Thursday, May 11, 2017

Just keep going


Hey friends. In one of my previous posts I spoke of how South Africa’s investment grade has been downgraded to junk status. The country didn’t collapse overnight, even though the tension within the country is high. There was no sudden collapse of order either.  One thing I’ve learnt about South Africans is that we are resilient and we adapt to change very quickly. We keep on surviving no matter what we are faced with. That quality alone makes me proud to be South African.

As a teenager, that wasn’t always the case. I felt like good things didn’t happen here. Or that if you wanted to achieve something or be successful, you had to be from America, for instance. Thankfully, thanks to many South Africans proving me wrong and leading the way, I’ve learnt you can still be successful in any career you want, as long as you work hard, and it doesn’t matter where you come from. I’ve never been more thankful for that lesson than I am today. Great writers from my country have shown me that I can be a good writer. That the only thing that is holding me back, is me. That is so true.

I guess we’ll see what the future holds for us over the coming months. I’m not afraid as I used to be. I have my family and I have all of you, my friends. I have all I need. In therapy I learnt that I have high self-destructive instincts. For some reason I don’t think or believe, that I, as an individual, am allowed to be happy. Crazy, right? But I’m learning how to change that. So, come what may, I’m ready and I’ll even write about it.


How are you doing?

Monday, May 8, 2017

My dream reading space

When asked, could you describe your dream reading space, or even library?

I was recently asked to do just that, and even though I had an idea, I was still caught off-guard and left speechless. So, after I had a few days to think about it, I think I finally have an answer.

I'm a visual person. I know what my idea/ vision looks like in my mind, but I'm not always good at explaining myself. Ironic for a writer, yeah? So, I'll be using images from Arhaus.com to bring my vision to life.

I personally hate rooms that are too posh to enjoy, as you're afraid you might spill something or even cause a crease in the seating fabric. I know this because my mom has only one such room remaining in our house and that's the formal living room. I spend no time in there at all. My own style is more relaxed and rustic with a modern edge.

Comfort is important first of all. I imagine a large comfortable chair or chaise on which to lie and spend most of my day. Also, lighting is important. I would prefer reading by lamplight, or even in front of a window. I hate those bright overhead room lights. They always seem to hurt my eyes. Importantly, I need a large side table on which to place my hot chai latte and cookies. Or any other snack that is needed. Sometimes after too much sweet things I might need something salty. So yes, a big side table. A woman has to keep her options open.





Images from Arhaus.com (Living room furniture & Lighting)
   
Of course a cool breeze coming in through a window in the summer days would just be idyllic. But, when winter comes and the fireplace is alight with the dance of flaming wood and glowing embers while rain beats down on the roof, now that would be my ultimate reading dream come true. I can imagine the peace and happiness right now. Also the mug of hot chai. My cellphone will be locked in a room far away, and when I'm done reading, I can write a bit too.

Naturally I would have a wall completely covered in floor to ceiling shelving, in or close to my reading space. I wasn't sure if that counts, but yes, each of my beautiful book babies would have a home on a shelf and not collecting dust on a desk or even worse, the floor (gasp).
Image from Arhaus.com

So to break things down. Comfy (dream worthy) seating, a nice ambiance and no disturbances from the outside world.


Image from Arhaus.com (Sectional sofas)

So dear reader, do you know what your ideal reading space, or library would look like?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Junk-Status and all that stuff

Hello, my beautiful friends. How is everyone doing today? Brilliant I hope.

Today I feel scared. As everyone probably knows by now, South-Africa has been downgraded to junk-status. The country is full of political unrest and the last time things were this bad, I was a toddler. My mom did a good job from hiding the ugly that was going on in the country at that time. Unfortunately, this time I’m 31 years old, and unable to ignore what is happening around me.



I fear for my family’s safety. I fear the fall of our economy, and the collapse of the country. I fear the Rand (our local currency) becoming absolutely useless. The equivalent of toilet paper. This is all a possibility.

