Monday, June 22, 2015

Packing My Bags, Travelogue

Packing my bags for a vacation.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.com by Victor Habbick
Hi Friend,

Thanks for stopping in.

It's that time of year again. Vacation Time!! Woot woot.

Gardener Ted and I are off for a summer trip. When we  return I'll share pictures and stories about our adventure on the Travelogue. The destination is a secret. 


Travel the World from your Desk Chair
Travelogue Thursdays this Summer
on the J.Q. Rose blog
Are you planning a trip or a get-away this year? Stay-cations are popular too--camping out in your own backyard. 

I'll be back online by July 4th. Can't miss the big Independence Day Celebration!

Wherever you go (or not) have a fabulous Summer!

Janet

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Happy Father's Day: Remembering My Dad

Happy Father's Day
Image courtesy of Freedigitalimages.net by 
Sira Anamwong

Wishing all you Dads and those who have stepped into the role of dads, a Happy Father's Day!


Join us for the Travelogues this summer on the J.Q. Rose blog

This summer the J.Q. Rose blog is featuring a Travelogue on Thursdays, basically because I love to travel. So I thought I'd take you on trips we can enjoy from our desk chairs. Not quite the same thing as the actual tour, but at least we can get a taste of a place through the author's eyes. Guest authors and I will host a travelogue this summer. (We've had two guest authors already--Heather Fraser Brainerd's Old San Juan and Rachael Kosinski's Peru) Perhaps the trips may nudge you into actually visiting the place in the future.

Today I am suspending the travelogue in order to pay tribute to dads and especially to my dad.

My Dad
Copyright J.Q. Rose
Remembering My Dad by J.Q. Rose

I believe I got the traveling bug from my dad. He loved to go to new places and introduce us kids to a wider world than what we experienced every day in our small town in the center of Illinois.

Taking a road trip when I was a kid was very different from these days. My two brothers and I would pack in the back seat of the old Packard and take off with our parents. The four-lane expressways were just being built, so most travel was on two lane highways.

Fast food was unknown. My dad cautioned, "Don't ever order a hamburger at the restaurant." He was worried about food poisoning in the Mom and Pop restaurants along the way, I believed him too because many times my favorite drink, chocolate milk, was sour. I wonder if there were food inspectors in the '60's. If so, they weren't doing their jobs!

Rest areas were non-existent. GPS? Never even imagined such a thing. Road maps were our means of navigation. One time my dad asked Mom how much farther we had to go to our destination and she held up her thumb and forefinger about an inch apart and said, "About this far." We all laughed at her. "Miles, Mom, not inches."

The road trips were very special times for us to be with our dad because he worked all the time. He was a funeral director on call twenty-four hours a day. He worked all night and all day when he had funerals. (And they always seemed to come in batches of three!) His dedication to helping grieving families and treating embalming as an art garnered great respect and admiration from our community. When he wasn't working at the funeral chapel, he worked at our local bank.

While Dad was the smartest man I ever met, he was not a business man. People owed him for funerals, but he never took anyone to court to collect. He was happy to take chickens, eggs, etc in payment for the funeral especially when he knew the family didn't have money to pay their debt.

He loved and appreciated people. Our small community was not diverse in its ethnicity, but we did have one sweet African-American couple, one Jewish gentleman, and some residents whose names were not German. But because Dad was not prejudiced, I didn't even realize there was a stereotype for any one different from me until after I graduated high school.

He passed too soon at age fifty-nine. I still miss him. Thank goodness I have those memories of road trips and  his kindness to everyone to treasure.

Please take a minute to share a comment about your dad or that special man who played a big part in your life.. What do you remember? 

Thanks for stopping in. Follow this blog by email so you won't miss a post.






Sunday, June 14, 2015

Time to Remember: Our Wedding Anniversary, This Week



Bride and Groom
Holding Hands
Time to Remember by J.Q. Rose

Forty-five years ago today, the morning was rainy and windy. Storm clouds filled the sky with angry threats of tornadoes headed to our little part of the world, Central Illinois. After the rains passed, the heat and humidity entered.I remember that day, June 14, 1970, clearly because it was my wedding day. 

Before the wedding, my soon-to-be husband and I were in the church setting up a tape recorder to capture the wedding service. We tried to find a place where the huge reel-to-reel box would not be noticed by our wedding guests and still pick up the sound well enough for us to play it back for years to come.

We haven't played the wedding march, the message from his Uncle Kenneth who was a Lutheran minister, the organ music swelling to the powerful words of the Lord's Prayer, and the joyous exit as we left hand-in-hand down the aisle as man and wife. Where do you find an old tape recorder like that nowadays?

