It’s all about the dress!

As you may recall, I’m on deadline. I’ve been working like a mad dog in the writer’s cave trying to complete my WIP: MONTANA ROGUE, and, happily, the story has been moving along gracefully…until I reached one of those little stumbling stones you never see coming.

Mine was a dress. More specifically, a wedding dress worn by Mia Zabrinski (heroine in MONTANA DARLING). In Mia’s book, there’s mention of a possible wedding on July 4th.

Well, guess what? The Fourth of July falls in this book. And when there’s a wedding, there’s a wedding dress. And that means the author of this story has to describe said wedding dress.

Shoot me, now. I don’t have the language. I don’t even know where to begin. “It’s beautiful.” Does that tell you anything? NO. OF COURSE, NOT!

Luckily, there’s this thing called Social Media…in particular, FACEBOOK. You may have heard of it. Well, guess what? A lot of people that I know know a lot about things like wedding gowns.

Here’s what happened when I asked for help and posted this picture:

Mia's wedding dress

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I Tweet, therefore, I Am?

I set up my Twitter account back in the beta-testing stage and promptly pretended it/I didn’t exist. When I’d get a notice that someone was following me, I felt a little creeped out and I’d ask aloud, “Why?”

Fast forward to some writers conference somewhere when the hot topic was Twitter for Business. Okay, I’m definitely a business. I decided to get serious about growing my business. I started with 357 followers…again, why? I never tweeted. I was the dullest tweep on the planet.

But I found a coach–thank you, Rogenna Brewer. I learned. Now, I’ve crested 5K. Not a lot compared to those with a zillion followers, but I’m happy.

Screenshot 2015-06-14 16.52.56 Do I think this helps sell books? Oh, who knows? But once you get comfortable with the format, tweeting becomes a bit like a game.

And my most recent challenge has been to find a way to make it play with itself. (Sounds dirtier than it is.) I’m all about the visual these days. You’ve seen some of my memes in my recent blogs:Montana Hero quoteMontana Cowboy FREE Father's Day Tule Imagine my glee when a friend told me about a service that will feed my Tweets with images in a way that won’t make Twitter think you’re a spammer. :-) The service is called: Feed140.

Screenshot 2015-06-18 16.08.08 One of the cool things about this service is they offer playlists of their own that you can use to supplement your feed. I chose 100 Motivational and Self-Help quotes.

Here’s one in my feed: The achievement of one goal should be the starting point of another. -Alexander Graham Bell

I’m still figuring things out, but here’s a quick primer:

1.) Sign up for the free option to start out (no risk if you don’t like it).

2.) Create tweets and save them in a Word doc. Since I knew I wanted to be able to take advantage of Feed140′s Playlist option, I cut and pasted each tweet in the Playlist queue (not the Twitter queue). You can add tweets to the Twitter queue independently of the Playlist queue, but they will go away after they’ve posted and you have to fill the queue again. (Believe me, I did this and was not amused.) With each tweet, upload an image to go with it.

(Aside: I make memes using Canva. I will go into this in another blog, but it’s easy and cheap.)

3.) Visuals are a great eye-catcher in a Twitter Feed. Don’t believe me? Check your feed and see where your eye goes.

4.) Pick the frequency that you want your tweets shared. Feed140 insists that you have enough tweets to meet 3 days of unique tweets in order to make the Playlist initiate a loop with random selections (just like with your music). I uploaded 30 tweets, and set my frequency to 10 tweets/day for 3 days.

Here’s one of my tweets and the meme that goes with it:

She thought she had all the answers…at 17. Who doesn’t? @BNBuzz  MONTANA COWGIRL http://clc.li/hvS #readzTule   COWGIRL - mistakes rodeo5.) Don’t have enough tweets? Think about this: if your book is on multiple platforms and/or foreign countries, you can use the same tweet and meme with a different buy link for each format. I may change the wording slightly to target that link and possibly get some RTs (retweets).

You should also create interesting, non-commercial tweets. I support libraries, so I have some positive tweets about books, bookgirls, reading and libraries that I sprinkled into the mix.

