Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Giveaway

My first Harlequin, THE ALASKAN CATCH, a Northern Lights Novel, is coming in August and it's set in my home state of Alaska! To celebrate, I'm giving away this Alaska salmon-themed kitchen towel and potholder to someone with a U.S. mailing address. If the winner is outside the U.S., the prize will be a $10 Amazon giftcard. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 6, 2017

Favorite Colors

I was setting up security questions recently, and one was my favorite color. I had to stop and think. Do I have a favorite color? When I was a little girl, my favorite crayons were magenta and blue-green. I still love those colors, but not always. My horizons have expanded.

When I’m choosing room colors, I’m drawn to warm neutrals with pops of color, such as deep red and sage green. Natural colors that are easy to live with. But when I see pictures of bright red kitchens or blue and yellow living rooms, I like them, too.

In clothes, it depends on my mood. Sometimes bright crimson or purple, sometimes simple black and white or shades silver and gray. Denim blue, of course. Mixes of blues, greens and purples like an ocean painting. A single clear shade of turquoise. Burgundy. Dusty Plum. Sunrise pink.

Yellow daffodils in the spring. Lilacs. Peachy roses. Purple iris. Clear blue delphiniums. Russet chrysanthemums. The palest blue of forget-me-nots, and the velvety purple of a pansy. Bright orange lilies, lacy white alyssum. It’s hard to find an ugly flower.

Truth is, I have trouble naming a color I don’t like. Generally, I’m not a fan of yellow-greens, but I’ve seen chartreuse groundcovers in shady gardens that are stunning, and some people wear it beautifully. Even mustard blends nicely with autumn shades.

Am I open-minded or indecisive? How about you? Do you have one favorite color?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Snow Sculptures at Fur Rondy

Photo by Bill Roth /  Anchorage Daily News
Fur Rondy (short for rendezvous) is the annual winter festival in Anchorage, where residents fight cabin fever with activities like the snowshow softball, the running of the reindeer, and outhouse races. There are other activities too, like hockey, sled dog races, and a poker tournament.

My favorite event in Fur Rondy as always been the snow sculptures. The frozen equivalent of sand castles, snow sculptures are, by their very nature, temporary. Beautiful, whimsical, or just funny, they’re created solely for the enjoyment of the artists and passersby. To bring a smile.

Like the bloom of a daylily or a rainbow, their short life is part of their charm. It's easy to put off going to the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty. They'll always be there, after all. But come spring, that snow sculpture will be gone forever, so we'd better enjoy while we can. They encourage us to live for today.

What temporary pleasures have you experienced lately?

Update: 2017 Snow Sculptures from GCI on Facebook: Love the T-Rex and the Mouse

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Voice of Experience

"Momma always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

Note to Forest Gump: Check under the lid.

Experience may be the best teacher, but sometimes she's a hard one. Fortunately, we don't have to make every mistake ourselves. Thank God for parents, teachers, writers, preachers, colleagues, friends, and mentors who share their knowledge and experience so that the rest of us don't have to get second degree burns to find out the stove is hot.

Of course, sometimes we're too stubborn to listen to the wisdom of those who have gone before. We've just gotta touch that stove. And once in a while, we discover the stove isn't so hot after all. In fact, it's quite managable if we take certain precautions. Just because someone gives us a piece of advice doesn't mean it's right, or right for us. That's how we gather the experience to pass down to the next generation.

Here's a piece of information I've shared younger relatives when they're ready to make their own way into the world. Suppose Earlybird invested $3000 a year in an index fund from age 25 to 35, and then stopped. Latebloomer waited until age 35 to start investing $3000 a year and continues until age 65. Guess who had the most money at age 65? Yep. Even though Earlybird only invested $30,000 and Latebloomer invested $120,000, Earlybird had more, due to the magic of compounding.* 

Now my father was a Depression baby. He didn't trust the stock market. Would his grandchildren be better off investing in CDs like he did, or taking my advice and putting their money into an S&P index fund? Time will tell. 

I guess the takeaway is to listen, learn, and weigh the advice carefully. We each have to make up our own minds about whether the stove is worth touching. But there's no reason nut haters should have to bite into a cashew chew by accident when there's a map right there on the candy box lid.

Do you have a piece of advice you've either found valuable or are glad you ignored? 

*I'd love to credit the book where I first read this but alas, its title is lost in the mists of time. It's probably still on a library shelf somewhere.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Road Tripping Dreams

Have you ever gone to a favorite restaurant and been torn between ordering your favorite item on the menu and trying something new? That's how I feel when it's time to plan vacations. Spend more time in those places we loved or see someplace new?

These are the states I've visited.

It looks like I've seen a lot of the United States, but  the map is deceptive; I've spent my life in the big states. Other than Disney World in Florida and Washington, DC, I've never seen the East Coast and somehow never made it to California. I have changed planes in Minnesota, New Jersey, and Oregon, but airports don't count. (Although Portland airport included an excellent meal and the view of sailboats, so it's almost a visit). And I suppose I was technically in Virginia during that trip to DC. So officially, I've touched land in half the states.

I've seen the wide-open spaces of Big Bend in Texas, the stalactites and stalagmites in Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, and incredible rock formations in Sedona, Arizona and Bryce Canyon in Utah. We honeymooned in Yellowstone, hiked in Montana, snorkeled in Hawaii, and raised a family in Alaska. I love spending time in all these places.

But, I've never seen the autumn leaves in New England. I've never been to Gettysburg, or Williamsburg, or Charleston. I've never visited the San Diego Zoo, or the La Brea Tar Pits, or the redwoods. Then there's Hoover Dam, and the City of Roses, and New Orleans. And that's just off the top of my head.

And there's a whole world out there. I've only visited five countries outside the United States, and there are at least a dozen more I'd like to see. In fact, it won't be long before travel isn't limited to this world. Space tourism is coming.

So if I'm going to fit all those amazing trips into one lifetime, I'd better start planning some trips. How about you? Where are you planning to travel this year?

Monday, January 16, 2017

No Light Without Darkness

We've relocated from Alaska to Arizona for a few weeks. Yes, it's good to be able to go to the mailbox without worrying about slipping on snow or ice, but the best thing about heading south is the daylight.

It's been rainy our first few days here, but the sun has been playing peek-a-boo all day today. It's high enough in the sky that when it does appear, it casts lovely sun puddles through the windows, much to my dog's delight. In Anchorage, the sun never gets high enough to shine through the windows this time of year, and after a month of eighteen+ hour nights, I appreciate what a wondrous thing winter sunshine really is.

This is the view today from the top of the mesa. Look at the way the light and shadows paint the valley below. It's the contrast that makes it beautiful. And I think that's the lesson life is teaching me today. Without shadows, the sunshine would be flat and uninteresting. 

It's true in fiction, too. In any good story, it's the struggle that makes a happy ending so satisfying. The characters need to grow and change to deserve their reward. And we readers have to experience the darkness with them in order to feel the joy when they come into the light. 

Have you read any books lately that left you smiling?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016