Friday, April 1, 2016

For A to Z Posts- I moved go to the link below.

 A to Z posts are here.
 My blog address has moved. Please click the link above to find the challenge posts.
Scarlett in Cuenca Living the good life!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

I'm Moving! Read this post so you don't lose me.

Well I've been doing a little blog housecleaning getting ready for the April A to Z blog challenge as was mentioned in an earlier post.

And, if you follow me on Facebook, you know I attended the Cuenca International Writer's Conference this month. In doing so I met a lot of people from around Ecuador who travelled to Cuenca for the conference.  One of those people was Rick Segreda from Quito. And he asked if I had a blog and what the name of it was and he said, "Your blog should be called ..." Sorry, you'll have to wait until the end of the post.

Of course, my first thought was, I can't change my blog name! I'll lose all my followers. And the A to Z challenge is coming up and I'm already registered and. And that's what we do when someone suggests we change something we've grown comfortable with, isn't it? We find all the reasons NOT to do that thing. No matter how great an idea it is.

This is Rick. He looks like a smart man I should listen to, right? Photo courtesy of Geoffey Geophoto.

So the one thing that might make us consider making that change is when we are procrastinating something else we should be doing. Right? Haven't we all done things that way? So I'm procrastinating writing. Writing my new content for the challenge and writing book three of the series too. I have a good excuse...I'm sick. I have the most wicked cold this side of hell, so of course it would be so much easier and take a lot less mental energy to move my blog than to write.  It's can call me crazy, I've been called crazy before.

This is Su Terry, I didn't get to go to her session, but it looks like I should have. Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Geophoto

Quickly now, run over to the new blog page and follow or subscribe so you don't miss all the new content. The new blog, thanks to Rick, is Frankly Scarlett and you can find it Here is Frankly Scarlett.

Have a Happy Easter and I'll see you all next week.
Scarlett in Cuenca
Living the good life!

Monday, March 21, 2016

A to Z Theme Reveal!

Hi everyone!  I'm glad you stopped by. Today I will announce the theme for my blogs in the April A to Z blog challenge!

I gave this a lot of thought. You know, thinking about blogging every day for a month is a little daunting. You wonder if you can not only come up with a topic to write about every day but if you can match those topics to the alphabet. I thought about giving you excerpts from my current work in progress, but that is similar to what I did last year. Although last year, when I started, I had no idea my posts would lead to a series of novels.

I wanted to do something for the fans of my series, but something that would also appeal to those who haven't read it yet. I don't want spoilers, so maybe some added content?  Would you like to know more about the characters from the Providence in Ecuador series?

You would?  Well, how about some interviews and conversations from our favorite characters?  Those we love and the ones we hope bump into karma in a dark alley.

Announcing Chica in Cuenca's theme for the 2016 April A to Z Blog Challenge:

Meet the Stars of Providence in Ecuador.

You will get to know the characters from Harvesting the Hummingbird, Peril in the Bayou and the soon to be released, Terror on the Bluff! As an added bonus...comment below a question you would like to ask your favorite character and your question could be selected.

I can't wait to see you, and hear what you think of the characters behind the stories.  See you soon, don't forget all the fun begins right here on Friday, April the 1st.

p.s. If you would like to read Harvesting the Hummingbird, it's on sale for .99 through the end of March at Amazon. And my books are always available on Kindle Unlimited. Just click the Harvesting the Hummingbird photo >>>>> to the right of the blog.


Scarlett in Cuenca
Living the good life!

Friday, March 11, 2016

March is Here and April's Coming

Hello, faithful friends and followers.

     There's a whole lot of shakin' going on in my life, so I thought I would take a moment and share.
Well, I suppose that could be taken a couple of ways after all, I live in Ecuador. At least once a week the ground shakes, but I never feel it. Mom does and while usually the quakes are early morning or late night I was in the kitchen when she said, my chair is shaking. I stood as still as possible hoping to feel it, but alas I did not. Sure enough, there were two quakes, a 5.5 and a 3.something or other.  And of course, the Tungarahua volcana is erupting, but that is far enough away it doesn't impact us here except for oooing and ahhing at the photos. I tried to find photos for you that I could attribute but couldn't find any and to refrain from copyright violations, you can google it. There are great photos and videos.
     So what has everything all a flutter for my March? The First annual Cuenca International Writer's Conference is next week!  If you are interested you can check it out here:

     Also, tonight is live Country Music night at one of my fav restaurants, the Bayou Cafe, my other fav restaurant, the Magnolia Caffe is hosting the Newcomer's Luncheon later this month. And of course, I'm trying to finish writing Terror on the Bluff, Book 3 in the Providence in Ecuador series.

But April is coming, and that means more excitement. I'm preparing now for the April A to Z blog challenge. I did a little housekeeping to the blog page here. How do you like it? Wow, so much has happened since I did the first challenge a year ago. Who'd have thunk?

