Let’s WELCOME Kathleen Kaska #BlackOpalBooks

Our guest today is Kathleen Kaska, another Black Opal Books author, with a bit of a mystery from the potential dark side of dog racing…what can happen when people allow greed to overcome their responsibility for the animals under their protection.

Take it away, Kathleen

EXCERPT : Run Dog Run

She’d been foolish and gone off alone, now she might have to pay the ultimate price…front cover5

The rocks along the bottom of the creek bed seemed to disappear. Kate felt the ropy, gnarl of tree roots instead.

The cedar break. She was approaching the road and soon the water would pass through the culvert. She knew that she would not make it through the narrow tunnel alive. Her lungs screamed for air. With one final attempt, she grabbed hold of a long cedar root growing along the side of the creek bank and hung on. Miraculously, it held. She wedged her foot under the tangled growth and anchored herself against the current. Inching her way upward, she thrust her head above water and gulped for air. But debris in the current slapped her in the face, and leaves and twigs filled her mouth, choking her. Dizziness overcame her ability to think—exhaustion prevented her from pulling herself higher.

She must not give in. Fighting unconsciousness, Kate inched her way up a little farther, and at last was able to take a clear breath. Her right arm hung loosely by her side, the back of the shaft had broken off in the tumble through the current, but the arrow was lodged in her arm. Numb from cold water and exhaustion, she lay on the bank as the water swept over her, and then, as quickly as it had arrived, the flow subsided and the current slowed. If she could hang on a few moments longer, survival looked promising. As thoughts of hope entered her mind, Kate feared that her pursuer might not have given up the chase. Perfect, Kate Caraway, just perfect. You screwed up again, she chided herself as the lights went out.

Short Synopsis:

After five years in Africa, researching the decline of elephant populations, Kate Caraway’s project comes to a screeching halt when she shoots a poacher and is forced to leave the country. Animal rights activist Kate Caraway travels to a friend’s ranch in Texas for a much-needed rest. But before she has a chance to unpack, her friend’s daughter pleads for Kate’s assistance. The young woman has become entangled in the ugly world of greyhound abuse and believes Kate is the only one with the experience and tenacity to expose the crime and find out who is responsible. On the case for only a few hours, Kate discovers a body, complicating the investigation by adding murder to the puzzle. Now, she’s in a race against time to fine the killer before she becomes the next victim.

Animal rights activist Kate Caraway travels to Texas for a much-needed rest. But before she has a chance to unpack, her friend’s daughter pleads for Kate’s assistance. She has become entangled in the ugly world of greyhound abuse. On the case for only a few hours, Kate discovers a body, complicating the investigation by adding murder to the puzzle. Now, she’s in a race against time to find the killer before she becomes the next victim.

Bio:161118_003Kathleen Kaska is a writer of mysteries, nonfiction, travel articles, and stage plays. When she is not writing, she spends much of her time with her husband traveling the back roads and byways around the country, looking for new venues for her mysteries and bird watching along the Texas coast and beyond. It was her passion for birds that led to the publication The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story (University Press of Florida). Kathleen Kaska is the author of the Classic Triviography Mystery Series, which includes The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book, The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book, and The Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz Book. Kathleen also writes the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mystery series set in the 1950s. Her first two mysteries, Murder at the Arlington and Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queen Book Group, the largest book group in the country. Her latest Sydney Lockhart mystery, set in Austin, Texas, is Murder at the Driskill.

Run Dog Run Kathleen’s her first mystery in the new Kate Caraway animal rights series.

Books are available through Black Opal Books, Kathleen’s website, and Amazon.

http://www.kathleenkaska.com

http://www.blackopalbooks.com

https://twitter.com/KKaskaAuthor

http://www.facebook.com/kathleenkaska

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Just in Spring #MondayBlogs #MFRWAuthor

Way back when I was so much younger and believed in all sorts of odd ideas (most of which did not include white picket fences and 2.3 children…who would want only 1/3 of a child?) I came across ee cummings poem “In Just Spring” At that time I didn’t worry much about poetry analysis, I just enjoyed the sound of the words, the feel of them in my mouth.

