Wednesday, December 30, 2015

These Are a Few of My Favorite Flings

It's that time of the year when I like to look back and consider what I did right. Positive reinforcement wins it. So does living outside my comfort zone. This year I could have updated things around my house or made wise financial investments, but I didn't. Instead I decided to spend my time and money doing all those things in life that most of us plan to do someday. This year was my someday. I went places and did things and lived one of the most exciting years of my life.

The following is a list of some of the wins from a year full of lessons and adventures that I'm still trying to sort out.

  • While attending a writing workshop that used a teaching method called the Amherst Writers and Artists method, we learned by taking turns reading our work aloud and commenting on each other's writing. The caveat? You could only say positive things. I didn't think it would work. How could my writing improve if no one told me what was wrong with it? Ten days later I could barely believe how much each and every attendee's work had expanded and grown into something beautiful. A stunning win for the power of being positive, and a life lesson.
  • This year I purchased a park pass for a nearby park and when I wasn't traveling I went there to hike. It's amazing how many touristy things we have in our own area that we never go to. I'm working on correcting that. It isn't necessary to travel the world to change your perspective.
  • When I traveled for the previously mentioned workshop and it ended, I didn't want to leave. It seemed like I'd been writing morning, noon, and night, and hadn't had a chance to enjoy the gorgeous place I'd traveled so far to write in. So I changed my ticket and stayed. Alone. In Greece. During the whole insolvency thing. I walked everywhere, ate yogurt and fruit from a nearby market (and some octopus), and did NOTHING. Nada. Zilch. Okay, I wrote some more. It. Was. Amazing. 
  • Dear Hubby and I have polar opposite taste in music. But every single concert he wanted to go to this year, I agreed. He was so excited he got the best seats he could manage. Know what? Concerts are FUN. I don't care who's playing. I had a blast and I may have even bought some of their songs for my iPod later. Don't tell Dear Hubby. 
  • There's a woman in San Francisco who started a little coffee-coconut-toast bar. Someone sent me her story from an online article because she looks and seems so very much like a character I invented for a novel I wrote. The coincidences blew me away. Of course the real woman isn't a Covenant Keeper assassin BUT EVERYTHING ELSE is freakily similar! She looks exactly like I envisioned this character. I MIGHT MAYBE have finagled inviting myself on someone else's trip to California and drove clear across town to see her. Might. Maybe. I fit right in at that little hipster coffee bar. (Not even a little. It was AMAZING being totally out of place in the exact right spot.)
  • Somehow I found myself in a dodgy section of a dodgy town. Wait. That happened in several towns this year. What I meant was the first time I found myself in the dodgy section of a dodgy town THIS YEAR, a total stranger handed me tickets to go to a concert. I went. The music was sort of Rockabilly Blues Rock. It was so loud that I could feel the bass in my heart. That is how I know I'm in the right place, music-wise. It was standing room only and the age group seemed to be barely-legal to old and gray. I FREAKING LOVED EVERY SPLIT SECOND. Now I fangirl all over them online and buy all their music. The Delta Bombers
  • The second time I found myself in a dodgy section of a dodgy town was somewhere in Spain. I thought I knew some Spanish. AHAHAHAHA. No. I can READ some Spanish. I cannot understand it OR speak it enough to be understood. But I walked out of my hotel with Google Maps and got LOST AS @*$%! Hours later I ended up at a BioPark (i.e. Zoo). After spending hours there I walked back too. I took a completely different path. I like to call it LOST AS HELK WITH GOOGLE MAPS. 
  • There I was sitting inside an Irish Pub (still in Spain). The waiter refused to take my order until I ordered in Spanish. So I did. He interrupted me to say, "Never mind. Just say it in English." It reminded me horribly of the time I sang to one of my babies and he reached up and covered my mouth. Still it made me laugh, and I give myself full credit for trying even when I fail. I like to flatter myself that I have a gift for language, but I have no illusions about having a gift for speaking in any of them. 
  • After nearly thirty hours of travel I made it to my little hotel room and opened the window, leaned outside, and listened to church bells welcome me to Rome. I left the window wide open, inviting sunshine inside, laid on the bed, and slept until dark. Sometimes a nap is my highest priority.
  • I'm not easily spooked. In fact I haunt cemeteries. While in Rome after a long battle with Google Maps I meandered into the Capuchin Crypt. It contains the remains of nearly 4,000 bodies, all Capuchin Monks. It's similar to the Paris catacombs, the bones decorate several rooms like art. I wasn't spooked, but I was disturbed. The purpose of the display is to remind us of our short time on earth and our imminent passage to the other side. What struck me was the odd arrangements of the deceased. I wasn't altogether comfortable with recycling to that level, you know the found art using bare bones level? However, I did appreciate the thought provoking jarring provided. I think it was the skull flying with the help of pelvic bone wings that crossed my line.
  • As usual I spent a couple weeks deep in the wilderness of Canada. This was the first time I've ever gone at the end of summer, and it was mushroom season. The flora and fauna of different places fascinate me, and I spent weeks exploring the bush and taking pictures of fungus and mushrooms. It was a small thing, but it delighted me nearly every moment of my trip. The Northern Lights were cool, too.
  • By the time I got to the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, I was touristing alone. It didn't stop me from being amazed by the futuristic looking buildings. They look like they were inspired by The Jetsons. I spent far too much time wandering through glass enclosures full of trees with that Joni Mitchell song going through my head, the one about taking all the trees and putting them in a tree museum. I resent that. What I appreciated was the realization that after two months of travel, I was ready to be still for a bit and write my next novel.

