Saturday, November 21, 2015

Tips for Finding Your Bliss in a Turbulent world by Sandy Semerad

            While mourning the senseless killings in Paris  and elsewhere at the hands of terrorists, I've been thinking about peace and these words, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” I heard that song again recently and would like to share some lessons I've learned about achieving blissful peace in my own life.

The most important lesson is, don’t judge others or yourself. There are a myriad of opinions, just as there are many different religions. I try to communicate affably and listen respectfully.

I've also found it’s essential to express gratitude and make a list of blessings and say, “Thank you.”

I enjoy expressing appreciation and looking for ways to compliment and encourage. Encouraging others make me feel good. Thinking positive and expressing gratitude attracts more blessings, I think. Gratitude is a powerful multiplier.

Whenever negative thoughts infect my brain, I recite positive affirmations to negate them. I once heard Oprah suggest this affirmation: “Every time I turn around there’s a check in the mail.”

Louise Hay has several good affirmations on her website. She suggests looking in the mirror and saying, “I love you. I really love you.”  Another one is: “Abundance flows freely through me.”

(I say all of the above and also these: “Millions of readers love my books," "Everyday I become more enlightened and find a way to help others," "I appreciate every moment," "I am confidant and make good choices," "I am loving and forgiving."

Social media is a powerful source and I appreciate the opportunity to interact with friends and promote my books on places like Facebook, but these sites can be addictive. So I try to limit my time there and write more. Television can be another time zapper, although my dog P-Nut likes to watch TV. Dog shows are her favorite. So I sometimes run the picture and turn down the volume.

I like to set aside a few minutes each day to meditate. If done correctly, meditating can bring tranquility. I wrote about meditation in last month’s blog post, how I attempt to erase the negative brain static through meditation and become more trusting, peaceful, loving, giving, kind, respectful of others and confident. I also meditate on my professional goals. Right now I’m working on a sequel to A MESSAGE IN THE ROSES. With my day job, it’s often challenging to find time to write, but I tell myself, as I complete each page, I’m getting closer and closer to the end.

One of the hardest lessons I've had to learn is to avoid negative, judgmental people. I prefer being around positive, happy folks. They’re uplifting.

Exercise can also be uplifting. I realize not everyone enjoys exercise, but I've learned I feel better when I make it a habit. Exercise releases endorphins, our body's natural pain relievers. The latest studies claim we need some form of exercise every day. Forty-five minutes is optimal. I have a Jane Fonda Prime Time, Fit and Strong DVD that’s about 25 minutes. Then I try to walk for twenty minutes, which isn't difficult because I walk P-Nut. She lives in the moment and never fails to lift my mood.

Speaking of mood-lifting events, I like to spend as much time as possible in activities I’m passionate about. I’m passionate about writing, reading, enjoying my loved ones, etc., and I've learned to say, “No” more often. This one word has given me additional time for the activities and people I love.  

I also enjoy day dreaming and visualizing success. Some experts on visualization recommend creating a dream board with pictures and goals. One of my visualizations is picturing my books on the best seller list and seeing them become movies.

But getting back to reality and the need to hunker down, I think it’s important to work hard and do my best. Some days are better than others, of course, but I've discovered if I do my best and don’t complain, I have fewer regrets about what I've accomplished. There’s a famous Zen saying: “Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” This rings true for me.

I hope you've found these ideas helpful. May they bring you more bliss in your life, and as we approach Thanksgiving, I want to thank you for allowing me to share my writing with you. Please know, I'm very grateful.

I wish you love and peace. Peace begins with us.

Please visit my website for more information: www.sandysemerad.com


Here's my latest book: A Message In the Roses
Click to purchase 

You can also check out my other books on the Book We Love site:


Friday, November 20, 2015

12 Pointers on Poinsettia Care by J.Q. Rose

Deadly Undertaking
Click here to purchase 
‘Tis the season of the year when the transformation occurs from the darkness of winter to the joyful brilliance of colorful lights and decorations of the holidays. The poinsettia plant, introduced to the US by Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first US Ambassador to Mexico, remains the all-time favorite of decorators. I know because before I turned to writing full time, my husband, Gardener Ted, and I owned and operated a floral shop, greenhouse, and garden center for almost twenty years. Our top-selling holiday plant was the poinsettia. Today I’m passing along the 10 pointers on poinsettia care we offered our customers.

