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Valentines Day

So the BIG long weekend is nearing completion. Time to go back to work. Well, for most of you. I’ve been working all weekend and it’s been great! Full house for Valentine’s eve with delicious breakfast treats on Valentine’s morning.

red velvet wafflesThe red velvet waffles were a hit even though they were sort of a brown-gray-pink color. I used a lot of food coloring too, but they still weren’t all that red after cooking. The batter was a killer hot pink color though. They looked like they were going to be red. Oh well, I just slathered on a little extra cream cheese icing and it was all good. Add some Baer House eggs (a house speciality) and some bacon and a fruit parfait and you’ve got yourself a sweet feast.

Anyway, we had two couples celebrating their anniversary; one just completed their first year of wedded bliss (aw), the other 13 years. That was fun. Another guest surprised me with a small box of chocolates and chocolate covered strawberries. That was unexpected and very sweet!

And my own sweetie stopped to get be a bouquet of candy hearts on his way home from the store that morning. All in all, a good weekend.

candy hearts

How about you readers? Anything worth sharing? We romance writers like to know these things. Fodder for our books you know.

Have a great week!

Word of the Day: Zymotic

Fun fact about me: I’d rather have flowers than chocolates for Valentine’s Day.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, February 2016. Photos courtesy Google Images.

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This month I’m going to talk about me. But not the flower-crazy, stick shift driving, word challenged, female who likes all things sparkly. No, I’m going to talk about me, Jansen Schmidt the writer. Have I mentioned that I’m also a writer?

While this picture is not my actual desk, it accurately reflects my writing style when I’m really in the zone. You writers out there know what I’m talking about. It’s not a mess, it’s research and, I don’t care who you are, do NOT touch my desk, my notes, my piles of papers. There is a method to the madness. Those post-it notes contain key points that must not be forgotten in the plot at any cost. The empty cups are a sure sign that my husband the cabana boy has retired for the night and there will no longer be anyone to bring me beverage refills or any other form of sustenance. But I carry on. I persevere. Just a thousand more words, one more chapter, six more pages of edits, then I’ll be done for the day.

Why do we do this? Why do we put outselves through this agonizing process called writing? I’ll tell you why I do it.

In 2009 I was bestowed with an Honorable Mention is the Writing on the Walls contest sponsored by The Storyteller Magazine. As part of this recognition, my short story, Dancing In the Middle, was published in the Writing on the Walls III anthology. (http://www.thestorytellermagazine.com/past-wow-winners.html)

I was over the moon with my very first real publishing experience! This was it! It’s official! I’m a legitimate author and I have a book out there to prove it. I have a book cover to post on my website. I signed a contract and everything! Of course it’s not mine alone, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.

Dancing In the Middle is about a dance instructor with a secret who is unknowingly smuggling drugs into the United States from Mexico. It has strong romance elements and incorporates my love of all forms of dance. Dancing In the Middle was featured on a blog! How cool is that? You can experience that thrill here: http://sjdriscoll.com/?s=Jansen+Schmidt.

See how much more exciting my life is now that I’m a published author. I’m in demand. People can’t get enough of me. Okay, so maybe one guest blog feature has gone to my head, but it brightened my day immensely to be featured on Sally’s blog. I can’t wait for that first real book signing.

But I digress.

This Honorable Mention accolade boosted my enthusiam for writing and justified what I do as – REAL! I wasn’t just playing around any more. I was officially – an author. With that came added responsibilities, a reputation to uphold, expectations for future stories. Oh the pressure!

Fortunately, I carried on, putting more words on the page, drying up hundreds of highlighters and red pens, rubbing down countless erasers. Running the cabana boy ragged. My stubborness persistence paid off!

Writing on the Walls IV

In 2011 I entered the same contest with a different story. Finding Emily also received an Honorable Mention in the contest and will be available in the 2012 Writing on the Walls IV anthology, in either paper or e-book format in June 2012 at Amazon.com or Mockingbirdlanepress.com.

That’s right, now I have 2 book covers to post on my website. I entered the same story in the 2011 Silver Quill contest and came in second place. (http://www.thestorytellermagazine.com/silver-quill-winners.html) As a contest “winner” I received a cash prize. Oh the heart-stopping excitement! I have now received income from my writing. Before you get all gushy with kind words, I will confess that that prize money was almost enough to buy lunch for me and the cabana boy my husband. But hey, it was cold hard cash for a well written story. I’ll take it!

Finding Emily is about a tenacious private investigator’s inter-state search for a missing child presumed dead. With the help of a research librarian, he unravels the truth and sets out to find Emily.

