Friday, December 19, 2014

Deja Vu Blogfest



I'm participating in DL Hammons Deja Vu Blogfest today.  The idea is to repost a favorite older post from this year that you feel didn't get quite the viewing you'd hoped for.

I thought, hey, "that will be easy," then I started looking at my old posts.  Yikes, what a decision.  Not that they were so amazing I thought they all needed reposting, I wish.  I was a little underwhelmed and I wasn't sure any of them actually deserved being reborn.  Finally, I found one.  It's short and sweet and I thought it exemplified a kind of Christmas-time spirit, so here goes:


From October 17 2014,

No Powers Necessary

Yesterday, I was talking with my 10 year old son about my YA Fantasy novel (in editing phase) as I drove him to his guitar lesson.  He’s an avid reader of YA books so I respect his literary opinion. I explained some of the problems I was having with it.  First, he told me that a few of my ideas were a little too cliche so I might want to change it up a bit. Then he went on to give me his input on the weaponry my characters should be using, one of his favorite aspects of any story.

After a while he thoughtfully added, “Your main characters shouldn’t have magical powers.”

“Why?” I asked, sneaking a glance at him in the back seat.

“Because they shouldn’t have to use magic to be special and save the world.  Anyone can do it.  Everyone is special just by being themselves.”


Wow, I thought, and mentally prayed that he would always be himself.


Hope you enjoyed my Deja Vu post and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!

Kathy :)

Show the world how special you are by being yourself!




Thursday, December 18, 2014

20 Years of Bliss

If you've been a follower for a while you know I love nothing more than to go on family adventures.  It doesn't have to be to some exotic location, we've had a wonderful time exploring places like Gulf Shores, Alabama and Mystic, Connecticut.


But the best adventure of my life, began twenty years ago today.  That was the day, in a small town in Michigan, in the middle of the ice rink where we met, that my husband and I said, "I do."

Standing at center ice, in front of our friends and family, we knew we were embarking on a wonderful and crazy journey.  We had no idea where it would take us, or the bumps in the road we would encounter, but we knew that traveling the road together was the only thing that mattered.

Twenty years has passed so quickly.

We've done so many crazy things together, like raising three crazy, wonderful kids, white water rafting down the Ganges River, biking down Mt. Haleakala at sunrise, driving to Alaska with our kids, and moving countless times back and forth across the country, but even the little moments like going grocery shopping together, hanging out at the coffee shop, or sitting on the couch cheering for our favorite teams are just as special.  It's the time spent together, talking, laughing, crying, exploring, no matter where we are, that has made me love him even more today than twenty years ago.

I'm so blessed to still be on this adventure of a lifetime.  I wonder what other roads this journey will take us on.

Kathy :)





Friday, December 12, 2014

The Evolution of Language

I'm a native English speaker...or at least I was.  It seems that the English language has evolved without me.  I don't know what happened.  I never thought I was going to be one of those old people who didn't understand new slang.  In college, I even helped my linguistics professor compile a slang dictionary!

But it has happened.

I  have two teenagers and a ten year old, so I thought I was keeping up and pretty hip on today's language.  Not even close!  Through almost constant texting and instant messaging teen language evolves so quickly that I feel like a foreigner when I listen to my kids talking to one another.  And the "olden times" sayings that I use produce blank stares from my kids asking for translation.

Here are just a few of the words my kids have said in the last month or so that stumped me:

Jays/(z)- Jordans -I'm assuming the shoe
Bae- an acronym for Before Anyone Else, I thought it was just short for baby
Bruh- what?  like when someone does something stupid or weird
Yeet- form of expression like yeah, but used when really excited
On point or OP- perfection ex: "Your outfit is on point!"  (for gamers, my son informed me, OP means over powered)
mod- minecraft stuff which is a whole other language that I don't get
hella- Hell of a
turnt- party up or yeah, accompanied by hands in the air (like "let's get in the partying mood!")
turn up- similar to turnt
TBT- Throwback Thursday usually to have an excuse to post a weird picture from the good ol' days
tbh- to be honest
YOLO- You only live once (I did figure this one out, but I've never used it)
TT- Transfromation Tuesday similar to TBT


