Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Giveaway to Celebrate Scent of Lilacs & Grandmothers

Mom with one of her great-granddaughters

Every time I have a new book release or in the case of Scent of Lilacs re-released, I like celebrating with my reading friends. And what better way to celebrate than to give away some things?  

And what am I giving away?
Funny that you should ask since I was just about to tell you. A Grandmother’s Bible. Some of you may remember I did a giveaway with this Bible a couple of years ago, but so many people commented on really, really wanting to win it that I thought why not give another copy away? I’d been trying to think of something that would tie in with my book’s title, Scent of Lilacs. Maybe I should have hunted up a garden catalog and mailed the winner a lilac bush. That would have been neat, but then the winner might have lived in an apartment without a yard. With lilacs on my mind, I remembered that purple Grandmother’s Bible–a very lilac purple. Plus, in the story, Aunt Love is always trying to improve Jocie’s behavior by quoting Scripture to her. Not in a sweet, grandmotherly way, but verses from the Bible at any rate. 

So top prize in my new giveaway is a beautiful lilac leather-bound Bible (NIV) with all kinds of extras for grandmothers to help guide their grandchildren along the right paths in life. Two second place winners will get their choice of one of my books and a grab bag book by a different Christian author. And I haven’t forgotten those of you who say you never win. One by one, we’re changing that. If you tell me you never win when you send your entry, then I’ll enter you in a special drawing for a lilac scented candle and your choice of one of my books. To enter send me an e-mail from my website or leave a comment here. 

Since I’ve got two giveaways overlapping a bit here, you can leave that comment on this post and also scoot in at the last moment for an entry in my blog giveaway. Jocie on Hollyhill Book of the Strange will be shouting out the three winners of Scent of Lilac next Monday on her blog. Thanks to all of you who have made the month fun with your comments. Deadline for entering the new Scent of Lilacs celebration giveaway is midnight EST April 1, 2013. You must be eighteen to enter.

For fun, I invited you to tell me a grandmother story. You don’t have to in order to enter, and a bunch of you have loved telling me about your grandmothers. I haven’t gotten to read all your stories yet, but I will. Meanwhile, I have read a few to share with you tonight with the permission of the writers. So here goes.

First, can any of you top Mary’s grandmother in numbers? She says, When my grandmother passed away I was one of 101 grandchildren and she also left 103 great-grandchildren. I had 3 more children after she passed and I have lost count of all the cousins and great cousins in the family now. We have started having a Cousin's Luncheon every month, and try to get different cousins to come each month. There are just too many of us to get all together at once.”

Now if they all showed up, they’d have to reserve the whole restaurant and make sure it was a big one. My dad used to look around the table when we all got together and tell Mom “Just look what we started,” and there were only three of us girls and seven grandchildren.
Grandmothers can be teachers too as they help us learn as we grow. That’s plain in this story from Jeanne.
When I was growing up during my teenage years my mother opened a little dress shop and it seems like she was always at work.  We moved to be closer to her shop but since she worked long hours she just didn't feel like cooking when she got home and neither of my older sisters ever leaned how to cook.
My sister's were much older and I didn't like being alone at home so every day after school I would stop by my Gramma B’s little apartment for a "chat." As soon as I told her about "dinnertime" she told me not to worry that she'd teach me how to cook on her old coal stove - you know the kind - the ones that make the best cookies in the world!

During the days and weeks ahead she didn't teach me just how to cook. She also taught me that I had to learn how to do the things I needed to, as she said, "survive in this world." My Gramma taught me the important life lessons and she taught me to not only cook but to also sew. She taught me to be independent but to remember the importance of friends. Most important of all she taught me about tolerance, giving to others and helping those less fortunate. This was all taught me by a woman who had little in possessions or wealth. She taught me from the heart what was truly important in life.

Most of all she taught me to never think badly of others and I remember the day she inscribing in my bible - Never judge that ye be not judged -  and in parentheses after it "Always give everyone you meet a second chance."

I'm 65 now and I only hope that I am teaching my own grandchildren those important lessons as well and spending time in the kitchen with them teaching them how to bake.

That’s the way of grandmothers. Wisdom passed down from one generation to the next along with a lot of love. Some of those who’ve entered say they never had a grandmother, because of distance or death. But all of them have said how much they love being grandmothers now. For the last story this week, we hear from M.