Noone noticed the recorder, nor did they see me shudder when Uncle Kenneth finished leading us in saying the marriage vows/ then said to us, "Now you may kiss the bride." I turned to my new hubby and grimaced at the thought of even a slight peck on his lips because, in his tuxedo in the heat, his starched shirt was wet with perspiration and streams of sweat rolled from his forehead all the way down his flushed face. 
Kissing

What a way to begin a marriage--storms, tornadoes, and not even wanting to kiss the man I loved. (But I did!) Good for us, by the time the reception of cake and punch in the church basement was over, the storms were gone and the late evening sun peeked out from the clouds.

Little did I know that our life together would be made up of storms and sunshine, but I wouldn't change it for a million dollars. Somehow we weathered them all and celebrated our forty-fifth  anniversary with dinner at a new restaurant in town last night. 

I've often thought about writing a book with advice to the young'uns about what makes a long term marriage. I even began asking all the couples I know for advice about how they made it through all those years. I never can actually nail them down for the answer. I think it's because the time goes so quickly, we don't notice the years ticking away.

I've learned we need to take time to notice everyday life and live in the moment. We need to pack away the memories to savor in later years.  It's not too late. 

Do you remember your wedding day or a wedding you attended? Do you have advice for young people today about love and marriage?

Please leave your comment below and be sure to add your email address in the box in the right sidebar so you won't miss a blog post on the J.Q. Rose blog. 

This Week:

Travelogue on Thursday on the J.Q. Rose bl
Thursday, July 18-- A Tribute to My Dad and The Travelogue continues!

See you on Thursday!

Bride and groom Images courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Kissing Image courtesy of pat138241 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Quote image from Quotescover.com

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Travelogue: Author Rachael Kosinskis's Adventure in Peru, Giveaway


Welcome to the Summer Travelogue series! Fun and fresh author Rachael Kosinski joins us today to take us on her adventure to Peru. Rachael has generously brought along an eBook of her historical fictional book, The Christmas Lights, as a prize for the lucky commenter. Learn more about this entertaining story after her piece on Peru. Winner will be chosen after 9 pm on Sunday.


Adventure in Peru by Rachael Kosinski


In 2013, I was a high school senior: eighteen years old with five years of Spanish under my belt and a travel blessing from my parents (not to mention their money to go to Peru as a graduation present, though I lost any financial help I might get in buying a car). For a girl who’d never gone anywhere far without her family, South America was a pretty crazy move. My Spanish teacher came up with the idea, then had to back out for personals reasons and everyone at my school dropped out at the last minute. I would be traveling to another continent with a local Spanish teacher I’d never met, her sister, and three other kids from a school I’d never been to. But we’d already started payments on the trip, I did my walk across the auditorium stage to accept my diploma, and quite literally the day after graduation I was on a ten-hour plane ride out of Atlanta, Georgia.
            Out of the three other students, one was blind and the other two were a year younger than me. The only girl (we’ll call her K) was about as tall as an upright cashew and played the sax. We sat together on the plane in order to bond over Bruno Mars, band, and scary movies, learning we’d be roommates for the entire nine-day trip. Señora M’s sister was a chatty biology professor who still talks to me on Facebook. Now, remember I was already feeling kind of high and mighty because I had seniority above the teenagers. Add on top of that the fact that I thought my Spanish was so good that we’d easily blend in with the locals and take Peru by storm.
Wearing my Spanish Club tee shirt and standing in front of Machu Picchu

            I still laugh. A bag of dried coca leaves waited in the Lima airport—the leaves they use to make cocaine. It was for headaches and we giggled as we selected one to chew on (they were bitter and I politely looked for a place to spit mine out). Exchanging our dollars for nuevo soles, we quickly learned that we were vastly advantageous in the currency switch, so much so that it was insane. Groups from Pittsburgh and San Francisco joined us as we tracked down Nilton, our travel guide. He was also about the size of a peanut, with a big smile. K and I thought he was in his twenties and happily messed with him, making newspaper hats during his nightly rallying speeches and instigating pebble wars at Saksaywaman, a grassy Incan ruin on the outskirts of Cusco. He was thirty-six. When he took us to a local open mall to get food, urging us to order in Spanish, I faced crippling stage fright. What, talk to a local? They’d think I was braindead! I was willing to starve if it meant not testing the language waters, but I did it. The question constantly in the air was ¿Cuánto cuesta? How much does this cost? We returned with rainbow ponchos and carved gourds, spending our nights playing mysterious card games in the hostel lobbies.
Sitting at the very top of Machu Picchu and contemplating the universe (LOL) 
            Buses that sped around mountain corners and swung past ravines allowed us to explore around Machu Picchu and tiny villages so remote we had to pay for toilet paper. Kindly dogs abounded and Señora M had to nearly use force so we wouldn’t pet them. We stayed in Aguas Calientes where I peeked out of my roomy, rainbow-tiled shower to look up at an Andes mountain. Sleep deprivation, a mountain chill and some bad empanadas had K and me dozing off on the buses and watching The Big Bang Theory with subtitles in our hostel rooms, while we each waited for the other to vacate the bathroom.


