What’s in Your Stocking?

Mom just called me in from the yard. ‘Bout time. That big yellow ball in the sky is starting to spread across the horizon like a giant egg yolk. Temperatures are dropping. The Powder Puff just sauntered past. Why that canine lets her owner deck her out in that green and red jacket + reindeer antlers, I’ll never know. 

Anyway, when Mom opened the porch door, I caught a whiff of Something Warm and Wonderful inside. She says, “Kimber, dinner! Come.” I don’t need to be called twice. No siree, Lassie! I bounded up the stairs and into the house like Rin Tin Tin after a bad guy. Sure enough. Something Warm and Wonderful was waiting for me.

A little later The Kid walks into the living room and turns on that squawk box thingy in the corner. It lights up. Sounds come out of it. Voices from people no one can see. These invisible people must be really small to live inside that box where they make their voices go up and down. They “sing” about telling it on the mountain. Angels fom the realms of glory. Letting heaven and nature sing. A little town of Bethlehem. Stuff like that.

I snuggle into the recliner with Mom for a little snooze. She says “Kimber, you’re really pushing the envelope for ‘lap dog.'” Is she suggesting I drop a few pounds? Maybe not. She always says that. Laughs. Then gives me the signal that it’s okay to join her. I have to wait for the signal. It may take  a bit. But it always comes. Especially on these cold winter nights. So I can’t complain. Besides. My stocking smells so good!

Tonight the family is watching lights wink and twinkle, among other things  They say the lights have “colors.” But they all look the same to me. Go figure. My peeps finished “putting up the tree” the other day. (I was only trying to help. Honest. Incidentally, “tinsel” looks way better than it tastes.)

The fam has settled in with steaming mugs of something I can’t have, apparently. That’s okay. Because Mom and Dad say the Best Gifts of  Christmas – faith, hope, love, joy and peace – can’t be found in red stockings. Or under the tree. But in the human heart. Like:


 

May the Best Gifts of Christmas be yours!

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Just Wanted to Say “Thanks”!

Mom says it’s time to “count my blessings.” Not sure what that means exactly. But if it means I can swipe that last slice of roast turkey while everyone’s “counting,” I’m game! Besides. You know how moms are, right? 

Hope you enjoy our little video greeting from the Pacific Northwest. We’re calling it our “November Closeout Special.” Threw in a few scenes from some of our favorite places. Like Mount Rainier National Park. Not quite sure what “national park” means either. But it has great smells! Besides. You know how moms are.

If the video doesn’t play right, blame Mom, okay? You know how… oh, never mind!

Storytime and 1600+ Kinds of Beautiful  

Moms are a Special Kind of someone. Silent and strong. Mouthy and mushy. 1600+ kinds of beautiful. 

I know this is so because Mom says so.

Moms are sometimes sentimental. Like the other day. Mom, The Kid and me were walking home from the library. All of a sudden Mom gets all misty-eyed. Something about Fridays and Storytime at the library.

 “Do you remember how we used to walk over to the library every week for Storytime when you were a little kid?” she says to my brother. He’s the youngest. I have three other brothers older than him. “How did you get to be 18 so fast?”she asks.

The Kid smiles and says, “One day at a time.” 

They’re both lugging home a bag full of books. YA books. Adventure books. Science fiction/fantasy books. Biographies. Historical fiction. Authors like Kristin Cashore. Rick Yancey. Laini Taylor. Rick Riordan. Max Lucado.

I’m investigating recent evidence of a Lhasa Apso. They’re taking in the ‘fall colors.’ Tip-toeing down Memory Lane. Seems like 20 years of kids and weekly Storytimes at the library is a lot of ground to cover.

“I remember when you kind of lost interest in Storytime,” Mom says to The Kid. 

Still looking for that Lhasa Apso. Wait. Is that pizza I smell? With sausage?

“You were around six years old” recalls Mom.  “You wanted longer stories with more words. You wanted to roam the library shelves and select books yourself.”

“I still do” says The Kid. 

Besides the library, Mom read aloud to my bros every day. For at least an hour. More if it was a good story. Like Treasure Island. Swiss Family Robinson. The  Three Musketeers. The Count of Monte Cristo. A Tale of Two Cities or The Last of the Mohicans. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. Make Way for Ducklings.

The whole family was practically on a first name basis with Jim Trelease.  Rarely went anywhere without his Read Aloud Handbook. Serious PAwesome!

