HOW ONE YOUNG WOMAN FINDS HER NICHE — A REVIEW — NOV. 23

Waverly Bryson is a single, thirty-something woman living in San Francisco and trying to find her niche. She has her own dating column “Honey on Your Mind” and products she has developed called “Honey Notes.” She also has some trust issues after being dumped just before her wedding by her fiancé.

Almost immediately, I felt like I was a part of the friendship circle Waverly shares with friends Andie and McKenna, and I absolutely loved how the author brought San Francisco and its neighborhoods alive for me.

Waverly’s humor, her ability to see the unique perspectives in life, and the creativity that allowed her to move around the obstacles in her path kept me reading eagerly.

Her fledgling relationship with Jake was also fascinating, and I loved how, in spite of her issues, she just kept trying.

What does Waverly finally create when she is looking for something more in her career? How does she ultimately come to a place of trust with Jake? And how does a kindly neighbor named Red help Waverly sort out the puzzles in her life?

Wonderfully colorful, descriptive, and alive, It’s a Waverly Life was fun, perceptive, and totally today. Five stars.

A HOUSE THAT INSPIRED A STORY — AUGUST 17

The A-Frame House on the Cover - Inspired By My Own House

The A-Frame House on the Cover – Inspired By My Own House

 

When I began writing “An Accidental Life,” the first book that I would publish, my thoughts were focused on those accidental events (or moments) in life that seemingly direct or redirect our lives.

Falling into one path or another; making a misstep and finding oneself on a completely different journey; or just not making any choice at all and allowing things to happen on their own.

While I was writing this story, I was living in an A-frame house in the foothills where I had landed, almost accidentally.  A serendipitous turn of events brought enough money into my hands to buy the house outright.

THE A-FRAME WHEN I BOUGHT IT

So naturally I wanted to incorporate some of these events into the story.  One of my lead characters, therefore, found herself living in such a house.  And the book cover, shown at the top of this post, also features the A-frame house.

Here is an excerpt:

From the front window of her A-frame cottage, Melody Vaughn glimpsed her son and a group of kids headed up the pebbled path.  From previous experience, she knew that Jason and his friends would party in his first-floor bedroom and if she played her cards right, she wouldn’t have to see any of them.  Jason had his own private entrance through the patio.  She could hear his key in the sliding glass door now.

 

On Jason’s eighteenth birthday, she and her son had entered into an unspoken agreement that his life and his choices were now his own.  She had only one cardinal rule:  None of those were to be thrown in her face.  Hence, the private room downstairs.  Melody seldom entered that room, which she knew had everything a young man needed to maintain a freewheeling lifestyle.

 

He had his stereo, a CD player, and a mini-fridge, well stocked with food and beverage.   He had several guitars, both acoustical and electric.   A spa sat center-stage on the patio and Melody knew that the party often spilled over to the outdoors.  She sometimes heard the splashing of revelers in the spa or the murmur of voices, punctuated by the occasional burst of laughter as one of his guests got carried away.  To his credit, Jason tried to keep a handle on things.  Probably because he knew that he had a good set-up; if he blew it, his chances for something similar elsewhere were slim to none.  He liked to spend his money on things other than rent.

 

Melody climbed the stairs to her second-floor retreat, settling in for the night.  Soon she could barely even hear the murmurs and within minutes, she had completely forgotten about Jason and his guests.  She didn’t want to know too much and she worked hard at keeping mellow.  She suspected that the people in this little foothill community between the two lakes, at the foot of Friant Dam, had their own theories about her life.  A small town had a rumor mill and because she kept to herself, she could almost feel the undercurrent whenever she went to the post office or the local store or even the diner for an occasional take-out order.

 

To the curious onlookers, she was more than just a forty-year-old woman living alone with her son on a little winding road near the river.  Her house, the last one on the road, was surrounded by almost an acre; a little guest cottage sat off to the side.  She rented that house out to a quiet, somewhat eccentric man who provided gardening services in exchange for a portion of the rent.  His name was Hugh Kincaid and she thought he probably had his own story.  But she respected his privacy too.

