Monday, October 30, 2017

LET ‘ER RIP! GIVE IT ALL YOU GOT!

LET ‘ER RIP! GIVE IT ALL YOU GOT!


Everyone has moments they remember from childhood. Maybe it was lying in a pile of fresh fallen leaves, or a snow drift creating angels. Perhaps the memorable moment is a place in the safety of darkness, on a rainy day, crouched in a tent made of sheets. But it was a certain place and time in which the spirit soared  high, free to touch the sun, without being told you might get burned.

A LETTER TO MYSELF

Dear Turnip,

Do you remember falling into a pile of fresh fallen leaves?   You didn’t worry about the bugs or the musky dust. You raked the pile high.  
Did you notice the crisp fall air, or listen to the leaves showering from the trees like the rain?  Probably not. You were eight years old. You lay spread eagle on your back, swishing your arms and legs to the crackle of your leaf angel that would never be as distinct

as the snow angel you would make a few months later.
You gazed up into the thundering, billowing clouds, too young to wonder about boys ,or  who your friends would be. You imagined wild horses thundering across the endless storm filled heavens. Your world was small, just Mom, Dad and Punkin, who was the boss of you because she was a year older.  Oh yes, and Andy, Dad’s black lab, who went everywhere with you. No wonder Mom and Dad never worried.
They could have told you to cherish those days. Every moment. 
Today I strive to recreate that free style you enjoyed, running and falling, and crawling into the fragile crisp leaf caves. I remember the gift of freedom you thrived upon. The only rule, “Be home by dark.”
If Mom and Dad had warned, “Be careful,” you would have asked, “Of what?” I’m glad they didn’t instill that fear and you didn’t have to ask. Instead, you grabbed that   freedom and incorporated it into the confidence which I enjoy today. I am grateful fear never held you back.
When I am weary from my mind’s battle with doubts of who I am, and what I will become, I remember you, Turnip, and your eight year old undaunted spirit.  You are my hero.  Because of you I grew strong and confident with courage to face the future and its challenges.  So let ‘er rip. Give me all you got, world. And I will stand back up.
Love,
Me


Oh, and don’t forget!! Readers’ reviews  keep writers motivated.

USEFUL LINKS

SPORTSTER'S BLOG


Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.









Safe travels!
                   









Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ellen Behr interviews Judy Howard


Your biographical note on your Amazon home page includes this quote from Henry David Thoreau: "How vain is it to sit down and write, when you have not stood up to live?"

At what point did you realize you needed to write about what you'd lived?
My husband passed away in August of 2004 and 3 months later I made my first solo trip in   my motorhome from California to Florida. People referred to me as an inspiration, that I gave them courage to tackle things they had been afraid to try.
Six years ago when I wrote my first book,   COAST TO COAST WITH A CAT AND A GHOST, I felt my story needed to be told. An author, Louis Urea said, “Sometimes, God tells you what to write.”  I believe it is the same for me. I intended the memoir to be somewhat of a travel log. Instead, it evolved into a story about  not just  dealing with the loss of a loved one, but also of  facing spousal abuse and  finding courage to stand up for myself  and  through the process, becoming  stronger  and greater than I ever dreamed of becoming.

Your books are listed as novels, but the main character shares your name. How much of the character's experiences in your books ("Coast to Coast with a Cat and a Ghost" and "Going Home with a Cat and a Ghost") mirrors your own life?
Coast To Coast With A Cat And A Ghost is definitely is the closest to a memoir. It was my first book and was well received, surprising me. So, as a new author, flying by the seat of her authorial sweat pants I wondered if I could make something up.
 And wa-la!  Going Home With A Cat And A Ghost was born. My sister called me egotistical because I didn’t want to lose the character, Judy Howard. If she worked in the first book, why not keep her?   I hadn’t planned a series but they say that’s how to sell book. Why not?  So how much is truth and how much is fiction?  I’ll leave that as part of the intrigue for the reader to ponder.

