Q & A with D.G. Kaye featuring Award Winning Author, Jan Sikes

Welcome to my May edition of Q & A. Today I’m happy to be featuring friend and fellow author, Jan Sikes. Jan is a multi-talented, multi-genre author and dabbles in tarot, runes and gemstones articles on her blog too, besides the blog tours she hosts and the books she reviews. So today we’re going to get to know a little bit more about Jan and her latest release – Jagged Feathers, Book 2 from her White Runes series.

About Jan:

Jan Sikes writes compelling and creative stories from the heart.
She openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author. But she had a story to
tell. Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation. The entertaining
true story comes to life through fictitious characters in an intricately woven tale that
encompasses four books.
And now, this author can’t find a way to put down the pen. She continues to write fiction
and has published numerous award-winning short stories. She published her debut
paranormal romance novel, Ghostly Interference, Book 1 in The White Rune Series, in
2020, which won a bronze medal award from Reader’s Favorite. Jagged Feathers
released on January 31, 2022, as Book 2 of that series, and Saddled Hearts will release
later in 2022.
She is an active blogger, an avid fan of Texas music, and a grandmother of five. She
resides in North Texas.

Blurb:

Vann Noble did his duty. He served his country and returned a shell of a man, wounded inside and out. With a missing limb and battling PTSD, he seeks healing in an isolated cabin outside a small Texas town with a stray dog that sees beyond his master’s scars. If only the white rune’s magic can bring a happily ever after to a man as broken as Vann. On the run from hired killers and struggling to make sense of her unexplained deadly mission, Nakina Bird seeks refuge in Vann’s cabin. She has secrets. Secrets that can get them all killed. A ticking clock and long odds of living or dying, create jarring risks. Will these two not only survive but find unexpected love along the way? Or, will evil forces win and destroy them both?

Jan shares some wonderful quotes from her book:

REVIEW QUOTES:


“Wow! One of the top books I’ve read in a while. I’d give it more sparklers if I
could. The author had me from page one and didn’t let me go until the end. She
starts off hard and fast, then things kind of work out and the book goes into a
“safe” lull, which is where most romantic suspense stories would end. But no. She
doesn’t let you rest as the danger ramps up again before our hero and heroine
are really safe and have a satisfying ending that leaves you happy for them.” V.
Burkholder


“What an amazing and phenomenal book. Jagged Feathers has become my
favorite suspense book I’ve read in 2022.
Jan Sikes has a talent that mirrors the authors, that’s on top of the Best Sellers
List.” T. Lucas


“Wow! Few books grab and hold me as quickly as Jagged Feathers. I can’t say
enough good things about this story that’s brimming with heart. It has everything-
-an ex-soldier dealing with trying to heal from wounds and trauma left by the war,
a woman confused and scared by her psychic gift and running for her life, and a
dog that’s suffered horribly but hasn’t lost his ability to love.” L. Broday


“This is a high octane thriller and romance, with some intriguing paranormal
elements which draws the reader in, and sweeps them along with the action and developing love affair. And then there is also an adorable dog who despite his
own past mistreatment gives love in abundance.” S. Cronin

So, let’s get to know a little more about Jan!

Welcome

Thank you, Debby, for inviting me to visit with you today. It is truly an honor!

D.G. – Thrilled to be featuring you here today Jan. Thanks for coming!

How has writing changed your life?


That is a great question. After my husband passed away, I was still working full-time. But honestly, I was lost. I didn’t want to stay in the home we’d built together. Too many memories and too much property to take care of. So, I transferred my job to another town where one of my daughters lived. I withdrew from the world and hid behind my children and grandchildren. That was my safe place. Then, when I realized I was the one that would have to write the story of our life together, it forced me to step out and reinvent myself. It took several years before I could comfortably call myself an author. It wasn’t until after my second book won an award that it felt right. Writing not only changed my life completely but gave me a therapeutic way to rejoin the land of the living. It has given me a whole new career and I have met some of the most wonderful people— authors and readers!

D.G. – Do I ever hear you Jan. I know well what you mean about ‘hiding away’ after such a great loss. And no doubts writing was your therapy. 🙂

Do some of your own character traits or personal experiences spill into your book’s characters?


