Category Archives: life experiences

Dreamin’ My Life Away . . .

Day dreaming. Visualization. Manifesting. Law of Attraction. Goal setting. Believe it and see it.

All of those terms describe a similar process – achieving one’s ambition or desire. 20150502_172043

The trick is transforming thought into action. Everyone “dreams” about the pot at the end of the rainbow. That pot might contain a winning lottery ticket, a cabin in the woods far removed from civilized society, an endless beach on an obscure island, or the funds to enable your family to pay the bills and sock a little extra away for a rainy day.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Not so easy to attain.

There are few things we can count on in life. One is change. The winds of time ensure we will always encounter shifting sands. The other is disappointment. Humans have a tendency to want what is just beyond our grasp. This means living in a constant state of unhappiness because expectations are seldom achieved, and when they are, the end result often does not meet our glamorized vision of what we anticipated.

And therein lies the key to happiness. Expect nothing. Enjoy whatever happens.

It is an impossible task for most people because societal influences dictate what we need to be “happy” – unless you’re a dark horse like me. Some days I think I’m on the cusp of enlightenment – but only by a hair.

You see, life has thrown so many curve balls in my path, so many rotten lemons too sour for lemonade, that I almost stopped believing in purpose. I lived to work. I worked to pay bills. I watched from a distance as others enjoyed lifestyles I would never experience. They were happy. They had the things everyone strives to achieve. They were blessed. Or so I thought.

89923b5cbb4c896d7c96018026b39241Someone once told me this was life. Accept it. And yet there was always a minuscule thread of rebellion refusing to accept the status quo. Sure, life might suck today but what about tomorrow? I suppose it could be defined as hope . . . which makes me a hopeful romantic. Without hope . . . without the possibility of improving one’s lot in life . . . how can anyone go on? If you take away the dreams, visions of a better existence, what’s left? Is strife, pain and disappointment worth the challenge?

Today I can answer that question with a resounding “YES”!

I’m about to embark on a great adventure. Full time RVing. Some naysayers consider this the ultimate personification of narcissism. Others snarkily refer to my upcoming lifestyle as irresponsible. A few scratch their heads at my gypsy free spirit, applying labels like black sheep, hobo, vagabond, poor relative, lights are on but nobody’s home friend/relative. They curl their lips and turn their backs because giving up material “stability” to embrace a simplistic, nomadic journey borders on insanity. These are the same people who drive 80 mph to reach an overlook, take 5 minutes to sigh, then jump back in their cars and head home to Tivo, Xbox and YouTube.

I get it. Life on the road is not for everyone. I’m happy my critics can enjoy their homes, green lawns, finger tip technology and gas grills. It all boils down to a square peg in a round hole. But which is right? The square or the round? I think both are right. It’s a personal choice.

I love the great outdoors. Always have. I’m grounded in the wilderness or wandering aimlessly on a deserted coastline. Awestruck by the beauty of this great planet. Connected to the energy of every living creature when all you can hear is the wind in the trees. My heart fills with such joy, such love, such wonder that words can’t possibly express what I’m feeling. It extends outside this feeble vessel called Deb Sanders to something greater than all of us.

There are a few people who say, “Wow, I’ve always dreamed about traveling.” “I’ve always wanted to RV full time.” “I’ve always . . .”seahorse-1

Suddenly, this crazy, disjointed, unorganized life I was dealt is coming full circle and enabling me to live the dream. I haven’t owned a home in years. I’ve relocated so many times that material possessions are meaningless. Sentimental relics from my past have been farmed out to those with more “stable” lifestyles. I’m happy. They’re happy. It’s a win-win.

June 21st is the first day of the rest of my life. I saddle up and ride off into the sunset. Until then, I’m living vicariously in my dreams content in knowing the only difference between dreams and reality is action.

