Hello 2016, I wasn’t expecting you so soon.

Can it already be the end of 2015?  I feel like I didn’t even get started on last year’s resolutions and here I am wondering what to resolve for this year.

I took a walk through memory lane (past blog posts) to see how I did on last year’s resolutions.

  1. Engage with people more.

Well this one was a success on one hand, but a fail on the other. I did engage more with my new job. In April, I took a new job as a fraud investigating medical reviewer. I spent two weeks in Nashville, meeting some awesome people and training for the new job. I love the job. The people are great. But that is about all the engagement I could handle. Several on-line groups saw little of me and those relationships are in severe need of repair.

2. Be kind.

I hope I did a bit better at this. I opened my home and heart to a long term house guest, limited my self deprecation, and spoke positive thoughts aloud. But my tongue still wagged when it should have tucked, and anger got the best of me at times.

3. Retrieve the heart that was lost.

I guess I realized the heart wasn’t lost. He always knows where to find us. He is working great things out in each of us. No exceptions.

4. Quit letting life happen to me, be a life force for others.

Wow. That was a very vague and overly optimistic resolution. All I can say about this one is that I stood up. Depression is subject to gravity. If you lie down, it covers you. When you stand up, it rolls off. Professionals call it reframing or positive thinking. It works, as long as you continue to stand.

5. Express love and gratitude without reservation.

Is there anyone in my life that I didn’t tell you that I love you this year? My friends? My family? I do and I hope I did.

 

I learned that resolutions are fine, but obtainable and measurable goals are better. In addition to making the above goals more measurable, I’m adding a few more attainable goals for 2016.

Here are my goals for 2016.

  1. Join a gym by 1-31-16.
  2. Actually go to the gym at least 3 days per week.
  3. Enjoy/afford a trip to Italy by June.
  4. Write/Edit at least 3 days out of each week.
  5. Publish the first installment of The Sisterhood of the Sword Saga. (Set up a timeline with incremental goals to meet editing and publishing goals for the year, by 1-31-16).
  6. Learn to play the harmonica.

We’ll check back in December to see how well these went.

What are your goals for 2016?

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BHC Authors Website Release

I am thrilled to be a part of this awesome group of authors. We are connected by our publisher, Blue Harvest Creative. I am so thankful to be associated with such professionalism and abundant support. Check out our new website.

HEADLINE: New BHCAuthors Website—Connecting Readers to Authors

Blue Harvest Creative is excited to announce the next generation of independence has arrived!

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Welcome to the BHC Authors website—a place dedicated to bringing readers and authors together. If you love to read, this is the place to be. Find a new favorite genre or author. Check out new releases and titles. Or enter a giveaway or promotion.

Here’s what you’ll find when you visit BHCAuthors.com

  • Author spotlights—Get up close and personal. Enter our monthly giveaway for a chance to win autographed print titles or eBooks from featured authors.
  • Reader/ARC (advanced reader copy) Program—Love to read? Want to see new titles before they are released? Enjoy giving feedback and discovering new authors or genres? Be sure to sign up for our ARC program.

BHC Authors Reader Program

  • News and events—Check our calendar often. You never know where a BHC Author will turn up!
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BHC Authors Website

 

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We’re just gearing up, and we’ll be adding more exciting features. Love our website? Have an idea to share or something you’d like to see featured? We’d love to hear from you, and we appreciate and value your ideas and suggestions. Please email us at: Feedback (at) BHCAuthors (dot) com

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Miraculous Monday: Little Green Blessings

Little Green Blessings

I always wanted a Christmas wedding.  I had fantasized as a young girl of bridesmaids in red velvet trimmed in white fur and snow covered Christmas trees lining the cathedral aisle.   When the man of my dreams proposed in October, I knew a large formal wedding could not be planned in a couple of months and I wasn’t going to wait another year.  We had a life to get on with.  So we decided on a Spring Break wedding, landing on St. Patrick’s Day. A red color scheme was abandoned for emerald green and gold lame’.

The wedding was glorious.  Satiny emerald dresses reflected candlelight and brass lanterns adorned the sanctuary.  I was wed to my best friend in a fairy tale setting complete with carriage ride to the reception. Jewel toned emerald colors and delicate white flowers surrounded our nuptials.

