Category Archives: Blog Posts

It’s a New Year!

backlit beach christian dawn
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Dear Readers,

Happy New Year!

Today I started my day by having a late breakfast with my family, and then started cleaning out some of the clutter acquired over the last year.  My thoughts automatically turned to all the things I would like to do this year: places I’ve never visited, goals I’ve never accomplished before, and though I don’t habitually make resolutions, I decided I do have some aspirations that will make this year the best yet.

It’s been a crazy few weeks at my house;  between holidays, visiting family, and starting a new job, I’ve had a pretty full plate, but today I can take my time to rest, and plan, and dream.

I want to treat 2019  like a clean slate.  I want to attempt to be the best version of myself that I can be, or at least a better version of myself.  I know I will falter along the way, and probably fail at some point, but right now I choose to look on this change of date with optimism, and embrace the possibilities.

I hope you choose to embrace this chance to start anew along with me, whether or not you set any resolutions for yourself.  Let’s make 2019 the year we accomplish our dreams, the time we become the people we have always wanted to be.

I wish you all joy, and peace, and love, and fulfillment for 2019!

Amy

Advertisements

My Christmas Wish for You

adult beautiful christmas cold
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

I just wanted to take a moment to express my heartfelt wishes for all of you out there this holiday season.

I wish you joy, and peace, and a special time spent surrounded by your loved ones.

I wish you health, and happiness, and that you have or find motivation to reach for the stars this next year.

I wish you all love, for yourself, and for those you call family and friends.

Most of all, I wish for you, dear readers, a Merry Christmas to you and yours and a very Happy New Year!

Amy

Have Yourself a Christmas from the Heart

low section of woman

This holiday season holds the meaning we give it, so make it a good one! Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Pexels.com

There’s no denying this time of year can be hectic-between family plans, social obligations, baking, shopping, and necessary seasonal activities like shoveling the driveway-it can be hard to prioritize, much less breathe!  With so much hustle and bustle, it can be difficult to find a moment to contemplate what the season really means, or what we would like to share with our loved ones.

I don’t have a magic formula to tell you how to organize everything so that you have time left over for mundane things like sleep, but perhaps, we can manage to rearrange the busyness into something more meaningful this year.

Give of Yourself to Others.

Not everyone has the means, or the desire, to spend on elaborate gifts for family and friends, or donate large amounts to worthy charities at this time of year.  That does mean we cannot give gifts from our hearts, or assist those in need.  Enlist your family to help make homemade treats for friends and neighbors, pull out your knitting needles, or make a batch of homemade soaps to share.  Gifting someone with something special made by hand can be more meaningful than the fanciest of presents you could purchase.

There are plenty of organizations that need volunteers to help stock food pantries, collect warm clothing and toys for needy children, or spend time caring for abandoned pets.  If you aren’t sure where you (and your family) could volunteer, check with your local church, or go online to places like the Salvation Army website or the Kids in Need Foundation to find out what’s most needed that you can shop for or collect in donations.

portrait of girl wearing christmas hat

The time you can spend with your family is more important than any present they may recieve.  Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Create Holiday Traditions.

Long after the presents have all been opened and their excitement has faded away, your children will remember the special moments you’ve shared with them over this season.  Let the kids help decorate the tree, or give them one of their own and help them make paperchains and other homemade decorations.  Take the time to read them the classic “Twas Night Before Christmas,” or watch a classic Christmas movie together. Let them help you make a special platter of cookies and milk for Santa, and don’t forget the carrots for the reindeer.

I remember one year when I was a young child my parents arranged for a neighbor to stand by our back door and shake jingle bells while we were in the dining room on Christmas Eve.  My brother, sister and I were told that the tinkling came from Santa’s sleigh as he flew by.  Of course, when we were led back into the living room afterwards, we found that we had been visited by “Santa” while we were distracted.  I don’t remember any of the gifts we received that year, or if my younger brother and sister even remember the event, but the magic in that moment of possibilities, stayed with me long after I knew the “truth” about Santa Claus.

What holiday traditions do your family share?  I would love to hear from you!

Remember the Meaning of the Season.

While it can be very difficult at times to not let ourselves be caught up in the chaos that surrounds this time of year, I hope you find some time to breathe, and to enjoy the true meaning of this season. Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah, or whatever traditions you celebrate, all have deeper meanings than the gifts, the shopping, the traffic, and the music that started as early as the day after Halloween on some radio stations.  This is the season of light, of hope, of love, of joy, and sharing of ourselves with others.  I hope you are able to leave the rest behind, and take some time for your loved ones, and yourself, to spend together and truly celebrate.