Oh, for sure! Of course, the first four books I wrote were biographical so that was me all the way. But when I started writing fiction, I drew from a lot of my personal experiences, philosophies, and beliefs and instilled them in some of my characters. I think the biggest example was Jag Peters’ mother, Charlotte, in Ghostly Interference. There is a lot of me in Charlotte. She is a smart but gentle lady who is a vegetarian and teaches yoga. She also instills in her son a lot of the same beliefs I have about Karma and the afterlife. The love of Charlotte’s life is a musician. So, I put a lot of me into her. Someday I want to tell her backstory.

D.G. – Only makes sense that we as writers will instill some of ourselves or other people we know when it comes to creating characters. 🙂

If you weren’t a writer what else do you think you would do?

That is a question I ask myself often. I work really hard at not only continuing to learn and grow in the craft of writing but in marketing as well. There are times when I stop and ask myself if this is what I really want to be doing. All the hard work results in little to no monetary rewards.
But, so far, the answer is the same every time. As long as story ideas and inspirations keep coming, I am duty-bound to keep writing them. And, if I wasn’t writing, I don’t know how I would be filling my time.
For now, this is what I want to do. It’s a chapter in life I am enjoying letting unfold.

D.G. – Once again, I couldn’t agree more! 🙂

I know you have a very active blog. What can you tell us you’ve gained from blogging as an author?


Blogging has created a whole new online family for me. I am connected to people all around the world. That is how I met you, Debby. So, I’ve gained a network of supportive and uplifting people as well as made what I consider to be friends. Even though we may never meet in person, through reading others’ blogs, I feel as if I know them. Besides this incredible network, blogging gives me a great platform to talk about my stories, accomplishments, failures, and everything in between. But my greatest joy is featuring others on my blog. I do lots of book reviews and have guest posts often.
Another way my blogging platform has enriched my life is through sharing metaphysical things such as Tarot cards and Rune readings, uplifting meditations, and my passion, Gemstones and their healing properties. It’s a way of sharing something that is a huge part of my daily life. It helps keep me grounded and focused while hopefully helping others at the same time. We are all on this journey together. So anything we can do to uplift each other is wonderful!
While blogging takes time away from writing, it is worthwhile all the way around. I can’t imagine stepping away from blogging, although it’s healthy to take a short break now and then.

D.G. – We share the same philosophy on blogging, once again. And of course we share a mutual interesting in the spiritual and metaphysical. 🙂

Share with us a book that moved you so much it stays with you.


This is probably the hardest question of all to answer. I’ve been an avid reader since I could decipher words. As a child, I devoured fairy tales and believed life would have a fairy tale ending for me. As a young adult, I read books by Harold Robbins that taught me so much about relationships between men and women.
“The Grapes of Wrath” is a book I have read multiple times. I think it has stayed with me because of stories my parents shared about the Great Depression. But a powerful book that changed the way I view worldwide governments is “The Captains and The Kings.” Taylor Caldwell depicted corruption among the leaders in such a way that I’ve never forgotten it. It’s a book I highly recommend to everyone.
A book I’ve read within the past couple of years that has stayed with me is “Where The Crawdads Sing.” And now I see that it has been made into a movie and will be showing in July. You can bet I’ll be at the theater to see it. And I want to add one more to my list of lingering stories. “If The Darkness Takes Us,” is such a chilling and realistic tale of what happens when the grid collapses and people are left to figure out how to survive on their own without any resources. Unfortunately, I feel that it may be more realistic than imagined. But there are lots of good survival tips shared in the book.
I’ll stop there with an apology. You only asked for one book. 🙂

D.G. – Had to laugh as the only books I could find around my house (in my mother’s room) were Harold Robbins’ books, lol. That was an education. And I loved Where the Crawdad’s Sing! I will now be checking out those other books you mentioned too. Thank you!

Follow Jan on her Social Links:


WEBSITE: http://www.jansikes.com

BLOG: http://www.jansikesblog.com
TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/jansikes3
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJanSikesBooks
PINTEREST: https://www.pinterest.com/jks0851/
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7095856.Jan_Sikes
BOOKBUB: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jan-sikes
LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jansikes/
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: https://www.amazon.com/Jan-Sikes/e/B00CS9K8DK

I hope you all enjoyed learning about Jan and her beautiful books.

