Life is filled with beginnings and endings; ebbs and flows, and ups and downs. It sounds so philosophical and wise. Unless, of course, I’m the one in an ending and don’t see a beginning close at hand, or I’m in a down that sees no up in sight. I’ve told myself many times this to shall pass and it usually does. But, sometimes it means saying goodbye to what I’ve known, and heading down a path that is new and foreign to me. Goodbyes are never easy. I find them hard to do even in the best of circumstances.
Over the years I’ve had to face my comfortable beliefs being challenged by new ideas, and change. Thankfully, I didn’t freeze in time. I’ve seen my faith reduced to its simplest form, to Love, which is one of the hardest things to do, and yet the greatest. I have had to say goodbye to friends, to a way of life that was familiar, and to start over again.
And so it begins again, another goodbye. A little over a week ago my big brother passed away. Anyone who has ever lost someone they love, knows how hard it is to say goodbye to them. A big brother is someone special to have on your side. Eight years older than this pesky sister I followed him around whenever he was home. On more than one occasion I would sneak downstairs to watch him and his friends dance. He loved to dance and was often found among the dancers on Denver Bandstand back in the day. I was his greatest fan. He was my handsome big brother and I loved to be around him. He played the guitar, sang, and was in a band when he was young.
My brother was an Eagle Scout, had a photographic memory, and was a coach. He was a husband, father, and grandfather. He was witty and fun to be around. Somehow I must find the way to say goodbye and I’m not ready to. I want to have one more conversation, and see him one more time. I want to hear another one of his witty comebacks. I have a hope of seeing him again, but it’s the here and now that hurts like crazy. I have to figure out how to do life without a big brother and I’m not sure I like the idea. Rest in peace big brother you will be missed.
Writing is more than simply putting words on a page. It has been an adventure in finding my voice and putting it down on paper. It’s about letting my characters become a part of me while still remaining myself.
I have been on a writing marathon the last few weeks. The story is building to the point I have to finish it to see how it all turns out. Putting words on paper and watching the story come to life is therapy for me. I get lost in what I am writing and yet at the same time I find myself coming through the words on every page. It’s a strange world of wonder and pure magic to me.
When I write in my own strange way I am trying to make sense of a world that often makes no sense at all. It’s not tidy, wrapped up in a bow, but often unpredictable and crazy. Life, like my books, has lots of plot twists and turns. I can’t say I understand them, I don’t, many leave me shaking my head. But writing allows me to quiet my mind so that I’m free to hear the whispers of my heart.
Getting the beginning just right takes work, winding my way through the middle of the book often times seems messy, but the end results can leave me feeling satisfied and almost euphoric. The perfect title is the icing on the cake. After i write the words The End, I walk away for a day or two until the urge to create begins in me once again. I’ll go down another road, around the curve, and weave my way through another adventure.
“The statistics of illiteracy in our country haven’t changed much in the past ten years. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Education, 32 million adults or approximately 14 % of the population can’t read. Another 30 million adults read at or below a fifth grade level. While approximately 63 million read at levels between sixth to eighth grade. On a global scale, illiteracy affects 774 million adults aged 15 or older. Among developed nations, the U.S. ranks 16th for adult reading skills. Between 40 and 44 million adults, or roughly 20 to 23% of adults in the U.S., are limited to reading at the basic or below basic proficiency levels. ” Credit Donkey
I am grateful for a mother who read to me and encouraged me to read. I can still remember the many times I went to the bookmobile parked in the school parking lot and checked out books. I would carry several books home every two weeks, which gave me hours of entertainment. I still read at least one to two books a week. That is why I am happy to be one of the many authors who will be a part of the Colorado Book Festival at the Denver Public Library on March 3. We will be there to celebrate reading, writing, and literacy in America one book at a time.
I’ve only been writing for about six years professionally, although I’ve dabbled in it most of my life. I enjoy writing fiction, the most. I love how the right words placed in the right order can bring a scene to life on a page. I enjoy watching my characters develop, they are like familiar friends to me. I find the twists and turns in the plot intriguing. Once I let the characters loose I can’t wait to see where they take me. I’m hooked from the first words on the page and I have to keep writing to see how the story ends. Layer by layer I build it until I come to the happy conclusion.
Recently I got to hear the audible of “Dance with a Devil”. What an experience for me. Hearing it read in character was both unique and awesome. Some of the scenes were scary. Strange, I never thought of them that way when I was writing the story. I must detach myself as I write. The audible will be available sometime this year. Book six is with my editor now and seven is in process.
2017 was a good year. I had two books published, Dance With A Devil and Only A Shadow. I attended the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference and had several book signings. I also enjoyed attending a book club who has read all of my books. I love to hear folks talking about the story as they see it.