 

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Home is Where You Park It

Some of you may have noticed my blog feed has been sporadic of late, as well as undergoing a few subtle changes. There’s a reason for that . . . the call of the wild. Gypsy fever. Nomadic life. Full time RVing.

parkscampgrounds_heroYep. Me, hubby, the dog and cat are about to become Happy Campers. I’ve always had an adventurous spirit but never found the right time to fully embrace it. Until now. We’ve been mentally preparing for this daunting change for about six months but are just now purging possessions. I call it downsizing panic. I’m excited.  But nervous. Eager. But bittersweet about giving up my “stuff”. I tell myself material things do not make a person. So why is it so hard to let go?

It’s been a difficult couple of years. My writing took a backseat while I helped our daughter and her family adjust to a special needs baby. A wonderful but emotionally draining experience. It’s hard to be creative when your heart hurts.  Thank God everyone is doing well and on the right track. Now . . . time to resurrect my writing career. I’m almost finished with the first book in a new, cozy style mystery series and excited to get it out there. I’m sure many of my fans have forgotten me but hopefully we can reconnect while I earn a few new ones.

New books. New life.

Everyone thinks full time RVing is a long “vacation” but it’s so much more. It’s a lifestyle. It’s tiny house living on wheels. It’s minimizing every single aspect of your world. It’s slowing down to enjoy life, embracing the wonders of nature and  returning to – or discovering – a simpler existence.  I’m looking forward to long walks, uninterrupted writing time, and watching the sun set over mountain tops and desert floors. With a glass of wine, of course.

Hubby and I are torn between two styles of RV’s – a Fifth Wheel and a Class A. Owners of each type are passionate in their belief that theirs is the best rig for living on the road. Pros – I like the interior of Fifth Wheels, the added option of a vehicle in which to explore, and the easier turning radius when driving. Cons include less storage area and more time setting up camp. Class A’s have tons of underbelly storage, easy set up, and comfortable travelling for us and the pets. Downsize is . . . the size! It’s a little intimidating to drive a 37-40′ beast around, much less parking it. If we don’t pull a “toad” or tow behind vehicle, we are limited to renting a car for local excursions which is probably cheaper and safer but still a hassle. What to do? We’ve flip-flopped so much on this decision I’m getting dizzy! Whatever we decide, we are adamant about making the purchase in April and being on the road by the end of May.

I’m already building a new website for our adventure and will introduce it soon. DebSanders dot com will remain my author site. The other will serve as a travelogue – with a bonus.  I plan to research local lore and myths while wandering from place to place, then write short stories based on those legends. It will be a fun diversion in between novels.

I’ll still be posting book reviews from time to time on this site, as well as more articles about the craft and industry. And who knows what other tidbits might appear? Stay tuned and find out.

Author Interview with Tamara Linse (Earth’s Imagined Corners)

It’s my extreme pleasure to chat with author Tamara Linse today. She’s penned a historical novel based on the life of her great-grandparents, which is fascinating in itself, but the woman behind the keyboard is just as interesting. I can’t wait for you to meet her.  Start with the interview but please stay for the excerpt from “Earth’s Imagined Corners”. It’s the most delicious treat you’ll have all day!

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TL: I am so honored to hang out with you today! And I can’t wait to check out what you write.

Earth’s Imagined Corners was a loving project to which you devoted your time, talent and perseverance for years. Now that it is a realized dream, was it worth the effort? Anything you would change about the process?

TL: Great question!  Yes, it took me 15 years from initial conception to publication, and I can say without hesitation that it was definitely worth it.  I don’t even know if “worth it” is the right term.  Writing, especially fiction, is just something I feel compelled to do ~ I don’t know if you feel the same.  There’s nothing scarier than a writer who isn’t writing, and it makes me feel calmer and saner when I’m creating.  Sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it. Sometimes it comes easy and sometimes hard. The hardest part is getting started after being away from it for a while, but once I’ve started it’s usually a glorious slide down a snowy hill ~ exhilarating, challenging, lovely. If there’s anything I would change, it would be how long it takes me. Seven years per novel seems a little long. I’d love to do a novel year, and I know I could do it. I’ve written a full draft in five months. But the world not only doesn’t care if you’re writing ~ it actively works against you writing, especially if you’re a woman.  It would rather you be doing what it wants you to do. Working, cleaning, cooking, taking care of others, and so on. And it doesn’t just sit back and sigh. It enters the writing room and cracks jokes and suggests you do something else. So that would be the other thing I would change: my ability to block out the world and carve out time to write. I know it’s my own fault too. I’m a good girl and a people pleaser, and it’s much easier to do what the world wants me to do than face my own demons to write.