“in Just-
spring          when the world is mud-
luscious”

Later he refers to “Puddle-wonderful” and we are taken to a time and place when children jumped into puddles and stomped through mud. Sometimes going back for another round, maybe using the puddle to clean off the mud.

Problem is I really don’t much like mud. I know we need moisture from the sky into the ground to help things grow, and to keep our aquifers up to safe levels. If only there weren’t so much MUD. I’d hunt up one of my OMG rain pictures since our rain can fall furiously. But I’m trying to remain positive. Fortunately here the wind comes along to help dry up that mud but in the meantime the dogs bring in clumps and slime on their furry feet.

wildflowers

However, when the rain does fall, the high desert bursts into glorious color, feeding my heart and soul with wildflower beauty. The rain also fills my holding tanks and makes it possible for me to have a garden, even after the aquifer under my well decided it just wasn’t feeling the love, and diverted to another area.

Yeah, BUMMER. So I haul water, and in the process story ideas have come a’knocking. Including a novella/short story which will be the link between My Killer My Love and the next Atrahasis book. Inspiration can come flying in from anywhere, can’t it?

In the meantime I’m also delving back into the third Stormhaven book. This time it’s Lana, Sydney’s sister, and Adam Roberts, who walked on stage in A Question of Faith

“Before he could go to the door, it opened and Devin stepped through, closely followed by another man, not as tall, and with a more wiry build. He copied Devin’s boot scraping on the inside rug then dropped his outer clothing on the entry bench. When they came closer, Ty heard a faint “click” and realized one of the man’s legs didn’t strike the floor with the same impact as his other. The man was underweight and pale, as if he spent more time inside than was healthy. When he sat, he shifted as if finding the least uncomfortable position. Devin stepped to one side long enough to pick up a stool to slide under the table”

In spite of his prosthetic leg, Roberts carried Rosalind out of the hell hole where she’d been kidnapped. He darned near stole the whole book, and poor Ty would have been on a longer story arc for his Happily Ever After. In A Question of Trust Roberts will be rescuing his own damsel, which will be super interesting since it is Sydney’s sister, who so far has been ‘that bitch who stole the horse.’

Ah, but why did she steal the horse? Isn’t answering that question what writing is all about?

For now, check out front cover final and

plus my other stories: Mona’s Amazon Page

Kristen Weiss encouraged me to get back to blogging, to celebrate SPRING along with these other great authors…drop in when you have a moment or two.

Allyson Charles – Romance: https://www.allysoncharles.com/blog

Conniue di Marco – Mystery: http://www.conniedimarco.com/blog/

Gillian Baker – Mystery: http://gilianbaker.com/blog/

K.B. Owen – Historical Mystery:  http://kbowenmysteries.com/blog

Layla Reyne – Romance:  https://laylareyne.tumblr.com

Mona Karel – Romance:  https://mona-karel.com/blog/

Misterio Press – Mystery: https://misteriopress.com

Shannon Esposito – Cozy Mystery: http://murderinparadise.com/blog-2/

Victoria De La O – Romance: http://www.victoriadelao.com/

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It’s All About Relationships, a Sneaky Fan Girl Message

I was blabbing with one of the MOST talented authors I’ve ever met (more about her in a

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Just a pretty picture, nothing to do with the blog!

second) mainly sharing thoughts about writing, publishing, and frustration with both. Plus, of course, dogs. I first met her through dogs, which isn’t that much of a shock since books and dogs have kind of become my life.

I mentioned something about the bad rap Romance continues to receive, and she commented other than the war machine military sort of books, don’t we all write about Romance?

Hmmm. I mulled that over on the way home and for the next few days and realized I think about Relationships rather than “Romance” since relationships are the web of our lives. Whatever sort of relationship: positive, negative, adversarial, loving. Between people and people, people and animals, people and the world around them. It’s all about how we relate to each other. This brings those militaristic books into the fold, big time.

