Spock Thoughts (Desiderata)


I first stumbled upon this recitation when I was around 11 years old.  I fell in love with it then and love it still.  It was written in 1927 by American writer Max Ehrmann.  The title is Latin, and when translated, means “Things to be Desired.”

Enjoy.

P.S.:  Anyone recognize two people in the video??

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

– Max Ehrmann (1872-1945)

 

First of Her Kind


FOHKcoverToday I have a very special guest, author K. L. Schwengel. Her new novel,  FIRST OF HER KIND, is out and she’s here to talk a little bit about it and also what helps her to write.

Kathi, tell us a little about you before you begin your post.

***

I live in southeast Wisconsin on a small farm with my husband, a handful of Australian Shepherds, Her Royal Highness Princess Fionna (the cat) and assorted livestock.  Growing up as the youngest daughter of a librarian, I spent more time between stacks of books and secluded away in the dusty archives than was probably even remotely normal.  With so many characters and ideas spinning in my head, I had to get them out onto paper or risk what little sanity I possessed.  (Try being the youngest of nine children and see how sane you stay.)  I have been spending my free time sitting in front of some type of keyboard or another since I was a kid and got my first typewriter.  It wasn’t even electric.  Before that it was pen and paper, which I still resort to from time to time.  I have published a few poems and non-fiction articles, but my real passion is fantasy and urban fantasy.

When not writing, I train and trial working Australian Shepherds, paint, dabble in photography, graphic design and anything else creative my assorted muses send my way.

***

I knew there was a reason I liked you, other than being an author.  You have Aussies like me.  What a great breed!  Ah, so before I digress any further, you have complete control of my blog at this point.  Take it away.

***

THE WRITE RHYTHM

Music cleanses the understanding; inspires it, and lifts it into a realm which it would not reach if it were left to itself.  ~ Henry Ward Beecher

There is nothing that can move my soul like the right piece of music. Whether it takes me to the heights of emotion, or has me bouncing across the floor in a carefree, childlike (though I won’t say graceful) dance of joy, it never fails to affect my mood.

When I’m writing, there is always music playing. My collection is vastly eclectic, containing everything from Gregorian Chants to Heavy Metal. I load my 6 disk player with whatever I think will best reflect the section I’m working on, and set it on shuffle. On really good days, the music fades into the background as I lose myself in my characters and the dance of words across the page. On bad days, when stringing words together is like trying to tie a knot with frozen fingers, it draws me along, guiding, helping set mood and create images.

No one can deny the power of music. Everyone, I’m sure, has that song that will immediately whisk them back to a time and place, that will move them to tears, make them smile, or evoke a memory so strong they are momentarily back within it. It’s probably the closest to time travel as we’ll ever actually come.

As I write, there are certain songs that connect with my characters or scenes in much the same way. Currently, working on book two of my Darkness & Light series, I find myself leaning on Dead Can Dance, a fairly recent discovery for me. If you write fantasy, I’d suggest giving it a listen. Powerful. Great music to read to as well. And what were some of my influences and inspiration while writing First of Her Kind, book one of the series? Definitely The Two Towers soundtrack, Sully Erna’s album Avalon, some Evanescence, and a healthy dose of Clannad, Enya, and Loreena McKennitt.

Words and music have been joined since the beginnings of time, and together, create magic. Who am I to argue?

***

Wow, even our taste in music is similar!  I love Loreena McKennit and Enya!  At times I listen to music when I write.  When I do, it is usually Celtic instrumental or classical music playing in the background.  In fact, I’ve picked several scores I’d like played during certain scenes of my novels when they are made into movies.  (yes, I dream of my novels being turned into movies.  I know.  I’m such a dork.)

I loved your post, Kathi, and agree with the power music has over us and the feeling it can invoke.  I can’t imagine a world without music.

So, can you share a blurb of FIRST OF HER KIND, please?

***

Everyone, it seems, wants to dictate what Ciara does with her life: Serve the Goddess, destroy the Goddess, do as you promised your aunt. All Ciara wants is to keep the two magics she possesses from ripping her apart.

And that won’t be easy.

Not only are they in complete opposition to each other, blood ties pull her in divergent directions as well. And then there’s Bolin, the man sworn to protect her. There’s no denying the growing attraction between them, but is it Ciara he wants? Or her power?

None of which will matter if Ciara can’t overcome her fear and learn to use her gifts.  No one knows the depths of the ancient power she possesses, or what will happen if it manages to escape her control.

Will she lose herself entirely? Or be forever trapped between darkness & light?

***

Awesome!!  A book right up my ally!  Where can everyone find you, Kathi?

