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A Fitting Poem for our Trails

The Road Not Taken 

BY ROBERT FROST

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

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Working on a Book Cover

I haven’t even gotten the book off to the editor yet, but I am playing around with the cover. I had originally drawn three paper dolls, but last night, I began work on three figures. It is the story of three middle-aged women who are best friends.

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Hammock Time in Kentucky

In the sixties for the last couple of days. It’s supposed to reach seventy by tomorrow. On Sunday before last, we celebrated a full week of electricity. Although February is the shortest month, it seemed the longest. After an ice storm and more snow on top of that, along with temperatures in the single digits at night, we went through fifteen days without electricity and part of the time without water since there was no electricity feeding the pumping stations.

I had a list of resolutions before the electrical outage. The only ones I continued daily was journalling and yoga. I’m now back on track for the most part. One of the resolutions is to practice drawing everyday. This is a drawing of Shaker boxes. We retreated to Shakertown in Harrodsburg, Kentucky for a couple of nights for hot showers and warmth. It’s one of our favorite places.

A painting I did on procreate this past week.

 

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The Divine Number 3

Our electronic devices are listening. I’ve noticed my husband and I can be having a casual conversation and ads start popping up all over social media regarding some product we may have mentioned. So, whenever I’m thinking about shopping for something and want to see if there are any discounts, I say the product name three times. I’m curious what will happen if I say Beetlejuice three times, but I refrain from doing so.

There is a lot of hidden meaning in Wizard of Oz. Possibly even futuristic predictions. “Click your heels together three times and say ‘There’s no place like home’ and you’ll be there.”

Three times, the magic number. Nickola Tesla did everything in multiples of three.

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Snowscape Experimentation

I’m trying to learn all (well, some) of the bells and whistles of Procreate (It’s an art app.). This was an experimentation with different brushes. It turned out somewhere between impressionism and abstract.

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Black History Month

With great love, I wrote Sally. The book is inspired by the life of Sally Ann Barnes, 1858-1969. I met Sally once in 1961 when she was 103. That meeting had a lasting impression on me. I researched her life off and on for seven years.

Bronze Winner of the Wishing Shelf Book Awards and a Readers’ Favorite

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A Start

I’m quite lazy when it comes to detail in drawing. My husband comes in, and I ask if he can tell what I’m drawing. He says lemons, but then the lemons are right in front of me. I’ll use them later for a Shaker lemon pie.

 

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The Beginnings of a Painting

I think I will take this one slow. When finished, I hope to incorporate it into a previous painting of a polar bear. I’m toying with the idea of a joint adventure with Theodore Polar Bear and Baby Fox, characters from A Peculiar School.

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Thaddeus Turtle

Yesterday, I promised myself to write more, draw more, and walk out in nature more. I’ve been drawing the characters in my book, A Peculiar School. Last night, I drew Thaddeus Turtle who will turn one hundred soon.

While out walking, I saw something hanging from a tree. It took me a moment to figure out what it was. It was a small rocket and parachute that my husband and grandson launched back in June. A picture from along the trail.

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Updating

More updates have been made since this picture.

The last day of the year, and I’m in the process of making a new website. Still more work to do, but it’s a start.

For over three months, almost four, we have also been updating our home, the kitchen/dining area to be exact. I have to give my husband the credit. He does ninety-nine percent of the work. It’s all a do-it-yourself job. It started on the day after his birthday, September 13. It didn’t start as a kitchen project, but one thing leads to another. I asked if a particular wall was load-bearing. I was hoping to get more light and a new workspace to write. It’s where I’m writing now–the new kitchen island we installed which is pictured.

Of course, the project grew. They always do. We knocked out two walls. My hope was to get it finished by Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Year’s. Now, I’m hoping for Valentine’s Day.

We have tried to recycle as much as possible. My husband has hand-built cabinets, moved around appliances, and we’ve dismantled an old barn to use the boards, some of which were ten inches wide.

So, more writing and better-prepared, healthier meals for 2021!

And wishing everyone a much better year! One of creativity, peace, and good health!

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Theodore “Einstein” Polar Bear

I love polar bears, and Ted E. Bear is my favorite character from A Peculiar School. A Peculiar Store is an anthropomorphic tale about all animals getting along. It’s set in a nature reserve.

