New release October 10, 2014

I’m excited to reveal my third novel, Yellow Pansies in a Blue Cobalt Jar releases October 10, 2014!

Bibliotherapist, silver-haired Rhose Guerin uses books, movies, plays, and poetry in her private practice. An advanced professional credentialing program removes her from friends and family in Yellow Pansies Cover!North Carolina to study in Westport, Connecticut where she reconsiders her fading marriage; a daughter in a relationship crisis; a parent challenged by health issues; and the reappearance of an old love.

Long held family secrets and relationships are revealed that beg intervention as Rhose second-guesses decisions made in her past. Was the path she turned from, the better one to have taken? Can she satisfy her need to grow both professionally and personally in order to find acceptance and romance in a life of her own?

There are no novels to show her how. She must be the heroine of her own story as she appraises and makes peace with life decisions boomer generation women face.

Traveling for plots and refreshment

I’ve just returned from an amazing first visit to the Baltic where I finally got to meet dear Swedish relatives! How wonderful to share greetings and family spirit with about a dozen or so DNA-like individuals! We gathered at Hossna Church cemetery not far from Ulricehamn to visit great grandfather and other family member’s gravesites on a sparkling Swedish summer day, surrounded by forests of deep green spruce, purple lupines, white and yellow wildflowers.

DSCN1480On the return flight, new Scandinavian characters revealed themselves out of the blue and I’m adding them to my current work in progress. Here’s a secret, Brun’s name (Brun is Rhose Guerin’s husband in Yellow Pansies) is derived from the 300-year-old-plus family farm, Brunsered. Other Scandinavian named characters are sure to follow.

And of course once more I was surprised by the appearance of yellow pansies, appearing along the way in Tallinn, Estonia, and Ulricehamn, Sweden … yet more acknowledgement for Yellow Pansies in a Blue Cobalt Jar. DSCN1557Yellow Pansies

Museum archaeology … and lunch! Oh my!

Resize_0228141152-01_01I recently joined about thirty other enthusiastic wanna-be archaeologists at the North Carolina Museum of Art to participate in their first hands-on archaeology lab. Staff archaeologist Dr. Caroline Rocheleau led us through a brief artifact-handling orientation, a hands-on study session of classical ceramics, and a short overview lecture. Resize_0228141152-03_01

My volunteer experience at the North Carolina State Archaeology Office dealt with Pre-historic Paleo-Indian artifacts, some ten thousand years old, and 18th Century North Carolina ceramics. Dr. Rocheleau however, is an Egyptologist, a Nubiologist (a geographic region located in the south of Egypt and North of Sudan) and the museum curator of ancient art. The focus of this event were artifacts from Cyprus and Turkey and I got a real appreciation for the depth of study and experience archaeologists must develop for different time periods and cultures. The differences I found from the Paleo-Indian pottery were quite interesting contrasted with the three thousand-year-old Cypriot artifacts.

Resize_0228141152-00_01 Each small group of participants had four artifacts to   examine in order to identify it, describe it, and determine what its use may have been. One of the four artifacts provided to each group was so old, only a special representative could handle it as we visually examined it. Then, like archaeologists out on a dig, we sketched the item, noted its color, construction, finish, decorations, and the presence of any traces of wear. We referenced a glossary to help describe the objects with such formal-sounding descriptors as burnished, applique, lip, neck, shoulder, slip, spout, wheel-made, and ellipsoid, ovaloid, hyperboloid, and cone.

Our  artifact assortment included two objects that possibly held a valued liquid such as precious oil and added to a burial site. So much to examine, so much to imagine from thousands of years ago. Before we knew it, our time was up and we were escorted to a lovely luncheon where we got to speak more with Dr. Rocheleau. Resize_0228141152-02_01

How exciting to ponder peoples from so long ago and why I love to add a dollop of archaeology to my stories for my characters to learn about and enjoy!

 

Reflective Garden Walking … a therapy

A Path Through the Garden touches on the value and benefit of reflective walking while exploring a garden, meadow, or naturally forested area.  Many of us can remember a special day we enjoyed out in the fresh air when our minds developed an idea from nowhere, an idea that grew in resonance and supported a strong feeling for a plan of action. The idea was positive and meaningful and may have contributed to a whole new life path.