It has been an amazing year for me. I love to travel. It's both wonderful and uncomfortable. Mostly I like to learn, step outside my comfort zone, meet people, and experience life wherever it takes me. As much as I enjoyed this year's favorite flings, I'm looking forward to next years, wherever they are.

My New Year's resolutions are usually the same, grab every opportunity and write stories. What about yours? Are you planning a year of flings? Travel? Living or writing your own stories? And how do you feel about using human bones to decorate? 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

It Could Be True. Random Factoids You Can't Argue Because I Only Said COULD BE TRUE. So, Hah.

  • It could be true that the zombie apocalypse is currently in progress, and the zombies don't even know they're zombies because they're busy shopping, watching TV, and generally taking up space within the matrix.
  •  It could be true that people talking to themselves is perfectly normal.
  • It could be true that the best place to hide ice-cream in your side-by-side freezer is on the very bottom, because while most people HAVE the ability to bend their knees, most don't.
  • It could be true that fashion co-dependence is a good thing. "Do these yoga pants make my gym look small?"
  • It could be true that the whole conundrum of "if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it--does it make a sound?" is just one more example of egotistical human absurdity.
  • It could be true that the deep question of which came first, the chicken or the egg, has been solved. DUH the chicken came first. Someone had to take care of the egg and the baby chicken. Where did the egg-laying chicken come from? Aliens. Duh.
  • It could be true that believing basic old-school survival skills like hunting/fishing/farming are no longer necessary skills for the average person is a tad short-sighted. 
  • It could be true that scientifically speaking, bigger brains make higher IQ's.
  • It could be true, therefore, that the bigger, smarter males of the species could conceivably have a whopping 3-5 extra IQ points over smaller brained females.
  • It could be true that this is all completely irrelevant since breasts can drop the male IQ a good thirty points in a flash.
  • It could be true that no matter how mathy you get about males, brain size, and IQ, females are still comfortable and self-satisfied being next-gen.
  • It could be true that breast obsession came about due to generations of males who weren't breastfed.
  • It could be true that ages ago, breasts were considered purely functional BECAUSE THEY ARE.
  • It could be true that the only legitimate reason NOT to breastfeed is because for the rest of your natural life, the first thing your spawn will think when they see you is, "What's for dinner?"
  • It could be true that the size of IQ is irrelevant when all the brain consumes is Star Trek, Doctor Who, and memes.
  • It could be true that if you're in the hospital bored out of your gourd, that you're one of the lucky ones. Let's hope all your hospital experiences are boring.
  • It could be true that the benefits of organization outweigh the pain of getting organized...nah.
  • It could be true that the early bird gets the worm, but the night owl eats that crowing rooster.
  • It could be true that chocolate is female catnip. 
  • It could be true that organized sports is all that separates us from Ancient Rome and a Colosseum full of hungry lions.
  • It could be true that ghosts spend far too much time thinking about the past.
  • It could be true that cussing saves lives.
  • It could be true that exercise is a natural anti-depressant and sex is a natural club drug.
  • It could be true that nobody really gives a rat's rump if you say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas or Wotever, because nobody is listening anyway. 
  • It could be true that nobody can hear reality over the din of propaganda and spin doctors.
  • It could be true that people have their eyes glued to their cell phones because today's human social interaction is basically a roomful of middle-schoolers waiting gleefully for someone to say the wrong thing so they can:
    • Take offense
    • Verbally tar and feather them
    • Post about it online
    • All of the above
  • It could be true that while bullying has been moving out of the schoolroom, it's found a comfy home online and in the press.
  • It could be true that the word holiday means holy day so it too will soon morph into a suppository bug and crawl into the orifice list of Don't Say Me.
  • It could be true that most people mean no offense when they word vomit. They just like the sound.
  • It could be true that talking is to people like barking is to dogs. It's what they do. It's best to let the barks out to prevent the biting. 
  • It could be true that on that note it's time for me to stop now. Rarf. 
It could be true I'd love to hear what you think COULD BE TRUE.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

