Monday, February 6, 2017

A Bouquet of Balloons

I sat down to write this blog, and I couldn't decide on a single idea. The possibilities were like a balloon bouquet. Lots of colorful choices, but none with enough substance to carry a full post.

So I decided to do a Tiki Top Ten. Pay no attention to the numbers. They only represent the order I decided to include the thought in this post - not any order of importance. There is no theme, just sharing some of the things going on in my head.

I haven't done a top ten type post in a long time. I hope I remember how 🎈

1. The Trilogy
I'm finally DONE with self-editing. Yes, I'm shouting! Now I'm reading it aloud. Fast. I always catch stuff here that I miss in other ways - awkward dialogue and missing words for the most part, but assorted other glitches, too.

The dogs love when I do this. They gather around and chill.

As soon as I input these changes, off it goes to the real editor.

2. February
Valentine's, President's Day, Mardi Gras, and when I'm ready for spring.

I've lived all over - warm climates, cold climates, moderate climates. My built-in Spring Alarm sounds sometime between February 1 and President's Day. When it does, I'm automatically ready for winter to be over.

That's when I'm ready to go to the nursery and buy a flat of flowers to plant. I'm not a gardener by any means, but at this point, I really need to feel my fingers in the dirt.

I don't know why that is. Something related to genes from generations past, I'm guessing.

3. What's for Dinner?
I love to cook. I like to experiment with recipes and layer flavors. However, making dinner night after night is a different animal. I'm desperately in search of quick and easy recipes. This trilogy has brought the matter to the forefront. Let me explain.

It's 6 p.m. Maybe I remembered to take something out of the freezer to thaw. Often, I haven't. People are getting hungry. Many nights I've thawed ground beef or turkey in the skillet. We're tired of chili mac and sloppy joes.

Specifically, I'd love some recipes or suggestions for meals that are quick to prepare and/or easy to clean up. Either of those is good. Both would be fantastic!

I'm not looking for something that has 10 ingredients I have to measure or 10 veggies I have to chop.

Anything you can suggest or link to, especially skillet meals or crockpot concoctions would be great.

4. It's been too long since I've been to the beach.
Period. That is all.

5. I'm a Mutt
I took the test on Facebook called "What Kind of Dog Are You?"

Y'all know I have a wide range of interests. It's impossible for me to have a favorite anything. LOL...laughing at myself as I type - this menagerie of a post is a perfect example. One favorite is way too limiting.

The exception to this is, of course, Live-In Handyman. But there are many things to love about him, so maybe that's why 💘

Anyway, the test said the good thing about being a Mutt is that they are healthier and more adaptable than purebreds.

So there 😁

6. Gracie Brain
I have Gracie Brain. It's caused by close and continuous contact with Gracie Hofner, the protagonist in the trilogy. This chickie and I have shared everything over the past couple of years.

Gracie Brain is the main reason I'm in search of quick and easy dinner recipes - see #3 above.

Gracie Brain causes me not to be able to think of anything other than Gracie World without conscious effort. It's most likely the reason for this Top Ten. Only the thoughts that were strongest bubbled out.

7. Texas
As much as I love Texas and as much as I know about Texas and Texans, what I actually KNOW is a drop in the old rusty bucket. I ended up doing a lot of research about my beautiful Lone Star State. Some items applied to only one book, while others ran through the entire trilogy.

I especially learned a lot more about San Antonio and San Antonians, as it is the setting for all three books.

8. Silly Stuff
I do silly stuff. All. The. Time. If you know someone who knows me IRL, ask them. They know. Just today...I was in the produce section of the grocery store. Ahead, I saw some beautiful radishes. In my head, I'm thinking Those are the biggest damn radishes I've ever seen. I got closer. They were beets. I like radishes, but not beets. Sigh.

9. Curiosity Killed the Cat
Thank God I'm not a cat. Or on the flip side of that, maybe that's why they have nine lives. I think I must be one of the most curious creatures on the planet. About everything. My poor mother. I probably made her crazy. Are you curious, too?

10. Super Bowl
Pick one. Or more. I'm easy. And a mutt☺
Lady Gaga
I read a book.
I watched a movie.
All of the Above
None of the Above

I'll be back here on Monday, March 6.
Happy February!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Between the Goal Posts

Happy New Year!

We kicked that old year out and locked the door behind it. The next morning, it was nowhere to be found, so I guess it took the hint.

Here's a toast that 2017 will be a great year for all of us. Raise your glass, mug, paper cup, can, or bottle. Cheers!

How did you do on your goals last year?

