Friday, January 29, 2021

A Word for 2021

Do you have a focus word for 2021?
Some people like to choose one at the beginning of each year,
a word that captures what they want to achieve
or how they want to improve their lives during the year.
It can be easier and less intimidating than setting up resolutions.

I've never been good with resolutions.
Something usually derails me within a few weeks.
A single word is easier for me to focus on, 
especially if it isn't encumbered with pesky numbers and details. 
So I chose relax for 2021.

I am notoriously bad at relaxing.
Just ask my siblings whose "secret" family name for me is The ADHD One.

Terry works on me periodically, refusing to give me up as a lost cause.
"Relax.  Put your feet up," he suggests as he sinks into the sofa.
I silence him with The Look.
I have a collection of well-used Looks,
and Terry is never confused about which one I'm shooting his way.

So I chose relax for 2021,
determined to channel cats who are notoriously good at relaxing.
Just imagine a sleepy cat stretching out on a couch and slouch into relaxation. 

But every time I let go this year, I don't feel relaxed.
I feel  R  E  L  I  E  F,
a deeper, boneless state of complete repose.

I had no idea that my body had been clenched for over a year,
until the U. S. Presidential Inauguration took place peacefully.
2020 was way too much with the pandemic, isolation,
job losses, economic stress, protests, and insurrection.
When Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. swore Joe Biden in as the 46th president,
the tension I had been holding for ages melted into a puddle of relief.
R  E  L  I  E  F.

I felt relief because we now have a president who takes the pandemic seriously.
425,000 dead Americans and counting is a tragedy that should not have happened.

I felt relief because America's reputation might be restored among our allies.
I'm exhausted from taking flak from family and friends around the world,
from trying to explain the inexplicable.

I felt relief because our county didn't fall into bloody chaos and our institutions held.
I'm still shocked and sickened by the violence at the Capitol.

Beating an Officer

Since then I have continued to feel relief.
For little things:
Relief that my car died in my garage and not in a busy intersection yesterday.
Relief that AAA swapped out an old battery for new in minutes.
Relief that my periodontist found healing, not worsening infection
in my jawbone, when he removed my stitches yesterday.
Relief that there were soft leftovers for dinner in the fridge last night.

And relief for big things:  
Relief that the numbers of Covid sick and dying will start to decrease.
Relief that I'll likely see all my family and friends again.
Relief that I'm scheduled to get my first Covid shot on Sunday!!!!!
And the second three weeks later!!!!!

Maybe this year we'll actually be able to return to my beloved Italy.
I long to have a spritz and lunch at Adriatico Mar,
a locals osteria on the rio di San Pantalon canal in Venice
where Terry and I have spent wonderful hours.

I am relieved to know that owners Francesco and Siri continue
to serve up fine drinks, food, and hospitality despite the pandemic.   

Conversations on the Jetty
Adriatico Mar, Venice, Italy
May 24, 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

I imagine myself comfortably full and relaxing with a glass of wine on the jetty;
but probing deeper, I realize I'm imagining the R E L I E F of making it back,
that Terry and I have survived the Coronavirus and can travel again,
that the world is returning to some semblance of normal,
a world where you can dangle your feet over a Venetian canal
while sipping wine and chatting in the autumn sunshine.

Yup, I think I have to toss out relax
and claim relief as my word for 2021.
I don't even have to focus on it. 
Feeling relief is like being a carefree cat.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


Friday, January 15, 2021

More Romance, Crime, and Disaster from Author Chrys Fey!

My awesome blogging buddies know I am a big fan
of the Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG).
I've been reading a lot of books written by members,
and I'm happy to help them out with blog tours on the release of a new book.

One member who really inspires me with her writing life is Chrys Fey,
and she is out with her latest book:  A Fighting Chance.
This is Book Six in her Disaster Crimes series, but it can be read as a standalone book.
It is a spin-off that introduces a new couple, Thorn and Amanda.

Up against an abusive ex and Mother Nature,
do Thorn and Amanda have a fighting chance?

