Posted in Uncategorized

Merry Christmas…

It is Christmas week and I am enjoying some time with family and friends this year. Returning to the old Kentucky homestead for some much needed time with my grandparents, best friend, and my brother and his family is always a change from the usual hermitage I live back in East Texas. Taking time away from the normal routine is refreshing and this year, I needed a reminder of what the holidays are meant to be about.

I have enjoyed spending time talking into the wee hours of the morning with my grandpa. Discussing politics, history, science, and philosophy and religion have been staples since I was a girl.

I’ve also enjoyed meeting my new goddaughter who was born four months ago. Getting to spend time with her mom and the rest of her family is a blessing as well. We managed to have an afternoon at their house and then an evening here for dinner.

As I get older, the holidays are less about the gifts. Not that I don’t enjoy presents. I certainly do and I’ve been given some amazing things this holiday season. However, what I’m treasuring more is the time I am able to spend with the people I love in my life. Time to chat, to play board games, share meals, and generally feel normal amidst the chaos that’s been the last year; those are the real gifts this year.

We’re all blessed to be healthy and able to be around one another safely. I know that many are not. I have friends who are struggling with loved ones on ventilators. Others are financially struggling and there are hard candy Christmases all around. I think it is important to remember to pray for those families. My extended family is not immune to loss this holiday season. But we’re all clinging to what we do have. We’re celebrating together because we don’t know how long we’re given. So we’re cherishing these moments and making lasting memories.

This may be my last post for the year. I’m working on a plan for the new year, of course. However, I’m taking time with family and enjoying it while I can.  I hope that all of you reading this have a very Merry Christmas and my best wishes for us all in the coming new year.

Posted in Family Life, The Writer's Life

Preparing For Holiday Mayhem…

I may have been late to the party (seeing as I was born the following morning), but I am a Christmas baby. It is no secret to the people in my life that I love all things holidays. It is a special time of the year for me and my family. It has always been about making it magical for the kids in our lives while also remembering the reason for the season from a spiritual perspective. I think those spiritual reasons have become a bit more in focus for me in recent years, primarily because I am single and don’t have kids of my own. I still enjoy the festivities with those I love though. And I even get a little wistful hoping that someday I’ll meet someone that I can start some of my own traditions and make holiday memories with. I try very hard to let it all go and just stay in the moments I have with my family though.

Cakes by Me and Mom

It is also a very hectic time of the year for most people. While this year will be somewhat different for many, I am sure. 2020 has been a tough year for just about everyone you talk to. At some homes there won’t be holiday celebrations as in years past. People will be missing thanks to this pandemic. Sadly, many will choose not to gather with their family in a time when we really should be relying on family. Whether that’s because of guidelines given by medical advisors, mandated stay home orders, or fear of catching or spreading this virus it is just a sad thing that there will be families missing opportunities to make memories and share time with one another. For me, I’m looking forward to spending some time with my grandparents and my best friend. And the next few weeks are going to be full of preparations for time away from home.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner now. In fact, I’m going to have to get to the store this weekend to pick up the rest of the trimmings for our Thanksgiving meal here at home. Just my parents, myself, and the pups. However, we’ll enjoy Daddy’s smoked turkey, my devilled eggs, grandma’s dressing recipe, and Momma’s pineapple casserole just the same. It doesn’t matter that there won’t be a parade on TV. We’ll still celebrate the day, share what we are thankful for, and get into the holiday spirit.

In the next few weeks, there will be much to do. As is our tradition, my momma and I will be in the kitchen cooking, baking, and making candy for the family. Things we do every year together. And I’m looking forward to spending some time with my grandparents for Christmas. And I am increasingly grateful that I’ll have the opportunity to do so. That opportunity isn’t always there. So I am grateful to be able to do that this year.

There are always memories to be made at the holidays. I think that this year has put into perspective for me that we’re not always guaranteed time with the people we love. The reality, for me, is that I realize that eventually, I’m likely to face spending holidays alone. So, I plan to cherish the time I do have with my family and being part of something larger. I know that won’t always be the case for me. So I appreciate all that I can while I can.

I keep telling myself that I need to take more pictures, to document these times and memories so that I have them to look back on. The truth is that I get so caught up in just being in the moment that I don’t always pick up my phone or my camera to take pictures. I want to make sure that I take that time to document my memories with them this holiday season.

I also want to take some time to get some positive momentum going for a new year ahead. Please, God, let it be better than 2020!

So I’m looking forward to new projects, building new relationships online and off, and continued success as a student. I’m into my second term as an Elementary Education student with Western Governors University and I definitely have my work cut out for me. Coupled with trying to run a startup business as an author entrepreneur and likely working a day job (once I can find one). At least I’ll keep busy and hopefully focused on positive things in my life. Maybe I’ll get to have a few adventures along the way and take some time to have a bit of fun. We’ll just have to see what happens though.