 

***

Bailey had Christmas money burning a hole in his pocket, so we went shopping. We stopped into one of my favorite stores and my son walked past a sale table and screeched to a halt. Sitting on the fifty-percent-off-after-Christmas-sale table was a nutcracker. Not just any nutcracker, mind you. This was a baseball player in a kelly green and white pin stripe uniform.

My son in all of his 8 year old wisdom exclaimed, “Momma! This would be perfect for me. I collect nutcrackers, my room is green, and baseball is my favorite sport!”

Green Nutcracker

I checked the price tag. Though it was 50% off, it still would use up all of his money. I told him he could afford it, but it would take everything. He stood in front of that sale table for eons, trying to decide whether or not to give it all up for that nutcracker. Finally, with eyes downcast and wrinkled brow, he decided he couldn’t let go of all the money and we left the store without the nutcracker. I assured him it was always better to wait if you weren’t certain about a purchase.

For weeks, he talked about the nutcracker-that-got-away. I couldn’t believe he was so attached to the idea of a baseball player nutcracker. Months later as I tucked him into bed, his chubby face was crestfallen, pinched eyebrows and pouty lips broke my heart.

“What’s wrong, Bailey?”

“I was just thinking about that nutcracker.”

After all this time, it still weighed heavily on his mind? I was sure he would have forgotten about it by now.

“I made the wrong decision. I should have bought it.” His lip quivered and a tear slid down his rosy cheek.

My heart fractured as I gazed into his glistening eyes. “Well,” I asked, “are you gonna be able to stop thinking about it and get some rest?”

“Probably not.” His voice cracked.

My heart wrenched right out of my chest and shattered on the floor to see him so miserable.  “Well, do you want me to get you something to sleep with?”

“Okay.” He swallowed back tears in a forlorn voice.

I walked to my closet and pulled out a hidden gift, unwrapped the tissue and held it behind my back. I took it to him and said, “Will this do?”

I revealed the Little Green Baseball Nutcracker that I had returned to purchase for his birthday. His face lit like a bonfire, joy exploded onto his features. He reached for the nutcracker, then swerved around it and grabbed me in a bear hug and sobbed into my hair.

“Thank you, Momma.” His little voice broke, his tender eyes weeping tears of joy.

We hugged and cried as he stroked with reverent awe, the little green blessing. Finally, he settled down, we wiped our tears with gulps and shudders and laughter of relief and wandered into the land of dreams.

 

***

It sat on the side walk in front of the antique shop, tiny and green and just the right size for the three year old walking along, hand in hand with me.

Little Green Rocking Chair“Mommy! Look!” She tugged on my arm and pointed at the perfectly sized rocking chair. Slipping her fingers out of mine, she ran to the chair and backed into it, bottom first.  A bright smile dawned on her face.

“Come on, sweetie. Let’s go inside.” I had one thing on my mind, finding a chest of drawers for the nursery before the baby came. I pressed my fist into my back and waddled into the store

Dayla pouted out her bottom lip and scowled, but obeyed and followed me into the musty smelling shop.  A longing glance at the perfect green rocking chair, still moving back and forth, carried her through the door.

I found the dresser and negotiated a price, arranged for it to be delivered and called Dayla from the front window. “Time to go, baby.  What are you looking at?”

“My rocking chair, mommy. It fits me just right, did you see?”

“It does? Show me.”  I grinned at my precious daughter as she dragged me out to the side walk. Frustrated with my pace, Dayla ran ahead and hugged her chair, then planted her bum in the seat.

“See, Mommy? It’s juuuust right.” She rubbed her chubby fingers along the arm rests and kicked the rocker into high tilt, face beaming with satisfaction.

I watched sheer joy dawn across her face.  This child was not one to ask for every little thing.  She rarely got attached to objects. I waved to the store clerk, struck a bargain and loaded the tiny green rocker into the van.

Dayla was ecstatic.

“Oh Mommy! Thank you thank you thank you! Oh Mommy, it is perfect! Oh my! Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Dayla kept the words of gratitude rolling all the way home in a chorus of jubilant repetition in her Shirley Temple voice.

My eyes welled with tears to hear such deep and heartfelt appreciation pour out of a three year old. “Dear Lord,” I thought, “Let my heart be so full of thanks when you send blessings my way.”  I glanced into the rearview mirror to see Dayla wagging her head emphatically, fist wrapped possessively around the little green rocking chair.

“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!”

***Green Yard

I was never really fond of the color green, red or blue was more to my liking, until these little green blessings started infiltrating my life.  Green has become one of my favorite colors.

