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Friday, May 17, 2024

Welcome Wendy Blanton, Author of Dawn of Shadows


Friends, I know I was supposed to put on all the poems from Poem A Day but April was very busy for me and I had some health issues. But now I will post the rest of them on the My Poems section of this blog. The reason is I am starting my Author Interviews today with author Wendy Blanton. Each month I will be featuring another author. Please contact me if you are interested. I am on Facebook: BarbaraJEhr.

Wendy is someone I met at Prosateurs, a group which meets every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on Zoom to write and share our results. All we do is meet the first five minutes to talk of what we will write and then the last five or ten minutes to say how we did. It has enabled me to work on my writing in manageable increments and given me motivation to write all the time. Stephen Bagley, who is our leader, creates an atmosphere of confidence and openness with his funny comments and offhand remarks. Anyway, that is how we met and I learned of her new book series. I always admire authors who write about dragons, even though I know I couldn't possibly do it. With her Balphrahn Books she brings you into the world of dragons.

Interview with Wendy Blanton

1. Where were you born and where do you live now?

I was born and raised in Michigan and I live near St. Louis, Missouri.

2. What made you decide to go into the Air Force? Did you know how to fly before you enlisted?

Oh, no, I don't fly. You have to be an officer and have special training before they let you do that. I enlisted so the Air Force would pay for my college education, but really, being in the military is an education in its own right. It's a blessing that I had no idea what I was getting myself into at the tender age of 19. 

3. How did you meet your husband? Do you have any children?

I met my husband in the Air Force. The squadron I worked for housed single airmen in the first two floors of a dormitory, and his squadron had the third floor. We tangentially lived together before we even met. We met, married, and birthed our two children in North Carolina. It was our longest tour in his career.

4. Describe the difference between being in the Air Force and being an Air Force wife. Were there any funny or unusual incidents you might relate to our readers?

On active duty, you're told what you need to know and nothing more. We said we were mushrooms--kept in the dark and fed BS. But there was a comradery in that, and we did have news trickle down through the chain of command. 

As the wife, it was the same, but sometimes the news didn't get to us. We got news from our spouses, but if they were deployed, we were at the mercy of whoever was supposed to remember to contact us. The spouse also takes on the responsibility of keeping the family together--caring for the kids/house/car/pets when the airman is away (and you can plan on something breaking within the first week of their departure), overseeing all the details of every move, and changing jobs with every new duty station. The job situation might be a little easier now, but when we were in the Air Force there was no such thing as remote work. We barely had the internet. It's a challenging life, but there are nuggets of wonderful. We lived in Italy for a year, and while that had challenges of its own, it was an amazing experience and came when our kids were the perfect age for it.·       

5. Who or what was your greatest influence for writing?

I've been a reader since I was little, and I've been making up stories almost as long. I think it's part of my DNA. My mom's family is artistic, and my dad's family is imaginative and witty. And sarcastic. I learned the fine art of BSing at my grandparents' table.

6. Why do you write about Balphrahn? What significance does it have for you?

 Balphrahn came into existence through a Facebook comment. I was working on short stories for the Blackbirds anthologies, and I posted about needing ideas. My friend posted a comment about fire exploding across the sky--the dragons were back. I thought it was cool, but I didn't want to write fantasy. At the time I thought I was going to write historical fiction. Silly me! I did one short story, which led to another and part of a third before I dissected them and scattered the pieces through the first novel. That was nine years ago, and it has taken on a life of its own, as projects like this often do. 

 7How do you know so much about Celtic history? What made you decide to go to the festivals in Scotland?

Oh, I hope to do a festival in Scotland someday. For now, I tell Celtic folktales and history at Highland Games in Missouri (although I'm open to traveling under the right circumstances), and at local libraries. I got into it accidentally. The guy running the Clan Campbell tent at the St. Louis Scottish Games is a storyteller, and since I'm a writer, I volunteered to apprentice under him. He agreed, and the best part of a decade later, I'm doing it myself. I've gained knowledge through my mentor, but most of it has come from reading and study. I still have a lot to learn.

