#This&That&TheOtherThing – #Update – #Excerpt – #TheEmissary2:ToLoveSomebody

THIS

Thought I’d take a break from physical labor and let you guys know that my new Time Management Plan is working great, so far. Both of my venues were amenable to having me visit every other month, so that alone cut my presentation workload in half. And I’ve scheduled my regular series posts as far in advance as possible, freeing me up a bit more each week. #GrannySays is now scheduled through the end of December! WooHoo! 

THAT

Speaking of scheduling, just want to let you all know that I’ve still got some dates open for both my #TenThings series, and my #GuestDayTuesday series. If any of you are interested in doing a guest post for either one, here are some upcoming dates you can choose from:

#TenThings: July 6, August 17 and 31, and September 14.
#GuestDayTuesday: July 12 & 26, August 9 & 23, and September 6 & 20

That’s as far ahead as I want to schedule for now. If any of these dates will work for you please email me so I can hold it for you. While I may not be running these quite as often as I was, I still want to keep them going when I can. I love having guests here on TWS, and hope you’ll take advantage of one more opportunity to get your books “out there.”

THE OTHER THING

Just for kicks, I thought maybe I’d share an excerpt with you today from one of my books. I may do this now and then going forward, but not on a strict schedule or anything. Just when the spirit moves me and I have time to do so. Hope you enjoy this one, which is from the second novella in my Emissary series. This scene features the Archangel Azrael putting the first two human Emissaries to the Angels to work with his idea of what rigorous physical training should be. Enjoy! 

The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody

Three Weeks Later, on the Same Swelteringly Hot Deserted Island,
Two Exhausted, Frustrated Emissaries Dreamed of Escape,
While One Ginormous, Cranky Angel Rethought His Entire Career. 

“TWENTY-FIVE MORE and you may take a brief swim break to cool down. Then we will focus on the ground exercises.”

“Push-ups!” Dodger snarled, sweat streaming down his face. “Just call them freakin’ damn push-ups, why don’tcha?”

Jake counted off the last of his jumping jacks then flopped down on the sand, too tired to argue much less walk down to the water’s edge. Dodger dropped right beside him, every bit as exhausted and frustrated. The boy’s chest heaved, and Jake knew exactly how he felt. Time to speak up, perhaps.

“Azrael, we’ve been at this all afternoon. It could be time to call it a day. There’s such a thing as heatstroke, you know.”

“Too late,” Dodger muttered. “Already there. My blood is boilin’, and my eyeballs are melting.”

The angel snorted in disgust.

But Dodger wasn’t done with Azrael. “This is crazy. Why do we have to exercise like this, anyway? Our job is mostly mental stuff, but you’ve got us on a workout schedule elite military units couldn’t keep up with. I don’t get it, man.”

“I find it difficult to believe we are about to have this same conversation, yet again, but fine. If that is how you wish to spend your break, instead of cooling off in the ocean, I shall do my part. A strong body and a strong mind go hand in hand. It is my belief that both mental and physical training will enhance and strengthen your ability to do your job as emissaries. Do I need to keep saying this?”

Jake sat up, raising his hands over his head in surrender. “Peace, Azrael. Come on, Dodge. Let’s go cool off before he changes his mind.”

They slogged across the wet shingle and waded out just far enough to be able to sit shoulder-deep in the calm, green water.

“We’re gonna die here on this island, you know,” Dodger muttered.

“You do remember he can hear us, don’t you?”

“Let him listen. I don’t really care anymore.” He paused, then yelled out, “You hear that, Azrael. I don’t care! I’m two steps away from dead, here, thanks to you.”

Jake thought about reminding Dodger he couldn’t die, but then figured the boy might decide continuing to live in these conditions would be even worse—and he might be right.

“Okay, kid. I’ll talk to him. Even with the extra strength we’ve been given as emissaries, we have limits, and it’s probably time to ease back a little.”

He spent a few minutes going over how to approach Azrael, then they headed back across the sand. The angel was nowhere to be seen.

Shocked, they stood under the palms looking this way and that. Surely, they hadn’t made the angel angry enough for him to abandon them in this remote spot? Had they? The only food and shelter they had was what Azrael had been providing. Hell, they could be in another dimension, for all they knew! Alone, they really might die here.

Dodger was visibly shaken, chewing on his bottom lip as he studied the shoreline in each direction, and Jake could offer no reassurances. He hadn’t a clue what they should do, other than wait. Just when he began to think maybe Azrael really had abandoned them to their fate, a voice behind him said, “Looking for me?”

