Thursday, November 28, 2013

Come Ye Thankful People, Come--Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!
Photo courtesy of Fremont United Methodist Church, Michigan
Come Ye Thankful People, Come

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;

all is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.

God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;

come to God's own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

Words by Henry Alford, 1844
Music by George  J. Elvey, 1858

Monday, November 25, 2013

Stores Open on Thanksgiving, This Week

Carved Wooden Turkey Statue--Turkeyville, Michigan (near Marshall)
Photo taken by J.Q. Rose

Gobble, gobble, gobble,--that's what we'll be doing this week...Gobbling up all the good food on Thanksgiving Day! But as my daughter, the health coach says, "Don't gobble till you wobble." LOL

I think you can have some of everything just don't eat everything of everything!

Are you hitting the sales ON Thanksgiving Day? For some reason people are up in arms about the retailers being open on the holiday. Have they forgotten about all the other folks who work for us on T-Day? For years, restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, hospitals, nursing homes, police stations, fire departments, and more have been "manned" for those hours. In a perfect world none of us would work on this special holiday, but then, we do need folks who help us travel and care for the sick no matter if it is a holiday or not. 

If you do need to use the services of these special workers,  won't you say a heartfelt "thank you" to them? It will make their day very special!!

It is thankful people happy
From ideal

* * * *
This Week:

Photo courtesy of Fremont United Methodist Church, Michigan

Thursday, November 28--Thanksgiving Day USA 
Whether you celebrate at home with family and/or friends or go out to the restaurant for your turkey dinner, take a minute to be thankful for all your blessings. As our minister pointed out today, there is a whole industry in the USA trying to make you think you NEED things to make you happy or "to keep up with the Joneses ." Thanksgiving is the day to remind yourself of what you do have, and I bet you'll discover it isn't all the "things" for which you are most thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 29--On the Girls Succeed Blog--Trailblazer: Fearless Flyer, Elinor Smith's Daring Dive Under the Bridges of New York by Carol Simon Levin  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Hobby Hoedown Features Jane Lebak's Knitting Projects and Giveaway

Yee haw, it's Hobby Hoedown time with author Jane Lebak. Jane is offering a digital copy of her book, The Boys Upstairs, as a giveaway
Please leave a comment to be eligible to win the random drawing. Thank you.

With this post, we draw Hobby Hoedown to an end. It's been a wonderful experience for me. I hope you, Dear Readers, have learned more about your favorite authors 
and discovered more authors and good reads!

Knitting is Much More Than a Hobby by Jane Lebak

I never really knitted until I was grieving.

My grandmother crocheted all her life, even as young as 4th grade coming home from school to crochet hats so her family could sell them. She taught me too, but I never completed anything.

When my own son was eight, he wanted to learn to knit, so I got a book and pestered my knitting friend until I could knit a straight line and crochet a granny square. About five months later, I'd made exactly three granny squares and finished knitting my first-ever scarf. Not very interesting. And then one December, I lost someone I loved.

My knitting friend posted a very simple crochet scarf pattern on her blog, something you could make with next to no skill (that was me) and any yarn around (we had something). And I discovered it was soothing. It helped. I could pray while crocheting. I could put the pain into the motion and the rhythm, and at the end it became something. In the middle of something lost, something had been made.

And I just kept going. I made another one of those scarves, donated them both, and then began knitting. I bought fluffy, soft yarn, and I knitted on big needles, and as soon as the scarves appeared, away they went to a charity. Not only did it soothe the pain, but now someone else would be warm. I branched out into hats.

In three and a half months, I made seven scarves and two hats, and I started a baby blanket.

I really felt a connection to the recipients when I knitted for the homeless or for the food pantry clients. Knowing that something I made could maybe make a difference in how well a person survived was important, but even more important to me was the thought that maybe after they received the knitted hat or the knitted scarf, they'd feel loved. God, please let the recipient be one warm hat away from turning it around. Several of the characters in my book The Boys Upstairs are homeless children, and the priest in that book runs a food pantry, so I've tried to shine some light on the difficult situations good people can find themselves in.

