My Dad -- a Well-Rounded Guy

My family, immediate and extended, has had a run of tough stuff over the past couple of years. There have been job losses leading to financial crisis, people moving cross country, one person choosing an ego- and ignorance-driven midlife crisis over her husband and children, assisted living arrangements, and a major car accident. None of those are easy to deal with, especially in today's economic climate and after such a long run of prior long-term consistency in not having to deal with such issues. It's a lot of change to get used to, a lot of damage control and rearranging of mindset, finances, and habits to wrestle. And it's hard to truly help each other when individual families within a family are so busy dealing with their own damage control. But you know what they say, when it rains, it pours.

That's when you hope, wish, pray that someone has the common sense, intelligence, and calm to blow a whistle and make the chaos slow down so you can at least think. That person turned out to be my Dad. Since he has always been the person to worry about the future and plan for it, he was the last person anyone wanted to tell about their current dilemmas. So my brother and I kept our mouths shut about some of them for a while. Big mistake: My father picks up on things. Hey, he was Valedictorian of his high school, he made it through Vietnam in one piece, and worked in the Supreme Court with some pretty crazy defendants. So he's smart, he can smell trouble, and he knows sneaky.

Still, once he found out about one disaster after another, he kept it together, better than we did. And this is where I know that, despite all the chaos, I'm a lucky girl. For one thing, today ... on his 72nd birthday ... I'm lucky to have him around. All his research on vitamins and supplements, etc, may drive some nuts, but he's kept himself and my mom reasonably healthy with it all! Also, I know that not all "kids" have had a Dad who takes the role of "father" so seriously and as his most important job. At an age when the last thing he should have to worry about is his kids, he has helped to keep his son and daughter on an even keel. He's proof that people keep on growing and changing past the age of fifty, because he has had to make lots of adjustments in his way of thinking over the past couple of years. He didn't expect a daughter-in-law who he would have done anything for to try and take advantage of her ex-inlaws or play with her family's lives like a wayward teen. For my Dad, family is family and runs on unconditional love. So this made no sense to him. These days, loyalty and sacrifice seem to be an old-fashioned idea. 

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Mom and Dad

My Dad takes on too much and worries too much at times. But it's all part of being the sort of guy who, if there were many more like him, could right the world. He still holds his wife's hand as they walk down the street, worries that his son-in-law doesn't realize he is proud of all his efforts, he takes up new interests (bike riding and golf), makes brownies that could probably create world peace if delivered en masse to the UN, provides financial advice, jokes around to lighten the mood, was the first person to call his sister with a "good morning" and last person of the day to say "goodnight" when she lived alone and still speaks to her frequently now in assisted living. Our politics are often different, but the reasoning behind his is, nevertheless, noble. He gives to charity, helps out his friends, cooks for my mom, thinks I write better than JK Rowling, and probably should join his church choir because he's the only member of our family who I know of who can carry a tune. 

Does the man have any flaws? Sure. I have inherited his stubbornness. And he can have a real temper...usually because he's worried about something not going right. Oh, and from the age of about four through ten, he had me believing we were from another planet. Ever heard shortwave? Yeah ... he would play it, fiddle with the tuner, and tell me it was communications from our home world. (Can I tell you how disappointed I was when I learned what shortwave really is?) So I suppose I should thank him for my choice of writing scifi/fantasy.

Happy Birthday, Dad! You have always been my hero, but especially this past year and a half! When the guy who always worries tells you not to worry, it makes an impact! Love you so much!

 


Check out The Fussy Librarian

Recently, I've become a fan of The Fussy Librarian, which pushes ebook deals to you based on the types of books you prefer. Love the "voice" they project. Please check them out today!

Plus TREEHUGGER, is The Fussy Librarian's Young Adult Feature of the Day. On top of that, you can snag an ecopy of Treehugger at Amazon or BN for .99 starting today. If you're already a fan, please let your reader pals know. Thanks! 

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Telling Myself to Chill

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The past week-and-a-half has been one big stress fest around here. Both kids had midterms to study for (and still do). I've been juggling too many irons amongst too many fires. And colds (thankfully not flus) have made the rounds.

If I think back, I can't recall saying, whispering, or shouting much more than, "Go study!" Much to their distress, I've shoved more healthy foods at my kids than usual, hoping omega 3s, protein, and more fruits and veggies will boost their test  scores (I kid you not). I've spent so much time editing, writing, researching, linking, and social media venue building that my fingers don't seem to know what to do without a keyboard beneath them--which is probably why I dropped the milk container this morning while getting my coffee.