I cannot see the color green without thinking about the good things in my life.  Emeralds and satin, pinstriped baseball nutcrackers and little green rocking chairs have become symbols of love and family for me.

The marriage is dissolved, the feisty daughter is grown and going to college, the cherub boy drives away from me every day into his own adventures and I am left with a thankful heart.  Thankful, because I know that little green blessings aren’t just in my past, but surround me, uplift me, and call to me from a hopeful future.

Green Herb GardenA sprig of mint struggles up through dried and yellowed ancestors to wave at me from my garden; a little green blessing buds for my tea cup.  A postcard from a foreign land displays green and lush hills and whispers heartening words from a kindred spirit; good news breaks open a smile.  A children’s book featuring leprechaun’s beckons to me from a book shelf; I tuck it in my arms, a gift for a future grandbaby.

I will always look for these emerald drops and it won’t be hard to find them.  They crop up everywhere as gifts to brighten my journey.

“Oh thank you, Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you, for little green blessings.”

 

Top Five New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions

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Happy New Year! I usually don’t do resolutions.  Mostly because life was going fine. I was happy where I was and didn’t see the need to implement a list of tasks that didn’t fit with the life I’d chosen.  But this year is different. I need some resolutions to change my direction. So here are my top five.

I am resolved to…

1. Engage with people more.

I’ve worked from home for 14 years, gradually withdrawing from the society of live humans to the social media front. Don’t get me wrong. Some of my best friends are from far away states and the daily contact with them keeps me sane. My like minded friends are remote. It’s probably for the best. We’d never get anything done if we all lived in the same town, but oh, the heart thumps at just the thought of having them near!  So my increased engagement will be with live humans, but also driving my online network into deeper waters.

Monkey rampage

2. Be kind.

This one speaks for itself. Kindness and mercy are rare. People automatically jump to disdain and defensiveness. I want to break out of that “norm” and show myself and others a measure of kindness that is not common.

Kindness to self: I want to quit putting myself down with my thoughts. Stop calling myself names in my head. Believe I deserve the life I want.

Kindness to others: Smile. Speak the nice words, hold the words of correction or critique, be honest only when invited to be, otherwise keep my mouth shut. Try to be aware of people and not just driven by the task at hand. (That is very hard for me. I am a tasker.) Serve more, demand less.

3. Set my focus on retrieving the heart that was lost.

This is the big one for me this year. A VIP in my life made a decision that broke my heart. The first part of the year will be spent trying to understand the decision, see it from his perspective. Listen. Discuss without judging, make sure all the information is available. Pray with the might of a hurricane. Examine my own heart, get rid of panic and fear and replace it with faith and trust. Listen. Discuss some more. Offer love and options. Keep praying. Keep discussing. Keep listening. Keep offering information and options without resorting to manipulation or controlling tactics. Allow him space, offer him love and acceptance. Be a safe place for him.

4. Quit letting life happen to me and get out there and be a life force for others.

The past year slammed me with great loss at least once every month. Rapid fire circumstances and dramatic life changing events just pelted me like an endless boxing match. I retreated into a crouching posture, covered my head, and hoped it would end soon. It didn’t. Depression, a guest I’d never entertained, moved into my home. He is an abusive house mate. He leads to self destruction. I ate too much. I sat down and stopped moving. I listened to his constant commentary. I let him take control of everything.

I let life happen to me. This was a problem. I’d always been the strength for others. My family, my friends, my coworkers. They’d come to depend on me over the years. I was supposed to be the strong one, unflappable.

But this year I was flapping. Flapping in the wild winds of the constant barrage of bad stuff, I passively crumpled under the sheer weight of life circumstance for the first time ever. It all culminated in a blow to my previously unwavering faith. At my lowest, weakest, moment, the one string of hope that I dangled in the wind by, was severed. My faith, stretched beyond belief, snapped.

Skydiving Aubs

I fell, wildly grasping at the frayed remnants until I realized the bent and crooked threads would not help me even if I did grab a hold of one. So I curled into a ball and fell into a great and bottomless void of the unknown.

I’m still falling.

But now I’m awake and aware. As I open my eyes, I see most people are falling right along side of me. Some have eyes wide open. They know they lack understanding, but they are searching for an air current. Some have found a jet stream to take them onward to a destination of hope.

S.R. Karfelt in research mode.

