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Nature Teaches by Judith Dreyer

Judith Dreyer, BSN, RN, MS, author and speaker

Nature Teaches by Judith Dreyer

Nature teaches with surprising results. I extend a warm welcome to Judith Dreyer, MS, BSN, author and speaker who also offers a Dream Navigation, Online Class. Judith shares personal experience of connecting to nature in this world—and among spirits.

Virtually all native cultures that have survived without fouling their nests have acknowledged that nature knows best, and have had the humility to ask the bears and wolves and ravens and redwoods for guidance.

— Janine Benyus, Biomimicry Institute

Nature teaches and I wanted to know “the woods” and how to move within the forest and meet creatures unafraid. I knew of Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracking School, and as an herbalist I was especially interested in his knowledge of edible plants.

Fate steps in

Through a series of synchronistic events and encounters I heard of a wilderness school in Maine run by one of Tom Brown Jr.’s students. I had enjoyed one of his awareness workshops so I enrolled in Basic Skills week to be held that spring in the deep forests of central Maine.

Our small group slept in a tipi and practiced the skills needed for two days of hiking and camping under the stars. Living so close to the land in respect and love for the earth heightened my senses, and I found myself walking in two worlds – the physical and the world of spirit. Spring colors intensified. The air of spring was cool and clarifying. We followed the tracks of deer and moose. The connection to all living things pervaded my bones. And I dreamed.

Return to everyday life

When I returned home I found it difficult to be indoors. I was also exhausted. While it was a terrific experience, the new sights and sounds of the forest had kept me awake and that week had taken a physical toll. I needed to rest and replenish. Once home, when I found myself in the woods where nature teaches, I practiced seeing with soft eyes and staying grounded.

The work process of Dream Navigation

I am a dreamer. In the aboriginal sense, everything is part of the Dreamtime. There is no separation. In the Mohawk tradition, for example, you follow the energy of the dream – if you dream of getting a massage you go out and get a massage in the waking state. It is this understanding of no separation that I try to bring into my everyday life. Shortly after I returned from the Basic Skills week, I had a dream. I teach dream work and I followed that same process of recording the dream:

Dream Navigation 

Step 1: Record the Dream

The Dream: I had a sense of being with the head instructor from the wilderness school. We were working on a more difficult tracking exercise, at least for me. As I looked into the forest clearing I saw deer that shifted into a group of people – several men and one woman – doing a specific toe walk. They would put the ball of the foot down and then lift the heel quickly and gently from the ground. They were wearing moccasins. The woman was dressed like a dancer wearing black leotards and a black skirt, her hair was tied in a bun like a ballerina. Men surrounded her on three sides. They toe-walked in unison. I “felt” as if I was given a message and a gift by the deer people. They were showing me a specific walk that would help to camouflage a group walking in the woods if everyone did this together.

How did I feel when I woke up?: I felt elated, light-hearted, and I thought seeing deer shift into human form was pretty cool.

Reality Check: I did not know this form of walking in the woods. I did not experience any contact with deer on my walks during the day.

Action: I wrote to the Wilderness School for verification. I was told that yes, in fact, there is a deer walk used in stalking and tracking in the forest. I was encouraged to practice the walk as given to me in the dream.

Nature teaches with a deer in the woods

About a week later I found myself on a local trail in a little preserve I had not visited recently. The main trail leads away from a small pond into a wooded area that meets a stream. The sound of rushing water soothed me so I sat on a stump to listen. This gray, early spring day was overcast and chilly. Suddenly I caught sight of two deer. They bolted out of a dense thicket 100 to 200 feet away and circled around me, two or three times. Surprised and in awe of these beautiful creatures, I sat still and willed myself to become part of the pattern of the woods and to observe.

deer in forestOne of the deer stopped about 50 feet away. She looked around. Eventually she bobbed her head as she pawed the ground. As she bobbed her head, I blinked my eyes and in my heart, I silently told her that I was here as her sister. I came to “do no harm” as my elders often advised. My eyes were the only part of me that moved. Nature teaches. Did she have a message?

I sensed she knew I was not part of the normal pattern of these woods. She turned. Her flanks quivered as if she was nervous or stressed. Then, she took deep breaths and let the air out with force from her nostrils. The sound was similar to a horse only there was no whinny. As I watched her leave, I had the sense she was showing me a useful breathing technique.

Nature teaches

That spring, as I explored the forest more deeply, I experienced a shift in my energy. Some know it as Kundalini. All I can say is that it was beautifully inspiring, very powerful, and it affected my heart chakra. It was not easy handling the Kundalini power surge. But, I had received a gift from that creature in these woods—an effective breathing technique to relieve pressure I could feel in my heart if I was anxious. I tried it and followed this pattern over the next few days along with the toe-walking step from the dream. I felt my strength build.

