Tomorrow is never promised.

It’s hard not to be thinking about the kids at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The victims and their families. I raised teenagers. It wasn’t always easy. My heart goes out to the parents who were frustrated with their kid that morning. The ones who said something unnecessary, something that flew out of their mouths when they thought it didn’t matter. The ones that believed they had a lifetime to make it right, but now, can never take it back.

We watched the movie Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri a few days ago and one scene continues to resonate. In the aftermath of this tragedy, it haunts me.

I’m going to tell you now, so if you are anti-spoilers of any kind, skip ahead. It’s not a huge scene, barely two lines revealed in momentary flashback, but WOW, intense. Okay, here goes–
The mother and daughter are arguing over the car. She’s a “typical mom” and she’s a “typical teenager”. At the end of a heated exchange, the daughter stomps out of the kitchen screaming, “I hope I get raped!” and the mother replies “I hope you get raped, too!”
Neither means it. It’s a heat of the moment stupid thing to say. But, the daughter does get raped. And murdered. And the mother has to live with those words being the last she said.

Spouses, parents, kids, co-workers, bosses, teachers, etc…Relationships can be a challenge.
Life can be a challenge.
I don’t expect every exchange to be sunshine and roses.
Every parting to be overflowing with I love you’s.
But we need to practice not being so angry all the time.
Can we do that?
Can we try?

I don’t want you to live each day as if it’s your last–nobody’s needs the additional stress of that hanging over their heads.

We’ve all experienced regrets from a tragedy of our own.

I want the things that you wished you’d have done or said before it was too late to become habit while there’s still time. Something you do without thinking. An acquired behavior. Can you imagine?

Do your best today.
Do your best until you can’t not do your best.
Do your best today, because tomorrow is never promised.

 

 

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CREATIVITY

I’m in the final stages of book publishing and I feel good.
Every time I read through my manuscript, I find something to improve…
But I also find things that are pretty darn great already.
And that is a fabulous feeling.

February can be a rough month. Winter has outstayed it’s (one day Christmas) welcome and we are definitely suffering from the lack of fresh air and sunshine.
It’s the perfect time to distract your head, heart, and hands and get creating!

In honor of creativity–mine and yours–I’m sharing some wonderful quotes to get you inspired, to keep you inspired, and to let you know that, whether you share with others or only yourself, creativity is a gift.

Enjoy~

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When your To-Do List has a To-Do list

I’m having one of those days.
You know, one of

THOSE

days.
A day that starts out decent enough.
Easy enough.
Just fine.

I often go over my plans for the day at the breakfast table.
Coffee, the Chicago Tribune, and conversation with my husband.

He leaves for work about 9 am and gets home about 6 pm. I try to fit as MUCH into that time as I can.

Today’s “much” included a few easy tasks. Put the new vacuum together. Hang curtains in my office. Work on the cover design for my novel.

THREE THINGS!

So…I’m going to start with the vacuum assemblage because it’s garbage day and if I work quickly, I can get the packaging out with today’s pick up.

I unpack it, shoving the plastic and cardboard back in the carton.
NINE PIECES. WTH.
It can wait.

Now, those curtains…
I recently rearranged my office. My computer faces the windows.
On a sunny day…I am blind.
I can’t explain it, but when I look at my screen, all I see is me. How is this possible? The sun is at the back of the computer. Does it reflect so strongly off ME that it bounces to the front of the machine?! Regardless, I can’t work if it’s sunny. I need curtains.

Easy-peasy, right? I’ve put up many a rod in my day.

I ordered the perfect curtains online.
Almost perfect curtains.
They’re a little long…
but no biggie, my daughter-in-law says she can hem them.

Hemming is for aesthetics, and another day, I just need something to block the sun.
Now.

I also ordered hardware.
The wrong hardware.
It’s nice, it’s just not nice for this particular window.

So, here I go, running to the store to pick up new rods and hardware.

But I need gas.
At least it’s nice out. Last time I filled up was twelve below.
Everyone is filling up today. It takes me three stations before there is an open pump that corresponds with the side where my gas tank is.

In and out of the store. For under twenty bucks! Check THAT off my curtain to-do list.

Hmm, where to put the screws…this window has seen many a rod in it’s day, there are several pre-existing sets of holes to choose from.

