West Palm Beach Tour: Third Stop…Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar

Every good story has conflict, and conflict thrives on “crazy” characters. That is why Jolene breeds a great story…she’s quite crazy. In a good way. Fact is…we all have little bit of crazy.

One such wild night in my story takes place on Clematis Street inside a happening restaurant and tequila bar. It’s called Rocco’s Tacos, and the restaurant certainly does rock! The food was drenched in flavor and the guacamole dip made me want to kiss an avocado.

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Rocco’s had a great atmosphere and service. I enjoyed the accordion doors that opened up the restaurant to the outside and let the sunshine in. Sorry folks…I can’t report on the tequila but I did love the tacos. If you’re ever in the area, check it out! Delicious. Delicious.

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Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar
224 Clematis St, West Palm Beach, FL 33401
https://www.roccostacos.com

 

West Palm Beach Tour: Second Stop…Clematis Street and Liberty Book Store

West Palm Beach has a lively downtown area known as the historic arts and entertainment district. The heart of this district is Clematis Street. This area is known for its indigenous flavor for arts, music, food, boutiques, specialty shops, and nightclubs. Thursday nights from 5:30-9pm come alive when Clematis Street transforms into Clematis By Night.

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In my upcoming novel, Shrink Me, which is a romance mystery, I contemplated the perfect location for Jolene (my heroine) to have her “meet-cute.” The meet-cute is that special scene where the hero and heroine meet for the first time and a spark is ignited between them. Oftentimes, that original spark is squelched by a clash of interests or personalities only to be rekindled later in the book.

Oh how I love a sweet love story!

It wasn’t long into my search for the meet-cute location that I found the perfect store on Clematis Street. It’s a charming little shop called Liberty Book Store.

Prior to my flight into Florida, I contacted the store owner, Thorne, via email and asked him if I could highlight his store in my story. He generously agreed and when I was in town, Thorne personally showed my husband and I around his shop. It was a splendid adventure.

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I learned a lot from Thorne about his knowledge of literature and pricing vintage books. He says, “Condition is everything.” Wear and tear. Stains. Complete pages. Smell. The spine. All these things factor into the worth of a book.

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A view inside the antiquarian book room

In the back of the store is a special room that will make a book collector’s dream come true.  The antiquarian book room contains hundreds of association copies, first edition, signed and rare books. Locked glass display cases hold prized collections of Charles Dickens and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The Nonesuch Dickens 24 Volumes are a limited edition and includes the steel plate for the image “Mr. Noodle is led to the contemplation of his destiny,” proof print, and letter of authenticity. The price: $6,500.00.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald Set: The Great Gatsby,The Last Tycoon, All The Sad Young Men, The Vegetable, This Side of Paradise, Flappers and Philosophers, The Beautiful and Damned. New York: Scribner’s, 1920-1941. First Edition. Hardcover. Price: $7,250.00

In a glass case, near the front of the store was an item I found worn and beautiful. It was a copy of the Holy Bible printed in 1811. Price: $1,350.00.

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On the door of the rare book room is a sign that says, “I cannot live without books,” by Thomas Jefferson. That quote says it perfectly.

I am in love with books. I am in love with writing them, reading them, studying them, and collecting them. I need books. I’m drawn to book stores like a kid to a candy shop. Perhaps that is why I needed my heroine, Jolene to love books as well.

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If you are ever on the east coast of Florida, make it a point to visit Liberty Book Store located on Clematis St., Ste. 117
, West Palm Beach, FL 33401.

References:

http://www.westpalmbeach.com/clematis

http://www.libertybookstore.com

 

West Palm Beach Blog Tour: First Stop…CityPlace

Throw on your flip-flops and a pair of sunglasses, we’re going on a tour to West Palm Beach, Florida!

I spent the last five days absorbing the beauty of Florida’s east coast for the setting of my newest contemporary novel: Shrink Me. This novel explores the life of a therapist named Jolene, an eccentric gal who takes her profession to the extreme.

In order to capture my book in a vivid and real way, I wanted to see everything through Jolene’s eyes. So I went to the places Jolene would go. Since she lives in West Palm Beach, I spent a lot of time scouring the area.

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One of the hot spots of downtown West Palm Beach is CityPlace. It’s a shopping oasis filled with sunlight and palm trees. There is a large community of sparrows that inhabit the flowering shrubs around the plaza. Their chirps mixed nicely with the sound of fountains.

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My husband and I mainly window-shopped the huge selection of stores, but one store beckoned us to come inside: Tommy Bahama. Their candles smell like Hawaii, and I desired to wrap myself like a baby in their beautifully soft and expensive clothing. I managed to refrain from snuggling the garments, but I did buy a candle.

