Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Frog Takes a Hayride

I just got home from my grandson's birthday party. He'll be nine tomorrow and he had a fishing party. I don't fish, but it's fun watching the grandkids fish. Austin - that's my grandson - he hooked a big one, but it broke his line and got away. After that he lost interest and began hunting other game. And soon he was the proud possessor of a nice green frog. He wasn't a bit worried about getting warts. No, wait - that's toad frogs. This was a regular pond frog who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He ended up in a plastic cup with a little water to keep him hydrated and an occasional fly when the kids were able to catch one. He wasn't a particularly happy frog although he did eat the flies. We went on a hayride from the fishing pond to a picnic spot some three or four miles away. The frog went too. The frog made it through the hotdog roasting, but then somebody uncovered the plastic glass and the frog made a mighty hop and landed on one of the great aunt's chest. We weren't sure who was the most startled, the frog or the aunt. It must have been the frog because from there he made another mighty leap right into the hotdog roasting fire. He didn't stay there long. That's for sure. He hopped right out of there and ended up back in my grandson's hands. The frog was liberated eventually to a stream that was running alongside the picnic spot. One thing sure, not every frog can be so well traveled or have stories to tell about the time it jumped out of the drinking cup and into the fire.

Not much else is going on in the neighborhood this week. I'm still editing my new book. Changing a word here and there and then sometimes going back and changing it back the way it was to begin with. Thank goodness this book isn't too long and I don't have to think about cutting out pages and pages. I like to trim the excess, but when you start cutting pages it feels more like slashing the vital parts. Even so, there are times when I just can't seem to make a sentence read the way I want so then I decide maybe I don't need that sentence at all. I just hit the delete key. That's one way to fix awkward wording. Works every time. ;-)

The twins are doing well. I hope to have some photos of them and the other grandkids posted on my website soon. I'm adding a gallery of photos. Some will be of me and others at special events and some of me way back when. That should be good for a smile or two.

My book event for The Outsider at the Anderson County Public Library is next week. I'm hoping I'll have lots of friends and readers show up to hear me talk about "Writing about Shakers and Other Odd Characters." We'll have a Q & A time and discussion time as well as door prizes. The library staff have been great. They've put my posters up and made a big announcement board as well as displayed all my books on a table at the library. I've published 18 books now and they have all of them but one. I'm going to hunt that one up and fix that. So if you live in the area, come on down to the library next Sunday afternoon. We'll have fun talking about writing.

Till next time, remember to abide in the precious present. That's what all the kids at Austin's party were doing tonight. And they were having fun. They may be covered with chigger bites tomorrow and too tired to get out of bed, but tonight they were having fun.

Hope you have a great Labor Day weekend.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Gift of Today

Today the sun came up and it misted rain all day. Both gifts. Today I fired up my computer and changed this word and that to try to make my new book better. Today three of my grandkids came to visit to give me the gift only a grandchild can give a grandparent. Sorry, those of you who aren't grandparents yet - you won't understand until you are. Being a parent is one of the most special blessings any person can have. Ah, but being a grandparent. That's blessing on top of blessing.

I also got some good news about The Outsider. Crossings Christian Book Club has featured the book in their catalogue. Also it is being featured at Revell's and Baker's websites. You can check that out at www.revellbooks.com or www.BakerPublishingGroup.com if you're interested.

So since today seemed so much a gift, I thought I'd hunt up that quote I've seen about the gift of today. Here it is.

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That's why we call it the present. ~Babatunde Olatunji

Hope your "present" is a welcome gift with beautiful wrappings and wonderful happenings that you rejoice in opening moment by moment.

I also came across this quote about what a treasure each normal day is to us.

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return. ~Mary Jean Iron

Talk to you this weekend.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Little Church

Today is Sunday. I go to a small country church where I play the piano - badly. It just so happens that nobody who is a member there can play any better or at least they haven't admitted it if they can. I am limited on my song selections and I can only play out of the hymn book. Sometimes I think I can only play because the Lord takes pity on the church people and helps my fingers land on the right keys - most of the time. When I first started playing the piano for the church several years ago, I would get so nervous that my fingers shook. At least that gave me an excuse for hitting the wrong keys. But now I just plunk along and don't get too uptight when I mess up. That's because I know the people in my church are going to forgive me. They might wish I practiced a little more or that a better piano player would move his or her membership to our church, but they love me anyway in spite of my failings.