Chrys is known for delivering fast-paced novels that blend romance, crimes, and disasters.
Beth, her protagonist in the earlier books, grows stronger through adversity.
As a reader, I love a strong woman as a protagonist!

Amanda has survived abuse and sexual assault,
and while she may be scared about a new romance and terrified by her stalker of an ex,
I'm betting on her surmounting her challenges and finding happiness.

I haven't had a chance to read A Fighting Chance yet.
It's my stack of books-to-be-read,
a pile so high it is in danger of toppling over
and spilling across my bedroom carpet.
I'm looking forward to reading Amanda's story very soon.

I love a good guy in books and in real life.
Beth's Donovan in the earlier Disaster Crimes books is definitely a good guy.
I'm counting on Thorn to come through for Amanda too.

And besides, is there a better time to indulge in a steamy romance than right now?

Genre: Romantic-Suspense

Heat Rating: Hot

EXCERPT from A Fighting Chance:
Amanda looked up from the current list of up-to-date payments for classes. A movement outside the glass storefront caught her eye. She tilted her head to see a man coming up the sidewalk from the side where the picnic bench sat. Through the vertical blinds, she glimpsed a square face—a short, rugged beard and long, dark hair pulled into a man bun. Her breath fled from her lungs. Her body went from icy cold to flaming hot in the span of a millisecond. She dropped to the floor and slid under the counter, beneath the ledge where they put their purses and cell phones.

“What—” Beth peeked at the windows. Then she snapped her fingers at April and pointed at the stools.

April jumped into action. She pushed the stools in so they blocked Amanda. The bell attached to the door jingled as April removed the jacket she wore and draped it across the stools, creating a curtain to shield Amanda.

From a crack, Amanda watched Beth move to stand in front of the twins, who were in their walkers playing peacefully. “I’m sorry, but we’re going to be closing.”

“I don’t give a shit. I’m here for Amanda.”

The sound of Damon’s voice had her heart beating even harder. That voice had haunted her nightmares, had come back to life in her memories.

Beth cocked her head to the side. “Who? There’s no one by that name here.”

“Don’t bullshit me. I know she works here.”

His voice was closer now.

Book Links: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes

A Question for Chrys:
Many of us are spending time reading while we're staying safer at home, but lots of us are also watching great movies on television.  I asked Chrys what her top ten favorite movies about domestic abuse were.  Here's what she shared:

Sleeping with the Enemy
A Vigilante
Fried Green Tomatoes
Domestic Disturbance
The Color Purple
No One Would Tell (2018)
Diary of a Mad Black Woman
Big Little Lies (okay, this is a show)

Chrys commented:
Enough and Sleeping with the Enemy influenced me a lot while writing A Fighting Chance. Certain scenes pop into my head at random. Both of these women are strong and did what they had to do to survive and get away.

There are some movies I haven’t seen yet that I suspect will make this list, like The Invisible Man with Elisabeth Moss and ‘Til Death Do Us Part. A lot of good movies didn’t make the cut, but are still important movies, like The Girl on the Train, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (I love all the Swedish-produced films), and even Kindergarten Cop.

Read on for a free short story, an important new website,
and a giveaway from author Chrys Fey: 




Book Links: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes

Author’s Note: I wrote The Disaster Curse to answer a few lingering questions readers may have after reading A Fighting Chance, and to tie the whole series together with a neat, shiny, perfect little bow. Plus, there was one disaster that I hadn’t written about yet. *wink*



The Disaster Crimes Series:

*The Crime Before the Storm (prequel)

Hurricane Crimes (novella, #1) Amazon

Seismic Crimes (#2) Amazon

Lightning Crimes (free short, #2.5) Amazon

Tsunami Crimes (#3) Amazon

Flaming Crimes (#4) Amazon

Frozen Crimes (#5)  Amazon

A Fighting Chance (spin-off, #6) Amazon

The Disaster Curse (short story, #7)  Amazon

*Free exclusive story to newsletter subscribers.


