Memory Wisps

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud
~ Maya Angelou

I was rudely jolted from sleep this morning trying to remember the name of a blog I used to read. What the heck? A blog?

I punched my pillow, pulled the blankets up to my chin and snuggled deeper into the comfort of my warm bed. Eyes closed I decided six am on a rainy Saturday morning was an obscene hour to wake up. Unfortunately, the word “doctor” drifted through my consciousness about the same time. Doctor Who? Yes, I really thought that and then wondered where the TARDIS was. Don’t judge – I was barely awake.

Now I was really getting annoyed and no matter how hard I tried to ignore the compulsion to chase memory wisps the name remained just out of reach. It played hide and seek with my sleep-dulled mind until sleep became wishful thinking. Damn it.

I won’t share what I growled under my breath as I threw back the covers and went in search of my phone to check Twitter. Stay with me here – there is a method to my madness. I followed the blog on Twitter as well because the author was witty and thought provoking. If I checked who I followed I might put an end to this madness. Have you ever tried to locate information on a phone without your glasses? Yeah, it was like that. Good news, I found what I was looking for – Noveldoctor.

For most people that piece of information would be enough. End to the mystery. Sometimes I hate not being “most people”. I grabbed my laptop and pulled up Stephen Parolini’s blog and proceeded to lose myself in all the posts I had missed while I had been sucked into the vortex of insanity my life had been lately. (We’ll leave that for another day – lucky you ☺)

Writing has not been a priority for me in a very long time. The last time I wrote a blog post was over a year ago. A year! It is easy to lose faith in ones self and to let doubt become a best friend, it is much harder to move through the dark times and pull the pieces of a life back together. Finding the joy in writing felt impossible. I was wrong. Sometimes the universe gives us an unexpected gift – a nudge in the right direction – even at six am on a rainy Saturday morning.

What I read made me laugh, made me think and reinforced that I am not alone. It was timely and needed. We never know what impacts our words can have on another. Through our blogs we share our thoughts and sometimes they resonate with a reader on a deeper level. Occasionally, if we are lucky, a reader will leave a comment, but most times we never know how we may have impacted another.

So, if you ever find yourself rudely awakened much too early as I was, my advice is to give in to the inevitable and follow that compulsion. You might find something surprising that will brighten your day.

Thank you, Stephen Parolini. You made my day.

Bucket Lists and Alaska

“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”~ Anita Desai

 I have a restless soul and an insatiable curiosity about the world around me. Throughout my life I have had many opportunities to travel and most recently I visited a state that has been on my bucket list for a long time. Let me say I was not disappointed! What state, you ask? Alaska. A good friend recently moved to Anchorage and invited me up for a visit. I jumped at the chance, of course. I have seen pictures, but the reality is so much better. I’m probably going to sound like a travelogue, but bear with me.  🙂

Everywhere I looked there was snow-dusted mountains and jaw dropping views. Did I mention the mountains? Incredible. Not only that, but Cook Inlet plays a big part in the view. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t to fall in love with the area.

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First stop was to the Moose’s Tooth Pub & Pizzeria. Who knew you could get such delicious soup at a pizza place? If you are ever in the area you should stop in and check it out.

The second night I was there we met up with Traci Barickman at Orso. Traci is with Century 21 Reality Solutions and found the gorgeous house my friend now calls home. I really enjoyed the restaurant and the company. I have a small confession here – I don’t like seafood. I know, I know…but, in my defense, I don’t eat red meat either. Having said that, I do want to say that even though Orso is well known for its Alaskan seafood, they also had plenty of other things on their menu that made me a very happy camper, including a fabulous dessert. You can never go wrong with Chocolate and Raspberries, right?

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Touring Anchorage at night in a horse-drawn carriage is also an experience not to be missed. Thank goodness for the heavy, warm blanket offered because it was quite chilly. Yes, an understatement- LOL. I had on so many layers I could barely waddle. I was amazed to see people walking around in short sleeves, while I was shivering. The Pacific Northwest does not prepare one for the far north it seems😉

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I was lucky enough during my stay to see the Matenuska Glacier and a Moose grazing peacefully along side the road.IMG_2908 What also fascinated me was the amount of ice already forming in the rivers. I swear they looked like spilled slushies making their way down the mountains.

