Friday, August 23, 2019

Cracks of Gold --by T.K. Thorne


Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        New places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.

We are all broken.

Life just does that. No matter how much joy and happiness we have in a moment or even, if we are fortunate, in most of our lives, things will happen that will crack us open. Loss of a loved one (person or fur-person), the absorption of violence and hate close to us or elsewhere in the world, personal failure, loneliness, loss of hope, loss of meaning.

Life is always changing. We truly have nothing but the moment. And sometimes that moment is painful.

I am not talking about depression and lasting feelings of sadness.  If you feel that, please seek professional help. I'm talking about the moments of intense pain, intense grief. No one wants to hurt, but pain cannot be avoided and it is a reminder of the depth of love we’re capable of feeling. Heartbreak is the sword that cracks open your idea of reality and allows a refocusing of what matters.
Know this: A broken heart is an open heart.

It is in the breaking, when our hearts are peeled back on themselves, that our truths have passage to come in and out.

If we’re lucky, our hearts will break over and over again to reveal new ways of being, of thinking, and of loving.

 Each break allows our hearts to heal bigger than the time before.

Yes, there is pain every time we’re cracked open. Immeasurable pain. And with each break, each sting of pain, our hearts are able to expand and strengthen our capacity to love.--Jamie Greenwood, The Tiny Buddha

Recently, a friend, a long time citizen who was born in another country, found a hateful, racist note on his gym bag. When he posted about it, he was deluged with more hate mail, but also love from supporters.  He chose not to retreat into anger or to linger in darkness. He chose to be proud of his scars, to heal. He chose love over hate. That is how gold is forged. The Japanese have a beautiful tradition that illustrates this.

T.K. Thorne’s childhood passion for storytelling deepened when she became a police officer in Birmingham, Alabama.  “It was a crash course in life and what motivated and mattered to people.” In her newest novel, HOUSE OF ROSE, murder and mayhem mix with a little magic when a police officer discovers she’s a witch. 

Both her award-winning debut historical novels, NOAH’S WIFE and ANGELS AT THE GATE, tell the stories of unknown women in famous biblical tales—the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. Her first non-fiction book, LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE, the inside story of the investigation and trials of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, was featured on the New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list. 

T.K. loves traveling and speaking about her books and life lessons. She writes at her mountaintop home near Birmingham, often with a dogs and a cat vying for her lap. 

More info at Join her private newsletter email list and receive a two free short stories at “TK’s Korner.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Summertime in the sunshine by Juliana Aragon Fatula

Dear Reader,

I love summertime. I spend most of my days outside gardening and gathering seeds and collecting bouquets to hang and dry for potpourri. My home has two shares of irrigation water from Lake DeWeese in Westcliffe. We water with a pump and sprinkler system that my husband installed when we bought our home twenty years ago. When we first moved here to Southern Colorado from Denver we began planting fruit trees and perennials and now two decades later we have a garden that is admired and loved. Our summer parties in the backyard are notorious for food, fun, music, and laughter. No one leaves our home hungry or thirsty.

My love of gardening came naturally. My father and mother were both gardeners and grew everything under the sun from corn and chile to geraniums and iris. My childhood home had pears, apples, cherries, plums, peaches, grapes, corn, chile, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, and plants I had no idea what they were but my parents knew and used the wild indigenous plants as food and medicine. 

Today, I continue the tradition of growing our own food, harvesting, preserving, and sharing with our friends and family. I've added many new species to my garden because my husband built me a greenhouse and sun room so I can garden year round. I have strawberries, raspberries, chives, and exotic tropical plants. 

The bees love my garden and since my husband feeds the birds and build them bird condos, we have an abundance of bird song every day. I check my plants for pests and discover the good bugs eating the bad bugs: the ladybugs, spiders, praying mantis, lizards, snakes, toads, all have a place in my garden. It's organic and thrives on the water that comes from the snow melt of the Sangre de Cristos in the high country.

This oasis provides a natural surrounding of trees, shade, sun, and lush green grasses, roses, lilacs, climbing vines, and indigenous plants that I'm learning to identify and research for their medicinal purposes. 

My aloe vera provides gel for my hair and skin. My yarrow has healing properties that I'm discovering and harvesting. I love learning about the ways nature provides healing and nutrition for us. Everything we need is on this planet. Including poison in toxic plants. I've learned about plants that I love that are toxic to pets. I discovered that foxglove is used to make digitalis for medicine and can be toxic to the skin. I'm still learning and growing my botanical knowledge. 

I use this knowledge in my writing. I use the life around me to inspire me to write about nature. I feel blessed to have a home that is surrounded by beauty, fragrance, birdsong, and life. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

So You Want to Write a Book . . . 6 Things I've Learned!

