Farming!

The past weekend was a busy one, filled with love, laughter, family time, and lots of farming.

We started with cleaning chicken coops and the alpaca barn, sheared the alpacas, fed the bees, trellised the blueberry bushes, tied the tomatoes, picked gallons of cherries, then picked the vegetable garden. Buckets of pea pods, kale, lettuce, broccoli, basil, cabbage and zucchini soon filled the kitchen counter. Then we needed to pick blueberries, gooseberries, and the few baby cucumbers ready to pick. Walking back from the gardens, we realized that we had a couple garlic scapes still needing to be cut. Done!

What a great weekend it was!

It’s beginning to feel real!

Late today, I had the opportunity for a long conversation with the company publishing Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude. What a wonderful conversation! We talked cover designs, release timelines, and many other details. I felt so supported, and that my opinions were valued — how fortunate I am to be working with them.

After the conversation, I took a walk around our gardens, thinking about the conversation, and how it is finally beginning to feel real that this book will make it into published form. No matter how much I wish we’d never been thrust into this grief journey, I appreciate that I am being given the opportunity to take that grief and hopefully turn it into something that may help others.

I will keep you up to date on developments!

It’s a little bit warm in VT!

Vermont is in the midst of a heat-wave right now. Yesterday, for only the second time in my 40+ years in Vermont, my exterior house thermometer (not in the sun) registered 100 degrees. That doesn’t normally happen in Vermont! Yes, in the winter, we can get long periods of bitter cold, but we don’t do heat terribly well.

Over the last few days, we have had family visiting, and enjoyed hours of fun with the youngest members of the family. Our four year-old granddaughter helped me with a knitting project that I was silly enough to leave sitting in my basket next to the spinning wheel. Yes, she also helped with the spinning, but I forgot to take a picture of that.

Here is what my project looks like now. It is so good to have a helper!

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Then, after we worked with the knitting, we went outside to explore. The chickens are lots of fun to chase! The alpacas decided staying far away from the fence was the best plan of action. Then we cooked a bit, including using the last of our garlic scapes and some of our home-grown mushrooms.

 

Then we wandered back outside to check out the blackberries — not ready yet, but we are clearly going to have a bumper crop.

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Yesterday, we needed to spend some time in the bee hives, then clean the barn, and work in the garden. As we walked up the hill, absolutely drenched in sweat, we realized that we need to pick blueberries and cherries, so that will be the project after work today.

In all of this, we are making sure that all of our animals are doing okay. We know that like the people, Vermont animals aren’t used to this heat. Hopefully it will break soon!

Farming!

My favorite time of year has started, the full-out gardening season. Our vegetable gardens are growing by the second, the blackberries have formed and are getting bigger each day, and we have started harvesting produce. Over the last week, we have had a salad (either lettuce/spinach or kale) twice a day, with our radishes and young beets on them, eaten our broccoli, and will start picking cabbage this week. The first cabbage is used in cooking, then we will start making sauerkraut and kimchi.  Our basil accents local tomatoes beautifully, and our other herbs are being used in cooking, and bring such fresh flavors. Yes, I love the garden season!

Welcome to J.D. Sanderson!

Today I would like to welcome author J.D. Sanderson to my blog. J.D. has a new book out this week!

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J.D writes:

This week marks the official release of my first science fiction novel, A Footstep Echo. This book is incredibly personal to me, partly because it’s something that I’ve worked on for the past 16 months. While I’ve dreamed of publishing a book since I was a child, I cannot begin to describe how incredibly happy that it’s finally coming true.

I guess I’ll start off with a little bit about my book:

“A Footstep Echo starts out as the story of Bernard, a 70-year-old widower living alone in Upstate, New York. His lonely, routine life is thrown into chaos one day when a young woman knocks him into another point in time to save his life.

Soon after he realizes what has happened, he discovers the Mystery Girl cannot speak. She’s unable to tell him who she is, where she comes from, or how she can travel through time. Worse yet, she’s unable to tell him what it is that is chasing her.

Along the way, Bernard meets a number of people, all of whom claim to know the truth about his mysterious new companion. The only thing he knows for certain is that the secret to humanities future may lie with his new time-traveling friend.”

