Canyon Lake Office

Planting Words of a Lost Friend.

Over time, a memory can take on a new meaning. Sometimes you don’t get to cherish and enjoy a marking of time, because you don’t know it will be the last time you go there, do that, or talk to them.

Going into 2016, I have classmates that lost their fathers, the world has lost some of our most creative entertainers, and I lost my friend, Marilyn Tucker. Below is a picture of a table that I have posted many times. It’s at a house on Canyon Lake in the Texas Hill Country. I often joke about it being my favorite office, my favorite place to write. It looks out over the water and in the early morning I would sit there and watch the sun rise from behind the hills.

Canyon Lake Office
My office at the lake


It was more than the beautiful view, it was the people that were there with me. The fellow writers that understood the creative process. The moments of silence that are needed when creating a fictional world that is real in your head. Marilyn Tucker gave this gift to me, not just the place, but a tribe. When I sat there in November I didn’t know it would be the last time. The last weekend with our tribal leader.

Story-tellers telling stories. Sasha Summers, Marilyn Tucker and Jodi Thomas
Story-tellers telling stories. Sasha Summers, Marilyn Tucker and Jodi Thomas

This has been a year of many blessings, joys, and wonderful accomplishments. But as tragedy often does, I was blindsided. In my fifty years, (it might only be forty eight, but I lose track), I have had unexpected losses, but the depth of this one caught me by surprise. She was not my mother, my sister, or my child. She was my friend, my tribal leader.
Almost three years ago, Marilyn Tucker invited me to be part of her tribe. A tribe that truly loves, supports, and understands each other, even our flaws and scars. We were very protective of this small group.
mar
Let me back up a moment and tell you about my experience in being a writer.
Every writer needs a tribe, and not just any tribe, but one that is drama free. Not free from the ups and downs of life. Not an everything-is-good-all-the-time type of crap, but free of the self-created drama, of not knowing the difference between pride and truth. Drama brought on by jealousy, envy and bitterness. It can swallow you whole before you’re even aware it has snuck up behind you.
There are times it seems as if everyone is doing better than you, finishing their stories, selling their stories, multi-book contracts, making more sells, going to bigger events, making more money, better marketing, winning awards and getting better reviews. We create illusions for a living and sometimes the best illusion is our own life.
Every writer needs a drama free zone were we can laugh at petty insecurities and self-doubt. The business of writing is exciting, thrilling and soul sucking.
You have people in your head that have stories to tell. You create a world from bits and pieces of who you are. If you’re truly honest and authentic you get to create characters that no one else can create. Your secret thoughts, desires, wishes and dreams are given life. Your view of the world and the people in it shape your story. You take the real and create a fantasy.
Eventually you will get brave enough to send it out for others to read, to strangers that have no care for your heart.
You want people to love your baby, to tell you and everyone they know that you have the most beautiful, creative, poignant story. You can’t wait to hear how the characters made them laugh…made them cry. You want them to see your baby as special and unique. You want the world to accept your baby and lift her up, to celebrate her.
Your story is the best part of your secrets, your heart. Sometimes it’s the part you hide and keep buried, and when you bring it to light, you want people to understand.
Some will, but others won’t. They might even call your baby names: unpolished, not worth reading, unbelievable, unmarketable, predictable or worse, boring. Yes, there will be people for whatever reason that don’t understand and they will let the public know.
If you let them, they will make you doubt yourself – Like we need any help in that area, right?
You tell yourself it will be better when you….get published, have more followers, get more books out, make the bestseller list, win awards or get that multi-book deal.
But the pressure gets worse, then you move into feeling like a fraud…what happens when they find out the truth? You aren’t really smart or creative – it was a fluke. The voices turn the self-doubt to a new level. I’ll never write another story anyone wants.
This, my friend, is where the tribe comes in, where they chase away the bad voices and get to the truth. My tribe leader, Marilyn Tucker, created a safe haven where we could create, brainstorm and vent. A group that spent time laughing at our own insecurities and looked honestly at our goals.
A group that reminds you of the joy of writing, the excitement of creating a new world. The emotion you create on the page becomes real and you remember why you write. What do you do when you lose your leader?
Talking story with Storm Navarro, Joni Hahn, Sasha Summers, Jodi Thomas, and Marilyn Tucker
You go adrift for a second. You come across a problem that you would have called her for and stumble when you remember she’s not available anymore.
What do you do? You move forward in her honor. You reach out to her other friends and together you build a new tribe. You take every encouraging word she said to you and plant it in your heart until it has roots and you harvest those words when you need them. You tell stories and you laugh. Marilyn lived to make others laugh. When she was reading her work out loud, she would count the times people laughed, that was how she knew if she succeeded in her goal. We remember her stories and laugh in her honor.
And we remember most of all, we are story tellers – we tell stories. We have the power to look at life, to take the joys and the sorrow and create a world that we can share with others. Our stories are not for those that don’t understand. They are for the ones that want to understand, that want to be reminded that even in our darkest moments, there is love. In the midst of a storm, we can find peace. For a moment, we can connect to others through words. Marilyn Tucker, you will be missed every day. Thank you for making me a better writer and more importantly, a better person.