Then, at a working meeting with a friend this morning, something snapped. I had run to the back of the adorable cafe we were at because, supposedly, the wireless signal was better back there and my phone was too slow to load a reference site. As I practically ran into the middle and back rooms of the cafe, past a fire place and a very homey environment, my past came back to me. The soothing, creative, freewheeling feeling I used to get when writing at small cafes in Manhattan hit me in such strong contrast to the hectic life I live now that I just ... stopped. I took in my surroundings, breathed, and made myself promise that I would be more than a wild woman behind a keyboard to my kids today. That I would do more than nag, and that I would do exactly what my daughter was begging me to do all week:

We grabbed the "snow markers" she got for Christmas, I ignored my hacking cough, and we chilled out in the windy chill. And I had FUN. Don't get me wrong; all the projects I'm working on have an element of fun to them. It's just that I've left no time to breathe, no time for impulse. So I'm thinking I need more  "mom & pop" cafes, less run-of-the-mill Starbuck shops that I move through on my way somewhere else', more time with my Energizer Bunny Girl and fewer excuses for not playing in the snow. 

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EBK and her snow markers

  


One Direction ... Forward

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Maybe the coffee hasn't hit my system yet, but this image really struck me this morning: blue sky, forward motion, and a blank slate. It has me trying to pin down exactly what lies ahead, wondering what exactly I'm supposed to shoot for. 

What should I write on my sign? Some possibilities:

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CALM: How do I achieve calm? I think remembering everything is relative is key for me. If last year has taught me anything, it's that perspectives change like the weather. It's never been easy for me to go with the flow, but I've learned enough recently to realize it's the only way to go. 

 

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HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE: Losing weight and feeling better could be waiting for me if I keep up the spin classes. Of course, that's the trick, isn't it? LOVE spin class. But I love writing/editing more. I love social media more. Going vegan is another way for me to plod ahead toward this goal. The only drawback here is the inflexibility of my family on food matters. So, as much as I can enjoy eating vegan, time constraints keep stopping me from prepping more than one meal. 

 

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RECORD-BREAKING BOOK SALES: I'll settle for breaking my own sales records. What's on the horizon? Book Three of the Based on a Dream series is due out some time in the spring. A joint project middle grade story written years ago will finally launch in the next few months. Best push toward this goal? I have joined an amazing group of speculative fiction authors in an author co-op. More news and links to introduce the group will follow soon! I'm so excited to work with these fantastic authors, and I know you'll be psyched to discover their books.

Following the above signs will--hopefully--lead to a final destination:

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And what is success? Well, I'm thinking that's relative, and I'll figure it out when I get there.

What does your sign say? (If you'd like to create your own picture, it's public domain, so have at it!)

Kea

 


New Anti-Bullying Resource -- O2

FYI: New listing added to my Anti-Bullying Resource Listings. This is a UK site for parents about protecting kids in cyberspace. (Listed under Safety in Digital Communication):

O2 - Kids, Mobiles and the Internet

Thanks so much for the heads up, Alice!

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Tip for Avid Readers: Kindle Books and Tips

KBT_icon_512-300x300If you consume books like chocolate, drink them in like water, and inhale them like the first hint of spring, you need a source to find them quickly, easily, and cheaply. If you subscribe to Kindle Books and Tips, you will have found that source. Good books, stellar variety, highlighted discounts. I have found some great titles this way. And today, I'm pleased to announce that Treehugger (Based on a Dream, #1) is listed there today--still at it's current reduced price of .99. 

You can check out Kindle Books and Tips in the following places.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/fkbooks 
Twitter: www.twitter.com/fkbt 
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/fkbooks 

Like what you see? Please give the listing a share, a like, a tweet... any social media vehicle would be appreciated! 

Thank you!

Kea


2014 ... Welcome, you shiny new year, you!

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I've harped over the imminent demise of 2013 for weeks now to anyone who will listen. Still, as the remaining hours to this horrible year dwindle, I can't help but take note of how 2013's claws feel as if they are losing their grip on me. Just in time to stick it to 2013, a bunch of sudden book sales between last night and this morning have me psyched and ... to top it off ... a review for Treehugger popped up on Amazon where there has been no review action in months. It's hard to dance when you discover this in a packed IHOP, so I downed another cup of coffee and poured an extra-thick layer of blueberry syrup over my pancakes to compensate. Then I danced when I got home.

 

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So am I optimistic about 2014? Very much so. After all, here are some qualities 2014 has going for it over 2013:

1) It's an even number. (I hate odd numbers, particulary the number 3.)

2) It doesn't have a superstitious, bad number stigma to live up to.

3) The past year has been overwhelmingly bad for so many of my family and friends that to continue such luck and circumstance into another year would simply be overkill. Somewhere in the universe (or multiverse) there has to be a bit of sympathy floating around to rescue us all.

4) The number four has a beautiful, simple evenness to it. Even flow, even keel, even Steven. 

5) I'm already writing 2014 on dates by accident instead of my usual habit of writing the old year months into the new! Surely that has to mean something. Right? 