Ex. Have you hugged a librarian today? #iheartlibraries quotes-about-inspirational_368599-4 So, if you’re new to Twitter, let’s connect. My handle is @debsalonen.

If you’re an author wondering whether or not you want another time-suck in your busy life, I can’t give you a definitive answer. But I will say that visuals help raise visibility and connect at some level that mere words don’t. Maybe they feel like less of a hard sell. And, if you can make one effort do twice the work, then why not give it a try?

And because life is soooo much more than just PR, here’s the other thing I did last weekend–my granddaughter’s 8th birthday. Daisy cake Deb PS: Next week, I’m going to tell you more than you ever wanted to know about making a book trailer. Oh, joy! ;-)

Debra Salonen

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The end, the lovely end

Montana Hero quote

You’ll have to forgive me. I’m a little brain dead. I sent off my completed manuscript this afternoon. I finished the first draft of this book several weeks ago, but the second read seemed to take forever. It required some spit and polish and toning down some noisy secondary characters.

This happens sometimes. Do you know anyone who thinks their story is utterly fascinating and hogs the spotlight? This happened in my second published book. I knew the story I wanted to tell. I had the characters all lined up, a plot and everything. Then the hero’s best friend showed up and suddenly, it was all about him. And, darn it, he was pretty fascinating.

Luckily, I learned from my first experience. This time I cut  every flashy scene with Hero #2 in it and and pasted it in a file called: MONTANA ROGUE. That title fits him to a tee.

Since I’m so tired, I’m going make this blog short and sweet. The sweet part is the Sneak Peek scene I shared with my newsletter followers. Here you go:

 MONTANA HERO 

Mid-January, the San Bernardino Mountains wildfire

      Flynn Bensen recognized the dream the minute it started in his sleeping mind.

     His old frenemy was back. The homestead looked exactly as he remembered it. An authentic log cabin in the high Sierra, aged to a rummy golden brown from dozens of summers. Its metal roof was rusted so poetically you’d have thought God used a fine-tipped paintbrush to add just the right touch of umber. The word bucolic came to mind. A word Flynn never used until that day last September.

     He tried to resist the pull. He knew how this story ended. Why subject myself to it again?

      I won’t fall into the trap. I’ll turn left instead of right. I’ll ignore the whinny.

       But the eerie sound filled his ears, sending a shiver through his body. The horse’s abject fear seized hold and wouldn’t let go.

        Suddenly, he was deep in the fire zone. Heat from the hundred-plus temperature made every breath pure agony. His pack felt as if he’d loaded it with lead weights. His legs seemed disconnected from his body as he pushed onward toward the horse pen. Two frightened animals, the whites of their eyes visible at every turn, paced, reared, and tossed their heads. Every whiff of smoke drove them closer to the brink of frenzy.

     This time will be different, he told himself. This time I’ll do it right.

     This time I’ll save her.

      The position of the old woman’s body never changed. Her head rested inches from the watering trough, face turned away, as if she couldn’t bear to watch what happened to her beloved animals. She seemed smaller in hindsight, fragile and delicate. Spikes of silver hair stuck out like a bad wig. But she was breathing…always breathing. Just enough to give him hope.

       “Stay with me, now. We can do this,” he said, picking her up in his arms like a small child. Why hadn’t he thought of that before? Nobody deserved to be tossed over a shoulder like a bag of rocks as he had that day. If he’d cradled her to his chest like a child, maybe she would have felt loved, respected, care for. Maybe she’d have stayed connected to him, to life.

    “You’re gonna be okay. Just breathe. You can do that. Breathe. Breathe.”

      Someone shook him. Hard. The woman fell from his arms. He watched her drop into the flames of the fire that had been chasing them. He lost her. Again.

      He cursed and swung wildly, hoping to hurt whomever it was that made him drop her.

      “Flynn. Wake up, Buddy. You’re dreaming.”

     “Again,” another voice muttered. “What’s it going to take to make these nightmares stop? Drugs? I’ll find them. Just tell me what kind.”

     Flynn blinked, coming back to the real world.

