A Mother's Love ~ by Cynthia Cain

The year had plenty of triumphs, the end of the Vietnam War, NASA launching the first joint space flight with the Soviet Union, the first blockbuster film, Jaws, is released, (which is the scariest movie I had or will ever have watched.) Technology was moving forward at lightning speed. But the most vivid innocent that happened that year had nothing to do with the outside world but would stick with me forever.

As if being an awkward introverted eleven-year-old, who wore

glasses and sported second hand clothes from a cousin that was clearly larger then me wasn’t bad enough, let’s talk about the rain. Yep, that’s right, rain and the moment it turned me into a horrified carpet blob fighting for the last little piece of dignity that I had.

It was Tuesday, a school day, around seven in the morning when a clap of thunder shook our tiny two bedroom bungalow and woke me from a rather interesting dream about turning myself into a winged creature with the flick of my hand. Even at an early age my dreams were fraught with adventure.

My two sisters and I quickly dress and hurry into the kitchen for a scrumptious breakfast of dry toast and oatmeal. A staple in our house, cheap and fast, a quality my mom still takes pride in today. While sitting at the kitchen table the storm intensifies. Rain pelts the window and the day turns back into night.

“Well, girls, I don’t have the car today.”
My little sister jumps to her feet and heads back to the bedroom.

“What’re you doing young lady?” Mom asks.

“We’re staying home, right?” she says.

“Um . . . no, it’s only a few blocks to school.”

“But it’s raining.”

“I have an idea.” Mom bolts to the kitchen, rummages under the sink and then returns with a box of trash bags.

“What’re you going to do with that?” I ask.

Even before we can grasp what is about to happen, a mortified look

crosses Cheryl’s face and she begins to cry. Not that it took much for her to cry. She cried when she was happy, sad, sleepy, awake, it didn’t matter where, when or who we were with. It was her only defense. Chris and I believed that we damaged her when we stuffed her into a suitcase at the age of three and told her we were sending her to the moon. The broomstick we used to mimic the sound of asteroids hitting the suitcase wasn’t the smartest thing to do. Mom made sure we’d think twice about ever doing that again.

We follow mom into her bedroom, where she proceeds to thread the old singer sewing machine with black thread to match the trash bags.

“Christine, come here.” She holds the bag next to her. “I think this will work.” she slips the trash bag over Chris’s head.

Chris’s hypochondriac screams of panic are muffled within the plastic. Mom struggles to cut a hole in the bottom of the bag as Chris thrashes about. Finally, her head pops through. Her eyes are wide, her face is flushed and her hair is balled up in a mass of curls.

“Now, hold still.” Mom says as she diligently pins and cuts the bag to fit. She carefully removes the bag and proceeds to sew along the edges. A few more tucks, cuts and pins and there it is. Mom proudly displays the trash bag raincoat she’d just created. She even sews a belt out of the scrapes.

Now, if you have really ever taken the time to smell a trash bag, you’d know that there is a distinct odor to them and it’s not a pleasant one.

Chris has a “need to please” attitude when it comes to our mom, so she slips it on with only minor encouragement. Cheryl hides under the bed covers and cries. I melt to the floor while thinking about the humiliation and constant teasing this will cause.

“I’m not wearing that.” I say, “I’d rather die.”

“Stop being so dramatic,” Mom grabs onto my arm and tries to pull me to my feet. My body hangs limp. “Stand up!”

“I can’t, my bones are mush.”

“Cynthia Anne, I’m giving you one more chance to stand up.” Her face molds into an unmistakable look of irritation.

The situation plays over in my head, if I don’t stand up, what then? Will she drag my limp body the three blocks to school in the rain? I think not. A resounding “No” slips out before I can stop it.

“Wait ‘til your dad gets home.”

And there it is—when all else fails she uses our dad to instill fear. My dad was a gentle giant in my eyes. He was bigger than life and although he always backed my mom up when it came to us girls, he tried hard to be fair. I just hoped that he would find my plight against the trash bag raincoat justifiable.

Chris eggs mom on. “I think these look great, Mom.”

Mom leans over my lifeless body, “See, they’re not that bad.” She says.

Hanging my tongue out the side of mouth, I roll my eyes up and don’t respond.