When I was little my grandmother (knowing I liked chocolate) would take me grocery shopping with her. As we came to the checkout counter she would say, "I LOVE Hershey Bars but I couldn't possible eat a whole one. Would you share one with me?" Then she would open it, take one or two squares and hand me the rest. Eventually it dawned on me what she was doing. Even today when I see a Hershey Bar I think of her.  

I’m glad so many of you have loving memories to share with me. I’m looking forward to reading more of your grandmother stories in the days ahead. And if you haven’t entered, please do. Remember no story necessary to enter, but the stories are fun.

Also I’ll have a guest post on "Scattering Hope with a Smile" about Scent of Lilacs giving me "New Writing Hope." Leave a comment there on Jo's blog for another chance to win an autographed copy of Scent of Lilacs. I hope I'm not giving away so many books that nobody will have to buy one! :)

Thanks so much for reading and I hope these stories have made you remember how much you were loved by your grandmothers.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Saddest Times of Dementia

This is my beautiful mother enjoying her grandchildren forty years ago. At the time, she was younger than I am now and a very loving grandmother. The grandkids thought she was the best. She let them stand at the sink and wash dishes. She pretended to let them help her make doughnuts. She played Rummy with them and didn't always let them win. She had three more grandchildren after this picture was taken and loved them all as only grandmothers can. A good love. A "I believe in you" love. A "you can do anything you set your mind on" kind of love and support. That's a grandmother's job. To spoil a little. To love a lot. And to think grandbaby hugs are a gift without price.

But now she has dementia. Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. One place I looked said that one out of five people 80 and older have dementia. Then it went on to say that although elderly people suffer from dementia, it is not a normal process of aging. And yet, normal or not, it happens. People with dementia may not be able to think well enough to do things like getting dressed or eating. They may lose their ability to solve problems or control their emotions. Their personalities may change. They may become agitated or see things that are not there. Some of those things have happened to my mother.

Of all the things that do happen to a person with dementia, the worst is the agitation and unhappiness. Not all people who suffer dementia have the uneasy and sometime angry agitation, but many of them do. My husband's mother did not. My mother does. She does so want to "go home." Back to her childhood home. A house that is long gone. And then at other times, she simply wants her husband to show up. He was here just this morning, she'll say, but he didn't tell her where he was going. But a husband is supposed to be with his wife.  Or she saw him in town before she came to the house here. None of that has happened. Nor are there children in the house, but sometimes she needs to go home to see about the kids.

All that is sad. But the saddest thing is how she's forgotten her family. At least the family still living. She hasn't forgotten her parents and sisters who have passed, most years and years ago. She knows them in photos and doesn't seem to have a problem jumping from very old photos to newer ones. The ones she doesn't know are her children and grandchildren. Most of the time she knows me. Most of the time. But sometimes she wants to know where "the other Ann" is. Then there was the day I looked at a picture of her and her grandchildren taken three or four years ago and she knew herself but not them. I'd tell her their names and she'd smile as if remembering a grandkid hug.  But by the time we got to the last person in the picture, she was asking about the first one again. She does seem to remember the old pictures a little better. Or maybe baby pictures simply take her back to a better time and make her happier.

That day with the memories of her grandchildren buried deep under her dementia and no way to bring them back was a saddest day. For her and for me. I look out into the future and think of perhaps someday losing the precious memory of my own children and their children if my mind fades like mother's has. A saddest thought and one there's no reason to dwell upon. We can't predict who will suffer from dementia and who won't. We can hope for better treatments.

Right now, the only "treatment" that seems to help Mom is prayer. I appreciate all my friends who pray for her. My own prayer is that she will have peaceful days as we take it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time and try to make it through each of those worst times back to the not as bad times. The times when she's almost her old self and seems to remember the kids and their families. That day we were looking at their pictures, she kept wishing to see them. Whether she can remember their visits or not, she wants those times. As for me, I want to treasure the memories I have right now since none of us can know what tomorrow might bring.