Even though Earth’s Imagined Corners is based on the lives of your great grandparents, you still brought the era to life with details you couldn’t possibly have known. How much time did you spend researching the late 1800’s to provide authenticity to the period and dialogue which was beautifully portrayed in your story?

How much of the story is fictional and how much fact? Was it challenging to apply creative license knowing you were altering the details of your family history? How did you decide which parts needed embellishment?

all interviews and guest blogs - Frank and Ellen Strong xTL: I’ll tackle both of these questions at once.

Oh, gosh. Lots of research.  And thank you so much for your kind words! You made my month! Some of the best fiction involves research, I think.  And besides, I love research, and it’s much easier to wander down the alleys of history than to face the blank page. The wonderful Nebraska writer Ron Hansen said that the history is another country, and you have to treat it like that. Figure out its customs and language.  I thought a lot about the story’s dialog. Who knows how people talked in 1885? Just like today, what was written was probably different than what was said. But I also wanted it to sound to the reader like real people talking. To compromise, I wrote the dialog as I would any other, and then I tweaked it and took out the words that either weren’t contemporary or don’t “feel” historical and then put in words that do feel historical. For me, communication and clarity rank above “truth” (as if there is only one truth). I read historical newspapers, and The 18th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor in 1900 reported prices in Chicago and I extrapolated backwards. Men worked an average of 290 days a year and made $553.52, while women worked an average of 295 days a year and made $313.42. Inventions such as electricity were making their way across the continent. Electrical infrastructure began reaching Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas in 1882. Kansas City had mule-drawn cable cars in 1881, but by 1885, they were powered by electricity. Work began on the “Additional Penitentiary” in Anamosa, Iowa, in 1873. In 1885, it held 281 inmates. Electric lights were actually at the prison when James would have been there—they were first used in December of 1882. Fictional purposes—sorry. The inmates built their own prison, first in wood and then in stone. The cookbook The Compleat Housewife by Eliza Smith is fact. First published in 1727 in London, the cookbook was republished almost verbatim in 1742 by the Virginia printer William Parks, the first cookbook published in the Colonies.

The American Memory Site of the National Archives is an amazing resource for researchers, and much of their material is online, and so I didn’t have to travel to Washington D.C. to access it. Fortunately, there are birds-eye views of downtown Kansas City from 1879 and 1895, perfectly framing my time period. I also had the tremendous good fortune—for me, not for the residents of KC West Bottoms—of having a vast photographic evidence to draw from. That’s because the Bottoms flood regularly, and people take lots of photos during these natural disasters.  “The Patch” was a 4.5-acre area in the West Bottoms west of the Armour Packing Factory. If anything, I built it up a bit. Citizens of the Patch were evicted in April of 1910. I moved the flood from 1881 to 1885. There was a great flood in 1844 that came through the West Bottoms with a deafening roar and filled it bluff to bluff. It was reported that, during the night of the flood, cries were heard but the flood was too overwhelming to attempt rescue. The next day, rescuers found Louis Tromley perched in a tree, his wife in a tree a hundred yards farther on, and his son sitting on the peak of the swaying house. Later that day, onlookers saw Tromley’s house floating with the current, with Tromley’s favorite dog perched on its top. Tromley yelled out the dog’s name, and the dog let out a mournful wail. Tromley almost plunged into the water to save it. In 1881, an African American man named Levi Harrington, 23, was lynched—hung and shot—from the Bluff Bridge for killing a policeman named Jones, a crime Harrington did not commit. It got little coverage in the papers because it happened the same day that Jesse James was shot in Saint Joseph.