From my family to all of yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Amy

Pre-Christmas Sale

blur celebration christmas cookies
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Hello busy readers and pre-Black Friday shoppers!

Have you ever wished you could step outside of reality for a little while, take a breath and simply will yourself somewhere  that is more peaceful, or more exciting, somewhere where you can be anything you can imagine, or experience an adventure you’d never dare to dream in real life?

The main character in my book Virtual: can you be sure what’s real?, Amanda, has the chance to do exactly that, through a marvelous trip into Virtual Reality.  Join Amanda and her teammates and opponents, especially the sexy Rex Cade, as they experience excitement, adventure, betrayal, and untold dangers as they uncover a plot to take control of this new world.

 

I’ll be running a promotion for seven days starting this Wednesday, November 21st, on my book Virtual: Can you be sure what’s real?

This e-book makes a great stocking stuffer, or a quick read when you get a chance to relax!  Just follow the links here:

Check out these wonderful reviews on my work:

From Graciela Sholander: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RNVO43UWX78KU/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B076DJNHT6

From Robert Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/RPYU1Z3D57U4I/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B076DJNHT6

Have a great holiday, and make sure to take some time for yourself!

Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe While Trick-or-Treating

One of my favorite things about Halloween is seeing all the children, dressed as their favorite characters from make-believe, excitedly collecting treats as they travel door-to-door.  With a few simple rules and precautions, we can ensure that this holiday tradition is a safe and fun time for our kids.

Take your pick
Tomorrow’s the day, and kids big and small are rare’n to go out!  Photo by DaDaAce on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Before you go:

Do your research.

Many communities will establish a certain time frame for kids to trick-or-treat in, so both residents and law enforcement will be aware of when they may be on the streets, and to protect residents from “tricksters” who may try to take advantage of the night.  It’s a good idea to check your local news source or community webpage to see if there are restrictions in your area.  In my community, for example,children are only permitted to be out on Halloween from 6 to 8pm.

It’s also a good idea to plan the route your kids will take, especially if you are not going with them, and make sure they know to stick in areas you know and consider safe.

Alternatively, a number of local shopping centers and even churches offer “trick-or-treating” events, where kids can walk around a well-lit area, sometimes indoors, and collect candy from participating vendors or parishioners.

Costume adjustments.

You’ve purchased your little ones that costume that they just had to have.  Unfortunately, it’s a dark color that will make it hard for them to be seen by any cars on the street while they’re out.  That’s okay, because you can make a last minute addition of reflective tape, found at any craft or hardware store, to their costumes. Or consider a battery-powered light pack, or a flashlight or other light-up accessory such as a lightsaber to make them more visible when they have to cross the street.

Instead of a mask that can make it hard to see, especially in a relatively dark area, consider using makeup on your kids’ faces.  There are all sorts of specialty kits available for Halloween, or you can make use of normal cosmetics you have around the house.

When you’re ready to head out:

Make sure that your little ones are either with you, an adult or older teen you can trust, or at least with a group of friends.  There really is safety in numbers when they are walking in or near dark, with loads of strangers out.

Encourage your kids to follow the courtesy rule-only visit houses where there is someone  waiting out front or an outdoor light lit.  Not everyone chooses or is able to hand out candy on Halloween, so remind your kids to be respectful.  Also, it never hurts to encourage them to say thank you for the treats they receive.

It’s time to go home:

Unless your route out goes by grandma’s or your sister’s house, make sure that your kids don’t eat any treats until you get home and can check it.  Consider counseling your kids to not eat their entire haul in one sitting, or take charge and ration it out to them.  After all, the last thing anyone wants is for them to end their Halloween with a massive tummy ache!

Above all, have a safe and fun Halloween!

 

She’s No Damsel in Distress-Laurie Strode Faces Evil in the New Halloween Movie

Forty years after the release of the original movie, Laurie Strode, played once again by Jamie Lee Curtis, faces a final confrontation with her brother and nemesis, Michael Myers, played by Nick Castle.

 She’s not going to let him get away again!  from screengeek.net

This new version of Halloween begins with Michael escaping from the sanitarium where he has lived for most of his life so he can continue to kill.  Laurie has survived when no one else has, and rather than fearing that Michael will come after her, Laurie actually is prepared and even eager to wage war on the psychopath who murdered their sister among many others.  She will fight with everything she has to protect her family and stop Michael.

Michael Myers began his killing spree as a six year old child in the original theatrical release, Halloween (1978), when he murdered his sister Janet.  Confined to a sanitarium for fifteen years, he escaped with only two goals in mind, to find his sister and to continue his murder spree.  The next few movies weave a mysterious and horrifying mythology around the characters, culminating in a reboot of the series in 2007, with a sequel, Halloween II, in 2009.