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow
My office at the lake
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A Texas Hill Country Thanksgiving

I thank my parents for raising me as a horse loving Texas Hill Country girl.   Nine Thanksgiving ago my sisters and I lost my mother. We lost our father nineteen years ago. They loved family and every holiday, plus some we were making the rounds to visit loved ones. We were shown through example that family matters.

A few years ago my sisters and I started a new tradition for Thanksgiving. We rented a cabin by the Frio River in Leakey, Texas. (our parents married in Leakey) A cousin from my family and a cousin from my brother-in-law’s joined in and we stay for four days.

The rest of my mother’s family, including her mother, join us. We bounce between 30 to 50 people on Thursday.  In a world that moves fast and people spend more time looking down at a screen than into the face of real people, personal connections with extended family gives  us roots and a healthier life. As humans, the need for relationships with others and nature is built into our DNA. To me Thanksgiving is not  about the food…it’s the people and getting away from the rush of daily life.

Old Giant Oak tree in Texas Hill Country. Leakey Texas.

These old trees make me think of how time moves and the world changes, but God is constant. We come and go but the world keeps turning. I love to take time and enjoy the peace these trees give me.

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Roads through the Texas Hill Country
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Taking time to walk off some of our Thanksgiving feast in the Texas Hill Country. Leakey Texas

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Enjoying the Frio River even in the rain. Two aunts and uncle and one of my sisters. Leakey Texas
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It helps if you have someone that plays the guitar and maracas.

Play some games! How to have fun at a Texas Hill Country Thanksgiving.

My Grandmother and seven (of ten)of her great-grandchildren from her oldest child, my mother, Cindy French Guinther. She has a total of thirty great-grandchildren.

Longhorn on a  Texas Hill Country Ranch Country
Longhorn on a Texas Hill Country Ranch Country

Since we are on a Texas Hill Country ranch we have to include a Longhorn.

Even thought we had rain we had fun. You have to set your mind to it sometimes but it can always be found. Play in the Rain!

Play in the Texas Rain with Jolene Navarro!
Play in the Texas Rain with Jolene Navarro!

Play in the Rain! Life is too short to wait around for the right time. Give thanks for the rain and the sun, the wind and the opportunity to experience it all.

What do you do to connect with people or nature?

 

 

Thor Looking for Jolene Navarro's book. A Texas Christmas Wish

A Texas Christmas Wish is officially out

I have loved this story from the moment I met Karly and knew she needed a happy ending. Tyler had been lurking in the background telling me he was ready. I can’t believe we have made it to release day and A Texas Christmas Wish will be launched into the world.

We celebrated last Saturday at Bergmann Lumber on Boerne Main Street. Small town living supporting small town stories.

Jolene Navarro signing books at Bergmann Lumber
Jolene Navarro signing books at Bergmann Lumber
Jolene Navarro signing books at Bergmann Lumber
Jolene Navarro signing books at Bergmann Lumber
Signing books at Bergmann Lumber
Signing books at Bergmann Lumber
The Purpose of Life, Faith, Family, Books, Community and football
The Purpose of Life, Faith, Family, Books, Community and football

I had a great time. If you are looking for the ebook to download – either Kindle or Nook they will be ready Thursday October 1 – Yes Tomorrow!

Thor Looking for Jolene Navarro's book. A Texas Christmas Wish
Thor Looking for Jolene Navarro’s book. A Texas Christmas Wish

Do you have you copy of A Texas Christmas Wish? Do you like Christmas stories?

Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas - photo Jolene Navarro

Part 2 What to do in Vegas if you don’t gamble or drink. Fremont Experience

Today I’m going to share my Fremont experience with you. Last week I shared the things I did in Vegas that didn’t involve gambling or drinking: I hung out in an over-the-top hotel room, watched a storm come in from the mountains, and watched people below. I explored the Palazzo and Venetian hotels, which included a small Italian village, With a friend I walked the South end of the Vegas Strip…Bellagio and Paris. Saw the gardens, the fountains and some Picasso.

My selfie in Vegas - I need to practice - Jolene Navarro
My selfie in Vegas – I need to practice – Jolene Navarro

If you missed it, just visit my last post

That alone would have made a good trip, but my roommate and fellow teacher agreed to go with me to the other end of Vegas. The “old” Vegas also know as the Fremont Experience. All the pictures were taken with my Samsung Galaxy Edge 6.

