Never Ceasing to Surprise Me

shockedI used to begin my days by logging into Yahoo news and reading all the horrific tales of people. I stopped. I had to. I found that for the next couple hours, while the images were still fresh in my head, I couldn’t focus. Or was it that all I did was focus on the bad…the ugly… and the wrong that people did to one another. But just like everything that’s bad, there’s also good. I was reaffirmed with this knowledge this very morning.

Okay, so it snared me. That stupid news blinked up on my screen while I was waiting to check something on the internet. The caption read something like ‘Slender Man Girl’ confesses to insanity. Really? Slender Man. Who could pass up reading this. And the picture of the adolescent was striking my attention too. She looked like three-fourths of the girls I see trailing out of the school when I wait to pick up my daughter from drama practice. She wore glasses, a tee shirt, and had a typical teenage look. Although something was troubling in her eyes. So I clicked to read it. Why oh why would I do that? Now the story will haunt me. Along with another one that snared me yesterday about a slain boy and two coaches. I thought all day about what happened there. The investigation continues on that one. I’ll try not to check up on it. No promises.

Anyway, the girl along with her friend, both 12 years old, invited another little girl to a birthday party then took her to the park the next morning and stabbed her 19 times. And my daughter wonders why I won’t let her go on sleepovers at other parents houses! Ha, read the stories, baby girl. Or don’t. They will scar you for life. Are you for real? I think I was still playing with Barbies at 12. But whatever. I’m pretty sure Barbies are online or something by now. The reason they killed her, the article read, is because they were pledging themselves as proxies for a ficticious character online, called Slender Man. The dude doesn’t even exist! What are people thinking? What is in their warped minds? And how is it that no one else sees the danger before something goes insanely wrong? The little girl lived, by the way. And now the two teens are being charged as adults because their crime was premeditated and violet. Lives, time, and innocence lost.

While my head is still reeling from imagining the poor little 12 year old pulling herself through the park with 19 stab wounds, I come across an amazing story of another tween. This one is on stage, getting ready to perform for the first time in front of hundreds of people–Simon included. She’s on that show the X-Factor, or something or other. Anyway, she says her name is Grace and she’s written a song. Then she continues by strumming her little ukulele and singing about childhood. She sings about being lost. And it was quite innocent. Nothing like some kids sing about on the radio about things I know they know nothing about–like broken hearts and desire. What could they know? They’re fifteen and sixteen? But this little girl was refreshing. She was shy, yet confident. She said she believed in miracles and it would be one if she made it to the next level. I’m happy to report she did!

So there you have it. Three 12 year old children. Two searching for sacrificial kills to please an imaginary internet character, and one rising star, believing in miracles. People will never cease to surprise me. Even young ones.

To Have Them or Not To Have Them…Expectations

expectationsWe get them when we’re young. They are sort of like standards. And depending how you’re raised, they become a bar in our minds of how things are supposed to be. They begin quite simply…. When you come downstairs at dinner time, will your parent have food for you, or will you forage for food alone? It’s good to not always have food waiting, that way you know what it feels like to have to find it for yourself. On a side note, I’m not proving this fact well for my children. And it could be why I’m apprehensive for my son to go to college on Monday. I’ve missed very little meals for him. Will he be able to forage alone?

Back to expectations…They get more complicated the older you get, from food to the treatment of others. Like when you visit the real world. You know, the one your mom isn’t standing at every crossroad, trying to fix it in your favor. If you’re fortunate enough to have a mom like this. Or a dad. Lest we forget them. So, you go out with a big ol’smile, expecting a lot. Maybe a job. But no. Sorry, you have no experience. You can’t get a job without experience. But how does one get experience without getting a first job? Glad no one had an expectation that would work out. Or this…you expect your spouse or friend will act a certain way about something and they end up acting the complete opposite–or in my head as I like to call it, the wrong way. Burst goes the balloon of expectations. And after a few dozen times of getting this expectation blow back, you stop expecting. Now you feel good. No more expecting something that proves never to be. The world of how you feel it should be is now lifted from your back. But now you feel let down. Not only aren’t you victim to the let-down scene anymore, but you give up hope that people will ever act the way they should…with compassion and empathy. But the haunting questions remains: If we have no faith something will work out, then why should it? On the flip side: if we leave our hearts on our sleeves, expecting the best…they will keep bleeding out when the boom of the crash comes down.