Cheryl continues to cry, while reluctantly slipping the bag over her head. Mom sizes up the two of them and then an exasperated sigh escapes her as she rushes to the kitchen and returns with wonder bread wrappers. “These will protect your feet,” she says. Slipping the blue, yellow and red poke-a-dotted bread bag over their feet, Oh, the horror!

Chris leans over my body and tries to encourage me up. “Don’t make mom feel bad.”

“I hate you.” I mouth.

A car roars into our driveway and then Grandma comes through the

front door. She gasps, “Oh Lord, no grandchild of mine is going to school like that.” Grandma was a well-dressed woman who never left the house without her hair done up, her fingernails painted and makeup on.

“What are you doing here?” Mom asks.

She discreetly winks at Chris before turning back to mom, “Thought maybe the girls would like a ride to school,” she says with a smile. Chris had Grandma wrapped around her finger and on this day, I was most thankful for that.

Within seconds, Chris and Cheryl strip off the plastic raincoats and run out the door with me right behind them.

This was not the first time nor would it be the last time that my mother’s brilliant ideas, as she called them, would make us cringe and question her sanity.

But it wasn’t until the day I held my baby for the first time that I really understood what a mother’s love felt like and the overwhelming need to keep my child out of harms way. It was then that I knew one day I, too, would become that insane parent that would unknowingly embarrass my child trying to keep them warm, dry and safe.

Cynthia Cain lives in the Midwest where - when she's not chasing
Cynthia Cain
after her dogs or hanging out with her children, grandchildren, family, and friends - She stays busy working, writing and contemplating every paragraph she drafts. She loves to travel and is inspired by the places she visits and the people she meets. She is a member of the Midwest Writers' Center and continues to advance her craft through conferences and online courses. 

Her debut novel Quiet Waters, is a YA Paranormal Suspense.  

You can connect with Cynthia by clicking on the links below.

The Differences in Writing Suspense and Paranormal Romances ~ by Darlene Kuncytes

As a paranormal romance author, my usual research is very minimal at best. Every so often, I’ll want to look into something for a story that I’m working on, but I will more often than not just end up reading a true crime article that has absolutely nothing at all to do with the tale that I’m currently working on.

I love true crime. I grew up reading practically everything I could
get my hands on, and devoured book after book on the subject.
Now…well, I’m a certified Investigative Discovery Channel addict. Lol 

Perhaps it’s because I have always loved a good mystery. Maybe it’s because all through High School and after, I hung around with law enforcement officers.

Or, perhaps it’s because years ago I had to serve on the grand jury, and part of that process consisted of touring the Crime Lab - which was absolutely fascinating to me, and my inner profiler and crime scene investigator was clawing to get out.

Whatever it was…I have always loved all things having to do with true crime.

It enthralls me.

I’m amazed by the advancements. The know-how. The clues.

The only problem? I absolutely HATE blood. Lol 

I would so be the special agent who would walk into a crime scene all confident and cool, only to promptly dash back through the door to toss my cookies at the first sign of gore!

As an author, I’m lucky enough to be able to weave many different types of tales. I can create any kind of world I choose. But there is a huge difference between writing paranormal romance and a romantic thriller.

At least there is for me.

The romance aspect isn’t much different. You have characters, and your job is to convey the attraction, that desire and need, in a way that will have your readers breathing a little faster as the heat between them grows and builds until it finally ignites and bursts into flames. You want to make it unique and sexy.

Where the difference lies is in the details with a thriller. You have to be very careful that timelines and things make sense. And herein lies the challenging part. The main difference between the two genres.

Can subject “A” be at said place, when subject “B” is being preyed upon? Would they have been able to commit the crime when they were doing this? Would an investigator be able to do that, and not have their ass handed to them on a platter?

With paranormal, I have the advantage of a bit more creative license with what my characters can and cannot do. I thankfully have the freedom to create my characters with the abilities to do and be whatever my crazy mind imagines.

I can make them have the ability to compel someone if I choose. Or morph into whatever being that I want.

Or, flit to different places in the blink of an eye.

With romantic thrillers, you have to be a bit more careful in making sure that the stories mesh and make sense. That things are more accurate.