Little things. President Cleveland did have a mistress. Sara’s paste opal jewel exists, and in 2003, it was for sale by The Three Graces, Houston, Texas, for $1,380. The description of passengers getting cozy during a train wreck that is told by Moses is from Bill Nye’s 1882 Forty Lies and Other Liars. I based the rats at the river on an account given by a man who grew up in Kansas City in the twentieth century—the 1960s, I think. Thomas’s Tsististas are the Cheyenne, and the words from the Cheyenne language is from the Dull Knife College web site, but their spelling is my own. And so much more.  I love history. My master’s thesis was on 1850 Overland Trail pioneer diaries.

As far as it being based on family history, I was lucky in that I had some bare facts but not so much information as to overwhelm me. He was in prison, and they moved to KC and had a store. That was almost all I knew.  And when you write fiction, you can’t be constrained by what happened. You have to get the details right, but if you’re worried about offending someone or being “right” whatever that means it’ll strangle you. Yes, you want to be accurate, but you have to have more loyalty to the logic of the story and to good storytelling. So I would say my process was to have a rough plot and characters based on my grandparents, and then to forget they were my grandparents and go where the story took me.

You have two more books scheduled in the series. Will you write them separately or concurrently? Is it difficult to stay focused on this project or are you itching to write something different?

TL: Ha!  No, I’ll write them chronologically. But as you hint, it’s hard to stay focused on one project. There are just so many great ideas, and I want to do them all and not let them get away!  For example, right now before I go further on the second in the series, Numberless Infinities, I want to finish a young adult called Pride, which is Pride and Prejudice set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It’s part of a YA series where I take British classics and set them in contemporary Wyoming. It’s so much fun! The hardest part is getting started, and once I start, it’s best if I don’t stop. Though it often happens.

Tamara on ErnieAfter reading your “long” bio, I was completely charmed by this multi-faceted person called Tamara Linse. (Readers, you can learn more HERE) I also was raised with a taste of the “old” world and new, living part time on a farm without modern amenities. I know that experience enhanced my ability to maneuver life. How did it affect you and what do you think is the most valuable lesson you learned from those days? On the flip side, what did you hate about it?

*blush* Thank you!  I hate those short dry bios, don’t you?  I want them to read like a Dickens novel! Your life sounds fascinating.  I hope you’re writing about it!  There’s a lot of my upbringing in my short story collection How to Be a Man. It was and is hard to be female on a ranch. Men have the respect, and if you’re how_to_be_a_man_tamara_linse_coveran intelligent little girl, you look around yourself and think, how do I have respect, since I’m not a guy? Many western girls come to the conclusion that they need to be men as much as they can. It’s very self-destructive when you deny something you essentially are. It’s like being black and passing as white or being homosexual and passing as heterosexual.  Plus you really hate yourself.  The poverty of it wasn’t very nice either. The most valuable lesson I learned was pigheadedness. I attribute pretty much any success I’ve had in life to sticking to things, even after a lot of reasonable people would have given up.  Another thing I learned, which I’m sure you did too, was self-reliance.  When something happens, you just need to bow your head and get after it. No use belly-aching.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?

TL: You know, I really haven’t thought much about this. That’s another of  the legacies of my upbringing ~ I had to teach myself to dream big. If you grow up thinking you can’t have anything, you don’t let yourself want things.  But I did always want to travel to England and Ireland, and I was able to do that in 2002 after I graduated with my master’s.  But if I were allowed to dream, it would go something like this. A sprawling house in the south of France or a bungalow on a carribean island, like Hemingway’s Finca Vigia. Write all morning, drink and laze about and socialize in the afternoon and evening. All this would involve someone else cooking and cleaning, of course! So, you know, I’d like to live in writers’ paradise!

TL: It’s been such a pleasure, Deb! Thank you! Stay in touch!

