Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Bragging: Or At Least Talking Myself Up...A Bit - - - - by Delsora Lowe

This month’s theme is bragging, ah, er, I mean, telling all of you the three things that I think are my strengths or things I do well.

That’s a hard one. Because, even though there are certain things I love to do, I never feel as though I am great at any of them. But I have to admit, maybe I am good at some of them. And at the same time, always trying to improve.

The obvious is I am good, getting better, but not a star, at writing. I have practiced a lot since I was a kid. My freshman year at a new high school, my teacher submitted a story I had written from a child’s point-of-view, about his little red wagon. It ended up in the school’s quarterly literary magazine. I wanted to run and hide, because I thought people would think I had a childish mind. I survived the ordeal—which wasn’t the ordeal my imagination thought it would be.

My three grandsons, who are all in high school now!

My first-year college English professor “kicked me out” of the required grammar class, because I already knew “that stuff.” As an aside, for the few weeks I was in his class, he also drilled in the use of the Oxford comma. When I went back to finish my degree fifteen years later after marriage and kids, my professors in various disciplines, asked me where I learned to write. So, I offer many thanks to my high school English classes, that at the time were pure torture. However, I did learn to write.

Here are two other areas that I think I am able to achieve in.

First: Cooking—and by that, I mean, I am able to make anything out of nothing. To me food is not only nourishment, but inspiration. I love recipes, but I never follow them. Oh, I try. But then I say to myself…hmmm, I bet if I add this or that, this recipe will be better. Or I look in the fridge and groan, because I haven’t been to the grocery store lately, and I make up a recipe out of anything that is still useable in the fridge. Or I scan the cupboards. I mix and match and add a tidbit of this and a spoonful of that, and a shake of something else.


I have my maternal grandmother and both my parents to thank for showing me how it's done in the kitchen. Use up leftovers in inventive ways. Never let anything go to waste. And always have enough wine - whoops - channeling my dad. Here's to you, Dad, as I hold up my stemmed glass toward the heavens.

I do the same thing in the grocery store since my list says bread, meat, fish, veggies, salad stuff, soup, etc. I have to feel “in the mood.” Today the butternut squash calls to me. Next time it might be broccoli or turnip or beets or avocado. And then as I wander the isles, or survey the meat and fish displays, or check out cheeses I have never tried, I devise my menus for the next few days. Okay, so I may be one of the few who love to grocery shop, and I especially love to wander the farmers market, where each week the offerings are different, depending on harvest times. My brain snaps into creative cooking mode.

Living in Maine – lobster, a favorite ingredient in a meal

The second other thing I am good at is TALKING. I can hear the groan from the peanut gallery of those who know me well. Yup—she talks ALL THE TIME. I love to talk with friends. But I also chat up the store clerk or cashier, anyone in line with me, or anyone searching for the same item in a store. But that love of chat came in handy in my chosen, and not-so-chosen, careers and jobs in hospitality, retail, event planning, government, non-profits, etc. In those jobs it’s a requirement to speak to strangers.

And out of that type of work, I also became good at being a connector of people.

            One example is that during 9/11, I worked in a school in Washington, D.C. It was also my alma mater. We had alumni all over the country, as well as living overseas. I received many calls from people worried about their former classmates in D.C. and N.Y.C. I also heard from many in those affected areas reporting in. I became a conduit between friends.

Part of my job was organizing gatherings for alumni all over the country. That included finding venues and caterers, plus programming for each event. That might include bringing along a beloved professor, or finding an alum in the area who had an interesting career they could speak about, or who had authored a book. I also used to connect alumni from different generations who had things in common—like similar jobs, lived in the same area, or had the same interests. Or those alumni who were looking for jobs and those who might be mentors in that search.

