Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Hello August!

August from a French Calendar

When I think of August, I can’t help but think about the weather. We’re certainly having plenty of that already across our nation right now with monsoons here in the east, tornadoes in the mid-west, and draughts in the west so severe the forests have become a tinderbox for fires. Hurricanes are revving up off the coast of Africa and will soon be on their way to the Caribbean and North American continent. We’ve already had a few that have decimated Puerto Rico and Haiti. So much for the carefree life living on an island. And it’s HOT!—just in case no one’s noticed. Since we have so much moisture here in the southeast and heat retains moisture, we have those hot, humid days when your only hope for comfort is to sit in front of an air conditioner and dream of autumn breezes and high pressure atmosphere to revive our lagging energy.

August is also the last month for kids to enjoy the freedom of no school. As a kid I liked being able to stay up late and laze around reading and day dreaming. In my early childhood it was a great time for the neighborhood kids to get together and play and to go exploring in the woods. We built teepees beside the creek and waded around in the water to get cool. We built dams out of sticks and rocks to make the water deeper so we could luxuriate sitting in it. In my teen years after we got a TV, I liked to watch the late show with those old black and white movies from the 1930’s and 40’s. I loved the satin dresses and how men wore suits and fedoras. I loved Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in those big musical productions. I also liked the late hours of the night to write when my creative juices were freely flowing.

The family spent a great many meals either in the dining room with all the windows open or outside where the oppressive heat of the kitchen was dispelled to a degree by an occasional breeze. August is a mélange of good times and extreme weather mixed with the joy of freedom and the wicked pleasure of indolence.

What memories do you hold dear from the month of August? Was it your favorite month or your least favorite month of the year? Were you beginning to look forward to going back to school or dreading it? What was the activity you liked best in August?

Diverse stories filled with heart

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Losing Liberty

Liberty in the Window

I thought I was going to lose Liberty, my 17 year old cat, this past week. She stopped eating and drinking and dropped her weight which wasn’t that much to begin with. She normally weighs 6 pounds. I took her to my veterinarian, Dr. Jack Miller on Tuesday (July 10th). They did blood work and examined her, but everything came back normal. They treated her with a bolus of fluid and gave her a couple shots to increase her appetite and decrease any inflammation.
After that, she acted like her normal self and still seemed able to remain active, but she still wouldn’t eat or even drink water. I was feeling desperate.
I took her back to the vet the next two days and each time they gave her fluids and medicine. She was beginning to look rough, uninterested in most activities, and just wanted to be held day and night. I know I couldn’t take her to the vet every single day of her life to get fluids and there was no way she could get any real nutrition.
On Friday I began to think about whether or not I should put her down if she didn’t improve over the weekend. The thought of losing her sucked out all my joy. I couldn’t even sleep or rest for thinking about what might happen next. I wrote prayers for her and lit a candle, hoping for anything that would bring her back from the brink.
And then something DID happen.
Liberty on Friday July 13, 2018
On Friday, she followed me into the bedroom while I made my bed and, while I was straightening the bed clothes, she started pawing at something under the dresser. Liberty had found one of Lily’s old dog kibbles…and then she ate it. I couldn’t believe it. I had been trying to get her to eat wet food believing it would be easier on her to start on something semi-liquid, but being Liberty, she decided she wanted a dried out old gross kibble that may have been under that dresser for quite some time. I was amazed, but not reassured yet.
A few minutes later, she went to her dish and ate her dry cat food ignoring the special high powered canned food the vet gave me. Then she went back for seconds and then she went to the water bowel and drank, and drank, and drank. I called the vet and his trusty animal nurse, Stacy, told me to just keep an eye on Liberty to see how she would do and that they would be open half a day on Saturday if anything went wrong.
Here it is, Sunday and now Liberty is eating her food including her favorite canned food of chicken and tuna (gross in my book) and acting completely normal. Crisis diverted.
I know that I’m not going to have Liberty forever, but the very idea of her starving herself to death when there was nothing apparently wrong with her was very upsetting to me. I may never know what happened (Can cats get the stomach flu?), but I am so very grateful for the excellent care the vet and his staff gave to Liberty and the kindness and generosity they showed me during this whole ordeal. And now I get to have more time with Liberty and enjoy her antics. It’s such a relief!

