Daybreak #Writephoto

Photo copyright Sue Vincent

The chirping alarm clock wakes us at an ungodly hour, and I quickly prepare a thermos of hot chocolate. Muffins packed. Sweaters donned. Flashlights? Check. Blankets? Check. Keys? I pat my pocket, running through my mental checklist. We load up and drive the winding lane to the knoll.

It’s my 60th birthday, and I want to watch the sunrise. My ten-year-old granddaughter indulges my desire.

We spread a blanket on the smooth ledge, cupfuls of cocoa in hand, another blanket warming our laps. The stars behind us glimmer like luminescence in the sky’s black sea. To the east, they fade as dawn breaks. Clouds stream in heaven’s wind, a sheer sail unfurling over the slumbering land.

A light catches the corner of my eye. An iphone! “Gah!  Turn that thing off.”

“I have to check one thing.”

My instruction is ignored. I emit a series of annoyed and exasperated groans, mutterings, and sighs.

“One minute,” she giggles, unswayed by my performance. “I’m looking something up.”

I wait.

She leans into my shoulder and shares. “Did you know that light is actually all colors, and each color has a different wavelength. Blue is the shortest and red the longest.

“Hm.”

“Different length lightwaves travel through space, and when they reach the atmosphere, they bounce off particles in the air. Like dust, water, and ice crystals, and tiny gas molecules. They scatter in lots of different directions.”

“Interesting.”

My subtle hints are failing to have an impact. She scrolls down. “When sunlight travels a short path through the atmosphere, tiny gas molecules scatter blue sunlight in all directions, making the sky blue. At sunrise and sunset, when light travels a long path, it’s mostly red and yellow.”

I sling an arm around her and sigh. “And I thought it was magic.”

She slides her phone into her pocket, and we “ooh” and “aah” as the sun bathes tiny gas molecules with gloriously long light waves.

“You know what else it said?” Apparently, my little scientist isn’t finished.

“What?”

“That the clouds are a canvas on which nature paints her colors.”

“I like that,” I say.

“I thought you would. You see? It’s magic after all.”

***

In response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday #Writephoto prompt.

This is a work of fiction.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives 2020- #ShortStory – Sign by D. Wallace Peach

A second “magical” story from my archives shared by the lovely Sally Cronin, blogger extraordinaire. I hope you enjoy this bit of flash fiction. If you visit, take a moment to check out her amazing blog. Have a great week. ❤

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post: New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the second post by author Diana Wallace Peach and it is another short story in response to the Sue Vincent’s magical #writephoto prompt.

Sign by D. Wallace Peach.

Belladonna Shadowbend climbed the creaky stairs of her dead aunt’s ancient Victorian home. Gossamer cobwebs draped the corners like grayed wedding veils. The eyeballs in the portraits tracked her progress, and a transparent child hissed from the next landing. Belladonna rolled her eyes and blew out a sigh. Honestly, so cliched.

Witchcraft had become so trendy among modern teenagers that Belladonna considered it passé. Gone were the glorious days when witches drowned tied to chairs or…

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Ritual #Tanka Tuesday

image copyright 2019 Willow Willers

Ritual

mehndi
love painted hands
palms offering the world
the beauty of hearts awakened
sacred

umber
scented color
my bridal ritual
bless me with joyful abundance
wisdom

sweet love
enchant my skin
butterflies transform me
lotus stirs my soul to flower
freedom

water
ripples of change
sunbirds carry my prayers
on gossamer dragonfly wings
reborn

guide me
auspicious art
drawn in ancient symbols
even the gods and goddesses
adorned

 

**

My first crown cinquain ever.
Written in response to Colleen Chesebro’s #Tanka Tuesday challenge.
The prompt this week was this beautiful photo by Willow Willers.