This second reboot of the franchise that has sparked eleven movies to date, plus novels, comic books and video games, Halloween (2018), arrives in theatres next weekend.  What a perfect way to get into the spirit of the season-just leave younger children with the sitter because this movie is rated “R” for violence and gore.

Remember When: The Joys of Halloween

I remember long-ago nights when, accompanied by my siblings and friends, I walked through the streets of our neighborhood, dressed in an outlandish fashion and carrying a plastic jack-o-lantern.  There were usually a few parents along for the trip, but we didn’t fear the night, because surely our large contingent of monsters could handle any truly scary denizens of the dark.

I remember the excitement I felt as a child as I chose a new identity, a new persona I would become, if only for one night. Simply by putting on different clothes, a mask, a wig or a hat, my mind was free to imagine, and I took advantage of the situation to act, to pretend, to become someone new.

Once our baskets were full and we had paid homage to every last house in sight that displayed a lit front porch light, it was time to return home, where our bounty could be inspected before we secreted it away, and removed our costumes and wigs, ready to be ourselves again.

Halloween in Hallow
These kids are ready for some Halloween fun! Photo by muffinn on Foter.com / CC BY

It’s October, and as I wander the aisles of my favorite stores, the displays of colorful seasonal merchandise take me back to those treasured memories of my childhood.  I’m not talking about the bountiful Christmas decorations that are often exhibited side-by-side with the other stuff, but rather those items strictly designed especially for the period that begins with the start of autumn and that we are usually ready to store, or dispose of, by Thanksgiving at the latest.

Halloween has always been one of my favorite times of the year, from the neighborhood camaraderie generated by the descending hordes of costumed children seeking sugar, to the imaginative and eye-catching displays some of our neighbors create to entertain, and to scare.

Halloween is one of the few excuses we adults get when it is socially acceptable (aside from Comic-con or Renaissance Fairs) for children and children at heart of all ages to become someone else for a little while.  One simply needs to don a mask, and live out a fantasy.  Pick up a wand or sword, and become a new character.  Put on a costume, and revisit childhood and the world of let’s pretend.

Who would you choose to be if you could become someone else, temporarily?  Would you choose to be your favorite character from a book, movie or television show?  Would you choose an archetypal character like a generic vampire or pirate?  Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wander around or simply answer the door as a zombie, a werewolf, or a fairy godmother?

Let’s take this occasion to fantasize, to remember, to return to when life was filled with the joy of imagination.  If you have the opportunity to attend a work or community event where you can dress up for a night, why not take advantage?  Remember for a little while the joy that comes from such a freeing activity.

343W0007
Make Halloween a family affair, so everyone can have fun! Photo by Ric Charlton on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

If you have children you can take door to door, or through the local mall for trick or treating, consider coordinating costumes with them.  I have seen some really cute theme costumes in the past, where every member of a family became a character from The Wizard of Oz, or Star Wars, or Marvel.

Take pleasure in using your imagination.  Even if you don’t go out, you always can dress up to hand out candy this year.  You may find that you enjoy the thrill your guests get from seeing you as you answer the door.  Whatever you choose to do this year, have fun.  After all, that’s what Halloween is really all about.

The Top Ten Reasons We Love Vampires

Fall officially begins at the end of this week, but I’ve been gearing up for it for some time.  For those who follow my blog, I’ve already written a couple of posts this month related to my favorite season, with hopefully more to come.  Today, as I start planning the decorations I’ll be putting up over the next few weeks (Do I really want an entire cemetery on the front lawn this year?) I began thinking about one of my personal favorite monsters-the vampire.

The Bite
Dinner, anyone? Photo by Len Radin on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

What is it about these creatures of the night that is so fascinating?  The myths that surround vampires are hardly new, but because of new additions to literature and Hollywood, their lore is continually being renewed by modern culture.  There are even societies devoted to vampires, where members dress and act as if they are members of the undread.

Vampires are enormously popular, thanks to television shows- Vampire Diaries (Netflix), The Originals (CW), True Blood (HBO), as well as recently popular movie series- Underworld, Blade and Twilight, to name a few.  Of course, books about vampires can be found by the dozens and hundreds in any seller or online retailer, from authors such as Charlaine Harris, Anne Rice, and the one who started who launched the cult following, Bram Stoker.

But why do we love vampires?  Here’s a few of the top reasons:

Vampires have longevity.  The stories and legends of vampires existed long before Bram Stoker penned his epic novel, or before Hollywood first introduced Dracula to the masses.

