Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Dog's Tale

You know that feeling when you wake up and someone who's been with you for 13 1/2 years isn't there? It sucks.

This week we said goodbye to our Daisy girl. She first showed up, dumped at our house in the country, in January 2003. I never thought in a million years I'd own a bully breed. I know why someone dumped her. She was crazy wild destructive. I got her fixed and kept her in my laundry room to keep her quiet. She tore that room up like a Tasmanian Devil, including ripping the molding off the door jam, stepping on a nail, and smearing blood everywhere. I borrowed a metal dog crate and she bent the bars with her teeth, trying to get out. I tied her out with a horse rope lead and she chewed through the rope. I had to resort to a choke collar, which seems cruel, but it was the only collar that she couldn't slip off over her ears. It didn't hurt her. Her pain tolerance was sky high. I would have given her away, but I didn't want to saddle someone else with her bad behavior. I just knew they would hate me, or worse, end up dumping her again. So she stayed with us.

Daisy loved to chase cars. It was a pathological compulsion for her. I tried to keep her tied up, but when she ran loose, she was always chasing cars. I'm sure my neighbors hated us some days. Honestly, I always thought a car would get her one day, but she was wicked fast and always managed to avoid being seriously hurt. She also had a naughty habit of finding all sorts of nasty, dead things and bringing them home to chew on. She was a great mouser too. She really was a dog's dog.

Daisy wasn't spoiled, but she had a really great life, running through the brush, digging in the dirt, getting into trouble. The vet said she was probably a mixed breed pit bull. Like I said, I never wanted a pit bull, but I got one. Daisy taught me a lesson that's true for people and dogs alike. Never judge someone by their appearance. She was a pit bull, but she was also a sweetheart. 

Goodbye sweetie~ have fun running with Jakey and Snickers~ give them doggie kisses for us~xoxo love you forever

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Groundhog Day ~ Here I am Again

When we're young, we think our lives are on a trajectory from low to high. We start small and life just keeps getting easier and better we go on, right? Now, looking back on what is most likely the first half or so of my life, I'm starting to believe the trajectory is more like a circle. We're constantly circling back around to the place we were before, just a little wiser than the last time.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Heart in a Box Book Tour~

Welcome to my stop on the Heart in a Box Tour!
Be sure to scroll down for the giveaway and read about 
 Catherine's  inspiration~

~About the Book~

Heart in a Box by Catherine Stine
Publication Date: December 20, 2015
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing

Each heartbeat leads Joss closer a shocking truth that will change everything.

Joss Olstad wins the fight to switch from her private school to a public high to “find her pieces” she lost when the Indian artist father she never knew died. There, Joss struggles with a slutty friend, who flirts with her new love; Indian Culture Club girls who press her on her past, as well as her stoner mother’s lies back at home. Armed only with her handmade heart boxes that hold private messages, Joss’s search for identity leads her to a scary industrial section of Queens, and a shocking family secret that changes everything.

~About the Author~ 

Catherine Stine writes YA and romance. Her novels span the range from futuristic to supernatural to contemporary. Her YA sci-fi thrillers Fireseed One and Ruby’s Fire are Amazon bestsellers and indie award winners. Her YA, Dorianna won Best Horror Book in the Kindle Hub Awards. She also writes romance as Kitsy Clare. Her Art of Love series includes Model Position and Private Internship. She suspects her love of dark fantasy came from her father reading Edgar Allen Poe to her as a child, and her love of contemporary fiction comes from being a jubilant realist. Visit her at and subscribe to her newsletter for news of releases, workshops and appearances.