The reason for my rant is quite simply this: I tell myself I’m not going to have an expectation about something; let the chips fall where they may. I’m not expecting anything. Nothing. Then I find a speck of hope for humankind in the back pocket of my jeans. There with the lint and other threads long forgotten are, hidden from light. And it trips me up. “What the heck are you doing here, little expectation? Don’t you know you are a foe to peace and harmony? Don’t you know you are the very thing that gets me riled up and spouting off when the thing I have hope for doesn’t go through as planned in my head? Shew…go away.”

But doesn’t having expectations and living up to a standard go hand in hand? Should we give up on possessing expectations or plan better on who we reserve the expectation for? Deep thoughts….

As Fate Would Have It

KEVINLast week I had it all planned out–new book, new characters, and new city. That was last week. And although I rolled that plot around in my head for days, perfecting it, finding the holes, and sewing up others…it got thrown to the back burner! As in, slammed to the back burner. I woke up Friday to an entirely different story. A meatier one. I think I’m going to be two authors. One who writes romantic, light-hearted pieces and another one who writes deeper ones. A little less on the funny side, heavy on the introspect.

So, this one rolling around in my daydreams stars none other than Kevin Costner. Don’t you just love this guy? I think I fell in love with him in “The Bodyguard”, or was it “For Love of the Game”? Take your pick. He’s a total classic.

And then we have Jennifer Garner. She’s such a good girl–wholesome, nurturing, wants to see the best in people. This will be my heroine. Isn’t she pretty? Another classic. Well not really that old to be a classic yet, but give her another ten years.

Jennifer Garner wallpaper (66)I’ve got so much to do on this story, furthermore, so much to do in my real life. Although I am tickled pink to have such a rich story awaiting the pages of my processor, I only have a week to prepare for all the back to school madness. Everyone has received their schedules, most of the supplies have been purchased, and I’m preparing myself for the departure of college boy. Perhaps this sidetrack of a new story came at the perfect time, after all!

The Speed of Summer

budI’m squeezing the last few moments out of July. It seems that seeing the month on the calendar calms my jangly nerves. As though when the title of August appears, along with its picture of a new summer scene, my nerves will be electrifying once more.

August–the month everything changes. My first born goes to college, the others return to school, and routines of packing lunches and beating the buses comes back around. I don’t like August. I wish July would stay. I wish the long days, the noisy nights of frogs croaking, and not having to wake up to an alarm clock would never go away.

On another note…I did enjoy some family time this week. You know, before July goes away. We all went to the movies. This is a rarity, sort of. I’m always the one to stay home. Seeing that I’m not the least bit into super hero sightings, I find myself usually in the quiet hours on my sofa…watching something romantic. Not this time! I went along. We went to see the new Star Trek movie. It was typical. A lot of aliens, a lot of blasting, and more than ever…I didn’t understand a lot that was happening. For instance, how crashed ships could get started and fly again. Especially after the enemy set fire to it. Or how the captain girl suddenly disappeared from her captors. And reappeared with the good guys. But science fiction seems to have that under control. Anything can happen and with very little reality attached. Overall, it was an enjoyable movie. I watched the original series, so I marveled how the new characters reminded me of the oldies but goodies.

I finished my third Amy book in July. That was a miracle, indeed. I am awaiting the edits and then off it goes to print! Exciting really. Although, like August coming within a few days and putting an end to all that’s calm…the final word on the page ended the Amy series. I will miss her, but I’m satisfied with the outcome. I hope my readers will agree.

This morning, as I lay in bed, another story busted in on my thoughts. As in, tore down the door…yelled with beating hands on chest, and identified itself as the next one to be written. I was ecstatic and exhausted at the same time. It’s only been four days since I finished Amy. I’m recuperating from all the bleeding of words that one caused me. Another one? So soon? I choose to look at it as fortune and nothing else. Now I need to get started. I’ve already got my characters picked out. I’m saving them for a new post. I hope you can join me then.:)

 

Cover Reveal for Finding Amy!!

Finding Amy Cover 7-19-16
Finding Amy
Amy #3
Release date: September 30th
Add to Goodreads
Preorder: Amazon

I’m so excited to introduce “Finding Amy”! Doesn’t she look happy? I do believe she just might’ve found her happily ever after!! And for the readers who’ve been with her since the beginning, I’m sure you’re asking the question…who is her happily ever after with? You will have to stay tuned. Specifically, until September 30th. That’s when the questions will be answered in the final release.

In the last book of the Amy series, this naïve girl gets a few of her own questions about life and love answered. And some are not entirely what she ever dreamed. A few characters from the past will pop back in to check on her, and some new ones will be introduced. As the time for the release draws near, I’ll be posting these character inspirations on my Pinterest board, as well as Facebook. So stay tuned to meet the new lineup!