Why did you choose to write fiction rather than autobiography? Your life sounds bigger than fiction!
 I find writing fiction to be fun, filled with my dreams.  I can fly high on my fantasies, and unlike reality, I   control the ending.  The dark moments in a world of fiction may be difficult to write but never as painful as revealing   the reality of a personal truth, which didn’t turn out as I had hoped.
You are right, Ellen, Ellen, my life is as big as the Montana sky and thrilling as lightning in a thunderstorm. Compared to a time in my life when suicide became a tempting option, the life I live today is more fulfilling and magical than I ever imagined.  But the those deep potholes from which  I dragged myself out , and the long  detours I took wandered through are easier for this author to address  with distance , in a novel. Sometimes I do take the easy way but my usual mode of operation   is the hard way.
John F. Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.”


When did you start RVing? Do you still travel by RV?  I began Rving solo in 2004. In January 2017, at the young age of 71, I rented my house out and now live full-time in my twenty-four foot   Winnebago which I have named, “The Big Story.”  I tow a Smart Car, appropriately named, “The Short Story.” 

Do you write in your RV?  
I had a custom desk built in my RV. It is my favorite place to write. There is nothing more inspirational than pounding the keyboard while the rain beats on the roof, or when the ocean washes incessantly onto the beach, or the wind whispers ideas to me through the trees. On beautiful days, my cat,  Sportster, will not stop howling until I move  out side  with my computer, It is there he can absorb the sights and smells of his surroundings and plot his next novel …or his  autobiography?  By the way, his nose is bent out of shape because no one yet has asked for an interview. I told him when he gets a couple more books out he will be taken more seriously as an author.  He just twitched his tail, spit and then took a nap.  
Do you write in your RV?  
I had a custom desk built in my RV. It is my favorite place to write. There is nothing more inspirational than pounding the keyboard while the rain beats on the roof, or when the ocean washes incessantly onto the beach, or the wind whispers ideas to me through the trees. On beautiful days, my cat,  Sportster, will not stop howling until I move  out side  with my computer, It is there he can absorb the sights and smells of his surroundings and plot his next novel …or his  autobiography?  By the way, his nose is bent out of shape because no one yet has asked for an interview. I told him when he gets a couple more books out he will be taken more seriously as an author.  He just twitched his tail, spit and then took a nap. 




Many of you have asked, "What's it like writing on the road?" This is my office, highlights from left to right. 
1. The muse. And famous author Sportster @Sportsterandme.com.
2. If you enlarge the photo you will see a timer. I'm trying out a new productivity strategy. 
3. Gifts from a couple of my favorite people who keep me charged up with believing in myself on a professional level. The painted rock. Thank you Deb Sanders. And my latest nonfiction book to insure that someday I will be climbing up on the stage to do my very own Ted Talk. Thank you Lynne MorganSpreen. 
4. Oh!! Don't overlook the most impressive feature, my picture window that changes scenes with the twist of the ignition and a step on the accelerator!!! Welcome to my office!

What inspires you most when you're traveling?  
Nature, nature and more nature! And always the people and their stories.
Every person should   be required to serve a two year tour, living with the locals of several of the small towns in every fly-over state.
  Using one of your books as an example, could you walk us through how you got the idea through the final version of the book? What was the toughest part of the process for you? Why?  
By the time I finished my first book, Coast To Coast With A Cat And A Ghost, I was hooked on writing. I figured anyone can write their own story, but I wondered, could I make something up? So I tackled the familiar Hallmark romance story, reuniting with the old high school boyfriend.  I mixed it up with some tragedy and intrigue and wrote, Going Home With A Cat And A Ghost.

Sportster the cat (featured in earlier books) has for some time narrated a blog. What inspired you to give him center stage as main character in "Activate Lion Mode"?
After writing MASADA'S MARINE, which was about a dog named Masada who becomes a service dog for an Iraq veteran with PTSD, I was emotionally exhausted. It took me two years to write and I considered laying down my pen and shutting off my computer. But writing is like a drug, and I couldn’t give it up. So I decide I would write something fun, ACTIVATE LION MODE.

