Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Review of Carmen Leal's New Book "When Love Wags a Tail" for WOW!

Purchase a copy of "When Love Wags a Tail" on

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I'm so excited to share Carmen Leal's new book with you as part of her virtual blog tour with WOW!Women On Writing.  "When Love Wags a Tail" is a collection of true stories from people whose lives have been saved and forever changed by their dog. I love that every author in this book is a senior or close to it. 

This is the second book by Carmen on how dogs rescue us and are so much a part of our lives. I posted about her first book "I Chose You" on my blog here on  April 25, 2023. I was pleased to have my own story about Miss April in Paris included with all the wonderful doggie tales.  Link to that review HERE.  

Carmen's personal story is an amazing one. Carmen Leal never dreamed tragedy could bring positive change. Suffering a traumatic brain injury after a car wreck, the marketing pro struggled to find her center and reclaim her life. But after finally caving in and adopting a rescue dog, her world changed forever.

Flourishing on her new furry friend’s unconditional love, she turned her talents to supporting canines still facing grim futures. Working tirelessly over the course of four years, she’s helped find homes for over 6,500 dogs and collected endless tales of wonderment and triumph.

As a dog lover and one who currently is owned by five rescue Chihuahuas, I love all the stories in "When Love Wags a Tail". These stories are heartwarming, inspirational, humorous, and as in real life, sometimes a little heartbreaking.  Bringing together over sixty snapshots, she connects both dramatic and simply sweet accounts, including her own, while advocating for help and donating a portion of each sale to a foster-to-adoption group.

And I love that these are stories from owners of "a certain age". As someone who is (ahem) older, I identify with finding the right dog at the right time. When I was younger, I had six larger dogs from my local rescue groups, but as I've aged and my joints ache, I've downsized to smaller senior dogs that I can lift and handle on my own.

To quote Carmen, "Finding the right dog at the right time is important. Maybe an eighty-pound shepherd might have worked when I was forty or even fifty, but at seventy a small dog is more maggageable and safer for me. Living in a senior community might mean having to get a dog under twenty-five pounds. Do you have neighbors who will be upset about dogs who bark a lot? "When Love Wags a Tail" is filled with stories that will hopefull teach these and other lessons to my readers."

I can't imagine a life without my dogs, and in my case, multiple dogs. Like potato chips, I can't stop at one. With that thought, I recommend reading BOTH of Carmen's books if you missed the first one, with stories from dog owners of all ages. Her latest, "When Love Wags a Tail" with its focus on stories from seniors and how their lives are better because of the companionship of their dogs, makes my heart sing. It's never too late to find your true love, especially the canine kind.

Links to find Carmen

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

A Little Flower Binge at Home Depot

 I'm not sure I've mentioned it here, but heaven knows I've chatted about it everywhere else. Six weeks ago I did a little slip and fall going out to dinner with friends. Four folks got me up off the pavement and I went on inside Applebees to enjoy my burger. Food first, always. They provided ice in a rubber glove  which a friend duck taped to my slowly swelling knee. He retrieved a roll from his car. Why do all men seem to have duck tape for emergencies? My late husband carried it with him in his brief case all those years ago.

An appointment with the orthopedic doctor confirmed I'm good, but fractured my knee cap. So that's the back story to my shopping spree, small as it was, yesterday at Home Depot right after I left physical therapy. I wanted to plant a few roses and my go to lavender ( a must have always, lavender and rosemary) in the empty pots on my patio. 

At best, before my fall, I rarely went into my yard except to water. Not as good walking as I like, on a cane most days heading out, I didn't want to fall in my yard. You know, on soft grass. Instead I did the hard pavement thing at dinner. My handyman, an old friend for years, had cleaned out the pots of all the dead debris from the previous year shortly after the Applebees incident, and I kept looking at the soil just begging for new life to be planted. 

A quick run through the garden center at Home Depot, holding on to my cart for support, I found my treasures. The rose bush spoke to me, as real as if the petals could turn into words. There were so many beauties, but this sweet one with its small multi-colored blooms said, "Me, me, me!" A breeze gently moved the leaves as though the bush was becokening to me. I lifted it up and put it down.  My attention diverted by a sweet smell.

A lush pink rose (and I have no clue as to roses names, but it was an old rose not a knock-out rose, see I know a little) with a delightful fragrance and huge thorns made me think of arbors and all those photos on Instagram. It was too heavy to lift, and dear friends, that is how I make most of my decisions these days. Can I lift it by myself? No to the pink rose and back to the darling multi-colored peach one. I placed it in my buggy with relief I could handle it. I think I heard it sigh, but that might have been my own heavy breathing at the strenuous shopping activity.

