Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Pets and Friends with Pets

A little something different today.

As I'm writing the next Epitaph installment, both my main characters are on-the-go, travel a lot, busy kind of people. Workaholic, even, to a certain extent. That doesn't mean they both wouldn't LIKE a pet. One of the things I considered for them on a first date was a trip to a shelter to socialize some animals, play with them, scratch that itch. One of the characters (I won't tell you which one) opted out for the reason they weren't sure they could leave without one, and that wouldn't be fair to the animal.

As many of you may (or may not) know, I share living space with a cat. She's been with us a very long time now, which amazes me considering she was a couple weeks shy of being a feral cat. She was found in a dumpster and *someone* decided I needed to keep her. I had another cat at the time, and was trying to wean myself, but I am also a believer in having two pets when one works so they can entertain each other while you're not there to love and cuddle them. Her "older brother" died a few years back, and as a senior citizen, she's happy not to have to contend with anyone else right now.

Once upon a time, I also had a dog (one of the rule of "two"). A beautiful Sheltie. I'm not a dog person, per se, but I loved her for the time I had her, which was longer than her cat sibling lived.

Animals are funny. Some dogs are friendly, some - not so much. Some cats are social, others not so much. I have a bad habit of scooping up a cat when I'm visiting a friend's house, and the cat doesn't always appreciate that. But I love cats (I saw in a whiny voice). One of my friends' jaw dropped when I picked up "Mac the Cat" and he didn't put up a fuss. He was probably just as taken off guard as she was, and he let me cuddle and pet him before I realized I wasn't expected to do that and set him down gently with a sheepish smile. But me and cats? well, we understand each other. Dogs on the other hand? I always ask before I try to pet a dog. And asking "is he/she friendly?" isn't always the right question. Any animal on any given day might not be! So I ask, "Can I pet him/her?" and then I allow the dog to smell my hand first so it can "accept" me.

I could tell you dozens of stories about my two cats, about how the one would lay in the middle of the floor and wouldn't care if you petted him, and the other was "invisible." I could tell you stories about the games they played with each other, but then you'd be spending all day reading this post!

{clearing my voice, adopting announcer voice} Tune in next week for the escapades of K.C. and Poo-Pooh.

Do you have pets?

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Running Just to Catch Myself

So as I was contemplating what to share with you all this week, I had an idea about recycling an old post. I may have mentioned this is the busy time of year for me, a time when I struggle to maintain my sanity. As I was scrolling back in my posts to find that brilliant idea I wanted to expound on, I realized I posted the same thing twice. Granted, it was two months apart, but with all the other things going on in my life right now, I just plain forgot. What other things, you ask? A couple of deaths in the family, making an offer on a house. You know. Nothing stressful.

Anybody else have those moments when you lose track of what you're doing because you're juggling too many balls? And then one hits you *smack* in the head? How come nobody pointed this error out to me? 😨💬

These are the moments where you stop, take a deep breath, and regroup. For me, these are the times I usually retreat into my writing cave to decompress, but since these are all things that require me to be "present in the moment," I can only dart to that cave for small spaces of time.

I'm thankful to have family support to help me through the rough spots. A walk with The Big Guy. Spending time with my daughter and her little bundles of love. A visit from One Young Son. Support from my sisters. I am well and truly blessed.

And I am getting *some* time in that writing cave. The next book in the Epitaph series is coming along - maybe slower than I'd like, but I'm managing to get words on the page. While I'm getting my act together, you can buy that first book in the Epitaph series for less than a cup of coffee this month. EPITAPH is on sale through March. Start at the beginning (although I should mention these books are all stand-alone) and if you find you like the families, each of the siblings has their own story.

Thanks for your support.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

My favorite reads of 2017

I'm a bit late with this - my apologies, but 2018 has gotten off to a rocky start!

I've gone back to take a look at my favorite books of 2017 and thought I'd share them with you. While I enjoyed many other books, these are the ones I gave five stars too, the ones I would read a second (or multiple) time(s). If you'd like to read my reviews, you can pop over to Goodreads at this link and it should take you to my "reviewed books" page.