These two events occurred within a week of each other, delivering messages from the deer. Both helped restore my health and energy. Both were wonderful gifts that came from connecting with the deer – one in the dreaming state, the other in the forest. Neither from books. The Dreamtime is all-inclusive. All of our experiences contribute to our deep knowing. We are not separate from Nature so if and when we pay attention she offers solutions and inspiration.

Dream proved true

Later on, in the fall of that year, I attended a workshop for dreamers given by a dream shaman. One of the participants was a member of an ensemble that performed a deer dance that dates back to the 1100s in Europe.

  • The deer dance is enacted by a group of men acting as the deer.
  • They walk using the ball of the foot and gently lifting their heels.
  • There is only one woman involved.

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At the Garden's Gate by Judith DreyerJudith Dreyer, BSN, RN, MS, received degrees in Nursing and Nutrition Science. She has taught at Western State Connecticut State University and focuses on holistic health including Western-based herbalism.

She is the author of AT THE GARDEN’S GATE.

Her website and blog can be found at www.JudithDreyer.com.

Podcast series Holistic Nature of Us is available on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Google Music Play and her website.

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Thanks to Judith Dreyer for posting on my personal blog, Writings on the Wall. DreamWatch True Paranormal Blog has added Judith’s “Deer Dance Premonition Dream” to our Personal Premonitions archive because the dream foresaw both the need to use the breathing technique to “feel stronger” and of seeing the Deer Dance at the Fall workshop, as well as the action and results that happened in future months.

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Coral. Color of the Year 2019. A mystery author’s home decor.

Coral. Color of the Year 2019. Turns out my home decor loves Coral.

Following and setting trends in a mystery author’s home.

When I first read coral was color of the year, a bit of hesitation hit. My first thought was, “Oh, no!” No coral blouse, sweater or dress because coral does not agree with my skin tone. I liked the color well enough—on others—and around the house.

I think of coral as a human color, maybe because it seems to be in same family as flesh, or something edible like fish or fruit. Blue wouldn’t be the same.

I didn’t want to be left out of the prevailing color trend, so I scanned my home and discovered that I lived with plenty of coral, enough to keep me current in home decor circles. Here’s what I found.

Coral pottery arrangement on bookcase

Pictured are two of Ryan Dolan’s Raku Saggar Fired Vessels – Handmade Wheel Thrown Pottery – from Dolan Clay Studio.  See many more samples on his Etsy shop page. And he’s got a fascinating video about the Raku process on YouTube. When I look at these I see fantasy landscapes that might cover distant moons, and every one is unique due to the process. So let’s talk color-specifics.

Coral. Not any coral will do.

Coca-Cola and Target are unmistakably red. Facebook and Walmart use blue. Think of Starbucks green, and who doesn’t associate UPS with brown. Caterpillar yellow and John Deere green. Not any red, blue or green will do, these brand identities require a specific color match to printing inks and more for brand consistency across the globe.

In a former career as an advertising Art Director and Graphic Designer I used the Pantone Matching System (PMS) everyday. For those who aren’t familiar, Pantone was the standard for matching color by its assigned number. My swatch book was never far from my desk.

Coral in the Turkish carpet.

When I wasn’t working, I was fortunate enough to travel. Pictured here is the center motif of a handmade wool carpet, a souvenir from Cappadocia, Turkey.

Home Decor: Handmade carpet from Cappadocia, Turkey

So there you have it. You don’t have to wear a color to live with and enjoy it.

Announcing the Pantone Color of the Year 2019: PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral

Described as a vibrant, yet mellow coral with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.

View Past Colors of the Year and learn about Color Intelligence, the Color of the Year selection process, and the Pantone Color Institute™ at Pantone.com

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Precipice series author Penny Goetjen in conversation

Penny Goetjen, Author of the Precipice series

Penny Goetjen, author of the Precipice series

Welcome to mystery author Penny Goetjen who is about to launch her new book Murder beyond the Precipice.

Please tell us about the newest book in the Precipice series.

I’m thrilled to say that Murder beyond the Precipice (MBTP) is available for pre-order on Amazon and will be released October 11th.

The story is set in a cozy harbor town on the coast of Maine and is the sequel to Murder on the Precipice that came out last fall.

