Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Sunday to Remember

What a beautiful week we've had here in Kentucky. Spring has been all around with blooming trees and warm sunshine. It was enough to give you Spring fever and make some of you want to go fishing. Not me. I haven't discovered whatever it is about fishing that makes people long after a pond bank. I like to walk on that pond bank, but not fish off it. I asked my Sunday School boys this morning what they liked about fishing and one of them said eating the fish. The other one said the fun of hooking the fish and reeling it in. I'll just keep walking and enjoying nature that way and let those who love fishing keep on fishing.

We had a big day at my little church, Goshen. For those of you who may have read my Hollyhill books, I based a lot of my church, Mt. Pleasant on my Goshen Church. Of course only the good Mt. Pleasant members resemble my Goshen Christian brothers and sisters. As I said, we're just a little church, but today we dedicated our beautiful new Fred Knickerbocker Fellowship Hall to the service of the Lord in our community. We named it after our pastor who's been preaching for us for almost 25 years. That's a long time to put up with the same bunch of sheep, but he's a good shepherd and we're blessed to have him as our spiritual leader at Goshen. Anyway, a couple of years ago we stepped out in faith to build a fellowship hall for our social events. We had no way of knowing how we'd ever raise the necessary funds. As I said we're a small congregation without a lot of money. But don't ever say the Lord doesn't still work wondrous works. It says in the Bible that with God, nothing shall be impossible. One place it's the angel telling Mary she can have a baby and still be a virgin. Another place it's Jesus talking about how hard it is for a rich man to get into heaven. As hard as a camel going through the needle's eye. Now I've heard some Bible scholars say that was the name of a small gate going into Jerusalem. One that a camel would have difficulty going through. I don't know for sure about that. But whether that's what Jesus meant or if he meant it literally, one thing is sure. With God, it could be possible. So it was with our fellowship hall. With God, and only with God has it been possible. As Laura said in her comment on my last post, "God is good." And when is God good? "All the time."

And then tonight I spoke for a women's group W.O.W. (Women of Worth) at David's Fork Church in Fayette County. I told them I wasn't too good at acronyms, but I tried to come up with something to get in the spirit of things with their W.O.W. Since I want to write encouraging fiction, how about Writer of Encouragement? W.O.E.??? Definitely not the right acronym. So how about Encouragement Writer? E.W. Still not exactly what I had in mind. Eeew! Finally I just decided they had the right idea with WOW and I'd just use Writer of Words. They were a fun bunch and we had a good time.

Yet at the same time, with all the good things happening, I've had a shadow over the day, because I messed up last week and left someone's name off our list of people to thank for our new building. It hurt his feelings and my apology, though heartfelt and sincere, wasn't enough to bring him back into our fold today. So pray for him and for me that we can move past this bump in the road of our friendship. I'm sure some of you have had similar experiences where you hurt someone unintentionally and then had no way to change what you'd done. But you know sometimes we have to leave it to the Lord. He has the power to change everything.

Hope you have a fun week. Remember - Thursday is the National Day of Prayer. Prayer is powerful. Think of it like electricity. The power is there, but first we have to plug into it. I'll leave you with the quote I put in our bulletin today -- "The well of Providence is deep. It's the buckets we bring to it that are small." (Mary Webb)

So get your biggest bucket and draw deep this week.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Quotes for Spring

I love Spring. I also love summer and fall and even winter. That narrows things down a little, doesn't it? But I wouldn't really want to live where there weren't seasons. Where it was always warm. Where the sun shone all summer and only made cameo appearances in the winter. I love the Spring sunshine and when the flowers burst into bloom and chase away the last of the winter blues. So here are some quotes to keep you springing through Spring.

