Failure?

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all felt like we have failed at something or another during our lifetime. Yesterday, for me, could easily be one of those times. So, I thought about it and decided that “failure” is simply a matter of perspective.

I have a 1958 version of the Thorndike Barnhart Dictionary on my desk and consulted it for the true definition of the word. Here’s what it had to say:

Failure: 1. a being unable to do or become; 2. a not doing, neglecting; 3. a being lacking or absent being not enough, 4. losing strength; becoming weak…

So, let me start at the beginning. As most of you know, I write for Buddy Magazine. Yesterday, we had the opportunity to have a presence at a Dallas event, Lake-A-Palooza. As part of the exchange for me working a booth, I got to bring my books.

I have everything needed for an outdoor event. I have a pop-up canopy, an 8′ table, a 6′ table, card table and chairs. So, of course, I offered my setup.

Unloading was easy as I could drive my car in, unload, than go park. Setting up the canopy required help. Thankfully, the nice folks setting up next to me offered to help.

Take a look at the lake white capping in the background. The wind blew so hard that I had to put the easels away and lay my books down flat on the table.

Long story short, I was at this event for 12 hours and walked away with $76. Was it a failure? This is where my musings come in. Financially, yes it was a failure. That is not much money for the amount of hours invested.

Physically, it was a failure. I had to do the entire setup and tear down by myself (thank goodness for kind neighbors). Because the event was not over when I decided to leave, I couldn’t drive my car back in to load everything. I had to carry it all one piece at a time to the car. When I left around 8:30 last night, there was not one part of my body that didn’t ache.

BUT, in another way, it was a great success. I got to tell so many people about my stories and put my books in a few new hands.

So, how do you define failure? To me it’s all subjective.

Would I do it again? NO! Not by myself. That was the lesson I took away from it. At 67, I no longer can handle the big stuff alone. So, next time, I take someone with me or don’t go. 🙂

All-in-all, everything turned out okay. The wind finally laid and it turned into a beautiful day with lots of music and people.

The opposite of failure is success. And who knows – maybe next time I’ll sell out of books and go home with a pocketful of money!

At any rate, I LOVE this quote!

#RRBC 2018 WRITERS’ CONFERENCE & BOOK EXPO SPONSORS BLOG HOP – Nonnie Jules

Nonnie Jules is known for her head-on approach to life, to writing and to raising her children. Let me introduce you to her book, THE GOOD MOMMIES’ GUIDE TO RAISING (ALMOST) PERFECT DAUGHTERS!

BLURB:

If you’re reading this book then you’re probably a Mom, Mom-to-Be, Guardian (or maybe even a Dad) to daughters. And although I’ve found this to be the greatest job in the world, sometimes it might leave you thinking that boys might have been a little easier . And just for the record, I’ve never had that thought! Are your daughters getting off track and you’d like to know how to get them back on? Are you a new Mommy and you want to know how to raise your daughter (almost) perfectly starting from day one? Then “THE GOOD MOMMIES’ GUIDE…” is just for you!

This guide is filled with 100 tips on how you can raise girls “everyone can’t help but love!” In her very humorous manner, the author shares how she started teaching her daughters from the very beginning, when they were in her womb, and she still swears by this method!

“I didn’t have to do much research as I lived this, day in and day out. Throughout this guide you will find my TOP tips that I used in rearing my two (almost) perfect daughters, one now an Adult and the other in her teenage years. Real life situations along with methods on how to effectively deal with each and every one. A little humor thrown into the mix is also what you will find in THE GOOD MOMMIES’ GUIDE…”

With an astonishingly surprising twist, the Author includes a few Bible Scriptures here and there without it coming across as “preachy”. They were placed first and foremost because “my daughters were raised in a Christian home and THAT is the real basis of their foundation,” she says. 

The author pokes fun at herself throughout this guidebook which makes it all the more enjoyable to read. She shows us that we don’t have to be PERFECT Mommies to raise (almost) perfect daughters, we just need to be GOOD Mommies with consistent teachings, and with that, our daughters will turn out just fine. 

