Celebrating Life at Thistle Dew

Thistle Dew, in Remsen

I have been Celebrating Life in multiple ways this weekend as I ventured out into the world one baby step at a time by attending a Thistle Dew Writers’ Retreat for the first time since COVID rocked our world.

It seems fitting that this was the weekend I took a daring leap into being social again, with my two-week mark following my second covid vaccine coinciding with the two-year anniversary of TEN BUCKS AND A WISH.

Thistle Dew is where I spent the weekend preparing for that release, back in 2019. Thistle Dew is also where I Tarot-plotted LOVE IN THE FOREST, and is the birth place of my characters Brooke and Josh. I spent the weekend getting to know them through Tarot and from there the book was born.

This weekend, I spent time here in the Brass Room preparing for the JUNE 2nd release of LOVE IN THE FOREST. The rest of the time I spent fine-tuning LIFE IS FOR LIVING.

Love in the Forest Presale for release date of June 2!

It was difficult to continue blogging through 2020, with the Pandemic raising concerns, alarm, disputes, and disparities everywhere I turned. I wanted my blog to be a happy place, but every time I tried to write, COVID and POLITICS clouded my positivity.

So instead, I wrote LIFE IS FOR LIVING. This is a saying that has paved my journey since the first time I had cancer back in 1986. When I worked at the Mercury back in the early 2000s, I wrote a column by that name. This blog used to be called Life is for Living.

This past week, David and I met with a throat surgeon following another CT Scan of my neck that provided possible evidence of cancer yet again. He did his own tests and determined that the lymph nodes were not cancerous. My gynecologist did my first three-month follow up since my January 4th hysterectomy resulting from Uterine Cancer. He gave me a clean bill of health.

Life. LIFE IS FOR LIVING.

So yes, there are multiple reasons to be celebrating this weekend.

I’m Cancer-free.

LOVE IN THE FOREST—coming out on June 2nd.

TWO-YEAR Anniversary of my first published romance TEN BUCKS AND A WISH!

TEN BUCKS AND A WISH on AMAZON

Another book (LIFE IS FOR LIVING) on deck, about to be sent to my Soul Mate Publishing.

Another book being plotted—more on Jake and Liza’s story later.

Me and my loved ones made it through 2020 COVID-Free.

This retreat also celebrated a great friend and author who passed this year, Denise Como. We remembered Denise with a candle, a toast, and recollections of her sassy wit, and forthright way of expressing her opinions. Denise lives on through her daughter, Gina, her loved ones, and through her writing. Check out Sophia Roslyn on amazon.com and keep our beloved Denise alive.

Most importantly, the very best reason to be celebrating is all the love that surrounds me. All the genuine people who are in my life, who love and respect me, and truly wish the best for me. All the people who gauge their own merit by their own successes, not by the failures of my journey.

Thistle Dew is a magical place where dreams are born, friendships are cemented, and goals are attained. When not playing home to writers, Thistle Dew welcomes to their door all strangers who have yet to become friends.

It’s a place of healing and love, with Andrea and Walt welcoming all with open hearts, comfy beds, and lots of nooks and crannies to explore and escape in.

Andrea, working on her latest romance, HIS BIRTHDAY SUIT, holding a journal gifted to her by our friend Denise.

Thank you everyone who has taken this ride with me. It’s been a fantastic journey, and it’s not over yet.


Continue to stay safe, follow COVID guidelines, but remember that Life is for Living. So, live it and love it!

Life is for Living

Janie and Janina, Summer ’76 Clingman’s Dome, Tennessee

How do you let go of someone you love who has passed away?
How long a mourning period will provide the proper time to heal?
Is it possible to let go but not forget them?
How do I live without them?

If you’ve ever lost someone you cared for, these questions may sound familiar.

I lost my oldest sister, Janie, back in 2007 on this day, April 20. She was 47, and I was 44 years old. She died of a stroke after living a life of burying trauma so deep she had no recollection of it.

Death is a part of life. It’s the one constant we know will one day happen to ourselves and to those we love. But accepting it, embracing it in a healthy way doesn’t mean you are morbid, or weird, or callous and unfeeling. It doesn’t mean you will not miss your loved one, not cry or be lonely for them, or forget them all together.

Accepting Death as a part of life can be freeing. It can be transformational. It can be healing.

Sometimes we cannot bear to live life after we’ve lost a loved one because we spent a lifetime loving them so deeply that it’s hard to figure out how to even breathe without them. Other times, we may have loved them, but didn’t get to see them or be with them as much as we wanted to, or believe we should have. And now that they are gone we not only miss them and their life essence, but also all those stolen moments we thought we would one day make up for with more visits, more hugs, more time.

