Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our Dreamcatcher Logo

The other day I told you about our Dreamcatcher logo for the RV. Well, I was able to get a photo of the design (thanks, honey). This will go on the back of the RV. RVPainter also sprung for t-shirts and sweatshirts for us that have this logo on the back. Mine are mostly RED.


I think this is going to look pretty cool...RVPainter had it designed
 by some folks in Albuquerque, using one of his as a model

It's Tuesday, so I work and then this afternoon my friend Patti and I do handstand practice.
I can do a great handstand once I'm up there, it's the getting up there that I have trouble with. 
It's psychological. So we help each other.
I kicked up for the first time right around the time I turned 54, and could do it for a while,
but then I lost it. Head games!!

After handstand practice, we have Yoga Sutra class. The sutras are all the words of yoga wisdom compiled by this fellow, Patanjali. He must have been a very patient and meticulous guy, because there are hundreds of these sutras. You chant them, because it helps you remember them and then you talk about what they mean. A lot of people think yoga is a "religion" but it's not. The sutras say things like, "Now yoga begins," and, "practicing yoga quiets the chatter of the mind." They basically talk about how yoga practice helps us make life less of a struggle.

Anyway, I'm not that much into the meaning, I like the chanting part. It makes me feel really relaxed. And there are only three notes: low, middle and upper, so I can stay on tune!!



Monday, January 30, 2012

It's Time! Go! Run! Now! A to Z Sign-up is OPEN

Sign-up for the April A to Z Blog Challenge NOW! Go HERE, or click on the button above. Last year, I was number more-than-one-thousand on the sign-up list, but this year I am #112. Even with that high number, I (eventually) made a lot of new friends. I plan to have a whole lot more fun with it this year, as it begins just as we are starting the Road Trip.

Yesterday I watched the Driving Your RV Videos. There are seven short videos that explain and show you how to maneuver the RV. OH MAN! There is more to this than just getting behind the wheel! They have some very cool tips and techniques for turning, pulling into your space and such. The videos are extremely well done - very clear. I am so glad I watched because now all you people will be much safer with me on the road!! In any case, I plan to stay to the RIGHT and go very, very SLOW. If you have any interest, HERE'S THE LINK  to the videos.

It's Monday, and so I am off to work at YOGASOURCE. It's such a lovely and peaceful place and on top of that, we get to do yoga! If you click on the link, you'll see the front of the studio - that's where I'll be today - it's almost like you could actually see me in there, waving to you! In summer, sometimes I put my mat down right out front there and throw down some poses.

Talk to you later! Mondays can be tough, hope yours is easy.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tiddly-bits

I love Sundays! It's the one day where it feels like you have permission to goof off ... and I LOVE to goof off ....

 
That said, I plan to write!

 
The other day I took a break from Serious Writing (writing with intent to have something of substance when finished) and instead indulged in Playful Writing (writing with no intent but to play around with words and see what happens). Sometimes Serious Writing is also Playful, but not always!

 
Anyway! Fellow Bloggini and Generally Fun Person, Becky Povitch, (go see her, you'll like her) shared a couple of Playful Writing opportunities on her blog last week, and so I wrote stuff for two of them.

 
One is the Erma Bombeck Competition, in which you Bend It Like Bombeck - 450 words in the Bombeck style - humor or human interest. That one costs money to enter, but if you've got a little Erma in you, it's worth the fun because the winner gets $500!

 
The other is Nail Polish Stories, which describes itself as "A Tiny and Colorful Literary Journal. " You write a 25-word-exactly story inspired by a color of nail polish. Silly idea? Well, maybe, but it's a good example of how you can get a story idea from just about anything!

 
Anyway, I wrote a Nail Polish Story, and they like it, so it will be in their February issue. Just trying out a couple of nail polish colors there in the font.  I'll let you know when it posts so you can go read it. It won't take long to read, because ... it's only 25 words! That'll take, like, 10 seconds, max.

 
So my Sunday plan goes like this:
  • Put up blog post
  • Enter HGTV Dream Home Giveaway
  • Serious Writing (though hopefully it will be fun) - two hours
  • Walk in the Santa Fe sun, though NOT in the Santa Fe National Cemetery (yet)
  • Nap with golf on the TV
  • Watch "How to Drive Your RV" video
  • Edit the Serious Writing while eating popcorn
  • Sunday night TV: The Good Wife and Downton Abbey - woohoo!

 
When the Amazing Race comes back on, Sundays will be Pretty Much Perfect.

