02.14.2017

One Chocolate Chip Cookie

 

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone out there who believes, as I do, in the truth: If you cut chocolate chip cookie bars into one big heart it counts as “one cookie.”

Add a book and a blanket, and you have an excellent Valentine’s Day evening.

 

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02.14.2017

Give A Kenyan School Girl A New Desk

Want to give an impoverished school girl in Kenya a new desk for Valentine’s Day? Rebel Dancing Daughter’s school, Daraja Academy, needs new desks for their students.

The desks are $60, so buy one, or part of, a new desk and tell your Valentine you bought it in their name. Rebel Dancing Daughter just got back from Kenya and they REALLY need new desks. Donating is easy, and you can even send your Valentine an e – card telling them, “Happy Valentine’s Day, you just gave a nice new desk to a school girl in Kenya!”

I promise it will last a lot longer than flowers or lingerie.

To donate (Look for red button, top right): https://www.crowdrise.com/be-a-better-valentine-gi…/…/daraja

Daraja’s Website: http://www.daraja-academy.org/

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

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02.07.2017

Old Letters from 1905, New Ideas For A Book

I’m often asked how I get my ideas for my books.

This is one way….

A friend of mine gave me letters from a great, great, etc. grandfather to his wife. As you can see, the date is 1905.

They were sent to Wenatchee, Washington.

Now I get to read them….

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01.30.2017

Lie. Love. Lust. Laugh. Yes, You SHOULD Write That Book in 2017

For you writers out there…I am writing a monthly column in Ms. Career Girl on how to write a book in 2017. This is the first one.

Lie. Love. Lust. Laugh. Yes, you SHOULD write that book.

So You Want To Write A Book in 2017?

Want to write a book this year? Don’t know where to start?

Get a journal.

Go out and buy yourself a pretty, interesting, edgy, funny, odd journal and start writing.

Take that journal with you everywhere as if it’s your best, coolest friend.

Make it a habit to write in it at least once a day.

What do you write about? Anything. Everything.

What makes you cry?

What makes you laugh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the worst thing that’s happened to you? What’s the second worst?

What’s the best?

Who’s your closest friend? Whose friendship have you lost and why?

What are your secrets? How do they control you?

What do you worry about?

What do you like about yourself?  What are your faults?

What do you want out of life?

What does your dream home look like?

What scares you? What do you have to change in your life to be happy?

What makes you so angry you could pluck your own hair out of your head?

Who ticks you off? Why do you hate them?

Who do you love so much you would step in front of stampeding bulls for them?

You need to pour heart into your journal as if it’s a liquid thing.  Why?

Because your writing must come from an honest place. It must come from authentic emotions, tears, laughter, love, hate, vengeful thoughts, and feelings of passion and lust.

If you are laughing when you write in your journal, super. If you are crying, even better because it means that your journal is helping you find more of the true you.

You need the true you if you’re going to write. She’s gotta be sitting right beside you saying, “Be honest now. Go to those dark memories hidden around the corners of your brain and write ‘em down.

Don’t lie to yourself, don’t be vague. Write about the adventures you want to have, the hope that still glows deep inside you, the losses of the past, the failures, the plans that you can’t share with anyone else.

Write about your childhood, including the shattering times. You have to. Do it. Write real.”

When you’re ready, after a day, a week, a month, look through your journal. What strikes you the most? What interests you about your own life, your own self, so much that you want to explore it further? Run a yellow highlighter over it.

If you’re writing fiction, as I do, give your character the issue(s) you deal with. Give her something from your past that you still wrestle with. Give her that horrid ex boyfriend of yours, but this time she slays that dragon, he doesn’t slay her. Give her that difficult, whiny aunt, or that whisky-drinking uncle, or that crazy cousin who works as a stripper.

Give her a life that has completely fallen apart, as yours did last year. Give her grief or self esteem issues or a wild streak that constantly gets her into trouble, but it’s so much fun.

Go from there. Develop that character based on some of your answers above. Draw a picture of her in your journal.

Then write down fifty different things about her, from where she lives to what toothpaste she uses to her pets and her job and if she likes sex or not. (Don’t worry, we’ll talk about developing characters next month.)

Be open to visions, too, as you write in your journal. That sounds weird. But you know what I’m talkin’ about because you’ve had visions, too, I know it.

Let me share with you one of my visions. When I was in college, I had a vision of a young woman throwing a fluffy, smothering white wedding dress into a scraggly tree on a deserted, dusty street in North Dakota.

She was crying and flamin’ mad. She was trying to toss that wedding dress onto a branch but it kept floating back down on her head, which made her even madder.

