Sunday, March 30, 2014

Finding the Way Back - Cover Reveal

I've just finished the first round of edits on my first novel, Finding the Way Back and it's been an exciting prospect.  It really feels like I will have a book published!  On the heels of that thought comes nervousness over how the story will be received.  I try to remember that I felt that way with my short story and so far I have had wonderful feedback.  The phone calls and notes I've received have encouraged me and I am so grateful for every one.

So -- Here it is -- Ta Da!  The cover of the book!  When I saw it I was so happy and amazed to see my name on it.  It was exactly how I had pictured it.  It's been a long time coming.  I've written for decades and I have manuscripts and short stories sitting in files that have never seen the light of day since they were put away.  I keep a file of my many rejection letters right next to them.  Perhaps in the future I'll be able to dust off some of those tales for another attempt at publication.

For those of you interested in the book -- I've always loved ghost stories.  From the scary to the amusing they are all for me.  I like to believe in ghosts, sometimes it's just for fun and other times it feels reassuring to think of our loved ones with us at least in spirit.

Finding the Way Back is the story of Laney, a recently divorced woman who agrees to help her mother fix up her dead grandfather’s house.  From the first night where she hears ghostly music to later physical attacks that seem targeted only at her, she soon discovers that a spirit trapped in the house may have plans of its own.  For her own well-being, she needs to find answers as she slowly learns to trust herself as well as others.  With the help of an attractive ghosthunter named Emmett and some other eccentric characters, Laney uncovers the dark secret of the house and a new path for her future.

I can't wait to share my new story with you and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Stay tuned for future updates!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My favorite Inexpensive Gifts for 2014

We all differ in our tastes which is usually a great thing.  It makes us unique and not striving for the same things all the time.  Unfortunately it sometimes makes giving gifts difficult.  I am at an age when I like to give gifts with meaning but most of my friends don't need another knick knack that will just sit around collecting dust.  Also I don't want to make someone else feel as if they need to remember my birthday or other event so I want something nice for a reasonable price.  Here are six inexpensive gifts I've been given or gave that I adore.

1. These wonderful hand made spoons are approximately $30 although some he makes are more expensive.  Beautiful Scandinavian one of a kind designs make these a special gift.  Jarrod Stone Dahl is the artist and he also creates bowls, boxes and other items.  All of his hand made items are beautiful!

2. I love my invisibelt.  At $22.00 they lay flat next to your body so there is no bump under your shirt.  The clasp doesn't last forever but since I wear it almost every day, I've found it lasts as long as any other belt.  I put this in our annual Christmas game and it was a huge hit.  

3. This next one seems a little odd I know but I received this as a gift after I had hurt my neck.  It's very light weight so when you put your hair up in it to dry it creates no pull on your neck.  For only $9.99 for two it's very economical.  It can be found at Bed, Bath and Beyond as well as occasionally at Target or Walmart.

4. For a luxurious bath or just next to your kitchen sink I've found a soap called Maria Evora.  It's a nice change from the usual Bath and Body gift.  The black sea salt and carob soaps are wonderful on your skin and they smell amazing!  The look of them alone makes a lovely gift.  Amazon is just one of many places that sell it for just $10.50 or 4 bars for $36.00

5. I've found a lot of inexpensive, vintage items on eBay.  This one is for the ladies who are interested in green living but like a little elegance in their lives.  Search vintage beaded purses and look through the offerings.  Make sure you look at all the disclosures, most people will let you know if there are slight stains or missing beads.  You can ask a question before you bid and I suggest you do so if there are not a lot of photos showing the exact condition of an item.  I've bought beautiful bags like the ones shown for $10 to $30.  I use mine to add romance to a night out for dinner. 

6.  The last one is thanks to my sister.  She gave me this pretty little Kuhn Rikon paring knife and cutting board for Christmas.  Not only is it pretty but it is also practical.  I'm always searching for a sharp knife.  They come in a multitude of colors which I find makes cooking more enjoyable. This knife was mentioned in Bon Appetit so it's perfect for that chef in your life yet so pretty and well made everyone will love it.  You can buy them singly or as a set at kitchen shops and online.  $10 - $30 depending on size and set.

I'm always trying to have a few inexpensive gifts on hand for that surprise event.  Tell me about your favorite gifts for a chance to win an eBook copy of my short story, Within Reach.  Click below where it says 'comments' and let me know.  If you're the first to comment the link will say 'No Comments.'  If others have already commented the link will indicate number of comments.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Looking for a Winter Vacation? Relax in Beautiful Sanibel Island, Florida

Recently we were able to escape the great frozen north for a sunnier destination to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.  Although we've had many great vacations we never went on a honeymoon so we decided to treat this like the honeymoon we've never had.  We've visited the gulf coast of Florida many times and we really love the area so we decided to try a new spot, Sanibel Island.

Sanibel is a quiet little island with all the things I need in the winter...sand...sun...good food...and the ocean.  It's a great place to relax and let yourself become centered again.  I'm not one to lay directly in the sun but sitting under an umbrella or on our covered porch was heaven.  The first afternoon we were there I sat and read for hours in the warmth.

If you're looking for great meals this little island is a perfect destination.  We were unable to visit every place we wanted to but every meal we had was delicious.  Our list of great restaurants are as follows (not necessarily in order);

1. The Lighthouse Cafe -
Home of the World's Greatest Breakfast and from the mimosas with fresh squeezed orange juice to the pancakes, fresh preserves and other entrees I would vouch that claim.