 
Hope your Sunday is Pretty Much Perfect too!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dreamcatchers

Yesterday we had a conference call with the folks at Nexus who are builiding our RV out there in Elkhart, Indiana. Just going over the final changes and $$. It's a lot like having a new house built, just not as many details or dollars, but you always end up adding something on! After that conversation, it really feels like we are getting close ... which we are! It's just coming up on two months away now.

We are naming our new home DREAMCATCHERS, and we're having a dreamcatcher logo put on the back of it. So if you see it on the road, that will be us!! Wave!!

The logo was a splurge that RVPainter is paying for with $$ from a recent sale of a painting. He has a strong attraction to Native American culture and has always loved dreamcatchers for what they symbolize: Your good dreams go through the middle hole so they can go out into the world and come true. The bad dreams get caught in the web where they perish at the first light of dawn. The feathers symbolize the breath of life.


It seemed like an appropriate symbol for our RV and our upcoming journey - our good dreams coming true all along the journey. I wanted to show you the logo design, but it's in pdf and I can't figure out how to insert that here. So instead, here is a picture of RVPainter's dreamcatcher that was used as the model for the design, and when I can figure out how to show you the design itself, I will!







Friday, January 27, 2012

Rules for the Road

RVPainter and I have come up with some 3-word sayings that are like mantras for our new way of living. They are:

Keep it Simple
and
Make it Easy

Those are the two primary ones. We've learned over the years that we have the ability to overcomplicate and make things harder than they have to be. So when we are making choices now, we test ourselves against these two criteria. Does it make it easy? Is it simple?

We also like "Get stuff free" and "Best for less" as rules for the road. The best things in life often really are free, and we plan to take advantage of that as much as possible. And, even though we will be on the road and living in an RV, we don't want to live like paupers. This gal likes her luxury, though luxury for me can be rustic and it can be found in simple things. Luxury can be a really nice beach towel. It can be having a drink and appetizers at a fancy hotel that we aren't actually staying at.  We pay for the food and get the luxury and the atmosphere of the fancy hotel for free.

Best for less means that we look for every chance to get great deals whenever we can. We've got all sorts of rewards plans associated with our credit cards and we've joined several RV-related clubs that allow savings on the RV resorts themselves.

In other news: The Secretary of VA Benefits for NM has emailed RVPainter, and he is going to talk to the Director of the cemetery. The Secretary is "state" and the Director is "federal", but the Secretary seems sympathetic and said that he LOVES to walk in Arlington National Cemetery. I think he'll work this out for us, but RV is skeptical. He thinks the Director is a tyrant who won't back down. Guess we'll find out!

If you have any other rules for the road for us, please pass them along!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Where Did January Go?

Well, it's Wednesday ... no wait! It's Thursday! And it's almost the end of January!! How did that happen? I've been a lazy blogger this week. Our little cemetery drama is still playing out and it tires me to be in battle. My dad was probably the most passive person I've ever met - he'd avoid a conflict at all costs. I'm not quite like that - I have learned to stand up for myself, and if someone does wrong to me or a loved one, I'll speak my mind. But I'm really peaceloving and I have to admit that carrying on a conflict for any period of time exhausts me! This issue with the cemetery is a matter of principle, so we are seeing it through. The Secretary of VA Affairs for New Mexico is supposed to get back to us today. We'll see, and I'll let you know!

Otherwise, today is a writing day for me, so I must away! Hope you have a good one.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Counting Down the Days

Well, in spite of our run-in with the Dictator Director of the Santa Fe National Cemetery on Saturday, we actually had a delightful long weekend. There's no new news on the cemetery-walking-can-you-or-can't- you front, (of course you can!!!) but we'll let you know how it all plays out. Thank you all for your cheers and your vocal support.

Over the weekend, when we weren't causing trouble, I wrote some and RVPainter painted some and we  rested some and went to movie and out for a mocha and packed up some more stuff and threw away some more stuff. Where does it all come from?

We aren't heading out to get the RV until April 4th, but I only have 29 more work days. (Not that I'm counting.) That's because I only work 3 days a week, lucky me. I love my job at YogaSource and I'll miss everyone here very much. It's just that counting my work days makes for what looks like a nice small number before it's time to go. Smaller than 72, which is the number of ACTUAL days. I think. Unless my calculator messed up. Blame the calculator.

The sun is shining in Santa Fe and the sky is bright blue. Nice day for a walk :-)

Hope you all have a great week!