This guide is great for rearing toddlers, on up to young adult daughters. It will become your personal PARENTING BIBLE.

I am sure that most of you know that Nonnie Jules is the founder and creator of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB, an international community of readers and writers. There is no other community like it on the planet!

She also created the RAVE WRITERS INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS, where you’ll find the cream of the crop of #RRBC authors!

I’d love it if you’d follow along with the rest of the amazing BLOG HOP!

#RRBC 2018 WRITERS’ CONFERENCE & BOOK EXPO SPONSORS BLOG HOP – Wendy Scott

Allow me to introduce you to this fabulous #RRBC and #RWISA author, Wendy Scott, who also writes under the pen names of W.J. Scott and Wendy Jayne.

She is an incredibly supportive member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB and RAVE WRITER’S INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS. She resides in New Zealand with her partner, her son and a menagerie of animals including a goat.

Lodestone – (Witch Hunt) was the first book I read by this author and I enjoyed it SO much that I became an instant fan.

So, let me tell you about Lodestone!

BOOK BLURB:

There’s a cauldron of trouble brewing in Valloaria…

Two tales entwine:
Sabrina and Lauren’s tales entwine – linked by blood and magic. Sabrina, a newly fledged healer, is thrust out of her sheltered life at Mistress Florisah’s healing school after the destruction of the witch-ancestor portraits. An anti-witchcraft militia is poised on Karthalon’s borders threatening full scale genocide, unless Sabrina, the last of Lauren’s bloodline, can destroy the Lodestone, and restore magic to Valloaria, but the Lodestone is buried deep within the heart of the Order’s headquarters. Sabrina struggles to accept this suicide mission, and is distracted by her inappropriate affection for Micah, a prospect monk. Lauren’s ghost haunts Sabrina’s dreams as her diary reveals the tragic events behind Lauren’s actions. With invasion imminent, Sabrina embarks on her quest armed only with a sliver of the Lodestone, and Lauren’s diary but how can a lone girl prevail against an army?

Download Lodestone today and strap on your broomstick –you’re in for a hell of a ride:

And now you know that, here’s my 5 STAR review!

I won this book in a book trailer blog party through the Rave Reviews Book Club and although I love paranormal books, I didn’t know what to expect. However, by the third chapter, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. What a story!!
Sabrina has been at the ‘Healing School’ since she was a very small child. Florsiah, the matron of the school, is the only mother figure she knows. Sabrina finds herself thrown into chaos at her graduation from the ‘Healing School’ when she learns she is the direct descendent of Lauren, a woman who is considered evil. Florsiah gives her a diary, written in Lauren’s own hand, and a sliver of stone, and is told she must leave the school.
Lauren’s Order has been established to stamp out any and all witchcraft. They are known as witch hunters and scour the countryside killing innocent people, destroying villages and taking slaves.
As the story unfolds, Sabrina travels in the company of a monk and three young monk apprentices to Sha’ La’ Shang, an idyllic city high in the mountains inhabited by monks. However, in the course of the journey, she falls in love with Micah, a young monk apprentice who has a unique talent of communicating with animals.
So much happens during the journey to Sha’ La’ Shang and I don’t want to give it all away, but there are grave troubles, fired up passions and danger lurking around every corner from the soldiers of Lauren’s Order to mythical birds who struggle to survive.
Once they reach Sha’ La’ Shang, she is given the task of finding and either destroying or changing the Lodestone to save Vallaoria. Being the direct descendant of Lauren, she is the only one who can undo the evil that has evoked terror across the land for many years. With the help of Lauren’s diary, the sliver of stone that burns brighter as she gets closer to the Lodestone, and many people from The Hidden, who strive to overthrow the evil that prevails, she takes on the task. At the cost of many lost lives, she finally makes it to her destination. What happens next is breathtaking and left me wanting to pick up the next book of this series to see!
If you like paranormal, fantasy and witchcraft, you’ll truly enjoy this book!

I hope you enjoyed this post about Wendy Scott and this fabulous book! If you’d like to join in on the rest of this Blog Hop, follow this link: #RRBC 2018 WRITERS’ CONFERENCE & BOOK EXPO SPONSOR BLOG HOP

Thank you!!