In Japan, this notion of walking through a garden or forest for inspiration is not new. Called shinrin-yoku, it literally translates to forest bathing or an immersion into nature and is recognized as being similar to natural aromatherapy.  Think about how the fragrance of spring, fall, Christmas, vanilla and cloves sends your thoughts dramatically to all kinds of events simply from the sense of smell.  Walking through a garden or forest brings the benefits of essential oils released from tree bark, plants, and flowers that enhance immune function and lessen stress and lower blood pressure.

Those undertaking forest bathing visit a forested area for relaxation. The science part is when visitors breathe in wood essential oils called phytoncides as they walk the forest. Phytoncides are antimicrobial volatile compounds from trees and other plants.

Leyla Jo in A Path Through the Garden walked her magical meadow and sought solutions to life-absorbing challenges. If you need solutions to problems served up by life, why not consider forest bathing?

Check out Reflective Garden Walking presented by Ruth McCaffrey ND, ARNP at the Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida. The program incorporates the Morikami Stroll as part of a Well-being program, and how to begin a meditative practice by creating a program of garden walking using reflective readings and journaling opportunities.

Leyla Jo would love it!

Hands-on Archaeology lab at the North Carolina Museum of Art

Both my stories, Nardi Point and A Path Through the Garden include storylines rich in archaeology. Because I write what I like to read, I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned about ancient peoples who walked this earth thousands of years ago. That interest led me to volunteer at the NC State Archaeology Office in Raleigh where volunteers were trained in the proper handling and processing of valuable ancient artifacts. To hold a pre-historic relic in your own hands is such an amazing rush! museum

So, that’s why I’m looking forward to the Hands-on Archaeology lab presented by the North Carolina Museum of Art’s staff archaeologist Caroline Rocheleau. Planned for the lab is an artifact-handling orientation, a hands-on study session of classical ceramics, and a short overview lecture. Even a pair of white gloves worn when handling the artifacts will be provided!

I’m smiling because if you’ve read my stories, you know Leyla Jo will be there in spirit. Perhaps she’ll even whisper a new story into my ear. If she does, you all will be the first to know!

Ahhh, the writing life.

2013 Chatelaine Awards Finalist!

Ahhhh! if you follow my blog, you all know how I love the writing life … everything about it! The research, the delicious plots and characters to delight in at will, learning about process, and sharing words, ideas, and encouragement with my writing friends and groups. Well, I was living my writing life when, to use a popular English adjective much like “brilliant,” I was “gobsmacked!” It’s a good thing from what I can tell and it’s being completely and unexpectedly confronted by some extraordinary happening!

I am gobsmacked! My latest release, A Path Through the Garden, the Nardi Point sequel, has been named a Finalist by Chanticleer Book Reviews & Media  2013 Chatelaine Awards for romantic fiction. The contest is ongoing, but I’m so excited to be included in their Finalists list.

Thank you Chanticleer and congrats to all the authors making the list! We have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

Therapeutic Gardens

Leyla Jo from Nardi Point and A Path Through the Garden, honors and seeks natural, alternative remedies for the daily challenges of life. Her clinical background and intuitive receptiveness creates a unique exploratory lifestyle that she shares in a quiet, thoughtful way.

In A Path Through the Garden, Leyla Jo encourages Hal to investigate and participate in nature as he works to regain his health.  One of the activities planned is a visit to a nearby horticultural exhibition. The planned outing engages Hal and enlivens his interest in events apart from his recovery. She is pleasantly reminded that Hal uses plant life as terrain indicators in his role as archaeologist tipping him off to wetlands and other environments an archaeological dig may offer. Also at the exhibition, Leyla Jo meets a Horticultural Therapist who synchronistically provides useful seeds of therapeutic garden design which Leyla Jo enthusiastically embraces.

Never heard of a Horticultural Therapist? These therapists use gardens to provide verifiable health benefits for their clients and the public. Therapists are trained to effectively design, manage and evaluate gardens with an eye to employing gardens as healing landscapes. These landscapes become exterior therapeutic environments for senior communities, healthcare facilities including assisted living and Alzheimer residences, long-term care facilities and continuing care retirement communities. There is also focus on the anthropological uses of plants found within the garden design.

