Wednesday, August 17, 2016

AN URBAN GARDEN....

Hi, All,

I hope everyone is having an awesome summer. Here in Chicago we are a bit steamy..... But we know winter will be here very soon.

I finally got the urge to write something new... My friends Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee have asked be to try and write something for their August Challenge... AND so I have. The prompt is Gardens...

As many of you know, I am a very descriptive writer. In the past I have written about many exquisite and beautiful gardens. But today, I wanted to do something completely different. There are all types of gardens that give us refuge from life's daily hassles, so today I am focusing on an URBAN GARDEN.

It's a "moody" and HONEST piece. I hope you enjoy.

Please drop in on the other posting this month. I KNOW you will not be disappointed.


AN URBAN GARDEN



Gentle Spring rains fall. 

Shapes emerge. 

Buried under the washed away slush and mud, a terra cotta brick pattern curves into a hypnotic maze. 

Time passes. 

Temperatures rise.

A new day dawns. 

Moist air lingers, clinging to the solid brick buildings.  

Birds chirp and coo as a multi-faceted metal sculpted fountain comes to life. 

Water spurts high like a shimmering misty rainbow into the air. The twinkling liquid gathers into a limpid pool.


People hurry about their day. 


But then, several city dwellers stop, dropping potting soil, crates of flowers, and planting tools onto the pavers directly in front of the fountain.

Several pairs of expert hands weave a tapestry of color and texture into the fountain’s base. The mission style angles of the metal are now softened, working in perfect harmony with the foliage around it.

Shade trees wave their approval.


Summer has arrived at the square, and with this, so have all who live in this urban setting. 

Each day a new scene is played...

Hidden on concrete cubes beneath the heavily leafed trees, young men drink and smoke weed. Rap music mingles with pungent smoke and rotting garbage from the trash cans on each corner of the square.



One late night, swing music graces the wind as a young couple click their heels in time with the beat. Swirls of fabric spin, sending the voyeur back to the Big Band era.



Church bells chime in the distance, as multi colored quilts checkerboard the pavers. Families young and old wait for the next number to be called. “Bingo!” shouts out from an excited winner.


In the evening as the clock ticks further into the night, a dog barks. The owner increases their pace. 

Shadows shift. 

A murmur of deep voices and grunts carry on the nonexistent breeze. First two. Then two more.
Another collapses on the bench and hides his face inside a hood.

By dawn’s early hours, nine people sleep under the watchful eye of the fountain…



Blazing sun heats the day. Birds twitter and splash, cooling themselves. 

An old, bare-chested man zigzags his way to the fountain and joins them. Stepping onto the edge, he crushes the delicate flowers with his bare feet. He plunges an empty plastic cup into the sprays, filling it to the brim. Stumbling off the ledge, he steps back to the park bench littered with his meager belongings.




A group gathers. The air fills with scented smoke. Sweet meats, buttered corn, and veggies cook inside a tiny gas grill. Beer tabs snap. Voices engage in laughter. A party begins.


Dogs yip with their tails wagging. Children squeal with laughter, hanging onto their father’s shoulders. 





In the tree’s shadows, a thin man, shouldering a backpack, picks through the cracks of the pavers, looking for a discarded cigarette. He finds one and lights up.



As another day draws to an end, the tattered American flag waves patriotically in the hot summer breeze. 

Summer has peaked.

Autumn is coming.

The urban garden will soon lay asleep under winter’s frigid touch.


 

























Wednesday, August 3, 2016

DAILY SPIRITUALS...WHEN YOU NEED A GENTLE LIFT....

Hardships have hit all of us from time-to-time...

But how to handle them? Situations often become overwhelming. 

Life is stressful. 

Ask anyone. 

Going about my day, I often see pinched faces. I hear rude remarks. People who rush and bump into innocent standers-by, without even a customary, "excuse me." 

If they would only stop. For just a moment... and breathe. 

