Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Celebrate Your Strengths

I wish I had understood my bent for writing years ago. Perhaps I would have not been so backward about developing my talent. There was no internet, no writing group, no way of finding those other special people like you. You writers know what I'm talking about. The rest of you will just have to hang in here and hear me out. I thought I was weird. I thought I was the only one. I lived inside my head for many years--afraid to say what was burning in my mind.

Everyone talked about how shy I was, how quiet in public. And I was. To this day I find it hard to relax in public scenarios. I am constantly interpreting the signals people send me. Sometimes I get them wrong. I was wrong about how different I perceived myself to be. I was wrong in thinking that because I was different no one would want to hear what I had to say. I was wrong in thinking that because I loved literature and art and music that people would find me geekish and boring. Of course, some of you do. And I can truly say now, that's okay.

My sisters will tell you that the three of us are the way we are because we came from a dysfunctional family. We have been told that, other than favoring each other a bit, we are nothing alike. That's probably a good thing.

My older sister is the mechanically inclined, outgoing, and outspoken one. She is a medical lab technician, who not only can run all sorts of blood tests and interpret them, but when the machines fail her, she takes them apart and fixes them -- million dollar pieces of equipment. She also went to Bible college, and is extremely learned in the Scriptures. She has no problem preparing a lesson or sermon and giving it. If she has an opinion on something, you will know it.

My baby sister is a homemaker with an eye for beauty and decor. She is a licensed beautician -- complete with the prerequisite listening skills and wonderful sense of humor we all require in ours. Her laughter is infectious. She also is adept at making beautiful floral arrangements and wraps the prettiest present you will ever see. And you will never put a finer chocolate or coconut cream pie in your mouth than the one she makes. They're the best, bar none.

I, on the other hand, could not fix a lawnmower if my life depended upon it. I have worn my hair short most of my 40 years because I could not fix it either. I despise public speaking, wrapping presents, and my meals for the most part come out of boxes and cans. I spent my childhood reading. When it came time to choose a major in college, there were so many I wanted to choose, that I made no choice until my Junior year. That's when I realized I had racked up so many English and Psychology courses that that had to be it. English was my major. I loved to learn. I wanted to major in everything. If I had my way, I would still be sitting in a classroom soaking up the knowledge. I lived for the pressure of deadlines and exams. I excel under pressure.

I always knew I was a writer. I just never thought anyone would want to read what I had written. Family would beg to read some of my work, and I would shrug them off. What if they didn't like it? What if they thought it sentimental hogwash? What if they made fun of it?
It has taken me many, many years to overcome those feelings and be able to say to myself, "So what!" I still want to write. I still have something to say. They're my words, my thoughts, and my babies. And thank goodness, one of my babies is close to being birthed. I can't wait to celebrate it!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Is This Better?

Guess what? IT'S FIXED! Guess how I did it. Well, except for one thing. Now the corner banner is on the sidebar, but I guess that will make someone happy, even though it was unintentional. Wink. I got this idea to create a new blog with the same background. I created it, but made no entries, went to its template, copied and pasted it into a notepad. Then, since I did not want to lose my sitemeter, I copied the code for it into this new template. (Thank you Molicious!) I copied all the ring codes and link codes into this template as well. Then I pasted it into my old blog's template spot and previewed before saving the settings. When I previewed it, everything was back to normal. So, my guess is that I had taken out something that was vital to the formatting that has been put back with the new one. Don't know how the corner banner got moved, but not complaining since it caused a problem for some. And it looks just as well I guess. We could take it out completely and be just as well. I did notice that I had lost my Oncewritten writing contest dates, but I don't really have to have them. Happy, happy, happy.

Trips, Taxes, and Taps

Today's post is coming to you from a motel room in Memphis, Tennessee. Hubby is in training this week for a new sales position. It's another commission only job, but that's okay. Right now we can't worry about benefits; we just need income. Hopefully he will be successful enough to purchase insurance for us. He will be selling pools and spas, and he thinks that this is going to be a chance for him to make good money. I hope so. It should be pretty easy to sell pools as hot as it is already. LOL. And if he's really good, maybe I can get one of those spas at cost. Wouldn't that be fun!

CWGIII and I are hanging out in the room and at the pool. I brought my laptop and have been able to do my transcription today, which is a great plus to having a "virtual" job. I really love the flexibility this is affording me. If I had a traditional 9-5, we couldn't do this. Plus I got to do some fact checking for the early chapters of the book that were set in Memphis. So, it's a working trip all around.