"Activate Lion Mode" is the first in a new series. When can readers expect the second book? Does it have a title yet? Yes they certainly can. Sportster promises Activate Love Mode will be out mid 2018. I too will have an autobiographical novel out in 2018.

Will RVs continue to play a role in your books?
Until they pry my cold dead hands from the steering wheel.

What motivated you to write the Masada series, featuring a service dog for a PTSD-afflicted veteran?   
I discovered a nonprofit organization which raised puppies and then sent them to local prisons to be trained as service dogs for veterans.  The prisoners win, the dog wins and the veterans wins. What a great story!



Your experience as a pet groomer clearly has influenced your writing. Do you have any advice for others who are thinking of incorporating aspects of their professional life into their fiction?
Write about what you know even if your career seems ordinary to you. Your individual perspective   and passion will give inspiration and passion to a story that no one else can.

What have I not asked that you'd like to mention?
An issue which writers are rarely asked is, “Writing is hard, lonely and full of doubt. How do you keep going?” 
Perhaps the public believes we have a gift, a talent which drives us and that it is easy for us.   It is not. To be successful, we all have to do the work. Everyday.
Every day I study the craft, and its many divisions –– writing, character building, plot and structure and so on –– updating my knowledge of the constant changing world of marketing and social media and publishing –– and most of the time I do this alone.
So how do I keep going?  I give it away. Through my writing and inspirational seminars, I try to help writers on their journe,y and like magic, they help me. I keep going on, giving away the knowledge and support that others have lavished on me.
Oh, and don’t let me forget!! Readers’ reviews  keep us writers motivated.
USEFUL LINKS



Thanks,   And safe travels!







Wednesday, October 18, 2017

WHERE IS YOUR THERMOSTAT SET? TURN IT UP!

WHERE IS YOUR THERMOSTAT SET?
TURN IT UP!!




Gay Hendricks PhD, said in “The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level, “Each of us has an inner thermostat setting that determines how much love, success, and creativity we allow ourselves to enjoy. When we exceed our inner thermostat setting, we will often do something to sabotage ourselves, causing us to drop back into the old, familiar zone where we feel secure.”
My work goals.
          To become a Ted Talk speaker.
          To become a New York Times Best Selling author.
          To appear on the Steve Harvey Show.
Personal goals.
          To live out my life with the one I love.
          To see the Northern Lights.
          To be a keynote speaker at my high school.

All of these goals exceed my thermostat setting. Just writing them down causes discomfort, even reading them, and certainly making them public. Doubting, fearful voices drone like the disturbing hum from a bad speaker.

 I compare how I react to my desire to achieve these goals, to my
dream of driving a Mario Andretti race car on my 70th birthday. The feelings of inadequacy, of being undeserving and just plain terrified me and  almost froze me where I stood.
Regardless,  I went for the checkered flag. The thrill of surviving the risk was worth the price and became my trophy. I took it to the limit. I gave it my best shot.  I accomplished something I never believed I could do. And that made all the difference.


So, here is what to do.  
Break your project, idea, task, activity or goal into the largest possible number of sub-steps you can imagine. 

Let’s use the example,  becoming a Ted Talk speaker.


Write all the steps down.
 4. Join Toastmasters
1. Decide what you want to say
3. Decide on a title of your Toastmasters speech
2. Know why you want to say it.
5. Practice, practice, practice
6. Become active, volunteer in the venue you are passionate about


Prioritize the list.
1. Decide what you want to say
2. Know why you want to say it.
3. Decide on a title of your Toastmasters speech
4. Join Toastmasters
5. Practice, practice, practice
6. Become active, volunteer in the venue you are passionate about.

  Go back to the first item on your list. Fnd the smallest possible action you can take to advance it.
1. Decide what you want to say.
          a. Find your passion
          b. What would you like to change in the world?
          c.  Decide how bad do you want to say it?
          d. What are you willing to risk to reach your goal?
         