Diverse stories filled with heart

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

THE VIOLIN July Theme #BlogABookSceneFireworks Excerpt by Sarah J. McNeal

Blog-a-Book-Scene is a monthly themed blogging endeavor from a group of authors who love to share excerpts from their stories. Find us on Twitter with the hashtag #blogabookscene and #PrairieRosePub.

July – THEME: Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of  Summer
Here is my 4th of July Fireworks scene from THE VIOLIN

by Sarah J. McNeal

Can the heart live inside a violin case? Can a message reach across time?

Genevieve Beaumont is haunted by dreams of a drowning man she is helpless to save. When she buys a violin and discovers news clippings and pictures of its owner who died from downing, she realizes he is the man in her dreams.
She travels to the little town where he died 90 years before to investigate who he was and how he came to drown that day. Little does she know how her own life will be tangled in the mystery…until she steps through the threshold of time to 1927.

Fireworks Excerpt: (John and Genevieve on a boat to watch the fireworks)

He slipped his jacket off and placed it around her shoulders. "Look up, Genevieve. Isn't it beautiful?"
A knot formed in her throat. She didn't know which was more beautiful, the sparkling array of diamonds on the dark, navy blue sky or the expression on John's face as he looked up toward the heavens. She nodded her head, too filled with emotion to form words.
A loud boom shook the quiet followed by a colorful shower of sparkling light that spread over the sky above John and Genevieve. Another boom and a different color of glittering lights shot over the sky, reflected on the glassy surface of the water. She inhaled the acrid smell of gunpowder mixed with the musky scent of the lake water. Although Genevieve had seen fireworks many times in her life, she'd never seen them this beautiful. The water and the sky became one as showering displays of colors lit the sky above them and the water reflected the fireworks around them. Their boat became a tiny island in a world of light.

Genevieve's heart swelled to overflowing. 


AUGUST  THEME: Alone Again, Naturally

Diverse stories filled with heart

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

HOME FOR THE HEART by Sarah J. McNeal—June #blogabookscene #PrairieRosePub@PrairieRosePub

Blog-a-Book-Scene is a monthly themed blogging endeavor from a group of authors who love to share excerpts from their stories. Find us on Twitter with the hashtag #blogabookscene and #PrairieRosePub.
June Theme: On the Road Again
Here is my desperate fight or flight scene:


Lucy Thoroughgood has gone and done it now—fallen in love with Hank Wilding, a man she’s known all her life. He’s content with friendship, but Lucy’s heart has flown the coop and she knows she’s in love with the determined bachelor. When she visits him with a proposition—to let the orphans she cares for learn to ride his horses during the summer—he surprises her with one of his own. She must accompany him to the dancing lessons he’s signed up for.

Secretly pleased, she hopes that perhaps this arrangement might lead to more than friendship. But Hank’s loved hard and lost, with his engagement to one of the popular town girls going south two years earlier. He’s sworn to never lose his heart to another—including Miss Lucy Thoroughgood.

A teenage orphan, Chayton, could be the key to thawing Hank’s heart—but danger follows the embittered boy. Will Hank be able to give Chayton the home he yearns for—or will the boy’s past bring only sorrow to those he cares for? When a Lakota premonition becomes reality, Lucy’s life hangs in the balance. Will Hank have the chance to let Lucy know how wrong he was?


The crowd grew silent. Tension filled the air with nervous energy. Hank stepped forward with his hands raised. “Now listen to some sense, mister. I don’t care what you took from the house. You’re welcome to whatever you stole as long as you let go of the boy. He hasn’t done anything to hurt you. You let me have the old man and the boy, and I won’t try to stop you from leaving.”
A hollow laugh bellowed from the man. “Like you could stop me anyway. I’m the one with the gun. This boy belongs to me. He’s my son and he’s going with me just in case anybody gets any ideas of comin’ after me…sorta like an insurance policy you might say.” He squeezed Chayton’s neck with his arm so tight Hank thought the boy might pass out from lack of air. “He better learn to mind me though.”
So this is Stephen Grier. Hank glanced at Chayton. The kid is scared out of his mind. He forced himself to remain calm and to speak with quiet authority. “Turn him loose, Grier, or I swear to God I will hunt you down and end your miserable life.”
“You best back off Mister High and Mighty. Now I’m taking this boy, and these here goods what I found, and I might even take this broken down old man with me if you don’t shut your trap.” He pointed the gun at Hank just as Merrilee pulled up in Hank’s blue pick-up truck. The crowd gasped in unison.
There was no time to lose. Hank knew he had to do something or Grier was going to get Chayton. No matter what happened, Hank couldn’t allow him to do that. When Grier’s attention slipped from him to the truck, Hank knew it might be the only moment he had to act. He rushed forward toward Grier. A scream rang out from somewhere behind him. Grier turned Chayton lose and set the sights of the gun on Hank. Just as he pulled the trigger and a shot rang out, a blur of yellow flew across Hank’s vision between him and Grier. Oh God, Lucy!