After looking at the options of traveling the distance to the opposite side of town we decided on the using the Deuce double-decked bus. We would only be using it once – to get there and back – so we paid cash 3.00 each way. If you want to get on and off you can get a one day for 8.00 or a three day for 20.00. All the locals say don’t use the cabs – they charge time and you pay for sitting in traffic.

Deuce double decked bus in Vegas
Deuce double decked bus in Vegas

We enjoyed the ride. Sitting front seat on the upper lever I got some nice pictures on our way to Fremont street. We passed Circus, Circus, the art district several wedding chapels and the Stratosphere.

Stratosphere on the Vegas Strip - Jolene Navarro
Stratosphere on the Vegas Strip – Jolene Navarro

We arrived on Fremont about 5:30 pm and went to Fremont East first to find dinner.

East Fremont Street
East Fremont Street
3-D Art on Fremont Street in Vegas. The Praying Mantis outside Container Park on Fremont St. photo by Jolene Navarro
3-D Art on Fremont Street in Vegas. The Praying Mantis outside Container Park on Fremont St. photo by Jolene Navarro

We found a gaint Praying Mantis. At night he puts on a laser show – While we were walking by a bride and groom were there with a photographer taking wedding photos.

The murals alone were worth the bus fee.

Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas - photo Jolene Navarro
Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas – photo Jolene Navarro
Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas - photo Jolene Navarro
Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas – photo Jolene Navarro

When we first got there another wedding couple were taking pictures with this one as the backdrop. I was going to take a picture of them taking pictures but my son says that’s creepy – they left before I could get a good one anyway. We saw a total of four couples in full wedding gear walking around Fremont.

Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas - photo Jolene Navarro
Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas – photo Jolene Navarro

One place that  looked like a great place to eat was The Market

Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas - photo Jolene Navarro
Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas – photo Jolene Navarro
Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas - photo Jolene Navarro
Art on Fremont Another huge mural on Fremont Street in Las Vegas – photo Jolene Navarro

The Market mural was so big it took two photos. I love the colors.

Fresh food at The Market. Nice option in Vegas.
Fresh food at The Market. Nice option in Vegas.

Back at the Palazzo a small bowl of wanton soup was $15.00 so a $5 lunch special with fresh fixings looked good. Locals had told us to try Radio City Pizzeria. So we headed across the street

Radio City Pizzeria on Fremont East with my roommate- photo by Jolene Navarroo
Radio City Pizzeria on Fremont East with my roommate- photo by Jolene Navarro

My roommate Monica was a great traveling partner. She never once complained when I would stop to take pictures. She even let me take hers with the way too big pizza we ordered. Oh, but it was good. One slice each filled us up and we took two to-go-boxes back to the hotel room. Good thing I took my large Vera Bradley. That sucker holds everything.

Radio City Pizzeria on Fremont East - photo by Jolene Navarro
Radio City Pizzeria on Fremont East – photo by Jolene Navarro

I had to take a picture of the toppings list. I might be a bit shelters but these are some strange toppings. Really, check out the list. You have to tell me if you would try or maybe even have tried some of these topping…Duck? Blood Sausage?

And what the heck is Beef Heart – is it what I think it is? ugh. Now I thought the eggplant sounded good.

Unusual topping choices at the Radio City Pizzeria on Fremont East
Unusual topping choices at the Radio City Pizzeria on Fremont East

After a great dinner we stepped out into the dusk. The Neon Lights were fired up. The Las Vegas Boulevard Signs Project partnered with Neon Museum to restore old signs that had been removed to make way for bigger and brighter. Now they are back, lighting up the night sky in downtown Las Vegas. Click here to visit their website

In 1996, the Horse and Rider from the Hacienda Hotel was the first sign restored and installed as public art in Downtown Las Vegas.

Historical Signage on Fremont in Las Vegas - photo by Jolene Navarro
Historical Signage on Fremont in Las Vegas – photo by Jolene Navarro

Map to the Restored Neon Signs

Historical Signage on Fremont in Las Vegas - photo by Jolene Navarro
Historical Signage on Fremont in Las Vegas – photo by Jolene Navarro
Historical Signage on Fremont in Las Vegas - photo by Jolene Navarro
Historical Signage on Fremont in Las Vegas – photo by Jolene Navarro
Fremont has become a living Museum to the history of Vegas -Historical Signs are on display -photo Jolene Navarro
Fremont has become a living Museum to the history of Vegas -Historical Signs are on display -photo Jolene Navarro
The Vegas of old on Fremont - photo by Jolene Navarro
The Vegas of old on Fremont – photo by Jolene Navarro

The hotel and casinos have gone through a bit of change since the days Howard Hughes set up shop.