Sometimes we are consumed with grief over our loved ones who have passed away because all we are left are regrets, unfinished business. Of things we meant to say but never got around to it. All of these scenarios are valid, real, painful. And very, very human. They also keep you from doing what your loved one is now no longer able to do.

It keeps us from living.

It keeps us from singing, laughing, embracing life, and yeah, sometimes even breathing easily. We wrap our grief around us like a thick Mohawk Valley early morning mist, unable to see the life that is blooming all around us. And that isn’t healthy.

I handle grief by writing. By lighting candles by their photos and talking to them. By remembering birthdays and deathdays and sharing meals with them on occasion. I ask them for help from the other side. I celebrate my successes with them. I give them thanks for watching over me. I keep them alive in my heart.

And I allow myself to let go of all the what if’s and all the things I didn’t do right.

I look for signs, whether it’s a song, or license plate, or hotel room number, or a balloon floating down from out of nowhere. And I know that they are not gone forever, just away.

Death is a part of life. But Life is a bigger part of life. Something that is too fleeting and too fragile to waste. So remember, honor your loved ones who have passed. But honor yourself as well. And remember…

Life is for living.

Blessed be.

On Porches & Porch Swings (or gliders & rockers)

Putting out my porch swing at the start of Spring always heralded the warmer days.

Lately, we keep it out all year ’round and just bundle up so that we can enjoy it even in the autumn and winter.

My mom used to say “life is like rocking in a rocking chair. It feels good but it gets you no where.” She was a doer, never stopping except to nap. She loved her naps, and passed that on to me, but that’s another blog. Even with that sage wisdom Mom shared, she always had a rocking chair. And, additionally, she always had a porch, whether it was a side, back, or front porch, she had one.

Mom grew up in Tennessee, and I spent many summers there as a child, rocking in my grandmother’s rocking chair, or porch glider, or my great-grandma’s porch swing. Dolly Parton even sings about the timeless comfort of sitting on a front porch on a summer’s afternoon. She preferred straight back chairs on two legs, but that’s okay. She obviously had places to go and people to see and not enough time for rocking.

I’ve kept up with my mom’s traditions, and my grand- and great-grand’s traditions of making sure my home and haven has a porch. And a porch swing.

We don’t use the porchswing to idle time away wastefully. We use it for self care, for time outs, for deep and meaningful conversations, to get to know one another, to build community, and to just enjoy life. Time spent on a porch is never wasted.

My sis, Jeana, has nurtured the love of front porches, and takes her porch to a whole new level of simple sweet living (which happens to be the name of her blog, check her out!). Stepping onto her porch is like walking into a Country Living magazine and a great big hug all at once. She keeps her porch set up all year round, decorating it as the season’s change. And she always has tasty treats and yummy drinks to cool you down or warm you up, whatever your need.

Simple Sweet Living on Jeana’s porch in the Autumn
Springtime at Jeana’s

Porches and porch swings play a prominent role in all of my stories. In TEN BUCKS AND A WISH, Deanna and Cord reminisce about stolen kisses they shared as teenagers while getting to know one another again on their front porch. They soon learn as adults it’s time to try and heal their trust and love in one another.

In LOVE IN THE FOREST, (First book of the Earth and Sky series now available for pre-order with a release date of June 2, 2021) Brooke and Josh get to know one another on a front porch swing, and learn that while their worlds may be vastly different, their souls are in sync.

In LIFE IS FOR LIVING, Barefoot Dan and Jayde work through the awkwardness of sharing a brief one night stand that had life altering results—four years after the fact—when they run into one another over . . . and over . . . and over. It’s almost like the Universe has something else planned for them. And these plans materialize while they get to know one another . . . you guessed it, on Jayde’s front porch swing. Look for Jayde and Dan’s story in 2022.

Do you have any front porch memories? Do you have a front porch? If so, look for me on Facebook, or Instagram, and share a porch swing or front porch picture or memory. You can always comment below, or write me at janinagrey143@gmail.com.

Looking forward to porch popping with you!

Winter on my front porch
Summer on my front porch

Love in the Forest is up for Pre-Orders!

amazon.com/Love-Forest-Earth-Sky-Book-ebook/dp/B09233R53Q/

This first book of the Earth and Sky Series started as a tarot reading, in the Brass Room at a Thistle Dew writer’s retreat. This weekend, LOVE IN THE FOREST went live on Amazon.com, available for Pre-Ordering for it’s June 2 Release.

The characters, Brooke Meadows and Josh Quinn, were born that April day, and this is their coming out party.

I thought my niche was going to be Second Chance Romance, as this was the theme for TEN BUCKS AND A WISH. But after my first book was published, I realized there was a whole community waiting for their romances to be told. The Pagan Community.