♦♦♦♦♦

Earth’s Imagined Corners

The Round Earth Series

Book 1

Tamara Linse

Genre: Historical Fictiocover

Publisher: Willow Words

Date of Publication: January 31, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9909533-1-9            

ASIN: B00T18RRNK

Number of pages: 472

Word Count: 130,000

Book Description:

In 1885 Iowa, Sara Moore is a dutiful daughter, but when her father tries to force her to marry his younger partner, she must choose between the partner—a man who treats her like property—and James Youngblood—a kind man she hardly knows who has a troubled past.

When she confronts her father, he beats her and turns her out of the house, breaking all ties, so she decides to elope with James to Kansas City with hardly a penny to their names.

In the tradition of Willa Cather’s O Pioneers! and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Earth’s Imagined Corners is a novel that comprehends the great kindnesses and violences we do to each other.

Available at Amazon

Excerpt:

Anamosa, Iowa, 1885

Sara Moore should have nothing to fear this week. She had been meticulous in her entering into the ledger the amounts that Minnie the cook requested she spend on groceries. She had remembered, just, to include her brother Ed’s purchase of materials to mend sister Maisie’s doll house and to subtract the pickling salt that she had purchased for sister Esther but for which Esther’s husband Gerald had reimbursed her. She stood at her father’s shoulder as he went over the weekly household accounts, and even though her father owned Moore Grocer & Sundries from which she ordered the family’s groceries, he still insisted she account for the full price in the ledger. “No daughter of mine,” he often said, though sometimes he would finish the thought and sometimes his neatly trimmed eyebrows would merely bristle.

Despite the buttressing of her corset, Sara hunched forward, somewhat reducing her tall frame. She intertwined her fingers so that she would not fiddle with the gathers of soft navy wool in her overskirt, and she tried not to breathe too loudly, so as not to bother him, nor to breathe too deeply, in order to take in little of the cigar smoke curling up from his elephant-ivory ashtray on the hulking plantation desk.

As always, the heavy brocade curtains armored Colonel Moore’s study against the Iowa day, so the coal oil lamps flickered in their brackets. Per instructions, Sipsy the maid lit them early every morning, snuffed them when he left for the grocery, lit them again in anticipation of his return at seven, and then snuffed them again after he retired. It was an expense, surely, but one that Sara knew better than to question. The walls of the study were lined with volumes of military history and maps of Virginia and Georgia covered in lines, symbols, and labels carefully inked in Colonel Moore’s hand. In its glass case on the bureau rested Colonel Moore’s 1851, an intricately engraved pistol awarded to him during the War of Northern Aggression. Sipsy dusted daily, under stern directive that not a speck should gather upon any surface in the room.

Sara’s father let out a sound between an outlet of breath and a groan. This was not good. He was not pleased. Sara straightened her shoulders and took a breath and held it but let her shoulders slump forward once more.

“My dear,” he said, his drawl at a minimum, “your figures, once again, are disproportionate top to bottom. And there is too much slant, as always, in their curvatures. I urge you to practice your penmanship.” His tone was one of indulgence.

Inaudibly, Sara let out her breath. If he was criticizing her chirography, then he had found nothing amiss in the numbers. The accounts were sound for another week. Later, when he checked the numbers against the accounts at the grocery, there was less of a chance that she had missed something.

He closed the ledger, turned his chair, and with both hands held the ledger out to her. She received it palms up and said, “I will do better, Father.”

“You would not want to disappoint to your mother.” His drawl was more pronounced.

So he had regretted his indulgence and was not satisfied to let her go unchecked. His wife, Sara’s mother, had been dead these five years, and since then Sara had grown to take her place, running the household, directing the servants, and caring for six year-old Maisie. Ed needed little looking after, as he was older than Sara, though unmarried, and Esther, the oldest, was married with two daughters and farm of her own.

