Friday, January 22, 2021

Gardens, House Plants, What Ifs, Oh My! by Tena Stetler #romance #timetravel #paranormal #gardening


I love to garden both flower and veggie. There’s something about digging in the dirt and watching things grow that is therapeutic for me. But, in Colorado those activities are available only for approximately three months of the year. So to compensate, I also have a full house of plants. Several

Christmas Cactus including one that is huge and over forty years old, a ruffled fern that is twenty-five years old, and a snake plant that was my grandmother’s making it over one hundred years old. Did you know they actually bloom? I also have orchids and African violets, succulent cactus, and a miniature orange and pomegranate tree.

Last year for my birthday, my hubby brought me a curly hose that cuts the watering time in half. What a thoughtful gift. I used to fill gallon bottles with water and carry them all over the house to my plants.  Or maybe he was tired of wet spots all over the floor on watering day. I have well over thirty-six plants. I love looking at them, watching them grow and bloom. I guess you’d say I have a green thumb. Did you know plants keep your house healthy? Even a small plant in your home can help remove three times household toxins commonly found indoors.

In the 1980s, scientists at NASA discovered that plants remove chemicals such as benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde from the air, making the air cleaner, fresher and healthier for humans to breathe. A medium-sized plant (anything above about eight inches) in a room is all that is required to make significant reductions to the purification of toxic chemicals in the air.

So back to orchids and what ifs. One day, as I was staring at my orchids and wondered what if you could splice bioluminescence into those petals. Yeah, did I mention I write paranormal romance/mystery and fantasy? It’s the what ifs that give me the greatest pleasure and bring about intriguing story lines. I also cavort with magical creatures on a daily basis? Just don’t tell anyone.


This particular what if, brought to life Mystic Maples, a novella from the  Deerbourne Inn series. It’s a fun, feel-good tale  with a bit of mystery mixed in.  It’s on sale for 99 cents right now for a limited time. 

Let me tell you a little about Mystic Maples.  Earth/Fire witch Mercy Rose has an insatiable curiosity that always gets her in trouble. After a break-in at her Colorado flower shop, and a court battle that came to a screeching halt in her favor, she arrived at Deerbourne Inn for a much needed getaway. Looking for peace and quiet, she found just the opposite in a startling handsome but mysterious man and his dog.

Silvanus Forrest’s gypsy/fae heritage is a double edged sword. The land he inherited from his parents is rumored to be enchanted. But when Mercy discovers the truth, his well-ordered life unravels and they’re catapulted into the past to right a wrong. Along the way their lives intertwine and they discover the true meaning of family and love.

Silvanus keeps his family secrets locked away. Mercy is a tenacious creature. If he won't divulge his secrets, she'll discover them on her own but at what cost?

One last revelation, I too, like my character Mercy Rose, have an insatiable curiosity that always gets me into trouble., coupled with my over-active imagination these traits contribute to intriguing story lines for my books. LOL Until next time, don’t take yourself too seriously and have fun.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

To Epilogue or Not?


Epilogues are one of my favorite tools as a romance writer and one of my favorite additions to books as a reader. With romance, they are almost a must in my opinion.

According to Writer’s Digest there are six common uses for epilogues:

  • Wrapping up a story’s events after a violent climax
  • Highlighting consequences of the story’s events
  • Wrapping up loose ends
  • Suggesting the future for the protagonist(s)
  • Giving a realistic finale
  • Providing data on a large cast of characters
I would add one more... 
  • Creating a set up for a continuation / next in series


In romance, epilogues are most frequently used to give the reader a quick window into the life of the couple after the HEA (happily ever after). And indeed, as a reader, I’m no longer satisfied with “I love you” followed by fade to black with the words “and they lived happily ever after.” I want to sigh over the proof that they did live happily every after, and the epilogue can give me that.

In paranormal romance in particular, but also any romance series that will be a continuation of an overarching plot or characters, epilogues can also be used to foreshadow the next books and leave the readers both satisfied with the book they’ve just finished as well as wanting the next one. Sort of a cliff-hanger, but not really, which I know is totally cheating.