That’s the gist of it! It was an idea that I toyed with a few years ago but didn’t end up finishing. Looking back now, I think that I spent too much time and energy trying to emulate all of the influences that made me want to create original stories. The pattern repeated itself for years – I’d start off with an idea and immediately start writing, only to crash and burn a few chapters in when it didn’t sound how I imagined it did.

In December 2016, I saw something that changed my point of view. A new wave of serialized storytelling became popular, with shows like The OA and Stranger Things making waves on Netflix. The OA, in particular, blew my mind. Creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij absolutely floored me with their realistic characters, original sci-fi premise, and creative story that they allowed the necessary time to develop organically. My wife and I were left hanging on the edge of our seats after each episode.

Most important of all, it made me realize that I was trying to tell the wrong kind of story.

In February 2017, I picked up my laptop again and revisited the Bernard story I had tried a year ago. Rather than try to do what everyone else had, or work towards a specific goal, I just shut off my brain and let my fingers walk across the keyboard. The ideas rolled out and the characters and story began to develop.

One of the biggest differences between A Footstep Echo and every other story I had attempted to tell previously was how it was structured. The book is neatly divided into three parts. I sometimes think of it as a trilogy of novellas than rather than one giant novel. The funny thing is it happened almost by accident. By the time I got to page 82, I noticed that a substantial part of the story was wrapping up, so I decided to wind it down while leaving the rest of it open.

Unlike a lot of writers I know and admire, I don’t have a strict writing process. I wrote at different times in the evening and didn’t try to hit specific goals each day. Instead, I had a mental note with five words I wanted to keep in mind throughout the process.

Anagnorisis – The moment in a story where a character makes a critical discovery. I wanted one of these in each of the three parts that (I hope) will floor the audience.

Intertextuality – the shaping of one story’s meaning through another. I threw in a few little “Easter eggs,” but I didn’t want the book to be a reference guide for sci-fi readers.

Language – Early on, people told me that I may want to edit a few things to make the book more accessible for younger readers and children. I ended up disregarding their advice. First of all, I wrote the book for adults. Secondly, I wanted to convey how people really talked. If there’s a group of criminals in my book, I want them to talk the way I’ve heard them over the years. I didn’t want to clean it up in case a child picks up my book.

Bathos – This is one of my trigger words. Bathos is the literary concept of breaking the tension of a serious, sad, or sincere moment with unnecessary comedy or some other kind of anti-climax. It’s everywhere in movies and television nowadays and is something I worked very hard to avoid. I look at humor as something that is very expensive, and I don’t want to spend the money unless it’s absolutely necessary. My story has some humor in it, but there are certain moments I was simply not willing to pay a dramatic cost for.

Mood – Setting up the right mood is soooooo difficult. I just kept this work in my mind to help me avoid straying too far from the kind of atmosphere I wanted for my characters.

Thanks for allowing me to prattle on. If you love science fiction, mysteries, or character-based stories, I hope you’ll check my book out. You can find it at my author page on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/author/jdsanderson.

You can also follow me on social media! You’ll find me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/AuthorJDSanderson, or follow me on Twitter @ascifiwriter!

And finally, a big thanks to the owner and operator of this fine website for giving me a chance to tell my story. J

 

 

 

Hmmmmmm

We have had a very, very busy couple of weeks, both in terms of our jobs and our family. Lots of night events, lots of running around, lots of driving between places. In all of that running around, I haven’t taken as much time as I would like (or should) to stop, breathe, and think about life in general.

It has been a time of hurrying up (getting things done) and waiting (for others to do things). I have made the mad dash to get things done on time, only then to sit twiddling my thumbs for a bit. But because of the pace of the time period, I haven’t used that down time to actually reflect on much of anything.

So late this afternoon, after more events, I went for a walk down to our garlic beds. Those beautiful, vibrant garlic beds that are so much more than just garlic. I stood and looked at them, admired the beauty, realized the scapes need cutting, and took time to appreciate the wonder of the natural world.

As I walked back up the hill to the house, I also realized that the blackberry blossoms are almost gone, and you can see the baby berries on the canes. How did I miss that part of the spring? I missed it because I didn’t take the time to stop and look around.

