I watched the 2020 graduation ceremony on TV last night. The one takeaway of the night among many highlights was how the pandemic upended this year’s senior class. They missed proms, spring sports, and had no opportunities to have yearbooks signed or hang out with their friends. As a matter of fact, most of us watching could relate, never imagining when 2020 began that we would be watching graduations by video either.
Listening to the speeches got me thinking back to the day when I waited impatiently to hear my name read on graduation day. I don’t remember any of the words spoken or songs sung. They were forgotten quickly. All I wanted at the time was to be done, to get to the family party, and out for a night with my friends. Sadly, outside of ZOOM, this year’s seniors were denied that too.
As hard as it is to believe when your young, life rarely goes as planned but it does often work out for the best. If I could have written a detailed future for myself all those many years ago, I could have never imagined all the places my life would take me. That well ordered plan was limited at best, and would be altered by new dreams, as well as disappointments. I’m often still surprised by where life leads me and the new experiences that await me there. Life is wonderful, sometimes sad, but also curiously fun, and challenging.
Since your senior year ended in such a strange fashion, I can’t begin to imagine what awaits you. Ready or not you are on your way. Not as a child anymore, but new to the whole adult thing, I can only offer the sound advice that was given to me many years ago. Strap yourself in and hold on because life is quite a ride. Enjoy the trip and make your mark. More than ever the world needs your new and fresh ideas.
Social-distancing doesn’t come easy for me but in the face of the unseen enemy racing across our country it is a necessity. I try hard to express my feelings through words every chance I get. For me each day comes with a myriad of different emotions and finding something to be grateful for has helped. Listening to the real human stories in this crisis are the reminder for me of what’s really important. Courage in the face of fear, kindness in the midst of pain, weeping with those who weep; stories that help me maneuver through my world’s changing landscape.
New heroes have risen; doctors, nurses, and grocery store workers; the police, firefighters, and those who pick up the trash. I am grateful for each of them and the jobs they continue to do daily. Staying home seems like such a small thing to do to make their jobs easier.
I find joy in the little things like groceries being delivered and placed outside my door. Taking the trash cans out once a week is nice, especially if I see another person walk by to say hello to. Are there things that I miss? Of course! I miss times with my sons and their families. Grandkids’ hugs are gone for now, but hopefully will return again some time soon. But Zoom is a great way to stay in touch with family and friends and social media too.
I hope that after living during these times that things will not return to the old normal for me. I can see now that normal wasn’t working for so many people in our country. I don’t just want to go back to the way things were and be content. If I do I will have squandered the opportunity to rise and do better; to improve as a human living in a world in dire need of compassion. For now I will try to find the beauty in life whenever it shows up and do my best to pass it on. Having a home and staying there is in itself a blessing.
January 20th, saw the release of my eighth book. I’ll start by saying, the feeling of seeing my name on the cover never gets old. I’ve always dreamed about writing a book, but eight wasn’t even in my wheelhouse. One seemed like an amazing task to me. Especially, as busy as life can get and as fast as time seems to fly by, it’s easy for life to crowd out our dreams.
I started writing later in my life, after raising my three boys, and working beside my husband in the churches that he pastored. Our life had settled into a comfortable routine until circumstances brought several major changes into our lives. The need and desire to reinvent myself grew, and the dream to write a book began to surface again. I’m here to reassure you it’s never too late and an ‘old dog’ can really learn new tricks.
I began an online writing class through the University of Connecticut called Breaking into Print. The coarse took me through the elements of fiction and non-fiction. I thought for sure I would write a non-fiction self-help book of some sort. What I found was that I loved writing fiction. This gal who never watched or read a mystery found herself in a genre where she had never dared to go before. It fit with my personality and who I’ve always been as far back as I can remember. A friend, not long ago, introduced me to her book club as the lady who went from teaching Sunday School to murdering people on paper, which still makes me laugh. I guess she was right on some level.
