Tuesday, September 19, 2017

LIES Bloghop

I'm so proud and happy to participate in the LIES Bloghop to celebrate the release of The Inferiors, the second book in the From the Ashes Trilogy by my daughter, Jessica McKendry!!

She published her first book when she was 16 and despite all the trials and tribulations of the teen years as well as battling a life threatening health condition, she managed to keep writing and pull herself through. So this last week as she turned 21 and she released The Inferiors to the world, I couldn't be happier.  I probably don't tell her this enough, because as a mom it's my job to keep pushing her farther than even she thinks she can go, but despite all the things she sometimes forgets or slips up on she's an amazing woman and I'm so proud that she's my daughter!!


The Inferiors description:  After winning the Trials, Jaina Indera is accepted into the Crystal City. She has finally achieved her dream; she has proven herself worthy of being Superior. Yet four months after arriving in her new home, Jaina receives a message that changes her life forever. As her future starts to crumble before her, the beauty of the Crystal City disappears. There is no escape from the terrible perfection of the City.

When Jaina is kidnapped by her former teammates, her life is shattered. Kavi doesn't trust her, Liam won't listen, and Dragon is part of a secret resistance. Jaina must choose between a comfortable life in the Alliance, or face a terrible reality; every day of her life has been a lie. The dark veracity of who she really is remains hidden away. Only one person can help her discover the truth, but time is running out.


2 LIES and a TRUTH... why?

Because in The Inferiors, Jaina is confronted with a number of things that she doesn't want to believe are true and some which she has always believed that now she finds out were lies.  Is her whole life a lie?  You'll have to read it to find out! :)

Okay so let's play 2 Lies and a Truth!  I'll give you 2 lies from my life and 1 truth, see if you can guess what is true!  If you've read enough of my blog posts, I think you'll be fine!  Whoever guesses correctly will be put in a drawing to win either a copy of From the Ashes or the Inferiors, your choice!


1. I've lived in Ohio all my life
2. I don't like heavy metal or rap music
3. I have an irrational fear of sharks even in fresh water

See if you can figure out which one is true!


The Inferiors ebook, paperback on Amazon!
From the Ashes on Amazon which is on sale now for .99 as an ebook!


And thanks again to Alex J. Cavanaugh for hosting Jessica yesterday!

Have a wonderful day!

Kathy :)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Walking Through Time- Marie Antoinette

There's something about the past that intrigues me, sends tingles up my spine.

When I first learned of Marie Antoinette, I was about 12, but from that moment on, I was hooked on history.  I wanted to learn more about this girl, who was not much older than I when she was sent to France to become Queen and then tragically beheaded by a people who had come to despise her.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I took our three kids ages 20, 18, and 13 to Paris to take a walk through time and get a glimpse of the past.

Le Procope, opened 1686, rue de l'Ancienne Comedie
We began our time in Paris with a private French Revolution walking tour, which my husband arranged through Paris Perfect. This was a great way to get our kids, especially our 13-year-old son, excited about seeing historically important places. Our guide, who spoke English very well, took us among other places, to the oldest street in Paris. It was here that the first ever cafe in Paris opened in 1686, called Le Procope which served a new drink called "coffee" to guests such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire (who supposedly drank 40 cups of coffee daily), Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin and many other historical figures.

As part of our tour, our guide took us into Le Procope where we sat, drank coffee and discussed the past.  The cafe is now kind of a living museum displaying various items including the writing desk of Voltaire as well as a copy of the last letter that Marie Antoinette wrote to her sister-in-law to bid farewell to her daughter and son only hours before her beheading on October 16, 1793.  As we stood there surrounded by our children, looking at her tear stained letter sealed in a plexiglass case, I wondered if I could have been so eloquent in saying the last goodbye to my children.

Her words still echo in my mind, "...I feel profound sorrow at leaving my poor children: you know that I only lived for them and for you, my good and tender sister...let him (my son), never seek to avenge our deaths...My God, how heart-rending it is to leave them forever! Farewell! Farewell!..." (The original letter is housed in the French National Archives, English translation found at Tea at Trianon)

Royal bedchamber in Versailles

In my search for more of Marie's life, we traveled to the town of Versailles, about 50 minutes southwest of Paris by train.  Here, at the Palace of Versailles, we strolled through the splendor Marie knew as her home.

