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Archive for the 'Real Life' Category

New Year’s Prep and an Early Happy New Year!!
Friday, December 31st, 2021

I wanted to get the picture and my wish for you to have a Happy New Year in early, because I won’t be online later tonight! I have things to do…

I’m in love with calendars-planners, with noting, if not chronicling, the passage of time. I’m a planner by nature. I create plans for my life and work which include things like deadlines to turn in books and all the incremental steps to get there. I write down holidays and birthdays. I also place little stickers on my monthly calendar to note full moons, new moons, etc. I have certain rituals to celebrate the change of seasons.

I also have certain rituals to celebrate and prepare for the new year.

Beginning in mid-December, I update all my plans for the next year’s work. I start with a mind map to create a loose visual of my goals. Then I go into my year’s goals and come up with the next quarter’s goals, and further refine the plan down to what I want to complete next week. Not that I follow it religiously. I adjust constantly as life and inspiration change.

I have some superstitious rituals I perform on New Year’s Eve. I’ll share them.

  • I place a penny on the ledge above my outside door on New Year’s Eve. Then on New Year’s Day, I’ll take it down and tuck it into my wallet. The penny is for money luck in the new year.
  • Nearing midnight, I open the door to the outside then waft burning sage through the rooms to chase any malignant spirit or feelings out of the house.
  • Lastly, and this can be the most fun, I prepare a hand spell. It’s a way of “speaking” my dreams into reality.

A hand spell works like this…

Trace your hand on a plain piece of paper then cut it out. Inside that hand, write down your wishes for the new year. At midnight, go outside with a lighter and set the paper on fire while you recite this:

“Inside this hand,
Inside this spell,
Dwell my hopes for the new year…”

Then say your hopes out loud. I think of the spell as a way of putting my wishes out into the world. By saying them aloud, my mind hears them and “sets” the expectations because there is power in the words you hear, even if you are the one doing the speaking. (And there’s an actual, physiological reason this works involving your RAS—but that’s something to talk about another day. 🙂 )

So, that’s how I prepare for entering a new year. Just thought I’d share some of my weirdness with you.

Do you have any rituals? Any foods, any activities that are part of your “rituals”?

Mom’s Christmas Gift (Contest)
Sunday, December 19th, 2021

UPDATE: The winner is…Jeanine Lesperance!

In January 2020, I lost my mom. After losing my grandmother and father the two previous years, one after the other, my family and I were drained. We inherited their home, and my daughter and her family moved in—and immediately, we had the job of paring down their belongings to make room for my daughter’s family’s possessions. A lot of things that held precious memories went to other family members. My mother was an artist, and most of her paintings flew out the door to relatives who had favorite pieces. Things that hung on the wall for years were gone. It was sad, but we all wanted a memory, something we’d treasure from a woman who was the center of our family made with her own hands and talent.

I inherited all of my mother’s art supplies. And admittedly, and to my daughter’s dismay, I didn’t pare down the treasure trove she left me. She was more into oil paintings, and I keep those paint tubes thinking someday I’ll make the leap and follow her there, but she also enjoyed watercolor painting.

The other day, when I was looking for a piece of paper to begin a new watercolor painting, I picked up an old pad of mom’s paper, and something fell out from between the pages. It’s a painting in neutral sepia tones of my sister, Elle James, and myself as children playing dress-up. I sat with the painting in my hands, smiling. It was “loose” with fun pencil squiggles to portray the flowers on the fabric. I loved it and immediately went in search of a frame. It’s now on my office wall. All I have to do is look to the left at the wall next to me to see her painting. It’s so nice having something of hers right there beside me. I feel like she’s looking over my shoulder.

First, solve the puzzle to see the painting! Next, tell me whether you have a possession from a loved one that brings you closer to them for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

A. Catherine Noon: Organize!
Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

Do you have lots of supplies, Dear Reader, for things like a craft, (or more than one), a hobby, for kids, or for your home office?

Do you know where everything is?

Loaded question, I know. Some of us might have things totally organized. But I suspect there are a lot more of us who, well, don’t.

It’s that part of us to whom I write.

When I’m not writing, I make stuff. Mostly, the stuff I make involves yarn. Not always, but in the interests of time and staying focused, (i.e. not chasing ALL the squirrels), I’m going to stick with yarn for the purposes of our discussion.

I truly do have a LOT of yarn. I started knitting the year my mother died and found, through knitting, a solace that other things haven’t brought me. But my obsession with yarn didn’t start there. If I look back in my own timeline, I see yarns woven in and out of my tapestry since I was a little girl. My first art, in fact, was embroidery.

I made a unicorn.

What about you? Do you have a particular interest in a type of material? When I was little, I loved stickers – a thing that has matured, I find, with friends who geek out for hours about washi tape and bujo (“bullet journals”).

So here’s where things get interesting. I love to write, I love to make things – particularly with yarn, and my day job is highly organized, (I work in the insurance industry). How are these things related? Well, I could get really philosophical and talk about relationship-driven business and how much I love to teach, and teaching is woven in and out of all three of those pursuits, but that’s not what I’m after today. No, today, I’m all about the organizing.

When I buy yarn, it’s usually in a specific place for a specific reason. I don’t necessarily mean “sweater for husband.” I mean I’m at a writing retreat, say, and we go visit a local yarn shop, (known in our subculture as an “LYS,” or “Local Yarn Shop). I buy a skein or two of high-end fiber, maybe out of the sale bin, (these fibers can be spendy!). I haven’t yet decided what to make, but it will likely be a shawl to commemorate my experience. My “Bryce Canyon Shawl” is one such example – made after a trip to, you guessed it, Bryce Canyon. (If you are a fellow yarnivore, my Ravelry is here.) More often, though, I don’t yet know what it will be, just that I want to connect the yarn to my trip and the people with whom I’m retreating.