Our kids have even made up their own words used within our family:

Sloth- a creepy person
Ladyboogles- lady bugs that scare our beagle
Bdonkers- thank you
Ridonkulonx- ridiculous
Deeeeeee- said when something super cute is around
Maomaoer- an imaginary treat "thrown" from oldest daughter to son to get him to do stuff
Bobfobis- what my kids call me though sometimes it's Piggymom or Momservant

Nicknames my girls call my son (he actually loves these so don't feel bad for him):

Chubtin (not sure why cause he's super skinny)
Pig Brother
Bean Brain
Clockhead

Nicknames for our chubby beagle Rory:

Flopperoogleboogle- he does have huge floppy ears
Pigtin
Beagleuchador
Dumbzo

Said to our dog when he's bad:

Good boogles don't bite, and you bit, so you not a good boogle, and if you not a good boogle, then there's only one thing left to be, a bad boogle so that's what you are a Bad Boogle!!!  Oh but you can also be good sometimes! (then they give him a hug and kiss!)

Even these words tend to evolve weekly into newer words and my husband and I are left trying to keep up!

So "keep your ears peeled" (something my grandpa used to say) and listen to all that teen speech or someday all us old folks will be left needing a translator to talk to our grandkids!

I'd love to hear any new slang you've heard, or "olden times speech" that no one understands anymore.

Have a great weekend!  Time to get hella turnt!

Kathy :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond

Wow, I'm gone for a few weeks and so much has happened!  The biggest, of course, is the publication of the IWSG's new book, The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond, which I'm proud to say I had a tiny part in as a contributing author.  I want to thank Alex J. Cavanaugh and all the wonderful people who spent hours editing and formatting it and all the other IWSG contributing authors who made this possible!  What a wonderful collaboration.  I'm so happy to be a part of it!



The Insecure Writer's Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond

ISBN 9781939844088
235 pages, FREE

Get your copy here!

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Smashwords
Goodreads






I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We had a fabulous time with our family.  Thanksgiving is the one holiday each year when we can all get together.  This year it went way too fast!

Then we headed up to Ann Arbor, Michigan for my daughters to compete in a synchronized skating competition where they took 3rd!
Now we're looking forward to a nice, quiet but hopefully snowy Christmas and the new year already!

Oh, and I took my girls to see Mockingjay which was awesome!!

What have you been up to lately?
Hope the rest of your week is great!!

Kathy :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Author Visits Part II

Author Visits Part II- Put Yourself Out There!
(Update)

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that my daughter, Jess, was invited to my son's elementary school to give a talk about writing and her book, From the Ashes.  Because it was her first time doing something like this, I asked you guys for some advice and tips that had worked for you.

Jess, Alyss, and Ryan at Writing Day
Jess who is only 18, was anxious about the whole thing and thought she wouldn't know what to say. Using some of the great ideas you guys shared,  I helped her plan out a presentation.  She also got permission to have her sister Alyssa, 16, come along and be her helper (aka moral support).  

From your comments, we decided it was best to involve the kids as much as possible in the talk.  Jess decided her main topic would be character development and she would walk the kids through creating their own characters.  She made a worksheet for them where they could fill in character traits like hair color, skin color, birthplace, etc.

Jess and Alyssa stayed up late together the night before, working out all the little details of the speech including jokes and gestures that they would use to liven it up.  They were going to have to give the presentation 5 times to different groups of 20-30 kids from 4th-6th grade and it was supposed to last 30 minutes.  We timed them.  It was only 8 minutes of actual rehearsed material, the rest would have to be them winging it.  

Last Friday, was the big day.  Jess was so nervous that day she actually puked before we left for the school.  I wished I could have stayed to watch them, but I left and hoped for the best!

Turns out they had a great time and so did the kids.  It was amazing to hear what the kids came up with for character traits.  One had a translucent mullet hair-do, one was born on a rainbow, and one had E.T and Chuck Norris as parents.