Here's my question, and I hope we have some writers out there that can answer this. When tracking your expenses for tax purposes and deductions, what can you deduct? My husband says to save all receipts related to my writing and transcription -- especially the transcription since it is a home-based business. But isn't the writing as well? Do I have two separate businesses going? Is there any need to track writing expenses until I actually start getting money from it? He says that the we approach the writing like the transcription. I'm contracting for myself on the writing part, and therefore it's my business as well. So, if that's the case, can the mileage for these research trips be deducted? And if I don't make any money writing, am I operating at a loss as far as the IRS is concerned? The transcription business is much more cut and dried. I believe I can deduct my postage, supplies, equipment, and even a portion of the electric bill since I use my home as my office. Anyone have any experience with this?

Next question: Where is the most affordable place to purchase a quality desktop pc? I have worn the letters off of this laptop, and it's only three years old. I need enough memory to do the high speed file transfers for the transcription and the digital audio files. Other than that, we don't use our computers for gaming. ( At least we haven't yet. I do have an up and coming computer user.) I'm also deathly afraid of this used hard drive going out on me with all these important files on it. I back up to disk quite frequently. But if it crashes, I have no back up computer. And right now, my computer is my income. I laugh and tell my hubby not to touch it! But of course, he doesn't listen. You should see him trying to hunt and peck for the letters without the actual letters being there for him to see. It is so funny. Evidently the letters I use the most are s, i, e, n, m, and c. I'll file that information away for use if I ever get on Wheel of Fortune. (LOL)

Hope you all are enjoying your Memorial Day. I'd like to send out a heartfelt "Thank You" to all of you who serve in our military at home and abroad. I could not do what you do, and I so appreciate your sacrifice to ensure our country's safety. It takes a special person to enlist and serve. Veterans, you are #1 on my list. We owe a great debt of gratitude to you. You have brought us through some harrowing times. May God's blessings be upon you. Let's not forget to pray for our servicemen and their families. When they grieve, it affects us all. When they rejoice, we all rejoice. Let's pray for an end to our tour in Iraq. I'm ready to hear taps played over this war. Our children need their mommys and daddys at home. Can you say, "AMEN!"

Saturday, May 27, 2006


At 2:00 a.m. this morning I jotted down my thoughts for the final chapter. No, I'm no there yet, but I have to get it down when it comes to me, or else it's lost forever. Yes, I said 2 a.m. Insomnia again -- just too wound up to sleep. I've been very productive this week.

I read Francine Rivers's (Looked that up, and there are varying opinions on the rules for possessive proper names that end in S. What's your opinion?) Redeeming Love in one night, and it's over 400 pages. What a beautiful story! Terry Whalin recommended I read it to see how delicate subjects are treated by a pro. I was not disappointed. Thanks for the heads up! I also discovered why she has so many books in print. This book will blow you away.

I haven't been able to read much of the newer selections because of my budget lately. All the new releases are checked out quickly at the library. I have to want a book very badly to purchase it these days with all the other needs my family has. This book was well worth the purchase price as I am sure I will reread it many times. Some would argue that I should sell off some of my collection, seeing that times are hard, but there's no way I can part with my babies. Books have been my solace all my life. I can open a book from the past and vivid memories flood back over me. They are part of me. If a book measures up to my standards enough to earn a place in my home, then you can bet it's a worthwhile read. Life is too short for trash. (Okay, so I've been known to read what I call "trash" mags. You know, those gossip rags. But rarely do I buy them; I get hand-me-downs. I will not tell you who DOES buy them, but her initials are K.K. LOL. I will concede that they have their place as frivolous entertainment. I justify it as "laughter doeth good like a medicine." Have you seen those "worst-dressed" celebrities? Gives me hope.) But see, I'm veering off my point. Which is, let me see, what was ?

Oh, it was great books. Get Redeeming Love. You will love it!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Finally Friday

We lost another tree in the storms last night; it got pretty rough around here. We were without power for several hours as the a line of thunderstorms battered the county. It was like a fireworks show outside our home. We live out in the county, and between lightning strikes it was pitch black. Poor Maggie. Not only is she scared of storms, but we've discovered she must be scared of the dark too, because she hated it in the laundry room. She's usually satisfied to be inside, so we figured it must have been the dark.

CWG, Jr. had brought home a party sub and chips, and we ate supper by candlelight. We found a battery operated transister in my son's room that we managed to get the weather reports on. I rummaged in all the drawers for batteries to the weather radio I had stashed in the closet, but to no avail. So much for emergency preparedness. Even the flashlight batteries were run down. You should have seen me padding around barefoot in the garage trying to find it. Then it dawned on CWG, Jr. to open the car door, duh. Instant garage light. LOL.

I was lost without my electronics. I couldn't turn the television on to get the latest radar reports. I couldn't log on to weatherbug; I couldn't even call my family there for awhile. Water must have gotten in the phone lines. Our main phone was dead, and our cell phones had no signal. We were basically just sitting ducks. Well after midnight, my six-year-old finally settled down at the foot of our bed. We prayed that angels would surround our home and keep it together. We prayed that God would keep the trees from falling on our home. We prayed that he would keep all our family safe. After a few short hours of sleep, we awoke to find that God had been faithful to answer our prayers.