As I usually do, I plan to sit down with my planners and put some goals and ideas down for things in the new year. I have several versions of planners that I use. I thought that I might do a post reviewing the different planner formats, tools, and what my planning process is for the new year. Drop me a comment if you’re remotely interested in that process and my honest reviews for the various planners I use.

Until next time, hug someone you love today. We all need a little extra TLC these days. So if you can’t hug someone, be kind and try to make someone smile.

Posted in Family Life, The Writer's Life

Holiday Mayhem and 2018 Closeout!

I’ve been cut off from civilization for two weeks! We had no internet for the duration of our trip to Kentucky to see family for Christmas. But, it proved to be a good thing. Lot of time to talk and spend time with people that I don’t see but every couple of years. Also lots of time to think about where the new year will take me and how to best live my own life.

Getting back to Texas was interesting. The trip back always seems to take longer for some reason. Maybe it is the let down of it all being over with and knowing that the humdrum of real daily life is just around the corner again. Anyway, we came back and I took a day to relax and rest up before getting my mindset all back into the work ahead of me.

While I was away I crossed a major milestone birthday and turned 40.  Crazy right?! I know I’m having a hard time believing that I am officially middle-aged. In many ways, I still feel like I am in my early 20s. I suppose that’s true for most of us though. I spent the actual day with friends for a bit in the early part of the day. My god-daughters made cupcakes and my bestie and I got to sit around chatting like old times and planning her upcoming wedding. So, yep, I’ll be making another trip north in the next year for that.  Then my nieces and grandparents all went out to dinner. There was lots of cake and ice cream for two days since I have my sister-in-law’s birthday two days after mine and we celebrated my niece’s birthday which isn’t until mid-January as well. But it was great to be able to enjoy time with everyone for a change and celebrate.

I have more planning to do since I got back. It’s time to set some goals for the new year on a personal and professional level. However, it also warrants me saying a heartfelt thank you to those of you who have joined my journey as an author. From your encouraging messages, comments, and social media interaction to the amazing reviews left on my books over on Amazon. I count myself truly blessed in 2018.

I’ve seen doors open and others close. I’ve found myself questioning my choice to publish at all, only to have someone pop up at the right moment and encourage me to keep going with it all. And keep going I shall!

Here at the end of another year, it is time to think about an upgrade to aspects of my platform. That newsletter is coming this year. There will be more blog posts on writing, life, and all the creativity that I do. I think at 40, I’m finally finding my feet on this living life thing. I’m excited for what lay ahead of me.

That being said, I’m getting on the ball here to make plans, do some writing on the next book, and get some blogs ready to go for the new year! There’s much to catch up on since I was cut off for so long.

Posted in The Currents

Welcome December…

My Nanowrimo effort fell off the radar early on in November. The truth is things became so busy that I didn’t have much time to write at all. However, the month was hugely productive nonetheless. It turned out that the bakery business part of my creative endeavors had an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up. Our local town had its first annual Yulefest on the 1st of December. Festivities included vendors of arts and crafts, a breakfast with Santa for the kids, photo ops, a parade, the Christmas tree lighting, and a movie on the square downtown.

It was a perfect opportunity for us to get out there, meet the public, and let them get a taste of what we offer while also giving out brochures and letting them know; “Hey! We’re here!”

We had a ton of product. In fact, we made enough for a two-day event. Buckeye candy, fudge, 3 varieties of cookies, reindeer chow, and our Christmas popcorn were all on display. The gingerbread didn’t last long. In fact, we sold out of the mini gingerbread men and only had 6 of the larger cookies pictured at the end of the day.  Our Reindeer Chow was also a big hit with the crowd. People were coming back to buy seconds throughout the day. So, I’ll count that a win.

Now that we are past that event, my mind is back to writing projects. Preparations are happening for the next Armageddon Rising book. That’s my fallen angel series. You can grab the first installment here: The Fallen . I’m really excited about continuing this one and I have people who are waiting to see what Lou and Mistrael are really up to. I’m ready to explore this story arc again and I am already making outlines, adding new details about characters who have yet to make appearances. So there is a lot going on with that now that I can settle in and spend time focusing on it.

However, there isn’t much time between our little bakery extravaganza and the holiday trip we have planned.

This will be the first time in four years that I’ve been home with my family for Christmas. Now, family here includes my grandparents, my little brother, his girls, his wife, and momma. It’s overdue for me to be there. And it looks more and more like we’ll have a white Christmas given the weather reports. Mom and I are actually debating on what day we need to leave since we’re making the 16-hour drive through Arkansas, Tennessee, and across the state of Kentucky to our destination at the homestead. But I know that we’re both looking forward to all the hugs, laughs, and holiday traditions.