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review – Why Didn’t They Leave by Eva Hnizdo – WWII #FamilySaga

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing Eva Hnizdo’s historical fiction book, taken from memoir – Why Didn’t They Leave? . This book was right up my reading alley. The book begins in the late 1930s Czechoslovakia just as WWII is heating up. A family saga that takes us into the life of three generations of women – Franzi, her daughter Magda, and spans through the decades of change into the early 2000’s as told by Magda’s daughter, Zuzana. This is a story of life-altering change, fear, humanity, and how each generation of women coped with war and its devastating effects on body, mind, and spirit, and an understanding for Zuzana born of another generation, struggling to learn why her relationship was strained with her mother from resentments to a final understanding.

Blurb:

You can’t ask for asylum in another country just because your mother drives you nuts, so when 19-year-old Zuzana flees from communist Czechoslovakia to England in 1972, she says she just wants freedom. Her relationship with her mother, Magda – a Holocaust survivor who lost most of her family in the concentration camps – is toxic and Zuzana finds happiness in London with a loving husband and beautiful son.

But when her mother dies, Zuzana is crushed by guilt and feels an overwhelming urge to discover more about her family’s tragic history. So, she embarks on a life-changing journey, discovers some incredible stories and tries to answer the question which haunts her: Why didn’t they leave?

“Eva Hnizdo’s Why Didn’t They Leave illuminates the lives of one extended family from the beginning of Naziism. With meticulous detail and heart-wrenching scenes Hnizdo offers answers through her characters’ actions as to why some chose to remain in their homeland and others fled. A story filled with history and heartache… survival and hope.” – Julie Maloney, author and founder/director of Women Reading Aloud

“Eva Hnizdo has turned her own story into a gripping work of fiction that follows a secular Czech Jewish family’s fortunes during World War Two through communism to a multi-cultural life in Britain. Her book says much about prejudice and tolerance, survivors’ guilt and the emotional challenges of motherhood, all through the voice of her extrovert and sexy heroine.” – Brigid Grauman, journalist and author of Uncle Otto’s Puppet Theatre

Zuzana is haunted by the choices that her family made during the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia and later during the Communist regime. Her discoveries make for a compelling story of loyalty, love, and courage.” – Jacqueline Sheehan, author

Eva Hnizdo is a Jewish Czech, born in Prague in 1953. She is the granddaughter of a man who lost his life by deciding not to emigrate in 1938, and a daughter of parents who, after surviving the Holocaust, spent most of their adult lives under an oppressive communist regime. Eva studied medicine at Charles University in Prague and became a doctor. She escaped to the West in 1986 and obtained political asylum in the UK in 1987 with her husband and two sons. She worked as a full-time GP partner at the same surgery in Watford for twenty-three years. Now retired, she spends her time writing.

My 5 Star Review:

Magda is 13, it’s 1940 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. The Germans are taking over the country and Magda and her brother Oskar have already been booted from school, while their mother is sewing yellow Stars of David on their clothing. At first Magda thinks the stars look cool, then quickly realizes after getting pushed and shoved on the street, the star is a calling card for attention. Magda’s family was privileged and Magda’s mother Franzi and her husband Bruno did well with buying off SS agents by giving them many family possessions to avoid deportation to Theresienstadt, but by 1942 her family was finally deported. Some survived, some didn’t. When liberation finally came, Magda and her mother lived through the brutal and lean times and were lucky to be given back their home in Czechoslavakia.

Magda at 18 reinserts herself back into the school system and studies hard to graduate high school after missing four years of school and succeeds. She marries Mirek after she graduates and they live with her mother Franzi. Franzi mourns the loss of her husband, her son and all others while Magda wants to go on, avoiding the memories and deaths. By 1948 communism was taking over the Czech oslovakia and government was taking over private businesses, those who didn’t comply were sent to jails. It was like war was back but within their own country. Magda and Mirek were urged to leave in the late 40s, but Magda didn’t want to leave her mother. By 1952 they were stuck there. Anyone caught trying to leave the country was jailed.