I had to remind myself that Marie, daughter of the Empress of Austria, was sent away to France to be married to Louis XVI at only 14.  She and Louis lived here in the palace surrounded by the court, servants, and luxury.

Panorama view of the Gardens of Versailles
The gardens of Versailles with their neatly shaped plots and magnificent fountains are well worth the few extra euros to visit.  I could have spent the entire day exploring them...my mind often slipping back to a time when the women strolling along the paths wore large hooped skirts and powdered wigs stretching sometimes over three feet high.  I could almost hear Marie's playful footsteps rushing off to her Petite Trianon, her private country quarters on the outskirts of the gardens to get away from the constant pressures of the court.

My daughter, Jess, in the gardens at one of the main fountains

Only five years after arriving in Paris, Marie's life  would change forever.

Upon learning of the death of King Louis XV, their only real parental or monarchical guide, Louis XVI and Marie fell upon their knees, cried, and exclaimed, "O God, guide us, protect us! we are too young to reign" from the Memoirs of Marie Antoinette.  She was only 19 and now she would be Queen of France.

I love my daughters, ages 20 and 18. I think they're amazing and very talented, but I can't imagine them or anyone their age being capable of ruling an entire kingdom. Anyone with teenagers knows that they are much too guided by their passions and often cannot see what consequences their actions bring.  It seems tragically pre-destined that young Marie would incur the wrath of an already impoverished people while trying to navigate being a newly married teenager, a young mother, as well as a Queen.  

Near the end of our time in Paris, we visited The Conciergerie, a former medieval palace turned prison, where Marie was held leading up to her trial as well as just before her execution. This was where she spent her last night alive, where she wrote her last letter.  We stood in her cold, stone cell and somehow I felt her aura near me. Her sadness at leaving her children. I could hear her pen scratching across the tear stained parchment. Staring at the silver tears painted on the walls years later by King Louis XVIII to honor her, I felt a tear form in my eye and a chill run up my spine.  Two hundred and twenty four years later...here I stood...bridging time...connected in some small way.

This is now the window in her cell.
Today it is a chapel to pay homage to Marie Antoinette



More Information on Marie Antoinette:

Marie Antoinette: The Journey  by Antonia Fraser
http://www.authorama.com/memoirs-of-marie-antoinette-1.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGl61UPX-KU
http://www.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/web/guest/parcours-permanent
https://francearchives.fr/fr/facomponent/c970071822c3d45e0d77f780b18a6b3f59680115
http://19thc-artworldwide.org/autumn11/remembering-the-past-in-restoration-france-an-expiatory-chapel-for-marie-antoinette


Kathy

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

IWSG!

Hi Everyone!  

I'm back, and this time I'm intending to stay! 

I haven't written for quite a while. It was really no accident, it wasn't that I didn't have the time or that anything in particular happened. Honestly, I wasn't sure I wanted to. Not that I didn't want to write at all.  I love writing. But I wasn't sure I wanted to add to the mess that is social/mass media these days. I didn't want any part of it. I felt like I'd lost my voice, intentionally. I pretty much stopped interacting on any social media except for Facebook to tell people happy birthday or "like" the pics of their kids or dogs.

I felt like we're all so caught up with image and what everyone else is doing and saying and who's against whom and I felt like somehow even though my posts are predominantly positive, I was just contributing the problem, the noise. It's not the first time I've struggled with the thought of "who am I to have anything of interest/importance to say that hasn't already been said?"

But I've finally decided that being silent isn't an option either. I am who I am and I'm a positive, caring person in real life.  I go out everyday thinking, "If I can at least make one person smile, or give a little bit of joy, support, or encouragement today in the real world, I'm happy.  If I can be a good role model to my kids and students and help them grow, I'm happy."

That's why I started this blog in the first place in 2010...because I imagined that I could have a positive impact. And maybe just maybe, I can, by being me. By being here. Maybe each day, I can make one person smile, or laugh, or feel encouraged or inspired by the words I write, that would make me happy.      


Please join us at the IWSG! We post on the first Wednesday each month. We post about our fears, insecurities, but also our successes and most of all we encourage each other to continue on the long journey of writing. The IWSG was all started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and has grown to include numerous helpers who do so much!  Thanks to all of you!  This month the hosts are:  Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant, Beverly Stowe McClure.


Hope you're have a lovely day! 