***LAUNCHING A WEBSITE*** is a website dedicated to domestic violence and sexual assault awareness. Inspired by the Disaster Crimes series.




Prizes: Hurricane Crimes (Disaster Crimes 1) and Seismic Crimes (Disaster Crimes 2) eBooks (mobi or epub), Hurricane Crimes Playing Cards, Girl Boss Sign, and a Volcanic Blast Scented Candle




Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. She also authored Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book! She runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Book Club on Goodreads and is also an editor for Dancing Lemur Press.
Fey realized she wanted to write by watching her mother pursue publication. At the age of twelve, she started her first novel, which flourished into a series she later rewrote at seventeen.
Fey lives in Florida and is always on the lookout for hurricanes.

Author Links:

 Newsletter / Website / Facebook Group /Blog / BookBub

Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon



I wish Chrys lots of success with her latest book!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Friday, January 8, 2021

Something ...

I promised myself that I would post something today, anything.
I need to get back in a routine after the past five or six weeks.

Aside from Christmas, the big event for me in December
was the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on the Winter Solstice.

Terry and I shivered for half an hour, staring in wonder
at two brilliant jewels gleaming in the dark.
I wanted to pluck them from the sky and hold them in my hands,
feel their cold splendor shining on my face,
see their unearthly light spilling through my fingers.
Jupiter (left)  Saturn (right)
December 21, 2020
Aurora, Colorado, USA
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

When Terry spent ten days quarantining in the basement
after a September trip to Vegas, he discovered You Tube videos.
In mid-December he sucked me into his latest find:
live streams from Tembe National Elephant Park in South Africa.
I discovered that munching giraffes and splashing elephants mesmerized me.
I discovered something that made me relax!

Photo of a You Tube Live Stream on My TV

Well, not always,
like when a solitary impala froze as lions roamed nearby.

Photo of a You Tube Live Stream on My TV

Terry and I barely breathed for twenty-five minutes,
until the lions flopped for a nap and the impala slipped into the brush.

Just remembering this cartoon that Debra posted
made me laugh during an unfunny time.

Such has been my life recently,
isolated by Covid and sidelined by uncooperative limbs.

But now it's a new year and things are approaching normal.
I'm back to trying to catch my tail!

If I fall back too deeply into bad habits, I have hope:
a rhyming friend recommended a bed of nails.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

IWSG: Wednesday, January 5, 2021 ~ On Reading and Rehab


It's the first Wednesday of the month,
the day that members of the
Insecure Writer's Support Group
share their writing struggles
and writing successes
and offer their encouragement
and support to fellow writers.

To visit the IWSG website, click here.

To become a member of the IWSG, click here.

Our wonderful co-hosts who are volunteering today,
along with IWSG Founder Alex J. Cavanaugh are Ronel Janse van VurrenJ Lenni Dorner, Gwen GardnerSandra Cox, and Louise ~ Fundy Blue

I hope you have a chance to visit today's hosts and thank them for co-hosting.
I'm sure they would appreciate a visit and an encouraging comment.

Every month the IWSG announces a question that members can answer
with advice, insight, a personal experience, or a story in their IWSG posts.

Or, the question can inspire members
if they aren't sure what to write about on IWSG Day.

Remember the question is optional.
This month's featured question is: 

Being a writer, when you're reading someone else's work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people's books?


Happy New Year, Everyone!  

I hope that you and your loved ones are safe, healthy, and happy
and that you are looking forward to a much better year than 2020.

I'm anticipating lots of fun visiting around this IWSG Day,
hearing your news, and reading answers to this month's question.

Reading has been my constant and favorite pleasure throughout my life.
I don't remember a time I couldn't read.
I was reading before I went to kindergarten,
and in Grade One I was already an avid reader.

My favorite thing about Grade One was reading.
I dearly loved Dick, Jane, and Sally, and I had my own teddybear just like Tim.

