Category Archives: A Day in Kate’s Life

A Day in Kate’s Life ~~ Sunshine and Holiday Packages

What a beautiful day it is today! The sun is shining brightly, and the wind has died down enough to keep the temperatures above teeth-chattering cold. (Yes, it is a meteorological term for a certain type of temperature, kind of like “colder than a witch’s — oops!  Sorry, I digress.)

I have so much to do at home but the thought of being outside, stretching my legs as I walk with my yellow mascot,  had me donning my coat and scarf and hitting the road.  No worries, I didn’t fall this time. LOL!

The sky is that color blue so common on a winter day – a paler blue than the deep blue of a summer day. The sun glints off of the river’s surface and I have to squint my eyes as my gaze passes over its brilliance. Ice floats lazily down the river today. Yesterday, you could hear the low groaning sound of ice flows colliding with each other as they progressed down the river.

More people are out walking today. I even saw a few bicycling around the town. I wave at a couple out for a morning stroll, and they stop to give my sidekick a pat on the head and they receive in return his eternal gratitude. The signature dark brown UPS truck is making its way down the road, and I wonder if a package will be waiting for me when I get home.

As we saunter towards the big gray house on the corner with those bright red rocking chairs, I’m a bit disappointed to see there isn’t a big cardboard box waiting. Heading inside, my furry security system begins to bark. Could it be? I hurry to the door and sure enough, I find a package! Oh yes, it is a glorious day to be alive. Am I the only one who loves holiday packages?  That would be a big “NO”!

 

A Day in Kate’s Life ~ Christmas Preparations

How I Avoid a Christmas Meltdown

It’s that time of year again when the holiday prep, decorating, shopping and events can take a toll on my psyche. I used to take part in the madness and over the years I’ve toned down the “I’ve got to get this done!” expectations to a more modest “How can I enjoy Christmas more?” vibe.

Gone are the fourteen — yes, I did correctly say 14! Christmas trees, and in their place is a more modest number. Now, I decorate five small tabletop trees, which I cluster in the dining room on a sideboard, as well as the main tree, but even that tree has shrunk from an eight-foot height to a more modest six-foot tree.

I make only one or two Christmas cookie selections and send them off to the hubby’s workplace and home with my sons to save me from having a sugar coma throughout the holidays. I do love sweet things!   

If I have the time and feel creative, I will scrapbook and stamp my own cards, but if I’m time-crunched, I see nothing wrong with buying a nice holiday card and sending them off to close family and friends. I will use an app like JIbJab to create a funny Christmas greeting for all of my friends and family on social media. 

Time has taught me that I’d rather spend my holiday enjoying hot cocoa and a Christmas movie with my loved ones than running from one chore to another during this season.  So enjoy yourself, and if you love to shop and can afford to, do it! If you love to bake a dozen different kinds of cookies and holiday treats, knock yourself out! 

But whatever you do, make sure you make time for the ones you love, because that is what Christmas is truly about — faith, family, and friends.

Dog Days

Dog Lover. I like to think I am.

Today I’m not so sure. My grandpuppy (a full-grown 100 lb. Lab) arrived yesterday for a long visit, and by long, I mean a two-month visit.  My house was almost a dog hair-free zone prior to the visit.  Once in a great while, I will find a little memento of his last visit.  Please don’t judge my housekeeping skills, LOL!  Remember, I’m a writer.

IMG_1528To give you a little background info, this beautiful pooch had lived with us for the first two years of his life. During those two years, my life revolved around my Labbie and my writing.  My husband needed to understand, I had my priorities. The poor guy…

But the last two years have been pretty much pet-free except for periodic visits by my son and his dog. I’d gotten used to being on my own each day.  My focus was on my agenda, so my To-Do List for today included advertising for my books and the continued promotion of my latest published book, Never Show Your Hand. Also, NaNoWriMo is happening and I need to write!

What my schedule has been thus far?????

  • Wake up at 7 am
  • Quickly dress, wash my face and brush my teeth
  • Walk dog on slippery sidewalks and in circles around every interesting scent trail he can find
  • Breakfast as the dog sits by my side hoping I drop something
  • Playtime
  • A five-minute phone call to my mom as the dog barks and whines nearby
  • Snack time for “Fido”
  • A few quick Facebook posts and Instagram posts (Yay!)
  • Letting the dog out as I try to sweep the kitchen floor and clean up after breakfast
  • Proceed to untangle the dog’s lead from a tree in the yard
  • Return inside to finish sweeping the kitchen floor
  • Have to return outside to untangle the dog’s lead from a different tree in the yard

Needless to say, we are still getting used to being IMG_1744around each other. It will settle down in a few days as he adjusts to his new environment.  As I gaze at my furbaby sleeping peacefully in an armchair across from me, my smile is so big it almost makes my face hurt.

Time to get my writing done! TTYL, everyone!

 

 

Editing…oops?

I guess I should have realized that writing involves the process of editing what you write. And, if truth be told I did, but I didn’t understand the total extent the process would involve. Yeah, I could’ve hired someone to edit but in reality, the writer needs to edit their work throughout the writing process, even if an editor is employed to help refine the manuscript.