 Feel loved enough to maybe have hope, and maybe hope could help a homeless person turn it around. In fact, sometimes that was my prayer; nowadays I still donate to the homeless ministries. 

Knitted gifts also make great "swag" gifts for giveaways, like the pair of fingerless gloves I made for an ebook giveaway last month. (Who wants to take their gloves off to read an ereader in the cold?)

Fingerless gloves
Bagged fingerless gloves
with bookmark.

And now, even though I'm no longer knitting because I feel sad, the same benefits still apply: knitting is time to think, time to plan, time to be useful, time to pray, time to help someone else be warm.

# # # # 

Take a peek at Jane's e-book, 
The Boys Upstairs, the perfect read for the upcoming Christmas season. 

Three homeless children. Two estranged brothers. One last chance.
Kevin Farrell is a jaded police officer who’s trying to save three homeless children, but it’s three nights before Christmas, and the only one he can ask for help is his brother Jay, a disabled priest. The catch? He and his brother have been estranged for years, and Kevin wants nothing to do with Jay. Only now, to save these homeless kids, with temperatures below zero and falling, Kevin knows it’s going to take both him and his brother working together, if only they can mend the breach between them.


Kindle Link: 
MuseItUp link
Goodreads Link

About Jane

Jane Lebak is the author of The Wrong Enemy and The Boys Upstairs. She has four kids, three cats, two books in print, and one husband. She lives in the Swamp and spends her time either writing books or swatting mosquitos. 

At Seven Angels, Four Kids, One Family, she blogs about what happens when a distracted daydreamer and a gamer geek attempt to raise four kids.

Connect Online with Jane


And a link to my knitting projects on Ravelry.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Holiday Food Drive Blogfest, This Week, E-book Giveaway

Badge created by Jeremy at Being Retro

M.J Joachim's generous, giving spirit has led her to a really creative idea for a blogfest, The Holiday Food Drive Blogfest. The fest is co-hosted by Tina Downey.

The idea behind this blogfest is to give back to the community during this season - to help those less fortunate. Whether the holidays fill you with cheer or dread, helping others is always a good idea.

If you would like to join this blogfest, go to Tina's Life is Good Blog to find out all the information and to sign up on the linky list. 

You can make a difference in your community by blogging about your local food bank and giving a shout out to your readers to bring about awareness of the hungry people in your area. You can post a blog about it anytime during November 18-20.

# # # # 

Our church has a food pantry. They are providing Thanksgiving meals complete with a turkey for folks in need. The church has been doing this for several years, so it is very organized. The parishioners are given a simple brown grocery bag with a shopping list stapled to it. We fill the bag with those items such as canned veggies, canned yams, instant mashed potatoes, boxed stuffing, etc. and then return it to church where the bag containing the entire meal will be distributed to those who need help in providing a Thanksgiving dinner for their family this year.

The holiday season is one of giving and many donations are received at this special time of year, however, people need to bring donations to food pantries all year round. Summer is especially difficult for families with children because the kids are eating lunch at home instead of school. You know how kids love snacks and can eat all day when they're home, so parents need help in providing healthy snacks too.

Tina suggested donating food AND your time to help out at the food pantry if you're able. Yes, we can all make a difference during this season of giving and all year long. Thank you!

# # # # 
This Week

Please keep the people of the Philippines in your thoughts and prayers this week. If you can make a donation to help with the clean-up, food and water, and  re-building the lives of these folks, please do so.  UMCOR  is an agency of the United Methodist Church and 100% of your money will go directly to disaster relief for the people devastated by the typhoon. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Last week I participated in the Blog Tour and answered four questions about my writiing process. This week I invited three writers to answer those questions. Please visit their blogs and discover how their writing process works. Entertaining reading for all.

Look for these authors to answer the four questions this week on their blogs.
Thursday, November 21, 2013

Author Jane Lebak will be featuring her hobby, knitting, on the final edition of Hobby Hoedown for this year. Jane is generously providing a give away of her e-book, The Boys Upstairs, the perfect read for the upcoming Christmas season. 
Three homeless children. 
Two estranged brothers. 
One last chance.
So ya'all come back now on Thursday because knitting is much more than a hobby for Jane.