So here's to a beautiful 2014 to my friends, family, readers, and fellow writers. May your prayers be answered, your lives improve, your health be sound, your book choices be inspiring, and your words flow easily and expertly.

Love, Kea

 

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Snowballs of chaos ... the novel of my life


Christmas  Mickey snowballis over, and it's time to turn toward resolutions for 2014. What's mine? To keep writing fiction, of course, but more importantly, I need to stop trying to write my life. That might sound strange, but maybe fellow writers can relate? See, when I write fiction, I'm looking for scenes to flow and characters to grow. I want the plot to build throughout the book and/or series...much like a snowball rolling downhill...gathering an understanding of the characters, love for the story, new ideas, surprises, resolutions. If the snowball begins cracking, veering off course, or comes to a complete stop, I can fix it. Whether that fix comes easily or has me tearing my hair out, a solution is out there. The story is in my control, no matter how long it takes me to regain control. I throw my characters into turmoil because I want to...because it furthers the story I've created.

Unfortunately, I tend to look at my life as a chapter-sectioned novel as well. To  a degree, we all "write" our life stories. We set our course, only to change course umpteen times. Our attitudes, moods, skills, and weaknesses determine how fast our snowball rolls, the direction it takes, and whether it falls apart and/or comes back together again. Yet these real life stories have co-authors who don't necessarily agree with our plot and development. Sometimes, these outside authors don't even agree on whether we are hero or villain of our story. Who are these troublesome co-authors? Family, friends, the economy, bullies, the weather, bosses, co-workers, world leaders, overflowing toilets....you name it. Our co-authors are the things, events, and people who we have no control over.  To beat them back from affecting our story is exhausting, and often useless. Yet what choice do we have but to continue trying? Fingers and hearts numb, we must keep reforming our snowball everytime life throws a crack into it or completely demolishes it. The worst thing we can do? Pretend we have control all the time. If you are a spiritual person, God can help you rebuild you Snowbeastr snowball...although, sometimes, it seems He is the one helping to tear it apart, probably for your own good. Whichever way you look at it, random elements out of our control get in the way of furthering the story we want for ourselves.

So in 2014, I'm going to try not to be caught with my mouth hanging open when my snowballing story heads for Istanbul or rolls to a sloppy stop. It's time to resist attempting to fight off and/or avoid life's hits. Maybe I can take my co-authors and roll them into my snowball of a life novel ... ugliness, happiness, luck, and misfortune ... just pack it all in there and attempt to reset course time and again--with the understanding that I can never control every turn, every snowflake. 

Is this why we writers write? To feel some true control? To practice being the head honcho of something, so that we can return to our real lives with firmer resolve? What do you think?


Holiday Savings: YA fantasy for $.99

As I sit here on Sunday evening, I'm a bit floored by many things:

1) I still feel full from Thanksgiving.

2) I haven't gotten one Christmas decoration out all weekend. Tomorrow ought to be fun.

3) The producers of The Walking Dead nearly killed me tonight. I mean ... I don't care how much blood they found in that car seat, someone please tell me Judith is on the stupid bus!?

4) Even though I still have to put away a couple of things from hosting Thanksgiving, tomorrow is Cyber Monday already! Will I take part? Definitely. But instead of neurotically cruising cyberspace for deals, I'm throwing one out there myself....

Starting now...through January 10th,
the ebook version of
Treehugger (Based on a Dream, #1) is $0.99!

So load up that new ereader you snagged on Black Friday with the first book of a four-book YA fantasy scifi series.  Head over to Amazon.com or BN.com for an escape from Thanksgiving mayhem, holiday decorating, and yes....even from tonight's soul-wrenching episode of Walking Dead. 

I hope you enjoy Treehugger and share it with a teen!

Kea

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Ask an Author! A formal invitation

You're invited to ....

Ask an Author!
An opportunity to ask authors about their
books and craft, and to enter giveaways!

Date: 11/30 & 12/1   (My date is Sunday, 12/1)

Place: Ask an Author on Facebook!

Time: 10 am to 10 pm, a new author
every hour on the hour!
(My time is 3:00 - 4: 00 pm)

I hope to see you there and look forward to chatting with you. AND I'll be giving away ecopies of Treehugger, Book One of my YA scifi fantasy series. (Currently, Book One and Two out of a series of four are available in ebook and print.)

What is the Based on a Dream series about? Let's just say, central character Chloe's REM sleep simply isn't the same as everyone else's! Her first book is your ticket off this rock and into a series full of adventure, deep friendships, romance, the search for strength, and the importance of respecting life in all forms.

You can check out blurbs and a compilation of reviews for Treehugger here and for Risktaker here

Want to win an ecopy of Treehugger? Join us at Ask an Author to enter!

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