The week went by too fast and there is still plenty more to explore in that beautiful state. I hope someday soon to visit again. In the meantime, I can enjoy the pictures my friend sends along with her discoveries about her new home.  That’s almost as good as being there, right?

Changes

Change, like sunshine, can be a friend or a foe, a blessing or a curse, a dawn or a dusk.

~William Arthur Ward

 

Change is inevitable.  As a general rule I embrace it and find ways to navigate the new paradigm shift.  Most of the time, the changes are positive and just what I needed to shake me out of the complacency that comes with being too comfortable in where my life is at any given moment.

At least that is what I tried to remind myself when everything recently went to hell in a hand basket.  Have you ever faced a moment when everything you expected and counted on, everything you knew about yourself abruptly went out of focus?  It is frightening, isn’t it?

Losing a job isn’t the end of the world.  Far from it.  But losing a job after twenty years with the same company tilted my world on its axis.  Finding myself standing outside the doors holding a box containing personal items from my desk left me stunned and lost.  My brain literally shut down because I couldn’t process what had just happened.  It didn’t matter that I was just another victim of corporate downsizing or that it wasn’t anything personal.  It felt damn personal to me.

I’d like to say I handled it like a pro, but the truth of the matter is there really is a grieving process with any unexpected loss – including a job.  There were days when getting out of my pajama’s was too much effort and a lot of nights I slept on the couch because it helped mitigate the panic when I woke up each morning and realized I wasn’t going to work.  After twenty years of defining myself by my accomplishments and position within my former company I suddenly had to identify myself as unemployed.  It felt like failure.

To say I am blessed with family and friends is a gross understatement.  They helped me even when I found it hard to be comforted by their support and understanding.  They offered encouragement, laughter when I needed it most and a steady presence that made it possible for me to work my way through the dark hole I fell in to.

I still have a lot to figure out and finding another job is at the top of my list.  The creativity energy to write is slowly returning and that is a huge relief.  It was doubly scary to find words had deserted me and my characters were silent.

As a general rule I am an optimist and working my way through recent events has shown me I have more strength than I realized.  I will be okay.  Truly, who knows where life will take me next.  All I know is stepping boldly to greet whatever comes my way is much better than allowing past events to defeat me.

Change is what we make of it after all.

Minstrel’s Serenade by Aubrie Dionne

 

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He’s sworn to protect her, but can he save her from himself?

Danika Rubystone has hated the minstrels ever since her mother ran away with one. As Princess, she’s duty bound to marry Valorian, a minstrel from the House of Song. But problems in the kingdom are mounting. With her father dead she’s the sole heir to an imperiled throne, and wyverns attack Ebonvale’s southern shores. But after Danika finds a lone survivor of a wyvern’s attack who holds the key to protecting the kingdom and she finally meets the enchantingly sly Valorian, everything changes.

As Ebonvale’s Royal Guard sails with the minstrels to smite the uprising of wyverns, Danika dances a line between sticking by duty like her father, or following her wild heart like her mother.

Buy Links:

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Minstrels-Serenade-Aubrie-Dionne-ebook/dp/B00KH7ZK56/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404313893&sr=1-1&keywords=minstrel%27s+serenade

Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/minstrels-serenade-aubrie-dionne/1119584969?ean=9781616505509&itm=1&usri=9781616505509

 

Aubrie Dionne

Aubrie Dionne is an author and flutist in New England. Her books have received the highest ratings from Romance Times Magazine and BTS Magazine, as well as Night Owl Reviews and Two Lips Reviews. She has guest blogged on the USA Today Happy Ever After Blog and the Dear Teen Me blog and signed books at the Boston Book Festival, Barnes and Noble, and the Romance Writers of America conference. Her books are published by HarperImpulse, Entangled Publishing, Astraea Press, Spencer Hill Press, Inkspell Publishing, and Lyrical Press. When she’s not writing, Aubrie teaches flute and plays in orchestras.