Smorgasbord Posts From Your Archives 2020 – #Shortstory – Clarifying Shampoo by D. Wallace Peach

I’m over at Sally Cronin’s today with a short story from my archives. It’s a bit of silliness about magical shampoo. Thank you, Sally! Comments are closed here, so I hope you head over to read. And take a peek at Sally’s amazing site while your there. 🙂

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the new series of Posts from Your Archives in 2020 and if you would like to participate with two of your posts from 2019, you will find all the details in this post:New series of Posts from Your Archives 2020

This is the first post by author Diana Wallace Peach...and it is a short story, and for those of you (us) who sometimes get into a bit of a dither, it is very clarifying…..

Image Pixabay combo

Betsy over at Parenting is Funny was recently musing over a bottle of clarifying shampoo (yes, it’s a real thing). Her blog is a hoot, and I encourage you to visit. Her post popped a story into my head. I hope you enjoy.

Clarifying Shampoo by D. Wallace Peach

Clara was born a Libra. Not the normal kind of Libra with a smattering of other signs in her…

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Need Reviews? Try Goodreads Reading Rounds

Reviews are Important, right?

There are a fair number of posts on the internet about how to rustle up book reviews.

  • We can add a plea to our author’s pages.
  • We can give away copies of our books (with a disclaimer stating that a review is optional, of course).
  • We can research top reviewers of books like ours, make lists, send emails, try not to be annoying.
  • We can pay to add our books to lists where potential reviewers can download copies.
  • We can hire marketing professionals.
  • We can badger, beg, remind, reward, and ask nicely.

I browse the web once in a while, looking for the miracle formula.

You guessed it – I never find it.

However, I did find a Goodread’s Review Group and have participated several times in Reading Rounds. Their process is “Amazon Approved” because the reviews aren’t reciprocal.  I actually like this no-fuss process. The reviews are honest, timely, and just about guaranteed.

How Reading Rounds work:

Ten people sign up to read each other’s books. Author One reads the books written by authors 2, 3, 4, and 5.  Author Two reads books by authors 3, 4, 5, 6. The sequence continues and wraps around forming a circle. Everyone ends up giving and receiving four honest reviews.

Considerations and a few rules:

Four reviews for no fuss. All you have to do is read four books. You don’t get your pick of books; they are assigned by a moderator who makes sure that there’s no reciprocation.

No cost. Your only commitment is to read. This commitment is taken seriously by the group.

Guaranteed reviews (almost). It’s possible that someone will sign up and then blow off a review. If they do, they lose the privilege to participate in the future. I have received all reviews from every round in which I’ve participated, so I think this problem is very rare.

A schedule of due dates for reviews is posted by the moderator. There’s always plenty of time read and review (about 3 weeks per book).

Reviews are honest and Goodreads authors are a tough crowd. Unless a book is one of those “loved” finds, don’t count on 5-stars.

DNF (Did Not Finish) is not permitted. You must read the book from start to end, even if it has no punctuation, the writing is incoherent, and it’s 700 pages long.

You can only participate in one Reading Round at a time.

Reading Rounds are set up based on broad genre parameters. This increases the chance readers will enjoy the books assigned to them. The most common groupings are:

  • Out of this World – Speculative Fiction: fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, horror
  • In this World – Anything but Speculative Fiction
  • General – Just as stated, this group is open to all types of books. My only warning is that you may end up with some of those reviews that start with: “I don’t usually read (this genre)…”
  • 18+ – This group seems geared toward books with sex/erotica. I submitted a violent grim-dark fantasy and got a couple of those “I don’t usually read this genre” reviews. Just be forewarned.
  • Less frequently, there are groups specifically for novellas, YA, or children’s books.

Finally, it’s fun to discover new favorite authors, make friends, and dip into genres that you might never have thought to try.

Here’s the link to the Goodreads Review Group and think about joining (you can always drop out if it isn’t for you). Once joined, click on “Reading Rounds,” check out the complete rules, and think about giving it a try. If a group is forming it will state “forming” in the title.

Happy Reading and Reviewing.

