Enough with the snow!

Yesterday was filled with errands, some writing, cleaning the house, laundry and cooking. So it wasn’t surprising that I didn’t look at the weather forecast for the next few days. Then, after watching the Olympics for a bit last night, I almost fell out of bed when I heard that we might get 3-6 inches of snow before morning.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a Vermonter through and through. I love the four distinct seasons in Vermont. I love the cold and snow of winter, I really do. I hate ice, but I do love snow. But enough already!

Just before the alarm went off this morning, I heard the very distinctive sound of the town plow going down our dirt road. And I knew then that we had enough snow that we were going to need to plow and shovel today. With a grumble,  I got out of bed and looked out the window, and yes, we had more than 4 inches of fresh snow.

Having looked at the forecast for the week, rain and warmer temperatures are expected. It may even get to 60 degrees on Wednesday. So I know the snow will melt quickly, plunging us into the dreaded mud season. Then, the temperature will drop again, everything will free, and we will do it all over again.

But, even with my grumbling this morning, it was gorgeous outside. Here is a picture of our old apple tree as I walked the dog before breakfast.

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So now we have finished plowing and shoveling, and we can sit and admire the beauty.

 

Update!

At the end of December, 2017, I posted the following writing resolutions/goals for 2018:

As I look toward 2018, I am setting the following goals for my writing:

  • More Than I Can Say (book 3) — to have it published by mid-July 2018.
  • Book 4 (still untitled):
    • First draft completed by July 1st, 2018.
    • Second draft completed by August 1st, 2018.
    • Professionally edited by October 1st, 2018.
    • Submitted for consideration for publication by November 1, 2018.
  • Of Grief, Gratitude and Garlic:
    • First draft completed by July 30, 2018.
    • Second draft completed by September 1, 2018.
    • Professionally edited by November 1, 2018.
    • Submitted for consideration for publication by December 1, 2018.

 

Now, we are at the mid-point of February, and I have made some progress…

  • More Than I Can Say — final round of editing complete, now in the hands of the proofreader. In the past, I gone through three rounds of proof-reading, but certainly am on schedule for my mid-July publication date. Hopefully it will be ready to release way sooner than July!
  • Book 4 — still untitled, first draft almost 3/4 done (based upon my plot outline).
  • Of Grief, Gratitude and Garlic — first draft in progress, professional editor lined up to do the editing when I am ready, first draft of my query letter done.

All in all, I’m pleased with the progress.  Now if I could just decide on the boys’ names for book 4!

 

FREE!!!! Free 2/13-2/15

It’s interesting that so many people ask me how much money I have made/earned in my writing career. As I have said before, for me it was never about making money off my writing — now,  don’t get me wrong, the royalty statements make me smile broadly, but it has always been about the stories and about the overall writing journey.

Having said this, I am pleased to announce that for the next three days, 2/13-2/15/2018, both That One Small Omission and The Phone Call will be free in e-book version. I hope that you will download my love stories in honor of Valentine’s Day — enjoy!

That One Small Omission

The Phone Call

 

Snow, Editing/Writing

Vermont was predicted to get a snow storm today, and an odd one at that — it wasn’t supposed to start until late morning, snow like crazy, and be over by around 9 tonight. The predicted snowfall was 8-12 inches.

Normally, a snow storm comes in slowly, meanders, and leaves, but not like a short lived huge dumping of snow. So when I woke up this morning, and the forecast was still the same as it had been last night, I really didn’t believe it was coming.

Then, late morning, the snow arrived with a vengeance. It has snowed so heavily that even the alpacas have chosen to just stay in the barn, cranky and irritating each other. Of course, them being in the barn all day means that cleaning the barn was more of a chore, but it’s done, they have a little extra grain to make up for the boredom, a thick, warm bed of hay to rest in, and a full hay feeder for later. The chickens just decided that after laying their eggs for the day, that they were going to go back up to roost — fluff their feathers out over their feet, and just settle in until it’s over. They didn’t even wander out to see what was newly added to the compost pile.

Now the chores are done, dinner is about to go in the oven, brownies are cooling on the counter waiting to be frosted, and the table is set. Finally, as the snow piles up outside, it’s time to edit More Than I Can Say, then once that is done, to spend some time writing on Book 4.

Wherever you are tonight, stay warm, dry and safe.

Guest Blogger — Angel Leya

Today I am thrilled to welcome guest blogger Angel Leya!

Top10Illumia

 

Hi, I’m Angel Leya, and I write clean young adult stories with (at least) a touch of magic and romance. My latest story is Running Toward Illumia, Astrea’s tale of finding herself while running from the one thing she wants most: To find her sense of belonging.