And as an author, I love every single difference!

I love having to make sure the puzzle pieces fit without revealing
too much. It’s a challenge that I enjoy, and when it does all come together at the end, it’s such a rush!

But I also love weaving supernatural worlds with characters that are fun and unique. Characters that I can play with their backstories, legends and myths. After all, magic can only be confined by the author's own imagination.

And as I always say, write what you love, and love what you write!

Thanks for reading!


Visit Darlene's MEMBER PAGE to check out her other blog posts and books.

Acanthus (Part 1)~ By Ralph Duncan

If you were an herbalist, you probably would refer to this spiny ground crawling plant (looks like a thistle to me) as Bear’s Breeches. Some references say the name was derived from the plant’s resemblance to a bear claw. It is rather thorny, in fact, that is pretty much the translation of the Latin form of the Greek name, akanthos. Your herbalist bent would drive you to prescribe this plant for muscle and joint ache.

Haven’t tried that, but maybe I should.

That might just be enough prestige for one plant, but, not this guy. Truth is, the Acanthus is an ancient plant whose lore and the image has endured throughout history. Most agree that it originated in the Mediterranean. Reportedly first adapted for design by the sculptor Callimachus, somewhere around the ancient city of Corinth. We can still see the results of his influence and the Acanthus on Corinthian columns today.

Wow, great medicinal value and still seen today atop the great pillars of antiquity. But even that is not the end of the story. This little plant has somehow, beyond my comprehension, has managed to endear itself to architects, carvers and sculptors, furniture makers and even the American cowboy. 

Nearly every civilization on the European continent has adapted this leaf to classic designs and ornaments. From the Greek, the Romans, the French, and the British to the Norwegians. All have their own interpretations. Some show a rather traditional looking leafy plant, other variants are characterized by long sweeping curves, and still, others are very baroque in their form with round tight curves and lots of undercutting.

The composite picture shows four different applications of the Acanthus in three different interpretations. The original Corinthian, here shown at an early stage of carving, two different applications of the Norwegian, more baroque version and a version I usually attribute to the British.

In the US the Acanthus has become a favorite and even a standard among artisans. We see it on traditional furniture and as an ornament on fixtures such as mirror and picture frames, architectural friezes, jewelry and more.

It has become standard for traditionally trained woodcarvers to spend years developing and perfecting the acanthus form. Carvers are taught, not only its history and tradition, but its structure as well, breaking down each leaf and the “proper” appearance of each curve and sweep of each component of this leaf.

In subsequent posts, I will explore some specific applications and histories of the Acanthus. In the meantime, take a look around and see if you can spot one. Maybe it is on your Bible.

Photographer unknown

Success Changes Some ~ by Grace Augustine

Pexels.com free photos
When we begin our career, we are like that fledgling being kicked from the nest…unsure if we can fly, wondering what will be next, what happens if we fall, what happens if we fail?

Within moments we put one foot in front of the other and chase down our dream—setting up storefronts with our creations, hosting book signings, sharing the ins and outs of our crafts with any who will listen.

Months, maybe years later, we move into the semi-successful
Pexels.com/steve johnson
scene. We sell some of our paintings, books, pottery, food, and we think “wow, this is pretty cool.” We continue to paint, write, spin the wheel, knit, create new appetizing dishes-- hoping for that one thing that will make a difference. That one thing that will take us to the big time.

Friends and relatives continue to share our work with their friends and the perpetual circle continues. More and more purchase what we offer, and we see upswings in sales and popularity. We may even win awards for what we do. The next thing we know, we need a bigger, newer storefront.

We invest in making a space customer worthy, aesthetically pleasing. With this comes a hike in pricing, because, after all, we need to pay for the added space, electricity, and other expense that go with having the best. In our penchant to be first, we push aside the customers who made this happen—those faithful followers who pay to purchase what we create.

Soon five star restaurants, publishing companies, art gallery showings, book events are a normal part of our lives. We paste a smile on our face, exhausted from what goes with traveling across the land, setting up our creations, determining who gets published and who doesn’t, and we nod to those who stop by to say hello or request our autograph.

Sound familiar?