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Ethel Peacock

It’s been so long since I’ve posted. Lately, I’ve restarted my practice of drawing. Something to do during the isolation period. I’ve been doing digital art, basically for the ease of it and for fear of ruining perfectly good paper. It’s a learning process. I’ve been using the Procreate app.

I’ve been attempting characters from my book, A Peculiar School. It’s about all animals getting along with each other. My main character is a peahen. For now, I’ve practiced a peacock. I will keep refining until I get to a peahen, what I think is a good look for Ethel.

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On Sale

Do we create our own reality?

Jessica moves to an island to make a new start after her divorce. A whole new idyllic world opens up for her, but all is not as it seems. A Novel Tea Book Club Selection, Wishing Shelf Book Awards Finalist, William Faulkner-William Wisdom Writing Contest Finalist, 5 Star Readers’ Favorite

The Kindle Version is on sale for a limited time for only 0.99!

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Recognition for Sally

Sally, inspired by the life of Sally Ann Barnes, 1858-1969, born into slavery in Carter County, KY was listed one of nine moving works of literary fiction. It was chosen along with Mudbound, one of my favorite books of all time. This book was also made into a movie.

https://wiki.ezvid.com/m/9-moving-works-of-literary-fiction-BhHy4jUvyBsyM#9-moving-works-of-literary-fiction

The following week Sally was chosen as a finalist in the 2018 Wishing Shelf Book Awards.

 

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A Peculiar School

I’ve never been much of a collector, but serendipitously I have been coming across animals, the ones I’m writing about. From left to right, Owen Orangutan, Ted E. Polar Bear, Filbert Fox, Hiram Hyena, Densworth Lion, and Ola Owl. This is not a children’s book, although a thirteen year old has read it and understood it. It is very much a hero’s journey type of book.

A Peculiar School, available at AmazonBarnes and NobleApple iTunesKobo or ask for it at your local bookstore.

 

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Jessica Awarded

Friday morning I was informed Jessica Lost Her Wobble was a 2017 finalist in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards. The adult books were judged by 2 Reading Groups, 1 in London and 1 in Stockholm. The books were marked according to editing, theme, style and cover. Actual winners will be announced in April.

Available on Amazon as well as most bookseller sites:  Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Jessica-Lost-Her-Wobble-Schlenker-ebook/dp/B0198UX0BI/

A Novel Tea Book Club Selection, 2017 Wishing Shelf Book Awards Finalist, 2014 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Writing Contest Finalist, and recipient of a 5 Star Readers’ Favorite Award.

At mid-life, Jessica, after many upsets, moves to an island for contemplation of her life and to make a new start. While there she reflects back on her beginnings in the early 20th century in England, her move to New York City, and marriage at a young age, while making friends with a girl half her age. This friendship opens up a new world for her and helps her explore her own soul. Jessie becomes a part of the island otherwise known as a local as she reinvents her life there and finds love. But all is not as it seems.

“Jessica Lost Her Wobble” is J. Schlenker’s first novel.

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Jessica Lost Her Wobble – a Review

http://lisaswritopia.com/jessica-lost-her-wobble-a-review/

BOOK REVIEWS, FICTION WRITING, KENTUCKIANA AUTHORS, NEW WORDS LEARNED, SUSPENSE/THRILLERS, WORDS
Jessica Lost Her Wobble – a Review
by Lisa • July 20, 2017 • 1 Comment

Jessica moves from New York to a small island to start her life anew. But all is not as it seems. The cover for Jessica Lost Her Wobble shows a rather peaceful scene. Does it fit the book? Yes, it does, but In no way does it hint at what is going on beneath the surface.

This story takes place in the 50s and 60s. There are cars, buses, and airplanes, but cell phones and the internet haven’t arrived yet.

Jessica is trying to escape her past and the tragedies she has lived through. Stressful things happen to everyone, but her failed marriage, the death of her son, and not having a good relationship with her daughter have all added up to being too much to handle. She must escape them, escape everything that reminds her of them. No one would miss her, and she really must get away.

She moves from New York to a small island community. The majority of its inhabitants are in their fifties and sixties.

I thought the book was very well-written, but it didn’t hold my attention that well until Amy enters the story and makes friends with Jessica. The book then became hard to put down. Amy is much younger, and Jessica’s friendship with Amy makes her take an even harder look at herself and her relationship with her own daughter.