Listen to the chirping birds. Watch a child at play in the park. Or, just walk out your front door and admire the beauty of a single bud, fighting it's way through the cracked pavement.

But sadly, they don't. Always on the move. These tunnel-visioned people scurry through their day barely making eye contact with a single soul.

If only there was an alternative. These aren't bad people. Just lost. Perhaps they have forgotten their spiritual side. Too busy to remember there is a point to life. Not just existing, but LIVING.

For those times when we all need a spiritual lift, we can soon turn to view the subtle beauty of the May bush gracing the cover of Lynda R Young's daily devotional....



So peaceful. So simple. So lovely.

Lynda has created a truly inspiration way to get back in touch with our spiritual side. When stress becomes overwhelming, why not spend a few quality moments with God.

Thank you Lynda for sharing you stunning new cover with us. The release day is only in a few short months...

Release date: October 18th, 2016
Published by Freedom Fox Press

If you would like to learn more about Lynda and her writing please drop by her blog... 

You can also find her at these links, too... 


Lynda is also heavily involved with the Insecure Writers Support Group. The amazing monthly posts of talented writers trying to relieve anxiety and stress. Why not drop by Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog and sign up. AND, while you are there, drop by some of the blog sites and become inspired.

Have a wonderful day everyone!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

BOTTLED... A FEAR WE ALL EXPERIENCE....

BOTTLED...


A term one doesn't hear very often, but an emotion we often experience. IT can come in various forms. Through day jobs, through family, and especially in our craft. It's a feeling that can suffocate you. Cripple you. Yet, we must persevere. 

Often the malaise is temporary. But how does one free oneself when it isn't?

WRITE....

The answer is so obvious. Releasing these pinned up emotions onto the keyboard is LIBERATING. It truly is the best therapy. It's amazing how writing about anything will clear your stress. 



Back in 2009 when the real estate market crashed and I had lost three lucrative design contracts, I was frantic. All of a sudden I had all this time on my hands and no money coming in. I didn't know where to turn, so I began my first novel. It opened up a whole new world to me. Four months after I had finished my first draft, I entered the blogging world. The rest is history.

Writers and creative people are fortunate in this respect. WE have our creativity to escape to and free ourselves from stress and anxiety.

But I know you are asking, what if you are BLOCKED? BOTTLED is now taking another form...

We have all had bouts of writer's block. I myself haven't written anything substantial in a few years, but that is okay. Many of us have other avenues to filter that BOTTLED feeling. Art, baking, cooking, designing, music (As Alex well knows), can be amazing outlets.

So whenever you are BOTTLED, remember to filter those emotions creatively...



Kinetic disturbances filter through my being. I twist the sparkling emerald ring on my finger, focusing on the infiltration rather than who is before me.

A convoy of men loom closer. Their determination in finding me reeks through the air like a noxious gas, mingling with the heady spices which already permeate the room. It is rather unpleasant and I wrinkle my nose.

The smacking of lips draws my attention to my new master. Yet another nondescript human. He is the youngest so far. Not more than a decade older than I look. BOTTLED at the age of seventeen centuries ago, bound in servitude for an eternity.

My ears prick as the newcomers are only steps away...If it were only my beloved, Karim, to save me from this damnation. His dark silken hair, his passionate gaze, and the long curve of that serpentine scar on his forearm...

A dark force,  a human evil, I have not felt in centuries cleaves through the air, severing my thoughts of Karim. The shock sears me to the core. It can't be he... It just can't be, Faruq.. 

Not after all these years. He's found me at last...



WILL SHE ESCAPE HER PAST?

OR

BE

FOREVER  BOTTLED?




I was delighted to create one of my intros for this INTRIGUING story for Carol Riggs' newest novel 


BOTTLED...

After reading a few pages, I am certainly HOOKED! CONGRATS CAROL! Now all of YOU can read it, too! 