Sara straightened her shoulders again and hugged the ledger to her chest. “Yes, Father,” she said and turned and left the room, trying to keep her pace tranquil and unhurried. She went to the kitchen, where Minnie had a cup of coffee doused with cream and sugar awaiting her. Minnie gave her an encouraging smile, and though Sara did not acknowledge what went unsaid between them—one must shun familiarity with the servants—she lifted her shoulders slightly and said, “Thank you, Minnie.” Minnie, with the round figure and dark eyes of a Bohemian, understood English well, though she still talked with a pronounced accent, and Sara had only heard her speak the round vowels and chipped consonants of her native tongue once, when a delivery man indigenous to her country of origin walked into the kitchen with mud on his boots. Sara tucked the ledger in its place on a high shelf and then allowed herself five minutes of sipping coffee amid the wonderful smells of Minnie’s pompion tart. Then she rose, rinsed her cup, and applied herself to her day.

The driver had Father’s horse and gig waiting, as always, at twenty minutes to nine. As Father stretched his fingers into his gloves, pulling them tight by the wrist leather, he told Sara, “When you come at noon, I have something unusual to show you.”

“Yes, Father,” she said.

It seemed odd that he would concern her with anything to do with business. He left her to the household. He had long tried to coerce Ed into the business, but Ed’s abilities trended more toward the physical. He was a skilled carpenter, though Father kept a close rein on where he took jobs and whom he worked for. All talk of renaming the business Moore & Son had been dropped when Father had recently promoted the young man who was his assistant, Chester O’Hanlin, to partner. Mr. O’Hanlin had droopy red muttonchops and a body so long and thin he looked a hand-span taller than he really was, which was actually a bit shorter than Sara. Mr. O’Hanlin didn’t talk much, either, and he seemed always to be listening. He held himself oddly, cocking his head to one side, first one way and then the other, his small dark eyes focusing off to the left or right of the speaker. His nose, long and wedge-shaped, seemed to take up half his face. “Chester, the Chinaman,” Maisie called him outside of his presence because of the way he stooped and bobbed whenever their father entered the room.

tamaraAbout the Author:

Tamara Linse jokes that she was raised in the 1880s, and so it was natural for her to set a book there. She is the author of the short story collection How to Be a Man and the novel Deep Down Things and earned her master’s in English from the University of Wyoming, where she taught writing. Her work appears in the Georgetown Review, South Dakota Review, and Talking River, among others, and she was a finalist for an Arts & Letters and Glimmer Train contests, as well as the Black Lawrence Press Hudson Prize for a book of short stories. She works as an editor for a foundation and a freelancer.

Find her online at www.tamaralinse.com and her blog Writer, Cogitator, Recovering Ranch Girl at www.tamara-linse.blogspot.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/tlinse

Twitter https://twitter.com/TamaraLinse

Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/+TamaraLinse/posts

Holding On To Georgia – A Beautiful Love Story

Hold on to your hankie because HOLDING ON TO GEORGIA is a tear jerker you won’t want to miss!

Holding on to Georgia

Courtney Giardina

Take Two Publishing

Genre: Romance, General Fiction

Release Date: October 21, 2014

AMAZON

HOTG-Cover-Md

Book Description:

Rylan Bradley is perfectly content with her single, thirty-something life. Love is the last thing on her mind—until she crosses paths with Wesley Kade. He is handsome, charming, and always there when she needs someone the most. But there’s a story behind those brown eyes that he’s not ready to tell. As Rylan and Kade struggle to untangle their feelings for each other, the reality of their pasts will once again resurface and threaten to take it all away.

REVIEW:

As I read HOLDING ON TO GEORGIA by the talented Courtney Giardina, I was reminded of a roller coaster ride – sitting in the car as it slowly moves away from the loading station, anticipating a few thrills but not quite prepared for the highs and lows, sharp turns, and unexpected bends as it races over the track. After disembarking, knees shaking, heart racing and emotionally spent, you think, “Dang . . . what a ride.”

I am not easily taken in by the written word yet I found myself sniffing from despair – and happiness – a few times before I turned the final page. Ms. Giardina displays an uncanny knack for building emotion into scenes that might otherwise remain one dimensional. Her characters are charming and likable. Exhibiting a bit of empathy toward their struggles comes easy.

