Friday, December 29, 2023

This Week @ Monday Creek: Goodbye 2023

Robson Tree Service Crew @ Monday Creek Dec 2023
 


Goodbye 2023
 
It wasn’t long after my dad died that the big elm on the side of the hill died. I remember it was alive when I went through a season of grief. When I noticed the tree again, it was listless and still. Large predator birds, mostly turkey buzzards, sat in the tip top of the large, leaf-less tree and looked for things to eat, spying me as I walked to the barn. Sometimes, a flock of small blackbirds would fill the entire tree, then fly away in one big swoop as I approached. Finally, after three years, I knew it had to come down. The crew at Robson Tree Service brought it down gently, stacked it in a neat pile for firewood, and picked up the smallest pieces. I won’t tell you that I cried a bit as I heard “thud” as it fell. I don’t remember when the tree was not there. Somehow, we knew the same things, people, and living. Time to move on.
 
For Christmas, my BFF and I went to Rhapsody for dinner, then to Stuart’s Opera House to see the Columbus Symphony. It was a festive event and a great way to celebrate Christmas. I recognized the name of the conductor… Stephen Caracciolo… I knew that name. Could it be that he was related to Matthew Caracciolo, one of our authors? Why, yes! It was Matthew’s father! I could see the resemblance. “Will the Conductor sign my program?” I asked the usher. Not for sure, the usher left a note in the Green Room. I am waiting to hear if he signed it.

Stuart's Opera House: Columbus Symphony Holiday Pops Spectacular


A nice surprise came in the mail last week. Monday Creek Publishing author Leslie McDonald sent a gorgeous calendar "Behind the Gate" of her Full Cry Farm Dressage Center. What makes this calendar so special are the haikus written by Leslie. It’s a nice addition to my writing desk and a good conversation piece as well. Leslie, a "USDF Gold, Silver and Bronze Medalist... numerous national and breed association awards, has trained and successfully competed five horses to the Grand Prix level" writes beautiful haikus that celebrate her farm. If you would like to purchase a copy, email Leslie: fcfarm@aol.com.


 
Finally, a new project is underway for a group of musicians from Jackson, Ohio. We are collaborating on a “fiction-based-on-fact” story of their garage band, the Truants. It is my good fortune to be selected to write this story. I have a tentative outline, completed a draft of the first chapter, and connected with a few fans. One of the former band members, Paul Hanks, has written a screenplay about his life and times as a Truant. The other band members were unaware that Paul penned a screenplay. Once finished, I hope the book will engage readers and keep them entertained; to be released in 2024.
 

As we wave goodbye to 2023, we will remember the mistakes, triumphs, hurdles, joys, and serendipitous events that made it a year worth remembering. Most of all, I thank God for His blessings, favor, and presence; for keeping us under His wings and in His hands. My best wishes to your for a prosperous and Happy New Year!


But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God;
I trust in the mercy of God
    for ever and ever.
Psalm 52:8 KJ


Tuesday, December 26, 2023

An Interview with Ohio Author A.L. Hatcher

 
An Interview with Ohio Author A.L. Hatcher
 
Residing in Ohio USA, meet crime thriller author A.L. Hatcher. From A.L.'s bio: “A.L. Hatcher holds a bachelor’s degrees in both forensic investigation and forensic pathology as well as an associate degree in veterinary technology. Because of her love of animals, she’s been a registered veterinary technician for over 20 years. However, her passion for writing began in childhood when she would write her own short stories and picture books. Today, she spends her time caring for animals, reading, listening to true crime podcasts, and writing fiction about crime, suspense, and all things dark. She lives in the Midwest with her family, some chickens, and a menagerie of pets."
 
Welcome, A.L.!
 
GM: What is the premise for your next book?
ALH: Detective Tess Dane is back, this time working on a missing person case involving a pregnant woman who disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
 
GM: How do you maintain thoughts and ideas for storylines?
ALH: If I'm at home and an idea comes to me, I'll type it out quickly on the computer. If I'm out and about somewhere then I use the 'notes' app on my phone. I listen to a lot of true-crime podcasts and sometimes will get inspiration for story ideas from them. That's when I grab my phone and make notes on the fly! My first book, The Blood Eagle, was actually inspired by an episode of Morbid: A true crime podcast.
 
