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Pause and Enjoy

I love this time of year. What’s not to like about Christmas lights, festive decorations, and family gatherings? Several of the ornaments on my tree have many memories attached to them. Some of my favorites were made by kids and grandkids. A few were made by my sister who is no longer living, and others belonged to my mother and grandmother and were passed down to me. I love the memories that come to mind when I bring out the boxes and hang each one on the tree.

After the past couple of years, this year has me cherishing these memories more than ever. I lost two friends recently to Covid which came as a stark reminder of how fragile life can be. I’ve made a choice this holiday season to pause and enjoy those memories as they come even if they come with tears.

This Santa music box was a gift from my sister. Every time I see this little guy, it gives me hope that love always wins in the end. We shared a room growing up that literally had a line drawn down the center of it. The only free area was a path to the door and the closet that we shared. She couldn’t come on my side and visa-versa. Doing dishes every night was a test of my parent’s patience. We fought over everything. I don’t remember how it happened, but at some point, we became best friends. We talked each day though she lived in Missouri, and I live in Colorado. Love can truly break down the walls we build, and now I miss her every day.

I think this statement by Bianca Sparacino sums life up well. “You will hurt, and you will be hurt. However, you will also love, and you will be loved in the most magnificent ways. To live life is to understand that together these extremes thrive within us.”

Life can be hard, and messy, but equally amazing and wonderful. At times it is a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, but I’m grateful for each day that I get. Though life has led me down many different paths, some full of light and happiness, and some dark and sad, I haven’t forgot those who I have loved along the way. Their place is etched in my memories and their footprints are in my heart.

Every day is a gift. Loss and separation are not easy. This quote by W. S. Merwin has given words to very real emotions. “Your absence has gone through me, like thread through a needle. Everything I do is stitched with its color.”

“It is in the shelter of each other that people live.” Irish Proverb. Wishing you each a joyous Holiday Season filled with moments to savor and a very Happy New Year.

Watch What They do

There are many voices that clamor for our attention. Not all of them have our best interests in mind. As a matter of fact, I doubt that many even think about us at all when they make their often outrageous claims about their products, or beliefs. Or even what the impact of their words might be upon on our lives. It took me many years to understand that I needed to watch what they do and not just what they say.

Growing up I was one part sunshine and another white tornado. I gave my mom all she could handle. Her actions showed me every single day what real love looked liked. Even when I wasn’t the easiest of kids to raise she never gave up on me or wavered in her love. I was strong willed, which is an understatement. Because of my mother’s actions I tend to look beyond mere words to what a person does. She tried her best to convince me through her actions that I was enough.

I admit for a few years I got lost in other peoples’ ideas and expectations of how I should act and live. Wanting to fit in or at times to lead the way I learned to play a part. Over time it was eye-opening when I began to see that most of those telling me what I should do didn’t believe or live their own words. Often I didn’t either.

Having spent many years of my life being told who I was, who I should be, and how I should act it was a great moment when I awakened. Not an easy task by any means. It meant deconstructing who I’m not, so I could simply become who I am.

Being honest with yourself is never easy, but it has simplified my life, and my faith. I’m happy to show by my actions or in some cases my characters actions who I am. You will find a part of me in every book that I write. I won’t tell you where but maybe you can guess when you watch what I do.

Christmas Novella

I’m excited about my Christmas novella and I hope you’ll like it as much as I do. I had fun writing this one, and I might try my hand at another novella soon. This short read is a part of a Christmas Cookie Series done with other authors at The Wild Rose Press. Now you can read your way through the holiday season with some great stories and get some tasty cookie recipes too.

Here’s a small taste of Magic and Midnight Mint Bars and how I imagine Blue Cove at Christmas time.

“Sally was warming to her, but she had to make changes gingerly. She didn’t want to scare the girl with
an overt use of magic. Sally’s life had more than enough drama to last a lifetime. Gentle reminders were
best in her case. The first rule in the Intermediary Manual on page one in bold letters under line one-A
says, “the case subject has to believe that any decision made is their own idea.” Sally couldn’t feel
manipulated. Hundreds of years made Elida a pro at her job. Heck, she even taught classes on how it should be done, but occasionally even the best could mess up. In her guise as Holly, she wouldn’t leave anything to chance. All her hard work over the years had paid off with many inches added to her stature. She had always been on the tiny size from day one, known among her peers as Little Sprite quite lovingly. But with perseverance and her present rate of growth, she could be human size before long. She smiled wistfully. She hopped into Sally’s coat pocket while she dressed. Oh, how she loved the thrill of a case. Making people see the possibilities in their own life was exhilarating.”