Etchings In Stone

I’ll never forget coming home from work one evening in 2002, to find Rick excited about a new song project.

We were in the planning stages for his new CD, “Etchings In Stone,” and he wanted someone to collaborate with him in writing the title track. He’d reached out to several of his songwriter friends, but so far no one had been inspired. That was until that day.

He told me to go to the phone in the bedroom and he placed a call, then yelled for me to pick up.

I did and found our good friend, John Beam, on the other end.

“John’s written the song I need to put on the album,” Rick said.

Then he proceeded to ask John to play and sing it. Tears ran down my cheeks while I listened and I had chill bumps all over. The song was the profound emotion-filled song that we’d been searching for.

So, with a little work and tweaking, we had the title track, “Etchings In Stone.”

I’d love it, if you’d listen! “There once lived a man, who did etchings in stone. He told others’ stories, but could not tell his own…”

It was with great sadness that I learned of John Beam’s passing three days ago. He was only 61 and his story intertwined with our lives from way back in the sixties.

Rick and his band, The Rhythm Rebels, played the historic London Dance Hall near Junction, Texas, on a regular basis throughout the fifties and sixties. John Beam was just a little boy, and his family came to every dance Rick played. Even at that young age, John had the passion and desire to play music. He would stand in front of the stage, play air guitar and mouth every word to the songs that Rick sang.

In my book, “Flowers and Stone,” I wrote a scene where Luke Stone (aka Rick) was playing at the London Dance hall one New Year’s Eve. During the course of the evening, he got the John up on stage, strapped his guitar around the boy’s neck and lowered the microphone. John sang and played for the first time in public.

After that, he never stopped. Once Rick returned home from prison, John quickly came back into our lives and never left. At Rick’s funeral, John sat with our family. Why? Because he was family.

He and his wife and children lived in Mason, Texas. He was the first to raise his hand whenever anyone needed help and the last to back down when someone needed defending. He had a passion for classic cars, Harleys and country music. He loved his family fiercely and was loyal to his friends. He will be missed.

So, this post is a tribute of sorts to John Beam, the man and the music. You can find several of John’s songs on Reverbnation. But I am sharing one of the most personal songs he ever wrote, “Three Old Cans of Beer,” about the Vietnam Wall. John was a veteran.

I don’t know how to properly say goodbye or to give this man the credit he deserves other than to write about it. I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting John Beam.

Life is short, folks. Friends are a precious gift. Don’t waste any of your gifts!

Rick Sikes and John Beam

A Story of Love and Time

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a Rick Sikes original story and this one always touched me. Of course he writes in parables, but I see the comparisons clearly. Enjoy!

A STORY OF LOVE AND TIME BY RICK SIKES

     I can’t tell you why men write and I have been thinking pretty hard on it these past few hours. It could be a man finds something inside of him so damn beautiful that he wants to get it down on paper before it slips away. I guess it could be that a man stumbles onto a thought so damned earth-shaking he figures just about everybody should get a chance to hear it. Who knows? Not me. I ain’t no writer. I’m a cowboy…

     But, here I am writing!

     It all started last night. You see, when the whistling West Texas wind drives chariots of tumbleweed across this God-forsaken plain, a man finds his body creeping closer to the fire as surely as he finds his mind seeking the warmer memories of his past… and last night was black ice, raw and bitter… and as surely as my fire drew me to its warmth, one of my memories drew my soul… until… like a Roman Candle exploding in huge darkness, I saw that memory in a new light… and I was wanting to write it down… so I could share it… earth-shaking or not…

     So, here I am, sitting on my saddle, with a pencil in my ol’ paw and an empty stomach, doing two things I ain’t never done before…

     Missing breakfast and writing a story!

     But, sometimes a thought can feed what a meal can’t. Depends on a man’s hunger I reckon.

     I know the thoughts in the Good Book used to feed my mama, and I can remember a teacher I had once, years ago. They fed me so much poetry that my heart was filled to bursting because I couldn’t let it out for fear that my pals would laugh me to shame.