That's the best thing about having a church family. Knowing that you are in fellowship with other Christians who will forgive you and who will love you and who will pray for you. They'll rejoice with you when good things happen and cry with you when bad things come along. My church is very small. If you've read my Hollyhill books, you know sort of what Goshen is like because I based my Mt. Pleasant Church in the book on Goshen the way it was back in the sixties. Except of course, only the devout and good members were based on people in my church. And that's really true.

On most Sundays, we average maybe 40 or 45 now. When I first started going there, we averaged 60 or 70 and there were a lot of families and children. Those kids grew up and moved on to other neighborhoods, other churches. Now we are an aging congregation and we only have a few young families. So we treasure each baby or young child who comes our way. We don't have the youth activities that the big churches have. We don't have a youth minister. Our Sunday School is struggling due to lack of enough committed teachers and few young Sunday school students. But my children grew up in that small church and while they didn't have as many activities as the youth in some other churches in the area, they did learn a lot about the Bible. At the same time I think youth activities are great and I wish our church could do that. I wish the big churches would open their doors to youth from little churches and I'm sure many of them do.

But the really good thing I like about my small church is that everybody is the same as family. This morning when I came out of Sunday School, our oldest member who is about 88 was holding our youngest member who is about two months old. He's a cutie. Well, she is too even at 88 because she always comes to church with a smile on her face even though walking is getting increasingly difficult for her.

Today it was hard for most of us to keep smiling. One of our deacons has been sick for a few weeks. Last Friday he got a diagnosis of advanced abdominal cancer. The doctors give him a short time to live. He's struggling with how to accept and handle that kind of news and so are we. He's our brother in Christ. And it made me wonder whether it's better to know or not to know. If you know you can get your affairs in order, but it's hard to count down the days. Especially when one is so sick. Pete's a committed Christian believer, but he also has much he loves here. So we're praying for him.

On a lighter note, I went back to help out with the twins a couple of days last week. They are doing very well. Eating and sleeping and pooping which is what babies do. Along with just a little crying, but not much. I'm still planning to post a picture of them on my website in the next few weeks - if I can get the photos together and sent to Susie who takes care of my website for me. She lives in the Keys and says they got a lot of wind and rain from the tropical storm, but was grateful it didn't turn into a hurricane.

Also I took advantage of a quiet day alone Friday (Darrell's group, the Patriot Qt went to Missouri to sing this weekend) to read over the first draft of my new Shaker book. And I think it's going to be an okay story. It read well and the characters seemed to have life. That was a big relief. Now I'll have to work it over chapter by chapter and line by line to see if I can make it read better and weed out spots where I was too wordy or said the same thing too often.

Hope you all have a wonderful week. And keep Pete in your prayers.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Summer Afternoons

Here's a summer quote for you.

"Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language." Henry James

Hope you are having some great summer afternoons. I'll have a couple of busy ones since I'm off early this a.m. to WV to be a mama's helper for my grandbaby twins.

Enjoy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Life Begins and Life Ends

Hi, everybody. Hope you are having as beautiful a Sunday as we are here. The weather is extra nice for the middle of August although the grass is beginning to turn brown in spots because of lack of rain. Are we ever satisfied with the weather? In the winter, it's too cold. In the summer it's too hot. In the spring, it's too rainy. In the fall, it's not rainy enough. Still I love the seasons of the year even though there are times I'd like to hold onto the pretty days of spring a bit longer or delay the beginning of winter a few weeks.

I came home on Thursday night from babysitting the older girls while the twins were being born. The babies are so cute and seemed very content. I never really heard either one of them cry. It didn't even bother them coming home to three very excited big sisters and a small poodle dog, not to mention grandma and grandpa wanting to get a look at them and hold them for a few minutes. Not the poodle. He just wanted to be in the mix. They took it all in stride without a whimper. I'm going to try to post a picture of them on my website in the next week or so. I'll let you know when. Mother's doing fine and father's doing the best he can to cover all the bases until she's back to full throttle. Thank goodness their school where they attend won't start for a couple of weeks to give everybody a little time to adjust to having two new family members.

I came from a happening of great joy to one of sadness as my last maternal aunt passed away suddenly last week. She had a stroke on Tuesday and died on Wednesday morning. My mom had three sisters. The oldest and youngest sister had already passed on and now Margaret who was three years younger than Mom. I loved hearing them talk about growing up in the thirties during the Depression. They said they never felt poor. They didn't have any money, but they always had food on the table and loving parents. They had a big garden and their father had beehives. They enjoyed playing ball and hide and seek with all the other kids in the neighborhood so never lacked entertainment. And they loved to laugh. When all four of them got together, there was always laughter. What a great way to be remembered! As laughing because life is good.

Not that everything was always easy for them. Margaret married before she got out of school and right before WW II started. Her husband had to go to service. She lost her first baby, and then boarded a train at the tender age of nineteen to ride all the way to California to spend a couple of weeks with her husband before he was sent overseas. She had never been away from home, had never been on a train. But that's the way my mom and her sisters were. Ready for any challenge. Sometimes though the hardest challenges await us when we get older. Mom is facing a lot of those challenges now. One of those is being the last sister in her family still living. They didn't have any brothers. But as always, she's hanging in there, taking it one day at a time.

We'll miss Margaret. She was the sister who didn't mince words. Last time we went to lunch a few weeks ago, they had both been to get perms. I had a major hairstyle change a week or so before that. Cut it all off. I haven't had my hair this short since I was in fifth grade. Anyway when they were talking about their hair, I asked Margaret how she liked mine. She looked at me and told it like she saw it. "I think you need to fix it." I haven't figured out how to do that yet. Actually most people say they think my new style is good, but not everyone. My five-year-old granddaughter who I was babysitting last week looked at me and said she didn't like my hair. But then she tried to make me feel better by saying, "Don't worry, grandma. It'll grow back." I didn't have the heart to tell her I wasn't planning to let that happen for a while. Oh well, maybe she'll get used to her grandma's new look.

Now that the babies are here, it's back to work for me, although I may go back to help out a few days here and there. I am anxious to get back to my book. And I have some special events coming up. My book launch at the local library here in Lawrenceburg is only three weeks away. I plan to talk about "Writing about Shakers .. and other odd characters." That's going to be my topic at the Book Festival in West Virginia in October. So this will be a good warmup speech to see how it goes. The Lawrenceburg event will be very casual with lots of discussion with those who come. It should be fun. Then Ginny Smith and I will be doing a signing at Joseph-Beth's in Lexinton on October 16. That's a Thursday evening. We'll be talking as well as signing. If you know Ginny and/or me, you know that's a given. Ginny has a new Love Inspired book out and she'll also have several of her other books there too. Ginny is so prolific that she has books out with three different publishing companies, all at the same time.

Me, I'm just trying to hang in there with one publishing company and meet my deadline on this new book. As I said last week, I lack one scene being to the end. Then I have to go back and read it to see if I've got a story that will work. I'm hoping that the hero and heroine will be people readers (and I) can care about. I'm hoping the story will be tied together well and will be exciting, but I really won't know until I read it. My editor compared writing a book to giving birth. And it is sort of that way. You carry it around in your head and then you push it out word by word until finally the whole book is outside your head on paper. Then you have to look to be sure all the toes and fingers are there. On babies, the toes and fingers are always precious no matter how they look. Not always the same with books. Sometimes there are too many toes or fingers or they may need a little reshaping to make them look right. That's what I'm getting ready to do, the editing and reshaping and making better. At least that's the hope and intent when I rewrite.

I'm going to start a new give-away next month, so be sure to check my website and/or here. I'm considering a full set of my Hollyhill books. I've been hearing from some readers of The Outsider who have never read any of my other books, so thought it might be fun to introduce them to Hollyhill. And for those of you who have read the Hollyhill books, they would make a great gift to someone this Christmas or whenever.

And last, but not least, thanks to the Book Club in Wooster, Ohio for reading my book Orchard of Hope. I enjoyed talked to you by phone. Any of the rest of you in bookclubs, I would be glad to come to your bookclub if you are in the area and if not, I'd love to talk to you by phone if you decide to read one of my books. The Outsider has already been chosed by some clubs.

