Sunday, March 27, 2011

You Can’t Handle the Truth!

Well…I’m trying to handle it. The time has come for me to say good-bye. I’m sad my European adventures and time with my Love is ending, but I know I was blessed and appreciate the opportunity. We’ve explored so many places within Germany and Europe that we’ve tracked our walks and they totaled approximately 210 miles since January 9. I’ve been pretty proud of our footage. Here’s a recap of the journeys we took over the past 5 months: (Germany) Hattingen, Essen, Monschau, Plettenberg, Bochum, Krefeld-Lynn, Wuppertal, Munster, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Dortmund, Kempen, Schloss Burg, Altenberg; (Luxembourg) Luxembourg; (Scotland) Edinburgh, (England) Windsor, (Spain) Roses, Cadaques, Figueres, Barcelona, Girona, Banyoles, Besalu; (Belgium) Brugge; (Holland) Amsterdam, Venlo, Domburg, Zoutelande; (Italy) Lake Garda, Verona, Bologna; and (Sweden) Stockholm, Trosa, Nykoping. I want to thank you all for following us in our travels.

As an update to my “I Got Your Back” post, I haven’t shed my weight like Germany shed the snow, but I haven’t gained either. See how I made that a positive. ;) At the present time, I am unable to sell my condo due to unforeseen matters. Once those unforeseen matters are cleared up, I will put it on the market. For anyone looking for a condo on the south side of Chicago in a historic part of town, and within walking distance to the train, shoot me an email and maybe we can work something out.

At the present time, my Love has not found a teaching position in the U.S. What this means is that he will be coming to the U.S. with me through the month of April for his spring break and student exchange excursion, but will return to Germany in May. I will look for a job, hopefully freelance or within the Chicago downtown area, while he finishes out his school year in Germany. If he still doesn’t have a teaching position in the U.S. by summer, he will come in July during his summer break and then return to Germany at the end of August—another year of separation.

It will be a tough year for us, so I ask you to send good thoughts our way…or a job. LOL! Anyhow, this will be my last post before I leave for the States on Friday. I wish you all a safe and awesome week.

Bea, who is looking forward to a shower without a hunched ceiling.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My First...

Yesterday I received payment for my first paying freelance job—and even though it wasn’t much—it was my first. There’s something to be said about your first. It doesn’t matter whether or not it was good or bad—our first of anything always seems to remain with us. Our first love, sexual encounter, job, paycheck, publication, etc.

The job had the title romance writer, so I couldn’t pass it up. The website (currently unavailable) wanted fantasy dates for mainstream American audiences. They requested the writings be engaging—to transport the players to another place and time to connect in an online chat. So I created and got paid for two fantasy dates. And you know what? I felt like the below pictures—free, radiant, drifting through the rooms of the flat spreading my…well not wings…or what you’re thinking. This is a family post, people, keep it clean.

I’m still on a quest for more freelance work in hopes I can make a living doing what I enjoy best—writing. If freelance doesn’t pan out, I’ll have to look for a 9 to 5 job, which I’ve already started pursuing. I’m enrolled in an online certificate program for Advanced Web Page, so I could add that to my resume. Web Design would be nice too because it’s another form of creativity. I remember how much I loved creating a web site at my last job—I became so engrossed with it that I’d forget the time. Constructing pages from scratch, and then seeing them come alive, was so pleasing to me—an instant visual result. No wonder I snapped at the end-users when they pulled me away to work on their computer issues. What nerve. :D

An added bonus to the certificate program is that I’ll have a completed personal website, which will include my publications, writing samples, reading recommendations and my photography. I’ll be able to use it as an example for web design requests for web development  positions and for sample writing requests for freelance jobs. A win-win. My first web site design.

Do you remember your first? It can be anything. How old were you and how did you feel?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Guest Blogger - Tess Hardwick - The Path From the Drawer to

My first novel, Riversong, is being published by next month.  I’m excited, of course.  And terrified, like any new author would be.  I was asked recently why I went with an independent publisher like Booktrope as opposed to a bigger house.  The easy answer is that they said yes.  The more complicated answer is that their business model is pretty cool and also friendly to first time novelists.  They are willing to take risks on new writers, as they are a young company looking to invest long term in talented writers.  They also believe that Riversong will be a hit.  I certainly hope they’re correct.

So much has been said in the writer community about the changes in the publishing world that I hardly think I have anything to add to the conversation.  But I thought it might be worthwhile to simply tell my story.

Riversong had been in the proverbial drawer for over a year since it’s last revision.  I’d decided that I didn’t want to go the self-publishing route and after getting no traction finding an agent (the feedback was that the beginning didn’t grab them right away) I decided it was best to put it in the drawer and start another.  I know many authors say the drawer is where their first novel remains. However, in the months it was in the drawer gathering dust, I thought of a way to fix it.  But I was happily working on my new manuscript and didn’t plan on going back to it until I was finished with it.