Once Jessica is living on the island, she and her daughter do reconcile. Her daughter buys her a journal, and she decides to write about her life. Romance, memories, and hope for the future fill her life and her journal. Maybe writing about her life will help her to realize who she is.


Jessica Lost Her Wobble does a great job of keeping the twist a secret until the very end. At first, I was mad and tempted to throw my Kindle, but I really didn’t want to risk breaking it. This book turned out to be more of a great psychological story. I didn’t think the twisty ending made any sense when I first read it, but I had forgotten something. “The Prologue” had completely slipped my mind because I had become so involved with what was going on with Jessica and the other characters. That alone should give you a hint as to how real the author developed these characters.

I bought my copy of Jessica Lost Her Wobble from Amazon. If you are a fan of literary fiction, women’s fiction, or stories with a psychological twist, you will love this book. Even if you aren’t fans of those genres, this book should appeal to you. My favorite genres are horror and mystery; a psychological twist is a bonus.

This book about how Jessica lost her wobble is captivating. If you would like your own copy, I’ve provided an Amazon link below.

Amazon Link: Jessica Lost Her Wobble

Recommended Article: The Missing Butler and Other Life Mysteries – a Review

Favorite Sentences:
People excused authors for aloofness or detachment from life.

How could she find herself when so many pieces were scattered and just plain missing?

For Aunt Agatha to hold in a thought or opinion would be like every strand of Jessie’s hair to suddenly fall into place.

Their marriage could be defined as a slow, destructive process, suicide in installments.

She wrote about her past, but then, her pen was guided like a planchette across a Ouija board to the present.

Sabarmati-Ashram, wikimedia commons
New Words Learned:
ashram – a secluded building, often the residence of a guru, used for religious retreat or instruction in Hinduism

auspicious – promising success; propitious; opportune; favorable

ubiquitous – existing everywhere or seeming to be found or seen everywhere; constantly or very commonly observed or encountered

About the Author:
J. Schlenker, a late blooming author, lives with her husband out in the splendid center of nowhere in the Kentucky foothills of Appalachia where the only thing to disturb her writing is croaking frogs and the occasional sounds of hay being cut in the fields. Her first novel, Jessica Lost Her Wobble, published in December 2015, was selected as a finalist in the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition and was awarded five stars from Readers’ Favorite. One of her short stories, “The Missing Butler,” received honorable mention in the first round of the NYC Competition.

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Indie Publishing New – July 2017

Source: Indie Publishing New – July 2017

Vicki Goodwin, aka Sojourner McConnell, author of The Path of the Child and Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? (The Dolcey Series 1) is interviewed. She mentions me as one of her favorite authors. I consider this an honor considering the vast plethora of books she reads.

 

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Vegetarian Reubens

One of my favorites. I tried a vegetarian reuben at Remedy Diner in Raleigh, NC, and I loved it. So, I came up with my own version, which melts in your mouth.

The pictures should explain the ingredients. I cut strips of tempeh (usually four or five fit on a piece of rye bread) and saute them in barbecue sauce. I heap a generous amount of butter onto the skillet and place a slice of rye over it. On top of that I place the sautéed tempeh, followed by Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing and top piece of rye. Cook over medium or low heat, careful not to burn the bread, and flip to brown other side.

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Personal Writing Retreat

We live in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by wooded areas and nature. It is my personal writing retreat. In the summer I usually write out back on our deck. I hear the waterfall and birds as I write. This is our fish pond.

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Three Dishes

Something a little different than normal. I was inspired by a couple of new restaurants we discovered in Lexington – Corto Lima and Kentucky Native Cafe.

We ate at Corto Lima for our anniversary. Glad we did. Their food was delicious and different from our usual. It’s Latin inspired. And, they certainly don’t skimp on the alcohol in the margaritas. We’ve now eaten there twice. We tried sitting outside for our second visit. The sidewalks of downtown Lexington restaurants are now lined with tables and chairs, somewhat reminiscent of Paris. During Memorial Day Weekend, I tried my own versions of two of the dishes from Corto Lima – Quinoa Chaufa and Mango Con Chili. (Pictured below)

And, inspired by the Kentucky Native Cafe is Roasted Eggplant with Garlic Sauce. The Kentucky Native Cafe is part of a Greenhouse. Tables are beneath trees and lush foliage to the back of the greenhouse area. Also delicious, and even after we ate we lingered at our table. It felt like meditation. Eating in the woods is the way to go.

