Tag Archive | books

Coffee, and Currents

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For National Coffee Day, I’d like to share a poem I read yesterday from my devotional, “Coffee With God,” by Sarah Arthur.

She talks of how people run around like crazy, reminding her of a gerbil running on a wheel, or even an electric current zipping about.

Like Sarah, sometimes I feel I keep busy with stuff – some important writing goals and assignments, but sometimes time fillers…

Often times we don’t really recognize what God calls us to do. Help each other. Donate our time. Volunteer. Drive granny to the doctor. Rescue those poor dogs from the shelter. Walk for Freedom.

When you plan your day, or your weekend, will it include serving others or helping someone along the way?

Here’s that poem Sarah Arthur penned. Let me know what you think.

The current in me

is strong enough

to power a small life.

See: I zip around

my daily loops

with potential to shock

to make fingers tingle

and hair stand on end.

But if you were to

shut off

my circuit

unscrew the box,

take both ends

of my wires

and scrutinize

you would find

I only follow

 

the path of least resistance.

 

 

 

 

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Sheree’s Happy Phone Pics – Or Things That Make Me Smile

With all the negative stuff happening in the world right now, I’ve decided to post phone pics. Sometimes the picture quality wasn’t great, but everything I snapped pics of made me happy. It’s interesting to see just how many photos are merely simply pleasures in life, or of friends and family.

Well here you go! I hope my happy crappy phone pics make you smile, too!

Let me know which photos you like the best by leaving a comment below!

Peace and Love,

Sheree

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These two – I love them so!

 

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A secondhand store and its treasures

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Standing in front of Galliot Cay Sand Bar, Exuma Cays – a bucket list adventure

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The St. Louis Art Museum’s interesting masterpieces

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A Caribbean Island

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A visit to Tenth Life Cat Rescue and snuggling a kitten

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The corn field behind our house

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The cancer survivor tiles at Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis

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The view directly in front of me

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The smell of a freshly groomed fur baby at Sebastian’s Pet Salon

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A 100 year old barn in winter

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My favorite comic strip by Hilary Price. Even better when it’s focused on English.

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Cousins

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The hubster being silly.

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An amazing book – Folly Beach Dances – photos by me and hubster; poetry by 6 women friends

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Corn Mazes involving Missouri teams

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Cappuccino at a favorite coffeehouse

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Sleepy cats

 

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Booksignings with friends

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Surprises from my honey

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Stolen moments

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Long time friends listening to a jazz concert

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A swinging bridge in Missouri

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Students that turn into friends

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These three

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Acceptance into a juried art show

 

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The aroma of a good peanut butter and cutout cookie, right out of the oven.

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Fun Hats

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Preparing a savory pork loin

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The smooth sounds of Cris Botti at the St. Louis Symphony

“A Sudden Light” Garth Stein STL booksigning, and some heart and soul

The same night my favorite fiction author and NYT bestseller, Garth Stein, was hosting a booksigning at the St. Louis County Library, I was one of 65 authors hosting a multi-author booksigning at a local library.

DSC_1014 Garth crop copyrCall it it a ‘gut feeling’, call it what you may, but I was been tugged in the direction of the Garth Stein event. My heart and soul wanted me there.

I told few friends about the Garth Stein event.

One such friend, Diana, met me at the library. Diana’s love of authors (in general) amazes me. It probably far surpasses mine, since I’m zoned in to certain genres. Not Diana. She’s like a cat, wide-eyed, adventurous and eager to learn about all. I’d thought she’d appreciate this booksigning.

As we settled into our seats with our new purchase, A Sudden Light, we anxiously awaited Garth’s arrival.  As I spun around, I eyed probably at least a 100 people or more.

DSC_1017 Garth smiling crop copyrAs Garth entered and took the microphone, the room became quiet.  As he spoke, I was captivated by his quick wit, and charming personality.

He mentioned how his first 2 books won awards.  In spite of the accolades, he didn’t sell many copies.  His next manuscript was told from the perspective of a dog (smarter than humans, of course) which was soon nixed by his literary agent.

Garth fired him over the phone.

By coincidence, Garth found another agent through an author friend at a networking event. This agent believed in Garth and loved the book’s concept. The Art of Racing in the Rain went on to sell more than 4 million copies, and stayed on the NYT bestsellers list for over 3 years. Garth took time to properly market the book, traveling and speaking about the book’s message and purpose.

In his new release, A Sudden Light, Garth promised this book to be even better than The Art of Racing in the Rain.

When the opportunity presented itself to ask questions of Garth, I jumped at the chance.

“Why did it take so long between books?”

DSC_1019 Garth crop copyrGarth explained that he tried to write the book where the protagonist flashes back to different time periods, and it just wasn’t working. His wife — his best editor and critic, suggested he write the book in chronological order.

Garth went on to pen more than 100,000 words, which took more than 2.5 years. Those years were spent in character development and history — basically the family tree of A Sudden Light.  After this undertaking was complete, then and only then, could he begin the actual story.

