Category Archives: Kate Loves…

Book Review — Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

My local book club selected the novel Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford for January’s meeting. I had two days to read it and let me tell you, I couldn’t put it down.

The story is set in Seattle’s Chinatown area, and the story’s protagonist, Henry, is in his mid-fifties at the story’s beginning.  Henry is passing by an old hotel in what was once the Japanese section of their community. It has been recently purchased for restoration, and the new owner has called a press conference after making an unbelievable discovery. After 40 plus years, she has found the stored belongings of Japanese residents of the area who were taken to internment camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The news has Henry thinking back to those days when he was eleven years old and struggling with his place in this wartime world where the slant of your eyes and the color of your skin could make you a target.

The author does an insightful job of weaving his WWII tale of growing up in a strict Chinese family. Henry faces conflicts with his father, children at the “white” school and his former classmates at the Chinese school. His life seems dismal, and then he meets Keiko, a fellow scholarship student at the school.

The only problem is that Keiko is Japanese, and his father hates all the Japanese people because of their invasion of China.  Henry’s father makes him wear a button that states “I am Chinese” on it,  Whether it was for his protection so he wouldn’t be labeled as Japanese or because of his father’s hatred for the Japanese people or not, Henry detested wearing it.

The story painted a raw, detailed portrait of life for immigrants in this country; and especially for Japanese-Americans as they were forced to leave everything behind and were taken hundreds of miles away from their homes until after the war ended.  The conditions they lived under at the internment camps is a terrible stain on the history of the United States.

The story jumps back and forth between the 1980s and the 1940s as Henry tries to mend his relationship with his son as he searches for a treasure from his past.

This is a story of families, of different cultures, of generational conflict, of love, of loss and of prejudice.  I would recommend it to readers who like historical fiction, romance, and stories set in the WWII era.

Mom’s Favorite Reads

I’m happy to be a member of this fast growing group, and wanted to introduce to the organization and one of its founders, Hannah Howe.


Hannah Howe writes psychological and historical mysteries. Her books can be found at over 300 outlets worldwide. Her novels have reached number one numerous times on the Amazon charts and her book, Saving Grace, a Victorian mystery was a bestseller in Australia this summer. With all of this activity, Howe found time to co-found the new magazine — Mom’s Favorite Reads.

What is Mom’s Favorite Reads? It’s a community of book lovers which produces a quarterly book catalogue, featuring over 400 books, and a monthly magazine. The magazines, available as eBooks, in print and audiobooks, have topped the Amazon Contemporary Women charts, the Seasonal charts and the Graphic Novel charts in America, Australia, Britain and Canada. Alongside leading independent authors our magazines also feature contributions from high profile mainstream authors. For example, in the new year the magazine will feature exclusive interviews with a Dr Who screenwriter, an expert on Sherlock Holmes and Terry Deary, author of Horrible Histories, one of the most popular series in the history of publishing.

Also, in 2019, the plan is to develop the community to support literacy amongst adults and children. One of the ways we will do this is by offering schools, societies and literacy projects bundles of free books.

If you are an author, you are welcome to join Mom’s Favorite Reads. If you are a reader, please visit our website and check out our video, book catalogue and magazines https://moms-favorite-reads.com

If you would like us to support a literacy project, please email Hannah Howe at momsfavoritereads@outlook.com and we will explore the possibility of supporting your project.

What I Love About My Fitbit

OMG! Will this woman ever stay on a topic — like writing?  Or living in a small town?

Nope. Sorry to disappoint you, but I am a flitter. I flit from one topic to another in conversation, linking thoughts in my head which no one else sees as being at all related to the discussion at hand. It is also not so out of the norm for me to write about inanimate equipment that I love (remember my love affair with my kitchen faucet or my romance with my commercial-grade floor buffer?) That being said, it does make sense for me to write about my Fitbit, because it has become a part of my daily routine which includes writing tales of mystery, suspense and on occasion — romance.

So, what do I love about my Fitbit?  Well, the first thing is that it wakes me up every morning at 6:30 am with its vibrating buzz on my arm. Without it, I would sleep too long and wake up grumpy because I overslept. It gets my butt up out of the chair while I’m writing, so I can take a stroll outside or around the house to keep my blood flowing.

Some of my best story ideas come to me while I’m exercising. It’s a form of meditation for me, and my Fitbit helps keep me on target each day.  When I find writing to be difficult, the band on my wrist provides me with the solace of knowing  I have accomplished something today, even if it’s only a specific number of steps and active minutes.

It is strange to think how a watch has become such an essential part of my day. In fact, I resisted purchasing one while others were singing praises about theirs. I thought I didn’t really need to count steps because I was already using an application on my phone to track my workouts. Strange to think that something I felt I didn’t need has become such a part of who I am in the past year.

What I love most about this little black band is that it has kept me goal-oriented throughout the year. Exercise helps to keep my mood light so I can smile in all those selfies I post online. LOL! It has helped me drop another size in clothing, and boy, do I love that!

So to celebrate I have ordered some different colored wristbands for my little motivator. I’ve stuck with basic utilitarian black since I got it Christmas of 2017. In 2019, we are going to be styling.

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!

 

 

#One Million Project’s October Blogs

I am honored to be able to assist the One Million Project in uploading blogs to their website. We have a talented group of writers who contribute to the blog and October was a prime example of why so many readers are following it.

The blog offers a unique mix featuring the charities we support with our short story anthologies (Cancer Research UK and EMMAUS Homeless Programs) and blogs concerning writing, the creative process, marketing and a host of other related topics.

If you haven’t read this month’s offerings, I have provided the links below:

“Courage” by Michele Potter

“What Comes Around” by Mark Huntley-James

“Home from Home??” by Christine Larsen

“The Confession” by John Nedwill

and this week’s blog – “Deep Waters” by Melissa Volker

November’s blogs will feature the writings of Raymond St. Elmo, Moinak Das, Nera Hart, and Michele Potter.

What Kate’s Reading…

A Wrinkle In Time is my local book club’s selection for November. I love this book, and I read it, for the first time, when I was in third or fourth grade. It is a “YA” or Young Adult book but I would recommend it as an inspirational read for all ages.

The winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal, this book is a mix of science fiction, fantasy and the drama of coming of age for a young girl who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere but finds the courage to battle for those she loves.

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!