Fighting mad, Jake whirled around, only to see the angel standing beside an elegant dining table set for three. A white and gold tablecloth, china, sparkling stemware, and silver serving dishes from which mouth-watering aromas rose, awaited them. He gaped in complete silence, and amazingly, so did Dodger.

“If you two are ready to cease hostilities, I am ready to admit I may have been pushing you somewhat harder than necessary. My intention was to enable you to become the best you could be, but it is possible I overdid it a bit. I am aware that at least one of you has a very high regard for food and hope this meal will prove I have not been trying to kill you. Please accept this as my peace offering.”

He paused, waiting for their reactions, and Dodger rewarded him with half a smile. “Well, it’s a good start, anyway.”

“Smells like a delicious start to me,” Jake added.

Azrael pulled out their chairs. “Come. Let us enjoy our food. We have much to discuss about what you’ll be doing next.”

Dodger stopped. “Next as in what kind of torture you’re plannin’ to put us through tomorrow?”

“Next as in I think it is possible your first round of training might be complete.”

Jake grinned and punched Dodger in the arm. “Hear that, kid? We made it through this grueling process and have survived to tell the tale.”

Dodger balked. “I heard the words ‘possible’ and ‘might’ in that sentence. Did we finish, or didn’t we?”

Azrael’s face grew serious. “You have completed this portion of your training, though there may be more to come at a later date, if needed. And you surpassed all of my expectations, by the way, which were quite high. I am proud of you both, and I am also amazed it took you until today to mount a serious rebellion. Now, I hope you will join me in a celebratory dinner. You have earned it.”

They ate a meal 5-star restaurants could only dream about serving, then toasted the sun as it slid down behind the emerald waves. For the first time in nearly two weeks, their conversation was peaceful and relaxed. It consisted of things that didn’t involve sweaty workouts under the hot sun, nor laborious mental exercises focused on helping them control their ever-expanding powers. And it was exactly what they needed.

The meal ended with a dessert so chocolatey and decadent, it nearly made Dodger swoon, then Azrael waved his hand, and voila! Dishes, glassware, leftover food, tablecloth, table, and even the chairs disappeared in a blink.

“Handy trick,” Dodger observed.

Azrael simply smiled, and Jake marveled once again at the healing power behind that gentle, pleased expression. They were, indeed, blessed—even before Azrael whisked them back to where they’d left their truck, delivered a quiet benediction over them, then rose into the starry heavens.

They stared into the night sky for some time after the angel’s departure, silent, until Dodger’s soft comment. “Sometimes I forget what a wonderful and holy miracle he is.”

The night breeze carried the gentlest whisper of a reply. “I love you, too, Dodger.”

Jake put his arm around his boy’s shoulder and they climbed into the back of their big semi, crawled into their bunks, then drifted off to sleep. In the morning, they’d be ready to hit the road again, better prepared than ever to help those who needed them.


You can download The Emissary series here:
The Emissary 1
The Emissary 2: To Love Somebody
The Emissary 3: Love Hurts


And that’s it for today’s update. Hope you enjoyed the excerpt,
and please email me if you want to set up a guest visit between now and September.
Have a great afternoon!

#GuestDayTuesday – Featuring #Children’sAuthor #Mike Allegra

Today, I have the great pleasure of introducing an author new to The Write Stuff, Mike Allegra. Mike writes charming children’s books, and I’m sure you’re going to enjoy getting to know him better. In fact, I recommend checking out Mike’s webpage later from the links below, and from there, his blog. Trust me –it’s wonderfully funny! And on that note, let’s get right to today’s post. Take away, Mike!


Thanks, for having me today, Marcia!

The Dusting Distraction

I am a children’s book writer. I am also a house husband. As a house husband, I have to do House Things like the shopping and the cooking and the bills and the cleaning and the laundry.

Lots of laundry, actually.

I’m still not certain how all that laundry materializes every day. Sometimes my son goes through two sets of pajamas in one night. Sheesh, kid, if the long sleeve jammies are too warm in the spring, just put them back in the drawer and put on the short sleeve jammies! That’s all you have to do. What you don’t do is throw the long sleeve jammies in the hamper. Wearing long sleeves for 20 minutes doesn’t make them dirty!

But I digress.

My point is, even if your house is small, the chores add up. Just when you think everything’s under control, there’s another shower to scrub or lunch to make or a whatever-it-is that needs a bit of whatevering.