See ya' there!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hobby Hoedown: Author Margaret Mendel's Photography

Welcome author Margaret Mendel to the Hobby Hoedown!  Margaret shares her hobby of photography and stories about the photos she captured with her camera.  Please enjoy taking a break in your day with this delightful guest post. 

Photography As A Hobby by Margaret Mendel

Writing is my first love though photography comes in a close second.

I discovered photography after graduating high school when a friend told me I could order a Pentax camera directly from the factory in Japan.

I saved my hard earned dollars working as a power sewing machine operator, sent a money order to Japan and waited. When the camera arrived I thought it was the most exotic thing I had ever seen. It was a heavy, black 35mm film camera. There was no digital back then.

This is a photo I took of my mother many years ago with my Pentax. And here is an excerpt from a memoir I wrote some time later:
            “From this hiding place, my sister and I spied on Mom as she hung the wash or picked the dead leaves from her dahlias. A thin woman, Mom always looked as though she carried a load equal to her own weight in her arms, either the laundry, one of our two younger sisters, or the bushels of vegetables she dragged in from the garden for canning. She worked like an ant, always dragging, lifting or pushing something. 
            The dahlias were a different matter. To tend them she would actually tiptoe into her garden. My sister thought she did this to be quiet, but Mom said she did it to keep from packing down the soil. I saw Mom lift a blossom slowly once, cupping the giant flower in both hands, as though she was looking into a face.  She smiled, and I thought she intended to kiss the bloom. A couple of times I saw her talking to her flowers. My sister didn’t see this, and said that Mom wouldn’t talk to flowers. My sister may have been right Mom did not have time to spend talking to flowers. She hardly had time to talk to us girls.”

Some years later my Pentax was stolen. I was heart broken. There were not enough funds to replace it. Life took some interesting turns around that time with a marriage that fell apart, raising my son on my own, going back to college, and photography became a low priority.

Eventually I scrapped together enough money and got a new camera, a Minolta. Once again, I was off and running, clicking the shutter every chance I got.

Over the years I’ve upgraded my camera. Now I use a Nikon 7000, and like my laptop, it goes with me just about everywhere. Photography has taught me a great deal, but unlike writing, where a story builds scene by scene, a camera captures with one click of the shutter an image that capsulizes an emotion, a moment in time, or a dramatic scene that tells volumes without the use of words.


Here is a photograph of Devon, my grandson. He and I take walks exploring NYC. This is an excerpt from a blog post on my website about one of our adventures:

“It was a windy day and several blocks before reaching the bookstore we encountered a huge dragonfly. The poor thing was having a terrible time in the wind and was being banged into the window of a drugstore. Then when it tried again to fly, the wind thrust it down to the ground where its wings and tail shimmied in what must have felt like a gale-force-wind to this fragile creature. Devon reached down, offered the bedraggled insect a finger. The dragonfly climbed on board and held on for dear life. “Do they bite?” Devon asked after the dragonfly was fully attached to his finger.”

I live in NYC and there is no end to photographic opportunities in this city. I don’t have to go far, because even sitting on my terrace; either looking down at the activity on the street or gazing out onto the water towers across the way, the view presents an unlimited chance to click the shutter and grab a photograph.   
# # # # 

Coming in March 2014 from MuseItUp Publishing, Fish Kicker by Margaret Mendel

Back of the book:

Against the unforgiving landscape of Alaska, Sharon Wolf struggles to reclaim her life from alcohol abuse and regain the custody of her daughter. Winter is fast approaching and Sharon has nowhere to live, and no money. To make matters worse, she’s the only witness to a murder, and the murderer knows she saw him.

Luck finally seems to be on Sharon’s side when she secures a job as a fry cook in a back country bar, aptly named The Nowhere. Sharon’s life seems to be coming together, including weekend visits with her daughter.

But Herb, the murderer, finds her. If Sharon can’t resist the bottle and turn to others for help, something she never has done, both she and her daughter are in danger. Herb has no qualms killing again.
# # # #
About Margaret:

Margaret Mendel lives in New York City and is a past board member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, NYC. She has an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence. Many of her short stories have appeared in literary journals and anthologies. For more than twenty years, she worked in the mental health field, though now she devotes herself to writing full time. She is an avid photographer and not only drags a laptop, but a Nikon D7000 camera wherever she goes. 