Blue Cove at Christmas

Highs, Lows, and In-betweens

There is nothing like seeing my finished book and holding it in mine hands for the first time. Getting the first peek at a new cover is awesome too. ‘As The Page Turns’ release date is August 8th. ‘Magic and Midnight Mint Bars’ is my first attempt at a Christmas story. It’s a novella and I had a lot of fun writing this one.

For me, these are a few of the small joys of life not to be confused with the most important and key times with family and those you love. After a year of losing some folks I love, I was once again reminded people are what really matter. Their presence fills life with something truly irreplaceable.

Life is often a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. Some highs are amazingly hard to beat moments, and some lows are tough to slog your way through. Thankfully most of life is routine, everydayness, and simply living. There are times when you can experience them all in a single day. Some weeks are filled with special activities and some have nothing new at all. Or as we all now know, a pandemic can change a year and the way we think of normal.

Yesterday I celebrated a milestone of years upon the earth. One that my mother never got to see. It made me grateful to experience this particular birthday. At some point in my life, it may be different for each of us, I quit worrying about getting older and became grateful for each birthday I get to see. This one was especially nice surrounded by people who are important to me. Laughter was the order of the evening, and for a time life was serving up memories and joy all the way around. Add to that a book release, and new cover, grandkids, and a special wedding anniversary coming up and I would say this is one of those high times after several lows.

At times like this I can breathe, take my foot of the gas, and rest being grateful to enjoy the moment before the ride begins again. I still find life beautiful, at times perplexing, and amazing. A wild ride, which I’m grateful to have survived, endured, and enjoyed surrounded by highs, the ordinary, and yes those pesky lows that have a way of changing me. Today I’m taking time to smell my birthday flowers.

A birthday bouquet from my brother. I love flowers.

Guidepost for Social Media

I’ve always found marketing my books harder than writing them. I get a lot of encouragement and ideas from my publisher, which has helped me to wade out into the social media waters. Like most authors I have a website, I’m on several author’s sites, and have a Facebook page. I have a blog and I’m on Instagram, BookBub, and Goodreads to name a few. And I have found that Twitter works incredibly well for me.

In the beginning, Twitter overwhelmed me but once I figured out the nuances, I found a great writing community that supports one another. You can find people with the hashtag #writingcommunity. You have to search for and follow other authors or people who say they are readers. You have to be willing to retweet their tweets. I follow most people back but rarely answer direct messages unless I know the group. I started by following and thanking people when they followed me. I would then do a tweet asking people to follow them. Here’s an example: #follow@crystalnapolit2@summerb_author@woodcowbooks@SkyWatcher_HL@JessSFrankel@DaisyWo62695811@Kavi59814611@downthelanebook@MarciaLynnPaul1@DerekRKing2@joanne_paulson@LynessaLayne@christinevz@AlamoHapa@jay_burgh@stevenlclifford@CAKennedy6 Often you’ll see #ww or (Wednesday writers) and and a list of people or #ff (Friday follows) There’s also a #writerslift. If you have a particular tweet like a book release coming you can pin it to the top of your profile page and people will often Retweet it in response to a follow or a retweet. I have found my books promoted on sites when I least expected it. (Example) Your daily dose of author news at http://thebookshelfcafe.news is out! Thanks for writing! @ionacrv@lauren_minette@dearsusanbranch

In the past few years, I have built a following of over 19,000 people by following and supporting others as well. I tweet their books and they do mine also. I don’t just advertise my books though, I have built friendships, and with them came book sales and even a few reviews from places like Ireland, Canada, and Wales. I connected with a special group that has someone from Ireland, India, and Rhode Island in it. We talk about weather, send music to listen to, share about our families, or what we’re doing.

Two key pieces of information given by the Senior Editor of The Wild Rose Press are, if you what to sell more books write more books and don’t flood social media with your books all the time, but let people get to know you the author. I have used that advice as my guidepost for all my social media. I spend time writing and on social media each day. On any of my accounts you’ll find statements, and ideas that are important to me, or things that bring me a smile. A post might be as simple as sending music, answering questions, or using a gif. Here’s an exmaple of a non-book post. Happy Sunday! #bekind#enjoythejourney#lovewins with the poster below added to the tweet. I spend time in the morning thanking, following, and responding to people and a few times in the day. The hardest part is sticking with following new people and following folks back who have followed me. Our Marketing Director encouraged us to find one format that works for you and work it the most. There are so many out there you can be overwhelmed. I liked the quick movement of twitter and how many people I can reach from other countries but I don’t get Pinterest even though I’m on it and have several boards. The key is to find out what works for you, build it up, and continue to write your books.

I’m happy to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and will be happy to encourage others to follow you too. Look me up if you’re out there. #socialmedia #author #writingromance #mystery #bookseries

Iona Morrison (@ionacrv) / Twitter

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