From My Bookshelf – Souls of Three (The Starseed Trilogy Book #2)

This one is a day late because I didn’t post on Christmas.   But here it is!

As the second book of The Starseed Trilogy opens, the triplets – Lily, Evelyn, and Sara – are taking a break from their “magical training”. Lily has traveled back to Oregon to spend some time with those who raised her while Evelyn returns to New York City and her job with her adopted dad’s company. When Lily returns to Fern Cottage, she is told that Evelyn’s work will be keeping her in New York City longer than was originally planned – an important new client to get settled in. To REALLY complicate matters, Evelyn falls for this new client, a charming man by the name of Roman Simons. Does she really want to leave him and return to Fern Cottage? Would he understand if she told him who she really was? And then he invites her on a weekend getaway in some remote luxury home.

Meanwhile, Lily, who is more than a little frustrated that Evelyn hasn’t yet returned, discovers that Sara and Evelyn have been talking on the phone during Evelyn’s prolonged absence. And when Lily finds out that Evelyn is enjoying a weekend getaway with the new man in her life? Things can’t help but get more tense between two sisters who have had difficulty getting along from the start.

But the handsome, charming Roman Simons is not all that he appears to be and Evelyn quickly finds herself in a nightmarish situation that she, with her fledgling magic skills, cannot handle alone. She doesn’t know if her sisters even know she is in trouble, much less if they can do anything to help.

Back in Fern Cottage, the family discovers a traitor in their midst. A lifelong friend sends a letter to the Brigit, the triplets’ mother, admitting that she was behind the chaos in Alexandria that resulted in Lily losing a family member. But this person isn’t confessing anything because she doesn’t feel the least bit guilty. She openly admits that she has had a hand in helping to abduct Evelyn. The family immediately takes action, seeking to rescue Evelyn and deal once and for all with the vampires Amon and Empusa.

But new powers arise in the girls and new pieces of the prophecy fall into place. The bond between the sisters grows stronger and they learn that their own power increases when they lean on one another.

This captivating sequel moves the story forward with new plot twists and new faces while continuing to beautifully develop the characters and relationships I most loved from the first book. Some enemies are vanquished, others escape, and a traitor has yet to be dealt with. And it all leaves you waiting to see what happens in the final installment! Will the magic skills of the three sisters be enough to defeat Dimia and the Fata? The fate of the human race hangs in the balance.

What's Yours?

Webster’s dictionary defines passion as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something”.  In our world, we sometimes become so focused on the “reward” for what we do that we forget to listen to our passion much less tap into or pursue it.  We get focused on the final grade, the recognition, or the paycheck attached to what we do.  Somewhere in all of that “focusing on the end result” we lose sight of something that matters just as much – passion.

IMG_20140124_073351_767My eldest child can tell you just about anything you want to know about the Tudors.  She can list all of the wives of King Henry the VIII and tell you who their children were, how they died, etc. I mean, she even bought one of those “coffee table books” (pictured to the left) on the subject and has read it cover to cover.  I mean, most people buy those and put them on a coffee table as a decoration!  When she gets interested in something and wants to know more she doesn’t waste time.  Lately, she became interested in learning the whole story behind “The Manson Family” so she headed to the library and checked out “Helter Skelter” (well-written book, I recommend it!).  As a mom, I love watching her chase learning just because she wants to.  Her passion kicks in, and you cannot stop her from learning.  She buries herself in books or movies and won’t stop till she’s satisfied she knows as much as she can learn.


With hubby, it’s golf and woodworking.  He spends time on Youtube watching “how-to” videos when planning his latest wood working projects.  If it isn’t woodworking videos, it’s golf tutorials.  The weird little tool on the desk in the picture to the right is apparently something to help improve his swing.  I don’t golf so I don’t understand how it works.  Whether it’s a new woodworking project or trying to improve his golf game, hubby isn’t satisfied with “good enough.”  He loves putting in the time to improve his skill with power tools or his score on the golf course.  I’m pretty sure the guys in his golf league appreciate his hard work too!

IMG_20140221_204710_438For me, it’s the theater.  Directing, music directing, acting, . . . whatever it is, I LOVE being in the theater.  I have some cherished memories of shows I’ve directed – a couple of favorites that jump immediately to mind – but each time I get a chance to direct another show, I work to improve the last experience by preparing well ahead, carefully organizing my rehearsal plans, continuing to “tweak” my procedures, etc.  Leave me alone with a new script and a blank legal pad, let me get to work planning the staging and blocking, and I am in my happy place! I am very proud of the shows I have directed in the past, but I know I can always be a better director.  As an actress and pit musician I get chances to watch other directors and I learn from what they do with their shows, borrowing their best ideas and strategies and tweaking those that have potential but don’t quite match my style personally.