The teacher who invited Jess, told me when I picked them up that the kids loved their presentation more than any of the other speakers.

Over the weekend, Alyssa was walking around our little town square and a girl approached her and said, "Hey you were one of the girls that spoke yesterday, right?  I loved you and your sister's presentation.  All the other speakers were stupid and yours was actually fun!" (I love how blunt kids are!).  Then Jess's old English teacher texted her saying that she tutors a girl who went to Jess's presentation and she was so inspired and excited by what she had said!    

All in all it was a wonderful experience for everyone.  So even if you're shy don't hesitate to put yourself out there and speak at a school about writing, but make sure you have an activity that the kids can participate in to show off their own creativity and it will be a big success!  

Thanks so much to all of you who gave us suggestions!

Have a great weekend!

Kathy :)


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IWSG



Well it's already time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post.  The IWSG was created by Alex J Cavanaugh and is co-hosted by many other awesome blogger buddies.  It's a place where we can tell our hopes and fears about writing and offer encouragement to others.  

I feel pretty good this month, mostly because I love this time of year.  I love the colors and nothing is better than having my whole family to our house for Thanksgiving.


One thing I've been struggling with recently is focusing on a single project.  I have a number of things I'm working on.  I'm rewriting my fantasy novel, working on an article, and developing ideas for a chick-lit book.

Carving out time to write is difficult enough but when I'm splitting that time amongst different manuscripts it seems impossible to finish any of them.  I know I should probably focus on one thing at a time, but some days I'm drawn away by some phantom force pulling me in another direction.  

If you have any tips on how to stay focused on one project at a time, feel free to tell me.  In the mean time, I'll be working my way through three manuscripts hoping to finish at least one of them by next year!

Kathy :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Contrast Creating Tension

I'm reading Bram Stoker's Dracula for the first time, for a Cousera class called, Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World.  (The class is excellent and  totally free!  I'd recommend it to everyone who wants to learn how science fiction works.)

Dracula isn't the kind of book I'd ever pick up on my own.  I really don't care for the extra spooky, creepy or bloody genres, but I'm thoroughly enjoying taking this novel apart to see how it works and it's neat to read around Halloween.

As I read, I'm realizing that a lot of the tension in the story comes from contrasting elements. When the MC, Jonathan Harker first meets Count Dracula at his castle, he senses an eeriness but the Count provides him with a sumptuous meal and is a friendly and welcoming host.  Jonathan continues to discover strange things but upon face to face interactions the Count is always pleasant and intelligent.

At one point early in the story, the Count startles him while shaving and the Count's eyes have a demoniac fury when he sees Jonathan's blood and reaches out to grab him. But his hand brushes Jonathan's cross and the fury disappears.  Jonathan wonders what kind of demon his host is, what he is hiding, and fears he won't leave the Count's castle alive.  Yet after each frightening incident, he interacts with the Count who assumes a noble friendly air and asks Mr. Harker knowledgable questions on the law as if there was nothing strange occurring.  

There is also the contrast of night and day which mirrors the two sides of the Count.  During the day the Jonathan feels renewed and safe, at night he is afraid and vulnerable.  These contrasts between Jonathan fearing for his life and risking his life for freedom and between the friendly noble Count and the monstrous Count and never knowing which Count is present, the demonic or the noble are what help to create enormous tension in this story.

I'm not yet finished with the book, but I'm excited to learn more about it and hopefully be able to use some of Stoker's tricks for creating tension and suspense in my own writing.


Have you read Dracula? What did you think of it? What tips have you learned from reading the classics?


Kathy :)


Friday, October 24, 2014

Author School Visits? Have You Done Them, We Need Your Advice

Today I'm asking you guys for some advice.

My daughter, Jessica has been asked by the local elementary school to come in and give a talk about writing and being an author.  She's a little nervous as it will be her first time actually speaking in front of a group.  

For those of you who have spoken to kids in 4-6th grade, or are teachers, we would appreciate any ideas that have worked well for you on how to engage them in the discussion instead of just talking at them.  

