Summer, Summer, Where Have You Gone?

Summer is my favorite season. Shortly after Christmas is past, I start wishing for warmer temperatures. Or at least sunny skies.
I have a cousin who would happily leave his Christmas tree up year-round. If there was a symbol for summer, I’d set that baby up and move it to more prominent positions as temperatures dropped.
Seriously. The only good thing about winter is Christmas. I learned that fact in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Narnia was cursed by the White Witch. How?

It was always winter, but never Christmas.

Ugh.
This entire year has sped by already but summer seemed in constant fast-forward. Can you believe this is the last day of the eighth month of 2017? Tomorrow is the ninth month.

Worst of all, the ninth month will bring the end of summer.

The weather man is predicting warm, sunny days for a few weeks still. But when the sun goes down, the heat goes away.
No more sitting out on the patio in the evening to chill. Unless you want to pull on warm socks, long pants and a sweatshirt. No more s’mores roasting.
Of course, it also means no more air-conditioned house 24/7. Once the temperature drops, you can switch the AC off and throw open the windows.
My husband has already started doing this.

Here’s a recap of my summer:

Writing like a whirlwind in Vancouver, BC


Querying agents at a brand new conference


Choosing a title for the nonfiction I was querying


Getting selected to write Christian romance in a new Kindle World


Installing a water feature in the back yard
Releasing the second book in my Virtual Match Romance series


Barbecuing with the family on the patio
Writing the Christian romance story


Meeting new writers to beta read this new genre
Attending Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference


Making writer friends at the conference


Enjoying a total eclipse of the sun with family

Must see what others posted on Social Media

Spending eclipse day with the birthday boy


A quick retreat at my sister’s beach house

Can you hear the shush? Smell the salinity?

Lots of reading in the evenings (but boy did my crocheting suffer)
It doesn’t seem like much when written in a list like this. But it filled three sunny months and made them whip by.
My favorite memory from this summer is that it didn’t rain. Only a couple of days were cloudy. After nine months of endless downpours, I needed this three-month reprieve.

Am I ready for the rainy season? Never.

What’s your favorite memory from this summer? Include a picture if my comment section allows it (or jet over to my FB page where you can surely post one in the comments on the post announcing this blog).

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Maybe you like romance or some of my other books. I’m sure there’s something worth reading on my page.

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It’s Month Six Already?

In honor of yet another month in the Dauntless year of 2017, today’s post will be mostly pictorial.

How about some poetry to start things off?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Around here, no one is really feeling Frodo.

What used to be the end of school on June 14, is now more like June 22. (Snow days aren’t always a good thing).

I finished my senior year the last week of May. Because summer started in June. Remember the days when…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students aren’t the only ones who count down to summer vacation. You know what really gets a teacher wishing for the last day of school?

Every teacher and student in the world knows that June holds this imperative:

In Oregon, we can welcome the month of June with joy and anticipation.

But that doesn’t mean we’ll get sunshine over showers.

June means more time to write as my subbing days are over (well, for the last week anyway). This year it means traveling to a new country.

Summer is my favorite season. Not surprising since I love the sunshine.

What are you looking forward to in June?

 

 

In Honor of My Trip to the Beach

My sister lives at the beach. It gives me the perfect excuse to make the two-hour drive.

Breathing salty air, walking sandy shores and listening to soothing surf is only a side benefit. Really. My sister is my number one fan, so I’m taking the trip to see her.

I’m a nice person, though. So I figured I’d share some of the sights with you, too.

 

Mist isn’t always for the morning at the Oregon Coast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you hear the shush? Smell the salinity?
Sand between your toes, wind at your back and sun on your face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moon setting in Lincoln City

It was only two days and two nights. My sister had to work, but we did get a few hours together.

My husband and I spend quality time together too. He didn’t even mind that my lover (Mr. Pacific Ocean) was present for most of it.

Do you like the beach? What is your favorite beach? Why that beach?

This Week in Gratitude Memes

Maybe you don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter. That’s perfectly okay.