In particular, I use this method with my paranormal romances, hinting at the next villain, the next romantic conflict, the next conflict set up, and so forth, on top of giving that window into my current couples HEA. Check out the example below from TRY AS I SMITE.

So what about you? Are you a fan of epilogues? What do you like or not like about them?

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

How to Find Ideas to Write About by Elizabeth Alsobrooks

Sometimes you go somewhere and a story idea presents itself to you. Maybe you imagine a person you see as a character in a story and imagine what they might be like and what they might have done, or what they are doing in the place where you happen to see them. Perhaps you wonder about where they might be going and who they might be meeting, and why. 

Other times, you might just happen upon a setting for a story you've already written and imagined, but never visited in person. It can give you ideas for future stories too.  This happened to me recently when I visited a park not far from my home, in Tucson, Arizona.  Now the story it reminded me of actually took place in a desert much closer to Cairo than Tucson, but it's just as I imagined. A true desert oasis doesn't just fall into your lap every day, but I saw one in real life and instantly said, "this is the oasis from my romance story, Stolen Secrets."

As an artist, I try to visit some beautiful locations to take photos for paintings, but I just never imagined I was going to walk into a park that could have been a setting for a scene from The Arabian Knights. I'll post some photographs and you tell me what you think.






Although my oasis was smaller, in my head/story, this one took my breath away and started my imagination spinning.  If you'd like to read about my oasis and the hero who gets wet in it, take a look at Stolen Secrets:





Offered an enormous sum by an anonymous benefactor for the acquisition of an ancient ceremonial relic, a sum that would keep the antiquities shop in Cairo her father left her afloat while she continued her own archaeological pursuits, Lady Isabella Valentine was distracted rather than tempted, then suspicious, when the dashing young Bedouin slipped in just before closing and promised her a deal she couldn’t refuse--for the very same relic. Despite his sensual appeal, she did refuse him, sending him away.
 
Prince Mukhtar, son of Sheikh Abdul Kummel al-Rahman, leader of the Hassana, is on a sacred Illuminati mission for Isis to retrieve something stolen from one of her temples over a thousand years ago. This mortal disbeliever though an enchanting English rose, however beautiful she might be, is clearly in the power of the Usurper and must be persuaded to help him, one way or another.



Saturday, January 16, 2021

Upping our Verb Game

Sure, you’ve combed your pages for typos and missing punctuation marks, but have you ever considered your action words? If you find yourself in the revision stages of your novel, why not take an extra look at your verbs.

We all know that first drafts just have to exist. They are perfect even though they’re messy because it’s exciting to see a story go from your head to the page. Never stop patting yourself on the back for writing those chaotic first drafts. Second drafts and onward are where we start honing in on the craft we’re trying to improve with each story we write and powerful verbs play a big role in that.

In your draft you might have a sentence that reads: She walked to the window.

You might have passed over it several times while working on bigger plot issues. But now that those are sorted what if you were to swap out the verb “walk” for something more descriptive. Now, if your character is walking quickly you could try: She raced to the window. The reader has a much better sense of the character’s mood now that we’ve added some urgency with our verb choice.

But if she was walking slowly we might try swapping out the word “walk” for something like: She padded to the window. The word gives us the sense that she’s not in a hurry, but also that she’s quite comfortable in her surroundings.

You might just be surprised at how much tension and description you can add to a story just by swapping out regular and overused verbs for something with a bit more flair.

Happy writing.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

New Year's Eve Gatsby Style

 

NYE party dull?  Watched TV as the ball drops too many times? Don’t despair. I have an idea. Next year, (and we all hope for a better 2021) have a Roaring 20s party. The 20s were all about opulence and excess. Sometimes, I think I’d have liked to live then—especially if I was a friend of the young Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, later Edward VIII, who, after his abdication, was the Duke of Windsor). Ahem. Back to the subject. There are several sites that offer Art Deco decorations, so party on.

 

But, you say, no one dresses up anymore. Well, that just happens to be my soap box. I love formals and wearing them. What is it about a tux that scares modern man? The 2000s is an era of t-shirts and jeans. Bah. If you think you can get away with it for your NYE party, request invitees to wear tuxes and gowns. If they’d rather stay home than dress-up, leave them sitting in their living room watching the ball drop, missing the food, champers, and fun. Kidding. Politely ask them to wear cocktail attire.  Dressing up transforms a regular party into a festive occasion. Besides, it’s New Year’s Eve. At a Roaring 20s party, sequins, beads, and pearls are as mandatory as the champagne. What would Gatsby say!