When you are new to the business of self-publishing, you don’t know who to trust with your manuscript — I mean this is YOUR baby! Will they do a good job? Will they charge you an exorbitant amount with questionable results for the money spent?

I would advise new writers to ask other authors that you trust, who they have used to edit their books. Find out what the fees are upfront, and what exactly will they be reviewing in your finished work.  Will they be acting as a proofreader — doing only punctuation, spelling and grammar? Or will they be looking to improve your book by identifying plot holes, timeline issues, and manuscript flow problems?

The writer should understand they are responsible for doing the revisions that may be suggested by the editor. They are suggestions, and you have the right to reject their ideas, BUT… You paid for their input, and I would suggest you wait a day or two to allow the emotional response to dull before making a decision on any presented ideas that may have been upsetting for you.

Go back, read the areas in question, look at your work with your professional eyes and weigh out the options. Get your creative juices flowing and ask yourself, “If I make this change, how would I go about it?”

Maybe you would have a dynamite idea that would propel your novel to a different level altogether?

We are invested in our work, and ultimately, we decide what the final outcome will be. Be true to who you are as a writer. What is your goal? There are many ideas out there about what sells books, but will making a decision to follow them destroy the essence of your vision or will it be the answer to your very dreams?

Only you can answer this. I, myself, am sitting down and editing the crap out of my story with the hopes I will meet the expectations that I have for myself. I write to please my muse and pray some will find the result worthy, enjoyable, suspenseful, romantic and totally awesome!

“Start your day right — eat well, stretch your legs, kiss your loved ones, read a good book…” ~~ Kate

Another Day Older

What is it about being a woman and having a birthday? I hear all the time from other females how terrible someone’s 30th, 40th or 50th birthday was for them, but I don’t really get it. I remember I was a little upset about turning 23 because I was meeting IMG_0520only 19-year-old guys and was feeling sooo much older than they were. At the time, I’d been holding down a full-time job as a nurse at a university hospital for 1-1/2 years and these dudes had just entered college.

Working at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics had a profound effect on my views on life. It was my first job as a nurse. I learned so much about medicine, nursing and the precious gift of life while I worked there. I shared laughter and good news with my patients as well as shed tears over others whose news wasn’t what anyone would have wanted to hear.

I would return to my apartment at times feeling exhilarated and at other times numbness would result in me lying fully clothed on my bed, staring at the ceiling. It changed me working in a place so closely linked with life and death. I started my quest to try the new, the scary and the crazy (at least, those things I deemed to be so). Tae Kwon Do — start classes… Join the Army Reserve — I raised my right hand… Live in Italy — “when do we leave?”… Bed & Breakfast — run one for ten years… Write books — of course!

Each decade is something to look forward to living, another chapter in my book of life needing to be written. I’ve lived in several beautiful places and visited many more. I’ve made mistakes, had a few successes, and faced the challenges life presented to me.

I turned a day older yesterday, and because it was the day of my birth, a year older too. My husband and I celebrated by drinking margaritas and eating dinner out. Afterward, we went to see a movie. My two adult sons and daughter-in-law called and wished me a Happy Birthday.

So many people have wished me well over the past few days, I want them to know I feel blessed to be surrounIMG_7641ded by so many wonderful people. I have a good life and look forward to many more years.

Getting older is about more than a few wrinkles and a few added pounds, it’s about the laughter that created those lines. It’s about the people in your life that have put the frown lines on your forehead because you worried over them. It’s about the roads traveled that have worn down your joints and put a slight hitch in your stride. It’s about more than a body that sags more than it did in the past and has a few extra pounds on it.

I’ve been lucky to live as long as I have. I will never regret turning a year older because of the blessings I’ve been given. My life has given me a reason to smile and laugh, words to write, and songs to sing at the top of my lungs.

Hell yeah, turning 58 is a good thing!

Category 4

When I woke up this morning, the sky was gray, and it was raining. I burrowed under the covers wishing I had some sunshine to warm my day. I did get up and ventured downstairs in my workout clothes for a healthy breakfast. (I thought I’d be more likely to exercise if I was dressed for it. ((shrug))

Per my routine, I flipped on a news channel and was immediately bombarded with news about Hurricane Michael and its rapid approach towards Panama City Beach, Florida. It brought back memories from twenty-three years ago when my family lived there.

Hurricane season is typically from May to October, and the residents along the Gulf of Mexico pay close attention to the weather reports during this volatile time of the year. In 1995, three hurricanes of varying strengths made landfall or affected our area. I had a tee shirt from the hospital where I was employed with the paths of the storms that year.

October storms tend to be the strongest because the water temperature of the Gulf is at its highest levels after the long hot summer, and hurricanes gain their strength from the warm waters they travel over.

Hurricane Opal was our Category 4.

We’d gotten a phone call at midnight from the Navy base. The base was closing and all military personnel and their families were ordered to evacuate. We got up packed some belongings. My husband filled the SUV with gas, and we packed some of our camping supplies, just in case we came home and found we didn’t have a home.