In 1953 Magda gave birth to daughter Zuzana and was happy to let her mother Franzi do everything and look after her daughter while she kept occupied, entrenched in her job. By this time Mirek was already cheating on moody Magda. Magda decided she didn’t want her daughter to be Jewish so she convinced her unwilling husband to have Zuzana baptized to protect her from being a persecuted Jew, as anti-semitism was running rampant even after the war, especially while Czechoslovakia was under communism. When Zuzana was age 9, Mirek left Magda. He was tired of her whining and lack of interest in cultural things he liked to do. And he wasn’t happy about not giving their daughter a religion to practice, as Magda only wanted the baptism to protect her child from future incidence of anti-semitism, without teaching her about any religion.

In the mid 60s, Magda went to visit Bavaria. She was stunned at all the beautiful goods for sale in stores – something they didn’t have in the Czechoslovakia. Her pent up anger at Germans had her stealing from stores because she felt entitled after the Germans seemed to have stolen much more from her. Her passive- aggressive anger lingered.

By 1964, Zuzana was a young teenager who protested all her mother’s good intentions for her. Magda tries to send Zuzana for dance lessons but Zuzana doesn’t like it, doesn’t like girlie things or dresses. Magda wants to give her daughter everything she didn’t have, but Zuzana is rebellious. Zuzana prefers wearing pants and reading books to dresses and parties. Magda is often bitter at her daughter’s reactions to all her plans for her, as though Magda wanted to live what she missed out on vicariously through her daughter. Magda often mumbles to herself that her daughter doesn’t know how lucky she is to have access to clothes, classes and adventures as Magda internally remembers her time imprisoned during the Holocaust. But Magda stays firm in her decision not to tell Zuzana about her imprisonment or how so many family members actually died in the Holocaust. She never even told Zuzana they were really Jewish.

Part two of the book is Zuzana’s story in the year beginning back at 1966, til the early 2000s. Now married Zuzana with a 13 year old son, Adam, tells her husband Harry that she changed schools when she was a teenager where she could learn more languages, adding that her mother got her in through black market connections, which she reiterates was really such a thing.

In 1967 Zuzana’s Uncle Otto and his wife came back to Czechoslovakia to visit his remaining family and he went to the synagogue with Zuzana, her mother and grandmother Olga. This was the first time Zuzana realized that it was not only the communist anti-fascists who were killed in the war, but innocent people, including her own family. Until then, Zuzana had been sheltered from knowing about war and the fact that she was an actual Jew. As an avid book reader, Zuzana began to read ‘different’ books that were starting to appear on the shelves – stories about the Holocaust.

As a late teen, Zuzana left the country, organized by her rich Uncle Otto and moved to England where she went to university and lived out her dreams of freedom, education, meeting people from different races and falling in love with her to be black husband Harry who became a pharmacist.

Zuzana felt she didn’t love her mother because Magda nagged her all the time and never gave her daughter a compliment, almost trying so hard to force her daughter to do the things Magda never had the chance to do. The tension remained between mother and daughter throughout the story until Magda’s ultimate death, when Zuzana learned from Uncle Otto what really happened to their family during the war, and this opened up a world of curiosity for Zuzana about her real heritage inspiring her desire to travel to America to meet the sparse family who survived the war and ultimately, moved to America. Then Zuzana gets the rude awakening about how her mother survived and the PTSD effect it left on Magda that made her become the way she was. She meets up with aunts, uncles and cousins who were survivors and descendants of survivors, and her new discoveries give her a new sense of why her mother acted the way she did, discovering her mum not wanting to talk of what she lived was a shield for herself and the PTSD she suffered through the rest of her life from what she lived through. Zuz learns that she shouldn’t have judged her mother and once Magda dies, Zuz’s grief becomes overwhelming. As Zuzana begins to have regrets in this new appreciation for her mother, we begin to learn the true effects the war had on this one family.

This is a story about a family caught up in the brink of war, during the war, and their lives in the aftermath. It deals with racism, anti-semitism, communism, humanitarianism and inhumanity. Fascinating on many levels with the intricately woven characters and going deep learning how and why these people were shaped. Yes it takes place during the Holocaust, but it’s about people’s individual lives, living through hell, and how they become after. This is the story of one once large family torn by war, how they survived, why some left in time, and why some chose to stay behind.