Elizabeth Pennington, who is an interior designer in Manhattan, is the female protagonist in the Precipice series. After receiving an unexpected wedding invitation, she returns to the coast of Maine to stay at the Livingston Estate-turned inn. But as Elizabeth learns, the Livingston family is no stranger to tragedy:

Losing both parents at a young age in what authorities ruled an accident, Lucretia Livingston, the sole heir to the estate, is left to pick up the pieces. But many locals question the circumstances surrounding their deaths and if the family’s wealth was an irresistibly seductive motive for crossing the line. In her search for answers, Elizabeth becomes tangled in a tortured trail of deception, betrayal, love lost and murder, stirring buried memories that locals endeavor to keep secret, along with the scars left behind.

What new work keeps you busy?

I love the idea of something new. There’s nothing more exciting than a blank page at the onset of a new project. I never know where it will take me. How exciting is that?! Now that the second Precipice book will be out, I’m working to wrap up the rough draft of the third and final book in the series, Murder Returns to the Precipice, which will be out next year. Then I will get back to writing the sequel to The Empty Chair ~ Murder in the Caribbean.

Do you write yourself into your books?

They say there’s a little bit of the author in each character she writes—which, of course, can be terrifying depending on the character. I don’t consciously create characters modeled after myself but of all of them so far, Elizabeth Pennington in the Precipice series is most like me—or rather, like me when I was in my twenties—young, a bit naïve, striving for lofty goals. Okay, maybe a lot naïve.

With which of your book characters do you most enjoy spending time? Why?

I would have to say Olivia, the female protagonist in The Empty Chair. Not to detract from Elizabeth in the Precipice series, but Olivia is far braver than I could ever be and spends more time in the turquoise tropical waters on the island of St. Thomas (U.S.V.I) than I could ever dream to. So I enjoy being with her. Plus she hangs out with a good looking, ruggedly handsome guy, and that’s usually not a bad thing. 😉 So I look forward to getting back to writing the sequel to The Empty Chair to see where her adventures take her next.

Murder beyond the PrecipiceWhat did you edit out of this book?

I have a tendency to go into a lot of details about a location—particularly if I’m fond of it. MBTP takes place in Boothbay Harbor, Maine which is near and dear to my heart, so I went on a bit describing what it looks like and the highlights of the quaint harbor town. When I went back to reread my rough draft, I realized it was probably more than most readers cared to know and carved away the excess, hopefully leaving just enough so you get a feel for the bustling little town without overkill.



If you weren’t writing, in what other passion would you be immersed?

I’ve always thought it would be fun to travel and report on my escapades—in a column or on a TV show. Something along the lines of Samantha Brown on Travel Channel. But if not that, I probably would have ended up chasing ghosts. I’ve also always liked the idea of working at an airport—particularly the person with the lighted wands who directs huge planes in and out of their gates. Such power!

Let’s get personal …

Penny, I’ve got a few questions that have little to do with writing, so let’s get personal. Please indulge my curiosity. As you know, I’m interested in several paranormal subjects and I understand you’ve had some interesting experiences.

Can you tell our readers about your paranormal experience? How old were you? What happened?

I was in college. Between my junior and senior years …

Read Penny’s post titled: Creaky Old House of Ghosts on the DreamWatch True Paranormal Blog



If your life were a movie would it be a drama, comedy, romance, action, or science fiction?

Ha! I’m sure my husband would say drama. I’d like to think it’s more of a comedic romance. But if I take a good look back over the years, I’d have to say it had all three. While raising three children, there was plenty of drama with health scares tossed in here and there, but with plenty of comedy, too. When things get bad, your sense of humor is your saving grace. And since we celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary earlier this year, you now there’s a little romance in there as well!

If you had a time machine, which time period in the past or future would you visit?

I wouldn’t want to go into the future. Honestly, what lies ahead scares me—what our children and grandchildren are going to face. I’d rather go back in time, but not too far. I like my modern conveniences. An ideal decade would be the fifties. Who doesn’t love poodle skirts and saddle shoes, drive-ins and malt shops with jukeboxes playing? I’m a huge fan of Happy Days and the movie Grease. I think I’d feel quite comfortable there.

What’s your favorite material object that you already own?

If you’d asked me a few weeks ago, I would have had a different answer. But after just evacuating ahead of a major hurricane, material objects suddenly have lost their luster. As we were pulling out of the driveway, leaving the shuttered house behind, I asked myself if I’d remembered everything important. Since my precious family was in the car with me and my computer (for writing) was tucked at my feet, I knew I had everything I needed. Of the material objects I had with me, my favorite had to be my rings—engagement, wedding, and anniversary—because no matter what happened to the house and all the material objects inside, all that mattered was the safety and well-being of my husband and children (and, of course, our two pups).

What’s your favorite restaurant meal?