On a happier note, the e-book version of  Words Spoken True is available for the low price of $2.99 on Kindle and Nook and $2.39 for e-readers on A great chance for you to give that book a try if you haven't read it. It's not free, but pretty cheap. It is a limited time offer so don't wait too long to check it out if you're interested. Also I'm getting ready to send out a newsletter tomorrow with a new giveaway to celebrate Scent of Lilacs being back in print with a new cover. Fun happenings. If you don't get the newsletter, I'll let you know about the giveaway on Wednesday - if I don't forget it's Wednesday the way I did last week. But I made up for it on Thursday. Or sign up for the newsletter on my website.

Thanks for reading. And remember you have three more chances to throw your name in the hat to perhaps win a copy of Scent of Lilacs. Leave a comment on this post or on Wednesday's post or on Jocie's blog tomorrow night and get another entry.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Penny for Your Thoughts

Yesterday was Wednesday. Oops, I'm just now remembering that was supposed to mean a post here on One Writer's Journal. So here I am a day late and a dollar short. Well, you never get a dollar's worth anyway, but maybe a penny's worth of this and that. A penny might not entice you to read on since a penny is so worthless these days that some people won't even lean down to pick one up off the ground and clerks wave you out the door if you start digging in your change purse for that one penny extra you owe.

Once upon a time, a penny was worth something. It was actually made out of copper as early as 1793, but over the years the copper content kept shrinking until it has almost  disappeared. A penny contains 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper to give them their distinctive copper color. It isn’t only the copper content that has shrunk since the early pennies, but the whole penny. The original one-cent coin was five times heavier and almost half again as large as our pennies today.  

Of course, a penny probably could buy something back when it was the first currency of any type authorized by the U.S. government. And at the risk of all of you deciding I’m ancient, I admit that I remember when a penny could buy something. A piece of Double Bubble gum. A Dum Dum sucker. Some time on the parking meter. Five pennies would get you a pretty big candy bar if you had a sweet tooth. Twenty-six of them would buy a gallon of gas.  

Some think the penny has played its role and should be phased out, but an overwhelming majority of Americans want to keep the penny. A 2012 poll found over two-thirds of those surveyed wanted to keep the penny even if it has cost more to produce it than its face value since 2006. In 2011, it cost 2.41 cents to make a penny. That’s probably gone up now. But we love our pennies. 

We even think finding a penny is lucky. Did you ever hear "Find a penny, pick it up, and all the day you'll have good luck?" Then there’s the phrase “a penny for your thoughts.” That was first found in a 1547 collection of contemporary English phrases compiled by John Heywood. And don't forget about giving people your “two cents” worth - advice or opinion. Double that penny for your thoughts. 

Now some claim to find pennies from heaven. It’s a comfort to them after someone they love dies when they find pennies in unusual places as though the coin was planted there just for them. Pennies from heaven. 

Pennies are part of our history. For over two centuries, the penny’s design has symbolized the spirit of the nation, from Liberty to Lincoln. Since 1787, over 300 billion pennies with eleven different designs have been minted. Now the 2010 Lincoln penny symbolizes President Lincoln’s preservation of the United States as a single and united country.
So thanks for reading and maybe I’ll remember it’s Wednesday next week. Meanwhile, if you find a penny, you better pick it up and put it in your pocket. You give it to someone like me and you might get more than your penny's worth of thoughts.

How do you feel about the penny? Is it here to stay? Have you found pennies from heaven?

Remember, leave a comment before March 1 to be entered into the drawing for Scent of Lilacs.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Editing Down to the Interesting Bits

