Sunday, June 29, 2008

What a Week!

Hi, everybody. Hope you had a great week and are looking forward to an even better one. They say the weather here mid-week will be fantastic and with the 4th coming up, that's good news. Tuesday is my oldest granddaughter's birthday. She'll be 14. You know how old that makes me feel? Well, you don't want to know and neither do I. :)

Actually I was 14 when I met my husband at a football game. I hate to admit it, but I didn't go to football games to watch football back then. I was watching the guys on the sidelines. At any rate, Darrell and I met and the moon and the stars must have been lined up just right, because we're still together all these years later. And yes, I was way too young to be out looking for the right guy. Guess I was blessed to find that right guy first time around. And now my granddaughter is going to be 14, but thank goodness she's not in as big a hurry as I was to go out boy hunting. Fourteen seems really young to me now, but I felt plenty old then. The perspective changes with age.

I got to see all my kids and their families this week. Not all at the same time, but all in the same week which is a gift. I have one son in WV and one daughter in SC and one son closer to home right here in my hometown. We went to see the son & family in WV the first of the week. His wife's a little over 7 months along carrying twins and she's getting tired, but so far, so good. We're praying she'll be able to endure a few more weeks and deliver wonderfully healthy baby boys some time in August. But summertime is a hard time to be expecting.

Then my daughter came home for a visit the end of the week and we had a great time. We went to the Kentucky Horse Park along with my other son and family. One of his daughters, age 6, is horse crazy. She decided she might like to redecorate her bedroom like the tack room that was on display in the visitors center except she'd have to have a window to see the horse next to the tackroom. You can tell she hasn't been in a lot of barns.

So it wasn't a good week production wise writing. I've been trying to meet a self-set goal of so many pages a day, but you know, you've got to put in the days. Still I guess everybody needs a few days off now and again. Especially in the summertime.

And I got some great news. Revell is offering a contract for the book I wrote based loosely on some of my mom's memories of growing up during the depression. It'll be a while before it's out on the market, but the story is extra special to me because of how Mom shared her memories with me to help me know how things were back then. I'll be sure to let you know more about the story down the road. I titled it Angel Sister, but titles sometimes get changed.

Now the publication date for The Outsider is drawing closer and closer (along with my twin grandsons' birthday to be). I'm hoping to take part in a book celebration at the Paul Sawyier Library in Frankfort, KY on August 2 (again if the twins don't decide to make their appearance that weekend). And then I'll be having another booklaunch party at Corinth Bookstore in Frankfort. We haven't set that date yet, but we're considering when. It's hard to plan with those babies on the way. I'm the designated babysitter for their other children as well as naturally anxious to see my new grandbabies.

The folks at Corinth Bookstore in Franklin Square have been so kind to help get my Hollyhill books off the launching pad each time. It's great having such a nice store with so many great books and beautiful gift items and books and toys for kids. If you are in the area, check them out. For the owners, Bonnie and Steve, the store is a ministry and it shows. Of course I think books are the best gift ever. I love giving books and getting books.

And I did get some good news about a review of The Outsider. The Romantic Times Book Review Magazine chose my book as a Top Pick!! That's not just good news. That's great news! It's always such fun when reviewers like your book. Not so much if they're not as enthusiastic. I hope if you get the book, you will like it too and give it a good review to all your friends. There's still a week or two before my drawing for the early autographed copy if you want to put your name in the pot. Just click on my website and send me an e-mail.

And a special thanks to Laura Frantz, a fellow writer with a book coming out from Revell next year, for her comment last week. Her book is tentatively titled Dogwood Winter and is set in frontier Kentucky. Sounds fascinating. And can you believe it? Her book has a frontier doctor in it the same as The Outsider.

Check back again next week. Maybe I'll wax philosphical or something next week instead of being simply chatty. Hope you have a safe and happy 4th of July.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Advice from Kids

Here's some good advice from kids that will be sure to make you smile while you're agreeing with the truth of what they say.

