Death in the Fire Swamp

20180202_211428811_iOSA couple of times a year my mother, sister and I spend a girls’ weekend away from the hustle and mundaneness of everyday life. This past weekend we set off on one of these said adventures.  Our journey took us to Ravenwood Castle in New Plymouth, OH.  We participated in a murder-mystery themed weekend entitled: Death in the Fire Swamp. When my sis asked us whether we’d like this get-away weekend as a Christmas gift, I immediately texted back, “I’m in!” without really reading the fine print (oops!) The Princess Bride is my all-time favorite movie, so I figured, why not?

We surmised we might be in over our heads when a few weeks before we received an email from the nice Mr. Denham requesting baby photos for wanted posters, encouraging us to dress up and bring fake clues and reminding us it was a 24/7 adventure for which we might want to sleep with one eye open! All three of us where thinking the same thing: “WTF did we sign up for!?!” Alas in line with my “Be Brave” mantra of 2018, we emailed our pics and briefly discussed and then dismissed the idea of wearing costumes. Going in we knew this was not going to be our typical girls’ weekend of mani/pedis, followed by a bit of shopping and maybe taking in a chic flit and holing up in our hotel room to read a good book with a glass of Moscato in quiet, uninterrupted bliss.

For a trio of introverts, this elaborate weekend expertly put on by the Shadow Stalkers was a bit outside our (my – I really should only speak for myself) comfort zone. Luckily we were part of a team that included two hilarious sisters from Long Island that almost single-handedly found all the items on our scavenger hunt (such as an interaction with a fire department and feeding a live white deer!) and the Scooby Doo gang from Columbus.  Our mission was to determine who killed Miracle Max’s assistant, find a missing diamond, bring back various items in a scavenger hunt and participate in night searches to recover body parts (fake ones of course) to earn bonus points. Additionally there were other puzzles and brain teasers to solve mystery artifacts, pictures and bones to identify as well as well as an insurance policy number to secure.

20180203_151502221_iOSWithin hours of arriving at the castle, my mom had contracted “the grip” and had to speak with her fist on her head when she spoke and wear a look of extreme constipation. Luckily a healer was on site and eventually she was cured. At breakfast the next morning; however, my sis and I found out that we had an unfortunate brush with the killer the previous evening and were now “mostly dead.” By the end of the weekend all but one of our teammates was “mostly dead.”  While our team came in last place and didn’t find the diamond or sleuth out who the killers were, I think it is safe to say well all had a good time (thanks sis!).

Although I probably won’t sign up for another murder mystery weekend (especially ones with zombies), I would go back to Ravenwood Castle. When I awoke Sunday morning to a beautiful dusting of snow,  I found myself rethinking how much I usually hate snow, the cold and anything winter. (Being a February baby you’d think I’d be a winter person, but no.) As the snowflakes gently wafted down and settled in my hair, I wandered about and made the first footprints in the untouched snow and snapped some photos with my iPhone along the way.  My heart thawed just a little, teeny bit at the beauty winter can bring. I could have spent hours exploring and taking photos from various angles.  I can imagine myself spending a long weekend taking photos, writing and of course reading in this beautiful setting. While these seem like solitary endeavors to some for me it is exactly what I need. I feel comfort when my loved ones are sitting in the same room with me as we each enter our own imaginary worlds and as we escape into our books. I enjoy walking and chatting and of course laughing as we take funny pics along the way. Even more than the time away, I appreciate coming back home to my girls. This weekend embraced all of that and more.

Here are some of my favorite pics from the weekend. Enjoy!

What do you like to do on your get away weekends?




Gratitude = Happiness

Chowing on nachos with a good friend of mine, she reminded me that when life gets you down to focus on what makes you happy.  (Thanks Stace).  She pointed out that I have a good job and can pay my bills,  my children are healthy,  I have a supportive family and friends as well as a warm house to come home to.  She’s absolutely right. I know she’s right. I just need that friendly reminder when that pity-party band starts playing in my head – LOL.

