Thursday, June 27, 2013

Late to the Yoga Party

I've taken up yoga. 

Big deal, you say. Many of you have been singing the praises of yoga for years. It is a big deal to me--one more new life-enhancing activity to add to my Second Half. I've always liked the idea of yoga but relegated it to the "maybe someday, when I have time, if I feel like it" category, along with things like scuba diving or learning to play bridge. 

When I embarked on my new life in January,"someday" became "now". Stress had nearly crushed me, and I needed to find new ways to cope and heal. Yoga sounded like the perfect addition to my list of stress-relief strategies. For the first few months, however, I was still too busy to try it. We sold our house, bought a new one, moved across the country, and embarked on a massive remodeling project. Paradoxically, I needed to reduce my stress before I could experience the stress relief of yoga. I needed a routine that allowed  time and space to search for peace. Eventually, OG and I settled into something resembling a routine, and two weeks ago I decided I was ready to give yoga a try. I'm much less stressed than I was six months ago and better able to tackle something that requires concentration. 

The common advice to those wanting to take up yoga for the first time is to look for a class. Now I'm in reasonable shape and still pretty flexible, but I know what I don't know. At fiftysomething, I wasn't comfortable facing an instructor and a group of other students until I figured out if I even like yoga, much less if I'm able to do it. So I did what I always do--I researched. I checked out several how-to books for beginning yoga students and selected Yoga for Dummies, by Georg Feuerstein and Larry Payne.

I'm thrilled say the book is exactly what I was looking for. It's a comprehensive, easy-to-follow, introduction to yoga with a special section on beginning yoga after age 50. I was able to learn the poses and Level 1 routine quickly and have been performing it every other day, alternating with days on the treadmill, for the past two weeks. I haven't hurt myself, and I believe I do feel calmer and more flexible. In a few weeks, I hope to advance to Level 2, but I'm not going to push myself. Even the simple poses seem to bring real benefit.

One drawback, however, is that I now want to move into the new house even more quickly. It wasn't easy to maintain my concentration this morning with racket from the gardeners using gas-powered leaf blowers outside and a construction crew demolishing the interior of the unit next door. It's going to be a LONG six months until we move into the house and I can have the peace and quiet yoga both demands and deserves.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Monkey Business

We have a saying in our house: "You can never go wrong with a monkey...or a chicken." Some animals are naturally funny, especially monkeys and chickens. One of our favorite episodes of The Big Bang Theory features Ricky, Amy Farrah Fowler's chain-smoking simian lab subject. If you haven't seen it, you must. He is one BAD monkey!

Those of you who have been following this blog may recall the post entitled "Girls Just Want to Have Fun", in which I celebrated the joys of whimsy in my Second Half. Since OG is having a bit more trouble making the transition to living in California, we're making an effort to add whimsy to his new life, too. For Christmas, our daughter (a giant fan of Spanish soccer) gave OG a stuffed monkey named Marti (dressed in a Real Madrid hoodie) to keep him company by his computer. When we moved, OG decided Marti would make an excellent personal trainer and set him up on the treadmill. 

For OG's recent birthday, our daughter sent a whistle for Marti to help keep Dad on track with his exercises, and I gave him this card. The monkeys bounce and bob; I couldn't resist.

However, I believe my Fathers Day present tops them all. I found this monkey on a tricycle at Grigg's Nursery when I took my mom to look at fairy gardens. OG was so amused he insisted on going back the next day to get plants and a chicken to complete the piece. Now, this is what we see from our living room window. Just look at those expressions! It's hard to have a bad day with these two around.

And, in case you wondered, I AM wearing my monkey socks as I write this post.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Who Loves Fairy Gardens?

I love fairy gardens. Who doesn't? They combine two of my favorite things: gardening and miniatures. The best fairy gardens whisk you away into a wonderful world of make-believe on a tiny scale, much like a dollhouse but complete with a magical outdoor setting. (Does anyone else remember Thumbellina?)

I loved playing with my dollhouse when I was a little girl. I had some furniture and accessories that had belonged to my mother, and we bought a number of additional pieces over the years. When my daughter inherited the dollhouse, she and I used to visit a fabulous miniature shop in Minneapolis to add to the collection. We both cherish the memories of those special excursions, which were precursors to innumerable fun girls' days since. The dollhouse has moved on to one of my nieces, but I still have two boxes of furniture and accessories to pass down in case I'm lucky enough to have a granddaughter one day.

My mother was in town a couple of weeks ago for her first visit since we moved, so I took her to my favorite garden center, Griggs Nursery in Carmel Valley. I wasn't looking for fairy gardens because I'd never seen them there. However, as soon as we arrived, we came face to face with this one. Doesn't it look like The Shire? I can almost see Bilbo and Frodo, can't you?

Mom and I were instantly captivated. We looked around and came across several more. They're quite pricey but SO charming.

Then we found a display of fairy garden accessories, and I was inspired. I promised Mom I'd plant my own fairy garden as soon as we move into the new house. I can hardly wait!

Monday, June 10, 2013

And the Winner Is...

