2019 Reading Challenge Update

I thought I was WAY behind on my reading goal of 60 books for the year, but now that I count up what I’ve read so far this year, it’s not as bad as I thought. Sixteen books read. And I’m not even including the romance novel I read…just saying. Check out what I’ve been reading here.

I don’t think I’ll get to 30 by July 1st – the halfway point – BUT I have a good excuse! The launch of The Field  and the Book Tour is keeping me VERY busy not to mention trying to do revisions on Indian Summer and Catalyst.

What are you reading? I’m always looking for recommendations. My Book Group is reading Where The Crawdads Sing for June and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve heard wonderful things about it!

TBR Pile

Return of the Thief by Meghan Whelan Turner – comes out in August. Conclusion to the series – can’t wait!

I’m in a scifi phase right now, so these are in the TBR pile:

The Forever War and Marsbound by Joe Haldeman

Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman – YA

Scenes from the Book Tour – Grand Rapids and Dayton

For the second segment of The Field Book Tour, I was at the Barnes and Noble in Grand Rapids, Michigan on April 26th for a local author event and then drove 5 hours to Dayton, OH for the Dayton Book Expo on the 27th. Can’t always control the timing of these events! Here are some pics!

This weekend I’m at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators writing conference in Chicago and the Launch Party is on May 11th! Check out the Events Page for more details.

Ready for Readers in Grand Rapids!
Talking with readers in Grand Rapids
Signed Books to Leave Behind

Barnes and Noble Grand Rapids
Readers at the Dayton Book Expo!
Being Interviewed for Another Way to Praise TV Spot at The Dayton Book Expo

Premonitions and Intuition

Have you ever had a thought or feeling about something that later came true? Did you realize what it was at the time? If you had known that it was a premonition would you have acted differently?

I recently had two separate traumatic occurances where I had a premonition about them beforehand. It wasn’t as though I ‘knew’ what was going to happen, more like a fleeting thought crossing my mind that I remembered after the event.

The first was a car accident. I had been driving all around central Indiana a day in mid-December and was headed home. It was early evening – dark and raining. Visibility was bad and I was concerned about getting into an accident. I had a fleeting thought that I might get rear-ended, but it was just that – a fleeting thought. It occurred to me and then I moved on to other thoughts. I had been in a rear-end collision on a similar dark and rainy night in October, so I attributed it to that connection.

The car in front of me stopped on the four lane, busy road to turn left. I wasn’t able to pull past her into the right lane so I waited for her to turn. After a few moments I heard a screeching sound and then BOOOOOM! someone crashed into me from behind hitting me so hard that I crashed into the car in front of me and hit my knees on the dashboard. It wasn’t until later that I remembered the fleeting thought of the rear-end collision. Could I have avoided it if I had known it for a premonition? I’m not sure what I could have done.

The second premonition was about my nephew breaking his arm. Over Christmas I went to California to visit my brother and his family and to watch his two kids while he and his wife took a little ‘adults only’ vacation. My niece and nephew and I were having a great time on our ‘Auntventures’ going to museums, roller skating and going to the movies and the library – they love to read!! My brother suggested I drop them off at a bouncy-house play center on Friday evening so I could have a few hours to myself. I remember thinking – ‘Ben is going to break his arm’. Again, it was hardly even a solid thought, just a fleeting idea. I dropped them off and went into the little town to shop and have dinner.

Midway through my dinner and into my second glass of wine I got the call. I thought – ‘here it is’ – before I answered. Ben may have broken his arm, they said. When I got there I was met with a fire truck, ambulance and police car all with lights flashing. He did in fact break his arm pretty badly, but I’m happy to report that the cast was just removed last week and he is healing beautifully!

What if I had paid closer attention to my intuition or premonition and not taken them to the play center? Would Ben not have broken his arm? Probably. Was it really a premonition or just me thinking of a possible likely scenario? The doctor who treated him said they see kids with broken bones from those bouncy houses all the time.

In The Field, Eric has frightening dreams that he doesn’t know what to do with. Is he connecting with The Field? The Collective Consciousness? Was I? What do you think?

60 Books in 2019

According to the list I try to keep on this website I’ve read 30 books in 2018, but I know I’ve read more. There are at least 5 middle grade books that somehow didn’t get counted.

For 2019 I’ve set a goal of 60 books. That means I really have to keep track, and own up to every title even if it’s an embarrassing bodice ripper! Didn’t your teacher always say it didn’t matter what you read as long as you were reading?

