Pause and Re-charge

November — often in the United States we put a little more emphasis on pausing, giving thanks, and taking stock of our personal situation.

Where and when? Oh, that answer has as many questions as people. Perhaps more than one per person.

Do you have a prayer time? Do you review the day as you fall asleep? Does your mind turn to planning in the twilight as you drift from sleep to awake? Or do you find a calm, quiet place and organize your thoughts. Or work on solving a problem.

Recently, I drove to a nearby state park and found a place good for me.

Seating is important when I’m thinking — unless I’m taking a walk.

So pull up a chair, settle in, and let your mind drift as your eyes absorb the view.

The view:

On a clear, November day a person can see for miles from the viewpoint. What are you going to think about?

Do you enjoy reading?

Once upon a time…

Long ago and far away…

Three, two, one…blast off….

Classic openings can start a person down a path, trail, or road to worlds of fantastic creatures and deeds. What’s at the end of the road? Or on the next planet? Is the destination or the journey most important?

When I was a small child, my brothers and I looked forward to the arrival of a weekly magazine. We all liked the cartoons sprinkled in the second half — past the major articles and some of the features. Did I read the captions? Likely not — while I can’t remember not knowing my letters — I didn’t do a lot of reading before school. Did my brothers read captions to me? I think so — if I could get them to stay on the same page long enough.

Picture books. Chapter books. Children’s classics. Anything with print that arrived in the house. As time progressed, I read all of it. I think my favorites, even as a child, were books with a happy ending. I wanted the family to be reunited. Or the hero/heroine to gain the prize, solve the mystery, and be confident taking the next step in life.

Some things stay the same. I enjoy most books that end happy. So reading romance fits. Writing romance fits also — after all, I’m trying to write the book I want to read.

Titles in the Crystal Springs Romances:

Starr Tree Farm Hiding Places Seed of Desire

Titles published by The Wild Rose Press:

Stare Down Comfort Zone

Click over to the title pages to read the complete blurb and find purchase links.

Air Dance

Change in season. Change of temperature. Here comes the wind — autumn this time. Signaling the end of the growing season.

Yes, it’s time to tidy up, repair, and stock up on some staples.

Have you pulled out or trimmed the annual plants? Stored the patio furniture? Don’t forget the hose!

Leaves taking the “scenic route” from treetop to ground. Can you hear them?

“Let’s dance and get a glimpse of the neighbors before we settle in and face the rake.”

Underwater Spooks

BOO! ‘Tis the season to scare each other.

Most Americans take the Halloween decorations, jokes, and “trick or treat” activities with a smile and idea of fun.

Do you ever wonder how other creatures cope with things which scare us? Does a plastic dog skeleton scare a dog? Do corn field creatures appreciate a maze? Do raccoons tell jokes to each other?

Cue the spooky movie music —

the hunt is on.

I’m convinced Hollywood designers used this stealth swimmer as a spaceship model.

Smile!

Smile! Look at the camera! Say cheese!

Okay — the actual word you ask your model (or child) to say does not matter very much. I have heard that it gives the best expression to have an “S” near the end of the word. (Hmmmm…the photographer for our high school year book was eager to prompt the girls with the word “boys”.)

Photographs, and a great many other things, have gotten more casual during my lifetime. Gone are the days when my mother (the photographer of the family) asked us to squint into the sun and smile at the same time. Now we hold up a digital camera or phone and can check for results before we’re gone from the picnic, visit to relatives, or zoo. (Granted, animals continue the habit of turning away at critical times.)

Has a smile ever made you nervous? Raised all your internal caution flags?

Do you trust this model’s smile?

I was glad for the clear barrier between us.

Vital References

Writers read books. I think I’ve mentioned the fact several times over the years.

Writers do research. I’ve touched on this topic. Sometimes, depending upon topic, this can be the most interesting part of writing. After all, unless I already had the idea in hand, why would I visit a Christmas tree farm, or interview an apple orchard owner, or attend dog agility trials, or visit three Missouri state parks and historic sites in one day?

Use the computer search engine? Yes, it comes in handy. I depend on computer information when getting background places difficult or impossible for me to visit. Or looking for historical treatment of a disease. Or what sort of fabric was popular in the United States in 1851? Lots of useful and interesting information — best to double check before you put specifics in your manuscript. (When you have a character use an invention two years before the patent was granted — you risk creditability.)