That vision made me ask, “Why the hell is she doing that?”

Years later it launched my first book, “Julia’s Chocolates.”

I gave Julia an abusive fiancé she was running from. I put her on a farm in Oregon with an Aunt Lydia who painted her house pink, “like a vagina,” and the front door black to “ward off seedy men.”

I put flowering toilets in her front yard and a rainbow bridge. I gave Julia three new friends – a minister’s wife who was suffocating in that role, a mother who was married to an alcoholic and couldn’t get the courage to leave him, and a psychic.

All from that one vision.

Sit quietly for a bit, every day, with your journal.  First, clear your mind. Then let the visions wander through. Embrace your visions, no matter how wacky, unbelievable, or ludicrous.

Maybe your vision is a woman who makes donuts while crying. Why does she cry making donuts? Maybe your vision involves a crazy family. What are they hiding?  Maybe your vision involves life in the future. What does the future look like? Is there a threat to the planet?  Maybe there’s a magical element. What is it? How does it affect your characters? Maybe your vision is flat out frightening, and it would make a gripping thriller.

Write those visions down in your journal. Start playing with them. Again, which one grabs you the most? Get out that yellow highlighter again.

One more thing? Writing and art are closely related. In my journals I sketch pictures of people and cut out pictures from magazines for inspiration and ideas. Try it.

Once a month we’ll chat about writing a book this year.

If I can do it, you can do it. Truly. You can.

Write on, friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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01.17.2017

Cool Giveaway. Eight Books, One Winner

If you’d like to enter this giveaway, below, eight books, one winner, go to this facebook page,

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ReadersCoffeehouse/

request to join the Readers Coffeehouse group, we’ll approve you, and go to the post at the top of the page with the same meme.

The books are by Kimberly Belle, Barbara Claypole White, Jo-Ann Mapson, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Steena Holmes, Laura Drake, Kimberly Brock, and me.

Cheers and good luck.

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01.10.2017

Want To Join An Online Book Group?

Please come and join us on Readers Coffeehouse on facebook in 2017.

We chat about books, hold giveaways, host authors on our Q and A’s, have a monthly book club (list of authors below), and we send out a fun newsletter.

Our founding authors? Catherine Ryan Hyde Steena Holmes Jo-Ann Mapson Laura Drake Kimberly Belle Kimberly Brock Barbara Claypole White and me.

Cheers and happy readinng!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ReadersCoffeehouse/

 

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01.10.2017

I worry. And worry.

I worry.

Specifically I worry about Rebel Dancing Daughter, Adventurous Singing Daughter, and Darling Laughing Son.

They laugh at me and my worries.

I glare and worry back at them. When they’re parents, they’ll get it, and I will cackle with glee.

I drive my own self crazy. It’s as if there are two of me in one body.

“Worrier Cathy” claws her way out and has all sorts of things, on a growing and alarming list, that I – Real Cathy – should worry about.

I envision Worrier Cathy hunched in a corner, biting her nails, her hair looking as if it’s been electrocuted, her knees to her chest. She whimpers to me, “What if THIS happens to the kids…what if THAT happens…could THIS happen, oh my God. It COULD…what would we do then?”

Real Cathy, me, tries to stay calm. I am a rational and practical person. I work a lot, I am the product of two parents who worked a lot and believed that idol hands could possibly be the devil’s play things. I love my friends and family, and I am fairly emotionally stable on my good days.

Worrier Cathy, however, gets Real Cathy all riled up and nervous.

What does Worrier Cathy make me worry about?

Cliffs that The Offspring might accidentally fall off of into the wild blue yonder. (That’s YOU Adventurous Singing Daughter, who hikes too high.)

Skiing through trees. (That’s YOU Darling Laughing Son. Don’t do this. And no back flips again on the slopes. You can break your neck. Did you HEAR me?)

Getting lost/sick/or attacked by terrorists abroad. (That’s YOU Rebel Dancing Daughter!)

Last fall I worried about rabid bats.

Couldn’t help myself.

Adventurous Singing Daughter was working in Yosemite for a term and getting bit by a rabid bat COULD happen so I warned her about it. But. There hasn’t been rabies in Yosemite for at least five years.

When a chipmunk nipped Adventurous Singing Daughter I talked to a doctor there about this who was polite when I drilled him with many, many questions about rabies, but still. Worrier Cathy had Real Cathy worried!

I am currently worried about lion bites as Rebel Dancing Daughter is in Africa. She left me for Africa for a few weeks so that Worrier Cathy could lose her head.