Did you remember you had goals? :)

I did fair. I doubled my reading goal, but I did not create a newsletter. I came up short with my writing goal. I'm still editing, but I'm on the final pass of Book #3. The entire trilogy should be (saying a prayer, knocking on wood, etc.) to my editor around the end of February. She's been warned, LOL.

This year, my reading goal is the number of books I read in 2016. I doubt I will be doubling it again this year.

I'm so late to the newsletter game that it may be passe before I get started. But I will be getting the wheels in motion this spring. I have no idea what I'm doing here, so if you're a newsletter pro or know someone who is, I'd much appreciate your advice, suggestions, help, or your go-to person's name. Many thanks in advance.

My writing and publishing goals...complicated.

At minimum, Book #1 of the trilogy will see the light of day this year. Possibly Book #2, as well, but the timing of Book #2 depends on when the first book actually gets out there.

I also want to draft a new book. One book sounds like a piece of cake after writing this trilogy. Although I know that's not true at all. I have options here.

Option One is to expand the trilogy into a series, although each additional book would be a standalone. Several possible stories are there just waiting to be told. I know which of these stories should be told first, but I actually know more about the story that should come after it. So this will require a little thinking.

Option Two is a standalone that is already plotted.

Option Three is to revisit the plotted story to see if it could work as a series story - if I decide to go that way. If so, could it possibly fit with the story that needs to come next.

Too many choices!

So I have as much thinking and analyzing to do as I do writing. Almost. It's going to be difficult - I'm not the analytical type. Usually I operate by what feels right. It's time, perhaps, for more thinking than feeling before making this decision.

Have ideas or suggestions as to the best path?

Did you make goals this year?

Chocolate or Vanilla?

Wishing you the best rocking January ever!

I'll be back here on Monday, February 6.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Insert Title Here*

*Need a title
One that pops
Not one that just
Sags and drops

One that sizzles
Dances, shines
Makes you smell those
Wintry pines

All I have is
Drab and gray
No 50 Shades
Or word play

So here's my post
It's a guess
This one may stay


Those who have been following me for a while may remember that while all you writers are focusing on NaNo, I'm having my own mini-freakout. To those of you who are participating - in NaNo, not my freakout :) - I wish you much success!

Whats my freakout? A dozen birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's - all between late October and January 1.

Think about that for a second. Think about the food. Slap a slice of birthday cake all around my body. Add pumpkin pie, coconut cake, apple cake, tamales, dressing, potatoes, gravy, blackeyed peas, and lots more. Don't forget the turkey. Roll it all in Halloween candy.

After writing that, I'm stuffed and hungry at the same time.

Plus gifts. Tape. Ribbon. Thank God for gift bags and tissue! And online shopping

Let's change the subject. AKA plot twist.

A few months ago, I showed you photos of my office. Not long after, I changed things around. Yeah, I'm one of those.

So I thought I'd share my new look with you.

Now I get to look straight out of my windows, except for straight ahead. There I see my monitor.

If I raise up enough to look straight over my monitor, I see this.

Back inside, one of two dogs-in-residence.

I love my new, more compact space. Maybe I'm a little more productive. Jury's still out on that.

My trilogy is still in progress, but I'm moving along on the edit. I'm now on Book #2. Books two and three should take much less time than the first book - both are shorter and require fewer story adjustments than the first one.

This project has taken me more time that I thought, but it's still an amazing journey. And I'm still in love with the characters. I'm looking forward to introducing them to you in the spring (I hope spring, LOL. We'll see what my editor has to say before I commit.)

In other news, remember the blooming bird of paradise last year? It's blooming again! As of just last week. I'm thrilled :) So far? One bloom and one bud.

I took these photos on Friday, 10/28. It was 85F and sunny. Autumn in San Antonio is awesome, but usually a little cooler than 85. Although when summer days are often 105F, 85's not bad.

That's about it from my real life world.

Blog world is different.

The Tiki Hut will be closed in December so all employees can enjoy the holidays with their families. So remember all those food events I mentioned above? I wish you a happy and a merry every single one.

Since the first Monday in January is the New Year holiday, I'll be back here on Wednesday, January 4, 2017.

See you next year!

Love and hugs,

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Bowl and the Stone...and Jumbies

I'm still editing, but the good news is I'm on the last pass before sending my triplets off to the editor. Of course, I'm only about 25% through Book #1, so there's a way to go yet. Sigh. But I'm getting there!

Bish Denham is visiting the Tiki Hut this month to tell us about her new book, THE BOWL AND THE STONE, a Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands. How perfect is that for October - the month of Halloween!