While my husband packed, I took our other vehicle and proceeded to find an ATM with some cash. He had tried two places without luck. It took me ten more stops before I could find a machine with cash available.

By four in the morning, we had our boys and our dog tucked into the vehicle and proceeded to leave the coast behind. We drove for over 6 hours (about 365 miles) before we found a hotel room in Huntsville, AL.

After we returned home, we found neighbors helping to put the shingles that had been blown off of our roof back into our yard. We were lucky. A few doors down, some neighbors came home to over two feet of water damage inside of their home. According to reports, our huge backyard had been completely covered by flood waters, including our inground pool.

We found our pool half-empty. Odd. We are uncertain if a tornado spawned by the storm damaged the roof and sucked the water from the pool. It remains a mystery to this day. The storm surge had hollowed out many buildings and residences along the coast. We were without power for several days. I cooked our meals on our camping stove, and we slept in the screen porch area due to the heat and lack of air conditioning.

I used these experiences and those I had while living in Corpus Christi, TX to write scenes for my first novel (short excerpt below).

My prayers are with the residents of my former home. Stay safe! ~~ Kate

Excerpt From Exodus (Clare Thibodeaux Series, Book 1 

Running back and forth from the closet to the bathroom, FullSizeRender 6 - CopyClare stuffed the last item that would fit into her worn duffel bag with a sigh.  She glanced around the shamble she’d made in her bedroom for anything she didn’t wish to leave behind.  There was one thing she couldn’t forget, she thought, as she reached into the bedside table drawer removing a .45 and some extra ammo. She clicked on the safety after checking the chamber to make sure it was empty.

A sterling silver frame with a black and white photograph of her family caught her eye.  After she stripped the back from the expensive frame, Clare removed the photo and shoved it into her purse.  Her throat tightened, and she swiped at the lone tear sliding down her face.  Abruptly clearing her throat, she returned to the task at hand.

“Oh, my God,” she groaned as she hoisted the weight of the overstuffed bag over her shoulder.  The perspiration on her forehead stung as it dripped into her eyes.  Clare mopped at the sweat with the back of her hand and headed for the door of the apartment.

“Get your head in the game, Clare Thibodeaux,” she mumbled.  She set her bag on the floor and eyeballed the landing through the peephole making sure everything was clear before she opened the door.  Not able to see anything she considered suspicious, she bent over and picked up the duffel.  The door swung open with a blast of sweltering heat that made it difficult to breathe.  Coastal Florida temps often left one feeling like you’re standing too close to a bonfire.  It was only 6:30 AM.

Angry, dark clouds littered the predawn sky.  Hurricane Emmitt swirled its way across the Gulf of Mexico with The Weather Channel anticipating landfall along Florida’s panhandle.  The residents of this stretch of the Florida coast were familiar with the preparations a tropical storm or hurricane required.  People were boarding up their windows, getting ready for a hurricane party or hightailing it out of the path of the storm.  In the past, Clare had ridden out most of the hurricanes or near misses at the hospital.  Any staff able to stay would remain at the hospital 24/7 until after the worst of the storm was over.

Circumstances were different at present.  She planned to evacuate with the thousands of other residents as they left their homes and belongings to avoid the devastation the landfall of a Category 4 hurricane would bring.  Trees could be broken or uprooted from the ground.  Power lines would be downed, and the electricity might be off for days or weeks.  With so many leaving the coast, she could get lost in the stream of vehicles heading north.  It was probably the best time to disappear.  Maybe the only chance she’d have.

The warm red glow of the rising sun peeked through gaps in the clouds as the storm front advanced towards the coast.  Its weakened light glinted off the corrugated metal carports.  The roaring tide crashed onto the beach, and an occasional car door or trunk closing were the only sounds.  Taking the steps down to the parking lot, she looked across the road to the shoreline.  Lines of white-capped waves swelled larger rolling with power as they slammed into the shore.  Who knew if her apartment building would be standing in another day?  Not that it mattered to Clare, she wouldn’t return.

Sometimes You Eat Concrete

Whenever things seem to be going amazingly well something happens to put your feet back on the ground. It never fails, and I believe it is the universe keeping everything in balance. Call it karma or the biblical “pride cometh before a fall”, but either way, life has its ups and downs. I’ve been on the roller coaster ride of life this summer. Good times and sad ones have been mixed with moments of triumph.

My third book is coming along, and I hope to reach a point where I can publish it this fall. It will the end of a trilogy. My first, but hopefully not the last one I will write. My goal to work out regularly has been interrupted at times but I’ve managed to still work out at least three times each week.

Then there was Tuesday. I got up, threw on my workout clothes, and headed out the door. I was going to put in some miles. Turned on my tunes and started walking down the sidewalk with my ponytail bouncing to the beat. Unfortunately, the music was fading in and out with each step. I reached for my iPhone and the universe decided to take my high spiritedness and level it out…

Sometimes you eat concrete.