Honey, any meal I don’t have to cook is a favorite meal of mine! But in a restaurant, I have an incredible glorious array of delectable items to choose from. What would my favorite be? Definitely Italian. More specifically chicken parm. It’s comfort food for me. And usually they give you so much food, there’s plenty left over so I get to enjoy it again for lunch the next day. 😉



Name one thing that drives you crazy.

Only one thing?! Okay, well, the first thing that comes to mind is when people talk much louder than they need to. I know that probably sounds a bit silly, but the older I get, the more I prefer quiet than a lot of noise. Writers tend to enjoy a peaceful corner with their keyboard. Maybe it was all the concerts I went to when I was younger—although I do still enjoy a good country concert.

What’s the one modern convenience you can’t live without?

Electricity. Maybe that’s cheating because it covers so many things. But I just love to have hot water for a shower (I’m not a camper) and heat when it’s cold outside. So if it is cheating to say electricity, then my answer is my cell phone. I know we used to live without them, not knowing we were missing out on anything. But now that we know, I really would have a tough time living without it. It’s how I stay in touch with family and friends. I also jot down thoughts that float through my head that relate to my writing. I have hundreds of pages of notes on my cell.

Where was the farthest you’ve traveled?

Aruba. That wasn’t the original plan, though. We were supposed to visit our son who was studying abroad in Spain during his junior year of college. Unfortunately it was the spring of 2010 when the Icelandic volcano was erupting and disrupting air travel. We got to JFK only to find out our flight was the first to be cancelled because of volcanic activity and the ash it was spewing across Europe. While we were sad to miss seeing our son, we tried to make the best of it and quickly rebooked our trip. After all, we were packed for a warm climate (the Mediterranean). Why not go somewhere else warm? Aruba it was.

What is the scariest thing you’ve done for fun?

My first thought was scuba diving in Jamaica, but then I remembered one of my kids giving me a shove off a zip line platform at the top of Crown Mountain on St. Thomas. Absolutely terrifying. But once at the top, there was no other way down. Killer views though!

What is your favorite part of your day?

Although I wouldn’t say I’m a morning person, I love the first part of the day because the possibilities of what the rest of the day will bring are endless. I like waking up while it’s still dark outside and no one else in the house is awake. I tiptoe out of our bedroom, trying not to disturb the dogs, and head downstairs to find my computer. There’s something magical about delving into whatever story I’m working on, in the still of the early hour, with only dim light from a solitary lamp to keep me company. I find myself transported to a different place.

Did we miss anything? Something you want to share with our readers?

If your readers are in Connecticut, please accept my invitation:
  • EVENT: Murder Beyond the Precipice Launch
  • DATE: October 11, 2018
  • TIME: 7:00 PM
  • VENUE: Simsbury Public Library, Friends of the Simsbury Library Program Room
  • LOCATION: 725 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury CT
  • Admission is free and includes a giveaway.
  • Refreshments will be served.

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Thanks for joining me at Writings on the Wall. Good luck with your new book.

Connect with Penny Goetjen:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Goodreads

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Common birds saga. Part One. The early days of nests.

Common birds saga. Part One:

The Birds. How I became their beloved.

The Common Birds Saga began long ago, when I first moved into my house. No birds lived and bred in the rafters of the carport though evidence suggested previous owners had discouraged settlement. Screening material blocked access to safe recesses. Misshapen and misfitted boards formed a haphazard barrier to nesting spots deep behind sideboards.

One day a bird flew in. “How cute.”

The bird, a common bird, a little sparrow all alone, perched on a beam and watched me standing in the side doorway that opened to the carport. There we were on opposite walls, peering over my Ford Focus. It occurred to me that we were doing exactly the same thing. The bird watching me, I watching the bird. She’d tilt her head, I’d tilt mine. I’d lift my arm, she’d raise her wing. We became pals.

She built a beautiful nest (I’m guessing about that) and laid her eggs. Soon the little ones were chirping for food and she’d fly in and and out, in and out from dawn till dusk. The cycle continued for years. Some nests were tidier than others, I could tell by the debris hanging or falling from above. I often wondered if the nest-builder was the same mama bird with whom I had so sweetly bonded.

Only a few times did I find a newborn nestling, fallen or pushed off the cliff. I’d try to leave the body where it landed and let nature (aka: the neighbor’s cat) take its course, but the idea of that poor mother bird seeing her baby on the pavement became too sad for me to endure for long. I’d scoop the body into a dustpan and hide it under the leaves of a daylily plant, out of mom’s sight, but not out of reach for the neighbor’s cat.

Beloved of the birds. A legend is born.