Read more about Margaret on her blog at Pushing Time

Take some time to peruse Margaret's photos on her Flickr site

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day, Blog Tour, This Week

Veteran's Day today in the USA. God bless veterans! 

My husband served in the US Air Force. What is it about a uniform that makes you fall in love with a guy? 

On Veteran's Day we honor those who gave their lives in service to our country and say a huge thank you to veterans especially those who served during the VietNam War. During that never-declared war, the military servicemen and women never received the recognition they were due. We will never forget you.

Today I am also thinking of the thousands of people devastated by the history making storm in the Philippines. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

My author friend, Heather Fraser Brainerd invited me to take part in a huge BLOG TOUR this week. You can link back to her page and discover other authors who are participating today. At the end of my interview, I have listed three authors who will be blogging next week. Have fun on the tour!

This BLOG TOUR is where authors answer a series of questions about their writing, sharing their journey with other authors and interested folks.

1. What are you working on right now?
I am working on another mystery novel and having a blast with it. My main character is Lauren Staab. Her family is in the funeral business, the Staab and Blood Funeral Home. They discover a dead body in the garage of the funeral home. Well, I know you are thinking a body in a funeral home, that's not unusual, Janet. But this is the body of a murder victim sprawled on the floor of the garage. Why was he dumped at their funeral home? Well, for sure they do better work than Schultz Funeral Home across town, but doubtful that is the reason. At this point I have so many men in the story, I don't really know which one Lauren is going to choose for romance, but it will be fun watching her make up her mind in the midst of a murder investigation. Stay tuned!

2. How does it differ from other works in its genre?
My family was in the funeral home business. I'm the daughter of a funeral director just like Lauren. Needless to say, I am an insider and I reveal what it's really like living in such a stressful, but fulfilling business. Helping families through such a difficult time is an honor and a privilege.

3. Why do you write what you do?
I enjoy reading mysteries because they are like solving puzzles. When writing I giggle when I leave little hints, whether a red herring or valuable information for readers, for solving the "whodunit" puzzle. Developing well-rounded characters with all their foibles and strengths keeps it interesting. 

4. How does your writing process work?
Before I start the story, I know who my strong heroine will be. The story develops around her. I usually make notes as to what will transpire from the beginning to the end. These notes are not set in stone. As I write, I scratch out some and add others in order to produce the best story line.

Thanks so much for stopping in today. What genres do you like to read and why? Your comments, questions, and waves are always appreciated!

Look for these authors to answer the four questions next week on their blogs.

This Week:
Sunday, November 10--Yesterday I kicked off the first post in MuseItUp Publishing's Mystery and Suspense Week on the MIU blog. I discussed Conflict in Stories. Check in all week to discover great writers and books. You can catch my blog post on the Sunday, Nov. 10 MuseItUp Publishing blog.

Thursday, November 14-- Yee-haw, ya'all. You're invited to visit author Margaret Mendel as she shares her pastime, photography. Beautiful photos indeed! 

Thank you for stopping by. You have a fantastic week!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hobby Hoedown Features the Hobbies of Author Heather Greenis

Please welcome author Heather Greenis to the Hobby Hoedown! Thank you, Heather, for sharing your hobbies--knitting, gardening, and curling (and I don't mean curling your hair!)

Heather Greenis Talks Hobbies 

Thanks for welcoming me onto your blog. A hobbies theme got my attention, Yes, I have a few.
As a kid, Mom and Grandma taught me to knit and sew. While in high school, I knit two sweaters without using a pattern.  I was complemented regularly on both.  My friends loved them. I also knit pure wool cardigan sweaters for my mom and sister for Christmas. I haven’t picked up knitting needles in years.

My next hobby was and continues to be photography.  That was an expensive hobby before digital came around. My hubby and I share this passion although I admit, he is better, more meticulous than I am. We have boxes of pictures and negatives in the basement. I’m always thrilled when we return from a holiday and question who took a particular shot. Nature is truly inspiring. Keep the camera ready, just in case.
Yes, that is grape jam in the feeder. We went through over 20 jars of jam this past summer.

