Double Trouble Coloring Pages

Cheers, everyone! Soda Pop here! Today, on the 6th day of Halloween, I’m bringing you two new holiday coloring pages. Please feel free to send us your finished works! We love hearing from you!

Our first page, entitled “Soda and Yorick,” features moi and a certain friend of mine. He’s a quiet one, but makes for an excellent listener as well as grim Halloween decor. He resides atop my human’s piano all year round, but I think he looks rather fetching against these pumpkins.

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I don’t look too bad either, if I do say so myself.

Our next coloring project is a visage of a common friend of us black cats. This witch looks quite ready to take to the skies on a moonlit flight. With her warts, crooked teeth, and bats in her hair, she’s all the more ready for Halloween.

 

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Go ahead and post your renditions of our festive coloring pages. They’re in desperate need of, well, color. We’d love to see your work! – Soda Pop

Zombie Lovin’

Ah Halloween. In this feline’s opinion, the finest time of the entire year. Time for candy corn, spooky thrills, monsters (that most of the time turn out to be children, but I don’t really notice the difference), and… romance?

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Absolutely.

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Zombies are huge celebrators of Halloween, though they may enjoy Valentine’s day even more. Though they are technically undead, it makes the most romantic day of the year no less special. Here to tell us about it is Tracy Lovett, an author/photographer/illustrator AND my mom. She churned out this short, poetic story last Valentine’s Day, because zombies need love too. She’s allowed me to post all of the pages here, in celebration of our 31 Days of Halloween! Give it a read, and enjoy the festive, creepy, romantic zombie love-fest.

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Happy Halloween the Fourth! You’ll be hearing from me tomorrow! – Soda Pop

Crossword Answers and Punkin Rocks

Evening, all! Tonight, close to the witching hour, I, Soda Pop, hereby bequeath to you the answers to last night’s crossword puzzle!

Behold!

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Getting warmed up? This next activity is plenty of fun, especially for little ones. All you need are rocks (easily accessible anywhere in the great outdoors), paintbrushes, and acrylic paint (nothing fancy, remember, we’re painting rocks here, folks).

 

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Aren’t they adorable? Well. that’s what my human seems to think. anyway. Mini Jack-O-Lanterns for kids without the unfortunate goo and sharp objects of carving a real pumpkin (besides, it’s a bit early in the month for that. We’ll get there).

And so very easy too!

Pour out your paint and mix your colors. Orange is traditional, but by no means required.

Pour out your paint and mix your colors. Orange is traditional, but by no means required.

 

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Paint and paint until you’re satisfied your with your own little punkin.

 

Add smiles, grimaces, and scary faces to give your punkin some personality!

Add smiles, grimaces, and scary faces to give your punkin some personality!

 

Soon you’ll have a festive rock garden all your own! Mom, Dad, grandparents, and teachers, be sure to put down newspaper or some other covering for nice tables and floors. It may be even a good idea, weather permitting, to paint your punkins outside. While we don’t have pumpkin goo or sharp knives to contend with, paint, especially in the hands of little ones, can create quite the mess (imagine the challenges of having paws!)

Until next time, have a creative, fun, and safe night! Happy Halloween from your resident spooky Halloween cat. – Soda Pop

 

Soda Pop’s Halloween Word Search

Greetings, all! As promised, our second project of the day, a Halloween Word Search designed by Yours Truly. Let me tell you, if I thought typing was bad, word search programs were CERTAINLY made without felines in mind. Nevertheless, give this a shot, and the answers will be posted in the morning! Goodnight, and happy 2nd day of Halloween!

 

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Soda Pop’s 31 Days of Halloween 2015 Edition

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Soda Pop here! The spooky black cat from Inclement, IA is back with another 31 Days of Halloween (yes, we’ve started a day late. Apologies. There will be TWO posts full of scary fun today). As the authority on all things Halloween, for the next month I will be bringing you crafts, activities, costume ideas, and maybe even a recipe or two, all themed according to the best Holiday (for black cats, anyway) around! Where I come from, Halloween is not a one-day affair. We celebrate all month long! So get your crayons, scissors, and broomsticks ready, welcome to Soda Pop’s 31 Days of Halloween 2015!

