My 100th Blog Post!

It was almost three years ago (and 100 posts!) when I started this blog/website. That was right after I had launched my author page on Facebook. It’s been an amazing three years with my professional life centered around what I love to do. And oddly enough, I’m most thankful that I can see lots of ways to grow as an author. It really is about the journey and not the destination! I like to think I’m still in the beginning of a fulfilling and exciting adventure, one with lots of twists and turns and milestones to celebrate, and more importantly, people to share it with. 🙂

I’ve shared about quite a few hikes over the last couple of years, but I have so many more places to go. Of course I want to revisit all my favorite places in Oregon. That’s one thing I love about where I live: all the hiking and wild areas to explore in the mountains and on the coast. I’ve started visiting Eastern Oregon more and finding a different kind of beauty there. I recently learned there’s a small number of moose living in the North Eastern corner of Oregon, and I’ve been dreaming about exploring there in the summer and seeing if we can spot them. They’re some of the smallest moose and have little antlers. So here’s to new horizons and more writing!

I thought I’d celebrate my 100th blog by adding another freebie to my list – this one is free today and tomorrow. If you haven’t read The Cowboy Kiss, now’s the time! It’s short, fun and flirty. This joins my two perma free books, Embers of Hope and The Fairy and Her Giant.

Here’s a view back at my house (somewhere out there) from a hike to a mountain top.

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Promise of The Open Road

Do you ever need to just get out of town? Change your perspective? Leave your normal life behind for a day? I absolutely love the feeling of heading out on a trip. I don’t think I can describe it any better than I did in More Than a Promise, when Cassie left Eugene for Ocean View Stables:

Despite the circumstances, Cassie felt the heady freedom of the open road, adventure, and possibility. When you’re driving out of town, it’s not about anything behind you. It’s all about the road ahead. A tiny part of her thought about what she wanted, where she was headed in life, and not just this trip. The bigger part of her wanted to take a deep breath and simply live.

I know that feeling too: when you have things to stress over, but you’re taking the day off from thinking about everything you need to do. It’s healthy to get away from the laptop, thinking about work, and even the everyday responsibilities of home–since I work at home, my job and housework can blend together.

amberbeadsI’ve been hiking lately but the weather turned, and it’s completely soggy outside. So yesterday, despite the pouring rain and winds, I decided to take off for Crater Rock Museum, about an hour and a half down the freeway. (I know, not a long trip, but enough to clear our heads!)  My youngest son is turning into a real rock hound. He has boxes of rocks, drawers of rocks and even boulders outside. He was rocks of all colors from clear, to smokey, to bright red, to some with ten colors all dotted or swirled together. One clear-to-milky rock looks like it has an ancient bug in it, which could actually be a mineral or maybe a bug. Who knows? I suppose we could cut it open, but that would ruin the mystery. He’s found quite a few, bought some, and received others as gifts.  I enjoy looking at the different colors and crystals, and learning how they’re formed–I have a lot to learn still, which keeps things fun.

At the museum, we saw hundreds of rocks, minerals, seashells, fossils, scrimshaw (carved ivory), arrowheads, masks and a few other artifacts from Native Americans. The day actually began with a talk about garnets, and there was local sand for all of the kids to shift through.  As interesting as the museum was, it was made even more fascinating by the people we met. It’s really something to learn about a topic from someone passionately interested in it.

The museum allows people to visit the rock workshop, and on kids’ day, kids can go out back to a rock pile to find their own treasures. It’s 25 cents a pound, and we found quite a few cool rocks, including one that might be a thunder egg. We’ll cut it soon to see! A man in the workshop had to take us around to different exhibits and show us his favorites.

After three hours at the museum, we headed to a pizza place, and I have to give a shout out to Wild River Brewing and Pizza in Medford, Oregon. Talk about fantastic pizza! If you like beer, I’m sure that’s great too. But the highlight was, for me at least, they had gluten free pizza crust so my son could have pizza too.

Every time I drive anywhere, I’m struck by all the places I could visit–a park, a trail, little shops, new spots on the river, new towns, new countries, new oceans. It’s a wonderful feeling to know I’ll never run out of new places to visit!

New Year, New Book, and a Treasure Hunting Story!