BOTTLED releases tomorrow, but you can get it today on AMAZON... here are the links.

AMAZON: Link (Available today)

B&N: Link (Pre Order until July 7)

Here is more information about Carol and her other books...


BIO:
Carol Riggs is an author of YA fiction who lives in the beautiful green state of Oregon, USA. Her debut novel, The Body Institute, released Sept 2015 from Entangled Teen, exploring body image and identity. Her fantasy YA, Bottled, will release from Clean Reads on July 7, 2016, and her sci-fi YA, Safe Zone, will release from Entangled Teen in October 2016. She enjoys reading, drawing and painting, writing conferences, walking with her husband, and enjoying music and dance of all kinds. You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.

Connect with Carol:

Add this book to your Goodreads reading list: BOTTLED

Congrats again, Carol! Wishing you all the best!

And friends, don't forget to visit the other posts at the ISWG... They will make you feel so much better and they will INSPIRE YOU!  

The IWSG is now featuring a question with its posts...

What's the best thing someone has said about your writing?

There is one that meant a great deal to me. The comment came from an older woman who was an abused child. She said that I had handled this horrific subject with great feeling and honesty after she had read an excerpt from my blog. She had requested to read the whole manuscript and once finished had contacted me, saying it had helped her through her own painful situation growing up.

I was deeply honored and humbled. Can a writer ask for anything better than that? I doubt it.

It feels so good to be back in the blogosphere. I'll be visiting you all as soon as I can!






Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Life is good! No insecurities this month!

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the late post, but I am MOVING into my new place in ORLANDO Florida! Yay!!! After 18 months of trying to find my winter escape, I finally bought a Condo...

So NO insecurities this month! I currently have no internet, so I am ousting this from my iPhone. Hamlet, my Westie puppy, loves his new digs, but he is definitely over the car after two days driving.

I can't begin to tell you how happy I am...

So here is my writer advice this month.. Ever give up your dream.... No matter what it is. BECAUSE, In Time... You will get there.

Another wonderful big I'd news is I also have my first published short story coming out on May 31st! That thing thsat turned me, an anthology will debut. It's an amazing collection of over thirty accomplished authors... Including Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Please drop by the other wonder writers in the IWSG... They will truly inspire you!  I'll write more soon along with pics. Once I get my internet... Lol.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

ANXIETIES MELT AWAY WITH SPRING....

Hi, All,

HAPPY SPRING! Even though we are still getting snow in Chicago, signs of spring are popping up everywhere. The earth is coming alive once more. So this is THE PERFECT time to renew our own hopes and dreams.

For over a year I was searching for my place in Florida. I spent so much time and money researching potential homes in Tampa and Orlando, but sadly my efforts were all in vane...until now! I am finally under contract for the cutest little condo in Orlando. Only two miles from the gates of the most magical place on earth... Disney.

This winter was a very depressing and stressful one for me. I had hoped I would be away from Chicago because after the past two winters, I knew I couldn't handle another one. But I survived, but at a price. I had promised myself I would NEVER gain weight again. For over five years I kept my promise, that was until now. It didn't take long to put on thirty pounds. Yes, you have read correctly. As most of us know depression and anxiety go hand-in-hand. My anxieties of my entrapment in Chicago certainly got the best of me... but NOW... with Spring in the air, I am back on track, found my place, in Florida, and have lost ten of the thirty pounds I had put on... It takes a great deal of time and tenacity to make our lives run the course we want them to run. Remember this every time it gets hard and you want to give up.

As most of you know, I always take negatives and turn them into positives. And that is what we all need to do. The moment I focused on getting myself put back together, everything fell into place. It all started with my acceptance in THAT THING THAT TURNED ME anthology. My short story, Through Shades of Gray, will be featured with many other amazing writers, including the creator of the IWSG, Alex J. Cavanaugh! I am honored to be included with him and other such esteemed writers that many of you know. I'd list them all, but there are over thirty of us.