I know this is so because a Mom says it is. That, and our house is crammed with books. All. Over. The. Place.

Anyway, The Kid still visits the library regularly. He loves that place. He loves books and reading. Maybe there’s something to this Storytime thing? And 1601 kinds of beautiful?

Do I smell pepperoni? 

Visit our sister site at: Hiker Babe. Making the most of your trail miles, one step at a time.

Steaks, Reads, & Rascals

My humans were doing the backyard barbecue thing the other day. Something about “summer’s last hurrah.”

They plopped four delicious “New York steaks” on the grill. Yes, four. Clearly that meant one each for Mom and Dad. One for The Kid. One for me. Right?

Rather than waiting for my hunk of happiness to fall off the grill, I figured I’d just hop right up and help myself. No sense standing on ceremony, right? So I didn’t.

Speaking of which, I thought “fall” was something you do. Apparently that’s not always the case. For example. Mom says “fall” is her favorite season. Something about leaves changing. “Crisp.” Curling up by the fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book. 

I get that. In fact, I know a couple good books that are just right for this “fall” thing: Winterdance: the Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod and Puppies, Dogs, and Blue Northers. Both are by Gary Paulsen  He’s a great adventure/outdoorsy writer. Also a pretty cool dog dude, according to Mom.

Winterdance is non-fiction. It was published in 1994. It’s the inspiration for the Disney movie, Snow Dogs. 

Puppies, Dogs, and Blue Northers celebrates Gary’s lead dog and longtime companion, Cookie. “Paulsen takes readers inside the kennel as Cookie’s last litter of pups grow and learn to pull sleds across the snowy frontier.”

Sounds like a couple of good “hot cocoa” and “fall” books to me. Whatever that means.

Back to the steaks. Thick, delectable, delicious steaks. How was I supposed to know Uncle Jimmy is “coming over later”?

By the way. Just what, exactly, is a “little rascal”? Askin’ for a friend.


Steak photo credit

Turning a Corner  

It’s official. This blog is under New Management. Well, maybe “Management” isn’t the right word. Let me explain.

My name is Kimber. At least I think it’s Kimber. My humans – Mom, Dad, and four brothers, two of whom still live at home – sometimes use other names. Kimmi. Good girl. Hey Babe. 

Anyway, I was born on June 22, 2016. I’m a Golden Retriever/Black Lab/Border Collie mix. Mom says that means I’m super friendly, super smart, and super hyper. Whatever that means. I’m just me. 

Wait. Did the Powder Puff just saunter past? That’s what my humans sometimes call the neighbor’s dog. At least I think she’s a dog. It’s hard to tell under all that fur.

As I was saying, Mom says I’m a rescue dog. I’m not sure what that means either. But it sounds good when she says it. I joined my family in August of last year. We live on the Olympic Peninsula. We go on long walks and hikes, explore the Cascades, and play football, Frisbee and other games and activities when it’s not raining. It rains here a lot. Dad says that’s one reason why this place is called “The Evergreen State.”

Do I smell bacon?

False alarm. Beef jerky.

So, I guess you could say this blog is under new “dog-agement.” It will focus on adventures in writing, reading, and life in the rural hinterlands of western Washington. Narrated by me. Why me? Because Mom says I’m a “natural.” And that I’m way smarter than she is. I’m not sure what that means, either. But I like the way it sounds when she says it. 

See you again soon!

Perks!

Are you a book lover? Do you skip meals in order to “finish the next chapter”? Do you await your favorite author’s next release like a kid counting down to Christmas? Is a trip to the library a grand adventure?

I am rarely as content as when I’m neck-deep in a good story. Or even a mediocre one. I’ve never read “competitively” or to win prizes. I just love books. And I love to read. 

But every once in awhile it’s nice to get a little perk. Call it a reading bonus. 

I was delighted to get a phone call from my local library yesterday saying I’d won not one but two prizes in conjunction with this year’s Adult Summer Reading Program: an Amazon gift card and a book bag filled with goodies. I ambled over to the library today to pick up my prizes, pictured above.

The book bag is sturdy and zippered.  I can use it to haul checkouts and returns to and from the library, which I usually walk to. The bag was filled with some pretty cool stuff, including note cards, chocolate, a mini metallic notebook, and a giant coffee mug (for curling up with a good book). And who can resist Ghirardelli’s Intense Dark? Also four brand new hard book backs I haven’t yet read! The $25 gift card arrives next week.