Little monkey skeleton on Fremont Street Las Vegas - photo Jolene Navarro
Little monkey skeleton on Fremont Street Las Vegas – photo Jolene Navarro

I think the little monkey hanging on to the side of the building was one of my favorite neon art works.

As the sun goes down and the crowds start to pick up we headed to the other end of Fremont. The one with the largest digital screen in the world. Yes, you are walking under the screen. They also have free music here on certain nights so be sure to look that up.

Fremont - in Vegas the largest digital screen in the world. photo Jolene Navarro
Fremont – in Vegas the largest digital screen in the world. photo Jolene Navarro
Fremont -Zip lining in Vegas under the largest digital screen in the world. photo Jolene Navarro
Fremont -Zip lining in Vegas under the largest digital screen in the world. photo Jolene Navarro

The one thing I would not be doing was getting up close to the giant screen. See the black dots dangling from a rope? They are people that jumped off a platform and zipped to the other end of the screen.

Fremont Experience photo by Jolene Navarro
Fremont Experience photo by Jolene Navarro

It had started to get really crowed and almost naked people started showing up – some pretending to do magic, others trying to hoover in the air and some just hanging out with a loincloth. So we hopped back on the bus and headed to our room. Vegas is a visual feast and over all I have to say I enjoyed it. Wait? Did I ever play the slots? I confess, I did put a $20 in and ended up leaving with $43 …but I have to tell you, I couldn’t do it for long. It was really boring. Other than when it lit up and went crazy – at one point I did have $82.00 and to watch it slip down and down. I didn’t like it.

Have you been to Vegas? Do you want to go to Vegas? If you have been what was your favorite thing to do?

So now I’m off to New York for the Annual Romance Writers of America conference. Watch out New York here we come!

What is there to do in Las Vegas if you don’t gamble or drink? Part One.

So I had a conference to go to. I love traveling and usually jump at the chance to go to a new place, but this one was in Las Vegas. I don’t gamble or drink and I’m really not into naked people I don’t know.

But I do love art, people watching and taking pictures. All these pictures were taken with my Samsung Galaxy Edge 6.

So what could I spend all of my free time doing?

Option #1 – hide out in my room.

Our room in the Palazzo was incredible and it would have been easy to stay there. As the smallest room available it was a statement in overindulgence. A great place to read or write. And we could watch storms coming in from the mountains. Right across from us the pirate ships of TI (Treasure Island) were lit up. We could also see the big tall gold TRUMP tower. Made me feel like I should be writing about a rich bad boy with issues…maybe I’ll stick to my small town cowboys with issues.

)We could also watch the swimmers in the pool. They seemed to forget that people in the rooms above could see what was going on under the water.

A Vegas view from the Palazzo of the mountains and TRUMP photo Jolene Navarro
A Vegas view from the Palazzo of the mountains and TRUMP. http://www.palazzo.com/hotel.html photo Jolene Navarro
We had the smallest room the Palazzo had to offer! It was a huge two room suite with a table that sat four, a desk and a large l-shaped sofa that was very comfy.
We had the smallest room the Palazzo had to offer! It was a huge two room suite with a table that sat four, a desk and a large l-shaped sofa that was very comfy. http://www.palazzo.com/hotel.html
Pirate ships in front of Treasure Island and Senor Frog. Across from the Palazzo. Jolene Navarro
Pirate ships in front of Treasure Island and Senor Frog. Across from the Palazzo Photo Jolene Navarro

Option # 2 – Tour the Palazzo Hotel

The hotel itself is a small town of upscale shopping and restaurants of every kind. You could spend your whole time in Vegas and never leave this hotel. Just walking through the hotels and taking in the displays was vacation worthy.  I walked by these everyday to get from my room to the conference. I had to walk through the casino also but didn’t think to get pictures of the slot machines and tables. I didn’t find them as interesting.

These photos were all taken in the Palazzo. It is a true visual feast.