Then last November I got the call from a good friend.  She’d not only accepted a job at Booktrope but had also pitched my book in the interview.  They wanted to look at it.  I scrambled to rewrite the first 50 pages.  It worked apparently, because Booktrope said, “yes”.

They have a team publishing approach that puts together an editor, a book manager, a cover artist and a writer.  We all have skin in the game so to speak, meaning that when the book sells, we all make money.  I think the most interesting part of all that is the book manager piece.  Basically, the book manager’s assignment is to market your work. 

Another interesting aspect to Booktrope is that they are great believers in literature and that everyone should have access to it.  Therefore, all of their published books are available on their website for free.  They also believe that giving away the book ultimately adds to further sales. 

That said they also plan selling Riversong in all the traditional ways too.  It will be available in paperback via Amazon and on Kindle and Nook.

I’m at if you want to learn more about me.  Until then, happy reading and productive writing.
I'm a guest blogger on Tess Hardwick's site, so stop on by if you get a chance.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sweetish Time

Hello Everyone. Over the weekend, our travels brought us to Stockholm, Sweden along with a few other quick stops. I thought I wouldn’t see snow for the rest of this winter, but Stockholm was all about it along with the cold. We had a great time, and Sweden was kind enough to share its cold with me.

On Friday, on our way to the airport, we stopped at a winery town called Ahrweiler in the Ahr valley region and by the river Ahr. Winemaking in this town dates back to the Roman times. The main red varieties are the Spätburgunder (pinot noir) and Portugieser and the white wine varieties are Riesling and Müller-Thurgau. Since I love wine, I thought I’d give you that tidbit of information.

This is a picture taken of one of the streets.

The town is unique because of its colorful painted buildings. Here is an example of the types of paintings you’ll find on the buildings.

I had to take a picture of this church, because the yellow outline of it really stands out.

When we left, I took a picture of the vineyards on the way out. Someday I’ll make it  to a town at harvest time to watch the winemaking process.

The next morning, we got out early to take in the sights of Stockholm. It’s amazing how one hour we were in Germany and the next in Sweden. It was sweetish. To me, Stockholm is like a combination of Amsterdam with the waterway bridges crossing over the Baltic Sea, and Edinburgh with its old buildings and palaces as backdrops.

These are a few pictures I took early in our journey before the rest of the city woke up. 

When I saw this statue, I thought of this guy saying, “Here I am. Come and get it”. 

This is one of the many streets in Stockholm. As you can tell, they’re narrow and loaded with stores, cafes and restaurants.

We took a ferry ride to another little island in Stockholm because we wanted to go to a few museums. Here are a few pictures of the ferry ride.

The first museum we went to was the Vasa. This museum is about the Swedish warship built from 1626 to 1628. It is the only 17th century warship preserved in its entirety. It’s beautifully crafted, but never made it out of the harbor before capsizing. It finally broke surface in 1961. I honestly did not think I’d enjoy this museum as much as I did. These pictures are of the Royal Warship Vasa. It’s so huge that I couldn’t even get the ship all of the ship in a picture.  

This picture is a replica of how the ship functioned. The rocks at the bottom were to stabilize the ship with weight, but they didn’t put enough because of all the artillery aboard and the ship was unable to steady itself on the water.

From the Vasa museum, we went to Skansen open air museum, which shows the way of life before the industrial era. It has all kinds of things from glass making to animals. Here are a few pictures.

This is a night picture I took before we headed back to the hotel.

The next day, we decided to leave Stockholm and drive along the coast of the Baltic. There was an area where we had to take an ice breaker ferry with the car, so here are a few pictures from the ferry. 

We stopped in a town called Trosa. We didn’t know anything about this town other than it was on the map right off the Baltic. Here are a few pictures.

Hope you had a great weekend and enjoyed the pictures.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lost? Need to find your way?

I was contacted by to provide my blog readers with a quiz and winning prizes. They have recently developed an iPhone application for Chicago, so I thought I’d connect with them to sponsor this ‘quiz contest’. GPSmyCity created the quiz, and will provide the prizes.

Here’s how it works: ANYONE can take this quiz. Those with the most correct quiz answers will win three free city iPhone applications to ANY city of their choice. The applications were developed by

Here’s how to play: Get out a piece of paper, write down your answers and email them to:, and they will contact you if you are a winner. Good Luck!