Thank you for clarifying that.

8. Please describe a typical day of writing for our readers.

Oh, you don't really want to know that, do you? I generally write between 8 am and 11 am, and I schedule sessions from 1 pm to 3 pm, but those hours are flexible and are usually writing-related things, like editing, marketing, scheduling social posts, and so forth. We won't get into the cooking/cleaning/scooping cat litter part. I think if you are working from home it's necessary to do all these things along with writing.

9. Why did you republish this book with a different name? 

Dawn of Shadows was originally Dawn Before the Dark, and it was published by Bear Publications. I had a three book contract with them, and writing the second novel made me realize we have different ideas of how the series should go. I negotiated to get my rights back, and changed the name and the cover to make it clear that it is no longer with Bear, but also to avoid any confusion with Amazon. It also marked a fresh start in my career, which was more important than I realized.

10.  Are you planning to add more books to this series after Book 2?

Yes, there will likely be 3 in this series, and I have a prequel series in my head that will probably also be a trilogy. As I write book 3, I'm getting ideas for spin-offs, so who knows how many books there will be?

11.  Are you planning to have any in person or online events for the book besides this blog, of course.

I'm open to it but don't have any plans currently. I have enough going on with editing book 2 and writing book 3, and I'll get more serious about promotion when I have more books out.

12. Please put your links here so our readers may learn more about your work.

 Coffee With Dragons? Where did that come from?

Dragons can represent the challenges we face in life. When you come up against one, you can kill it, but there will be another one right behind it. Killing dragons takes a lot of effort and energy. It's better, in my opinion, to find out what it's trying to teach you, and what better way to do that than over a cup of coffee?

Plus, I'm a coffee junkie. I quit drinking coffee for a while in the '90s and my family says I was hard to live with, so here we are. 

To give credit where it's due, I got the idea from Stephen B. Bagley. This is the second time his name was mentioned on this blog. Hmmm. No, seriously, Stephen is practically our muse.

13. Finally, this is always my last question. Are you a plotter or a pantser? In other words, do you outline or do you just write? 

I'm a pantser, which is strange because in every other part of my life, I'm a long-term compulsive planner. I've tried plotting, though, and it locks the process up, so it is what it is.

Excerpt from Dawn of Shadows

Chapter 1

    Three bodies lay like discarded rag dolls, all with the throats cut, but no blood. Not one drop. 

    Tanwen paced in the clearing. "What do you think it means?"

    Her dragon, Quillon, opened one eye. His silver scales glittered in the sun. He answered telepathically. I have not seen its like before. Speculation would be futile.

    She snorted and turned away from him to look at the carnage at the far end of the clearing. "What do you make of the tree burned into the side of the house?"

    It is a fair rendering, if a bit crude.

    She glanced at him over her shoulder. "Do you think it was done by magic?"

    I think all of this was done by magic. He lumbered to his feet. The others are coming. Though I wish to bask here in the sun with you, I will circle to guide them in.

    His muscles bunched as he leaped and flapped his wings to take off. He clipped the top of a spruce tree with his tail and circled the clearing.

    Tanwen turned away from the wrecked homestead and focused on the flowers in the meadow. Someone had been encouraging certain wild herbs to grow in the area. She recognized feverfew, skullcap, and coneflowers. All the other plants had been pulled out, and the grass that was there was patchy. She wondered if someone who had lived in the house suffered from headaches.

    From the west, she heard the clink of chain mail and the murmur of voices. "Tanwen?"

    "Over here." 

    A few minutes later, her husband rode out of the woods, followed by two other men.

    Liam slid out of his saddle and led his horse to her. His black hair was tied back, and the blue of his tunic matched his eyes. He kissed her lightly and said, "What are you doing in the woods?"

    He smelled of leather and chainmail, and she wrapped her arms around his waist. "Looking for you."

    He smiled, and her knees melted a little.

    Behind him, Siril said, "It's the same necromancer. See the tree branded on the side of the house?"

    She shivered. "Nice of him to sign his work, I guess."