2018 is off and I’m running. I have a big event in March which I’m excited to be a part of. It is the Colorado Book Festival. I am one of many authors involved. Writing and reading go hand in hand. I feel strongly about literacy programs. Teaching people to read is the first step in opening a whole new world to them. Statistics tell us we must work harder. Books are inexpensive, great entertainment, and a vast treasure of knowledge. “The Second Annual Colorado Book Festival showcases the writing and books by Colorado authors, with programs about reading, literacy and, not least, the nitty-gritty process of writing something good. It’s your chance to talk with authors, attend reading and writing workshops, enjoy panels with experts in the field, tour the iconic architecture of Denver’s main library including its massive art collection, and purchase books autographed by the authors.
The day-long program is free to the public.”
Finally, can I say in my daydreams, spring is coming to Blue Cove. there’s a case to be solved, and love is in the air. I wonder who will be the next to catch the bug. It’s a mystery…
I confess I love the holidays. It’s not because of the presents, although they are nice. I find the season is filled with joyous reflections of my past and present. Roots from my past that have made me who I am. Every time I pull out my holiday decorations it is like taking a trip down memory lane, reminding me of the special people and moments I have known in life; moments that years and age have caused me to cherish.
From the little bird nestled in the tree branches, which belonged to my grandmother, to the ornaments which hung on my mother’s tree, a few now hanging on mine, I’m reminded of my past. My grandmother was a fiery Irish woman named Norma Patterson. She ran a boarding house with many interesting guests. One of which was a war hero from WWII. A visit to her house, where my grandpa was the amazing cook, was always an adventure. He made the best Peanut Butter Cake with Peanut Butter frosting ever. Their big three story house sat on a corner lot in Denver. Its large wood curving staircase that we slide down on more than one occasion, was the perfect place to explore and of course tell ghost stories. There was an awesome player piano in the entrance, and a formal parlor across the hall where a large Christmas tree waited each Christmas Eve with lots of presents under it. With there open house policy we never knew who the new people would be that joined in our celebration.
My mother Ethel Campbell was Scottish. Her father and his twin brother were born in Scotland and came to America as small boys. Her father died in an accident at a young age. My grandma Ada had to work hard to keep her children together. They were poor, but they were happy. My mother was the sweetest person I have ever known and all of my favorite childhood memories center around her. She was the mother who stayed up all night to make a special outfit to wear for that all important occasion or cookies for the class party. My father, a bit of a stinker, if I do say so myself, was not easy to live with. Yet he was generous to those who were in need. Something he learned from his parents. They were married over fifty years. Dad told me she managed somehow to raise good kids and to make him look good. Christmas and everything else special we enjoyed as kids was because of her. I always knew she loved me and I could go to her for anything.
Memories of raising my kids and seeing their kids are all reflected in my holiday decorations too. My kids were the best thing I’ve ever did in my life and my grandkids, are well, if you have them you know just how I feel. Everywhere I look it makes me smile. All the special memories I have are wrapped around people, the love I’ve known and the love I’ve shown. Whatever you celebrate may it be a happy and joyous time for you and those you love. From my house to yours, Happy Holiday, Happy Hanukkah, and Merry Christmas!
Today I welcome author Sharon Buchbinder to my blog. She will be sharing some of her Hanukkah traditions and recipes with us. May I start by saying her Potato Latkes look yummy! Happy Holiday to each of you enjoy the season.
Lights, Camera, Latkes!
Two years ago, we celebrated Hanukkah with brisket, latkes, cookies, candy, candles and—wait for it—three, 3-year olds. The blue and silver wrapping paper carnage was EPIC.
The hardest part of the evening was getting my husband into the family room with his super-duper digital camera to take pictures. The kids were very patient, waiting for permission to tear into their packages full of the latest Batman toys, a baby doll, the new Hess firetruck, and stacks of ready-to-assemble crafts projects in anticipation of the coming months. The mothers frantically picked up wrapping paper and tiny parts to keep them away from our two dogs. The kids compared toys and used the firetruck to keep the Scooby-Do Haunted House to keep from burning down. Did I mention it was a bit of mayhem?
Too soon, the fun came to an end. Gifts and leftovers were packed up. The little ones were dressed in their pajamas and jackets, ready to fall asleep in their car seats on the way home. As she hugged me, my daughter-in-law said, “Don’t forget, I need that latke recipe!”