Here’s how I do it: I have bins that I numbered. My first bins were actually repurposed cat litter buckets, washed out, and with the labels removed. My more recent ones are plastic shoe boxes from the big box store. (Now I feel compelled to note that some purists feel storing fiber in plastic can degrade it, so it pays to do your research and understand how you are choosing to curate your collection.) I made numbered labels for the bins, and then tracked them in a word table, something like this:


I’ll give myself as much context as I can, without going overboard writing a novel. I stress, the detail matters. “Green yarn for Suzie” is going to be a lot less helpful two years from now than you think it will. And definitely go through your collection from time to time. There are many benefits to this: maybe you and “Suzie” aren’t as close as you once were; maybe you have a new idea for an existing fiber – shop your stash!; maybe you want to use it for a new craft – this happens, as for example when I took up weaving.

There’s no reason you can’t have a well-managed yarn collection, and as my coauthor Rachel Wilder puts it, “it’s hours of pre-paid entertainment.”

Any other ideas? I’d love to hear in the comments.

And stay well, Dear Reader. ~hugs~

A day in my life… And open contests!
Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

Defending EvangelineI finished writing Defending Evangeline yesterday! Woot! It’s longer than my usual story, and it about killed me!

Today will be a busy one. I have to do a final readthrough before I ship DE off to my sister. The story “lives” in her Brotherhood Protectors–Team Trojan world. As soon as I finish that, I’ll be editing one final story for the Cowboys: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology, which releases October 12th! Then it’s straight to another author’s story I have to wrap up the edits for by Friday! Yes, a big busy day!!! Oh, the glamorous life of an author-editor!

Tomorrow, I start another book with a VERY SHORT deadline. Yeah, I’ll be typing until my fingers are little stumps—oh, wait! They already are! But enough whining.

Let me know what stories you’re looking forward to reading, not just mine! And be sure to enter the contests I have listed below. They’re still open!

Open Contests

  1. Story Cubes — Tell me a story (Contest) — Win an Amazon gift card!
  2. Candice LaBria: Falling Hard (Contest & FREE in KU!) — Win a FREE book and get a FREE read!
  3. How big a deal is Halloween? (Contest) — Win an Amazon gift card!
  4. Have you pre-ordered your copy? Defending Evangeline (Contest + Excerpt) — Win an Amazon gift card!
Lighting that fire! (Open Contests!)
Sunday, September 26th, 2021

Sundays are my most unfavorite day—in the morning, anyway. I have to rise, get my usual chores done (feed cats, make a pot of coffee, post my blog), then I have to spend some time updating my weekly work plan because, invariably, I have leftover items from last week to squeeze into this week’s plan.

When I have them all squeezed together, I take another look and decide what has to go! Do I really have to write that short story? scratch What stories HAVE to be HOW far along this week? Okay, I can give myself a little breathing room here, squish a little harder there. It’s always a big juggle. I have two pending deadlines this coming week, and I’ll be writing them down to the wire to finish. But what’s new?

Some writers, like me, need adrenaline to produce. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. The fear of failure, the fear of missing an Amazon upload deadline—those things motivate me big time.

Is there anything in your life that lights a fire under your ass like my Amazon deadlines?

Open Contests

  1. Hello, Autumn! (Puzzle-Contest)This ends soon! Win a FREE book!
  2. Flashback: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology (Contest–3 Winners!) — This ends soon! Win an anthology!
  3. Grace Adams: Elemental Dragons (Contest) — Win a set of dragon magnets!
  4. Your weekend book boyfriend… (Contest + Excerpt) — Win an Amazon gift card!
  5. Ava Cuvay: How Do I Love Anthologies? Let me Count the Ways (Contest–5 Winners!) — Win an anthology!
  6. Day trip, anyone? (Puzzle-Contest) — Win an Amazon gift card!
Good Dad Examples… (Contest)
Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

UPDATE: The winner is…Jolene E. Durante!

Okay, so my SIL gives me tons of good examples of how a dad should act. This photo makes me laugh but is another example of him teaching his kids.

The 17-year-old boy can’t get it through his brain that he should always lock his car no matter how much of a hurry he is in. So, his parents have decided to go on a campaign to help him remember.

He parked his car in the parking lot outside his fast-food workplace. Dad found the car, noticed that not a single door was locked, so he crept inside and began taking pictures—of the change in his console in open view, of his bookbag on the back seat, and this one of him sitting behind the wheel. Now, the SIL is a handsome man, but he doesn’t mind looking goofy. This photo only went out to family members, but the next time they find his car unlocked, it’s going on Snapchat!

That’s my example. What’s yours? Comment below for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

Lazy Days and Open Contests!
Sunday, September 5th, 2021

I’m being lazy today. The 8-year-old is insisting we hit the pool two times today because the water temperature is dropping and we have to get enough swims in to last through the winter! I like her logic. What about you? What big plans do you have today?

Open Contests

  1. Grace Adams: Nearly-Published Author of FIRE’S RISING! (Contest + Excerpt)Last day to enter! Win this author’s upcoming debut novel!
  2. Your weekend book boyfriend… (Contest + Excerpt)This one ends soon! Win an Amazon gift card!
  3. Places I want to see… (Puzzle-Contest) — This one ends soon! Win an Amazon gift card!
  4. Ava Cuvay: Flabby Middles (Giveaway) — Win an Amazon gift card!
  5. Ugh! What I’m getting ready for… (Contest) — Win a FREE download!
  6. Get your FREE read!This offer won’t last long! EVERYONE gets a copy!
  7. Tell me a story… (Puzzle-Contest) — Win an Amazon gift card!