12 Pointers on Poinsettia Care by J.Q. Rose

Purchasing a poinsettia

The poinsettia flower is
 in the center of the pink leaves
Photo by J.Q. Rose
·         Do you know the beautiful shades of red, pink, and white are not the poinsettia flower? The flowers are located in the center of the colored leaves or bracts. When purchasing, look for buds. The freshest plants have the buds and will last longer than plants with flowers opening or already opened or missing.
·         Check the rest of the plant to be sure leaves are a rich green, not yellowed, wilted, or curled.

Wrap it up

·         In cold areas, your newly purchased plant should be wrapped or sleeved before taking it outside to your car or truck. Poinsettias hate cold drafts.
·         Don’t leave the plant in the vehicle for a long time in the cold weather even if it’s wrapped.

Watering and Fertilizing

A red poinsettia plant, the traditional favorite
Photo by J.Q. Rose

·         When you get home with the plant, immediately unwrap it.
·          Dig your fingers into the soil to see how wet it is. Go about an inch deep.  Poke a hole through the foil wrap or remove the

foil before watering to allow the water to drain.
·         Always set the poinsettia in a tray to catch the water that drains through. After an hour or two, empty the tray of remaining water.  Just like you and me, the roots of the poinsettia don’t like their feet wet all the time.
·         Don’t fertilize while the plant is blooming. To keep the leaves green after blooming, fertilize once a month with a liquid fertilizer.
·         With any plant you have in your house, always feel the soil to determine how wet or dry it is before watering.

The Best Location in your house

·         Poinsettias do well in bright light, but not hot sun. Find a brightly lighted area in your home.
·         Don’t put the plant in a cold window or near a heat vent.

Poisonous?

         Poinsettias have been wrongfully accused of poisoning pets and children. The Pet Poison Helpline  states, “While poinsettias are commonly “hyped” as poisonous plants, they rarely are, and the poisoning is greatly exaggerated.” PetMed  adds “If the leaves are ingested, they will often cause nausea and vomiting, but it would take a large amount of the plant’s material to cause poisoning, and most animals and children will not eat such a large enough amount because of the irritating taste and feel from the sap.” You can be assured the poinsettia can safely claim its place adding a pop of color and beauty to your home or workplace during the holidays.

If you have any questions about caring for your poinsettia plant, please ask in the comments section below. I’d be happy to answer. Do you usually have a poinsettia plant in your home during the holidays? What is your favorite color? (I’m traditional because I prefer red.) Do you have other holiday plants like the Christmas cactus, amaryllis, and cyclamen?)
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About J.Q. Rose

Mystery author J.Q. Rose has been working with flowers most of her life. She began by helping in the family’s funeral business setting up flowers for visitation and

Author J.Q. Rose

funeral services.  Later she and her husband owned and operated a floral shop, greenhouses, and garden center where she designed floral arrangements which included casket sprays, wreaths, and more. In her latest mystery, Deadly Undertaking, her main character is the daughter of a funeral director performing many of the jobs J.Q. knows so well. Visit J.Q. online at the J.Q. Rose, Author site.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Fickle Reaper by Stuart R. West

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I’m Stuart R. West and I write thrillers, suspense and some dark tales. Part of the tropes of that genre is death. Not pleasant in real life, but it’s a plot device readers who seek out such tales expect. A murder mystery without a murder turns into an Encyclopedia Brown tale (“I wonder what happened to that quarter I had in my pocket earlier today.”).

The problem is sometimes I change my mind about characters’ fates. Often it comes down to the wire.  Sometimes I save a character from the Reaper’s scythe because I see potential for him in a sequel. Other times, I flat out have a hard time letting go. I know, right? Fickle.

This happened in both of my books with Books We Love Publishing. In Ghosts of Gannaway, I absolutely knew one character was slated for the great beyond, knew it before I set fingertips onto my laptop. I’m considered a “pantser,” a writer who wings the tale as they go along as opposed to a heavy pre-plotter (I know some writers who use index cards, painstakingly plotting out every move before they begin; hey, it works for them.). But the one absolute I knew before I started writing? The character had to die to serve the story. When the concluding chapters neared, though, doubt began to scratch me. At first, just an annoyance; later, a full-on itch I couldn’t reach. I really liked this character. At the last minute, I pulled a deus ex machina, saved the character.

Secret Society was a different story. Again, from the start I knew this particular character would be destined for death’s door. But as I peeled back layers on the character, he surprised me with previously unseen depths I couldn’t have predicted. A wonderful feeling for writers. Even though he’s not a particularly likable character, I changed my mind. His story wasn’t finished yet.

