Happy Mother’s Day 2017

Happy Mother’s Day!

If you follow me on Facebook, you saw a post that I did in memory of my mom. She passed away nine years ago from breast cancer. Ever since then, Mother’s Day has been a different day than what Hallmark will portray on TV.

When I think about it, each Mother’s Day since then has been a different day for me. The first couple of years, I participated in the Susan B Koman Race for the Cure 5K walk in memory of her. My mom was a private person and didn’t advertise she had the disease. I see the survivors out there and feel the electricity and comradery of people who are dealing with the disease, either as a survivor or as a family member in the support role. It is very inspiring, but for me it was also a big reminder that it is the reason why she is gone.

And other years, I just go about what a normal Sunday would look like. Errands, projects, relaxing, and getting ready for Monday. But she always comes to mind and I feel a little pang in my heart. It is Mother’s Day and I don’t get to have the day with my mom, the way that others do. A friend of mine posted on Facebook yesterday that she was thinking of the women without mom’s on Mother’s Day. She said she was going to give her mom and extra hug, knowing how lucky she is to have her here with her. That made me smile. If your mom is with you in your life, appreciate it. Things really do change once they are gone. Not just for Mother’s Day, but for many other events that a daughter needs her mom for.

So, what do I do? Every year since she passed away, I buy a single rose. The tradition started when I would pick up a pink rose from a local flower shop after completing Race for the Cure. Then I make a trip to the cemetery (about a mile from my house) and spend some time just sitting there with her. It is a little different Hallmark moment than I imagined it would be. But, it is my Mother’s Day.

My mom loved to garden. The featured picture for this post is not a rose, but lilacs. We had two big bushes in our back yard growing up. In the spring, my mom always had bunches of them in the house. I love that scent. When they start blooming in the spring, it reminds me of my childhood home and my mom. It is one of the many good things about being with her that I hang onto in my heart. And it makes me smile.

Just Days Remaining – Countdown to Book Launch – The Hard Way

6 days to go! Less than a week!

I feel like a kid the week before Christmas. Seeing all of the trees, lights and gift displays. I am so close to my dream coming true. When I write next week’s post, I will be a self- published author and have made one of my childhood dreams come true.

It has been a journey. One of hard work and some tears. I respect any author who goes through the process of writing and publishing a book. I’ve had a lot of help and support along the way, from my family and friends to members of Facebook groups, which makes accomplishing this goal mean even more to me. 

What did I get done this weekend?

For my paperback version, I assigned an ISBN number to it.

I set up my CreateSpace account and started uploading my cover and my manuscript. It was really fun to see it all in the close to final format. My editor did the formatting for me, but said sometimes the upload process can change things a bit. I’m glad that she told me, otherwise I might have become frustrated when it didn’t look just right the first time. We will have some minor tweaking to do to the spacing before we publish next weekend.

What is left to do this week?

After we do some additional formatting to the manuscript, I will upload it again and get it ready for the Saturday launch. Since I have been working on getting the e-book and paperback version ready to go, I may be publishing both versions on Saturday. I was originally planning to publish the e-book now and the paperback in a couple of months. After seeing that the processes are pretty much the same for both, as long as we get the reformatting done, they both may be ready to go live at the same time.

Going to the bank today and setting up a new checking account. This is where I’ll have  the royalties from my book go to and hopefully be able to pay expenses out of someday. I didn’t write this book to make a bunch of money. I wrote it because I have a passion for writing. But, if I can make some money, it would be icing on the cake.

Writing and publishing a book is a process with many steps. I know the process for my next one will be easier having done this one. In next week’s post, I’ll be sharing links with you on how to get a hold of a copy of The Hard Way.

Writing and Walking the Dog

Happy Monday!

I’ve noticed that whenever I take our dog Maddie for a walk, it seems to be a different experience every time, even when we are taking the same route.

Dogs can definitely be creatures of habit. Stopping by the same trees or bushes sniffing for those perfect scents. Or, they can have their attention caught by something new and start leading you down a different path than you normally go, if you let them. Even though Maddie and I have three standard routes we take for walks from our house, sometimes I’ll take a different turn to check out something new. Or, I notice the path is pretty icy and we need to take a different way.