The coloring page---right click, save, and print!

The coloring page—right click, save, and print!

Our first item on the agenda today is a coloring page. What could be a better way to kick things off than with a picture of Yours Truly Playing in the autumn leaves? The color change is one of this cat’s favorite parts of Fall, and I can’t wait to get out there this year and jump into the huge pile my humans worked so very hard to rake up for me! Feel free to download this page and color, paint, or cut to your heart’s desire.

Our projects...we stuck them onto some cardboard for stability...

Our projects…we stuck them onto some cardboard for stability…

Maybe even go the extra mile and go out to find real leaves that you can glue on to your Autumn masterpiece! This one, I must admit, was my assistant-human’s idea. They do come up with good ones every now and then…

I will be back this evening (because that is how long it will take to get another post up. Computers were NOT built with cats in mind, let me tell you) with another Halloween activity. As always, feel free to check out the books about my little town, Inclement, especially the ones starring moi. Enjoy this magical month full of ghost, goblins, and Jack-O-Lantern smiles!

Soda Rolling in Leaves--From "I HATE HALLOWEEN"

Soda Rolling in Leaves–From “I HATE HALLOWEEN”

Tracy Lovett is an artist, author, illustrator, photographer, wife, mom, and all around creative gal trying to spread the message that creativity is one of our most important qualities.  She uses her books, photographs, and writings to encourage others to just take the chance and be creative. This BLOG is about her creative journey into all her creative endeavors, including writing for children and adults, art and illustration, photography and photo-illustration, and book-building from beginning to end.  There may be other “sidetrips” that can’t be predicted–so hop in and enjoy the ride!  You may learn more about Tracy here.  You may follow her on Facebook here.  You may purchase her book “I Hate Halloween” here!

The Little Things

IMG_9026When I went outside this morning it was surprisingly cool for Iowa on August 1st.  We had a bit of rain last night, gilding all the leaves with silver drops.  I shuffled around out there for a while, barefoot, and reflected upon how, as long as I didn’t look at the horizon, I felt like I was still in South Dakota.  The air I breathed felt like it, anyway.

The first full day there, Mike spent his time getting an appointment made with a local mechanic to replace the radiator on our van.  I was keyed up.  The beginning of our vacation had been rough.  5 kids, 90 plus degree weather, the last 100 miles took 5 HOURS to travel.  The night before, sleep had come hard and swift, and left me the same way at dawn.  I got up to have a cup of tea and look around, simply because there was nothing else to do, and got my camera and lenses out.  Coping skills.  Perhaps that’s what art is for me, ultimately.  The entire process is a coping skill.

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The first thing I noticed was that mowing was optional, and perhaps unnecessary up on the mountain.  What a novel thing!  Don’t mow, and instead, wildflowers and ferns will spring up everywhere.  NICE.  Little things, little details.

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Lots of trees, too.  Birches and pines, not as if they were planted, but rather they just put down roots wherever and reached up to the sun.  Pine cones and needles blanketed the ground underfoot.

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I shot pictures of all the little things.  I began to relax.

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Sailor got up.  She remembered that LAST year, when we had gone to Estes Park, we had taken many Senior Portraits for Sloane.  This year, she wanted some portraits made of her.  So we did.  Another little thing, MY little thing–my youngest girl, with her perfect sprinkling of freckles, her long hair she loves desperately, and her sturdy-still-a-little-girl body picking her way through the daisies.

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A bug on the step.

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The uncurling birth of a fern.

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The trees overhead.

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Big things are the background, the big things put us in our place, knowing we could be bashed to bits upon them and the world would keep on rolling without a care.  The little things allow us to use the better parts of ourselves–love, compassion, kindness, peacefulness.  When I walked through the flowers, I watched my step so I wouldn’t crush any.  They were little and fragile and beautiful.  Like all of us.

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Tracy Lovett is an artist, author, illustrator, photographer, wife, mom, and all around creative gal trying to spread the message that creativity is one of our most important qualities.  She uses her books, photographs, and writings to encourage others to just take the chance and be creative. This BLOG is about her creative journey into all her creative endeavors, including writing for children and adults, art and illustration, photography and photo-illustration, and book-building from beginning to end.  There may be other “sidetrips” that can’t be predicted–so hop in and enjoy the ride!  You may learn more about Tracy here.  You may follow her on Facebook here.  You may learn more about her books at www.inclementiowa.com !

Birches

Our cabin was situated in the trees, on the side of a mountain. A ski run swept by a few blocks away, just a green open path on the forested slope. The abandoned ski lifts looked skeletal and haunted. There were lots of cabins there, lots of folks on summer vacation in the land of those 4 big heads cut into the side of that mountain. Many of the cabins around us cost far more than I will ever be able to afford, but they were pleasant to look at as we walked the roads every morning and evening. A few blocks away, there was a stand of birch trees. More than a stand, really. This was, to me, a whole forest of birch trees. They layered one on top of the other in shades of paper white bleeding to blue and green. I didn’t lug my camera on these walks, but I put it in my head that I wanted to photograph these trees. But, the next day we would walk and the next day I would forget the camera again. Finally I remembered one morning, when the light was just right, just golden. I like this one. I may print it up, canvas I think. Just columns of trees on top of smaller columns of trees until they were the size of gray-white toothpicks.SDcolor2 005

 

Tracy Lovett is an artist, author, illustrator, photographer, wife, mom, and all around creative gal trying to spread the message that creativity is one of our most important qualities.  She uses her books, photographs, and writings to encourage others to just take the chance and be creative. This BLOG is about her creative journey into all her creative endeavors, including writing for children and adults, art and illustration, photography and photo-illustration, and book-building from beginning to end.  There may be other “sidetrips” that can’t be predicted–so hop in and enjoy the ride!  You may learn more about Tracy here.  You may follow her on Facebook here.  You may learn more about her books at www.inclementiowa.com !

South Dakota 2

IMG_9553 copySo, I read through my list I came up with when I got back from South Dakota. When I write lists, which I do often, I do it with no thought for perfection. I do it by hand, with a pencil (Ticoderoga, please and thank you) on paper that I like, and I just begin to write. My lists are rambling things, with no order to them, although I always number each point regardless of chronology. I have a goal of 10 “things” no matter the topic, and after I get that, I often try for 20. Just because. Sometimes a point on my list will spawn another list entirely. I make at least one list a day, sometimes just for my goals for that particular day, and sometimes for more fanciful things, such as what I want to do with my children’s books in a general way. Sometimes I get very specific and write down what will happen to one of my characters in great detail.

My list from vacation flowed smoothly from my pencil when I wrote it, with very little need for thought or structure. Get it down or it gets away is my motto. Now, when I reread it, I see what points were the most important to me, because I wrote them more than once, but used different phrasing to convey my point.

Here we go, at least SOME of the things I learned on vacation, while walking on the rocks beneath that spread out sky. .

1. Hiking is a life goal. I love hiking. I NEED hiking. I need the feel of the earth below my feet and the scenery traveling by slowly so I can observe details missed from a car, or missed from sitting behind my computer screen.

2. Makeup is stupid when I’m hiking all the time. The older I get, the more I’ve pared down the makeup routine. In South Dakota, we hiked nearly every day. I wore very little makeup.

3. I don’t need much. I have a lot of “stuff”. I come from a long line of folks who have “stuff”. There is at least one honest-to-goodness hoarder in my lineage. I am not one. BUT, I can do better. In South Dakota I lived out of two bags, plus cameras and laptops. I could do that at home as well. And I STILL brought too much stuff.

4. I over-pack. Every vacation I try to think of contingencies and I probably make up situations in my head to justify what I should take with me. 3 pairs of shoes, and I ended up wearing ONE pair 95% of the time. 2 skirts? I wore neither. Tshirts and rugged capri pants. That was it, basically. But a part of me continually thinks I’m heading off to the Academy Awards or something.

5. So, I need to get rid of stuff at the source, here at home. I started the process the day after we returned by going through all the kitchen drawers. Pots and pans are next. Then dishes, closets, drawers…..Purging my house of anything I just don’t need or love. Travel lightly. Let go of what does not serve me. I’m getting rid of the couch in the upstairs living room. What the heck, we have a huge one in the basement. I’m going to put all sorts of funky chairs in there, with drawing boards and easels–and see #9 for elaboration on this one.

6. My body is becoming more about function than form. What a relief. I can totally ignore the culture that says I have to look a certain way to be valued. Value me or don’t, I don’t care. I want to be hiking and biking and seeing the world well into my 80’s and 90’s, just like some of the people we saw in South Dakota, and before that, in Colorado. They didn’t care what they looked like–they cared about what they experienced, the way the air felt in their lungs, the feel of the good earth under their feet. Can you be truly alive and, at the same time care so much about what others think of how you look? I can’t. It stifles my experience. Don’t get me wrong, a physical lifestyle brings about certain physical changes in form, BUT, hell, ain’t nobody gonna look 16 when they’re 80. It just isn’t happening.

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7. I dislike children in cars. I’ve had them for 18 years now, but kids and cars….blargh. When we got home, I needed such a break from the little boogers. I began cleaning immediately, so they would stay away from me. And they did.

8. They WILL grow up and leave me. And that’s okay. My daughter graduated high school this spring. She’s basically done. This may be our last family vacation with all of us. And then
another one will grow into his own life in a few years, and another and finally, the last. Then it will just be Mike and me–and I’m kind of excited. Think how lightly we can travel, just the two of us. Think of how we don’t have to decide everything by committee anymore. Think of how few WORDS there will be…just…silence. And breathing. And whatever we see and hear and feel. I love ‘em, these people I have incubated. With everything I have. But I am experiencing raising children right now. When that period is over, I will experience something else.

9. Speaking of experiencing something else–I’m ready to make some more changes with my job. I’m not giving up photography, but I am going to search for people who want really creative results with their portraits. I am going to start putting my illustration portfolio out there. I’m going to start selling my art photography. I’m going to start teaching classes. I’m going to open up my home to folks who want to be more creative, who want to grow and learn just like me. I’ve got plans to modify my studio and also my living room. I’m sprucing up the garden for folks to come over and do Art In The Garden in the cool evenings. I’m going to do directed painting classes, and teach mosaic tile techniques, and bookbinding. AND, I’m going to write more…..Inclement, here I come.

10. Vacation makes me want to connect with nature more. I need to do this. It’s tea time for me in just a few minutes, and I’m going to take my cup outside, by my waterfall and my tomato plants. I’m going to “hike” every day I can, even if it’s just uptown. I’m going out to Waubonsie more, because it’s there and it’s beautiful. I’m going to NOT hang out on my computer as much. I’m going to set up my drawing table on my patio and draw each day. When I surround myself with the four square walls of my house, I miss things that feed me.

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There is more. Do I need to share it all? I don’t know. We’ll see if I’m still interested in writing about it tomorrow. But that’s the general idea. Good vacation. Yes, it was.

Tracy Lovett is an artist, author, illustrator, photographer, wife, mom, and all around creative gal trying to spread the message that creativity is one of our most important qualities.  She uses her books, photographs, and writings to encourage others to just take the chance and be creative. This BLOG is about her creative journey into all her creative endeavors, including writing for children and adults, art and illustration, photography and photo-illustration, and book-building from beginning to end.  There may be other “sidetrips” that can’t be predicted–so hop in and enjoy the ride!  You may learn more about Tracy here.  You may follow her on Facebook here.  You may learn more about her books at www.inclementiowa.com !

 

 

South Dakota 1

South Dakota Part 1.

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We just returned from vacation.  Vacations remind me of weddings—some are easy shoots, some have beautiful scenery, some have a lot of difficulties, some are physically and/or mentally challenging, and some make you long for home.  All of them are learning processes for me, not only learning about the place I’m visiting, but also learning about myself.  So I made lots of pictures while I was there, and I made a list, too, of things I learned while on vacation.

Before I type my list (probably in another post later this week), I must start with a few details so you understand.   First off, we own older vehicles–just makes more sense to pay cash and not have a payment.  However, on the way to the Black Hills area (the FIRST DAY of vacation) our full-size van decided to spring a radiator leak in Badlands National Park.

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Forever, they will be colored as “THE BADLANDS” in my mind, regardless of their strange Tatooine beauty.  Up until that point, our trip to the Black Hills (the sum total of 8-or-9-hours-on-the-road)  had gone flawlessly.  But after THAT, the miles that should have taken us 2 hours to travel took 5+ hours.  Yep, 17 hours in the van with the kids, no air conditioning, babying the vehicle in to Lead, South Dakota.  I was exhausted.  The cabin was lovely, however, and so was the lightness of the air, the wildflowers dotting the landscape.  Birches and pines tilted this way and that over our roof, and rocks jutted up everywhere.  I’ve never traveled to South Dakota before this, and I was a bit enchanted, although VERY tired of the vehicle.  However, Mike got it in, got it fixed, got us a rental to tide us over, and really, we had no other MAJOR glitches for the rest of the trip. We did start calling ourselves The Griswolds.  At the time, I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.  We carried on.

 I am a Rocky Mountain girl.  We went there last year, and I was floored.  I had gone to college there for a couple years, but back then, I was so young, so caught up in daily dramas, that I just couldn’t appreciate the massive impact of Colorado.  Now, as a middle-aged woman, I get it.  I love the feeling of raw nature, of being absolutely dwarfed by wildness.  The Black Hills are on a different scale.  Smaller. A little more human.  Not as scary–although I have no doubt you could kill yourself on those winding highways no problem, and the sheer rock walls are  just as hard in South Dakota–demolishing vehicles like my shoe squashes a beer can.   They were beautiful, though.  The land folding up and down in the distance, like a sheet of velvet that has been crumpled up in some enormous fist and then dropped down to rest forever–that was a sight.  The red rocks gave off a prehistoric feeling, and now, when I look back at my photos of Devil’s Tower, I can imagine dinosaurs thumping through the forests.  It was very primordial.  The Rockies have too much razor-sharp newness to them–they feel like punk rock teenagers.  No dinosaurs trundle through their landscapes.

 There was an air of THE WEST, although not necessarily of the Deadwood Saloons and fake old-timey photos variety.  Native American feet had trod here as history says–the Ghost Dance HAPPENED, as did Wounded Knee.  There I found a face to the places I had read about.  Of course there were and are Native Americans in Iowa, just as there are in South Dakota and in every other place in the U.S. Somewhere, in my bloodline, there is Native American in ME, as in a lot of other folks.  But the Black Hills area seems less tame than here, and I can SEE IT. I can see THEM.   I can look at the hills and the valleys and the cliffs and the rocks and see bison flowing over them like a brown ocean.  It is a feeling, an intuition of old hearts beating beneath those rocks out there that makes my eyes catch shadows of the cracked-leather past around the edges of things.  There is a spirit to the place, a feeling of dusty churches and cathedrals spun from sheer rock filled with echoes of chanting voices.

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We hiked.  We climbed mountains.  We saw sunrises and sunsets.  We ate and we drank and we saw the guts of caves and dunked in waters of valley lakes.  We saw history wrought in stone at Mount Rushmore, and a different history at Crazy Horse.  We almost lost my son’s glasses–thank you to whoever turned them in at Custer State Park Office!  We ate ice cream and tasted wine, and I got a terrific battle scar on my new camera–no worries, everything works.  We drove miles and miles, and ended up eating a tasty meal at a place in Custer called The Cowboy Cafe, which should bring a few smiles from those folks familiar with Sidney Elementary School. We bickered and fought.  I wrote NOTHING.  I took in. Vacation for my brain is like dipping a dry sponge into an unknown ocean.  The oxygen seeps out and is replaced by an unfamiliar brew.  It is when I get home, when I review my photographs and my experiences that I squeeze the sponge and let everything flow.  I made my list of things learned the day after we got home, after a blissfully uneventful ride home.  That list will wait until a later post, or multiple posts.  My writing is too long already.

 So, I’m here.  Back at it.  Allowing the cool water from the sponge to flow out over everything that I do, hopefully coloring it for the better.

Tracy Lovett is an artist, author, illustrator, photographer, wife, mom, and all around creative gal trying to spread the message that creativity is one of our most important qualities.  She uses her books, photographs, and writings to encourage others to just take the chance and be creative. This BLOG is about her creative journey into all her creative endeavors, including writing for children and adults, art and illustration, photography and photo-illustration, and book-building from beginning to end.  There may be other “sidetrips” that can’t be predicted–so hop in and enjoy the ride!  You may learn more about Tracy here.  You may follow her on Facebook here.  You may learn more about her books at www.inclementiowa.com !

 

Printable Inclement


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This one is going to be a VISUAL post, for the most part. For years I’ve lamented over the fact that I can “see” a place that I can’t share directly with people.  I write my books, yes, and I show and tell about Inclement, but there is so much about it that is quaint, beautiful, and mysterious, and frankly, books take months if not years to come to fruition.  However, I think this idea of paper toys that show Inclement in a tactile, interactive manner might just bridge the gap for me.  

I’ve managed to illustrate Inclement and some of its characters in jpeg files below the photos shown here (scroll down), ready for downloading and printing. Right-click on each sheet and download  and save it.  Share them with others.  Share them with teachers, with parents, with kids.  Simple black and white line drawings are perfect for coloring, easy to handle and a great toy for imaginary play. Cut them out, fold them so they stand up, and recreate stories from Inclement or make up new stories. Use some blank card stock and create more characters, places and things of your own to further your stories. This first set of printables will be joined by other Inclement paper creations to help children and adults exercise their imaginations and spur their creativity. Zack, Walt, and Flash are here as well as that crazy cat Soda Pop, but they will soon be joined by Paxton, Carp, Grampa, Sylvia McBye and other locals.  There will be Lake Inclement, the beach, the Boardwalk, Poe’s Pizza, the Cumulus Theatre, the Rocket Roller Rink, and other places I haven’t yet introduced.   More characters, locations, and general FUN STUFF will be coming.  As always, free for educators, for parents, for kids of all ages. Please print out on heavy cardstock for best results. Paper toys are perfect for little hands–if they get beaten up, make another! Paper toys rock!
14july_1004 14july_1008 14july_1016 14july_1032 14july_1034 14july_1035 14july_1038zackwaltflashpagebugpagehouse1house2 house3 house4 houses5Tracy Lovett is an artist, author, illustrator, photographer, wife, mom, and all around creative gal trying to spread the message that creativity is one of our most important qualities.  She uses her books, photographs, and writings to encourage others to just take the chance and be creative. This BLOG is about her creative journey into all her creative endeavors, including writing for children and adults, art and illustration, photography and photo-illustration, and book-building from beginning to end.  There may be other “sidetrips” that can’t be predicted–so hop in and enjoy the ride!  You may learn more about Tracy here.  You may follow her on Facebook here.  You may learn more about her books at www.inclementiowa.com !