Getting Back Into the Writing Groove After Vacation

Sprague Lake in RMNP July 4 2019

Do you have a hard time getting back into your writing after you’ve been on vacation?  Do you get totally and happily lost in trekking in the peaceful, scenic, and rugged landscape of the Rocky Mountains for two weeks?

Long's Peak, Estes Park from our cabin July 2019

(Long’s Peak seen from our adorable cabin)

hiking trail from storm pass to bear lake day 4 July 2019

(One of the trails we trekked in Rocky Mountain National Park)

Maybe hung out at an absolutely gorgeous lake?

Troy and I at Sprague Lake RMNP July 2019

(Hubby and I)

Okay, maybe you spent your holiday on the beach or zip-lining through the rainforests of Brazil.

In any case, when my family left for our vacation to Colorado (once again. Our last vacation there was June 2017), I’d left my computer at home but brought along a small notebook in case I wanted to jot anything down regarding the experiences I encountered on my trip. And I did. I also wrote a page and a half of a story I’d written notes on a few months ago. The latter was done on the train ride back to Chicago before we picked up our car that had been sitting in the parking garage and headed home.

But still, my mind, body, and spirit absorbed the beautiful surroundings of Colorado Springs where we caught up with dear friends, but most especially, Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. We walked four trails while there, and it was exhilarating.

Troy walking ahead on trail day 2 hiking July 2019

(Hubby walking ahead of me on our second hike, just me and him)

canopy of trees day 2 hiking RMNP July 2019

(Canopy of pines and aspens)

Alberta Falls RMNP July 2019

(Mid to lower section of Alberta Falls in RMNP)

small bridge on walking trail RMNP July 2019

(Small bridge on one of the trails on which our boys joined us)

And had visitors right outside our cabin.

doe 30 feet from our cabin Estes Park July 2019

(A doe about 30 feet from our cabin)

buck by Brown cabin Estes Park July 2019

(Buck right near our cabin, as well)

For a little while those first couple of days back home, I worried I’d not want to finish my WIP, but by the third day home, I was finally able to focus and re-immerse myself in my story and others’ stories via my online critique group.

I think what helped get me interested again in my story was submitting the next chapters and reading the ones already in the queue. My characters and the storyline drew me back in. Whew. Thank God!

So, it’s back to the story-creating world for me, while keeping the memories of my favorite place, Colorado, always in my heart, for we want to return to Colorado in three years, after our youngest has finished high school.

When you return from a well-needed and relaxing vacation, how do you get your mind and fingers back into your writing?

 

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Chills and Thrills — Author Christopher Greyson’s Riveting Novel, The Girl Who Lived

book reviews image of stack of books and tea cup

Okay, folks. It’s time for a book review. A SHORT one.

I finished reading Christopher Greyson’s suspense thriller, The Girl Who Lived, last week.

Just an FYI, suspense thrillers aren’t genres I read on a regular basis, but they are in my reading mix, along with women’s fiction, classics, and at times, historical fiction.

From the few suspense thrillers I’ve read recently, Greyson’s novel is a big winner and eclipses the last one I read called Wave of Terror. Only once throughout that novel did I feel a bit of tension/thrill.

So, why was Greyson’s novel a winner? Because…

  • His story drew me in, in the first line, paragraph, and page of his novel.
  • His writing style is solid, good.
  • Whoever edits and proofreads his manuscripts is a stellar human being. I don’t recall seeing any typos or errors of any kind.
  • I could barely put the book down. I forced myself to set the book aside so that I had the majority of the book to read on my vacation. And I did finish it while sitting out on our cabin’s porch in Estes Park, enjoying the absolutely perfect weather.
  • He wrote so well, his suspenseful scenes, quite a few, had me tensing and on the edge of my seat, so to speak, and one scene actually gave me the chills. Now THAT’S what I call a true THRILLER. 🙂
  • He kept me guessing with many twists and turns up until practically the end, on who was involved in Faith’s family and friends’ murders.
  • Lastly, a great bonus. His writing is quite clean with regards to language and sex. The violence is somewhat graphic, but not enough that I’d need to skip over parts. They were just enough to get the point across. Clean, gritty, realistic, and sharp storyline, plot, and good fleshed-out characters.
  • I had a moment of a pinch of disappointment in who was behind the murders, as I had people in mind, but at the same time, all info explaining why that person and how was plausible and believable enough that in the end, I was satisfied.