Aim for baby steps. Focus on small wins. 
The idea is to take even the smallest action towards the bigger goal.
Small baby steps are the key. The road to a worthy goal is long and daunting. No one whose name ranks in the top ten chart got there overnight.
Never mind the discomfort, it only proves you are exceeding your inner thermostat setting.   Keep our eye on those day-to-day baby steps.
You will be uncomfortable. Don’t let it sabotage you.
 Don’t give up.

Keep your heart on the prize.

Oh, and don’t let me forget!! Readers’ reviews  keep us writers motivated.

USEFUL LINKS

SPORTSTER'S BLOG

Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.






Safe travels!
                   




Thursday, August 3, 2017

Focus on Goodness and Good Times

Do you want goodness and good times? Do you want to make the world a better place, to make a difference?  


What can one person do, you ask? 
There is so much to do.

I came across a quote the other day that made me smile. “A raindrop never admits its responsibility for the flood.”
Traveling this country I have discovered the world is not as bad as it is painted to be. 
Everyone ….yes, EVERYONE!  …wants  goodness  and good times. 
Everyone is beating down the paths to their  places of worship because we long for peace and good will.

“What the mind perceives, it will achieve.”

I believe this to be true. We are all proclaiming our good intentions and desires for a better world. So, what are we doing wrong?
I am offering  you my simple theory.
A simple idea yet so difficult to achieve.   Because the very concept and lifestyle in which we profess that we long for … that  utopia of peace and good will  which we are frightened will not come about … can not  manifest,  because we don’t have our eyes on the prize, which is goodness and love. We do not have faith. We do not believe. Which is it? Do we believe in evil or goodness? I believe we can’t have it both ways.
Choose one. 
That is my challenge.
 Believe  there is only good.


 For one week, only see the good. Erase all  “Yeah buts … from your thoughts.  If you do this, not only will your life change, but also so will your world. GUARANTEED!
Decide. 
Good or evil? 
Which will you choose to believe?
If the marathon runner sees the race as too long, too steep, or too many obstacles he will not finish he has lost the faith that he can finish let alone win.
You marry someone not to make your life better, but because you want to make your partner’s  life better.  If you marry for the former reason, your marriage will fail.

Focus on those  relationships  with  what the Dali Lama calls, Sacred Friends
“In life we have friends and then we have sacred friends. Friends are easy to love and easy to forgive. Sacred friends are very hard to love.”

Tell me what you think. If you meet my challenge I want to  hear from you!


Click on the link below to find out more about Judy Howard's books.



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Unforgettable. Unstoppable. Astronomical.

Unforgettable. Unstoppable. Astronomical.
By
Judy Howard
How do you want to be remembered when you’re gone?
I know. Morbid, huh?  And I want to be a motivational speaker, you ask? My goal is to do a Ted talk. I want to be unforgettable, unstoppable and astronomical.






I know what you’re thinking. If she’s going to talk about dying, she’s not going to make it in the motivational business. Fat chance, huh? 

A few years ago I attended a friend’s funeral.  Like me, after her husband died, she packed up her motor home and began traveling alone, across this great country of ours.  I admired her because after her loss, she picked up the pieces and pursued a wonderful life of freedom and happiness.

At her memorial, each family member trod up the stage stairs and approached the podium. Each one recalled similar, personal experiences about Donna.  “I worried about her.  She was so daring, traveling alone across the country.  I never rested until she made it back home in that huge rig, as Grandma called it. My goodness you’d think she was a trucker! None of us could talk her out of her carefree lifestyle. She was unstoppable. Yet, I admired Grandma’s astronomical spirit.  She was my inspiration.  She gave me the courage to quit my job and start my own business. I love you, Grandma. I will never forget you.”

That’s the way I wanted to be remembered.   I want my friends and family to say, “She set a fiery inspiration under my feet. Her words sent me dancing into my future.  And, because of Judy Howard, my dreams flared into a reality."
I want them to say, " She was an unstoppable kind of person.  She lived an astronomical life.”

According to a recent Harris Poll, 70% of us are unhappy and don’t know what to do about it. I am not talking about being so miserable you want to blow your brains out. I’m referring to that "unhappy but hopeful attitude." You know?  That restless feeling?

The #1 reason we are restless is   because we don’t know what we want.