 

Her “back-story” included her years in the Bay Area, dabbling in that “hippies” scene in Haight-Ashbury during the Summer of Love and for awhile afterwards.  Her daughter Marigold had been born there.  And lost there.  Melody still felt the familiar wrench somewhere near her heart whenever her mind traveled backwards.  It had all been such an innocent time, despite the media hype.  Make Love, Not War.  She had never been able to figure out why mainstream society took such offense at the beliefs held by the counterculture.  She guessed it had something to do with people being afraid of anything or anyone they didn’t understand.

I would continue living in that house long after the book came out.  For thirteen years altogether.  Later on, the A-frame earned a makeover, seen here, and which you’ll see in the sidebar of this blog.

I have moved on from this cottage in the foothills, back to the city where my heart really belongs.  But a piece of my heart will always be in that little A-frame house that became a pivotal part of my first published book.

What pivotal moments in your life turn things in one direction or another?  Nowadays I call those happenings defining moments, which, incidentally, is the title of one of my current WIPs.

THE SUNDAY SALON — DISTRACTIONS — AUGUST 14

Good morning to those that have joined us in today’s Sunday Salon.  Welcome to another week in which we share our thoughts about reading, life, and whatever….

I almost didn’t write this post today, because this past week has been a little…well, less-than.  In terms of reading, that is.

But we also can celebrate our creative moments…right?  And I did have a great writing week!  Read my update HERE at CREATIVE MOMENTS.

The WIP I worked on this week (Defining Moments) could be a cautionary tale for writers and bloggers.  I’ll be posting a blurb on this one soon!

Yesterday was my daughter’s birthday, and I celebrated some moments with her at her weekend job as a bartender.  Here’s a photo she shared recently.

Heather's Body Art

I also enjoyed seeing the movie The Help with some friends, after which we had a great lunch nearby.

I don’t often say this, or find it to be true…but I actually enjoyed the movie MORE than the book!  And I LOVED the book!!

So, if you haven’t already, you really should see this one!!

For some of us older folk (LOL), the best part was recognizing many of the defining moments that surrounded that time.  The little a-ha epiphanies that might slip past some of you younger people.  But you don’t have to have that “click” to enjoy this film….

***

Since I’ve been avoiding the book talk—yes, that’s what some of this other stuff was about!—you might have guessed that my reading week was not stellar.

Here’s what I accomplished-Click Title for Review:

1.  Distant Shores, by Kristin Hannah

2.  Names My Sisters Call Me, by Megan Crane

And today I’ll be reading this one:

Burnt Mountain, by Anne Rivers Siddons…if something else doesn’t distract me!

***

What did your week look like?  Feel like sharing?  Pull up a chair and tell us….

ACCIDENTAL CHOICES: READING, ETC. — JAN. 25

MY "RAINBOW COTTAGE"

Do you ever wonder about the intricacies of our life choices?  Accidental choices, if you will?

Earlier today, I was visiting various blogs for Teaser Tuesdays, and came upon one in which a book was featured by an author I hadn’t thought about in many, many years.  And yet that author informed many of my reading choices during some of my most impressionable early moments.  The blog was Beth’s Thoughts, and the author she spotlighted was Grace Livingston Hill.

Wow!  I thought, what a blast from the past.

A very long time ago, when I was a child living in a rural community, I visited the village library regularly to check out books that I would pore over into the dark of night (when I could escape from the inevitable chores!).  My first book from that library was Tom Sawyer, at the age of eight.  From there, I began idly perusing the shelves that were filled with treasured books to choose.  And that’s when I discovered Grace Livingston Hill books.

I probably read every single available Hill book in that library.  Later on, I “graduated” to the larger library in a slightly bigger town a few miles away.  And continued reading those books.

Of course, I would go on to read all kinds of books in those libraries and in many libraries over the years as I moved, like a nomad, from towns to cities.  Exploring the world of books became a grand passion, soon to be followed by my passion to write.

