Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Goals

To me, the definition of a goal should be changed to "dream." It's a particular thing you want to achieve, will strive to achieve, but be damn lucky if you see it to fruition.

While I didn't set goals for 2009, my friend on my historical critique group so kindly posted ones I set in 2008. As the saying goes, "a day late and a dollar short," I still accomplished something this past year, aside from finding out that Parvo Virus doesn't only pertain to dogs, blood thinner requires that you have frequent blood testing, you should never never assume you are on the last step in the dark, and most importantly for my continued health, I discovered why someone named a particular shoe "slippers." *lol*

Here are my goals from 2008 along with comments about how I fared.

1. Successfully find a home for Sarah's Journey if TWRP doesn't offer a contract.

I discovered that TWRP doesn't like me. They turned down Sarah's Journey because they didn't approve of the ending, and they reported the loss of my two other submissions. I can take a hint. I'm not their cup of tea. Luckily, the submission's editor at Eternal Press GOT the reason for SJ's ending and called it brilliant. How lucky was that? And how true?

2. Complete First Degree Innocence and Love in Stages.

Well, Love in Stages turned out to be Stages of Love and the stories in that collection were finished and published by Eternal Press. (Chastity's Charms, Forever Faith, Amazing Grace, and Hope Springs Eternal.) Unfortunately, I'm still plugging away at First Degree Innocence and it's number one on my 2010 goal list. This is the ONE that's going to make me famous. *big grin*

3. See Sisters in Time completed in an improved format and shop it.

Improved it, shopped it and it's already published by Eternal Press. Available in both download and print...as are all my works.

4. Rob a bank so I can attend the Romance Times Convention in 2008 *just kidding*

2009 was such a bad financial year, I would have had to rob a bank to attend the conference. While this goal remained impossible in 2008 and 9, I'm hoping 2010 will be the year I can afford to attend at least one conference. The networking opportunity is awesome, and I so enjoyed the RT conference I attended years back. It's a costly venture, and certainly not one that can be supported by my book sales, unless of course you guys want to step up to the plate and start buying. *lol*

5. Find an agent who actually knows the difference between Internet and Mainstream publishing. :)

I did find an agent, and she does know the difference. What remains to be seen is if she can place any of my work. I've just completed an historical romance, Odessa, and time will tell.

Seems like a short list of accomplishments, but when you factor in all the blogging, emailing, Facebooking, Myspacing, Goodreading, Tweeting, and such, it's amazing I got anything done...especially since I've become addicted to Farmville. As if that's not bad enough, I keep getting invites to join Mafia Wars, Cafe World, Fishworld, Farm Town, and Farkle. I'm praying for strength to "just say no." It doesn't only work for drugs. *lol*

Sunday, December 27, 2009

One More Down


Whew, the last remnants of wrapping paper are put away, along with the tree, ornaments and lights. No one would ever know that Christmas came and went here, except for the fattening goodies left over. I caught a glimpse of myself on the video taken at my son's house, and I vowed I wasn't going to eat anymore fattening crap...so why is there chocolate under my fingernail???

Yep...once the gifts are gone the tree comes down. My sister "undecked the halls" this year, so I guess it's a shared sadness to stare at the void left when all the colorful presents have been bestowed. I always feel a emptiness on December 26th, but as fast as time is flying by, I have no doubt that Christmas will be back much sooner than I anticipate. What is it about life after 50 that makes time passage triple? I remember when I couldn't wait to be twenty-one. What was I thinking?

It's 4:30 a.m. here, on December 27th. So why am I awake? I've been working hard to finish Odessa so I can move on to First Degree Innocence, so I can then finish Shortcomings, then finally get to The Locket. I get so frustrated at having so many works-in-progress, but as someone said, "that's the way I roll." Odessa has finally revealed how her story ends, so all I have to do is write the final chapter then add a few things here and there and I'm done.

So, to answer the question about why I'm up... around three A.M. I awoke to another strange voice. *she says, rolling her eyes* Some handsome fellow, late thirties, ex-basketball player showed up in my bedroom, shook me awake with his incessant dribbling, and demanded I tell his story.

OMG! F*ck! I know I wanted to write, but where's the door to stop these intruders for a while? My head has become a revolving door in a constant spin. I'm going no where with all these partially completed manuscripts. I need to finish First Degree Innocence because I know THIS is the one that's going to make my final goal a reality. (Trying out the positive outlook for the New Year.)

So, I tured over and tried to go back to sleep, but Sam, as I now know his name, dragged Randy Littlefield and his mother Sheila into my room, and after the trio nagged me for another half hour, I decided to get up and at least start the damn story. I guess I should be pleased that I'm not suffering a drought of ideas as some are, so I can add, On the Rebound,to my WIP lineup. Woo Hoo! *she says, sarcastically* One of these years I'm gonna celebrate some new releases.

You know what amazes me? I detest basketball, know nothing about it, yet in the first paragraph I used the term "point guard", then had to look it up and see what the heck it meant. Tell me my characters don't write these stories??? Well, actually, they TELL me the stories, so I can type them and SHOW them to my readers.