I have been working on my illustrations and created a new look for them. I am beginning to send them out along with SLOWLY getting back to writing. So for this month, I have my anxieties in check.

I know many of you are in the A-Z challenge and I have nothing but respect and admiration for you! I hope to get around a bit today and visit some of you. In between taking care of my six-month-old puppy, Hamlet... I can't believe I've had him for four months already. He has turned out to be my new BEST FRIEND... Here's a illustration I did of him in my new style. I'd love to know what you all think!


I hope you all can pop in on other members of the IWSG. It's nothing but INSPIRING...

Have a great day everyone!

Monday, March 21, 2016

NEED SOME INTRIGUE?....

Words and thoughts swirl through my head. Each intake of air adds a new facet to the glimmering kaleidoscope of colors. Ruby flashes on the crisp white background.

The murmur of voices grows louder. My mind barely understands. "Murder" rises above all others. And then, an invisible steely blade rips through my heart. 


  *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Murder:

noun

1.
Law. the killing of another human being underconditions specifically covered in law. In the U.S.,special statutory definitions include murdercommitted with malice aforethought,characterized by deliberation or premeditation oroccurring during the commission of anotherserious crime, as robbery or arson (first-degreemurder) and murder by intent but withoutdeliberation or premeditation (second-degreemurder)


Obsession:

noun

1.
the domination of one's thoughts or feelings by persistent idea, image, desire, etc.




Put them together and you get...





Welcome my friends to the blog book tour of Yolanda Renee.

Murder and Obsession often goes hand-in-hand, just like "Cat and mouse" mysteries. My talented friend, Yolanda Renee, has woven both aspects into the final book of her amazing Detective Quad mysteries.

AND, today I have the honor of featuring her as my guest. 

I wanted this interview to be on a more personal note. Yolanda's novels speak for themselves, but we know very little about the woman behind them...




Michael: "Welcome!

We all love your adventurous soul, Renee… it’s quite obvious in your spectacular writing with mystery, horror, and intrigue… but your story began in humble beginnings…tell us about it. When did you know your life would take you to the snow covered, crystalline state? The Alaska so little of us know about…"

Yolanda:"I lived in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, attended college in Steubenville, Ohio, and worked as a receptionist for a Steel Company in Follansbee, WV. During that exciting time, I met a young genius. A microbiologist headed to the University of Alaska, Fairbanks for his graduate work. When my vacation came due, I was on the first plane. I knew immediately that Alaska was my future, and even though I no longer reside there, writing about it proves I was right. The funny thing is everyone who knew I was flying to Alaska described it almost as you did – only they referred to Alaska as an iceberg. Alaska was anything but – lush, green, and wild. An adventure waiting for an adventurer."

Michael: "Amazing. It sounds incredible. 

Almost every writer is asked these questions, but I think they’re so interesting to give us a true feel for the writer. When did you start writing seriously? Did you always write as a child? Or, did one day something clicked in your head?"

Yolanda: "I excelled at composition (story telling), and while my grammar was atrocious, my teachers gave me a pass because I could write a winning paper. I wrote and produced my first play in the 6th grade. Won third place in a writing contest in the 10th grade, and was told by my college English teacher that one day I would write a book. Letters to friends about my adventures in Alaska brought praise, and writing classes convinced me to pursue the impossible. Numerous rejections almost convinced me otherwise but meeting a writer made my goals achievable."

Michael: "It's not surprising that another writer can really help put things in perspective.  

At Denise Covey’s blog… one of the first stops of your tour, I was blown away by a true horror in your life. Many of us have had situations thrust upon us unwillingly, and it’s how we react in these situations, that show us what we can endure and how to survive. What impressed me most was how strong a woman you are. To face your fears and conquer them and turn this horrific situation into a positive. At what point did you say, ENOUGH? I am a survivor and I will move on and grow from this..."

