A Season For Love

Last Saturday night, I started out the holiday season by dragging my Better Half to a local Christmas concert. We listened to a men’s church choir, women playing Christmas bells, and two teenage girls who played violin and sang beautifully. Since I was raised with a mixture of classical music, church hymns, and rock and roll, the entire evening was a joy.

The following morning, I popped over to Chrissy Olinger‘s blog to read her latest post Hard Candy Christmas. Okay, if nothing else, just go over there to see the adorable picture of her puppy. Trust me, you’ll love it. 🙂

Chrissy’s post reminded me that for some, the holiday season is difficult. My Better Half has a love/hate relationship with the season. There are a multitude of reasons why, none of which I’ll go into here, but we have adapted our celebration so we can both enjoy the holiday.

So whether you love or hate the holidays, remember that there are those who feel different than you do. Respect their individuality and be kind to each other. This is, after all, a season for love.

A Survival Guide to Menopause

Years ago, one of my former co-workers decided it was time to tell her teenage children about menopause. She sat them down and when she was done telling them about the mood swings and weight gain and irritability and sugar cravings, her seventeen-year-old son asked, “Should we hide the knives now?”

At the time, I thought this was hilarious. But deep down inside, I was terrified. My own mother had been irritable to the point of insanity … although in hindsight, it may have been the three teenage children living under her roof that were driving her nuts. :)

So I tried to prepare my husband for the inevitable. Mostly I told him, “When it’s that time, just lock me in a padded cell.”

Fortunately we have resources today that we didn’t have back in the day when my mom went through menopause. Like the internet, where we can talk about our problems with people who are going through the same thing. Like naturopaths and health food stores and a host of other remedies designed to fit the individual user’s needs.

Thanks to years of preparation for The Big Moment, I find I’m sailing through these years without a padded cell in sight. Sure, there’s the odd sleepless night, the occasional moment of teeth-baring confrontation, and the daily hot flashes. But for me, the most outstanding menopausal side effect has been the lack of creativity. Pulling story ideas and words from my brain is akin to building a space shuttle, an impossible task for one as mechanically challenged as I am.

But it’s getting better. And now the awesome PJ Sharon (Young Adult author of Wanning Moon, Book 1 in her latest series), has written a wonderful post on menopause. Whether you’re a reader, a writer, or just someone who’s looking for help on dealing with this tricky time of life, check out PJ’s Survival Guide to Menopause.

Make sure you read through the comments for more helpful suggestions. I’ve found a few tips to help me get back my writing mo-jo.

And remember to follow PJ’s advice to do your own research and to see a doctor to discuss your options.

Enjoy!

For The Love of Reading – Repost

Today is the anniversary of my dad’s passing into the great unknown. It’s been three years since he left us, so in honor of his memory, I’m reposting one of the first blog posts I wrote.

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My Dad

This photo was taken during our last family vacation in January 2009.

I inherited my nose from my dad. I also inherited his calves, his easy going personality and his love of reading. He died in 2009 but my all time favourite picture of him shows him sitting on the beach in a lawn chair, a book in his hands with the sun shining down on his head.

The first book I remember holding was a beautiful hardcover copy of Cinderella, filled with strange words I couldn’t read and beautiful pictures I adored. Once I learned to read, I worked my way through Dick and Jane, on to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and in between, the back of every cereal box my mom ever bought.

When I ran out of reading material, I would sneak into my dad’s book stash, which he wisely kept in the garage, and read his Harlequin romances. He also had some racier novels there, stories with – gasp! – sex, and if my mom knew I was reading those books – heck, if she knew my dad was reading those books – she would have banned them from our reading material.

My youngest son restored an old cat that he thought his grandpa might have used back in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. When the restoration was complete, he took his grandpa out to “unveil” it. My dad was so excited to see this piece of machinery, he scrambled up on it in about 2.3 seconds, quite a feat for an old guy with a bad hip and leg.

These days I’m allowed to read whatever I want and I want to read a lot. In fact, I want to read more than I have time for. Favourite authors include Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Barbara Samuel (O’Neal), Ann Voss Peterson, Linda Style, Susan Vaughan, Virginia Kelly, Joshilyn Jackson, and Lisa Lutz, just to name a few.  And with the arrival of the e-reader, not only is my to-be-read pile contained within one small device instead of all over the office floor, but I’ve discovered indie authors like our own Women Unplugged bloggers Dianne Venetta, Christy Hayes, Patricia Yager and Sharla Lovelace. If you haven’t read their books yet, run to your nearest e-reader and download them now. I’ll wait ….

Shortly before my dad died, he gave me the book Volcano by Richard Doyle. When he told me I had to read this book, there was a tone in his voice that I recognized so well. It was awe and wonder for a can’t-put-it-down story, emotions I too experience whenever I fall in love with a story or an author’s voice. Although I have yet to read the book – I’ve become more of a love-to-laugh-out-loud reader – Volcano will forever remain on my keeper shelf because it was the last time my dad shared his love of reading with me.

This is how I will always remember my dad, with a book in his hands and another waiting to be read. This is, hopefully, how my children will remember me, too.

So who did you inherit your reading gene from? Who are some of your favourite authors and books?

The Valentine Grinch Cover Reveal!

Last year I wrote a short story for the WG2E All-For-Indies Anthologies: Viva La Valentine Edition, a series which was initiated by the incomparable D.D. Scott. Since then, I’ve expanded the story into a novella.

The Valentine Grinch will be the first novella in my new Home for the Holidays series. I’m excited about this series because each book will contain two of my favorite things … family and weddings.

Hearts, cupids, and diamond rings … bah humbug!

Amanda Goodwin inherited her Valentine grinchness from her Grandpa George, so when she returns home for her Grandma Elvira’s Valentine’s Day wedding, it’s bah humbug all the way. Until, that is, she encounters her grandpa’s ghost.

Fortunately, she’s not in this alone.

Long time friend, Dane Weatherby, totally gets her grinchly attitude. Between Grandpa’s demands for her to stop the wedding, Grandma’s inability to let go of her dearly departed husband’s urn, and Amanda’s parents acting friskier than a couple of newlyweds, she’s ready to give in to her grinchness and head back to the city.

Only true love can stop Amanda. And if Dane has his way, he just might convince her to say I do instead of bah humbug.

My cover designer, Kim Killion of Hot Damn Designs nailed the cover and I’m totally over the moon with joy. 🙂

If you haven’t had a chance to read the short story, then you’ll definitely want to check out the novella. Stay tuned for the upcoming release date.

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