 I read 136 audio and hard copy books in 92 days for this summer’s Adult Reading Program. Re-reading old favorites and discovering new ones was “prize” enough. But it still feels like Christmas.

Know what I mean?

The Fridge List

Ever notice how summer seems to slip through your fingers, as mercurial as quicksilver? One Friday in June and it’s the Last Day of School. You blink. And it’s September. 

We usually wind up scratching our heads, trying to figure out what in the world happened to summer? How’d it fade so fast? Where did the time go? How Good it all was.

No more.

A few weeks back I decided this summer will be different. So I set some goals. Sat down and wrote out a list. Checked it twice. And clipped it to the fridge.

I listed several hikes I want to take before the snows fly. Destinations and places I want to visit before the Northwest turns soggy again. I included people I want to touch base with – folks I haven’t seen or heard from in awhile.

And I set a summer reading goal in tandem with the local library’s Adult Summer Reading Program: 100 books/audio books in 12 weeks. (Yeah, I know. It’s a pretty lofty goal. That’s why I want to pursue it. That, and I find that reading widely and often makes me a better writer.)

Per the summer reading program, books have to be read in a wide variety of pre-designated categories. Non-fiction. Sci Fi/Fantasy. Young Adult. First book in a new series. A book by an author using a pseudonym. A cookbook or food memoir. A book by a local author. A favorite children’s book (I have like a million or so.) A re-read (another million). And so on.

It’s been a challenge, especially since some of the genres are outside those which I typically gravitate toward. But what fun!! I’m learning a lot. Meeting tons of new friends. Getting fresh inspiration and new ideas. Woo-hoo!

Some favorites so far, in no particular order: The Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir, the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor, and just about anything by Walt Morey.

It’s taken some creative juggling and rearranging, but I’m almost half way to my goal. And summer is yet young. And promising.

How ’bout you? What’s on your “fridge list” this summer?

When “Free” Isn’t, And What You Can Do About It

His “book launch team” was going to make a big splash.  In return for reading and reviewing his new title, Mr. Book Launch offered some freebies and insider goodies – if you made the cut.

That’s right.  His invitation to “join the team” required an application.  He wanted social media stats, Facebook numbers, promo ideas.  And his invitation was exclusive to “big fish.”

Another blogmeister advertised a *free* webinar on how to generate a ton of traffic to your blog.  He included one of seven tips.  To get the rest, you had to sign up for his other seminar – for $497.  The balance of his *free* presentation was a sales pitch for the not-so-free “real deal.”

Are You a Would-Be Whale?

Commenting on the above, someone said, “The writing biz is hard enough without locking people out, tangling them up in nets.  How does one writer say ‘no’ to another writer who’s willing to help?  What kind of ‘teamwork’ is that?”  Someone else asked, “What’s with, ‘sorry, you’re not a big enough fish.  This offer limited to whales only’?”  Another wondered, “What about writers who don’t have $497 to spend on more razzle-dazzle – they’re just outta luck?”

No one likes being turned down, not even for an unpaid gig.  No one likes having doors close because they can’t afford the price of admission. I’m willing to bet that at least some of the people Mr. Big Shot and Mr. Not-So-Free turned away weren’t only willing to do promotional work gratis, they may also have been writers who wanted to learn and who could use reciprocal exposure the most.

How many would-be whales were left flapping their flukes?  How ’bout you?

Let’s Start an Avalanche!

That’s why I’m launching Avalanche.  Think rush.  Flood.  Landslide.  Writers helping writers.

No application required.  I won’t even ask how many followers you have.  Really.

Sound good?  If you’re looking to gain exposure for your work and build your audience, simply respond with, “I’m in.”

Or check out: Avalanche!

Getting It Write by Doing it Wrong

I did it all wrong.

When I started cranking out newsletters – shortly after the earth’s crust cooled – I wanted to Get It Right.  So I studied every template, tip and technique available.  Scoured the internet and library for pointers and how-tos.  Wrote and rewrote headlines, by lines, subject lines and clotheslines.  Chased every cool idea and creative lead I could.  Producing a quality newsletter is serious stuff.  I wanted to Get It Right.

The result?

A newsletter that was as flat as an open can of soda left out for a week.

Something Missing

The “experts” (who are these people?) may have answers related to style, format and even basic content.  But something was missing: Me.

I was trying so hard to Get It Right, I was churning out someone else’s idea of a great newsletter. Not mine.  The result was a product that tasted like yesterday’s oatmeal.

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