 


Gatsby would’ve catered in Oysters Rockefeller and Clams Casino, but you can do something as delicious and impressive without hiring a serving staff. A charcuterie board isn’t difficult to make, and when it is done right, it makes for a nice presentation and a delicious centerpiece. Choose three different cheeses, three different meats, add some figs, grapes, a few rosemary sprigs and voila. There you have it—the focal point of the table.

 


Serving oysters is a simple way to impress your guests. The seafood itself looks super fancy, and all you really need is ice, lemon and a knife. If you want to click it up a notch, add cocktail sauce or mignotte (shalotts, red or white wine vinegar, a pinch of sugar; salt and pepper to taste). Even though it sounds rather posh, mignotte comes together in a snap.

MAKES ¼ CUP

¼

cup red wine vinegar

1

tablespoon minced shallot

¼

teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

12

large oysters, freshly shucked

Prep:

Stir vinegar, shallot, and pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle over oysters.

~*~

Serve your favorite vegetables with a garlic-infused mayo, otherwise known as aioli. Your friends will think you are the gourmet. For the eve of a brand new year, tossing a few chips into a bowl isn’t going to do the trick, but you can come up with a gorgeous that would please Gatsby himself and won’t require servants.

 

When people hear champagne, they assume expensive, but there are amazing options right at your grocery store that are that perfect price point and taste as good as Dom Perignon. LaMarca Prosecco and Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut are two recognizable labels that are perfectly delicious bottles for under $15 at Kroger. If you can find Gruet Brut or JCB no.21, both are very good for under $25. These sparkling wines won’t break the bank.


Try adding a dash of Chambord, a dark berry liqueur. When mixed with champagne, the combo is called a “Kir Royale.” It’s the swankiest-sounding drink, considering it’s only two ingredients. Plop in a raspberry for garnish and watch your guests top off their glasses all night long.


 



 Have you made reservations for champagne brunch on New Years’ Day? Remember the Roaring 20s were all about excess!  Hope you had a very happy NYE with oysters and champers (maybe from a fountain?)

 

In my books, the heroes aren’t afraid to wear a tux, and they all look sharp in their finery. 





My Amazon page is:

 

https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Nightingale/e/B005OSOJ0U?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1610547123&sr=8-1

 



 Wishing you the happiest 2021. Stay safe, healthy, and have fun!  Linda



Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Herbivore Shifters and Vegan Lifestyles by Marilyn Barr

Dietary restrictions are a common theme in new year’s resolutions. Many are cutting out gluten, dairy, meat, or sugar for health, monetary, or environmental reasons. Being a vegetarian from my days in the highchair, I was ecstatic when Meatless Mondays became popular. Bloggers shared inventive vegetarian recipes in every style of cuisine. Our household enjoyed a Lacto-vegan existence for years until my son was diagnosed with a severe allergy to milk at age 3.

We were suddenly vegan and many of my childhood dishes were off the menu. I grew up in an Italian family who made or ordered pizza every Friday night, rolled pasta for tortellini alfredo every Saturday, and had cheesy ziti for every Sunday dinner. How could I share our food culture with my son without giving him hives? I started on an adventure of vegan cheese alternatives and grew to love cashews.


In the Strawberry shifters book series, I wanted to go beyond the typical shifters and my vegan surprise became a blessing. The residents cannot control which power animal in their DNA is chosen by the parasite’s mutant polymerase. The werewolves may own the pizzeria, but a giraffe runs the gas station. A tiny girly girl transforms into a rhinoceros while a tough guy harbors a rodent. With these characters, I wanted their human existence to be as accurate to their power animal as possible. This left me with a plethora of herbivores, including some who will die if they eat meat. Among the vegans is the toughest, grouchiest shifter in Strawberry, James.