All I can do is hope for the best. And because of the economic uncertainty and lack of funds, I’ve decided to take on my own cover design for future publication projects. I have to find a way to produce an excellent product for a reasonable price. I have to start working smart with the few pennies I do have. Though, creating my own covers scares the hell out of me. I have no idea of what I'm doing.  I'm hoping to learn yet another skill. 

I will still be hiring an editor though, as that is my true weakness. I can’t always see my own mistakes and my editor teaches me something new each time.

I won’t be deterred from writing, or publishing. I will keep on doing what I love, because it speaks to my soul and makes me happy. I cannot give something like that up.

Do you want to hear something funny? My family and I fantasize about moving to Canada someday. We watch a lot of their design shows, and loved what we saw. We don’t have the funds to actually move there, but hey, dreaming that we one day might fills us with hope and joy. So, why not dream big?

I know the world has gone mad, and almost every one is facing some sort of hell at the moment, whether it be political or not. I sympathize with you my friends. I too am terrified. But do not let the fear stop you from living. Follow your dreams and cling to the things that give you hope and fill you with joy.
  
On the positive side, I managed to write a short story last month. In all honesty, I don’t know what to do with it now. Do I edit it? Do I rewrite it? Do I try to clean it up? I’ve never been in this situation. Novels are what I’m used to;)

How are you doing? Do you need a hug? I’m sending you tons of virtual hugs.






Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Reading into the past



Sunday evening I had a problem sleeping. It was 3 am and I didn't know what to do. So a thought occurred to me. I decided to read through my blog, but, only the very early posts. I found those first few years of posts to be very refreshing. Embarrassing and cringe worthy, but refreshing regardless.

The voice of those posts were so clear. It was so different from the voice with which I write today. What I really liked about those posts is that they were honest. I would like to think that I've kept that quality intact. I loved how I wrote from such an innocent perspective. I didn't think of myself as a writer then. I wrote like someone from the outside looking in. Though, somehow, over the years I had transitioned from the outside to the inside without me even realizing it.

I have since become a writer. I embraced the title with pride and excitement. It is still so strange how much I have changed and hadn't realized it until I read those old posts. I was such a different person back then. I hope it's not arrogant of me to say that I have grown, and have come to like myself and my writing even more. I have become so much more confident within myself, and my writing. I don't know if I would have come to this realization without therapy.

I now have to fight the urge to delete certain posts, or go back and rewrite them. I don't think it's right messing with my past. I had written those posts, and it gives me motivation to be a better blogger and writer in the future.

So, do you ever go back and look at previous posts, or photos? Do you ever look back at your past? If not, how are you doing today?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Katherine’s Mesothelioma Journey

Good Day Friends. How is everyone doing? I hope all is well. I was recently contacted to share another individual's story. This will be the last time I shall be posting on this matter. But today I would like to introduce you to Katherine.



Katherine Keys received a devastating diagnosis of mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer with nearly no hope of survival, nearly ten years ago. Today, after a difficult battle with the cancer, and with the support of a great medical team and her family, Katherine lives with some physical limitations, but hope and gratitude.

Katherine’s journey from diagnosis to remission began one day when she first noticed some of the symptoms of mesothelioma. Unfortunately these symptoms can be misleading. They often mimic much less serious and more common illnesses. Katherine simply thought she had the flu, with a cough and difficulty breathing.

Mesothelioma has a long latency period. While people like Katherine are experiencing symptoms that don’t feel that serious, the cancer is developing in the pleura, the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. Asbestos exposure most often causes this type of cancer, but by the time a person gets a diagnosis, it is usually decades after that exposure occurred. Katherine was luckier than most, and she received her diagnosis while the cancer was still in stage I.

Even with a diagnosis of stage I mesothelioma, the earliest stage of the disease when the cancer has not yet spread too far, the prognosis is not usually very good. A hope of being able to achieve remission through treatment is still minimal at this early stage. Katherine was just 49 years old at the time of her diagnosis and she was not ready to give into the disease and the poor prognosis without a fight.