GM: Do you include family and friends to develop characters?
ALH: Not really. I typically come up with the characters myself and the main plot points. Once I have it all down on paper, I run the manuscript by my sister who points out weird wording, plot holes, adds snarky comments, etc.. Once she's done, I fix anything that obviously needs work and then it heads to my editor. 
 
GM: How do current events and headlines play a role in your writing?
ALH: Like I mentioned before, true crime podcasts or news stories really pique my interest and get my mind working. I'm always interested in reading and learning about new techniques in policing and forensic science. I have multiple college degrees in forensics so anything I can add to that to help make my writing more factual or believable is something that will draw me in. 
 
GM: As an author, can you share a personal quote to inspire fellow authors?
ALH: "I used to stay up late reading other people's books. Now I stay up late writing my own." And while I still love staying up all night on a reading bender, there is just something about writing in a quiet, dark house, while everyone else is asleep.
 
GM: Who is your favorite author?
ALH: Oh boy.... this is a hard one. I have a lot but I'd say the top three would be Karen Rose, for her ability to weave an extremely intricate suspenseful story and tie up all the loose ends in a neat little bow at the end. Lisa Gardner, for her ability to make you feel the emotions of the victims, while also getting in the mind of the detective. She uses multiple POV very well and I adore her character, Detective D.D. Warren. And lastly, MJ Arlidge, for his ability to make likeable, relatable characters like DCI Helen Grace while also making despicable characters like Emelia Garanita, the crime reporter. His Helen Grace series is amazing and I have loved every single one!
 
GM: What are you currently writing?
ALH: I have multiple projects started but the one I'm most excited about is the upcoming second Tess Dane thriller book due out this spring. I will be revealing the title and cover in January. I've also started a stand-alone thriller that I hope to finish this fall.
 
GM: What are you currently reading?
ALH: I am reading Vivi il Momento by Mary Belle. It is a romance set in Italy and it is amazing! Next up on the docket is an ARC for 'The Write Choice' by Allie Samberts. I can't wait! I've read her other two and have thoroughly enjoyed them!
 
GM: Do you have advice for novice writers and those looking to publish their first book?
ALH: Do not give up! I know that it can be hard, and people may tell you it's not worth it, that you'll never make money at writing, no one will ever read your book, etc. But don't let them get to you! I listened to those voices for nearly 30 years before I decided enough was enough. I wanted to write because I wanted to write. I didn't care if I made a ton of money or if I was the next Stephen King. I just wanted to let the words flow and get the stories out of my head for others to enjoy. And let me tell you... the moment you hold your book in your hand for the first time? There isn't anything like it! It's the best feeling in the world and worth all the anxiety, money, sleepless nights, and stress involved. Your dreams are worth it! You are worth it! Take a chance on yourself and just write the darn book!
 
GM: List 10 things your fans may not know about you...
ALH: 1) I'm left handed
         2) I would love to live on a houseboat for a summer just to see what it's like. I would also like to try out a tiny house on wheels because they look fun.
         3) I hate the taste of cinnamon
         4) I lived in Alaska for seven years and would live there again in a heartbeat. If you ever get the chance to go visit, do it!
         5) I've been to Kenya, El Salvador, and Canada. I would love to travel more! I really want to go to the UK!
         6) I was homeschooled from kindergarten through twelfth grade and I have four college degrees: an associate in veterinary technology, an associate degree in forensic science, a bachelors in forensic investigation and because I'm an overachiever, a bachelors in forensics pathology.
         7) I love backcountry backpacking! Before I had a family, I went backpacking all the time in Alaska!
         8) I used to do Search and Rescue with my dog, Rowan.
         9) I've wanted to be an author since I was around 9 years old. As a teenager, I'd sit in my room for hours on end typing away on the computer writing my masterpieces. Haha!
       10) I love orange cats and Golden Retrievers.
 