Why do I share these seemingly random hobbies with you?  Because they all have one big thing in common – passion.  Not a paycheck. Not the ability to become famous. Not the chance to change the world.  Just the chance to improve our knowledge or increase our skill level at something.  I can say this with confidence – none of us regret the time we’ve invested.  Not even a little bit.  Feeding the passion we have is enough of a reward.  Nothing more is needed.

Taking Care of Us

Have you ever had one of those days when you keep encountering people from different “parts” of your life, people who couldn’t possibly know one another, who seem to be dealing with “stuff” that is similar in nature?  Sometimes I wonder if that isn’t God’s way of gently saying, “Pay attention.  There’s something you need to understand.”

Today it’s all about taking care of ourselves.  From a friend who has been honest and open on a social networking site about her need for medication to deal with depression to a woman who is stressed with demands of a new job and needs a little “pick-me-up” to a woman who has lost someone dear and needs to do something simple to feel good again.  I could give more examples but you get the idea!

What breaks my heart is that some of the women I mentioned felt like they needed to apologize for being selfish.  Why do we do that?!

Each of these women is married and all are mothers though some of them are now at the “empty nest” phase of life.  Every single one of them has “done for others” to a great extent.  Many of them volunteer their time in various ways – church, school PTA, animal shelter, etc.  On their worst day, you would not call these women selfish.

One woman who I have been chatting with via Facebook message (side note – I have permission to mention the story as long as I leave out her name!) said that all she wanted was a pumpkin spice something from Starbucks and half an hour to sit on her back deck and read.  Then she said, “But I’d feel so selfish.”  Really?!  This woman’s oldest child is in elementary school and the baby just started Kindergarten.  She is a giving, loving, selfless woman who is always busy for others or in her home for her family – gardening, canning, sewing, volunteering, you name it!  She went back to work part-time now that her youngest is in school and she hasn’t quite adjusted to the schedule change.  All she wanted was half an hour to just be her; not a mom, an employee, a volunteer, or a wife.  Just her.

Why do we do this to ourselves?!  Why do we feel guilty if we aren’t absolutely everything to our family members?!  And don’t even get me started on the amazing women I know who live with Depression, Bi-Polar disorder, or physical disabilities, OR who are battling cancer, caring for a dying loved one, or just “being there” for an elderly relative who needs someone checking in on them from time to time.

Ladies, listen up.  Do not feel ashamed if you need some “me” time.  Next time life is overwhelming, take a deep breath, step back, and grab your favorite color of nail polish.  Or a favorite book.  Or that seasonal Starbucks beverage you’ve been waiting to have for months (salted caramel mocha is back!).  When we take care of us, we are better able to take care of those we love.

Think it’s time for a coffee break.  Who’s with me?

Reading List

If you take a look at the left side of my blog, you’ll see a link to my Goodreads information.  If you love to read and haven’t yet heard of Goodreads . . . well, now you have!

My mom and dad are in town for a visit and they both enjoy reading.  But dad is one of those “working-on-more-than-one-book-at-a-time” kind of readers.  Must be where I get it from.  While we both enjoy current best-selling authors (he introduced me to a few of my favorites!), we both  love to read “the classics”.  Now, when you start talking about “must-read” books, everyone has their opinion.  But dad and I are interested in those timeless pieces of writing that people still turn to today – works by Jane Austen, Steinbeck, etc. – as well as ancient writings that have stood the test of time.

So the internet hunt was on!  After browsing a few “must-read” lists, I landed on a couple of sites that seem to be my best options for a list of books to guide my reading choices for quite a while!  First, there is Barnes & Noble.  I know, I know, Barnes and Noble is an established chain store.  But their website has an extensive list of classics and I’ve got that specific page of their website bookmarked (and I’ve shared the link with you – just click on the store name above!).

I also found a website that has lists for various eras.  Each list has about 30 titles.  The choices on The Great Books List go all the way back to the Egyptian Book of the Dead and The Iliad.

If you are like me and don’t want to rely STRICTLY on your public library for the books you seek and you don’t want to buy all the books on your personal reading list, I’ve got good news!  Goodreads has some older titles available to read right on their website.  If you sign up you can read those titles and keep them bookmarked on your personal page (I’m doing that with one of my “currently reading” titles).  If you have an e-reader (or, like me, you don’t have one yet but are willing to use your laptop as an e-reader!) then you should check out Books Should be Free.  Just like the name promises, the books available on this site are all free!  True, they are all titles that are old enough that the copyright has expired.  But I currently have more than a dozen titles in my e-reader just waiting for me to get to them. And I’m certainly not done!

One last side note about Goodreads – you can get book recommendations based on books you have read and liked or you can simply go looking by title.  If you have friends using Goodreads, you can get ideas and recommendations from them as well as seeing what they are currently reading.