July’s Theme: Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer

Diverse stories filled with heart

Friday, June 01, 2018

THE VIOLIN #blogabookscene June

Blog-a-Book-Scene is a monthly themed blogging endeavor from a group of authors who love to share excerpts from their stories. Find us on Twitter with the hashtag #blogabookscene and #PrairieRosePub.
June's Theme: On The Road Again (Travel/Time Travel)
Step back in time to 1927 when life was simpler and love was sweet.

THE VIOLIN (time travel/paranormal novel)
by Sarah J. McNeal

Can the heart live inside a violin case? Can a message reach across time?

Genevieve Beaumont is haunted by dreams of a drowning man she is helpless to save. When she buys a violin and discovers news clippings and pictures of its owner who died from downing inside the case, she realizes he is the man in her dreams.
She travels to the little town where he died 90 years before to investigate who he was and how he came to drown that day. Little does she know how her own life will be tangled in the mystery…until she steps through the threshold of time to 1927.
She heard him take in a slow breath before he spoke to her in a more relaxed, quiet tone. "I beg your pardon, miss, I didn't mean to curse. What's your name?" The younger man’s voice soothed her as he knelt beside the couch where she lay. He wrung out a cloth in the bowl of water beside his knee, folded it, and applied it to Genevieve's brow.
"My name is Genevieve Beaumont. I was just standing at the window and now…I'm here." She lifted a shaky hand to her brow. "My head is pounding."
"You bumped your head when you fainted. Is that a French name?"  He lifted a quizzical brow and smiled.
She lifted her eyes and got a good, close-up look at him then. Her heart almost stopped beating in her chest. She sucked in a deep breath. What was happening to her? How could any of this be possible? The man holding the cool cloth to her head was the man in the pictures she found in the violin case!
She would not have guessed he had auburn hair, or that his eyes were such a vivid, bottle green. He wore a collarless, khaki shirt with the sleeves rolled up and suspenders instead of a belt held up his tan, canvas trousers. Oh, but he was handsome—so much more than his pictures ever allowed. She didn't have time to admire the young man's good looks because her mind swirled round and round with the unfathomable implications of her situation.
Excerpt 2:
The music began again and the carousel began to move.  Slowly, Genevieve’s horse began its first ascent.  Her dress rose above her knees in the breeze created by the movement but she didn’t care.  She felt free and filled with golden happiness.
John stood watching her with his hand clasped gently, sensuously around her ankle.  When her horse descended, John let his hand slide up to her knee.  He gazed at her in that way he had earlier that day when she met him on the road.  His eyes were dark green and filled with mystery and something that looked like longing.  He bent his head and kissed her knee tenderly just as he had in her dream.  The electrifying feel of his full mouth on her sensitive flesh sent heat to her very core.  She shook her head as the moment of déjà vu passed over her.
With his hand still resting on her knee, John lifted his head and kept his eyes pinned to hers as she ascended once again.  As her horse began to lower her toward him, John reached up and clasped the back of her head to pull her toward him.  She leaned forward and met his kiss with a racing heart.  His kiss told her more than his words ever could that he was falling in love with her.  It was bittersweet knowledge to know it, to feel it.  They had so little time left.
“This was my dream,” she said barely audible over the music.
“I know.”  He ran his hand back down her leg to her ankle and kissed her on the lips once again…
Buy Link:

July's Theme will be: The Lazy Hazy Days of Summer
Until then, 

Diverse stories filled with heart

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day: Should We Celebrate In Joy Or Sorrow? #FantasyAndDreamsBlog

In Memorial of All Who Sacrificed For Our Freedom

It feels a little odd to celebrate with cookouts and fun activities a day put aside to honor those who gave their lives to keep us free. Shouldn’t we act more somber in respect for the sorrow of their families and the loss of those precious spirits from this Earth?