Here’s the blurb on The Girl Who Lived:

Ten years ago, four people were brutally murdered. One girl lived.

No one believes her story.
The police think she’s crazy.
Her therapist thinks she’s suicidal.
Everyone else thinks she’s a dangerous drunk.
They’re all right–but did she see the killer?

As the anniversary of the murders approaches, Faith Winters is released from the psychiatric hospital and yanked back to the last spot on earth she wants to be–her hometown where the slayings took place. Wracked by the lingering echoes of survivor’s guilt, Faith spirals into a black hole of alcoholism and wanton self-destruction. Finding no solace at the bottom of a bottle, Faith decides to track down her sister’s killer–and then discovers that she’s the one being hunted.

I have found a new author I really, really like and will be reading more of his books in the near future. If you like gripping thrillers, check out Greyson’s The Girl Who Lived.

the girl who lived book cover

 

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Caught up in the Outer Appearances and Personalities of Politicians

man with horeshoe magnet

I decided before I go off with my family on a fun-filled, scenic-enticing, relaxing vacation, I’d throw out a political blog post that may or may not cause some friction with friends and never-before-readers to my blog.

What a way to embrace more followers, right?

Well, no.

I know this, but after reading so much of what’s going on in the political arena and the world, I’m feeling the need to get some things off my chest. And this is the place for a blogger to share her opinions, thoughts, and heart, so here I go.

Where to start…

Okay, first I’ll start with where I stand on world issues, domestically and globally. I look at the world through a pro-life lens. This means, everything involving Life and the importance of it is how I gauge who I select to vote for.

Having this Life worldview is very difficult because no politician running now or in the past has ever checked off all of the pro-life issues that are vital to me, which are:

  • Anti-abortion — with the exception of danger to the mother’s life being lost  (This subject is too vast and involved to get into in this bullet list)
  • Anti-war – war is a very last resort and only through defending our country, which none of the wars in this century or since WWII have been about this.
  • Anti-death penalty/capital punishment — there’s always a chance to change and transform as a human being. Killing the person takes that chance away. There are also false convictions of innocent people who end up executed.
  • Pro-environmental concerns/helping to clean up the environment and save lives–human, animal, and plant/forest–God’s creation
  • Pro-criminal justice reform – treat people in prison as human beings because they are human beings, and adopt the German’s reconciliation prison system (if you’re not sure what that is, check out an excellent TED Talk video on it here)
  • Pro-immigration reform with humane treatment of people coming through our borders
  • Anti-euthanasia for humans. Medications to help ease their pain is okay. I’m not for the Jack Kevorkian-style euthanasia. (This issue is much grayer than a simple bullet point, for which I won’t be getting into in this particular post)

There are no candidates who are all pro-life in the way I understand the meaning of the word. So, I look to candidates who embrace the most Life issues out of my list. Otherwise, I’d never vote.

Okay. I hope you now have at least a glimmer of understanding where I’m coming from.

Onto people voting for politicians who are likable and seem like good men and women. They are approachable, seem to know what they’re talking about, and they smile a lot.

Sometimes those candidates are the most dangerous.

Why?

Well, because we get caught up in their appearances, what they say on the campaign trail or townhall, but tend to forget to dig deeper and look at what they’ve truly done via policies, via their voting record, and where and with whom they’ve drunk cocktails while fundraising or giving speeches while on the campaign trail.

Taking a step back in reviewing my bullet points…unfortunately, there are no Republicans I could ever vote for because they do not check off many of my Life issues in their political resumes. So, I’ve had to look at the Democratic politicians.

Just an FYI. From age 18-40, I was a staunch conservative Republican and voted only Republican every election.

Since 2009, I’ve been an independent (unaffiliated voter is what it actually says on my voting card).

I’ve now held both conservative and liberal mindsets throughout my life. I’ve seen things from both points of view from my own personal upbringing, social class, etc.

