Oct 102018
 

Those who did not grow up in the northeast might think that we native New Englanders eventually develop sort of a blasé attitude about the change of seasons. Personally, that could not be further from the truth: for as far back as I can remember the process has inspired awe.

When we lived on a dirt road in rural New Hampshire, there were lots of walks. I walked alone, with my husband, and with my dogs with their blaze orange tags. Despite the fact that we were too close for hunting, we all had our orange blaze. To the uninitiated, we may have looked like part of the changing landscape but it was a form of communication that made us all comfortable in our wandering. At the risk of sounding like a bumper sticker, not all who wander are lost. Our wandering rarely had a destination, it was all about the journey.

Our wandering rarely had a destination, it was always about the journey. Click To Tweet

As someone who has always loved photography, one would think I’d have — at the very least — hundreds of pictures of New England fall foliage. I don’t. I’ve tried, but quite honestly? They’re never good enough. I’m a decent photographer but those shots don’t even come close to capturing the surrounding beauty. I think it feels like living in a painting.

New Englanders are known for a certain hard-headed independence, captured in another masterpiece — one that is part of our psychic DNA. I don’t know if it’s as powerful in other parts of the country but for some of us, it’s a core experience.

This masterpiece is part of our psychic DNA. Click To Tweet

 

 

The Road Less Traveled
by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I think that the last stanza can be an anthem for entrepreneurs and creatives everywhere. My sisters. (And the occasional brother.) And, as I sit and write this, my heart tells me that, wherever you are, you are imbued with at least a little bit of that independent Yankee hard-headedness.

 

Do you have at least a little bit of that independent Yankee hard-headedness? Click To Tweet

 

Jul 302018
 

Las Vegas, Nevada is the last stop on our whirlwind tour of California and surrounds. Bright lights. Big city. Was in Vegas passiert… (German for “What happens in Vegas….”) I don’t drink or smoke. I don’t like crowds and, outside of real life, I rarely gamble. I’m married to a Buddhist and the kiddo traveling with us is too young for the casinos. What the hell am I doing here?

 

Was in Vegas passiert... (German for What happens in Vegas....) Click To Tweet

 

After our elopement, we came to Vegas on our honeymoon. As boring as I can be, I love Las Vegas. And, while the shows are fabulous and there’s ample opportunity to sample the work of celebrity chefs, that’s not it. We can see shows and eat great food in places with temperatures this side of Hades. (I know “it’s a dry heat” and I never, ever thought I’d say this  but, so help me, Hannah, I can’t wait to get back to summer-in-Florida’s water-logged air.)

 

I’m lucky to be here with people I love very much — my bonus son and his father, the person listed in my phone as Favorite Husband.  We’re eating well, walking a lot and, of course, talking about everything under the sun.

...my bonus son and his father -- the person listed in my phone as Favorite Husband... Click To Tweet

We’ve encountered a number of portable bachelor and bachelorette parties, faux fancy environments, dancing water, bigger than life swans, and lots of people in costume. Have I told you how much I love Airbnb? Each of the three of us has mastered the fine art of the nap. Sometimes we don’t leave our Vegas pied-a-terre until late afternoon.

That’s all twisted and backward. My bonus son is very bright and extremely studious. On this vacation, he’s consuming a new book about every 1.5 days. Some are in French, some in German, and most are in English (his second language). When we are at home, my husband and I generally get up at sunrise or before. I don’t nap, and I find Florida’s summertime humidity extremely oppressive. So, seriously, what gives? What the hell am I doing here?

I think the draw is fantasy. Click To Tweet

For me, I think the draw is fantasy. People can come here and “be” whoever they wish to be. These days, I rarely want to be someone else… but, as an avid people watcher, this is the place to be. Stories are zinging through my head faster than I can write them down. Mismatched couples. Hookers under arrest. Fake homeless people. The uber-wealthy and the wanna-bes. The guy with his collar up and his head almost in his lunch plate because he does something someplace (acting, maybe?) and is playing hard to get or “I vant to be alone” — I’m not sure which. Who the heck wears a leather jacket in 110-degree heat? (Footnote: nobody asked for an autograph.)

 

So, yes. The sounds. The smells (the real homeless people). The intensity of neon against a light-polluted-but-still-dark sky. For me, it is the stories — whether I get to write them or not. It doesn’t matter. Right now I’m living in them, and they are alive in me. Maybe, if I’m lucky, they won’t stay in Vegas.

P.S. Just so you know: I’m holding out for a gondola ride in Venice.

Jul 242018
 

It was my turn to drive and Highway 101 was a relatively peaceful place. I have only been to California a handful of times and outside of the cities once before. The foreign landscape was bliss. The traffic was barely worth mentioning. With my husband asleep in the passenger sleep and occasional friendly comments from my 19-year-old bonus son floating toward the driver’s seat, I will also say that I was in road trip bliss. We were headed toward San Francisco and had most of the day to get there.