What is his power animal? In Book 1: Bear with Me, he flat out refused to shift. Which herbivore is fiercely loyal, committed to family above all else, but runs when the going gets tough? As James finds his way to happiness in Book 2: Round of Applause, readers step into the shoes of a vegan…one trapped in a Sluagh fortress. Here’s a vegan-friendly snippet from Strawberry Shifters Book 2: Round of Applause – 


Are you cutting dairy or joining the vegan lifestyle for a New Year’s Resolution? Then I have a gift for you!

Rosie Paulino’s Vegan Cashew Cream Sauce

8-12 ounces fettuccine noodles (when I don’t make my own, I use Le Veneziane GF pasta)

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

6-8 cloves of garlic, finely minced

4 Tbsp All-purpose flour (I use Pamela’s GF Flour)

1.75-2 cups Unsweetened Cashew or Almond Milk

4-6 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast (I use Parma Zaan Sprinkles by The Vegetarian Express)

1 tsp garlic salt

0.25 cup Vegan Parmesan (I use Daiya Parmesan)

0.5 cup Cashew Ricotta Cheese

1 tsp Alison’s Green Stuff (50:50 mix minced fresh oregano and basil)

Optional Red Pepper Flakes for Kick

Instructions:

1. Add pasta to a pot of boiling water and cook to package instructions. Start sauce when pasta is dropped so pasta is drained when the sauce is reducing.

2. Heat Olive Oil and Garlic on medium heat in a large skillet until garlic is translucent.

3. Reduce heat and add flour, stirring gently.

4. Cook for 1 minute or until flour is melted into oil.

5. Add milk 0.25 cup at a time, whisking briskly to prevent lumps.

6. Add cashew ricotta and stir on the stove for 2 minutes.

7. Transfer skillet contents to a blender.

8. Add nutritional yeast, garlic salt, vegan parmesan to the blender.

9. Blend on high until mixture is uniform and creamy, scraping the sides as needed.

10. Return to skillet and cook on medium heat until bubbling, stirring constantly.

11. Reduce heat to low.

12. Add green stuff, optional red pepper flakes, and taste. Add garlic salt or parmesan as needed.

13. Heat and stir until sauce thickens. If it gets too thick, add more milk. If it stays too thin, add cashew ricotta. Taste and adjust seasonings if more ingredients are added.

14. When pasta is cooked and drained, add it to the sauce skillet and toss to coat.

15. Cook for additional 1-2 minutes and serve hot.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Is a bad review something to cry about?

 


Let's start the new year by taking a sensitive subject and putting a "good" spin on it! Let's learn how to welcome bad book reviews!


“This is actually a horribly written boring piece of literature…stay away from this disgustingly overrated book and disgustingly bad writer”. -  Review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

“This collection of books is really, really terrible and boring, and I would(n’t) wish the task of reading it on my worst enemy.” - Review of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

“I’d like to say the book has potential, but I don’t think it did.” – Review of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

“… the alien politics in the story were, at times, over analytical and complex. I would’ve preferred a simpler approach.” – Review of An Alien Exchange by Keri Kruspe

 

(Okay, I admit I’ve given myself a bit of a cheap thrill putting my name up there with those distinguished authors. I actually love this critique…I had no idea I was smart enough to write something “over analytical and complex”!)


Let’s face it. As a writer, we have to have reviews on our books to make a living. Reviews are the lifeblood of the industry. In order to sell books, we have to have more than ten reviews for Amazon to even notice we’re alive. Not to mention places like BookBub – there you aren’t going to get a coveted place in their ads without lots of reviews.


 

So, What are book reviews?

The basic principal of book reviews is to help a reader decide whether or not they want to purchase/read a book for themselves. A review shouldn’t be a summary of the novel, just an overall opinion of the work.

And, as you know, everyone has an opinion on just about everything. Why should books be different?

 

Show me an author who hasn't gotten a bad review...

A quote from Isaac Asimov: “Writers fall into two groups: Those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.”

I think what he was trying to say is “join the club”.

If you don’t believe me about authors getting a myriad of reviews, a great site to check out reviews of your favorite author is idreambook.com. They have a collection of critics (i.e. NY Times) that rank the best-selling books according to the percentage of good reviews.

So, if you’ve ever gotten a bad review, you’re in good company.


Do we really need bad reviews?