While there are award-winning and award-worthy stories out there about witches with superhuman powers, I decided to join the growing community of authors who believe we need more stories about witches who don’t shoot fire from their fingertips, solve murders, chase down demons, or sacrifice small children and animals to demanding gods. We need stories for the living and breathing every day witches who raise healthy (undead) kids; people of all genders who hold down jobs and manage the house at the same time. Who like to shop and go out to the pub with friends. Who fall in love, get broken hearts, pick themselves back up, fall in love again, and hopefully find their happily ever after.

Hello, Earth and Sky series!

The back cover blurb sums LOVE IN THE FOREST up in a few paragraphs:

Step into the mystical and magical forests of Upstate New York, where Earth and Sky camp photographer Brooke Meadows has taken refuge from the demons of her past as she uses her ability to communicate with the dead to heal loved ones left behind.

Unable to cope with the loss of his wife and daughters three years prior, Josh Quinn, CEO of the number one dating site Quirkyflirt.com, is ordered by his board president to take a break from his Big Apple Headquarters. He finds himself at Earth and Sky Retreats, where confronting his grief has led him to experience a life-altering transformation and re-evaluation of reality.

Will Josh leave behind his fast-paced, high society life in the concrete mountains of New York City, for the magical, bewitching world Brooke reveals to him in the foothills of the Adirondacks?

Will Brooke acknowledge and accept her own journey of transformation and healing as she and Josh explore the winding paths and summits that lead them to find love in the forest?

***

Ohhh, there is a little bit of a paranormal twist there. But it’s not so reality-shattering as shooting-fire-from-the-fingertips sort of thing. How many of us look for signs every day from loved ones who have passed? How many believe we get them? Brooke delivers these messages to people who are so overwrought with grief, they don’t see or hear their loved ones reaching out.

With the Earth and Sky Series, readers will catch a glimpse at the often un-sensational lives of real witches who are living, working, playing, and loving like everyone else in the world.

The only difference is … these witches live in Upstate New York, in a fictitious town called Demilune. Does this bring Half Moon, New York to mind? Good!

Here you will get a glimpse of witch life, complete with tarot, standing in circle, premonitions, drum circles, manifesting reality, the need for privacy, and even a lighter look at the myths surrounding what witches do. And it will all be tied up with the incredible journey, self-discovery, and transformation both Brooke and Josh experience as they find one another and fall in love.

If you haven’t ordered your copy today, hop on your broomstick and fly over to amazon.com/Love-Forest-Earth-Sky-Book-ebook/dp/B09233R53Q/ wave your wand and bring a little magic into your life.

Brooke and Josh will not disappoint you!

Cover Reveal!

Shortly before TEN BUCKS AND A WISH was released, I asked my publisher if she would be interested in anything else from me. She asked what I had and I’d told her that I had a few books I’d previously written over a decade before that would need to be cleaned up and updated, and that they were paranormal/time travel and historical/western.

She was looking for Contemporary Romance.

So, while I was at a Thistle Dew Writers Retreat hosted by romance author ALee Drake in April, 2019, I pulled out my Tarot and did a few readings about characters and a story plot. And Love in the Forest was born. I had it nearly finished by October, 2019, but then family trauma hit. By the time I had recovered enough to catch my breath from that. . . Hello, COVID.

It took me half the year to deal mentally and emotionally from the family trauma and the worldwide pandemic, but by August, the characters stepped up and finished telling their story. And my LOVE IN THE FOREST manuscript was completed and contracted out to Soul Mate Publishing.

And it’s a good one! I cannot wait for you to meet Brooke and Josh, Barefoot Dan and Alyssa, and the rest of the Earth and Sky crew!

So it is with great pleasure, I share with you now, the cover of my upcoming release. Stay tuned for a few excerpts as we share pre-sale information in preparation of our June 2021 release date!

Many thanks to my cover artist, Ramona Lockwood, who also designed the cover for my first Soul Mate romance, TEN BUCKS AND A WISH. The cover for LOVE IN THE FOREST is exactly how I envisioned it as I was writing Brooke and Josh’s story. Great Job, Ramona!

Thanks also goes out to Cheryl Yeko, the editing staff, and most especially, my publisher Deborah Gilbert, for making this all happen. AGAIN!

So now, here we go! Drum roll, please…..

LOVE IN THE FOREST
Soul Mate Publishing
Release Date – June, 2021

Thank you to everyone who has been following my journey since TEN BUCKS AND A WISH. And for those who are just joining us now, thank you! If you’ve not read TEN BUCKS AND A WISH, you can grab it at Amazon by clicking the link below!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PRMJLLS/

Life Changes, and the Changes Become Memories

Springtime, 2011

When we were growing up, my Mom’s birthday, springtime and Easter were synonymous. We lived on Long Island, and by the end of March the farm stands and grocery stores would have all sorts of plants and flowers out as they prepared for the Spring and Easter rush. Mom’s gone now, but her birthday is next week. Upstate New York doesn’t begin to put out gardening flowers until the end of April, sometimes even May. And we still get snow this time of year. But all the old memories, the traditions, whisper around me like spring snow flurries. Blanketing my reality, then fading a short while after.