S.R. Karfelt in research mode.

Others are like I was. Curled into a ball, eyes closed, waiting for the next object to pelt them. Some don’t even know they are falling. They smile and posture, with eyes closed, sure that they are on firm foundation. But it’s a delusion. They’re falling, just the same as everyone else.

Then there is another group. A network of outstretched arms and legs, intertwined. Their eyes are open, their arms are connected in a strong hold. They are the skydivers, with life force pumping like adrenalin. They have learned the cause of the fall is irrelevant. What is important is the experience. What brings meaning is sharing the experience with others. They aren’t trying to solve it. They aren’t trying to understand it. They are just joining together to enjoy it and share that joy with as many who will open their eyes and connect.

So my resolution is to stop fearing the lonely fall and start enjoying the *Relative Work of a *formation dive with others.

 

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5. Express my love and gratitude without reservation.

Too many times we hold back words of affirmation because we don’t want to put ourselves in an awkward situation. That’s just crap. The world is a lonely place and we are all just trying to make it from one moment to another. If you have positive thoughts about someone, speak them aloud. Tell that person you like their new hair-do. Express your appreciation to someone who has been there for you. SAY it. Don’t assume they know. Speak your love. Life is short. I’ve lost too many people to ever hold my life words again. If something I say, brings a glimmer, a second, a moment of joy to another person, I’m going to say it.

So readers, friends, and family, thank you for following me this year. I know it’s been quite a mess of a year. Thank you for the comments, the shares, the support. I’m holding out my hands. Let’s latch on and get to the relative work of creativity, connection, and building a better world.

What are your top five resolutions?

 

*Formation – When referring to Relative Work a formation is a group of skydivers forming particular pattern by taking grips on each others arms and legs.
*Relative Work – Now known as Formation Skydiving.  Skydivers in
freefall link up to create formations. This can be done in any numbers from
2-person (called a 2 Way Skydive) and up. Competition RW is mainly done in 4
person teams (4 Way Teams) and in 8 Ways & 16 Ways.

Entrepreneur Musings

Today marks my first day as a full-time writer, entrepreneur.

It started off with a bang! I slept until 1pm. Yep, way to hit the ground running, right? But I’ve recently decided that I am not going to beat myself up over getting much-needed sleep. So when the Sandman sprinkles dream dust, I surrender to the pull of somnolence.  In this case, I just turned off the alarm and rolled over. The next thing I knew it was afternoon.

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So I stumbled to the computer, sent off a few emails to book club members. (BTW: If you want a great book club to share ideas with, try out the sassy musers at Novel Musings Book Club on Facebook. They are giving away free books!) I slashed my steely blades through a friend’s call for beta work, ate some strawberries, sent off more emails, checked ACX to see if there were any messages from the voice actor for The Torn, Holding Kate Series audio production. Sent more emails, started a newsletter. I texted with my children, best friend, and made plans for a holiday outing. I had a web meeting with some partners, made some decisions, and shuffled paper work. Then I created a fabulous smoked salmon salad sandwich, paid the yard guy, and shivered with my neighbor over the discovery of a large black snake in her drive.

I welcomed a new member to the Read Write Muse, LLC blog at Readwritemuse.com, got her set up in the system, and had another PM meeting with partners.

Up next? I plan to clean out the Scriptorium, pay bills, and hopefully crack open The Source manuscript for continued edits before that Sandman comes calling again. But it’s already 7 pm! My how time flies when you sleep through the most of it!

I’ve accomplished quite a bit today, so no regrets. My heart is light and happy that I have this opportunity to be a full-time writer business lady. We’ll see how long it lasts. Follow my progress, ups and downs here.

Meanwhile check out this awesome cover that my publishing partners released yesterday! Thank you BHC for your excellence in book design. Book launches this month!

keepers 1.5

The Keepers File 1.5

Deep beneath the surface, a lethal strike force equips for a deadly mission.

Reeling from recent life-threatening events, Corey and Kate, with five others volunteer for special ops training. Sequestered in a hidden underground facility for three weeks, they undergo grueling physical preparation, learn the origin of quantum jumps, and gather Intel on the Inner Circle.

Tight bonds form as the team rallies and strengthens for a dangerous mission: To reveal the saboteur of Heartwork Village by entering the matrix of a homicidal genius.

Uncover buried secrets in The Keepers Files 1.5. Coming July 2014.