Tag Archives: inspiration

Talent Discovered

I originally wrote this short story for a Write In Weekend Challenge for WriteOn Refugees. Recently, Neoleaf Press decided to publish a “Strong Women” anthology for Mom’s Favorite Reads group. I figured this was the opportunity to expand on this particular story. My friend, author Sue A. Hart, had encouraged me to tell readers more about Elle. 


My grandma used to say that ‘everyone is talented, but some people haven’t discovered their talent yet.’  Grandma was a wise woman.  I don’t know if she would be proud of my new-found talent, but I’m getting ahead of myself…

My name is Elle.  My dad was a fan of Elle MacPherson.  What can I say?  It was the 80’s, and my dad was a scumbag who left us years ago.  I was as far from the supermodel type as someone can be.  I’m short, plump and unremarkable.  No one notices me.  This fact helps me as I hone my new talent.

I discovered my new talent quite by mistake.  I was minding my own business walking down the Las Vegas strip towards my hotel.  I was at a conference of greeting card writers.  You know — those little sayings inside of special occasion cards.  In the age of the internet and social media, the greeting card business is looking for innovative opportunities to expand their market.  And that is how I happened to be in the wrong place at the right time.

I was sipping on my diet soda running through some ideas for a “Happy Divorce” card, and I heard the squeal of tires.  Turning, I saw a black sedan jump the curb and continue to skid in my direction.

My little stubby legs didn’t carry me very far.  I stood with my mouth hanging open and my diet soda spilling onto the sidewalk awaiting my imminent death.   I squeezed my eyes shut and said a quick prayer.  But death never came.   I cracked open one lid far enough to see the black sedan inches from me.  Prayer does work!  Hallelujah!

What happened next defies any rational explanations.

Two beefy guys sprang from the car; their guns were drawn.  I sidled back hoping they weren’t interested in a greeting card writer.

“Stop right there, toots!”  One of the behemoths rumbled in my direction.  I felt the cool press of steel against my temple.  Sweet Lord!  I’m gonna die!  In Vegas!

I don’t know what came over me, but I decided right then and there that if I were going to die, I would go out fighting.  I stomped on the guy’s foot, slammed into his solar plexus with my bent elbow, and as he leaned forward gasping, I socked him in the nose with my clenched fist.  Blood gushed out of his nose, and the dumbass dropped his gun right where I could grab it.

I didn’t hesitate.  I put a slug into my attacker’s forehead.  His friend was frozen for a second before he charged me.  That second was all I needed to put gangster #2 in my sights.  I hit him in the chest and the forehead.  They call those “kill shots.”

I wiped my prints off the weapon with my shirt, picked up my cup (DNA, you know) and blended into the growing crowd.  Remember, I said no one ever notices me.  It comes in handy when you moonlight as an assassin.

I’m not in the greeting card business any longer.  I’ve found my talent.

 

What’s Kate Reading?

This month’s book club selection was The Tattooist of Auschwitz. The book is based on the memories of Lale Sokolov’s time as a prisoner in Auschwitz. It is a story filled with the atrocities witnessed first-hand by Lale, and it is also a love story. Lale met his soulmate in the camp and only knew her by the number he’d tattooed on her arm. He sought her out, and their relationship helped them fight for survival even when life seemed unbearable and death seemed to be a way to peace.

It was a fast read and the insider’s look into the concentration camp was fascinating and horrifying to read. The romance was an important thread throughout the book. I would recommend it to those who enjoy memoirs, historical fiction, WWII stories, and romance novels.

Mom’s Favorite Reads – New March Issue of Our Magazine Available!

The March issue of our Amazon #1 magazine!

In this issue…

• An exclusive interview with Terry Deary, bestselling author of the ‘Horrible Histories’

• Our new series of travel features, Off the Beaten Track

• How to start your own small business

• How to learn a new language

• The difference between psychology and

psychiatry, and so much more…

Read FREE here https://issuu.com/momsfavoritereads/docs/vol-2_iss-3_march2019_momsfavoriter?e=0

The Role of Environment in Creativity

I never thought of myself as being particularly fond of winter, but I have noticed as I’ve gotten older I do like many aspects of this frosty season.

I’m not really a snow bunny; although, I waimg_1367 1s born with large ears to my sincere regret. My favorite Lab isn’t really bunny material, either.  Except, I seem to remember watching him hop, hop, hop through the deep snow from time to time.

During the winter, his nose turns from black to pink, a condition aptly called “snow nose”, because he is always sniffing the ground and coming up with a coating of snow on his nose.  He loves winter!

I liked cross-country skiing when I was younger, but recently, I discovered I really enjoyed snowshoeing. It is a great workout and gets me outside. Unfortunately, we have snow but the temps are in the double-digit negatives, so being outdoors for extended 470440dd-b225-4365-a130-d7c8065f719cperiods isn’t necessarily a good thing.

This leaves me no other alternative except to turn to another favorite activity — writing. Winter days are perfect for sitting down with my laptop and pounding the keys as I peel back the layers of my characters and create something worth reading. By my side is a piping hot cup of coffee, tea or cocoa assisting in the efforts to keep me warm.

Most of my writing over the past three years has occurred during the winter and springtime and have published most of my work during the summer or fall time frame. Could that be why the winter season figures prominently in the books?  The second book in the Clare Thibodeaux Series is aptly named Winter’s Icy Caress.

What impact does environment have on a writer’s creativity? Princeton English Professor Diana Fuss explored the habitats where her favorite writers penned their literary works in her study, “The Sense of an Interior:  Four Writers and the Rooms that Shaped Them.”

Professor Fuss researched for eight years and visited the very rooms where the subjects of her study wrote their books. It seems each environment was as different as the subject from Freud’s antiquity-filled Victorian office to the surprise of finding Emily Dickinson’s light and airy cupola with views over the countryside. Dickinson’s writing space was unexpected, because she was widely portrayed as being a helpless agoraphobic, and many envisioned her shut up in a tiny, dark room in her father’s home.

I like to write in my library surrounded by5df8dc15-6c5a-4be2-a825-8dc4c4c9b1ab hundreds of books and mementos from past travels. Three large multipaned windows allow the space to be flooded with the morning light, and I can look out and see the snow swirl down or watch the birds play in the fountain outside.

I know my environment plays a fundamental role in my writing. I’m happier on sunny days, morose on rainy ones, and energized by the cold snap of fall and winter weather. I get my best ideas after periods of physical activity particularly those activities that occur outdoors. My mood and my muse tend to go to the dark side after too many days when I’m stuck inside.

Unfortunately, I’m not a snow bunny, but the winter weather does influence my mood and my writing. I like to think I’m attuned to the changing environment around me whether that involves the change of the seasons or a swing in the mood of a room full of people. I strive to put my observations down on paper using them to create the imaginary worlds my characters inhabit.

What influences your writing, your art, and your moods? Does it matter what desk you write on? Do you like to shut out sensory stimuli like Professor Fuss found during her research on Proust? Or doesn’t it matter to you?

It is an interesting subject and I’d love to hear whether your environment affects your creativity.

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.

Sunset Walks

When your soul is troubled and your mind is a jumble of frenzied thoughts, the best remedy is to take a walk and experience the beauty around you. How many pairs of eyes are looking at the sky at this moment, joining you in this moment of zen-like serenity and awe? Just brush away your tears and square your shoulders, because today is coming to an end and tomorrow is another opportunity to reconcile with loved ones and friends. Another chance lies ahead to create a solution to the issues which cause you concern.

 

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.