  • "Never trust a dog to watch your food." Patrick, age 10
  • "When your dad is mad and asks you, 'Do I look stupid?' don't answer." Hannah, age 9
  • "Never tell your mom her diet's not working." Michael, age 14
  • "When your mom is mad at your dad, don't let her brush your hair." Taylia, age 11
  • "Never hold a dustbuster and a cat at the same time." Kyoyo, age 11
  • "You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk." Amir, age 9
  • "Don't wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts." Kellie, age 11
  • "If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse." Naomi, age 15
  • "Don't pick on your sister when she's holding a baseball bat." Joel, age 10
  • "When you get a bad grade in school, show it to your mom when she's on the phone." Alyesha, age 13
  • "Felt-tip markers are not good to use as lipstick." Lauren, age 9
  • "Never try to baptize a cat." Eileen, age 8

Sounds like with experience comes wisdom. Hope all your experiences this week are good ones!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer Weekends

Oh, those crazy days of summer. Do you remember when you were a kid and how the long weeks of summer stretched out before you when school let out in May or sometimes in June if we'd had a bad winter and missed a lot of school days? You looked forward to time to relax and sleep late and read all the books you wanted to and maybe work on your tan at the pool. Of course I had to do some working on my tan in the fields helping my dad on the farm. Talk about a farmer's tan. I guess I had a farmer's daughter's tan. But we had plenty of time for fun too. I guess when you have to spend some time in the tobacco patch or the corn field, it makes that time off seem even better.

Now summer comes and goes in a flash. They tell me that's a sign of getting older. The years seem to get shorter and shorter and go by faster and faster. Someone told me a theory about that once. He said that when you're five, one year is a fifth of your life, but when your fifty, it's a fiftieth of your life. That changes the perspective a bit.

Anyway the year seems to be speeding along. And bringing that deadline closer for my next book. I'm making progress. At least typing words. Whether they're good words or not remains to be seen. I've been in that middle part where I always wonder if what I'm writing is making any sense. I've nearly always hit that spot in all my books. The middle doldrums. I know I need to get some wind up to blow my story toward shore so I can type those two little words - the end. But sometimes I just keep fanning and fanning and the story doesn't seem to be moving at all. So I just tell myself to keep writing words. If the sails of creativity won't fill, then I'll just keep rowing with persistence. And generally eventually I find that draft of wind and generally the part where I thought I was rowing so strenuously turns out to not be all bad either. One thing about it, the delete key works good on most computers and you can always get rid of what doesn't sound good.

Since we're talking about computers -- I had another one of those computer weeks last weekend. The kind you don't want to have where your computer dies on you without a warning. I think they should build in some kind of early warning system. Something that will yell "Danger! Five minutes until total crash! Print! Save! Pray!" They are always doing that on the sci-fi shows (Okay, maybe not the praying.) But on those shows, some computer geek always figures out the right button to push to save the ship before it totally dies. But you see, they have warning. They know they need to be pushing those buttons. My computer just stopped working. One minute it was fine. The next nothing worked. Of course it waited until I'd just finished working a couple of hours on the church bulletin. I hit the print button and nothing. I figured I'd knocked a cord loose or something. So I wiggle the connections. Isn't that always what you do first? Then the mouse arrow took the studs. Well, of course the fix for that is turning the thing off and then back on. That's when things got really ominous. It beeped at me and nothing came on. I couldn't even open the CD tray. Panic time. Deadlines looming. Got to have a computer to work on my book.

So I go get on my husband's computer and have to redo the whole bulletin. I was witty and smart in the first bulletin. I just got it done in the second one. It was my husband's birthday and we were planning to go out and go shopping for him a new sport jacket in some bright color for him to wear when he sings. We got started late after my bulletin problems. And then a friend had a motorcycle wreck and we had to go check to be sure he was all right. And then the stores all closed earlier than we thought. But, thank goodness, the computer store stayed open a little longer than the sports jacket stores. So I bought a new computer. And now I've had to work all week learning to use the new programs and the new keyboard. It's got the page down key where the end key used to be and I keep paging down to this blank area and wondering what the heck happened to the words I was trying to get to the end of. Sigh! I guess I'll learn to use it someday. Then my preacher, who also works on computers, fixed the old computer or says he can and he had a good deal on a notebook. So I have a new computer, a new notebook, and an old computer that will be good as new soon. That should keep me going for a while. Long enough to get this book finished. But believe me I'm backing up every way there is to back up.

And poor Darrell still hasn't gotten that new sport coat.