Winter’s Creative Gift

image: pixabay

pixabay free images/ Anja Osenberg

The holidays come to a hectic close and my favorite time of year ambles in. Here in Oregon, if you gaze out the window at the January weather, you’ll find a misty, drippy, icy, foggy-soggy mess, at least through May. That gives me five whole months of lighter obligations and a complete lack of guilt for not “enjoying the weather.” In a climate boasting only four months of sunshine, the Vitamin D police are checking every household for us slackers.

For quite a few creative sorts, our pursuits get back-burnered by other more pressing responsibilities – jobs, violin lessons, soccer practice, staining the deck, grocery shopping, sorting socks…it’s amazing that anything in the world ever gets painted, composed, sculpted, or tapped out on the keyboard.

We, who aren’t independently wealthy or already famous, squeeze precious moments for inspiration from the cracks of our crowded lives. We hide in our cubbyholes, our converted attics, our bedrooms and garages. (Oh, I’ve written in the bathroom too). We rise before dawn with a steamy cup of coffee, kiss our lovers goodnight and stay up with the stars. A weekend alone isn’t a time for melancholy wishes; it’s a little taste of heaven with a neglected muse.

Creative time is sacred time, hours marked with inky conviction on the calendar that can’t be erased. As artists, we need to cultivate a belief in the importance of what we do, even when other duties jostle for our attention. We need to believe in the intrinsic value of our art, even when no paycheck arrives in the mail. We need to honor our creative calling and spirit of inspiration, even when the doubters tell us how nice it is we have a hobby to fill our free time!

In Oregon, the winter weather comes bearing the creative gift of unassigned hours. No matter where you live, dedicate a few empty squares of your calendar to nourish your creative soul and save the dates as you would for your child’s wedding. Be resolved.

Book Review – Kari’s Reckoning – The Rose Shield Book 4

I woke up this morning to the promise of snow, a day of blogging, and a wonderful review . Jessica finished my Rose Shield series and posted a review of the final book. I’m thrilled and honored that she took the time to read the whole series and share her thoughts. If the power stays on, it’s going to be a perfect day. Thanks, Jess ❤

Jessica Bakkers

It’s been a few weeks (and a few books) since I finished the epic conclusion to D. Wallace Peach’s fantasy series, The Rose Shield, and naughty me hasn’t yet written the review this book – nay, this series – deserves. So, without further ado….

Kari’s Reckoning – The Rose Shield Book IV – D. Wallace Peach

Kari's Reckoning (The Rose Shield Book 4) by [Peach, D. Wallace]This – the fourth book and conclusion to the Rose Shield series – delivers action, intrigue, emotional sucker-punches, surprises, and a solid satisfying ending to a wonderful adventure series that has largely followed protagonist Catling and her struggles in a world of politics and influence.

In this installment, Peach really brings home the themes of power, morality and free-will that she’s toyed with throughout the series, and not a single character comes through the battlefield of the series without scars – be they physical or emotional… or both.

The power struggle becomes the epicenter…

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Lament

image from indiatimes.com

“Climate change.” My elderly father taps the newspaper. “What do they think? That we can just close down businesses? Give up our cars? Stop eating hamburgers? No one’s going to go along with that.”

I don’t respond, our perspectives so far apart, words can’t bridge the chasm.

“And why should I care?” he asks the paper. “I’m not going to be around when it all goes to hell.”

My grandson plays in front of the television, watching superhero cartoons. His great grandfather flicks the remote. The child stills, silent, stares. Silhouettes of kangaroos leap across the burning sky, a world on fire.

Lament your future
As we grant with apathy
A burned legacy
God bless the little children
We bequeath a blazing world

**

Note: Apologies to my father for the portrayal. This is so NOT him.
I can’t get the photos of Australia’s fires out of my head.
I’m heartbroken.

Tried and (Still) True: Book Review

Happy New Year.

It’s the time of year for resolutions. And what could be better than taking a few steps toward a happier, healthier, bountiful, and more compassionate life?