These holes look good. Pre-drilled! Awesome.
My battery operated drill is vrooming ever slower.
Exchange battery.
Now I’ve stripped the first screw.
Change bit.
Better.
Zip.
Zip.
Done.
Next.
I will need a support in the middle of the rod, between existing holes.
Wow, this is really tough wood. (Do not judge, like I said, I purposely went with holes that were already there so as not to have to add so many more to wood or wall!)

I find a hammer and a nail to get the hole started.
I get the screw turning, it’s burrowing, I’m nearly done…
then the screw breaks. It friggin’ SNAPPED in the middle. Half buried in the window frame, half hanging lazily off the magnetized end of the drill.
WTH?
I pinch, I scrape, I try to grip with small pliers…that screw butt is not coming out. Huh, looks like the window frame has a souvenir to remind us of this day. Sucks because that’s exactly where I needed the hardware to go.

Move on.
I skip the center support and go to the next set of pre-drilled holes.
How is it possible that these preexisting holes do not line up with the other preexisting holes? Were the preexisting curtains crooked?! Maybe they were not hemmed by a skilled seamstress and the hanger adjusted the rod rather than the curtain?!

Shit.
I am in no mood to try and drill more holes.
Not sure I can spare the screws that may potentially break off.

Luckily, I have wasted enough of my day that the sun has shifted to a much more functional location in the sky.

So I wrote this blog.

And there’s still time to work on my cover before I head to the kitchen to prepare dinner.
And drinks.
I think I’ll need a drink.

Looks like I’ll be ahead of the game for tomorrow’s to-do list since I already know two things that need to be done. As long as the two items on the list do not create a to-do list of their own, *sigh*

Remember when you had your college apartment and you thumb-tacked sheets over the window? Those were the days.

*This post was written several days ago. I’ve since hung the curtains, assembled the vacuum, and completed my book cover. 🙂
Now, on to today’s to-do list…

 

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Introducing, Literary Mary CHATS!

As an added feature to my blog, I am going to invite authors and others in the literary field to answer five questions. I will post the results on the last Friday of each month.

I am very proud to be kicking off Literary Mary Chats with Terri Reid.

Terri Reid lives in the same area of the United States as her Mary O’Reilly character, Northwest Illinois.  She lives on five acres of rolling land in a 100 year-old farmhouse, with her husband, children, dogs, cats and several dozen chickens (well, they live in the barn.)  She has seven children and nineteen grandchildren, and LOVES her big family.

Her background is in marketing and public relations, but she has always enjoyed telling stories.  For a while, she worked as a freelance journalist for the local paper and wrote the Halloween feature for many years, collecting as many local ghost stories as she could.  She gave her collection of local ghost stories to the local historical society to use as a fundraiser, which are now in their third printing.

Literary Mary Chats

Terri, you are a prolific author! You have written quite the variety of publications including stand alone novels, novellas, short stories, and series, in such genres as Supernatural, Paranormal Mystery, Folklore, and YA Romance. The three biggest obstacles for writers are usually: Ideas, Time, and Fear. Your resume would state otherwise.

  1. What is your biggest obstacle when it comes to writing? First, thanks for the opportunity to answer your questions. They are great questions! I actually think my obstacles are a combination of the three you mentioned. Fear – I don’t know if all writers experience this same phenomenon, but I call it the “fifth-grade girl” that lives inside my head and tells me that I really can’t write and the only reason I’m getting good reviews is because people are being nice. I always have to push past the doubt and start writing. And several times, in the midst of writing, I hear her little voice chime in. (She’s really annoying!)  Time – Not only are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and my own website distractions; I also have seven children (who I adore) and nineteen grandchildren, a retired husband, several very demanding pets and I’m very active in my church. There are times when I have to hand my phone to my husband and restrict my online time, so I can get a book done.  Ideas – it’s probably not what you think, I have too many ideas and not enough time to write all the stories. I think I’ve disciplined myself now to only think of one story-line at a time and not get distracted. But it’s really hard not to be led away by all those sparkling new storylines.

You first published ebooks only. Digital publishing is extremely cost effective with little investment and no overhead, but you don’t get to be a best-selling author for free.