©DGKaye2022

May Writer’s Tips – #Copyrights, #Plagiarism, Book Matter and More!

Welcome to my May Writer’s Tips. I have collected some fantastic helpful articles in this past month. So as not to overwhelm, I’m going to break up this post under two different umbrellas. In this edition I’ve tailored this month’s discoveries to tips that specifically pertain to book writing and potential legal snags – how to find your writing voice, what constitutes plagiarism, penalties for using song lyrics in our writing, what to put in front matter of our books, and the importance of designating a social media executor.

The BookDesigner takes us through the definition and meaning of Voice in writing:

Janice Wald of Mostlyblogging.com talks about the 4 types of Plagiarism and the consequences in 2022

https://www.mostlyblogging.com/ethics-sentence/

Anne R. Allen has an informative article with great detail on why writers cannot use song lyrics in their writing, the permissions required, and the penalties of using them:

Anne R. Allen with another informative post explaining why writers need to appoint a Social Media Executor:

Bryn Donovan has a concise article on all that’s important and why for front matter of books for publishing:

Stay tuned for next month’s edition of Writer’s Tips where I’ll be sharing some articles with handy tips and some great tools for writers.

©DGKaye2022

What’s Up With #Scammers who Prey on #SocialMedia

As many of you know, I lost my husband just over a year ago. For me and my grief, it may as well be yesterday because the excrutiating pain of missing the love of your life doesn’t go away. I thought I’d just post this reminder because it’s truly astounding that predators lurk everywhere seeking out vulnerable people.

Since my husband’s passing, and much of it spent in Covid seclusion at the worst time of one’s life, I had turned to joining some online grief groups. I felt it may be a place I can be with like-minded people and those who’ve walked the walk, those who know how painful grief is, and that they may be places of comfortable harbor for me sometimes. But sadly, the amount of men who wangle their way into these groups hoping to seek out the vulnerable, seems to be ever-growing.

Personally speaking, these groups do not help me at all, yet, I continue to pop in for some words of solace. But because I consider myself a great Facebook ‘FBI’ profiler, I always click on the pages of those stalkers who continually message or leave messages in replies to my comments. Almost all of them seem to have lonely pages with barely a post, as though they specifically joined FB to lurk and lure.

I get many requests, compliments, and sweet nothings from plenty of lunatics on FB, but these grief pages top the charts with lurkers. These places are like a magnet for loveless losers to prey. How many times on the news are we warned about scammers, yet, so many still get caught in this web. It’s up to us all to do our due diligence and check out first, who we think we are friending and allowing into our personal circles. And I might add, the people who run these delicate group pages should also be more diligent when screening applicants who join these groups. It only takes me a moment to figure out many profiles are bogus, bots or that they have ill intentions. Why can’t a moderator do the same?

I’m a moderator in four different FB groups, and every time I get a request from someone who wants to join one of my groups, I take the time to visit the applicant’s page and schmooze around to see what they post, what they do, their ‘about’ page, and decide if they fit into my group. If all the prerequisites aren’t met, I don’t admit them.

Fakebook social media
Image by ijmaki from Pixabay

It’s not hard to figure out how these lurkers find us. They join groups with vulnerable people and try to befriend them with sweet words. If you’re like me, and have all your posts on your FB page, only visible to ‘friends only’ (and you should), this is your first barrier of defense. They cannot roam on your page or see personal posts, but they can still message you, and these messages predominantly go to FB spam messages and sit there until we delete or accept if we don’t reply to their scammy comments on a post we left comment on. I think I have hundreds in mine over the years, I don’t even look anymore, other than when someone approaches me on a group page and then checking my spam messages to find them there too.

When people start leaving you messages in comments to a statement you made in a group that have no relevance to the comment you made, be suspicious. When you poured your grieving heart out in a statement and get a reply from a guy telling you how beautiful you are and asking you to please accept his friendship so he can message you privately, that’s just wrong. And just don’t allow these types of lurkers into your private space.

I may be grieving. I may be sentimental. But I’m no dummy. As many writers spend most of their waking life on the internet mingling in social media, we know well about lurkers, losers, hackers and scammers. But for the many who are not internet savvy. Pay attention to how you allow people into your digital life.