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kicked Out of the Cemetery

Well! Have I got a tale for you! Yesterday, my husband and I took our daily walk over at the Santa Fe National Cemetery. It's a beautiful and peaceful place. It meanders up and down hills and there must be thousands of white gravestones. We walk along and each time, we read the names, or when we stop to rest, we take note of the service given to our country - WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam. We notice how long their lives were, or how short. We wonder about them. Often we say little prayers for them. We stay on the pavement; we do not disturb the graves in any way.

Yesterday, as we passed the stone house in the middle of the cemetery, an offical cemetery vehicle pulled up. A man began unloading things from the truck onto the steps. As we passed, he stopped us and said, "As the Director of this cemetery, I'm afraid that I have to tell you that it is unlawful to take walks in any national cemetery in the United States."

To which we said, "WHAAAAAAATTTTTTT? You can't be serious!"

He went on to say that this is true of ALL national cemeteries, that you are not allowed to do anything that is considered "recreation" or "exercise" in a national cemetery and that this includes walking. He said that he had been watching us for several days and it was clear that we were there to walk, not to visit any particular grave.

At this point, we were both shocked and getting angry. We asked him, as taxpayers, who pays for this cemetery? He said that we all do. We said that my husband, Dick, aka RVPainter, is a veteran of service in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam era. He didn't care. He said, "Write to your congressman."

We said, "We will."

When we got home, I wrote to the VA, which oversees the national cemetery system. I also looked at Arlington National Cememtery's website, where they say that people "walk through the cemetery like a botanical garden." They do have specific rules about biking, but not walking. I wrote to the VA Cabinet Director under Governor Susanna Martinez. I wrote to our congressman.

Then I found a website that actually lists the regulations pertaining to national cemeteries. This is found in the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, current as of Jan. 12, 2012. Part 12 of the regulations pertains to national cemeteries.

Part 12.11 covers recreational activities and says:
"Engaging in recreational activities is prohibed."

Part 12.3 provides definitions, including the definition of recreational activity. The following is the exact wording of that definition:

Recreational activity means any form of athletics, sport or other leisure pursuit or event, whether organized or spontaneous, that is engaged in by one or more persons for the primary purpose of exercise, relaxation or enjoyment, including but not limited to the following: jogging, racing, skating, skateboarding, ball playing, kite flying, model airplane flying, throwing objects through the air, sunbathing, bicycling and picknicking. This term does not include walking, hiking or casual strolling.

There it is. Specifically excluded from the definition of "recreation" are walking, hiking or casual strolling. That's what we were doing.

Now, I don't know why the DIRECTOR of the cemetery would not know his own regulations. Perhaps he just doesn't want people walking through HIS cemetery.

At first, we were upset because we thought we had come up against a very stupid rule. Now we are upset because we think we've come up against a person who thinks he has the right to impose his own rules, ones that are not actual rules! Maybe we're wrong about this, but I don't think so. I KNOW you can walk through Arlington National Cemetery! Anyway, Dick plans to call him tomorrow and tell him what we've found with the regulations, and that unless the Director can provide a legal, legislative document that contradicts what we found, we plan to continue our peaceful walks through the Santa Fe National Cemetery.

Stay tuned. Oh, and pop over to RVPainter's blog to see what he's been saying about this.



Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Sequel

I'm pretty excited about my decision to write a sequel to The Christmas Village. Many people said they didn't want the book to end and wanted more. And, I did leave one unresolved issue that could factor into the next book ...

But, just because people WANT more, doesn't mean you should give them more! You know the old saying, "Always leave them wanting more ..."

Still, I miss my characters too, so part of me has been drawn to the sequel idea all along. A big part of my reluctance was the fact that I didn't have an idea for the next story. And it's very important to me that a sequel be as good as or better than the first, and we all know that's not often the case. If I can't write a sequel that I think is as good as The Christmas Village, then it's not happening.

Having said that, and I just did, (I stole that line from RVPainter) I DID get an idea and I've decided to go with it! As usual, RVPainter gets some credit here - whenever I'm a little stuck on where a story is going, we play What if and Maybe and the ideas start to fly. Well we did that, and he really helped me land on an idea I can work with.  Play with.

I am almost three chapters into the story and I like how it feels and where it's going. I feel tingly with excitement when I sit down to write. That's how I felt when I wrote The Christmas Village, so I think it's a very good sign!

Anyway, wish me luck. I don't really talk about my writing once it's underway, so you won't hear much about it between now and when I'm done. But I wanted to tell you that this is what I'm doing, because a) you can root for me; b) Now I have to do it because I told you about it; and c) you can tell everyone to buy The Christmas Village and read it so they'll be up to speed when the sequel comes out :-)

There were a couple more blogger reviews for The Christmas Village this week. If you want to check them out, they are

HereAlwaysReading
and
Here: KidsKornerBooks

Have a great weekend! I'll be writing, but that's all I'm sayin!' What are you up to this weekend??