There’s a saying amongst writers: Kill your darlings. It actually refers to a writer’s need to recognize their own self-indulgent and over-written passages, and then get rid of them. No matter how pretty they may read. (The saying has been attributed to many people over the years, most famously William Faulkner and Stephen King. But it came from Arthur Quiller-Couch, a Cambridge professor who lectured on writing and style.) While I, too, am often guilty of this writing crime, I’m learning how to punish myself appropriately by fixing the writing. Unable to kill some of my characters, though? Guilty, guilty, guilty! I act as the governor of my books, granting last minute reprieves to certain characters. But who will grant me a reprieve from saving my characters?

So I make this pact with myself.  In the future, I promise not to save predestined to die characters. No more Mr. Nice Writer. From now on, you’ll see a meaner (not so much, leaner) Stuart R. West. But at least I won’t be fickle.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Let it Shine! by Nancy M Bell





Hi Everyone! Well, Surrey International Writers Conference is over for another year. It was so much fun seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Without a doubt one of the best conferences around. I had the pleasure of talking with Renee Sarojini Saklikar, Surrey's Poet Laureate. What a sweet and warm person she is! The weekend was packed full of great workshops covering every topic imaginable. There was a red carpet station in the lobby and on Saturday night a group of us took full advantage of the opportunity to ham it up.


Originally, I had no intention of speaking about anything political, but with the events in Paris on the weekend I feel I should mention something. My heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones, and to those who are wounded and struggling with the aftermath. The world is becoming stranger and stranger all the time. I am at a loss to understand how the taking of innocent lives can promote a political cause. How off kilter our world and society has become. It is not only happening in Europe, but here in North America as well. Shootings in shopping malls and in movie theatres, and schools. The darkness of the collective soul of our humanity seems to be overshadowing the light that exists in all of us.

The Christmas season is coming soon and with it the strengthening of the hours of light in our days. Whether a person chooses to celebrate the birth of Christ, or Solstice and the return of the Light, or whatever beliefs they may have, what I believe is important is that we are all headed in the same direction. Walking toward the Light. It doesn't matter what different paths we take to get there. One of the truest things I think I have read is the words- "And all the gods and goddesses are One in the end. All things begin and end in the Light." You don't have to agree with me, just as I don't have to agree with you. What is important is that we all honour each others' beliefs. The proviso here is that those beliefs should harm no one. So, yes I couldn't condone a belief that involves sacrifice of any living being and I would speak out against it. Pain, guilt, exerting power over another are not hallmarks of the Light. And there we come to it: Power. The more I research and read, the more I come to understand that Power, not money, is at the root of all evil. Money is just a by product of Power.

So, let's celebrate the Light that shines in each of us this season of Love and Light. Engage in random acts of kindness, let your heart light shine on those you love and on those you don't know. If each of us sends our good will and bright thoughts out into the world, be sure it can make a difference. We need to strengthen and feed the flickering flame of our humanity. We are all the same under the skin. Good is Good, no matter what guise it wears, while Evil is Evil no matter what face it wears.

I wish you every good thing as we approach the Season of Light. This dark part of the year gives us time to look inward and reflect on what is important to us and how we can go forward in harmony with the world and those around us. I believe the Light will prevail in the end if we each do our small part.

Until next month...

Nancy M Bell has publishing credits in poetry, fiction and non-fiction. Nancy has presented at the Surrey International Writers Conference and the Writers Guild of Alberta Conference. Please visit her webpage
http://www.nancymbell.ca
You can find her on Facebook at http://facebook.com/NancyMBell
Follow on twitter: @emilypikkasso
http://canadianbookswelove.com/
http://bookswelove.net/authors/bell-nancy/

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Casting Your Characters - The Scorpio Character - Janet Lane Walters

The hero or heroine with a Scorpio Sun is shrewd with keen judgment. They can be critical, suspicious and skeptical. An enterprising nature that is reserved, tenacious and secretive. This hero or heroine is fond of luxuries bur is also economical. They can be plain spoken and bitingly sarcastic. There can be a tendency to be aggressive. At their best they are original, dangerous and creative.

With the face they show the world, Scorpio rising brings a reserved person who is inclined to be suspicious. They are quick witted and can deliver sarcastic remarks with ease. They are quick to take action and are positive and can be blunt. They are fond of a good fight. They make staunch friends. Scorpio rising brings and willfulness to the nature. This hero or heroine can hold fixed views. When proved they are angry.