Working in non-profits and alumni relations, connecting like-minded people to resources, job opportunities, or other people who like the same things or are in similar careers, becomes a given. And now, with a network of writers all over the country, it is fun to connect other writers to resources, or authors who write in similar genres, or have areas of expertise needed by that author. And…luckily, they do the same for me. Writing romance is one of my joys in life. And with that goes staying in touch with my good friends, and connecting with authors who may have advice to help me on my journey.

It’s all about the networking, no matter whether it is a job search, connecting with people who have similar interests, jobs, or hobbies, or a simple helpful gesture guiding a lost shopper in the direction of the aisle filled with ice cream. So put on that bright smile and connect. You might be surprised at how much fun it is, even when you know you may never cross paths with that person again.



What is something you think you do well? 
And why do you believe you do this item well?

 


Check out Starlight Grille

Welcome to Serenity Harbor, Maine, a small coastal town where the Starlight Grille is a favorite meeting place. This sweet, with a touch of heat, 3-book collection includes a new bonus short story and a Starlight Grille recipe.

 Amazon(also in print)

Booksto Read

 

~ cottages to cabins ~ keep the home fires burning ~

Delsora Lowe writes small town and contemporary western sweet and spicy romances, from the mountains of Colorado to the shores of New England.

Author of the Starlight Grille series, Serenity Harbor Maine novellas, and the Cowboys of Mineral Springs series, Lowe has also authored short romances for Woman’s World magazine (most recently, an Easter romance in the April 1, 2024 edition.) The Love Left Behind is a Hartford Estates, R.I. wedding novella with Book 2 on the way. A Christmas novel (The Inn at Gooseneck Lane) and novella (Holiday Hitchhiker – the youngest brother of the Mineral Spring’s ranching family) were the most recent releases. Look for book 3 of the cowboy’s series, as well as book 2 of the Hartford Estates series, coming soon.

 Social Media Links:

Author website: www.delsoralowe.com
Facebook Author page:
https://www.facebook.com/delsoraloweauthor/community/
Amazon Author page:
https://www.amazon.com/Delsora-Lowe/e/B01M61OM39/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Books2Read Author page:
https://www.books2read.com/ap/8GWm98/Delsora-Lowe
BookBub Author Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/delsora-lowe-93c6987f-129d-483d-9f5a-abe603876518
Goodreads Author Page:
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16045986.Delsora_Lowe
Instagram: #delsoralowe / https://www.instagram.com/delsoralowe/

Photo Credits:
Smile:
Smile Clipart Images | Free Download | PNG Transparent Background - Pngtree

Friday, April 12, 2024

Eggheads, what's not to like?

 by Diana McCollum

My husband and I took a trip to the California coast to the small town of Fort Bragg. Before we left for our trip we had several people give us recomendations on places to visit and restaurants to eat at.



The coast had some of the most spectacular views. We watched a photographer taking pictures of a bridal couple with stunning views behind the couple. Unfortunately I didn't think to take any of the bride and groom, besides they were pretty far away from us.




One of our favorite breakfast places on our trip was Eggheads.

The theme was all Wizzard of Oz from the menu to the decor.



    







There was a ton of collectibles, posters and pictures from the movie. And the food? Absolutely wonderful. They only serve breakfast and lunch. It's a very small intimate cafe.

I wish I would have taken a picture of the menu. On the menu you could order things like Wicked porched eggs, Yellow Brick Road pancakes,  or Emerald City omelet.

We ate there three mornings! The final morning we split the special which was a Dungeness crab omelet with a special cream sauce for over it. So good!!

I rode the Skunk Train up into the Redwoods. 



We went to the sea glass museum. Wow, all the different colors and the displays were very unique. One room was all glass with urainium in it and the pieces glowed under black light.



We both loved the 46 acre botanical gardens. My husband can't walk far so we rented one of the gardens electric carts, like you see in the grocery stores.

Here are some pictures from the Mendocino Botanical Gardens. 


The cactus in the background are over 8 ft tall!








Have you gone on any trips this spring? 

Is your garden sprouting flowers?