Rylan and Kade are each ready for a new beginning after enduring painful losses in their past. Closing the door on old business, however, is easier said than done. I don’t think anyone who has experienced a lost love could keep from reliving that heartbreak as they navigate the budding relationship between the main characters. It’s a story of moving on, having faith and courage to leap into an unknown future . . . and to love again.

HOLDING ON TO GEORGIA is reminiscent in style to Nicholas Sparks. It will fill you with hope. It will make you smile. It may even make you cry. A novel that can evoke so much emotion from this reader is definitely one I can recommend.

About The Author:

cgiardina1-300x300

I was born in raised and Western, NY. And yes, it is western, not upstate. After more than two decades, I decided to trade in the cold winters for hot and humid Charlotte, NC summers (and sometimes spring and a little bit of fall). Since then I’ve bee focusing on finally do all the things I said I would do someday. I love my dog, he’s my right hand man, but he’s not the man of the house. That belongs to my cat, he’s kinda crazy. Country music has my heart. My favorite song of all time is Rhett Akins “That Ain’t My Truck.” To challenge myself I run. Mostly because I used to be horrible at it, but I’m starting to get the hang of this 5k and 8k thing. Contemplating a 10k, but no promises on that. There are a lot of places I haven’t seen in life that I would love to go. Italy and Paris are high on that list.

I write to save my soul. It makes me whole and happy and the fact that all of you enjoy what I put on paper makes me love it even more. Thank you for letting me share my stories with you.

Authors United vs. Amazon: a Primer | Jen Rasmussen

Authors United vs. Amazon: a Primer | Jen Rasmussen.

Too funny….an oddly informative analysis of the Amazon-Hatchette war.

REVIEW: Soul Dancing With The Brass Band by Vicki Renfro

REVIEW:

What an amazing story! Vicki Renfro has penned an epic tale of transformation and spiritual enlightenment, masterfully guiding a group of souls through two eras with the ease of a Hollywood director. Soul Dancing With The Brass Band is a well written novel that captivates from the first page. It’s deep, thought provoking and soulful, but not as esoteric as Cloud Atlas or The Fountain. You’ll have no problem understanding the story or following each character’s path as you devour chapter after chapter.

There’s a rather large cast of players which could have ended up a muddled mess in the hands of a less skillful author but Ms. Renfro proves adept at providing clarity and purpose for each person’s role. I especially enjoyed the subtle change in voice between eras, adding to the definition of time periods without a glaring separation from the story.

The premise is interesting . . . Hillary Rubner is a young woman about to embark on a life-changing journey – college. Yet a series of coincidences/synchronicities unite her with a group of people who awaken a confusing sense of recognition. As the alternate world from 35 A.D. weaves a parallel path, we begin to see how the characters knew each other. The plot incorporates an intriguing theory of souls reincarnating as groups, travelling through various lifetimes in different roles but all connected by a universal goal or for the purpose of fulfilling karmic debt. Don’t let the implication of metaphysics deter you . . . this is a great, character driven story.

Soul Dancing With The Brass Band will appeal to readers of many genres including time travel, romance, young adult, fantasy, and women’s fiction. If you are a fan of The Celestine Prophecy, you’ll especially enjoy this book.

 

SOUL DANCING With The Brass Band

Vicki Renfro

front cover Kindle

Themes: Metaphysical, Transformation, Reincarnation
Pages: 279
ASIN: B00DV6ASAC
AMAZON

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Have you ever wondered if you have lived before?

Hillary, a farm girl from Kansas never gave it a second thought. She always believed her big adventure would be going away to college until she learned about a promise she made two thousand years ago.

EXCERPT:

NOV 17, 36 A.D.

Come with me, dear one,” McCollum says. “I have something I’d like to show you.”

It’s very cold, so I wrap myself against the wind and mount my mare. We ride for hours before we reach our destination and when we do, it’s nothing but the remnants of a once thriving town. McCollum dismounts and looking up at me asks, “What do you see?”