Latkes, in case you don’t know, are potato pancakes, fried in oil. The holiday celebrates the Maccabees (the Hebrew word for “hammer”) victory over the Greeks who wanted the Jews to reject their one G-d and worship pagan gods. When the Jews reclaimed the Temple, they found only enough uncontaminated oil to light the menorah for one night. Instead, the oil lasted for eight nights, a miracle. On each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, we light candles to commemorate this miracle. We also cook in oil to remember the special oil in the lamp. Some families make donuts. We make latkes.
Everyone’s family has a different recipe. Now I’m seeing recipes for latkes with jalapeno peppers! My mother-in-law, may she rest in peace, would not approve. Herewith, I share with you two of my mother-in-law’s recipes for Hanukkah, brisket and latkes.
Brisket Slow Cooker Style
(Serves 4-6 hungry people)
3-4 pounds brisket
Large container Paprika
One large onion
One 1 pound bag carrots
6 Beef bouillon cubes
6 Cups water (depends on size of cooker)
Place peeled carrots on bottom of slow cooker.
Place chopped onions in slow cooker on top of carrots.
Coat brisket in Paprika and place on top of onions.
Put in 6 beef bouillon cube and pour 6 cups of water around everything. Cover and simmer on medium/high for 8-10 hours–depending on your slow cooker.
Serve on a large platter with side of horseradish.
I hope you enjoy the recipes. More importantly, I hope you enjoy your time with your families and the wonderful memories you make with them during whatever holiday you celebrate.
5 pound bag of white potatoes
2 large sweet onions
1 large container of egg substitute
Olive oil for cooking (lots—don’t skimp or the latkes will stick!)
Using food processor or hand grater, grate onions and set aside in large bowl. (You will cry.) Drain onions and pat with paper towels. They make a lot of water!
Peel potatoes and place in large bowl or pot of salted water to prevent them from turning colors.
Cut potatoes into chunks and grate in food processor or by hand. (Oy! That’s a lot of work. Sure you can’t borrow a food processor from someone?)
Mix onions, potatoes, and egg substitute until all potatoes and onions are covered well with egg. You probably won’t need the entire container. Throw in black pepper to your taste.
Heat olive oil in frying pan. You want it hot, not smoking, but hot.
Place large spoons full of latke mix in pan and turn when golden brown (you will see it on turn color on the edges).
Serve latkes hot with a generous dollop of sour cream and/or applesauce.
I hope you enjoy the recipes. More importantly, I hope you enjoy your time with your families and the wonderful memories you make with them during whatever holiday you celebrate.
Happy healthy holidays to all!
When a wild mustang is shot in Montana, renowned horse whisperer and telepath, Emma Horserider, is called in to calm the herd and find out what happened. Once on scene she is almost killed by a bullet-spewing drone, and calls her black ops brother for back-up.
Emma’s help roars into her life covered in tattoos and riding a Harley. Remote viewer Bronco Winchester takes the assignment because he is ordered to, but he wonders what type of assistance, his boss’s sister needs. That is until he sees Emma, a valiant Warrior Woman proud of her Crow heritage.
Posing as a married couple, Emma and Bronco go undercover to infiltrate and stop a hate group.
Both are anxious enough without the now growing attachment they feel for one another. When
the lives of many are on the line, they are not sure if they will live or die—let alone have a chance at love.
Bronco now stood squinting in the late afternoon sun, knocking at a door with no bell, and waiting for a response. Dogs barked and a window curtain twitched. Good. Someone was home. He adjusted his pack, leaned his head back, closed his eyes, and said, “Any time now.” As the words slid out of his mouth, he heard the unmistakable sound of a shotgun being pumped.
He raised his hands. “Don’t shoot. I’m unarmed.”
Turning slowly to face his fate, his jaw fell open, and his heart rate kicked up a notch from being on the wrong end of a shotgun or from the weapon holder’s looks, he wasn’t sure. A raven haired Amazon in a tank top, jeans, and metal tipped cowboy boots held the Mossberg 500 in a perfect military stance. Long strands of hair blew across her face in the hot breeze. A large purple bruise bloomed on her left cheek. She squinted her dark brown eyes and gave him a laser-beam once over from his dusty black boots to his sweat soaked do-rag.
“Who are you, and what do you want?”
If he hadn’t been so intent on not getting killed, he would have spent more time staring at those full, luscious, kissable lips and thinking about how she would taste. As it was, he guessed he had less than a minute to respond before getting blasted into the next county,
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/qBbgsW_GiMI
The Wild Rose Press https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/5290-legacy-of-evil.html
Sharon Buchbinder has been writing fiction since middle school and has the rejection slips to prove it. An RN, she provided health care delivery, became a researcher, association executive,
and obtained a PhD in Public Health. When not teaching or writing, she can be found fishing, walking her dogs, or breaking bread and laughing with family and friends in Baltimore, MD and Punta Gorda, FL.
