Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Vegetable by Any Other Color

When it comes to food, I'm fond of classics. Don't get me wrong; I love to try new things, but sometimes I get annoyed when a restaurant or recipe messes up a perfect food just to be different. It's not as though I eat so many deviled eggs, for example, that I need blue cheese and jalepenos added for variety. 

That may be why I'm always a little skeptical of oddly colored vegetables. While Indian corn makes a beautiful decoration, blue corn chips just don't seem right. I'm only a recent convert to white sweet corn. It tastes delicious, but it's not yellow. And now I've discovered black cherry tomatoes.



I planted them more or less by accident. I wanted another cherry tomato plant, but the only ones available where I was shopping were black cherries. Well, it turns out a black cherry tomato is the sweetest tomato I've ever tasted. Much sweeter than regular cherry tomatoes. In fact, they're almost too sweet, but very good. They're also prolific, healthy, and easy to grow. They have almost everything I could want in a tomato. But they're not red.


How do you feel about it? Do you like blue corn? Purple cabbage? White peaches? Or do you feel, as I do, that corn is yellow, cabbage is green, peaches are, well, peach-colored, and tomatoes should be red? 

Monday, October 2, 2017

And Then What?

Yesterday was an ordinary day. Went to church, did some chores. When the wind died down in the evening, my husband suggested a walk up on the mesa, our usual spot.

We started along the path, enjoying the sunshine. I looked around, marveling as usual, over the incredible clarity of light here at the high altitudes of Arizona. And as usual, I got caught up in the scenery and almost tripped over a rock, so I resolved to watch the trail instead.



And then we heard it: pounding footsteps. We looked up to see an Australian shepherd emerge from behind a tree. A few seconds later, his people followed, running up the trail toward us. And they were leading DONKEYS.



That’s what we story people call an inciting incident. It’s when your characters are suddenly jolted out of the ordinary by some extraordinary event. Sometimes it’s huge: an earthquake, an inheritance. Sometimes it’s so small it hardly gets noticed, like a for sale sign going up on the house across the street. But the story starts when something odd happens.

Now, if I were to make this into a novel, I'd start asking myself what happened next. The donkey sighting would lead to something else that upsets the main character's routine, and that that would lead to something bigger, creating more conflict, and eventually those conflicts would change the main character’s life in a meaningful way. 

Of course for me, it was just an interesting image to be stored away in my memory and maybe used in a story someday. But at the very least, seeing the donkeys jolted me out of my rut and made me smile.


What’s the most surprising thing you happened upon this week? Could it be the start of a story?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Remembering my Dad

Today would have been my Dad's birthday. I miss him.




Growing up, I was a daddy's girl. My dad was a farmer, and he used to let me ride in his pickup with him. There was a light in the cab behind the seat, and he told me it was a nose light, that it would turn on if I pressed my nose to it. And sure enough, every time I did, the light came on. I was pretty sure he was teasing me, but I could never prove it. He brought a lot of fun and magic into my life.

My dad told me stories and paid attention to me. His attitude taught me that I am important and worthy, and that I shouldn't settle for someone who doesn't respect me. Unlike some women, I was never particularly drawn to "bad boys" who didn't treat women well.  At the same time, he made it clear that to deserve respect, I needed to be respectful of others, and to be responsible for my actions. A good reputation was earned.

Dad was a devoted reader, and he remembered what he read. He had a working knowledge of more different subjects than anyone I've ever known. Although he was born on a farm without electricity, or maybe because of it, he embraced technology. He was a pilot, a photographer, and one of the first people I knew of to get a home computer. His knowledge of shortwave radio came in handy in his volunteer work in Civil Air Patrol and as a storm chaser. He was also president of the local school board for years and years. And he accomplished all these activities in spite of his natural shyness. He was reserved around strangers, and so only those in his inner circle knew him well. I was lucky enough to be one of those people.

My father was never particularly demonstitive. We didn't say "I love you" all that often. But I never doubted for a minute that I was loved. I wish every little girl could have a daddy to love and support her the way mine loved me. 



Sunday, September 17, 2017

Harvest Days

We've relocated from Alaska to Arizona for the fall, just in time to enjoy some of the fruits of the garden we planted before we left. As always, there are some surprises, especially since whatever it was I used to write the names of the plants on the labels washed off, so not everything ended up exactly where I thought it would be.