A good story, or a bad story, has to do with how the characters relate to each other, and to

the situations we put them in. How do they succeed? What is success in the context of the world we create for them?

Our own lives consist of intertwining relationships, with other people, with jobs, our environment, our loves. And not so loving, of course. These disparate threads intertwine to form the net that becomes our lives. Sometimes the net is kind of sparse, especially up close though we might have a wealth of friends far away. But it’s there, waiting for us to recognize its existence, and maybe more lines to weave in. Kind of makes me feel less lonely.

That writer? The one I met through dogs? Such a talented wordsmith, I feel so fortunate to know her and share her knowledge as one of the threads in my net. Oh, her name? Doranna Durgin. If you’ve not read her before you have such a treat in story for you, whether you prefer High Fantasy, Urban Fantasy (she has a unique take on shape shifters), or strong women who protect themselves Romantic Suspense. I’m hearing a rumor of the third book in a compelling paranormal about for-real ghostbusters and a man from…you really need to read these, the first one is The Reckoners. The third one will be out very soon, you’ll probably have just enough time to read One and Two. Enjoy!

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In the Land of Plenty #MFRWAuthor

A quick sharing today since the sun is shining and we’re up to a whopping 28F!! Plus I’m polishing that Atrahasis novella. It’s time to get back to writing about protecting our world and the people in it. It took me a while to find this song…I think it has gone way out of style, but the message persists.

 

This weekend I’m planning another Squealy Fan Girl post. I’m very excited about this one. Enjoy your weekend

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ooooh…footsteps in the shadows

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Be The Change…#MFRWAuthor

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It snowed last night and this morning. Not big, beautiful, picture perfect flakes, just tiny dots of frozen ice, covering the ground, the fences, the trees, the bushes. One tiny bit after another, piling up to turn my land into a frozen wonderland. Well, as long as the insulation and propane combine to keep the ‘lukis and I cozy. Which they do.

 

I’ve admitted several times I am a child of the sixties, being born in 1950 (which makes the math so easy to do…yeah I’ll be 67 this year, whudda thunk it? I pretty much grew up on Pete Seeger, Peter Paul and Mary, and a host of other musical poets. This song has echoed in my head lately, do you remember One Man’s Hands? Here’s a version new to me but it seems most appropriate.

People often quote “Be the change you want to see in the world” and attribute those important words to Mahatma Ghandi. His actual words were far more profound:

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“We need not wait to see what others do.”

Check out Joseph Ranseth for even more inspiration. And let’s all do what we can to be that change.

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Squealy Fan Girl Reveal JAMI GRAY #MFRWAuthor

Cue the audience cheers!

Jami Gray started with Black Opal Books shortly after I did. Due to her amazing talent and super work ethic, she now has a series with them, and a series with Muse It Up. Both series feature flawed characters, including strong women who might not NEED a man but they don’t mind having one around. And the MEN…grab your fans and an iced drink!

I conjami-grayvinced Jami to take a break from her day job, here writing, her home life, and come visit my enchanted high plains share her latest release (TODAY)

 

Huge thank you to Mona for letting me drop in with my latest release, MARKED BY OBSESSION.

So why this book?

Such a simple question with a convoluted answer. As writers, we tend to be drawn to genres for specific personal reasons. I love the unexplained, be it magic or psychic abilities, or whatever unusual ability you can think of, I’m there.  I can trace the roots of the fascination back to my childhood. My biological mom (and we’ll get to the part behind that distinction soon) read me bedtime stories, tales of magic and heroism and fantastical creatures, good and bad, all intertwined as they fought their way through a quest. When I was five, my biological parents got a divorce. It was loud and it was messy and it left a mark. I went from a kid with parents to just my mom and I, who eventually moved in with my now single and separated grandmother. Then I lost my mom when I was six and found myself shipped off to my biological father and his new wife. (Yeah, I know shades of Snow White and all that.)  Then I went from only child to oldest and all of these rather abrupt changes left me floundering so I turned to books to find my footing.  The stories that grounded me the most were the ones of magic and undiscovered planets, journeys where the lead faced each challenge and came out (a bit bruised and sporting alien acid-spit in some cases) triumphant, still in charge of their own destiny.