When I decided to take an early (really early) retirement from my full time job friends questioned what I would do with my time.  “Are you kidding me?? I won’t be bored”, and I’m not.

Gardening is my summer hobby.  Living on a little over an acre, we have more gardens than I can possibly maintain. I can spent an entire day outside and barely scratch the surface.  Those darn weeds keep popping up. If it wasn’t for the weeds in the grass, our lawn wouldn’t be green, but being environmentally friendly, we’re not spraying.

The season changes and curling begins. It’s a sport that is almost impossible to explain.
Some facts -
•   Curling is played on ice with rocks and brooms.
•    It’s a non contact sport with 4 people per team, although they are coming out with a 2 person team.
•    The game involves teamwork, communication, math, physics and strategy.
•   It’s both mental and physical
•    It’s a great sport for all ages. At our club, our youngest member is 6 and the oldest member that I know of is in her late eighties.  My husband and I manage a league that has a junior and seniors. Where else does that happen??
•    The goal. To have a rock or rocks closest to the ‘centre of the house’ (painted rings on the ice) once all 16 rocks are thrown.  Sounds easy but it isn’t.  Strategy comes into play.
•    As for physics, each rock weights 44lb. When they hit each other, and they do, they       don’t break, but move. Physics dictates where the point of contact must occur for the preferred effect.
•    Each rock slides down the ice and needs to stop in a certain location to remain in play.  The ‘house’ is 12 feet in diameter.  Anything in this area can potentially score.
•    The curling sheet is 138 feet long and 14 feet wide. The person throwing the rock must release it within the first 21feet. For a rock to be considered in play, it must remain within a 15 foot area.
•   sweepers sweep ahead of the rock, not behind - brushing the ice cleans any residue and heats the surface therefore slightly melting the ice. This makes the rock travel further, not faster and remain in a straighter line as it travels.
•   the person at the far end of the ice will show the thrower and sweepers the desired location for the rock and then place the broom down close to that position, or a distance away, depending on how much the rock is expected to curl. The thrower aims the rock at that boom with the desired weight control and counts on the sweepers to judge the speed as it travels.

I did say it’s a mental as well as physical sport and difficult to explain. Our youngest members are 6 and they have potential. I manage our junior league which ranges in age from 6 to 18 years of age.  With the help of three other coaches, we are on the ice once a week for two hours training the our future curlers. 
Someday when I’m watching the Olympics I might see a name I recognize and I’ll say, “ taught him, her or them when they were young. I’m so proud!”  I’m ready for this year’s Olympics. My PVR is ready.

I play a minimum of twice a week, once competitively and once socially. This is my competitive team. Debbie O, Kim W, Pat S and me. My other hobby? Well allowing my imagination a release of course.  Sitting at my computer and letting a story unfold.
# # # #
My continuing saga, Natasha’s Dream, Natasha’s Diary, Natasha’s Hope and Natasha’s Legacy took me 10 years to write. It’s actually one big book, and it’s my dream come true to see it come to life.


Growing up, her only friends were her brothers and Nanny. In her parent's mind, she was a mistake. As a result of an innocent swim, she discovered life existed beyond the walls of her home. Families, peers, underprivileged children. Can a dream turn into reality? Anything is possible, but dreams come with consequences that not only affect her, but those she loves. What is Natasha willing to risk to persevere?

Links to Natasha's Dream
Amazon link    

Natasha’s Diary will release in December 2013

Keeghan’s subconscious has played tricks on her in the past, but she’s normally able to control the outcome of her dreams. No such luck with this story. The mystery magnifies when her husband William discovers something else by the eroding sea wall. Something that peaks their curiosity even further. Coincidence? Now, Keeghan wants the dream, the saga to continue. Drawn into this story more than she was prepared for, she needs answers.
Hope is growing up quickly. Intelligent, independent and stubborn. Negative traits inherited from both her mom and dad surface at inconvenient times. Will her beauty help or hinder her? 
A tragedy. Stewart is forced to make a decision that will affect his life and the rest of his family. Then, an encounter that changes everything. Is he ready for this? Has Stewart’s past really been left behind? Will history repeat itself? Trust, integrity and tradition all come into question.
# # # #