Friday, January 20, 2012

Practice Makes Practice (or How the Wisdom of Yoga Applies to Life)


Many people view doing yoga as just another form of exercise, like aerobics or Pilates or Zumba class. But the true purpose of practicing yoga poses is to help us develop focus, to become more centered in ourselves, more mindful of our actions and words, more observant and accepting of ourselves and others and more able to deal peacefully with the constant chatter of the world and the constant chatter in our own minds. We practice physical yoga "on the mat" so that we can take the spirit of yoga into our daily lives, "off the mat."

So, here is a bit of yogic wisdom that I think applies just as well to writing or any other kind of creativity as to doing yoga poses. In fact, it applies to pretty much every aspect of our lives:

"PRACTICE MAKES PRACTICE."

It's human nature to practice things with the hope of "mastering them." Yoga students are no exception - we secretly hope to eventually be able to do the perfect triangle pose or backbend. But mastery or perfection are not real things, because they are both relative and fleeting. We might find ourselves doing a lovely pose, the best we have ever done. But it will never be perfect, and it will not last longer than the five or ten breaths for which we can hold it.

As a writer, I know that the more I write, the better my writing will be. I may have moments when the writing flows and is beautiful and free and uninhibited. I might even come up with what feels to me like a perfect turn of phrase. But my idea of perfection is relative, because yours is most likely different.

So there is no "mastery" or "practice making perfect" in writing, or painting or any other creative endeavor. Neither is there any mastery of life - no amount of practice will enable us to perfectly handle all people and situations with our perfect words and actions. There is only the yoga of life: practice makes practice. You see?

Okay, I have to go practice writing now ...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Getting Inspiration from Other People's Creativity

Somebody recently had a great post on their blog about ways to stimulate creativity when you're feeling uninspired. I forget whose blog it was - if it was you, kudos, because it was a good post! (Feel free to take credit here in the comment section.)

I find that when I need a creative jolt, it often helps me to check out what other people do - folks whose creative talent is different from mine. I love to follow quilters and  bakers, painters and photographers, gardeners and crafters. I really love the crafty folks - they amaze me!

So here are just a couple of bloggers I follow whose creativity often makes my jaw drop with admiration:

Just Jingle - she's Jennifer Ingle and she loves glitter! She makes cards and stamps and, well, just the coolest fun stuff. Man, is she talented. Go see her HERE.

Creative Grammie: She's Wayna and her post today shows crepe paper flowers she made. They are just lovely. She's going on a trip, so she won't be blogging much the rest of the month, but go check her out anyway: HERE.

Memorable Meanders: And then there's Jo, a So. African now living in Kenya. She seems to be good at everything, but mostly what I like about her blog are the photographs she takes of the animals and people in Africa. You can find her HERE.

And it goes without saying that you should pop over and visit my cute (he doesn't like being called cute), sweet (he'd really hate that) and talented (he'd be okay with that) husband, RVPainter. He's funny (he'd like that too) and the curmudgeon stuff is just an act. Mostly. You can find him HERE

Do you follow bloggers who are creative in a different way from you? I'd love to hear about them! Because I'd like to follow them!





Monday, January 16, 2012

It's an off and on snowy day here in Santa Fe, the kind where you feel like lighting candles and curling up in a comfy chair with a book and some cocoa. And some popcorn and cookies. And Doritos. And perhaps a pudding cup.

So, feeling a bit lazy, I thought I'd just share with you a lovely painting that my husband, RVPainter, painted Plein air up in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains that tower over Santa Fe. Those are the mountains in that photo in my previous post "Interlude."

This painting by RVPainter is called "Winter in the Sangre de Cristos." It's acrylic done with palette knife on gallery-wrapped canvas, 36"high by 24"wide.

Winter in the Sangres
Acrylic in palette knife on gallery-wrapped canvas
36 by 24
by J. Richard Secor

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Interlude

I've been processing a lot of change over these past months (haven't we all??) We are uprooting - something that has always been hard for me. I'm quite attached to the idea of HOME. I spent the first 44 years of my life in New England before we moved to Arizona. We spent seven years there and we've been in Santa Fe, New Mexico for coming up on five. And now we are moving on.