If I can just find a way to lock my mind to stop the constant influx, I might just get something accomplished. I'm starting to fear sleep...I can't take anymore voices in my head!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Savannah's Letter to Santa

*Coming off holiday hiatus just long enough to share this adorable post with you. Happy Holidays.





OK, Savannah. How do we want to do this?
You're two years old now so I think you and I – while Grandma and Mommy are out of our … I mean away for awhile – should compose your letter to Santa.
How about … you just stand there right beside my chair all calm and quiet and don't touch anything. All right?
Dear Santa,
PawPaw, up?
Well … it's a little tight between my belly and the desk. You stand there and watch.
PawPaw, up? PaaaaaaaaaaaaawPaw UP. PawPawaaaaaaaaa UP your lap, PawPaw.
OK, just don't touch the keyboard. Now, comfortable up here?
Yeah, PawPaw.
Dear Santa,
How abooooout this one?
Gggggggggggg – Stop, Savannah. I said – gggggggggg – I said let PawPaw work the keyboard. OK?
OK, PawPaw.
Dear Santa,

Do you want to save the changes to Dear Santa.doc?

Savannah! No. I mean yes, save, I mean, what are you doing?
PawPaw? PawPaw? PawPaw, drtf heddy Vanna touch keyboard?
If you said only PawPaw touches the keyboard, then yes. If you said PawPaw should let Savannah touch the keyboard, then I'm not going to answer that.
Dear Santa,
I've been a really good girl, etc. etc. etc.
Now, Savannah, what do we … you …want for Christmas?
PawPaw, press the button. I want to move it, move it.
Don't press the button.
Barnacles!
No more Spongebob stuff, OK? Of course that's better than what you repeated after me the other day. Go ahead and say barnacles.
Oh, there's the phone. Savannah, you sit right here in PawPaw's chair and don't touch anything.
Yeah, PawPaw.
hhhhhhhytrjsksi3wpj,bvkjwim;lqfjoi0knA JKL;NSD
Kaboom. Pengins!
Safd3rfy08najkao;i]e[;jv8 9- f9pkjbDBJDGUwb.nl,LMNJN,. Kjjlc
Oh, Savannah! What's all thus stuff? Let me sit, will you?
Paaaaaaaaaaaaapa UP.
Here, here. Now sit still on my lap.
Thank you, PawPaw.
You're welcome.
Dear Santa,
I've been a really good girl, etc. etc. etc.
I want you to bring…
PawPaw, press the button.
jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj
Savannah, stop it.
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
I said stop it.
hhhhhhhhhhhhh I said stop it. qqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqq I said… Stop it?
Yes, stop it. You're going to get in really big trouble in a minute.
Kaboom. Kaboom.
Savannah, enough with the dynamite already.
Dear Santa,
I've been a really good girl, etc. etc. etc.
I want you to bring…
Let's see. It might help to get into the spirit. Jingle bells, jingle bells …
Shtake your butt, shtake your butt, shtake it all da way.
Hmmmmmm.
--sniff—sniiiiiiiiiiiff—sniff--
Savannah, did you potty?
No potty, PawPaw.
Why is there a warm feeling on my leg? Where are you going? That's it. Hide under the chair because you pottied.
Come on. Let's change your pants.
I want to move it, move it.
Well, you might've waited until your Mommy got home before you moved it, moved it.
(A few minutes, one mishap with a filled diaper, three wasted new diapers from trying to fasten the stupid things and we're back.)
OK, little girl, let's try this again.
PawPaw, up?
Oh, yeah………….here we go. You're heavier than you were last Christmas. Don't look at me like that. I know I'm heavier too.
Dear Santa,
I've been a really good girl, etc. etc. etc.
I want you to bring…
PawPaw, cup?
You're already up.
Dear Santa,
I've been a really good girl, etc. etc. etc.
I want you to bring…
PawPaw, cup?
Savannah …
PAWPAW, cuuuuuuuuuuup!
Well, where is your cup?
(Just a second, please. She's running for the refrigerator. She's opening the door. She's singing something about her cup. She's closing the door. She's … she's not running back down the hallway. Just a minute – it's time for PawPaw to play birddog.)
Savannah! What are you doing? Leave that alone. That's Grandma's stuff. Savannah, I said leave it alone.
OK, PawPaw.
You'd better move.
OK, PAWPAW!
(We're back now. Thank you for your patience. Do you have some you can spare for me?)
Savannah, where did you get that cheese?
Ty uiop cheese gherbh drink with cup, PawPaw.
(Yeah, PawPaw. Don't you get it? The cheese was with the cup, I can just hear Grandma telling me now.)
Anyway …
Dear Santa,
I've been a really good girl, etc. etc. etc.
I want you to bring…
Savannah, are you trying to go to sleep? Baby, you can't sleep on my lap like that. Savannah? Savannah?
(Just a minute while I lie her down on the bed and cover her up and you know.)
Dear Santa,
I've been a really good girl, etc. etc. etc.
I want you to bring…
Wait a minute. Let's try it this way.
Dear Santa,
Savannah is nappy-nap now. So this letter is from me, her grand … her PawPaw.
I realize that you're likely not really really really real. You're not, are you? Yet I distinguish that you are truly tangible. I know this because you live, you reside within my heart now by way of that little girl sleeping behind me – she grants you merit within me.
It is the Christmas spirit through her and millions of others that allows you to live across generations - spirit that is true and truth, spirit that is undeniable as long as it is fueled with consideration, gentleness embraced by minds and hearts unbolted to cherishing and sharing generosity and charity. It is a spirit that lives only when both equally abundantly shared and partaken.
Santa, we teach and will teach Savannah that you are tangible through Christmas spirit, yet it is the Christ Child – whose birth for our sake we celebrate - who is real and the genesis of that spirit. We will teach her that you are reflection of the spirit while He is flesh of it. You can show spirit of Christmas to us. Only He can give it to us.
And while the sprit grants you life, it is He who grants merit to our lives. It is He who is life and is the spirit.
Sincerely,
PawPaw Jim
Savannah? Hi, baby. You awake?
Wake? I wake.
Come up here on my lap and see what I've written.
PawPaw?
Yes, baby?
One, two, three, seven, twelve. Kaboom! Kaboom! Kaboom! Press the button.
Savannah! Not that bu