These Things I Know To Be True--Simple Tips From a Life Dangerously Low on Absolutes

  • Never sit on a monkey's cage. I can't say this often enough. Make of it what you will.
  • Don't sing while you clean the toilet.
  • Be the bigger person. Every time. You'll never regret it, but it won't be easy.
  • Be kind even when you have an excellent bitchy slam. My excellent bitchy slams usually come to mind about 48 hours after they'd have been useful anyways. I use them in novels.
  • Try not to allow more than one thing to exit your body at a time. For instance, a burp, hiccup, sneeze combo is to be avoided if at all possible. 
  • What other people think of you only matters if you care and believe them.
  • Everything changes, maybe not as fast as you'd like, but give it time.
  • If you always try to make other people happy, you never will be.
  • Life will make more sense if you're honest.
  • If you can't say something nice about yourself, try harder. You are a brief, priceless light in time. Own it. 
  • When people gossip they are ugly and boring and sound stupid. Every. Single. Time. 
  • Playing isn't just for kids. Do it.
  • It's easy to fall asleep in your own life, and sleep walk through it. 
  • If you can download life's frustration (all the annoying, stupid, mundane, and infuriating) into some type of art, you will be happier for it. May I suggest:
    • Slam Poetry *insert your bitchy slams here*
    • Graffiti on paper
    • Secret cartoons of your boss
  • Your creative endeavors DO NOT have to be perfect, professional, shared, OR make you boatloads of money to be priceless. If they lower your stress level and keep your from strangling co-workers, they've served their purpose.
  • No matter what you know about someone else's life, you know nothing about anyone else's life.
  • Never let food replace loving, if you know what I mean, and don't let eating become the highlight of your day.
  • If you spend more time thinking about someone else's life than your own, you might want to rethink that. 
  • Never say my dog doesn't bite or my kid wouldn't do that. Just be sure YOU wouldn't bite or do that. Mastery over ourselves is all we can hope for.

Did I miss anything? What do you know to be true in life? Please share some of your absolutes.

Be sure to look over on the right side of my blog and register for the Rafflecopter giveaway. I'm celebrating my new book release of FOREVER The Constantines' Secret. I'm also attempting to finish up my next book within the next six weeks. If you see me out and about in the world, and I'm talking to myself, it's just deep thinking and part of the process. Are you buying it? Because it could be true, but could be true is another blog post entirely.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Novel Release and Giveaway! PARTY for FOREVER The Constantines' Secret!