The message of today? Take the time to look around, to see the beauty and wonder around us.

And yes, I am going to try to take my own advice.

Some links.

As I have been working on the editing for Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude, I needed to take out the YouTube links that had been originally included in my Facebook posts that are included in that book, just in case the links are taken down at a later date. So, as I thought about removing them, I thought I would instead include them here in a post, in case any of you wanted to check them out.

The first link was to a really wonderful video that Sam made with friends for a science project in high school.

This is NOT a fungus

 

Then, I posted a list of Sam’s favorite songs, with links to videos of them:

The Vermont State Song — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7cq1AObM6g

SpongeBob – “Best Day Ever” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8r559C51uE

Jesus Christ Superstar – “Everything’s Alright” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Vx8KpqTVCk

Bob Dylan – “Like a Rolling Stone” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeNJj8aviyg

Arlo Guthrie – “Motorcycle Song” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvLtNBm1yyA

Twiddle – “When it Rains it Poors” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLd16W3jIpg

Twiddle – “Hatibagen McRat” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3aV-LR1ues

Zach Sobiak – “Clouds” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDeDqJ8GQMY

America – “Horse with No Name” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRmvNMUEFZg

Aerosmith – “Amazing” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSmOvYzSeaQ

Rocky Horror – “Time Warp” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sg-vgGuTD8A

Macklemore – “Same Love” (he thought it was overplayed, but loved the message) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlVBg7_08n0

Tom Petty – “Into the Great Wide Open” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqmFxgEGKHO

Andrea Bocelli – “Por Ti Volare” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlVBg7_08n0

Pavarotti – “Ave Maria” — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojeLyPo_Wz4

Bryan Adams – “I will Always Return” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEJRxJzNvXI

Arlo Guthrie – “Amazing Grace” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvLnYAhQtG4

 

Finally, I also originally included the link to Otter Valley Union High School’s Walking Stick Theater’s production of their student-written and choreographed play, Inevitable, which I think is an amazing work of art.

Inevitable

I hope you will take some time to check these links out!

 

Happy Anniversary!

As I have written about before, my road to becoming a published author was a long and winding one. I had written two complete romance novels prior to 2013, and over the years, I had sent them out to agents trying to find representation. I’d get a little interest, then get rejected a few times, then put it all aside for a while.

Eventually, our son Sam would give me grief about giving up, he’d tell me that I needed to keep trying. He always could visualize that one day it would happen. He’d tell me that one day I’d get an agent or a publishing contract, and we’d all go out to dinner to celebrate and order whatever we wanted.

After Sam’s death, I stopped writing completely for a long time. I was in too dark of a place to try to write a happily-ever-after story. But he believed so strongly, that eventually I felt compelled to try again. This time, December 2016, I got serious. I pulled out my first completed novel, The Phone Call, and ripped it apart, then hired a professional editor to go at it. Then I did the same with That One Small Omission. I decided that if this was something I truly wanted, I needed to take it seriously, and not just keep sort-of doing it.

Around the same time, I started sending The Phone Call out via query letters to agents. Then I read this great article about reputable publishing houses that don’t require an agent, and so I submitted it to two of them.

Months went by. A couple agents requested sample chapters, one requested the full manuscript, but then came the rejections. This round, instead of being discouraged, I was so energized by my work with the editors, that I was going full-speed on More Than I Can Say. Even the day when one of the publishing houses rejected me didn’t diminish my drive.

Then, at exactly 5:45 on June 12th, 2017, I sat down in my chair with my cup of coffee, like I do every morning, and opened my email. There was a new message from Solstice Publishing, and I almost didn’t open it because I really didn’t want to get rejected first thing in the day.

With a sigh, I opened it, telling myself to be brave. Reading it later wasn’t going to be any easier than reading it then. It was going to sit there and mock me until I read it, I knew it. So I opened it and it was a short, sweet, positive note offering me a publishing contract! My poor husband came down the stairs at just that moment, and I was standing there, making noises, unable to form a coherent statement, then I started jumping up and down like an idiot, finally yelling, “A contract! They want to publish it!” Then I burst into tears. After hugging him, crying, dancing around, I ran upstairs and woke our youngest son, still crying, and the poor kid probably was terrified, but then he hugged and hugged me.