Facebook: Sharon Buchbinder Romance Author https://www.facebook.com/sharon.buchbinder.romanceauthor
Twitter ID @sbuchbinder https://twitter.com/sbuchbinder
Today I want to welcome an author friend Donna Simonetta to my blog with a fun holiday memory. I know you’ll enjoy her story. You’ll find links to her books and information about Donna following her story.
I have to begin with a confession…I’m a Christmas nut! I love everything about the season; I have to force myself to wait until the Friday after Thanksgiving to listen to Christmas music and read holiday-themed romance novels.
My husband and I always spend Christmas with my mom and two sisters. We travel up to their house by train, which I LOVE, and it always kicks the holiday off in a festive manner. Once we get to her house, my childhood home, we have a lot of beloved long-standing holiday traditions.
But today I want to tell you about a newer one that we’ve embraced within the past several years. My husband’s sister always sends Christmas socks and little gifts to all of us at my mom’s house. One year, she sent the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen––just because he was so funny. It was an air-freshener cover, which looked like Santa. Well…sort of…you see, to fit over an air freshener (if you had one, which we did not!), he had no legs or lower body. And the only article of clothing on the little doll was his Santa hat. Aside from it, he was nekkid as nekkid could be. When my sister, Judy, came home from work that day, she picked him up, turned him around as she studied him. Finally she said in amazement, “Santy’s naked!” And Nekkid Santy was born.
That year, my husband, my other sister, Mary, and I took Nekkid Santy with us as we ran our Christmas Eve errands. At each stop, we’d take a picture of him. At the seafood store, the guys were so taken with Nekkid, they even posed him with a giant prawn.
Now, we bring Nekkid on the train with us every year, and of course, take pictures. We live in Baltimore, and a couple of years ago, while waiting for our train, we saw John Waters at the station. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize it was him, until he’d passed us, because a picture of Nekkid with the quirky filmmaker would have been a coup! Coming home one year, we treated ourselves to First Class seats, the attendant in our car really embraced the whole Nekkid thing, and brought a bunch of small bourbon bottles to our table, to take pictures of Nekkid Santy kicking back on December 26th.
Actually, Nekkid’s adventures are not limited to Christmas. Oh no, far from it! He even has his own FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/nekkid.santy, and I suspect he has more followers than my author page does! Judy brought him on a beach trip to the Gulf Coast of Florida, and Nekkid was the only (sort of) male on their girls trip. Based on the pictures, he had a blast! Also, my sister-in-law, who brought Nekkid into our lives, has brought him to the Oregon coast and North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Evidently, Santa liked to escape from the North Pole to warmer climes when he’s off duty.
Wherever you find yourself this holiday season, be it on the road or cozy at home, I hope you’re having as much fun as Nekkid Santy is! Although, hopefully, you’re wearing more clothes than he is. Ho! Ho! Ho!
Donna’s Bio: My career has been a winding road. I worked in the business world for years, got my MLS and worked in a school library, and am now living my dream as an author. I love to read and write contemporary and fantasy romance. I live in Maryland, with my husband, who is my real-life romance hero. We both enjoy traveling to visit our far-flung family and friends, and spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.
The Wild Rose Press: https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/4409-angels-fly.html?
Amazon UK: http://amzn.eu/14pwrnP
I have asked three of my author friends to share a holiday tradition, or a Christmas memory with you. Over the next few weeks I want to introduce you these special ladies. Judith Sterling will be sharing this week. The links to her books and where you can find her online will follow her wonderful, unique Christmas memory. I want to thank her for sharing this story with us and welcome her to my blog.
I live in Salem, Massachusetts. I love Halloween and all things autumn, but winter holds just as much magic for me and my family. The snow. The holiday lights. The smell of cookies…varied, copious cookies just waiting to be devoured. And most nights in December, the clang of a bell heralds the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Present standing on the sidewalk outside. He’s part of the Salem Trolley’s “A Christmas Carol” tour, and he always makes me smile.
We love the Dickens classic in our house. My husband Dan reads A Christmas Carol to our twin boys, Connor and Geoffrey, at bedtime, and we watch every film version cable TV affords. The story holds so much optimism and light, both of which we can all agree the world is in desperate need. If a man like Ebenezer Scrooge can find redemption, there’s hope for us all.
When Salem’s Ghost of Christmas Present appears in his flowing robe and holly-wreath headpiece, the city seems a little kinder. The magic of childhood rushes back to me, and I’m filled with the giving spirit. I want to feed the hungry, hug the friendless, and do whatever I can to protect those with little or no voice.