Cuzco, where my roomate K and I sat in our hostel closet because it was so big, shivered because it was South. America's autumn/winter, and watched White Collar and Big Bang Theory with subtitles.
            In the end, I would never trade that trip for a car. K is still one of my best friends, and I talk with some of the Pittsburgh kids on Facebook. We spoke Spanish so much that, upon our return, it was hard to stop. K and I lay on the airport floor and sang Pitch Perfect at nine p.m. as we waited in line for our home flight, buying chocolate-covered coffee beans to stay awake. We still bring it up at least once every two months. We make faux plans about how we’ll return and find our tour guide again—but the truth? I wouldn’t mind making it a reality.  
# # # #
The Christmas Lights by Rachael Kosinski
Historical Romance
Back of the Book:
“Where do Christmas lights come from?” 
Those tiny bulbs of color that burn on a Christmas tree, 
Or outside a house to shine in the night. 
Does anyone really know where they originate? 
What if someone told you 
They weren’t intended for Christmas at all, 
But really for a miracle? 
That they were for love, a desperate idea, to light a boy’s way home? 
In that case, you must have some questions. 
What boy? What love? 
Have a seat. Allow me to tell you a story.

Excerpt:
The stranger adjusted the paper bags in his arms and stepped closer. “Are you blind?” His voice came softer, though even more interested. I took a step back and felt myself flush. Around here, having poor vision was tantamount to having the plague. I needed to work on concealing my handicap.

“How can you tell?”

“Your eyes are focused, but they’re focused on the bricks behind my left ear. You’re either close to passing out, or you can’t see very well.”

“I think I’m a bit of both, sir.”

Something in his tone informed me he was no robber. Neither would I be. Maybe, perhaps, he could help me. Brown paper crinkled as the man leaned against the wall with a chuckle. “An American blind boy, sleeping on my porch.”

“This is an alley. I think.” I glanced at the muddy light on both sides of me. Surely I hadn’t been sleeping on some open, dimly lit street. I could get arrested for loitering.

“My porch is in an alley. Does this not happen in America?”

“I’m from Pennsylvania. Have you heard of Pennsylvania?” I coughed, covering my mouth in my sleeve. “My town doesn’t have alleys. We’re small.”

“Fantastic.” The man sounded like he’d never heard anything more fascinating. “Would you like some dinner, small-town American blind boy?”

“My name’s Louis.”

“Louis!” The man whistled. “By my buttons, that’s French. I’d like to hear your story, Louis. And paint those focused eyes of yours, if I may.”

“Paint them?”

“Michelangelo was my great-uncle, I like to say. You know Michelangelo, yes?”

I shook my head. The man gasped like he was dying. “Small-town, American ignorant boy!” He took my arm and began to tow me inside a door to my right that was the exact same shade as the ashy bricks of the wall.

BUY LINKS:
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About Rachael:

Author Rachael Kosinski
Rachael Kosinski decided at a very young age that, if she never became a writer, she would simply die. At the age of twenty, she now possesses a quirky knowledge of world mythology, an addiction to coffee, and a penchant for making over-expressive faces at her laptop. On any given day she can sit atop Westminster palace alongside a thief as he listens to a crown princess spin fairy tales, or scour an Egyptian temple for hidden chambers laid by Ancient Greeks, or wander Europe with a boy as he tries to gather enough wealth to marry his betrothed. She is attending college and can be found online at:

Rachael's Blog, The Girl Who Draws with Words 

Official Tumblr of Rachael Kosinski

Goodreads
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Be sure to say hi to Rachael, share your story about Peru or learning Spanish, or tell us about your summer plans in a comment below. Commenting will enter you in the drawing for her eBook, The Christmas Lights.

Add your email addy in the box in the right sidebar to be notified of new blog posts on the J.Q. Rose blog. You don't want to miss the Travelogue series this summer! No Spamming, I promise. Cross my heart. Thank you.
  