For more information about the Writing on the Walls contest or The Storyteller Magazine visit: http://www.thestorytellermagazine.com/index.html

As a result of all of this craziness hard work, I now have the distinct pleasure of introducing myself as a multi-published, award winning author. That sounds more impressive than it really is, but I’m keeping it.

For more information about me, Jansen Schmidt the writer, visit my website at http://www.jansenschmidt.com. There you can find excerpts from my current works in progress as well as finished manuscripts waiting for some lucky editor to snatch up for publication. You can sign my guestbook while you’re there so I know you visited.

As this post publishes on the worldwide web, I will be at the start of my much needed vacation. But, please leave a comment and know that I will respond to each and every one when I return. I love seeing your comments. Oh, and don’t think that while I’m away you can borrow my cabana boy either; he goes where I go. After all what multi-published, award winning author goes anywhere without her cabana boy?

Word of the Day:  Gadroon

Fun fact about me:  I did not learn how to ride a bike until I was 13 years old. Sad – but true.

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It’s May first and spring is in full bloom in my neck of the woods! There was much complaining from the natives about all of the rain in March and April. But, let me say, there are no complaints now! May is shaping up to be one of the most beautiful months ever. So, in honor of Earth Day, I’m blogging this month about all of the beautiful things surrounding us in nature. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, take a look around you. You might be surprised.

Everywhere I’ve gone these past couple of weeks there are wild flowers and luscious green grass and shiny new leaves on the trees. I notice these gifts. I notice because – like sparkly things – I love flowers. I love to look at them, smell them, touch them and . . .  apparently, from pursuing my travel photos for last month’s blog, photographing them. Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve taken pictures of flowers.

I didn’t really notice that I do this until last month when I was drafting my April blog. But it makes sense because I am always drawn to a vibrant display of color. And a perfect bud or bloom has on occasion actually taken my breath away.

Susie Lindau (http://susielindau.com/2012/04/25/a-heatwave-cometh-early-a-photo-essay/) and Serena Dracis (http://serenadracis.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/welcome-to-wild-wednesday/) both recently posted pictures on their blogs of their back yards and gardening attempts, among other things. Karen McFarland has also posted awesome flower pictures on her blog recently. (http://www.karenmcfarland.com/perform-in-a-springtime-melody) All three of these blogs have amped up my spring fever. If you want some instant spring time, I highly recommend checking out these fabulous blogs.

Those were memorable blogs for me because I’m a flower-holic. I love them, plain and simple. I can’t resist snapping a photo every time I am awestruck by a beautiful bloom.

You’ll have to bear with me again this month as we take a little walk down memory lane and enjoy some of my flower-taking exerpiences.

Rain forest - Hilo, Hawaii

And it’s not just flowers that call me like a siren from the sea. Oh no, it’s unique plants and trees as well. A serene meadow or fern-blanketed forest have also been worthy of my photo snapping skills. I especially like finding a growing green plant in an most unexpected place.

Like this hearty little plant pushing up through a bed of hardened lava.

Lava beds - Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Or these interesting specimens.

Annaberg Sugar Mill - Virgin Islands National Park - St. John, US Virgin Islands

Interesting beauty in the desert - Cabo San Lucas

Or this Banyan Tree. If you don’t know about Banyan Trees, I suggest you do some research, they’re fascinating things. They remind of of things you’d read about in Gene Lempp’s blogs. (www.genelempp.wordpress.com)

Banyon Tree - Oahu Hawaii

And here’s a very unique and beautiful tree.

Paradise Point - St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

But mostly, it’s the flowers that captivate me. Here are some of my flower photos with a brief description of where I took them. Enjoy!

The Big Island of Hawaii

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Cinnamon Bay - St. John, US Virgin Islands

Annaberg Sugar Mill - St. John, US Virgin Islands

Playa Mazatlan - Mazatlan, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

St. Thomas - US Virgin Islands

Lahaina, Maui

Maui, Hawaii

Downtown Honolulu, Hawaii

Downtown Honolulu, Hawaii

And what blog post about my travels would be complete without some photos of my favorite places – Disneyland and Disney World!

Epcot - Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom - Walt Disney World

I don’t have to be stationary to photograph these colorful living organisms either. Nope, I can shoot right through the glass window of my transport vehicle. Like these three I couldn’t resist while on my bus ride through Honolulu.

The hillsides along the freeways were bursting with color. I know now what Rachel Funk Heller experiences every day where she lives in paradise! You’re a lucky girl, Rachel! I hope you appreciate this living landscape beauty.