First of all, we have tomatoes. One of the tomato plants I set out in May was called black cherry. I had my doubts about black tomatoes, but I admit they are the sweetest tomatoes I've ever eaten. If you're not a tomato lover, you might try them sometime. They're almost fruit-like. We have others too, some lovely celebrities, and what I think are Romas but lost the label. 

It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato." -Lewis Grizzard

We're also enjoying the summer squash, both zuchini and yellow straightneck. I love that squash, green chili, and cheese casserole, and zuchini stir-fried with onions and celery.





And we have more to look forward to. There are three pumpkins. You can't tell by the picture, but they're all bigger than a basketball already. And for an experiment, I planted bird-house gourds. There are at least a dozen on the vine, so in a year or so when they're dry, I can look forward to making some pretty birdhouses. Gourds seem to grow better than anything else here, except maybe rosemary. It's a shame gourds aren't edible.


And we have fruit trees: peaches, pears, and apples. This is our first year to get peaches, and I kept waiting for them to change color. Turns out they're white peaches. Like the black tomatoes, I had my doubts about white peaches, but they're not bad. All the fruit seem to be rather small, but tasty. I'm probably supposed to have thinned the trees or something. I'll look into it for next year. 

So that's what I'm harvesting. Did you grow a garden this year? If not, are you enjoying the tomatoes and corn in the stores right now? What are you eating?


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Flash Fiction - Hero

100-Word Flash Fiction

She mutters something about an iron. I tell her nobody minds a few wrinkles.  “We need to go, ma’am.” 

“Keep your britches on,” she snaps. A minute later here she comes, carrying this gi-normous coon cat, a flask, and a golf club. “I’m ready.”

Naturally, I get both arms tenderized wrassling ‘em into the boat. Before I can untie, this big ole snout rises out of the water. Old lady whacks it right between the eyes with her nine iron.

She smoothes her dress. “We goin’ or what?” 

I row, keeping a wary eye out. Who knew Texas had gators?  

Over on Janet Reid's blog, she often has flash fiction contests. She gives five words (the ones in bold) that must be used in the story of no more than 100 words. It's amazing how many different stories can be conjured using those five words, especially since the words can be inside another word or split in half. Anyway, this was my story from last week, so I thought I'd share. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Hello, September

It's September. How did that happen? It seems like two or three weeks ago, it was the beginning of summer. Fuzzy little goslings were following their mothers across the lake. The Canadian violets were blooming. 

 Now, instead of violets, we have mushrooms. School buses are making the rounds. Those baby geese are as big as their parents now, and it won't be long before they're flying south for the winter. The Mayday tree that blooms so beautifully in May is covered with bird cherries, which I'm sure the waxwings will appreciate this winter. 




Don't get me wrong; I love autumn, too. Crisp days and apple pies, colorful leaves, mums, and pumpkins. But today the sun is out, and it's time for one more trip to the farmer's market. One more walk around the lake. One last taste of summer.


Which do you enjoy more, summer or fall?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Cover Reveal - A Gift for Santa

Just 133 days until Christmas, and the cover is up for A GIFT FOR SANTA, the second Northern Lights Novel! I feel like it really captures the magic of Santa's reindeer and the love of a child. What do you think?






This is Chris's story. He's the brother Dana came to Alaska to find in THE ALASKAN CATCH. Now his former fiancee is back in on her family's reindeer farm after ten years away. It may be winter, but things are heating up in Alaska.

Here's the blurb:

It's the season for giving…and starting over? 

A reindeer farm without Santa wouldn't be Christmas in Marissa Gray's Alaskan hometown. Luckily Chris Allen's there to pinch-hit, although for Marissa, seeing her ex-fiancĂ© again brings back memories of what might have been. 

Ten years after their breakup, the feelings between the wildlife biologist and blue-eyed fisherman are stronger than ever. Only now there's a foster kid in the mix, as well as the shocking crime that cost Marissa her job and her family's security. She and Chris need to find their way to a meeting of minds and hearts to make this truly a season for second chances…



Release date is December 5th. In the meantime, the Prism Book Tour for THE ALASKAN CATCH is still going on, with excerpts, reviews, articles, and prizes. Click HERE for the full schedule. 



Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Alaskan Catch Prism Book Tour



I'm so excited! Twenty book bloggers have signed up for the tour. There will be fun posts, excerpts, reviews, and an interview. Plus prizes. See the whole schedule at Prism Book Tours. Hope you can make it!

Monday, August 7, 2017

New Release


My first Harlequin is out! It's a dream come true for me and proof that happy endings really happen. To help celebrate, I'm giving away a happy endings necklace to one lucky reader in the United States. The contest runs from August 7-14th. 







a Rafflecopter giveaway

PLUS! You can still enter the Mystery Givaway with four fun prizes from the four August Heartwarming authors until August 15th.



Good Luck!


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Mystery Giveaway




The August Harlequin Heartwarming authors have teamed up for a mystery giveaway. Preorder/order any of these four books and then enter HERE (non-purchase entry also available). Books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble,and Harlequin.com in both paperback and ebook form, and as ebooks at  iTunes, Google Books, Kobo. 

They're Harlequin Heartwarming stories, so you know you can count on complex, feel-good storylines with no sex and minimal swearing. 

Don't wait too long. Giveaway ends August 15th. Enter now.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Goodreads Giveaway - Alaskan Romance

The Alaskan Catch goes on sale at online bookstores in August, but enter now on Goodreads and you just might win an early signed paperback copy.

Goodreads Book Giveaway


The Alaskan Catch by Beth  Carpenter

The Alaskan Catch

by Beth Carpenter


Giveaway ends July 17, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.


Enter Giveaway


And since we're talking giveaways, don't forget to sign up for my newsletter and get a free ebook, plus the latest news about upcoming books and lots of fun prizes. Your email address will never be shared, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Don't wait - the next issue goes out soon.
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UPDATE 7/18/17: The winners have been chosen! Books will go out this week. Congratulations and thanks for entering.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Muldoon Market

Anchorage for Free    

Partly because I want to share my hometown with the world, and partly to motivate me to get out and enjoy it, I've decided to post a series of fun places to see in Anchorage for free. Today, I visited the Muldoon Market,held on Saturdays throughout the summer at Begich Middle School. This isn't the big Saturday market downtown, just a neighborhood market where vendors can sell their fresh farm produce and crafts. 


The items aren't free, but the entertainment is. Today's singer had a wonderful voice. There's was a clown, a bubble fun area for the kids, and a table of free recipe cards and books. I dropped off a couple of books I'd finished reading, hoping someone who doesn't know about the Harlequin Heartwarming line will discover them and love them. 





Summer just got here, so there were no carrots or fresh potatoes yet, but there were salad greens and starter plants for sale. Lots of fun crafts: crochet, art, photography, fabric. Even a pipecleaner guy. Yes, that car he's wearing is made of pipecleaners. Bake sale items and other good stuff to eat. Some adorable child-size aprons that made me wish I had a granddaughter to shop for. Mostly there were just lots of people out sharing their talents and enjoying the day. 





I ended up with some recipe cards, moose notecards for an upcoming giveaway, and a pack of poppies to plant in my flowerbed. 


Are you a fan of farmer's markets?









Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Book Brain


Have you ever suffered from temporary book amnesia? That disorientation you feel when you finish a really good book, look around the room, and wonder for a moment where you are and how you got there? 


Kind of like half the atoms in your brain are still in that fictional world?







I’ve experienced this phenomenon all my life, but now it's climbed to a new level. I’m currently writing book #3 of the Northern Lights Series. Meanwhile the first book, THE ALASKAN CATCH, comes out in August, so I’m working on excerpts and articles for marketing that book. The second book, A GIFT FOR SANTA, comes out in December and I've been working on frontmatter and am expecting edit notes for that one any day. 

All the stories are related, but have different characters and plot lines. Plus, I have a couple of different non-writing projects that need my attention. Sometimes, I find myself staring at a my keyboard, trying to remember what I'm supposed to be working on.

I know lots of writers have multiple projects going at any given time, but my approach has always been to immerse myself in one world at a time. That’s no longer an option. I'm going to have to learn how to transport from story to story without getting lost. Not that I’m complaining. Writing multiple books for Harlequin is a dream come true, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity. I just need to develop better juggling skills.


How about you? Do you read or write more than one story at a time? Any tips for organizing multiple projects? I'd love to hear them. 