It's just out, so go buy it today!

Bish is also hosting a Rafflecopter giveaway for a copy of her new book. Some of you may recall that Rafflecopter refuses to acknowledge my existence, so I'm unable to post the signup link here. If you wish to participate, just zip over to Bish's blog, and you can enter the drawing from there.

If you buy the book AND win the Rafflecopter giveaway, you have one to keep and one to donate or give to your favorite library or child. Win/Win!

Hold onto your laptops! The jumbies are coming. . . .

Thanks for hosting me today Carol!

Today I’m going to tell you a little bit about jumbies.

A jumbie, jumbee, or jumby is a mythological spirit or demon in Caribbean folklore which has its roots in Africa. It is a generic name given to all malevolent entities. Different islands have different concepts of what jumbies are. Generally it is thought that people who were evil in life will become instruments of evil after death. Unlike ghosts that are wispy, fog-like beings, jumbies are dark and shadowy.

Traditional sayings
In the old days some parents would tell misbehaving children to watch out or, “the Jumbies will get you!”

Ways to avoid a Jumbie
You can confuse a Jumbie by wearing your clothes backwards or inside out.

Leaving a heap of sand, salt, or rice outside the door compels the Jumbie to count every grain before sunrise. You can also place 99 grains of rice, sand, or salt around your house and the Jumbie will spend the night looking for the 100th grain.

Leave a rope or thread tied with many knots outside your door. Jumbies love to untie knots and will be so busy untying the knots they’ll forget about coming into your home.

Jumbie beads, Abrus precatorius, is a plant native to India. The seeds were believed to ward off Jumbies. Because they are small and hard they were also used in percussion instruments and in jewelry. The seeds are quite poisonous. One well chewed seed can kill an adult or child.

Jumbies are mentioned in my book, The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands. In it, Sam and her best friend Nick, are being haunted but they don’t know if it’s a mischievous jumbie or tormented ghost. In this excerpt they encounter the mysterious man for the first time.

We turn at the same moment, staring down the porch which is shrouded in the deepening gloom of dusk. A huge black man is there in the blocked doorway. His body fills the space. In the darkness I can barely make out the tattered pants that are tied at his waist with a rope. His face is in shadow. As one, without a word, Nick and I slowly walk towards him. As we approach, he backs up into the thorny tangle of lime trees and disappears. We race to the blocked entrance, but we can’t get through the trees, so how could a person of his size manage it?

“Did you see that?” Nick runs back to the main entrance and the front steps, red cape flapping.

I follow, almost stepping on his heels. “None of the branches were moving!”

We race outside and around the front of the house to the lime trees, searching for whoever disappeared into them, but no one’s there.

We go back to the front steps and sit.

“How weird….” My heart is pounding. “But we both saw it, didn’t we? So it has to be real, right? This isn’t a game, is it?”

“No, it’s not a game. Maybe it was a jumbie. OOoooooOOooooo.”

I slap Nick’s arm. “Stop it, that’s not funny.”

Pirates. Explorers. And spooky ghost hunters.

It’s 1962. Sam and her best friend, Nick, have the whole island of St. John, in the U. S. Virgin Islands, as their playground. They’ve got 240 year-old sugar plantation ruins to explore, beaches to swim, and trails to hike.

But when a man disappears like a vapor right in front of them, they must confront a scary new reality. They’re being haunted. By whom? And why? He’s even creeping into Nick’s dreams.

They need help, but the one who might be able to give it is Trumps, a reclusive hunchback who doesn’t like people, especially kids. Are Sam and Nick brave enough to face him? And if they do, will he listen to them? 

As carefree summer games turn into eerie hauntings, Sam and Nick learn more about themselves and life than they could ever have imagined.

Purchase your copy today
and enter the ghostly tale of the Jumbies. 

Bish Denham, whose mother’s side of the family has been in the Caribbean for over one hundred years, was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. She still has lots of family living there whom she visits regularly.

She says, “Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book. Columbus named the islands, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. The ruins of hundreds of sugar plantations, built with the sweat and blood of slave labor, litter the islands. Then there were the pirates who plied the waters. It is within this atmosphere of wonder and mystery, that I grew up. Life for me was magical, and through my writing I hope to pass on some of that magic.”

The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands, is her third book and second novel. You can find Anansi and Company: Retold Jamaican Tales and A Lizard’s Tail, at

To learn more about Bish, you can visit her blog, Random Thoughts, at www.http:/
She can also be found on Facebook:
Twitter @BishDenham

In order to avoid posting on Election Eve,
I'll be back here on Wednesday, November 2. See you then!