In some ways, this is good for me. I’m kept busy. Idle hands are the devil’s blah blah blah. More importantly, my wife and son appreciate what I do for them.

On the other hand, chores give me a pretty dang good excuse to not write children’s books.

Writing is hard. When I’m between projects or I’ve hit a rocky patch in a story or I just can bear the thought of doing my jillionth rewrite, my attention drifts to my toilet and I soon discover a newfound sense of purpose.

How can I be expected to write, I ask myself, when that porcelain isn’t glittering?

This is a problem I think a lot of writers have who work out of the house instead of, say, in an office environment. At home there is no cleaning crew to whisk that cobweb off the ceiling. If you don’t go for the Swiffer, the web is stayin’ there. That nasty microwave in the breakroom is not someone else’s responsibility, it’s yours, because it’s your microwave and that breakroom is actually your kitchen. Home is where the heart is; it’s also where the distractions are. And that is how procrastination happens.

I think I know what you might be thinking right about now. I think it, too, sometimes: Is it really procrastination if you’re not farting around on YouTube watching baby goat videos? Is it really procrastination if you’re replacing one task with a different task? Is it really procrastination if what you’re doing instead of writing is something that really, really, really needs to get done?

Yeah, it kind of is.

Running a house is an important job. Crazy important. But writing is a job, too. And if you make a living at it like I do (or wish to make a living at it), writing also needs to be deemed very important. Time needs to be set aside for it. This isn’t easy. I’ve been writing children’s books since 2012 and I still need to remind myself that my Dyson vacuum (The best vacuum in the history of ever!) can, under specific circumstances, be just as insidious a timewaster as posting photos of toaster waffles on Instagram. 

It’s about balance. Emptying the dishwasher (or, fiiine, watching a couple of YouTube videos if you must) in the middle of your regularly scheduled writing time can be a nice palate cleanser. Breaks go a long way toward relieving some of the mental anguish of a Bad Writing Day. Just don’t let those breaks pull you away from the writing for too long. Set an alarm and jump back into the world of letters. Because if you don’t find the time to write your story, your story will never get written.

And don’t worry, a dirty toilet is patient; it’ll wait for you to finish that draft.

As for me, the last chapter of my middle grade novel is taking a lot longer than I had hoped. I need to devote more time to my writing. In other words, my boy is gonna have to learn the simple joys of going to sleep in sweatpants. That’ll teach him.


Author Mike Allegra

Mike Allegra is the author of 17 books for children including the picture books Scampers Thinks like a Scientist (Dawn, 2019), Everybody’s Favorite Book (Macmillan, 2018), and Sarah Gives Thanks (Albert Whitman and Company, 2012). He also wrote the chapter book series Kimmie Tuttle (Abdo Books, 2021) and Prince Not-So Charming (Macmillan, 2018-19; pen name: Roy L. Hinuss). Scampers was the winner of Learning Magazine’s 2020 Teacher’s Choice Award and was selected for inclusion in the Literati Kids subscription box. His story, “Harold’s Hat,” was the winner of the 2014 Highlights fiction contest and was published in the July 2015 issue.

His new picture book, Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles (Page Street Kids) will hit store shelves in October 2022. You can preorder it now!

You can Pre-Order a Hard Copy of Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles HERE

A Few More of Mike’s Books to be Found on His Author Page

You can reach Mike on Social Media here:

Website
Facebook
Amazon Author Page

 

#TenThingsYouMayNotKnow – About #JanSikes

Good Morning, Everybody. Today, I’d like you to welcome author Jan Sikes to The Write Stuff. Jan is part of the wonderful team of writers over on the Story Empire blog, and she’s going to share a very interesting #TenThings list with us today. I know you’ll enjoy learning all these goodies about her! Jan, the floor is yours!

***

Thanks for having me here  today, Marcia! 