(all pictures were taken by Diana McCollum)

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Three Things I Do Well by Lynn Lovegreen

 It’s tough for me to come up with things I do well, because it sounds like bragging. That’s something women often have trouble with. But since it’s this month’s topic for RTG, I have permission, right? 😉

 

One thing I do well is yoga. I’ve practiced yoga for over ten years, the last four totally online. It’s kind of nice to “go” to class without having to leave the house, and the virtual class gives me the feel of practicing with others. While I’m not the type to do pretzel-ly moves, yoga helps me de-stress and I’m pretty good at stretching and balance poses.


Woman doing yoga balance pose, image via Stencil


Another thing I do well is read. Yeah, most of us can read, but I can read faster than most people. It started with tons of reading in college, then in my career as an English teacher. Now, I can easily buzz through a novel in a couple evenings—but if it’s a really good one, I’ll slow down to savor it. Just because I can, it doesn’t mean I have to speed read. 

 

The last thing I do well is probably what I’m most proud of: I’m a good listener. I have a calm demeanor and the kind of face that people trust. That leads to all kinds of folks sharing things with me on airplanes, at bus stops, and in brief encounters here and there. I like connecting with people and hearing their stories. To me, it’s an honor for them to confide in me. (And before you ask, yes, sometimes small bits lead to writing ideas, but I’d never steal a whole story from someone. It’s not mine to tell.)

 

What do you do well? Want to share with us?

 

Lynn Lovegreen has lived in Alaska for most of her life. After twenty years in the classroom, she retired to make more time for writing. She enjoys her friends and family, reading, and volunteering for her local library. Her young adult historical romance is set in Alaska, a great place for drama, romance, and independent characters. See her website at www.lynnlovegreen.com

 


Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Journey to totality during the Great American Eclipse 2024

  Let me begin with an apology. This post should ha been up las night at midnight. I happen to have been incommunicado with the real world since last Thursday. I had no idea how cut off and off the grid I would be until today. Blame it on Monday’s eclipse.

I experienced my first total eclipse of the sun on a freezing February in Canada, and it was such an awe inspiring few minutes that I became an eclipse chaser. As I told one of the other people in the woods with me, almost all of my vacations in the last fifty years have been to experience another eclipse … with a little sight-seeing on the side. Inspiring. I’ve done Russia (back when it was still the Soviet Union), the Black Sea, Iran, South America, and I’m still kicking myself that I decided to skip the eclipse trip to Antarctica because I was afraid of a little cold. I will never find another excuse to go there.
 
I saw totality at the first Great American Eclipse a few years ago. Naturally, I felt I had to see this one too. I reside in the Chicago area, and would have seen a partial eclipse had I stayed home. Two problems with that. Eclipse chasers know that the best, most important and truly awe inspiring portion of an eclipse occurs between second and third contact. 

First contact is the moment the moon seems to touch the edge of the sun, like a butterfly kiss between parent and child. Second contact is the moment the moon completely covers the sun. That’s when the eclipse glasses can come off, and you can stare directly into the glow of the sun’s corona surrounding absolutely nothing - a giant hole where your brain knows something should be,but it’s missing. The darker the area is the better, the more likely that stars will come out, and planets become visible in the day. It only lasts a few minutes, then comes third contact, when the moon, which has been constantly moving, moves far enough so that light from the sun’s disk again lights the sky, and glasses need to go back on again. Finally, fourth contact, when the sun and moon have finished their heavenly dance, at least until next time.
 
I live in the Chicago area, where there would not be a second of third contact, no moment of totality. I’ve been spoiled, I need the full monty, totality and as close to darkness as our world's attempts at perpetual lighting make possible. Staying close to Chicago meant only seeing a 92% eclipse in the "bright lights, bid city" world. Nice, but not the big show. Its a little like attending a football game and seeing the players introduced, but having to depart just before kickoff. You never even get to take your glasses off, not if you are smart, anyway. Plus, the city lights are always on, dimming out that sky show. 