Focusing on random aches and pains, complaining about the dysfunction in our world,  stressing over the minor obstacles in my life and pining after what I don’t have, absolutlely brings me down.  Yes, I do need to set goals and make little changes and take action to acheive my dreams, but I need to do so in a positive way.  I need to make time for myself and let myself be me. So I’ve come back to gratitude.  Remembering what I am grateful for and reminding myself that I am enough and I have enough, genuinely leads to happy feelings and drives my blues away.

Beyond those obvious “BIG” things I am truly grateful for (my children, family, friends, health, home  and job), I played back the last few days in my life and found little things that I am grateful for…in no particular order:

  • Giving my cockapoo a shampoo and blow out at the self-serve dog bath with my teenager. He smells great and looks positively fluffy.
  • Writing with a brand new gel pen. There’s next to nothing more satisfying than writing that first stroke with a new pen:)
  • Stocking up at the olive bar. (Need I say more?)
  • Listening to the Coffee House channel.  Even though I am musically inept, listening to music while reading a good book lifts me up every time.
  • Eating a yummy waffle sandwich (Again, need I say more?)
  • Watching an old movie in the dark. Just like a good book, a good movie is good for the soul (happy endings only, please).
  • Playing with a new fun photo editing app.
  • Dropping my daughter off at her first job (brought back memories for another post).
  • Being reminded by my friends to keep on keeping on.
  • Writing this blog post and hopefully resonanting with other grateful people.

What random things are you grateful for? Please comment below.

The Story Teller

20170919_230223573_iOSSometimes as I read back over my words, I am amazed that they came from the depths of my mind.  Did I really write that?  I muse.  I try to think back to my former self that had those particular thoughts on that particular day and remember. What was I feeling? What else happened? What circumstances led me to write those exact words? If I’d written them at another time on a another day would they have been different?  As I look at an old blog post, or journal entry or some odd story I wrote, I am reminded of how human I am and how far I’ve come.  My journey has taken many twists and turns, yet my words still remain true to me.  The same themes thread their way through my life connecting them together and giving me the voice that the shy, little girl within me would have a hard time speaking aloud. I have changed and grown, but I am still the same. I am me, uncompromised.

I watch my daughters as they are becoming young women. I am filled with pride and hope and love. They are finding their own voices each in their unique ways. A smile comes to my lips when I find the little stories and essays they have written. The letters and notes I find. They too have a love of expressing themselves in words and creating a story from their imaginations. Of all the quirks and neuroses I have passes on to these two, this is the one that I am grateful to have inspired in them.

20170919_225524589_iOSA few months ago my fifth-grade daughter and I were down in the dredges of our basement, trying to organize our “craft” room. She came upon a tote in the back corner labeled “writing and stuff” and pried off the lid. (Yes, we were supposed to be putting stuff away.)  Here eyes got wide and she became so excited as she found a pile of old and I mean OLD stories that I had penned back in the day. She took them upstairs and made me read them all to her.  I laughed as she did she as we landed upon her favorite, “Pedro the Great.”  Ahhh good old Pedro the Great was inspired by my childhood dog – a chihuahua named, of course, Pedro. In my little tale, Pedro is a disco-dancing super hero. I illustrated it myself (as you can see in the picture above.)  I explained to her that I was the exact same age that she is now when I wrote that story – fifth grade. I told her we didn’t have computers (way back then in the old days) and had to use a typewriter (what’s that?”) and I used markers to draw the pics. She was even more impressed when I told her that my teacher read it to our class. I have no recollection of how that came to happen – I think I must have asked her to read it and she humored me. I was proud of my story though and she encouraged me to write.

20170919_222745525_iOSI hadn’t given much thought to Pedro since that evening, until I came home from work a couple of days ago — tired and ready to veg. Usually when I come home the girls are watching TV or doing homework or playing outside, but on this particular day, she ran into the garage to meet me. In her hands was her very own story, “Maggie the Magnificent.”  MTM is also a super-hero dog named after our Jack Russell mix, who I’m not sure I would describe as magnficent (based on the growing pile of chewed up bras, undies, pens, shoes and Barbies in her wake or the number of times a week she wakes me up a 3 AM to pee), none-the-less, my daugher’s version of MTM is larger than life. My daugher was so proud of her story and I could see my ten-year old self in her. I loved her story.  She wants to get it published now and I encourage her to follow her dream. Her fifth grade ambitions are much higher than mine.  She’s working on the sequel now as she doesn’t want our other dog, Ollie, to feel left out. I agreed, he should get his story too. And, I can’t wait to read it.