    The others dismounted, and they led their horses to the clearing.

    Siril stopped as the sunlight reflected on his bald head. "We should tie the horses up here and let them graze. I don't like what I'm sensing over there, and they won't either, I'd wager."

    They led the horses to a patch of alfalfa at the edge of the woods and tied the reins to bushes before walking toward the scene. 

    As they got closer, Liam nodded. "I see what you mean, Siril. It's odd, like necromancy, but not the same."

    "I felt it at the last scene, too."

    "Pity a magical signature can't tell you who it is," said Tanwen.

    "Without a known signature to compare it to we can't, but when we find him, we'll know," said Siril.

    "But you're sure all the homesteads have been attacked by one necromancer acting alone?"

    "One bad single mage," said Colum.

    Liam bent next to the nearest body, looking at the wounds. "We need to check the buildings."

    They searched the house and outbuildings and found no people. There was evidence of cows and horses, but they were missing, too. Only the chickens and a barn cat were left.

    The cat twined around Tanwen's ankles. "I wonder if the dead are the people who lived here?"

    "Where are the women? There were two here, judging from the clothing I saw," said Colum.

    Siril ran his hand over his bald head. "I'm not sure it's possible to say just now. We'd better get back. Arwyne will need the details to pass along to the king."

    Liam nodded. "It's going to be close to dark when we get back." He took Tanwen's hand. "Are you going back with Quillon?"

"    Yes, I'll go ahead and report to Arwyne. Should Aithne and I wait to have dinner with you?"

    "No, go ahead. She'll be starving and cranky if you wait."

    "I might be, too." She leaned in to kiss him. "See you at home."

Wow, this excerpt makes me want to read the book! You have packed so much into this first scene. I want to know more about the dragon and Tanwen's life.

Wendy Blanton Bio:

Wendy Blanton has been telling stories since she could string sentences together. In addition to the Balphrahn Books, she is featured in several anthologies with her writing group, including Yule Tidings, Prosateurs, Tales & Truth, Blackbirds First Flight, Blackbirds Second Flight, Blackbirds Third Flight. She is a United States Air Force veteran, having served on active duty for the United States Air Force for eight years and an additional thirteen years as an Air Force wife. Being the wife was a harder gig.

In addition to writing stories she performs as Scottish festivals and private gatherings, telling Celtic folk tales aned history to educate people about Celtic culture. If you see her at an event please feel free to ask her for a story. She divides her time between various locations in Balphrahn and her home in Missouri with her husband and cats. Visit her website at:


Thank you for being here, Wendy, I hope our readers will have comments for you. If you, as a reader, wish to comment please remember to be courteous. I moderate the comments so please be respectful and do not spam. Other than that please feel free to leave a comment and it will be posted as soon as possible. For Goodreads readers please add Wendy's book to your list of Want to Read books.

Wendy's interview will be up here for the rest of May and some of June, since I promised her a whole month. Until the next time, check out my poems from this April in the Poetry tab here. I will start with April 9. Also, please check out my books: If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, and You'll Probably Forget Me Living With and Without Hal.

Friday, April 5, 2024

 We are up to Day 5 of Poem A Day and I have written over 5 poems. For some days I have three or four poems. Today I have only one so far. 

The prompt is: Tell--------

Here is my poem for today:

Until the next time, I hope you are writing too. Please share your writing here in the comments.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

This is a photo of me during my birthday dinner this summer. I was surprised by the sparkler on my tiny cake. So much fun and I saw my family too. Over the summer I also received the Indian Independence Day Award from Gujarat Sahitya Academy again. I am very proud to be a two-time winner of this very prestigious award. Here is what it looks like from last year. We didn't receive our individual awards yet.