     “I think he needs to see a shrink. Classic case of PTSD.”

     Awareness washed over him like a splash of rainwater from a bucket. He sat up, shaking his head like a wet dog, and looked around. He was on his cot in the tent cabin he shared with Tucker and Justin. His best friends. Brothers- in-arm.

      Tucker “Mountie” Montgomery stood, arms akimbo, in baggie sweats and an army-green T-shirt. His scowl barely put a dent in his heart-throb handsome face. Even half- awake and pissed off he probably would have had his choice of groupies if any knew he was a wilderness firefighter in his day job.

     Justin squatted a foot or so away. His standard issue undershirt and thigh-length gray shorts emphasized his compact muscles–finely honed from his off-season occupation: free climbing.

     Flynn swiped at a bead of sweat that rolled into his eyes, stinging. “Another nightmare?” he asked.

     “Same one, different night,” Tucker muttered. “Next time I’m making a Youtube video, I swear.”

      He threatened that every time. But Flynn couldn’t blame him for being upset.

     In the off-season, Tucker belonged to an elite, extremely well-paid troupe of dancers/entertainers that performed for audiences–mostly women–around the world. He told everybody he couldn’t afford to lose valuable beauty sleep. His fans deserved for him to look his very best.

      “Sorry, man,” Flynn mumbled. His throat ached, as usual. After every nightmare, he’d awaken to a body that somehow actually believed he’d just survived a close brush with death on the fire line.

       Justin handed him the metal water bottle sitting on the floor beside the cot.

     Justin Oberman–or “Goat,” as the other members of the crew called him–was the deep one. Ascetic, vegetarian, poet, and death-defying free climber who could scramble up sides of mountains like his surefooted namesake. “Flynn, this isn’t your fault, man. It sucks that your brain can’t let it go, but it’s been six months. Something needs to give, dude.”

They told him that every time this happened. This was their first group deployment of the New Year, but he’d been wrestling with this dream ever since the horrific fire near Yosemite National Park.

       “We all know–your conscious mind knows–you did everything in your power to save that lady,” Tucker added. “You’re the hero among us. Ask anyone.”

     Flynn smiled at that. False modesty wasn’t Tucker’s style. I must be in worse shape than I thought.

      “Flynn, it was her time,” Justin said, repeating an argument Flynn had heard from others. Even the coroner confirmed the victim’s chances had been small to none. The subdural hematoma caused by the impact from hitting the water trough would have been tough for even a healthy young person to survive.

       Tucker threw up his hands impatiently. “She probably wouldn’t have lived even if you could have predicted the fire would veer away from her place at the last minute. But for all our sakes, we have to find a way to get the message to your subconscious.”

        Flynn shifted sideways, his feet landing on the dirty canvas floor with a muffled thud. His friends were right. Flynn thought getting back on an active fire line would purge his guilt. The physicality and exhaustion that came from walking four miles from a drop zone to the leading edge of a fast-burning forest fire then beating Mother Nature into submission sounded like the answer. Surely after a ten-hour day he’d be too exhausted to dream.

But, so far, that hadn’t been the case. He only felt drained–physically and emotionally. The answer to this problem seemed glaringly obvious in the pre-dawn gloom. “I need a different job.”

        Tucker’s epithet echoed in the stillness, and may have been heard three tents over.

       Justin’s sigh seemed to start at the center of his soul and vibrate outward.

       Flynn had been wrestling with the idea ever since his brother emailed him a link to a job opening for Head of Operations, Crawford County Search and Rescue, Marietta, Montana. He looked at his friends, soberly. “I’m moving to Montana, guys. I just filled out the application online and won’t know for a while, but there’s a good chance I’ll be manning a desk in the very near future. You two will have to keep the WildFire Hot Shots going without me.”

Tucker and Justin exchanged a look.

    “They have mountains in Montana, right?”

     “And fires in the summer, too, I’ve heard.”

      Flynn got their meaning. They’d saved one another’s lives too many times not to be able to read what went unsaid. “But Kentucky is home base for both of you.”

      Justin shrugged his broad, powerful shoulders. “It’s only a place if your friends aren’t here.”