Have a great week. See you Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Twins are Here

The twins have discovered America!!! They were born on Monday at around 4 p.m. One, named Johnson after his dad, weighed in at 7 lbs 1 oz. The other, Matthew, weighed in at 6 lbs 14 oz. No wonder their mom was tired. Big sisters are excited and proud. They all got to hold the babies today, even the two year old. Very carefully. She loved touching their hair. Dad can't quit smiling and grandmas and grandpas are suitably impressed too. They're not identical twins but they look enough alike that grandma had to remember that Johnson had the most hair to know which baby was which. I don't know how moms & dads with identical twins keep them straight.

Everybody is doing well. Thanks so much for your prayers.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

August 11 - A Great Day to Be Born

My grandbaby twins are about to enter the world with a little help from the doctor. They are to be born tomorrow, Monday. They had said Tuesday, but now we're going a little earlier. Their Mama can't wait. And their daddy is eager too, not to mention the three big sisters or grandma and pa. I'll fill you in on how cute they are next week. One thing about grandmas. They always think their grandbabies are cute. I put a Bible verse in the bulletin today from Proverbs 17:6. Children's children are a crown to the aged. That's the NIV version. See, grandbabies back when and forever have been treasured and enjoyed. Now I didn't put that verse in the bulletin because of my babies. We were having baby dedication day for a couple of new boys in our own church. We think babies should be celebrated and parents supported at our church and most churches I've visited seem to feel the same way.

The Olympics are going on this week. I love watching, but I've been so busy that I've not gotten to see much. I have been recording some of it. I'm probably dreaming that I'll ever take the time to sit down and watch, but maybe I will. I think I've just gotten out of the habit of t.v. My husband and I have very different tastes in programming and he really enjoys flipping between shows which drives me up a wall. So I'm better off reading somewhere out of channel flipping range. He'll lay off the remote when I'm in the room - sometimes. But I can see his thumb fidgeting. It's hard on him. You see, I don't mind watching commercials. Some of the commercials are more entertaining than the programs. But he hates them.

I almost made my self-imposed deadline for my current book. I hoped to have it finished before I went to WV. I worked yesterday far into the night, and I did almost, just almost, get to the end. All I need to do is let the characters ride off in the sunset or some other wrap it up scene, something that will satisfy the readers and ME. I'm the one who has to be satisfied first. Maybe a few days away from the computer will help me make that scene even better.

I've been hearing from a few readers about The Outsider. Most have been kind. Of course when some person you know says she liked your book, you, the writer, sometimes have to wonder, is she just being polite. I mean we always say a baby is cute no matter what we're really thinking. (Time out here. I really do think all babies are cute. Really. Even if they aren't the baby contest winner type cute.) Anyway a writer's book is his or her baby and people, by and large, are polite. Of course those strangers out there who write reviews for the joy of it are usually more apt to be honest and tell you what they really think about your baby. I'm hoping most of them will like my story okay.

I do appreciate book reviewers. I wrote a couple of reviews for Amazon. It's not all that easy to do. You want to tell a little about the book and why you liked or didn't like it. (I liked the ones I wrote about. I wouldn't do one for a book I didn't like. I probably wouldn't finish reading a book I didn't like. Too many books out there I want to read to spend my limited reading time on one that I'm not enjoying. Do you always finish every book you start? I used to, but no more.) But you can't give away the story and ruin it for other readers. And all in a couple of paragraphs. So reviewers have my admiration.

I've picked the date for my Lawrenceburg book launch for The Outsider. I'm going to be talking about writing my Shaker book at the Anderson County Library on Sunday, Sept. 7 at 2 p.m. If you're in the area come on down. I'll be giving away some books and we'll have a good time.

Hope you have a great week.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Happiness is a Form of Courage

How about some happiness quotes to lift the mid-week blahs? I don't really have mid-week blahs, but I've heard some people say they do. One thing sure I won't next week since my twin grandbaby boys should have discovered a bright new world by then. If I can get on line I'll let you know their names. If Mom and Day have picked names, they haven't told us yet. I asked my five-year-old granddaughter, soon to be big sister again, if she'd been helping her mom and dad think up names. She was quiet a minute before she said she thought the twins were going to be named Robin and Cyborg. She's a big Teen Titan fan, but I'll be plenty surprised if her mom has signed on for those names.

So here's some happiness quotes to keep you smiling on through the week.