  1. What was the best money you spent in support of your career? My first thought was my chair – I bought a really nice office chair and I’ve been sitting in it for about nine hours today. 😊 But then I realized that the best money I’ve spent is hiring my assistant, Sarah. She works full-time for me. She handles my Twitter account, she proofreads all my stories, she brainstorms with me, she yells at me when I’m getting distracted with Facebook and she makes me laugh when I really need to laugh.  She calls me, her eyes brimming with tears, to tell me that the last chapter I wrote was brilliant. She is the person who can shut down the fifth-grade girl immediately.  Everyone needs a Sarah.

Some authors commemorate their first publication by framing the check, putting the book on display, or getting a tattoo.

  1. How did you acknowledge the accomplishment and what’s been your biggest splurge since become a best-selling author? My biggest splurge was my Honda Pilot. I’d been driving my Camry for a long, long, long, long time – it had about 220,000 miles on it. And I knew I needed a newer car.  So, I found a used Honda Pilot – but I splurged and got the Touring model. It had leather seats with (drum roll please) heaters in them. Oh, I will never have a car without heated seats ever again.  I LOVE my Pilot, it handles so well in all kinds of weather and I feel safe when I drive it.  So, that was my biggest splurge – heated, leather seats.

I am proud to be a part of your Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mysteries Kindle World. I’ve published two novellas to date, Kinder Garden and Baker’s Dozen, with a third in the works. Your fans have been very supportive and as a new author, I really appreciate that. I can’t imagine what went through your head when Kindle Worlds approached you. 

  1. Was it hard to consider allowing other authors into the very established and successful world of your creation, Mary O’Reilly? My first thought, always, when the folks at Amazon contact me is – “Really? You’re contacting me? Are you sure you’ve reached the right email?” Then I thought about my readers (I totally love my readers, LM note: we are called Reiders!) and about how much they love the Mary characters.  And I was thinking at the time that I was going to end Mary at 20. (But now I don’t think they are going to let me. 😊 ) So, I thought that Kindle Worlds would give them another outlet to read about their favorite characters.  And, I also felt that I was really blessed when I started as an indie author. I published my first book at the right time and things have just fallen into place for me.  I KNOW that newer authors are having a harder time getting established, and I know that my readers are generous and loyal people. So, if I could open the door a little to another author, give them an opportunity to highlight their talents, I would love to do that too.  Kindle Worlds gave me an opportunity to do that – not that I have anything to do with an author’s success, they are going to be judged by their writing skills. But I can offer them a platform, so their skills are noticed.

You recently published book 20 in your Mary O’Reilly series, the end–for now.

  1. What’s up next for you? Well, from the feedback I’ve been getting from my readers the “for now” isn’t going to last as long as I thought. So, I still have to figure out how I want Mary’s series to evolve and I’m still working that one out. Currently, I’m writing the second book in the Eochaidh series – which is a fantasy book and I’m falling in love with it all over again.  After that, I’ll be writing a short story in the Mary series – I’m not quite sure what it’s going to be about yet.  Then, I have a whole list of things I want to accomplish, and I’ll just have to see how far I get this year. I have book three of the Blackwood Files and book three of The Order of Brigid’s Cross to complete.  I also want to do a follow up to Death’s Refrain and feature Sally with her own adventure. And, through Auld Lang Syne, I just introduced Clarissa and Maggie as college students with an adventure of their own.  Finally, if that wasn’t enough – I have an idea for a new series that I’ve been researching based in Wisconsin.  But, I’m not ready to share too many details yet.  So, I think this will keep me busy and off the streets in 2018, and probably 2019.

THANK YOU, Terri, for participating in the very first Literary Mary Chats.

Readers, I encourage you to click on any of the live links included in the article above for more information on Terri or her work.

I hope you enjoyed this interview.
LM

 

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COMING SOON!

I am in the final stages of publication for my novel, A Stranger’s Child!

I’m so excited!!!

 

 

 

 

 

I just can’t hide it!!!

I’m WRITING! EDITING! FORMATTING! and DESIGNING!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll be attending the Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference in April and plan to arrive WITH MY NEW BOOK IN HAND!

 

Don’t get me wrong, I have VERY MUCH enjoyed working in the Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mystery Kindle World. I’ve had tremendous success with Kinder Garden and Baker’s Dozen, but I miss print.