      Tucker nodded. “Truth.”

      Flynn looked from one to the other. “Ryker sent you the job link, didn’t he?”

      “He thought you might need a kick in the pants,” Tucker said, plopping down on the cot, crowding Flynn’s space like he always did. “I’ve been looking at property online for awhile and I think I’ve found the perfect spot for Mountie’s Most Awesome Montana Zipline and Enduro Course.” He flashed the grin that drove women in his audiences wild.

        Justin rolled his eyes. “That’s the dumbest name I’ve ever heard.”

        “I like it. So do my investors. They’re lining up as we speak.”

       Older women with more cash than sense, Flynn thought. But who was he to criticize? Tucker lived boldly, followed his dreams, and always came out smelling like a rose. The guy had more than enough money to risk on a short-lived investment.

        “Our independently wealthy friend can dabble in a new commercial enterprise, but I put in for a transfer ten minutes after reading the email. It got approved yesterday. This summer, I’ll be in Yellowstone, which on my map appears to be in your neck of the woods. If that Search and Rescue gig doesn’t work out, I’ll put in a good word for you. Maybe you can get your old job back with the Park Service.” His serious smile told Flynn he meant every word. “But, for the record, I think this change of venue will be good for you. Hopefully, no more wildfires means no more nightmares.”

      Flynn agreed. He stood and the two exchanged a quick, manly hug that Tucker immediately crashed. “Oh, you guys,” Tucker said, wrapping them both in his long and very strong arms. “It’s a moment, isn’t it? A fresh new beginning for the MHS.”

       Flynn gave him a look. “The what?”

       “The Montana Hot Shots. We were the Wildfire Hot Shots. I just changed it. We have a Facebook page. Didn’t I tell you?”

       Justin stiff-armed his way free and headed for the tent flap. “Screw social media. I wouldn’t even carry a stinking cell phone if not for you two.”

        Flynn let out a long sigh. He’d been worried about breaking the news to his buddies. Maybe that tension is what triggered tonight’s episode. His nightmares had been coming less frequently–or so he told himself–since his visit to Marietta last November. Seeing his brother so happy, in love and looking toward the future, made the stark emptiness of Flynn’s life all the more disappointing by comparison.

       Would a change of venue rid Flynn of his nightmares? He didn’t know, but Ryker had made a fresh start in Marietta and found the woman of his dreams–the living, breathing, sexier than heck kind of woman. Maybe, Flynn would get lucky, too.

       But, honestly? He’d settle for a good night’s sleep.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Deb

PS: I took the pretty shot of the bamboo this morning after yoga. It spoke to me. :-)

Nature’s Bounty and… Writing??

Here in Seattle, the weather has been unusually warm and sunny. We could use more rain (coming tomorrow), but our gardens are very happy and growing more lush by the day. In our back yard garden, we have a mix of flowers, vegetables, grapes, blueberries and raspberries… and of course, weeds. The weeds weren’t invited or planted, of course, but they grow all the same, fighting and pushing for their share of soil and sun.

My mom used to say (paraphrasing here), that one person’s weeds are another’s flowers. I like that.

raspberry bushes... and weeds

raspberry bushes… and weeds

peonies... and weeds

peonies… and weeds

The hummingbirds are back, nesting in the trees again. The other day, two of them fought over the delphinium. I don’t know who “won”… only that they both enjoyed the nectar. (This has nothing at all to do with nature’s bounty and writing, but I wanted to share, anyway. :) )

delphinium

delphinium

Last year, we planted 4 artichoke plants from seed. For our efforts, we ended up with one artichoke. But this year, our luck has changed for the better.

artichoke

This is a tiny baby choke, one of SEVEN growing on three of the plants. So exciting. I took this photo on May 2. Now, just one month later, two are ready to eat. I just picked them and am salivating at the the thought of dinner tonight.

arty

This got me thinking about the writing process. Sounds weird to connect writing with nature’s bounty, doesn’t it? Bear with me a moment…

If you’re a writer, you know that not all story ideas are equal. Some burst forth, weed-like, already hardy and ready to share. Others take time to sprout and grow into something big enough to support a novel. With patience and nurturing, these slow-growing ideas can develop into a story well worth the time and effort.