My real life changes didn’t end there, because when I was twelve I ended up with my soon-to-be adopted family, and become one of many (think horde size). An introvert by nature and bookworm by calling, all that socializing was difficult to process, and I dove deeper into my fictional worlds. So deep, I found myself writing my own worlds, my own heroines, my own quests, and so it began.

As I grew up, so did my stories, and yes, writing is a form of therapy, because as I began to recognize my inability to stomach the “victim” type mentality, not only did I become stronger, so did my characters, until it was obvious there were no such things as princesses in distress, more like Xenas on Harleys ready to take down every freakin’ flying monkey that dared to approach. This seeped drenched my writing and is really obvious in my first Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles. The women in those books would make anyone turn tail and run.

But as in everything, time winds on and people change. So do writers. When it came to the PSY-IV Teams (pronounced cipher because secret psychic operatives=cool ass spies) my leads were no less strong, but instead of being so hard-assed nothing could penetrate their emotional body armor, there were spaces where softer, but just as life-altering, emotions could exist. Things like bravery in the face of fear, faith illuminating the darkness, and compassion being stronger than any weapon. Emotionally, my characters matured into the multi-dimensional people they were always meant to be. Don’t get me wrong, they can kick ass with the best of them without flinching, but now they’ll also go hang with you at a bar, crack a joke, or if you’re lucky, sweep you off your feet.

I’ve always been fascinated by the arena of psychic abilities, plus I may have a teeny-tiny bit of a conspiracy theorist residing in a small dark corner. I read a great deal outside of fiction, and one particular book, THE SEARCH FOR THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE by John D. Marks, which follows the history of behavioral science and the CIA, helped sparked the idea. After finishing that book, I moved on to THE PSYCHOPATH NEXT DOOR and a few others (which now that I’m reading this I’ll refrain from listing since…um, yeah, my research library of non-fiction titles would be scary to an outsider). Since I found I couldn’t give up my “magical” aspects on writing, I decided to combine my love of the unusual with my second love, Romantic Suspense. Voilà! PSY-IV Teams was born.

I’m a character driven writer, so my characters tend to mold the plot, and when I sat down to begin MARKED BY OBSESSION, I gave myself two challenges: an everyday heroine withMarked by Obsession: PSY-IV Teams by [Gray, Jami] no psychic abilities who could be strong without being a warrior, and she couldn’t cuss. Want to know which one was harder to channel? Coming up with curses that aren’t cuss words is much more difficult than you think.

Wolf is my hardened solider, solid and sure of himself and his place, and just happens to be a telepath. He deserved someone who could keep him grounded, someone who couldn’t be manipulated. Enter Meli, who is quite happy curling up with a book and avoiding arguments, or anything she doesn’t want to deal with. Wolf fascinates her, but she’s lost her only family, her brother, and his death leaves her floundering while her normally staid world tilts on it axis. It also means she’s hesitant to reach out for the one man who tempts her dream big. It doesn’t help that she’s managed to become the focus of deranged stalker, who wants not just Meli, but revenge, and is willing to go through Wolf to get it.

Want to find out what happens? *nudge, nudge* Go ahead and pick it up, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Amazon

Muse It Up

Barnes and Noble

and of course JAMI GRAY

 

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I Can’t Write 50,000 Words #MFRWAuthor

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Good Morning!

I just know I can’t. Which is probably silly since I have four books out, plus two written and

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Boo says come on, it’s a pretty day

stashed, and two more near completion. But the idea of sitting down to another 50,000 or more words just turns me into a gibbering idiot. Not such a drastic change, but still.

I also can not walk 10,000 steps a day. Especially on the non Agility days. Come on, that’s five freaking miles of around the house, around the yard, around the grocery story. My  feet will fall off for sure, not to mention the dizziness from going around and around.