Suddenly, there it was. A very small sign with the words National Steinbeck Center. As trite as it sounds, my heart skipped a beat or three. We were going. Fortunately, both my husband and the boy in the back enjoy spontaneity: once fully awake and conscious, both were all in.

Besides just loving them like crazy, there are many advantages to spending time with the almost-adult set.

Once awake and fully conscious, both were all in. Click To Tweet

Just about the time I started to wonder if I’d made a bad turn, he called out, “That’s it. It looks like the picture I found on the internet.”

Wandering toward the entrance, we couldn’t move quickly. I was overwhelmed before we got there. I mean, seriously, where else would you find a mural about Steinbeck’s work in an alley on a parking garage wall?

I have my own style of visiting museums and it rarely includes the obligatory foundation-funded film the staff and volunteers would like you to see. Instead of my usual wiggling like a 5-year-old, I was spellbound. John Steinbeck was one of my childhood heroes. I started reading him when I was about middle school aged and couldn’t get enough. Wandering through the museum, I discovered that I’d read about half of his work.

I don’t know if it’s true for others, but I found this museum visit an extremely intimate experience. Maybe it’s because the rest of the family wandered off and left me alone — or because of all the telepathic communication I was having with my imaginary mentor. Whatever it was, I was moved almost to tears many, many times.

 

How long's it gonna be till we get that little place an' live off the fatta the lan'? Click To Tweet

I did not realize what an influence John Steinbeck and his characters have been. I’m drawn to character-driven work. I admire the way they come alive on Steinbeck’s pages.  Not only do I not care too much about plot, when it comes to writing fiction, I’m having a bear of a time learning how to develop one! And, despite relatively recent reports stating that it is fiction, I cannot re-read Travels With Charlie one more time or my honey is likely to wake up minus one dog and one wife for an extended period. I can’t help myself. It’s a seed that was planted many years ago. And while it has yet to fully blossom, it is certainly is well-rooted.

The trip to a place that I didn’t know I wanted to go simply reinforced that dream. It’s a dream that’s more about intuition than any particular destination or mode of travel. It’s about quiet adventure. And what better re-charge is there than to follow your nose to visit your bliss:  history, dreams, and storytelling.

 

It's a dream that's more about intuition and quiet adventure. Bliss. Click To Tweet

 

 

 

 

 

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Apr 042018
 

Hello, wonderful readers. Do you like free stuff?  How about the opportunity to help an up and coming author take important steps forward? Or to be among the first to read a new release? And maybe even see your name in print? (Have you ever wondered who all those folks in the ‘acknowledgments’ and why the author appreciates them so?) If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you’ve come to the right place.

Do you like free stuff? Click To Tweet

I don’t think I’ve told you that, besides trying to get a firm grip on my next non-fiction topic, I’ve been working on what many would call a passion project. I have joined forces with two dear friends and accomplished authors to create an author services co-op called Amelia Indie Authors. In this brave new world (and constantly shifting landscape) of independent publishing, it seems unusual for several reasons.

  • Authors can’t just wave a credit card and join. There’s an application process to make sure it’s a “fit.” If we can’t help, we don’t take their money.
  • It’s affordable. One of the things that drove us to create this is frustration at seeing authors over-charged for services they could easily learn to do for themselves.
  • It’s safe. Once again, we all get a little angry when we see authors getting ripped off. We don’t recommend services we haven’t used ourselves and believe to be of excellent value.
  • It’s a work in progress. Our wonderful early-adopters are providing us with feedback about what’s working for them and what else they need.

So what’s all that got to do with you?  Well, if you’re a writer and tired of paying too much for less than stellar results, check out the site.  But if you’re a reader? We’re looking for you. We’re in the process of creating a list of beta readers — the people who will give writers the type of feedback we need to improve. (Hint: We need more than, “It’s good.”)

Are you a writer, tired of paying too much for less than stellar results? Click To Tweet

What’s involved? Well, as I said, we’re a work in progress. (Our new and improved website will go live next week.) What I think it will look like? From time-to-time, we’ll message you to see whether you have time to read part of a work in progress. We’ll also give you an idea of the genre/subject matter to make sure it’s something of interest to you. If both of those are a “yes,” we’ll send you a portion of our author’s work and let you know the type of feedback requested. That’s it. You read and send us an email.

And chances are an extremely appreciative author will thank you. In writing. In the book!

If this is of interest to you, please respond in the comments or e-mail me at Amelia.Indie.Authors@gmail.com

Thanks. And happy reading!

 

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