Let them take the time they need to grow and mature before you decide to toss them out. Who knows, you may end up with something provocative and worth exploring through the written word.

Food for thought…

Until next time, and wishing you a garden of bountiful ideas,
Ann
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Paradise Found

As you read this, my hubby and I are en route to beautiful Siesta Key, Florida, for our annual trip to paradise. Florida is a long way from Washington State, where we live, but the trip is worth the flight.

siesta key

Voted the #1 most beautiful beach in the USA, Siesta Key has given us so much joy. The sand, made of crushed crystal, is as white and soft as talcum powder. The water is clear and delightful, and filled with so many different wildlife species. Over the years, we’ve spotted dolphins, turtles, manatees (not on this particular beach, but within a 20-minute drive), pelicans and numerous other birds, and all kinds of fish. Once we even saw a baby squid carrying an egg-sack she was preparing to deposit!

I usually take an early-morning walk along the beach. While enjoying the view and the birds, I also get in some great thinking about both my current work-in-process and future novels. Sometimes though, I simply stay in the present and absorb the awesome beauty around me.

We use Siesta Key as a home base for travels to the Florida Keys, the Everglades, Disney World and the Epcot Center, Kennedy Space Center, and numerous other wonderful spots in the state.

Why Florida?

When my siblings and I were growing up in Indianapolis, our parents often brought us down to Florida for spring vacation. Back then, we traveled to Miami. I have such great memories of those trips!

Then my brother married a Florida girl. They settled on the west coast of the state, in Sarasota, and we began traveling there. Sarasota and particularly Siesta Key and the nearby Casey Key (where Stephen King has a home!) became our spring break vacation go-to spots.

I do manage to get some writing done. At some point during the day, I usually work for an hour or two. Mostly though, I’m there to relax, wallow in the water, and fill the creative well.

I can’t wait!

Until next time (with photos!),
Ann
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Breaking News!

In case you missed my exciting news in an earlier blog: For the first time in my writing career, I am self-publishing my latest series!

This is fun and exciting. I can put out books as often as I like, rather than waiting for a publisher to set a schedule, and write what I want, instead of what the publisher expects. A very freeing experience, but also a ton of work. I would never self-publish a novel without first hiring a cover designer and a veteran editor to critique and help me craft each book into my best work yet. I also hire someone to correct spelling and punctuation errors.

The series is set in the fictitious town of Guff’s Lake, Oregon, in the heart of the Rogue Valley. Twelve month and 12 of the hottest firefighters ever, each appearing  on a different month on a firefighter calendar. This is why I call this series,  Heroes of Rogue Valley: Calendar Guys.

All books will be stand-alone books, which means you can read them in any order.

Now for the breaking news:

drum-roll-please

The first two books of the series are out now!!

Meet Mr. January, the first hero featured in my Heroes of Rogue Valley: Calendar Guys series. Now available in print and ebook format! I loved writing this book and am having so much fun with the series.

Ann_January300dpi1500x2400 lg

Senior Firefighter Adam Healey is a man with a mission: get promoted to lieutenant at the Guff’s Lake Fire Department. It’s time, but more important, the promotion will finally earn him the respect of his dying father. Single mom Samantha Everett’s deadbeat ex has left her to fend for herself, and she’s working hard to support her young son with her baking business. Neither Adam nor Samantha is looking for a relationship. But love has a way of surprising people…

Meet Mr. February,  starring in book two of Heroes of Rogue Valley: Calendar Guys Available in print and ebook format!

Ann_February300dpi1500x2400 lg

Rafe Donato is a senior firefighter well aware that loving a woman can destroy a man. He will never trust any female with his heart. Jillian Metzger is a talented potter whose biological clock is ticking. Ready to fall in love, get married and start a family, Jillian wants what Rafe cannot give.