Yolanda: "Honestly, that lesson came at a very early age. An abusive childhood made me a survivor; being thrown out on my ear at the age of seventeen made me a fighter. But the rape, in Fairbanks, Alaska was almost my Waterloo. I think that's why I completely suppressed the event. After everything I'd already come through – I simply couldn't deal.

Even though I didn't recall the event, I immediately made changes to my employment. I took a job on the North Slope, and in doing so went from the pot into the frying pan. By that, I mean a good percentage of the men who worked there were subhuman. When I got off the plane and on the bus to camp, the naked pictures of women from Hustler magazine greeted me. That was proceeded by crude comments and obscene suggestions. Staying took courage, and I'm proud to say, I found mine. Although, it took one hell of a conversation with myself to achieve. The tradeoff was the ability to hike the Brooks Range. So while I found heaven, it meant a serious walk through hell to get to it." 

Michael: "Thank heavens you had that to pull you through. You found your inner strength...

I am thankful to have the great fortune to know you on a more personal level than most of our blogger buddies. I know your writing well and have the pleasure of creating the blurbs, taglines, and even your bio for your amazing series. What I read in your bio pages that I wish to share with our friends is your bucket list. Please tell us yours… I found it fascinating~"

Yolanda: "I would love to learn to play the drums. In grade school, I passed the music test and had the choice of instrument. I chose the drums, but I never took the form for my parents' approval home because I knew my family didn't have the money for such luxuries. I've always regretted that decision. Especially when a year later, my sister took her form home and Dad made sure, she got the clarinet she wanted. Although, in high school I did learn to play the guitar, one I bought on my own.

I've also always loved cars, the faster, the better and I would love to own a racecar, actually any muscle car, or even a Model T. 

But more importantly, I want a pet dragon. I even had this silly idea of buying a piece of property down the road to install a Putt Putt golf course, just so I could have an enormous fire-breathing dragon of my very own. But truthfully, who needs a golf course just to own a dragon?"

Michael: "Very true... lol

Now on an even more personal note, I’d love to know more about your home life. Just a line or two about Where you live now? What does your hubby think about your writing? And, do either of your kids have a creative side like you?" 

Yolanda: "We currently reside in central Pennsylvania. Settling here had to do with job availability; we were both downsized from the same company in Tacoma, Washington. But we grew up and graduated high school in western PA so it's not an odd fit. My husband has always had more faith in my writing and me than I do. He supports me one hundred percent, literally and figuratively. 

I have two wonderful sons that I'm trying to marry off, and an old house that I love even though the remodeling is never ending. I love to cook, and I still love hiking. Walking is how I achieve true peace; it always was and still is. Yes, my sons are creative but they don't see the benefit in it. Maybe someday they'll achieve what I couldn't.

Thank you, Michael, for allowing me to discuss my journey and my books. Your friendship means the world to me."

Michael: "To me as well! It was a true pleasure, and all the best with your third book!"

If you'd like more information about the Detective Quaid mysteries here are all the links. I know you will tremendously enjoy this trilogy.

Thanks for dropping by today everyone. Please visit Yolanda Renee at her blog Defending the Pen...
And more info on her books and blog tour....here.



Have a great day Everyone!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

WINTER FLU... BLOWS INSECURITIES AWAY.....

Hi, All,

Today my post will be very short. I am sick with the Flu and feel miserable.

The one PLUS.... I haven't felt one bit insecure all week. LOL.

Once must always try to keep our sense of humor even if you can't lift your head from the pillow.

I hope all of you are well and FLU FREE...

Thanks to Alex J. Cavanuagh we have a chance to vent our insecurities once a month. Don't forget to drop by the other member for amazing support and advice.

And thanks to Alex' co hosts this month....  Lauren Hennessy,Lisa Buie-Collard, Lidy, Christine Rains, and Mary Aalgaard!  

The IDES of MARCH are blowing, but SPRING will be here soon. I HOPE!!!