One day a distress cry shattered the quiet of my suburban neighborhood. At first I dismissed it, having learned enough bird language to distinguish between hungry kids; or squawks warning of cats, predator birds, or me. The cry was too persistent to ignore. I peeked outside and didn’t see any obvious threat. Yet the bird still wailed.

I found the location, but with the distance and the darkness of the high corner, I couldn’t see what was the cause of this bird’s alarm. I thought I saw slight movement, I squinted. Didn’t help. So I grabbed a flashlight and my eyeglasses and inched closer.

“Oh my gosh! Poor little bird.” How I became their beloved.

A large splinter of wood above the nest’s entry had slipped down and onto the mother bird’s neck, its little head poking out from the crack as if locked in a medieval pillory, or worse—a guillotine. The bird is trapped. I must do something. The bird wiggled and snapped its head, eyes wide as I approached. You can imagine the fear and panic of not understanding what danger might happen next—and the bird was freaking out, too.

I grabbed a long snow scrapper with a brush at one end. As I closed in, I comforted the creature, speaking in a quiet, soft voice. “Don’t be scared. I’ll save you. Be calm. It’s almost over.”

I wedged the snow brush underneath the loose splinter and eased it up. “Be free.” The bird flew away faster than an F-15.

For days, the bird flock spoke of me (tweeted about me)—Protector. Hero. Champion. “I am legend.”

That one family had been enjoyable to observe, the common birds enhanced this author’s life. But those joyous years of nest building, daring flight patterns, and bird songs were about to take a dark turn.

Common Birds Saga, Part Two will be posted sometime in the future.

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Full-length fiction with plenty of dark turns and nothing at all to do with this common birds saga: Asylum, a dark suspense saga.  Winner of IPNE Book Awards 2016 for Best Mystery.

Or see our Asylum page at DreamWatch Press for more buy links, reviews and endorsements, sample chapters, and more.

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Thriller subplot idea. Downed bug or insect spy drone?

Unexpected fly-in lands a thriller idea in the driveway.

Thriller idea — There I was, minding my own business, when my sister and brother-in-law (secondary characters in my next book) pulled into the driveway to drop off a book (what else?). When I glanced down, something odd caught my eye. I bent to look closer. Couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A bug. Big. About three inches. Unlike any I’d ever seen. Its design—shape and coloring—made me think of a military transport plane.

My appreciation for visually compelling flora and fauna comes straight from my dad. Once when he was mowing the lawn, he spotted the most beautiful little snake that had ever crossed his path, and that would be sixty years of snake sightings. Unfortunately, he couldn’t react fast enough to stop the machine from running over the slithering beauty, a moment that haunted him with guilt, sorrow, and regret for the rest of his days. Twenty years passed and he never forgot that beautiful little guy.

Visual acuity serving the public for generations.

My entire family and I have a gift for keen visual observation. My sister used her talent to analyze crime statistics and connect criminal dots for a local police department. My brother’s skill served America in the U.S. Navy searching for Soviet subs during the Cold War. My daughter gained a reputation in fingerprint recognition for state police in their crime scene investigation unit, and my grandson aced his first Where’s Waldo? book.

A thriller idea at every turn.

I write fiction and compulsively edit and proofread, easily spotting that extra word space, unassigned font, or unintentional italicized word—not so much for public benefit, but hey, I’m the black-sheep-outlier, which by-the-way makes my novels intriguing with unexpected twists. My family sticks to facts. I prefer stretching facts, embellishing facts and making them more interesting. I don’t mind if imagination overrides.

Camouflage bug? Moth? Insect spy drone?So I’m looking at this bug and am relieved that it clings to life, though not moving fast. I run in for my camera. Now, my sister wants to get on her way and is getting more annoyed. She takes a quick look to humor me and drives away.

I dash inside my house, stash the book, and grab a camera with a telephoto lens. I don’t want my face getting too close to this thing in case it explodes.

Tiptoeing closer, I see the bug hasn’t moved, much.

Moth? Camouflage bug? Insect spy drone?

Hours pass and I’m still thinking about this bug. (My dad would be proud.) Is it stuck on its back? Should I flip it over? Place it on the grass? In the shade? Feed it a leaf? Take it to the vet? Will birds devour the poor, helpless thing?

  • I fantasize a noted entomologist will see this rare new species and name it after me.
  • Or a military intelligence service will send a unit to retrieve their experimental spy drone, obviously the victim of a bird collision. (A thriller idea)
  • Or I’m spending far too much time on this because Camo Moth is not so rare after all.

After a bit of Google searching, I learned the facts (my sister would be proud) about this insect thanks to BugGuide.net. It might be a Sphinx Moth: Eumorpha Pandorus or Pandora Sphinx. I like those names—Pandora and Sphinx—they conjure ancient, exotic, and mysterious images and ideas.