Was it an accident that took me to those shelves and those selections? Maybe…but it was a deliberate choice that I continued reaching for those favorite authors, and not just because the small library had fewer choices than a larger one.

What was the appeal? At the time, I loved that each tale delved into hardships and obstacles, with love winning out in the end.  Sort of like the fairytales I’d loved earlier in my life, but with a distinction:  these books had a “moral” to each story.  Not only did love win out, but good trumped evil every time.

After the reminder of these books this morning, I couldn’t stop thinking about the attraction these books held for me.  Then I wondered if I might find them on Amazon, so I had to check it out.  Sure enough, there were several of them, and some were in collections.  But before going crazy about it and ordering willy-nilly, I decided to get the Kindle version of one I remember as a special favorite.  Not only because of the romance aspects, but the “makeover” feature.  The Enchanted Barn is the tale of a poor family moving into a barn that they transform, with the help of others, into a home.

So now I can rediscover what, if anything, is so appealing about these books after all these years.

And I requested a few others from the library, one of which was Rainbow Cottage. And suddenly it makes sense why, seemingly out of my subconscious mind, that name sprang into my thoughts when I was choosing a name for my guesthouse a few years ago!

My own creation, An Accidental Life, is filled with incidences (or coincidences) in the lives of my characters.   Perhaps my reading choices in my formative years set the tone for my creative ones, as well.

What do you remember from the first book choices you made?  How did they affect your life in later years?  Do you ever want to go back and reread some of them?

THE SUNDAY SALON — JAN. 23

Good morning, and welcome to The Sunday Salon, where we, at the top of the new week, reflect on the week we’ve left behind.

My week has been full of great stuff, from family moments to blogging and reading.  On Thursday, my grandson Noah came for a sleepover, since his mom and some friends were off to Vegas for the weekend.  They’re staying in my timeshare, which I have enjoyed on occasion.

Great fun will be had by all….

Then there is my blogging life.

For some bloggers out there, Bloggiesta has consumed us for the past few days.

I finished my update post at An Interior Journey yesterday, and for those of you who are familiar with my sites, this one might have you scratching your head.  But my formerly “Explorations, Reflections, & Meditations” has morphed into An Interior Journey.  But the previous moniker has now earned “tagline” status.

That was one of my tasks:  to reevaluate my blog, its mission, its look…and reinvent it, if necessary.  I changed the header, background, and theme, and added some features.

Other blogging activities included my ROW 80 participation, which I updated on Wednesday at Creative Moments. There will be another update this morning.

Saturday Snapshot was a fun meme and revealed the wonders of photographic memories.

And at Potpourri, I reviewed the movie The Social Network.

With such a busy week, with blogging, writing, reading…ah, yes, the reading…Well, that worked out pretty well, too.

Books Read This Week – Click Titles for Reviews:

1.  1022 Evergreen Place, by Debbie Macomber (Amazon Vine)

2.  Straight Into Darkness, by Faye Kellerman (From My TBRs)

3.  My Formerly Hot Life, by Stephanie Dolgoff (Amazon Vine)

So that’s my week…but later today, I’m hoping to watch some movies, read some more books…and just relax.  What about you?  What’s on your plate?

COMPULSIVE BEHAVIORS — A SHIELD AGAINST ANXIETIES — AN EXCERPT

COMPULSIVELY NESTING

Molly tries to distract herself from her fears and anxieties by a shopping spree, in this excerpt from An Accidental Life.

Molly walked quickly through Sierra Vista Mall, a purposeful and almost intensely focused expression on her face.  She was meeting Chase later at the theatre, but first she had serious shopping to do.  She felt a little guilty, shopping alone like this.  Weren’t women supposed to shop in packs?  Not the way she shopped, Molly knew.  She was as hell-bent on her mission as any compulsive gambler, food addict, or even drug addict.  The only difference:  her fix could be wrapped up in pretty packages at the end of her spree!

Even knowing the dangerously compulsive nature of these little ventures did nothing to dissuade her from the task.  She had no choice in the matter.  It was all about the feelings she would have in the pursuit of each new trinket and then, in the end, it was about the sensual pleasure she enjoyed as she stroked each new object, placing it almost lovingly in its chosen spot.  In the beginning she had mainly shopped for clothes.  But lately she had been just as zealous in her pursuit of objects of art for her home.

She knew that this sudden nesting urge had some connection to her own feelings of insecurity, of being unsafe, even in her home.  Even with the private detective on the case, she seldom rested.  She was still always looking over her shoulder, wondering when the stalker would make his next appearance.  There had been nothing further, nothing since the roses and the phone calls.  His silence almost frightened her as much as the actions he had taken.  Was he planning something really monstrous?  Something requiring a great deal of thought?

Peter Garrison, the detective, had found nothing conclusive in his quest.  Tim Mathews had no criminal record.  He was apparently a law-abiding citizen.  In fact, according to everything Peter had learned, he was employed as an accountant for a local firm.  There was no evidence of any connection between him and any of the events that had occurred.  “That’s not surprising,” Peter had insisted.  “We always knew that whoever is doing this has been able to successfully elude the law at every turn.  This doesn’t mean that the stalker is Tim Mathews, but we can’t rule him out, either.”

Exhausted from her emotional frenzy and worry and from the physical pace of her latest shopping adventure, Molly plodded slowly to her car, loading up the trunk.  Some of the items she had purchased today were too large and would have to be delivered in the next day or two.  She climbed into the front seat of the car, after first diligently checking the inside, and pushed the automatic door lock button immediately.  As she started the engine, heading toward the other end of the mall where the theatre was situated, she tried to make her mind go blank.  Like it was when she was shopping.  But she was unsuccessful.  Maybe the movie would help.  But underneath was that nagging fear that always followed her shopping sprees.  What was she going to do about her diminishing bank balance?  Could she count on her father’s little bank deposits indefinitely?  She knew it wasn’t realistic to do so and that she really needed to start living on her salary.   Tomorrow, she told herself.  I’ll think about it tomorrow.

THE SUNDAY SALON — NOV.14

Good morning, and welcome to The Sunday Salon. Here we come together to shine a spotlight on the exciting events of the past week, including blogging, reading, and any other events we’ve enjoyed.

I’m still very excited at the end of Week Two of NaNoWriMo. It’s early morning, so I haven’t yet done my word count for today, but yesterday I added more than 3,000 words.  My cumulative total so far is 28,161 words. I hope to add another 3,000+ today.

On the blogging front, I’ve moved another site from Blogger to Word Press, and my former Out on a Limb is now Going Out on a Limb over at WP.  I’ve been having fun setting it up and recreating it.

Some posts I enjoyed:

A Bit of Me (Me): Skill Sharpening

Saturday Snapshot

Friday Memes:  56/Beginnings

Family Stuff:

I had a delightful day on Saturday with my granddaughter Fiona.  We did a little shopping, we went to lunch, and then went back to my place to watch a DVD.

Here’s a photo of her taken at the restaurant where we had lunch (Dai Bai Dang).

Lunch Date with Fiona

And now for the reading. Not as spectacular as some other events, but I thoroughly enjoyed the two books I finished.  And I’m midway through the third one, which I could finish today.

Books Read and Reviewed –  (Click Titles for Review):

1)  Outtakes from a Marriage, by Ann Leary

2)  My Best Friend’s Girl, by Dorothy Koomson (another one off the TBR piles!)

Ongoing:

1)  Once in a Blue Moon, by Eileen Goudge

What has your week been like?  Hope you’ll stop by and share….

HER WORST FEARS….

After months and months of feeling as though the other shoe would drop, Molly faces her darkest hour, in this excerpt from An Accidental Life.