We got my father-in-law back home from rehab today. He is a lot stronger, and his mind seems clear today. Today is his 77th birthday, so we're going over in a just a bit to have cake and ice cream with him. Keep praying for him. A few years back my husband had a talk with him about his spiritual condition, and Dad assured him that he had made his peace with God. Yet, while in the nursing home he had mentioned on more than one occasion about just ending it all. I think he feels useless and helpless. I'm sure that being in skilled nursing days on end did not help his depression. He seemed satisfied to be getting back to his recliner. Still, CNA's are hard to come by, and I have my doubts about how long this will last. It's not my decision though. It's his children's. We're taking it all one day at a time.

After that, CWGIII has a t-ball game, and I can just imagine what he will look like when it's over. The sun has shone all day, but the field is bound to be still muddy. Thank goodness they are taking the pictures before the game. So it's been a busy day. (I typed all day yesterday, transcribed 118 pages. But I'm not complaining, no way. THANK YOU GOD FOR THE WORK!!)

And what are you all up to? Big plans for the holiday? Somebody grill me a big steak!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

This N That

Okay, I'm thinking all the dead space is because I deleted a post. Remember the one with all the recommended sites before all the trouble began? I thought it had something to do with the links, so I erased it. I noticed there is space on the left sidebar in my links list as well. Those are where I deleted some links. I looked at the template, and there's no spaces on the template. I have no idea how to fix that. I think for now I'm going to just keep posting. I've lost enough time fiddling with something that should not be that difficult. When I built my page on tripod, it was effortless. You could add pictures and items using buttons. You didn't have to go into a template. I think Blogger should work on that for us, as it is getting to be quite annoying. But anyway, let me update you on other things.

Physical therapy says my father-in-law is ready to come home. The social worker agrees that he is too active for the nursing home, but will need supervision if he stays at home. Home health does not come every day, so we are going to have to try to find sitters, which will be no easy task for round the clock. The alternative is to move him in here or an assisted living facility. My grandmother loves her assisted living apartment. I think it's the best thing we ever did. She rides her scooter down to the lobby and works jigsaw puzzles with her friends. They have potlucks, bingo, and yard sales. She has the benefit of having people check on her daily. I'm not sure Dad would go along with the idea. He wants to be home. And I know I would feel the same way. Pray that the right decisions will be made.

I'm still getting transcription work, though not as much as I would like. It's more like part-time. Hubby still hasn't gotten a job, although he is interviewing every week. Can't fault him for trying. We can't access his 401k until July because of the 90 day waiting period. He is doing odd jobs like mystery shopping and merchandising and product sampling, whatever he can find on the internet to keep us afloat. Mystery shopping is checking up on stores to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to do; merchandising is pricing product, putting it out, and ordering more; and product sampling is buying product and shipping it to a company for quality assurance testing.

CWGIII is doing great with his t-ball, and the today's the last day of school. He's no longer a kindergartner. Sniff, sniff. Before you know it he will be driving and dating, and then talk about nervous breakdowns for mommy! His teacher bragged on him yesterday. She gave him the best humor award and told me he was going to be a politician one day. She said, "he has got to be the joy of your life." And I wholeheartedly agree. I couldn't have asked for a better son.
Whenever I do get aggravated at him, I have to stop and think, "Now wait a minute, you're just like that yourself." Maybe that's why I get aggravated, because I see my own faults. I do see myself in him a lot. He's like a little old man sometimes, old before his time. I think it has a lot to do with being raised by older parents and being an only child. I hope I haven't ruined him too much.

Well, guess I better sign off and get back to that novel. Someone's waiting to be rescued. Will check in on your blogs later today. I love reading your posts. Dave T, hang in there with those doctor appointments, and do what they say! If y'all haven't visited Dave's blog, run over there and see him. He has the cutest little dog. And I enjoy reading Mikeylikey's too. Always good to get a man's perspective on things. You'll like his blog too. See ya later guys.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Spittin' Mad

Ok. I've spent two hours trying to get the comments off the main page. I've tried inserting the ItemPage tag in the template, but I must be inserting it in the wrong place. I'm frustrated. I want my blog back to normal. There's got to be an easier way of doing this. I almost started a brand new blog, but I hate to have to redirect traffic and lose my stats from this one. I'm aggravated to say the least. If I pick a new template, will it save all my posts and comments? What will I lose, my links and rings? I wish I had just left well enough alone instead of adding all the cute stuff. I just thought that posts only were so blah. Now I've wasted two hours of writing time on this. Makes me want to go back to paper and pen. Sigh. How's your day going?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Monday Musings

I have the aternoon to myself for a change, and what do I do, I spend it fiddling with my blogger template. It's not exactly fixed, but better than it was. There's still a huge amount of space between the post below this one and the one that follows. I'm hoping it will straighten itself out after several posts. Or at least push them onto another page. Sigh. If it's not one thing it's another.