But I don’t want you to miss out on my effort to come up with 365 ways to be grateful this year. In case you’re wondering what this is all about, check out this post.

Feeling a little out of sorts? Think life sucks big lemon grenades?

Let’s walk through the week:

Monday

If only cupcakes burned calories
If only cupcakes burned calories

Tuesday

Remember the anticipation of summer break? Teachers feel it every June.
Remember the anticipation of summer break? Teachers feel it every June.

Wednesday

Summer rain showers have a definite positive side
Summer rain showers have a definite positive side

Thursday

I've had fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries this week. Summer is delicious!
I’ve had fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries this week. Summer is delicious!

Friday

 

Although my friend reminded me I could use a compass to draw a circle.
Although my friend reminded me I could use a compass to draw a circle.

Count your blessings, my friends. Even if you have to dig deep to find them. (You are still breathing. The air isn’t toxic.)

(Coming up next week, I’m going to get a little tongue-in-cheek with my gratitude memes. If you see them and love them, feel free to share them.)

What are you thankful for today?

 

Summer’s Sweet Embrace – Blog Tour Stop

SummerEmbrace_CVR_FinalToday, I’m thrilled to introduce you to SIX great romance authors. Each of these ladies has a short story in the recently released Summer’s Sweet Embrace romance anthology. Most of them also have other publishing credits. (Clicking on a name will link you with all that information.)

One of them was published with me in Accidental Valentine. Two of them are friends of mine through a fantastic online critique website. I’m happy to have all of them here today.

So, ladies, do tell. What is your most romantic summer memory?

Michelle Ziegler says:  “Who is going to believe that my life has been rather uneventful during the summer months?  I never had any romantic summer flings in high school or college. Most of my boyfriends were pretty sad and non-romantic also. Growing up has some benefits.

I got married in summer, and I can’t think of anything else more romantic than walking down the aisle. It’s most every little girl’s fantasy to pick out a white dress have walk towards a man that is so happy he looks like he might burst. I really don’t think my husband had ever looked so happy, not even on the day he proposed.”

*sighs* Ah, yes, weddings are SO romantic.

Laurie Treacy says: “My most romantic summer memory is attending summer concerts with one particular boyfriend. Since music was so important to both of us, spending time together, being outdoors under the stars, with him holding me couldn’t have been more romantic. Later on, I married him. ”

Holding each other beneath winking stars on a summer’s night is romantic indeed!

Christa MacDonald says:  “Summer was just beginning and my husband and I were on our honeymoon in Nova Scotia.  We decided (after much cajoling on my part) to leave our secluded spot and travel to Prince Edward Island.  I’m an Anne of Green Gables fan so this was like a pilgrimage to me.  I was probably annoying the entire time we were there, dragging him all over the island, fan-girling at every turn in the road.  After hours of exploring, instead of demanding we go home, he took me for a walk down Lover’s Lane. Since it was so early in the season, there wasn’t a soul around us.  He held my hand and gave me this soft, half-amused, half-sweet look, and I knew this whole day had probably been a complete bore for him, but he’d stuck with it, because he enjoyed my happiness, because he loved me.  It was as perfect, storybook moment.

(And yes, my husband is totally a Gilbert)

My husband would do the same thing. You have a winner there, Christa. Don’t let anyone tell you Gilbert isn’t romantic.

Jaylee Austin says: “In college my boyfriend at the time, Chris, lived in Newport Beach. We spent almost every day together. He worked in an exclusive DVD/CD store, which in the eighties was a new concept. Records were the norm. We’d sit and talk for hours. He lived close to the beach so we’d spend time there. Music, dinners, and each other made it a delightful romantic time before school started in the fall.”

Summer romance at it’s best. That’s what this anthology is all about, right?

Niki Mitchell says: “My most romantic summer memory was a night at the beach. I took a stroll along the beach with my date, and he kissed me under the moonlight for the first time.”