Mr. January and Mr. February are available from Kindle in print and ebook formats, and from Nook, iBooks and Kobo . For links to buy, visit http://www.annroth.net/ebooks.html. To stay in the know on future breaking news, sign up for my newsletter: "</p

Currently, I am hard at work on Mr. March. I’m not the fastest writer on the block, but I’m making good progress.

Happy reading, and thanks for letting me share this exciting news.

Until next time,
Ann
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Addiction: The Good Kind

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m an addict. I love every one of my addictions, and am eager to share them with you. In no particular order, here they are:

1. Writing

writing2

If I don’t write something every day, I feel… odd. I enjoy writing. Focusing on writing anchors me. Steadies me. Makes me sing inside. Even when the writing is going badly. Well, that isn’t quite true. When I get stuck and can’t write another word until I get unstuck, I angst for hours, sometimes days, hashing over what to do to fix whatever the problem may be.

During this time, don’t expect me to be in a good mood. Trick I have learned over the years to get unstuck: jot down ideas, no matter how ridiculous they seem, get away from the work by doing something totally unrelated,  phone a close writing friend for input. From experience, I have learned that the solution will always come… in its own time.

2. Reading

books 1 blooksbookshelf

Three of the six bookshelves in my home.  The top two are in my office, and include my own books, some of my keeper books (books I reread occasionally and can’t part with) and reference books. The bottom photo is in the family room.

My husband is an avid reader, too, and we have three more bookshelves and a window ledge or two filled with books. Don’t even ask about the books on my e-reader…

3. Coffee

steamcoffee

As a naturally caffeinated woman :), I don’t NEED coffee, but I like everything about this drink, from the smell, to the ritual of grinding and brewing, to the taste. I also love treating myself at Starbucks, which I do once or twice a week.

4. Exercise

3ts

These are three of my newest exercise T-shirts. Exercise keeps me in shape and makes me feel terrific, and I work out six mornings a week. As you may know from my post last week, I also try to squeeze in a midday walk whenever possible.

Some of my most creative thoughts occur when I’m moving. Don’t ask me why, but I suspect all that physical activity occupies my brain, which allows my subconscious mind to jump to the forefront with really cool ideas.

5. Chocolate

dark chocolate

I can’t do without chocolate. I try to keep it to a minimum, with a square after dinner. But sometimes (who am I kidding: a LOT of the time), one little square is not enough. I like all kinds of chocolate – dark, milk, with or without nuts, with or without fruit, with or without coconut…

I especially enjoy baked goods of all kinds, hot fudge sauce, chocolate malts, candy… Really, all things chocolate.

So there you have it, my top 5 addictions. I’m sure there are more, but I’ve taken enough of your time.

What are your good addictions?  I would love to know, and I’m guessing others would, too!

Until next time,
Ann
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The Debut of a Badge (Tara Taylor Quinn)

RITA-Nominee-Badge-504-x-504-AdMy publisher is good to me. In addition to the Godiva chocolates they sent in congratulations for the RITA final, they also sent this.  I love it, of course!

Once A Family is the second book in the Where Secrets Are Safe series.  It’s my fifth RITA nomination.  Still, I cried when I got the call.  Because this series is deeply personal to me.  The final validates my hope that I am doing the series justice.

If you haven’t read this book, you can get it for only $3.99 by clicking on the badge above.  It’s the story of a fifteen year old girl who shows up at The Lemonade Stand, a unique women’s shelter off the coast of California.  She claims that her older brother, the guardian who raised her, is abusive and she is seeking shelter.  The hero is her older brother.  The heroine is the lawyer who is representing the girl.  I tend to write myself into impossible situations.

I once wrote a book, Sara’s Son, where the heroine had been raped at a party and the hero was one of the rapists.  I have no clue what I thought I could do with that one.  Or how it could possibly be a story worthy of reading.  But the story was there.  The people had appeared.  So I sat down.  I trusted that for whatever reason, it was meant to be.  Maybe not to be published, or globally read, but for some other reason unbeknownst to me.  I let them tell me their story.  It sold.  Globally.

Once A Family is finding similar success.  And I realize, even here, in my writing, I’m not in control.  They just let me feel like I am so I keep coming back.