Hope you have a great week. Remember if you haven't signed up to be in the drawing for The Outsider, send me an e-mail and I'll put your name in the pot. I should get my author's copies in a couple of weeks and I'll be doing the drawing then. Ann

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Shaker Sayings

In celebration of my new book about a Shaker girl - The Outsider - coming out in a few weeks (August 1), I'm sharing some of my research with you this week. Here are some sayings attributed to the Shakers. They were a very practical people in many of their ways and they believed in "putting their hands to work and giving their hearts to God." Their work was part of their worship. So here goes.

  • "Do your work as if you had a thousand years to live, and as if you were to die tomorrow."

  • "He did not think when sowing those wild oats in his youth how uncomfortable the gritty oatmeal would prove to be for his aged teeth."

  • "Never wish a thing done; do it!"

  • "It is just as much a duty to commend a person for doing well as it is to reprove him for doing ill."

  • "A place for everything and everything in its place."

  • "Our thoughts are character molds. They shape language and actions."

Hope you're having a great week.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Tribute to My Dad

Hope all of you had a wonderful Father's Day! And that you were able to give your dad a hug and maybe some little gift that he pretended to like. Well, maybe he really liked whatever you got him. My dad never was into gifts that much. He liked for us to come over and make homemade banana ice cream in the crank freezer. That was always fun. And yummy!

My dad passed on in 1987 from pancreatic cancer. It wasn't an easy passing. He didn't like being sick. Worse, he knew he wasn't going to get well. It was a hard time for all of us. I'm sure many of you have lost your dads too. If so, I hope you spent a few minutes remembering him today and thinking about some special times you had together. My dad was a farmer and we spent a lot of time helping him in the fields. He liked to play bridge and rook and solitare. He was a whiz at math even though he never went to high school. He started driving when he was ten. Back then you didn't have to have a license or be a certain age to drive. He loved to travel and always wanted to go to Alaska, but he wouldn't fly. So he never made the long drive there. He got a motorcycle when he was twenty-one much to his mother's nervous distress and took a summer trip to Oregon on it to visit some cousins who had traveled west to settle. He went out there several more times after that in a car.

When I was five, we drove out there in a green Studebaker. There were five of us. I was the youngest kid. My sisters were eleven and seven. A great aunt rode back with us. I wonder now how she survived being cooped up in that little back seat with three little girls, I don't remember her being cranky. Just old. Now I also wonder how old she really was. Probably not nearly as old as I thought she was. Perspective on age changes as you get older and turn into a great aunt or granny yourself.

Dad loved to play horseshoes. He was very competitive and would pitch horseshoes every night when he came in from the fields until he had thrown whatever number of ringers he set as a goal for himself. After he got older, he started going to horseshoe competitions which he enjoyed, but he was already past his prime in throwing ringers. If he had competed when he was younger, he would have been a champion, I'm sure. He also liked to play pool and clay court croquet.

I named my first son after him, but he didn't really want me to. His name was Johnson and he didn't want me to shorten my son's name to Johnny which I did anyway. Dad wanted me to call him by his initials. J.W. A lot of people called my dad by his middle name, Hanks, and some called him J.H. That's how he signed his name. But I stuck with Johnny for my son. Now my son's a lawyer and a lot of people call him John, but Johnson looks good on his letterhead.

Best of all, my dad was a good father and he loved us. And I wish we could have put some ice in an old gunny sack and mashed it up with a sledge hammer to use with lots of stock salt to make that delicious banana ice cream. The kids always had fun spooning in the salt and taking their turn cranking the handle. When Dad determined the ice cream was hard enough we'd take out the dasher and put the cork in the top before we drained out the salt water on some patch of poison ivy perhaps. Then we'd pack new ice on it, salt it down, and wrap it in a quilt so that after supper we could all enjoy some yummy ice cream. Talk about brain freeze.

So give a dad a hug today and celebrate all the dads you know. I wish I'd hugged my dad's neck more often while I had the chance.

That's it for this week. I'll whine and cry about my computer dying on me yesterday next week. Have a good one.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Gift of Joy

This week's quote has to do with joy. Sometimes we think of joy as being happy, but joy is more than that, deeper than mere happiness. Joy that lasts, that keeps on going and going like that battery Bunny comes from God. So may you know joy all the way to the bone this week and every week. Here's the quote.

