A Reward for Me!

I didn’t think it would take me this long to make my little announcement but life got complicated… 

On April 30, I completed the first draft of my first full length novel!  I struggled for nearly a month with the last chapter (it’s a little emotional) but I finally got most of the words I really wanted down on the page and called it DONE.  Yeah, I cried a little, both because of the final scene and because ~ OMG! ~ I’d just written a 64,000+ word book!!

That night, The Husband and I celebrated with dinner and a shared chocolate and caramel sundae at Woody’s Diner.  Immediate gratification was required.  But what I really wanted to do was a quick day trip to Balboa Island, near Newport Beach (CA).   Which we finally got to do yesterday.

Balboa Island is the epicenter of my Living at the Beach dreams.  It’s actually three islands connected by bridges (one island is private).  The outer rim of the two main islands comprise a 2.5 mile walk past unique beach houses and views of the harbor and boats of all kinds.  We realized that we haven’t been there since the pandemic lockdown!  We used to go quite a lot when we lived a little closer, but never during the summer.  Too many of the houses are rentals and the crowds get crazy!  It was awesome to walk around today, though, even with the May Gray, a day-long haze.

Here are some pics!

From the island, you can take the Balboa Island ferry to the peninsula and walk through the Fun Zone to the Balboa Pier and watch the ocean waves.  I could stand on the pier for hours, just watching the waves break and listening to the crash and shush of the water rushing up the sand and back again.  Even the busloads of high school seniors couldn’t harsh my calm today.

So, now that I’ve finished the draft of my mystery novel, I’m editing the Christmas romance novella I finished last year.  I think writing was a lot easier than editing is turning out to be…  I’m definitely on a learning curve here!  Once I get these two big projects edited and feel like they’re ready to publish, next up is learning the self-publishing game.  Every time I start to get stressed out about all these new things I have to navigate, I remember this:

Hope everybody’s having a good day and giving yourselves rewards for doing the hard things! 

Even if the ocean breeze makes your hair frizz!  (It was totally worth it ~ LOL!)

May is Reading for The Mom Month

The Mom’s birthday was always within days after Mother’s Day (in the US).  There was a time when I would get her a nice Mother’s Day present, a nice birthday present and then a goofy little present for every day in between. 

I think last year, I was still in shock in May.  She’d only passed away 2 months before and it was still unbelievable to me that she was gone.  I’d found the surrogate grave in the local cemetery (Lessons in Grief, Part 2), so I had that comfort of being able to have a special place to visit.  This year, I’ve been avoiding Mother’s Day reminders because they were making me verklempt when I’d see cards in Target or the inevitable Mother’s Day sales on TV.  I get a double whammy, too, because her birthday is always so close.

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Lessons in Grief – Part 6 Raina

One day in early 2005, The Husband came home from work at Knott’s Berry Farm and said there’d been a litter of kittens born in the stable and they were having trouble finding homes for them.  Could we take the female when they were weaned?  At that time, we had Gizmo, a female in her mid-teens.  A kitten might be a good companion…  Then he came home another day, begging to take one of her brothers because a forever home had fallen through.  Technically, we were only supposed to have 2 animals at that time, but who was going to know?? 

They were born around the holidays and we got to bring them home around Valentine’s Day.  We set the carrier in the living room, opened the door and waited for them to come out and explore.  The little gray girl came out first, followed eventually by her jet-black brother.  The Husband suggested naming her after a bold woman in literature and we settled on Irene (pronounced Irena), for Irene Adler, the only person who ever bested Sherlock Holmes.  We shortened it to Raina.  To stay with the great detective’s theme, we named her more timid brother Watson. 

Continue reading “Lessons in Grief – Part 6 Raina”

Catching Up

I’ve been concentrating on getting the first draft of my mystery novel finished – just one more chapter! – so my blog has been a bit neglected.

Here are a few things I’ve managed to do lately:

The 100 Day Project – Turns out I’m not as consistent as I thought I’d be in making a pair of earrings every day.  I’m constantly catching up but really glad my skills have been retained.  Since there are no hard and fast rules for this project, I’m happy to just be getting it done, whatever way works!