This writer — and my writer friends — also depend on books. You know, the hold-in-your-hand bound paper volumes.

Popular, and useful, references for the writer in the house. Some, like the almanac and atlas are found in many homes. The use is wide-ranging — who was vice-president of the United States in 1852 or can you drive direct from Point A to B. Others, the human body atlas and gun guide are more specialized. Specialized thesauruses aid the writer to create a better character and present them well on the page. Dictionary? Thesaurus? When you can’t find the right word they can come to your rescue. (Also a great help when your spelling leaves word-check programs scratching their electronic brains.) Are these all? Absolutely not! Books on the craft of writing fill a good sized shelf in my office. Other books — special dictionaries, travel guides, non-fiction history — are scattered from one end of the house to the other. After all — a person never knows when they’ll have the need to find the directions for making soap in the 1830’s — or the name of that particle smaller than an electron.

Cozy Cabin

In a cabin by the lake,

Mr. Moose watched you make

A copy of the view

Without me or you.

Hey! I never claimed to be a poet. My use of meter and rhyme stalled out about age nine.

Can you imagine having a quiet afternoon in this room? The light looks good to curl up beside the dog on the couch and enjoy a book. What would you read? Adventure? History? Romance? Or how about — a historical romance full of adventure?

I think you can find a volume to your liking at any public library. And the writing should be better than my poetry.

Stack O’ Books

One of my habits, familiar to those who know me in person, is making lists.

Grocery lists, shopping list for home improvement store, or Big Box store. A list of errands when making the rounds of library, bank, post office and other places. Scribbles on the calendar in my purse. (Only recently have I started using the electronic calendar connected to by email account. — What can I say: I was an adult before the current millennium?)

For years, at least a decade before the above millennium change, I recorded books read. Later, after a few computer classes, I transferred the record to electronic form. However, this old-fashioned person keeps a printed copy.

I can’t remember the occasion — but something prompted me to take a photo of a portion of my reading in the spring of 2013.

Hmmm. I remember a few of these well. I do hope I inserted a non-fiction or two during this reading span. Yes, my favorite is romance — with an emphasis on romantic suspense according to this stack o’ books. What’s your favorite?

Celebrate the Harvest

Belated Thanksgiving Wishes to Canadian readers!

Growing up on a small farm in the upper Midwest, the end of November always seemed rather late to celebrate the harvest. Grain was usually cut, thrashed, and stored by early September. (Some years it was a race to finish late in August before the free labor – children – returned to school.) The final crop of hay followed close behind. Corn, our other crop at the time, often was cut and/or picked in October.

I live farther South now — not tropical, but enough miles to change the seasons a little. (Global warming plays a part too.) Houseplants come inside late Sept or early Oct — before frost nips at the tips. Gardens are tapering off — a few peppers and tomatoes hang on for the excellent gardeners. Apples, pumpkins, and root vegetables are ready for picking and digging during October.

The puzzle artist stylized a harvest from days gone by — perhaps you can find elements of your childhood in the scene. Did you grow up rural? Or take a fall drive to admire colorful leaves and end up at an orchard?

Visiting an Orchard?

Have you visited an orchard this year? Last year? Ever?

Commercial orchards offer more than apples these days. Depending on size or location — you can get a ride on a wagon behind a tractor, get lost in a straw or corn maze, pick a pumpkin, or attend a lecture about apple varieties.

When I was a child, we visited a small, commercial orchard each year. No fancy rides or entertainment. A shed full of the sweet, welcome scent of apples and bushel after bushel set out with names for each type. Fresh cider if you went to the largest. Mother had a list — either written or mental — of which varieties she wanted. Cooking apples found their way into pie and cobbler. Eating apples offered dad a nutritious evening snack. We bought them by the bushel (sometimes a peck) and stored them in the basement. With luck, and planning, we didn’t need to buy apples at the grocer until well into the summer.

Have you ever thought an orchard at the other seasons? Spring brings the blossoms– and maybe a little more if you are reading about Hilltop Orchard near Crystal Springs, WI. (Don’t look on a map — the village is fictitious.)

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