At home in my carport, I pulled my five flowering pots from the back of my van and placed them on the back steps leading into my kitchen. My yard is fenced and gates locked (for my five Chihuahuas' protection. I am also neurotic someone might open a gate and they would run) so I have to bring the plants through the kitchen and den and out the French doors to my little patio. That is today's mission. I was too tired yesterday to take the plants any further than the back steps. I took a nap with the pups and my favorite word tomorrow crossed my mind. Fingers crossed I can plant these without incident later this afternoon. But then again, my lawn man is due this week, perhaps he'll help. 

I'm writing this post this morning because it's easier than working in my garden. Procrastination, another of my great skills. I hate that I have trouble moving around to take care of my plants. Watering is a chore some days. Or maybe I've becom lazy and just let Mother Nature do her thing. She takes better care of my garden than I do.

A charming rose that has the courage to come back each year despite my neglect (It was here when I bought my house in 2020) is in the picture below taken a few days ago.  In my younger days I had my own glorious garden that I diligently maintained. At my age, with my achy joints and now knee on the mend, I'm so much slower. But that doesn't stop me from dreaming of a beautiful garden spot. I am so lucky the previous owners took such care here, planting gardenias, hydrangeas, roses, and many native plants that flourish despite me.

That pink beauty at Home Depot has stayed on my mind overnight. Perhaps one more trip back to buy it. We'll see.

Monday, May 27, 2024

I'm Not Messy, I'm Creative

View of my desk.

Laptop under paintings. 

 I have a big pink mug that assures me I'm creative and not messy. And earlier today I found this quote that may relate to my state of mind. "Messy people are not necessarily sloppy. They just have more ideas than they have places to put them." - Anonymous

Too many ideas clutter my head that range from painting, writing, and collecting things that fill most space in my house. One is never enough. In fact, saying that brings back a funny memory after I became a widow. I disliked my doctor more than I can say. I always left feeling crazy and fat. In those early days as a widow I threw myself into everything. (And I've written about it in two memoirs). Six dogs, three shops spaces in that small area in Old Town, and collecting more cupboards and farm tables than rooms to hold them. So I rented several storage spaces. My doctor suggested I talk to a therapist. Nodding like a puppy I said 'okay' and got a referral. She sent me to a social worker she knew who worked with the prision system. I spent the hour telling him home much I disliked her and not to look for me to come back for another session.

Then I said maybe I had a multiple disorder needing multiples of everything. "Lucky for my husband I only needed one husband. He was 6' 7"." I chuckled at my humor.

"Well, he was so tall, perhaps he seemed like more than just one." 

And I had to pay for this advice.

Sixteen years later, I still think in multiples. A former antique dealer, I can't pass up a treasure. Loving dogs, I have five. My art is stacking all around my desk here in the den.  And I've got several books working away in my mind. I clear table tops and within a week there are piles of treasures stacking up again. 

Creative minds are rarely tidy. I read that today online. I'd like to think I'm creative and not just living in chaos.  Artist, Writer, Collector, Dog Hoarder. That's me. I see beauty in my house when I look around. Canvases piled up, notes tucked hither and yon, dogs sprawled out on the sofa, and little vignettes of small treasures tucked in cupboards when I finally pull it all together. 

I think about downsizing, getting rid of my artistic clutter, and wonder what it would be like to have a normal home with everything in place. Then I laugh. Within 48 hours I'd start fillling my space with things to inspire me, and well, there would be less space for my inspiration to grow.

That's not happening. I am not messy. I am creative. I think I'll focus on that thought for now.