Anyway, I spent the morning working on my novel; it's getting there. I'm hoping I can tie up all the loose ends in this last third. I wanted to have the first draft done by June 1, so the clock is ticking. I'm pleased with the progress I've made so far. I think it's safe to say that there are plenty of cliffhangers to keep me busy. However, the last day of school is Wednesday, and then I'll have CWGIII home while I try to write and work, so it will be a juggling act. I do plan on enjoying the summer with him, so I may be putting in some long hours at night. What do you do when the story is running rampant in your brain, fighting to get out, gnawing at your consciousness til you think you're going to scream if you don't get back to it? My sister was right. Until I get this novel done, I'm livin' in a fantasy world. She thinks it's a coping mechanism. I think it's me fighting to become who I was meant to be. What do you think?

I've also been tinkering with my writing method -- changing the location of my work space and the atmosphere. I haven't tried writing with mood music, which I read some other authors do. Somehow I don't think the theme music to General Hospital counts. In general, my best work comes with complete silence and my laptop out of sight of any scenery or exterior distractions, which is very difficult to achieve during the daytime. Today I'm writing from the den, with a t.v. tray serving as a makeshift desk. Usually I have a cup of coffee, sometimes two, to fuel the plot.

It's almost impossible to try to write when the family is home. One wants my attention, which he well deserves; the other wants the computer, which I reluctantly surrender with a grudge.
I find myself shhshing them when they interrupt me at critical points, then feeling guilty about it later. I know that to them it is a hobby --a sideline, fun time for mommy. I know that I am the only one that is taking this seriously, maybe even too seriously. I got my family. I got my home. Now I just want the dream. Is that so bad? If Beneath the Ivy Wreath is ...the frustrating rollercoaster of a middle class mother's struggle to keep her sanity while attempting to establish herself as a serious writer and juggle her hopes and dreams to the backdrop of her daily grind, then what do you call my work in progress? --I can't wait to call it "finished." Stay tuned friends.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

More Tech Troubles

Be patient with me. I'm tinkering and stubborn. I WILL get this fixed!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Tech Issues

Help! My posts have been pushed down to the bottom of the page. What causes this, and how do I fix it? I don't post pictures...well, not much. And I hate fooling with my template. Will it correct itself in time? I hate visiting blogs and having to scroll down to find the posts. I wish I had an original template too. Anyone got any suggestions? I would love to learn how to design one. I would love to have a big ivy wreath in the middle of the banner with ivy flowing out from each side. Someone tell me how. I would also like the title in a different font, something classic and beautiful, maybe calligraphy. Maybe I'm getting bored with the look. I just don't have time to figure out how to fix it. I see so many pretty blogs. I want a unique one, I whine. After all, I've gotten past the 2,000 visit mark! YESSSS!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Another One's Made it Home

My heart is heavy tonight as I write. Another traffic accident has claimed the life of another family member-- this time on my side of the family. My mom's first cousin, Rachel was taking her great grandson to school when a car ran the stop sign at an intersection and ended her life. She was 69. Thankfully, her great-grandson, 5, survived with bruises and seatbelt burns. Needless to say we are all in shock tonight.

Rachel was the type of person that was a nurturer. She loved to be of service to people. She loved encouraging people. Every year since my mom passed away in 2001, she has sent me and my sisters a card in memory of my Mom's birthday, which is coming up, May 23. When my sister got to Rachel's home this evening, the family showed her a piece of paper with some of Rachel's printed words that talked of her love for my mom and decision to do this for us three sisters. It was a journal entry of sorts. They said it was lying out with some other things at Rachel's home. I cried when I realized that she had brought it out as a reminder to send the cards this year. The family had no idea she had been doing this annually.

I spoke with both my sisters today and another cousin, and we talked about different things we loved and admired about Rachel. We all had the same memories of her big old purse she always carried. No matter what you needed, she could usually pull it from that purse. Ready for anything. Rachel raised six children; I suppose it was imperative to be prepared. Kerry laughed and said that she always thought that big straw purse was bottomless. Every year at the Strawberry Festival, Rachel packed drinks and snacks for all of us children. We were counted right along with her six. Most afternoons after school we congregated at her house waiting to be picked up by mom. I remember being at Rachel's home when my baby sister was born. I remember them holding the phone up to my ear and letting me hear them tell me it was a girl. I once spent three days during a snowstorm at Rachel and Neal's home, and I remember being tucked in at night with warm blankets by her -- even though I was 18 at the time.