Birds of a Feather…

The other day, a friend and I agreed that we like birds. They are such fascinating creatures, building nests and calling out songs for mating and for sharing other information. Some chatter madly, and the crows around here…

Crows

Crows are inquisitive, smart and not at all shy. They have been known to open a cellophane-wrapped loaf of bread and pull out a chunk of french bread sitting on the picnic table. It happened at my house!!

Throughout spring, summer and fall, we watch hordes of them (did you know that a group of crows is called a murder?) flock overhead, heading who knows where. It’s cocktail hour for crows and they’re en route to their favorite watering hole, we joke.

Once, when I was deep into writing, the birds in the back yard made so much noise that I had to investigate and see what all the fuss was about. I stepped outside. There must have been two hundred crows in the trees, standing around the rockery and in the gardens, all chattering and cawing nonstop. How could they hear each other over the ruckus?

I was surprised and a little spooked. (Remember that Hitchcock film, The Birds?) “Shoo!” I scolded in a loud voice. “Go away and let me work in peace!”

Did they those interlopers listen? Nope. They  just went on partying or conferencing or whatever they were doing. After some time, they finally flew away. What a relief!

Oddly, they didn’t leave a single sign that they’d ever been there. No bird poop, no feathers, nothing. Did I mention being spooked?

But I digress…

I got to thinking about birds in general and travel. My husband and I enjoy traveling. One of our favorite U.S. destinations is Florida. Once a year, we fly down to Siesta Key, on the west coast, and stay in a condo on the ocean. From there, we explore the state.

Last year, we signed up for an early morning bird walk right on the beach, sponsored by the Audubon Society.

Audubon

What fun, and educational, too. We learned a ton about the local birds living, nesting, eating and playing along the beach. We also gained a deeper appreciation for what the naturalists and Audubon society do to protect and keep endangered birds safe.

So here’s my cool idea.

puzzle in testa

 When traveling and if time and circumstances allow, why not sign up for a local bird walk? There are Audubon societies in most every city and town (at least in the U.S.). What a great way to see and learn things we wouldn’t normally go looking for!

A good idea, yes? Something to at least consider.
Until next time,
Ann
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Whistle While You Work… Or Listen to Music

No matter where we live or which culture we embrace, we humans are hardwired for music. This is a universal fact. Our exposure to the stuff of music begins while we are still in the womb. There, we are flooded with heartbeat, pulse, breath, each with its own rhythm and vibration.

When I searched online for information about our powerful need for music, I found a fascinating interview called, ‘The Power of Music’ to Affect the Brain. To listen, click on this link:  http://n.pr/1xLHnhU (Warning: this piece lasts 30 minutes!!)

If you don’t have time to check out this program, here are some fascinating tidbits:

imagesEven infants respond to music. They seem to prefer harmonious tunes to a jarring combination of notes.

imagesScientists have found that music uses and involves more parts of the brain than any other human function we perform.

imagesMusic is being used as a tool to potentially help people with neurological deficits and for those patients suffering from Alzheimer’s. (Because of how we associate music with memories.)

Such cool stuff!

Speaking of memories tied to music… Do you remember the song you most connected with during a teenage romance, and/or when the relationship turned sour?

romanticsongs

This is going to date me, but as a young teen, I remember hearing a really corny and forgettable song called, Groovy Kind of Love. At the time, the tune and the words suited my feelings, and I made it my official love song with a boy who didn’t even know I existed. (Ah, unrequited love!) In the rare times when I hear that song on the oldies station, I can still conjure up that sappy feeling from way back then.

Years later during a wrenching breakup, the song, Live for Today, saved me from dissolving into a helpless puddle of pain and self-pity. And yep, I still feel a pang when I listen to that tune.

Some of my friends use music at the office, or when they sit down to write. I prefer silence, but occasionally, listening to a song or specific genre of music helps put me in the right mood for whatever I’m working on. When I first started writing rancher/cowboy books (I wrote eight of those), I tuned into to Country and Western radio.

Do you listen to music when you work? What do you like to listen to?

Until next time,
Ann
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