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Friday, May 26, 2017

When in Doubt, Check It Out

Physically, I’ve always considered myself extraordinarily average. Brown hair, five-feet-five, not athletic but not hopelessly clumsy, just average. But I discovered I was wrong. My appendix was an overachiever.


It all started a little over a week ago, with an aching stomach. Just your usual stomach bug, and not a particularly bad one. I was just glad I had a week to recover before boarding a plane to Anchorage. The pain worked its way from my stomach down the right to the lower right side of my abdomen over the next couple of days. I felt better, but that area was still tender when I moved or touched it.

Then I had a fairly healthy couple of days, but the tenderness was still there, maybe a little worse. Sunday, I was fatigued as well as sore. I started googling appendicitis. While the pain and loss of appetite were classic symptoms, I had no fever, vomiting, etc. Still, I thought I should get checked out before flying. I called a walk-in clinic, but they said for appendicitis symptoms I should go to the emergency room. It didn’t feel like an emergency.

Monday, I tried to see the doctor who’d done my colonoscopy a couple of years ago, but he’s booked until October. They said go to emergency room. The tenderness wasn’t any better.  I gave in and my husband took me in.

The fine people at the ER did the usual – blood work, urine, etc. and started an IV for the dye they use in a CT scan. Turns out I don’t have particularly good veins for IVs, but eventually they got one in.

I went for my first CT scan. I’m sure I’ll be using that in a book someday, with that futuristic spinning light and that mechanized voice telling me to hold my breath. But then they stopped the scan. The IV wasn’t taking in the dye. They backed me out of the machine and lowered my arm. The dye started again. Raised my arm. It stopped. So, the IV only worked at table level, and I couldn’t go into the machine with my arm beside me.

Various people punched a few more holes, trying unsuccessfully to start another IV. Then a nurse discovered if I held my arm behind my head, turned outward to just the right angle, the drip worked. We were in business. The CT scan was completed and they sent me back to my ER room to wait for results.

And we waited. I presumed the delay had something to do with the difficulty getting the scan and half-expected to be sent back to do it again. The nurse confided to me she’d never seen someone with no fever or more pain than I was having come back positive for appendicitis. Finally, we got the call. I not only had appendicitis, it was ulcerated and I was going into surgery. Soon.

As it turns out, my appendix was in an unusual position, kind of hidden behind my colon, which for some reason tends to confine and mask the symptoms. The surgeon took it out in three pieces, and I spent a miserable two days in the hospital. But now I’m home, I’m alive, and I’m thankful.

Things could have been so much worse. If it weren’t for the flying deadline, I might have continued putting it off until my fever spiked and I got really, really sick before the surgery. What if I’d continued to blow off the symptoms and my appendix went kerboom halfway between Seattle and Anchorage? That wouldn’t have been pleasant, for me or the other passengers.

Here’s my Public Service Announcement for others with my tendency not to want to make a fuss. Go. The people in the ER are there to help. If it’s not a heart attack, or appendicitis, or whatever, that’s good news. If it is, thank goodness you went.



Friday, May 19, 2017

Newsletter


My first newsletter is out! You can read it by clicking here. To celebrate, I'm giving away this bracelet to one lucky newsletter subscriber. Hurry, the contest ends soon. 


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Antelope Canyon


On the way home from Durango, we took a little detour to Page, Arizona for a tour of Antelope Canyon, on the Navajo Reservation. I'd seen pictures, but they didn't compare to the real thing.

Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon. It's only about six to eight feet wide, and during flash floods the water rushes through, forming these fantastic shapes in the rock. Up above, the narrow opening means the light peeks in and paints the rocks with light and shadow, changing during the day. Our tour was in the evening, so didn't have direct beams shining in.

The tour starts in Page. While we waited, a talented hoop dancer performed for us. He manipulated a series of hoops over and around his body as he danced to the beat of a drum. Then they loaded us into the back of pickups and off we went to the canyon. 

Look up
Petrified waves
Like clouds, the forms of the rocks often seem to contort themselves into recognizable patterns and surreal shapes.




It's humbling to think of the millions of years it took to build up the rock, and then for the water to wear it away once again. 









Outside the canyon
Light and shadow

Can you see the bird?
I can almost make out faces in the outcrops.
I like the color contrast here.




Reverse cave






If you're in the area, maybe to see the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon is worth a visit, if only to exercise your imagination.



What shapes do you see?


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