First kiss beneath a summer moon on the beach *swoons*

Melissa J. Crispin says:  “One summer morning, I hopped on the back of my husband’s sport bike and we rode up to the Bear Mountain Bridge area in New York. For me, there’s nothing quite like the contentment of being on the motorcycle with him. It’s always too loud to talk, impossible even with our helmets on. So, with my arms wrapped around his waist, I leaned in close and enjoyed the ride. He took us through a fun mix of twisty streets and wide-open roads, and with it being so early, no one else was in sight. It felt like it was just me and him, and it was as if the rest of the world was still sleeping. The views of the Hudson River were gorgeous, and we were able to stop and take a few pictures.

After we were finished admiring the beautiful scenery, we made our way to a small place off the beaten path that served an awesome brunch.

Perfect weather, good food, and the best guy a girl could ask for—it doesn’t get much better than that.”

You’re right, Melissa. Sounds like a perfect day all around.

Sheryl Winters says: “There is a hotel on the beach in Homer Alaska called ‘Lands End.’ My dream vacation would be a room on the second floor. I could write to my heart’s content peeking out the window every now and then at Kachemak Bay. The hotel has tiny balconies where you can sit and watch the Eagles swoop by. Boats drift into the harbor, seagulls fly, it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.”

Sounds like a perfect writing retreat, Sheryl. And what’s more romantic to a romance writer than a writing retreat? Nada!

SE Tour Button

Check out Summer’s Sweet Embrace and hold onto the romance of this sultry season just a little bit longer.

Click on the button at the left to check out the other stops on the tour.

Thanks so much, ladies,  for stopping by today and chatting with us.

What’s your most romantic memory (summer or otherwise) reader? Anyone remember which of these ladies co-authored with me? Any of my guests want to claim me as your “writer friend” via Scribophile?

Cover Reveal: Summer’s Sweet Embrace

SummerEmbrace_CVR_Final

Summer’s Sweet Embrace

A Romance Anthology
By Various Authors
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Release Date: August 19, 2015

Truly Paradise – Michelle Ziegler
Waiting for the right one can be torture.
Too bad for Hailey, impatience got the best of her. Finding Mr. Right in time for a destination wedding couldn’t happen fast enough. Instead of listening to reason, or rather her friends, she’s stuck in paradise alone, again. Nothing ruins a tropical paradise faster than catching your date with another woman.
Justin’s ready for a change. He’s been caught up in his own success for too long and is looking to finally settle down. Timing is everything and his cousin’s wedding is the perfect start of his new life. His luck is changing with the captivating mystery woman on the beach.  Now all he has to do is find her, before he agrees to his family’s match making plot.

Ocean Dust – Laurie Treacy
Carly Dawson, 18, is facing her last summer before leaving for college, all alone. Still nursing a broken heart over the loss of her boyfriend, Chase Montgomery, she wants the next two months to be different. A shocking unexpected visitor one night just may offer Carly the excitement she seeks. Her only decision is whether or not to choose what this visitor offers her.

The Beach Rose – Christa MacDonald
Annie Thomas can’t believe her good luck when she inherits the family’s beach house in Oceanside Maine.  It’s one of the few places she was truly happy so she sells everything she owns, quits her job, and moves in hoping that her new business, The Beach Rose, will bring in enough money in its first season to let her live there year-round.  But on her first day things aren’t as easy or as simple as she’d hoped.  To cap it off she discovers that her best new client is actually her teenage crush.  So much for rekindling a summer romance.
For Craig, Annie was everything he wanted when he was a geeky seventeen year-old.  Now that he’s pushing forty and the owner of half the real estate in town, he wants another shot at convincing her that he’s everything she needs.  He didn’t count on her owning the business he just signed a contract with though.  Craig has to find a way to help Annie’s struggling business without her knowing it since anything else would push her further away and that’s the last thing he wants.
Together they may get a second chance for a summer romance.