Four years ago, I read Erik Tyler’s book, The Best Advice so Far, and reviewed it here. Well, he has a second book out, and I was curious to see what new (or age-old) wisdom this author, mentor, and public-speaker has to offer. As expected, I gobbled it down in a matter of days.

My review is below, but I thought it would be fun to explore this author’s relationship with his advice. I gave him one question, and he was kind enough to reply.

The Question:

In my experience, Erik, sometimes in the process of writing, we aren’t only imparting information, but learning from it. I may be off the mark here, but I’m guessing that you have a favorite expression from your book, one that felt particularly personal or moving or insightful. Care to share what it is and how it’s changed you?

Eriks Reply:

Wow, that’s a tough one.

They all resonate with me personally for different reasons. But a stand-out for me would have to be “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” It’s never been so easy to not only criticize others but to do it publically. And this culture of negativity and ridicule weighs heavily on me.

I mean, we’re living in a strange time where even leaders at the highest level are having “Tweet storms” of petty hate and meanness on a daily basis. Empathy, compassion and respect take a real hit when we give in to this.

In the book, I talk about a tendency I had when I was younger to “people-watch” with friends in public places and to make critical comments about strangers. I included the strategies that helped break that habit. This was about “past me.” Yet as I continued to write this particular chapter, I noticed areas where I’d again allowed myself to pick up new stones in different areas.

It’s one of the great things about writing what I write: it keeps me honest. Being so aware of stones and my own glass house allowed me to once again reevaluate myself and make new choices for change. And that always opens my eyes and heart.

In fact, even in the nitty-gritty process of getting the e-book files for this book prepared, there was a stretch where I needed to interact with customer service people. It was stressful and tedious. And the easiest thing was to reach for those proverbial stones.

But having all of this fresh in my mind, I had this voice saying, “OK, are you going to take the easy route right now and be a hypocrite? Or are you going to put that stone down and treat people with kindness and respect, the way you write about, the way you’d want to be treated?”

So I’m definitely not just writing this stuff. I’m facing it daily, making choices about it myself, just as I hope any other person reading the book will be doing.

Diana‘s Review:

I enjoyed Tyler’s book The Best Advice So Far and looked forward to this new one, curious to see what wisdom this author, mentor, and public-speaker would produce. Tried and (Still) True is a reflection on proverbs of the past (one dating back to Socrates) that have stood the test of time: know thyself, haste makes waste, and a stitch in time saves nine, to name a few.

Most of us have heard these sayings before and know what they mean. But Tyler takes that meaning a step farther and gleans from each expression valuable lessons applicable to life in today’s world. The reader is presented with a deeper perspective, and most importantly, a way to practice that wisdom and become a kinder, happier, and more self-aware person. Who doesn’t need that in the divisive world we find ourselves?

Each chapter includes the history of the particular saying, most of them centuries old. In addition, each chapter ends with three questions for contemplation and a challenge that encourages readers to try something new—or try something old in a new way. The challenges are practice runs at changing our perceptions, getting unstuck, making satisfying choices, being empathetic, or grateful.

This isn’t a particularly short book, and yet I read it in days. Tyler’s writing is well-organized and well-edited, in addition to being peppered with personal anecdotes – most practical, some touching, and some laugh-out-loud hilarious. I found plenty of sensible advice conveyed in a way that I can apply it to my life. Highly recommended to readers of self-help books, and readers who want to learn to live a happier, healthier, bountiful, and more compassionate life.

Amazon Global Link: Tried and (Still) True is only $.99 through January 7th,

Erik’s Blog: The Best Advice So Far

 

Goodreads 2019 Challenge

2019 is old news now and what a crazy, hectic year it was – spending weeks on the road, living in other people’s houses, and sitting in doctor’s offices and emergency rooms. I’m glad it’s over, but there were a few highlights – especially when it came to reading.

My Goodreads reading goal was a whopping 30 books.  I read 100! 

What fun to browse the covers and remember all the books that kept me sane. Do you see yours in there?

If you do, THANK YOU!

 

What’s your reading goal for 2020?