The Palazzo had several displays made up of flowers. Photo Jolene Navarro
The Palazzo had several displays made up of flowers. Photo Jolene Navarro
The Palazzo had several displays made up of flowers.
The Palazzo had several displays made up of flowers.
The Palazzo had several displays made up of flowers.
The Palazzo in Las Vegas had several displays made up of flowers.
Shopping at the Palazzo Photo Jolene Navarro
Shopping at the Palazzo Photo Jolene Navarro
Palazzo in Las Vegas provides shopping and entertainment without leaving the hotel
Palazzo in Las Vegas provides shopping and entertainment without leaving the hotel. That’s a real person. Photo Jolene Navarro
Palazzo in Las Vegas provides shopping and entertainment without leaving the hotel
Palazzo in Las Vegas provides shopping and entertainment without leaving the hotel. You never knew when you would come across a live performance. Photo Jolene Navarro
Palazzo in Las Vegas provides shopping and entertainment without leaving the hotel. Everything is Grand!
Palazzo in Las Vegas provides shopping and entertainment without leaving the hotel. Everything is Grand! Photo Jolene Navarro

You can even take a ride in the river – it’s as if you have left the United States

 Vienna is not far away when you are staying at the Palazzo in Las Vegas.
Vienna is not far away when you are staying at the Palazzo in Las Vegas.
The Palazzo in Vegas is an adventure all in its self! You don't even need to leave the hotel.
The Palazzo in Vegas is an adventure all in its self! You don’t even need to leave the hotel.
The Palazzo - http://www.palazzo.com/hotel.html
The Palazzo – http://www.palazzo.com/hotel.html

Connected to The Palazzo is The Venetian – it is worth walking to their lobby too.

The lobby at the Venetian in Las Vegas is a grand example of classical art
The lobby at the Venetian in Las Vegas is a grand example of classical art and the over the top attitude in Vegas. Jolene Navarro

Staying at the Palazzo

Day two in Vegas and I’m ready to walk outside of the hotel. We did discover a Walgreen right at the corner of our hotel so each day we would get fresh fruit for lunch. My roommate also found out they were the only place to get Big Red and Dr, Pepper. So she was happy.  I have a friend from the West Texas Writer’s Academy that lives n Vegas so I called her. We met at 5:30pm and with our walking boots on headed south (left from the Palazzo) and made our way to the Bellagio.

Option #3 – Walk to the Belliagio

Another feast for the eyes. Getting around the strip is easy with the escalators that take up to the pedestrian bridges. You never actually cross the main strip. We walked on the right side and stayed out of the sun. Along the way we saw many opportunities to take pictures with the almost look-a-likes of Mikey and Minnie Mouse, Mike Tyson, the bearded man with the baby, minions and a pissed off Cubaca. I only saw one Elvis. They each wanted money to have their picture taken – so I passed.  It was entertaining to say the least.

The Belliagio was worth the walk. From the Picasso showing (I did pay extra to see these) to the Botanical gardens to the biggest chocolate waterfall I have ever seen. Art popped up in unexpected places. I even spotted one of Nick Cave’s Soundsuits (picture below). Of course you can’t miss Dale Chihuly’s work of hand blown glass that covers an eighteen foot ceiling. But take the time to look along the edges of the conservatory – you can find more of his glass there.  That is all topped by the Fountains of the Bellagio.

After the pictures of our adventure I have a video of “Behind the Scenes in Creating the Water Show at the Fountains”.

Stepping of the Palazzo lobby we could go North or South on the Vegas Strip - This is North
Stepping out of the Palazzo lobby we could go North or South on the Vegas Strip – This is North were you will find the Wynn and giant block eating mall. The UFO shaped thing is the entry. Photo Jolene Navarro
Vegas Strip - North of the Palazzo
Vegas Strip – North of the Palazzo. We left when the sun was still up – but most of Vegas looks better at night
Bellagio in Vegas. Theme - Under the under the Sea with Summer Gardens at the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
Bellagio in Vegas. Theme – Under the under the Sea with Summer Gardens at the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
Bellagio in Vegas. Theme -Under the sea with Summer Gardens at the Conservatory &
Bellagio in Vegas. Theme – Under the under the Sea with Summer Gardens at the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
At the Bellagio in Las Vegas in the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens with Jenna Neal and Jolene Navarro
At the Bellagio in Las Vegas in the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens with Jenna Neal and Jolene Navarro
At the Bellagio in Las Vegas in the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens Sea Turtles  Jolene
At the Bellagio in Las Vegas in the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens Sea Turtles Jolene Navarro
At the Bellagio in Las Vegas in the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens the baby  Sea Turtles  Photo by Jolene
At the Bellagio in Las Vegas in the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens the baby Sea Turtles Photo by Jolene
At the Bellagio in Las Vegas in the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens   Photo by Jolene
At the Bellagio in Las Vegas in the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens Photo by Jolene
Painted umbrellas hanging in the Bellagio. photo by Jolene Navarro
Painted umbrellas hanging in the Bellagio. photo by Jolene Navarro
Painted umbrellas hanging in the Bellagio. photo by Jolene Navarro
Painted umbrellas hanging in the Bellagio. photo by Jolene Navarro
In the Bellagio in Vegas I found the the tallest chocolate fountain I have ever seen. The little girls were impressed too.
In the Bellagio in Vegas I found the the tallest chocolate fountain I have ever seen. The little girls were impressed too.
In the middle of the hall I found a Soundsuit by Nick Cave!. Jolene Navarro
In the middle of the hall I found a Soundsuit by Nick Cave!.
18 foot ceiling covered in the hand blown glass created by Dale Chihuly. Bellagio in Vegas
18 foot ceiling covered in the hand blown glass created by Dale Chihuly. Bellagio in Vegas

Now the fountain. I was up on the bridge when I took this pictures – I would recommend being on the street level – but people start gathering early. The pictures I took just don’t do it justice so click on the video link and see how they do it.