2.  Keylime Bistro - Captiva - We had lunch in Captiva at the Keylime and really enjoyed ourselves sitting out on a patio with a warm breeze.  The wait staff was friendly, the food amazing and the music was wonderful.  A man named Mark Vee played guitar exceptionally well and offered to play songs that were requested.  Romantic, delicious and fun.

3.  Traders - Fun, eclectic atmosphere with delicious fresh food.  We had salmon sandwiches that were to die for.

4.  The Sanibel Cafe offered a lighter fare for lunch.  Don't let the relaxed atmosphere fool you.  This is where the locals eat for a good reason.  Delicious sandwiches, fresh fruit, and at a reasonable rate.

5.  The Sanibel Steakhouse-  We were served the best steaks we've eaten in ages!  Yum.  Romantic atmosphere with white tablecloths.  It was a little pricey but well worth it for a special evening.

6.  Thistle Lodge -  We decided to go upscale for our anniversary dinner.  The food was delicious.  It was a more chef based meal, which is interesting if you want to try something new.  The prices were high but the views overlooking the ocean made it well worth the price.

7.  Traditions at the Island Inn -  This is another local secret.  We arrived early because I wasn't feeling well so we didn't get a chance to enjoy much of the live music.  It felt like a traditional resort with heart.  Very good food and service.  We finished just as the sun set and walked out to the beach.

8.  Pinocchio's Original Italian Ice Cream -  I don't even need to say anything about this spot.  Ice Cream says it all!!

9.  Over Easy Cafe -  Another exceptional place for breakfast.  The service was wonderful and the food fresh and perfectly made.  I had the croissant egg sandwich and it was melt in your mouth wonderful.

We wanted to go to more eateries but we were only on the island a few days so we hit what we could.

There are so many things to do on the island--fishing, canoeing, walking the eco trails, biking (there are trails everywhere and everyone bikes), kite boarding, shelling, and shopping but except for a few excursions we wanted to sit on the beach under the umbrella or walk the beach.  After a long battle with a bad cold it was just nice to rest.

There were a few things I would suggest as must do's -

Try the bike trails - get out early before it's too warm.

Visit the lighthouse beach.  It's quiet and empty in the morning.

Get up early and watch the sun rise!

It can be a magical thing!

Lastly, shopping is usually a given in a place like this but I really want to highlight one store.  B Unique Boutique Sanibel -  We met the store owner, Sandra, our first day on the island and while I was looking around she told Geo many of the restaurants and places to see while we were there.  She couldn't have been more generous or friendly.  Her store was filled with unique gifts and clothing that were quality items.   She believes in fair trade and empowering women which I think is a wonderful thing that I like to highlight as well.  She can even send you items you see on her site so look her up!

So if you're looking for somewhere to spend a few sunny hours during the chill of the north give Sanibel Island a chance.  We will be going back and we hope to hear of your adventures there.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Within Reach Excerpt

My short story Within Reach came out last Monday and it's been exciting and yet scary.  You put so much time and energy, not to mention your heart, into a story and release it to the world and then you hope it is enjoyed.  While this is a fantasy story I wrote, it is also my family's story, and hopefully it will resonate with anyone who has struggled with the loss of a loved one.  Thank you to everyone who has been supportive and who have already given me kind and positive feedback!

Here is an excerpt -

My heart jumped as my tires slipped on the wet pavement. The pouring rain swallowed the faint glimmer of my old Toyota’s headlights as I pumped my brakes and negotiated the bend in the road. Slow down, I told myself, but the gnawing unease in my stomach urged me to hurry. It was only a few more miles now. An extra five minutes would make no difference. One thing was certain; I would be no help to my mother if I had an accident.
I tried to push our last argument to the back of my mind. Remembering the anger and recriminations wouldn’t keep my mind on my driving. My mother had been furious when I said she needed to come live with us or find an assisted living arrangement. She wouldn’t accept her failing memory was a hazard to herself and others. Her personality had slowly changed as the disease progressed, until she was unable to be reasonable anymore. That scared me. Well, now the other choices were gone. Something had to change. I knew there would be another fight, but I had no choice. Tomorrow, I’d call my mother’s doctor to see what options existed for the swiftly deteriorating situation.
Her doctors kept assuring me Mom was able to live alone, but I knew she had just hidden the degree to which her confusion had advanced. She was a wonderful actress. It seemed I was the only one who saw behind the mask she showed the world. I’d sworn when I learned of my mother’s condition I would be there for her. She had been there for me. Little did I know how difficult that vow would become for all of us.
The rain started to come down in torrents, so I could hardly see the twisting road. I had driven this route so many times, but now I felt lost. The trees lining the sides of the road appeared, closing in on me, and the black pavement descended into an abyss around the next turn. My head pounded with the effort just to stay alert and not to panic.
At times, it seemed like Mom was a three-year-old trapped in an old woman’s body. I would look in her eyes and see emptiness where she once was. I hiccoughed a sob and tried to hold it together. I didn’t know how much more I could take. I was so tired.
I couldn’t believe it when I got my mother’s voice message saying she accidentally left her cat Rhubarb outside and she was going to look for it. What if she was hit by a car that didn’t see her in the rainy darkness? Please, please don’t let her get hurt, I prayed over and over to whoever might be listening as I drove through the dismal night.
Rhubarb died three years ago.

I've received two five star reviews on amazon for which I am so grateful!  

A story of a daughter's unshakable love of a mother losing her connection with the world and the pain of watching it happen. Beautiful and touching.   -  Debra Harrison

If you have a family member with dementia you will relate to this story! It helped me to focus on the happy memories with my own mother.  -  Bma

If you're interested in reading Within Reach you can follow the below links.

Melange -

Amazon  kindle -