Back when my mom was very young, she and Rachel and another cousin, Robbie, used to sing together. One song, in particular, that I remember my mom saying they sang was an old Southern gospel song, "I'm Feelin' Fine." The first thing my husband said when I got off the phone in tears this morning was, " What's that song Nanny and she used to sing? They're singing it now." My cousin Tim said nearly the same thing. He said when he and his sister talked, his sister Shelley remarked, "We know where she is. And can't you just hear Aunt Nancy sayin', "Well, here comes Rachel." Yes, Rachie and Mama are having a grand reunion. My grandmother said, "We can't question God," after she was told. (My grandmother has been through many tragedies, including outliving her husband and two of her three children, and is one of the strongest women I have ever known.)

It's hard not to question God after something like this. We can't imagine what good could come from a family losing such a precious treasure. We long to turn the clock back so we can say what we left unsaid, or just to hug them one more time. We never know from one second to the next what life will have in store for us. It is imperative that we keep our hearts and minds on our purpose, our ministry, and our God. My Aunt Ramona said that she had just seen Rachel last night at the Mother/Daughter banquet at the church. I'd like to leave you with this thought that was the theme of their banquet last night: "What Kind of Legacy are you Leaving Behind?"

Monday, May 15, 2006


Hope everyone had a great weekend. It is now 1:45 a.m., and I can't sleep. I've been writing and reading blogs out here in bloggyland. Evidently I'm not the only one with insomnia, because I noticed some of you are posting at this hour as well. That's the great thing about the internet. It connects all time zones and countries. You're never at a loss for reading material, and if you don't like what you read on someone's blog, you don't have to stay or pretend interest.

A lot of blogs, I noticed, are full of beautiful digital images. I don't own a digital camera, but I do have a scanner. Some day maybe I'll take the time to scan some photos in for you all, but being the lazy blogger I am, I doubt it will be anytime soon. I did get a wonderful photo of my son yesterday for Mother's Day, and another beautiful portrait of my nephew, who finally has hair!
I just wish I could get all my photos in those albums in the closet. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just wave a magic wand and that be done...among other things.

I did get that little research trip taken care of over the weekend. CWGIII had a sleepover at school to end the year, so hubby and I mosied on over to Perry County. I had to laugh when I saw the town. Alot had changed in twenty years. I've been writing on eighteen year old memories. I was glad I made the trip so that I could change some little details that most people would never realize were incorrect. Imagine my surprise to find that the little one horse town now had a Dollar General, a Fred's, and a Sonic, not to mention THREE stoplights. Two of the landmarks I mention in the novel are no longer there at all. One has been replaced by a bank, and the other is an empty gravel lot. Sigh. But does it really matter? Those two details do not have much bearing on my story, but anyone that is from that area would know how dated my details were. My little apartment was still there, and hubby and I speculated on how much the rent had gone up from my measley 200 dollars a month in 1988. I imagine quite a bit.

Alas, time marches on and effects almost every aspect of our lives. The one bonus of getting older is that you don't require near as much sleep. It's a good thing too, or else my wip might never get finished. Good night all. Wake me up early...and don't forget the coffee. I take mine black.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

I lost my mother to breast cancer in 2001; she was 61. My son was only 18 months old, so he remembers her from pictures and stories we tell him. They were good buddies. Some of the last pictures we have of my mom are her in her recliner holding my baby and feeding him fruit snacks. She loved children, not just mine, but all children. Her entire life was devoted to her husband, her children, and the care of other children. Although her proper name was Nancy, the children at the daycare where she worked dubbed her "Nanny," and it stuck. Mother loved caring for people of any age.

In fact, my mother was accepted to a nursing school in Memphis, but ended up marrying my dad right out of high school. Gossipers thought she had gotten in trouble, but Mama just was so in love with Daddy and ready to start a family that she chose that dream over nursing. In the end she ended up nursing my dad for nearly six years. He died at 51 with a rare disease that caused deterioration of his brain resulting in symptoms much like Alzheimers. She never left his side.

After Daddy died, his disability benefits ended, and my mom went back to work. She was a homemaker for most of her married life. I was twelve years old when she started work outside the home to supplement Dad's income. She did substitute teaching, was a cafeteria aid, worked in a local factory, and sat with the sick and elderly. After daddy got sick, she stayed home and cared for him, choosing to do so after he was placed in a mental health institute for two weeks. These institutions have their place in society, but mom would have none of it. She cared for her childhood sweetheart the rest of his days. After his death she gained employment as a caregiver in a nearby daycare. She and my younger sister cared for the infants. It was a ministry that she carried out faithfully...even after her first bout with cancer in 1997. She cared for many babies and children in the four years after her first recovery. But the cancer returned in May of 2001. By August we had lost this precious soul. Her work on earth finished.

