Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Happiness is a Poem and a Flower

"No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn." (Hal Borland)

"Winter lingered so long in the lap of Spring that it occasioned a great deal of talk."  (Bill Nye)

I'm wishing I could spot some little spring beauty flowers like those above, but not yet this year. Those little blooms are still sleeping under the snow that has stuck around way past its welcome. But it's a good thing we don't have to find our happiness in the weather. While most of the poems I've received with entries to my Roses are Red Contest that's going on now, have been simple four line verses, a few readers have shared poems that put my amateur rhyming to shame. So tonight I'm sharing them with you.

Happiness  by Nona

Happiness comes from many places.
Singing birds and familiar faces.

A hug from a friend
when you are blue.

Lifting of the heart
when your love is true.

Sitting in the shade by a 

babbling brook.

Cuddled into a chair
with your favorite boo
Lovely poem, Nona. Peggy stayed with the Roses are red theme but made it so much more as she looks forward to Spring.

Roses are Red  by Peggy

Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
When this Winter is through
The flowers will shake, and open their heads

Their colors are grand
Some smell pretty, too
Let's strike up the band
For those Violets of Blue

For those buds I will look
As they peek through the snow
While I watch from atop my book
As those zero winds blow

Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
Dear God - Bring the Springtime
We need something new!!!
Last we have a true Valentine love poem from Sandi. 

What is Love by Sandi

What is love...
where does it go...
Is it a vapor not unlike the snow,

Does it drift lazily down from the sky,
piling around us until it's quite high,

Does it make choices or caress all the same
and when things go wrong is it always to blame...

Is it like the seasons that blow hot and cold,
Does it laugh lustily at all those it's fooled,

The fragrance it leaves is dispelled by none,
It lingers long after the romance is done,

If given the chance, would you risk it again,
Treating it tenderly like an old friend...

Not taking it for granted, but being thankful each day,
That no matter how brief, it once came your way???!!

Indeed we can be thankful when love comes our way. Thanks, ladies, for sharing your talent with us. 

The contest is still open. You can see the prize (a heart-shaped necklace and winner's choice of one of my books) on my News and Events website page. You can enter by leaving a comment on a post here (with a way to contact you) by midnight EST on March 3, 2015. Thanks to all who have already entered and shared a poem too. You don't have to share a poem. That's just to add a little fun!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Roses are Red Giveaway

I sent out a newsletter this week with a late Valentine giveaway. You know some people are always a day late and a dollar short. But it's never too late for chocolate and Valentine hugs. Okay, so I don't have any chocolate to give you. If I did, I'd eat it myself. But I'd think about you while I was enjoying it! After this week of weather, I think we all need some chocolate! 

But back to the giveaway. Here's the prize - a heart shaped necklace. It's really lovely. And to go along with that, the winner will get to choose one of my books. That makes me happy. Then to make it fun, I asked those who entered the giveaway to send a Valentine verse or other poem in too. 

While my very first writing sale was a four line poem many years ago, that was about the extent of my poetry writing. So, since not all of us are poets, I gave entrants the option of finishing this verse:
Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
(Your lines go next.)

I've been getting some neat poems. A few poems have been lovely original poems, but most have been simple "Roses are red" poems. Let's enjoy a few of them.

Susan used a play on words that made me smile.
Roses are red, 
Violets are blue, 
And just so you know,
Books are read, too.

Cheryl and several others wrote about perhaps being the winner.
Roses are red. 
Violets are blue.
It'd be so cool
To win a book by you.

Naturally those poems made me smile! Then there were the poems about how we love to read like this one from Pam:
Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Reading books is one of my
Favorite things to do.

And there were poems about the weather. Gail wrote:
Roses are red.
Violets are blue
Why all this snow
I haven't a clue.

JSK wrote one to give us tired of winter folks hope.
Roses are red
Violets are blue.
Snow and ice are getting weary
32 days to spring, so true!

(And actually a little less than that now!!)

So if you didn't receive the newsletter and would like to throw your name in my late Valentine giveaway hat, you can leave a comment here on my blog before the deadline of midnight EST March 3rd. You must be 18 to enter and you have to leave a way to contact you with your entry. The poems are optional but fun. Plus if you'd like to get my newsletter, let me know and I'll send you a copy and/or add you to my newsletter list. You can sign up for the newsletter on my Facebook page.

There's also a giveaway going on at Carole Jarvis's blog, The Power of Words. I visited Carole's blog last week and talked about writing the Rosey Corner books. If you leave a comment on her blog, you'll have a chance to win a copy of Love Comes Home. And you'll get to see the neat old piano picture she has on her blog. The deadline to enter to win there is February 27.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

How Cold Is It? Record Breaking Times and Memories

How cold is it? Plenty cold where I am here in Kentucky. When I peeked at the thermometer this a.m. it showed minus 8. While that might not be so chilly for some of you northern folks, down here in the almost south, it's cold. But worse, they say it's not supposed to get over 5 degrees today. And that's with the sun shining! Something is definitely not right about that!! We don't even want to hear those wind chill numbers. Or feel them either. Then the night temps are something like minus 17. 