Here’s one I took from a moving boat.

St. John - US Virgin Islands

I captured some shoreline treasures . . .

Asilomar - Pacific Grove, California

And these mountain beauties.

Yosemite - May 2011

And as much as I love finding the natural beauty in plants and flowers, don’t even get me started on the the man-made topiaries. I can photograph these things all day. And apparently I have, judging by my vacation albums. Who came up this this idea anyway? It’s genius!

Sorcerer Mickey - Back Stage Tour - Walt Disney World 2009

It's A Small World - Disneyland

It's A Small World - Disneyland

 And I don’t just capture these amazing gems during the day time. No sirree, I photograph at night too.

It's A Small World - Disneyland - Christmas 2010

 Here’s a unique palm tree that captured my attention in Honolulu, whist on my ghost hunting expedition one night last year. That’s right, I went in search of ghosts.

Date palms - Honolulu, Hawaii

I not only shoot day or night, I shoot outside or in. Makes no difference to me and my snap happy finger.

St. Andrew's Cathedral

And a little rain won’t impede my desire to capture that perfect work of beauty.

My affinity for photographing flowers evidently also extends beyond the realm of the living. Here are some floral arrangements that, while natural, would not appear in this form in the wild.

Grand food creations buffet - Carnival Victory - 2006

Grand food creations buffet - Carnival Victory - 2006

Not only are flowers lovely to look at and delightful to smell, flowers can be functional as well. For instance did you know that rose bushes are often planted on the perimeters of vineyards?

They not only attract bees and other pollinators, but they help predict sudden changes in the weather. Roses are very susceptible to mold and are hyper-sensitive to temperature changes. Vintners can watch their roses to know whether or not they need to take action to protect their grape crop. You see, it’s an educational blog too.

So there you have it. My crazy flower obsession.

What’s your passion, or perhaps what thing do you find yourself photographing over and over again, besides your kids and pets?

Word of the day: Fuliginous

Fun fact about me: I once used cocoa powder as stage make-up.

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It’s that time of the year again – time to be thinking of warm places, beaches, sun tans, getting a new tattoo, and adult beverages! It spring time! Time for spring break.

Cabo San Lucas

This month I’m hosting my very first guest blogger, author and good friend, Loucinda McGary, otherwise known as Aunty Cindy from Aunty Cindy Explains it all www.auntycindy.blogspot.com. Aunty Cindy and I will take you on a virtual spring break to Mexico! We hope you enjoy the ride.

Cindy is a chapter mate of mine at the Sacramento Valley Rose writers group. She writes contemporary romance with paranormal elements set in exotic locales. Her interesting characters quite often have unique talents.

She recently took the plunge into the world of Indie publishing, with her novelette, The Sidhe Princess, a prequel to her debut novel, The Wild Sight. Today we will be talking about her latest release, High Seas Deception.

Everyone who visits today can take advantage of this coupon offer of $1.05 (35%) off the already incredibly low price of $2.99 toward the purchase of High Seas Deception from SmashWords. Use coupon code UT63X when you order (expires March 10th). One lucky visitor will receive a certificate for a free download (Amazon, B&N or SmashWords). But you must leave a comment to qualify.

High Seas Deception is a story of intrigue and suspense set aboard a cruise ship. Cindy is no stranger to cruising the oceans of our great planet. In January she completed her 22nd cruise. Her frequent voyages to foreign lands provide much fodder for her stories. High Seas Deception is no exception.

Without further ado, let’s get on board ship, have a celebratory drink (make mine a double) and chat with Aunty Cindy:

Hello, Aunty and welcome to my blog. I’m very honored to have you as my very first guest blogger.

Cindy: Thanks a bunch, Patricia! I’m tickled PINK to be the first guest on your wonderful blog and I appreciate the opportunity to talk about my newest release, High Seas Deception. But I’ll also be happy to answer questions about any of my other works, or writing and publishing in general.

High Seas Deception takes place on the Mexican Riviera, the west coast of Mexico. Why did you choose Mexico for the location instead of someplace in the Caribbean or the Bahamas?

Cindy: You know that old saying “write what you know?” Well, that was the case in me choosing the Mexican Riviera as the setting for High Seas Deception. As you and most of my friends know, I’ve been on twenty-two cruises to date. Fifteen of those have been to the Mexican Riviera. But never fear, I will be setting future books in the series in the Caribbean and other great cruise locations (I’ve actually never been to the Bahamas, yet)!

High Seas Deception involves another of your famous Irish heroes. Why Irish?