***

You can find me at all these places:

Facebook:  

Twitter:  

Blog:  

Goodreads:  

IAN

You can also find my books at any of the following:

e-books:

Smashwords:

Amazon:

Print Version:

Amazon:

***

Thank you so much for stopping by today, Kathi.  Please come back and visit again sometime.  Good luck with your new novel!

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Under the Never Sky – a Review


under the never skyWhile in Ft. Myers for two weeks, I picked up Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but my mind was quickly changed. Within the first 5 pages I was hooked. I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait for the sequel to come out.

The story was unlike any I’ve read before. I liked the authenticity of it, the grittiness of it. The story is told from male (Perry) and female (Aria) points of view. At first, the alternating chapters were a little hard to get used to, but I immediately fell into the cadence and looked forward to each character’s view of the world.

I loved watching Aria grow from being an outcast and sent to die in the outer wasteland known to her and her kind as the Death Shoppe, to her becoming a strong, warrior-like woman, who can survive cannibal attacks, dangerous and violent electrical Aether storms, and savages.

I enjoyed that Aria and Perry were so very different from each other. Aria was born in Reverie, an enclosed city. Everything is ‘perfect’ in Reverie – genetically modified perfect. Life is pristine, clean, safe. Procreation occurs scientifically. Girls don’t get pregnant. They don’t have periods. People don’t get ill. Physical ailments don’t exist. On the outside, where the savages (Perry) lives, the world is quite the opposite.

Each Aria and Perry are on their own journey when they find each other. I like that this story isn’t a typical romance. Their trust and respect for each other comes slowly. It’s tried. They both have something the other wants, but the information isn’t given freely or easily. The sheltered girl and the savage must learn to rely on each other’s strengths to get them through the journey they share together. I fell in love with both characters and the supporting cast.

The world-building is well done. It’s not thrown at the reader all at once. Instead, we’re treated to layers built upon layers over time. There is the technical, perfect Domes of Reverie, and the dangerous, desolate and devastating environment of the Death Shoppe. Each one plays their own roles in Aria’s and Perry’s quest – they both need something from the worlds opposite their own, and they need each other to find it.

I did find Aria a bit whiny in the beginning, but then again, considering her background, I can understand it. I had the impression that Perry was much older than Aria, so when the ‘romance’ began to bloom between them, I was a little weirded out. Then I found out his age and I was okay with it. Even though they are both teens, Perry still seems far more older than Aria, mentally, which gives me the ‘older man/younger woman’ vision in my head. It could be that she’s so naive and her body is ‘waking up’ at the age of 17 that gives me that impression. I found Perry’s description of Aria’s first ‘awakening’ at becoming a woman a little bizarre, funny, creepy and endearing. I’ve never heard a woman’s first menstrual cycle described in such a manner.

If I had to compare it to another book, I’d have to say it has some similar elements as Graceling. It is a dystopian, and while the book is aimed at fans of The Hunger Games, this novel is nothing like The Hunger Games. I will say it should appeal to more older teens – the 16 and up age group. There is some drinking, some mild violence (nothing like what was in The Hunger Games), and one sex scene that was handled with kid gloves (I like this approach in YA rather than full out hot and heavy sex scenes). If you enjoyed Blood Red Road, I think you’ll enjoy Under the Never Sky.

Next week I begin reading the second in the trilogy: Through the Ever Night. I can’t wait.

Lessons I learned from my soggy cat


It was a bleak, rainy morning, the kind that begs you to stay in bed with the covers pulled over your head.  As usual, I got up late and was running around like a fool trying to draw on eyeliner with one hand while feeding whiny kids with the other.  The ferrets, Romeo and Juliet, escaped from their three-story penthouse cage for the umpteenth time that week.  I heard them scampering about in the boys’ room, no doubt hiding another sock treasure they stole.  I put their litter box in the room along with some food and water as I didn’t have time for another ferret round-up.  I was late for work and my kids were late for school.

I returned to my bathroom to finish painting my face and perfecting my hair when I heard my youngest daughter yell out to me, “Mom, Tequila’s in the house and he’s swatting at Buttercup.”

I rolled my eyes.  Who in the hell opened the slider and let the six-foot iguana inside?  And why is the bunny loose in the living room?

I ran out of the bathroom in my undies.  Sure enough, there’s a standoff in the middle of the living room, Tequila whipping his tail and Princess Buttercup bing-bonging around him leaving little pellets all over the tile floor.

“Oh my gosh, you’ve got to be kidding!”  I picked up the rabbit and put her outside in her custom-made, two-story bunny hutch, complete with carpet and a homemade hut.  I looked at my sons as I swept the bunny poop.  “Who let the iguana and rabbit in the house, huh?”