Monday, June 8, 2015

Strawberry Pie Recipe, This Week, Gardener Ted

Strawberry Plants are blooming...

Hi from Michigan! 

We have been dreaming about Michigan strawberries since we arrived home mid April. The photo of blooming strawberry plants in our garden above was taken mid-May. Oh the agony of waiting. Even our granddaughter checks the plants every time she comes over. "When will the 'stwahbehrries' be ready," she wails. 

Big News! Gardener Ted announced this afternoon he was going to pick a few berries tomorrow! Hallelujah!! Soon they will be in full production and I can make all things strawberry.

Strawberries picked in June 2014

I'm sharing my Strawberry Pie recipe again on the J.Q. Rose blog because it is so easy and so delicious. And to tell you the truth, thinking about making the pie makes the waiting more bearable.

My friend, Trude, gave me the following recipe for Strawberry Pie.  Trude passed away, but she lives in my memories and through sharing this recipe with friends and readers. Enjoy!

Trude's Strawberry Pie
Recipe for a 9" pie

Place about 1 pint of strawberries whole, not cut up, in a 9" pie shell.

Stir together in a pan--1 3 oz box jello, 1 cup sugar, and 3 T. cornstarch.

Add 1 1/2 cups water to the mixture and cook till thickened--It will start to boil and get clear. Stir constantly. This takes awhile, so be patient.

Pour mixture over strawberries. Refrigerate after one hour.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream or both!!

# # # #
THIS WEEK:

Thursday, June 11--Join us on the Travelogue as Rachael Kosinski takes us to Peru. She said she spent nine days running around Peru surviving on high school-level Spanish in 2013. You DO NOT want to miss this trip!
# # # #

Need some tips on starting your garden? Check out Gardener Ted's

Review

5.0 out of 5 stars Simple to follow-quick tips February 20, 2015
By S. Roan
Verified Purchase

Love the easy flow and down to earth approach! Great tips from tried and true gardening. New gardeners and the more seasoned can find helpful ideas to utilize.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Travelogue: Author Heather Fraser Brainerd Flies You to Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, Giveaway

Welcome to the kick-off of our Travelogue event. This summer authors will share their favorite places to see and trips they have experienced. Our first traveler is my friend and paranormal author Heather Fraser Brainerd. She's crazy about Disney World. Check out her Heather's Disney blog with lots of tips and experiences in Disneyland with her family. 

Today Heather is giving away the paranormal mystery, Act of Abduction. Be sure to leave a comment to enter the drawing. The deadline to enter is 9 pm EDST Sunday evening.

Surprise! Heather takes us not to Disney World, but to her next favorite place to visit, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. After reading her post about it, I'd love to visit there too. Enjoy.

The Charm of Old San Juan by Heather Fraser Brainerd

Puerto Rico is one of the beautiful islands in the Caribbean
Map from the worldatlas.com
Have you ever been to Puerto Rico? If not, you should check it out. This gorgeous
Caribbean archipelago is a territory of the United States. This makes it super easy
for us Americans to travel there – no need for passports or currency exchange. Even the street signs – though they may be in Spanish – are familiar enough for non-Spanish-speakers to follow.
Garitas, or small sentry posts, are the national symbol of Puerto Rico
Our favorite part of Puerto Rico is Old San Juan. The “old city” has been named a National Historic Landmark District. There are plenty of beautiful, colonial-erabuildings to see, two forts to explore, and loads of shops and restaurants. For us, it’s a destination with Old World charm, but far more affordable than traveling to Europe.

Located in the middle of Old San Juan, our hotel of choice is El Convento
El Convento Hotel
(elconvento.com). This luxurious hotel was once a Carmelite convent. In the early
1960s, the Spanish colonial building was converted into a hotel. 

Today, it is a perfect combination of impressive and welcoming. The staff is top-notch, the rooms are both lovely and comfortable, and the courtyard restaurant is fantastic. They were super-accommodating of my son’s special dietary needs, which went a long way toward easing my mind while traveling so far from home.
View from our hotel room
In addition to exploring the old city and its two forts, we had fun partaking of a local
pastime: flying kites near Castillo San Felipe del Morro. As the wind blows in from



Leisurely afternoon to watch the kites flying

the ocean, it makes this area ideal for kite flying. Our boys really enjoyed it! On our walk back to El Convento afterwards, we stopped for ice cream, making for a lovely, leisurely afternoon.

