Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

IWSG, Hurricane Update, Being Thankful

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts: Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Renee Scattergood, and Tamara Narayan!


This month's question is:  When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

I'm in such a slump right now I don't know how to answer that question. I'm struggling to even get this post out! And by the way, I'm working today, so I won't be coming around to visit. And I'm working tomorrow (Thursday) too. I'm often so tired at the end of the day it's about all I can do to stay awake for a TV show! IF I do get around to visit your blogs, it'll be Friday or over the week-end. Notice that big IF.


Hurricane Update - Seven months out
Things are about the same in the islands. There's good, there's bad, and there's ugly. Like the rat infestation at my sister's house, which occurred after Hurricane Marilyn in 1989. It's something most everyone has to deal with. My sister, who has been bitten by just about everything, including a baby octopus and a ground spider (aka tarantula) can now add a rat to the list. It was "stuck in a glue trap. I'm whacking at it with a broom stick, and it's front legs are free so it manages to crawl, angrily, over my foot and bite my right 'ring' toe. No big deal. At least we have healthy rodents." She treated the bite with iodine and aloe and it's healing without a problem. That's life on a tropical island.

Thought I'd also share this drone video taken less than 2 weeks ago of the National Park Campground at Cinnamon Bay, St. John. The campground remains closed and I don't know when work will begin with clean-up and rebuilding or when it will reopen. The walls that remain of the building on the beach are all that's left of one of the oldest buildings on the island, over 300 years old. The huge rain tree in the opening shots is struggling to come back.

I won't lie, this make my heart ache. I have to keep reminding myself that nothing stays the same, that up and coming generations will have no memory of what it was like "before", and that nature has a miraculous way of returning, even if it's different from what sang in my heart as a child. What is gone, is gone. The beach and the ocean, however, remain beautiful as ever. And... there is still so much more work to be done.




Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for beautiful spring weather and flowers in our back yard. We even had some much needed rain. (Do you see the bee?

And feeding bees sugar water!
Since I kept bees for a while, I like giving them a little kick-start in the spring.
Plus, the hummingbirds are back in force!

What are you thankful for? How do you pull yourself out of a writing slump? Do you feed bees?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

IWSG, Hurricane Update, Being Thankful

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner!

Yes! That's me co-hosting! 

This month's question is:  How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/ finish a story?

Hmm. How do I celebrate? I don't do anything special, I simply bask in the feeling of accomplishment. 

Of course first, I have to achieve something and so far this year I haven't done a thing. I need help getting motivated to get back into revising my novel. Any suggestions? 

Hurricane Update - IrMaria six months out
My sister's second car, named Yeknod (which translates to donkey backwards and is the work vehicle) is back on the road! The hood and windshield were smashed and have been repaired. Head lights, tail lights and mirrors all work and she proudly bares some good dents from the storm. 

The other big news is that our "anchor" renter, a restaurant named Morgan's Mango, on St. John reopened February 26th!

The restaurant before and after Hurrican Irma.

Light check the day before reopening.

The owners, Carlos and Maria, hanging the new sign

 Morgan's Mango 2.0.



The remains of my sister's meal on opening night.

Being Thankful
Today I'm not only thankful for the reopening of Morgan's Mango, 
I'm thankful for signs of spring here in the Texas Hill Country



 
Large flocks of laughing robins and whistling cedar waxwings
Pears and redbud trees in bloom
A sleepy lizard basking in the sun
Butterflies flitting by
A pink corn flower and blue iris
Budding agarita
Mocking birds singing in the spring 
Rain! with thunder and lightening 

Crickets chirping the world to sleep
For those of you still locked in winter, 
fear not, 
believe, and know,
Spring is on her way

What are you thankful for? How do you celebrate achievements? Got any suggestions for me on how to get motivated to finish edits/revisions/corrects on my novel?

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

IWSG, Hurricane Update, Being Thankful

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Stephen Tremp, Pat Garcia, Angela Wooldridge, Victoria Marie Lees, and Madeline Mora-Summonte!


This month's question is: What do you love about the genre you write in most often?