She has about 30 minutes with each group and she wants to have enough ideas to last the whole time, so she's not just staring at a bunch of blank faces with nothing left to say!

She would love to get them to do a little activity and involve them in the writing process.  


Thanks and have a great fall weekend!  Anyone going to get apples and cider?

Kathy :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Survive and Thrive Bloghop




Hosted by Stephen Tremp, Michael Di Gesu, Diane Wolfe, and Alex J Cavanaugh 

The blogfest is meant to bring awareness of disease prevention and early detection regarding medical conditions that may be averted or treated if caught in the early stages. Our desire is to motivate people to go in for early screening, and if a condition is caught early and treated, then our world just became a little better place to live. 
The topics are wide open. You can post about a particular cause you support. Or you can share a personal or family experience that is near to your heart. What’s great about this Blogfest is you can inspire people to take care of themselves and their loved ones early enough to make a difference in their lives. 

As usual I’m late on posting this!  But that’s okay because part of what I’m talking about today for the Survive and Thrive Bloghop is to always strive for excellence, but don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go exactly as planned.  


We live in a stressful world where everything is competing for our attention and we feel we never have the time to do what we want to get done.  There aren’t too many days where I go to sleep before total exhaustion yet still not completing everything on my list, but that’s okay because I did my best for the day!


Through the years as a figure skater and coach, I’ve learned that to do your best it helps if you are mindful of your own body.  Push yourself to the limits of what you thought possible, but be aware of how your body reacts to different things. Everyone is different.  Know your own limits and try to slowly increase your boundaries but always compete with only yourself.  Comparing yourself to others does no one any good.  Be aware of what your whole body is doing at all times.  It’s amazing how many people don’t realize what their arms are doing when they’re focused on their feet!  

I think if we are really aware of our bodies we can take care of them much better.  When we understand how our bodies react to different situations we can change the things that don’t agree with them and be healthier and happier. When you know your body, you also have a better sense of when things are not right and need to see a doctor, or when one doctor's diagnosis doesn't seem to fit and you need a qualified second opinion. Be your own health advocate by knowing your own body.


This is an exercise I used to do to train myself in bodily mindfulness (it might seem a little weird but it really works!).  Sit or lay in a comfortable position.  Visualize a ball of energy in your belly.  With your mind, visualize moving that ball slowly through every muscle of your body and “feel” the heat and energy moving through your muscles as if you were moving them, "feel" the muscle tense and relax. It may take a few times trying it to get good at it but it’s amazing how much it helps you understand and control your body.   Try it, it only takes a few minutes and you feel great afterwards!

Have a healthy and happy week!

Kathy :)

Friday, October 17, 2014

No Powers Necessary


Yesterday, I was talking with my 10 year old son about my YA Fantasy novel (in editing phase) as I drove him to his guitar lesson.  He’s an avid reader of YA books so I respect his literary opinion. I explained some of the problems I was having with it.  First, he told me that a few of my ideas were a little too cliche so I might want to change it up a bit. Then he went on to give me his input on the weaponry my characters should be using, one of his favorite aspects of any story.

After a while he thoughtfully added, “Your main characters shouldn’t have magical powers.”

“Why?” I asked, sneaking a glance at him in the back seat.

“Because they shouldn’t have to use magic to be special and save the world.  Anyone can do it.  Everyone is special just by being themselves.”


Wow, I thought and mentally prayed that he would always be himself.


Have a great weekend,

Kathy

Show the world how special you are by being yourself!



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

White Lady Book Tour!

I'm so excited to be part of the blog tour promoting the talented Jessica Bell's new thriller, White Lady.  I'm not really a reader of thriller's because even at 42 I'm scared of the dark and blood creeps me out.  But if you enjoy the dark and bloody, White Lady will have you on the edge of your seat wondering how the heck it is all going to work out in the end. 