She felt herself pulled back as if from a foggy distance.  Where had she been?  Blinking her eyes, she looked around, noticing finally that night had fallen.  She turned on lamps here and there, glancing uneasily out the window.  Had she been writing all this time?  She held up the journal and counted out several pages.  Sometimes, when she wrote, she found herself seemingly transported to another reality.  Her ramblings, as she called them, took her across time and space.  But it was a soothing exercise and one that had become like a crutch.  As the words flowed onto the pages, the tension and anxiety seemed to dissipate.

When had Chase said he was coming over?  She padded out into the kitchen and opened the fridge, cursorily examining the contents.  She retrieved a bottle of juice and poured.  She drank the liquid quickly, thirstily, and then moved back into the living room, sinking into the cushions of the sofa.  She closed her eyes, conjuring up Chase’s face.  She had come to rely on him, she realized, which, for some reason, created an apprehension deep inside even as her heart throbbed with the memory of him.

When she heard the doorbell, she immediately concluded that Chase must be here.  She eagerly glided toward the door, wondering why he hadn’t used his key; smiling to herself, she decided that he must have thought she’d be startled, since she wasn’t used to him having a key.  She flung the door wide, her smile beaming.  Her brow creased slightly as she studied the person on the threshold.  A question formed on her lips, even as the person pushed his way in, with that strange little smile.  He adroitly closed the door behind him.  “At last our moment has arrived!”  He grinned, as if they had a private joke.  He grabbed her hands, and as he held them, he stroked them softly.

CREATIVITY & WORRISOME MOMENTS

 

 

CREATIVE MOMENTS

Today is the fourth day of NaNoWriMo, and I’m still feeling jazzed about it.

So far, so good.  The writing seems to be falling into place, I’m still excited about the characters, the plot, and the point of view.

Why, then, did I just spend the last thirty minutes searching desperately for my camera?  I try to always put things back in their proper place, because I know that I can get distracted if I don’t do that.  So I remember last using the camera on Halloween, when my youngest grandson knocked on the door saying:  “Trick or Treat,” with that hopeful look in his eye.  Of course, the photo I took doesn’t show his eyes…LOL

But I wanted to upload the photo on the computer.  So off I go to my handbag, where I usually keep the camera (just in case I find something worth snapping when I’m out and about), and it wasn’t there!  Next I went to my entry way and looked all around the little rolltop desk that sits there…nothing.

Now what?  I searched the living room, around the coffee table, on the bookshelves…then I looked in my bedroom.  Still not there!

Just as I’m desperately considering the possibility that it is lost forever, I check the car.  Just in case I took it out of the bag when I went shopping.  Not there.

Back in the house, searching, searching.  One final peek in the car.  This time, I get in the driver’s seat, look down at the floor, and there it is!  When I was grabbing bags from the front seat (after the store), it must have fallen out.

I’m very relieved.  But this long tale is leading up to all those numerous things that can throw us off our game.  Lost items, things to do, and another thing I discovered this morning:  spammers!

Now Word Press does a nice job of grabbing them and putting them in the spam folder.  But sometimes I find non-spammers there, so I check regularly.  And delete those that are truly spam.

Well, one or two spammers have been rather hostile, coming back with more comments and saying:  Why have you deleted my post?  I had good information…blah, blah, blah.

But it irritated me, and then worried me.  Now what will they do next?  Is this paranoia I’m feeling now?

Spammer/lurker paranoia grips me like the other kind I’ve had recently:  What if the computer crashes and I lose all of my data?  What if one day, I try to turn it on and nothing happens?  What if….

Then I thought about a saying that is stenciled on the side of a tin, designed by Mary Engelbreit:

WORRYING DOES NOT EMPTY TOMORROW OF ITS TROUBLES,

IT EMPTIES TODAY OF ITS STRENGTH.

POSITIVE THOUGHTS

When I read this again, I sighed and decided to grab the moment and not worry so much about “what if.”

I’m pretty sure that I’ll allow things to creep in and try to knock me off course from time to time, but I don’t have to stay in those dark places.

Just to cheer me up, I decided to upload my Halloween photos and remember how children enjoy their moments.

IRON MAN STRENGTH!

THE DARK SIDE!