I understand the question. But ask yourself this: Why do I write? Do you do it for yourself? Or do you want others to enjoy the fruits of your labor? I mean, holy crapoly…being a published author is hard work! We struggle for years learning our craft only to find out writing a novel is just the beginning of a lengthy process. We are constantly putting ourselves out there…in social media, blogs, websites, and author pages on numerous sites.

Why put ourselves through this torture?

One answer is we write to gain reactions from others. We cross our fingers the reactions come back good. But then, you get hit with a “bad” review. You’re being attacked and minimizing all the hard work you’ve done (not to mention the expense!) to get your baby out in the world as you pray it grows and thrives.

In response, I propose to you a different idea:


Bad reviews sells books!


Huh? Say what? How is that possible?

Let’s say you’re browsing through your favorite digital site looking for your next favorite book. Ah, a cover and title catches your eye…the blurb sounds great. But you’ve never heard of this author, so you scroll down to look at the reviews.

Yep, there they are.

Wait, they have nothing but five-star reviews. Gushing on and on how “unputdownable” the book is and that it’s the greatest novel ever.

Oh, come on! People are diverse on everything. Folks can’t even agree on what kind of ice cream is best. How is it everyone loves this book without fail?  Sounds to me like this writer got all his friends and family to write a boatload of fanny-kissing reviews. Worse, it comes across as dishonest.

Now sprinkle in a couple of “bad” reviews. Wham, we’ve got a dose of realistic legitimacy. The “bad” reviews actually balance out the “good” ones. It gives a sense of genuineness to the work.

Perspective

One of my favorite quotes comes from Kurt Vonnegut about book reviews. “Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.”



Let’s look at it another way.

Some people look for negative reviews to look for a book they’d like to read. I’ll use myself as an example. The worst review I’ve gotten (so far…) is for the second book in my trilogy. “I personally don't like there to not be returned karma for the ones who did all the torture, rape, or whatever. The reasons behind why the bad guy was not imprisoned and punished before now were stupid.” – Review of D’zia’s Dilemma. 

I love this two-star review. I mean, really! Why would I “punish” the bad guy in the second book of a trilogy? That would be like Darth Vader facing justice in The Empire Strikes Back instead of in Return of the Jedi. As a reader, I’d love to know the action continues in the third book.

There can be some quirks in bad reviews that nudge me to take a closer look:

“too many ridiculous characters” – yay! My favorite part of any book (or movie) are the secondary, quirky characters.

Any review that sneers at the word “feminist” – since I write about “feisty heroines”, this could wind up being my kind of book.


10 Quick tips to handle bad reviews

I came across this great article from Indie Author News on the best ways to react when you get a bad review:

  • Do nothing
  • Do NOT respond (unless it’s a simple “thank you”)
  • A bad review is still a review
  • Re-read your good reviews
  • Beware the Troll – Don’t pour gasoline on the fire
  • Ignore the bad review
  • It’s not personal, it’s business
  • Don’t rush to your favorite social media site
  • Get tough skin
  • Remember why you write

The article also gives some fun (not to be taken as realistic) ways to deal with bad reviews:

  • Drink – heavily if need be 
  • Shop – for yourself…not others!
  • Respond to the reviewer why they are a douche-bag
  • Use coercion, extortion, blackmail, or torture to make them take it down
  • Turn about is fair play… give them a bad review
  • Print it out and then burn it
  • But…most of all… 

Write your next book!



Saturday, January 9, 2021

Finding the Balance Again by Mary Morgan

 

As most of us can agree, 2020 was the year we’d all like to forget. I literally opened my back door and slammed it shut at midnight on New Year’s Eve. I wanted to kick-out the old year and embrace 2021. 

I have a confession to make. In early 2020, my writing stalled. I became frozen. Yes, I’m a hermit by nature—living for the most part in my writing cave. However, I did not want to be there anymore. I became concerned for my family, the world, and I did not like my routine anymore. I had been working seven days a week for ten years, and I had enough. Marketing had somehow become far too important than writing, and I felt the need to be everywhere each day. I was long overdue for a shakeup, and I can only blame myself for my intense schedule. 