The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day He created Spring. ...Bern Williams

What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. ...Joseph Addison

Life is like riding a bicycle. You don't fall off unless you stop pedaling. ...Claude Pepper

So hope all of you keep pedaling and have a good trip. Try to pedal past some lilac bushes and take a deep breath to get that great lilac scent all the way down to your toes. As those of you who have read my Hollyhill books know, that's Jocie's favorite scent. And then it won't be long till you can roll your car window down and drive by some locust trees in bloom. Ahh! We had locust trees all over our yard where I grew up. You sometimes stepped on the locust thorns, but Spring smelled good! I love that scent just like David does. Last there's this little green bush that grows wild out in the field. I have no idea what it is. You can't even see it bloom unless you look really close, but boy, does it smell deliciously sweet when it is in bloom. I haven't noticed its scent yet, but I'm always disappointed if I miss it in the Spring.

Happy lilac and locust bloom hunting. Enjoy Spring.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Great Writing News and Encouragement

I had a great week as a writer last week. I got offered a contract for a couple of new books. All I have to do is write them. I think this is where I need to start begging for your prayers. The first deadline is a bit sooner than I'd like. I have discovered I'm not the fastest writer on the block, but maybe this time with the deadline looming I can pull more words out of my reluctant brain a bit faster. It looks as if I'm going to have to keep my nose to the grindstone for a while.

You know, when you think about it, that is without a doubt a disturbing image. One's nose to the grindstone. Does that mean you should just pay attention to what you're doing or does that mean you need to sacrifice a bit of skin off your nose? That's what a grindstone does. Grinds away things. Sharpens knives and tools. Now that could possibly make sense for me. I need to sharpen my writing tools and my writing thinker upper. So maybe that's how the grindstone can help.

We're always spouting old sayings that we have no idea where they came from or how they got started. Some we can figure out. Like a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Or snug as a bug in a rug. We might not want a bug in our rug, but we don't have any problem imaging said bug as snug. I think I just came up with a tongue twister. Try saying those last couple of sentences ten times fast. But back to the old sayings. Some are not so easily imagined by our current generation. Like the grindstone one. Most kids have never seen a grindstone. Ah, how quickly the years pile on and our language is ever growing and shifting and changing. New words pop into use and old words fade away. Sometimes that makes writing historical fiction difficult. You not only have to come up with the right idea, the right plot, the right characters, you also have to be sure not to use words that weren't around back then. Can you think up some modern words that shouldn't have been there that you might have caught in some of the books you were reading?

But I was sharing my good news of the week with you. I got the offer about the two new books. My book, The Outsider, due out in August is getting some early interest and has been picked for a main selection by Crossing Book Club as well as an alternate selection for several other book clubs. So that's great news. That means the book will be out there and available in a lot of different ways. The book I've already written that I titled Angel Sister got a good report from my editor, so that was encouraging. No publication date as yet. It will be a while, but I think it will eventually be out there for the rest of you guys to read. They were such a great bunch of characters. I always think I have a great bunch of characters. They're not all sweet and kind, but they are all mine. And some of them are fun and crazy weird.

And then my granddaughter in WV turned five. Is there anything more fun than have a fifth birthday and opening a pile of presents and blowing out candles and eating cake and ice cream? How many of you remember your fifth birthday? I don't remember that birthday specifically, but we had a wonderful aunt who always did our birthdays up special. She made our cakes and decorated them and I can remember standing out by the lane to our house and watching for her car on my special day. That's the best thing about birthdays. Feeling special. Feeling loved. If I could make a birthday wish now and blow out all my candles, that's what I would wish for everyone in the world. That they could feel special on their birthdays. Of course, no one will ever put that many candles on my cake again. It would set off the smoke detector if they tried and I'd have to take at least five tries to blow out that many candles. So maybe instead of a wish, I'll make it a prayer.

Since I'm talking about a special day, I'll tell you about a special celebration I just came from. A couple in our church are celebrating their seventy-fifth anniversary. Wow! Now that's something. He's 95 and she's almost 92. They still live in their own home and they still read through the Bible almost every year. They are beautiful people.