Remembering Military Animals Who Died In Service

And Honoring the Men And Women Who Gave All

I think many Americans do show their respect and gratitude for the fallen even days before Memorial Day by placing flags on the graves of those who served in the military, especially in Arlington Cemetery. 
The Vietnam Memorial Wall

Many people visit the Vietnam Wall where the names of the fallen are etched to be remembered for all time. In Pearl Harbor where so many died in a surprise attack from Japan that brought the United States into World War II, many people visit the USS Arizona Memorial which rests above the war ship Arizona where the crew was trapped and died during the attack.

The Words Engraved on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

There is a ceremony every Memorial Day in which the president of the United States lays a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

In the Words of Presidents Kennedy and Reagan

Is it frivolous and disrespectful for us to celebrate the sacrifice of so many brave soldiers with laughter and fun activities? I feel it is part of the way in which we honor and show our gratitude because, we are free. Because we are not suppressed or denied freedom we can pursue those things that make us happy. These words are in the preamble of our Declaration of Independence and, thanks to the bravery of those who served and sacrificed, we still have the freedom to pursue our happiness.
Later today my family is having a cookout (it’s also a birthday party for my great-niece, Madeline) and we’re gonna get some happiness under way. But this morning I am quietly showing my respect and gratitude by writing a prayer and lighting a candle. I wish everyone a safe and happy Memorial Day.

Diverse stories filled with heart

Thursday, May 24, 2018

My New Stove Top

Two years ago on Thanksgiving day the family was at my house cooking our festive Thanksgiving meal. We were almost ready except for the mashed potatoes. My niece, Betsy, put the potatoes on to boil while we finished up a game of Parcheesi. (Board games are just part of our tradition on holidays.

We had just gotten into our game when we heard a loud crack and looked at the stove to see the bright flash of an electric arc leap up from the burner under the potatoes to the ventilation hood over the stove. Water poured from the pot where the arc had made a hole in my heavy duty steel pot. We all scrambled to the stove grabbing tea towels and the mop while my nephew, Matthew, took the pot off the stove and carried it to the sink. In an insane moment I thought I could save those potatoes, but as Betsy pointed out, a film of metallic gray floated on the top of the water. I knew that old 1957 cook top wouldn’t last forever, but gee whiz, did it have to go out with all that drama on Thanksgiving Day?

For the next two years I kept thinking I would get a new stove top and repair the electrical connection. Every time I thought I could get it done, something more urgent would come up and the money for the stove had to be used. I cooked everything on one burner for so long I was really getting used to it.  At least I still had my 1957 wall oven and casseroles can come in mighty handy.

Finally, this year when I got my income tax return I had the money to get my stove top and have an electrician repair the electric outlet to it. I want to say here that the hickory tree in the back yard decided to die all of a sudden, but I was determined the stove was going to come first this time. I marked down to Lowe’s and bought my new stove top. They had to special order it because it is white instead of the stainless steel everyone is buying now so it took three weeks for it to arrive. I called the electrician my faithful plumber recommended and, voila!, my new stove top in up and running. I no longer have to cook just one thing at a time. I hardly know how to act.

The 1957 pink wall oven original to the house, is still working and I hope it keeps on working for a while longer because I still have that hickory tree to remove.

Maybe I should have them cut and stack the wood so I can burn it in case the oven goes out. Anyway, I’m glad things are almost normal at the house again. It’s nice to own a home, but there is always something that has to be fixed or replaced. Someday I may even get to do some kind of beautification project or renovation…maybe.

Diverse stories filled with heart

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Wedding That Inspires A Better World

Meghan and Harry become the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

I’ve been thinking about how Harry and Meghan met and how they fell in love for their mutual passion to do good in the world. I thought about my own passion for preserving our planet and the living creatures on it. Some of you may already know my number one hero is Jane Goodall. She, too is fighting to save our planet and defend the wild things that live on it. I want to follow her example and do what I can to make Earth a peaceful, harmonious place where all living things can thrive and be happy.
Dr. Jane Goodall

Dr. Goodall stopped eating meat when she realized the pain and suffering of animals that lived a life of misery before they were slaughtered for food. While I don’t believe I can give up dairy products and eggs yet, I believe I want to become vegetarian. I may not be able to accomplish my goal, but I do want to put some effort into changing my life for the betterment of the planet.
Dr. David Suzuki