"To be a joy-bearer and a joy-giver says everything, for in our life, if one is joyful, it means that one is faithfully living for God, and that nothing else counts; and if one gives joy to others one is doing God's work; with joy without and joy within, all is well." ...Janet Erskine Stuart

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

And then the phone goes crazy

Hi everybody. I know. I know. It's not Saturday or Sunday, but my computer modem went belly-up last Friday or Saturday. I don't know which day. Things were so crazy around here last week what with Bible School every night. I already think I don't have enough hours in the day to get half of what I need to get done finished and then you take out four or so hours a day for Bible School. I know that's not a lot of time to dedicate the Lord, and I know He's the master of my time. I might not even have four hours tomorrow. I hope I do. I think I will, but I can't be sure. I just have to remember the Shaker saying on that one and do my work as if I thought I had a thousand years to live and that I might die tomorrow. In other words, don't stress out, just do it the way it's supposed to be done.

And we did have a good time at Bible School. Not many kids at our little church, but the ones who were there got to have a lot of fun and learn about Jesus and the Bible. Still all us older teachers were glad when Friday came. I don't know how they used to do two weeks every summer for three hours every day. Of course more mothers were home with their kids and didn't have outside jobs. They worked hard in the field and gardens and sewing and canning, but most of them didn't have jobs at the bank or Wal-Mart or wherever. So the chores got put off by them the same as they did by me this last week. Of course, sometimes I put the chores off every week and it's beginning to show on my house.

To add to the confusion last week, we got a new fridge which meant I had to clean out the old fridge and get ready for the new one. I hate to tell you, but I'm not a housekeeper who pulls her fridge out every two or three weeks to clean behind it. It's clean now though. Then my son had a business trip to another state and my daughter-in-law rode along for a little R & R. So I had their three kids who are of course beautiful and smart and fun, but they also wear their old grammy out after a while. But none of that is the real reason I'm late posting this week. That's the modem's fault. Every time I plugged the computer line into the phone jack, the phone started ringing non-stop. Not good. But I put the new modem in this morning while the kids ate breakfast and it seems to be working okay. So far.

Tomorrow I have to get back to work on my new book. I got behind on my daily page quota last week because of Bible School and now I've missed two days playing with the grandkids. I'm going to have to make the keyboard sing the rest of the week to even make a fair showing. But I think I know what's happening next in the story. That's always good. Now if I just knew a little more about what's going to happen after that. Oh well, the words have always come before. Maybe they will again.

The release date for The Outsider is getting closer and so is the arrival date of my twin grandsons. My daughter-in-law (the one in WV) is even more anxious for August to get here than I am. She's already having a hard time finding a way to get comfortable sitting or lying down. I, of course, am anxiously anticipating both events.

I have to close. My kitchen is a disaster. I was helping the little one (she just turned two) brush her teeth and get ready for bed and the older ones (six and eight) along with a neighbor girl kept asking me about making glaze for doughnuts. I thought they were just curious. I should have known better than that. There is a light dusting of confectioner's sugar on the cabinets and the floor and who knows where else. Neat is not my grandson's middle name, but he was giving it the old college try. And we got glaze made before they went home. I've still got glaze in case I find any stray doughnuts, I suppose.

Have a great week.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Kids say the darnedest things

Some of you out there probably remember Art Linkletter's show where he talked to kids and they did say the darnedest things. We were eating in a restaurant here locally where they celebrate t.v. shows from the fifties and sixties and that show was on. You couldn't hear it so you didn't really know whether it was funny or not, but it brought back memories. That gets me to this week's mid-week post. I got this before Mother's Day and planned to use some of it in our church bulletin, but I laid it aside and promptly forgot it. Now even though Dad's day is closer, we'll do a few of these kids saying the darnedest things about "Why God Made Moms." These are supposed to be 2nd graders, but sometimes I wonder about things I get as pass-alongs on the e-mail circuit. But we'll just assume this is real and not somebody's imagination working overtime and just pretending to be seven-year-olds talking.

Why did God make mothers?
1. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were born.

How did God make mothers?
1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?
1. We're related.
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.

What kind of little girl was your mom?
1. My Mom has always been my Mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
3. They say she used to be nice.

What did Mom need to know about dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

What does your Mom do in her spare time?
1. Mothers don't do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your mom perfect?
1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair. I'd diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your Mom, what would it be?
1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid of that.
2. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

Hope you all had a great mother's day and are getting ready to enjoy Children's Day this coming Sunday and Father's Day the next Sunday. Some people at our church say every day is Children's Day. And I say I hope so at our churches. Besides aren't we all children in God's eyes?

