Author Jo Huddleston

Sweet Southern Romance

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Extreme Happiness

Seen on a Splenda packet: “Caution: May result in extreme happiness.”

What gives you extreme happiness? Many folks would answer that money would solve all their problems and bring them happiness. Others would say forget the money, good health would do it for me. I suspect that our answers would be varied and numerous.

Some things that would bring us happiness might be something we take for granted until it slips away. I try never to assume or take anything for granted. As sure as I do either one, disappointment follows. A big part of my philosophy of life is: nothing surprises me but I can be disappointed.

People talk about what bad shape our country is in. Okay, I understand that. But not everything is in bad shape. What isn’t you might ask. Well, each day brings opportunities for new beginnings, new adventures. Children and grandchildren easily bring us smiles. Our pets give us unconditional love, as do our significant others—most of the time.

I try hard to keep a positive attitude. Negative outlook is a waste of energy. Our attitude sometimes affects others more than it does us. And in this world where people constantly talk of bad things we need more positive thinking. So if we gave ourselves an attitude adjustment we might find more happiness.

"Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy."
  –Anne Frank

Till next time … keep on smiling.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Win Delia Latham's Latest

Today’s guest is author Delia Latham. Today is Delia's birthday and she is on a virtual blog tour today talking about her new novel, Kylie’s Kiss, and giving away copies. She will give away one pdf copy of her book for every six blogs she visits. Last count she had over two dozen blogs scheduled for today. That means she'll be giving away at least four pdf copies of her Solomon's Gate series books to four readers who leave comments at any or all of the various blogs. Winners may choose either Destiny's Dream (Book One) or Kylie's Kiss (Book Two).

Born and raised in a place called Weedpatch, Delia Latham moved from California to Oklahoma in 2008, making her a self-proclaimed California Okie. She loves to read and write in her simple country home, and gets a kick out of watching her husband play Farmer John. The author enjoys multiple roles as Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. She loves to hear from her readers. You may connect with her through her website, blog, newsletter, or send an e-mail to Delia(at)delialatham(dot)net.

 From the Book’s Back Cover:
On a dare, Kylie Matthews lands smack in the middle of Solomon’s Gate—Castle Creek’s new Christian dating agency—and she finds herself revealing exactly what she’s waiting for in a relationship: “The kiss that steals my breath away.”
What she doesn’t reveal is her lack of self-esteem or her irrational reaction to facial disfigurement. Neither is applicable to her quest to find the perfect match. But that seemingly superficial malady becomes all-important when her first agency-arranged date is Rick Dale—a man who is everything Kylie is searching for. He’s handsome, smart, fun. Rick has it all…including an angelic six-year-old daughter with severe scarring on one side of her face. 

Hard at work founding a therapy camp for young female victims of deformity or disfigurement, Rick wants Kylie to be a part of those plans. She’d love to say yes…but how can she, when every contact with the facility’s guests—and Rick’s own daughter—will make her violently ill?
Kylie is ready to admit their relationship doesn’t stand a chance, but she’s forgotten that God makes a way where there seems no way.

From Jo:

Delia Latham makes her characters come alive. The book’s a page turner as Kylie gets into one predicament after another. I hope the story will help readers to see that one’s beauty truly is what’s inside, which helps mask any abnormalities on the outside.

Leave a comment below on June 27 through June 30 to be eligible to win a copy of one of Delia’s books.

Please be sure to leave your email address with your comment so that I can contact you should you be the winner. For better security from scammers you may leave your email address as (an example): jo(at)gmail(dot)com.

Till next time … keep on smiling.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Short-short Vacation

Remember my visit to the beach I blogged about a while back? Turned out to be a “pretend vacation.” We hardly unpacked when I began to feel a little sick. The next day my husband felt the same; and by the next morning, we were too sick to stay and too sick to travel home.

Afraid we would get worse, we decided to head home. He was totally not feeling like driving so our retreat from the beach began with me driving. If you don’t know me personally you can’t understand the possible consequences of me at the wheel. I have a balance problem and ten years ago the doctor strongly advised me not to drive, which I haven’t. Until we started home.

The first third of our trip was not on an interstate and we planned for me to drive until we arrived at the interstate connection. At that connection my husband asked if I would please drive on the interstate to the first rest stop. Me drive on the interstate after ten years of not driving around the block? Oh, boy! I didn’t feel quite as badly as he did, so on I drove. I made it to the rest stop and gladly handed the car keys over to him.

This was certainly a unique and somewhat scary situation for me; could I drive any distance without an incident that would prevent me from continuing? But driving the car was like what they say about riding a bicycle--once you learn, it all comes back to you. If you were traveling that day in our vicinity perhaps you saw that “woman driver” on the interstate doing 60 mph in the right-hand lane. Well, yep that was me and I was conquering my fear—slowly! Angels surely surrounded our car because here I am alive and telling the story.

Have you been required to face one of your fears? How did you feel? Was it scary? If so, I hope you met the challenge and emerged a victor.