Perfectly Reasonable - Linda O'Connor
The Cinderella Deal - Jennifer Crusie 
The Girl with the Make Believe Husband - Julia Quinn
Perfectly Honest - Linda O'Connor
The Duchess Deal - Tessa Dare
Until There Was You - Kristan Higgins
Heather and Velvet - Teresa Medeiros
First Star I See Tonight - Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper - J.L. Bryan
The Governess Affair - Courtney Milan
Animal Magnetism - Jill Shalvis
Perfectly Planned - Linda O'Connor
Ravished - Amanda Quick
Just the Way You Are - Christina Dodd


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Guns don't belong in schools

Getting on my soapbox today, because sometimes things just need to be said.

I don't know about you, but the headlines these days are grim. Gruesome. "These are the end times!" Yes, I'm filled with indignation over many of these stories about the liars and the cheaters and the killers. It's enough to cause normally happy people to fall into severe depression. I'm not one to stick my head in the sand, but sometimes we have to focus on the positives.

In a world where baby boomers are accusing millennials of being spoiled and pampered, in a world where I read books that actually attempt to define and stereotype entire generations (non-fiction books), I am so proud of the students in Florida who are willing to take a stand for their rights, for their very lives. They are the bright spot in the ugliness. These people (they are no longer children) are our future.

In a world of absolutes, where when a suggestion to moderate becomes a perceived threat, my wish is that people would stop responding emotionally to what they "think" they'll lose and listen to the actual rhetoric involved in the discussion.

When I wrote COOKIE THERAPY, I included the aftermath of a school shooting, thinking this couldn't possibly be a recurring theme, and yet here we are again, looking at another one. Fiction often takes stories "ripped from the headlines" with the goal of finding the solution to the problem, the happily ever after. The reality is that these scenarios leave lasting imprints on the people involved, even after they attempt to resume their "no longer normal" life.

People are entrenching themselves on both sides of this debate, refusing to see the other side. I've always prided myself on looking at both sides of an issue, even when I stand firmly on one side. I have friends who have guns, friends who shoot for recreation (trap shooting) or to hunt. There was a time when someone I knew was threatened with a gun and wanted to buy one for protection. I am NOT a gun advocate, and I pointed out the flaws in that theory. Someone with no experience with guns, no training, is called a target, and waving a gun invites another gun wielder to kill you.

Arming our teachers to protect our students is not the answer. In the Police Academy training I've been to, they point out that even police officers miss their targets the large majority of the time. Part of that comes from hesitation to kill, or from trying to de-escalate a situation rather than assume the worst, or just plain not having time to draw first. Add into that the scrutiny our police have been under recently when they killed someone they perceived as a threat and are now being accused of murder. The training I went to indicated if you see a gun, your life is in danger. They showed us several scenarios where policemen have tried to negotiate, and were shot for their efforts to de-escalate. Arm a teacher? Their shooting percentage is likely to be just as bad or worse than a policeman. Now. When the police storm the classroom, what are they going to see? Someone with a gun. They don't know who the teachers are and who the bad guys are.

My opinion, and it is your right to disagree with me, is that there is no place for assault weapons in society. None. I'm not saying to disarm hunters or recreational shooters. I'm saying disarm terrorists, because why else would ANYONE have an assault weapon? If I'm wrong, I'd love to hear what rationale there is for a gun like that in today's society.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Allow me a day for reflection. Back to our regularly scheduled blog posts next week...

Weep Not For Me

By an Unknown Author
Weep not for me though I have gone
Into that gentle night
Grieve if you will, but not for long
Upon my soul’s sweet fight
I am at peace, my soul’s at rest
There is no need for tears
For with your love I was so blessed
For all those many years
There is no pain, I suffer not
The fear is now all gone
Put now these things out of your thoughts
In your memory I live on
Remember not my fight for breath
Remember not the strife
Please do not dwell upon my death
But celebrate my life

As We Look Back

By an Unknown Author
As we look back over time
We find ourselves wondering …..
Did we remember to thank you enough
For all you have done for us?
For all the times you were by our sides
To help and support us …..
To celebrate our successes
To understand our problems
And accept our defeats?
Or for teaching us by your example,
The value of hard work, good judgment,
Courage and integrity?
We wonder if we ever thanked you
For the sacrifices you made.
To let us have the very best?
And for the simple things
Like laughter, smiles and times we shared?
If we have forgotten to show our
Gratitude enough for all the things you did,
We’re thanking you now.
And we are hoping you knew all along,
How much you meant to us.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"Maybe Broccoli Doesn't Like You Either"

There's a factory near where I live that posts the funniest things on their road sign. It's been there for years and years and years, and when I passed it the other day, it made me laugh. "Maybe broccoli doesn't like you either." I wouldn't say I don't like broccoli, but in spite of my mother always making us eat our veggies as kids, I've never enjoyed them.