When we came to Santa Fe, we were sad about a number of things, mostly the loss of family. We wanted a fresh start in a place we both liked, a place with seasons and fresh air. Santa Fe is a terrific place to land under any circumstances, but particularly when you need to heal. It's surrounded by glorious mountains. It's the capital city of New Mexico, yet it's like a small town. It has galleries and restaurants and yoga and lots of sunshine. It's full of eccentrics and brilliant weirdos. We've been very content here.

Yet I now feel oddly content with our decision to leave. It's like our time in Santa Fe has been just an interlude, a bit of a time-out if you will, to allow us to heal and grow. And we have - exponentially! In our four years here, so much has happened: Both my parents, who'd been ill for a long time, passed away. I became a yoga teacher. Dick aka RVPainter completely changed his medium and style of painting. I wrote and published a book.

I feel as though Santa Fe harbored  and sheltered us and brought us through to the other side of sorrow, to a place where we could feel hopeful and happy again. And now it's time to go.

It's time for this little housemouse to come out and be in the world, and I'm ready. Just after Dad passed away in 2009, I read my "Free Will Horoscope." The advice was to follow the wisdom of the great sage, Dennis the Menace, who said, "WAKE UP! Let's go everywhere and do everything!"

So that's what we're gonna do now, and I'm chomping at the bit to do it.

This was the view of the mountains from the house we sold.
I always felt like that heart was smiling on us the whole time we've been here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

There's Always Room for One More Thing

So some of you will remember my picture of our 10' by 10' storage unit where the stuff of our life now lives. We sold our house at the end of September, got rid of a TON, no TWO TONS of STUFF, and then put the stuff we couldn't part with into storage. Now we are down to just 2 1/2 months left in the apartment we're renting, so we have to get rid of more stuff and figure out how to get the rest into that storage unit. Mainly there's the big comfy antique wingback chair that I'm sitting in even as we speak, along with a few small tables and lamps.

The biggest problem has been the pew. It's a beautiful antique bench that is a) very large and b) very heavy. It takes up a lot of real estate in the storage unit. Here it is:



We thought about selling it, but in this economy there are no takers. We thought about consigning it, but we'd get so little for it. Then we realized, "Hey, if we're going to pay for a storage unit, shouldn't we keep the GOOD STUFF like the pew and figure out something else to get rid of?" I mean, should we really pay $1500 a year to store our Christmas ornaments and some lawn furniture?

So our mission today, which we accepted, was to REARRANGE THE STORAGE SPACE so the pew could stay, and when the time comes, my comfy chair can fit in too. I am proud to say that I am a whiz at space organization and when people say, "There's no way it will all fit," I say, "Oh ye of little faith!"

My motto is:
THERE'S ALWAYS ROOM FOR ONE MORE THING. 
I am yet to be wrong about this.

This is how it looked when we got to the storage unit this morning. That desk that Buddha is sitting on is actually sitting on the seat of the aforementioned pew:



We took out about half the stuff, rearranged and repacked it back in, and now it looks like this:




What's that you say? It looks worse, not better? Ha! Well, okay, it does look worse, but it's actually much better. Really. The pew is now along a side wall with all the stuff we'll need in the RV piled on it. When the time comes, we'll be able to take out the RV stuff, rearrange this 'n that and slide my comfy chair right in. Seriously. We will. 'Cause there's always room for one more thing.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

WHY CHOOSE CELERY TREE? Q and A with L.A.Devaul, co-founder of CeleryTree.com, a new online bookstore and writer's community


Hi Everyone - we're picking up where we left off yesterday - author L.A. Devaul introduced us to the Celery Tree concept and now I've asked her a whole bunch more questions about it. Here we go: 

ME: Okay, I'm going to jump right in today with my most burning question: Why would Celerytree be a better option for me than selling my book on Amazon.com or Smashwords?

L.A.:That is an excellent question, and the answer is multifaceted. First of all, let me just say that Celery Tree is and always will be, a beautiful, ad-free site, which creates a friendly, comfortable, bookstore feel. But that is only the beginning. The most important aspect of Celery Tree that makes it different, is that it is all about the authors.

My mother and I are the founders of Celery Tree and as authors ourselves, we noticed that authors work very hard to not only write, but to market their work. Amazon and Smashwords are big sites where authors can easily get overlooked and lost. We wanted to create a comfortable place where authors could centralize their marketing efforts, support each other, and make more money per sale (90% of net). That is why we created Celery Tree.

ME: So, it sounds like you envision the main buyer of books on Celerytree to be other writers - is that true?