I’ve read that dogs have some of the same life patterns as wolves. They wake up, need to hunt (walk), eat, and then sleep and the cycle starts over again. Through Maddie, I have seen this to be quite true. Add in some of the human elements, like playing with toys, riding in the car, shopping at the pet stores, and hanging out with us, and we have created the life of a domesticated dog.

When I moved out of my parents house and into a place where I could have a dog, I was excited. Not only because I wanted one since I was a little girl, but I would have another reason to get out of the house and enjoy the outside world. I was lucky to find a dog who loves to be outside. It benefits us both. She gets to explore the outside world and I get to see things I wouldn’t normally see and she has sniffed out. And the best part for me, I get share being outside with one of my best friends!

It is nice that we get a couple of these adventures on a daily basis. Our walks give me the quiet time I sometimes need to clear my mind and work through some writer’s block. Do you think Maddie knows when I am having a tough time with my writing and need to make time for a walk? Sometimes I think she does. At other times, when I am in a writing groove and things are going great, and she needs to go outside, I think it is more about her needing some attention from me.

We had temperatures of fifty and sixty this past weekend. For those of us in Minnesota this is definitely not a normal thing for February. It is making me look forward to spring when the weather is nicer for our walks. It is still a ways off, but this weekend helped to perk my winter blahs mood up just a bit.

The Secret Pond – Chapter 1

Chapter 1 – Abigail

Abigail Watson grew up in Superior, Wisconsin. Her Dad drove one of the big oar boats on Lake Superior for many years. One day, while loading the boat in Sioux Ste Marie, he had gotten into a fight with a man over a card game. He came home on his ship in bad shape. He died in the hospital a few days later. Ever since then, it has been Abigail and her Mom, Marie.

Marie decided that Abigail wasn’t going to sit around and watch the world go by, so she started looking for things for her to do. She had her work as a waitress at the Superior Diner for a while and help Mrs. Dennison down the street with household chores and tasks. But all this seemed to do was keep her busy and not help her find success, or make moves to get her out of the house and on her own.

Smart in school she was and she finished all of her high school classes when she turned 16. So, Marie decided to find her a tutoring job. That’s when she decided to visit the Baxters that lived outside of town. They were a rich family and Marie knew they had a young daughter who they would be sending off to boarding school soon. They would be in need of someone to get her ready for it, and Abigail could be the person to do just that. She also knew if Abigail could get in with the Baxters, that they may be able to help her daughter become successful too.

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Abigail understood Sally more than she knew. She was also an only child, but didn’t have all of the things that Sally had. She was going to turn seventeen next month and knew how lonely it was to not have any friends, and hoped that Sally was going to have a chance to get on a different road with her life. Abigail was determined to help her escape the loneliness that she had felt for so long.

The stories that Sally was writing about showed she had a lot of imagination. The adventures that she came up with for her and Lila were the same kinds of things that wanted to do with a friend, but couldn’t find one. It was hard for her to make and keep friends because she didn’t have a lot of time with all of the jobs her Mom was having her do. And now living with the Baxters, she still didn’t have a lot of free time and she was so far out in the country, she would probably never find that friend to do things with.

Abigail looked out the window towards the garden and saw Sally wearing her rain slicker, carrying that light green backpack, walking towards the woods at the back of the property. She always wondered where Sally was sneaking off to. Maybe one day, she would have to follow her and find out.

The Secret Pond

Inspired by the A to Z blogging challenge and the Morning Walk blog entry from June 9th. This is the first installment of The Secret Pond story.

Prologue

Abigail lived in the garage apartment at their country estate just outside of Superior, Wisconsin. She not only helped Sally with her studies, she also helped Sally’s Mom with planning for the events she hosted at the house. From teas, to lunches, and dinner time parties, the house was always a bustle of activity.

The school day was from 8:00 AM to noon Monday through Friday. They covered four subjects, English, History, Science and Math. English was fun and her favorite. Sally got to read stories and write about them. History was fun, she learned a lot about how things happened and there were lots of stories to explain it. Science was o.k. She loved the earth science part and when they went outside to find insects and animals, but didn’t like having to learn about continental plates, weather patterns and theories. Math was the worst. Abigail just started teaching Sally about multiplication and division. Memorizing those math tables was just not working for her.