I was told my stories had legs and the teacher recommended that I try the Novel writing class. So I did. Mary Rosenblum, my teacher, was there for me through the process of writing The Harvest Club. A story idea handed to me by the custodian on a new job when she told me. “You know we have a church ghost here.” My imagination went to work and the element of the paranormal seeped into my mystery. I was off and writing, with Mary Rosenblum instructing me about head hopping, and grammar all the way. My editor will understand what a task that was. My only excuse is, punctuation has changed a bit since I was in school. As for head-hopping I’m trying hard not too.
Mary had a way of encouraging me while slapping me upside my head. She could criticize my writing and have me laughing at the same time. Now that’s a real gift. Encouraged by her, when the book was finished, to query it. She gave me the name of a few publishers. The Wild Rose Press was among them. I will forever be grateful to her. I love my publisher and have had a great experience working with The Wild Rose Press. Mary was killed a few years ago in a plane crash and I still miss her.
I love my latest book Key To The Past. It was a fun one to write and a blast from the past for me. I hope you, my readers will enjoy it as much as I did writing it.
Bullets fly and sparks ignite—as the past and the present collide.
A missing girl’s ghost, an antique key, and an unsolved murder take her on an improbable journey.
With the holidays upon us and a another year coming to a close I’m reminded once again of how quickly time is speeding by. 2019, had its high moments, but it also came with loss, reminding me once again how fleeting time can be. In thinking about my family members and friends that died this year, I realize just how powerful and impactful a single life well-lived can be. They touched areas in my life that I’m still discovering. Missing them is like a constant limp and hole where they used to be.
Every day I’m alive is not a given but a gift. Another chance to get it right. A simple smile or a kind word can brighten a day. Joy can be found wrapped in the ordinary, like relationships, creation, or the peace of the familiar. Laughter is refreshing and tears a necessary release. There are profound moments, down moments, and some silly ones. Some days are filled with awe and an almost magic like quality when life and special events cross paths.
May your holidays be filled with sweet memory making moments and love. To love and be loved is the most precious gift of all. Those who strive to make the world a better place through kind deeds do make a difference. L’Chaim! To Life!
I love Thanksgiving. It gives me time to pause and think about my life. From my great grandparents, to my parents, my husband, and sons and their families I have been blessed to know love in my life. It is a cause to celebrate and be reminded that it is people not belongings that make life worth living.
Every picture tells a story, every life is a song to sing, we are the legacy of time. One generation gives way to another, but our lives are built on the foundations left by those who have loved us. There are some missing this year. Gone too soon, but etched in our memories, we limp along with the ache of where they used to be.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. May you be filled with love, kindness, and generosity as you share in the blessings of the day with those you love both family and friends.
“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.”
― David G. Allen
Life often throws a few curves at us. It’s something everyone experiences several times in a lifetime. We can make plans, but still, things often happen out of order. I have found learning to be flexible, and to roll with what life dishes out is definitely an acquired knowledge needed for survival.
At times, out of order can actually be what’s best for you. All of sudden, events come together like a melody, or a perfect rose, and for one single moment life takes on new meaning and direction. You know the kind of moment I’m talking about; events that take you by surprise and make an ordinary day special. A gloomy day takes a turn for the better when a person smiles at you or encourages you along the way. What a difference they can make in an otherwise nominal day. An autumn day filled with gorgeous colors can leave you in awe, or one single moment of understanding can burst upon you and change your life for ever. I can still remember one occasion when it hit me that all people are made in His image and have a deposit of him within them. It matters not who they are, just that they are! People are amazing and sharing life with them (or a shoe) is what gives life significance.
During another out of order moment, I found writing or writing found me. Either way it rescued me at a hard time in my life. I have so much to learn about the process which keeps me interested every day that I sit down at my computer. What is the best way to say it, which word will show it better? How can I take the characters from being flat to alive using descriptive words? I’m grateful for something so simple yet complex that it challenges me on a daily basis; something to grow in, and to improve at, and in the process it changes me.