Mom had this to say about Daddy: “When I met Carl he was about 8 years old and I was about 10 years old. Lois and Harold started to church then. When I was about 12, he was 10, he started talking to me and bringing me gum to church. I finally told him I was just too old for him, but he didn’t give up easily. He began courting me. He was 15. I was 17. I began dating him and he took my heart and we never looked back. We married May 22, 1959. He was 17 and I was 19 on May 23rd. I loved him dearly. (The day Mom died, we found her journal and Bible and used her notes to draft her euology. ) When I was young I just wanted to do anything to get out of the cotton patch. When I was in high school I wanted to be a nurse. I applied to the nursing program at Baptist Hospital in Memphis. I received a letter to come and enroll. By this time Carl and I were getting serious. So I just decided not to go. When I married I just wanted to be a good wife and mother. I stayed home with you girls. I was saved when I was 10 and rededicated at 13. I wanted to be a good Christian wife and mother. I believe I have been able to fulfill all three of these to some pleasing degree."

On April 22, 1997 this was written in her journal and phrases underlined in her devotional.
“I know now that I have breast cancer—a sad day for me and my loved ones. But look at my day’s devotion. Praise the Lord!

“You shall not be afraid because of the terror by night. Psalm 91:5. What is this terror? It may be the cry of fire, or the noise of thieves, or fancied appearances, or the shriek of sudden sickness or death. We live in the world of death and sorrow. We may therefore look for the ills as well in the night watches as beneath the glare of the broiling sun. Nor should this alarm us for be the terror what it may, the promise is that the believer shall not be afraid. Why should he be? God our Father is here and he will be here all through the lonely hours. He is an Almighty watcher, a sleepless guardian, a faithful friend, nothing can happen without his direction, for even hell itself is under His control. Darkness is not dark to him. He has promised a wall of fire around his people and who can break through such a barrier. It may be night in the soul. But there need be no terror, for the God of love changes not. Children of light may walk in darkness, but they are not therefore cast away. No, they are now enabled to prove their adoption by trusting in their heavenly Father.” ( I do not have the author's name that penned this devotional. In fact, I do not even have the devotional. I give them all credit for these beautiful words. If any of you can find the author, I'd be glad to supply their name.)

In another entry she says: "I loved to go to church; I enjoyed the Bible stories we had in Sunday School. The ones that made an impression on me were the Three Hebrew Children in the Fiery Furnace; Daniel in the Lion’s Den, and David and the Giant. I was not baptized until I was thirteen years old. I had rededicated my life to the Lord. The whole family had gotten saved. There was a very big group of all ages who were baptized that same Sunday at Henderson Lake near Gadsden."

All through my mom's cancer, she would repeatedly say she had the peace that passed understanding. She placed her life in His hands and trusted in His ability to keep watch over her. She was not afraid. The Lord told her her experience would be unique. And it was. The doctors scratched their heads, perplexed at her lack of pain. Out of the month she was home from the hospital, there were only three days that she took pain medicine. She witnessed to everyone she came in contact with about the goodness of God. Over and over she repeated how God had blessed her and given her peace. She was not worried. Or fretful. She came through the trial of fire just like the Hebrew children in her favorite story. He was with her there, and He is with her now on the other side.

Mama's goal in life was to be a good wife and mother and to serve God with all her heart. I believe she ran her race like the Olympian champion she was. She ran with the faith and strength her Lord provided. She gave every ounce of her being to the love and care of others. I can only hope to become the kind of mother she was to me. What a legacy she left.
Well done, Mama. Well done.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Small Bumps and Huge Hurdles

Having spent the better part of the last two days trying to troubleshoot major computer problems, I almost drug out that dusty typewriter in the garage. Something has been causing power surges that cause the hard drive to slow to a crawl and eventually lock up. I feared the worst. Last year my hard drive crashed, and the first and only time I paid for computer help, the tech installed a used drive in its place. (It's what I could afford at the time.) Now I was beginning to wonder if its day had come too.

After about the hundredth reboot, you begin to feel an insane rage creep upon you. How dare the computer fail you now-- now when your Muse is so heavy and faithful, now when you're in the homestretch and full of inspiration. It was depressing, to say the least. But, as you can tell, my perserverance paid off. Only problem is, I don't really know which fix finally fixed the crazy thing. All I know is it seems to be functioning normally now. What a relief! I wouldn't dare slander a certain manufacturer or software company, but my hunch is it had something to do with updates and upgrades, not a virus as I originally thought.

The good news is I'm back and better than ever. Two nights of staying up til 2 a.m. worrying about how I was going to do my transcription and praying feverishly paid off in more ways than just a fixed computer. I would take breaks as the computer rebooted and think about new chapters. My two magazines came this week, "The Writer" and "The Writer's Digest," and I devoured them completely. I also bought a copy of the revised version of How to Write and Sell Your First Novel, by Oscar Collier with Frances Spatz Leighton. After finishing it late this morning, I couldn't be more pumped about my novel.