By Kay Kendall

By now I’ve written fiction long enough to trust my own habits. Once, when I was a real newbie, I believed I must do just as the experts advise. But now I know on some points the experts differ.

1.   If your process works for you, trust it. For example, while most experts advise to rip through your first draft quickly, without editing as you go, I just can’t. I used to feel guilty—since I was doing things WRONG. Finally, lo and behold, I learned about other authors, bestselling authors, who also begin their writing days by editing what they wrote the day before. Whew. What a relief.
Here are some other habits I’ve also learned to trust:
2.     2. Keep reading. If you’re writing your own book, don’t stop reading other ones. I’ve read more, not less, since I began to write fiction. I submerged myself in the mystery/suspense genre for almost two years before I started Desolation Row—An Austin Starr Mystery. Picking up the tricks of the trade by osmosis works better for me than gulping ten dry how-to tomes. 
3.     Keep a notebook beside your bed. “Brilliant” thoughts are fleeting. Pin them down before they get away. I learned the hard way that wonderful ideas at 3:00 a.m. disappear by the time I awake in the morning. 
4.     Keep exercising. Health gurus are adamant that sitting all day is a terrible habit that can lead to early death and/or dementia. Besides, when I’m on my exercise bike, I zone out and then ideas for my writing zone in. The mind-body connection is worth protecting with sufficient exercise. However, it’s time for a true confession. I have trouble with this one, especially when I’m on deadline. 
5.     Keep up with your pals. Writing can be a lonely pursuit, and trying to get published these days is a killer. I needed all the support I could get, and my friends stepped up and stayed there right beside me on my journey. They kept me going through the darkest days and have been my staunchest supporters and shared my joy upon publication. I’ve also made new friends as I’ve joined writers’ critique groups and associations. I’m a staunch believer in the truth of what Barbra Streisand sang back in the sixties. “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”
6.     Keep the faith. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” When I saw that on a coffee mug for sale 15 years ago, I was too scared to pick it up. How dare I think I could write a novel? But I forced myself to buy that mug, and after using it for two years and writing my first manuscript, I began timidly to call myself a writer. Hold fast to your dream. Keep it alive by doing it.
I have faith I will complete new books because three of my mysteries are published and the fourth is in progress. I’ve pushed through the dark times, “getting by with a little help from my friends.” (Footnote to the Beatles) Moreover, if I’ve done this, then you can too. As we used to say back in the day, just keep on truckin’. And find what works best for you. Your mileage may differ from mine, but just do it.

NOTE: This post originally appeared one year ago to great acclaim from other authors. I am recycling it so others can read this who may have missed it last year.
Meet the author

 Author Kay Kendall is passionate about historical mysteries. 
Her second book Rainy Day Women won the Silver Falchion for best mystery at Killer Nashville. Her newest is After You've Gone.
Visit Kay at her website  or on Facebook

Monday, August 19, 2019

What’s Today’s Celebration?

by Paula Gail Benson

Did you know that today, August 19, is National Soft Ice Cream Day? Shari Randall, you should take note of this commemoration!

According to the National Day Calendar website, while no one has been clearly identified as organizing the special designation, soft serve ice cream began around Memorial Day in 1934 when an enterprising salesman with a flat tire pulled into a parking lot and knew he had to get rid of a load of melting ice cream quickly. Later, he patented a machine and developed a secret formula. The product’s popularity caused a decrease in business for hard ice cream and the Minnesota legislature briefly required that it had to be pre-packaged instead of sold from a machine. The site suggests that people observe the holiday by getting a dipped cone or sundae.

The site boasts of over 1,500 national days. It also lists some international ones. For instance, today also is International Bow Day, a tradition started by Claire’s.

August 20, tomorrow, is National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day. Not to be confused with National Pecan Pie Day (observed July 12) or National Pecan Torte Day (August 22) or National Pecan Month (April).

You can check out the recognitions that share your birthday. For example, my birthday, on September 13, is National Celiac Disease Awareness Day (based on a 2005 unanimous resolution passed by the United States Senate) and Uncle Sam Day (because New York meat packer Sam Wilson, born on September 13, 1766, supplied meat to soldiers during the War of 1812 in containers stamped “U.S.” and they called it Uncle Sam’s grub).

The website allows you to register a national day, shop for merchandise, search for recipes, and play National Day trivia.

What does this site have to do with writing? (Please note that World Calligraphy Day is celebrated August 14.)

Occasionally, writers are asked to submit a holiday story for a collection. You can imagine that well-known holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Valentines Day will have numerous stories, but going with something like Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19), as Cathy Wiley did with her “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” published in Homicidal Holidays (Wildside Press), an anthology organized by the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, could be unique. Barb Goffman currently is editing a collection of time travel stories to be released on December 8, Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day.

So consider taking a look at the National Day Calendar website, for a story idea or just to celebrate a slice of life. Happy holidays!