Later that day, I went to the cemetery, and read the email aloud to Sam, knowing how much he was a part of the entire process. His belief in me, his belief that it would happen, was a great part of what kept me (and keeps me) going.

Yes, in the year that has passed, I have published The Phone Call, That One Small Omission and More Than I Can Say, all through Solstice Publishing. Now, I have signed a publishing contract on my memoir Of Grief, Garlic and Gratitude.

What a year it has been — happy anniversary to me!

A farming kind of day!

Today was another busy one, filled with farming activities. We weeded the gardens, fed the bees, mulched some of the rows in the gardens, replanted some holes in the rows, planted leeks, moved a water tank for the winter squash bed, introduced the chicks to the aviary, planted some herbs, and finally, picked greens and radishes for dinner. Now it is time to sit on the deck and admire how it all looks!

 

Welcome to Tom Dutta!

As I’ve said before, one of the best parts of becoming a published author is connecting with other authors. I love hearing their stories of what motivated them to start writing, and I love to see their creations.

Tom is one of those people that I’ve been lucky enough to connect with via the publishing world. From Canada, he guides people in finding what I would refer to as their best life possible.

So, here is a glimpse of Tom’s book, The Way of the Quiet Warrior. I hope you will check it out, and visit his website at:

Tom’s Website

WHY READ THIS BOOK?

You are a leader, a success in your chosen fi eld. You have the position and the money and the things that you always believed would make you happy. And yet…there’s something missing, isn’t there?
The Way of the Quiet Warrior® 90-Days to the Life You Desire is an exciting hybrid of guide and fable. Mingling clear, non-fi ction explanations of Tom Dutta’s revolutionary Way of the Quiet Warrior formula for success with fi ctional tales designed to illustrate those concepts, The Way of the Quiet Warrior® is designed to be highly readable and engaging. With more than three decades of experience in the corporate world, Tom Dutta is perfectly positioned to identify and address the unmet needs and unresolved issues of CEOs, leaders and executives the world over.

ABOUT TOM

Tom is a senior business leader, speaker and International #1 Best Selling author with more than 30 years experience helping build and grow companies in Canada and the USA. Tom brings leadership experience from the Financial Services, IT, TELCO, Not-For Profit, and Health sectors. His career includes senior roles in many of Canada’s prestigious companies including President and CEO, and Chairman of the Board.

As Founder and CEO of KRE-AT® Tom is the world’s only motive-based leadership expert. In concert with his business expertise, Tom’s intense travel and study of the science behind success has enabled him to create a proven coaching and mentorship formula called The Way of the Quiet Warrior®. This dynamic program helps leaders manifest success by discovering purpose, taking action and living life their way. Tom mentors CEOs and Executives and has extensive experience participating in and facilitating masterminding. Tom is Executive Producer and Host of the EPIC Podcast “The Quiet Warrior Show” and appeared on William Shatner’s Moving America Forward TV Show.

Previously, Tom was General Manager with Ocean West Financial, Chief Operating Officer of the Annex Group, one of BC’s fastest growing IT Professional Service firms. He was CEO with CRI Canada, a Division of AEGON – a supplier of software and financial services globally. At TELUS, one of Canada’s largest telecommunications companies, Tom held a dual role of Director, Customer Excellence and Director, Enterprise Marketing. VanTel Credit Union was his first executive role as Vice President, Sales Marketing and Operations and previously he held Management roles with Toronto Dominion Bank.

Tom has served on a number of industry boards and served as Chairman of the Board for MDABC working to pioneer a change in the Mental Health model.

Tom is married to his business partner, Anna, and together they have three children. Tom enjoys travel, experimenting with cooking and giving to help others achieve their life goals.

Connect with Tom Here:
www.amazon.com/author/tomdutta
http://www.prlog.org/12677508 (Press Release TV show)
www.kreat.ca/media
www.kreat.ca/podcast
https://www.linkedin.com/in/tomdutta/
www.facebook.com/thewayofthequietwarrior/