When the Sea Swallows the Sun – Kim Strattford
A trip to Clearwater Beach was supposed to be a fun escape from the D.C. rat race for Emma and her boyfriend Sam.  Until Sam dumped her, leaving her with a ticket she was too cheap not to use and a resolution to enjoy her time in the sun and get over him.  A plan that sputters when Sam’s good friend Rick shows up.  Rick, who’s never seemed to approve of her for reasons she’s never understood.  Rick, who seems to think he has license to bug her just because he bought Sam’s ticket.  Rick, who may be a much nicer guy than she ever realized, and who might have a very good reason for not thinking much of her.  Can they make peace in the beautiful Florida sun and surf?  Peace—or maybe more?

Love’s Nectar – Jaylee Austin
What if fate pushed you to make a choice between keeping a promise and revealing a truth? After her grandmother’s death, she opens an unexpected letter containing an unwanted request. Isabel feels obligated to honor her grams final wish. In the process she risks losing the man of her dreams.
Six months before their marriage Isabel reveals a time bomb that will forever change their lives. He loves her but the betrayal of not trusting him weighs heavy on his heart. Trust means everything to Seth.
One ring, journal, box, spirit, and flower will teach everyone the power of commitment and the importance of honesty.  Secrets left buried will always haunt the living, a life lived truthfully leads to happily ever after. Will Isabel and Seth realize this before they are doomed to replay the mistakes of the past?

Love’s High Tide – Niki Mitchell
Tired of the vacationers hitting on her, surf shop owner, Skye Taylor quits dating. In walks the cocky, Harley Nicholson from Idaho. She’s not open for another summer fling. Can he convinces her to give love a chance?
Harley sees Skye shooting through the Huntington Beach Pier on her surfboard. Mesmerized by the woman’s connection with the wave, he sets out to meet the brazen surfer. He bets his cousin that before he leaves in three weeks, she’ll be his.
Skye’s life is kept busy running the Epic Surf Shop and training for annual surfing contest. The handsome, buff Idahoan interests her, but she doesn’t want another disastrous summer fling. Harley charms her into giving him a surfing lesson, woos her with moonlight strolls, and coaxes her with sweet gestures.
Skye discovers Harley’s betrayal. She refuses to see him or hear his explanation. Harley must do something monumental to win her back. Will Skye ever forgive Harley?

Linger – Melissa J. Crispin
Tracey Thompson isn’t like most twenty-year-olds. She’s looking forward to settling down and marrying her soul mate, Noah Martin. Even though their love bloomed when they were just little kids, they never doubted it and never looked back.
When a tragic accident separates Tracey from Noah, she struggles to go on without him. As the days wear on, she becomes aware of a chance for them to be together once again. All she needs to do is understand what tore them apart in the first place. But, overcoming this is harder than it seems. Will she be strong enough to find her way back to him?

Above Reproach – Sheryl Winters
Executive Secretary Margaret Simms should have had it all. An apartment on the beach and a job at Reynolds Ad Agency, working for her best friend and business mogul Garrett Reynolds.
A one night stand leads to a pregnancy and a re-evaluation of her life goals. In reality, Margaret’s always hated her office job and culinary school is her life dream. But that too is ripped away from her when Garrett, her best friend and father of her child, develops cancer.
Obligation forces her back to the work she hates. When office espionage threatens her life, Margaret finds she must make a choice. Stand up for what she truly believes in or lose all she’s ever wanted.
Get ready for summer romance. Summer’s Sweet Embrace available at your favorite retailers on August 19, 2015.

Shots of Summer

Sadly, September arrives with discolored leaves and shorter days. My sun-loving self clings to those brief days of Indian Summer (which probably isn’t PC terminology) and mourns the thought of morning runs in the dark.

In the hopes of holding on to my beloved summer a little longer, here are some photographic recollections:

Going for a Ringer at the Labor Day Farewell
Going for a Ringer at the Labor Day Farewell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rafting the Deschutes - not this summer
Rafting the Deschutes – not this summer
Walking to honor our Mom at the Relay for Life
Walking to honor our Mom at the Relay for Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selling my car for a stack of cash
Selling my car for a stack of cash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paying cash for a brand new vehicle. I love having NO car payment.
Paying cash for a brand new vehicle. I love having NO car payment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spending time with the lovely Lily
Spending time with the lovely Lily

What’s your favorite memory of summer? Don’t forget to take the poll about your favorite season.