This is what’s coming:

Amy Whitfield travels across the country, either in search of something or to run away from someone. She hasn’t quite figured it out. Living on the little island of Classique just might help her decide. Here she discovers a lot of unanswered questions about the past. Not to mention, she meets someone in particular that challenges her thinking about the present.

I’m counting the days…are you?

Giveaway Time!

One luck winner will receive eBook copies of Waking Amy and Leaving Amy. Ends August 31

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Evening on the Creek

IMG_3677By the time I could get my camera out, the boat was almost gone. You can still see some of it though!

It was a wonderful Sunday, as we got to spend some time on the water. After we attended 2 birthday parties, we scored a boat ride. By the way, anyone in the market for an island house? We have one for sale! And when I say island house, I mean it. The house is completely surrounded on all sides by water. I should go there to get some writing done this summer! It kind of reminds me of Jesse Stone. You know, the Tom Selleck movies on the Hallmark channel? He lives in a house surrounded by water. But I think you can drive somewhat to his. Then you walk across a long bridge. As for ours, you get there only by boat. I had a great time visiting and I’m sure it will get my creative juices flowing.:)

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Offline

Keep-it-simpleTwo things happened last week. One was good, and one…not so good.

Not so good first. My smallest boy loves Monopoly. And when I say loves Monopoly, I mean wants to play it every day. To the point everyone runs when he comes asking for players. So what did we do? We bought him the electronic version. One that he can play any time the moods hits. Does he need any of us to pull this off? Nope. He can play the xbox guy who lives in the machine. Is this a good thing? You’d think, but I feel we just took a vintage game loving boy and fed him to the electronic wolves. Okay, so he does still plead for “real” players to play with him on the electronic version…but is it the same? He doesn’t even need to be the banker in this version. So much for counting skills.

Now the good. Which if you ask my daughter, she’d tell you that this in fact is the very bad news of my report. Oh well, she’ll see the light in years to come.

Okay, so last Friday my daughter changed her password on her phone. You know, the little Apple device that stays burning hot from being in use 24/7. The little earbuds attached to it has begun to grow skin around them because she wears them like an accessory. Always be-bopping and singing. To the point you feel she’s in a continuous rock concert and you’re the fixed audience member.

So she changed her password, woke up, couldn’t remember it, and consequently the phone locked her out. We tried connecting to iTunes to no avail. If we further try to hack it, all items saved will be lost. As in all her pictures, her video of the one and only concert she ever attended, and her music. No… she didn’t save any of it on a cloud, for those out there wondering.

So why is this the good news? Well, I feel for her…really I do. I don’t want her things to be lost to cyberspace. But…she comes around a lot more. Interacts with us, reads books again, plays with her brothers, and tonight I saw her sleeping with her plushes! Poor things have been locked away since Spotify came into her life.

Just imagine if we went offline sometimes. For an entire day. Minus the shakes we’d get over in about an hour, we might actually be able to focus on something else. Imagine that.:)

Not in a Long Time

SONY DSC

…have I been to a concert. And boy, was this one different! Warning: my age is going to show through in this blog post! I took my newly turned teenage daughter to see a concert Friday night. Things have certainly changed since the last concert I went to. Granted, this was a “boy” band. The one I last saw was Motley Crue. (no comment on long ago that must’ve been, please). The audience in last night’s arena were mostly wide-eyed girlies. Motley Crue brought out the wilder crowd. Still, there were more differences I noted. By the way, have concert tee shirts always been priced higher than the concert tickets? Ouch.
I had forgotten how deafening it could get. Seriously, I couldn’t hear right for about 10 minutes after we left. Both me and my daughter laughed at how our voices sounded like we’d just inhaled helium. Every time one of the band members said something, it sounded like Charlie Brown’s mother. I couldn’t understand a thing! But all the little chippies would go wild and yell even louder. Yes, I was the one who casually held one finger in my ear, just so I could salvage some hearing later on. I put it down when my girl would turn to look at me, making sure I was digging it just as much as she was. I didn’t want to look like a total dork. What was a little hearing impairment when it came to looking cool?
Speaking of cool, it was amazing seeing the message that is being sent out to young people. Not really cool at all, actually. I saw shirts that read, ‘I’m a Loser’, and other ones that said, ‘I’m just a reject’. Who makes these to sell? Where has all the good messages in the world gone? Shouldn’t we be building self esteem? Not printing belittling labels for young girls to buy and wear! Crazy.
Then there was the time when the band was still setting up and a song began to play. Everyone in the audience began going crazy and there was a sudden uniformity as everyone began singing. ‘I’m just a teenage dirtbag’ was the lyrics. Everyone seemed to know all the words. Wow. Just wow. Dirt bag? Really?
Instead of lighters, everyone swayed in unison with their smart phone flashlight apps. It was a tremendous sea of white lights. I took a video. Which I wasn’t the only one. That’s all you saw–everyone with their cameras out, recording the whole thing. I guess they’ll go home and upload it to their account. There were even some girls wearing signs on their backs, asking people to follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Sign of the times!
It was a good time had by all. My daughter soaked it all up. I’m so happy to have been a part of that memory with her. Although I didn’t know one song anyone played, I enjoyed watching her sing to each of them. Which was the most different thing about it. This band has no songs out on the radio. Seems you can get a YouTube account, record some songs on it, and gain yourself a fan base that stretches across the country. Today’s technology is going to squeeze out some of the more traditional ways of how it’s been done in the past. And I’m happy because of it. There is some real talent out in the world, and YouTube, The Voice, American Idol, and even self-publishing is letting those naturals shine through the cracks!:)