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the must do the thing you think you cannot do." –Eleanor Roosevelt

Till next time … keep on smiling.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Ranting Calmed

My ranting in my last blog about trying to convert my paper book to an ebook with Amazon Kindle is calmed down somewhat. The support folks at Kindle have been most helpful and thorough in explaining to me what is going on with what I’m trying to do.

But even with their kindness, I’m not that technology smart to do what they tell me to do. So I’ve passed along the support information to the person who originally helped me convert my Word document into Kindle format. My brain is not as fried as it was last blog. All I have to do now is wait until the kinks are worked out…you know, be patient.

How patient are you when you want to see something done but the doing is out of your hands, whether because you’re not smart enough like me or for any other reason? Maybe you’re too far away or even too close to help the matter. Whatever the reason, patience until a project is completed is not easy to have.

All we have to do is look around, read the newspaper (I seldom do except for a couple of comic strips and tennis news), or listen to TV news (which I do not do because it’s almost all bad) and we can see or hear about things that we would change if given the opportunity to do so. I do read the news headlines that pop up when I turn on my computer each morning; please don’t think I’m a total recluse and don’t know what shape the world or my community is in.

As I mentioned above, the news is almost always bad and also sad. I don’t choose to bring bad and sad into my life to steal my serenity and joy. Enough personal bad and sad comes into our lives unbidden. I know the world is not perfect. I’m attuned to people’s needs, both locally and globally and join with those who offer help where needed.

How and where do you find contentment and peace in your life?

I figure if I have my health, can pay the rent and I have my friends, I call it 'content.'” –Lauren Bacall

Till next time … keep on smiling.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Two Steps (or more) Behind

Frustrated is a mild word for my state of mind right now. It takes a good while for me to learn something new in today’s technology. I half-way learn one thing with the good help of friends and then I have to tackle another new thing. I’m trying to publish a Kindle ebook. Someone smarter than I am formatted my Word document for me so I’m pretty sure that part was done correctly.

Went through all the hoops, giving info, loading the cover, then the book. They say converting to Kindle was successful and gave me the option of previewing my book. I did. I’m glad I was sitting down. I found 63 blank pages and they justified the right margin which (I think) caused 111 hyphenated words in mid-sentences. I’m positive we did not submit a document right justified.

What’s a body to do? I’ve emailed their help contact address. Sure do hope they answer me quickly. Worst case is that I will have to start again from square one.

I’m a few steps behind all this technology and fighting a continual battle to catch up. So I’m literally walking away from this project until I hear from them. Then I may work on it some more … or not.

Do you get frustrated, angry, mad, whatever, with computer technology?  What do you do to get past that? Any techno suggestions to help me get caught up with the times? Sorry I'm too agitated to find pretty pictures and wise words from someone about this topic. Will let you know how/when all this gets resolved.

Till next time … keep on smiling. (I hope I can!)

Monday, June 13, 2011

The New Girl

Having changed schools eight times from K-12, I was perpetually the new kid. And more times than not, I changed schools in mid-year. In the lower grades I don’t remember being traumatized by these changes but in high school it was a different story.

The last move I had to make just about did me in. And, yes, it was in the middle of the tenth grade. So everyone at the school I transferred into had been there half a year, knew each other, knew all the teachers, the principal, the rules, etc. I didn’t even know where the cafeteria was.

I remember that first day in the tenth grade in the new school. My mother and I did the necessary paper work in the principal’s office, she left, and the secretary pointed me to my first class. Of course, it was at the end of a loooong hallway. Lockers on either side of the hall were clattering open and shut as students readied for first period.

My eyes locked on the door facing me at the end of the hall; I looked neither right nor left. But as I walked by, students suspended their activity and their chattering became hushed conversations. More than once or twice I heard “who’s that?” and “new girl.”

You’d think since I had changed schools seven times before, that I’d be used to this happening.  Already the others called me the “new girl.” I’d heard the phrase before, but this was high school! I went about my quiet way and the students soon warmed up to me. By the beginning of the next year I was one of them. My family didn’t move again and I graduated from high school there.

I’m from the South and had a double first name—didn’t all Southern girls have two first names? Fortunately for me, my high school chemistry teacher introduced me to a small college sixty miles from home. The first thing I did when I arrived? I took my first step at reinventing myself. I dropped my first name and introduced myself as simply Jo. That one, simple thing set me on the path that led me out of the devastation all those school changes had put in me. No more “new girl” intimidation for me! I loved the “new me.”

From my past experiences, I tried to be compassionate to every new class of girls that came behind me. I had empathy toward them in their new surroundings.

How about you—have you ever been “who’s that?” or the “new kid”? Have you ever tried to help someone in that position? Take it from someone who knows—with a simple smile you can help alleviate trembling fear of another soul in a new situation.

Choose kindness, you’ll notice a peaceful feeling within. The best place to start is with the next person you speak to.”
—Richard Carlson, Ph.D. (1961-2006), author with his wife, Kristine, of the Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff... books


Till next time … keep on smiling.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Last Movie for a While, I Promise

Okay, please stay with me here because I’m going to use a movie as an example and ask you a very important question along the way.