I had a good time at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest. Thanks to everyone who came by to talk to me and maybe buy my book. Thanks also to those of you who came to sit in and listen on our panel as we talked about how we used our Kentucky roots to help establish the setting and tone for our books. The next book fest, Bluegrass Festival of Books, is coming up in Lexington at Joseph-Beth's in May. Hope if you're in the area, you'll come by and say hi.

That's all for now. Check in with me again next week. And feel free to comment about your most fun birthday or anything at all. Ann

Friday, April 18, 2008

Things We Can Learn from Man's (and Woman's) Best Friend

Things we can learn from our dogs about how to get along in the world --

1. When a loved one comes home, always run to greet them.
2. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstacy.
3. Take naps and stretch before rising. (My husband likes taking this advice.)
4. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
5. No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout. Run right back and make friends.
6. Be loyal.
7. If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it. (Great advice for writers.)
8. If someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

I'm a dog lover and there's nothing that can pick up my mood better than a dog giving me that "you're the best person in the world" look. Hope you all have somebody or some pet looking at you that way today.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fun Book Event

It's Sunday night and my book event this afternoon at the Anderson County Library went great. Thanks to all of you reading friends and family who came out to hear me talk about writing about the Sixties in Small Town, America. In my case, that's Lawrenceburg.

When I decided to re-invent myself as a writer for the third or maybe it was the fourth time, I went back to basics and tried to write about something I knew really well. That turned out to be growing up in a small town back in the Sixties. A lot of the people who came to my book party today had already read some of my Hollyhill books so they knew that I had used how Lawrenceburg looked back then as the model for the town in the books, Hollyhill. I told them I had to change the name of the town because the Lawrenceburg Series just doesn't have the same ring as the Hollyhill Series.

I think my Lawrenceburg readers enjoy trying to figure out if I based my characters on any specific persons, but I never do that except for maybe a minor character here and there. Still, as I told them today, writers take what they discover about everyone they meet along with what they know or feel about themselves and put it in a stew pot on a little stove in the back of their head that's warmed by their creative fires. From those combined and cooked together characteristics come all our characters. This character might have somebody's ill temper or sunny smile while that one might have somebody else's fear of spiders or love of lilacs. I always feel as if my characters are totally a product of my imagination, but yet at the same time they become real enough to me that I sometimes think it might be nice if they would come by and have a cup of tea with me. Of course I wouldn't invite the rude or mean characters in to stay long. At least not until they changed their ways or gave me some new plot ideas.

But back to my book party. I do appreciate everyone who came. I love to talk about writing and about my books. Oh, let's face it. I just love to talk. And I love getting to know people. You know, so I can add all their fun characteristics to my pot of character stew for another book down the road. I gave away a lot of doorprizes and we played some just for fun Sixties Trivia. We focused in on some Lawrenceburg things, but we also talked about the Beatles and going to the moon. While some of the people there couldn't exactly remember about the Sixties since they hadn't discovered America by then. You know - been born. And some others of them were mere babies. But there were plenty of the rest of us who have been around a few decades and we had fun doing some remembering. Do you know what year the Beatles were first of the Ed Sullivan Show? What did the first man on the moon say? Stuff like that.

I've got a busy week ahead with a church workday Monday and my granddaughter in WV having a big fifth birthday. She was born on tax day, so her birthday is easy to remember. Then this weekend I'll be going to the Southern Kentucky Book Fest in Bowling Green, Kentucky. If you live in the area and make it to the Book Fair on Saturday, please come by to say hi. I'll be on a panel about My Old Kentucky Home Revisited; Novels about Kentucky at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Janna McMahan and Laura Benedict will also be on the panel. That's sure to be fun. I was on a panel with Janna in South Carolina. She's a great writer. I haven't met Laura yet, so I'm looking forward to that. You can check out other authors there on their website Harlan Coben and Mitch Albom are their headline authors. So come enjoy a fun day of books.

May you have a blessed week.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Quote of the Week - Aiming High

I'm adding a new post. Every week, sometime during the week, I'll be posting a quote that has caught my attention and inspired me to do better, work harder, and/or think happier thoughts. So here's the first one.