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Along the main stretch of CityPlace is a grocery store called Publix Supermarket. In my book, I have a special opening scene in this particular Publix between Jolene and her soon-to-be boss, Adrian. Adrian always goes to this store for his groceries, since it’s within walking distance of his apartment.

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Stouffer’s are a staple in Adrian’s freezer. He’s a bachelor.
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Busy taking notes

Tomorrow, I’ll be taking you to the historic district on Clematis Street (well that name just sounds exciting).

 

Replenish Your Mind

-It's important to haveotherI love my chickens. I never tire of watching them scratch for bugs or wander the pasture. They greet me when I open the gate to check their food and water. My hens each have a name and a special personality. They are my girls. My egg-laying hens are a big part of my hobby farm. My small farm isn’t only a hobby, its one of my creative outlets. It’s important to have other interests as writers that will unblock a bogged mind and bring peace to a busy heart.

My husband and I chose to sell our home in the city to buy land in the country. Country life suits me well. I tend to be wired, and my brain struggles to turn off. But when I work in my garden, take walks down the dirt road or through our woods, or sit in the pasture and hold my chickens, my heart calms and my mind settles.

In spring, we buy new egg-laying hens as baby chicks. My kids love this! I enjoy hearing the little chicksReplenish chirp. We also raise our own meat chickens twice a year and do the processing ourselves. It’s not for those with a weak stomach, but its great to know exactly what my children are eating. If our barn were built, I’d have goats, sheep, maybe a dairy cow, definitely some bunnies and basically anything my husband would let me have. I’m a sucker for animals. And it’s good because in nature I find inspiration and renewed creativity.

Writers need outlets to replenish their minds. We should have more than just our writing. Perhaps try painting, reading, sewing, community outreach, biking, running, whatever will energize you.

Sometimes, its helpful to simply change up the routine and write something different. I like to dabble in songwriting with my husband and script writing for my church. Recently, I wrote a script featuring Lucy and Ricky Ricardo for our church Christmas production called “Celebrate Christmas.” Not only did I write the I Love Lucy scenes, I also performed the role of Lucy and my husband played the role of Ricky. We had a blast doing it together.

These are some examples of my personal activities that keep me fresh and inspire my flow of creativity. If you don’t have any outlets, I encourage you to incorporate some new hobbies in your life. What sounds fun to you? Do that! It doesn’t have to be anything huge. My kids and I have dance parties in our living room almost every day. It’s a riot and makes me laugh! Enrique Iglesias’s song “Bailando” never gets old, and neither does my need to refuel.

So what about you? What’s replenishing your mind?

****Today, this article was also featured on the Breathe Writer’s Conference site: http://breatheconference.com/home/category/featured-articles

Books, Storytelling, and Using Imagination

In a world driven by technology, the art of storytelling and reading books can be lost. Imagination is stifled in children and adults when television and iPads replace creative thinking. I am passionate about reigniting the joy of books and story writing. That is why I’m dedicated to teaching my kids the importance of books and using their imaginations, and that is why I was so honored to  speak to my daughter’s preschool class yesterday.

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I presented the art of writing stories to a group of 18 bright-eyed children using storyboards.

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We discussed using our imaginations to dream up fun things like a fire-breathing dragon guarding a castle or a dragon that breathes bubbles and eats chocolate chip cookies.

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And then the kids helped me write a story called Farmer Ben’s Special Hen. As I told the story, I had the children contribute ideas along the way.

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Farmer Ben’s special hen laid many special things like…cars, rainbow candy canes, and lady bugs.

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She even had special talents like singing, doing cartwheels, riding a horse, building a snowman, and chasing dinosaurs.

Since the hen was so special, Farmer Ben decided to give her an extra special name. The kids loved shouting out names! This was the final product: Nina Aiyana John Piper Niber Sophia Carter Benjamin Gloria Bret Cup-paper.

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Farmer Ben entered the special hen into a pet contest, and the kids helped create other special animals that were there! In the end, Farmer Ben’s chicken won First Place.

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Using their imaginations, the children helped write a story and boy was it interesting! I hope my presentation will stick with them and inspire them to create more stories.

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Before there was television, people told stories and read books. That was fine entertainment. It saddens me when I hear that publishing houses are consolidating because they’re struggling to sell enough books to stay afloat. It grieves me when I hear people say, “I don’t like to read.” Is this what we are passing on to our next generation? Ohhh…I surely hope not. Let’s encourage our children and yes, other adults, to read, create, and use our imaginations!