The Death of Summer and its Final Barbecue

Image from hooverwebdesign.com

Labor Day marks the official end of summer. The Tuesday following kids head back to school.

On the west coast anyway. Elsewhere in the US, kids have been back to school for a week or two already. It’s hard for those on this coast to let go of summer.

Isn’t it a given that the preferred cooking method after Memorial Day is the barbeque? Gas, propane, wood or charcoal may fuel it, but it’s the way beef is done – in July.

Sometimes a handful of family members might recline on the deck at our house. Other years, we’ve loaded up the essentials and taken our Farewell to Summer Party to a park.

So it was this year. Since our youngest son is already in class at college (that Quaker school he attends does things a little “other coastal,” if you get my meaning), it was a gathering with friends. Specifically friends from our church.

Hot dogs and hamburgers might make the grade during the summer, but at the last barbecue, a few other dishes are required.

First of all, fresh corn on the cob is essential. Roasted directly in the coals wearing its own husk makes it downright delicious. Grilling it on the barbie will satisfy, but if you bring out the boiling water, we will cry.

September is corn harvest season on the left coast. You can see overloaded semi-trucks with the golden delicacy. Come back in October for the largest corn maze this side of the Rockies.

Another staple on Labor Day is watermelon. The best watermelons in the world are grown in Hermiston, Oregon. I can eat the heart out of one of these juicy red mamas.

In fact, one of my worst memories from tweenhood centers around my ability to do just that. Apparently, it’s okay to eat your own heart out, but it’s a heinous act of selfishness to eat the heart out of a watermelon.

So said the blistering tongue-lashing my father gave me when I at the heart out of that melon. It sat covered and minding its own business atop the washing machine. It even had black seeds in it. Actually, they marked the edges of the succulent heart.

Back to the last barbeque…it’s nice to recline in the camp chairs around a fire pit roasting corn. It’s even more glorious when the sun agrees to drive the clouds away and spill a golden spotlight on the gathering.

Games you might enjoy at summer’s goodbye bash: volleyball, badminton, softball or horseshoes. Regardless of the choice, there will be lots of ribbing for the losers (as if losing wasn’t its own form of ridicule). My mom liked to call this “Love talk.” You only tease those you love, she said. The worse the taunting, the deeper the love.

Love flows at both ends of the horseshoe pits. Camp chairs line the sides (a safe distance away) and love talk sails with more regularity than ringers.

Alas, summer gives up the ghost for another nine months. The red, yellow and brown leaves already announce autumn’s arrival.

Best of all, school starts. But for the second time since 1997, that means nothing to me. The Tuesday after Labor Day is just another day pulled up to my desk letting my fingers find the right way to spill words on a page.

Summer may have ended, but my novel has a few more chapters before it makes way for a new season.

What traditions do you have for Labor Day?

My Vicarious Vacation: Gone Scrapbooking

Remember those old photo albums with some sort of strange clear glue and the plastic pages that screamed when you placed a photo behind them? You know, the ones from which all the pictures fell after a few months. So much for that awesome glue.

Now, there are photo boxes and photo sleeves to help you organize your photographs. Who wants them organized? Not me. I want them somewhere accessible so I can pull them out and stroll down memory lane.

Enter scrapbooking. Don’t ask my sister about this. She will spill some story about how I grumbled and complained when she first asked me to scrapbook pages for an album she was making for our mom.

Scrapbooking makes my back ache. I need more tools to make cooler pages. It would be cheaper and less painful to throw all the photos in a cute box somewhere.

Yep, but I love to put those pages together. It gives me a chance to relive those moments vicariously. As a fiction writer, living vicariously is something I adore. This is why I highly recommend reading.