With that info shared, I think both the Republican and Democratic Parties are bought off by wealthy donors.  There are a few exceptions within those parties that are not bought off, and I respect them for that. They actually choose to advocate and be the voice for their constituents in their districts/areas. In this day and age, I have to say, how refreshing. But really…that’s how it should be, how it used to be decades before…before the passing of Citizen’s United, for one thing.

Now, I’m going to give an example of two politicians whose appearance and likable personalities have overshadowed the negative and horrible policies they’ve enacted or supported.

Mind you, I think these guys seem like decent men, but some of their policies or the policies they supported through voting for them, take away massive points on their “likability” for me. Because policies and principles are more important than appearances and “charisma”.

Actually, I’m going to give three examples so that I throw in a Republican as well to make my examples more egalitarian in nature.

Although I could go on and on about the corruption of the Clintons, they ARE NOT the examples I’m using in this post.

Here are the three men I am going to discuss rather briefly:

Marco Rubio

Barack Obama

Joe Biden

I’m starting with Marco Rubio because 1) He’s the easiest to rattle off first, and 2) I liked his personality and appearance in the 2016 Republican primary debates. He’s clean cut, good looking, smart, has the statesman look…

Then I looked into his foreign policy. He tends to congregate with warmongers and should clip “WARMONGER” on his name tag at political functions.

The last news piece I saw on Rubio was several months ago, and it was appalling. He was threatening the Venezuelan leader using the heinous rape-and-murder-of-Qaddafi-style regime change (picture included) in one of his tweets. No matter what we think of Qaddafi, what was done to him was horrible.

To check up on him, I went to his Twitter page a few minutes ago and read through his most recent tweets in the past few weeks. His tweets parrot the Military/Intelligence/National Security Industrial Complex/War Profiteers, Wall Street, and Big Oil–the majority of the wealthy donors that have bought off our politicians.

To my beliefs and sensibilities, Rubio has little to show for the list of Life issues in my bullet list.

If he cared about Life, Rubio would be on board for clean, healthy green energy.

If he cared about Life, Rubio would be diplomatic and strive for peace with other countries in the world whether they are adversaries or allies.

If he cared about Life, Rubio would have a more humane approach toward people languishing and forgotten in our for-profit prisons, people addicted to drugs, and people desperately looking for a better life in America.

Let’s move on to Barack Obama.

Great guy, Obama, right? As president, he presented himself with dignity and class. He appears to be a loving husband and doting and good father.

Some things Obama did were good, like including the US in the Paris Climate Agreement. Like joining in the Iran Nuclear Deal.

And then there were really, really BAD things Obama signed off on or wrote an executive order for, such as:

–Bailing out the bankers and allowing the average citizens to suffer, losing a lot of their savings, and for many, their homes. Predatory lenders and fraudulent people in the banking industry didn’t spend a day in jail. In fact, many CEOs of these big banks, when they left their positions received huge bonuses. NOT GOOD. Bad, criminal behavior should never be rewarded.

–Going after whistleblowers, such as Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning (aka Chelsea), Tom Drake, John Kiriakou, and others, with a vengeance.

–Signing into law the National Defense Authorization Act in 2012. Here’s an excerpt from the Huffington Post to give you an idea why this was dangerous and shouldn’t have passed as it was:

In 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with relatively little attention from the media―despite the freedoms it obliterated. The NDAA was enacted to empower the U.S. military to fight the war on terror. But buried in this law are two provisions (Sections 1021 and 1022) that authorize the indefinite military detention, without charge or trial, of any person labeled a “belligerent”―including an American citizen.

These NDAA provisions (which have been re-approved by Congress and signed by President Obama every year since 2012) override habeas corpus―the essence of our justice system. Habeas corpus is the vital legal procedure that prevents the government from detaining you indefinitely without showing just cause. When you challenge your detention by filing a writ of habeas corpus, you must be promptly brought before a judge or into court, where lawful grounds must be shown for your detention or you must be released.