A Covenant Keeper Novel, Book Release, Kahtar, Beth, Delphine
S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

Today is a party day and I love a party, virtual or otherwise. You're all invited. Consider this your golden invitation. There are loot bags and quite possibly CAKE. Look what else someone sent me!

A Covenant Keeper Novel, The Covenant Keeper Novels, Karfelt
S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe

Aren't those wonderful? They're ornaments. My family took one look at those and gave up on giving me presents this year. I'm not giving those away, but you can put all of those novels on your bookshelf as of TODAY! What a wild ride it's been. Writers will often say to each other "Write the books you want to read." That is exactly what I've done with the Covenant Keeper Novels. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I've enjoyed writing them.

A Covenant Keeper Novel, S.R. Karfelt, Kahtar

Today is the official RELEASE DAY for FOREVER The Constantines' Secret! It's available in both ebook and paperback. When I celebrate there's always a goody bag involved. If you'd like a chance to win some terrific prizes, be sure to follow the instructions. Rafflecopter is simply an online site that takes care of choosing the prize winners in a random and fair fashion. It's legit, and none of your information will be shared or sold. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The prizes are as follows:

A Covenant Keeper Novel, Giveaway, Karfelt

Leather Valery Journal
and Reproduction Sword w/Scabbard Letter Opener

Kahtar, Karfelt, A Covenant Keeper Novel

A $50 Amazon Gift Card

A Covenant Keeper Novel, Karfelt, Kahtar

A Katar Pendant (Chain Not Included)
Sword w/Scabbard Letter Opener (Not Pictured)

This is the third Covenant Keeper Novel published, and each one consumes me as I spend the greater part of a year making it happen. I hope you'll enjoy Kahtar and Beth's adventures. If you read FOREVER, please drop me an email and let me know what you think--or better yet--write me a review! I enjoy your feedback.

The next book is already seeping into my dreams. It'll be out next year. Keep in mind that all of the Covenant Keeper Novels are stand alone books. They can be read individually or in any order. Although I wrote them in this order.

Kahtar, Warrior of the Ages, Karfelt, A Covenant Keeper Novel

Karfelt, Carole Blank, A Shieldmaiden's Voice, Blank,

A Covenant Keeper Novel, Kahtar, Karfelt, Warrior of the Ages

Coming September 2016

The giveaway begins December 10th 2015 and ends January 20th 2016. There will be three winners, and prizes will be mailed. Forfeited prizes will be given away to runners up! So be sure to provide an email so you can be contacted when YOU win.

See you around the bookshelves! 

FOREVER, The Constantines' Secret, Warrior of the Ages, Kahtar, Karfelt

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Winter's Romance Anthology

A Winter's Romance

This is the week of book releases around here. A Winter's Romance is a Romance Anthology featuring nineteen short stories from award-winning, bestselling, and new authors--you'll never view romance the same! My short story Touching Tesla is included. My engineering background and a very ill-fated ski trip inspired me to write this story. I'll give you a hint about the moral of the story: NEVER lie about your weight when you're renting skis.

You heard it here.

I hope you'll enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

A portion of each sale of A Winter's Romance will be donated to Forgotten Harvest, a member of Feeding America.

This is the type of read you'll want to cozy up with, maybe enjoy with a hot cocoa. It's fresh and fun. That's how I've been reading it. Enjoy!

Amazon eBook Link:
Amazon Print Book Link:

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Mount Vesuvius and Hiking Volcanoes--What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

The Crater of Mount Vesuvius

"You know, hiking a live volcano probably isn't the smartest thing I've ever done," I said.
Dear Hubby replied, "I'm sure it's been waiting 2,000 years for you to get here."

It's really hard to get your over-active imagination in full-gear when you're married to an engineer. He always gets his logic up in there.