Ten Things You May Not Know About Me
by Jan Sikes

  1. My maiden name is Smith. Growing up my sister and I were always referred to as those Smith girls. Smith is ranked as #1 when it comes to common last names. 
  1. I was born in Hobbs, New Mexico, just five miles from the Texas border. I like to consider myself a Texan since I’ve lived most of my adult life here. 
  1. I followed an Indian Guru for many years in the seventies. I embraced the entire way of communal living and was even the house mother for a while. Every night I would make four quarts of yogurt and bake homemade granola. I slept on a two-inch foam mat on the floor and shared a room with five other women. It was an experience I’ll never forget. 
  1. I was a total vegetarian for over ten years. 
  1. My biggest pet peeve in life are people who don’t pick up after their animals. I live in an apartment complex and there is nothing I hate worse than having to avoid stepping in it. My second biggest pet peeve is the way the electric company trims trees along the power lines. They take big chunks out of the middle leaving an unsightly gap in the tree. It makes me feel sorry for the tree. 
  1. I lived in Austin, Texas during the hippie era, and rode on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. 
  1. The farthest I’ve ever traveled is to Rome, Italy. I went there in the seventies to see the Guru. My oldest daughter was two. She got her head stuck between the bars that lined the steps at the Coliseum. They had to rub butter on her head to get her unstuck. 
  1. I was fifty when I started learning to play guitar. You are never too old to learn something new! 
  1. I have lived in five different States – New, Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Colorado. 
  1. My paternal grandparents were part of the big exodus to California in the thirties. They lived the Grapes of Wrath story. My sister and I plan to write that story someday.

You Can Buy Jagged Feathers HERE

BLURB:

Vann Noble did his duty. He served his country and returned a shell of a man, wounded inside and out. With a missing limb and battling PTSD, he seeks healing in an isolated cabin outside a small Texas town with a stray dog that sees beyond his master’s scars. If only the white rune’s magic can bring a happily ever after to a man as broken as Vann.  

On the run from hired killers and struggling to make sense of her unexplained deadly mission, Nakina Bird seeks refuge in Vann’s cabin. She has secrets. Secrets that can get them all killed.

A ticking clock and long odds of living or dying, create jarring risks.

Will these two not only survive, but find an unexpected love along the way? Or, will evil forces win and destroy them both?


Jagged Feathers REVIEW QUOTES:

“One of the top books I’ve read in a while. I’d give it more sparklers if I could. The author had me from page one and didn’t let me go until the end. She starts off hard and fast, then things kind of work out and the book goes into a “safe” lull, which is where most romantic suspense stories would end. But no. She doesn’t let you rest as the danger ramps up again before our hero and heroine are really safe and have a satisfying ending that leaves you happy for them.”  V. Burkholder

“This was a perfect blend of PTSD, guilt, bad guys, friendship, acceptance, and embracing the spiritual realm. I absolutely loved this story and can’t wait for the next rune couple”.  D.L. Finn

“What an amazing and phenomenal book. Jagged Feather’s has become my favorite suspense book I’ve read in 2022. Jan Sikes has a talent that mirrors the authors, that’s on top of the Best Sellers List.”  T. Lucas

“Jagged Feathers is a riveting romantic suspense I couldn’t stop reading. From the very first page, my heart went out to Vann. He’s been through so much and deserves someone to love. Nakina is a woman on the run and her plight tugged at my heartstrings. The POV and descriptive narration are deep, emotional, and immersive which make for an incredible reading experience. The more I read, the more invested I became in the characters and storyline. The plot is well-conceived with equal parts action, romance, and suspense. Jan Sikes writes a riveting story with lots of pulse-pounding moments.”  N.N. Light


Author Jan Sikes

Jan Sikes is an award-winning Texas author who has been called a wordsmith by her peers. She openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author. But she had a story to tell. Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation. You simply can’t make this stuff up. It all happened. She chose to create fictitious characters to tell the story through, and they bring the intricately woven tale to life in an entertaining way. She released a series of music CDs to accompany the four biographical fiction books and then published a book of poetry and art to complete the story circle.

And now that the story is told, this author can’t find a way to put down the pen. She continues to write fiction and has published many short stories with a series of novels waiting in the wings. She is a member of The Author’s Marketing Guild, Writer’s League of Texas, RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB (RRBC), RAVE WRITER’S INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHOR (RWISA), and sits on the RWISA Executive Council.


Jan’s SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

WEBSITE
BLOG
TWITTER
FACEBOOK
PINTEREST
GOODREADS
BOOKBUB
LINKEDIN
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

#This&That&TheOtherThing – #Update

THIS

Happy Tewe’s Day, everyone. Hope you all had great weekends. Mine was busy, busy, busy, but a bit more upbeat than the last few have been. My computer is still working, though there’s a problem with the co-ax cable which causes us to lose WiFi if it gets bumped even slightly. We’ll replace with new cable the next time it goes out.  For now, I’m back in business. And therein lies the rub. (Some famous guy once said that in a play, you know.  😀 ) 

THAT

The said “rub” mentioned above: I’ve been told by several people including friends (you know who you are), family, and even my family doctor that it’s possible … just possible, mind you … I’m trying to do too many things at one time. Huh. I never knew that would become a problem. Guess I figured I could handle as much stuff when closing in on 80 as I’ve been handling all my life. Apparently that was a Fool’s Dream. (Who knew?) Consequently, I’m busy trying to work out a schedule that lets me do as much as I can manage without pushing myself over the metaphorical cliff.