     Funny, ain’t it… how one thought leads on to another? And that brings me to the memory I discovered last night.

     I grew into manhood on a rocky Texas ranch. Pa died early. Ma still lives on the place. The soil ain’t good for nothing but cactus and windstorms on that place and it weren’t no different when I was growing up. But, we had some times on the old place worth remembering, and I find it’s true the older I get, a few things happened there a boy had to grow into understanding. My story’s about one of those things.

     There was an old billy goat on our place. He was wild and wicked, crafty and cantankerous and smelly and scrawny. He was also lonely. His smell would gag a buzzard and he was so scraggly looking that the horned-toads paraded their ugliness past him like it was finery. Pa used to say, when we’d catch a glimpse of that ol’ goat, he was so poorly looking that he’d force a train to take a dirt road. I always smiled and nodded.

     Pa died in the winter of my fourteenth year. Later the same year, April I think it was, I came up on a sight which I didn’t give much thought to ‘til last night. I was with our hired hand and his boy, Junior Bascomb.

     Junior was my best and only friend growing up. He was two years older than me and I always thought of him as a kind of god. I guess he must’ve known the answer to every growing-up question I ever wanted to ask.

     Anyway, we rode up on one of the prettiest roses a man could ever want to see. Right next to that rose, laid out and dry, was the bones of that ol’ billy goat. I can remember Junior Bascomb saying, “Well, now, ain’t that the purdy’est rose you ever seen?” And his Pa answering, “It surely is.” I can remember how we all noticed the skeleton of that ol’ goat and sort of laughed when Junior’s Pa said the old billy would’ve eaten it sure.

     Junior wanted to pick the rose for a little gal he was seeing in town, but his Pa told him to leave it where it grew. When Junior asked why, his Pa said, “Well, son, I think it’s kinda nice for old Billy, onery cuss he was, to have such a purdy flower growing there by his grave…”

     And we rode on…

     And I’ve been riding on ever since.

      I’ll be fifty come June.

    But, somewhere between then and now, I’ve come to look on that long ago day with a different view… and I guess my story is a little more than the story of an old billy goat and his rose. Just as a man sees things a tad different than a boy… because in my man’s soul I can almost see that old, lonely billy goat wandering through his empty days. That lonely little rose was solitary but splendid; nourished by a tiny stream and hemmed in by a few weeds.

    I can see the old billy goat coming up to that little rose, and I can see him wanting to eat it, but he didn’t because he felt something just in looking at it that he hadn’t felt in years.

     He felt younger, richer and less lonely.

     So, he grazed all around the area and he fell in love with the awesome intensity only an old creature can feel. The sight of the rose made him spry and the scent of the rose put him in a romantic mood. One day, he became so jealous of the weeds growing around his rose that he tore them from the ground and gobbled them down in a frenzy that he hadn’t felt in years. They tasted terrible in his mouth, but seeing them gone made him feel pure in his soul. He had never been so happy. At night, the warm breeze blew the fragrance of his rose softly into his nostrils and he slept well.

     The summer passed well. Every day began with the sight of his lovely, dew-kissed rose, and every day ended with perfume and dreams.

     But as summer ended and the rose began to fade, the old goat began to eat less and less and worry more and more. When the frost came, chilling and killing his love, it killed something in the old goat too. One by one, the petals dropped from the rose into the dust and the old goat followed soon after.

    Every year, around spring the rose returned to bloom beautifully, beside the bleached bones of the old billy goat. Eventually, the sands shifted, covering both Billy and his rose…

     But what is covered is not always forgotten,

     And what truly matters finds a way to bloom again.

     Even in the heart of an old cowboy.

For more about the life, times and music of Rick Sikes:

http://www/ricksikes.com

http://www.jansikes.com

Digging!

I recently had the awesome pleasure of taking a trip to Mount Ida, Arkansas with two great friends with the sole purpose of digging for Crystals.

It turns out that Mount Ida is the Quartz Crystal capital of the U.S. We arrived in Mount Ida on Sunday afternoon and for me, just the wonderful opportunity to get out of the city was like a B-12 shot. Where I live is highly populated and the movement and noise never stop.