Lest I ramble on about two of my favorite subjects, let me get to the point. Behold: my process for  preserving memories and my ponderings while scrapping two different family vacations.

Pick out pictures

A tedious aspect for me is selecting pictures. Not because I don’t like shuffling through the photos on my computer. I adore making the fingernails size extra-large and scrolling through to find the best ones.

I despise clicking on the plethora of numbered folders on our hard drive. This is how my photographer husband set them up when he downloaded them from his camera.

What do you think? Does folder 584 sound like it might be the trip to Washington D.C.? Oh, you mean you can’t tell by a number! Hmmm.

Just look at the date, you say? What an excellent idea! Except most of the file dates are meaningless and less than helpful.  Why? Anything taken before 2008 has the same date. That would be the date he created this directory on the external server.

Very helpful. I know.

Decide on paper and accessories

Once I have finally printed the 8 – 12 photos out, the real fun begins.

No, I wasn’t being sarcastic. Sometimes I even start with this step.

I mean, what girl doesn’t love to accessorize? There are stickers, borders, letters, words and all manner of shapes that could make a ho-hum layout into WOWZA.

Those big books of 12×12 sheets that have 50 or more different types of paper are incredible. When they’re on sale, I literally want to purchase one of each. You’ll be proud to hear I avoided buying any the last time I was at the craft store. They were even half price.

It’s best to make a list of what you want to scrapbook before you decide on purchasing stickers. I will use the entire sheet of Disney Orlando stickers when I make those pages. In fact, I used a couple when I scrapped our Disney 2000 vacation.

The boys were so little: 9 and 6. Tanner’s “muscle” shirt showed off half his chest. The scar on Thaddeus’ cheek, still pretty new, crinkled like a dimple in nearly every picture. *sigh*

Time flies when you’re roaming through memories this way.

Place the photos in a dozen different locations

The most tedious and time consuming step is planning the exact layouts. I use the two-page spread, lying the blank sheets next to each other as they’ll appear in the album, and try to make the pages balance each other out. Or not. Sometimes imbalance suits me the project better.

This is the step I generally enjoy taking at a friend’s house. It can be a hassle to transport everything. I recommend a large plastic tub or a totally cute bag from Thirty-one.

Once the date is set and the menu planned, we bring our projects and tools and spread out on the huge dining room table (a major requirement for scrapbooking of any sort). This way,  I lay out my plans and my crafty friends tweak them so they look a hundred times better. Side benny: they have great tools and paper they’re happy to share with me.

Cut, glue and admire

Once I’ve nailed down the layout (figuratively speaking, of course), I start cutting all the pictures, background paper, borders and frames I’ll need for the pages. Right now, I think my cutter might need a new blade. The edges are looking a little raggedy and the cuts don’t always go through.

Once everything is the perfect size, I use glue strips to affix photos. A couple of these tiny tabs in each corner of the picture does the trick. Much less messy than glue, too.

Of course, for the heavy cardstock frames, borders and background accents, only glue will do. I use a fat glue stick made especially for paper to paper bonding. Speaking of bonding, isn’t that what family vacations are all about? Oh, and hanging with friends to scrapbook is another way to promote bonding.

What was I talking about? Oh, yes. Accessorizing my pages until they take on the personality of the trip they depict. That means it’s time to place the stickers, accents and photo tags. Presto! Your glamour girl is ready to go.

Stand back and admire your handiwork. My hands massage my lower back during this step and I try to stretch my shoulders without groaning. Usually, I need to down a glass of water. Who knew this was such a thirsty and back-wrenching hobby?

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150

Whoever said scrapbooking was easy must use a different method. Claims of fun and the offer of something rewarding in the end? Those are spot on.

 

What is your preferred method of preserving photographic memories?

 

An Ocean for all Seasons

The Pacific Ocean: changeable or unchanging? You decide after viewing the evidence.

 

Spring
Spring
Summer
Pacific Ocean - Autumn
Pacific Ocean – Autumn
Pacific Ocean - Winter
Pacific Ocean – Winter