You'll find Jim's book "Hill of Beans" available at whiskeycreekpress.com and barnesandnoble.com.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays

I'm taking a little hiatus for the holidays, but I wanted to stop in and wish each of you, no matter your religious or non-religious affiliation, a joyous reason to celebrate. I hope the New Year brings you everything good...and a contract for me. *lol* I'll resume posting after the first of the year, with a roster of guests I know you'll enjoy.

As for me, I'll be celebrating the birth of the Savior, and I hope those of you who celebrate Christmas along with me remember "the reason for the season." Sometimes, Jesus gets lost among the presents and Santa Claus although the holiday is named for him. Put Christ back in Christmas if only through a pause to remember and be thankful.

Thank you all for sticking with me through another year. I've found that true gifts are sometimes "faceless" friends who make a vast improvement in our lives. God has blessed me many times.

Again, from my heart to yours...Best wishes and lots of love!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Real Hero and Example Of Loving Spirit



John Gebhardt's wife, Mindy, said that this little girl's entire family was executed. The insurgents intended to execute the little girl also, and shot her in the head...but they failed to kill her. She was cared for in John's hospital and is healing up, but continues to cry and moan. The nurses said John is the only one who seems to calm her down, so John has spent the last four nights holding her while they both slept in that chair. The girl is coming along with her healing.

He is a real Star of the war, and represents what America is trying to do.

This, my friends, is worth sharing. The American public needs to see pictures like this and needs to realize that what the fighting men and women are doing over there makes a difference.. Even if it is just one little girl at a time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

More Hoops and Hoopla

Note: I wrote this for a previous post at Romance Junkies almost two years ago, but I think it's worth repeating... that, and my brain isn't working at the moment. I did alter the text just a tad. :)

ORIGINAL COVER

I was a ‘reader’ for years before I decided to try my hand at writing my own historical romance, Prairie Peace. I can truly say I was shocked to find I had no idea what went into getting your name on the front of a book. Though my first manuscript was accepted for publication after one query, the transformation it went through was grueling. I discovered I’d written a great story, but it wasn’t yet a novel.

I told about the pies, but didn’t transmit the awesome aroma to the reader. The love scenes were described, but not to the point the person turning the pages sensed the butterfly kisses trailing up her neck. I described the emotions, smells, and flowers, but I didn’t let my reader experience them. Until I learned that showing over telling made the difference, my story lacked warmth and feeling. People want the breeze in their faces, crave the goosebumps from his touch (even more now that m/m has become more popular); they need their stomachs to rumble with want for the bubbling stew. I wanted all that when I read, so why did I forget when I wrote? I can only say it’s because as an author, you look at the words from a different perspective. Even when I proofread my story, I didn’t notice what was missing other than the occasional comma or missing end quote.

When you write historical novels you also have to research the facts. Readers notice glaring mistakes such as a pioneer wife calling the ‘kids’. She might get goats, but she’d never get the ‘children.’ I created a beautiful scene of my heroine cooking breakfast on a stove while peering out the splintered shutters at the barn. Nice touch, but as my editor pointed out…”she lives in a shack on the middle of a prairie in the 1800s. What are the chances of such a modern appliance?” So, my heroine went back to kneeling at the hearth to stir the soup, and the stove magically disappeared. Duh uh. Why didn’t I think about that?

Besides inventions, authors have to consider language, clothing, and scenery that fits the period. My Cecile couldn’t very well look off into the distance and see an airplane. Talk about yanking the reader out of the story! How about if she crossed the squeaking old porch, closed the weathered door and set the deadbolt? *lol* I didn’t go that far, but my editor worked hard to help me avoid the obvious. She taught me the importance of credibility as an historical author. She also taught me about head-hopping. Only Nora Roberts can do that and get away with it.