Neither one said anything but they both wore mischievous grins.  A second later  Tequila tried to climb my leg.  I shrieked.   My boys burst out in laughter.  For some reason, they thought me getting clawed by a big, green reptile was funny.  I huffed, put on my stern face and told them to get their shoes on.  My oldest daughter came around the corner of the kitchen with a pen and a piece of paper.  “You have to sign my homework,” she said.  My youngest daughter yelled out from the kitchen table, “I need money for lunch.”

My mind was in a whir.  I glanced at the clock.  8:25.  I had thirty-five minutes to finish dressing, drop the kids off at school and get to work on time.  If I hurried, I could do it.  I yelled at my oldest to open the slider.  I picked up the iguana, put him in his tropical paradise cage complete with a pond, a Ficus tree and a tray overflowing with lettuce, fruit, veggies and hibiscus flowers, and scurried to my room.  As I’m wiggling into my slacks and top, I hear my girls yell simultaneously, “Casper, no!”

CRASH!

And then came the laughter.  Lots and lots of hysterical laughter.

I poked my head into their bedroom.  Our white cat, Casper, was in the fish tank, wide-eyed, drenched from head to toe, and desperately trying to claw his way out.  The hood light dangled behind the dresser and the inhabitant of the fish tank, a white albino frog, was on the floor gasping for breath.

Shit. You’ve got to be kidding me!   

I glanced at my watch.  8:35.

I lifted Casper out of the tank and set him on the floor.  Through her giggles, my oldest put the frog back in the tank.  He was happy to say the least.  I, on the other hand, was wet and on the verge of tears.  I was late.  Really, really late.  I was about to cry when I looked at Casper.  He was strutting down the hall, his head and tail held high, flicking the water from his paws as he went.  He sat down for a moment, licked his fur, then got back up again and strutted off with that ‘I meant to do that’ feline arrogance.

I couldn’t help myself.  I laughed.  I leaned against the wall and let the laughter come until my sides hurt.  Pretty soon we were all laughing and making fun of Casper falling into the fish tank.  As if knowing we were talking about him, he sauntered back down the hall, shot us all a look like we’d lost our minds, and sacheted into the bathroom to eat.  My kids all stood around me, laughing and hugging me.  In that moment I realized something very important:  stop rushing through life, laugh as much as possible, it’s okay to take a few risks, and when the risks don’t work out as planned, flick it off and walk away with your head held up high.

I was fifteen minutes late for work that day, but they were fifteen minutes I’ll never forget.  I never thought I’d learn some of life’s most important lessons from my soggy cat.

And who said cats are dumb?  Oh yeah, the dog, but that’s another story for another day.

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Wild at Heart


lori freelandToday I have a fantastic guest.  Lori A. Freeland.

Lori is a fellow blogger and author.  Her YA short story, Refugee, appears in the Wild at Heart Volume 2 anthology.  Isn’t it a beautiful cover?

Wild at Heart Volume 2

I thought it would be great if she stopped by and gave you the scoop on her short story and the organization that benefits from the proceeds from the sales of the book.  Please give a warm round of applause for Lori.  Take it my dear.  My blog is yours.  🙂

***

My short story, Refugee, was lucky enough to earn one of eleven spots in the Young Adult Anthology put together as a fundraiser for the big cats of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.

All proceeds of this short story collection, aptly titled Wild at Heart, directly benefit the big cats of the refuge.

Most of what I write comes in the form of inspirational articles and devotions. I had so much fun with the chance to write something entertaining and young and just a bit out of the ordinary.  

Here’s the blurb:

Refugee by Lori Freeland

When a girl loses her memory after a traumatic accident, she is sent to work at a big cat refuge for the summer by her psychiatrist, who believes it is there that she can find herself. Not only does she discover what she really is, but she stumbles on a love that can lead her home.

Here’s what Night Owl Reviews had to say about Wild at Heart:

Wild at Heart II

Young Adult Short Stories Benefiting Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

“Wild at Heart: Volume 2, Young Adult Short Stories” is an anthology of young adult tales written by eleven talented authors to raise money for the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas. These intriguing short stories run the gamut from the difficulties of fitting in when one is a teen from a different background than the rest of one’s peers to the difficulties of seeing one’s true nature until one is under pressure (and being threatened by a tiger) to the mysterious capabilities conferred by being able to see the entities on a building or out in the wild.

Especially enjoyable was the twist provided by Lori Freeland in her tale “Refugee” and the coming of age story depicted by Karis Walsh in “Vision Quest” but all of the stories offered an interesting insight into the melding between those with a wild nature and the humans who seek to interact with them. A great introduction to a variety of intriguing writing styles and wonderful glimpses of imaginative worlds that would be fascinating to visit. One can only hope that some of these entertaining tales will eventually become longer stories in the futures.

You can find Wild at Heart Volume II in Kindle and Paperback on Amazon along with Volume I if your tastes run a little more adult. All the stories are tame, sweet romance with a PG rating.