The Water Fountain at the Bellagio is worth the time to see.  - Jolene Navarro
The Water Fountain at the Bellagio is worth the time to see.
The Water Fountain at the Bellagio is worth the time to see.
The Water Fountain at the Bellagio is worth the time to see.

Across from the Bellagio and a little further up was Paris. Was told by local one of the best buffets.
Across from the Bellagio and a little further up was Paris. Was told by local the Paris had one of the best buffets. It was The Little Village. We enjoyed it – the dessert was worth the price.

I was enjoying Las Vegas much more than I ever thought I would. I’m not even done with my list of free things to do in Vegas. The Fremont in next – but that was such an experience it will get its own blog later this week.

New Clear Water story about family, love, and Christmas.

So excited to show you the cover for the third book in my Clear Water stories with Love Inspired. A story of family, faith and finding a place to belong all in time for Christmas.

A Texas Christmas Wish.

http://www.amazon.com/Texas-Christmas-Wish-Love-Inspired-ebook/dp/B00VQJSKEM/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1435713493&sr=8-3&keywords=jolene+navarro
Pre-order book so you can have it September 15. Ebook can be downloaded October 1, 2015

Two of my favorite secondary characters are horses, Quarter horse, Jet set Lena and Rescued Appaloosa, Tank.

And yes, as the cover indicates there is some snow and a Christmas Eve foal. Along with a hero that’s a pilot. I loved writing  Karly & Tyler’s story. Their book will be in most Walmarts September 15 and available for pre-order at Barns & Noble and Amazon. The E-books will download October 1, 2015

Links below.

Karly Kalakona’s new nursing job is the perfect Christmas gift she and her son needed for their future. The single mom just never counted on dealing with not only a stubborn patient, but also with his prodigal son. After years away, pilot Tyler Childress is only a temporary traveler to the Texas ranch he’s spent his life escaping. But the chemistry he shares with his father’s nurse is undeniable—and has him thinking of sticking around past the holiday season. Can Tyler learn to trust the woman whose caring ways are bringing his father back to life…and who might just be the partner his wandering heart can find a home with?

Click here to pre-order on Amazon A Texas Christmas Wish

Click here to pre-order for Nook or Barns & Noble – A Texas Christmas Wish

Opening Scene:

    Karly turned the wipers to the highest setting, but they didn’t help much. She knew the ranchers in Clear Water, Texas, were celebrating after the long drought, but she just wanted to get to her new home without drowning.
New home. If everything worked out the way she planned, her young son, Bryce would be celebrating Christmas in a real home for the first time ever. Last Christmas they had been living in her car. At church deacon Dub Childress had always made her feel welcomed. Now he was recovering from a stroke and broken arm—and it was her turn to help him.
On the huge plus side, if she could pull this off, no shelter or cheap hotel for them this year. But would she be able to care for Dub and his house? She didn’t even finish high school. Doing some research on stroke patients online might not be enough.
Deep breath in…out. She made herself relax. This last year had brought so many changes, with the help of her new church family, she was free of bad relationships. Hopefully no one expected her to cook. She could clean. She was very good at cleaning.
The rain pounded the roof, making it hard to hear anything else. In the backseat, Bryce finally calmed down. Her five-year-old son hated storms—or any loud noise. She leaned forward, her knuckles white around the steering wheel. God had gotten them through worse storms.
Glancing in the rearview mirror at her son, she continued the game. “Let me see. Is it your baby picture on my visor?”
Kicking his feet against the passenger seat, Bryce grinned at her. His smile shone through the dark, dreary day. “Yes! Now it’s your turn.”
“Okay…let me see….I spy something…blue and white.”
Bryce gasped. Karly turned back to see what startled him. He pointed to the road in front of her.
“Airplane.”
Squinting to see through the heavy rain she saw it, too. “No…” She blinked to clear the image, but it was still there. A small aircraft hovered over the road. The spinning blades on the nose of the plane headed straight for them. The wings tilted from one side to the other as if trying to balance on the air.
Instinctively, she hit the brake and jerked to the right, taking them through a muddy ditch. The car bounced over the rocky terrain. Their seat belts were the only thing that kept them in place. The boxes and bags weren’t so lucky.
After a hard stop, just short of a barbed-wire fence, she looked back at Bryce, reaching for him, needing to touch him. “Are you okay?”
He twisted in his booster seat, pulling himself around as far as the seat belt would let him go. “It’s an airplane.” He looked at her for a second before pointing around the overturned boxes in the back. “An airplane on the road.”
Through the back window, in the gray, water-blurred scene, Karly saw a figure run toward them. She slowly filled her lungs, making every effort to breathe and stop the shaking of her hands. Eyes closed, she counted and relaxed each muscle.
A tap on the window caused her to jump. A drenched man stood outside her car. Rolling the window down, she was hit with rain. She cupped a hand over her face and found Tyler Childress staring at her.
Tyler pulled his leather jacket over his head to block her from the onslaught of rain. Leaning closer to her, he looked into the car. “Is everyone all right? I’m so sorry. Cattle were on the airstrip and I thought I could make it to the field, but the pressure came in low.”
“We’re fine. A little shaken up, but fine. Tyler Childress, right?”
“Oh, no.” He smiled—the smile she heard the women of Clear Water sigh over whenever they gossiped about the good-looking son of Dub Childress. Wild and impulsive, but good-looking as all get out. This phrase was repeated often.                                                                                                                                                                       “We didn’t go to school together did we? I’m horrible with names.” The rain started dripping off the sides of his jacket.
“No, we’ve never met. Why don’t you get in the car and out of the rain?
He gave a quick nod and ran in front of her car as she rolled up her window.
Reaching across the seat. She pulled the lock up, then started stuffing bags and containers in the seat behind her. The off-road adventure had scattered their worldly possessions throughout the car. They would have to repack everything. Tyler slid into her `97 wagon. The space got a lot smaller with his tall, well-built body. He looked like a pirate just rescued from a shipwreck.
She focused on her hands. He was dangerous, the kind of man that could bring trouble to her new safe world.

I could run in heels too if I was chasing Chris Pratt and what about those Chickens!

Last weekend we went to see Jurassic World. I was not to sure about it. I mean really, how many time can you recreate a dinosaur and convince yourself this time no one will be eaten? Oh, but this one has something or should I say someone different – a hero that is funny and bad ass at the same time. And can ride a motorcycle like …well you have to see the movie.  Just in case you need reminders of who Chris Pratt is – I have added pictures.

Chris Pratt goofy and bad ass at the same time.
Chris Pratt goofy and bad ass at the same time.
Chris Pratt looking sexy sweet for Jurassic World
Chris Pratt looking sexy sweet for Jurassic World
Chris Pratt with his motorcycle in Jurassic Park.
Chris Pratt with his motorcycle in Jurassic Park.

I really enjoyed it. But again I’m easy to please if you give me a little action, a hot guy with a little romance and a cute kid. There is a reason I’m a romance writer.

I do think one of the reasons this was such a hit was the star himself. How can you not love Chris Pratt? From chubby goofy guy to hot sexy guy that doesn’t take himself too seriously – when he found his chiseled body he didn’t loose the humor. He’s the kind of guy you want to have at your side if you have to run for your life. Even if you have to run in heels or protect the margaritas as you dodge flying dinos looking for a snack.

Here he is explaining how he has to warm-up for his action shots – Did I mention he was goofy?

A tweet from my editor is what actually sent me on a Chris Pratt hunt – Zookeepers are recreating the moment when Chris Pratt has to hold back his meat eating dinosaurs from making a meal out of one of the hired help.  I just had to share. You have to check these out and tell me the one with the chickens did not make you laugh. Dare you.

Zookeepers are recreating Chris Pratt moves in Jurassic World

Since we are on the topic – here are some more funny moments with Chris Pratt.

Why we find Chris Pratt an adorable goofball and sexy too. He pulls off both very well.

So have you seen Jurassic World? What did you think. Are you a Chris Pratt fan?

gentle words

V- Venomous Words. Top 8 Bible Verses

 As a writer, words are powerful. They create a world that didn’t exists before I put it on paper. Words have the power to give life to  towns, cities and people  that seem so real you want to sit at the coffee shop and have a chat. Yes, words can build worlds.

V for Venomous Words
V for Venomous Words

 We have all heard the rhythm: Sticks and Stones will break your bones, but words can never hurt you. Ha! I think we can all agree that is a lie.

I bet if I asked you to tel me a time that someone  tossed a negative word your way. It has created a scar on your heart. Maybe it’s scabbed over now, but I think everyone has those words that hang around, words that hurt.