 

Author Links:

Website:  www.authoraubrie.net

Blog:   http//:authoraubrie.blogspot.com

Twitter:  @authoraubrie

A Summer Night and Shakespeare

Can one desire too much of a good thing?  ~As You Like It, Shakespeare

Shakespeare.  Just the name conjures memories of wading through at least one play in high school for most of us.  Depending on the teacher it could be a wince producing experience or the start of a lifelong love affair with his work.  I fall somewhere in the middle.  In high school reading Romeo and Juliet out loud was torturous, but seeing the movie directed by Franco Zeffirelli was magical and suddenly the words made sense.  Besides, all the eye candy on screen didn’t hurt either🙂

I’ve had opportunities to see other plays over the years and most recently I saw Richard III at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  The venue was wonderful and the play…well, Shakespeare – what more needs to be said.  It was fun laughing at the sly humor throughout  and to hear the clashing of swords in the final battle.  The Bard certainly had a way with the written word that resonates even today.  It is amazing how many lines from his plays are used in everyday conversation!

Truthfully, I know just enough about Richard III to speculate about the figure Shakespeare depicted, but not enough to argue its accuracy.  I do know Richard III was a warrior, commanding armies while still very young.  To me that means he had to have been physically able and strong bodied, not the limping, twisted wreck of a man Shakespeare led us to believe he was.  Although the recent discovery of his remains verifies his spine was twisted, I don’t think it was enough to give him the deformities represented on stage.  As for the evil deeds attributed to him, I haven’t a clue whether they are factual or exaggerated.  What I can tell you is I was absorbed from the opening line.

I understand people from all over the world travel to Ashland, Oregon each year to attend the summer long festival and catch as many plays as they can pack in during their visit.  I don’t blame them.  It was quite an experience.

 

Star Light, Star Bright

For my part I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream.      ~ Vincent Van Gogh

What do you see when  you look up at the night sky?

It’s no secret I write about characters that inhabit a universe where space travel is commonplace.  Visiting strange worlds and looking up to see stars twinkling in a unfamiliar night sky is nothing out of the ordinary for them. But,  it wasn’t until I was mulling over a scene for my newest book that I realized I was missing an opportunity with my main character.  What did he feel as he stood beneath that glorious canopy on a world not his own.  Did he long for his home world and the familiarity of stars he would never see again? Find a measure of comfort that the stars remained when all else was gone? Or was he exhilarated by the vast mystery, ready to leap into the void and escape the past?

It was a bit of a jolt when I realized I couldn’t recall the last time I actually stepped outdoors and looked up.  How could I possibly tap into Wulf’s feelings if I couldn’t remember how I felt as a stargazer?  I’ve lived in many places over the course of my life, some where the stars are narrow strips between buildings and in others where the sky is so big I can almost see the curve of the world.  I’ve felt lost in the vastness, small and insignificant, but I have always yearned to explore.  Who knew what adventures were waiting for me.

As I stood outside I was struck anew by the beauty of the night. I took a deep breath of the cool night air and let the worries of the day drift away. I could almost imagine Wulf standing beside me whispering in my ear and I began to understand what he saw and what he was feeling.  I will never stand on a strange planet and look at its night sky, but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand what it means to be in a strange place and yearn for what was lost.  Can I capture that part of him in words?  I hope so.

When you get a chance take a moment and step outside.  Look up at the night sky and dare to reach beyond yourself into that velvet darkness.  You might be surprised what you discover.

Interview with Author Monica Knightley

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing the delightful Monica Knightley about her debut novel The Vampire’s Passion.

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After a lifetime of saying ‘someday’, Monica Knightley is finally fulfilling her dream of being a writer. She writes both adult and young adult paranormal and historical novels. Like the heroine in her debut novel, Monica is an anglophile who loves to travel to Great Britain whenever possible, and England seems to show up in just about everything she writes. She recently left a long career as a primary school teacher, but still shows up occasionally as a substitute. Monica and her husband make their home in Oregon.

Kylie:  Welcome, Monica!  One of my favorite things to do is interview a newly published author and share in the excitement over their book release!

Monica:  Thank you, Kylie, for having me on your blog today.

Kylie:  First off, I love the title of your book.  The Vampire’s Passion sounds intriguing, so tell us a little about your story.