 GUESS THE TRUE STATEMENT & WIN JESSICA BELL’S THRILLER, WHITE LADY! (Statement #77)



To celebrate the release of Jessica Bell’s latest novel, WHITE LADY, she is giving away an e-copy (mobi, ePub, or PDF) to the first person to correctly guess the one true statement in the three statements below. To clarify, two statements are lies, and one is true:

When Jessica Bell was 19, she was approached in the street for an autograph because the person thought she was ...
a. Nicole Kidman
b. Liv Tyler
c. Jennifer Connelly

What do you think? Which one is true? Write your guess in the comments, along with your email address. Comments will close in 48 hours. If no-one guesses correctly within in 48 hours, comments will stay open until someone does.

Want more chances to win? You have until October 31 to visit all the blogs where Jessica will share a different set of true and false statements on each one. Remember, each blog is open to comments for 48 hours only from the time of posting.

If you win, you will be notified by email with instructions on how to download the book.

Click HERE to see the list of blogs.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
*This novel contains coarse language, violence, and sexual themes.

​Sonia yearns for sharp objects and blood. But now that she’s rehabilitating herself as a “normal” mother and mathematics teacher, it’s time to stop dreaming about slicing people’s throats.

While being the wife of Melbourne’s leading drug lord and simultaneously dating his best mate is not ideal, she’s determined to make it work.

It does work. Until Mia, her lover’s daughter, starts exchanging saliva with her son, Mick. They plan to commit a crime behind Sonia’s back. It isn’t long before she finds out and gets involved to protect them.

But is protecting the kids really Sonia’s motive?

Click HERE to view the book trailer.
Click HERE for purchase links.


Jessica Bell, a thirty-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, is the Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca. She makes a living as a writer/editor for English Language Teaching Publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, MacMillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

Connect with Jessica online:


Friday, October 3, 2014

IWSG recap, White Lady Released, and From the Ashes News

Wow, there were so many great posts for the IWSG this week!  I can't wait to read the e-book anthology.

I'm mostly looking forward to reading the tips on marketing.  That's where I struggle the most and my book isn't even finished!  But I'm trying to help my daughter Jess, market her book, From the Ashes, a YA Sci-Fi novel.  She's finishing the editing of book two The Inferiors, and it would be nice to have a big audience ready and waiting for it.

She of course, has little time to devote to marketing herself as she is busy with her Senior year and all the fun and anxieties that come with high school.  So we don't want to waste time on marketing that is  showy but ineffective, because let's face it, the reason we do marketing is to sell books.  So I'm hoping that in the upcoming IWSG e-book, there will be not only tips, but a guide for which strategies have been most effective for the bottom line.  I know half the battle is just getting the word out and that is what we've been focusing on.

Lately we've had a little more success getting in that area.  Jess was emailed by a fan asking when book two would be out and she just got called yesterday to be a speaker at my son's school for an author day, so that's pretty exciting, (well she's terrified, but I'm excited for her!)

This week we decided to try an e-book Amazon Countdown Deal to see if that helps get a few more copies sold.  And even though she's humble and shy about asking for people to help her spread the word, I'm her mom and will stop at nothing to promote my kids! I'll let you know how effective it is for us.  I'm trying to keep track of all the strategies we use and what effect they have.

 So I'm asking for your help today, if you have the time, spread the word on FB or Twitter to see if we can move her up the Amazon ranking!



From the Ashes, a high-octane sci-fi adventure of love, deceit, and revenge by Jessica McKendry, is on sale today through Monday for $.99!
To tweet: https://twitter.com/kathmckendry/status/518052258697977857

Thanks so much in advance to everyone!!
And don't hesitate to ask me to help promote your latest work!  I would love to help out!




Today I'm helping out another Jessica too:


Jessica Bell released a new book, White Lady, this week.  I'll be posting more about it on Oct 14th but  I wanted to mention it today as it just came out!  If you like psychological thrillers this is one you will never forget!






Kathy :)


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IWSG- Character Depth




Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG, is a great place where we can share our fears and insecurities and successes as well.  It's been a wonderful source of support and friends for three years now!  Thanks Alex! To join us sign up here.

I can't believe it's already time for another IWSG post!  Thank you all so much for your encouraging words last month.

I'm excited about the new IWSG Book coming out, I know there will be tons of helpful tips.