During this year my focus has been mainly my computer and my family. Lately, my world has expanded and just as I feel I can go back to normal there is a new strain of Covid that is going to dampen my outlook and make me worry again. I spent months worrying and then got my shots and now my booster shot and thought I could go out again. Yesterday, I went to my Greenwich Pen Women Holiday luncheon. This was the first one we have had in two years. I saw all my friends and hugged them with and without a mask. We all had to show proof of vaccination before we could come. That is the way of the world these days. So I thought all would be okay. Then I went home and read about omicron, the new variant. Today there is news that this variant is now in the United States. We decided to move our theater tickets to another date, while they figure out how to combat this one. So it's back to online everything again for awhile. I have learned to tutor online and to have meetings online and speak to friends on Facetime. But there is nothing like hugging your friend. Yesterday was wonderful and seeing all of the people I have known for so long in person was the best. We have all learned to live with masks. We had them on and took them off and then when there were too many people we put them back on again. Masks have become so normal that people are using them as accessories. Also, the way people use them is interesting. Some hold them in their hands and some put them on a wrist and others wear them on their chins. But wearing a mask is a sign that you care about people and your own health. So having one is important if you are going out. You never know when you will need your mask. Sometimes, I walk out of the car without my mask and pretend that everything is the same. But then I get to the store and have to put it on. Actually, I usually put on my mask in the car and walk to the store with it on. It's better to be safe than sorry.

On another note, my publisher went out of business. So I have to find a way to republish my books. I spoke with someone in the business today and I am probably going to republish with Amazon or Ingraham. So, anyone who loved my books, they will be available again for readers ages 10 and up. Unfortunately, I don't think I can get them out for Christmas, but please expect the new and improved version of If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor with a new cover soon. I am hoping to publish the entire Mill Valley High series by next year. But if you are interested in reading a bit of it you should click here for a free chapter. 

I didn't have a November show, because there was too much to do that month. I am doing my annual Holiday show this year on December 23, 2021 at 4pm Eastern time. If you were a guest of mine during this last year or past years you are invited to be on this show. Please prepare a holiday story to read. For my listeners this is probably the best show of the season. Everyone reads a holiday story or poem and we all enjoy ourselves very much. Here is the link to last year's Christmas show:

Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate. We have two menorahs this year. One is the traditional one and one is made out of cloth. You insert the candles into the fabric menorah. It hangs on the hall closet door and it's fun. 

Anyway, hope you are all staying safe, and remember to wear your mask. 

Until the next time. Thank you to anyone who has checked to see if I wrote anything new. You are all awesome. 

Monday, April 5, 2021

 Hi friends.  The photo is from the summer.

It's been over a year since I have posted and what a year this has been! I won't go into everything but it has been a year that I hope I never have to live again. I have received all of my vaccinations and I am free to go outside. Yet I still worry, because my daughters, who live with me, are not completely vaccinated. One had her first shot this Friday, and what an experience that was. 

I went with her and so did my older daughter in the car to Lord and Taylor's parking lot. We had to go into a certain entrance and we were in traffic waiting to go. Traffic was directed by a National Guard officer and then we went up into the parking lot where lanes of cones denoted where we could drive. National Guard officers directed us there too. After almost an hour of waiting we were directed to the place where they could speak with us. My other daughter had tried to schedule her appointment but at the exact moment that both of my daughters were scheduling their appointments the computers on the scheduling end went down and so they only got one of my daughters appointment. My other daughter had come hoping to persuade them to give her a shot but it didn't work. She was not happy but she managed to schedule one for tomorrow. So that is good. 

Getting the shot was fast and then we were directed to move through to another place where someone put this box on our car and then at the place we had to wait the designated fifteen minutes afterward to see if you have any reactions. My daughter barely felt anything and then did not have any real after effects. 

I got mine back in the beginning of March and I couldn't move my arm above my head both times for a day or two. But the second time the injection site got red and my arm got swollen and red to the elbow. It went away after a day. No other real symptoms except both times I felt tired and cranky. LOL

During this year I have also published another poetry book The Child Poet unfortunately not under my name but I co-authored and the other author published it without my knowledge. It is a wonderful book for children so please check it out. I have also been baking a lot and have rediscovered my love for this. 

April has ushered in National Poetry Month and I have been writing at least a poem a day. I have gotten out of the habit of writing this blog and since I am so busy otherwise I may not write another post for awhile. But I thought I would connect with anyone who is still reading this and will share with my new friends who do not know this side of me. 