So to be in an isolated area with a bubbling mountain brook running a few yards from the house we rented was truly a piece of heaven!

On Monday, we set off exploring and wound up on top of the mountain for our first dig. It was SO exciting to find even the tiniest glistening Crystal!

Yep, that’s me with the white bucket half way up the hill

By noon, we were hungry and ready to explore more of the small town, so we came down off the mountain and after lunch, went into one of the shops that looked appealing. The folks were super nice and referred us to a place called Wegner’s outside of town. We had no idea what an awesome find that would be!

We were greeted by this 20 foot tall (or more) hand carved statue of Archangel Michael. Lightning had struck and killed the tree, so Richard Wegner (the owner) commissioned a man to carve this incredible work of art. The pictures DO NOT do it justice.

Look at the Crystals around the base of the statue!

But, it was the table upon table of gems and minerals inside and out that took our breath away! This is a place I will return to often!

That evening, back at our rental, our good friend, Cactus Mike played some Flamenco music on his guitar.

The next day we went for some serious digging at the Sweet Surrender Mine.

My best friend, Kay!

It was hot sweaty work and we cooled off that evening in the creek. And, let me tell you, the water was COLD! So refreshing!

All too soon, it was over and we had to head back to the real world. It is most definitely a place I will revisit again and again. I think my grandchildren would have a blast digging in the dirt, so that needs to be on our agenda.

Thanks for taking this journey with me. Reconnecting with nature was good for my mind, body and soul!

New Young Artist – Triston Marez

It’s been a while since I featured a music artist on my blog and this young man really got my attention.

I interviewed him for Buddy Magazine, but it has gotten pushed back for the past two months, so I decided to feature Triston Marez here. I hope you enjoy the introduction!

Triston Marez

Not only Sings Country Music – He lives it!

Houston native, Triston Marez is making inroads in the world of traditional country music.

Marez’s sound isn’t just centered around country music; it’s woven through his entire 22 years. Yes, you read that right ― twenty-two years. As a member of a musical family, Marez started playing guitar at the age of six, and his first live performance was a Buck Owens song in a first-grade talent show.

Things changed drastically for Marez when he won the 2014 talent show at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

“I had entered the talent competition in 2013 and placed as a finalist but didn’t win. So, I spent the next year working hard and getting ready to enter again. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a big deal in Houston, and to win it gave me the confidence I needed to go ahead and really jump into the music business.”

Marez worked as a ranch hand and even rode bulls to support his music habit while waiting for a break.

It is obvious that he loves country music, but what caught my ear about this young man is the quality of his voice. He reminds me of a very young Mark Chesnutt or perhaps Alan Jackson. Smooth as silk vocals with good looks and confidence, he easily commands the stage with the ease of a seasoned performer.

With his new EP, That Was All Me, he spins sagas of long nights, former flames, and new love with simplistic honesty.

That Was All Me opens with remarkable classic country music that dominates the album throughout with fiddle and steel guitar. But it’s the vocals and lyrics that carry it across the finish line.

It’s hard to believe someone so young could write such compelling tunes. “That Was All Me,” replays a night of honky-tonking and drinking with your sweetheart. “When I said I ain’t drunk/It was the neon buzzin’/I danced all night/It was the jukebox jumpin’/When I let you take my hat/It was whiskey #3/But when I told you that I love you, Baby, that was all me.”

My pick from the EP, “Reservations for Two” with sweet fiddle refrains, had a story.

“I know this is going to sound cheesy, but when I was in school, I had a high school sweetheart,” Marez said. “So, on Valentine’s Day in our senior year, I wanted to do something different. I told her not to dress fancy and that I’d pick her up. Then, I drove us to our favorite spot in the country where I had a table set up with candles and flowers and the whole works. She was surprised, and it was probably the most romantic thing I ever did. It was great, but when it got dark, she got scared, and we left. But it was that scene that inspired the song.”

It ain’t the whiskey making Marez “Dizzy.” It’s a fledgling love found out on the dance floor.