For me, some of the most helpful tips that I've been told along this journey are about creating depth in characters.  I never used to do much character mapping.  I just wrote.  But then others, including my daughter Jessica, suggested that I write a backstory for each character and even make complete family trees, going back generations for some and a create a "world building time line".

I wasn't sure it would work for me.  It seemed like way too much work that wasn't actually the "writing".  But once I started, I realized how much each person's history influenced who they were.  By going back in time and uncovering their histories, I was learning what made each character tick, which has made it so much easier for me to write them.  It also brought to the surface webs of interconnectedness between the characters that I hadn't even thought of before.

Some days, especially those days where I barely have time to sit at the computer, I still get frustrated that I'm working through timelines and family trees instead of finishing the manuscript.   In the end, I know all the preparation will make the story stronger and more meaningful for me and everyone who reads it.


The IWSG has my permission to use this in its e-book.
Title: Character Depth
Topic: Writing
Byline: Kathy McKendry
Blog: Imagine Today @ http://imagine-today1.blogspot.com

Have a great week!


Kathy



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

IWSG- Refuse to Quit



It's already time for another IWSG post. If you haven't heard of it check out Alex J Cavanaugh's site. He's the father of this wonderful group where we writers can talk about our fears and accomplishments and give each other support. It's been a wonderfully helpful group. Sign up for the group here. Thanks so much Alex!

I can't believe that today is the 3rd anniversary of the IWSG! That's amazing! I'm so excited to hear that there will soon be an IWSG book coming out!


Refuse to Quit

So as usual life gets in the way and I haven’t posted in a while.  I’ve tried to be consistent but I’m not a strict “schedule” person.  I kind of live by the seat of my pants and I guess it shows.  Part of my problem is that I often second guess myself, wondering whether I’m doing what I really need to do.  I’m passionate about having a positive impact on the world.  But I ask myself whether blogging and getting my novel out will make the world a better place. My writing isn’t amazingly deep and thought provoking and though I hope to be relatively successful I’m realistic in forecasting my sales numbers. Maybe I should be spending my time trying to diminish all the pain in the world.  

There is so much of it. So I decided to dive head first into searching and learning about what impacts I could make.

Then I got sidetracked.  This summer a lot of other things were on my mind.  We spent many stressful hours in doctors’ offices dealing with some health issues of one of my kids.  It sapped my creative energy.  

Then another seemingly huge obstacle popped up which could not be ignored.  My husband convinced me to stand up and fight for what I knew was right and not take “no” for an answer.  I hardened my resolve and dug in for the long haul.  At every turn, I was told “No”.  But for once in my life I kept pushing and refused to quit until the situation was resolved.  And to my relief just last Friday it was.

The whole experience taught me never to settle for “no” again. I still have plenty of insecurities about my writing and life in general but now I look on the future differently.  I will not let go of what I know is important until it is a reality no matter how many people tell me I can’t.  I will finish my novel because it is important to me and I will find ways to make the world a better place.      

Kathy

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Not Enough Time

82 hours of driving.

It sounds like a long time.  Especially when you're confined in an RV with 5 people:  two teen girls, a ten year old boy and two parents.  Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but like the rest of life, the time together went much too quickly.  

Our first campfire in Laird River Hot Springs, BC Canada
We had never driven an RV before, and that first day driving from Forest City, Iowa to Missoula, MT started off anxiously as my husband learned from experience how to handle a 28 foot vehicle that filled almost the entire lane.  Within an hour he was driving comfortably.  It took me a little longer to feel comfortable driving the behemoth but eventually I did too.

It took us seven full days to drive from Iowa to Alaska, 3575 miles (about 510 mi/day).  Before the trip, we had planned to fill the driving time and the hours in the evening after we stopped with journaling, family video logs, playing card games and guitar, reading, talking and writing a collaborative book which we had brainstormed.  We did do some of that but many nights, by the time we had done some sightseeing and eaten our campsite dinner, we collapsed from exhaustion.