Monday, May 6, 2024

Note To Self

 Saw this on Facebook this morning and it was exactly what I needed to read today. I'm always wondering if I'm doing enough, for others, and for myself.  I have what I call a quiet little life. My house, my dogs, my friends, my love of antiques. I am a people person who is becoming more introverted, some by choice, some by circumstance. At 75 heading close to 76 I find I like doing nothing except sitting with my dogs.  I don't even turn on the TV or music. I sit in silence as dusk rolls in, looking out my French doors to the garden (sadly neglected) and watch as my solar lights blink on my fence, happy and content, until I realize I'm home alone every night. Tomorrow, I tell myself, I'll do more tomorrow. And I usually do, working at the art center, painting, my writing not so much as I wonder what I really have to say. Some friends do BIG things (they are a little younger) and I'm envious. Envious that they have the energy and desire to do BIG things. I worry I'm falling behind. Becoming dull, or even lazy. On days I wonder what is my purpose in life. Then I read the above and realized kindness is a great purpose in life. And hopefully I live that every day.  With family, friends, people I meet. Talk to strangers who come in the art center and listen to them. They leave and I've made a new friend. Years ago after I lost my husband and started writing, I did a post about my front door that I painted blue. I found my biggest adventures came right outside that door, in my community. I didn't have to travel far to find what I love best. For me, I've discovered my greatest moments are close to home and after all these years, that is a grand life. I hope my purpose will continue to be there for others, listening, offering friendship, and trying to be the best I can. And the dogs, oh my, the dogs I've taken in and loved. I sit at night and watch them, once lost, now happy and fighting to see who gets to sit on my lap next. I've done well there!

Monday, November 6, 2023

Thankful For Books Giveaway with WOW! Women On Writing

 I'm excited my novella "Christmas With Ginger" is one of the many books in this fabulous giveaway with WOW! Women On Writing. Link HERE to get all the details and enter to win at the bottom of their page on The Muffin. 

                 Read more on Amazon. Paperback only. Kindle will be available later this month.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

"Christmas With Ginger" My New Christmas Novella



                                                                                      Buy On Amazon 

About The Book:

Holly Sterling is in the dumps again this Christmas. In her mid-sixties, a widow and orphan, two titles that haunt her since losing her husband and mother six years ago. No family, no real friends, not even a pet, Holly’s coping mechanism is shopping online November and December, buying vintage treasures that remind her of happier times. This holiday nothing helps ease her loneliness. Holly hasn't a clue what to do next.

With a little encouragement from the spirit world, and a tiny Chihuahua named Ginger, Holly’s life is about to change. Add a handsome pet shop owner who likes to play Santa, and his niece who runs a dog rescue group, this sweet story of love, friendship, and adopting dogs, might answer the question “who rescued who?”

Set in a small Georgia town, this novella is a charming holiday read. It's never too late to trust in the magic of new beginnings.


"It's you!" Some of my friends commented as I talked about the plot. "Well, yes and no." I had to laugh. A widow in her sixties could be me a few years ago. Working at an art gallery, bingo, I do. But Holly has never owned a dog, and my dog numbers vary from five to six. Currently, I am Chihuahua Mama to five little ones. She meets a handsome Santa and romance is in the air. I am still unattached except for my little mafia of dogs.
Real or imagined, in Holly's mind she's convinced her late husband and mother are guiding her to come out of her shell and start living again. Sometimes I do chat with loved ones long gone. And of course, a tiny Chihuahua from Animal Control is the catalyst for all the changes twelve days before Christmas. You should know, Ginger is my little Carmella. I've dedicated the book to her.
Written on a whim, I had fun with this novella. It's only 136 pages, but full of the holiday spirit. I liked writing about a character who is older. Heck, I'm older. You know, having crossed that 75th birthday earlier this year. I wondered if Holly's mannerisms were too youthful, but then realized she is exactly how I would be ......if this story was about me! And it's not.

Available on Amazon paperback only. The kindle version will come out later in November.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Santa's Slip Up by Raven Howell Book Review


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"Santa's Slip Up" written by Raven Howell Illustration by Savannah Horton

Anyone can make a mistake and Santa has made a big one in this charming and spooky children's book written by Raven Howell and illustrated by Savannah Horton. It's Halloween and all the ghosts and gobblins and other creatures of the night are surprised to hear a cheery "Ho, ho, ho". Santa has come at the wrong tine of year. What could be a disaster is handled with humor and there's a new winner in the Halloween parade.Geared towards older elementary to middle school grade reader. As for me, I love children's books and am excited to have a copy to keep and enjoy, both at Halloween and Christmas!

I reviewed this book as part of the author's blog tour with WOW! Women on Writing. Link here to read Raven Howell's interview on The Muffin and learn more about this award-winning children's author and poet.You can also enter to win a free copy of her book. Below is a list of stops the author will make as she continues on tour with WOW!







Review of Carmen Leal's New Book "When Love Wags a Tail" for WOW!

Purchase a copy of " When Love Wags a Tail"  on   Amazon ,  Barnes and Noble , and . I'm so excited to share Car...