Woe is me.

I take my licks and reluctantly concede that Jacob Hübner, noted German entomologist beat me to it when around 1806 he identified this creature as Daphnis pandorus (so says Wikipedia).

A new dilemma. Pandora Sphinx or Spy Drone?

Now I’m torn, so I might use both in future novels. An Insect Spy Drone would fit nicely in my Premonition soon-to-be-series* of psychic thrillers featuring a reluctant psychic, her skeptical FBI brother, and his new boss, a legendary counterterrrorism agent.

But the Pandora Sphinx could work in a new contemporary mystery in which ancient writings are the only clue. Hmmm… I’m leaning toward writing both.

*Premonition of Terror began as a stand-alone thriller, but by the time I wrote the end, it begged for a sequel. And why not a prequel. I’ve recently re-read Premonition (for the zillionth time), sparking one thriller idea after another so we’re likely headed toward a Premonition trilogy.

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Premonition of Terror, a psychic thriller by Kathryn OrzechPremonition of Terror

International threats strike close to home in this psychic thriller. How far would you go to prevent an attack on our homeland if no one believed you?

Premonition of Terror is available in print and e-book where books are sold. Details, reviews, and Buy links on this site at DreamWatch Press.

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Finding my way in a high-tech world.

Finding my way post originally published July 13, 2017. The content remains sound. 

Finding my way — Writing a first blog post can be intimidating. I’ll begin with gratitude to you—readers, writers, visitors, curiosity seekers, or lost in virtuality after clicking the wrong Google link. Perhaps fate brought you here. Welcome!

Lost in a high-tech world, but finding my way.

This new site’s been live for a month and I’m still putting meat on the bones. (By the end of this post you’ll know why food is on my mind.) I’ve been finding my way around WordPress, themes, plugins, and widgets. My typical day is uneventful, often more tech-geeky than I ever imagined. A month ago I didn’t know what a widget was, but I’m finding my way. Tonight I installed a link-checker plugin and I’ll soon add an email signup.

Today was a typical day in an author’s life—nothing to write home about—yet here I am. 

  • I began the day watering my four houseplants when I wondered which of us was older, probably me, but the Christmas cactus was a close second. Hey, wait a minute. The antique lamp is definitely older, but the rocks and fossils take the prize for being millions of years old. Phew! I feel younger already!
  • I had one brilliant idea that will manifest in mid-August, and that led me to thinking about the banner on my YouTube channel.

I assessed my pantry supplies.

No milk. No eggs. No orange juice. No Arizona Green Tea. No food. Only frozen hot dogs and stale bread. I should have gone to the market, but nooo … I re-sized the banner for my YouTube channel (it’s true, I got that far), packed and shipped Asylum to a book blogger, decisions I will regret in the morning when my stomach pangs for food. Fortunately, one English muffin remains edible and there’s plenty of coffee, so I’ll be okay. I’ll try to get to the market early morning, before the heat gets me. I’d better start on my grocery list. Over and out.

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Best Memories Made of Simple Things

We welcome our special guest blogger, Dan Blanchard, award-winning author, speaker, and educator who has appeared on over 100 television and radio shows. Dan offers a father’s perspective to last week’s Father’s Day post, a daughter’s tribute: My Dad. My Hero. My North Star.  Both posts illustrate the best of good parenting with personal examples of simple things remembered.

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The Simple Things in Life are the Best Things in Life!

Enjoying simple things — Several summers ago my daughter and I were swimming in our pool. This day had been like most others, so I had no way of knowing that this one would go down in our family history as a memory we still talk about from time to time.

The sun was setting and the night was quickly approaching. From the shallow end of our pool, my daughter noticed it first. Right about eye level, building its life connections to the bottom of the freshly painted blue fence that surrounded our pool, was a spider spinning her web. It surprised me that my daughter wasn’t grossed out.

“We lost track of time simply having fun.”

Instead, she delightfully watched as the spider busied herself in the cycle of life. As we both gazed at this wonder of nature, a very simple thought hit me.

“I had lost track of time. I didn’t know how long we had been standing together staring at that spider building her web. We were simply having fun and hadn’t really done anything special.”

Parent-child timeWe hadn’t saved the world or bought something expensive. No travel on some big airplane to some exotic land. However, I believe we were both just as fulfilled as if we had done these things.

What we had done was to spend time together and appreciate the simple things in life. We laughed and talked about the circle of life, and what it means to die and what it means to really live. We talked about how precious our limited amount of time is on this planet and how we should pause to enjoy the simple things in life like the flight of a bird. And we talked about the importance of leading rather than following.