I’m taking my notes with me to continue working. I’m also taking my gaming materials so that I can run a D & D session or two with friends and family while I’m there. My brother is a gamer and always has been. I’m just getting into it really. But the kids will have fun since I’ll run something kid-friendly for them to participate an learn. My best friend and her girls are supposed to be making time to come and play as well so we can spend some time together.

Yes, good times are ahead of me. And I’m ready for some R&R while I’m there.

But there is also something about taking some time while I’m there to write in a place where it all started for me. In fact, my old school desk where I learned to write is in my room there. I’m amazed they still have it honestly. Not that I can sit in it anymore. My nieces sit at it now sometimes. And it’s good to see. But, the nostalgia of being at my grampa’s desk and writing in a notebook is definitely going to get those creative juices going again.

I’m also taking my pencils and sketchbook so that I can enjoy some art projects with my older niece. That reminds me, I need to finish this piece on the easel before I leave. I have a few gifts I’ve picked up to wrap up. And I know I need to take my new bujo to set up while I’m there.

I am definitely thinking of changes in the new year.  Turning 40 is definitely giving me a bit of a pause. I’m thinking this is a topic for another post but, I’m definitely thinking about life up to now and how I want things to change for me going forward. That means embracing spinsterhood and getting more focused on balancing day jobs, writing, social, and spiritual life. It’s trickier than I ever thought it could be.

More on that later though…

Posted in The Writer's Life

Gifts for the creator in your life…

The holiday season is upon us again.

Thanksgiving is a week away and that means that Black Friday Sales deals are on the horizon for many of us. If you’re like me, you probably have a few people on your Christmas list that are hard to buy for beyond the usual gift selections in the aisles of your local Walmart or Target. So, I thought I would take a moment and give you some great gift ideas for the creative people in your life.

I’m going to keep this fairly general. Nothing specific for writers, artists, or crafters will be included in this post. However, I will likely do something for each niche in the next few weeks. My goal here is to give you some general ideas for how to inspire and empower the creative people in your life. You know, make sure they know you appreciate and encourage their creativity, quirkiness, and maybe even help them see that side of their personality in a new light.

I don’t have to put any disclaimers here. I’ll provide some links to sites that I think are great, of course. But, buying from these businesses (some of them small businesses) will only support them. I’m not one of these bloggers who have affiliations and get kick-backs from your purchases. So I can recommend them without a reservation on the simple premise that I like them and buy from them as well. That being said, let’s get started.

The first thing I would recommend for any creative person is so simple, you’ll wonder why you didn’t think about it first.

A Journal

Yes, it is the simplest tool that any creative person can put in their arsenal. For the writer they are essential. A place to capture ideas, keep track of progress on projects, empty the clutter of the mind, and to refer when we need clarity. It is the same for visual artists. A blank sketchbook is an equivalent of giving an artist a world of their own to play in. And the truth is, this can be the most inexpensive gift option you could give.

A blank notebook is simple and inexpensive at Walmart. In fact, for less than $10.00 you could put together a set of journal and pens. Want to get fancy? Try heading to a stationery shop or a local Barnes & Noble or BAM for something a bit more sturdy and fashionable. Couple that with a fountain pen and you’re good to go. It’s a classic gift that will help any creative mind figure out what to do next.

Want to shop online? Try out sites like Levenger.com or Jetpens.com for options. Amazon is always a great resource as well. And I’ll give one more option at the end of this blog that will let you add a personal touch.

Bonus Idea: If your creative person is more tech-focused, you can also look at giving memberships to blogging communities like Livejournal.com or deviantArt.com that will give them a year of ad-free usage with a few other perks. There are also paid apps that you can give as well.

The next gift idea is something I have given to creative friends on numerous occasions.

Books On Creativity

There are loads of these out there and all of them have their merit.  For me, there are two that stand out on my shelf. (Hint: I’ve blogged about them before.)

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This book quite literally has the power to change lives. It certainly did mine. A self-study course on how to unblock your creative self, I return to her process over and over again. It is something I have done not only on my own but with a group of others that has given my creativity a boost even when I thought it was buried. And you have several options with this because there is the original which will run you about $13.00 for the paperback, but there are continuations of this that are also included in a lovely hardback compilation edition that includes her additional books in the same process.  You can find it here: THE ARTIST’S WAY. And there are companion books, journals, and tools that you can also opt for.

Another book on creativity that I love and find inspirational is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and Your Creative Career by Anna Sabino. (Which incidentally, will be going with me on my road trip home to see family this Christmas.). There are others and I’m not going to make a list of titles for this post. However, if you’re interested in a more comprehensive list and review of this type of book, I’d love to know. Leave a comment and make sure you subscribe so you won’t miss out on those posts. Maybe we’ll make use of the Creativity tag and category for these. Let me know.

 

And my last idea for this post is …

A personal planner or accessories for one that they already use.

