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!

Terribly lost in Toulouse ….

Dordogne 2013Cote CarmeSo, a pretty standard writing convention is … if you describe a rifle hanging above a fireplace or displayed in a room, that rifle had better be important to the plot. Here’s what I found about that … don’t characters get lost on their journeys? But unless the getting lost leads to a plot element, we never do hear about it.  Not that my characters are anywhere near Toulouse, France of course!

Here’s what happened to us! After flying into Brussels, a bag handler strike kept our checked bags from going on to Toulouse. We never check our bags, but thought this time, why not? Ahhh yes, why not. We landed in Toulouse, picked up the rental car, sans baggage and drove into Toulouse.  Toulouse is an ancient city with narrow streets, road constrution, and a plethora of one-way streets. We knew we were way wrong when we ended up in a cemetery on the other side of town. Fortunately, our basic French helped make us two new French friends who nicely led us to our Cote Carmes. And were we ever happy to turn in that evening!

We learned some 20,000 pieces of luggage were stockpiled from Sunday evening. Our chances of being reunited with our bags were slim. That meant … SHOPPING at Galeries Lafayette for basic clothing items. And then on to La Roque Gageac.  If only I could write my own story!