You can find me here:

Website: LAFreeland.com

FaceBook: Loriannfreeland

Twitter: @lafreeland

Bio: Lori Freeland, coffee addict and imaginary people lover, lives outside Dallas, TX. When she isn’t frantically tweaking her first YA series, she contributes and blogs for Crosswalk.com, edits at The Christian Pulse, and coaches writing for the North Texas Christian Writers. Wild at Heart is her second anthology.

*** 

Thank you, Lori for sharing Wild at Heart and Refugee with us.  Being a huge animal lover and protector of wild life, I am adding this anthology to my collection right away.  What a wonderful way to raise money for these beautiful creatures.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly


For the last two weeks I’ve been in Ft. Myers/Cape Coral/Sanibel, Florida helping a friend move from her condo back to her house she used to live in.  Until the house is completely ready to move in (there are other renovations going on), she is living in a cottage on the beach in Sanibel, FL.  Here’s a picture of the place.

waterside inn cottages  Here is the one I spent the last two days of my trip:

grapefruit cottage

The good part of the trip was I got to spend time with my best friend of 30 years.  Our kids grew up together and now their kids are growing up as friends.  I think that’s pretty cool.  I also got to meet fellow author and blogger buddy, Jamie Ayres:

Jamie Ayres and me - Barnes and Noble - ft myers 1-19-2013

I also got to meet amazing YA authors (see my post from January 30), and picked up a few books.

During my stay, my friend treated me to some of the best dining in the Ft. Myers/Sanibel area like Doc Ford‘s (a frequent hang-out of author, Randy Wayne White),  RonDao’s, Nick and Stellas’s, Osaka Japanese Steakhouse (website not available), Sanibel Steakhouse, and Timber’s Restaurant.  I also got to see Spamalot a the Herb Strauss Theater on Sanibel, and it was FANTASTIC!  The cast and music were brilliant.  Amazing talent in this little, quaint theater group.  I was definitely impressed.

But, as with everything, the trip was not without its bad side.  My friend kept changing her mind a lot, changing schedules, putting off things that should have been done when originally planned.  (I’ll explain this in the “ugly” part of the post).  We argued on several occasions (again, explained in the ugly).  I got lightly sunburned on the beach looking for shells (should have worn more sunscreen).  My friend’s 14-year old Jack Russell, became very ill. She ended up crossing the Rainbow Bridge on Feb. 4, the day after I returned home.  I cried a lot during those 2 weeks.  I wanted to go home.  Why?

My friend is an alcoholic, and that’s the ugly truth.  She’s been in rehab after rehab and she relapses every time.  Out of the two weeks I was there, she was sober one night.  One.  She left me a few nights by myself so she could go drinking.  After Spamalot, we were supposed to get a bit to eat, but she dropped me off at the cottage so she could go drinking.  She kept mixing up the schedules for when things needed to be done because she was hung over or because she didn’t feel like dealing with them.  The last night we went to dinner with a friend of hers who also drank.  They got into an argument over oyster crackers and started banging the table and grabbing each other’s wrists and ‘fighting’ in the booth.  I actually left the table at one point, went outside and called my husband for like the 50th time since I’d been away, and I did cry.  My friend, who has this incredibly sweet, loving side and big heart, was drunk and unreasonable, and I was embarrassed to be with her.  That’s a horrible thing to say about someone you love like a sister.  When we returned home that night, she left me alone to entertain her guest.  She was rude and unthinking.  She put all responsibility on me to take care of her dog, to move, to paint, to vacuum, to mop.  It was not pretty.  Even after telling her how I felt and how rude she was and how these choices were destroying her, she still continued to fall into the pattern that alcoholics fall into.  It was more than I could handle.  Despite all the good food and the help my friend has given me financially over the last two years I’ve been out of a job, I found it difficult to be with her, to sympathize.  Her drinking made me angry.  I didn’t like the person I became being with her.

During my trip we were making plans to go to NY in May or June, but I’ve decided I can’t go, not unless she’s sober.  She also wants me and my family to come down during Spring break so the boys can do some fishing.  Maybe charter or rent a boat.  However, I cannot emotionally go through what I went through the last 2 weeks if she continues to drink.  I plan to explain all this to her once she recovers from her pup’s death.  I feel for everyone who has to deal with an alcoholic or an addict on a daily basis.  God bless you for not losing your sanity.

I went to an AA/NA meeting yesterday for friends and family members of alcoholics and drug addicts to see if I could find some answers as to how to help my friend and how to deal with what I went through for 2 weeks.  I don’t want to lose my friend to this affliction.  I don’t even want to call it a disease.  I saw her make the conscious choice to either stay sober and be with me and have fun, or leave me behind to go drink. She chose drinking.  So, so sad.  Our rare time together could have really been wonderful.

Any advice?