Under Section 1021, however, anyone who has committed a “belligerent act,” can be detained indefinitely, without charges or trial, as a “suspected terrorist.” This is a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution and our Bill or Rights. In The Federalist No. 84, Alexander Hamilton stressed the importance of the writ of habeas corpus to protect against “the favorite and most formidable instruments of tyranny.”

 

–NSA surveillance of the public’s private phone calls and the like was another thing that was continued full force under Obama. We wouldn’t have known about this without Snowden’s revealing these classified documents for the public. It was both a courageous and selfless act because he had to make the right, ethnical decision to expose this abuse (that’s what whistleblowers do–report waste, fraud, or abuse by our government) by our government’s agency knowing he’d lose his good-paying job, risk perilous government backlash, and probably never see his family and friends again on American soil. Fearing for your life because of giving the public the dark, underhanded actions of an agency of your government isn’t for a person’s fifteen minutes of fame. It takes integrity and honesty to do such a thing.

–Social moral issues regarding the safety of women and girls in bathrooms and locker rooms.

-Although he signed DACA that allowed for immigrant children born in the US. to stay in the country, he also deported more than 2.8 million illegal immigrants in his time in office. This is more than any other president before him.

–He oversaw our arming terrorists in Syria and selling arms to Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen. Yes, this started under Obama’s presidency.

–The complete destruction of Libya and nearly Syria. The toppling of the democratically-elected leader in Honduras that caused horrible violence there.

–He didn’t close Guantanamo or bring all our troops home from Afghanistan like he said he would when running for president.

With these blotches on Obama’s eight years as president, I find it very hard to look at him and just see a nice family man and good president.

But I also realize the position of the president is tough.

Nevertheless, Obama carried on the foreign policy of Bush (another man who appeared nice, especially his wife) almost completely, and he also extended Bush’s tax cuts.

Obama was right in an interview years ago before he was president when he said if he were running in the 1980s, he’d be considered a moderate republican. I can certainly see that.

Then again, those behind the scenes–the Deep State–Military/Intel/National Security Industrial Complex, Big Banks, Wall Street, Big Oil, Big Pharma, etc.–own our officials, whether in the White House or Congress. You’ll notice this most overtly in our foreign policy that has continued its same destructive actions for decades and through different presidencies.

You will get nothing different with Biden. What makes him not a good choice for president is that he voted for the TPP, drafted the 1994 crime bill, voted for the Iraq War, drafted the foundation of the Patriot Act in 1995, and voted for the bank bailouts.

What we need is money out of politics first and foremost so our voices are heard and our elected officials do the wishes of the working people, those in need and the vast majority of our society.

And we must bring back the pendulum that has swung so far right, the Republicans have dropped off the cliff and the Democratic Party has taken the place of the moderate Republicans–by bringing back regulations on the banking and business industries, overturning Citizens United, reinstating Glass-Steagall, and bringing back solid social safety nets.

We deserve better people representing us than any of the people we’ve had this century.

We need REAL CHANGE.

This isn’t the 1960s anymore. The days of making it on your own, pulling yourself up by your boot straps has passed.

We’re heading toward an automated society, as well as AI (artificial intelligence), where many other jobs will be lost.

We’re behind on the minimum wage. It hasn’t risen in ten years.

With the loss of jobs, skyrocketing prices for food, housing, medical insurance, and prescription drugs, it’s the late 1920s again, and we need someone like FDR to bring about the new social programs for this time and era:

  • Medicare for all single-payer healthcare
  • Free pubic college
  • Green energy replacing fossil fuel
  • A raise in the minimum wage to a living wage
  • Wealthy corporations and people paying what they owe in taxes, instead of getting tax breaks where people like Jeff Bezos pay $0.00 in Federal income tax. This is criminal and immoral. Socialism for the rich and rugged individualism (aka, survival of the fittest) for everyone else isn’t a society in which people can thrive.
  • Cut the Defense budget by at least 40%

 

**Just to name a few

 

Maybe I’ll write on the healthcare issue in a future blog post if I don’t get skewered for my thoughts shared in this post. But honestly sharing one’s thoughts in a respectful manner should always be respected and appreciated, no matter if one agrees with the person or not. And you’re definitely free to disagree with what I said. Each person lives by the light and path in which he/she is given.

 

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