Out of order doesn’t necessarily mean not working. It can simply mean a new direction
Life isn’t always easy, and sometimes I feel a tad wobbly at best. But I’m also a bit of an optimist. You know the type; a this to shall pass kind of person. I find if I focus on the good that the good I see gets even better. If I look for the best in people, most of the time I find it. No I’m not totally naïve, but I’ve always had an amazing hope that at any moment any situation could get better. It could happen! In spite of the roller coaster ups and downs, life can be quite awesome.
Hope is my inner voice that keeps cheering me onward. On some days it is faint at best, but on other days it shouts loud and clear telling me to keep dreaming, and yearning for something just beyond my reach.
Hope is my family, and friends. Hope is found in the wisdom I’ve learned from experiences, some good and some hard, that are woven into my life like footprints leaving their marks. They are my reminders I can make it if I don’t give up. Hope is the still small voice that tells me to put one foot in front of the other and to keep, keeping on. I march on to the beat of time grateful for every day I get in this crazy, wonderful life.
I’m getting ready to go to my high school reunion this weekend. Let’s just say my graduation was a long time ago, and leave at that. The coming event has me going through old photos and ploughing through the cobwebs of my mind to recover memories of a time, which went way too fast some days, and oh so slow on others. Especially, waiting for the bell to ring in one of my least favorite classes, Physiology.
I loved high school. From the football games, to friends, and yes, even some of my classes, I enjoyed it all. I think that’s one reason I love the fall to this day. The cooler weather brings back memories of a new school year, and going to football games in my friend’s old 53 dodge. (No, that’s not the year I graduated). It was built like a tank. Strangest thing happened when she turned the corner, the car horn would randomly honk, and the passenger door would fly open. We got so the person closest to the handle would hold the door closed and the next person would hold on to her. Safety didn’t seem to be uppermost in our minds. We couldn’t do anything about the horn. but laugh, and wave at the other cars we passed as we turned.
Those years are a bit of a blur. They moved quickly. When I ask myself where did the years go, all I can say is, I was busy living them. Beauty School, state boards, and Bible College, marriage, along with children filled up many years. Laundry, mounds of laundry, and meals for my eating machines were part of the hectic years of raising three boys, along with going to every game imaginable. Priceless, crazy, busy, but filled with happy memories. More time slipped by as I taught women’s classes, worked outside the home, and took writing classes.
I am the author of eight books and counting. I never saw it coming, although I dreamed about writing someday. I am somewhere to be found in every book that I’ve written. I’ll never tell where. Jessie Reynolds might be my alter ego, at least in my dreams.
It’s true life is short, and time moves swiftly, but this small trip down memory lane has reminded me that I’ve really had a wonderful life.
I’m happy to have my author friend Donna Simonetta as my guest today. I asked her to share what has been happening in her life the last few weeks. I also wanted her to promote her new book. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read her update and learn more about her latest book.
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2YwYrMO
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2Ee3071
Apple iBooks: https://apple.co/2Ecj8pm
“I didn’t realize you two had moved into the ‘in sickness’ part of your vows.” A childhood friend wrote to me recently. And it was true. As I read her words, I was sitting in a hospital room with my husband. A routine physical revealed an anomaly in his EKG, some further testing, and…BOOM!…the Friday of Memorial Day weekend we were told he needed open heart surgery, and BTW, we’re admitting you and keeping you in the hospital until it can be done on Tuesday. A week earlier, we were doing what all good Baltimoreans were doing, sipping Black-Eyed Susan cocktails and watching the Preakness Stakes. To say it was a shock, would be a dramatic understatement. Fortunately, his surgery was a success, and he is now home with me for the long recuperation.