Now if you don’t mind, I need to get back to “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”.

I Can't MAKE You Understand

For the second summer in a row, I have spent numerous hours working on theater productions with students ranging from 5th grade through college age.  Actually, I have worked four shows – one after the other – from January till now and all of them have been with students in that age range.  And I’ve loved every energy draining, adrenaline-filled, pulling-my-hair-out moment of it.

If you don’t get that, I can’t help you.

Go ahead.  Tell me how much attitude teenagers have.  Tell me that they are self-centered and rude.  Point out that they are lazy and don’t really care about anything.  Emphasize the fact that they think they know everything and are unwilling to listen to adults. Give it your best shot as you try to convince me to hate these kids I’ve come to think of as “mine”.  I’ll smile at you and think, ‘You don’t get it.  And you’re wrong.’

Yes, teenagers can have an attitude that makes them challenging to work with.  So can adults.  Even those old enough to be grandparents.

Yes, they can be both rude and self-centered.  Again, I have met a number of “grown-ups” with the same character defect.  If we’re honest, all of us have our moments!

Yes, they sometimes act like they know it all.  So did the rest of us at that age.  Some of us still do.

In the last two years alone, while working with teenagers/young adults in the theater, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing . . .

. . . a young lady who almost chickened out before auditions who ended up landing the lead and becoming one of the most hard-working performers I’ve ever known.

. . . that same young lady coming in early and staying late or scheduling extra times to meet with the director just because she wants to make sure that she is really ready for performance.

. . . a group of total strangers become so closely-knit that they shed tears when the show is over and they know they won’t see each other as often.

. . . cast members who ask for a chance to “do it again” when I tell them that a particular scene/musical number isn’t up to expectations yet.

. . . performers who come early, stay late, and schedule extra times with the director to go over that tough number “just one more time”.

. . . yet another group of young ladies who almost gave up on auditioning only to land principal roles.

. . . high school students so touched by the performances of their fellow actors and actresses that they shed tears.

. . . students who volunteer to stand in the dark and turn stage lights on and off just because they want to be a part of the experience.

They’ve given me chills, brought tears to my eyes, surprised me by surpassing my expectations, grown as performers, given their fullest effort to an art form they love and when all is said and done, a few of them have wanted nothing more than to know that I was proud of them.

So let’s make a deal, you and I: I’ll go right on working with the college show and the senior high show then spend my summer working with middle school, high school, and college age performers in the summer theater program I direct.  And you are welcome to stand there and shake your head at me, wondering why on earth I do it.  I’ll smile, thank you for coming to the show, and keep an eye on the time so that I don’t miss the coffee get-together I have planned with some of “my” kids.

Too busy?

“I’m just too busy.”

I’m a little ashamed to admit how often I use this excuse for times when busy-ness is not really the issue.  I’m so good at using that phrase that I’ve even used variations on the “too busy” excuse.

“I know I should exercise but I just don’t know when I would find the time.” (In reality, I just didn’t want to make the time.)

“I wish I had the time to volunteer with . . . ” (But I always manage to find the time for that book I want to read, the e-mail I want to send, those Pins I want to check out.)

“Lunch?  I’d love to, but I’m really busy for the next couple of weeks so I don’t really have the time.”  (This one just means I’m being a selfish friend!)

Disclaimer – there are times that we can over commit ourselves if we don’t keep a careful eye on our schedules.  But I would bet I’m not the only person who has been guilty of using the “too busy” excuse to get away with laziness or selfishness or just not wanting to think creatively.  Some people – we call them “frustrated perfectionists” in our family – will use the “too busy” excuse to avoid the possibility that something they do will not be perfect.

If I need to exercise I can certainly get my sneakers on and walk around the block.  No, I won’t be ready for a marathon next week, but it’s more than I was doing and a step in the right direction.  Who knows?  I may feel so good after exercising that it becomes something I actually WANT to do?

If I am truly passionate and committed to a volunteer cause, I can contact someone about giving time just once in the next month.  I don’t have to jump in to a “three-times-a-week” kind of commitment if it’s unrealistic.

If a friend wants to go out to a meal and it legitimately does not work in my schedule, I can offer a coffee get-together instead.  Most of my friends would be content to meet at McDonald’s and grab sodas if the issue is budgetary!

Truth be told, I do suffer from that “frustrated perfectionist” attitude every so often.  It almost kept me from checking out a Zumba class in the area on Wednesday morning.  I didn’t want to look foolish doing a dance-based exercise program especially since I know the instructor!  But I went – thanks to the encouragement of my 17 year old daughter – and I’m so glad I did!  Not only is the first class you attend free, it was a great way to start my day and I don’t remember the last time I felt so energized!

So with a careful eye on my calendar, I will try to save the phrase “I’m too busy” for those times when that is indeed the case.