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Resistance is Futile

The last week or so, the writing of my novel has come to a bumpy stretch worthy of California surface streets after this rainy winter we’ve had.  I thought it might be the fact that I’m wrestling with the business side of indie authoring.  Yes, I will admit that I’ve been consciously avoiding that quagmire, while also coming up with a name for my indie publishing business and budgeting in my head.  This has been a very Jekyll/Hyde process.

But this morning, I caught sight of Steven Pressfield’s book, Do The Work, buried under a bunch of other books in one of the many piles around the bedroom.  So, I carefully pulled it out and opened it up.  And right there, in front of my face, was the truth. 

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The 100 Day Project

So, I’ve been sorta missing jewelry making lately.  Bear Chick Originals, the handmade jewelry company I started in 2001, is long defunct but I still have drawers and boxes of beads and findings and other sparkly things.  They’ve been calling to me, like the square-wheeled train on the Island of Unwanted Toys.  They want to become things of beauty, useful and loved.

Jewelry making, whether stringing beads, bending and shaping wire or creating patterns with jump rings, always made me feel like an artist.  I especially loved combining colors and working with wire.  But since I retired, writing has dominated my creative hours and the jewelry bug just never got a reboot.  (Although, I have been thinking about making themed jewelry as contest giveaways for marketing my books when they’re published…)

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Houdini at Muzeo Anaheim

Today, The Husband and I spent a few hours at Muzeo in Anaheim, California, one of our favorite museums.  It’s a small exhibition space with the flexibility to be set up individually for each show.   Previous shows have included selections of Cheech Marin’s Latino artwork, Napoleon’s hat, Russian religious icons and costumes from Downton Abbey, just to name a few.  The current exhibition, continuing until January 22, is Houdini Unchained: The Legacy of Harry Houdini.

Here are some highlights:

One of the more lurid posters.

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My Word of the Year 2023 – Compose

Happy New Year, Everybody!!

Can you believe it’s 2023?!  Whether you’re a young whippersnapper or a young-at-heart boomer, time flies. Whether we’re having fun or not.  So I hope you’re making the most of it!

Do you pick a word of the year to focus your intentions?  It’s a January thing and usually falls by the wayside by February but here goes anyway! 

My word for 2023 is:


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Holiday Movies in Disguise

So, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) went well.  I added over 10,000 words to the 11,611 I started with on my cozy mystery, so I’m happy.  Lots more to write, then edit, so still slogging merrily away 😊

But it’s also the holidays!  We don’t do a lot of decorating but we do have a lot of favorite holiday movies we watch.

Here are a couple of movies I watch during the holidays that you might not necessarily associate with Christmas.

I’m starting with the movie I’m most conflicted about.  I shouldn’t like You’ve Got Mail.  It’s about a big box book store moving into a New York City neighborhood that wants to close all the competition, including The Little Shop Around the Corner.  Tom Hanks plays Joe Fox, the charming figurehead of the big bad bookstore, Fox Books and Meg Ryan plays Kathleen Kelly, who is desperately trying to keep alive her late mother’s childrens bookstore.  Hanks and Ryan are at their peak, playing people who are sworn enemies in real life, not realizing that they’re falling in love via anonymous email (the sound of AOL connecting to the internet!  LOL!).  Part of the story takes place during December, so there are Christmas trees and gift buying, which makes this a holiday movie to me.

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Gray Mare’s Oatmeal Survey

It’s been a while since the last blog post!  October was National Novel Writing Month prep and this month I’ve been working on the cozy mystery I was prepping for.  It’s going slower than I’d hoped but I’m a slow writer and just getting the words down is a win!  I do tend to go down research rabbit holes—this week, I learned a lot about electronic fingerprinting…  So, if I can get halfway through during NaNoWriMo, I’ll be very happy.

As it’s gotten chilly here in SoCal, the urge for some comforting oatmeal has been strong.  I thought it might be interesting to compare the different offerings I’ve ordered recently.

Corner Bakery

The only overnight oats in the bunch, I’d ordered this at the Santa Ana restaurant and loved it.  The oatmeal is refreshingly cold, thick and flavored with vanilla yogurt.  Add the dried cranberries, raisins, apple and banana slices for even more texture and goodness.  Plus, it comes with a raisin pecan sweet crisp!  It’s pretty yummy and there’s also a version that adds almonds, strawberries and blueberries.

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