I write mostly for children, and mostly for middle grade, those 10 to 12 year-old tweeners who are still (hopefully) wide-eyed innocent kids. They are curious explorers, they still (hopefully) like their parents, they may even still (hopefully) believe in things like Santa Claus, magic, elves and fairies. They can be stubborn and sometimes rebellious, but are generally not deliberately angry and hostile. They are growing their flight feathers and making a ruckus in the nest by flapping their wings to make them strong for the day they fledge. They are my favorite age group and I can trace this love back to my own life. It's the magic and wonder I experienced that I want to pass on. And so, my stories have a little magic and wonder woven into them. 

IrMaria Update
It's been five (5!) months since the worst storms in VI history hit the islands and devastated them. But Mother Nature, who can be so destructive, is also a most forgiving goddess. Here is a picture of Magens Bay, on St. Thomas. Miraculously, trees stripped bare of leaves and beaches stripped bare of trees, have returned in emerald splendor.

Things continue to move forward. No, my sister still doesn't have electricity but the reason for that is because she lost part of her roof and she'll need to hire an electrician to inspect and hook her up. In the mean time she is preparing for the day when she'll actually be able to begin repairs on the house by packing up what can be salvaged and putting it into storage. It's a mourning process as she says good-bye to most of her books and electronics and her craft projects. The whole third floor needs to be cleared out so that the old floor can be pulled up, a new floor laid down and a new porch roof installed. All of this will take time and it may be a long while before it all happens.

That said, she is in excellent health and good spirits. The feral hens that skulk about her yard are giving her eggs. Plant life has returned and everything is green and blooming. The beaches are open and tourists are slowly making a comeback. The end of January she went out fishing with a friend and sent me this beautiful picture taken at the end of the day. No fish were caught, but she had a good time.

Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for my strong and resilient sister. 


What are you thankful for? What do you love about the genre you write in? Ever raised or dealt with feral chickens? 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

IWSG, Flaming Crimbes Blogfest, Hurricane Update, Being Thankful

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts: Tyrean Martinson, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Megan Morgan, Jennifer Lane, and Rachna Chhabria!

This month's question is: 
What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

As a Christmas/New Years present to myself, I cleaned and straightened up my writing area which was a mess and an indication of my mental and emotional state. Below are before and after shots. There's still work to be done, cleaning and organizing, but it's not overwhelming. My intention this year is to get back into revisions and edits on my Tibetan novel, A Piece of the Sky, and find some BETA readers.  And, I feel hopeful that I'll soon get back to work on my novel. That doesn't really answer this month's question, but it's the best I can do.


 Before










After










***


Today I'm taking part in Chrys Fey's 

Flaming Crimes Blogfest




Prompt: What is something ridiculous you would save if there was a fire?

What I would save is not ridiculous to me, though it might seem so others. But it would be this, my red elephant, Ellie, that I've had since I was 6 months old, and FuFu the stuffed puppy my husband's had since he was 2 years old.

Check out other participants below!










Series: Disaster Crimes #4

Page Count: 304 

Digital Price: 4.99 
Print Price: 16.99
Rating: Spicy (PG13) 

BUY LINKS:

BLURB: Beth and Donovan are now happily married, and what Beth wants more than anything is a baby. Her dream of starting a family is put on hold as fires burn dangerously close and Donovan becomes a victim of sabotage.

Donovan escapes what could've been a deadly wreck. Their past enemies have been eliminated, so who is cutting brake lines and leaving bloody messages? He vows to find out, for the sake of the woman he loves and the life they're trying to build.

Amidst a criminal mind game, a fire ignites next to their home. They battle the flames and fight to keep their house safe from the blaze pressing in on all sides, but neither of them expects to confront a psychotic adversary in the middle of the inferno.

Their lives may just go up in flames…



About the Author: Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. She’s partnered with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and runs their Goodreads book club. She’s also an editor for Dancing Lemur Press.

Author Links:





***
Hurricane Irma Update
My sister is doing well although, four months later, she still has no electricity. However, she was given a generator, is shopping for a refrigerator, and looking forward to the day when she can make ice-cubes, freeze some chicken, and keep a few fresh vegetables. All  my cousins in Puerto Rico have electricity though for many, many people outside of San Juan, day to day living is still a huge struggle.