As I reflect on the things and places I’ve been so fortunate to be a
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part of, it is a trend. A favorite eating spot was nothing more than a take-out window when it began, photographers who are awesome at capturing just the right shot are now award winners and world renown. Neither of these business owners have time to say hello.

I guess the moral of my story is to never forget your roots…
My first book
regardless of how big you may become. As a creative person who is a writer, painter, knitter, and custom jewelry maker, it has become important to me to keep in touch with those who supported me early on…the ones who purchased the first copies of my books, the ones who purchased the first necklaces and earrings I fashioned, the ones who had to have one of my paintings, the ones who continually encourage me, shoring me up, boosting my confidence to believe in myself enough to keep on keeping on.

Being humble and remembering how you got where you are is not wrong. It is so very right

May we never become so haughty that we don’t have time to enjoy those who share our passion. May we never become so caught up in what we do that we stop delighting in a new adventure with our craft. May we always make time for those who support and encourage us. 

All it takes is one smile from a memory of the feeling invoked from that first sale…


Love True--It Can Be Just for You ~ by musician John Tracy

We are all searching for true love, aren’t we? The motivation behind the new single “Love True Just For You” was to encourage my youngest daughter to be patient, that love true would indeed find her when she least expected it.

“…You’ll find rescue from the lonely abyss in a tender kiss …” 

I truly do believe that. I’m a romantic at heart. It happened for me when I thought I’d never find the one who was meant for me until one day out of the blue she appeared, almost thirty-six years ago now. In our complicated world with so much negativity swirling around, such a positive thought might seem simple or trite. But it is a belief I hold firmly to.

I think, however, that this search for “love true” is about more than just romantic love. This idea goes as deep as wanting to find true love in what we do each day - in our work as well as in our play. My love of music started back in my teens. It was right around the time I turned twenty that this hobby became a passion. The songs from my musical heroes did something in me – they gave me hope, made me feel less alone, and gave me a glimpse of happiness. I wanted to learn how to do that for other people. So, I began studying the art of songwriting.

The demands of daily living soon got in the way of this passion. Getting married, raising and supporting a family became the priorities and I suppressed this desire to create music. That is until 2006, when the need to be creative would not stay down any more. 

I was working with my father in the family business. My years there had been fraught with conflict, tension and more stress than was healthy. I was burning out and the fissure in my resolve allowed this pent-up passion to bubble over.

I said goodbye to all that logic dictated and with the support of my daughters and wife, I set out on this journey to create music that
tells the stories of our lives. It didn’t go as smoothly as I had envisioned it. Things seldom do. But through the years and the release of seven albums to date, I continue to grow a loyal fan base who relates to and is encouraged by the messages in my songs. 

Why do I create music? 
I believe people want to feel. We all want to feel alive. We want to feel hope, excitement, peace, joy. Sometimes we just want to cry. I believe that music is the catalyst that can awaken that in all of us. That’s why I write music filled with stories of real life – to help us have that vehicle to experience life with all of our emotions ignited. It is the way I am able to bring hope, joy, inspiration, peace and honesty to you and hopefully in the process, make your journey a little better.

But don’t take my word for it! Come see for yourself!

courtesy of YouTube

John Tracy Bio
An article in the February 2019 issue of Jamsphere Music Magazine hailed John Tracy as “… decidedly one of the most talented active Americana singer-songwriters in the indie industry...” His voice and delivery have a way of worming their way into your heart, in songs populated by instantly sympathetic characters, both clean and dirty guitars, rich melodies, and cleverly written, heart wrenching lyrics.

John is a prolific songwriter with seven full-length albums to his credit. His newest single, “Love True Just for You,” is quintessential John Tracy: a perfect encapsulation of everything that makes his songs and videos as inspirational as they are. When John isn’t writing about love, he is observing, considering and commenting on life, addressing its trials and tribulations and dealing with a world that is changing into something most of us barely recognize any more. His lyrics revel in minute detail, rendering his settings and characters with exquisite clarity. Truly REAL MUSIC for REAL LIFE.

Social Links:

Lakeside Living 5: Launching Adolescents by Ruth Ross Saucier

Great Blue Herons are modern pterodactyls with wingspans of six and a half feet and a call that is harsh and prehistoric. Supreme predators of the waters’ edge, the ancient Celts believed them to be reincarnations of children who died young.