I picture Worrier Cathy wandering around with her head propped up in her hands with that electrocuted hair, her neck headless, muttering, “I’m so worried about Rebel Dancing Daughter in Africa! Diseases! Stampedes! Wars! Snakes! Bad water!”

This weekend I worried about the twins driving back to college. Darling Laughing Son drove his sister down to school. We had had an ice storm. The ice was gone on the freeways when I let them go, but still.

I had to pester my friend Keily about the freeway, which her kids had recently driven down. I think Keily thinks I’m a loon. I am okay with that because I can blame Worrier Cathy for all those texts.

When there is the slightest threat to my kids I can go from 0 to 90 miles per hour in my head in about ten seconds. You mothers out there might relate.

I don’t worry with the rest of my life.

I don’t worry about book sales, although as an author I probably should. But why would I do that? All I can do is write the best damn book I can. The results are out of my control.

I could worry about my health, but except for some slight hypochondria that lurks around now and then (Why does my left boob seem to hurt on Wednesdays? Do I have Shaking Leg Syndrome? My eyes feel fuzzy! Does this mean I’ll be blind by tomorrow morning?) I just don’t. It’s too boring and I feel too healthy.

So I have a goal for 2017: Worry less about The Offspring.

It is true that worrying has never changed one outcome in the history of this planet. Ever. Never.

I need to say a prayer for beloved Adventurous Singing Daughter, Darling Laughing Son, and Rebel Dancing Daughter, and let it go.

I need more peace, more calm, more zen.

I need Worrier Cathy to relax and find something else to do. Like fishing. Or golf.

And lion attacks are rare, aren’t they? Same with rabid bats?

Happy New Year!

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01.10.2017

At Least Naughty Kitty Is A Reader

Darling Laughing Son brought home this kitty from college.

This kitty LOOKS sweet, but he was a terror.

Chased and stalked our old cat, until KC was cowering upstairs.

Bit and scratched when playing.

Attacked the flowers in a vase on my table.

Pretended he didn’t know English or the word ‘no.’

Used my couch as a scratching post.

But at least he’s a reader, that’s all I can say!

(And now that he’s back at college, I kinda miss him.)

 

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12.26.2016

A Christmas Bake Off

Innocent Husband and I had a Christmas Bake Off.

You can tell that I’m baking by the hammer in my right hand. The Christmas Bake Off challenge came about after I set the oven on fire, turkey inside, during Thanksgiving.

I had to prove that I could bake.

(No, I did not set the cake on fire. How could you think that?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The one on the left is a chocolate cake. Peppermint / candy cane buttercream frosting.

The one on the right is a yule log. Raspberry filling, chocolate chip icing.

Which one is mine?

The pink one…

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12.20.2016

Merry Christmas To You And Your Gladiator

I have the same Christmas tradition as a zillion other frazzled mothers out there: Make graham cracker and candy houses with your children every year. Even if they’re on Santa’s Naughty List.

But my kids, 19, 19, and 23, have, shall we say, different ideas of what constitutes an “appropriate” Christmas house nowadays.

When my kids were young they would carefully build their graham cracker houses, usually using a small milk carton as a base. They would use hot tamales to make sweet, curving pathways up to the front door. The roofs would be covered with white icing and red hots. Jelly beans would line the edges of the houses.

No longer.

In my household, it now seems that the graham cracker Christmas house rule is, “The weirder the better.” Or, “I’m going to make a personal political statement this season.” Or, “Gummy bears rule. This is a gummy bear gang.”

Our kids’ Christmas houses sometimes, intentionally, resemble scary haunted houses. Or bunkers. Or arenas from Hunger Games. We have four story towers and coliseums for gladiators.

One year Darling Laughing Son made a gummy worm graveyard.

Adventurous Singing Daughter (Daughter Number 2) put cinnamon bears on top of her roof and had them jump off into a pool of gumdrops. Why? Because her bears were adventurers, like her. She later bungee jumped off a bridge. Maybe inspired by a cinnamon bear?

Rebel Dancing Daughter (Daughter Number 1) has feminist, woman – power tales attached to her graham cracker candy creations.

Yes, our Christmas graham cracker houses now have odd….flavors. But it’s the same, too. We all sit around our kitchen table with glue guns, icing, sprinkles, Hershey’s kisses, gumdrops, and mints and build and create.

It’s Lamb family tradition, even when rainbow gummy fish have staged a revolution and taken over Graham Cracker Village.

Wishing you laughs, good cheer, and fun with friends and family this holiday season.

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Cathy Lamb
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