Oku Releases Debut Album

I’m thrilled to share that my son, Alex Katsaropoulos, has just released his debut album – Oku!!

The genre is best described as Alternative Rock similar in some ways to Radiohead and Bon Iver.

Check out the music and download your free copy of the album at Okuartist.

Oku Cover More Painterly.jpg

Here’s an excerpt from the Oku website:

Oku is the brainchild of singer/songwriter Alex Katsaropoulos originating from the poetic journal of Matsu Basho and other eastern concepts in the lyrics and imagery. It combines minimalist Americana writing with much more experimental ideas such as layers of harmony, colorful samples and dynamic use of drums.

Want to know more about the creative process in writing a song?

  • Read the article in Anchr Magazine about album cut The Wild What released July 13th.
  • Read the article in Scapi Magazine about album cut Luscinia released August 10th.

Check out the music and download your free copy of the album at Okuartist.

444 and Other Messages from the Universe

Do you see number sequences repeated over and over again? Find feathers or pennies on the sidewalk? Are visited repeatedly by cardinals, hummingbirds, dragonflies or butterflies? Hear a song on the radio that eerily relates to something you were just thinking about? Do street lights blink off or on when you walk under them? I believe you’re receiving messages from the Universe, God Signs or connections from departed loved ones.

In The Field, street lights and parking lot lights blink on or off when Eric walks near them. The explanation in the book is that he has some sort of electrical energy that interacts with the lights. Like how some people can’t work with electronics because the machines always go haywire in their presence. This topic was taken directly from my own experience. Lights blink on and off for me all the time. The first time I noticed it was in college. Almost every time I went under a street light on the road I usually walked to get to class, it would blink on or off. I even confirmed it with my boyfriend. I was never entirely sure if there was any meaning behind the blinking.

Another time I was at a writing conference walking out to the parking lot with another author. I was telling her about my mother’s recent death and how supportive she’d been of my writing when all of a sudden, all the lights in the parking lot blinked on. We both got goosebumps. Was it my mom telling me she’s still got my back?

The numbers I see ALL THE TIME are 444 or 44. According the Doreen Virtue’s Angel Numbers 101, the numbers 4, 44 and 444 are messages from the angels telling me that they are helping me and reinforcing our connection. I’m not psychic, and while I do have a well-developed intuitive sense of things, I’ve yet to receive actual messages that I can perceive. I believe this is the way my angels and guides remind me that they’re all around me and always with me. Here are some examples of 4’s that I’ve seen:

I was visiting with my sister-in-law and my niece and telling them how I regularly see the numbers 44 and 444. I grabbed my phone to show them pictures I’d taken of some of them and the time displayed was 2:44. Kind-of freaky!! Was the Universe providing confirmation for us? I regularly see the time as 11:44, 12:44, 1:44 etc. Occasionally I wake up at 4:44 in the middle of the night. On the drive home from the visit, I saw this license plate:

license plate 444 Becky and Sophis

On another drive I saw this license plate:

License plate 744

Eeeww! Is that bird guts on my windshield?!?!

This past summer I was traveling in Europe with my daughter. I booked a train ticket before leaving for the trip and upon boarding the train found that I was in seat 43 – with the number tag for seat 44 right above my head. Even more remarkable was the time stamp on the ticket for when I purchased it in the US – 4:44!! I was totally unaware of this until I happened to glance at the time on the ticket. Who even does that anyway?!? Were my eyes drawn to it so I would see the numbers?

train seat 44

train ticket 444

While sightseeing and shopping in London on the same trip, my eye was drawn to  a bright yellow door. The street address? You already know – 44. That’s how it usually happens. For some reason, my eye is drawn to a highway mile marker – 344, an exit # – 244, the clock on my dashboard or on my bedside table – 5:44.

London door 44

Usually when I see 4’s, it’s in response to something I’m thinking about. A sort of confirmation that I’m on the right track.

What numbers do you see? Do lights blink on and off for you? What signs repeatedly pop up for you?