My small mountain lake hosted a heron rookery, and their presence could be seen on almost any day, stalking the shallows for sushi. But one morning, just before I needed to leave for work, I saw something that left me shaken and confounded in equal parts.

Herons are normally solitary hunters.  It’s rare to see more than one at a time, but this morning I was witness to a spectacle.  My lake front faced a cattail-covered peninsula that jutted out into the water a good fifty feet.  At the tip of the peninsula was a partly sunken log, and as I watched, a juvenile heron awkwardly flapped his way out to the end of the log and balanced precariously there. On his heels came five more herons, each settling a little farther back on the dry land of the peninsula, and each perching in the same direction, facing junior’s tail feathers, the wind, and the lake.  

And for all I could tell, they proceeded to settle in and watch the juvenile heron, patiently, as he seemed to gather his wits and his courage. I needed to leave for work, but this was such an event, I could not tear myself away. They waited, the bunch of them, all monitoring Junior as I held still and watched in awe.

The watch went on and on and eventually I dubbed members of the audience Mom, Dad, Uncle Harold, Aunt Josephine, and Cousin Mabel. Junior remained on his perch, tentatively raising his wings, bobbling a bit, re-positioning his feet  and ducking his head, but each time he would settle back to parade rest. 

Finally, Uncle Harold had had it. He launched himself into the wind and straight over Junior’s head, flapping those ponderous wings to gain altitude slowly, a process that lasted more than a hundred yards down the lake.  Once he was high enough, he turned tail to the wind and came back toward the peninsula and my house, and high in the air he passed right over his family below.  A few heartbeats later, Aunt Josephine followed his example, launching herself into the wind, following the same flight path while Junior watched and wobbled on his log.  Sure enough, one at a time, each of the rest of the three copied the example laid before them, and soon all that was left was Junior, still wobbly and now completely alone.

Frustrated and a little frightened, he waited a bit longer, flexing and teetering, but clearly agitated now that everyone had left. Finally he hurled himself clumsily into the air, but instead of following all those good examples and flying into the wind for altitude, he turned abruptly away from the lake.  Careening wildly, he tried for a 180 to follow his family’s last known direction.

But his skills with low altitude cornering were no more developed than he was. His flight path now took him straight at me and my two-story house.

The fifty feet he had to gain altitude was in no way enough to clear my roof. He was coming straight at me, flapping madly. Oh my God, he was clearly going to smash himself headlong into my house! 

My hand flew to my face  as I watched him hurtling straight toward a head on collision. At the last moment, I covered my eyes as I struggled to think: who was it again who served as an animal hospital for wild birds? Where were they? How could I find their number?  I listened for the crash and thump, envisioning broken wings and a huge wild bird that would not appreciate my help…but I couldn’t hear anything, so I threw myself out the door and around the house.

But there was nothing, no sign of a collision. Somehow his clumsy flight had cleared all obstacles and he was on his way. 

Beach Houses ~ by Kim Hornsby

Beach Houses. I love 'em. I love the thought of 'em. I love the light blues, the wood, the palm trees, the salty breezes, driftwood, sand, hammocks, and inside the walls and under beach house roofs I love those signs that read "Everything is Better at The Beach."

If I had a beach house, I'd write books looking at the ocean, drink gin and tonics, wear stripes, play guitar on the front steps, sing scat, wear coral-colored lipstick, eat papaya salads, twirl in long skirts on the porch.

What would you do?
Here's some photos to inspire you...

I call this one Frond Cottage

I call this one Blue Bungalow

This one is The Hangin' House

I call this Seagull Hideaway

This one is Sandy Shack

This one is Seashell Cottage

Begonia Cottage

This one is called New Beginnings.

Do you have a favorite?

Home Grown ~ Lexa Fisher

The kiwi arbor
Several years ago we bought a house with a neglected yard and I joined the Seattle trend to "eat your yard". Old, long neglected plants were replaced with edibles. Though it took several years to get started, especially in the backyard which gets little sunlight, rosemary now thrives along with red currants, an elderberry shrub, raspberries, kiwi grapes, and gooseberries.

