A dash of stress

No, I am not doing NaNoWriMo. It’s an attractive bandwagon, but I’m not jumping aboard.

I have my hands full enough as it is without adding more stress to my life. I lived with stress for years and the result was a tumor the size of a golf ball in my right boob. Don’t want to go there again. Ever since my Year with Chemo I have avoided stress like … well, like I should be avoiding poison ivy.

Not that stress can be shrugged off like an unwanted invitation. “No thank you; thanks anyway.” We need a little bit in our lives or we wouldn’t get up in the morning. In my case, I have to feed the cats. The minute I stir, they are on the bed with plaintive nudges and soft meows. “We’re starving! We haven’t eaten in hours and hours!” In full disclosure, this is more their stress than mine unless I really need another hour or two of sleep. In that case, I can own it.

So I get up, pad to the kitchen, turn on the light, and see … three bowls half full of food.

Just not fresh, poured-from-the-container-right-now food.

Jack enjoys a stress-free snooze

This week, I had a little angst-filled moment of stress when I realized my book club meets Tuesday and I had yet to read the book. Too late to order a paperback so I resorted to the e-version and then wondered if it would show up on my device. This has happened, causing a lot of calling and not complaining so much as whining, “Where is my fully-paid-for-book?”

Now, those of you contending with jobs and children under 18 — no, I take that last back. I have no children under 18, heck, I have no children under 40, and they still cause me stress. Sometimes it is good stress and sometimes it is the tearing-your-hair-out kind. I think there is no turning your back on child-related stress. My mom in her 90s worried about me. My kids worry about their kids. I worry about my grandkids. Nope, that stress is here to stay.

Everyone has stress. School, bills, illness, you name it. Some of us can handle it, some can’t, some ignore it and some (think sky divers or cave explorers) go looking for it. Some people need a certain amount of adrenaline just to survive. Some would like to be wrapped in a soft quilt and sung to sleep.

The key is balance. Too much can kill you. Too little, and life isn’t worth living.

I recently answered a request to speak about my new book (see last post) at the local library. I’m already stressing. What will I say? What will I wear? (This is a real thing.) Suppose no one buys a copy after I’ve ordered a crate from the publisher? (This has happened.)

But in the midst of my agonizing, I realize being asked to speak is a good thing and even if I don’t sell a single copy, people will have heard about it and maybe will buy it later. Or not.

That’s something I have learned not to stress about. I write because I love creating stories and I love it when people buy my books and read them and I really love it when they bother to write a favorable review.

Today’s lesson is that we can’t really live a stress-free life. If we did, we’d be pampered, indoor cats.











Fool me Once, Shame on You –Fool me Twice, sigh…


Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me.

I should get this wisdom tattooed on my forehead!

Several weeks ago, I received a free pen in the mail and it was nice. It felt good in my hand and surprise, surprise, it had my business name embossed on the side. I am such a fool for these kinds of marketing ploys. I’d probably buy the Brooklyn Bridge if someone put my name on it as graffiti. At conventions, you’ll find me scooping up swag -like I’ve never even used a bookmark (I am a dog-ear sinner) and really, I already have 1,984,201 pens in drawers, free mugs and buttons linger on the sides of purses. Yet, I never learn.

Like a lemming, I follow the link and personalize a pen – not sure to whom I’ll give one, but it was early in the morning and I was not caffeinated yet.

I order the minimum and immediately a pop up, pops up saying ‘Hey! –get twenty more for virtually nothing!’ I click okay, feeling like I made a great deal on something I don’t need or want. As soon as I hit order, I expect to fill out the payment info but no… the order went through automatically and a notice that they’ll invoice later –and then I see the total… 35 pens for over $70 -they added set up and shipping (could have sworn I saw free shipping & set up somewhere on the site) – Over the next few days, I remember falling for the same scam twenty years ago. I briefly get distracted wondering where those SpiralXdesign, Inc pens are now? I know I hid them from my business partner (now husband).

Well, I admit I have no one to blame but myself and go online to pay the bill. But, no -not so fast, I need my customer number, which is on receipt included with the pens. After hours of sorting through papers I find it and go online -only to find online payment fees bringing the total closer to $100!! So, I spend another hour searching for the paper invoice, that came in the mail a few days earlier.

I write my check for the invoice amount and pop it into the mail.

I feel stupid, humiliated and irritated. I also wonder where I can hide the pens from husband who seems to think I have an impulse control problem.

Then, a few days ago, they call demanding payment. I tell them I mailed the check since I’d only just received it. As a prelude to selling me something else, the guy tells me it takes 3-4 weeks for a check to arrive. He then asks for the check number and I lose it, not the check number but my patience. I refuse to go look for the check number, the pens were a rip off, I am furious that I even fell for their scam -again. I seem to remember a Tennessee address on the envelope -so, if he thinks it takes 3-4 weeks for mail to get from western North Carolina to Tennessee -he’s a fracking moron! (But we all know who the real fracking moron is, right?) Then, as he started to apologize for my unhappiness with their product, I hung up.

Normally, I’d feel bad but honestly? I feel fine. And by fine, I mean… -read Louise Penny for that answer.

IMG_2159.JPGI cynically realize that in twenty years, I’ll be really old and I just hope and pray I don’t order stupid pens again! They probably won’t be using pens in the future but I bet this company will still selling them.

And now an important message…




write in the am–sketch in the pm

Last January, I had plans and a partial outline prepped for my WIP-edits; but, as I shared in last week’s post, my year was interrupted by deaths, injuries, dramas and car troubles. I was a shell-shocked hull, reserving all my energy for my Mother-in-law –who was emotionally gutted and extremely fragile. Now, we’ve survived the worst of the first eight-month hump. Many issues resolved and dramas quelled.