Her parents could give her any material thing she wanted. But what she really wanted was a friend. Abigail was nice, but she seemed to be there more for her Mom than for her. After their school sessions, Sally would ask Abigail to come and explore the grounds with her. She would always say that she had too much to do. Just like her parents would say when she asked them.

The one thing that Abigail would do is let her tell the stories that she had created in her yellow notebook. Sally was happy to have an audience. At the end of her school session, they would take time to let Sally read what she had written.

She seemed to get the best inspiration for her writing from the secret pond, probably because it got her away from the craziness of her house. The pond was at the back of the property the opposite way from the garden. Sally loved to go there with her Dora the Explorer light green backpack and she would always bring her stuffed bear, Clyde, her little yellow notebook and her Hello Kitty pink pen that wrote with pink ink. She loved to write stories about fairies and gardens. And she also loved the imaginary friend she was creating through her writing.

They would go on adventures together in her stories. One time Sally had seen a movie with her Aunt Judy about a unicorn that lived in the woods and wound up saving the entire forest. Then Sally was inspired to write a story about how her and Lila would meet up with a unicorn. As she shared her adventures with Lila to Abigail, Sally longed to have a friend just like Lila.

One day, Sally decided that she would create a friend for herself. Sally needed a companion since she was an only child in a big house put out in the country, away from town. Her great-grandfather had done well in the shipping business. And the family continued to live in his house and off of the money made by his hard work. So, she changed Lila from a fairy in her stories into a girl, just like Triton did with Ariel in the movie The Little Mermaid.

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She brought her books back to her bedroom after class. Looking out of her bedroom window, she saw the clouds building and the wind picking up. She grabbed her yellow rain slicker to keep warm and dry.

“Make sure you grab your yellow jacket, Lila,” Sally said, “we don’t want to get wet.”

And they headed out together to the pond.

Morning Walk

Every morning between 5:30 AM and 6:30 AM, Maddie (our dog) and I are out for our morning walk.

Our neighborhood is very residential, which is one of the reasons I originally bought the condo here. We border a huge nature reserve and the closest store or mini mall is about a two-mile walk away. So, besides a little highway noise at night, we don’t have the blinking lights of a restaurant or gas station out any of our windows. Almost makes you feel like you are not in a big metropolitan area after all. It does create an issue for Maddie though. She hears every noise that’s made and growls to ward off any potential threat.

Sometimes we just go out in the yard and sometimes we take a stroll around the neighborhood. We have a pond near our house which frequently becomes one of our destinations for our walks. This morning, we took that walk.

The pond is down from the street level. And there’s a smaller part of the pond surrounded by trees. Every time I see it, I think of a secret and quiet place for a kid to go and hide from the stresses and dramas of life. Kid drama can be a lot smaller in the grand scheme of things, but to them, it is everything.

This morning it was a beautiful 60° and the dew was still sitting on the grass from all of the humidity in the air. Both her paws and my sandals got a little bit wet.

I also take note of the outfit I am wearing. I tend to walk the dog in a hoodie and comfy pants in the spring, summer and fall and a big winter coat and long underwear under the comfy pants in the winter time. I think about the tv show, What Not to Wear, and I’m sure that my attire would not be acceptable in their eyes. But I figure, that I’m just walking the dog and the people in the neighborhood have seen me dressed like this walking my dog for almost twelve years now. And no one has said a word. At least not directly to me. Maybe they are sitting at their breakfast tables looking out and saying, “there’s that lady out walking her dog again. She looks like she just rolled out of bed.”

There have been many animal sightings around our pond. A few years ago there was a family of foxes that were living there. Maddie and I walked by and I saw three little triangle-shaped heads pop up near a fallen tree. We have also seen quite a few deer, raccoon and coyote roaming the pond and the neighborhood.

My neighbor has pictures of an otter that was roaming around on the pond when it was frozen this last winter. I know that some of these creatures are coming over from the nature preserve, so it tells me how quiet and safe our neighborhood must feel for them to be here.

I thank God that we have Maddie in our lives. She makes the morning walk a requirement. So that everyday, is not only a new day, but also a new experience together, watching the people and animals wake up in our neighborhood.