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review, The Calm and the Storm by Martha Perez

My Sunday Book Review today is for Martha Perez’s short, inspirational prose from the soul, one who has been ‘there’ with some of life’s soul wounding moments.. And in this short but inspiring book, the author offers words of comfort.

Blurb:

The Calm And The Storm: Inspiration that will keep you strong enough to keep going!

When you look at the reflection of the moon as the waves ease toward the sand, I am the calm. The wind blows, and the air is cool. When the waves are crashing on a dark stormy night, and the bat’s shadows reflect the glow of the full moon, I am the Storm.

“The Calm and The Storm” are 12 short quality chapters that will acknowledge what you go through in life. Not just what you go through now, but what you’ve been through before. We are all strong and powerful people trying to make the best out of life. If you want to be inspired, I wrote this with love. Even though I write dark stories, this book is made to get you through the dark days and appreciate the other days as well.

My 5 Star Review:

Martha Perez is soul inspiring. I have a few of her books awaiting to be read but I chose to read this short inspirational book one day when my soul needed soothing.

This book a collection of short chapters of words to inspire. It’s not about crying over wrongs and hurt, but finding the reasons to make it to the next day.

“When you feel your life is filled with darkness it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to not be okay. But then find that reason to continue.” ~Martha Perez

“When life breaks you, let it shape you. Don’t focus on the pain. Focus on the fight.” ~Martha Perez

“I fight with my pen. I fight when I type. My ink bleeds pain mixed with empty tears.” ~Martha Perez

Perez offers avenues of hope by referencing her own over-comings in life in small detail, helping to point others in a more positive direction despite obstacles. She speaks as though talking specifically to us, the reader. A good book to pick up again and again when your self needs a little lift.

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review – Garden Black by Frank Prem #Poetry

My Sunday Book Review is for the latest collection of speculative poetry by Frank Prem. I have enjoyed reading many of Frank’s books because his poetry interpretations take us along with him on his observations whether real or fiction, his truth shines through.

Blurb:

The Garden Black poetry collection is a venture into fantasy and speculative fiction based on the dual themes of rain forest and fantasy.

. The rainforest becomes a desert, and then the sea.

. A man in a satellite orbits the earth while playing his violin and pondering. A girl gazes up at the passing light and dances.

. Od Ovo – a youth who is from here, raises the dust of frustrated boredom on a mining asteroid, and cannot believe traveller tales of places where water falls from the sky.

. What colour are the flowers in the Reaper’s garden? They are all colours . . . They are black.

Welcome to the speculative fantasies that are The Garden Black.

My 5 Star Review:

From fantasy to the deep is what you will find in this new interesting collection of speculative poetry by Frank Prem. Prem’s poetry reminds that life is fragile and fleeting. Life is brief and can be both harsh and beautiful at times. The author shares conversations evoked in his mind through his observations and imagination, life’s incidences and moments.

A few poems in particular, caught my attention and touched deep. I’ll share them here through partial excerpt:

Not sorry only grief (waiting)

"I have no wish
to go back
home

home
never
quite
had room
for what I was

but
I do wish
that home
could spare a
thought - 
just ocassionally -
for me ..."

Unbound (goodbye)

"gravity
would hold me down
but
I was not made
to be
earthly tied

I set my sights
somewhere
over the tree tops

the strength
my strength
lives
in the will I hold ..."


Jet on night

"he
is a silhouette

she
a shadow leaning
up against
the wall

he reaches
to touch her
with the sun
shining behind him

she holds up
a phantom hand
to better feel
their connection

darkness on
darkness

he isn't there

jet on jet

she isn't there ..."



©DGKaye2022

Goodbye #WATWB We are the World Blogfest

As many of you know, I have been a participant of the #WATWB for almost five years. This was a group of authors who posted something positive every Friday on the last Friday of each month to deflect from some of the negativity going on in the world. While I was on winter blog break, I didn’t know that March was the last month for this.