In 1917, I took a chartered bus tour to the southern states to enjoy that Great American Eclipse while sipping beer at an isolated eatery reserved by the tour company for the occasion. Even that was too bright, they kept trying to sell us things. This year I headed for a group going into the woods at the south end of Illinois. It was isolated, dark, and without internet connectivity.

I didn’t realize how little interaction I would have with the outside world when I reached the woods on Friday. My biggest concern was the weather. Saturday and Sunday were both overcast and raining. Actually,so was Tuesday. But Monday in the woods turned out to be a day made for eclipse viewing. I preserved the perfect record I never dared mention out loud for fear of jinxing things - I have never, ever had bad weather keep me from viewing an eclipse, not even once.

Second contact arrived, and I whipped off my glasses in time to ses a totally gorgeous diamond ring to kick off totality. I watched two bright red prominences extending out of the sun’s corona. I saw a planet close to the sun, Venus, I think. And I almost got run down by a boy who insisted on riding his bicycle around instead of staring up. At least, that’s what I thought.

Several families had brought children camping with them. Some stayed with their parents during the sky show. Two were on swings in a playground area. Then there was speed racer on his bike, his only concern seemed to be the adults standing in his path, too mesmerize to move when he rang his bell. During totality, the playground kids stopped swinging. I heard young voices from the swings saying “That’s amazing.” Meanwhile, speed racer kept going. There was a second diamond ring at third contact, the first time I’ve seen two rings on the same eclipse. As we adults sadly put our eye protection back, two kids started swinging again.

I thought that was the end, until the bicycle rider rode over to the swinging kids and stopped. I stood close enough to the group to hear him say, “That was great.”
 
I could have sworn he was too busy pedaling in the dark to have looked up even once. Now he calmly revealed to the other kids that has favorite activity did not prevent him from experiencing the same sense of awe everyone else sitting on the grass, or in lawn chairs, or simply standing motionless in the path like me, blocking his way. I will never again think someone didn’t care about something just because they didn’t react the way I assumed they would.

I took an extra day in the woods because it was isolated and warm and I wasn’t ready to hit the traffic for the long drive back north. As I said, Tuesday the weather was awful again. Sorry I got this out late, but it was really nice to have no idea what was happening in the world, to just care about nature. Now I’m back, and there is wifi and power. But I think I’ll take my time before catching up with the world.

I think I’ll do another one of these escapes from being connected to everything, even if there is no eclipse to provide justification.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Three Talents by Eleri Grace

 Our theme this month asks us to write about three things we do well -- I decided to not confine that to three things I do well in my writing life or as an author.  Although I'm sure there are many other things I also handle pretty well on some level, I opted to highlight three of my favorite talents.  

I am a life-long genealogist, and I particularly enjoy the analytical elements of genealogy. I often find myself shaking my head at online family trees or entries where someone has clearly not looked at the big picture OR the small details. The other day, I noticed that a family tree connection that's been shared and perpetuated all over the internet quite clearly is impossible -- basic arithmetic around known facts makes the data wildly inaccurate on its face.  I pride myself on attention to detail -- even if that means I must remain right where I am on that family line until I can find the proven links to earlier generations (resisting the temptation to add 10 more generations in one fell swoop!).  It should be said that same painstaking attention to detail is both a blessing and a curse in my historical research -- you can be sure I left no stones unturned in trying to "get it right" but . . . I might have spent weeks dithering around over one tiny and probably insignificant detail.  

Spreadsheets are my jam. Despite being incredibly math-challenged, I am the queen of spreadsheets, to-do lists, and any other data compilation. I actually wrote fastest and with fewer distractions when I created a spreadsheet-based chapter-by-chapter outline in Excel (with columns for typical romance novel beats, the perspective character's goals, motivations and conflicts in that chapter, etc). I suppose it's a mark of a certain level of geekiness to own up to enjoying data and spreadsheets. And I suspect it's an odd talent for a creative person to highlight. 