The #2 reason is because we DO know what we want, but fear is stopping us.


Are you part of the 70 %? Or maybe you already know what you want. Or, maybe you don’t. I want to offer you a simple, five minute exercise which will kick start your journey to becoming that unforgettable, unstoppable, and astronomical person you want to become.
1.     Imagine your memorial service and ask yourself these questions.
·       What would your family and friends remember about you?
·       What would you regret NOT having done?
·       What do you dream about doing?
·       What could you do to make the world a better place?

2.     Study these simple, but complex questions for the next week.
·       Write down you answers.
·       Take your time.
·       Study your answers.
·       Examine the feelings they evoke.

 Steve Harvey, who talks a lot about finding your life purpose, wrote a book titled, “Jump.”  He points out that every successful person you know, in order to get where they are now, had to take a risk. They figured out what they wanted and committed to their goal or passion. They jumped.
To be successful at some point you have to “Jump.”
 Six months ago, I jumped.  Except for the stuff I  could cram into  every nook and cranny  of my 24 foot Winnebago, I  sold an accumulation of  fifty years of  belongings, rented my house, and began an entirely new lifestyle, living full-time in my motor home. I wanted to simplify my life in order to feed my two passions, traveling and writing.  As I left everything familiar and headed down the road, I felt homeless, friendless and alone.
But……
I was   on my way. I had the bug.
You know the one.
To find my slice of heaven,
My place in the sun.



Now, let’s look back at this simple exercise.  You have been examining and feeling your reactions for a week. You have gotten a pretty good idea of, not only what you want, but also what you DON'T want, and what you’re afraid of. Your next step?

3.     Plan and take Action!
I don’t mean walk off you job or, like me, sell everything you own. Just take one small action toward your goal. Get up one hour earlier to write before you go to the job you hate. Or give up something in order to begin saving toward your goal. Or volunteer at a venue of your interest.

You will have to sacrifice something. You will have to get off the couch, to step outside your comfort zone.  But any small step you take will build your confidence and give you encouragement. A plan and taking action will boost you up and send you on your way to becoming that unforgettable, unstoppable, and astronomical person  who is living with his passion and making a difference.
It’s time to JUMP!

Let me know how you are doing. I would like to hear from you!
Believe and Become!
Unstoppable! Unforgettable!  And Astronomical!


Click on the link below to find out more about Judy's books.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth of July!!

I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful Fourth of July. And I ask everyone  to have our veterans in their  thoughts during this memorable holiday.

The Fourth of July is always an emotional time for me. It was my late husband's birthday. And although he has been gone twelve years, every time  I hear fireworks popping in  the distance, his words come to me, "Everyone celebrates my birthday!"

At times I still miss him even as I remember the struggles we dealt with in our relationship. I am reminded that it is our struggles in life that make us stronger and  our life sweeter. 

On this Fourth of July, as I recall the price  our veterans and their families have paid for  my free Freedom and yours, I want  to remember to be grateful for the good and  the seemingly bad, for it is through our tragedies that we find  faith and truth.

For those of you whom haven't met my cat, Sportster, and me, please enjoy this  wonderful interview  from a few years ago by Julianne Crane of Women RVers.  

RVer, author Judy Howard travels 'Coast to Coast with a Cat and a Ghost'
Author and solo RVer Judy Howard with pet companion Sportster (Julianne G. Crane)
Solo RVer Judy Howard's lust for traveling became ingrained during a family vacation when she was a young girl.

In 1955, she recalls, "We traveled in our Willys Jeep towing our travel trailer from Springfield, Ill., to visit Disneyland" in California. "For a ten-year-old girl, that experience was unforgettable, not only because of Disneyland, but also because of the journey itself--Route 66, small towns, horned toads and Indians."

Now, nearing 70, Judy says she still feels "just as much passion for the journey as for the destination. Every day I am filled with gratitude for the privileged lifestyle I am able to enjoy."

Judy Howard's traveling rig.
She's married three times during her life. "My third was the longest of 25 years, the hardest and, amazingly, the best."