If you would like to discover more about such programs, the Chicago Botanic Garden offers a Healthcare Garden Design Professional Development Certificate Program in May 2014. http://www.chicagobotanic.org/

Leyla Jo will be there!

A Path Through the Garden now available!

PathGarden_Cover (1) A Path Through the Garden, the long awaited sequel to Nardi Point is here! Thanks to all my readers who loved Nardi Point and asked for more about alternative healer, nurse practitioner, Leyla Jo and her best friend Laurinda. A Path Through the Garden joins these characters about three years past Nardi Point and explores alternative holistic therapies, flower and herbal essences, dips into the world of archaeology, Native American folkways, infertility, and the flow of short-term dedicated relationships and recovery.

Alternative healer Leyla-Jo helps others grow their families, yet struggles with her own infertility. Hoping for a solution for her yearning to become a family, Leyla Jo turns to her folkways heritage and explores natural plant botanicals for a solution.   When the archaeological exhibit Leyla Jo and Hal curates is compromised by international scientists from Rome and the Director of the local Art Museum, the couple’s role in the professional, scientific community is severely challenged. After Hal falls ill, Leyla Jo’s desire leads to a conflicted crossroad … must she choose her husband’s health over their craving for a child?  Now Leyla Jo must explore her path through the garden and travel her biggest journey.

To best enjoy this heartfelt story, I strongly suggest first reading Nardi Point!

Meadows are everywhere!

May meadows are special fields of fragrant spring wildflowers and new life. There’s nothing like a sun-dappled meadow first thing in the morning or at late afternoon for inspiration.

I looDordogne 2013 Sunday 52613 071k for meadows wherever I travel.  This one is at Chateau des Baudry near Monestier, France. Not only flowered with yellow, blue, white, and pink flowers, it’s filled with bright bird song, madly buzzing bees, and crickets. Over the treetops off to the West, you can make out the spire of the Eglise or church in Monestier.

Of course I asked Monsieur Francois if by chance there were any suncup wildflowers. Those would be the ones Leyla Jo searches for in A Path through a Garden.  From Monsieur’s puzzled face, I immediately recognized the value of knowing the Latin names for plant species. Because Jed is an archeobotanist in Paths, he told me the proper Latin name … Oenothera biennis. Monsieur then smiled, but answered, “Non.”

C’est la vie!

Reunited and it feels so good ….

Yup! Wayward bags met up with us at Manoir de la Malartrie, Vezac, France near La Roq Gageac. Leyla Jo and Hal from A Path through the Garden travel to Rome, visit the Pantheon, enjoy the lovely Hotel San Anselmo, and never have a problem with luggage. Considering how often this does happen perhaps it’s more realistic to write that in? Dordogne 2013 Friday 0517 018 I’ll have to take that into consideration. Mme Ouaffa at the Manoir de la Malartrie was so kind and helpful and as it happens all worked out well.

La Roq Gageac nestles alongside the Dordogne River and has for centuries. Facing South, earliest man found the rock maintained the sun’s heat and provided warmth. They dug into the rock, forming cave like living areas and eventually built stone  homes that backed into the rock. You can see the row of rock houses set inside the cliff below.

Dordogne 2013 Friday 0517 La Roque Gageac Dordogne 

 

Perhaps the most beautiful rock gardens were those Mme Ouaffa tended at the manoir.  There was a wonderful calmness walking the garden  where  the playful sound of the water fountain added to the garden’s tranquility.

 

Of course, I find gardens remarkable places of sanctuary and respite.  A Path through the Garden releases July 3 … the awaited sequel to award-winning Nardi Point. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to share the continuation of Nardi Point! PathGarden_Cover

Our next stop is east of the Dordogne … all the way to Entraygues-sur-Truyere to the Sweet French Cottages. Entraygues means “between the waters” and sits at the confluence of the Lot and Truyere rivers.

Without any more worries about luggage, we’re making good time and enjoying our path!