St. John is coming along nicely. The National Park and  all the beaches are open, thanks to many people coming from parks all across the U.S., who have cleared away debris not only from the beaches but from all the many wonderful walking trails the island has. It is a wonderful time to visit the islands. The weather is perfect and the beaches are empty, very like it was in the 60s early 70s. It won't be like this forever. Many B and Bs, villas and small hotels are open, as are restaurants and retail shops. However, if one is looking for luxury, few of the big hotels are open and most won't be until 2019.

Trunk Bay, St. John. The ruffled effect of the waves on the sand is new. 
(photo by my friend Radha Speer)

Yes, there are still problems. Yes, electricity, cell phone service and internet is mostly spotty. Yes, rebuilding things like the hospitals hasn't started yet. Yes, some roads are still in need of repair. Yes building supplies are in such high demand they are hard to come by. Yes there are problems with local and federal government help being haphazard at best, nonexistent at worst.

Yes, there's more... AND
***
Being Thankful
I'm thankful for every inch of recovery,
for every giving and compassionate person who has worked or is working towards wholeness, particularly the hundreds of linemen who have worked and are continuing to work 7 days a week,
and,
for every beautiful rainbow that's posted on Facebook.
(photo by my friend, Eleanor Gibney)
What are you thankful for? Have a New Years Resolution or goal? Are you going to hop around and see what other ridiculous things people would save from a fire?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

IWSG, an UPDATE, and BEING THANKFUL

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts: Julie Flanders, Shannon Lawrence, Fundy Blue, and Heather Gardner!

This month's question is: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?
I think I would have worked more diligently on the revising/editing of my novel during the first half of the year, which got set aside once the hurricanes hit the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. But I won't beat myself up about it. Some things are just more important, like being a link to family in the VI with the "outside" world.

For the time being, I've decided to post once a month on IWSG Wednesdays. It's one small way for me to keep in touch with this wonderful blogging community. 


Post Hurricane Irma/Maria Update
It's been three months, today, since Irma slammed into the Virgin Islands. To say I've been on an emotional roller coaster ride is an understatement. It's been hard to wrap my head around 185 to 200 mph sustained wind with gusts of up to 250 mph. Nothing is quite like it was. The beach landscapes have completely changed with the loss of palm trees and ancient seagrape trees. 300 and 400 year-old trees are gone as are some 300+ year-old Danish buildings.  If that weren't enough, just two weeks later, the VI and Puerto Rico were smacked by Maria. What wasn't damaged by Irma was certainly tested by the terrible flooding. And Puerto Rico... There are still many people in the mountains who have not yet been reached... We will never know the true death toll.

I am reminded daily that NOTHING stays the same.

The most unsettling experience for me was watching a video taken on St. John a week or so after the horrendous flooding of Maria. As a kid I had the the whole island as my playground, I know this place. I know the roads, the landmarks, the trees... and yet, as I watched the video I couldn't tell where it was taken. I was completely disoriented and it was disconcerting to not recognize my beautiful island. The trees were blasted, not a leaf left anywhere. Barren twisted sticks stuck out of the hillsides looking for all the world like they had been consumed by massive fires or been flattened by bombs. Debris was everywhere piled 6 and 8 feet deep.

I confess, I've become a little obsessed wanting to find out what trees survived. The lignum vitae in Miss Meada's yard and the "plum" tree across the street, the tyre palms on Trunk Cay, the ancient tamarinds at East End and Lameshur, the mahoganys in Cruz Bay, the kapok at Caneel, the rain tree and bay trees at Cinnamon. On St. Thomas the baobabs and mamee apples , the tamarind at Nisky, the guavaberry tree, tyre palm and bay trees at my sister's house. I have wept as I learned the fate of each, whether it survived, was damaged, or is gone... Some I have yet to hear about.

I didn't realize how attached I was to the trees, how much each and every one meant to me. Landmarks in my life, landmarks pointing the way... "turn left at the tamarind and at the first flamboyant turn right." Landmarks imprinted on my soul, beating in my heart, swimming in my blood.
The Raintree at Cinnamon.
Scarred, but alive.
Photo by Radha Speer


 The lignum vitae in Miss Meada's yard 
featured in my novel, The Bowl and the Stone
Lost limbs but has put on new leaves.
photo by Radha Speer

But some things will take generations to return to some semblance of what they were before.
(Pictures courtesy of Radha Speer, a friend of mine on St. John)
Before Irma, Gibney Beach, St. John.
After. 