What else do I do well? Well, recently, I've been in a decluttering and organization frame of mind. I went on a spring cleaning frenzy -- and the results are fostering a stronger sense of calm and well-being. My hope is that improving my space and my mood might also send me back to my work-in-progress, which has been languishing for far too long!  I started with my very cluttered scrapbooking space and supplies and moved on to my desk.  Up next: closets!



I look forward to reading about what all of you chose to spotlight in this month's blogs!  


Monday, April 8, 2024

One! Two! Three! Go!

 By: Marcia King-Gamble


www.lovemarcia.com

What are the top three things you do well?

That question certainly provided food for thought and challenged me to really think.  I have never thought of myself as doing anything exceptionally well. I just do what I have to do. Several friends have said that I pile quite a bit into a twenty-four hour day. That I would agree.

What does that mean? It means I plan my day to get the max out of it. Am I a good multi-tasker? Yes, a bit of a perfectionist, well that too.

Each day I  get up at about 6:30 am. Coffee goes on while I shower. The dog is let out. While he’s doing his business I hose down the back deck or clean the pool. Sometimes I do both. The cat gets fed and then time permitting, I pay bills and write. Yes, I do both at times simultaneously. Next, I pack breakfast and lunch and head off to the day job. Usually, I am there an hour early. On my way, I read text (yes I know no texting and driving.)  At times I even respond.

My days at the day job are filled with meetings and counseling sessions. They’re filled with company gossip and putting out fires. At lunch, which I take late, I write. At the end of a nine-hour day, I  go grocery shopping, head for the gym, or get a pedicure. Then it’s let the dog out again, or walk him, (down to one now). I prepare dinner, and then go back to writing. I keep one eye on the TV if it is on.

Bedtime is midnight. Whatever I am reading is on the nightstand. I fall asleep four pages in. Then I get up next morning and it begins again.

Another thing I do well is proofreading, I can spot a misspelled word a mile away. I am good at crunching a thought that rambles on for a  page or two and turning it into succinct sentences. This ability has served me well in the editorial process. When I submit a completed manuscript, it’s pretty clean and leaves little for the editor to do (except correct punctuations.) I am horrible at that.



The third thing I do well is travel. That I have down to a science. Maybe it has to do with me once being a flight attendant, and being so junior, I was always on standby, bag packed, knowing I had to get to the airport in ninety minutes. I became an expert in doing a quick change in the back of a cab. Back then we wore pantyhose which often made dressing difficult.

Back to being good at traveling. I’m one who never complains about delays. They’re to be expected. I plan accordingly and leave enough time for unexpected situations. I do long flights well, I come armed with books, magazines, headsets, snacks, and what is needed to pass the time and stay comfortable.

I am a firm believer in staying at hotels that are aesthetically pleasing (not necessarily expensive). If I wouldn’t want to spend my day in that hotel, then it’s not worth booking into.    When I travel with a companion, I give each of us space to do what we want to do.

My typical day goes like this. Up early, off to the gym. Next is breakfast. If I'm cruising, I find a hideaway onboard conducive to writing. If I’m exploring a new city, I seldom do an organized tour.   I also avoid tourist traps like they’re the plague. I enjoy being on my own, meeting local people. I tend to drift off to where the locals go.

Dinner is my connecting time. If my partner and I decide we would rather sample different cuisines, we dine separately and meet up later. Not being joined by the hip makes for less arguments and a fulfilling  trip.

Oh, and there’s a fourth thing I do well.  I’m a great believer in having faith. Without faith we have nothing.

As George Michael says. “Gotta have Faith.”   Without it life can be pretty miserable.

HotShot Doc - Kindle Vella https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/episode/B0CB1PMHW9 This is my Kindle Vella story.





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