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~Enter the Giveaway~

The prize pack includes:

A $40 gift card, 2 hand-painted heart-boxes with secret treasure inside, a signed paperback of Dorianna by Catherine Stine, a signed paperback of Heart in a Box by Catherine Stine, a great YA ebook pack of novels: Tiger Lily by Wende Dikec, When Sorrows Come by Katie M John, and Time Runs Away with Her by Christine Potter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~Author Guest Post~

Greetings, Lisa and dear readers,

My new YA romance Heart in a Box is very close to my own heart. The main character Joss is different from me in some ways yet very much like me in other ways, so it was both a challenge and fun to create her. She is brave yet vulnerable, outspoken yet shy, artistic and a true romantic. And she never hesitates to expose secrets and lies. It is this spirit that leads her to unearthing a longstanding family secret.

People ask what my inspiration was in coming up with the plot. It was a combination of things. I lived in New York City’s East Village for a while and there are a bunch of import-export shops there that also sell bongs and paraphernalia. I started to wonder what it would be like to have a hippie-come-lately mother who smoked a lot of weed and owned this type of store. And then I kept asking “what if” questions. What if the mom also had a side to her that was very overprotective and so the daughter, Joss had to sneak around? And what if Joss had a biracial boyfriend, Will, who the mom was leery of? This would lead to a series of mom-daughter landmines they’d have to figure out ways to navigate through.

One of my favorite themes is the sweet romance between Joss and Will. I also love the theme that art has an inherent power to heal. Joss deals with her anxiety and upset through making heart-boxes, which her artist dad made. She never knew him, but this act of creating the boxes helps her feel close to him. She writes little messages in them. Here’s my favorite one:

Lost, frightened and struggling.

You find a celestial map on an invisible highway.

It will lead you back to your truest self.

Making the heart-boxes and writing the messages is also how Joss inches toward finding out a huge family secret, which of course, I won’t reveal here. LOL. So, the other part I relate to is in being an artist. I sold my paintings in galleries for years, and I still do illustrations. In fact, the tour prize giveaway includes my hand-painted heart-boxes!

Lisa, thanks for letting me guest host for the heart in the Box tour. I love hearing from readers, so if you do read the book, I’d love to hear your take on it.

Hugs and Happy New Year, Catherine

Monday, January 18, 2016

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become reality...I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love  will have the final word~ 
                       Martin Luther King 

A man of many wise words, this is one of my favorite quotes, as true today as the day he wrote it. I, too, am unwilling to accept violence as the only way. May you know peace in your hearts and your world, this day and always~

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Little Inspiration Goes a Long Way

Over the years, I've probably read hundreds of books, but only a few authors really stick in my mind as inspiring to my own writing. Some of them I've met and others I've only read.

The first is Brenda Ueland who wrote a lovely little book called "If you want to write" that I think every aspiring artist should read at least once. I've lost count how many times I've read it because I needed the positive reinforcement. Brenda devotes several chapters to self-confidence and trust. It was written in the 1930's, so her style is a bit different the what you'd see today, but I love the sentiment. Brenda was the writer who first convinced me I could do it too.

Chris Crutcher was the writer who convinced me to take chances with my writing, to tell a story as honestly as possible. I saw Chris speak at an SCBWI conference years ago. I knew nothing about his books at the time, but he was a completely captivating speaker. Trained as a therapist, Chris worked in schools with troubled teens. He told us stories about some of the kids he had met over the years and the very real issues they faced. It was some pretty tough stuff and most of Chris's books deal with tough issues. You could have heard an actual pin drop on a pillow at one point in his talk, we were all so mesmerized. The point of his talk was that some kids have nowhere else to turn, but a book. They need to know they aren't alone. He was so sincere and kind, he unknowingly gave me the push to finish Hush Puppy, my first book. To take a risk and write something uncomfortable, but honest.

I have to admit I have also been inspired by Stephenie Meyer of Twilight infamy, not because of the brilliance of her writing, but because I knew if she could get published, there was hope for me too.  