I think poetry has kept me sane these months, since I could write whenever it got to be too much. And there has been so much that has happened that it was hard to keep quiet. Physically, there was the fear in the beginning and the constant vigilance to be safe. Hand washing has caused my hands to be dry and scaly and lotion doesn't help that much when you are washing your hands too many times to count. Using hand sanitizer also affects your hands. But everything is better than being exposed to this disease. Cardboard has come to be my enemy. Packages have to sit awhile or else you need to wash your hands after touching them. We get a lot of packages, since we have been doing all of our shopping online including groceries. I have ventured into a few stores in the last week and it has been a very enlightening experience. What I used to enjoy has become a stressful task. I am still wearing a mask in public and I am waiting for the day when I can safely go unmasked everywhere.

I have done a lot of live things online with my new friends and that is what I feel is the best thing to have come out of this. I have met so many wonderful and creative people through my position as Regional Director of the West of Motivational Strips. Connecting through writing and poetry is the best and making friendships with people who are halfway across the world is an awesome adventure. As a result of so many in person Zoom meetings too, I have become very comfortable on live videos. This has made me think that perhaps I might want to try doing a video version of my radio show. But that is a topic that has yet to be discussed with my network. But I have also been a guest on several interview shows.

On the writing side I have so many new poems I am thinking of publishing another book soon. And I am almost finished with the second sequel to If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, The Mill Valley High Five. I am hoping to make this a series: If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, Who Is Jennifer Taylor? The Mill Valley High Five as the Mill Valley series. Right now I am on Chapter 30 and hope I get to the end. 

I have an idea but I am not sure when the end will come. I have a feeling it will be very soon. I never know when I'm going to end a book until the writing stops. For me that is the end.

So hope you all had a Happy Easter and a Happy Passover. Our Passover was just for the three of us and we did a whole dinner. Or let me say, I did a whole dinner and also shopped for a little of it in real stores. Then I did the cooking and the cleaning up afterward. My daughters helped a little but for the most part it was me. I was happy to do it, because it is important to have traditions. I usually spend that time with family but my family couldn't come. But as we read the Haggadah and the old words were said I truly felt that it was very important to have a Seder this year. We have gone through so much and we are in a way like the Jews who were forced to leave their land. We were forced into our homes and many things were forbidden to us for a long time. We had a terrible oppressive leader that we needed to remove and we did that. Unfortunately, the venom he sewed was not that easily removed so we had January 6th. That is a day I will never forget.

January 6th and September 11th were two of the worst days I have ever spent. Add in the one where I saw George Floyd killed and the very worst day when my husband passed away. I felt grief for our country and sadness that a monument to democracy had been desecrated and lives were lost. But I am thankful that despite all of the violence and chaos we finally were able to have a new president. And now life has gone back to a more relaxed pace and I can have faith that a sane person is at the head of our government and will keep our country safe and running. It makes me feel better and I can sleep a little better most times.

What I learned from all of this is that nothing is going to last and we have to keep being vigilant to protect ourselves and our democracy. The same kind of vigilance we are now using to protect ourselves from the Covid-19 virus should be given to watching our government by every person in this country. We can't be complacent that all will turn out okay. We have to be making sure that it stays the way we want it to stay.

So that's it for now. I still have my radio show but it has a new name: Books and Entertainment Tales from the Pages. It is still on the 4th Thursday of every month at 4pm Eastern time. If you miss it you just click on the link on my page and you will hear it. My next show has two great authors: Roberta Seret and Michelle Burns. Check this out. 