Despite the small size of our lot, in the sunnier front yard I've managed to squeeze in two plum trees, a four-way grafted apple tree, two columnar apple trees, two figs (our favorite), a dwarf peach, seven raspberry bushes, and nine different herbs.

Friends thought I was silly using strawberries for ground cover, but we get at least twenty quarts a year from the small strip where the plants have filled in nicely. Plenty enough to share with co-workers and friends! This year the raspberries that were planted last September have also given us an abundant and delicious crop.
June 2nd--strawberry season begins!

Planter buckets hold tomatoes, potatoes (so much fun to dig!), and rhubarb. Lettuce will be planted between the raspberries in late summer, and hot peppers find space in one of the herb beds. One day maybe I'll have grapes for wine-making from this little vine along the side fence.

Pollinators are important for fruit plants, so we do our part to keep them healthy. Did you know that bees get thirsty? In order to drink, they need to keep their feet dry while they sip water. Here's a bee waterer that my husband designed and made for our yard with his 3-D printer.

This thirsty bee gets a drink of nectar from a sage flower. When the herbs are in flower we have a lively yard!

I considered a hive with honey bees because 
we love honey, but a lot of new beekeepers lose their bees over the winter and my neighbor is allergic to bee stings. After donning a bee-keeper's suit and tending an active hive with an established beekeeper, I was convinced honey bees weren't for me! Instead, we have blue and green orchard bees and bee houses for their nesting. They don't produce honey, but they are prolific pollinators.

Birds are such fun to watch and provide great entertainment for our indoor-only cat who watches from her window perch. My favorite bird, the black-capped chickadee, has been nesting in this little house outside my home office. In the evening I can occasionally hear the babies chirping.

It takes a few hours of yard work on several weekends, but we now enjoy a lot of home grown goodness.

Meet Our Members ~ Dennis Green

Dennis Green

A popular radio personality in his native Iowa, Dennis's adventures as a DJ have been covered by newspapers from Anchorage to Los Angeles. He has also worked on the stage, TV, and independent film.

By day, he is the general manager of Iowa's only jazz radio station, KCCK-FM. And if it's 5:30 am, you can probably find him in the pool, working out with the Milky Way Masters swim club.

To read Dennis' blog posts and find out more about his books, please visit his MEMBER PAGE

Finding my Way Through Fear ~ Kathy Coatney

photo: Pexels.com free photos
I recently listened to a podcast on IQ testing, and I’ve never believed in them because I think we are capable of so much more than the results of a simple test. I’ve also come to believe the biggest stumbling block to learning something new is fear. There are three main instances I can point to where fear has held me back.

The first fear I tackled came in my early thirties when I decided to become a writer. I hadn't considered a career as an author before that point, but after taking a class on freelance writing I was hooked. From there I started writing romance novels and freelance articles. I soon discovered that was the easy part—submitting my work, however, left me in a cold sweat.

But I found this fear to be more insidious than just preventing me from sending it out to editors. It also stopped me from starting a project. To this day, every time I start a new book I’m terrified I can’t do it, that the last one was a fluke, that it’s not good enough, and will never be good enough. This fear still strikes me even after publishing five romances, seven children’s books, and over a thousand articles in the last twenty-five years.

Speaking with other authors, I’ve discovered this is a universal fear, so when I find myself not writing and looking for any excuse not to write (cleaning toilets is my go to avoidance) I discuss it with a fellow author, and just acknowledging the fear, gets me on the road to production.

My second fear was exercising. I’ve always viewed myself as
awkward and klutzy, but I didn’t like that image, so I signed up for an aerobics class. From there, I began mountain biking, cross country skiing, hiking, and three years ago I started running.

I’ve always been a slow, flat-footed runner, but I decided to give it
photo: Pexels.com RUN4FFWPU
a try. Nine months later, I did a five run, plus a half mile sprint. That year I also did the Pat Tillman 4.2 mile run. I completed both runs without stopping, much to my satisfaction.

Was I fast? Absolutely not. I’d like to improve my speed, but it would take more time and effort than I want to invest. Not because I’m afraid, but because there are other things I want to do like Zumba. This was very intimidating for me as I have a hard time coordinating my arms and legs. I still struggle with it, but I’m not giving up.