Choose Your Big Rocks

Choose Your Big Rocks First

See the source image
Do you ever waste time doing unimportant things and find there’s no time left for what you really want to accomplish? Remember the analogy we learned in that class about setting our priorities and managing our time? It pays to revisit it.
Put your big rocks in your container first then fill it up with sand and water. Your big rocks are your goals and priorities. The container is your life. If you focus on your goals first you’re more likely to accomplish them and the rest will fill up around them.

Focus on Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

People are often told to work on improving areas where they are “weakest’ to better themselves. That never made sense to me. Focus on your strengths, accentuate the positive, grow to your highest potential.

Wishing that you achieve your highest goals.

I Love Fiction!

I am a fanatical reader. You know how it is if you’re one too. I can’t go into a bookstore, library or even a drugstore, without wanting to buy more books! While I read a little of everything, fiction is my true love.

No automatic alt text available.   Seen in a London bookstore!

There are stacks of books on my bedside table and coffee table, in baskets and on shelves, that I’m currently reading or waiting to be chosen next. I get a little panicky if I finish a book and I don’t have another one waiting in the wings to start. If I’ve particularly loved a book or series, I’m often sad that its over and will go back to re-read sections before starting the next one.

The best way to read is a real book, but I also LOVE audiobooks. I spend a lot of time driving and doing creative projects while listening to books and my vivid imagination and the incredible talent of the audiobook’s reader/performer brings it all to life. I lost my e-reader several years ago and haven’t replaced it, but they can serve a purpose, too. Instant gratification if you purchase and download a new book.

I’ve recently discovered some FANTASTIC books that I’d like to share with you.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen  I know I’m late to the party here, but I’ve never read any of her novels! I was browsing at Half Priced books and saw a book by PD James, one of my favorite murder mystery writers that I hadn’t read – Death Comes to Pemberley. Of course I was dying to read it, but never having read about Elizabeth, Darcy and Pemberley, felt I had to read P&P first. It was delightful and now I have to read more of Miss Austen’s works. I’ve started the PD James novel and it doesn’t disappoint either!

Pride and PrejudiceDeath Comes to Pemberley

Green Rider Series by Kristen Britain  I LOVE these books! It’s a series of six fantasy novels and a novella about a young woman who against her own wishes is magically called into King Zachary of Sacaridia’s Green Rider messenger service. Beautifully written with amazing world building and complex characters and relationships, I recommend these books to all lovers of YA fantasy. I’ve been listening to them on audiobook and find myself wanting to continue listening after I leave the car. I’ll be very sad when I finish the series. I may have to buy them in paperback so I can go back and read select passages. 

Green Rider

What new (or old as in my case) books have you discovered? I’d love to hear about them so I can add them to my list!

 

 

 

Writer’s Block and Beer

A friend recently sent me this picture –

writers block beer

I can see sharing a beer with Mr. Shakespeare to help alleviate writer’s block! Or several beers! 😉 At least we’d have a good time. ***I just realized this is Pinot Noir, NOT beer. Oh, well, it has the same effect.

Fortunately, I’ve never suffered from true writer’s block. There have been times when I’m not sure how a scene will unfold or what direction the plot will go, but I find that if I approach it from another direction, the way will become clear. Usually that means working on another part of the novel where I’m sure of the way, or reviewing what I’ve already written to get a sense of what comes next.

My subconscious or higher self is where my ideas germinate. Thinking about the plot doesn’t generally produce great insights. I find that if I mull it over and spend some time brainstorming, researching and writing down ideas and go off to do something else – or go to sleep – and let things percolate, at some point ideas will start popping into my head. I always have a notebook with me so I can jot them down, but once the path of the plot unfolds, it becomes ‘real’ and I don’t forget it.

Many writers will tell you the book ‘writes itself’ or characters will do things that surprise you and change the trajectory of the plot. I find that’s true for me. When I get into the creative writing ‘zone’, it just flows out of me. I know what’s going to happen next and what the characters are going to do and say. Sometimes it’s not what I’d planned or expected, but it’s almost always better.