Talk to you this weekend if my brain's not too tired after Bible School. We're having fun.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

VBS and Finding Time to Get It All Done

Hi again, everybody. Are you like me and not finding enough hours in the day to do everything that needs doing? Truth is, I've been letting a lot of things that need doing slip by not done. I'm going to have to get going on cleaning my house soon or well, I guess it'll just get more in need of a dedicated housekeeper. I'm not dedicated to housecleaning. But I used to do a better job when all the kids were home. I had more of a routine then. Saturdays I cleaned. Now Saturdays are always busy with some other activity. Darrell's singing and I get to go along or Darrell's singing and I think wow, I don't want to waste a perfect day to write on doing chores. Maybe the grandkids have slept over or are coming to visit or I'm going to visit them. Or I want to go somewhere with my sisters or help Mom out. Or the wildflowers at Panther Rock were in bloom and a person has to stop to smell the roses, doesn't she? There is always something. That's for sure and when those kind of choices come up, I don't pick washing windows. Maybe I should, but I don't.

And now next week I have the best excuse ever -- Vacation Bible School. Talk about a gobbler upper of time. That can do it. First you've got to come up with lessons or study the lessons in the books you have. Second, you have to do crafts and plan activities that will keep the kids interested. Have you noticed that's harder to do than it used to be? I've been teaching Bible School for many years. Many years! And the kids aren't as easy to settle in to Bible study as they used to be. Of course, at our little church we don't have any electronic stuff to show movies or slides or whatever. We depend on the Bible and have an old fashioned Bible School that fits our little church best. The new programs are great, but we don't have the room at our church or the volunteers to lead that sort of program. So we just go back to the Bible School style of old and most of our kids have the most fun ever. So next week promises to be a whirlwind of activity. I'm hoping I can keep somewhat to my goal of getting a set number of pages of my new book written every week, but I might not have the proper time. Especially since I have to take Mom to the doctor one day and my dog to the vet the next day. Plus we bought a new fridge and that means I have to empty out the old fridge and get the spot ready for the new fridge. I'll take me half a day to take all the grandkids' photos and art work off the old fridge. :) The new fridge is not going to be as art display friendly, but we'll have to work out something. The side maybe.

Darrell and I took one of those Saturdays off the way I was talking about earlier and went to a play "As It Is in Heaven" at Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill. It was not as good as I'd hoped. I've been doing a lot of Shaker research and there were several things that were just wrong according to the books I've been reading. They had the Shaker girl having a pet cat. That was not allowed. The little girls couldn't even have dolls. The Shakers did have a few cats late in the life of Shakerism in the late 1800's and early 1900's after the rules of conduct had relaxed quite a bit. But the play was set in 1837. No pets then. However the actresses did a great job and I liked hearing the Shaker songs they sang. They were definitely authentic songs. I hope to go back to Shaker Village for a full day of sightseeing and absorbing the atmosphere soon. The Shakers were interesting people, but not very easily understood in their time or even now. They had a lot of contradictory ways.

My new book, The Outsider, about the Shaker girl and the frontier doctor will be out in August. Publisher's Weekly reviewed it. Not a great review. I always hope for a great review, but I don't always get what I hope for. I met one writer who said she never read reviews. I'm beginning to thing that might be a good idea. The review wasn't really that bad, just not great. Oh well. Maybe the next one will be better and I know me. I won't be able to keep from reading it, good or bad.

I do appreciate all of you who may have put a review out somewhere for me. Terri put one on last week and I really appreciate that. I also really appreciate every time you recommend one of my books to a friend. Word of mouth reviews are the best kind. If they're good, that is.

The ACFW Southeast zone newsletter had me as their featured zone author this month. It was a fun interview and I enjoyed talking about my writing to all the other writers in the group. Every day I get a digest of messages where the members of the loop tell about what's going on in their writing lives and that's always fun to read about. You can visit the ACFW (Amercian Christian Fiction Writers) on the internet and if you're a writer of Christian fiction you can sign up and enjoy all the perks. (For a membership fee, of course. But part of the site is open to anybody who wants to click on.) I haven't been taking advantage of all the information out there on the site because, well, I have to get my new book done before my daughter-in-law has those twins this summer.

Yeah, I know. We're right back to that not enough time for everything bit. Hope you have the time to do all the things you most want to do. I love teaching Bible stories at Bible School so I'll be sure to make time for that this week. Ann