Last, but not least, I find inspiration in the magical whimsy of Neil Gaiman's fairy tales. They're weird, completely original stories, mostly stand alones in a fantasy market that seems to demand series from everyone else. He is completely doing his own thing and he's successful at it. Instead of following any crowd, he's practically his own genre. I very much admire his originality and skill, even in the books he's written that I'm less fond of. There's no denying his talent. I can only dream of achieving such skill, but then, it's always nice to dream, isn't it?

Who inspires you? 

Friday, January 1, 2016

This Writer's Goals for 2016~

Happy New Year!
Time to start anew. If last year was crappy, forget about it! You can always make the next one better. They say, and I believe it's true, writing down your goals makes them more achievable, so here it goes~
My goals for 2016 are as follows:

1) Read lots of books

Last year I read about 25 books, which is pretty good for me! I intend to keep it up. Join me over on Goodreads and set up your own reading goal.

2) Write lots of words

Between 50,000 and 100,000 words would be good. I'll probably take part in JuNoWriMo to get a good chunk of those. June works much better for me than other months. Summer in general works better for me than the school year. I'm in between projects right now with a rough draft to be edited. I'm sure I can have an outline ready by June though.

3) Travel

Going some place I've never been before always inspires me to write, so this is a definite "to do". Last year it was Hawaii. This year, who knows??

4) Exercise and eat healthy

I got a new Fitbit for Christmas and I think I love it already. All the incentive of tracking daily habits without the monthly fee of joining Weight Watchers. (I love you too, WW. Just not the fee.)

5) Publish

I have two novels I'm currently querying and a third rough draft that I'd like to get into shape for querying soon. With any luck, someone somewhere will want something of mine, right?

6) Grow a garden that survives

My garden was a dismal failure last year due to rabbits, voles, and a lack of effort. When I realized how much damage the varmits were causing, I kind of gave up. I still want a garden though. It's going to require raised bed - cages of some sort because there are still lots of rabbits around. I'll come up with something.

7) Save some money

I want to set up a seperate savings account that's never tapped into for normal bills and expenses so it can grow undisturbed. It's just a matter of setting it up and making an auto deposit. I have college savings accounts, so I know I can do it. I just have to make it happen.

8) Do some home improvements

This follows from the above obviously. I'd like to save some money to make some home improvements. I'd like to replace our gas range with an electric one so I don't set myself or the house on fire. I'm not a fan of open flames in cooking, at least not in my house. I'd also like to build a fireplace, but that's sort of a major undertaking. And a back yard patio and pergola would be nice. See? There's no end of reasons for Goal #7.

9) Meditate

My life gets pretty dang hectic starting in January through June, mostly due to my daughter's dance competition season. I get stressed out and cranky. I've meditated before and found it to be a nice respite from all my rushing around like a chicken with my head cut off. I plan to make time for it again this year.

10) Gratitude

Last but not least, I always want to remember to show my gratitude for the people I work with and the family I love, as well as all the blessings in my life. Life is fragile and it can be gone in a moment. 2015 taught me that once again. I don't want to waste a single minute of 2016 complaining or worrying,if that's possible.

What goals will you make for 2016?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Garden Dreaming and the New Year~

Here it is the dead of winter and I'm already dreaming about next summer's garden. If only this place weren't infested with rabbits. I feel like Elmer Fudd. If I want a garden, I've got to get serious about my rabbit problem.

Seems brutal, I know. But when you're driving down the driveway early in the morning and you see jackrabbits the size of small dogs running from your garden patch, you know sh*t just got real.  All I really want are some tomatoes and a couple of squash. Is that too much to ask?? I just gave up last summer, hoping the winter would kill them off, but it doesn't seem to be happening.

I've got the most amazing salsa recipe! And an Italian friend gave me an awesome pasta sauce recipe. I just want to grow the tomatoes. So here I am, trying to draw plans for a rabbit-proof garden, which I'm thinking is basically a rabbit-proof cage for vegetables.  If you've got ideas, I'm all ears!! And I have a few months to get it figured out.

Where's Wile E. Coyote when you need him?