My dog, Oscar, wasn't too happy about having to go outdoors to do those necessary things. Normally he doesn't mind snow, but this stuff is a little too deep for him. He's been a trooper and gone walking with me anyway, but the wind chill may make the walks short today. Walking through snow like this can give you a good workout for sure.

There's naturally been a lot of talk about the cold and whether the temperatures will be record lows. The all time record low here in Kentucky is minus 21 in 1963. I remember that. I grew up in an old farmhouse that's only insulation were the old logs on the two front rooms from when it was a log cabin and the plastic my dad nailed over the big old windows every winter. 

That didn't happen to the upstairs window in the room where I slept. I won't say snow drifted through it, but it felt like it might at times. For sure, when it was time to get up and leave your warm cocoon in the featherbed behind and your feet hit that unheated floor, you woke up quick. We had a woodstove in the living room and a little of the heat drifted up the stairs to the front room there. That was my sister's room. 

We closed off every room except the living room and the kitchen. We called the closed off dining room the refrigerator room. But even with only two rooms to heat, the kitchen was still cold after they took the wood cookstove out. Mom got an electric range when the electric lines came out our road. I don't remember that, but my sister does. For a while Mom left the wood cookstove in the kitchen but it was gone by 1963 when we had that record cold. She probably wished it back that year. She cooked and cleaned with an insulated jacket on. 

But cold or not, we always ate our meals at the table in the kitchen. Snacks might happen in the living room, but not meals. We did have some good snacks in the winter. Our homegrown popcorn. Mom could pop corn better than anybody. Sometimes we made chocolate fudge to go with it. Hard to beat popcorn and homemade candy. Hot cocoa was another treat. Mom sometimes made snow cream, but I was never a fan of it. Give me the fudge. :) But we didn't have to worry much about the calories. After all, we were packing in the wood, feeding the chickens and dogs and cats and other animals. Walking in the snow. Even then, I loved walking in the snow with my dogs. 

That kind of cold temperatures and one stove did make for family togetherness. Nobody ran off to their own room although occasionally I'd sit in the staircase and read or listen to the basketball games on my little radio. We fought over the chair closest to the stove and spent a lot of time standing by the stove warming our back sides and then turning to toast our fronts. 

It was cold, but we didn't have to worry about paying the heating bill. That was paid in our own energy. Dad's in cutting down the trees and sawing it into firewood and ours in packing it into the backporch and Mom's or Dad's in keeping the fire going. We had our own meat hanging in the smokehouse and or in the freezer. The cellar was stocked with all kinds of canned foods and a barrel of potatoes. We were okay. So many good memories of those years for me now. 

So how is the weather where you are? And how cold is the coldest time you can remember? Hope, like mine, they are good memories even if it was cold! 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Nature's Valentine

Happy Valentine's Weekend!

Here's a natural valentine I spotted on one of my walks some time last year. I've been saving it for this day. A day late, I know, but we can celebrate love any day, can't we? As far as I know, nobody carved this heart in this tree. It just happened. A gift of nature. But then again, maybe a romantic squirrel chewed off the bark for his squirrel sweetheart. But however it got there, I thought it was neat. It's actually along the road in front of a neighbor's house and not too long ago, he cut it down. So alas, the heart is gone now, but we still have the picture.

I've always liked Valentine's Day. I used to be a room mother at the schools when my children were young, and Valentine's was my favorite holiday party. Every kid got cards and cupcakes. Of course, things might have been simpler then. Certainly, there weren't dozens of bouquets delivered to the schools for this or that sweetheart the way I've heard happens now. Just cute little cards with hearts and some of those heart shaped conversation hearts. Pure sugar, so naturally I liked them. The pink ones were definitely best. :) 

Some people say Valentine's Day can be sad when a person isn't part of a couple. It is nice to have somebody giving you flowers and candy. But I like to think of Valentine's Day as more than a day for sweethearts. It's a day to think about love in all its wonderful ways. A good day to share hugs with your kids and grandkids. Well, any day is a good day for that. It's a great time to share a special day out with a friend or to call your mother or a special aunt. It's a fine time to read 1 Corinthians 13 or 1 John 4 in the Bible. It's a good day to remember all the ways you are loved and to remember all the people you have loved even if some of them are no longer here with you. And if you don't have somebody to buy you flowers or candy, it's a perfect time to treat yourself to the flowers and candy you like best.

And it's a good time to share a crazy picture of a heart on a tree that made me feel some love for nature.