Oh, (hear a big sigh here) if only those were the only lessons one had to learn. (Imagine my brow furrowed) I’m now a multi-published author, and I’ve been through countless editing sessions. I’m still learning, and the hardest thing to absorb is why the rules keep changing. (Picture a frown tugging at my lips.) Just (oh, and by the way, some editors hate that word), when I thought I had a handle on Edits 101, I moved to a new publisher and discovered a whole different set of rules. Publisher number one likes ellipses and em-dashes; number two forbids them. Publisher three dislikes semi-colons, while number four uses them, but requires you go through your manuscript and delete as many instances of would, should, could, have been, was, and of course all unnecessary uses of ‘that’. The shock came in knowing I had to eliminate my beloved ‘ing’ and ‘ly’ words which I consistently use throughout my stories. I’m also limited to eight exclamation points, so I guess I’ll have to count the number of times someone shows surprise in their voice. Do most reader’s actually notice this punctuation mark?

Don’t think for a moment that (this is one of those unnecessary usages of ‘that’) I don’t admire the wonderful people who read and comment on all the manuscripts being submitted these days, or appreciate their hard word. My point: why can’t there be some consistency? After going through my last manuscript and deleting or changing to fit house rules, I started proofing a manuscript for another house. The story I’m reading is filled with all the things I just deleted. And I wonder why I’m losing my hair? Literally.

I wish I had started writing for publication much sooner. At least, I’d have the brain cells to absorb all the different requirements and nuances, but at sixty-two, (ugh, I'm sixty-four now) I’m discovering I’m that ‘old dog’. It’s not only the editorial issues. I’m still trying to discover the correct way to query an agent. If you don’t believe how confusing it is, check out the submission pages on any three or four agent sites and tell me they don’t stay up nights thinking up that one requirement that differs from the norm. I’m waiting for ’stand up, circle three times, sit down, and recite the national anthem before hitting send.” And no fair cheating.

I’m telling you, writing a story is a lot easier than writing a book. I must be a glutton for punishment, because I keep striving to reach the stars. I’m finding the path to get there is paved with big confusing stones.

Since I wrote this post, I'm improved Prairie Peace and re-released it via Eternal Press. Here's the new cover:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Writing Rules Begone!


ARGHHHH! Rules, schmules. I'm so sick of trying to figure out what's right and what's wrong in writing fiction. You know, you can carry this rule thing too far and totally change your voice and writing style. What's even worse is when you belong to a critique group and constantly get conflicting opinions. Who do you trust?

Actually, I trust everyone. Each person has an individual talent and style, and perhaps write in a way totally different than mine. Isn't that what we want? Variety is the spice of life, so I've been told, but when it comes to mainstream or finding an agent, it almost seems like we're expected to fit our stories into the same confining box as all the rest of the authors.

I've been a "serious writer" since 2001, and almost weekly, I feel like someone throws a new rule into the mix. Now, I'm supposed to limit the times I use "it". Rather than making the reader guess what "it" is, use a hard noun. Okay...I see the logic, but there are just some instances where "it" works.

And of course, the "was" is passive rule. Try to eliminate using it as much as possible, and definitely not with a gerund. Well, I like gerunds and I refuse to eliminate them. I will minimize using "was" if I can think of something else, but I'm not going to burn brains cells over something so trivial. (I lied...can you smell the smoke?) I was so paranoid over passive voice after one editing session, that I changed anything that sounded the least bit passive, and the writing became so stilted and stiff, the story sounded ridiculous. We have to leave room for author style. And do readers really count how many it and was instances are in each chapter? I doubt it.

Not to knock those who write medical romance, but a few years back, I reviewed HQ Medical Romance for one site, and the books eventually became so predicable, I felt as though I was playing "insert a new name here and locale here." You can't blame the authors. They have forced to follow guidelines of what ALL readers supposedly want.

Hey, I may write, but I read too, and I'm tired of the same "cake-mix" plots. Add a new character and stir the pot. You can add a few more nuts or some food coloring, but you still come out with a cake.

While Santa is making a list and checking it twice for naughty or nice kids, I'm trying to fit more more rule into the continuing roster of do and don't do in my head. I need a shoehorn.

How about sharing some rules here that have you confused.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Times Have Changed


I've always been very fond of Christmas... it's my favorite holiday. But it's not easy to be festive when you live with scrooge and his friends. Where once I trekked through the tree farm to find the biggest and fullest tree there, now I'm relegated to a small, artificial one that is probably enjoying it's last year since the lights are built in.

I cling to ornaments that are dear to me because they were given by friends, or I found them in a specialty shop and thought they were different, but I still mourn for the ones lost when my ex and I divorced. I was in the hospital when the house sold, and he moved out and left all my special things behind...my ornaments, my expensive nativity given to me, my high school year books. All those things you can't replace.