It was nice to be part of a set scheduled posting, but that doesn’t mean we can’t randomly share posts on goodness at our leisure or whenever we come across something worthy of sharing. So this past weekend I was feeling a bit nostalgic and was surfing through some different genres of music videos on Youtube and came across one of my favorites by Tim McGraw – ‘Humble and Kind’, and another classic relic by Teddy Pendergrass, sung when he was still lead singer of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes – ‘Wake Up Everybody’. Both these songs spoke to me with renewed emotion on reminders of the state of our world with big messages to remind about patience, tolerance and actions needed, reminding us about compassion. Like Teddy sings, “The world won’t get no better, if we just let it be …”

We are all, still the world. McGraw’s video is beautiful – both words and video. Pendergrass’ song is still very much of importance, despite the 70s being long gone, the message remains relevant, wake up everybody!

I hope you enjoy and are rejuvenated in compassion as you listen to the words. Not sure about you guys, but McGraw’s video has me reaching for tissues everytime. That song has been the ringtone on my phone now for quite a few years.

Official Soultrain video – by Philadelphia International records

Tim McGraw official video

©DGKaye2022

Puerto Vallarta, #Mexico Part 3, Fun, Sun, Shopping and Friends

Welcome to Part 3 of my winter away in Puerto Vallarta. Today I’m going to share more photos and a few video clips to give you the vibe and describe a bit more about interesting facts and observations about vacationing in PV.

Bartering

I’ll start with shopping. In stores, the price is the price. But when visiting outdoor markets or buying from beach vendors, don’t forget to bargain or I promise you’ll be paying too much. Typically, when a beach or market vendor offers you prices for their wares, I’ve discovered that they will usually double the actual price of what they will eventually accept. They are crafty sellers and they know there are many new tourists who they can snag in at too high prices, often not taking into account the many repeat visitors who know the game.

Often the vendors that peddle their wares along the beach aren’t always selling their own hand-crafted goods, but they are selling for other people’s stores. They have a price they must get to both, pay for those goods and make a small profit. I know this game well, especially as a seasoned shopper. I may not always be buying, but I look and always check prices. Let’s say someone is selling beach covers on the beach. Typically, if you go downtown to markets and such you will see these same covers going for $250 to $400 Pesos (range of $12-$25 US dollars) but you can be sure if you ask ‘Pedro’ on the beach, how much, he’ll ask you for $800 Pesos. That’s when I laugh and joke around and say things like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ And I’d say I can get the same thing downtown for ‘x’ amount. Then the negotiations begin as ‘Pedro’ will rebutt with asking how much would I be willing to pay. It’s just the way the game goes. I know that if they are asking $800, it’s really valued around half. If I want the item I’ll offer $400, usually never accepted right away. He’ll come back at around $600 and I’ll say I don’t need it that bad for $600 but I’ll take it for $400. After all is said and bartered, I’ll walk away with the item for $450, $500 max. I get what I want, and I know he got to make some profit without ripping me off.

Le hat

Above is the perfect demonstration of waiting for the right price. I saw this unique hat downtown in an over-priced store near the beginning of my trip and fell in love with it. It came in various colors and the brim was all hand embroidered. When I first saw this hat, the store wanted $60 US dollars for it! And they didn’t even care to bargain so I left it and kept my eye out for it in my many travels, but everywhere I did manage to find this style I found it too over-priced. Until I went out for the day with my friends Jamie and Pat to Bucerias and we walked through the market, and there they were again. The goods were cheaper up there than downtown PV. I didn’t even bargain when I found this beauty, the young girl was so sweet sitting outside her little kiosk in the sun. I asked how much and she told me $380 Pesos – equivalent of about $25 Canadian dollars. Sold!

My friend Shelley and I went on a few shopping jaunts together, but we also went grocery shopping together a few times too. I can tell you that grocery prices have gone up there like everywhere else. The food in PV is delicious and freshly made in restaurants, and to my knowledge and taste buds – without preservatives, a refreshing change from North America. I felt my grocery bill had gone up about ten percent since 2020, and definitely noticed the upcharges in restaurants and bar drinks. I used to be able to eat a dinner out for $12 that became $15, and sometimes upwards of $20, depending on where I went out to eat at. Fish is relatively cheap in PV and brought in fresh daily to many restaurants. Shrimps are cheap and plentiful on every menu and marlin, mahi mahi and snapper are always on menus.