I do appreciate all of you who have volunteered to help me out with my upcoming book release. I am working to meet an editing deadline on a book and haven't had time to respond to each of you as yet. But I will next week. I've got all your names written down and I have to say you were like a special Valentine to me with your readiness to offer to help. Thank you so much. 

Now if you have any spare chocolate laying around, savor a few bites and enjoy the memory of a happy day.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Need a Few Influencers for a New Shaker Book

"The people who influence you are the people who believe in you." 
    ~Henry Drummond

I am blessed by the influence of so many people who have believed in me through the years. My mother, first and foremost, always believed I could do whatever I set out to do. That's not to say she might not have been a little surprised when I had the dream to be a writer and actually publish books. 

Sometimes when I think about that, I'm a little surprised! Not that I wanted to write, but that I do have books published that people like you actually read. That is a blessing I don't take for granted. I'm grateful for every reader. I'm thankful every time any of you tell one of your reading friends about my books. I appreciate every time you read my this-and-that blog posts and when you leave comments here or play my guessing games. (I'm still smiling about finally getting a mystery photo that stumped you last time. I'm also trying to come up with something new that might be fun.) 

Many of you who read my blog are also faithful readers of my books and have followed me from Hollyhill to Harmony Hill to Rosey Corner and to 1855 Louisville. I love how you've been willing to read my different types of stories. 

This summer, I'm going back to my Harmony Hill Shaker village for a new book, The Innocent. That's why I posted this with a Shaker house picture. I really didn't think I'd write another Shaker book, but then these characters came to mind and it seemed like the thing to do. I guess I'll see if it really was come July when I find out if readers are ready to go back to Harmony Hill too. The book is already available for pre-order on Amazon

So now I'm looking for ten or twelve readers who might like to be what is called "influencers" in the publishing business. These people get a hot off the press copy of the book and in return perhaps talk about the book to their reading friends and suggest it to their book clubs or libraries. They might post reviews on internet sites or their own blogs if they have blogs or talk it up on other social media sites if the story is one the reader liked. Word of mouth really is the best advertisement a writer can get. These are just suggested things. There is no obligation to do anything if you don't want to other than receive the book and promise to give it a read. 

If any of you would like to give this influencing bit a try, just let me know. If I get more people who would like to be on my influencer list than the list can accomodate, I'll draw out twelve names. You can leave your e-mail information here in a comment or e-mail me directly at annhgabhart(at)yahoo(dot)com. 

And thanks so much. I am blessed to have you as reading friends.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Books, Bites and Birthdays

It was my youngest son's birthday today. He has a family of his own now to be daddy to and he's a wonderful daddy. But I'm not sure he ever taught his kids to eat the peanut butter and pancake syrup on biscuits that his dad taught him to eat when he was just a little tyke. He could never talk the other kids into giving it a try, but he had success here with a little "open wide and take a bite" demonstration encouragement. 

My son loved riding bikes, camping out, and climbing trees when he was a kid. Sometimes I'd look up and he and a neighbor friend would be perched way above my head. How I kept from going to fetch a ladder, I don't know. But the limbs always held them and I never had to call the fire department to come get them down. 

He hit a few bumpy places in the road going through adolescence and I had some sleepless nights waiting up for him to get home from wherever. Some kids struggle a little more trying out their wings and some mothers get a few more gray hairs watching them chasing independence. 

But he made it through and fell in love with a hometown girl. What a blessing it has been to see his family grow and what a gift his children have been to this grandmother. 

Now sometimes when he visits, we go "exploring" with the grandkids. He's ready to look at the rocks and trees and point out nature's wonders to his kids. And to me. 

Jessamine had that kind of curiosity in my Shaker book, The Gifted. She wanted to know about everything which made her life in the Shaker community difficult at times. Here's what a reviewer on Amazon had to say about her. "Dear, sweet Jessamine was such a beautiful character - both inwardly and outwardly. She had such an innocence and complete joy about her. I easily fell in love with her.... And seeing the world through her eyes, when she leaves the Shakers, gives you a different, new perspective of things we take for granted."

I did enjoy writing about Jessamine. I think she's been the only main character in any of my stories that I let have blonde hair. Generally my characters are sensible, capable, determined even if things don't always go right for them. But not Jessamine. She had childlike joy in life and was ready to let her imagination take wing and embrace whatever came her way without considering what obstacles might await her. 

Monday is the last day to grab the e-book for $1.99 at Amazon or Barnes & Noble  before the price goes back up. 

Tweet: A little curiosity can make life more fun.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Surprised by Icicles

Are those the magic fairy wands glistening on the trees or only winter icicles that I see? (Anonymous)

I took a break from trying to flesh out a new story idea yesterday and went walking. Walking is a good time for thinking. You see everything around you, but you don't have to really think about how you're moving your feet or which direction to go. Out here on the farm, I just walk. Yesterday I walked over to the cliff area. I didn't really plan on that destination when I started out, but when I got near, I decided I was too close not to go take a look at the cliff and see how things are going there. 