What About Kindness?

kindness2When in doubt…   When you have nothing else to give…  Give kindness. Who doesn’t want it? Who doesn’t need it? And don’t you feel a whole lot better when you give it? It’s like give a gift, get a gift. Just watching someone smile from you being kind is a big reward. At least it is to me.

You can change a person’s day with just a kind word. A compliment. A gesture of goodwill. Seriously. You have no idea what people are going through. Or if they have anyone in their lives that pay them kindness. But nowadays, it seems people are becoming so detached and so critical.

I was watching a show tonight and they had a commentary on what phrases people took offense to. Can you believe you’re not supposed to tell someone their shoes look nice? Are you kidding me? Where is this world coming from? It’s going to get to the point that when you do offer kindness, you might get slugged. People will expect you’re doing it for an ulterior motive, or doing it incorrectly.

Where have the old days gone? I’m getting a bit over done with this politically correct world. When a compliment isn’t acceptable. It’s almost like you need to carry around a book of translation for what’s acceptable to say.

Let’s bring back old fashioned compassion, empathy, and kindness. Trust me, I’m pretty sure it’s worked in the past.

 

Flower Shopping Down South

IMG_0667Every year I travel down south, I manage to stop by my all-time favorite flower shop. It’s located in Smithfield, North Carolina, about three hours from my home. This year I was able to visit it twice!!:)

DeWayne’s is the perfect place for any gardener to visit. From the girl who just wants one potted vine to sit on her window ledge in the kitchen, to the green thumb who spends all weekend toiling in their fronts and back yards, weeding and pruning to get just the right look.

They’re doing an overhaul in the store and I couldn’t be more excited. You want it? They carry it. And not only do they carry plants, trees, shrubbery, and flowers…they carry clothing, flags, bags, fountains, and jewelry. Yes, jewelry. How much more perfect can you get? It’s a good thing they aren’t located closer to me. That’s all I’m saying.

Did I mention bird houses, little hot air balloons that twirl in the wind, and souvenir-type things? Little signs that say the wittiest things. Of course it takes a seasoned shopper only a few hours to muse around at everything, and still something will be missed.

Anyway, I got me the “Tom” plant pictured above. Not named after Tom in “Waking Amy”, I assure you. I first found this type of plant at the Thomas Jefferson home in Charlottesville. It has a distinct smell and I love the little bundles of flower petals it produces. I especially love the pink ones. They were too small this go around.      The sweet potato vine next to it, I purchased because it reminded me of my trip to South Carolina. The house we stayed had a few on the front porch. I enjoyed caring for them my week there. They have a vibrant green color and can stretch for miles. No, I don’t know if they actually produce sweet potatoes. I guess I’ll find out!

Earlier in the year when I ventured to Beaufort, I stopped into the flower shop and picked up some of these. Every year I border a section of my walk with impatiens. They add nice color and burst out, filling in all the naked little areas of mulch.

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I try to save a spot in the shade for the coleus. On my first trip to the store, I purchased two. One of which got taken down by a rather oversized dog who was determined to nap in that particular area. I can’t blame him, it’s the only shady spot out front. But still…my poor coleus. So on the second trip, I got more. I’ve since blocked the entrance to said “cool spot”. He must slumber in the back on the hotter days.

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And don’t you love this new little purply thing? I’m not certain of the name. I left the spike outside with it, but it promises to grow extremely fast. I can’t wait. And you shouldn’t either. If you’re going to be on I-95 anytime soon, check on exit number 97, I believe. You won’t be sorry!

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