Astrea’s lived in the Mist all her life, and she loves it there. In fact, she’d do just about anything to feel like she fits in with her Rudan people, even hunt a unicorn to feed her starving tribe.

Illumia is the first city beyond the Mist, just past the Dragon Range. Astrea’s come up with 10 reasons to never go to Illumia. I’ll let her tell you more.

***

Top 10 Reasons NOT to Travel to Illumia

10. They don’t have fog.

Who needs sunshine? I’m a Mist girl. Great for concealing movement, comfortable like an old blanket, and you never have to worry about dry skin.

9. They don’t all have red hair.

That’s why this tribe is here, despite being sent to the fog to die. And why we call ourselves the Rudan, rather than the Banned.

Wish my hair was redder. And I could use a few more freckles. But I’m one of the Rudan, I swear. I’d be dead if I wasn’t.

8. They’re weak.

Fog weeds out the weak. And if the fog doesn’t, the Lynx, ogres, or Rudan will. Illumians live the easy life. They have no reason to be strong.

7. They’re not very welcoming.

The Rudan take in anyone who can survive the fog. Illumians kicked us out (or at least my parents, but children of the Banned are no less welcome).

6. Illumians are idiots.

Everyone says so.

5. Big government.

I know all five of my council members, and they earned their spot. Like Seneca, first huntress—my mentor. Illumians probably have no idea who runs their council.

4. The journey’s dangerous.

Even if you can navigate the fog, streams filled with flesh-eating fish, and ogre-infested swamps, there’s the dragon range. There’s one pass, guarded by Illumians. The rest is mountain. Treacherous, dragon-housing mountains. No other way around it. Going to Illumia is a fool’s errand.

3. My family’s not there.

If you think getting one person into Illumia is hard, try five. Two brothers, plus Mamaa and Pawpaw.

Course, the whole tribe’s basically family. I’d want to take them all.

Except maybe Mavin. He’s a jerk. (Kidding. Sort of.)

2. I can never come back.

Going to Illumia is a one-way trip. Illumians and dragons ensure that.

1. I don’t want to.

Do I need any other reason?

***

Thanks for reading! If you’d like more, click for an excerpt from Banned, Part 1 of Running Toward Illumia.

Get all 4 parts of Running Toward Illumia today:

  1. Banned (free!)
  2. Lost (On Sale for 99¢ through 2/15/18)
  3. Drenched (On Sale for 99¢ through 2/15/18)
  4. Marked (On Sale for 99¢ through 2/15/18)

Guest Blogger — Howard Petote

Today I am thrilled to welcome guest blogger, Howard Petote:

maggie

 Origins: An Irish Girl Named Maggie

By Howard Petote

In 1968 the state of Missouri was blessed with the arrival of a baby girl, a one-year-old lifted from the arms of nuns in the west of Ireland. Her name was Maggie, and her adoptive parents— strict Catholics—wanted her to be perfect. But Maggie Black was not perfect, she was merely human—an earthy, feral child who one day realized she would never earn their love. Drifting into drugs, con artists and petty crime, she becomes a single mother stuck in the gritty world of door-to-door sales—dangerously tied to a bad man.

One muggy evening—while home in Saint Joe preparing for a sales jump—she endures an incident that changes her life. This incident opens my novel, The Sins of Maggie Black, the story of one young woman’s attempt to escape her past and dream of a better life. As she informs her little boy, “From now on it’s gonna be me and you—we’re gonna be a team.” Her journey will pit a fierce determination to succeed against a battered ego, a heart struggling to accept love and companionship, and a past that threatens everything.

I began this post with some backstory to introduce one theme of my novel—the mysterious and profound nature of origins. Starting with the fragile innocence of youth, we bear both the blessings and sins of the world throughout our lives. Origins can also refer to any turning point in a character’s life, such as the incident that opens my story. Maggie doesn’t dwell much on the circumstances of her birth or upbringing, but they have deeply affected her. Though she doesn’t seek her mother, she does possess a vestigial memory of her, expressed as an attraction to water. In a vision that turns prophetic, Maggie sinks deep into a river—a symbolic return to the womb.

The river also serves as metaphor for a fundamental aspect of nature—the surface and what lies below. The surface is what we can “see” with our basic senses, while what lies beneath is the nearly inexpressible, underlying reality—the murky depths from which everything originates.

I once read a book about men’s issues—more specifically, fathers and sons in modern and primitive societies. I didn’t particularly connect with all the metaphorical language (the author was a poet) but it was very intriguing. I was living in a boarding house the night I finished the book—alone in a room without a TV or phone. That night I had seven vivid dreams, nearly all about myself and my father. They were rich in symbolic meaning. What had happened? How had mere words triggered such startling dreams?