Last time Mount Vesuvius erupted was in AD 79. Word is it erupts in an ugly way about every 2,000 years. You do the math. When it blew its top last, that top landed on the ancient city of Pompeii. Even if it hadn't been waiting a couple thousand years for me to get there to explode, I couldn't help thinking about it.

My trip to Mount Vesuvius was a day trip out of Rome. It was quick because I took a tour bus, and every minute is timed on tours. It felt like that Chevy Chase Vacation movie. The one where they go to the Grand Canyon on their way to Wally World and just stop and look at it for about the count of three.

Getting to the hiking trail is part of the excitement. Riding in a bus along crowded and narrow Italian roads is an adventure in itself. But heading up the winding pavement toward the top of Vesuvius is hair-raising. Often the bus had to stop and backup along the narrow ledge so another bus could pass coming down. I don't know how that worked and I watched. The road looks barely wide enough for one bus. I'm pretty sure it was like the Harry Potter Knight bus where it squeezed itself thinner or they somehow passed through each other, because the logical explanation is that at least half of one bus dangled over the cliff and I don't want to think about that.

The Bus is Always Bigger Than the Road or You've Had No Fun

The biggest criticism I've heard from tourists going to Vesuvius is litter. There's a shocking amount of litter in the Pompeii area. It's also a little complicated figuring out where to buy your ticket. The booth for tickets is by the parking lot and not at the trail head. Fortunately if you're with a tour, someone else takes care of that part.

There's a scrum of buses, cars, and people at the bottom of the trail. There's one porta-potty there. It costs about .25 euro to use it. It's your only option, and there are attendants keeping it clean. You can rent a walking stick at the first gift shop area. You pay on the way out, after your hike. I'd recommend it--you'll need it if you're racing the clock to get to the top and back, which you will be doing if you're on a tour. The hiking trail is made of volcanic ash. It's soft to walk on, but can get deep, especially on the curves. People occasionally wipe out on the switchbacks where the ash is a bit unstable.

If the day is clear, the view of Naples below is breathtaking. It's a bit disconcerting to realize that there are now three million people living in the shadow of Vesuvius.

Naples below Mount Vesuvius

There are places along the mountain where lava flowed in 1944 during World War II. It wasn't a huge blast, but the lava did destroy local villages, and U.S. bombers stationed at nearby Pompeii airfield.

The grey spots are old lava flows

There are four gift shops along the path, selling oddities supposedly crafted from lava. Our tour guide recommended we nab a lava rock if we wanted a souvenir. She said it was free, legal, and they had plenty of them. Wisps of steam rise from the mouth of the crater. That's a good thing we were told. The locals said if the steam stops, run. There is equipment posted along the rim, and an evacuation plan for those living in the blast zone. It's believed that current technology could give residents a three-day notice of an impending eruption.

A Tall Thin R2D2 Stands Guard

The hike is moderately difficult. I'd say easy except for the unsure footing in spots, due to deep ash and scattered lava rock. It depends on your level of fitness. I do recommend using one of the rented walking sticks. The bulk of people didn't the day I hiked it, and many looked uncomfortable trying to maintain footing while slipping, especially on the downward hike.

It's worth the trip to see the volcano. If you're lucky enough to hike it on a clear day you'll want to factor in extra time to take pictures. I'd recommend wearing comfortable shoes, not sandals--they'll fill with ash and rock. I've heard it can get chilly and cold at the top on cloudy days. It was hot during my hike. Bring water, and coins to pay for your walking stick and the comfort facilities.

Even if Mount Vesuvius hasn't spent the past thousand years waiting for my visit, I've spent years waiting to see it. It's still probably not the smartest thing I've done, but that's mostly due to the harrowing bus drive up and the brief time I spent there. If I ever have the opportunity to go again, I'd prefer to take a day and hike trail number nine--Il fiume di lava. You can investigate trails at the Gran Cono website. Just remember if you decide not to opt for a bus tour there, the really scary part is driving a rental car around Italy.

If you're into hiking volcanoes, tell me about it in the comments section.