Lessons learned: 

  • the circle of life and death, and what it means to really live
  • our limited time on this beautiful planet is precious
  • pause to enjoy the simple things
  • the importance of leading the way to a better life
  • where, when, and how much it costs matters less than simply being together

Now let’s all get out and learn how to create memories with our children. Let’s teach them to lead, and lay the way to a better life in this great big world of ours! Finally, remember that the simple things are the best things in life, even our kids think so.

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Our thanks to Dan Blanchard for adding a father’s perspective to a daughter’s tribute in last week’s post: My Dad. My Hero. My North Star.

About Dan Blanchard

The Storm: How Young Men Become Good Men by Dan BlanchardDan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker, and educator who has appeared on over 100 television and radio shows. Check out Dan’s new book, The Storm:

The Storm: How Young Men Become Good Men 

An angry, struggling teen is changed when his estranged and mysterious Granddaddy appears and reveals his life as a former WWII fighter-pilot, his past, his famous friends, and how he escaped a meaningless life.

More about Dan on his website and blog at: http://www.GranddaddysSecrets.com

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My dad. My hero. My North Star.

My dad. My hero. My North Star.

My dad taught me to stand up for myself—and others. “But Dad, must we practice on concrete?

My dad’s spirit lives in moral principles.

My dad’s spirit lives in my moral principles and my work ethic. If my dad thought the scoldings and lectures made the strongest impact, they did not. Hah! Those blew over with a fraction of the intended content reaching my brain. It was his actions that I observed and that I recall, even decades later.

My dad was a single father of three. 

I was five, my sister eighteen months younger, and my brother only six months old when our mom died. She dropped to the floor one morning with no warning, while he prepared to leave for work. She was gone at age twenty-eight. So I learned everything about life from my dad.

A night at the neighborhood tavern with my dad.

One evening when I was eight, nine or ten, my dad took us kids to the neighborhood bar. Yes, it’s true. My dad was a young widower in his thirties, had worked all day at the machine shop, commuted a half hour home, and fed us dinner. He never missed an evening dinner with his kids. The guy must have simply wanted a cold beer and adult conversation. We walked a block to the neighborhood tavern.

Too young to legally sit at the bar, we kids settled into one of several “Booths for Ladies” lined against the wall with our bottles of Coca-Cola and a couple of five-cent bags of State Line potato chips. What an exciting adventure this was turning out to be! At some point my dad joined us in the booth, and while we sipped from our straws and talked about our day, a few guys in the next booth loudly spouted foul words that made my dad cringe.

He said nothing to us kids as he slowly rose from the bench, turned toward the rowdies, and calmly and politely said, “Hey fellas, would you watch your language? I got my kids with me.” All the guys nodded, looking a bit ashamed and embarrassed, as if they knew exactly what they did wrong, what was expected, and why. (I knew that feeling, had been there many times.) 

Lessons learned: 

  • the proper way that good people resolved disputes
  • the standard to which I should expect and demand to be treated
  • how men should behave
  • that I could say to a man or woman behaving badly “this won’t stand”
  • don’t curse in front of dad

A hero is born—or was he home all along disguised as my dad?

That night my dad was my defender, my hero. Bold and brave. I was never so proud or saw him in the same light as I did that night. I felt safer and more secure. That evening at the neighborhood bar wasn’t the only time I saw him stand up for his kids—even when he was outnumbered four-to-one.

I’d lost my mom, but this guy had proved to me that he wasn’t going anywhere.

Decades later, current works reflect the lessons learned.

Asylum, book front cover #suspense #thriller #mustreadA father-daughter subplot in Asylum exemplifies my respect for my dad, and many of his characteristics are imbued in the patriarchal character of Antonio Delito and how he relates to his daughter, Maggie.

To this day, decades later, I do not use vulgar language. I don’t say it. I won’t write it. My stories can make a reader squirm without it. There’s nothing in my books I’d be embarrassed or ashamed to read to my dad—if he were here in the flesh.

Asylum’s dedication reads:

To my widowed father,
a principled man, who without complaint,
shouldered a heavy burden
with dignity and forbearance.
I was his sunshine.
He was my North Star.

Coming Next Week: Special Guest, Dan Blanchard writes: Simple Things are the Best Things.

Next week’s blog post will continue to honor dads, when we present a father’s perspective by our friend, award-winning author, speaker, and educator, Dan Blanchard.

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Cover Reveal: Makeover for International Psychic Thriller

I confess. I resisted for five years, now, finally …

Premonition of Terror gets the love it deserves.

Before and After Makeover Cover Reveal.