About Heather:

Heather has an uncanny ability to frequently “manipulate” her dreams. As a bonus, she remembers them in extensive detail the following morning. A dream inspired the basic storyline. Then her overactive imagination developed the characters and the detail. In her spare time Heather assists the Healing Cycle, Hospice Palliative Care. She is also actively involved with the local curling club, currently volunteering her time teaching children when she isn’t curling herself. Heather has a passion for travel, photography and gardening.
Link to Heather Greenis website    
More links are found on Heather's website including a link to Facebook. Please send her a friend request. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

IWSG: What Do Publishers, Editors, and Agents Want from a Writer?

It's the first Wednesday of the month so it must be time for a post from all the folks in the Insecure Writers Support Group. What is IWSG?

Purpose: 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!

After visiting here, please take time to hop over to other blogs and hear their voices. You can find a list at Alex's IWSG page 
# # # # 

What DO Publishers, Editors, and Agents Want from a Writer?  by J.Q. Rose

If I could discover the secret to that mystery, I would be a rich person! I have talked with editors and read many articles on the subject, so I  made a list about what I've far. I'll bet you can add some more.
  • Correct grammar and spelling
  • A hook that gets the editor's attention
  • An emotional connection with readers
  • A unique plot with unique characters
  • A satisfying ending with all the loose ends tied up in a neat package
  • The writer follows the publisher's guidelines

Sprinkle all this with a good dose of luck and you may get a contract. Yes, luck. Oprah defines luck as opportunity meeting preparation. When an email arrives saying a pub is looking for a certain kind of story, you may have the exact one they’ll want. You will be prepared to submit your book because it’s been discussed with a critique partner, edited for grammar errors and spelling, and written in the format the publisher lays out in their guidelines. You're lucky you received the notice and you're ready to send in the story. So you see, I still believe in luck and a few prayers too.

Thanks for stopping in today. Have a great day!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Birthday Wishes, Humans vs Nature, This Week

Happy Monday to my readers and Happy Birthday to my daughter, Sara! She is beginning her professional career as a certified health coach. Just for giggles, if you have time, please wish her a happy birthday on her facebook page at 

Thank you!

The colorful trees you see in this picture are not leaves changing in the fall because this is a scene in Florida. The rain trees add quite a splash of color in the fall. This was the view from my living room until heavy duty equipment showed up to rip out all the trees and bushes in the park-like area across the street from my house. 

In only a few days they pulled up towering pines, grand oaks, my beloved rain trees and shrubs. They have obliterated a habitat for tortoises, snakes, squirrels, birds, owls, and honey bees. Now it looks like a wasteland.

I understand the floods damaged homes in our park and made roads impassable this summer with the record amount of rainfall. To solve this problem, a 14 foot deep ditch will be dug through this previously green area. If I were a homeowner with a flooded home, I would want to fix the problem too. It's just hard to see the ravaging of nature this way. It seems there is always a war between what is good for people vs what is good for the wildlife and green areas. 

I hope the county will replace the trees to allow another habitat to take root and grow.

This Week:

Wednesday, November 6--Insecure Writers' Support Group

IWSG Badge 
Hop around the blogosphere as the insecure writers vent. (Insecure writers? Yes, there are plenty of us!) Great folks and all very supportive! Open invitation to join the group. My topic is What DO publishers, agents, and editors want?

Thursday, November 7--Hobby Hoedown Returns 

Yee-haw! Hobby Hoedown returns featuring the many hobbies of author Heather Greenis. One of them is curling! 

Sunday, November 10--I will be posting on the MuseItUp Publishing blog which spotlights the mystery/thriller books available at MuseItUp Publishing. Check in all week Nov.10-16 to discover great authors and their stories.

Mother's Day Excerpt from Arranging a Dream, Happy Mother's Day, Working Moms

YouTube VIDEO: Mother's Day Excerpt from Arranging a Dream Hello and welcome! I wanted to pop in to wish you moms, grandmoms and those w...