Previously, I had only seen bits and pieces of “Julie and Julia,” the movie, but recently I saw the entire film. Briefly, for those who haven’t seen the movie, it’s based on Julie Powell’s book Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen (paperback edition retitled Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously). Powell’s book and subsequently the movie were the result of her blog about her attempting to cook all the recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days.

To perk up her dull life of temp job, geeky husband, small apartment over a pizza place, Powell blogged 365 consecutive days about her experience cooking 524 recipes from Julia Child’s book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The blog received a grand following and resulted in the book and movie mentioned above. The movie is delightful with Julie Powell being played by Amy Adams and Meryl Streep playing the part of Julia Child.

Watching the movie, I wondered what I could blog about for 365 consecutive days. (Not cooking, for sure!) If I could, who would be interested in reading them? What would you want to read about EVERY day?

? So, my question to you is, what suggestions will you give me about a 365-day blog that would interest you (in my case, blogging twice a week would be a 104-day commitment)? We could all blog about our grandchildren all year but everyone doesn’t have grandchildren, so that wouldn’t be a universally interesting blog.

Seriously, and I don’t mean to sound condescending, if Powell could do it, any blogger should be able to do it. If I could settle on the subject matter, I’d be willing to try and admit it if I couldn’t do it. Please leave a comment whether I should or shouldn’t try a year-long, one-topic blog. If you think I should, please suggest topics that would interest you. If you think I should stick to how I blog now, please let me know that also. I look forward to your comments and ideas. (If I don't get comments I'll have to assume I don't have many readers and I guess I'll  have to quit think?)

Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Found It!

For years I’ve repeatedly asked every video store if they had the movie, “The Four Seasons.” To rent or buy. Their answer is always no. Could they order it for me? No. Not available.

I understood but still didn’t give up looking for the movie. After all it was a 1980s release. I finally found it on Target’s website. Yay! I now have my very own copy of a delightful movie about friendships among three forty-something married couples, a “heartfelt comedy.”

The three couples take vacations together, making their trips in spring, summer, fall and winter. Hence, The Four Seasons. The seasonal settings are beautiful and the breathtaking musical score throughout the movie is by composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), one concerto for each season. But symbolically the movie depicts the seasons of life these six people live; the seasons many experience.  On the front of the DVD cover is this: “Here’s to our friends…and the strength to put up with them.”

The three couples are Alan Alda and Carol Burnett; Rita Moreno and Jack Weston; Sandy Dennis and Len Cariou. All the couples get along well with the other couples and each married couple gets along until…one of the guys leaves his wife. Then their perfect little crowd becomes loose at the hinges. The deserted wife exiles herself into her introverted life of painting still life—vegetables, only vegetables!

Now the third couple becomes the single guy and a younger, curvaceous girlfriend he brings along on their next vacation trip. All the guys go ga-ga over her and the two gals can’t stand to look at her, feeling jealous and also disloyal to their friend, the painter.

All their vacations are basically fun, but they do have their disagreements, especially after the dynamic of the group changes. If you’ve watched any work by these actors you can readily see why the movie is hilarious despite any differences they must work through. “The Four Seasons” reminds us that “friendship is like the seasons—forever changing.”

Do you have friends you love spending time with, but pray for strength to put up with them? If you have friends you are indeed blessed. And if you have life-long friends you are doubly blessed. And if your friends live nearby that’s an immeasurable blessing.

“…that’s what friends should do: cherish the good and pretend not to notice the harmless rest. –Beth Hoffman in Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Till next time … keep on smiling.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I Need a GPS

I need a GPS (Global Positioning System) to guide my decisions. How about you? Are decisions easy for you to make?

At those crossroads and forks in the road of life, do you breeze right on through or do you fret and consider and wonder which way to go? Then sometime later (a few days or months or years) you are compelled to look back and decide that you really didn’t make too good of a choice. Wouldn’t it have been great to have a GPS where the electronic voice told you to turn left or right or go straight?

When driving with a GPS in your car and you miss your route, the voice tells you to turn around and quickly directs you to the right track to reach your predetermined destination. If we could only have that for daily living: we could “turn around” and rectify a mistake before it ballooned into something drastic and life-changing.

Bad decisions are just that. Yes, they may have lasting effects. Yes, they may make our life less enjoyable that we’d like. Yes, they may make us ask, “What if…?” But dwelling on “what if” is like trying to unring the bell, impossible after it’s rung. Same with our past decisions. They’re made. We made them. They’re done, not usually to be undone.

Remembering them and going over and over them mentally won’t change things either. It’s not easy, but make a concerted effort to erase the regrettable past from your mind. I’ve already said it’s not easy. But we can diligently work at doing just that. Regret is like spinning your wheels—you’re wasting your energy and you won’t get anywhere. You can’t change the past; just learn from it. Make your decisions wisely; they may change your forever.

 Never regret. If it's good, it's wonderful. If it's bad, it's experience.” —Victoria Holt, novelist

Till next time ... keep on smiling.