Until the next time I hope all of you are vaccinated soon and that very soon our world can go back to normal. I leave you with a poem I just wrote about this:

What Does the Future Hold?
For me it means walking outside without a mask
And meeting my friends for lunch
Having meetings in person and not on Zoom
Things I never dreamed would be wishes a year ago
Pummeled by the onslaught of so much in so little time
I have craved the idea of being normal again
As if it were an exotic elixir never to be drunk
My thoughts have caressed it as a forbidden dream
And though that dream is almost a reality
My brain does not completely believe it is a truth
For why should we trust when all trust has been tarnished?
Our future is brighter now than a year ago
and as we converse about a subject never conjured before -- vaccination status -- 
I picture a time when this will be a fun memory to discuss 
as we all laugh about the time we had to wear masks 
and were shut in our house for 6 months 
and had to wash our hands so much 
they were red and scaly and even lotion didn't help
What does the future hold?
I only hope the future will allow our children to live the lives
we hoped and prayed they would have
and the world will finally accept that peace is the only way
for us to live together
Though if we don't act soon there will be little left for our future generations. 
Really as I think about it, I hope the future holds bright days 
and more friends and lots of writing.
Copyright 2021 by 
Barbara Ehrentreu

Friday, March 27, 2020

                                   IS stock from The Hour Detroit

I meant to write on Wednesday but I was unable to find the time. I wound up having a very full day. First, a student needed to be tutored and I got approached on my tutoring app to do it. I haven't tutored all year so I did it and the lesson went well. We scheduled a lesson for today and tech was not kind. First the girl couldn't see the whiteboard and then all of a sudden the sound on my end cut out. I had been using a computer but that wasn't working. So I switched to my iPad and that was worse. Finally, since it was obviously a problem on my end, we rescheduled for Monday. Hopefully, everything will go smoothly. 

So it's weird getting all dressed up from the waist up. I put on makeup to hide my scary eye scars. I had to had eyelid reduction surgery this summer and it made me look freaky for awhile. Now they are almost back to normal but without makeup they look scary red. So makeup, a decent top and fix my hair. On the bottom I'm wearing my Betty Boop sweat pants. So I feel like a TV announcer who is wearing jeans and a very nice suit jacket and tie. But we never see the jeans. LOL

Anyway, this is Friday and the 5th day of our complete stay in the house. My daughters are working from home and so am I. Of course, I do that all the time, except for tutoring. So after the tutoring I went straight over to this awesome website: Poetry of Dark Angel that is on Facebook and did a 15 video. You can see it there. I read my poetry and talked a little bit. As I have told many of my friends, I hate seeing myself on the screen. I guess that almost everyone feels that way. 

As I said, I meant to write Wednesday but then it was too late. On Thursday my entire day was devoted to my radio show, Books and Entertainment Tales from the Pages. Here it is for anyone who would like to hear it. I think it was a great show this week. Many times this week I have heard how the arts can heal us and I believe it. Watching the Broadway stars sing to me and hearing the exquisite violin music of one of my friend's soloists on my show was breathtaking. Art does soothe your soul so if you aren't doing anything that concerns art you should try it. 

Also yesterday I got outside on my balcony!! Feeling and breathing in the fresh air did wonders for me. And I talked with the Aetna nurse and was able to allay some of my anxiety that I'm sure many of you have. Being calm and doing some deep breathing helps a lot. The air helped too. It was great seeing that the world was still going on but it was emptier. People are still walking on the boardwalk and walking their dogs. Kids are still playing and it was fun to hear the bird and feel the sunlight. It's 65 out now so I will be getting out there again soon.

Life is going on and though I am in the house I am trying to do things to keep myself occupied. I am watching less TV and more people doing things on TV. I rarely watch a movie, though I did last night. And I am watching the news sporadically to keep up with stuff. It is too devastating to watch all the time and I hope that it gets better. Right now we are having a huge storm of disease and this one we can't run away from as I said a few times. We are in a bunker and safe for now and hopefully it will protect us and all of us will come out of our safe havens stronger.

I talked with my brother about having a virtual Passover. We are going to connect the entire family in England and Japan and Manhattan and right here in Greenwich,CT. it should be fun as it always is and we'll just do the best we can to follow a seder together. During normal times that is not always very successful so online it should be different. This is the ultimate in social distancing I think!