I believe the spoken word has power. It can build someone up or tear them down. A carelessly spoken word can worm it’s way into the recipient’s brain and make a home there for years.

Being the voice that  justifies fears and doubts. Silencing that voice can be difficult.

In education, research has taught us that for every one negative comment the human brain hears it takes three (some reports say four) positive remarks to balance the bad one.

Not overpower or wash away…just balance it.

As teachers we were challenged to make a paper bracelet  and mark every negative comment that came out of our mouth. WOW! Even the most positive of teachers where shocked to find out  much they focused on the bad.

Our words have power!

Do you use your power for good or bad? Do you use your power without thought?

I like doing word searches in the Bible – So I looked up Venomous Words.  More verses than I bothered to count came up. Yes, the Bible has a lot to say about words we use. Here are my top 8 verses (I have one in twice- different versions):

gentle word 1

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29 ESV

river tongue

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,

Matthew 12:36 ESV (Ouch – this one is scary)

river-rocks-1

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.

Matthew 15:18 ESV

gentle words

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Colossians 3:8 ESV

We like to focus on the obscene and find fault with it easily enough. But what about the other, anger…slander I think are more socially acceptable. We have to watch all of our words.

river-rock-10

Do you have a favorite saying or verse about the importance of words?

 

Moon over New York City.

U for Untied States of America all represented in New York……Home of the brave…

U for United States of America
U for United States of America

The United State of America…Home of the Brave…Sometimes they’re just words. Do you ever stop and think what they mean?

For many it was and is leaving everything you know for a hope of something better. In New York City the storyteller in me became enthralled, I felt the shadow of fear, hope and determination left by millions of immigrants. I could imagine them seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time after a long grueling voyage.

Imagine, arriving in the harbor and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time
Imagine, arriving in the harbor and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time
Lady Liberty from the boat. photo  taken by Jolene Navarro
Lady Liberty from the boat. photo taken by Jolene Navarro
I think sometimes we forget New York is surrounded by water and is a port city. Old ships in the docks of New York.
I think sometimes we forget New York is surrounded by water and is a port city. Old ships in the docks of New York.
New York, surrounded by water
New York, surrounded by water. Photo by Jolene Navarro

On 9/11 the fear as they tried to flee on boats that were taking people away from the horrific destruction. The day we all turned to New York, helpless. Just like everything else on this small piece of Earth the 9/11 Memorial is overwhelming.

911 Memorial as the set sets. Photo by Jolene Navarro
911 Memorial as the set sets. Photo by Jolene Navarro

I walk the streets of New York, filled with people from around the world that now make America their home – the history, spirit and feel of America was in every stone, brick, window and steel frame that makes up the city. I have to say man’s ability to create a habitat beyond our imagination is awe inspiring and maybe a bit scary.
Here are a few of my favorite pictures.

The old reflected in the new.

Taken from our hotel window, Andaz. The old and new next to each other. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Taken from our hotel window, Andaz. The old and new next to each other. Photo by Jolene Navarro
View from Central Park. Photo by Jolene Navarro
View from Central Park. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Sensory overload in New York City.
Sensory overload in New York City. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Central Park - Loved this part of New York.
Central Park – Loved this part of New York.
Approaching Central Park
Approaching Central Park
New York from Central Park. Photo by Jolene Navarro
New York from Central Park. Photo by Jolene Navarro
On the edge of Time Square. Have to say my least favorite part of New York City.
On the edge of Time Square. Have to say my least favorite part of New York City.
Hanging out in the M & M Store, waiting for the rain to slow down. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Hanging out in the M & M Store, waiting for the rain to slow down. Photo by Jolene Navarro
Time Square New York- the rain had started
Time Square New York- the rain had started
The storm is rolling into the city.
The storm is rolling into the city.
The Financial District.
The Financial District.
View from the Financial District.
View from the Financial District. Photo by Jolene Navarro

Then there is the art…everywhere.

New York Art
New York Art photo by Jolene Navarro

One thing that was suggested to us was to go to the website of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and map out what you want to see and go to those rooms first. This is a must or you might miss the art you really want to see – there is no way to see this museum in one day. They art they house is incredible so go with a plan and when you see the originals up close…well words can not do the emotions justice.  I could do a whole blog on the art of New York.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The ancient civilization among the newbies.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The ancient civilization among the newbies. By Jolene Navarro
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Degas.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Degas
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Degas
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Degas

To see the textures and colors up close is simply amazing. Even if you can’t make it to the museum, you should follow them on facebook. They share a piece of art each day.

http://www.metmuseum.org/visit

This summer I get to go back to New York for the Romance Writers of America conference. I’m excited to go back to the city. Is there a place you would love to visit again? Have you been to New York? What is your MUST do when you are in the city.