L.A.: In the beginning, it will probably be that way, but in the long run, we believe both readers and writers alike will appreciate the coffee shop atmosphere Celery Tree offers. Non-author buyers must open an account to purchase from the site, but these accounts do not require a membership fee, they don't have to buy six books a year, they don't expire, and it makes them able to freely post reviews and participate on the forums.

ME: How are orders for print books filled when someone orders my book on Celerytree?

L.A.: This depends on whether you or your publisher are acting as the distributor. Most publishers offer their authors the option to buy their own books at a reduced price. The authors can turn around and sell the books for whatever price they want and keep the difference. So if you are acting as your own distributor, you will be e-mailed the order information and you will ship the book. The cost of shipping, and the monies from the sale will be added to your account.

However, if you don't want to bother with all that, you can have your publisher act as the distributor. They get e-mailed the order information, they ship the books, and they pay you the royalties from the sale.

ME: So, is Celerytree open only to traditionally published authors, or are independently published authors welcome too?  And a follow-up to that: I read something on your site about Celerytree "approving" an author's book. How does that work and what would make you decide NOT to carry an author's book?

L.A.: Celery Tree is open to both traditionally and independently published authors. It is open to authors who only have e book versions, or only print, or both. The only caveat is: if you are acting as distributor and you are selling print copies, you must either have a minimum of 25 books on hand to fill orders.

As far as "approving" books, we do not seek to sensor, we only seek to weed out spam and garbage ie. books that are not professionally bound (in a three ring binder, stapled etc.), books promoting illegal activities or hateful propaganda, ebooks that contain viruses or links to external websites.

ME: Who is responsible for managing the Celerytree website?

L.A.: We are a team, who likes to call ourselves The Celery Tree Family. We have a programer, responsible for the inner workings of all that mystical computer stuff. We have a designer, responsible for making everything pretty. We have the business expert who does all the money stuff and talks to publishers etc. And then we have the founders, my mother and me, who take care of the authors. I am responsible for reviewing submissions and posting book information to the site. And my mother is responsible for membership, answering questions, posting author information, and overseeing the site as a whole.

OKAY EVERYONE, I've asked the questions that immediately came to my mind about Celery Tree. If you have additional ones, Karen Gowen will be available at karen@celerytree.com to answer your questions about Celerytree.com during the Big Blog Tour. Please email her with any questions you may have at this time on joining, registering, buying books, submitting books or any other issues.

You can also leave comments and questions here, and we'll make sure those get to Karen and Leisel (aka L.A.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

L.A. Deval Introduces Us to Celery Tree

Hi Everyone! Welcome to the Celery Tree Big Blog Tour! What the heck is that, you ask? Well, we're about to tell you!

Today I have a visitor - author L.A. DeVaul. She is co-founder, with her mom, Karen Jones Gowen, of CeleryTree.com, a new online bookstore and community for writers. I'm hosting them on their blog tour in two parts:

Today Liesel is introducing the CeleryTree concept.

Tomorrow's post is called "Why Choose Celery Tree?" As a writer considering which sales venues make sense for me, I had a whole lot of questions for Leisel, so I've asked them! And, lucky for us, she's answered.

I'm sure you'll have some great questions too, and Karen Gowen will be available at karen@celerytree.com to answer them throughout the Big Blog Tour. Please email Karen with any questions you may have about joining, registering, buying books, submitting books or any other issues.

Okay, let's here what L.A.Deval has to say!

Hello, Melissa and Melissa’s followers. Thank you for having me on your blog today. I am L.A. DeVaul, author of Roxanne in La La Land and co-founder of CeleryTree.com. Here is some information to introduce you to CeleryTree and familiarize you with the concept:

Why do we need another online bookstore?

When my mother, Karen Jones Gowen, and I first came up with the idea for this website, we were thinking of all the writers blogging and supporting each other. CeleryTree.com grew from the simple solution we needed for a centralized location where readers and writers can meet and talk, and buy and sell books.

CeleryTree.com is a beautifully designed, ad-free site with forums, book reviews, author pages, and links to everywhere online where you can find an author’s books.

Why is it called Celery Tree?

We liked the image of something simple and earthy (celery) and also the image of growth and expansion, but in a pretty way, not a weedy way (tree).

What is required for membership?

The cost of membership is $35 a year and purchasing 6 books in a twelve month period. And get this: authors get to keep 90% of every sale. That is better than I could do selling directly from my personal website.

My advice? Leave the jungle and join Celery Tree.

FROM MELISSA:  Liesel, thank you for sharing the Celery Tree concept. And thanks for answering my follow-up questions that will post tomorrow. Look forward to seeing everyone back here then for the Q and A. In the meantime, you might want to pop over to Celery Tree and read more about it there. But before you go, please leave Liesel a comment so she'll know you came by.

Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

And Now for Something Completely Different ...

This week I'll be hosting author L.A. DeVaul on her Celery Tree Big Blog Tour. What the heck is a Celery Tree, you ask?  And how would one go on tour? Well, L.A. Devaul aka Leisel is going to explain all about it over the next two days. Here's the scoop:

Tomorrow (Wednesday), Leisel will introduce you to Celery Tree, a new and innovative concept for an online bookstore and writer's community. She calls it a "village" and I like that description!

On Thursday, I'll post a Q and A between me and Leisel - as a writer looking at the potential opportunity of Celery Tree, I had some questions!

Throughout the Celery Tree Big Blog Tour, Karen Gowen (Leisel's mom and co-founder of Celery Tree), will be available to answer your questions. I'll give you her email address in tomorrow and Thursday's posts.

If you want to be ahead of the rest of the class, you can go check out CeleryTree.com now!

In the meantime, let's ponder these thought-provoking questions:

Does celery grow on trees?
Is this what a celery tree looks like?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

RVPainter Done Good

Today we went to the RV and boat show down in Albuquerque. When we went to it last year, our dream of buying an RV was only that - a dream. We thought there was slim hope of selling our house in this environment. But here we are, house sold, RV under construction, and ready to roll in less than three months.

What we realized at the show today was that there was nothing we saw there that we liked better than the Nexus Phantom we decided to buy. Phew! There are bigger RVs for sure, but it's not all about bigger for us. We got a well-designed, well-built, brandy spankin new RV for the price of what you pay for some used ones.

That's because Nexus sells directly to the buyer without going through a middleman. That's got to cut out something like $30K from the price. We toured the manufacturing plant in Elkhart, Indiana last October, and couldn't have been more impressed. We met the people - real, hardworking, experienced people - who are  building our RV right now.

RVPainter gets all the credit for this. He found Nexus and did the research. He checked it all out. And he did good. Really, really good.

Here's a picture of RVPainter talking to Claude, one of the owners of Nexus, at their plant last October. That RV in the background is pretty much what ours will look like.


Friday, January 6, 2012

It's Baaaaa-aaack!

During this morning's blog visits, I discovered that folks are already spreading the word out about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. I'm sure many of you participated last year, but in case you aren't familiar with it, here's what happens: Each day in April you put up a post that relates to a letter of the alphabet, as in "A is for Anything You Want to Write About Today." And so on for B, C all the way to Z.

I participated last year under the absolute worst circumstances: my mom had just passed away and I was put on a very intense jury trial! HOWEVER! Doing the challenge both distracted and focused me each day. I even wrote about the trial after it was over (T is for Trial, V is for Verdict). To this day, my "O" post, O is for Opposum and Ogden Nash remains my most viewed post ever.

It was tiring, but I learned that if I could write daily through that tough time period, I could write anywhere, anytime and through any set of circumstances. Most of all, I met a lot of wonderful bloggers through the challenge.

So I'm passing the word. If you'd like to participate, go to the A - Z April Challenge website and follow it. You'll see the list of wonderful blog hosts and the instructions there - sign up doesn't take place until the end of this month. Here's the link: Blogging from A-Z April Challenge

And this is how I looked by the end of the challenge last year, but don't let that scare you :-)


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Small Pleasures

RVPainter informs me that the RV has only about 300 square feet of living space, not 400. No problem!! I will be a role model for efficient living. Harvard Business school will use me as a case study!!

So, just to be clear: that's not my closet full of shoes in the previous post :-)  Truth is, because I do yoga, teach yoga and work in a yoga studio, most of the time, I'm barefoot and that's how I like to be!! When I must wear shoes, clogs are my footwear of choice. And I like nice sandals and boots, but 2-inch heels are about as high as I can go now. So those aren't my shoes, but these ARE my nice socks that I bought yesterday:


Nice socks are among my favorite things. These are Smartwool socks that are warm and comfy and have nice padding for walks and hikes. I'm also very fond of the faux fur throw on which my socks are lying. Laying? I always have to look that up. Anyway, I got it at World Market with my 10% discount coupon. It feels like you are snuggling up with a very large kitten and it will add a touch of Posh when I'm lounging around the RV. Here's a better look at the throw:



I get all excited about things like socks and faux fur throws, and RV painter gets excited about things like a "Hose Y with Shut off," "O rings," and "Ground Fault Outlet Testers."  He says we need these in the RV. In case you have no idea what theyare, here's a picture.