I scan the area slowly and begin to speak. “The fields are barren, as if the crops failed. The people stayed as long as possible because they had built their lives here. Eventually with nothing to eat, they had to move on and now their homes sit before us in decay,” I explain from a knowing within me. “I feel the sorrow of the people who once occupied this village deep in my bones.”

Come child. Let’s build a fire and I will tell you a story.” McCollum leads our horses into the remains of an old barn and begins gathering kindling. When the fire is lit, we both sit close to warm our hands.

Looking into my eyes, McCollum admits that I am correct in what I saw. It makes me wonder why we had to ride so far on such a bleak day. Placing more wood on the fire, he settles in.

Let me tell you the story of the downfall of this settlement, so you will better understand. About ten years ago, a man walked into this thriving village and was welcomed as an additional set of hands to work the land. He was strong and as he helped plant the crops he also began to plant other seeds in the minds of the villagers. He talked of drought, famine, crop failure and starvation, and one by one these worries grew and festered in the farmers’ minds. Negativity slowly sucked the dreams of the future from their naive souls. Pride once held in the appearance of their homes soon faded because they were distracted by fear. And as the fear grew within them, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Their crops failed because the darkness of their vision caused them to make devastating decisions. Before long, brother argued with brother and neighbors began to doubt each other’s loyalty. You see, Hilsbeth, what happened here is just the reverse of what you saw. The downfall of this town began with the planting of a thought and when it took hold, there was no one in the village who was powerful enough to stop its manifestation.”

What happened to the stranger?” I ask, afraid of the answer.

There will always be darkness in our world that preys on the ignorance of mankind. It creates bigotry and hatred, infests the world with fear and drains the life force from individuals who don’t have the vision to see through it. I brought you here today, so you’ll realize how important it is to hold the light for the ones who are lost. We must never be seduced by the darkness, dear Hilsbeth, but learn to recognize it by the feeling it creates and the destruction left in its wake. We must always instill hope and stand on the side of love, peace, thoughtfulness… and hold a positive vision, because in time… I pray light will prevail.”

Nov 17, 2010

I heard Ruth’s key in the front door and watched her drop her purse and computer on the couch. “Hard day?” I asked, seeing her exhaustion.

“I think I just haven’t been getting enough sleep lately. I’m going to make a cup of tea, take a long hot bath and hit the sack,” she said as she headed for the kitchen.

I hear her mumble, “What the hell!” and I remembered the flowers I left in the sink. She came back into the living room holding the scrap of paper.

“Who’s Jackson Black?”

“He’s that guy I pointed out at The Commons the other day… scruffy guy… older.”

“Yeah, I remember, but what’s with the flowers?” she asked.

“He was outside the coffee shop, he knew my name and now he obviously has figured out where I live.”

“Is Creepy Guy stalking you?”

I thought hard for a minute before answering.

“It’s hard to explain. It’s like he reaches inside me and takes my joy, leaving me slimed with a dirty feeling. It’s not illegal, but it should be,” I explained.

“He sounds like my Uncle Marvin. He can suck the happiness out of a room just by walking into it. He loves talking about negative stuff. If it’s not a pandemic or forecasting the crash of world markets, it is the wrath of God. His family is always depressed.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Vicki_pic1

At thirty-five, I had it all. I owned a well appointed home with a swimming pool, had a career as an engineer and a dog. I remember quite clearly the day I realized I had achieved the American Dream. I had all of the material belongings I ever dreamed of and still had an empty place inside of me. I considered joining the Peace Corp, but decided instead to backpack around the world alone. I made wonderful friends, saw amazing places, but returned home a year later with the same hole in my soul. I’d made the mistake of looking outside of myself for what you can only find inside.

Soul Dancing with the Brass Band may be a work of fiction, but the magic and mysticism I talk about exists in everyday life for those who have the eyes to see it. The forces that propel my characters are very much alive in this world, and sometimes we can only comprehend the magnitude of what is happening around us through a story.

My journey led me to the mountains of Colorado where I live with my husband and my new dog.

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