Category Archives: What’s making me happy

What’s Making Me Happy: The Book Cover for Out of Time

This week’s happiness post is a humdinger. James Egan, the brilliant designer at Bookfly Design, has created a fabulous cover for my upcoming book, Out of Time, which will be released in November 2020.

This is Book Three in my Great Library Series, where the heroine, Maya Hammond, must find a way to defeat Cinnial, the fallen librarian, whose burning ambition is to control the Great Library, where all information in our universe flows.

The mission to defeat Cinnial has taken Maya across the universe. In Out of Time, Maya travels even farther. She goes to a dimension called Elferterre, which is ruled by Magic rather than by Time, the dominant force in our universe. With her new team—Will, Jay, and Lexie—Maya embarks on a quest to steal a lock from a powerful elf named Galli. The lock will help Maya trap Cinnial.

In Elferterre—green and mysterious with a touch of steampunk—Maya, Will, Jay, and Lexie encounter allies and foes, including a talking cat, a witch, sprites, ogres, imps, and a mechanical horse. All the while, Magic swirls around Elferterre, enhancing the good and bad in every creature that Maya and her team meet.

Maya falls in love, treks again across the universe, and encounters her biggest challenge yet.

Will Maya have the courage to face this challenge? Or will she falter?

Readers, I will be sure to let you know when Out of Time is published. My first two books—Maya and the Book of Everything and Library Lost—are available through our Hinterlands Press website.

And that’s it for this post, even though I usually include three things that are making me happy. After all, what can top a new cover?

To read what small pleasures are making Thistles and Kiwis happy, click here.

What’s Making Me Happy: July 31, 2020

Here we are as July tiptoes into August. The weather has rocked between hot and humid and nice summer days.  Even in my shady yard, flowers bloom. Then they go by, and more flowers bloom.

On the edge of blooming are the black-eyed Susans, that lovely flower of late summer.

As a bonus happy point, these flowers last a long time, providing a burst of yellow in gardens that might be past their best.

Regular readers of this blog know that my husband Clif has Type 2 diabetes and has gone on a low-carb diet. Not long ago we discovered these tortillas wraps that have 5 net carbs per tortilla.

The tortillas are tasty, and we use them for wraps for lunch nearly every day.

But a few weeks ago, I figured out that they can also be used to make low-fat, low-carb chips to go with salsa.

The process couldn’t be easier. Put the tortillas on a cookie sheet, and cut into a dipable size. A pizza cutter works really for this. Brush the tops with a little olive oil and sprinkle with some salt. Bake at 375°F for ten minutes.

Et voilá! Crunchy, low-carb, low-cal chips that, as my Yankee husband notes, are pretty darned good.

And last, another Tiny Desk Concert. This time Aimee Mann. Readers might remember her when she was in the group ‘Til Tuesday. Aimee Mann’s songs are rueful, sad, and beautifully written. She’s as much a poet as she is a musician.

To read what small pleasures are making Thistles and Kiwis happy, click here.

What’s Making Me Happy: July 24, 2020

Item #1: About three weeks ago, I wrote about how Clif and I had yet again changed our diets. Clif has type-2 diabetes, and he decided to go on a low-carb regimen. I am on a low-calorie diet to lose weight, and there is a lot of overlap between our diets. Because of the caloric and carb restrictions, baking is pretty much out for us, but every once in a while, we want pancakes or muffins. Unfortunately, wheat flour is high in carbs, and Clif can’t have very much of it.

Enter almond flour, low in carbs and delicious in its own right. As to be expected, almond flour doesn’t taste exactly like wheat flour, but that’s all right with Clif and me. We’re both open to different flavors, and as long as we like the taste, we are fine.

I am happy to report that almond flour passed the taste test. Clif made pancakes with the flour, and they were delicious. And because I am a pancake fiend, this made me devilishly happy.

As a bonus, they look exactly the way pancakes should look.

Item #2: You might be wondering why the picture below of the simple white flower made me happy this week. However, those who photograph flowers know how hard it is to get a good picture of white petals. White tends to blow out, and I hardly ever a get a decent shot of a white flower.