"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark." ...Michelangelo

Tune in on Monday for the regular news post. I'll tell you how things went at my author's event at the library. I hope somebody comes. I hope several somebodies come.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Showers of April Activities

Isn't it amazing how quickly the weeks roll by? Here we are in April already. Did any of you get caught on April Fool jokes? My five-year-old granddaughter tried to pull one on me by saying it was going to snow 3 feet. When I looked at her with a bit of disbelief, she quickly changed it to 3 inches. I guess she realized she wasn't going to "snow" Grammy with such a whopper of a story. So I played along on the 3 inches. Getting to say "April's Fools" is half the fun.

April is shaping up to be an extra busy month around here. Our church just built a new fellowship hall which is pretty close to miraculous for our little church of about 50 active members. But we've gotten a lot of help and support from former members and friends in the area. And the building is fantastic. I feel blessed anew every time I go in the door. We'd been having all our "eatin' meetings" down in our small and often damp basement under our Sunday School rooms that were built back in the forties. The sanctuary part of the church was actually built in 1875. So it's old. And no, I wasn't a member then. So this new building is a gift to our church. It's light and warm and on ground level with lots of space for everybody to sit down and eat together. We don't have to worry about what we'll do if it rains on Homecoming Day now. We'll just stay inside and enjoy. So we're celebrating with a Fred L. Knickerbocker Fellowship Hall dedication day the last Sunday of the month. We named the building after Br. Fred who has been our minister now for about 25 years. He was a vocational school teacher for many years besides being a pastor and all his students called him Mr. K. So we're calling the new fellowship hall K Hall. And of course, at our church any time we celebrate we have to eat, so we're having a big dinner with everybody invited. Come on over if you're close enough to know where Goshen is. The way my church in the Hollyhill books looks was based on Goshen, but only the dedicated, loving members at Mt. Pleasant in Holly County are like the people who were going to Goshen when I started attending there at the age of 17. And yes, that was a long time ago, too.

But that's not all that's going on in April. First I'm having my big event at my local library here in Anderson County on April 13. That's next Sunday. We're going to have a big time talking about my Hollyhill books and how much Hollyhill looks like my hometown, Lawrenceburg or really, any small town. I'm hoping to have some fun with '60s trivia and give out some doorprizes. I went shopping for them last night. Got to give away some Elvis, you know. If you've read Summer of Joy, you'll know why. I'm doing a repeat performance on May 8th at the Paul Sawyier Library in Frankfort. That's a Thursday night at 6 p.m.

On the in between Sunday, April 20, our church is helping a very special couple in our church celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary. Now that's an accomplishment. Loretta and Earl are the sweetest couple in the world and they're still able to live at home. Not only that, but Loretta still cooks a mean meal and is an artist with her sewing needle. You should see some of the dolls she has made. Plus she remembers all my grandkids' names when she's got a dozen or two grands and great grands and even a couple of great great grands. Both Loretta and Earl believe in Bible study and have read through the Bible a number of times. They love to ask Br. Fred Bible study questions. Earl is having some health problems. After all, he is 95. So say a prayer for him that he'll be able to enjoy his big day. The whole family is supposed to show up to help them celebrate and someone sent in the information to the Today Show. So if you're watching and hear them talking about Loretta and Earl on April 23rd, you'll know that they are two of my favorite church people. At Goshen, I have had so many wonderful church people who loved me without reservation.

I'm also going to be on a panel at the Southern Kentucky Book Festival on Saturday, April 19 plus a couple of speaking dates in the next few weeks. I know you'll pray for me. Thank you. I want to be an encourager to the people I meet and especially to those I talk to. I came across a quote while I was doing the bulletin for church this week. I don't remember exactly how it went, but it was something like this -- Sometimes we cheat ourselves when we just ask for our own prayers to be answered because the Lord may have so much more in mind for us.

Thanks for dropping by. Remember if you want to be in the drawing for an early copy of The Outsider, you need to go to my website and e-mail me. Enjoy your week.