With that in mind, some things will have to go. Others I’ll mostly just need to cut back on the frequency of. (My beloved Wildlife talks may have to be cut to one a month, instead of two, for instance. Twenty-four a year is becoming problematic, so we’ll see if twelve works better.) But rest assured, I’m NOT giving up entirely on anything I either love to do, or need to do, especially my current WIP! It’s right at the top of my list, and Rabbit is getting antsy, since he’s full of things he wants me to write down for him. 😊

Our weekend home and garden projects are still a “need to” situation for now, but once most of them are completed, those can be cut WAY back. I do need to do at least a bare minimum of typical household chores fairly often, too, darn it.( Laundry will not wash itself, no matter how nicely I ask! 🙄 )

But saddest of all, I may have to cut back on the frequency of some of my blog posts (and even temporarily, some of my blog visits). To help prevent too much of that nonsense, however, I’m going to go ahead and schedule most of my regular “series” posts (#GrannySays, #ThorsDaySmile, etc) through the end of the year, though #MondayMeme is on a break for now. This will give me time each week to handle the guest posts I still intend to run any time I have folks who’d like to visit. (I do have openings for both #TenThings & GuestDayTuesdays, and will post a list of those dates later.) And on weeks when I find extra time available, I may throw in some bonus posts of my own on various topics, just for fun. No  promises on those, though, as I’m going to behave exactly as I’ve been advised to!

THE OTHER THING

Last of all, this is idea is already starting to work. I’m in a much better frame of mind today than I’ve been in for several weeks. Having a plan in place always helps me relax, and even if I’m still working on the implementation of it, I know I’m on the right track.

Thanks to all of you for your understanding and patience, and especially to those of you who’ve been extra supportive of me lately as I’ve stumbled around trying to make all the things I want to do work as easily as they used to. That’s not likely to be possible any longer, but that doesn’t mean I have to give up on everything I love! Not at all! I just have to be prudent and use some common sense. I can do that, no matter what anyone thinks. I can! Honest. No, really … I mean it! 😂😂😂  I’ll just pay more attention to the things Granny Says! 😉

Thanks for Sticking With Me Through This LONG Post!


STILL LOVE ALL YOU GUYS!

#BlogBreak – Be Back Soon!

Just a reminder that I’ll be on my weekly Blog Break today, so won’t be around to comment on things or check out my favorite blogs. And we have another very busy weekend scheduled, too, though I’ll try to keep an eye out for things I really don’t want to miss.

Have a great Friday, everyone, and an even better weekend! 

#WooHoo! – Shrinking #CompterWoes – #Update

Just a quick update on a more positive note than some I’ve had lately … today marked a MILESTONE in the Saga of the New Computer: I finally got my printer hooked up and working. There were several things impeding that process, not the least of which was that it wouldn’t accept the Wi-Fi password, but a call to a VERY nice young lady at Spectrum helped me figure that one out. And I have actually printed out THREE documents this afternoon, hence the happy dance above.

I’m still not out of the woods yet, as I try to find a graphics program that does more than the pathetic Paint that comes with Microsoft Office, yet doesn’t cost as much as many. I won’t be using it professionally any more, so I don’t want to lay out another huge chunk of change, but I DO need something whereby I can make headers and do some photo retouching. If any of you has a good suggestion, I’d be love to know. I’ve got a list I’m planning to check out tomorrow, but would be interested in hearing any success stories you might have. (I’d prefer something that resides on my own computer, rather than an online site.)

Thanks so much for all the kind and supportive comments on my previous posts. Haven’t been able to respond to all of them, but I read each and every one, and they ALL helped me keep my sanity! With any luck, a few more days will at least get me out of Crisis Mode here, and I can take my time with other apps and programs I might want.

Thanks again for being part of our wonderfully supportive writing and blogging community, and always being willing to offer a friendly word of understanding.

LOVE YOU GUYS!