IMG_2070.jpgNow, I’m ready to start editing. But, when I look at my notes I find myself confused with more questions than answers. I’m also painfully out of practice. In some ways, writing for me is like sketching or music -it takes daily practice to keep sharp.

I decided a good way to hop back on that horse was to participate in NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. Since, I’ve also rebooted my art work, I’ve begun working on an illustrated novel, based on an Irish myth I found in an old mid-19th century book in the Boston Public Library reference reading room. It described the discovery of the first harp. It was a sweet story of love and compassion that stuck with me. My version of this myth will be my NaNoWriMo novel. More

Shameless self-promotion

I may have used that title before, but hey, every once in awhile you gotta do it.

I have (ahem-drum roll please) just released my 10th book.  It is called “When He Said Goodbye”. Here’s the blurb:

Church organist Marcie Wicker is the only person, including the police, who doesn’t believe her husband, Stan, is sunning himself on a tropical beach somewhere after withdrawing every cent from their joint savings account. She refuses her father’s advice to seek a divorce and her mother’s advice to move on, and grieves that her college-age twins are letting their anger sully the memory of their father.

With the arrival of the new pastor, Adam Shepherd, Marcie realizes that she is ready to love again, but as neither wife nor widow, she is torn between accepting that Stan left her or stubbornly clinging to her belief that he has come to harm. Adam, divorced,  is struggling with regaining the confidence of his rebellious 13-year-old daughter and wonders if he is ready for another relationship.

Will Marcie and Adam’s faith be enough bring healing to their fractured families?

Earlier beta readers will realize that I cut a sub-plot from the original that a few thought distracted from the main story. I liked it and cried bitter tears (figuratively, not literally) as I cut the offending sections. Sorta like lopping off my little toes.

So I feel this is a kind of milestone as I only set out to write one book way back when and was ridiculously pleased when it was published. Then I got an idea for another, and it was all downhill from there.

The first book was my one and only work of nonfiction. All the rest are products of my fevered imagination. Some are traditionally published and some are self-published, which earns me the title of hybrid author.

Will I write another? Reluctantly, at least until I get started and then can’t stop.  As usual, the story buzzes around in my brain until I sigh, sit down, and start typing just to get rid of it, like an annoying insect. Of course I hope it will turn out to be a butterfly.

With Christmas coming up, may I suggest this might be a suitable gift for the readers in your life — especially if they are fans of Christian fiction?

Here is the link for the e-book on any device: Smashwords

And the link for Amazon, both Kindle and print:


Cheers! As I Pour A New Mimosa

Where have I been? MIA…


Coffee sunrise Wilmington

In January, of this year, 2018, I was optimistic about the future, our future and my future –more so than I’d been in decades. I’d spent 2017 wrapping up loose ends. I’d finished healing from health issues, ready to move forward and get back on track. I’d finished 18 months of therapy for c-PTSD. Learned it was a ghost that would be with me forever; but, I’d acquired the tools to deal with my triggers. I eagerly anticipated the hard work and path I’d chosen!

I suppose, like many women, in America now, I could (but won’t) thank 45 for being the biggest trigger, since my childhood and forcing me to face my past. My WIP’s first draft was finally done, after a complete A-Z rewrite. I had a plan for the edits, which I set a deadline of September 2018. I had my house cleaned, my office organized and I felt an effervescence in my soul. In Wver the holidays, I’d mended bridges with my in-laws and poured my soul out to my poor Father-in-law after two large glasses of wine. (Yes, I am a light-weight) We even willingly hugged farewell as they headed back north. More

If it isn’t one thing…

Ah yes,  you recognize the quote. “If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.”

That’s the way it’s been for the past two weeks. Or I could have quoted Robert Burns and wrote: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

My October calendar page started out nice and neat. No penciled-in notations. Well, a few. A meeting here and there. My annual mammogram. No big deal.

Then another meeting was called. And then Matthew came and went, so those meetings were put off until the following week. Which already had meetings penciled in. Some were church and community business meetings and some were fun meetings such as book club. I had to take minutes at three of them. And write them up before I forgot what my scribbled notes said.

Plus visits to the vet: my calico, Spooky, for her  annual exam and shots and Frenchy to check out her ears because for eight weeks I have been putting drops in twice a day. And she HATED them and ran whenever I even glanced in her direction. Fun times.

But it worked and her infection cleared up. Unfortunately, she doesn’t know that, so the little gray cat is still running, casting accusing looks over her shoulder.

I volunteer at the animal shelter every Wednesday morning, which I enjoy. They held a fundraiser, a chicken plate luncheon, so said I’d make a cake. I make a really good Orange Crush pound cake. So you can guess … I left the first one in the oven too long and it dried out. I trashed it and mixed up another. This one looked and smelled wonderful, but when I went to take it out of the oven, it had fallen. Disaster. Not on a par with Hurricane Matthew, but still…

I bought a cake at the grocery store and explained that I HAD baked a cake, and apologized for the substitute.

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to format my novel to upload to Smashwords. I got up Saturday morning thinking I would have all day to work on it, and found my right eye inexplicably swollen almost shut. I could manage, but I can’t wear my glasses because of the swelling.

I debated going to the ER (which they now call ED for some reason) but the last time I went after being stung by a  hornet near my eye which then swelled to epic proportions, I was told to just let my body absorb the swelling.

So there we are. This week on the calendar — and how can it possibly be the last full week in October? October just started! Anyway, this coming week looks pretty clear except for a routine doctor visit.

I can’t wait to see what happens.






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