Real and Rollicking

Today my post is featured on Breathe Writer’s Conference Blog. http://www.breatheconference.com. I hope it encourages you…

 

I knew it from age nine, the same age when I decided I should have been born an Indian-American. It was probably this instinctual habit of imagination that made my cousins think I was weird and forced my mother to explain by saying, “She’s just analytical.”

They were all right. I am weird. And analytical. And a bit neurotic. But mainly, I’m bent toward creative. My imagination Catie Stories pouredfound its outlet through drawing, poetry, reading and writing stories. Each summer, I loaded up on 18 to 20 books from the library, living vicariously through plots of witty western Belles, rogue cowboys, and shipwrecked sailors.

I wrote as often as I read, but I wasn’t sure if I had much talent.

In sixth grade, I decided to test the tea by entering my short story, By My Turpleplum Tree, into the Young Authors, a book contest comprised of four elementary schools. Among all the contestants, my story took First Place. I was astounded and revved up like my dad’s blue Cutlass.

Stories poured from my mind filling the pages of stapled booklets. After oodles of sketched plots, I settled upon a story that I entitled, JYIA. It was a story of a Navajo chieftain’s daughter. It was also my first time writing historical fiction, another excuse to go to the library and boil over books. From ages fourteen to eighteen, I worked on this novel. I consulted with my English teacher, Mrs. Smith, for three of those years. I gave her my chapters and received her critiques every month.

Upon the completion of the 270-page manuscript, we looked though the 2001 Literary Guide to Agents and selected a few. She helped me compose my first query letter, and we sent them out with hopes flung high. Months later, my hopes tiptoed home holding rejection.

In my senior year, I gave the story to my new English teacher, Mr. Moreau, and he gave me the truth. “Be proud that you accomplished this huge task. It’s a good first draft, but needs work. Also, you might want to reconsider the ending. Girls aren’t going to like that you kill your heroine.”

I took his words to heart and revised until 2008, when I stopped, frustrated and tired. On my living room floor, I pleaded. “Lord what do I do now? I want to write about Indians!”

The Lord calmly replied, “Right now it’s time for something new. Look into the 1920’s.” I obeyed.

I realize now that God not only intended my Roaring Twenties series to stir an audience, but to transform things inside of me. Writing has a way of doing that. The best part is our characters get to suffer the lessons of our personal stupidity.

Today, I stand a writer, not because it was something I had a talent for, but because I had the gumption to keep doing it. It’s not a faint-hearted hobby; it’s my dream and ministry. It’s because I was persistent that I now have an amazing agent who is shopping my trilogy to several publishing houses. It’s because I wasn’t afraid to be real with myself and others that I’m writing the rollicking tales of the 1920’s.

faint hearted hobby Catie

Don’t ever give up. Keep writing. Keep dreaming. Use the talent God has put inside of you.

“And by the way, everything in life is writable if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath.

– See more at: http://breatheconference.com

Storybook Village

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As I entered Storybook Village, I shed my adult years and regained the youth of a child. It’s magical.

Each nook is an experience. Winding through a maze of colorful puppets, toys, and trinkets, I met the most beautiful books. I discovered tunnels and castles, secret passages to the theatre, and a sailboat with peeking port holes.

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And finally I made my way into the Starlight Theatre…a dream made real.

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In the story, Starlight Sailor by James Mayhew and Jackie Morris, a little boy travels to a new land of friendly dragons, fanciful friends, and flying fish inside his dreams.

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“Star light, star bright, First star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, Have the wish I wish tonight. I wish I had a little boat! Far away I drift and float…”

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So where is this enchanting place? Visit 560 S. Hancock St. in Pentwater, Michigan. They have daily storytelling and special productions in the theatre. Storybook Village is not only memorable for children, but also for adults. It was voted the TOP 14 BEST EVER Chidlren’s Book Store in the Nation! And I would definitely agree.

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References:

http://www.astorybookvillage.com

Story Exerpt: “Starlight Sailor” by James Mayhew and Jackie Morris

My Lucky Strike

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In book one of my current Roaring Twenties Series, my main character runs to New York City and becomes entangled with a vivacious flapper named Mattie O’Keefe. Mattie introduces her to Lucky Strike cigarettes. I decided on this brand while doing my research for the novel and up until a few weeks ago, I had only seen the tin on the internet. But to my absolute joy, I came across an actual Lucky Strike cigarette tin at Harvest Antique and Collectibles in Holland! I bought it right away. I plan to keep my business cards inside of it.

Owning pieces of history is wonderful.