I was surprised by the icicles. It has been cold, but no snow. But we have had a lot of rain this year and so the underground pools are full. That lets the moisture continually seep out between the limestone layers of the cliff rocks. Each drip freezes and makes an icicle that continues to grow longer with each new drip until there are rows of icicles ready to sparkle in the sun.

In the photo at the top of the post, I'm trying to capture the bits of ice from the water that dripped out on the tree branches. Instead of magic fairy wands, the formations looked like graceful ice birds. The picture doesn't really let you see that as well as I could standing under them and looking toward the sky. But with a tad more imagination you might see them. Trust me, they looked like ice birds floating in the air above my head.

And then a few bushes on the ground along the path down beside the cliff were coated with ice drippings too to make strange figures that looked as if they might turn into some sort of creature come the spring thaw. 

Ice can be an interesting part of winter, to say the least. When it falls out of the sky and brings down power lines and trees, it is definitely not something we want. But even then it can have an astounding beauty. More ways that ice can capture the beauty of nature is when it freezes over a pond or puddle or drips down to create hundreds of icicles along the cliff ledges, or patterns on the ice on a creek. So many ways to see the beauty of the ice. But there's danger too. I came back up that path very carefully!

Do you like icicles? You might think it would be good if we could save them for the summer. The folks on our farm back a hundred years ago did exactly that by going to the river and cutting out blocks of ice when the river froze over. Then they layered that ice with straw in specially dug deep ice houses in the ground. Come summer, they could go get a block of ice to use to freeze ice cream or keep their food cold. Now we just open up the refrigerator. 

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. (Hal  Borland)

My Shaker book, The Gifted, is on e-book sale this week for $1.99. It's not icicle time in the book, but summer. (I do have an ice cream making scene.) The story is set in 1849 and contrasts the simple lifestyle of my Shaker village of Harmony Hill with the extravagant social scene at the spa hotels where the wealthy went to "take the waters." My character, Jessamine, is a true innocent after being with the Shakers since she was nine, but she does have an insatiable curiosity about the "world" outside the Shaker village. In the opening scene she is leading a fellow Shaker sister on a wild goose chase through the woods in the hopes of getting near enough to the White Oaks Springs Hotel to see a parasol. She's enchanted by the very sound of the word and has a great desire to actually see one. That's Jessamine. A fun character to live with through a story. You can check it out at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Always remember to double check the price before you download since sales can end quickly and without notice. 

Thanks for reading.

Click to tweet: Tweet: A little ice can be nice. Nature's art.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

No Mystery - The Winners Are...

Thanks to all of you who made my mystery picture contest so much fun. I enjoyed all your guesses. The right ones were good, but the wrong ones were fun. So just for fun here is a last mystery picture. This one isn't for prizes. I didn't use it because I really didn't think it would be fair, but you might be really good guessers or you might have walked through the same neighborhood in SC that I did and spotted this. So guess for fun and then for even more fun scroll down to the bottom and see the "rest of the picture."

As for the last mystery picture, it wasn't a total mystery to many of you. Several of you guessed feathers, especially peacock and ostrich feathers, but that wasn't right. Robin guessed a feather duster. Ola thought maybe I had a close-up of Oscar's whiskers. But no, those of you who went with cat whiskers were right. I admit that I left a little of the red rug in the photo to try to trick you and for some of you it worked.  
Here's the rest of the mystery picture.This is my daughter's handsome cat, Finn. Those of you who hang out with me over on my Facebook page may have seen him on there last week taking time to "smell the flowers." 

So here are the three winners: 
Susan J of TX who decided to go with two of my Shaker books, The Blessed and The Believer. 
Donna B of IL who chose Christmas at Harmony Hill and for her grab bag book, Wake the Dawn by Lauraine Snelling. 
Stacy O  was the other winner. I haven't heard from her yet, but have tried to contact her via Facebook. If I don't hear from her before Wednesday, I'll pick someone else. 

Now here's the rest of the just for fun mystery photo. Somebody a few streets over from my daughter's house "dresses" her cacti according to the season. I've seen stone geese dressed up for the weather, but never cacti. She  even had them named and a little mailbox for them. I'm guessing she, but maybe the cacti owner was a he. I didn't meet the owners, just the cacti. Anyway, they were named Prickly, Stickly, Thornie & Youchy. I'm sure she may have said all their names several times while dressing them for winter. :)

Thanks again for joining in my mystery photo fun. You guys are the best. I'll have to think up something new soon. But first I need to do some major brainstorming to come up with a new book idea!!