Wow. I was blown away. Now that’s an author that stands above the rest in my mind! Not worried about the almighty dollar, not worried about what others think. Just following his heart to know what he feels to be right. He’s also cofounder of Seattle7Writers, a non-profit dedicated to getting books to those in need.

I supposed that’s why I enjoyed The Art of Racing in the Rain. It’s my favorite fiction read.

Garth said, “If just one person is touched by what he reads, then I’m happy and I’ve done a good job.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it!”

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After his talk, Garth autographed books, and exchanged words with his fans.

Diana and I headed to a local restaurant for dinner, and chatted about the fun evening. During dinner, I opened my copy of The Art of Racing in the Rain and turned to the page Garth signed.

I smiled as I read the words, “Sheree, somewhere the zebra is dancing.”

That he is, Garth, that he is….

 

 

Book Giveaway Today – Whispering Angels Nurturing Paws

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My three-legged baby vocalizing (Copyright Ocean Spirit Photography)

Today, I’m giving away a copy of Whispering Angels Books Nurturing Paws, which was recommended by the US Review of Books.  My essay “Purrs, Paws and Cat Scratch Kisses” about my three-legged cat feline companion, was published in the anthology July 2011. Local contributing authors Linda O’Connell and Faye Adams are also in the book.

Nurturing Paws_front coverThe book’s essays tell the stories of courage and love, and how animals help us heal, make us laugh, and are steadfast companions.

How do your animals heal, make you laugh, and love you unconditionally?

All those leaving a comment will be entered in a drawing for an autographed copy of Whispering Angels Nurturing Paws.  And if you chose to follow the blog, and leave a comment, you’ll double your chances of winning the book.

Check back soon — winners to be announced late Monday afternoon, December 23, 2013.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

A hospital, Heidi Glaus, and some adrenalin

Heidi GlausHave you ever experienced an adrenalin rush so ridiculously huge that you just couldn’t contain yourself?  Those times when words fly out of your mouth – you’re not even sure what you’re saying?  That happened to me yesterday.

My hubby Russell and I surprised a friend at St. Anthony’s Hospital by showing up before his surgery.  After the initial laughter, and “thank you for coming to see me” subsided, he was given something to help him relax for the 1.5 hour procedure.

Upon leaving the prep room, his wife, Sue, remarked, “Let’s grab something to eat.  I’m in dire need of food.”

Being espresso lovers, we discovered a quaint café on premises serving coffee and breakfast.  While walking through the pristine halls to reach our destination, we noticed the floor and wondered if it was coated with polyurethane – it was THAT shiny.  We strolled and talked, and eventually stopping for a bathroom break along the way.

As we approached the first information desk which lead to an intersection of four hallways, I looked up and noticed a familiar face standing at the station.

Adrenalin and the urge to speak overcame my body.

Heidi Glaus! I love you!”  I blurted out loud enough for anyone standing within a twenty-five foot radius to hear.

She turned around, and stepped out of the information station to greet us.

I shook her hand, all the while telling her, I’ve been watching her for years on KSDK.  I told her she had beautiful eyes.  (I know, I can’t believe I said this).  I felt like a star struck groupie meeting Bono from U2 for the first time.  (I love Bono.)

“I love your hair Heidi,” my eyes wide open in amazement.

She smiled and said, “Why thank you.”

Our friend, Sue, turned to Heidi and asked, “How are you doing?”  The two knew each other’s families. They conversed for quite some time, talking casually about a past connection.

I introduced Russell to Heidi, and the two shook hands.

“When you’re on TV, Sheree tells me to shut up.”

Heidi stated that she was filming a story on a special woman at St. Anthony’s.  (I won’t give the storyline away).  She even inquired as to why we were at the hospital.

I mentioned to Heidi I was a freelance writer and photographer.

“Where do you work?”

“Missouri Life, AAA Midwest Traveler, AAA Southern Traveler, AOL/Patch and others.”

I talked about the ‘healing’ coffee table book Russell and I were collaborating on Folly Beach Dances.  The book’s message conveys a photographic and poetic interpretation of how everything in life – people, animals, nature and structures dance — captured on special beach.  And it’s important to take care of yourself.  There are five women authors in the book, as well as Russell and myself.  Living with lymphoma, the project is close to my heart.  The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is involved, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the organization.

During the conversation, a nurse came up from behind and asked me to snap a photo of Heidi and her.  I thought to myself, why didn’t I think of that, and quickly asked hubby to snap a photo of the two of us.

Heidi Glaus is beautiful inside and out.

She’s gracious, caring, intelligent, warm and even funny.  While posing for the photo, she mentioned to my hubby, “Make sure and get my best side,” showing off her derriere to the lens.

Thanks Heidi, you made my day.

And to think, if I hadn’t stop to use the bathroom, our stars wouldn’t have aligned.  Sometimes, surprises happen when you least expect them.

Be sure and catch Heidi Thursday mornings on Today in St. Louis.

Oh yeah, our friend’s surgery went great.  Praise the Lord.

Author Spotlight – Five Questions – Sandra Carrington-Smith

Hi friends,

Hopefully I am starting a new trend on blog – author inteviews.  Sandra Carrington-Smith agreed to be the first!  Sandra’s dedication and perseverance as a writer is inspiring.