I know. I still have no idea what they are either. Sometimes when RVPainter tells me about the tool thingys, my eyes glaze over. I hope you don't feel that way about my socks and throw!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Living Small

Our RV (currently under construction at the Nexus plant in Elkhart, Indiana) will be a 31 foot Class C. Class C means that it's on a truck chassis - in this case, a Ford truck. Class A's are the ones that look like buses - it's not one of those.  I think there is about 400 square feet of living space in our RV.

You can check out the floor plan HERE.

We are biding time in an apartment here in Santa Fe. The apartment, which  we fondly (sort-of) refer to as the Tiny Little Unit (TLU) has about 850 sq. feet. It's a perfectly decent little place, but not very efficient, functionally speaking. So even though the RV will have HALF as much space as the TLU, I think the RV will actually feel more roomy because it is so well-designed. The kitchen area especially will feel like a dream compared to the TLU. Plus it's a lot prettier inside the RV, which has cherry cabinets made by an Amish carpenter from the Elkhart area. It's Amish country there - did you know that? I didn't!

It's a challenge to skinny your life and your lifestyle down to what it will take to live - and still be comfortable - in such a small space. But we are challenging ourselves to be minimalistic. I'm already having fun outfitting the kitchen with things like lightweight mixing bowls that nest, and a collapsible collander and measuring cups. I shall be the Queen of Kitchen Efficiency!

And I figure that if I save some weight in the kitchen, I'll be able to bring more of my shoes  ....

A GIRLS GOTTA HAVE HER SHOES :-)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year, New Look

So it seemed like time for a change with the blog, especially since my whole life will be changing, and the sorts of things I write about here will change along with it. I played around with a new template and colors and background picture. Honestly, I really didn't find anything I LOVED, but this looks fresh and happy so I'm good with it for now. You probably can't tell, but the picture behind the blog is one of those where you are looking far down a road until it disappears at the horizon. It seemed appropriate for our upcoming Road Adventure.

Also bought some new make-up today - I'm kind of a minimalist with the stuff and I never buy expensive brands so it's a semi-annual trip to Walgreen's for me.  I'm feeling a bit haggard, so I thought I'd spruce myself up to go with my spruced-up blog. If I look a LOT better, I'll have hubby take a new profile pic :-)

Oh! And I posted a little map that RVPainter drew that shows the first 6-8 month leg of our journey drawn out. It's down toward the bottom of the blog.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Every Day is the First Day of a New Year

So in case you didn't get off to a good start, you can start over again today!!

Speaking of starting over ... this year is one in which RVPainter (the hubby) and I are making a new and very different start in our lives. We sold the house last fall, and are biding time here in Santa Fe while our RV gets built. It will be ready for us to roll in April.  We'll fly to Indiana to pick it up, then make our way back to Santa Fe to get some stuff and practice playing house in it for a few weeks before we head off.

The first part of our journey will take us east. Our first stop is San Antonio, Texas. From there we head to Charlotte, Virginia Beach and up to Massachusetts for Memorial Day. We've got family and friends in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, because we're originally from Mass. After that, it's up through the coast of Maine and into Nova Scotia. I have always wanted to go to Nova Scotia!!

And that's just the first leg!

As we head off on this adventure, this blog will evolve to be mostly about our trip. Think of the places we'll go and the people we'll meet, not to mention all the good food we'll eat. I'm nuts for a lobster roll and some onion rings just about now. And beaches. I miss beaches so much! We'll be seeing lots of them on this trip.

Of course, I'll be writing and RVPainter will be painting all along the way.

I hope you'll enjoy coming along with us on this adventure. RVPainter will blog about it too, and he's much funnier than I am. You'll be able to get two perspectives on the same events - HIS, and the correct version :-)

So this may be the 2nd day of the new year 2012, but it's the first day of another new year, and so is tomorrow and the day after that. What if we approached each and every day that way?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My 2012 Wish List

More hope and less worry
More joy and less heartache
More abundance and less loss
More adventure and less stagnation
More friendship and less isolation
More forgiveness and less resentment
More care for our planet and less wastefulness
More talking and less texting
More good stories about real people and less"Reality" TV

Added by Accidental Writer:
More love and less pretention
More integrity and less self promotion
More compassion and less prejudice
More understanding and less ignorance
More equality and less domination
More peace and less diplomatic imperatives

Added by jabblog:
More listening and less talking
More kindness and less egocentricity
More contentment and less moaning

Added by Tracy Jo:
More quiet moments and less noise
More connecting and less loneliness

Please add on...