Call me corny, Pollyanna, or any other name you like. I see your point. But I still believe in love and humanity. And I’m grateful for the ability each one of us has to make the world a better place. As an author, I hope my stories do just that, and while we’re speaking of spirits, I’d like to share one story in particular.
Christmastime always makes me think of my maternal grandfather, Poppy. He loved the holidays and died just before Thanksgiving in 2007. My twins were three at the time and only got to meet him once…while he was alive, that is.
In mid-December of that year, Dan and I took them to my parents’ house in Florida for the weekend. Twice during our visit, the boys’ gazes shot to my mom’s side at the same time.
Both of them looked, but it was Geoffrey who spoke. “Poppy,” he said, pointing.
Each time, Mom nodded but said nothing. The boys confirmed what she already sensed.
Later that day, she, Dan, and I were talking by the pool. The boys played close by.
Geoffrey piped up, and his voice was adamant. “No, no, Poppy. Light on.” He glanced to his side while his hands fiddled with a SpiderMan action figure. “No light off, Poppy. Light ON.”
Dan gaped at him. “Did he just say what I think he said?”
Mom turned. “What?”
“I think he was talking to Poppy,” I said.
Wide-eyed, Geoffrey’s gaze traveled up to a point about nine feet high, right beside the pool. “Poppy, why are you flying?”
Mom raised her eyebrows. “Now I heard that!”
Needless to say, the event made her weekend.
On our return home, Geoffrey scampered into the house, then halted in front of our Christmas tree, whose lights were off. He grinned. “Hi, Poppy!”
A minute later—by which time Geoffrey ignored the tree—Connor ran into the house. He stopped and stared at the same spot his twin had.
With a smile, he pointed to it. “Poppy!”
I felt my grandfather’s presence, strong as could be. It was a reminder that those we’ve loved and lost are never far away.
Wishing you and yours a joyous holiday season!
Her buy links are the following:
Flight of the Raven
Soul of the Wolf
The Cauldron Stirred
Find her on Facebook at:
The first time I saw this image I couldn’t help but wonder what she was thinking about as she looked out into the stormy evening sky. I found myself pondering over it for days. The dark clouds, her still form, and the early morning hour showing up on the clock,all drew me in. Did she see something in the heavens not visible to others? I wanted to know.
The woman in this picture reminds me of a character in my work in progress. Writing inspiration can come in a moment. Something visual or something I hear stirs my imagination and the story is off and running in a whole new direction. This picture became a part of an amazing scene in my latest project. Stretching my writing skills in a whole new direction. I had so much fun writing the scene. My character tried to explain to me what I couldn’t see.
This story also has a new character that got inside of my head. I could see him clearly, his mannerisms, and the way he talked. I can only hope my words do him justice, and my readers get an idea of their own as to how he looks as they listen to his words. Writing is personal, I lose myself in every page that I write, but I find a small piece of myself there too.
About six years ago I was home alone for ten months when my husband went to work in New Jersey after hurricane Sandy. It was during this time of solitude that I found my inner landscape, as I like to think of it. I also found my creativity and this writer was born. Harriet Tubman said “Every great dream begins with a dreamer.” I qualify as a dreamer. I spend a good deal of time dreaming about the folks in my head. Thankful! It is still magic to me.
One of my characters has done it again. Reba, my very prime and matronly character, has managed to pull a few words of wisdom out of that sweet head of hers and has opened a path forward to another book while at the same time sending readers off on another few twists in turns in the story. Where does she come up with this stuff. Lol. I love how her mind works or is it my mind. It all seems to blend together in there.
It never seizes to amaze me when my characters give me the way forward in the story. I love watching new characters come to life and the story unfold page after page. It keeps me intrigued. I have to know how the book will end so I keep writing. I’m not a plotter. I admit it. I don’t have drawings,(except my crude drawing of Blue Cove) or outlines, and I never know from the beginning what the end of the book will be. The first sentence hits me and I’m off and running. It may not be the best way to write, but somehow it has worked for me. When I hit a bump, I wait and listen; read and re-read until something they say jumps out at me. Even a picture can often jump-start the story and I hold on through all the twists and turns.
In my work in progress I’m working on a new character that I’m loving. He’s unique and unlike any other character I have conjured up so far. I love his actions, and manner of speaking. He’s slowly evolving and letting me know why he’s important to the story.
One scene leads to another, words fill the pages, and before you know I’m hooked. I do love this writing gig, even though at times it can be brutal trying to get all the words clamoring in my head out on paper. When I write the words “The End” there is a sense of satisfaction that I did it.