I have to say, as I stood in the Christian Fiction aisle at Books a Million, I felt a cold chill run down my spine and down to my fingertips as I perused the selections. I cradled Francine Rivers books as though they were gold. I read blurbs from the backs and inside covers. I checked for length and publishers. I admired the covers with great envy. As any other aspiring writer has done, I envisioned my byline glaring up from me, "C. H. Green," or some other variation of it. It was the first time in my entire life that I actually allowed myself to believe the dream.

So, now that I'm past that hurdle and the technical computer challenge, I'm ready to forge ahead, and soon I hope to announce the first rough draft finished and ready for rewrite. Lord willing, as my granny says. Lord willing.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Mundane Maintenance And A Little Bit of Magic

I've updated my Novel Progress graph to reflect a more realistic goal. I've gotten another chapter written this morning, and I think I'm going to rest a bit. I've had quite a day.

This morning I wrote until 11:00 a.m., and then hubby and I got out and started mowing. Our yard had really gotten out of control because of our neglect the last week. A few days before my father-in-law got sick, my brother-in-law had brought his chainsaw and cut up several dead trees that had fallen as a result of the tornadoes and heavy storms we've had lately. The piles of lumber have been lying in the yard ever since. Well, this morning I decided was the best day to tackle it, since the temperature was fairly mild. We should have started earlier, though, because by 1:30 we were mowing in the rain. We had managed to haul two piles of brush off, barely making a dent in it. But it felt good to at least get the pile in the front yard. We got the front yard mowed and part of the side yard when the storm hit. I finally made hubby come in. The lightening was really intense, and I tried to convince him that it wasn't that smart to be holding those metal handles in the rain. We finally gave up the fight and came into the house dripping wet and laughing about how good the cold rain felt on our sweaty skin. Today was field day for the little one. We were thankful that the rain held off til the last hour. Overall, I think we all had a great day. I'm cooking spaghetti for supper, and we plan a quiet evening at home.

They haven't sent me any typing the last two days, but I did get some feedback that they were pleased with my progress. I hope they send more, but the break has been good for my wip. I'm heading down the homestretch. Can't wait to see how it ends. LOL.

Did anyone see David Blaine's stunt last night? I can't imagine putting yourself in harm's way like that. My lungs were hurting just watching it. I was going to blog about the whole daredevil concept today, but I'm just too pooped right now. Maybe tomorrow. Check back. Oh, and I've been enjoying all your blogs. Keep up the good work ladies and gentlemen!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Method and Madness

I've updated my Novel Progress graph located at the bottom of the left hand column. According to it, I have 44 percent of my novel done. The warning flags are popping up in my head, because I'm beginning to get into the final third of the storyline. According to Terry Whalin, who acquires fiction for Howard Publishing, the length he looks for and accepts is in the 80,000 range. If a manuscript falls under that, it more than likely is rejected before it's ever read. Other publishing houses have similar guidelines, which has led to my dilemma.

Of course, plenty of first novels only run around 45,000 to 50,000 words. It's not uncommon for a first work to be a "short" work, or novella. I don't see 50,000 words being a problem. I might even be able to break 65,000. But 80,000 I just don't see happening without significant padding of the plot, which I believe would be milking it for way more than what it is worth at this point. I know, I know you've said, finish the book first and then worry about the length. My biggest fear, though, is that having finished the book and begun the editing process, that when I start cutting out the chaff, my counts will be even shorter. One author said she keeps this in mind as she writes and overwrites the original draft.

I've tried this method, and every time I'm tempted to overwrite or add more than necessary, my automatic editing feelers pop out. No, you don't need that. That's too much information. You're boring them unnecessarily. They'll put it down. Stop rambling. Stop padding. Remember Hemingway. Simplicity. Simplicity. This is the conversation going on in my head as I write. Whatever "padding" that is to be added is going to have to pass my personal entertainment litmus test. It simply cannot be added for the sake of length. And frankly, I'm running low a bit on steam.

Which leads me to question my method of outlining the entire book before writing it. Have I stifled my creativity? Have I limited my plotlines and the natural unfolding of the story? Am I losing interest in my own story before I ever finish it? I don't think that is the case. I've written about 7,000 words in the last two days. In fact, it's progressing so fast that I am having to slow myself down. Maybe that's it. Maybe I'm just getting the framework, the basics down. Maybe there are many more nuances to be painted, much more flesh to be put on the characters, much more depth to be crafted in the themes. Yes, that has to be it. There has to be more. It's already a story. It needs more life breathed into it. More oomph. Am I up to the task?

We'll soon find out. Keep my feet to the fire friends. And have a great night.