Connect with A.L.:


 


Monday, December 18, 2023

Milliron Monday: Letters Home May 28 1960

 

Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.:  June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Virginia Joyann "Jody" Haley Smith: April 2, 1938 - May 9, 2021
Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Milliron Farm and Clinic, Dr. Pete and Jody Smith. 

"The little sweater, booties, and bonnet are cute; it never ceases to amaze me when I think that we'll be having a little baby to put in them in another six weeks or so."
― Jody Smith

Jody's letter home to Mansfield, Ohio. Backstory: Anticipating the new baby in July, Jody writes of gifts from her parents, her last days of college, and her excitement about moving to Birky's ranch in the country.

917 Remington
Fort Collins, Colorado
Monday, April 18, 1960

Dear Everyone,
    Sorry I've been so slow in answering your cards and letters - but thank you very much for them. This last week of classes has been a bit busy. I have finals Monday and Tuesday and then I'm through! I suppose I'll probably miss school next year but right now it's going to be awfully nice to be finished - and particularly to get that diploma; thanks again and again and again for all you've done to make it possible.
    I went to the Tri-Delta breakfast last Sunday; this is the "farewell" get-together for the Seniors, held by the underclassmen. It was nice and they gave each of the seniors a little silver Chippendale bowl with "Tri-Delta 1960" engraved on it. Enclosed is the poem which was read for me. [The poem wasn't enclosed with the letter, but I'll try to find it.]
    Sounds as though that bowling tournament was quite spectacular. I'm glad to hear that Gary's dental practice is going so well.
    Thank you particularly for the cute "expectant father and mother" cards. Needless to say we much appreciated the money tucked inside also. I think we'll probably wait to go out to eat next weekend since we'll be in the process of moving and it'd sure be handy not to have to cook dinner that night, but at any rate our milk bill is now paid. I've been consuming lots of milk much to my enjoyment, it's sure good food for only 50 cents a gallon.
    I paid another visit to Dr. Rumley this morning and all's well as per usual. She said she thought it would be best if we could have someone stay with me about a week after I get home from the hospital. I explained to her that my mother lived in Ohio and she said that since I'd probably be in the hospital four or five days that that should give you enough time to come out here, if we called when I entered the hospital. So, we'd certainly like for you to come, Mom, if you want to and if it would be convenient both time and moneywise. (I'd like to lure you out here too, Daddy, incidentally trout season is now on and lasts until September).
    As far as getting to the hospital is concerned, since babies seem to come when they please, it seems foolish for you to come out and then perhaps have to visit around for a couple of weeks. Pete will be around during the day and after 1:00 a.m. and I can either call the Birky's or else another vet student and his wife who live on a farm about a half mile or so from Birky's on relatively the same side of town so that shouldn't present too much of a problem - I hope.
    I can hardly wait to get all settled in out in the country. I'll have from Tuesday noon until Saturday to get things packed and Les and Hope Rivers are going to bring their pickup truck and help us move Sunday. I explained to Dr. Rumley that we were moving and she said it wouldn't hurt me any as long as I didn't overdo - so don't worry about me, o.k.
    Thank you very much for the offer of furniture. As I think I mentioned before, we'll be using most of the furniture of the couple who are living there now, until next fall. We'll look around this summer and see what sort of things will be available. I'm pretty sure we should be able to get enough necessities here - it seems to me that it would be awfully expensive to send that furniture out here and we really don't need that nice of furniture. Besides I'm sure you all need and use it down in the basement, out at the cabin, etc. There is a very old (but automatic) washer there which Steve and his wife are leaving with us until fall so that should help out the forthcoming diaper situation. I'm sure I won't need a dryer this summer (Colorado really has a dry climate and there's no comparison with the moisture, mildew, dampness, etc. problem in Ohio; a whole wash dries in just a  few hours here, there's always a couple of sunny days each week). I haven't' used the drier here since last Christmas. It broke sometime in late December or early January. Pete managed, after much time and toil, to fix it on spring vacation but I haven't used it since then because there's always been nice weather often enough. I had a few problems with snowy, cold weather in January and March but it shouldn't be so much of a problem this coming year since I won't have classes to contend with and will be able to hang out wash any day it's nice instead of just on Saturdays and Sundays. We'll probably sell or trade in the drier here at the apartment next fall and buy a used washer. I looked at a nice 53" Westinghouse today for $65 and I doubt if the prices will change much before next fall. Also - we may be able to buy Steve's (guy who lives in Birky's now) washer, refrigerator, stove, etc., if they get a furnished apartment. At any rate, we'll be able to do a bit more with bargaining after Pete gets a few paychecks from his job this summer. 