Cindy: Two words — cute accent. But seriously, being Irish myself, I’ve always had a preference for dark haired, blue-eyed lads (think Pierce Brosnan), and my readers seem to enjoy them too. However, my current work-in-progress (WIP) will have a non-Irish hero. I hope readers will enjoy his story just as much as my Irish lads. 

In HSD your heroine works security on the ship. Why did you choose a security guard role instead of a more glamorous cocktail waitress or cruise director position?

Cindy: My hero, Malone has a blatant disregard for rules if those rules hamper his objectives. The end definitely justifies the means as far as he is concerned. I thought it would be fun to match him up with a woman who has a great sense of justice and following the law. Skylar turned out to be a good foil for Malone, and they both learned and grew from being with the other.

Again, in future books I’ll have characters with more “glamorous” cruise ship jobs. Matter of fact, the heroine of my WIP is Skylar’s roommate and assistant cruise director, Avery Knox.

The plot revolves around a “package” that your Irishman is trying to intercept before it reaches Los Angeles. What can you tell us about this “package” and why someone is trying to smuggle it into LA?

Cindy: Without giving away any too many spoilers, “the Irishman” (as Malone is called) is a mercenary with a reputation for being both ruthless and deadly. He’s a bit of a James Bond type who is adept at extricating himself from dangerous situations.

There is a smuggling ring on board the cruise ship Intrepid that serves as a ‘middleman’ in transporting illegal things between Mexico and California. Malone is hired by a third party to retrieve a package which could prove lethal in the wrong hands. Of course, the problem is that almost everyone is “the wrong hands” and they all would like to possess the contents of that package.

So, veering away from the book for a moment, of all of the cruises you’ve taken, where has been the most interesting place you’ve visited and why?

Cindy: They have all been fun and interesting in their own ways. I’d say one of the most interesting places I visited was last September on cruise #20. We sailed out of New Orleans and visited Belize, Honduras, and the east coast of Mexico. We took this cruise specifically to see Mayan ruins, and we toured a fabulous site outside of Belize City called Altun Ha.

If you ever have a chance to visit this area, do not miss the Mayan ruins! They are spectacular. Here’s one of my pictures from my visit.

Thank you, Cindy. It’s always a pleasure to hear about your travel adventures and your books. What can we look forward to following HSD?

Cindy: Right now, I’m working hard on Book 2 in the Adventure Cruise Line series. The tentative title is His Reluctant Bodyguard and features Avery Knox from High Seas Deception as the heroine. I hope to have the story completed and the book available online by the end of the summer. This will be a real challenge, so please keep your fingers crossed and good thoughts coming my way to help me achieve this ambitious goal. I know I can count on you, Patricia, to offer encouragement and well-placed threats along the way!

It was a pleasure having you as my guest. Good luck with the next project and have fun on your next high seas journey. If folks want to know more about you and/or your books where can then go on line for that information?

Cindy: I’ve just revamped my website, so I’d love for everyone to pop over there and tell me what you think, http://www.loucindamcgary.com

I also have my own personal blog at: www.auntycindy.blogspot.com/
And you can find me on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/loucinda.mcgary
and Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/LoucindaMcGary

I love hearing from readers and other writers, and heck, ANYBODY! So please pop on by and say hi.

Don’t forget to enter the following coupon code UT63X when ordering your copy of High Seas Deception from SmashWords only.

So tell me readers, Aunty Cindy is partial to Irish heroes; what types of heroes do you like to read/write about? Where’s your favorite beach vacation spot?

Word of the day: Exonumia
Fun fact about me: When I was a freshman in high school I could run a mile in less than six minutes.

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So the big turkey feast is behind us. The pilgrims and the pumpkins have gone back into their hiding place in the attic or garage and a new season of holiday mayhem, I mean, magic, is upon us.

So much to do! So much to see! So little time! Even less money! Black Friday! Cyber Monday! Shopping and wrapping and snacking, oh my!

That’s right my friends, it’s December, that frenzied, fantastical time of the year known as Christmas! There’s so much to love about Christmas. Who doesn’t love the corny classic movies, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and The Charlie Brown Christmas.? Or the tear-jerkers that still manage to make us laugh, Miracle on 34th Street and my personal favorite, It’s A Wonderful Life!

It’s a time for egg nog, cranberries, and pumpkin flavored everything. It’s the only time of the year mistletoe is a welcome site and real trees are allowed into the house without the intent of using them in the fireplace. It’s time for traditions, silly hats, ugly sweaters and pajamas that are never to be worn any other time of the year. What’s not to love about Christmas?