(NOT misprint! lol)

STAY TUNED FOR RELEASE DATE INFORMATION!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Stranger’s Child is a contemporary continuation of Pandora’s Box. It tells the story of a young woman who is orphaned and begins a trek that reveals her fate as a daughter of Pandora. Coming to terms with her newfound heritage is not easy, she was raised in the real world (of missionaries!), but a series of events changes her mind and sets her on a path to fulfill her destiny. This stand alone book will be the first in a series called The Pandoran Legacy.

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P!NK

In honor of this SNOW DAY, I’m unpacking a blog I wrote in July, but for some reason, never posted. Enjoy.

 
Me and 25,000 of my closest Pink fans showed up at Milwaukee Summerfest Sunday, July 2, 2017. Despite rain, eight buck beers, and exorbitant ticket prices, the Marcus Amphitheater was packed—SOLD OUT.
No surprise, I mean, it was Pink!

I don’t do stadium shows. Let me clarify, I DON’T DO STADIUM SHOWS.

I’m too old for this shit.

I do not enjoy the crush of twenty-five thousand fans—getting in, waiting for the bathroom or to buy a beer, and getting out. I do not appreciate the expense of $100 mid-level tickets with an additional twenty bucks in “convenience fees”. I think it sucks when the tall guy in front of me forces me to watch most of the show on the big screens.

But the energy! The excitement! The enthusiasm! It’s contagious! The physical vibration of twenty-five thousand excited fans—WOW.

They need to figure out a way to harness that. Folks in Milwaukee, and probably surrounding areas as well, could light their houses and run their a/c on that kind of energy. This month’s utility bill coverage brought to you by P!NK.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confession time. I loved the show. Pink is an amazingly talented performer. She was personable, physical, accommodating, and gracious. And damn she can sing. I do realize that the types of venues I prefer–Park West, Lincoln Hall, Thalia Hall, The House CafeOtto’s (RIP), could never support the kinds of stage setting, video screens, or harness swings that acts like Pink provide.

And the stage setting, video screens, and harness swing were pretty damn cool.

I’m very glad I went.

For a once in a while event, it was totally worth the commute, the expense, and the crowd.
I got to spend the day with a group of wildly entertaining women. Folks who do this on a regular basis and were kind enough to extend an invitation to this small venue gal. Thank you!

Only 163 days until Summerfest 2018.
Maybe I’ll see you there.

In your shorts and tank top with an 8 buck icy cold beer.
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Arty New Year

I’m kicking off 2018 with a piece in an art show!
My main creative focus is writing, so it’s really exciting for me to spread my artistic wings every now and again. I’ll be part of a special show at the Karnitz Art Gallery, 223 E. State Street, 2nd Floor, in downtown Rockford, Illinois.

The owner, operator, manager, and contributor, Cindy Karnitz, opened the space in November of last year.

In honor of her January birthday, she’s hosting the 100/100 Birthday Show featuring 100 pieces by 100 artists priced at $100 (or less).

 

The show opens January 12, 2018 and will run through Jan 30, 2018. There is a Collector’s Preview Event Thursday, January 11 at 6 PM – 9 PM. Art aficionados are encouraged to attend for first dibs. $5 per person, RSVP appreciated–click here to let Cindy know you’re coming.

It’s a scientifically proven fact that ART can make you happy. Don’t let the winter doldrums get you down. Brighten your mood with original art. And cake.
It’s a birthday party, so of course there will be cake! (at Thursday’s sneak peek and Friday’s opening.)

This is my submission:

It’s a print I did when I was in school…and yet, it’s never been more relevant. I’ve titled it Media 2017. Come to the gallery and take a close look. Make note of the visual metaphors. I think it’s a powerful piece.

Writing-wise, I’m currently working through edits and cover art for my upcoming publication, A Stranger’s Child.

A Stranger’s Child is a contemporary continuation of Pandora’s Box and tells the story of a young woman who is orphaned and begins a trek that reveals her fate as a daughter of Pandora. Coming to terms with her newfound heritage is not easy, she was raised in the real world (of missionaries!), but a series of events changes her mind and sets her on a path to fulfill her destiny. This stand alone book will be the first in a series called The Pandoran Legacy.

Stay tuned…
and in the meantime, check out the Karnitz Art Gallery!

 

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