There was a lot of singing while driving.  We blasted all the kids' favorite bands like Pink, Cold Play, My Chemical Romance, and One Direction.  It's one of the best sights of a trip to see your kids singing their hearts out together.

The drive itself was amazing.  Once we got into the Canadian Rockies, around every bend was a breathtaking view.  So I took too many photos that of course could never capture the reality of the immense beauty, but it made me feel better to try.

Grizzlies
Our first bear we saw was a huge thrill.  It was a big black bear grazing on the hillside near the road.  We pulled the RV over and watched it until it wandered back into the woods.  He didn't seem to even care we were there.  We saw a total of 16 bears, 3 of which were grizzlies, but all from the safety of our giant vehicle. Interestingly, all but one of those bears we saw in Canada.


 In Alaska, we saw two moose, some Dall sheep, lots of Bald Ealges, seals, and sea otters.  We also had the privilege of witnessing a humpback whale breaching not more than 100 yards from our boat on a wildlife cruise.

View from Homer Spit
I think my favorite Alaskan towns were Homer Spit and Juneau, but I loved everyplace we went, which also included Valdez, Seward, Anchorage and Ketchikan.

We were able to see a number of glaciers whose compacted ice reflected an intense blue color.  Many times I felt like a character in a fantasy world seeing landscapes that my mind did not think possible. Unfortunately, most of the glaciers are retreating rapidly and many had signs marking where the glaciers had been in previous years.  By the time our kids have their own children and journey back to Alaska, there
may not be many glaciers left.  


Aialik Glacier, Kenai Peninsula, AK

At the airport, when the kids figured out we were going on a cruise

Maybe the best part of the trip was the surprise.

We hadn't told the kids that for the last week we were getting on a Princess Cruise ship heading to Vancouver.  We also didn't tell them that their Grandma and Grandpa McKendry were meeting us on the ship.  But Grandma and Grandpa had a surprise of their own for us.  They brought with them my parents as well!  We were all surprised and thrilled!  It was great to end our trip with the whole family together.



Dinner on the cruise together :)







Three weeks have never gone so fast.









I hope you have all had a wonderful summer so far!

Kathy :)


And don't forget to head over to the WRiTE Club at DL Hammons.  The bouts have begun and there have already been some great pieces.


Glacier Bay

Friday, May 30, 2014

WRiTE Club Deadline


I'm still having a great time driving around Alaska with my family, but I wanted to make sure I helped get the word out on WRiTE Club.  The deadline for submission is midnight on May 31st...tomorrow, so get your writing sample in!

 It's a lot of fun, a great way to get your work critiqued, and it's all anonymous so don't be shy!

For all the details head on over to DL Hammons blog, (he's the genius behind WRiTE Club) and check it out.


My two favorite boys on the beach in Homer Spit, AK

Have a great weekend and don't forget to enter WRiTE Club!

Kathy :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

We Made It!

We made it to Alaska two days ago!

 It took us a seven full days to drive from the Winnebago factory in Forest City, Iowa to Alaska. It was an amazing drive!

I had no idea how well we would do in a 280 square foot RV with five people, two of which are teenage girls, but I'm happy to report that we are still a family of five.  My husband's limitless humor helped to smooth over the few rough spots we hit.

On the docks in Valdez, AK



Yesterday we enjoyed the sights of Valdez, AK a little town of about 4000 people on Prince William Sound.  It is surrounded by snow capped mountains on one side and the sea on the other.  It's like a tiny cold New England town mixed with Hawaii's mountains and rain forests and is absolutely stunning.



Sunrise on the ferry




Then we took a 5 1/2 hour ferry boat ride through Prince William Sound to Whittier, where we got off and drove to Homer Spit, AK on the Kenai peninsula. :)







We have seen a number of bears, but I'm happy to report that we haven't had to use the bear survival tips yet because we've only seen them from the car, not when we're out walking. I think the kids are so noisy they scare everything away! :)

Here are a couple more pictures:  
Athabasca Glacier, Columbia Icefield, Canada

First Campfire, Liard River Hot Springs, B.C., Canada 













Hope all is going well with you!  I'll be back intermittently as time and internet permits.  Until then have a great week!