My own plate of Cous Cous and Roasted Eggplant with Garlic Sauce. Now, too make a CousCous dish.

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Jessica Lost Her Wobble

My first book, Jessica Lost Her Wobble, is a beach book. I’m working on giving her a new look for summer. Jessie, a woman facing a mid-life crisis after her divorce, goes to an island to re-invent herself. While there she discovers meditation and yoga and learns to ride a bicycle.

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Reviewed by Lisaswritopia

The Missing Butler and Other Life Mysteries – a Review

These life mysteries are awesome! Each of these stories is a slice of life with the little mysteries that we encounter. The absurd, the comical, and the mysterious aspects of life are presented. Some of these stories are sad enough to bring you to tears. Others are serious enough to cause one to ponder the serious aspects of life. And some will make you laugh.

“The Missing Butler” – The very first sentence of this story—”It was that butler fellow that did it.”—also happened to be the last words of the woman making the accusation. She died right after she said them. But there is a problem. If this woman did have a butler, no one knew about it or knew who he was. An enjoyable, well-written mystery story that really could happen. Inspector Nigel Brown has his work cut out for him.

“The Mermaids” – This slightly humorous tale about growing older, exercise, relationships, and the power of imagination has some very realistic characters.

“Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall” – This story is about a very unusual family vacation.

“Nine Lives” – An old cat tells a kitten about each of his eight previous lives. Since I have eight cats right now and have owned many more in the past, this story really interested me.

“The Wickham” – This is a cute sci-fi story. Alien students go to the planet of Hollywood in order to learn about its literature. So this one would be a slice of life for aliens.

giraffe in a Melbourne zoo, wikimedia commons

“Auld Lang Syne” – What happens when an older married woman runs into a former sweetheart while grocery shopping?

“The Plans” – A man steals a giraffe from the zoo because the giraffe asked him to help it escape. Need I say more? This is an awesome story.

“Jury Duty” – It is said that there are two sure things in life: death and taxes. I think that a third sure thing should be added to the list: jury duty.

“Murder Under the Oaks: The Cojoined Twin Caper” – Let’s just say that the oak trees have a mind of their own.

“Conversations in a Coffee Shop” – Two people on a date talk about spaghetti, streakers, and how times have changed while in a coffee shop.

conversations in a coffee shop, flickr

“Master of the Stacks” – How much of a part in your life do books play? If they are a huge part of your life, you will really enjoy this story.

“Man’s Best Friend” – One of man’s best friends is taken to an amusement park, and after a harrowing day, makes a new best friend.

“When in Paris” – A couple in Paris on vacation learn to adjust to the Parisian culture.

“The Lost Moment” – How does one get out of a boring, predictable relationship?

“The Red Geraniums” – This is the most emotional of the stories. It focuses on a young girl who is afraid of men because of what her father had done to her, and it focuses on how she overcomes this fear. The name will make perfect sense once you read the story.

red geraniums, public domain

Which story was my favorite? Honestly, I have three favorites. I loved the mystery in “The Missing Butler.” My next favorite was “Nine Lives” because of all the cats I own. “The Red Geraniums” made me sad and angry, but then it made me so happy I almost cried.

I purchased my copy of this book from Amazon. If you would like to purchase your own copy, I have provided an Amazon link below.

Amazon Link: The Missing Butler and Other Life Mysteries

open up to imagination, http://www.studentpulse.com

Favorite Sentences:
The fairytale land of green is rough and haggard, a gnarled forest of evil beings lurking in a microsomal realm reaching to grab me with each pass.

Needless to say, Miffen was both miffed and sad.

Like obedient dogs, we kept our gaze upon this authority figure as we slid with the grace of ballet dancers in perfect choreography without the aid of Prokofiev music back onto our own hard benches.

Did the lawyer expect me to believe he was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time on seven different instances?

About the Author:
J. Schlenker, a late-blooming author, lives with her husband out in the splendid center of nowhere in the Kentucky foothills of Appalachia where the only thing to disturb her writing is croaking frogs and the occasional sounds of hay being cut in the fields. Her first novel, Jessica Lost Her Wobble, published in December 2015, was selected as a finalist in the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition and was awarded five stars from Readers’ Favorite. One of her short stories, “The Missing Butler,” received honorable mention in the first round of the NYC Competition.