I recall the plaster hand my oldest son painted in kindergarten...the pictures of them encased in special frames that marked each year, the little dough ones I made and me and the boys painted together...they're gone now, along with all those memories my ornaments held for me. I take delight in seeing the tree my DIL puts together for her children. It's filled with the same sort of memories I lost, but the delight I see in my grandson's eyes dulls the pain and reminds me what is really important.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Shopping

Go ahead and hate me. My Christmas shopping’s been pretty much done since about November 20th.

I can now spend my time sitting back and watching irritated shoppers in the stores, trying to find that perfect gift for someone who probably doesn’t even want it.

Have you ever just watched people in the stores? My daughter and I went shopping on Black Friday (cue scary music) just to see what it was like. We didn’t go to a very crowded store, but whenever someone was talking on the cell phone, my daughter and I would finish their sentences out of their earshot. So, for example, if someone said, “Should I get her a blue blouse,” my daughter and I would move away and answer her with something like, “No, she’ll puke milk out her nose if she gets the blue blouse. You should know better, lady!”

My daughter gets angry at little old ladies who stand right in front of her when she’s trying to shop. She’s tiny, so they push her out of the way. With me—not tiny in the least. I stand where I want to, inching right up to obnoxious people to make them move, just for fun.

It reminds me of an email I’ve been sent more than once. In case you haven’t read it yet, it’s hilarious. I changed the dates to be more festive, giving you fun shopping excursion ideas right up to a few days before Christmas.

WHY WOMEN SHOULDN'T TAKE MEN SHOPPING (written by the man in question):

After I retired, my wife insisted that I accompany her on her trips to Target. Unfortunately, like most men, I found shopping boring and preferred to get in and get out. Equally unfortunate, my wife is like most women - she loves to browse. Yesterday my dear wife received the following letter from the local Target.

Dear Mrs. Samuel,

Over the past six months, your husband has caused quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and have been forced to ban both of you from the store. Our complaints against your husband, Mr. Samuel, are listed below and are documented by our video surveillance cameras.

1. August 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in other people's carts when they weren't looking.

2. September 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

3. September 7: He made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the women's restroom then to the kitchen knives.

4. September 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official voice, 'Code 3 in Housewares. Get on it right away'. This caused the employee to leave her assigned station and receive a reprimand from her Supervisor that in turn resulted with a union grievance, causing management to lose time and costing the company money.

5. October 4: Went to the Service Desk and tried to put a bag of M&Ms on layaway.

6. October 14: Moved a 'CAUTION - WET FLOOR' sign to a carpeted area.


7. October 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told the children shoppers he'd invite them in if they would bring pillows and blankets from the bedding department to which twenty children obliged.

8. October 23: When a clerk asked if they could help him he began crying and screamed, 'Why can't you people just leave me alone?' EMTs were called.

9. November 4: Looked right into the security camera and used it as a mirror while he picked his nose.

10. November 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, he asked the clerk where the antidepressants were.

11. December 3: Darted around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the 'Mission Impossible' theme.

12. December 6: In the auto department, he practiced his 'Madonna look' by using different sizes of funnels.

13. December 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed through, yelled 'PICK ME! PICK ME!'

14. December 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumed a fetal position and screamed 'OH NO! IT'S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!'

And last, but not least:

15. December 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile, then yelled very loudly, 'Hey! There's no toilet paper in here.' One of the clerks passed out.

So the next time you’re bored when shopping, remember…there are ways to enjoy yourself, even if it does result in being banned from the store.



Andie Alexander (www.andiealexander.com)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fa La La La La....

What can you get for a buck fifty that's guaranteed to put you in the Christmas spirit? Why, a copy of Virginia's Miracle, that's what. It's a delightful short story that I wrote for my mom as a Christmas present because I'd run out of ideas after 50 years or more. *lol*

On sale for Christmas at Eternal Press now. If you'd like a print copy, they're available, too.

Here's the blurb for you:

Virginia Collins fears her life is almost over. The one thing that still brings her joy is spending time with her young grandson, Davey. It's Christmas, and despite trying to view the holiday through a child's anxious eyes, Virginia still feels empty, alone and can't find her spirit. So many loved ones have passed, the yuletide is forever changed... until she receives a special Christmas Eve message.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Two Choices

What would you do?....you make the choice. Don't look for a punch line, there isn't one. Read it anyway. My question is: Would you have made the same choice?

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

'When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection.

Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do.

Where is the natural order of things in my son?'

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. 'I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.'

Then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play?' I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.'

Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart.. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again.

Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed.

The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay.

As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over.

The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.

Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates.

Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to first!

Run to first!'

Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base.

He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!'

Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.

B y the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball . the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.

He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head.

Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay.'

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, 'Run to third!

Shay, run to third!'

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, 'Shay, run home! Run home!'

Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.

'That day', said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world'.

Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

NOTE FROM Ginger: As an author, I respect this piece as a good work of fiction. I would love nothing more than to believe this wonderful act of kindness and grace actually happened, but I live in the real world and children learn from their parents, and parents bicker over everything from parking places to shopping carts. I've been out shopping, at a time of the year when "Peace on Earth and Goodwill Towards Men" is supposed to have special meaning, but it doesn't. Christmas seems to bring out the worst in us...something we need to work on. But, I'm posting this today, partly because of what follows, but with the hope this post might inspire us all to think twice and "pay it forward" by setting a better example for our children and grandkids.

AND NOW A LITTLE FOOT NOTE TO THIS STORY:

We all send thousands of jokes through the e-mail without a second thought, but when it comes to sending messages about life choices, people hesitate.

The crude, vulgar, and often obscene pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion about decency is too often suppressed in our schools and workplaces.

If you're thinking about forwarding this message, chances are that you're probably sorting out the people in your address book who aren't the 'appropriate' ones to receive this type of message Well, the person who sent you this believes that we all can make a difference.

We all have thousands of opportunities every single day to help realize the 'natural order of things.'

So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a choice:

Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do we pass up those opportunities and leave the world a little bit colder in the process?

A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it's least fortunate amongst them.

You now have two choices:

1. Forget you read this.

2. Share the url with your friends.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Oh the Stress of It All

For those of us who managed to make it through the U.S. Thanksgiving without gaining the requisite 5 or 10 pounds, we should be proud of ourselves. Whew, the turkey was cooked and eaten. Perhaps a ham. How about mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes? Pie...what, more than one!

Let's sit back, take a brief, deep breath, and gear up towards the Christmas holidays. For many, it is a much more stressful time than Thanksgiving. There are gifts to buy (usually too many for the budget), cards to fill out and send, making room in the house for the extra visitors, and figuring out where the heck to put Aunt Sue, who is a last minute addition to the festivities.

Black Friday was a bust. I mean, how many of us got up and about at 3 or 4 in the morning. I didn't, but I confess I did make it to one store about 9:00 a.m. There were a lot of people, and we were able to get one rather pricey item that we particularly wanted for 25% off.

But Black Friday simply wasn't the day for us, shopping-wise. Not only did (we're now done, mostly) we have a ton more to do, but we had to clean up after Thanksgiving. Then there's the all-important Christmas tree choosing. Since we are empty nesters, for the very first time in our married life, we bought an artificial tree. I admit that it looks beautiful and I'm not missing the pine needles at all.

Whew! What else is there. Lots you say? Definitely. My prayer is that we can all get a handle on the work to be done before the official "relaxing" of the actual holiday you celebrate.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Piece of Art Not To Miss

This video shows the winner of "Ukraines Got Talent", Kseniya Simonova, 24, drawing a series of pictures on an illuminated sand table showing how ordinary people were affected by the German invasion during World War II. Her talent, which admittedly is a strange one, is mesmeric to watch.

The images, projected onto a large screen, moved many in the audience to tears and she won the top prize of about £75,000.

She begins by creating a scene showing a couple sitting holding hands on a bench under a starry sky, but then warplanes appear and the happy scene is obliterated.

It is replaced by a womans face crying, but then a baby arrives and the woman smiles again. Once again war returns and Miss Simonova throws the sand into chaos from which a young womans face appears.

She quickly becomes an old widow, her face wrinkled and sad, before the image turns into a monument to an Unknown Soldier.

This outdoor scene becomes framed by a window as if the viewer is looking out on the monument from within a house..

In the final scene, a mother and child appear inside and a man standing outside, with his hands pressed against the glass, saying goodbye.

The Great Patriotic War, as it is called in Ukraine, resulted in one in four of the population being killed with eight to 11 million deaths out of a population of 42 million.

Kseniya Simonova says:
"I find it difficult enough to create art using paper and pencils or paintbrushes, but using sand and fingers is beyond me. The art, especially when the war is used as the subject matter, even brings some audience members to tears. And theres surely no bigger compliment."

Please take time out to see this amazing piece of art.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Movies

Wow…am I ever thankful this year for Christmas!!! Why, you ask? I have my first book released today with Red Rose Publishing. If you’re having problems finding a book for that romance reader on your list, here you go…problem solved.

In our family, we like to watch Christmas movies for the entire month before Christmas. I have some favorites—most of them really sappy—but also some scenes from other movies that aren’t specifically Christmas movies.

Here are a few of the ones we love to watch, year after year:

• ‘The Grinch’—the original cartoon
• ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’
• ‘The Christmas Card’ (the guy isn’t a good actor, but it’s cute and so is he)
• ‘Holiday in Handcuffs’ (yeah…Stockholm Syndrome is Christmasy?)
• ‘Polar Express’
• ‘A Christmas Story’ (you’ll put your eye out, kid)
• ‘The Santa Clause’ (the first one)
• ‘Better Off Dead’, (the scene where the mom gets all the family members TV dinners for Christmas and wraps them--hilarious)
• ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’

Do you have any others that you love to watch every year?

Merry Christmas!!