Kathy :)    

Thursday, December 1, 2016

I'm A Radical Now

As a kid I followed the rules
Studied hard, got A’s in school.
Wanted to be good
Wanted to please my parents

Grew up with LOVE all around
Thought everyone did
And wanted to share it.

Lived a sheltered life in a small Michigan town
Now the world is upside down
LOVE 
is a radical idea.  

Look all around me
I’m surrounded by hate.
Look inside me, scared at the hate I find.

Hate intolerant people,
Hate fear mongers,
Hate ignorance.

That’s no better.

Can I change?
Have to change

Have to LOVE EVERYONE.
But can I
LOVE them simply for their humanity?
LOVE
The insanely slow driver in front of me,
The rude cashier,
The lady that despises me,
The man that despises you,

Can I LOVE them all?

Never thought I’d be a radical
Never thought LOVE was radical.

No longer following

I’M A RADICAL NOW

Not afraid
Not angry
Not judging

But loving
LOVING
LOVING.

LOVING EVERYONE.

Won’t change the world
But LOVE will change MINE.


Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday!
With Love,

Kathy :)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Wanderings

Plans are great but sometimes wandering is even better.

Don't get me wrong, thinking ahead and planning out life is a super important skill as I've desperately been trying to teach my teenaged daughters... often in vain, but there are times when it's refreshing to let go of all planning and allow the moment sweep you along.

I've always loved serendipity but when it comes to traveling, my husband and I have well planned routes and itineraries to make the most of our time away from home (my husband is always the mastermind behind the planning! :).

Enjoying Central Park
But this last week we did things a bit differently.  First of all, we left the kids at home with grandma and grandpa which we never do. I can't thank them enough for this!! Then we flew off to New York City for a week with basically no plan. We've been there before so we didn't feel the pressure to see all the touristy spots but I still kind of wondered if we could pull off a fun, relaxing trip in the Big Apple without advance reservations and plans for everyday.

So what did we do?

Well, we wandered.  And it was lovely.  We took a day and strolled through Central Park, sat on a rock near Gapstow Bridge and watched turtles sunning themselves and ducks swimming aimlessly.


We found a quiet spot elsewhere in the Park, stretched out, and looked up at the clouds and talked.

We walked 5th Avenue and wandered into Bergdorf Goodman.  It was fun to see what they had though I'm not really a $3000 pair-of-shoes-kinda-girl!

New York Library
We meandered through Bryant Park on 42nd Street, drank coffee at a little table in the sun, and decided to check out the New York Public Library's ornately beautiful Stephen A. Schwarzman Building built in 1911.  How I would love to sit at a table in there and write all day!

Breakfast at Jack's Wife Freda












On Thursday, we traipsed all the way from our hotel on 42nd street down to West Village finding adorable breakfast spots like Jack's Wife Freda, (one of my favorites) and little coffee shops.  All along the way we just talked and took in the
moments together.

Believe it or not even after 22 years of marriage there is still plenty to talk about!  Our kids, future retirement plans, future travel, where to eat dinner, and more heavy topics like:  why we can't seem to take better care of the mentally ill, as we passed an old man who slowly rose from his "home", a ratty old blanket in the corner, with urine and likely feces soaked pants, who even we'll forget about once we're back home in our cushy lives; and the sad state of our nation that seems to only care about hating everyone who is different and "my team/group against yours".

After wandering most of the morning, we found ourselves in the Chelsea Market area and we decided to go check out the ice rink at Chelsea Pier.  As pure luck would have it, one of my best friends from college, that I haven't seen in twenty years happened to be on the ice teaching a lesson. (I did know she taught there, but I had no idea what her schedule was.)  It was great to spend an hour with her catching up and it probably wouldn't have happened if we'd tried to plan it!

We made our way back uptown, with Stumptown Coffee in hand and decided we would hang out by Rockefeller Center, where the ice rink had just opened.  We sat and watched skaters go by, then the ice was cleared and a couple came out alone. We watched the guy very carefully and not too gracefully get down on one knee and propose.  Everyone around cheered for them as she seemingly said "yes", I held my breath as he attempted to get back up.  I envisioned him slipping as he rose pulling her down with him, not a good start to an engagement! But luckily he wobbled and then stood and they skated carefully off.