Right now I am revising Indian Summer, the first novel chronologically of the three companion books, which will be published after The Field as a prequel. I’m getting good feedback from my writers’ group and I can see how much I’ve progressed as a fiction writer since I started writing it about 13 years ago. I’m excited about the new, polished result.

I’m also starting to get ideas for the fourth novel of the quartet, which will provide what I hope is a satisfactory conclusion. More to come on that later!

Keep being creative!

Brown Books to Publish My Novels

I’m very excited to share that Brown Books Publishing Group is publishing my novels!

The Field is scheduled to release in Spring 2019. Indian Summer will be released next as a prequel followed by Catalyst. I’ve started work on the fourth book which is a sequel to Catalyst and the conclusion of the series. The first three books are not sequels, but companion books.

Brown Books is working on the marketing strategy and requesting endorsements from authors. I’m beyond pleased to share this news!

It’s Been a While and First Pages of WIP

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since my last post! A LOT happened in the past year. I moved, changed jobs AND totally revised Catalyst, my work in progress. It has now been through numerous rewrites and beta readers and I’m ready to send it out to agents and publishers. Here are the first few pages to give you a taste.

Chapter 1

I’ve had glimpses of something beyond my five senses. Usually it’s premonitions and intuition, but four years ago when I was in middle school I communicated with the spirit of a Native American girl. I want to experience that again, but I don’t know how. Sometimes she inhabits my dreams and I wake up wishing I could connect with her while I’m awake and wondering if I imagined it all in the first place. It feels like a door that was once open to me is shut and I don’t have the key. Thinking about it gives me a vague, unsettled feeling. It’s like something is missing from my life.

I give myself a mental shake and pull the door handle to get out of the car, determined not to give in to anxious thoughts. Hopefully the next few weeks will keep my mind occupied with other things.

We arrive at the Angel Mounds archaeological dig site in time for dinner. That’s when all the students in the field study are supposed to arrive for orientation and a ‘meet-and greet’ evening as my mom refers to it. It’s her dig. She’s an archaeologist at the University and I’ve been to several of her sites over the years, but this is my first time actually working on a site. Not bad for a summer job – at least that’s what I’m hoping. It’s unpaid, but still great experience. She was able to get all three of us – me, Eric and his girlfriend, Renee – spots on the dig team.

I’m checking out the people milling around the clearing when I see them. Their presence immediately commands my attention.

Most of the others are probably college students from the University, archaeology or anthropology students, doing a summer field study course, but these two are different.

The man suddenly turns and looks me straight in the eye. It’s as if he senses me looking at him, or thinking about him. Because that’s how it feels. Like he’s reaching out and touching my thoughts. I hear him say, ‘hello, Marcie’, not audibly, but inside my mind. I take a slight step back, startled, but hold his gaze and the connection between us. In my previous experiences I’d never heard words spoken. Just thoughts and feelings. He inclines his head toward me and touches the brim of his hat before returning to talk to his blond companion. I’m a little disturbed by the whole exchange. Something about him makes me uneasy. My skin shivers and I rub my arms to dispel the feeling. Who is this guy and how had he communicated with me?

I shift my gaze to the woman. Her caramel-colored hair is braided into a heavy rope hanging down her back and she’s gesturing in smooth, fluid motions as she talks. She gives the impression of being both still and animated, reminding me of a cat stalking its prey, immobile save for the twitching of its tail. Contained is the word that comes to mind. The way her eyes roam over the other waiting people, stopping only briefly to look at me, enhances the feline resemblance.

They’re standing off to one side of the shelter with their heads together and holding clipboards, deep in conversation. Both are dressed like everyone else in shorts and t-shirts with beat-up boots and hats. The guy has his back to me, talking to the girl, or woman, as they are obviously older, probably graduate students. His hair is black and smooth, held back by a leather tie. It isn’t that they look any different from anyone else. They feel different. They have a palpable energy about them.

Wish me luck on my submissions!