Come to think of it, that’s part of what keeps drawing us back to Old San Juan over and over: the leisurely island pace. So different from the hectic race of our everyday lives, we fully appreciate taking it easy when we visit this Caribbean gem.
# # # #
Leave a comment below to enter the drawing to win the paranormal mystery, Act of Abduction, the latest in the entertaining Jose Picada, P.I. series.

Act of Abduction, paranormal mystery
# # # #
About Heather
Heather Fraser Brainerd is a renaissance woman. After earning a degree in Anthropology, she embarked on an incongruous career as a workers’ compensation insurance adjuster. 
Heather on the balcony
of the  Cafe Puerto Rico in Old San Juan
She rapidly climbed the claims-handling ladder before surprising her colleagues by leaving the high-powered world of lumbar strains and carpal tunnel syndrome to run a child care center. Thousands of dirty diapers and gallons of strained peas later, she decided that maybe the insurance industry wasn’t quite as bad as she remembered. It was. Fortunately, a few brief years into that second stint, she was swept off her feet by the most wonderful man in the world. Now a stay-home mom to three amazing boys, she is able, at long last, to focus on her writing. In addition to her fictional explorations, she writes a foodie column for the Rochester magazine Citizen. Heather lives in New York with her family and their crazy pug/terrier.

Connect online with Heather






Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop: Love and Hate for My Critique Group


Hello and welcome to  the IWSG blog hop. 

What is IWSG? Founder of the  Insecure Writer’s Support Group and author Alex J Cavanaugh explains the group's purpose is "to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!" You're invited to become a member of this supportive group.
The group blogs the first Wednesday of every month.  The list of bloggers is always available so you can hop around to the author blogs filled with humor, advice, and thought-provoking topics on writing and publishing. You can find the list of participants at Alex's IWSG page
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Love and Hate for My Critique Group by J.Q. Rose

When I re-read the title of this post, I thought it really sounded harsh. Let me explain. I don't hate my critique partners. In fact I love them for all their encouragement and support for my writing projects. I would not be a published author without them.

We meet every week in the summer at a local coffee shop. We spread out on the biggest table we can find because there are four of us, eat sweets, and try the different coffees and beverages. Not only do we share our submissions, but also family news, work news, etc. And sprinkled throughout the meeting, are a lot of laughs and just pure joy. 

One of our members was having trouble with stress headaches a couple of weeks ago. She reported to us that after the meeting her headache was gone! 

Brainstorming is an essential part of the critique group's meeting.
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by Stuart Miles
One of the highlights of our meetings is the brainstorming. I love when we throw around ideas to help solve problems in our manuscripts,  develop a character, decide how to kill off the villain, and more. I sometimes check the room to see if any patrons are eavesdropping when we talk about guns, poisons, ways to murder characters!! I hope they realize we are only using our imaginations!

I also love my crit group for offering feedback in my story such as 
  • The mc begins eating her burrito, but never ordered it from anyone.
  • A joke or a scene doesn't work
  • The character's name is Brian in previous chapters and Herb in the present submission. Of course, I have to laugh when they look up with questioning eyes--Who's Herb? (Last week I had missed a few chapters of one gal's story and was reading about Hank. I decided not to ask "who's Hank," so I kept reading. When I read "Hank trotted off with a saddle pack on his back," I laughed out loud. He was a horse, not a man!)
  • The same information is repeated several times. Once is enough.
  • The action is going too fast.
  • The scene needs the mc's internal thoughts
I'm sure you've had similar experiences. And I bet you appreciate the constructive criticism as much as I do.

So what do I hate about a crit group?  For instance, I submitted a chapter where the bad guy and his sister had to go to police headquarters. I had them together in the same room to give their statements. The give and take in the conversation was good, and the body language was fine. However, they informed me, this is not correct police procedure. The police would never allow them to be together to give a statement. Aaarghhhh. That's what I hate--I had to re-write the entire scene. 

So I put on my big girl panties, thanked them for finding this flaw, and re-wrote the chapter in a different setting. To tell the truth, it turned out to be much improved over the first attempt.

Not only can a crit group help you in writing your story, push you to complete it, and submit it to a publisher, but the group can market their books together too. We have made presentations to local groups and shared opportunities to promote our books at different venues. 

In this big world of publishing, it's good to know you have friends who will help you through the roller coaster ride of success and insecurity. Everyone needs someone to be a supporter to applaud your victories and be there for your rejections.

 The IWSG writers certainly fit this need for all of us who work alone. We come together to help fellow writers with their insecurities and do a happy dance when one of us celebrates a milestone in their writing career.

Do you belong to a critique group or have a critique partner? What has been your experience? Please leave a comment below.

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