Please feel free to leave a comment on this blog post, or follow my blog.  While you’re here, check out the other posts and pages on inspirational messages of travel, nature, friends and family.

Okay, Sandra, let’s get started!

Question –   In your opinion, what does it take to be a good writer?

I believe there are several factors that play into becoming a good writer. For one thing, you must enjoy writing for the sheer sake of it, and whether you think that you will have one reader or a million, the quality of the books you produce must be exceptional. It is also important to develop a tough skin and remain open to constructive criticism, but it is equally vital to understand that you can’t please everybody. Finally, your passion must bleed through your words, so you should focus on writing around topics that you would choose for your own reading pleasure.

Question –  As Anne Lamott once said in “bird by bird’, it is important to have a moral position no matter what you do in life. What is your moral position?

My moral position is a simple one…I apply the Golden Rule to everything I do in life. Writing and networking are no exception.

Question –  Take us through Sandra’s day of self-discipline as a writer.

My days are pretty standard, since aside from writing, I am also raising children and running a household. I usually network and do a little marketing first thing in the morning, before the children wake up or after they leave for school. The rest of the day is almost completely absorbed by mundane tasks, but as soon as everyone goes to bed, that’s when I put on my writing cap and dive into my stories. The timing is flexible and depending on the kids’ schedules. During the summer, when they are out of school, I write all night and sleep in the next morning. When they are in school, I go to bed earlier, but then use the time when they are gone to write. On average, I write about three or four hours every day.

Question  –  Any quick tips for new writers?

An easy one: Don’t give up! Ever. If writing is your passion, there is a door, somewhere, that will lead you to the right place. The business of writing has changed a lot, and new writers have a plethora of new tools at their disposal they can use to get their work out there.

Question  – When did you first fall in love with writing?

My love for the written word goes all the way back to my teenage years, when I first started writing poetry. When I moved to a different country, I thought I had left all that behind, since I didn’t think I would ever write in a foreign language. Thankfully, time proved me wrong, the language barriers were overcome, and my old love for writing surfaced anew.

Thanks Sandra for a great interview!

________________________________

Sandra Carrington-Smith is an Italian-born author who relocated to the United States in the late 80’s after marrying a US soldier who was serving overseas.

Although writing was Sandra’s deepest passion since childhood, her dream of becoming a published author had to be placed on hold for several years. Moving to a new country provided several challenges, the biggest one being the language barrier she encountered when she first arrived.

In order to become fully integrated, Sandra tapped into her love for reading, and over time her vocabulary grew extensively.

She gave birth to three children and devoted most of her time to raising a family. By the time she was in her late 30’s, Sandra decided to revisit her old passion for writing, and penned a novel of paranormal suspense, The Book of Obeah, followed by a self-improvement book, Housekeeping for the Soul: A Practical Guide to Restoring Your Inner Sanctuary. Both titles were sold to the same publisher and released in 2010, and The Book of Obeah went on to win an international book award.

Currently, Sandra is working on two new novels: The Rosaries (the sequel of The Book of Obeah) and Shadows of a Tuscan Moon. Killer in Sight (A Tom Lackey Mystery) was released in June 2012. Sandra Carrington-Smith lives in Raleigh, NC, with her husband, children and three cats.

God Bless the United States of Coffee!

A pony-tailed bleach blonde mom in a teal tank top frenetically scans her Nook with one hand, while her other hand covers her mouth and aqua blue Android phone.  Her preteen daughter (the spitting image of her mother) loses interest, hops up and makes a beeline for the dessert selections hidden behind the shiny glass case.

Deep in conversation, a fifty-something grey-haired man sits across from a pretty woman. Mounds of paper lay before them.  The woman favors Jenna Elfman, the actress.  She appears distraught – talking, scribbling, making hand motions, and riffling papers.  Definitely well-manicured, she wears a tan form-fitting top, designer jeans and beige leather heels. Occasionally, she pauses to sip from a paper cup.

A cute young couple playfully nibbles danish while making eye contact with one another.  I suspect they are in the first stages of romance or possibly newlyweds.  She is clad in nurse scrubs, he wears a polo shirt, jeans and a ball cap.

A clean-faced college-type brunette sporting a navy hoodie, stretchy shorts and tennis shoes, reads from a thick book while tapping her pencil on the table.   She sips coffee from a mesh-like cup.

As I garner a second look at the individuals, I notice all of them have one thing in common – coffee.

Whether you talk about what weekend he takes the kid; problems encountered when your business starts to go bad; where to go for a romantic weekend; or study for a final – you can always count on coffee to get you through the good times and the bad.

As I sit in one of my favorite coffeehouses in Chesterfield Valley sipping my Café Mocha, reading More Magazine, my mind wonders to the events of the day, and I realize if it wasn’t for coffee, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post.

God Bless our hand-harvested, picker-upper, rich in antioxidants, organic, full-bodied, subtle flavored, smooth and balanced coffee beans!

Pour me another cup.  Please.

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