The third, and the most terrifying fear I ever faced was singing. All my life I’ve wanted to learn to sing, but I was terrified of singing in front of anyone. Twenty years ago I heard an interview with a music teacher who said anyone could learn to sing and that stuck with me. On a whim, I did an online search and came across a local music school, and I inquired about lessons.

A few days later the secretary of the school called me, and after I explained what I wanted, she made it her mission in life to find the perfect teacher for me. Days later, I was set to start my first lesson.

I remember that day like it was yesterday. The room had a piano, chair, chalkboard and dozens of chairs stacked against the wall. What I remember most is the door that faced the main desk had a
photo: Pexels.com Wendy Wei
small window in it where I could see students, parents, and teachers walking past, and they could all hear me as I struggled to screech out the scale on the piano. By the end of that 30 minute class, I was drenched in sweat and certain I would never put myself through anything so awful again.

Fortunately, I have a wonderful, caring instructor who has patiently worked with and encouraged me for the last two years. I’ve seen progress that at times was so painfully slow I wanted to scream, and other times, came in huge leaps and bounds that encouraged and pushed me forward. I am still very self-conscious about singing in front of others, but with each improvement my confidence builds, and fear has less control over me.

Will I ever be a professional singer? Not likely, again because it would take a tremendous commitment that I’m not willing to make.

One of my greatest challenges is that I’m a perfectionist, and I don’t want to do anything unless I can do it perfectly. That has held me back more frequently than my fear, but I’m slowly overcoming that, too. 

What’s next? I’m not sure, but I’m a firm believer in this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Do the thing we fear, and death of fear is certain.”

Facing my fears has made them less terrifying, and each one I’ve tackled has enriched my life beyond measure. What’s holding you back from your dreams?

Before I sign off, just a little bit about my books. I write deeply
emotional, small town, romances. I have a 
three book series, Falling For YouAgain, Falling in Love With You, Falling in Love for the First Time. She’s Out of His League is currently a stand alone, but there are two more books in the series that will be released shortly. Leave Me Breathless is a romantic mystery, and I will have more to follow in that series, too. The Crooked Halo Chronicles is a short story series I will be developing into full length novels. These books have love, romance, and guardian angels. You can get Angels R Us for free just by subscribing to my newsletter.

Thank you for inviting me to blog on Originality by Design. It was lovely spending time here. I look forward to meeting up with you on social media.  

Kathy Coatney has spent long hours behind the lens of a camera,

Kathy Coatney
wading through cow manure, rice paddies and orchards over her twenty-year career as a photojournalist specializing in agriculture. 
     She loves, and writes, deeply emotional, small-town contemporary romance. Ironically, her books carry an agriculture thread in them, some more than others. She also has a series of nonfiction children’s books, From the Farm to the Table and Dad’s Girls.
NOTE: Kathy wrote under the pen name of Kate Curran, but all books are now published with Kathy Coatney.

You can connect with Kathy by clicking on the links below...

Comfort Items ~ by Jacquolyn McMurray

Photo by Eva Darron on Unsplash
Because I live across the ocean from most of my family and many of my friends, plane tickets are a big part of our family budget. 

In the past twelve months, I've boarded flights from Kailua-Kona to the continental U.S. five times. Most of my flights are to Seattle, Washington. Inflight time is about five and a half hours and the return flight is longer due to headwinds--not extremely long, but long enough to warrant some thoughtful selections for my carry-on. One of my friends refers to these as comfort items. 

At the top of my list is my Kindle.  It's always loaded with several unread books, a few games, and a couple of downloaded movies. As long as I have my charger, I'm good to go. One of my favorite things is the number of writing craft books I have at my fingertips at all times.

I've tried a variety of pillows and have settled on these two: a self inflating lumbar pillow and a neck pillow that typically ends up cushioning my elbow.

I always take a hoodie with a zipper. I like that I can pull up the hood if cold air is creeping down my neck.  

A variety of products to keep hands clean and eyes and lips moist are nestled in a ziplock.  


And I always have some gluten-free snacks. 

What do you consider comfort items when you travel?


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