It’s 2014, and Costa Rica is out! It’s available in Kindle, Smashwords, and Kobo, with print and other ebook retailers coming soon. A funny thing happened the day before I launched it…

We kicked off the new year with a family hiking trip on the 1st. It was clear and fairly warm here for January, especially after the icy weather we’ve had the last two months. Our hike included many steep hills, and a giant tree sat on top of one of them, with wide, spreading branches that made perfect seats. (I must keep the type of tree secret so I don’t give away too many hints.) The boys and I climbed up the tree’s fat branches, and I looked around us and spotted a yellow tackle box in an old, hollowed out tree trunk. So of course I scrambled down my tree to go investigate.

I LOVE finding things. Don’t you? I’ve always kept an eye out for interesting little treasures out in the woods, and I’ve found mushrooms, flowers, berries, an elk shed, unique rocks, and other little things in the forest floor. Many people watch for arrowheads. It just always feels like I’ll find something cool.

So this time I actually found a treasure. Well, a geocache treasure. Normally you get the coordinates from a club or website like geocaching.com and then hike out to look for the cache. We happened to stumble upon it.

fishThis cache had a bag full of things: ping pong balls, sharpie markers, bug repellent, coins, tiny notebooks with pretty pictures, and other little trinkets. One trinket was a little beaded fish on a keyring. How cool is that? I totally fell in love with it, so we traded a pair of batman sunglasses for it.

So does that relate in any way to my new release? Well, in my world, everything is somehow related. Call it writer’s brain or something, but that’s just how it works around here. I found this tropical fish on the 1st and launched my new book, Costa Rica, on the 2nd. I couldn’t wish for a better lucky charm!

So here’s my new book, a romantic family drama set in Coos Bay, Oregon, and the west side of Costa Rica:

Costa Rica by Kristen James     Costa Rica – Kindle Link            Preview the First Chapter on my website

Annalisa and Drew have always dreamed of going to Play Flamingo, Costa Rica, with their best friends, Vincent and Melinda. But now they’re out of time.

Annalisa feels their marriage is just a shell for others to see–there’s nothing left inside. She wonders if they can rekindle their love in paradise, but there’s so little left. They gave up on their marriage along with their dream of having children.

Time is literally slipping away from Vince and Mel. Vincent’s cancer is back–his tumor is inoperable and he won’t do chemo again. This trip is now or never.

 

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I’m releasing this one across multiple ebook retailers to reach more readers. In fact, I’ll be releasing some of my backlist across various retailers throughout this coming year, and posting the links on my Novels page. (While you’re there, check out the new cover for More Than a Promise!)

I pushed things with this story; it’s literary/women’s fiction/romance/travel and looks at several emotionally charged issues. It’s Annalisa’s story, but also a romance between her and Drew. Their best friends, Melinda and Vince, have a storyline too. Costa Rica is similar to Point Hope (with Trey and Rosette), but I wanted to lighten the mood just a bit. It was also fun contrasting the coasts from Oregon and Costa Rica. I always get giddy excited about sharing a new book, and I hope you enjoy it.   🙂

Happy Friday and weekend!   XXOO ~Kristen

The Need to Start Anew – Happy New Year!

“Don’t look down! Don’t do it!”   Have you ever felt that way when climbing a steep hill? But if you don’t look down, you won’t know how far you’ve gone. That’s why we look down, even if we’re afraid to.

Life seems to be the opposite. Everywhere I look, I’m encouraged to measure, compare, evaluate and redirect, especially this time of year. We have a drive to track how we’re doing, evaluate the results and plan bigger goals. We want to start fresh. Do better. Do more. It can be invigorating, actually.   A new start!  A new chance!

The beginning of a new year isn’t a magical point in time that changes everything, but we use it that way. We treasure that yearly gift of hope and renewal. We look at any hardships in the old year and say, “So long suckers!”

I’m looking at the new year as a new chance to enjoy life, learn new things and look for beauty. And of course I’m planning to write more stories.  🙂

I wanted to say Happy New Year to all of you and wish you the best on your goals. I’d also like to wish you peace in this coming year–in this busy, interconnected world, remember to take some time for yourself. We don’t have to be the best at everything. It’s okay to relax sometimes! It’s okay to “Don’t Worry, be Happy!”   Go ahead, click the link, listen to the song and watch the video. 🙂 It’s fun.  Cheers!

jumping dolphin