Checking Up

Floating in and out
Of consciousness, I sleep
Not wanting to wake

Who taps my glass pane?
A glimpse of red wings, he flies
I smile. I’m ready…


Where Did November Go Already? Gone!

keyboardDecember 1 how did you get here so fast? Wasn’t it just yesterday the calendar read November 1?  Last year at this time a smile crept across my lips as I’d finished the first draft of my second novel the evening before with the help of the folks at the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) website. Every November thousands of writers take up the “50,000 words in 30 days” challenge — daunting, but totally doable.

After meeting that challenge last November, I signed up for CampNaNoWriMo in July to knock out my third novel. The ideas and characters were in my mind waiting to make their way to be words and sentences on my netbook screen. Life happened and I didn’t even make it to the cabin check in. With the sun on my back and the wind in my face I focused on running and spending those summer days with my girls. I told myself I’d push my next novel to the spring instead of the fall and get that allusive draft done in November as I’d done the previous year.

November arrived and I started strong. The words flowed and the storyline progressed. Unfortunately for my characters (and the three or four readers awaiting my next book) life happened – mine that is. Interruptions (from children who should be sleeping) and distractions (like the new Nora Roberts and Barbara Freethy novels and a new season of Once Upon a Time) beckoned to me.

I tried to get back on track and then, as I often do when I know I should not, I checked the reviews of my books on Amazon. Every five-star and kind review makes me smile and feel good about my writing. I know logically, I can’t please every reader, however, those one-star reviews, have just as big of an effect on me as a writer as the five-star ones. I have a hard time blowing them off and tend to dwell on them and doubt my writing abilities. So, reading the review below in the beginning of my second week of writing, my motivation flagged and I just never got back to it… Here it is in its entirety…

If I could give it a -5 I would have.
I could not read the entire book. I’m sorry, I try to be fair but I cannot see how ANYONE in their right mind could give this book a 5, 4 or even a 3. I paid for the darn book based on reviews. These reviews have to be from family and friends of the author. I really wish I could get my money back. It was as if I were reading some teenager’s diary. Not sure how to describe the immature writing skills. The story might (big questionable might) have had a good storyline if it wasn’t for how this writer just dragged on and on on every single detail. For example, Mason taking a shower and every single detail about the towel and such…. really? It was a detailed description of EVERY SINGLE thought. I wanted to pull my hair out! The entire story was lame. This author needs a better editor if she has one at all. I’m sorry to say but don’t spend the money. I could not even finish the story.”

Sigh. Double-Sigh. I resisted responding and defending my position. The majority of the other reviews were not from my family members and personal friends. It should be enough that I know that, but it still doesn’t take the sting away from a bad review! After stewing on it and re-reading the positive reviews I’ve gotten on my first book and on this one as well, I realized that even though I failed to get that draft done in November, I shouldn’t give up. Writing is something I love and I shouldn’t let one hater take that away from me. Now, I just need to find that uninterrupted time away from distractions.  Early mornings? Late nights? I don’t know. I need to make it happen though!

Any ideas on finding the time to pursue your passions?

Huge Sale: Book Lovers Buffet May 1-3


The Buffet’s “Bouquet of Books” sale will be open May 1-3. More than 175 ebooks, all reduced in price to just 99 cents. Save in categories such as Young Adult, Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense, Erotic Romance, and more! PLUS, visit the website to win gift cards to your choice of online retailers. $400 in gift cards up for grabs!

Both of my contemporary romance novels are in the sale!