  • Happiness is the only thing that multiplies by division.
  • A poor man can be happy; but a happy man isn't poor.
  • Show me an optimist, and I'll show you a happy-condriac.
  • Happiness is a form of courage.
  • Happiness has to be cranked up; trouble is a self-starter.
  • We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it. -- George Bernard Shaw
  • When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us. -- Helen Keller
  • The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for. -- Allan K. Chalmers

Now one last bit to keep you smiling even if you have to fill up your gas tank tomorrow. Somebody spotted this sign on an Amish buggy

Energy efficient vehicle - runs on oats and grass. Caution - Do not step in exhaust.

Hope you have much to be happy about this week and every week.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Outsider is Launched

Hey, everybody. Here it is Sunday again. Another week passed by and the calendar turned over to August. Has anybody told you how many days it is till Christmas? Well, don't expect me to talk about Christmas shopping in August! I do well to Christmas shop in December, although the way my family is growing, I should think about Christmas shopping in July.

No, the twins aren't here yet. The target birthdate is August 12th. By then we figure the babies will both weigh in at seven pounds. All you mothers groan a little for my daughter-in-law. She had that measuring and so forth done again last week and they're guessing one twin weighs six pounds and the other one six pounds and three ounces now. When she heard that, she just started crying. I mean she's glad the babies are healthy and growing. She just couldn't get her mind around carrying that much weight around for eleven more days. Not that many days now. I know she's counting off the days. So that's the twin update.

The work update is I'm trying to rush through to the end of the first draft of my current work in progress, The Believer. I keep telling myself it's time to ride off into the sunset or whatever, but so far I haven't gotten the sun to go down on the story. But the end is coming. I just have to figure out how a couple of things are going to happen. Or let my characters figure it out. Maybe if they do, they'll tell me what I need to write down.

I had my book launch for The Outsider at Corinth Christian Bookstore in Frankfort last Friday night. Thanks so much to everybody who came. It turned into a Shaker info session. I'm no expert, but I have read books by a lot of Shaker researchers. So I knew a few answers, but certainly not all the answers. I may have to study up on the Shakers some more before I have another question and answer session. But we had a fun time talking and sharing thoughts about the book. One person there had already read the story, so she was ready with her questions. I've gotten a few e-mails from others who've read it, and so far everybody's comments have been favorable.

Then I did the "Gathering of Authors" at Paul Sawyier Library on Saturday. Not many book buyers showed up, but all of us authors had a good time chatting and comparing notes. And of course, I had to buy one or two of their books. They all looked so interesting! I wanted to buy a dozen or so. I appreciate Rose and Alice stopping by to show their support. Alice even brought me some raspberry tea. Smuggled it in the library in her purse. I guess she didn't really have to smuggle it in since the great folks at the library had water and juice and all kinds of goodies for us to snack on. They'll be cleaning up doughnut and bagel crumbs for weeks. But it was sweet of Alice to think of me. I appreciated her thoughtfulness.

I do plan to have another local - as in Lawrenceburg - book event for The Outsider at the Anderson Public Library, but I haven't arranged a date as yet. I keep waiting for the twins to make their appearance. So it will probably be September even though both September and October are looking majorly busy. The Quartet Convention is in September along with my family reunion and then our church has Homecoming in October and so does the Patriot Quartet. My daughter is coming home for a visit in October and I'm scheduled to go to the book festival in West Virginia the next weekend in October. Plus there are a couple of grandkids birthdays in there to celebrate. And so on and so on. I was looking at my calendar to see when I might do some bookstore visits or signings, and I think I found an open spot about midnight on the second Tuesday after the first Monday. (LOL) And oh yeah, I didn't mention that deadline looming along in there somewhere. But I like being busy, don't you? Still I try to remember that quote I used to keep on my desk, but it's gotten lost now. It says something like it's not enough to just be busy. It's important what you're busy about. I want to busy about the right things, but I know that sometimes I just get busy.

Hope you are all busy about the right things and have a great week. We're supposed to have a scorcher here in Kentucky. It was nice today for August. 85 degrees and not too much humidity. But the rest of the week is supposed to be more like the weather I had in my book The Scent of Lilacs. Hot, hot, hot! I like using weather in my books. I haven't done that as much in this new book. We did have one snow that plays a part in the story, but that's all. The seasons, that is the time of the year, play more a part in this one.

Talk to you next week. Maybe I'll think up something funny for Wednesday.