Monica:  Claire Seymour has had her heart shattered by her faithless fiancé, and decides to run away and live out a long-held dream of taking a summer class on Jane Austen at the Oxford University. She has no thoughts of falling in love again, and not even in her wildest nightmares would the object of her desire be her vampiric professor who at turns repulses and attracts her. But just as Claire is opening her heart to Gabriel Augustine she learns he is hiding an even greater secret than the fact that he is a vampire—a secret that has haunted him for centuries. A secret that could break Claire’s heart, just as it is beginning to heal.

Kylie:  Jane Austen, Oxford University and a vampire – wow!  Your character, Claire Seymour, has certainly landed herself in quite a situation, hasn’t she?  Here’s a challenge for you – describe your heroine in one sentence.

Monica:  Claire is tired of allowing her broken heart to rule her, and forces herself to make choices that pull her outside her comfort zone and that reflect her new philosophy of Carpe Diem—seize the day!

Kylie:  It sounds like a philosophy she will need to embrace in order to navigate the challenges she faces, right? But, what traits attracted the heroine to the hero?

Monica:  You mean, besides the fact that he is drop-dead gorgeous and makes Mr. Darcy look like pond scum? No, Claire is attracted to the fact that Gabriel is a gentleman—he has the manners of a bygone era—and that he is intelligent, and caring, and loves all things Jane Austen. But while she is first realizing that she is indeed attracted to Gabriel, she also discovers that he is a vampire, which repulses her. Being both attracted and repulsed by the man causes Claire some angst for a while.

Kylie:  Okay, you seriously made me laugh when  you said Gabriel makes Mr. Darcy look like pond scum!  Love the description🙂 Let’s shift gears a little away from your story and on to you as the author.  Do you use a pen name?  If so, how did you decide on the name?

Monica:  I do use a pen name. Because of my particular day job, I knew I needed one. A friend who knew I was writing, and what I was writing, went to Happy Hour with me to help me pick a name. For some reason, he thought I was writing some kind of very smutty book, so as the evening and the drinks went on, the names he came up with started sounding like pole dancer names! Dismissing his creative ideas, I decided I wanted the name to pay homage to my favorite author, Jane Austen, and came up with Knightley, for Mr. Knightley in Emma.

Kylie: Some day you and I are going to have to get together so you can tell me what names your friend suggested.  I promise not to tell, but I can’t guarantee I won’t giggle a lot.  Every writer I know is also an avid reader, so what is your favorite book and why?

Monica:  Picking ONE favorite book is like picking a favorite child! I can never limit myself to just one favorite book, but if forced under duress I would say Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  Her depictions of characters are so true and clear, and feel like people you might know. And her humor is as amusing today as it was when she wrote it. When I’m laughing at something in P and P, I forget I’m reading a book that was written at the turn of the Nineteenth Century—it feels so contemporary.

Kylie:  Did you spend much time on research for your story? If so, what did you like most about it?

 Monica:  Research for this book was minimal, as I was using places and information I was already familiar with. There were a few times when I had to look something up, or had to verify a fact, but not as often as I like. I love doing research, and most of my other projects are either set in historical times, or have historical aspects to them. I gleefully go down the research rabbit holes. Of course, then the writing doesn’t always get done! It’s a fine line I have to walk.

Kylie:  It seems like you have walked that line just fine.  It has been a delight to chat with you today.  Best wishes on your release!  If you would like to learn more about Monica you can find her through these sites.

Website:  http://www.monicaknightley.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/monicaknightleyauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/monicaknightley

 

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 THE VAMPIRE’S PASSION 

The enigmatic, ethereally handsome, aristocratic Gabriel Augustine, professor of Nineteenth Century English Literature at St. Giles College in Oxford, England, is a man with many secrets. And it is not his vampiric nature that is his most deeply held secret. Though few know he is vampire, not human, none know the horror that has haunted him throughout his long existence. He has spent centuries attempting to atone for his greatest sin.

Claire Seymour needs to forget her past. She is ready to embark on any journey that will move her away from the pain that has been her constant companion since discovering her fiancé with her best friend. Four weeks at the University of Oxford, in a class on her favorite author, Jane Austen, seems like a good place to start.

Neither is prepared for the other.