Janice Hougland was selected (scientifically, by OG blindfolded) as the winner of a copy of my post-Civil War romance, A Man Like That, as part of Charlene Raddon's blog hop. Congratulations, Janice!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Promote Your Book/Promote Mine Blog Hop with Charlene Raddon

The purpose of this blog hop is to promote Charlene Raddon’s latest release, The Scent of Roses, as well as the work of each of the participating bloggers. Be sure to read to the end of this page so you don’t miss out on the grand prize. Also be certain you visit each blog and comment to qualify for the individual giveaways, and the big prize.

Charlene Raddon has been writing historical romance novels for over thirty years. Her work has won several awards and much well-deserved praise. Here is what she has to say about her newest release.
Any day when a new book is released is exciting for the author. I’m thrilled to announce that my eBook, The Scent of Roses, is now available.

The Scent of Roses is a sequel to my last eBook, To Have And To Hold, but stands alone and does not need to be read in order to be enjoyed. Whip Kincaid, from The Scent of Roses, is the half-brother of Buck Maddux from To Have and To Hold. Whip also has a twin, Cale, who readers met in Buck’s story, which gives me an excuse to write a third book for this series.

The added touch of paranormal elements made The Scent of Roses a fun story to write. Who doesn’t enjoy haunted houses with hidden passageways? When I first moved to Utah, I lived in this house. No, there weren’t any secret passageways, but in every other way, my description of the old house is accurate. The third element new in this book is the subject of polygamy.

Rosalyn Delaney came to Whisky Ridge, Arizona expecting to receive aid from her estranged husband, Josiah Bullock, in escaping the crazed leader of a polygamist cult determined to have her. She’s broke and has nowhere else to go. But Josiah is dead, murdered the very evening of her arrival. The town is in uproar, searching for the suspected killer, Josiah’s business partner, Whip Kincaid. Rosalyn also learns that Josiah has taken a second wife.

Whip is innocent but to prove that, he needs to stay out of jail. He hides in secret passageways in the old house he and Josiah shared. Smythely, the elderly butler who came with the house, is the only other person aware of the passageways. Lurking between spiderwebbed walls and using the abundance of peepholes provided allows Whip to keep up with what’s going on. Sneaking out at night allows him to investigate. He’s particularly interested in Rosalyn Delaney, and for more than one reason. Besides being attracted to her, he’s sure she knows something about the murder.

But does she? Is she safe at Rose House? Will she be safe from Whip Kincade?
I hope you enjoyed this peek into The Scent of Roses. Find it here, at


June 1 - Official blog tour for Kat Flannery (not part of PUB/PM blog hop)
June 3     giveaway   
June 4          giveaway
June 8, /    giveaway
June 9,  giveaway
June 15   giveaway 
June 18    giveaway
June 19,   giveaway  
June 21  giveaway
June 22,   giveaway

I'll be giving away a pdf of my post-Civil War romance, A Man Like That, to one lucky commenter on this blog. You can also find it here: Here's the blurb:

Jessamine Randall, fearless crusader and champion of the downtrodden, is not a woman to be left waiting at the altar.  When her fiancĂ© disappears hours before their wedding, the ever-resourceful Jessy hatches a plan to track him down and bring him back where he belongs.

Morgan Bingham knows he’s no good.  Never has been.  Never will be.  A former outlaw is no fit husband for the only daughter of the town judge, despite her misguided notions.  Besides, after ten long years away from home, it’s time to return to the hills and face his demons.

Ill-prepared, but armed with unshakeable certainty, Jessy follows Morgan to his family’s cabin deep in the Ozark Mountains where she’s sucked into a whirlpool of deep secrets and old hatreds.  While she struggles to bring light and hope into their dark lives, her greatest challenge is Morgan himself.   Can she ever convince him he’s worthy of love?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Help Choose My New Book Cover

Five months ago, when I began this journey of self-discovery I call my Second Half, I crafted a plan for a new life to include writing, book cover design, and editing. Now that OG and I have The Big Move behind us, I've started to focus on my other goals for the year. In addition to creating covers for other authors, I hope to self-publish two books--one full-length novel and a Christmas novella. I love my current publisher, but I'm excited to branch out and one of the main attractions of self-publishing is the opportunity to do my own covers. 

I'm well on my way through revisions on my first contemporary romance, Unwritten Rules, so it's time to start experimenting with cover designs. I've put together three preliminary mock-ups and am looking for your feedback. 

Based on the blurb (below), which cover best embodies the tone and content of the story? Which would make you want to buy the book? (If nothing would make you want to buy this book, now would be a good time to mention that, too!)
Do you like the colors and images?
Do you prefer to see characters on book covers or just settings?
If you like figures, do you prefer to see their faces or just bodies?
Which fonts do you like best?

I'd really appreciate any input you might have!

Here's the blurb:
Things aren’t going Madelyn Li’s way. Her bodyguard agency is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, her grandmother keeps hatching plots to marry her off, and someone is trying to kill her latest client. All she wants is to safely escort thriller writer and former CIA agent Carter Devlin on his cross country book tour and collect her check, but two obstacles stand in her way: a shadowy assailant and her own growing attraction to her dashing client.

Carter Devlin has agreed to accept the beautiful and determined Ms. Li as a bodyguard primarily to appease his publisher. After all, who would want to kill a beat-up, retired ex-spy on a book tour? But when the attacks turn deadly, he soon learns there’s more to Madelyn than a pretty face and tempting body. Will the spark become a flame before a killer snuffs it out?