1) Chicago is known under several names. How isn't it called?

a) the Windy City
b) the City of Big Shoulders
c) the City of Lights

2) Chicago’s downtown area is known as____.The nickname refers to the area encircled by the elevated train tracks.

a) the Loop
b) the Hook
c) the Ellipse

3) Chicago is the birthplace among others of McDonalds, the chewing gum giant Wrigley’s and the cell phone giant Motorola. What sport has been invented here:

a) 16-inch softball
b) baseball
c) squash

4) At the time of its completion in 1974 the Willis Tower was the tallest building in the world, surpassing the World Trade Center towers in New York, and it held this rank for nearly 25 years. How many states are visible from its roof?

a) 3
b) 4
c) 5

5) Chicago is the third largest city in United States, its metropolitan area, commonly named "Chicagoland," being the 27th most populous metropolitan area in the world. What American cities are more populous than Chicago?

a) New York and Houston
b) Los Angeles and New York
c) Philadelphia and New York

6) Chicago is home to the largest population of ____ in the world, except Warsaw:

a) Poles
b) Czechs
c) Serbs

7) In 1900, Chicago successfully completed a massive and highly innovative engineering project. Since then the Chicago River is the only river in the world that:

a) flows North in the Northern Hemisphere
b) flows backward
c) the only river in the world that flows both northwards and southwards across the line
of the Equator

8) Each year, the Chicago River is dyed green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick is the patron saint of what country?

a) Ireland
b) Scotland
c) Poland

9) The Art Institute of Chicago has one of the largest and most extensive collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings in the world. Which of these painters was not an impressionist?

a) Monet
b) Cezanne
c) Dali

10) The University of Chicago is the site of the world's first:

a) atomic reaction
b) unmanned flight
c) extraterrestrial encounter

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Old Stoic

I’ve recently wrote a short story and somehow worked Emily Bronte into it. Wuthering Heights was always a favorite classic of mine, so I’m guessing that’s how she found her way into the story. In doing some research for my story titled, Lost Summer, I read several poems of Emily Bronte’s that I’ve never read before. Here is one of her poems, published in 1846, under her nom de plume (pen name), Ellis Bell.

The Old Stoic

Riches I hold in light esteem,
And Love I laugh to scorn;
And lust of fame was but a dream,
That vanished with the morn:

And if I pray, the only prayer
That moves my lips for me
Is, "Leave the heart that now I bear,
And give me liberty!"

Yes, as my swift days near their goal:
'Tis all that I implore ;
In life and death a chainless soul,
With courage to endure.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Clash of Cultures

A few weeks back, I received an invitation (in German) from the Mayor of Hattingen. It was an invite for all new residents of Hattingen to join the Mayor for some cake and coffee. Even though I’ll be returning to the states soon, we decided to attend yesterday’s invite because I thought it would be cool to meet the Mayor of Hattingen. I never met the Mayor of Chicago, so I might as well meet the mayor of the city I live in now. I enjoy the beauty and historic nature of Hattingen, and will miss it. Since this is a small town, I thought it would be like a small meet and greet—a welcome to all new residents. Nein.

First off, it was very disappointing, and second, it made me realize how different cultures are in the way of presentations. I’ve worked in Corporate America for many years and I know the do’s and don’t’s of how to do a presentation. Granted, people are not required to follow ‘America’s’ way, but there were a few things that I felt lacked common sense. But if the Mayor of Hattingen was to follow these ways, she failed miserably. My Love translated (not everything) to me so I knew what was going on. They ushered everyone into a room, about 75 people and a panel of 6 people, including the Mayor, sat at a table in the front of the room. When the Mayor started talking, she didn’t introduce herself and instead talked about the city budget. Huh? I’ve learned, and it's common sense, to first introduce yourself and the others who will be talking. The only reason I knew it was the Mayor was because my Love told me.

The Mayor then moved to the side wall (standing) while they put on a so-called film. Whoever planned this should not have left the Mayor standing against a side wall. There was nothing about this ‘film’ that would be considered a film—it was a collection of slides and words with pictures. After the 3 minute film, they opened up the blinds and the Mayor spoke and then introduced a man.

This man talked about the many ways you can volunteer in Hattingen. His entire speech was done sitting down, so we couldn’t see him unless we decided to stand. The next woman spoke about services for senior citizens and then the next woman was from the pact for families (member of the child protection agency). She talked about families and children having problems, and that they’ll help out. Problems? Hello, could you be any more negative? Why would you go on about the many problems that go on in families and with children? Each city department should demonstrate a positive for the community. There were several families that attended, and if I had to listen to all the negativity that spewed out of this woman’s mouth, I would have unregistered and gone back to where I came from. And her presentation was the longest. It felt like she was basically saying, “We’re keeping a close eye on you, so if you don’t know how to raise your children, we will.”

Then the Mayor talked about all the town and budget hardships. Huh? Again, could you be any more negative? These people are new residents. These speeches should be about welcoming them to the Town of Hattingen, providing them with useful information along with presenting the benefits of the town.

I’ve enjoyed living here. Hattingen has beautiful nature trails, a river, and the people are nice. For the most part, they aren’t negative like the Administration. They spend a lot of time walking, running or riding their bikes on the many trails and enjoy good food and drinks. I feel welcomed by the Citizens of Hattingen, but the Administration needs a transformation on welcoming new residents and keeping them. For all their town’s hardships, they’d fair better by putting a positive twist on what the city has to offer and how it can enhance lives. Every city has their problems, but throwing them onto the new residents as an introduction on how life is in Hattingen isn’t the best way of keeping them.