I’m going to do a more in-depth post about this one closer to the start of 2019. But, all creative people need a way to keep things going, organized, and figure out what to do with their time. We’re all a little scatterbrained these days. A place to keep track of appointments, tasks, accomplishments, birthdays, and goals is essential for me. And I don’t think I know a creative person who is serious about getting projects done and out there to the public who doesn’t use some variation of a planner.

Now I’m a planner addict. I’m one of those color-coordinated people that has a case of stickers, colored pens, and stencils. I use a combination of an Erin Condren Life Planner and a Bujo that I personalize. But I’m not going to tell you that it’s a cheap gift to give. You can get cheap planners at Walmart. And you can find all sorts of accessories. Some people use travel journals for this purpose. (Yes, I have one of those too.) There are digital options, as with everything. And there are versions that range from being a very utilitarian calendar to more like a workable journal experience.

Erin Condren offers highly personalized options. I’ve collected custom covers over the years. 2019’s is a paisley design that features my initials. Last year’s looked like antique lace overlaying a pretty shade of blue with my name on it, and my first one three years ago also featured my name but was geometric and colorful with the quote “I Want to See You Be Brave” on it. That last one served as a reminder to keep going with the pursuit of my dreams.

Erin Condren also offers a lot of accessory options and they even have notebooks that also fit their custom covers which, by the way, are interchangeable throughout the year. One of these personalized notebooks would make for a great journal in my opinion! And I love the options for stickers, their pens, and their stylized sticky notes.

 

Posted in The Writer's Life

Let the holidays begin…

I hope that you all had a great Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, food, and eventually a nap.  I certainly had a wonderful day. I filled mine with all of the above, plenty of puppy kisses, and snuggles. Add in a lot of words and we have a good picture of my day. We’re still eating leftovers though and enjoying them. And I’m sure that they will last through the weekend. I am delighted by that to be perfectly honest.

With Thanksgiving over, there are a number of things on my mind. We have five days left of NanoWrimo and I’m still playing catch up. I’m not sure if I will be able to complete the challenge or not this year. Regardless, readers of my fiction will be happy to know that there is much progress on the sequel to The Secret of the Storm which is still available over on Amazon. I’m pretty stoked about what is going on in the new book as well. So, I’m very excited to complete the project so that I can let you all in on the secrets that are unfolding in that little seaside town.

It is time to get in a more festive mood as well. Christmas is right around the corner. I am already starting the gifting list for family and friends. And I’ve chosen my Christmas Cards so those need to be put together and out into the post. There is always a lot of hustle and bustle to the month of December for nearly everyone I know. Lots of shopping, parties, family expectations, and even surprises for some.

In the middle of all the merry making, I would also remind you to think about yourself a bit in a time when we think of everyone else. Answer the question of what you want for the holidays. This is a great time to tell friends and family about a new interest. If you have been inspired to try something new and creative that seemed too expensive, use this season as an opportunity to get supplies you need.

Think about it. Let’s say you want to learn how to paint. So, you get with friends and family. You talk about it. Let them see your enthusiasm for it. One friend gets you a brush set. Another an inexpensive easel. Maybe someone picks up a starter set of paints for you or some canvas panels. The next thing you know, it is 2018 and you’re standing or sitting in front of your own art set up ready to create your first masterpiece.

Creative living also means that we use our creativity in times when we need to. Not everyone has a big budget for holiday gifting. So, can you make some of your gifts this year? If you’re planning on that what are you planning to make? I have a few that I’ll be making.

Posted in Family Life, The Writer's Life

Remember Memorial Day

Image from MSNBC

Today is a special day here in America. It is Memorial Day. For some it may just seem like another three day weekend or a reason for us to drink beer out on the lake. Yet, if you stop and think about it, there is not a life in this country that hasn’t been touched by a soldier who has fought and died for the freedoms we enjoy on a daily basis and, all too often, take for granted. Today is a day to remember the ones who gave their lives in service. To honor their sacrifice, their bravery, and their sense of patriotism.

It is very easy to get caught up in the festivities of the day that have become tradition. Family get-togethers, barbecues, days at the lake, and other celebratory events often take a center stage today. These things are fantastic ways to remember the lives of the service men and women for whom the day is about. Just take a moment and remember that there are so many families who are missing someone from their celebration today because they were lost in the fight to preserve our rights as citizens in this great nation. There are other families who are missing someone because they are still fighting for the same reason. Just take a moment and remember to say a prayer for those still placing themselves in harm’s way and for those who have fallen.

For me, there are no big plans for barbecues or anything specific. I’m just going to take time to catch up for some lost time with my fiance and the kiddo. Maybe we’ll go to the lake, maybe not, it just all depends on what we decide when I get there. But I do know that I will enjoy whatever the day brings and be especially mindful of what my ability to enjoy these things cost someone and their family.

For all who serve, have served, and will serve. I salute you and thank you for all you’ve done.