This year I will be taking a themed approach to the daily blog posts. What is the theme you ask? Well, it's a secret until the theme reveal on the 21st of stay tuned, I think it will be fun.

You want some pictures? My newest photos are of the weird new fruits we are trying this summer. Remember it's summer here.

Pitahaya (Dragon Fruit)- these feel like a rubber ball and then you slice them open for:
The inside is flesh with seeds. The taste is mild, not too sweet, not tart at all. You can't eat too much though as it works as a laxative.
Achotillo- Again is a mild flavored, not to sweet, not tart fruit. the white flesh inside has the texture of a gummy bear.

     It has been a beautiful summer here and it's coming to a close with the start of the rainy season, our winter. It's not too bad, there is some sunshine every day and some rain every day. This week it rains most all night, but I don't mind that at all. It's a wonderful thing for sleeping.

Until next time, be happy. Leave the negativity behind like yesterday's trash, that it is.

Scarlett in Cuenca Living the good life!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Spoken Word

 Our writing community in Cuenca is so special. There are approximately sixty writers in town. Som write non-fiction, memoirs, poetry, blogs, travel and fiction (all genres) and we have a super network of support.

There are two writers groups in Cuenca, but once a month we come together for The Spoken Word. Eight to ten of us will do a fifteen or so minute reading. The food is good, the company is good, the readings are always entertaining and it's such a fun evening. Tonight I wasn't reading so I did something I never ever do. I took selfies. With some of my writer friends. Aren't we a cast of characters?

Barbara Snow is a novelist and poet.
J.Michael Herron writes romance and romantic suspense.
Susan Herron does my book covers.
Sandra and Wayne Miteri are co-writing a Sci-Fi trilogy.
George Forgues is famous as Ecuador George, with the best darn blog about Cuenca.
Sara Coppler says she's not a writer, but she produces Zero Latitude Living magazine and is our best supporter and cheerleader.
Georgina Nunez is working on a three volume autobiography.

Frances Augusta Hogg (Lochow) is a writer and editor.

That's how we literary types spend a Thursday night in Cuenca. Have a great weekend!

Scarlett in Cuenca Living the good life!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Birth of a Novel

 Writing a novel is hard. We all know that, or at least, suspect it to be true. Here's what no one knows until you do it. Pull up a chair and sit a spell, I'll tell you all about it.

So you wrote a novel, did you? Good job, now it's time to go to work. I am very fortunate to have an awesome support group. It is vast and varied. And sometimes all the advice points in the same direction sometimes different. But the very first advice I got regarding my completed first novel that was unequivocally confirmed from every direction was...don't publish that book yet.  You need at least two books before you publish, really three is better.

What? I wrote an 80,000-word novel and it's not enough? Okay, all these people can't be wrong, let's write another book. And we did.

Then it's time to publish. There is the editing, the formatting, an ebook, a print book, and a cover. Don't forget the cover.

The title of my first book is Harvesting the Hummingbird. Literally two days after I decided on the title of my book, which begins in the U.S. and ends in my city of Cuenca, Ecuador, my dear friend Stu McNicol posted a picture on Facebook he took looking out his window over the city of Cuenca. He was trying to capture a double rainbow over the mountain top in the distance, with the city below, and a hummingbird literally photo bombed the picture.  Oh that must be a sign, right?

After a little eyelash batting and a pretty please, Stu said, of course, I could use his photo for my book.  Hmm, now how to make a book cover? Enlist daughter -in-law who has photo editing software, give her a few pointers from the Createspace website and turn my attention to other matters. Well, long story short, Sarah did a wonderful job creating my cover, but the picture wasn't really big enough, and the font's for both books should be the same. The second cover was done by good friend Susan Herron because Sarah is really too busy to be making book covers. She's a brain scientist after all.

I get some editing done. I learn about formatting, and uploading, and distribution channels, and marketing plans. And I begin writing the third book for the series. Along the way, I make more friends through friends of friends in the indie publishing and writing business and I have a support network worthy of this tightrope walk of self-publishing. And I share photos of some possibilities for the third book cover. And then...there is that one new acquaintance.  You know. the one you just met, who is wildly successful and doesn't know you at all, who says, really? I'm sorry, your covers are crap. No, he didn't really say it exactly like that, but you get the idea. And then the gates were open and other comments follow. The nice thing about the criticism is it was accompanied with solutions to make the covers better. Like, your cover doesn't have to be a scene from within the text, it should indicate what genre, etc. So we started over, and the ever patient Susan began again, and we tweeked and tested, til we thought we had it and we asked again and a few more tweeks and NOW we have covers.


The title of this post is the birth of a novel, well because, a novel's not just words and ideas, and plots and characters. It's like giving birth from conception, and now I know why authors feel the way about their books that they do their children. It's a process!

Have a great day, and thanks for stopping by.

Scarlett in Cuenca Living the good life!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Christmas in Cuenca

I know it's been forever since I did a blog post and there is so much to catch up, but I need to address some questions that have arisen in the last month or so from friends and family back home.

Do they celebrate Christmas in Ecuador? What are you doing for the holidays? I bet there isn't much to do there this time of year.

Au-contraire, my peeps. I've tried to address these questions as they come up, but seeing is believing, right? First, of course they celebrate Christmas! Ecuador like most Latin American countries is predominantly Catholic.

The Alter at Carmen de la Ascuncion

The Christmas season begins here on November 1st. Christmas trees (artificial pine trees or decorated palms, bamboo,etc) are erected and lights go up on the houses. Neighborhood or barrio parades begin happening and you will usually run into at least one a week. The stores are filled with holiday cheer, and on occasion you will find employees of the bigger box stores like Coral decked in elf costumes. On any day you will see multitudes of angels, shepherds and wisemen.

from a parade passing our home.

Schools have an entire day like a field day of Christmas music, dance, and skits.

By the first of December, the city is ablaze in Christmas lights and decorations. Then the real fun begins. There are parties, some hosted at local restaurants or hotels, but many house parties as well.

Parque Calderon in the Center of El Centro

The river is decorated for the event. Yes, there are lit decorations lining the banks, but in the central part of town there are also waves created across the river with blue led lights from one bridge to the next. The parks are decorated, vendors on the streets string Christmas lights from one side to the other.

At Plaza Otorongo, there is a 4 story tall Nativity.  Here are photos from day time and night time. The building behind is four stories tall.

In the Daytime- many Gringos call it the spaceship nativity.

At night, Santa is here to see the children, food carts and vendors line the sidewalk and families come to spend the evening.

There is the Festival of Lights, where literally hundreds of luminaries cover a plaza with music and a church service. This festival began many, many years ago (about 200 if I'm not mistaken) when a visiting priest began the festival to combine church traditions with local traditions. Until a couple of years ago there were thousands of luminaires, but a fire destroyed them and they are being replaced slowly, because each one is hand made. No Oriental Trading company stuff here.

The Festival of Lights takes place at Santa Domingo.

Cuenca hosts a Santa run, a 5k run where the participants and their furry companions run in Santa costumes.
Photo courtesy of El Tiempo

On Christmas Eve, beginning at 10:00 a.m., the Paso Del NiƱo begins. It's a parade that lasts all day, sometimes exceeding eight hours. The newspaper here reported, this year there were 20,000 participants and close to 200,000 observers. A special drink called Chincha is served free. Chincha is a fermented fruit beer and has been provided by the same family in Cuenca for 150 years. I admit to being skeptical especially since I'm not a beer drinker, but wish I had found the booth earlier. It's good stuff...but also has a really high alcohol content. I noticed, even the participants in the parade were drinking their Chincha from the provided cups and a few even had water bottles full. The costumes, dancing and music in the parade are fabulous. But the spirit isn't lost. Despite incorporations from the West such as Minions, Winnie-the-Pooh, Santas and elves, there is a very reverent feel to the parade. The parade celebrates the baby Jesus. Children are the main focus with babies in strollers decorated for the occasion, and many participants carrying tiny to life size replicas of the Baby Jesus, swaddled in blankets and many times held close to their hearts as they march the parade route.

Parade photos at the end of the blog. There were over 300 to choose from, my two favorites are first for those of you who don't want to view them all.

The entirety of the El Centro district is filled with food vendors, and vendors selling their crafts. It was a most festive time.

The difference in the mood here is that it is not commercially driven, gifts are given, Santa visits, but it's much more laid back than in the U.S. It's not frantic. People are friendly, happy, relaxed. It's okay to tell everyone Feliz Navidad and share a hug. Jesus is the Reason for the season.

These last two Christmas' have been hard. They are the only ones I was not with my son and family. There was no frantic rush to shop for gifts, no major cleaning of the house, no planning days worth of meals to fit all the different diets, no houseful of company, including sometimes more dogs than humans, no ironing of tablecloths, polishing of silver. No fierce Uno games, no watching of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. No heirloom ornaments on the tree. But it WAS a joyful time, a true celebration, a reboot for the soul, spent with many new friends making new traditions.

I love and miss you all and thank you for time out of your holidays for the many phone and video calls.

Hugs (Abrazos)!

The baby alpaca decked out for the event walked the parade, as long as abuela with the bottle was in front of her.

This couple was so mesmerizing to watch dance, I totally forgot to take a photo. This photo is graciously shared with permission from my friend Joss Burnel, who captured them beautifully!

Yep, that's a German Shepherd reindeer pulling a sled and drinking water from a water bottle.

 Happy 2016, I pray your new year is full of  hope, fun, adventure, love, health and peace.
Scarlett in Cuenca, Living the good life!