We sat and watched the city go from daylight to brilliant city lights.  Then we went up to the Top of the Rock, (a tour that takes you to the top of Rockefeller Center.  We decided to do this a couple hours earlier and purchased tickets online.)  There is nothing quite like New York City at night.  The weather was beautiful. Just a slight autumn breeze and crystal clear skies.


By the end of the week it was time to head back to Cleveland, the kids whom we missed dearly, and fine tuned schedules, but we'd had a wonderful time on our wanderings.  I loved not knowing exactly what was coming next and allowing the tide of time to move us along, relishing in each serendipitous moment.  

Kathy

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Timeless -Cover Reveal!

Today, I'm helping out a wonderful blogger friend, Crystal Collier!  I love Crystal's blog, she's always featuring other bloggers and her Two Truths and a Lie feature is wonderfully entertaining!  Not to mention Crystal is forever giving encouragement and kind words to the rest of us, and oh she loves cheese. 

This week Crystal is revealing the cover of her third book, Timeless, in her Maiden of Time series.  But before we get to her amazing cover, I wanted you to get to know Crystal just a bit better.  Did I mention she loves cheese? Well here are just a few questions I asked her so you can see just how awesome she is!  


What was the first cheese you remember eating? I grew up on cheddar. There was always a 5 lb block of it in the fridge, and if we didn’t watch it carefully, my special needs brother would steal it and stow it in the bathroom to eat later. Usually behind the toilet.

What is your favorite cheese? This is like asking who is my favorite child. You have to pick a flavor profile or pairing. For vanilla cheese (meaning to go with anything), muenster. For the Swiss family, Jarlsberg. For cheese with a bite, Feta. I’ll stop there lest I should ramble on for three days.

Is there a song you sing just to annoy people? My life is a musical. (And not just because I’m a composer. The hubs contributes just as much.) Every kid has their own theme song, every action has a soundtrack, and because we have 4 kids we love to annoy, we have a full roster of "annoying" to choose from. It's more a question of what's your brand of annoying?

Do you have a crazy nickname? My name is literally Chicken. Or was. C (first initial) + (maiden name) Hicken= C.Hicken. You’d better bet that made for some epic bullying in elementary school, but I embraced the crazy in middle school and it became a cool thing.

SO now you know a bit more about Crystal!  Love it that her brother would steal a block of cheese and hide it behind the toilet!  :)


And now for the main event....



TIMELESS (#3 Maiden of Time) by Crystal Collier #CoverReveal



Book Title: TIMELESS (Maiden of Time #3)
Author: Crystal Collier
Genre: YA Paranormal Historical
Release Date: November 1, 2016



TIME IS THE ENEMY

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her Blog, FacebookGoodreads, or follow her on Twitter.

Want the first chapter free? Sign up HERE.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

IWSG-- Treat it Like A Job

It's the first week of the month again so it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group!  It's a wonderful group where writers get together and talk about their fears, insecurities, and successes.  It was the brain child of Alex J Cavanaugh, created to give us a place of encouragement and support on this long and sometimes lonely journey of writing.  It has been truly inspiring to be a member.  Check us out and join here.  


The question of the month is: How do you find the time to write in your busy day?


Squeezing time out of my day to write has always been my biggest struggle.  Writing feels like a guilty pleasure sometimes when there is always something else that needs to be done.  From going to work, to housework, to simply having time to read and hang out with the kids and my husband days seem to slip away without much being written. Then on the days that I do take the time to sit and write, I often spend the time blogging or writing a quasi-journal of thoughts from the day instead of working on crafting stories or editing what I've already done.  

Maybe I'm hiding behind the idea that I'm still writing without having to actually dig into the hard and often frustrating work of perfecting my ideas and creations.  It's kind of a safety net I guess.

A safety net that I'm in the process of cutting away.  With both my daughters, Jess and Alyss, going to college this year and my son in middle school, I have no more excuses.  I now have a plethora of time during the day to work on writing.

Afraid that I might fall into the trap of spending lazy mornings drinking coffee on the deck and then getting stuck doing dishes and other housework, I decided to get out of the house as everyone else is leaving and head to the local libraries and coffee shops to spend the mornings writing.  I'm finally treating my writing like a job, a job that I love.     

I've always loved writing, constantly filling scraps of paper with bits of poetry I've scribbled down or amazing thoughts that have popped into my head that I'll use someday.  

Today is that someday!  As proof, I'm actually writing this post 6 days in advance!  I've never done that before!! :)


Kathy