"In 2000 my husband and I purchased a 1997 24-foot Class C Winnebago Itasca.  We were only able to enjoy a few trips before he fell ill to lung cancer and died in 2004."

While she nursed her husband, she also nurtured a dream of driving their motorhome from southern California to Florida to visit a friend.

"After watching the Tom Hanks movie, Cast Away, I created a life-sized doll like the Wilson (soccer ball) character in the movie. He would become my companion and I would tell him my plans," she says.

"Afraid and alone, three months after my husband passed away, I made that trip, accompanied by the doll and my cat, Sportster, riding shotgun. With country music cranked and blaring for 3,000 miles all the way to Florida, I cried and sang my lungs out. However, the woman who drove the 3,000 miles back home had changed. She sang 'I will survive,' 'I am woman,' and 'I’m Proud to be an American.'"

Inside Judy and Sportster's motorhome. (Julianne G. Crane)









In the beginning of her RVing adventures, Judy worked full time as the owner of a pet grooming business, The Canine Beauty Salon.  She joined a Good Sam chapter called the Rolling Singles and tried to be content with close-by, monthly camp outs. "But I yearned to go farther and longer."

Judy has traveled solo in her Winnebago for 11 years now. "I love its size and the coziness of the Class C floor plan."

In 2010 Judy discovered she had a talent and love for writing. "I’ve had a custom desk built in my motorhome so that I can spend my future doing the two things I love--writing and traveling."

Judy Howard's books (Julianne G. Crane)
She wrote her first book about her 2004 trip, Coast to Coast with a Cat and a Ghost. (2011). It is "a memoir about my loss, but more importantly, about my new beginning as an RVing widow," she says.

In 2012, Judy published:  Going Home with a Cat and a Ghost "a romantic mystery appealing to everyone in the second half of their life who have asked themselves, What if? Even in this work of fiction, Judy Howard delivers to the reader a message about how to rise above life's tragedies."

Her third book,  Masada's Marine: A Story of a Service Dog and her Wounded Marine Warrior came out in 2014. The novel, "the uplifting message of overcoming life's dramatic hurdles is delivered. Howard draws the reader into the life of a Marine Corps veteran who struggles with PTSD when he comes home from Iraq and, also, into the life a dog named Masada, who becomes a service dog for the wounded warrior."

About Sportster, the cat

Sportster (Julianne G. Crane)
"He has more fans and followers than I do," says Judy.

"He arrived in my life when someone brought him into my grooming shop as a small kitten, asking where the humane society was located. I was considering adopting a dog, but I agreed to take the kitten and find him a home," she says.

"I didn’t particularly like cats, but my employees talked me into making him a 'shop cat.' He didn’t last long in the shop cat position before he had purred his way into my heart, and I took him home. Now I would not own a dog. Cats are amazing, at least Sportster is."

He is a traveler, a companion, an explorer and a co-author. "He writes a blog, The Cat’s Perspective On Reading, Writing and Life, and has begun to write his memoirs. He too, loves to travel and gets very excited when he sees me loading the motorhome."

More about Judy Howard

Judy also presents inspirational seminars about writing and self-publishing at RV rallies, libraries, schools and veteran centers. "I believe writing is healing, and that we owe it to our youth to record our history."

Although not a full time RVer, she says, "the lure to do so is strong. I travel four to five months out of the year."

Always before a long trip she says she is scared. "The 'What If’s' try to consume me. Always before I publish my next book I am nauseous with worry. What will people think? Life is scary," she says.

"My message to everyone–and Sportster would agree–whatever it is you want to do with your life, don’t let fear keep you from getting behind the wheel.  Pack up your doubts, put your dreams in gear, and step on the gas. Life is for living."

Website: JudyHowardPublishing.com
Facebook: facebook.com/judy.howard.716
Twitter: twitter.com/SPORSTERHOWARD
Blog: The Wandering RV Widow.

She is currently working on books four and five.

– Julianne G. Crane


At the time of this interview  my latest books had not been published . 
Check out all of my books. click here to go to my Author Page on Amazon