What’s your reading goal for 2019? Do you have a favorite book of 2018? Mine is Firebrand by Kristen Britain.

Friend me on Goodreads so we can share our passion for reading!

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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 VerlunaMusic

Here’s an excerpt from the Verluna 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 Verlunamusic.

Choose Your Big Rocks

Choose Your Big Rocks First

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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.

“It’s like knowing without thinking.” ~ Eric Horton from THE FIELD

I thought I would share some quotes from my novel The Field about connecting with the Unified Field and ‘All That Is’. I hope you enjoy them and perhaps they will make you ponder.

This one is when Eric is describing what it feels like when he’s in the soccer goal and he simply knows where the ball is going.

“I don’t want to make too big a deal about it with Will, but sometimes I just get a feeling of knowing. It just flashes into my head. Maybe it’s from years of playing, but when it happens it feels different then reacting on instinct without thinking. It’s like knowing without thinking.” ~ Eric Horton, The Field

Do you have this kind of intuitive knowing or connection? I’d love to hear what it is like for you.

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Just Say NO to Fracking – and a word about “Horton Hears a Who”

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All of my novels have an environmental theme and in my next novel (over halfway through the first draft!) the Horton family will be opposing Fracking in southern Indiana. My books are my way of taking a stand about the dangers of polluting and exploiting our planet, and hopefully awakening a similar outrage in my readers. All wrapped up in wonderful, exciting story. I believe if all of us make our own waves we create a tidal wave of change.

A side note about the Horton family. While each novel is a stand-alone story, the Horton family is featured in all three. I chose the name ‘Horton’ because of Dr. Suess’s (Dr. Suess is kind of my hero) book Horton Hears a Who. No one believes Horton when he hears the ‘Who’s’ calling out from a dust speck on a dandelion, but Horton perseveres. That book speaks to me on so many levels. First, that another group of beings could exist on a dust speck. I love the image of the Universe being as amazingly small as it is amazingly huge. Second, Horton knows the truth of what he hears and keeps on saying it even in the face of adversity. In the end, the other animals hear the Who’s and they are saved. I can only hope that will be true for humanity as well, and we will realize the truth of climate change and our role in causing it before it’s too late. There’s another Dr. Suess book about this, I’m sure you remember it – The Lorax. Remember what happened after all of the Truffula trees were cut down to make Thneeds? It wasn’t a pretty place.

There’s a lot in the news about the dangers of Fracking (if you’re paying attention) but is hasn’t stopped the energy companies from continuing to Frack or governments from continuing to support it – with some notable exceptions like New York. Even President Obama promotes Natural Gas, which is what is released when gas wells are Fracked, as the new clean energy. It may burn cleaner, but the impact of extracting it is anything but clean.

Fracking, or hydrolic fracturing, is a method of natural gas extraction by injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary – read unnamed – chemicals, under extremely high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and opens fissures allowing natural gas to escape. In 2005, the Bush/Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act, which means the proprietary chemicals used do not need to be disclosed to the public. These chemicals are anything but safe.

Scientists have identified dozens of chemicals, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, in Fracking waste water. Chemicals that are known poisons and carcinogens!!! The Fracked wells are up to 8,000 feet deep and between one and eight million gallons of water is used EACH time a well is Fracked. A well can be Fracked up to 18 times.

So why should you care?

1. Only 50% of the water used (including chemicals) is recovered from the wells. That leaves the remaining  50% left behind to contaminate aquifers.

2. The waste water recovered is put into evaporation tanks and the chemicals are evaporated directly into the air, thus contaminating the air we breathe. The water is highly toxic and has to be treated after the chemicals have evaporated.

3. Drinking water wells and rivers and streams around the Fracking site are contaminated with the Methane gas that was released during Fracking. Residents can often light their tap water on fire. It is undrinkable.

4. Fracking, especially horizontal Fracking, creates cracks or fissures in the rock which has been proven to increase seismic activity and earthquakes in the areas surrounding the Fracking sites. Fracking in places where fault lines exist such as California, is reckless and potentially dangerous.

5. During a time of drought in much of the west, using millions of gallons of water to Frack is irresponsible to say the least.

Dr. Suess was writing about our responsibility as caretakers of Earth when I was a child. We’ve yet to heed the warnings. Will you join me in making waves so that we create a Tsunami of change?