"I'm a big fan of editing and keeping only the interesting bits in." Sarah Vowell
I finished up the editing on the galleys of my Rosey Corner book, Small Town Girl, that will be released in July. Publishing a book with a traditional publisher is often a slow and exacting process. I know there are ways now that a writer can write a story and have it in front of the public in days. Maybe hours as they upload to the net and have the story available for download almost immediately. I've been told it's not even that hard once you get a few of the basics down. But I still prefer the traditional publishing route. I like that editors are double checking my stories and making sure my words make sense. Of course, conscientious writers can hire editors to make sure their work is polished before it goes live online. That's always a good idea.
So that's what I did last week. Polished. Corrected. Made my words easier on the readers' eyes. Gave the story a word by word look over to attempt to make it the best it can be. At least, that's the aim and with great editors it has a better chance of happening. Fresh eyes, eyes that haven't been living with the story and reading it over and over can very often note things that a writer misses. Have you ever typed something - a report, an e-mail, or maybe a Facebook comment - and think you've done it without error? You may have even proofed it, but then you hit the send button and all at once a glaring error pops out at you.
That's why it helps to work over the galleys to eliminate those glaring errors. I had one in this book. I changed the name of a character from one paragraph to the next. She was a minor character, but she definitely needed to keep the same name all through her few moments on screen! My copy editor didn't catch that either. But the good thing is that this isn't the final read through. Next out are the pages when the writer watches for typos and little errors. Can't make big changes at this stage, but a wrong name could be changed. Anyway, that's why it's good to dig into the galleys and make sure I've eliminated all the unnecessary words and only kept the interesting parts. You can see in the illustration that I did do some changing. I probably could find things to change until the cows come home, (if you're a farmer, you know getting the cows home isn't always easy.) But then no new stories would get written. So there comes a time when you send it back to the editors and hope you've fixed the things that needed fixing and didn't fix things that didn't need fixing.
With this story, I had my pet word as always. I have worn out a number of pet words. "Just" is still a favorite. And I do love "still." "Of course" popped up in my book before this one. But this time it was "before."  What's so wrong with "before?" I wondered that as well, but when you use it four or five times in two or three paragraphs, a pet word has surfaced. So I had to find ways to get rid of a lot of befores. I have found the delete key to be a great aid in editing.
"Editing is the same as quarreling with writers - same thing exactly." Harold Ross
Mr. Ross might be right about this for some books, but I never feel as if the editor and I are quarreling. Not most of the time, anyway. Instead we're working in tandem to make my book the best it can be. I like editors. I even like editing most of the time.
Remember I'll be drawing three winners in a couple of weeks for my blog giveaway. Enter by leaving a comment here or on Jocie's Hollyhill blog,  One entry per comment on different posts.
Watch for my newsletter. Hope to get one sent out next week with details about a giveaway to celebrate Scent of Lilacs being available again. Thinking something lilac color. If you're not signed up for the newsletter, that easy to do. Just go to my website and click on the newsletter link.
As always, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentines and Hearts

Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination.” – Voltaire 

What would life be without love? Isn't it great that we have a day set aside to celebrate love? In of all months, February. That month of the year when those of us in the northern hemisphere are beginning to be weary of winter. The month when the skies are often gray, when sometimes snow buries us and keeps us housebound. The month when you can schedule happenings, but you always have to wonder if those things will really happen on the day you plan or if old man winter will interfere. 

February is the shortest month because the good Lord realized that by this time in winter, we were ready to race on to spring. In fact it could be Jim Gaffigan has February figured out in his quote. "Without Valentine's Day, February would be... well, January."  So we can be glad for Valentine's Day.

The flower shops, greeting card companies, and candy makers are surely glad for Valentine's Day. Rose growers too. Roses will grace many desks and tables tomorrow. Red roses are the romantic choice. Chocolates in heart shaped boxes will be the language of love although I've always thought a sweetheart who knows your favorite candy bar and gets two or three of those instead has saved some money and yet scored some romantic points for knowing what his girl loves best. Chocolate covered strawberries will be the gift of choice in some households. And the restaurants will be busy. In a nearby town, a Waffle House even gets into the romantic mood with tablecloths and candles on the table and the servers dressed up for the night. 

But Valentine's Day isn't just for romantic couples. School kids get to have parties and candy. That was always my favorite party to help with when I was a room mother for my kids. Since all the kids got cards from everyone in the room, they could all feel popular on that day. Older folks who may have lost their spouses or perhaps were never married can appreciate a call or a card too. My thoughtful husband bought his 94 year old aunt an orchid. I know she'll love the flower and even more the visit when he delivers it to her.

Love puts the fun in together, the sad in apart, and the joy in a heart.  ~Author Unknown

So I'm wishing you a day when you have joy in your heart. A day when the memory of loves past or present will keep you smiling. A day when if no one brings you a flower or chocolate, you buy one for yourself. A day when you tell those you love that yes, you do love them. What makes you feel loved?

Now I need to get back to the edits on my book, Small Town Girl, scheduled for release in July. It has a lot of love in it. Love makes the stories go around. Thanks for reading. And remember a comment gets you another entry into my giveaway. I've enjoyed all your comments so far this month.