The Moon shows the emotional nature of the hero and heroine. With Scorpio in this spot, the character is capable of vigorous activity. They have a firm self-confidence. With a Scorpio moon, the character will take care of their own. They have a fondness for pleasure and comfort. They can be forceful and masterful. They do not tolerate imposition. There is a great attraction to and from the opposite sex.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Holidays by Roseanne Dowell

The holiday season is almost upon us. My favorite time of year and it begins with Thanksgiving. Actually in my house, it begins a week or so before.
Since we no longer host Christmas with my children – too many of them for our small house – the kids have taken over. However, we do still have Thanksgiving dinner here with a couple of the kids, and everyone comes later for dessert, so I put up our tree and Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving.
When the kids were small, we used to put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving. Neighbors all told me we were nuts. Funny, how many trees and decorations I see on Thanksgiving and even before now days. It warms my heart.
Anyway, as I said the holidays start with Thanksgiving. Of course we have the traditional turkey and dressing after the blessing – oh wait that’s a Christmas song-  and then the other kids come over  as well as grandkids  and we have dessert. Usually more than we can possibly eat.
It’s been my tradition ever since my kids got married to give them something on Thanksgiving, usually a Christmas decoration that I made. I was into ceramics for a while, so naturally they got ceramics, a Santa Claus ornament or statue. Then I was into woodworking and made them Santas.
Eventually I was into redwork embroidery and made them wall hangings of – who else – Santa Claus. Then I started quilting. I made them table runners – no not of Santa Claus – and wall hangings  – just Christmas related fabric. Sometimes I bought them ornaments.
My son and daughter in law begged me not to get them anything this year. They’re out of wall space and their tree is full of ornaments. I’ll have to see what I can come up with, because no way am I breaking that tradition. That’s part of the fun of the holiday season. Maybe I’ll be nice this year and look for Santa Claus candy, something consumable.
When I was younger, my mom started baking the day after Thanksgiving, making huge cans (potato chip cans and not the small ones) full of cookies. Back then everyone entertained and visited a lot during the holidays. Sadly that practice seems to have stopped.  There wasn’t a weekend that went by without some aunt or uncle coming to visit. I loved those days. I don’t bake as much as I used to and certainly not the day after Thanksgiving.
The weekend after Thanksgiving, my daughters and I spent the days shopping. They used to help me pick out gifts for their children, but since they’re all grown up now, (well most of them are, I still have a couple young ones) I don’t need to shop for them anymore. I’ve taken the lazy, safe route and give them cash. I’m sure they like it better. Once they’ve moved out or married, they join the ranks of the adult joint couples gifts, usually something homemade now since we’ve retired and money is tight.
We also celebrate our wedding anniversary in November - the 24th to be exact. Sometimes it lands on Thanksgiving which makes it extra special. Fifty-three years this year. Seems like only yesterday I walked down the aisle. Time sure flies.
Christmas Eve is spent with my siblings – two brothers and a sister. We’ve
lost a sister and brother some years back and it’s not quite the same. Nieces and nephews used to join us, but that was back before most of them married. Now they have other families to share the day with and we’ve dwindled from a group of 37 down to 8 plus a couple nieces and nephews whose families are out of town.
I still love the holidays and look forward to them as much or more than any child. The hustle and bustle of getting ready, the family gatherings, and spending time with loved ones. I’m very blessed and thankful to have all my children and most of my grandchildren within twenty minutes of me. We miss the ones who can’t join us, but it’s still a lively group and growing by leaps and bounds. Not only are most of the grandchildren married or dating, they’re having children of their own. I dread the day when their parents decide it’s too much and want their own families around them for the holiday. I know that day will come, maybe sooner than I think, and it’ll sadden me, but  I do understand. We had to do it also as our kids grew and had families of their own. But for now I’ll enjoy what God has so richly blessed me with. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


My latest book, All's Well That Ends Well can be found at Books We Love

Aunt Beatrice Lulu is back and creating more havoc than ever. When a body falls out of a chimney in their newly purchased cabin, she takes it upon herself to investigate. Just because her niece is Chief of Police doesn’t mean she should mind her own business. Even her husband can’t control his busy body wife. It doesn’t end there, too many things happening for Beatrice Lulu to overlook. She’s bound and determined to figure things out on her own. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

BACKLIST BARGAINS FROM BOOKS WE LOVE. NOW'S A GREAT TIME TO FILL YOUR EREADER

 PURCHASE FOR $.99 to $1.99
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Never, Never, Ever Play Poker With Raccoons

Never, Never, Ever Play Poker With Raccoons This is my after Easter blog post. Hey, everyone posts on Easter, thought more people would...