Kathy :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Big Day

Mother's Day weekend was great!

Not because of Mother's Day though.  It was because my son had his first rock gig at a local bar.  He and his band, The Screamin' Demons, played three songs on Saturday and Sunday:  Dirty Deeds by AC/DC, Money Maker by the Black Keys, and Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes.  They had such a good time performing and we thoroughly enjoyed watching!  Their band has three guitarists, two singer/keyboard players, and a drummer.  They are all ten and under! I couldn't believe that they could play so well at that age!

This was my son's first time in front of a crowd and he was nervous, but as soon as the music started he just got into the music and loved it.  Here is a short clip of them playing Money Maker.  My son is the one in the orange and black striped shirt, between the two singers.
(The bass player is an assistant teacher.)



What did you get to do this weekend?  I hope you got to enjoy some beautiful weather.

We leave for Alaska in 4 days!!!!  If our internet access is good enough I might blog a little on the way, otherwise I'll be back in June.

Kathy :)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! I hope you had a wonderful day. You deserve it for all the hard work and love you give to your families. Cherish every moment.


As I thought about all the wonderful moments I’ve had as a mom I tried to pinpoint one that stood out as the most special or heartwarming.  I couldn’t think of one.  There isn’t just one.  Having three kids 17, 15, and 9 has given me a whole life of wonder.  

From the moment Jessica was born 17 years ago, to yesterday watching Ryan at his first guitar concert and everything in between.
Watching each of them take their first steps.
Teaching Alyssa how to bake.
Teaching them all how to read.
Teaching the girls to figure skate.
Having Ryan climb into my lap to show me some new game on the iPad.
Watching them all grow into beautiful, amazing people.


Not everything has been happy.  There have been plenty of roadblocks along the way. Sickness, injury, frustration, and heartbreak are also part of the journey.  Together we forged ahead and grew.

Scary moments, sad moments and joyous moments are all part of my motherhood memories that I cherish.
But maybe the most wonderful moments of all, are those deliciously sweet times when my three children are talking and laughing together totally oblivious of my observations.  When their pure love for each other shines like the brightest of stars, telling me that even when I’m gone they will stick together and make new memories of their own.      

Kathy :)

Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful mom who taught me everything I know about motherhood and encouraged me to always follow my dreams!




If you want to join in on Dropcam's campaign to share your stories of being a mom contact,  Tiffany at tpham(@)dropcam(.)com.  They will be sharing their favorite MOMeries

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Zucchinis and Zen

Count-down: 17 days until departure for Alaskan Adventure!

I can’t believe today is already the last day!  The Challenge went so fast this year! 

I have a hard time with “Z”.  I always want my last post to be really good, but “Z” words often don’t fit too well with my themes.  Last night my son, who’s nine, was trying to help me come up with a good “Z” word.  It was getting late because I’m a procrastinator and we started rattling off all the “Z” words we could think of.  Finally, he blurted out, “zucchini”.  I told him zucchinis didn’t have anything to do with Alaska.  He thought for a moment and told me we needed to take a zucchini with us on our trip, then we’ll have one in Alaska and I can write about it.  

Amid bursts of laughter we thought about drawing sharpie eyes on the zucchini and dressing him in a hat and sunglasses.  We would name him Zorba the Zucchini.  I told Ryan he might not make it through airport security.

My actual “Z” word, I decided is Zen.  I’ve only attempted meditation a few times, but I feel like our long drive will be a sort of meditative experience.  There will be long stretches of looking inside myself while my eyes focus on the constancy of the road.  I can let go of the everyday stressors and concentrate on breathing. On Being.  

Being not an individual, but a part of something bigger;  a family, a mountain valley, a speck in this grand universe.
   


Thanks for stopping by each day to read my posts! I had a great time this year and I learned so much from everybody. I want to thank Arlee for creating this wonderful A-Z Challenge! And thanks to all the co-hosts and helpers who help to make it run smoothly.  I know it takes a lot of time and effort. You guys/gals are awesome!  


Kathy :)