In closing I would just like to say how grateful I am to the medical profession who are fighting this pandemic and who are constantly updating us on the seriousness of this virus. Life in the time of Covid-19 is feeling more and more like the beginning of a dystopian novel. I think I said this before but it can't be said enough. I have never lived in such a strange time and I think all my dear departed relatives, including my late husband, would never believe this could happen. Although, I think he would have not been fazed by it. I'm getting by and each day feel a little better about dealing with this crisis. As a TV doctor says: We will get through this and we are now probably at the end of the beginning. So there's lots more to follow. I will be writing as much as I can, because this helps a lot.

Until the next time everyone please stay healthy and safe. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

This is how we should all feel and I don't. 

This is my second blog post during this time of being inside due to the corona virus Covid -19. I have been anxious and not able to sleep very much. Every little body problem concerns me and causes worry. But I am telling myself not to panic and to try to realize I am still okay.

Yesterday we had food delivered and it was a lot and on a cart. The person rang the doorbell and then stood in the hall with the cart. I answered the door thinking all I would see would be groceries and saw the delivery person. I immediately closed the door and talked to her from behind it. I felt insane but I didn't want to chance that she could have it. Then my daughters took in all the bags and I was worried because this virus can last on paper. So I stayed away and didn't help with putting them away. 

But this fear has caused me to change everything. As suggested I am washing my hands whenever I am touching food or anything that could hold the virus. So I am washing my hands at least 10 times a day. At night I am slathering cream on them to keep them from getting rough, red and peeling. This amount of hand washing rubs off your outer skin. It is truly insane that we are having to do this. But this caution is necessary. 

Today I am working on setting up my radio show for this month. I am looking forward to talking with everyone. It should be lots of fun and hopefully we will have a good audience. Lots of people are at home and looking for something to do. I will put the link here tomorrow but also it will be on Facebook. I just have to do it.

My mother had a term for how I feel: discombobulated. It's when you are not sure what to do next. You start something and stop it and then start something again and then go back to the first thing. It's exhausting to be this way and I want to get back to my normal way of living. However, I have a feeling that normal is not going to happen for a long time.

I was talking on text today to a friend and said now I see why there were all those zombie books and she also brought up the dystopian Cassandra Claire books as well. I hope that it doesn't turn into that kind of world but it is getting closer and closer as I worry about human contact being dangerous. 

Anyway, enough of this madness. Please be kind to the people who are with you and be safe and we will all see each other on the other side. Until the next time...

Monday, March 23, 2020

                      LIFE IN THE TIME OF CORONA VIRUS COVID-19

It is now an entire week when the country has pretty much shut down. I don't think as many took it seriously until the middle of last week. Each day I learn of someone new who has contracted the virus and I am in panic mode. I have been in the house almost the entire time except for driving around with my daughters. The world has gotten different for sure. My life is pretty much the same except my daughters have now been home from their offices every day. They used to work at home on Mondays and then one worked from home on Wednesday and the other on Friday. Now they are both home and this is going to be the new normal for us I guess. 

We no longer shop at supermarkets. We are getting our food delivered. Living in a large apartment complex a lot of things have changed for us. Our complex had many amenities such as a full time gym of two levels, a community room with free coffee and free wifi with several computers available. We also have a Conference Room and a theater where you can screen your own movies or watch the broadcast they have there. It is equipped with the latest reclining chairs and a wide screen. There is also a basketball court and a squash court. 

We also have a concierge who lets in people and who takes packages. Our building has a gated parking area and that is still working. So they closed all the amenities. I have been inside my apartment since Saturday and will probably be here for the entire week. My car was started on Saturday to make sure it is still okay. But I am afraid to go out at all. I am over 70 and have diabetes. So I am in the danger zone for contracting this virus.

I have changed my daily habits. Now I wash my hands very frequently for 20 seconds whenever I do anything. I have been baking a bit so that entails washing your hands even more. I am not having any physical contact with my daughters for fear they might be carrying the germ unknowingly. They are taking precautions. I also did that. When I went out on Saturday I had a glove to touch the elevator button and the door handle and then threw it away. We bought masks before the whole thing actually escalated and we are very prepared with lots of toilet paper and other essentials. We are waiting for our food order and my daughter just said that some things are out of stock. They are not ordering as much food because people are not buying it. 