This year, I'm making a concerted effort to eat better. If you've ever read my bio, you know that I am a card-carrying cookieholic. My goal is to be a recovering cookieholic.

There comes a time in everyone's life where we stop and take a good, long, hard look in the mirror. I've done it before, but then I get caught up in the "but I'm in good health, overall." That might be more accurately described as "not in bad health" or "non-sick."

I look at my dad, who is 90+, who has been obese most of my adult life, proving everyone wrong who says obesity will kill you at a young age, but he depends on pharma to stay alive, and right now, he's losing that battle. That's not what I want for my life.

My dad has always said he wants to die living, not live dying. For him, that meant having his cocktails or eating the things he enjoys. He may have lived to be 90+, but he isn't the example of health I want for my life should I live to that age.

My eating habits have not been healthy, and so I've decided its time for me to make that change, before I move from "non-sick" into poor health. I'm not in favor of putting my life in the hands of big pharma.

I've been looking into some new and healthier choice recipes, and I recently made one that was really pretty tasty, in spite of being healthy for me. So I thought I'd share. (And guess what? It has broccoli in it.)

Chicken and Broccoli

1 lb raw, boneless, skinless chicken breast 
6 cups fresh broccoli, trimmed and chopped
¼ cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced

Remove visible fat from chicken breast. Cut chicken into thin strips. In a bowl, coat chicken with soy sauce; set aside. (For increased flavor, marinate for 30 minutes.) Sauté broccoli, garlic, and 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat until lightly browned. Remove from skillet and cover to keep warm. Add 1 tsp olive oil to skillet. Stir-fry chicken 4-7 minutes or until cooked through. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, then stir in mustard until blended. Return sautéed broccoli to skillet. Mix until heated through, stirring occasionally. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Practice makes perfect

Whenever people ask for writing tips, or when I go looking for writing tips, there are a million different views on how things should be done. In the end, each process for each author is different, with some unifying themes. For me, the single best tip I can offer or that I've learned is to keep at it. Write something every day.

Yes, that's me....
Much like a pianist needs to practice every day to play well, or a golfer needs to practice that short shot onto the green 65 times to get it right, or you take 100 forehand shots to learn placement, writing is no different. We learn by repetition. We get better by training every day. One of my friends has a 1,000 words a day goal. If she does more, that's a bonus, but it gives her a focus to sit down and get the story written. It also keeps her writing crisp and sharp.

"But Karla, I work a full-time job. I don't always have time to write every day." Guess what? I have a full-time job, and there are times during the year where that job overtakes my home life (heading into that time-frame now). For three months of the year, finding the time to write is extremely challenging. I don't give myself a minimum word count because I tend to be a binge writer. When I sit down, the words spew out. Or not. There are days I struggle to get even a couple of hundred words out, but I try very hard  to write "something" every day. Sometimes that something is my blog post. Sometimes that something is a critique for a fellow author. All of these things help to keep my skills sharp because....

When I don't write, old, bad habits creep back in. Poor sentence structure. Difficulty "finding the right word." Crutch words. As a Midwesterner, I have a tendency to end sentences with a preposition (because that's the way we speak, doncha know). And yes, there are periods of time where I just can't write due to "life" getting in the way. This has been a very challenging January for me, where life has stepped in to rob me of that time I dedicate to my pursuits. Life happens. And I'm going into busy season at the day job. Nevertheless, writing is an important component, and while I haven't had as many writing days as I'm accustomed to, I am still plugging ahead on my next novel.

As with anything else that we want to do well, the longer we go between practice sessions, the more ground we have to make up to get back to even. Yes, it can be done, but when I know I have the skill and ability to do something well, it's always frustrating to me to have to relearn what I've forgotten or lost.

So number one rule of writing - practice makes perfect. Only by repetition do we learn to correct our mistakes and apply the lessons that make our writing better, and it's good practice to write every day.

The new release is on sale now!
Pick up your copy today.
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