Grade One was a traumatic year for me.  
My mother nearly died from Graves Disease and disappeared for months,
my father attempted suicide, and my brother and two sisters and I were left
in the care of my paternal grandmother who suffered from debilitating depression.
An ax murderer was on the loose in our area,
and the house next door burned down one dark night.
Reading became my comfort and my escape.

Donnie, Louise (Me with a Stray Cat), and Roy
I so wanted a Puff of my own.
Atholville, New Brunswick, Canada ~ 1956/57
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

One disconnect in my tumultuous six-year old life was my reading at home.
I left Dick, Jane, and Sally at school and raced home to read encyclopedias.
I didn't find this strange or surprising.  It was normal for me.
I was a voracious and indiscriminate reader
loving whatever reading material I put my hands on:
the antics of Spot and Puff, the power of earthquakes and volcanoes,
the lamassu of Ancient Assyria, or the stash of mystery magazines in the bathroom.

The Lowering of the Bull (Lamassu)
Frontispiece, A popular account of discoveries at Nineveh by Austen Henry Layard, 1851
The lamassu is a celestial being from ancient Mesopotamian religion
bearing a human head, bull's body, sometimes with the horns and the ears of a bull, and wings.
It appears frequently in Mesopotamian art.

Sixty some years later, I am still that voracious and indiscriminate reader.
The last time I remember not finishing a book was in 1983 or 1984.
I don't remember its title or author, just my bedroom lamp
and writing so rotten that even I couldn't stomach it.

As a reader, I appreciate a good plot, strong characters, and lyrical writing.
I've been compelled by Shakespeare's tragedies, 
the squiggles of my three-year old niece Deirdre, 
and everything in between because something grabbed my heart.

Over the years I've become more forgiving as a reader.
That comes from decades of working with the youngest authors
and from my own humbling experiences as a writer searching for words.
I'll give even a flawed book more than a chance.

Few writers are a William Shakespeare, a Peter Matthiessen, or a Liu Cixin,
but each writer is unique and has a story to tell.
Write from your heart, give me truth and authenticity as you see it,
and I'll finish your book. 
(In print.  My eyes can't handle ebooks.) 

Shakespeare's First Folio, 1623

Matthiessen's The Snow Leopard

Liu Cixin's The Three-Body Problem

I didn't write in December.  
I had a painful shoulder injury in November
which I aggravated while slogging through NaNoWriMo.
The consequences cascaded through my body
and left me unable to work on my computer, 
use my arms and legs normally, or function without painkillers.

This rocked my world!
I couldn't count on my arm to lift a cup of coffee to warm in the microwave.
My arm would drop, cup crashing and coffee spilling.

I hobbled about unable to count on a leg to lift me up on a step.
My leg would fail, and I would stumble or fall.

Here I am, living to climb to the top of the Duomo again in Florence,
and how could I do that, if I my legs wouldn't mount a small step?
I couldn't even tackle our Christmas tree!
I almost plunged into a debilitating depression, my genetic curse.

Tourists Viewing Florence
from the top of the Duomo's Cupola
Florence, Italy
September 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Thankfully those Duomo stairs and that Christmas tree kept calling.
With the help of many massages and foam rolls from Terry,
weeks of doctor and trainer-prescribed exercises, 
epsom salt baths and endless stretching,
I slowly recovered.

One day I managed to stand on a step stool and help string a few lights on our tree,
days after Terry hefted its segments up the stairs, put it together, and untwisted its branches.
We got her done in time for Christmas morning!

I Love Christmas!!!
Christmas Morning, 2020
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Now all my limbs are working, and I'm regaining my strength;
but no more all-nighters at the computer allowed
if I want to reach the cupola on top of the Duomo.

This Tourist Looks Down
from the top of the Duomo's Cupola
Florence, Italy
September 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Probably no more NaNoWriMo either, but there are worst things in life.

I hope you had a happy holiday season however you celebrated it.
Wishing you all the best in 2021!
Happy IWSG Day and happy writing in January.

My favorite thing under our Christmas Tree!
Christmas Morning, 2020
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue