If there’s one thing about life…

Life forms gotta, well, form life.

We took cuttings (and when I say “we,” I mean Kid1) of our summer tomato plants, rooted, then potted them. We really expected them to just stay in stasis for the winter months in our walkout basement, but look what they did…

And look…there’s more!
feeble attempts at pass on genetic materials

The Spousal Unit told me to remove them because the young cuttings can’t sustain their own lives and the lives of their “babies.” So, hopefully, this will keep the cuttings going until it’s time to plant them outside. 🤞🏼🤞🏼

New Year, new…author’s photo…maybe

I was listening to some webinar where the speaker talked about spending some of your advance money on a professional author’s photo. I’ve received advances for 5 books now and have yet to get a “professional” author photo taken.

Not that I don’t think about getting one done. I do. (It’s one of those things I waste valuable brain computing power on.) The problem is–besides my inertia and dislike of leaving the house–that I have a hard time imagining an author photo that I would be happy with. If I take the photo myself (or get my family to) for free, I’m okay with a cheesy or lousy photo. If I pay someone else to take it, I’m going to be annoyed for a long time if I’m not happy with it.

I don’t want to have an author photo where I look like I’m having a torrid love affair with a wall…

or like a fairy princess who had just flounced through a meadow:

And, good gravy, I don’t want any of that coy, hand-touching-face stuff either!*

Guess I’m doomed to always use a home photo with my goofy Wallace grimace…

And speaking of Wallace…

No, I guess I can’t. But Happy New Year anyway!

* Yes, I’ve seen all three types.

Resolutions is a four-letter word

I think most people have a love-hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. We can’t help making them and then feel bad or guilty when we fail at them. But maybe what we need to do is reframe them?

Maybe, for example, instead of saying “I’ll lose 20 pounds this year,” say “I will eat one healthy meal per week”? I think this follows the S.M.A.R.T. acronym that many people recommend for goal-setters: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

I don’t know if my resolution is SMART, but it’s something I already live by and so will have no trouble keeping it up. (When in doubt, take the easy route.)

Another thing people do for a New Year is to choose a guiding word. I’ve never been able to do that very well; about a month in, and I usually have forgotten what my word is. So now, I try to choose phrases that can be used for a mantra. Mine for this year…and perhaps for in perpetuity…is “Keep it to yourself.”

When I get annoyed about some random thing, I tend to want to gripe about it to someone (or worse, on social media). And I always end up regretting it. Except when I gripe to my sister. She understands without judgement. So, maybe I should change my phrase to “Keep it to yourself unless you have time to type it out to your sister.” 😄

What about you? Do you make resolutions or have a guiding word? If you do, I hope they will guide you and help you navigate 2022 in a positive way!

Random cartoons + a break

To the 5 people who read my blog 😆 , my brain is crying out for a break, so I thought I’d leave you with some random cartoons I drew several years back and bid you au revoir until the new year.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season filled with laughter and joy, and friends who understand you! See you in 2022 🕊💖

Books improve the world

Thinking about gifts for the holidays? I may be biased but I think there’s nothing better than the gift of books…unless it’s food. Food is definitely better than books. Sorry, books. But since I’m an author, I’m going to recommend you buy books, instead of food, as gifts. 😃

And if you’re wanting to get inspirational or fun picture books for the youngest on your list, might I recommend mine? They can be found at the Bookshop site of my local indie, Morgenstern Books, or anywhere you buy books online. Hopefully, your in-person indie will have it, too.

Speaking of the spirit of giving, I recently asked author Russell James about The Minnows Literary Group’s donations to Doctors Without Borders. The Minnows is my science fiction critique group, with Russell at the helm. We’d put together 4 anthologies of our stories and sold them for 99 cents each. They sold so well that over the course of 6 years, we were able to raise over $6,000 for DWB/MSF.

The anthologies are no longer available for purchase, but you can see some of the reviews at Goodreads…Out of Time, Still Out of Time, In A Land Far Away, and Centauri Station.

Writers, To The Starting Line! Guidelines For The 11th Annual Holiday Writing Contest!!!

For all you writers of kid lit, this FREE-TO-ENTER contest offers terrific prizes! Susanna Hill runs the best writing contests.

Susanna Leonard Hill

I was tootling along, minding my own business, when suddenly I realized it’s November 22!

“Holy Flying Reindeer, Batman!” I said to Violet. “Do you understand the implications of this?”

Apparently she thought I was asking her to BE a flying reindeer and felt no urgency whatsoever regarding the situation!

I, on the other hand, understand the urgency all too well!

There are only TWO WEEKS until the opening of the Holiday Contest and you guys need your guidelines so you can put your thinking caps on and start writing!

I tried to get Violet to put HER thinking cap on but she was very uncooperative so I had to fake it. Clearly, she doesn’t like the fake one any more than the real one.

ANYWAY, the point is that somehow November has flown by and it’s time to tell you what you need to know to get started on…

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I’m grateful to be able to live a semi-hermit life and still get my art/writing out to the world. I’m grateful for good friends who understand my aversion to being social. And I’m so very grateful for pie.

Sour cherry crumble-top pie (front) and butternut squash “pumpkin” pie (back)

A Happy Thanksgiving long weekend to everyone in the U.S. who is celebrating! I wish you many things to be thankful for.

Sonic boom

This week passed by so fast, I swear it broke the sound barrier. Here are some of the jewelry I shared on social media in the past several days (plus a German apple cake).

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is turning out to be a NaNo-FAIL-Mo for me. Unless I turn things around in the next 12 days 😂😂😂, it’s gonna be a bust. But given how well the month has gone in other ways, I’m not too upset about it.

Have a nice and relaxing weekend!

The (non) family jewels

This month, I thought I was going to be busy with writing for NaNoWriMo, and therefore I would just showcase the jewelry I’ve made in the past on social media. Turns out, I’m busy doing a number of other things (attending webinars/online classes, giving interviews, addressing copy edits on one of my books, etc.) and have gotten very little done on NaNo. But I have showcased a few piece of jewelry on Instagram and Twitter. Um, yay?

Anyway, that’s about all I have time for to share on the blog this week. I plan to gift or sell many of these pieces because I have so much jewelry, I can’t wear them all. Also, I’m going to (like with my soap-making) give up the hobby once I deplete my supplies. Not only don’t I have time to work on making wearable art, but since I don’t officially sell anything, they just pile up at home. Plus, my hands are getting old and stiff, and my eyes aren’t what they were in my younger years.

“The Chips are All In” – made with fresh water pearl chips, dyed green + Swarovski crystals
“On Aegean Shores”
“Lapis of Luxury” – SOLD!
“Twice as N-Ice”
“Everything’s Coming Up Rose Pearls” – with fresh water pearls dyed pink

And it’s back to work for me now. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Book news!!

Friday completely slipped away from me. It’s not like anyone is eagerly waiting for my Friday blog posts but it’s a discipline that I try to cultivate. Anyway, it’s just a little post with a bit of book news.

First of all, I placed Silver in the Astra International Picture Book Writing Contest:

And then my book deal was announced:

So, it’s been a good week mainly preoccupied with thanking everyone for their congratulatory wishes, and that’s never way to keep busy.

Hope your weekend has been going well!