Cover Reveal: Before and After Premonition Makeover

Cover Reveal: BEFORE (2013) on Left.  •  AFTER (2018) on Right.

“It was a rush to hold it in my hands.”

I loved this first cover, maybe because Premonition was my first published (though not first written) and it was a rush to hold it in my hands. I especially loved the shot of the Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic, photographed by Frank Chmura. His website’s Travel Gallery is stunning.

A swirly, circular blur effect in Photoshop expresses the otherworldly mood I wanted, and I shifted the blue tones of the original shot (below) to purple, and made other size and shape adjustments.

Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic. Photo by Frank Chmura.

I must have read a thousand tips, dos & don’ts, and cover critiques by Joel Friedlander of TheBookDesigner.com. With a graphics background and inspired by the perfect image, I felt confident I could produce a cover, took a chance, risked receiving the brutal truth, and I entered the monthly e-Book Cover Design Awards competition. It’s free. Nothing to lose.

E-book Cover Design Award, TheBookDesigner.comImagine my surprise.

E-Book Cover Design Gold Star, May 2013, awarded to Premonition of Terror.

Now I wondered if I should I quit this writing gig and stay with graphic design.

Years passed and now and then other authors and friends would artfully criticize the cover design. I listened, considered all comments, but resisted. After all, if Joel Friedlander approved, who was I to disagree.

Unfortunate coincidence or authentic premonition?

Those who know me or have read the book know why Premonition of Terror never got the love it deserved. With limited distribution and no promotion, it merely existed. To avoid spoilers, I’ll simply say its release date was an unfortunate coincidence to a real life catastrophe—or it was an authentic premonition.

I knew the book deserved better. Especially after reading it again. Five years later it remains a fast-paced, thrilling read with characters you can relate to and care about. I missed them, I envied them, and I feel a pull to write a prequel and sequel to fill out a Premonition Trilogy—or more.

I resisted change until I realized, what worked five years ago, well, maybe needed a fresh look.

So with a few interior tweaks, proofreading in which I am confident (thank you Nancy Breininger), updated front and back matter, and a new cover that tells more story with a human connection, even if you can’t be sure if he’s walking away or coming toward you—even if you can’t know if he’s the danger you’ve been warned about in your dreams.

Premonition of Terror, a psychic thriller by Kathryn OrzechCover Reveal: Premonition of Terror.

I can live with this cover, at least for a while. I look forward to learning how readers react at upcoming signing events—the only vote that matters.

About Premonition.

International threats strike close to home in this psychic thriller when premonitions from around the predict the same catastrophic attack. How far would you go to stop it if no one believed you?

Available in print and e-book where book are sold. Book details and Buy Links on this site at DreamWatch Press.

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Welcome to Writings on the Wall blog

Writings on the Wall

Writings on the Wall. Welcome to my new blog. Catchy name, huh? It only took two years to think of it.

Writings on the Wall offers a peek into the life of a thriller author—this author—with personal blog posts and photos and whatever captured my interest to distract me from writing. I’m working on several book projects so posts might be brief, but will include photos and graphics.

Personal and author posts will no longer mix with supernatural stories on the DreamWatch Paranormal Blog. Though, fair warning—my paranormal experiences might show up here, there, anywhere—same as in real life.

Coming soon to Writings on the Wall blog.

Camouflage bug? Moth? Insect spy drone?

A bug spotted in the driveway made me wonder. Hmmm… Is it a camouflaged moth? Or a downed spy drone disguised as an insect?

Diverse interests. A must in an author’s life.

My interests are ever changing, some are compulsive. Here are a few, as I reveal in my author bio: An avid film fan, seasoned world traveler, news nerd. Other interests include history and geopolitics, society and culture, archaeology and psychology, earth science, and parapsychology, leaving few subjects off my literary table—or the subject of a blog post.

Count on it. On this Writings on the Wall blog, you’ll see my favorite rocks, ancient reptiles, a reincarnated plant, and a newly installed multi-pronged defensive perimeter to rid my carport of birds.

Writings off the Wall and on the pages.

Asylum, a dark suspense saga, though published second was my first novel, inspired by a ghost story told at a dinner party mere blocks from the Mark Twain House & Museum.

Online since the 1990s, DreamWatch.com, true paranormal experiences of everyday people, was the inspiration for Premonition of Terror. A prequel and sequel are planned.

Counting Souls, a contemporary mystery, is my work-in-progress, though progress goes slow. It’s inspiration was my sister who wanted to be a character in one of my books.

The Five of Cups will be a short story or novella. Finding this Tarot card on a path in the forest got me to thinking: This must be a sign, but what does it mean?

For more about my books and buy links, visit DreamWatch Press on this site.

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