Take a Deep Breath - Shar DimickABNA Quarter-Finalist, Second Chance at Love: TAKE A DEEP BREATH
Liv Reynolds can’t remember when anxiety and panic didn’t play havoc on her life. Recently divorced from a man who wouldn’t or couldn’t understand her, she retreats with her daughter to her grandmother’s summer cottage on Lake of the Pines. Liv has fond memories of the summers she spent there with her grandparents. Always a safe haven, she hopes to spend the summer relaxing, healing and finding herself again. In the midst of a panic attack, she finds herself face-to-face with Cameron Preston, the boy with whom she’d spent her childhood summers. In love with him back then, she never found the courage to tell him and they drifted apart…Her heart leaps at the second chance for love. Confusion swamps her as she tries to figure out why Cam keeps pulling away… Can Liv rekindle their old friendship and to turn it into something more?

Cam quit his busy big-city medical practice exhausted and disillusioned. He returns to his family’s summer home on Lake of the Pines to regroup and determine where and what he wants to do next. When he runs into Liv, the girl he let slip away, he knows where wants to head and with whom. When Cam meets Liv’s eight-year-old daughter, he assumes Liv is married. He struggles to keep his feelings for Liv in check while resuming the friendship he desperately misses. His one regret was not kissing Liv all those years ago when he had the chance… He has never stopped loving Liv. Will he let her slip away again? Not if he has his way.

timecoverart200X300New Release, Blind Date Leads To True Love?: TAKE YOUR TIME
Content to hide behind her camera, Maddy Adams often feels more comfortable observing life rather than actively participating in it. For the past five years she’s focused only on her studies and building her photography career. The summer after her college graduation, Maddy returns to Lake of the Pines for her sister Liv’s wedding. While she’s happy her sister has found love again, Maddy wonders if she’ll ever find love herself. Her college roomie keeps pressuring her to go out with her older brother, who happens to be vacationing at the same lake. Maddy doesn’t want to go on another blind date, but after blowing it with the gorgeous man she met on the beach she doesn’t have anything to lose. Or does she?

Mason Ellis finds himself on a beautiful house boat docked at Lake of the Pines after finally taking his best friend’s long-standing invitation to visit. He has two long weeks away from his fast-paced software development business to relax and unplug if he can. Six months ago the woman he’d lived with for two years left him for someone else. Tired of meaningless hookups, Mason wants more, but is afraid of getting burned again. When he spies a woman on the beach taking his photo, he’s intrigued. However, when he finally meets the mystery photographer, she brushes him off. Meanwhile, his little sister keeps pestering him to go on a blind date with her old college roommate. Maybe a blind date is just what he needs to get back into the dating scene. It’s not like it will lead to anything more. Or will it?
bouquet-sale-button[4]In addition, you’ll find titles from popular authors such as:

·         Gemma Halliday
·         Angie Fox
·         Jenna Bennett
·         Amanda Brice
·         Jennette Marie Powell
·         Clover Autrey
·         Carly Carson
·         E. Ayers
·         Genevieve Jourdin
·         CJ Lyons
·         Renee Pace
·         Sophia Knightley
·         Tori Scott
·         Meredith Bond
·         Emily Ryan-Davis
·         Anthea Lawson
·         Diana Layne
·         Lindsey Brookes
·         Gina Robinson
·         McKenna Chase

And many, many more!

Load up, you won’t gain a pound!

Hosted by Indie Romance Ink.

If You’re “Zappy” and You Know It…

2013-01-29 09.07.38No, that isn’t a typo in the headline. And, I am definitely a little zappy today this last day of the A to Z April blog challenge. I’ve zig-zagged through the alphabet and made it all the way to Z! Yeah me! For those still wondering, according to my good friend, zappy is a slang word that means “energetic, lively, or fast-moving; zippy.”

While I typically would describe myself more as “zapped” than “zappy,” I am excited that I made it to the end of this 26-day, 26-letter writing challenge. I set a goal and accomplished it. That in and of itself, feels pretty damn good! On the flip side, I’m sad to see the challenge come to end. I’ve found some pretty interesting blogs and fellow bloggers along the way that I’ll continue to follow. I like having a focus or theme to help guide my writing. Without this challenge I never would have written 26 posts in one month. While I know I can’t keep up this pace and market my new book and write my third book, I hope I can find time to write two or three posts a week. Writing is my outlet, whether anyone reads my words or not, I’m still going to spew them.


If anyone knows of any other blogging challenges I’d love to hear about them!