Every year my mom would ask for flowers for her garden for her birthday, for Easter, and then for Mother’s Day in May. She loved azaelea bushes and snowball bushes. When I became a Mom, I followed in her footsteps, asking for plants for the gardens for Easter and Mother’s Day. I look forward to the last of the snow, so I can fill my flowerboxes and get my gardens going again.

I have lots of great memories of Easter time as a kid, all of them centered around my mom mostly. She would do whatever she had to do to make sure we were dressed in Easter Finery, even if she was still wearing her same old dress up clothes. Each year her four girls would get new dresses, new spring coats, Easter bonnets, white gloves, shiny white patent leather shoes, and purses.

Easter morning we’d wake up, find our baskets, shove as much candy as we could into our new Easter purses, then head off to church all decked out in our Easter Sunday best. We’d have such a sugar high by the time we got home from Mass, I’m not sure how my mom survived.

She would cook us a great big breakfast—scrambled eggs, bacon and toast, and then we’d play with whatever goodies we’d gotten from the Easter Bunny. Dinner would be down at my grandmother’s in the Bronx, where Grandma Solicito would make multiple course meals that had us sitting at the table for what seemed like hours. One of my favorite Easter memories is getting a beige purse with white macrame stitching from my Uncle Anthony – filled with candy.

Sometimes we would head down to Tennessee for the holiday, and I’d get to see my cousins. One of my most favorite Easter Baskets was from from my Grandma Jones. It had the biggest red bow I’d ever seen. I don’t remember what was in the basket, but I’ll never forget the bow. We’d have Easter Egg hunts there too, and all my cousins would come around and we’d hunt the eggs. it was a grand old time.

Easter evolved over the years. I got older, married, and shared the holidays with my in-laws and my parents, taking turns each year traveling to one family, then the other.

The craziest thing for me was raising two kids who did not like candy. I’m not sure how that happened. So as they grew up, most of the Easter candy we bought was for me, their dad, then their step dad. Pectin Jelly beans were my favorite, while Reeses peanut butter eggs, and chocolate eggs were their dads’ favorites.

As time went on and my philosophies evolved, so did our holidays. They kids went away to school. We started celebrating Ostara rather than Easter. We still colored eggs. We still decorated with bunnies and baskets full of glass eggs oand the crocheted eggs I’d made more than 30 years ago. But this year, things changed.

The pandemic is still keeping the family a bit isolated. We did not celebrate Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or New years, or any of our birthdays. We’re waiting. As a result of health issues, we’ve sworn off candy, so no Pectin Jelly Eggs for me or Reese’s Peanut Butter eggs for David.

Spring arrived last week. Then left. And in it’s path we were left with snow. But for some reason I don’t mind.

April 2021 snow.

Snow is still beautiful, and I know within a few weeks it will be gone until the end of year. And the flowers will bloom, and the grass will need mowing. And Summer will arrive. And my flowers will be in full bloom.

We pick up our teardrop, Forevermore, tomorrow, and are planning a heap of mini trips throughout the summer.

Backyard COVID Camping with Forevermore 2020

My daughter, and son and their partners have been vaccinated. My sister, Jeana, and David’s both been vaccinated. I’m due for my second shot next week, and most of my beloved friends and chosen family have been or are about to be vaccinated and COVID safe.

We have a lot to look forward to, and many blessings to be grateful for.

So, it seemed fitting that even though we did not decorate this year, I should share this picture of Easter Springtime days gone by.

Times change, but times stay the same, and it is the comfort we find in the familiar that gives us the strength to embrace the tomorrows that are yet to come.

One way we are readjusting to the new lifestyle we embraced is by ordering from https://eatingevolved.com/ . Their motto is Chocolate: It’s food, not candy. And it’s yummy and healthy and just what we need to get us through the next few weeks of cool and soggy days.

Their site has great sales, great chocolate, great recipes, and provides lots of healthy, yummy, treats that are actually good for you and cause little guilt when purchasing. If you’re doing clean eating that involves keto or being gluten or dairy or sugar free or just want to experience healthy treats that taste sinfully decadent… head over to eatingevolved.com and get some treats.

I’m pretty sure, if you’re like me, its time for a little self indulgence and self care. You’ve earned it.

So Happy Spring, Happy Passover, Happy Ostara. Happy almost the end of the Pandemic.