My favorite part of the Christmas process, and it is a process that starts even before Halloween these days, is selecting just the right tree and then, putting all of my precious ornaments on it. Selecting the tree is always a team effort at my house. I plough through the glistening snow-covered forest pointing and analyzing while my husband trails along behind with the saw. What? I can’t properly analyze with a saw in my hand! Then I hold the perfect specimen while my husband hunkers down on the wet frozen ground to hack the thing off. When victory is ours, he hauls the tree to the truck while I carry the saw and cheerfully point out any potential pitfalls he might encounter along the way.

Once we get the awesome evergreen home, I hold the door while my husband finagles the twelve foot monster across the railing, around the porch swing and through the opening. You see, still a team effort. Now comes the fun part, he tilts and twists and spins the behemoth conifer whilst I stand back and say, “a little to the left,” “a little to the right.” This still requires a team effort because one person cannot do both things at the same time. Try it.

Once we are victorious with stabilizing the tree, the decorating begins. My husband insists on doing the lights and I happily oblige. After all, someone has to taste the wine to make sure it’s the appropriate vintage for the decorating ceremony. After the lights are aglow, I begin the painstaking process of choosing which spot on the tree is the perfect spot for each individual ornament. Heads up, this process can take hours so much wine is needed. It is also the only time my husband allows Christmas music to be played while he is home. (Oh my gosh, I’ve just realized that I may have married Scrooge.)

But, I digress. The actual point of this post is that I love Christmas and all of the craziness that goes along with it. I am so blessed to live in a country where I can freely enjoy such traditions and that I have a wonderfully accommodating husband who allows me to indulge in my crazy, anal-retentive holiday weirdness. For me, it’s not necessarily about what’s under the tree, but the whole process of finding the right tree and watching it sparkle every night for about thirty days. It’s an annual tradition that shall always be near and dear to my heart.

Tell me what makes Christmas special in your house.

Word of the day: Balisage

Fun fact about me: When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a truck driver when I grew up.

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Hello and welcome to my new adventures in blogging!

So blogging – what is that really? It’s words. And, I love words! I’m a writer and a scrabble player and a lover of cross word puzzles. Words like widget, trapezoid and extrapolate are fun. But others, like phlegm, not so much. And let’s face it, blog isn’t very attractive either.

And don’t you just hate it when you can’t quite find the right word? You can find something close, but not quite right. Sometimes I think there’s entirely too many words to choose from. But as exciting and frustrating as words are, I’m here to tell you to exercise extreme caution when using words. Words will mess you up my friends.

Some words may look right, but aren’t. Let me tell you, that can cause some really embarrassing situations. For instance, placing a new plaque on the auditorium wall is not the same as placing a new plague on the same building. They both look right, but while plaques are nice and relatively harmless, no one really wants a new plague hanging around. Just one tiny little letter changes everything.

And then there’s times when you use the correct letters, but get them in the wrong order. This too can lead to undue embarrassment. Case in point, I once sent a very professional business letter to a client asking her to come in and sing her Last Will and Testament. Now, granted, the singing of the Will might have been wonderously entertaining, but, I’m told it provides no authenticity to the document whatsoever. Apparently, it’s the actual signing of the document that makes it enforceable. Silly mistake, but somewhat awkward for me.

And then there’s those words that will trip you up because they have more than one meaning or they have similar sounds. They might sound right, but in reality, improper useage  changes the entire meaning of a sentence. A misconception is not the same as a preconception but when spoken out loud, they sound the same – sort of. And someone who sees words in reverse order has dyslexia not dyspepsia. Two very different things, and yet they kind of sound the same. Be careful.

And quite the opposite is also true. Some words are actually very much correct, but they just sound wrong. For instance if I were to ask you to remove your small lizard from the hole in my oak wine barrel, that sounds correct. But this is also correct: keep your little skink away from my bunghole. And yet that just sounds – well wrong somehow.

So, as you go forth in the world of poems and prose, business letters and weekly progress reports, use caution and choose carefully, and please remember to proof read before you hit that wonderful enter button, least you too fall victim to the wacky world of words.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope to see you on a regular basis. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and WordPress.com and visit my website www.jansenschmidt.com.

So tell me, what improper word usage has caused you embarrassment? Don’t be bashful, it’s good to get these things off your chest once in a while.

Word of the day: Alacrity (Go look it up, but not right now. Post your comment first, then go.)

Fun fact about me: I have an extra vertebrae in my spine. (Unfortunately this does not give me superpowers, it just make me more susceptible to back problems.)

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