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Forest Bathing

For the last couple of days I’ve renewed my interest in our trails. The Japanese call it forest bathing or Shinrin Yoku. It’s healing to be out in nature, to walk along forest trails, to observe and become one with the earth.

I do believe what they say, “Location, location, location is true.”  My location is nature. It’s what truly inspires me and activates all of my senses.

On my walk I was greeted by this turtle. He or she peeked out for a picture. I always think of longevity when I see a turtle. A good sign for my first day back on the trail. The turtle also symbolizes determination and is slow and steady–all good things to consider if I’m to make a habit of daily walks and overcome my laziness.

One of the last things before ending my 1.7 mile walk was this redbud. At least I think this is Redbud. Please correct me if I’m wrong. It grows all over our hills.

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A Deeper Meaning Behind Colors – The Color of Cold and Ice #BookReview and #Author Interview

I’m glad and excited that my book, The Color of Cold and Ice, is featured on Becca’s International Book Blog, today! Becca is a holistic health and nutritional counselor, yoga and meditation instructor and author of The Chakra Diaries and Chakra Secrets, inspirational memoirs, and the self-help books, Balance Your Chakras, Balance Your Life and The Chakra Energy Diet.

Becca's Inspirational Book Blog

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 9.21.42 AMThe Color of Cold and Iceis exceptionally creative, weaving the many facets of colors and their chakra associations into the story. Author J. Schlenker beautifully writes of intriguing characters who cross paths throughout the novel, and in the end, become important bridges to balance, passion, health and love for each other.

The novel opens with Sybil, a wife, sister, the owner of a New York City coffee shop, having another of her prophetic dreams. A dream she could not analyze easily, but at least not one like the nightmares that she had seen come true… like the one in which her sister Em’s husband was hit by an object hurtling down from a crane while he and his young son were walking down the street. But this latest dream was pleasant… strange, but pleasant. Nothing foreboding, but indecipherable. She’s standing next to a canal on a bright summer day with her…

View original post 1,654 more words

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Traveling by Book

A reader was kind enough to photograph my book, The Color of Cold and Ice, in front of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and send me the photo. One of the chapters is set in the museum.

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Feeling Lighter

Yesterday I got my draft of Sally off to my beta readers. When I got to the end and read the last couple of sentences a chill went up my spine and I had an emotional release. I think that’s a good sign.

Sally was born into slavery in 1858. She died at 110 on March 31, 1969. I met her once when she was 103. She is 101 in the picture.

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Book Picks

I’m not a book reviewer. I do admire those who write them in that they have no trouble in dissecting and squeezing the essence of the book into more than a short blurb. I basically open up with words in two instances–when I’m writing my own stories or novels or when I’m talking with my husband. Some of those discussions we have often involve books as we both in a lot of instances are drawn to the same books.

But, today, I will comment on two books or three books. I finished two today and am listening to a third on audio.

I recently got to hear Crystal Wilkinson read from The Birds of Opulence. Her book won The Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. And, it is rightly deserved.

My review on Amazon was as follows:  I was fortunate enough to hear a reading from the book by the author. I was captivated by the rich language and Appalachian culture. The writing was inspirational and a learning experience. The stories of the women from two families were raw and truthful, delivered by the author’s excellent prose.

I love the cover.

The Amazon link is as follows:  https://www.amazon.com/Birds-Opulence-Kentucky-Voices-ebook/dp/B015JUDXN6/

I love that I have a signed hardcover edition.

When I say it was a learning experience, it gave me insight into the Afro-American culture. I have been immersing myself into this culture quite a bit lately doing my own research into the writing of Sally, what will hopefully be my next novel. I recently read Mudbound, another excellent book. It was recommended to me on my visit to the National Underground Railway Freedom Center in Cincinnati.

Also, today, I finished the audio version of The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens. This book was totally different than the above two in that it was a murder mystery. This would not have been a book I picked up. It was this month’s reading club selection, and I’m going to rate it as one of the best ones. Even though we purchased the paperback edition from the library where our book club meets I managed to check out the audio version on Overdrive. I have to admit the voice either makes or breaks it for me as to whether I will listen to the audio version, and this male voice made it for me.

A couple of months ago my husband and I attended a lecture by Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk. I’m happy to have an autographed version of her book. Yet, I have also checked her book out on Overdrive, the audio version. Her lecture was so good that I hoped the audio version would be read by the author, and it is.

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