And yet, life goes on. Some people, whether they have lost everything or not, stay and rebuild. Some people, who have have lost everything and have the means, have left. And life goes on. And nothing stays the same, everything changes. 

As my sister and I have, for the time being, lost our income source (like just about everyone else) I now have a part time job...


Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful that my family and friends in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are safe, though day to day living is still difficult. I'm thankful that plant life is returning, that the hills are turning green, though the ecology may well be forever changed. I'm thankful that beaches are opening and the water is as beautiful as ever, though the shorelines have a totally different look. I'm thankful for the over 700 linemen who have come down from the states to replace power poles and string new line, though Puerto Rico is still struggling to get electricity to the city of San Juan. I'm thankful to the cruise lines who were the first to arrive with supplies and to help evacuate people and are now returning, a few ships at a time, bringing tourists, though their experience of the islands will be different than what it was pre-Irma. I'm thankful that my sister finally got her car out of her carport and is now able to drive herself around to run errands, though it took two months to clear the six foot wall of debris off her driveway and she is still without power. Daily I'm thankful for a myriad of small and large things and, as Christmas and the New Year approaches, will be thankful for many, many more.

And so, my new header picture is of a sunrise over St. John, taken from St. Thomas. Sunrise, because there is hope, because it is a new day. Because the people are VI STRONG, and like the Phoenix will rise again.

What are you thankful for?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hurricane Irma

As some of you may know, Hurricane Irma slammed into the Caribbean with a force never experienced before, and is still working her way through Florida.

All of my family on St. John, St. Thomas, and Puerto Rico are present and accounted for. I'm confident my cousins in Florida will be okay as they are on the east coast.

To say the area is devastated is an understatement. It will be 3 to 6 months before power is restored to everyone. It will take years to recover.

My sister, who lives on St. Thomas and I, were/and are mightily blessed to have had cell phone communication throughout. At the height of the storm we were talking and she said, in this very calm voice from the bathtub where she was huddled, "There goes the roof." Luckily it was "only" her porch rood which was picked up and hurled over the rest of the house and landed a good 40 feet on the hillside behind her house. Perhaps caused by one of those 200 plus mph gusts...

The trees and bushes have been blasted, branches twisted off, tossed aside and leaves stripped off. Many trees have had the bark stripped off them. One has to wonder how many trees will die.

If you have the stomach, a few random pictures with locations.

A section of our property on St. John. Most of the buildings survived in tact but have damage. The mahogany tree on the right will come back as will the tree on the left.

Cruz Bay, St. John
 Cruz Bay, St. John. That's three boats piled on the beach next to the ferry dock.

St. Thomas - The difference between a good roof and cheap roof. Cost-U-Less, a large bulk grocery store. In front, relatively untouched, the movie theater and shops. 

Boat yard - St. Thomas


 Disappearing road - St. Thomas

 Looking towards town - St. Thomas

Beautiful Magens Bay - St. Thomas

The Harbor and down town - St. Thomas

 Typical hillside - St. Thomas


Random damage - St. Thomas








The famous Bluebeard's Castle, St. Thomas

Interior of the hospital, St. Thomas. Despite a concrete roof the 3rd and 4th floors were destroyed. Patients have been evacuated to St. Croix and Puerto Rico.

A church on St. Thomas.


Good news, within three days the Navy arrived with a hospital ship along with the Marines. People in Puerto Rico, which wasn't nearly as affected is shuttling supplies and help back and forth from the eastern port of Fajardo. These private citizens are also taking people to PR who are in need of medical services. The Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean are sending ships to drop off supplies and pick up stranded people. All a body needs is have a passport if it can be found... Aid is coming from the 3 or more million Virgin Islanders, including Tim Duncan, who live across the U.S. The air strip is open (though the airport building was damaged) for relief and charter flights only.

Please keep my beautiful island home, and all those in the Caribbean affected by this storm, in your thoughts and prayers.

It is a bizarre and surreal experience to watch TV or open my fridge or sleep under a roof or drive unhindered to the grocery store or flip on a light switch or turn on a water tap, when I know my sister will not be able to do any of those things for a long time.

I will be off my blog for an indefinite period of time.

Being Thankful
I'm thankful all my family and friends are alive and okay.