I use reusable bags when I shop and I no longer use straws and other plastics as much as I can. The worst is Styrofoam and it’s hard to avoid because of take-out and eggs and it’s still used to pack certain electronics and such. Still, I can write to companies and ask them to find other reusable or biodegradable materials to pack items.
Meghan, now Duchess of Sussex, wrote a single letter to a company about their sexist advertisement and that company changed that advertisement. Meghan was just twelve years old when she wrote that letter, but what an inspiration for us that she got them to make a change. In my life, I do what I can as well. I detest cruelty and so I sign petitions, write comments to lawmakers and companies to change their policies. While I realize my impact alone may not bring about a change, I can join others and we can fight together for change.
What are you passionate about? What do you do to fight for change?

Diverse stories filled with heart

Sunday, May 13, 2018

It's Only Make Believe #BlogABookScene May Theme: Mayday! Mayday!

The authors from Prairie Rose Publications are sharing themed excerpts from our books each month. May's theme is Mayday! Mayday
The following is a harrowing Mayday excerpt from my book, IT'S ONLY MAKE BELIEVE.

 Kit had a hell of a time keeping the old Jeep on the road. Knowing how bad a driver June was only made him speed up more to get to her before something awful happened. The old dirt road had become a slick mud slide. He couldn’t allow himself to imagine how June even made it this far without sliding off the road. With his attention on navigating the road, Kit glanced along the ditches that ran on both sides. The ditches were supposed to provide proper drainage in weather like this, but clearly, they did not. He strained his eyes as he searched for signs of June’s car. God, please keep my June safe until I can get to her.

After what seemed an eternity, Kit approached the bridge. His heart throbbed in his chest with gratitude when he saw in the glow of his headlights several trucks and the taillights of two horse trailers along with his brothers and cousin gathered at the entrance to the bridge. Hank and Sam along with their cousin, Kyle, were already there and unloading the horses.

The car slid to a stop as his male relatives rushed to meet him. Those yahoos sure looked good to him right now. His older brother, Sam, reached his car just as Kit got the door open and stepped out into the wail of the maddening wind and the sharp prick of the rain on his skin. “We found her, Kit.” Sam’s voice rose up over the deluge of rain and wind. “It’s gonna be damn tricky.”

Panic sent sparks of adrenaline through his body and made Kit’s hands shake. “You found her? Where the hell is she, then?” A vision of a lifeless body tried to pry its way into his mind, but he pushed it back, willing June to be alive.

 “Come with me, Kit.” Kit’s heart raced in his chest as he hurried to follow Sam onto the old wooden bridge that connected the land on both sides of the Wind River. With the truck lights shining on the scene, Kit saw the bridge had chunks of the boards missing on its deck. Halfway across, he saw the side rails broken with a wide gap. And right in the middle of the gap he saw June’s car, hanging precariously off the side of the bridge. Mother of God! 

Until next time...

Sarah J. McNeal
Diverse stories filled with heart

Monday, April 30, 2018

What Are Writers Really Like? #WriterMadness

I love writer quotes. Here are 4 quotes about writers I can really relate to. The successful writers I know were not sudden overnight successes; they were persistent and dedicated to writing. I can't imagine any of them giving up, not ever.

Writing does require spending a great deal of time alone and often in silence. Writers may party in between projects, but most of them spend their energy creating stories, thinking about stories, working out difficulties with stories, and writing down their stories--oh and then promoting their work which seems to be one of the most difficult parts of their writing careers. I don't actually know a writer who is out of story ideas. It seems to me the more a writer writes, the more ideas they have. That's my opinion and experience anyway.

Some people may believe that writing is easy and fun (well, it IS kinda fun), and that a writer effortlessly produces story after story to their great economical gain. Hog wash! Writers sweat and weep over their work and worry a great deal if anyone will like their stories. If writers didn't love what they do, they would just go have a beer and a snooze in the hammock.

I found these writer quotes on Pinterest where I go to regain my sanity. I relate to these 4 quotes in particular.
Do you have some favorite quotes that you feel best define you as a writer? Do my 4 quotes speak to you, too?
If you are not a writer, what is your opinion of writers and their work? Do you tend to buy more of a writer's work after you read a story you particularly liked? What image comes to mind when you think of writers?