Friday, May 05, 2006

I Have a Dream

Today was Field Trip Day for my son. We visited Land Between the Lakes Nature Trail. It was a beautiful day for a hike which ended in a picnic at Golden Pond. Yes, there really is a place called Golden Pond. Afterwards, we drove through the Bison and Elk Range, but were disappointed to only see one elk and a few bison. On our drive home we stopped at Fort Donelson, where we saw eagles nesting high in the trees as we drove through the historic battlefield and viewed the trenches along the banks of the Cumberland River. My son was especially enthralled with the cannons in the bunkers along the river bank. It was a great day of fun and play.

While on the road the three of us brainstormed about my novel. I couldn't wait to get home and jot the notes down on paper before I forgot them. And now I can't wait to get back to writing. It's like a big secret I've got and can't wait to tell. The notes themselves filled up three pages front and back. My son wants to do the artwork for the cover. I told him he could help make posters to promote my book once it's published. And of course they both get their names printed on the dedication page. Now that's faith isn't it, speaking of those things that are not, as though they were. My husband always said I never had any goals of my own. Now I have a dream...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

More Personal Notes

I did not want to get out of bed this morning. My old bones ached and longed to just lie and relax a few more hours. But I had a file that needed finishing, and so I yawned and stretched and forced myself to motivate. The last two weeks have been a blur.

Dad has been moved to a skilled nursing facility for awhile. They got him up and walked him yesterday, and he seemed to be improving. Physically he is gaining strength, but I'm afraid that his mental status is just going to continue deteriorating. He was diagnosed with early Alzheimer's in 2003. All this time he has been able to stay at home and basically care for himself, except for us bringing meals in. Now the disease has begun to physically attack him, and I fear that those days are over.

I printed out the stages from an Alzheimer's support site. Dad seems to be in late 5 and headed for 6. There are 7 stages. He knows us still and lots of other things from the distant past. His short term memory is not that good, and he is beginning to show signs that he can't remember names of common objects. Yesterday he seemed quite normal. He knew his birthday and his address, and he could call our names. But he is showing signs of depression and mentioning death and his time to die quite frequently. My husband fears he will give up if he has to stay in a nursing home. At the same time, I am not sure I will be able to care for him in my home. I know that the worst days are ahead. And no matter what I tell them, I know that I can't prepare his daughter and son for what lies ahead.

My father was struck with a rare brain disease at 46 years of age. He suffered dementia. He could not pronounce words with any clarity. He mixed up common nouns. Some days he knew us; some days he didn't. He was plagued with compulsive repetitive actions, and there was the constant worry of him roaming off and getting lost. It happened once or twice in the six years my mom cared for him. And that is one of the most terrifying things I have ever experienced. Some days he was violent and agitated. Other days he was docile as a lamb. We often found food hidden in weird places in the house. Sometimes he would get in his drawers and dress himself in two or three layers of clothes. One day he complained of his foot hurting, and we removed his shoe to find a baseball cap shoved down inside it. Things like that were common.

So when I tell you that I have my doubts about being able to care for Mr. Green at home, I know of what I speak. My mother, the dear saint that she was, sacrificed years of her life and health for my daddy. She loved him until her dying breath. The three of us girls were adults, and it nearly killed us. I just don't know if I can let my six year old live through this experience, as much as I love my father-in-law. At the same time, I understand my husband's desire to make sure his dad is safe and protected and cared for. Pray that God will grant us wisdom and acceptance. And pray for Mr. Green as I know this is a confusing time for him. God is able to see us through this. We have to trust Him.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Scriptures for the Day

Matt 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Matt 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Matt 6:27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
Matt 6:28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
Matt 6:29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Matt 6:30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, [shall he] not much more [clothe] you, O ye of little faith?
Matt 6:31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
Matt 6:32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
Matt 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matt 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Fast update

Father-in-law admitted to hospital Sunday. Spent most of yesterday and today at the hospital with him. Yesterday he was extremely disoriented. His blood pressure was stroke level. Today he is a bit better. They are still evaluating him. He may have to go to skilled nursing for a while.

They are sending me plenty of transcription work, thank the Lord. If I can just fit it in. I typed til midnight last night, and got back up at 4:30 this morning to work. And I'm back at it tonight.
I'm not complaining. I just need strength to get it done.

Along with Daddy, put my Granny on your prayer list. She has been real sick as well. They recommended hospitalization, but she didn't want to go. She is taking medication and being monitored at her home in the assisted living facility. Remember my paternal grandparents as well. My paternal grandfather is in the nursing home in Humboldt. I have posted about him before, and his wife, my other Granny needs your prayers to cope.

I don't know what I was doing that made the Devil so mad at us, but he's throwing arrows right and left. Won't do him any good. I'm solid. Talk later when I get caught up.