Vampires are mysterious.  No matter the version of the story, all vampires have secretive pasts and hidden existences that leave an audience wanting to know more about them.

Vampires are often seen as romantic characters.  Whether they are seductive fiends that come into a woman’s bedroom at night, or brooding teens that shy away from their bloodthirsty nature, we can’t help but be drawn to them.

2012-09-15 Elf Fantasy Fair, edition Arcen 2012, Jerney
Imagine running into her at night! Photo by Qsimple, Memories For The Future Photography on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Vampires are powerful.  They have superhuman strength and speed.  In some versions of the story, they can turn into bats or wolves, and have the ability to take control over a human’s mind.

Vampires often have a duality of nature.  Vampires can be both scary and attractive.  We are captivated by them; while at the same time we fear them.  They appear to be human, right up till the moment they give in to the urge to feed-on us.

Vampires have history.  Many stories include vampires that have been around a century or a few, that have seen mankind’s many triumphs and missteps, and have acquired a great deal of wisdom from their extended lifespans.

The Fearless Vampire Killers (1966) Screencaptures
The Fearless Vampire Killers (1966) Screencaptures  Photo by thefoxling on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Vampires represent eternal youth, beauty, and immortality.  They are often portrayed as being attractive, appearing young, and of course, they live forever, or until they see the sunrise or someone stakes them.

Vampires are outsiders.  Many of us can identify with characters that exist on the fringes of society, which are often portrayed as being solitary, as loners.

Vampires are the ultimate bad boys.  They live outside the rules of society, because they must kill to live, or at least steal blood from a bank or animals.

Vampires are monsters, even if they appear human.  We can’t help being fascinated by the idea that something out there considers us prey, which makes us vulnerable.  After all, horror stories in general have widespread appeal.

When you have some downtime this week, why not dust off that vampire novel you’ve been meaning to read, or download your vampire movie about those creatures of the night?  After all, with fall right around the corner it’s the perfect time to feed a monster obsession.

Amy

 

 

Family-Friendly Fall Activities

September in the Midwest brings with it a relief from the humidity and a slight drop in temperatures as we meander ever-closer to the beginning of autumn.  This gentle change in the weather is the perfect backdrop for a number of activities especially suited to the harvest season.  Here are just a few ideas of ways to spend quality time in the great outdoors with your loved ones this time of year.

IMGP3901
Go ahead and jump in that pile of leaves-we won’t tell! Photo by christielockwood on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Sunny fall afternoons offer the perfect excuse to breathe in the crisp air and enjoy some lawn games with your family.  Bring out a ball to toss or kick around, or play an old-fashioned game of tag.  Outdoor games such as cornhole, which involves aiming beanbags through a wooden target, are a good choice that can appeal to all ages and skill levels.  Take time to appreciate the colorful foliage, by letting little ones collect pretty leaves, and perhaps joining them in jumping in a pile.

Chilly autumn nights are the perfect time to utilize that fire pit on the deck or in the backyard.   Settle down with your loves ones for an evening of s’mores and sharing your favorite ghost story.  Many communities will host bonfires in the fall, often in celebration of back-to-school or in support of a local sporting event.  Check local listings for events, and don’t forget to pack lawn chairs. A blanket may come in handy as the temperature drops, too.

Feed your artistic side by carving a pumpkin.  While this can be done indoors, it’s often easier to move outside, especially with younger helpers participating!  Pick up pumpkins at a local grocery, nursery, or farm, and use your imagination.  Kitchen knives work well but specialty carving kits are easy to find, as are carving tips and designs in magazines and online sources such as Pinterest.

Everett Carving His Pumpkin
Every jack-o-lantern is unique, just like its creator.  Photo by Joe Shlabotnik on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

If you want to make a pumpkin creation that will last beyond the season, faux pumpkins make of foam, cardboard, and wood are available from your local craft store, and can be decorated with carving tools, paint, and any type of decoration you desire.

Visit a nearby farm.  Check directory listings for rural venues that offer special seasonal events.  Many of these destinations will feature attractions tailored for families, such as hayrides and corn mazes.  Spend an afternoon picking apples, selecting a pumpkin straight from the patch, or wandering through displays of colorful fall flowers.  As the sun goes down, warm up with a mug of hot apple cider or cocoa, before you carry your bounty home.

The varieties of activities that are available to make the most of nature and the harvest season are as unlimited as the autumnal colors surrounding us.  I hope you can take time to breathe in the cool air, smell the falling leaves, and spend some precious time with your loved ones today.

Amy