The song from the EP getting a lot of radio airplay, “Where Rivers are Red and Cowboys are Blue” takes us back to the time of poignant rodeo tunes and a former love. With a lone coyote howling in the night, he’s not the only one that feels alone.

The EP ends with “Here’s to the Weekend.” Marez gives his unique perspective on the grind of a work week and living for another weekend.

Triston Marez is a young man with a bright future in country music. His voice is pitch perfect and mature beyond his twenty-two years. To follow and keep up with his tour dates, check out his Facebook and Twitter pages!

Whatever It Takes – Cover Reveal – New Release S. Burke

It is with great pleasure, I introduce to you a new Psychological Thriller from the amazing Author, S. Burke! I’ll let her tell you all about it!

Whatever It Takes cover reveal banner with curtain

Whatever It Takes

by S.Burke

Available to Pre-Order NOW. At the special Pre-order price of $0.99c
Release Date: May 8th, 2019
>Psychological > Thriller & Suspense >.

It is such an exciting time for an author when releasing a new book! I would be remiss in not sharing my heartfelt thanks to the marvelous people who gave of their time so readily to beta read my latest book. Their valuable insights helped me enormously when crafting “Whatever It Takes” A big thank you to my wonderful editor and friend Rich Bowden @Bowden_Writing

At long last, I’m able to share the cover and blurb for “Whatever It Takes” my latest Psychological Thriller. “Whatever It Takes ” is due for release on May 8th, 2019.

It is NOW available for Pre-Order at the special Pre-Order price of $0:99

I have many good friends sharing this cover across the blogosphere today and tomorrow, so you’re likely to see it pop up in various places. Thank you to the marvelously generous hosts participating in my cover reveal splash, and to everyone dropping by to share in my excitement. Here’s my new baby . . .

With much gratitude to Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khaleesi for the cover creation.

Cover Created by Eeva Lancaster at The Book Khalessi

And now the cover

Whatever it Takes Book Cover for all posts.

BOOK BLURB

James Kincaid had it all.

He’d made it the ‘A’ list in Hollywood, a town that prized and idolized its winners above all else.

Then life began exacting a price that no man could be expected to pay as the people he cared about began dying and dying badly.

He couldn’t move on with the dream without knowing why.

Andi O’Connor is the woman he’s hired to do ‘whatever it takes’ to find him the answers.

Could this disenchanted, street-hardened, ex-homicide cop uncover the truth without adding to the growing list of those already sacrificed on the altar of a serial killer’s insanity?

From New York to Los Angeles the body count continues to rise.

Time is not on their side.

***

Prologue.

James Kincaid had long held to the belief that the red carpet he’d walked so often was stained that color with the blood of all those that had bled on the journey to satisfy their heady and addictive dreams of fame.

He’d shed more than his own fair share to get there. He hated the dream destruction, as much as he understood it. This town drew dreamers from every place on the planet, all in need of completion, all hungry for fame and holding on for dear life to the belief that it was only a matter of time before their artistic genius was recognized. No other drug ever gave them that high pulsing adrenaline rush that you soon became reliant on and addicted to. Those first glimpses of recognition hit harder than heroin. Until even those with a strong moral compass became lost.

Lady Luck had become his constant companion only five years before. After twelve years struggling to make headway in the business he became the latest ‘overnight’ sensation, winning the coveted role in what was tipped strongly to be the next ‘big thing’. He knew he could do justice to the part and that knowledge became abundantly clear as the audition cameras rolled.

James Kincaid found himself launched into the stratosphere. This was the only game in town and he was now a lead player.

He was feted and celebrated, pimped out and postured until the day when everything in his world fell into an oxygen-deprived free fall as people he cared about started dying from anything but natural causes.

**

Pre-Order Whatever It Takes HERE on Amazon

Suzanne Burke Amazon Author Page

On TWITTER.

On Facebook.

My Blog

Thank you so much for joining in my excitement. Your support is very much appreciated.

I would be delighted to hear your thoughts and comments below.

Whatever It Takes PRE-ORDER Banner USE THIS ONE FROM Eeva