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just follow the steps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And around. But…

I’ve somehow added word after word to a novella that intruded when I had planned to edit the next Stormhaven. I think I’ve mentioned this novella. It’s about two mature Atrahasis agents, including a woman who is strong and independent and deeply in love. I’m calling it Memories of the Future. It won’t hit 50,000 words but 20,000 are a distinct possibility, when I use that fifteen minute timer that has worked for me in the past. As the prolific and highly talented Greta van der Rol reminded me, 500 words per day gives me 5,000 words in ten days. Suddenly 15,000 is not such an impossible dream.

Still, those 10,000 steps EVERY DAY? Yikes. Especially during the snowy days like we’re having now. Can not do it. But I can do the 250 per hour Fitbit challenge and why not add enough more to take me to the next obvious level (500 or 1,000)? I found out setting the microwave to defrost for ten minutes brings me close to 1,000 steps without having to think much about it. If I’m indoors I can read while I step and outdoors it’s just so darned crisp and pretty.  The yard is 200+ steps around, and the driveway is about that to the gate and back. Once I’m already out, it’s not so difficult to do one more round, is it.

Winning the game.

Step by step.

By step.

 

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About Those Recipes…Low Carb Comfort Food #MFRWAuthor

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South Mountain 1/1/2017

I made up some loaded cauliflower to take over for NYE with friends. Since I did not want to be driving on Amateur Drunk Driver night, it was more New Year’s Evening but any time spent with friends is a good time. When asked for a recipe, I realized I had strayed far from what I originally found, which was similar to this one: http://www.lowcarbmaven.com/loaded-cauliflower-low-carb-keto/

Generally I make mine with frozen cauliflower florets since they’re always available and the same basic price. I steam the cauli, either on the stove or in the microwave., then add the cream cheese, butter, sour cream, a splash of heavy cream, some grated cheese, and crumbled bacon. I cook that for a while until the everything has melted together, then stir to distribute and add more cheese. This I put back in the oven until the top cheese is melted and a bit brown. On occasion I’ll add sliced mushrooms or green chiles. The chives make a nice finish if I remember them!

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Yummy cheesy

This time, at my friend’s suggestion, I used Greek yogurt instead of the sour cream and heavy cream, without noticing much difference. Since yogurt is higher in carbs it’s not a substitution I’d automatically make but it ended up pretty darned good. The end result was a bit crispier than I usually make it, but still delicious. It keeps well in the fridge or freezer if you can avoid eating the whole bowlful at once.

That would be two bags of cauliflower, 12 ounces each; about 1/3 of a standard block of cream cheese; half a cup or so of the Chobani Greek yogurt; maybe 1/4 to 1/3 cup cooked crumbled bacon; “some” butter; a scant cup of grated cheese blend (this was a Mexican cheese). The fun is how much you can change the ingredients, using a very sharp cheddar or something a bit more out of the ordinary. I went light on the cheese in case my friends weren’t as cheese crazy as I am but they assured me with cheese the more the merrier!

For the shortbread, this started out as a low carb Pecan Sandies recipe, with 1 cup butter; 1 cup artificial powdered sweetener; 2 cups almond meal; 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 1/2 tsp salt; 1/2 cup pecan pieces. Cream butter, add sweetener, then add the other ingredients one at a time. Form into a roll, chill, slice off 1/2 inch for cookies (350F for 8-12 minutes) The cookies were always a bit too delicate for me, way too sweet but still very buttery yummy but a pain to deal with and they burned so easily. The fact that I might wander off during cooking had nothing to do with the burning.

I opted for a pan cookie, increased the almond flour and pecans, reduced the sweetener to a scant 1/2 cup. This time I used organic Stevia, with Erythritol.

Three cups of finely ground almond meal; scant half cup sweetener; one cup butter; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream; pecans. Since I used salted butter I didn’t add salt.