Paige Ryter www.paigeryter.com
‘Three Minutes Before Christmas’ releases TODAY!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Santa the Tooth Fairy

I shared this story I wrote last Christmas, but I think the message is worth repeating. I hope you enjoy it. - Ginger



Little Kayla sat near the Christmas tree and wiggled her lose tooth. She stopped and turned her attention from the crackling fire beyond the hearth. “Mommy, if I pull my tooth, do you think Santa will leave me a dollar.”

Her mother laughed. “I think you have things mixed up, honey. It’s the tooth fairy who leaves money.”

Kayla cocked her head and flashed that familiar look of independence. “I know that, Mommy! But if my tooth falls out at tonight, maybe Santa will reward me, too. I’m not sure if the Tooth Fairy works on Christmas Eve.”

Although only four, the child had a penchant for being creative. Margaret Tanner put her knitting aside and walked past her daughter to the fireplace. She poked at the logs and sent flaming fingers stretching up the chimney. “I don’t think Santa will have time to look under your pillow. You know, he’s very busy this time of year.” She walked back to her chair.

The front door opened, and a blast of cold air flickered the fire. “Daddy, daddy,” Kayla called, rushing over and grabbing him around the knees.

He ruffled her hair with his gloved hand. “Hi, Sweetheart. Let me get out of my coat and I’ll give you a hug. It’s cold outside.” He shrugged off his outerwear, sending snow flaking to the marbled entry hall floor. After hanging his coat in a nearby closet, he scooped Kayla into his arms and nuzzled her neck until she giggled. Stopping, he leaned his head back and studied her face. “Have you been a good girl today?”

“Oh yes, Daddy, and I’ve decided you can pull my loose tooth.”

He flashed a puzzled look at his wife.

She smiled. “We’ve already discussed the tooth fairy, but Kayla seems to think Santa should play a part.”

Her father placed Kayla on the ground, took her hand, and walked to his plaid recliner. Sitting, with her perched on his knee, he scratched his brow. “Why don’t we just wait until that tooth falls out on its own? There’s no rush.”

“But, I want you to pull it.” Her eyes clouded with tears and her little bow lips pulled into a pout.

“Then, let me see.” He took hold of the loose tooth and wiggled it. “You’re right. I think it could come out.” Russell Tanner ruffled her hair again.

“Then pull it, Daddy.” She scrunched her eyes closed and hunched her shoulders.

“I already did.” He held up a tiny, white enamel pearl.

Her eyes widened. She smacked her lips, then made a face. A wee bit of blood dotted her bottom lip.

“Come on, Kayla, let’s rinse out your mouth and get you ready for bed," her mother said. "Santa comes tonight and if you aren’t asleep, he’ll just pass us by.”

Kayla slid off her father’s knee and flashed a smile. She looked adorable with a space where her tooth was just minutes ago. “Thank you, Daddy. I wanted to see if Santa will leave me a dollar so I can put it in the offering plate at church tomorrow. It’s Jesus’ birthday and I want to leave him a gift.”

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Traditions


Christmas. What a cool time of year. And this year, I have an extra reason to celebrate. My book, ‘Hearts of Compassion’ released yesterday with Red Rose Publishing! If you want an inspirational story that takes place at Christmas, this would be a cool present for someone.

When we first moved up here to the great white north called Wisconsin, my children were angry with me around December 6th. Why, you ask? Because this area of the country is laden with people whose ancestry is Polish, Norwegian, and other colder European descent, they celebrate this odd holiday called ‘St. Nick’s Day.’ That means on the evening of December 5th, children in this area of Wisconsin get an early Christmas present. I looked it up online, and sure enough, there’s a website about Wisconsin that describes this: http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=391. A woman tells exactly what we’re going through, because Santa didn’t stop at her house on December 5th and her son was upset. For the holiday, children leave out their stockings or shoes, and in the morning, a present is inside. How would someone who doesn’t know this fit into this area? It wasn’t easy, and still isn’t, even though our kids are older.

It made me wonder if there are other traditions I should concern myself with this time of year, in the event that I move away to a warmer area of the country and don’t have to worry about wind chill so cold, we eat ice cream to warm up.

I went to http://www.santas.net/americanchristmas.htm and checked out a few strange things that might make its way to various ethnic pockets in the United States. If I move to Hawaii (I wish to move someplace warm like that), there would be fireworks and Santa would arrive by boat. In California, Santa arrives on a surfboard. In Boston, carolers would be everywhere, playing hand bells. In New Orleans, a huge decorated ox is paraded around downtown.

What are your town’s unusual traditions you wouldn’t find anywhere else? Or do you even know if they’re considered ‘unusual’? What traditions does your family follow at Christmas?

Make this Christmas something special and enjoy however you celebrate! Merry Christmas!
Eryn Grace (www.eryngrace.com)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Memories

First of all, let me apologize to everyone for the delay of this post.  Don't hold it against Ginger, it's entirely my fault.  My internet connection has been down since Friday and I just got it back. 