After the promotional release of my last book in August, I stepped away for a wee bit. What did I want to do with my life? Did I want writing and marketing to consume my waking moments for another ten years? Questions I seriously had to ask myself. 

The answers astounded me. What I missed were other joys in my life—from music, learning Gaelic, playing more in my garden, and spending time with my hubby and family.

Writing stories will always be a joy and a constant in my life, but I learned to incorporate time for other pleasures. I pulled out my lap harp and began taking lessons, and I signed up for online Gaelic courses.

Life is far too short, and there’s so much more to explore. The year of 2020 made me pause and reflect. I found the balance again, and my writing returned in force. Just like magic!

The marketing can wait a day or two.


Mary's lap harps

Monday, January 4, 2021

Don't Let the Fear of Change Hold You Back

By Maureen Bonatch 

The holiday season is usually stressful for most, but it can be especially stressful for Scruff. I can't blame him. Scruff is like most people. He likes routines. He likes his things to be in the same place and he really doesn't care for change—until he does. But it's that time in between. The uncertainty of what to expect, the fear of the unknown, that causes him much distress. 

Thus, when we began moving things around the house and putting up holiday decorations in November, Scruff was very worried despite him going through this same routine seven times over his lifetime. 

Where were we putting his toys? What is going on? 

He'd gotten very comfortable with how things were all year and didn't think that it could be different, or any better. But once the decorations were out and his toys were still there, even if they were in a different location, he decided he was okay with it. His world didn't end, it was just...different. 

But then he had to deal with Christmas morning and finally those presents that were under the tree were going to be opened. Once again he worried that this was yet another change. He'd just gotten used to ignoring the gifts and accepting that nothing needed to change.

       Here is a picture of Scruff looking a bit apprehensive about these Christmas shenanigans.

                                        

Once Scruff realized there were presents for him and that this could be kind of fun, he decided he was definitely good with opening presents. This change was good. He'd much rather open presents than just gather them and look at them and wonder how his world might change if he opened them. 


Then, just this week, he had to endure another difficult day wondering what was going on with his world when we put all the holiday decorations away. But then once we were done, his toys were back where they originally belonged and things were good again. But initiating the change, enduring it and then accepting it is hard, even if it's for the better in the long run. 

Embracing Change for the New Year 

Many of us are thinking about New Year's resolutions and positive changes for 2021. Many of us will forget all about those resolutions and goals within a few weeks because changing a habit or mindset is hard and most of us really want to go for the big pie in the sky changes—and we'd prefer if they happened overnight. 

So if you're like me, you're scouring all the success stories of people who have achieved your goal, whether it's to lose weight, incorporate exercising, paying off debt or being a wild success in their career. Then you try to absorb all of that and lay out an overwhelming amount of plans to make it happen—and usually while looking for the fastest, easiest way —until you realize that the way one person achieves a goal might not work because we only know what's going to work well for ourselves. 

I couldn't tell Scruff (well at least I wasn't sure that he'd understand) that there was nothing to worry about with this change. That maybe he'd like it better once it was done or that he just had to endure a little work and perhaps discomfort or uncertainty for the end result. 

But we can give ourselves that very advice. We can tell ourselves that we've made goals before and often achieved them. It just might take time, persistence and changing some of our habits today to make the tomorrow we envision. The challenge will be whether or not we will listen. 



Author Bio:
 Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. 


Find Maureen on her website, Facebook & Twitter Be the first to know about Maureen’s book sales and new releases by following her on BookBubAmazon and/or signing up for her newsletter

Friday, January 1, 2021

A New Year - A New Hope by Diane Burton


 

So, we've kicked 2020 to the curb. We're ready to forge ahead. I think of the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope. That's what we have for this year. Hope.

Hope for a cure for the pandemic of the century. Sure we have a vaccine, one we hope works. But what about a cure? 

Hope for a better world. We in the U.S. have experienced a lot of rage and violence. We can't just hope for a better world, we have to work toward it to make it happen.

Hope for our children and grandchildren. They've been hit hard with the pandemic from not playing with their friends to how they go to school.

Hope that businesses will open/reopen and jobs will be plentiful again. 

Hope that children will not go hungry or worry that their parents will lose their homes.

Hope.

My hope is that you have a Happy New Year, a better year.