But it made me think, as a romance writer, I end my stories on a high note. After all, one of the reasons I write and read romance is for the happy-ever-after endings. Life is a winding road, however, and love stories inevitably end up this way––one partner supporting the other, while facing a health crisis. And you know what? There’s a romance to that moment too. The depth of my love for my husband hit me like a sledgehammer, the moment they called from the OR to update me that he had been taken off the machines, and his heart was beating on its own. I cried. With relief. With love. We might not be as young as we once were, but he’s still my own personal romance hero, and I hope my characters someday share the kind of love Leo and I do.”
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.
Stephanie Williams left skid marks on the road out of Willow Springs, Vermont after she finished high school. She didn’t return until her company sent her to evaluate the town for a massive development project. Back then she thought the town was way too small and too cold. Now the cold isn’t as much of an issue since she’s reconnected with her childhood friend, Donald Flanagan. Stephanie doesn’t remember his eyes being quite so green, or his body quite so built. He’s smart and funny as he ever was, and a forest-fire sized attraction burns between them.
Donald never understood his old friend’s driving need to leave Willow Springs. He loves everything about it. When he learns the truth about Stephanie’s project, and how it will turn his hometown into a theme-park version of itself, will it extinguish the flame that has sparked between them?
It was much darker on this side of the building, without the bright, neon lights around the entrance, and even though they could hear the muffled music through the wall, it felt as though they were all alone in the world. Donald stopped and turned to face her, which placed her between him and the building. He cupped her face in his hands, and Stephanie marveled that she’d never noticed how big his hands were before. He leaned down a little and studied her face. His eyes seemed to be searching for a clue as to what she wanted. There were complications aplenty––putting their lifelong friendship at risk, and her work here in town, which Donald still didn’t know the extent of, being two major hurdles, but Stephanie knew what she wanted right now. She knew it from the bottom of her toes to the top of her head, with a certainty she’d never experienced before. Her blood pounded in her veins, and she felt a little breathless with excitement about the step they were about to take.
“Hurry up and kiss me, Flanagan, before I spontaneously combust.”
One side of the mouth she longed to be kissing quirked up in a sexy half-grin. “There’s no turning back if we take this step, Williams. Are you sure?”
I’m happy to introduce you to Kari Nichols an author friend of mine. I first met Kari on twitter a few years ago. I followed her adventure as she and her husband moved to France. I’ve watched their growing photography business and all the amazing wedding photos they’ve taken. I’ve visited many places vicariously through them. I’m happy to say she is still writing. I’ll let Kari tell you in her own words what she’s been up to.
I’m so happy to have just completed my first trilogy, The Plagued Trilogy. The story is about a family of immortals who are international assassins. The series begins by following Mattia, a grandson of the first immortal. The second book follows his father, Thomas. And the final book follows Priest, the original immortal. The most interesting part of the series is that the present-day story continues through all three books, but the historical flashbacks go further back in time with each story. Each book reveals more about how the family became immortal in the first place, so it’s really fun to get a little piece at a time as you read. If you’re a fan of romance, history, or contemporary fiction with a supernatural twist, you’ll definitely enjoy The Plagued Trilogy!
Now that I’ve finished my first series, I’ve begun world-building a massive epic fantasy series. I’m working on the map, history of the kingdoms, history of the gods, and character bios at present. But I’ll hopefully start writing soon! I’m also writing a fun, light, new adult romance in a university setting. And I’m working on a historical drama set in Alsace, France (where I currently live) during World War 2. The history of the war in this region is horribly sad and difficult, so I’m absolutely fascinated by the idea of writing a story set here during that era. It’s going to take a lot of research to make sure I honor the people who lived here during that time, but I’m absolutely willing to put in the work to tell the region’s story. That’s if for now, but I have a few more stories just swirling around my mind, waiting their turn to make it onto paper!
Thank you so much for letting me tell everyone about these stories! It means so much to me to have a connection with such a delightful author like you, Iona! Thank you!
My pleasure, Kari. You can check out her books by following the links below.