One of my favorite Holiday traditions is putting up my Christmas tree.  It's old, missing needles and branches, but its the first tree my husband and I had when we moved out on our own.  We have three children and every year we all go out and choose a new ornament for the tree.  It started out sort of  bare that first year.  We didn't have a lot of money for presents or decorations, but now there is barely a spot untouched on the tree or under it.  A testament to our good forturne, I suppose.

My son (he cooks better than I do) and I make homemade sugar cookies and candies to give as gifts, something we've done whether or not we could afford expensive gifts.  I think that's the best part of the season, spending time with family.  From me and mine to you and yours, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  May you spend them in good health with those you love.

Bethany Cagle

Bethany is the author of  Earth Enchanted book one in the Elemental Magic Series under the pen name Brynna Curry and Gypsy Moon under the pen name Brianna Roarke.
http://brynnacurrybriannaroarkebooks.webs.com/.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sexy Men and a Little Christmas Magic

I really enjoyed this morning. The first thing upon waking, a sexy and very naked husband brought me a steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee. I can't say for certain his nakedness had anything to do with how good that coffee tasted but it was the best I've had in a long time. Perhaps the cold morning air conjuring goosebumps on his chest and arms added to it. I had to touch!


But wait...that's not all. A little bit later, I rose from the bed, dressed and headed into the living room. This is what I saw : the very same naked and sexy man standing in the center of the room cuddling our new kitten. What woman could resist such a display of masculinity and his soft side at the same time? See? You said, "Awww..." just like I did. Didn't you? What a way to start the weekend!


This time of year has a special bit of magic for me. Maybe I'm more open to the expectation of love and friendship. I'm not much of a winter person so cuddling in front of the fireplace or Christmas Tree is my idea of a wonderful evening. I get snuggly and hug a lot. I'm pretty sure my husband doesn't mind much.


Speaking of Christmas Magic, let me tell you about my holiday erotica, Paper Chains. It has bits of magic. Not just the kind I mentioned above but a touch of 'real' magic where the paper chains on the Christmas Tree turn into real chains for a wonderful night of bondage for Evelyn and Cole.


I really enjoyed writing it. Shhh...don't tell anyone but a certain man I know enjoyed me reading it to him. He would never admit it though. Aren't guys funny that way?


I hope you'll buy a copy of Paper Chains for yourself. It's a short story so you can get it without breaking the bank and can read it on the sly if you want to. The cover is pretty nice to look at as well.

Oh, time for me to go. My man just asked me if I want anything for lunch. Of course I do! Evil Grin. Have a very sexy Christmas everyone!


Sharie Silva

Friday, December 4, 2009

Here comes Santa Clause

I know some of you out there are already sick of hearing Christmas carols but I love it. While you guys are groaning when you walk into stores, I'm dancing and singing. Christmas is my favorite time of year. Why? I love the smell of pine, gingerbread, and cookies. I love the feeling carols inspire and the lights. And I LOVE giving presents. Yes, I know the holidays aren't JUST about giving and getting presents, its the love behind the giving. Times are tight for everyone this year so to remember the true meaning is even more important. Kids, don't stamp your feet and cry, because Mommy and Daddy can't get you that WiiFit. Parents, don't worry yourself that you don't have the money for it either. Take some time to do some fun stuff together instead. Drag out that dusty old Monopoly board, or a deck of cards, go take a drive through the neighborhoods and look at all the decorations. That's what the holidays are really about.

Here's a peek at my Christmas release.

“I had everything under control, Sebastian.”

He took a step towards her, she retreated but he followed. “But you didn't really want to be, did you Lily?”

“What are you talking about?” Lily swallowed around the sudden lump in her throat, watching his eyes travel to her throat. The way he was looking at her made heat collect in her belly.

“You don't want to be in control,” he replied, his voice a low seductive growl.

“Yes I do,” she protested weakly.

“No, you don't. You want to let go, to hand someone else the reins.”

“I can take care of myself.” Lily straightened her shoulders, trying to ignore her body that longed to throw itself at this man's feet.

“Of course you can,” Sebastian conceded, “But you want someone to take care of you. I know why you weren't happy with Philip,” he said.

“Oh?” For every step she took away from him, he took one forward. Her heels touched the wall at the same time her hip hit the counter. She had backed herself into a corner and he placed his hands on the wall on either side of her head, trapping her. Her breath was coming in quick gasps now. She couldn't look at him. She kept her eyes on his shoulder but that turned out to be a bad idea as she noticed now that the black turtle neck hugged his form in a sinful way. “And why is that?” she somehow managed to ask

Sebastian bent his head, catching her gaze with his own. “You want a man who won't let you control him.”

“And you could?” she countered, her cheeks flushing.

She held her breath, thinking he was going to kiss her again but he took a step back. “Come, we're leaving.” His tone left no room for debate and she really didn't feel any desire to refuse the command. Still it was her brother's party and she always stayed here to spend Christmas morning with him and Kate.

“But--“

“I said, come.”





A Dom For Christmas released on December 3rd from Red Rose Publishing!

Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Manic Readers

Manic Readers

She Writes

Historical Fiction Books

Readers and Writers of Distinctive Fiction