As a writer I have been writing poetry and wrote two poems about the disease. I also wrote a chapter on my WIP although now I don't feel much like writing. This is the first writing I have done in a few days. Everything seems to have changed in priority. I find that although I enjoy being in the house it is starting to get to me. I mean, what is great about this time is that creative people in the arts are stepping up. Since Broadway was closed several celebrities have started shows that feature the talents of these people. My daughters and I have been watching #Stars on Broadway and last night we spent over three hours watching Rosie O'Donell stream live so many celebrities I couldn't count. It's fun to see that the talent of these people doesn't need costumes and scenery. Also a performer is doing live performances every day at 7pm. It's just him, his guitar and his piano. All of this just soothes my soul and gives me hope that soon life will come back to normal. 

Several of my meetings have been either canceled or moved to Zoom. I, myself, will be on Facebook and I have my radio show: Books and Entertainment Tales from the Pages on Thursday, March 26, 2020. I am hoping all of my guests will be available.

Thank goodness for technology so we can get food. I guess we could live on what we have now. We have plenty in the freezer and pantry. But day to day essentials are what we are running out of and so happy we can restock. I am hoping that other people are able to navigate this situation without things getting out of hand. I am not looking past this week and hope that the country will come back to normal soon. 

Passover is April 8 and I fear we will have to cancel our seder with my niece. She lives in Manhattan and it's pretty much going to be a given that I won't be traveling and that we will not be gathering. Though we are family and my brother lives close to me I haven't seen him. He stopped traveling two weeks ago and we were supposed to get together all of us for Passover. Now I have no idea what is going to happen. I hope this will all be over but I fear that we have at least a month more to go before we can feel comfortable about going out in public. 

I'm finding it harder and harder to sleep. I woke up two hours after I fell asleep and had no idea why. I am trying to keep my mind off of this as much as possible but my body isn't getting the message. I don't usually have trouble sleeping. This is something new for me and I don't like it. Let me know how you are coping in the comments. And hope you will join me for my events. One is on Poetry of the Dark Angel on Wednesday and the other is my radio show: BE Tales from the Pages on Thursday. 

Here is one of the poems I wrote:

A scourge has overtaken our world
one more deadly than nations fighting nations
It has plunged its claws into our country
when we thought we were safe and nothing
could stop our freedom

Now we all sit isolated from each other
in our boxes — some boxes smaller than others
yet we must stay in them to escape this
deadly force that is rushing across our nation
forcing us to restrict our freedom

Over two hundred years we have fought for this
freedom to be where we want to be and do what
we want to do
now we must stay inside to keep away from
this invisible menace

No school, no work outside your home, no restaurants, no bars,
no lying on the beach with your friends, no fun get togethers
no talking with your neighbors or shaking hands or hugging
no movies, no concerts, no festivals, no book events or poetry readings
We must do all this virtually now

Too many have been affected by this invisible monster that seeps
into your body without your knowing and for some it is a death sentence
The bodies piling up so high in places the cemeteries have closed
And still it keeps destroying without care for anything
As the brave medical profession struggles to contain it

Stuck inside my home to avoid its deadly consequences
I pray every day for an end to this awful mess that started
with a tiny insect and now has caused the entire world to
come to a stop — creating a time to reflect and wonder
and then appreciate all the freedoms we so took for granted

Like walking outside and greeting passersby, shopping without care,
or hugging a loved one after a long time apart
or cheering at a concert for a performer in the midst of cheering others
or watching basketball players bump up against each other
not concerned that one of them may be deadly

It will be a sad and painful time for all of us
as we watch the procession of bodies
and the researchers search constantly for a cure
to stop this invisible pestilence that has stumped
the world and decimated the ease of life.
Copyright 2020 by Barbara Ehrentreu

Until the next time I hope everyone is staying safe and observing the rules so we can get rid of this pestilence that has invaded our lives.
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