For me, writing is an exploration—an attempt to understand, to feel, to connect with others. That night in my room a connection was made—the personal stories and myths expressed by that author triggered things deep inside me, obviously important issues lurking in the unconscious mind. These issues flow powerfully below the surface in all of us, manifesting themselves in who we are and how we behave. Just as a river follows the truest way downstream, our souls seek a path toward harmony and peace. Though Maggie and the other characters in my novel are highly flawed, they share a fierce determination to heal themselves, to become whole.

I hope I’ve dramatized a compelling story, and if lucky, revealed a few things that lie below. In my next post I’ll discuss the inspiration for this novel from a brief occurrence in Deadwood, South Dakota—and why my heroine is a door-to-door saleswoman.

 

Find Howard Petote’s novel, The Sins of Maggie Black at Amazon. Paperback and ebook available by February 14. See his website/blog at http://www.howardpetote.com

 

Random thoughts

Lately, it has struck me that everyone has opinions about writers, and about their writing. People come up to me and comment on my novels, good or bad, and I always appreciate their input. Some comments make me mad for just a moment, but I have to say that I always take them to heart, and they help me adjust/improve future writing. It also strikes me as funny how many people ask for free copies of my novels — it doesn’t seem to matter how many times I explain that I didn’t get boxes and boxes of free copies, they still ask about getting them. It doesn’t bother me, it just makes me chuckle as I can’t imagine people walking up to an artist, say a weaver, and asking for a free towel/rug/blanket. Some days I find this a bit much, but then it hits me again that now I have two novels published, and another on the way. I now schedule book signings and talks, have people interacting with me about my stories, and it is just amazing. I had spent so many years hoping to some day have something published, this is beyond my wildest dreams. How lucky I am!

Updates from Vermont

Finally the weather broke this weekend, and we have had to relatively warm days, with some much needed (and appreciated) sun. The good news is that the driveway is almost completely ice free now, the bad news is that the alpaca barn is completely flooded with the run-off.

Today I finished the edits of More Than I Can Say, and now it has gone back to my Solstice editor for her next round of suggestions. I love seeing how the novel changes slightly with each round. Tonight I will actually get a little writing time, working on novel 4.

In other news, both books are on sale right now in e-book format. The Phone Call (TPC e-book) is on sale for $1.99, and That One Small Omission (TOSO e-book) is on sale for .99. Both can be found on amazon or on solsticepublishing.com.

Finally, I was really excited this week to get new bookmarks. One has all three covers on it, one has one cover on each side (of works that have been published). I would be happy to send one to anyone who would like one, as a way of thanking you for your support. If you are interested, message me through the contact form on this site, and send me your name and mailing address, and I will send one right out to you. As of right now, I am only sending them within the United States, but hope to widen that area soon.

The benefits of sunshine

If you live in relatively temperate climate, one where the weather doesn’t vary a whole lot, you may not understand the psychological importance of sunshine. In Vermont, from late October to late March, it is gray and cloudy a lot. I mean, a LOT. Besides the snow and ice we get in winter, the shorter hours of daylight, it also is cloudy much of the time.

So today, after it poured yesterday, after days of rain/snow/sleet and just plain clouds, the sun came out in force. Even though there still is glare ice where ever the water pooled yesterday during the rain, then the temperature dropped over night, the sun makes everything look more cheerful. Everyone was in a much better mood today, and it reminds me of how excited we all get in spring.

It also reminded me that it is time to check on the status of my seed order for the garden!

What a busy weekend!

The last three and a half months have been very busy for us as a family, as we had an elderly member of the family get badly injured, resulting in the need for us to provide daily (and intensive) elder care through this time period. Obviously, it was a time that we also had the incredible excitement of two of my novels being published, and one being in process of being published, but it still was a time of running day and night to meet the needs of everyone.

This past Friday, the intensity of the need lessened, didn’t go away, but lessened. It meant that this weekend, we could return to some of our “normal” activities, and do them all at a slightly slower pace. We cleaned the chicken coop, the barn, the house, checked on the bee hives, made hummus, made a great dinner, made soup and pot roast for nights this week, and finally made the first batch of cookies in a long, long time. I worked on editing, did some knitting, and took a dip in the hot tub. Yes, we also did errands for both set of our parents, took care of some things for our children and grandchildren, but did it without the sense of being at a full run. And what a joy it was to do all of them!

Now, the chores of today have been completed, and it’s time to watch some football and do some editing.