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Lucky Strike Flat Fifties Cigarettes
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American Tobacco Company, product made from 1920s-1940s

 

 

 

 

Reference: http://collections.richmondhistorycenter.com

Monday Morning Humor: 1920’s Slang

American woman teaching English boys to dance the Charleston. Great Britain, 1925
American woman teaching English boys to dance the Charleston, Great Britain, 1925

Don’t lose it, re-use it!

Here are another Top 10 Hilarious 1920’s Slang Phrases that we ought to bring back:

10. Bank’s Closed – no kissing or making out –  “Sorry, Mac, the bank’s closed.”

9. Dry up –  get lost – “I’m not interested. Do me a favor and dry up.”

8. Don’t take any wooden nickels – don’t do anything stupid- “Be careful with your friends tonight and don’t take any wooden nickels.”

7. Balled Up- confused, messed up-  “Mom, I’m all balled up and don’t know where I am!”

6. Hoofer – dancer- “Wow, I never saw anyone move like you. You’re quite the hoofer.”

5. Live wire – a lively person –  “Boy oh boy, you’re a real live wire!”

4. Wet Blanket – a solemn person, a killjoy-  “Olga, stop being a wet blanket and smile.”

3. Chassis – the female body – “I have to admit, you have the best chassis I’ve ever seen.”

2. Banana Oil – nonsense – “You’re the first boy who’s ever kissed me.” “That’s banana oil.”

1. Mrs. Grundy – a priggish or extremely tight-laced person – “Hey Mrs. Grundy, would ya kindly pull the bloomers from your crack and settle down.”

 

(See my older post entitled “Talk Like the Twenties” for more great phrases.)

Reference: http://local.aaca.org/bntc/slang/slang.htm

Picture Reference: http://www.vintag.es/2013/11/american-woman-teaching-english-boys-to.html

I Had Given Up on Prayer

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My scull can be thick. But thank God, He’s a master carver. And He has pared past my unbelief, doubt, and fear.

And He has shown me this…prayer isn’t futile. It isn’t merely dead words as I thought. Perhaps you think I must have been quite calloused and distant to ever think prayer ineffective, and to which I say, you’re right. I was. I was angry. I was jaded. I was hardened by the misfortunes dealt by the cards of life.

I entered church ministry as a newly twenty-year-old with rose-colored glasses and left fives years later with blackened shades. I felt abandoned by God doing the very thing I thought he’d called me to.

In the wake of this, baby number one was born a success, but my body was not. It took seven months of physical therapy to correct my pelvic floor and keep my hips in place. But finally I was strong enough to continue my dream of more children.The lenses of my glasses became darker when the ultrasound for baby number two didn’t show a heartbeat. I couldn’t understand how a child I’d dedicated and prayed for the moment the pregnancy test read positive was now gone. I felt abandoned again.

The abandonment accumulated as my sister lost her first child and then I miscarried again, losing baby three. I couldn’t believe I had lost another child. Especially since I had specifically asked God this time to please, let this child make it. To please let this child be healthy. My prayer wasn’t answered (so I thought). My glasses weren’t just black anymore; they were impenetrable. I was blind to hope. I felt worse then abandoned; I didn’t care if He was there for me anymore. I didn’t want to talk to God. Of course, as a good ‘Christian’ mother to my daughter, I continued the evening prayer, for her benefit. How trite.

When the test read positive for baby four, I was scared. As a high-risk pregnant woman, I wasn’t sure what would happen. I wasn’t sure if my body was even capable of holding life. And mostly, I wasn’t sure if I dared ask God for his help. But there came a day, eight weeks into the pregnancy, where I began to bleed. At two AM, I woke my husband, crying. The contractions had started. My body was trying to miscarry, again. My husband turned on all the lights. I lay down, scared. Miserable. He knelt beside me and put his hands on my abdomen and prayed. A fervent prayer. He claimed life and rebuked miscarriage. He prayed on and on. Until the contractions stopped. The bleeding stopped. And today, I have a son. His name is Gabriel, which means, “Strong man of God.”

In those early, terrible morning hours, I learned something.

Prayer does work.

It works! It isn’t futile. God does hear. And even more so, He showed me that he heard each prayer and answered all of them. They simply weren’t answered like I had expected. I asked for healthy, full-term babies. And they are. Shiloh and Selah are healthy and were born full-term in heaven. Their natural bodies couldn’t sustain life in our world, but they are thriving in heaven. They’ve gone ahead of me, but we’ll have eternity to spend together someday.

My glasses have been washed clean, as forgiveness has entered my heart. I blamed God. I was angry with Him. I thought he had abandoned me. But I now know the truth.

He never left and when I was at my worst, he was still present. Rooting for me and waiting for the blindness to clear.

Thank you, God. I now see.