    I don't know where to begin in thanking you for all the packages that have arrived here lately. If I leave something out, please ask about it - I guess I should have kept a list, I'm sure I'll never remember everything right now. I'll probably think of about ten or more things as soon as I mail this letter, but at any rate, we certainly appreciate everything. 
    I can hardly wait to set up our "nursery" as soon as we get moved. The little cradle which arrived last Tuesday is just darling. I can't remember if I ever thanked you for the summer blanket which arrived with Pete's clothes. At any rate, I have it on the bed now and it's certainly pretty and comfy. 
    Jess, thanks so much for the basket of oranges which arrived this week. At the moment they're spread all over the ironing board to catch the sun from the window since most all of them are very green but they're ripening. We really splurged and squeezed three of the ripest ones for juice this morning. It was really lush! Such a wonderful difference from canned concentrate. Also used the new little orange juice squeezer and strainer, Mom, it works fine. Thanks also for the meatball gadget! 
    Thank you so much for the new piece of luggage. It certainly is a handy size. I was very pleasantly surprised when I opened it. How in the world did you get everything in there? I took everything out to show Pete and I never did manage to put everything back (of course, we rapidly consumed the candy which lightened the load a bit). I love those blue shortie pajamas especially and also the blue checked robe. The pink bed jacket looks nice and warm and should be pretty with the pink nightgown. I pressed a couple of things which were a bit wrinkled and put them (along with the other pajamas you sent) back into the suitcase (I also put the aquamarine powder back in to save for the "big event" but I was sorely tempted to use a bit; it smelled so nice!). The baby clothes are awfully cute (I just love those diaper pins with the ducks on them). The little sweater, booties, and bonnet are cute; it never ceases to amaze me when I think that we'll be having a little baby to put in them in another six weeks or so. I certainly didn't realize babies came in such small sizes - guess I'm in for lots of startling realizations!
    The brown and white dress is pretty. I presume it's for wearing from, not to, the hospital. I put it on just for fun, and although all the buttons buttoned, it looked pretty bulgy to say the least. I certainly hope it won't take too long for my waistline to return to its normal resting place after the baby's born. I understand, however, that one's figure doesn't return to normal just because the baby has left and here's hoping I can get into a pair of Levi's sometime before the summer's over! I haven't the vaguest idea what my "waistline" measures now since I wouldn't even begin to know where to look for it.
    Thanks also for all the hair accessories and the handy tray. My hair is still at about half-mast, much too long to be attractive or comfortable and too short to be able to pull back into anything decent. Simmy helped it out a bit by shaping and trimming it for me. Thanks again for everything - particularly the new suitcase, complete with initials and identification tags. It's certainly pretty and arrived in fine shape.
    We have a new pet - a little garter snake, of all things. Pete built a handy cage for him from an apple crate, complete with a sliding glass top. He's certainly a good carpenter as well as mechanic.
    In case you still have that old vacuum cleaner and aren't using it, please don't throw it out. I've discovered that the only way to get Starboy clean short of washing him every time is to vacuum him. I've done it two or three times with an old vacuum cleaner at the barn but unfortunately it's broken now. Starboy was a bit jumpy the first time but now he just stands still, quite bored with the whole affair. it really did get the dust and loose hair that no amount of currying and brushing could do. I curried and brushed him first, and then used the vacuum. At any rate, in case it's still handy, you might keep it in mind in case you drive out in July. Please don't pay to have it shipped or anything because I really don't have to have it at all. Oh, thanks also for sending the Kauffman Saddlery and Stable Supply catalogue. I noticed they had a special "electric groom horse vacuum cleaner" advertised for $169.50. What a complete racket when a regular one probably does nearly as good a job.
    Guess I'd best end this short novel and get to bed since it's now midnight. I had planned to start in studying for my finals but seem to have gotten carried away with this letter writing. I'll have to attempt to drag out at 7 a.m. when Pete does in the morning and start studying. Such is the life of a student, but for only three more days! (Only three more for me, Pete's not through until Thursday). 
    Bye for now, thanks again for everything.
Love, 
Jody
     
Previous Letters Home: 

~  ~ 

  
Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.

  

Friday, December 15, 2023

This Week @ Monday Creek: Local Vibes


What’s it like living on the edge of Hocking County in southeastern Ohio? It’s pretty cool. So many things to do and see; Stuart’s Opera House (my favorite and I’m going there Saturday to hear the Columbus Symphony), the libraries (of course!), meeting artisans who sell their wares at local shops, hearing local bands and musicians who perform in (sometimes) odd, quaint places to reveal their superior talent that rival iconic artists, and more.

    I can't say enough good things about our local library in Nelsonville. Their programming, history room, reading selection, and friendly staff are always a joy. One of the main attractions is the large mural in the outdoor pavilion - a greenspace with a stage and large stones for sitting. Becca Lachman, Athens County Public Library (ACPL) Communications Officer, writes, "ACPL wanted to enhance the space with a community-minded art project to go along with the new library greenspace, and we applied for a grant from the Athens County Foundation and found other sponsors to make it possible.
    "Designed and installed by artist Barry O'Keefe (an Ohio University MFA alum from Virginia), the mural incorporates local history and native plant species around the general theme of Be the hero of your own story. Our sponsors really wanted this mural to lift people up and encourage community-building in Nelsonville."
    O'Keefe selected engaging quotes for the mural from many submitted quotes by locals. The final design is stunning and should be regarded by passersby as a reminder that we need to be engaged in art, literature, and our community.
    If you make the trip to Nelsonville, take a closer look at the mural and see it's relevance to our humble heritage.

Courtesy ACPL 

Art and Design by Barry O'Keefe

    Besides perusing murals and literature, there are several country kitchen's that serve meals like grandma used to make; homemade noodles, mashed potatoes, country steak, followed by blackberry pie. Yum. There are also restaurants where fine-dining is paramount (my favorite is Rhapsody). You can also make reservations for the Hocking Valley Scenic Railroad's Dinner Train where dinner is served as you ride the rails. The Hocking Hills Diner is a comfortable place to meet with friends and gab away while drinking their signature coffee. Enjoy!

Hocking Hills Diner, Logan, Ohio

A Guide to SHIELD Your Sanity During the Holiday Season
Enjoy the journey to Christmas!

S -     Sleep 7 hours minimum
H -   Handle stress/meditation
I -  Interact with good people
E - Exercise; take a daily walk
L -     Learn; read a new book
D -   Diet; eat right, feel good!

If you're interested in an in-depth Bible Study, I highly recommend Royston/Bethel TV - YouTube Channel and their excellent programming.

 

Thursday, December 14, 2023

An Interview with Ohio Author Crissie Ann Leonard

 Crissie Ann  Leonard, Author

An Interview with Ohio Author Crissie Ann Leonard

Crissie first interviewed for my blog in 2021. She was a signing author at our very first Book Fair. A joy, Crissie just returned from an October cruise where she talked about her books and engaged with passengers.
 
Last Saturday, we met up again at the Hocking Hills Book Fair in Athens, Ohio. Crissie writes, “I'm moving into Phase 2 of my TV series. My book is now selling in South Africa. After speaking on the cruise ship in October, I am working to get my book in bookstores in the Bahamas and Grand Turks/Caicos.”
 
Welcome, Crissie!
 