She chose to go with the most aggressive treatment to have the best chance of survival and remission. Katherine underwent a radical type of surgery called an extrapleural pneumonectomy. It involved the aggressive removal of much of the tissue on one side of her chest cavity. She had the pleura removed, an entire lung, and part of her diaphragm. She then received radiation therapy after surgery to increase the chance of remission by killing any remaining cancer cells.

It took Katherine months to recover from the extensive surgery and to go through the radiation treatments. She then had to adapt to life with just one lung. She also had to get monthly checkups and screenings for cancer. The tumors were gone and had not returned a few months after the surgery, and finally a year later. At this point Katherine was considered to be in remission. Effectively, her medical team had cured her cancer, something extremely rare with mesothelioma at any stage.

Katherine is now living ten-plus years after her diagnosis, a diagnosis that came with a two-year survival rate at best as a prognosis. She has some serious limitations now, as she gets older and faces life with only one lung, but she is mostly just thrilled to be alive and to have beaten a cancer that is so tragic for most people who have it. Katherine beat the odds and she knows it. She enjoys her life now, even with her physical limitations, and feels grateful and lucky to have more time to spend with her family and friends.

Monday, March 13, 2017

He Gave Me Barn Cats blog tour



Author Maria Santomasso-Hyde is visiting today as part of her HE GAVE ME BARN CATS Blog Tour with MC Book Tours. Her book is scheduled to be released March 14 by Dancing Lemur Press.

If you’re looking for a story that will touch your heart, you’ve found it in this tender story of love, loss, and inspiration. You could win your own copy, just check out the giveaway details.

◊ He Gave Me BARN CATS
◊ by Maria Santomass0-Hyde
◊ Published by Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
◊ Available March 14, 2017
◊ $10.95, 6x9 Trade paperback, 134 pages
◊ Genres: Christian Fiction / Christian Life-Death, Grief, Bereavement
◊ Print ISBN 978-1-939844-21-7 eBook ISBN 978-1-939844-22-4
◊ Order through Ingram, Follett Library Resources, or from the publisher
◊ $3.99 eBook available in all formats

Inspired by true events...

        Maria has cared for her very ill mother for many years. Her burdens are heavy, causing a sadness bordering on darkness.  When she discovers her historic barn is now home to a mother cat and kittens, she feels lighter than she has in years. As the kittens grow, they teach her as only animals can do.
          Then tragedy strikes. As Maria loses her family, the darkness envelopes her like the heavy fog that blankets her Blue Ridge Mountain home each morning. She creates a scorecard:  God: 9, Maria: 0.  Her questions turn into anger at God.  She searches to find answers as to why her loving God would take away so much in such a short time.
          How will she learn to trust again? Can the kittens in her barn help her heal?

HE GAVE ME BARN CATS is available for pre-order in print format at following sites: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, Everything Cats, Foyles, and Chapters-Indigo.

HE GAVE ME BARN CATS is available for order in eBook format at the following sites: Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, and Amazon.

Be sure to add HE GAVE ME BARN CATS to your shelf on Goodreads.



Formerly a newspaper reporter, Maria Santomasso-Hyde now owns Alta Vista Fine Art Gallery.

She lives in Valle Crucis, North Carolina, with her husband, Lee, and The Queen of the Universe (Roma, their Black Cat) … and other Black Cats who decide to move in. Find Maria here: Facebook Page 
* Website. 

Come join the blog tour and learn more about Maria and HE GAVE ME BARN CATS by visiting the following blog:

March 8 - Rockin' Book Reviews - Guest Post
March 10 - Defending The Pen - Excerpt
March 13 - Reviews by Crystal - Q&A

Alex J. Cavanaugh - Guest Post
March 14 - Thoughts in Progress - Review
March 15 - Open
March 16 - A Bluestocking's Place - Excerpt

deal sharing aunt - Review
March 17 - Juneta @ Writer's Gambit - Q&A
March 21 - bookworm1102 - Excerpt

Storey Book Reviews - Excerpt

Celticlady's Reviews - Feature



Giveaway Details:

This is a tour-wide giveaway for two (2) print copies (U.S only) and two (2) eBooks (international). To enter just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions.