability to bring characters to life, A. H. Gabhart pens a whodunit that will keep readers guessing.

anng-2I love the cover of the second book, Murder Comes by Mail — this one is on my TBR (to be read) list!

A Cozy Mystery Complete with a Small Town Full of Charming, Quirky Characters

About the book: Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane doesn’t particularly enjoy being touted as the hero of Hidden Springs after pulling a suicidal man back from the edge of the Eagle River bridge in front of dozens of witnesses–a few of whom caught the breathtaking moments with their cameras. But the media hype doesn’t last long as a new story pushes its way into the public consciousness of Hidden Springs’ concerned citizens.

Photos of a dead girl arrive in the mail, and Michael becomes convinced she was murdered by the man he saved. With a killer one step ahead, things in Hidden Springs begin to unravel. Now Michael must protect the people he loves–because the killer could be targeting one of them next.

Readers will love racing along with Deputy Sheriff Keane as the clock ticks in this page-turning mystery.

Next up, Murder is No Accident (available now for pre-order). This book’s official release date is March 14, 2017. From the back of the book: One body may be an accident. A second body means murder.

anng-3About the book: The old Chandler place should be empty. The magnificent Victorian mansion is for sale, even if its aged owner Miss Fonda doesn’t realize it. But when real estate agent Geraldine Harper enters the house on a sunny October day, she’s not alone. Minutes later, there is a body at the bottom of the steep steps leading to the tower room.

Deputy sheriff Michael Keane is called in. At first blush, it looks like the death was a tragic accident, but clues point to foul play. And when a second body is discovered, the race is on to find the culprit . . . before someone else dies.

If you like your small-town America sweet and quirky–with a dash of sinister–you’ll love this latest whodunit from deft storyteller A. H. Gabhart.

You’ll find Ann Gabhart’s books available at many outlets, including bookstores, Walmart, and Meijer. If you’ve never read one of her books, I urge you to get one today. Grab that free one on Kindle. I think you’ll be pleased.

Ann H. Gabhart is a bestselling author of many novels, including Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and Love Comes Home, and several popular Shaker novels such as The Outsider, The Believer, and The Innocent. Ann grew up in a small rural town in Kentucky much like Hidden Springs, but she is happy to report nobody was ever murdered on her hometown’s courthouse steps. Ann and her husband still live on a farm near that same little town in Kentucky. Learn more at www.annhgabhart.com.

As always, thanks for stopping by my blog.

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Hearts and Flowers

Ah, Valentine’s Day.

bouquet-of-roses-1246490_1280Will I get flowers?

Or chocolate? By the way–just so you’ll know–chocolate in any form is always nice, and perfectly acceptable. Hot chocolate . . . chocolate cookies . . . a chocolate lab . . .

A cutesy Valentine card,

valentine-1170622_1280Even a bowl of sweet tart hearts will show you didn’t forget what day it is.

valentine-candy-626446_1280dinner-table-1433494_1280

I wouldn’t mind a fancy dinner.

pizza-1702652_1280

Or even one not so fancy–just so I don’t have to cook or wash dishes.

 

Oh, and something like this–

diamond-1817292_1280

Always welcome! 🙂

So, those of you who stuck with me till the end, what’s your favorite Valentine’s gift? Do you remember your first Valentine?

What’s your favorite love story, book, or movie?

valentine, valentine's dayHappy Valentine’s Day!

 

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Mid-Winter Daydreams

Happy last day of January!

travel-1749508_1280These are not my shoes. This is not my view.

But I would like to be there, wearing those shoes, and enjoying that view. I think it would be nice to be sitting on a large deck, looking down on that. And I hope the deck is attached to a house with expansive windows and an oversized fireplace.

beach-1877070_1920These are not my shoes. This is a not my view, either.

But just looking at it warms me. And I can almost smell the salty air, and hear the sound of the surf. I wouldn’t mind a view like this one right now. A home by the sea would be mighty fine.

feet-1567104_1280Not my shoes. Not my view.

But I’m seriously considering buying a pair of cons. They look comfy, don’t they? I love this scene. I imagine it a pastoral one, with the smell of livestock, and freshly-turned earth filling the air. Birdsong and crickets are all I need to send me into a pleasant little siesta.

shoes-698533_1280By now, you know the drill: Not my shoes, not my view.

What I find most interesting in this last photo–the print of a bare foot above the shoes. My favorite way to traverse a sandy beach, feeling the warm, damp sand against the soles of my feet.

Daydreaming? Yes, happily.

But more than that, I think. Photographs, especially pleasant ones, can have a positive effect. Like enjoying fine art, it transports you, if you let it. And in the darker days of midwinter, when the sun often hides its face, sometimes we need a little inspiration.

  • Which of the above photos stir you most?
  • Are you a mountain person, or a beachcomber?
  • A hiker, or a swimmer?
  • Do you love the outdoors, no matter the season?
  • What’s on your travel bucket-list?