GM: When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
CL: Third grade. I loved reading and wanted to inspire people like the books I read did for me. 
 
GM: What is the premise for your new book?
CL: Dealing with grief and mourning.
 
GM: How do you maintain thoughts and ideas?
CL: A lot of post-it-notes.
 
GM: Authors say that writing is easy, editing is a nightmare, and book marketing is the worst! In your experience, what marketing techniques have worked best for you?
CL:I found author "takeovers" for book club fan pages to be successful. Also, putting my books in a see-through bag to carry with me everywhere. 
 
GM: Take us through a day in your life as an author...
CL: It is certainly not glamorous. I work my 8-4 job, then break for dinner. After that, I get out either my post-it notes or notebooks. I use the notes to organize my thoughts for scenes, characters, and book plot. If I am working in a notebook, it is to "formally" write the chapters. I use a different notebook for each book I work on to avoid my ideas crossing over to the other book(s). Then I transfer the notes/chapters into the computer. I'm an old-school writer-I prefer pen and paper. 
 
GM: Describe your writing desk and what drives your creativity...
CL: My desk is a white wood French style compact style. There is an opening for my black chair with rhinestones. On top of my desk is where the fun is!! I have a camera picture holder with a picture for my girl’s trip to Graceland, one of me and my twin sister, and one of my departed beloved cat, Smokey. Next to that is a Day of the Dead skeleton stress ball and a tube of ChapStick. Rounding out the corner is a Chewbacca and his Porg bobblehead, a tall Chewbacca Lego figurine, an Elvis "Taking Care of Business" coin, and a red Darth Vader statue. Hey, I'm a HUGE fan of Star Wars!!!! I also have an owl cell phone holder, a Jack Skellington coaster that was made for me, a Chewbacca mouse pad, and a black and white polka dot desk mat. On the other side of the desk is a cat post-it-note holder, a Let Your Light Shine lightbulb from my church’s’ Women's Ministry, a cat sign that says, "I am Feline Good Right Meow" - cute isn't it?! I also have a small clay essential oil diffuser, too. 
 
GM: What are you currently reading?
CL: Crushing by T.D. Jakes and Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. 
 
GM: What are you currently writing?
CL:I started the year by working on two romance novels. I put them on pause though as I dealt with grief that I buried from 2021. I lost my brother in 2021 and three pets in 2022. I didn't deal with the grief and mourning of their deaths until Spring of 2022. Then I aggravated a previous back injury in Winter 2022. I found healing in my broken heart and back in February 2023. 
 
As I went through the healing process, I felt called to write a grief book and accompanying companion book before the romance novels. My goal is to have all three books completed in 2023. Wish me luck. Prayers appreciated too!
 
GM: List 10 things your fans may not know about you...
CL:1. I love classical and Italian opera music
      2. My friend Adam from Nightrunner Productions filmed a jewelry commercial for me. We won our division in an international film festival and we placed in multiple others. You can find the commercial on my webpage in The Humble Heartbeat shop
      3. Stink bugs creep me out!!!
      4. There were a few years in my life that I wasn't a people person
      5. I don't like leftovers or my food to touch on my plate
      6. I want to write a song
      7. My favorite movie is Wuthering Heights
      8. I am a twin. I'm three minutes older, so I tell my sister to respect her elders!!! 
      9. I love socks. One dresser drawer isn't enough to hold them!
     10. On a visit to a local zoo, a kangaroo hugged my leg and wouldn't let go. The zoo keeper had to come get him off me. 
 
You can purchase my books, Letters to My Father and Color My Feelings Devotional Scripture Coloring Book on my website at 
 
Follow me online: Facebook-crissie.a.leonard    Instagram-@crissieauthor
 
Crissie Ann Leonard
Author, Letters to My Father
Owner-YMP Creations Jewelry

Crissie's writing desk.




 


An Interview with Comic Book Artist/Author Sandy Plunkett

  An Interview with Comic Book Artist/Author Sandy Plunkett Originally from New York City, Sandy Plunkett is a wizard with a pencil. A lon...