I melted the butter about half way, used a hand mixer to cream then added everything else. I kept the mixer going when I added the pecan pieces since it helped to break them up even more. The first time I tried this recipe change I added a handful of sugar free chocolate chips…it’s better without. Better without chocolate? Yup, surprised me too

012I used an 8 x 8 square pan. I’ll be looking for a small jelly roll pan so I can spread even thinner. You can chill before cooking if you want but in the pan I didn’t need to. Bake at about 325F until done. Since I use a countertop convection oven my times won’t help you much. I like it extra crispy so I’m likely to risk almost too long. I’m hoping a larger more shallow pan will help. I chill to help it set and also to get it out of my sight! As you can see I did a bit of taste testing before I managed to get this one into the refrigerator

And here’s a picture from late last December. What a difference a year makes!

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Resolving Not to Resolve #MFRWAuthor

My personal take on this whole holiday season is…really? What should be a time of joy and

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no reason, just pretty bushes

sharing becomes a high stress marathon of parties and gift giving and non stop bonhomie. Merry Christmas, we push at each other, perhaps Happy Holidays. Once in a while Greetings of the Season…whatever works for each one of us. Then before the tree is taken down we gather again to welcome the changing of the year, which means several months worth of correcting the date on our checks (for anyone who still writes checks???)

Along with that welcome comes the dreaded NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS whereby we solemnly swear to eat less exercise more work harder or whatever variation of this-is-what-I-should-do we might come up with. I think most of us cross our fingers behind our backs because deep down inside we knew by February 1 those resolutions will be long ago and far away.

Yeah, I used to make all sorts of resolutions, and rarely follow up on them. Thereby setting myself up for major failure. Gloom, despair, and so on. Then I realized, the same as

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again, just because it’s pretty

sharing glad tidings of comfort and joy year ’round, and not just dragging out our smiles for Christmas, if we want to make some sort of resolution we should make it NOW. This moment. Whether we want to eat better, sleep more, stop finishing that coconut cream pie (and claim we must have been sleep walking) there is no time better than now. Today. Not next week, next month, next year. Now.

And make it something attainable. I set aside the idea of 5,000 words written in a day, or maybe two hours at the computer actually writing, not researching (like I have any books planned around deep sea explorations, although…) or playing games to ‘limber up my mind.’ Nor will I promise to train for a marathon. Yeah, right. But I can easily write, say, fifteen minutes a day. And I can, with the urging of my FitBit, get up and walk 250 steps every hour. Plus set up challenges for myself to add a few more steps and make it to the next major distance.

The important thing was doing it NOW. The goal is to walk those steps every hour, often followed by fifteen minutes of writing. This is how I planned to finish the next Stormhaven. After, that is, I finish this novella that snuck in when I wasn’t paying Front Cover - My Killer My Love-first tryattention…maybe I was walking an extra five loops in the living room? It’s in the world of the Atrahasis, same as  My Killer My Love featuring two mature protagonists finding each other after decades apart.

I’m bringing in the new year with friends, taking along some low carb comfort food such as loaded cauliflower and this pecan shortbread recipe I’ve been playing with. If it passes the taste test I’ll be sharing.

Looks like I’ll be sharing some recipes tomorrow. Best of everything to everybody, now and in our futures.

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It’s All About the Light #MFRWAuthor

You know about lighting a candle instead of cursing the dark, right? Let the sunshine in…let the sun shine in. Oh yeah, Let the Sunshine In. What the heck happened to our age of Aquarius? I suppose…yes, I was or I am a child of the sixties. Conflicted by everything we had thrown at us, learning to question, always question.

Huh, this was supposed to be a quick light blog about…light. Sorry for the digression, that happens when one of the olders starts sharing.

Light, as in the effect of light on anything. Sunrise, sunset, any time there’s enough light to see. Living as I do without much to block the light, the pictures can be awe inspiring.

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Morning light on South Mountain

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Sunset in the van window

 

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Sunset through the clouds, and then a last blaze of glory

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Sharing some light and beauty against dark days.

 

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