But, lo and behold, I finally succeeded. What I did was focus on the center, on the stamens and the pistil, and this really seemed to help. Yellow is another color that tends to blow out, and I will be testing my technique with yellow, too. Too bad the evening primroses are not in flower.

On to Item #3: Thanks to NPR, I recently came across Jacob Collier, yet another musician I was unfamiliar with. I was really taken with his light, funky style.

Before listening, do take a close look at the four musicians. A really close look. Pretty amazing.

Colin Marshall, from NPR, writes: “Polymath musician Jacob Collier has been championing this style of one-man-band music videos since 2012, singing every note and playing every instrument. His cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”earned him a devout YouTube following at the age of 19, and he hasn’t slowed down since. The London wunderkind owns four Grammy Awards already, including two at the age of 22 in 2017, and his evolution as a bandleader has been evident in his live performances ( like when he came to NPR for a Tiny Desk concert last year). Now 25, and with nearly a decade of experience producing every aspect of his own music from his home, Collier is uniquely positioned to crank out his best work from quarantine. ”

Where there is a will, there is a creative way!

What’s Making Me Happy: July 10

As I wrote on Monday’s post, because of his type 2 diabetes, Clif is embarking on a low-carb diet. And if Clif is eating low-carb, then so am I. While I might have toast for breakfast, and Clif might make an   an omelet, I am not going to cook two different meals for our supper. Too much work. And besides, it doesn’t do me a bit of harm to eat low carb and perhaps avoid future problems.

Therefore, we are venturing into new territory, and this week I made “fried rice” with riced cauliflower. I expected it to be good. After all, in the fried rice I usually make I often use either cabbage or broccoli, and cauliflower is in the same family. But, readers, making fried rice from riced cauliflower turned out even better than I expected. So tasty!

I love it when that happens. (Not always a given, that’s for sure.) We will probably be having this meal once a week or so. In fact, I could have some right now. I’ve also found other recipes for riced cauliflower, and the one I plan to to try next is a Mexican “rice” dish. I didn’t take pictures of the fried riced cauliflower, so all I can feature is the package. Next time!

The second thing that is making me happy is my bee balm. While it was a bad year for irises, it has been a glorious year for bee balm. My patch in the backyard is fuller and more vibrant than it ever has been. In the late afternoon, when I relax on the patio, I have that glorious spark of red to draw my eye. The flowers also draw hummingbirds. I will try to get a decent picture of one, but I make no promises. Those winged Will-o’-the-wisps are fast.

The third thing, as always, is music and another NPR Tiny Desk Concert. (Thank you, thank you, NPR, for bringing so much music into my life.) This week, for blogging friends who like country and bluegrass music, I’m featuring Mandolin Orange, a duo from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Their music has also been categorized as folk and Americana. Whatever it’s called, Mandolin Orange’s music is just plain good, and their songs certainly represent a strain of American music. If you like Mandolin Orange, be sure to listen to the last song, “Wildfire.” Released on the 2016 album Blindfaller, “Wildfire” is even more relevant today than it was four years ago.


What’s Making Me Happy: July 3, 2020

Actually, even during this time of the pandemic when I miss my family like crazy, many things are making me happy this week. Therefore, instead of one item, I am offering several.

First, with much fanfare, I present my two new hoses, each 100 feet long, which means I can reach all the beds in my front yard when they need watering. No more Jean de Florette hauling of water.  But can you guess what happened right after we got the hoses? Rain, rain, and more rain. Too funny! However, I am ready and well prepared for the next dry spell.

Second, Clif has come up with a graphic for my upcoming podcast of The Other Green Door. At some point, there will be a book, which will include several stories, and this graphic will be used for the cover as well.

And, third: More music. Ólafur Arnalds’s tiny desk concert is the polar opposite of the one I shared last week of Rodrigo y Gabriela. The latter’s music is sheer joy and energy. Arnalds’s music is soulful, gentle, and melancholy even. Both types of music reflect aspects of the human condition, and what a good thing it is that we have such a diversity of musicians who capture these moods and emotions.