Shelley took this at the upscale supermarket – La Comer. In this section they make fresh tortillas daily

This is a glimpse of this huge, well appointed supermarket, fresh meat and fish section

The bar drinks went up quite a bit too, considering alcohol is relatively cheap to buy there. Drink prices almost doubled for the most part in most restaurants and at the pool. Beers were typically a dollar, now three dollars. Mixed drinks that used to cost about three dollars became six, seven and eight, depending where you went. I used to like to order the odd Pina Colada at the pool in the afternoon (a little easier to handle during the day than margaritas), until they doubled the price while I was there. Instead of paying eight dollars for a drink I decided to replenish my own bar in my condo and bought a bottle of rum, crema de coconut and pineapple juice, all for under $18 and made myself many afternoon drinks for less than a dollar.

Best Pina Colada with authentic recipe. Malibu Rum, Crema de Coconut, Pineapple Juice and a splash of lime

Shelley and I went downtown to the factory where they sell all the beautiful blown drinking glasses and accessories. I wanted to buy so many things but wound up only buying two giant martini glasses and two shot glasses because the glass is heavy and I had no room to spare in my carryon bag. The margarita glasses weighed more than the martini glasses. They do the safe wrapping there too. The only danger were the rows and rows of shelving full of glassware we’d walk up and down through the aisles looking at. I had my big beach shopping bag slung over my shoulder and had to hold it close to avoid being a bull in a china shop.

Beautiful blown glass

Of course we had to stop for a libation in between shopping.

Me and Shelley (Shelster) stopping in a watering hole

This a photo of the famous ‘Our Lady Of Guadalupe’ church near the center square down by the boardwalk/malecon. Many church-going folk tourists go there for Sunday morning service, and it is often referred to as a meeting point when people make plans to meet downtown.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Below is a short veryyy amateur video I took of me, Shelley and our new girlfriends from Alberta, Carol and Sharon. The four of us were crazy together and somehow we had created alias names for ourselves. Carol became Pat McGuilicutty, Sharon was Marge Simpson (because she piled her massive hair two feet high on her head most days at pool, except it wasn’t blue. I dubbed Shelley, Shirley Shelster, and I was named Sheila Tequila. We went downtown for Happy Hour and a pub crawl.

Pub crawl in PV

Here’s a small sampling of downtown Malecon. Me, Shelley and John spent the day downtown one day, walking, shopping and of course a few drink pit stops.

Downtown boardwalk

Here’s an interesting picture I took while we were at a red light on the way back from downtown. You never know what you will see in PV for a hand out.

Guy on a unicycle right in front of our cab

They come in all shapes and sizes there, geckos, lizards and salamanders

This guy was hanging out near the pool steps to lobby

On my last night in PV, Shelley and John, Wendy and Jerry, had already left the day before. Brenda and Saul were already home. Thankfully, Jamie (Ukranie) and Pat were leaving the next day also, we were the last of the diehards left and we went downtown for dinner. Jamie left early because he had to attend to a Zoom conference, leaving me and Patty Girl to our own devices. So we walked over to the Margarita Grill our favorite landing spot when going downtown for a good margarita.

Margarita Grill

Last night in PV drinking our medium sized margaritas

After margaritas and a tequila shot, Patty and I walked across the street to the always busy Dolce Vita restaurant and sat down at the bar and finished off our night with Spanish Coffees before heading home.

This vacation started off as a slow burn as I was apprehensive in going solo, discovered friends who I thought were friends, weren’t really, then ultimately, meeting some fantastic new friends who made my time in PV very special. These are not just PV friends, these are all new good friends that I keep in touch with and will not only be meeting up with again next winter, but I plan on taking Patty and Jamie up on their offer to visit them in Vancouver this summer, as well as my pals Shel, and John because they live right here in Ontario about an hour and half away. I will also be visiting them this summer. A great gang of people and blessed to make all their acquaintenances.

My Winnipeg girls, Wendy and Brenda

Dakotas
My North Dakota Girls Jackie and Kathie

Sharon, me, Carol and Shel

Wendy and Jerry (the artist)

Shelley and John

Bobbie and Shawn also from Ontario

Me, Patty, Jamie, Shelley and John

Thank you all my new wonderful friends for making my trip so much fun!

I hope you all enjoyed reading and watching slices of my winter escape to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!

©DGKaye2022