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My newest book, A Calculated Risk, opens in a very unusual setting – a funeral.  Certainly not the typical scene to hook the readers and make them want to keep turning the page.  But it is at this funeral the male lead’s small and unexpected act of kindness causes the heroine to begin to realize there may be much more to his character than she’d initially thought.

I was in Pensacola, Florida a few days ago to attend my uncle’s funeral.  No, I didn’t meet my prince charming this week.  But I did witness hundreds of people making small and unexpected acts of kindness out of respect for the deceased and those of us mourning our loss.  And our whole family was so appreciative.  From the moment we left the parking lot of the funeral home, through every stop sign and street light as we wove our way through town, and until we pulled into the cemetery overlooking the bay, every single car in traffic stopped.  Even though some streets were several lanes across with a median dividing directional traffic, the other drivers waited until the entire procession had passed.  No one seemed irate that they might be a few minutes late getting to their destination.  No one sped away as soon as the hearse passed by.  It was truly impressive.

So I would like to say thank you.  First to the deputies with the Sherriff’s department, who moved in tandem with such precision as they cleared a path and got us safely to the grave site.  And next I want to thank the citizens and general public of the city of Pensacola.  It was a small thing.  But by pausing patiently in traffic, you showed respect and compassion.

It didn’t go unnoticed.

Feel free to stop by The Romance Studio for Spookapalooza, Oct 24 – 31.  There will be several authors participating, sharing book blurbs, interesting stories/recipes, and even offering prizes.

http://trsparties.com

spook5_promo

I live in the deep south, so fresh air is relatively simple to find.  A fresh attitude, however, is not so easily obtained.  But I have come to realize that the more I have of the first lends itself toward helping me find the second.

In recent months, I feel like I’ve been getting hit from all sides. My job is up in the air.  My home life is going through its own share of turmoil.  And I’m watching a couple of friends go through major health crises right now. It is easy to wallow in the doldrums these days.  And my attitude has definitely been leaning far to the negative side lately.

Spook

My daughter has been taking horse riding lessons for quite a while.  But recently we switched from group lessons at one barn to private lessons at a different one.  Initially, she was taking evening classes with the new instructor. But now that the days are shorter, we have switched to Saturday morning lessons. Today just may have been one of the most perfect mornings I’ve had in a while. The weather couldn’t  have been nicer, and we had the whole place to ourselves except for the instructor.

While she began her lesson at the front of the pasture, I went to area behind the barn and sat on a swing in the sunshine and watched the other horses as they grazed.  It was so peaceful and refreshing.  I was even inspired to use that time to fit in today’s routine in my C25K program.  There is nothing like jogging in an open field with the smell of hay and cut grass to wake up your senses!

Today’s time spent in the fresh air did my spirit a world of good.  I could have spent that hour with my nose buried in my Nook like I usually do.  But instead I paid attention to the beauty around me, and it motivated me to do something good for myself.  I know there will still be times when I give in to the mully-grubs. But I’m going to try to be more positive.  And at least on Saturdays, I know I can count on Beauty, Nova, Echo, and my other equestrian friends to cheer me on!

kanuga

Last week I was in the midst of preparing my eleven-year-old daughter to travel three states away to attend camp with her entire sixth grade class. With my son in college and my daughter going away for the first time (other than sleepovers with friends), I wondered how I would pass the hours until her return.  I haven’t had that many free nights to myself since before her birth!  I challenged myself to not waste those nights, but to actually do something with my time.

Fast forward one week, and my daughter is back - safe, sound, and sleeping in this morning since she just got back around midnight last night.  She had so much fun on the trip, and arrived home full of stories and very happy to see her mama and her cats!

As for me, I had a slow start on my “empty nest adventures”. Work deadlines forced me to spend my first night at the office until way past quitting time.  By the time I got home, I was wiped out and turned into a couch potato watching old episodes of Criminal Minds.  But all was not lost.  On Day 2, I accepted a challenge my sister had thrown at me a few weeks ago.  I started the “Couch to 5K” challenge!  Shocking, I know, because exercise is very foreign to me. But I committed to doing it, and I have to say it’s actually been fun.

There are many programs available that offer to take slugs like me and get us off said couch and participating 5K walk/runs within a matter of weeks.  The one we are using is an app for our phones, and is so easy to do!  I enjoyed the first couple of nights so much, I have already roped a couple of co-workers into starting the workout program too.

As often happens, the thought of doing something can be worse than actually doing it.  It was hard for me to imagine I could ever actually run a 5K, so I had a “what’s the use?” attitude and kept putting off joining my sister in this program.  But after hearing her talk about her progress for several weeks, I was finally ready to say “I can do this!”.  I have a long way to go before I can actually pin a number to my t-shirt and cross a finish line. But I’m having fun taking it one day at a time.

race bib

What is something you have been putting off?  I challenge you to just jump in with both feet and go for it!  Good luck, and remember to have fun.

finish line

mountainsNext week will find me in unfamiliar territory.  Am I taking on a new hobby? Planning a trip to a first time destination? Signing up for ballroom dancing?  Nope…none of those.  I am going to have one week without any children at home.  My oldest is in college, of course, as you already know.  But my youngest will be going on a class trip to camp several states away, in a little corner of paradise in the mountains.  She is excited, yet nervous at the same time.  She’s never been away from home for that many days at one time. And she will not be allowed to take her iPhone (a terrifying thought for her!).  But mostly she is excited.

Her mom (that would be me!), on the other hand, hates the thought of her being that far out of reach for so long.  She and I are nearly inseparable, and I’ll miss her so much.  And yet….it has occurred to me that for the first time in eleven years I will have a week’s worth of evenings all to myself.  I’m just now beginning to consider how to fill up my time.  The mind boggles at the possibilities!

It goes without saying that I’ll spend part of that time working on my next manuscript.  And I will probably hang out with Kate Patrick, my closest sidekick, at least a couple of nights.  I’ll have a chance to read new books that have been on my wish list.  And I’m sure I’ll spend a lot of time thinking, “I wonder what she’s doing right now.”  But I am challenging myself to do something out of the box, something unexpected.  I have no idea yet what that will be, but I’m open to suggestions.

She will be full of stories to tell when she gets back home.  Hopefully I’ll have a few to share with her, too!

fallWell, technically it starts tomorrow.  But it’s close enough.  I love the fall season. It’s a chance to relax and enjoy life at a slower pace before the holiday madness begins.

We’ll finally get a break from the high humidity and heat, even if we do have to sacrifice an hour or two of daylight in the evening.  Football is back in full swing. The fair comes to town. There are lots of movie premieres to look forward to. And my family starts planning the annual Halloween party.

And one of the best ways to relax in the cooler weather is sitting on the patio with a big mug of coffee while reading a good book.

Any recommendations?       coffee book

UPDATE: New Book!

UPDATE:  A Calculated Risk had its release day September 16, 2014!!

It is now available for purchase.  Thanks to everyone who supported me during the writing process, and to those who have already gotten their copy.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-calculated-risk-joan-chandler/1120357308?ean=2940150314450

http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/index.php?main_page=book_info&cPath=4&products_id=942

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Some exciting news!  I have signed with Secret Cravings Publishing for my next book, A Calculated Risk. I have just finished the second round of edits, so it’s moving along quickly now.  My release date is scheduled for some time in September, if all goes well. I will be sharing more about this in the coming weeks. ACalculatedRisk_Draft

  Dawne’ Dominique has done a beautiful job with my cover.  I love it!!

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