I've published a book of short fiction on Amazon's Kindle store.

Find it HERE -- Just $4.99 USD

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Welcome to the C.C.S. Patrol!

Welcome to a new feature of The Learning Curve--the C.C.S. Patrol! What does C.C.S. stand for, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. It stands for Crappy Customer Support! You would think that with the cost of everything going up and up and up, you'd think the quality of service would at least stay the same, wouldn't you? WRONG! More and more, companies want you to leave a voice mail message, or email them, or leave a message on their website.

I can see it now . . . . "Dear Company X, I am finding it impossible to access your website. Therefore, as requested, I am contacting you via your website (which I cannot access) to report the problem."

Well, duh . . .

My latest adventure? I got an email this morning, "from Twitter" telling me that the password to my Twitter account had been compromised and I needed to follow "this link" to reset my password. Pretty sure that's not from Twitter, but I'd still like to contact them to confirm that and give them a heads-up in the process.

So, I call the only Twitter phone number I can find (NOT toll-free, just long distance), only to get a recording informing me that "Twitter does provide customer support by phone at this time . . . ." Then, it tells me to report any problem through my Twitter account!

Well, duh . . . .

Oh! It did tell me that if I knew my party's extension, I could enter it at any time. I suppose I COULD call them back and just start entering extension numbers at random, until I got a person who would listen. Let's see, most extension numbers are combinations of 3 or 4 digits. Hmmm . . . .

I wouldn't be so concerned, except this scammer (if that is indeed what it is) had BOTH my email address and my Twitter username. That smells to me like Twitter may have been hacked!  WORD OF WARNING!

Soooo . . . what experiences would YOU like to report to the C.C.S. Patrol? Post here, and we'll tackle the corporate "Routing System Goliaths" together.

TUNE IN NEXT TIME: When I'll tell you a trick I've discovered for outfoxing the "speak or enter" instructions.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

MIA Apology

First things first. I apologize for being MIA for so long. I have a good excuse, though. Several of them, in fact.
  1. September 6 was my birthday. (Clue to my age - I'm just getting up to speed.)
  2. September 7-8 was my birthday weekend.
  3. September 9-12 I was preparing for . . .
  4. September 13-15, which was the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference. (And I went to it!)
  5. September 16 I worked on and sent some of the writing pieces requested by the agents and editors at the ACFW! (And in case you haven't guessed, that's a very good thing!) I also went to my monthly writing group. (Another very good thing.)
  6. September 18 I was on a discussion panel in my role as a writer. The topic was how do I get scripture in me, and the that God uses Scripture in my writing to accomplish His work in mine. 
  7. September 19 was when I heard back from someone who was a post-conference recipient of my writing samples. She wanted to see more! (I sent it!)
  8. September 19-24 I have been working to finish the novel.
And in between has been all the ordinary, day-to-day, important stuff.

SO, that's my excuse. WHAT'S YOURS? If you stopped by my blog and I wasn't home, why didn't you leave a note? I'd love to hear from you.

Anyway, what the majority of that list means is that it looks like I may be taking the first steps toward finding a publisher!

That's all I have time to post right now. I've been thinking, though, and I'll have more to say SOON!

Monday, September 02, 2013

An Author in Training - poem

Let Me Be Your Home ©

Let me be your home
Your soft place to land
Let me be your shelter when the storms are close at hand

Let me be your home
Be your safe retreat
When life gives you bitter, let me help to make it sweet

Let me your home
Let me be your friend
I give my word I'll stay with you until the very end

Let me be your home

An Author in Training - Another Excerpt (one of the last)

“Hello, Lovely Lady.”

Eva startled and looked around for the source of the unfamiliar voice. It wasn’t Aidaan's. It didn’t belong to Shaddai, either. She stood still on the path, waiting for the voice to speak again. Silence. Not even the twitter of a bird.

“Who are you?” Eva glanced around, trying to see some sign of the one accosting her “What do you want?” She lifted the branches of the nearby shrub and peered underneath. A melodic, silvery laugh echoed through the woods.

“Not there, Lovely One. I’m over here.”

She turned her head still searching for the source of the voice, just as the creature stepped onto the forest path. It was unusual looking, something she had never seen before in the garden. With elegant, long legs and a slender, elongated body it could have been mistaken for some graceful crossbreed dog. If it weren’t for the shimmering material covering its body. She took a step toward it, puzzled by its unusual appearance. Unconsciously, she reached out her hand, curious to know what its covering was. She felt a prickle on the back of her neck, something she had never experienced before. She hesitated, pulling her hand back to her side.

“Never fear, Beautiful Lady, your curiosity is natural. Touch. Examine. Enjoy."

The voice was friendly, soothing, almost melodic, and Eva felt herself relax. She looked more closely. The creature's muzzle was narrow and somewhat pointed, its eyes were large--a warm, liquid brown, with an almost magnetic pull.

"Who are you?" She blurted the question, and in the same instant, knew the answer. "You're He-Who-Will-Not-Sing!"

The creature shook its head sorrowfully. "Oh, my! Such a terrible name for such an innocent creature." It shook its head again. "My name," it said dramatically, "is Sypher, at your pleasure."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Oh, there you are, Perry!

I know, I know . . . it's a cryptic title.

Feel free to comment if you get it.

Anyway, my apologies for the "dead airtime"! THINGS have been happening, upon which I will elaborate later. For now, here's an appeasement–one of my infamous parodies.

Born To Be Mild

Got my motor runnin'
Sittin' in the driveway
She's lookin' for her dentures
And it's takin' half the day.

Yeah, I thought I's gonna make it happen
If we hurried we'd see the race
We wouldn't miss out for once, and
We'd find a good space.

But like a true middle child,
She was born, born to be mild
As the thrills slip by,
It makes me wanna cry.

Born to be mild . . . .

Born to be mild . . . .

Friday, August 16, 2013

An Author it Training - For the Wounded, Sick, and Sorrowing

So much sorrow and loss, lately . . .

For the families of Tucker, Jamie, Ross, David, Mary, Peggy, Bob. And for all the others out there who are sick or injured, wounded or grieving.

For the Wounded, Sick, and Sorrowing

Papa Healer,
My friend is hurting so.
It seems hard
To face such intense pain, sickness, sorrow.
It seems harder still—
To stand by,
To feel helpless,
While someone I love so deeply
Suffers so deeply.
I want to do...
...Something like You did.
With a touch,
Burn all disease from my friend's body.
With a word,
Tear out every microbe, toxin, cancer cell.
With the force of my faith,
Cast every wound,
Every sorrow,
Every loss,
Into the Pit from whence it came.


Guide my lips to pray,
My hands to serve,
My arms to hold,
My feet to go,
My heart to love,
In ways my friend needs most.
Let me be one of the faithful ones
Who carried the paralyzed man to You.
Grant that my faith be enough for my friend's healing.

Papa Healer,
I "open the roof"
And bring my friend to You.
Open the heavens,
And bring your healing touch
To my friend.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

An Author in Training - "Know Thyself" (Part 2)

I know, I know . . . .

I promised back on July 25, that I'd tell you what I'd learned about myself as a writer. So, here you go:

I ran into a major case of writer's block early in the summer and I couldn't figure out why. As I struggled with understanding it and overcoming it, I reached what I believe is a major insight about myself as a writer. I realized that at the beginning of the summer, I submitted a book proposal to an agent, for a book still in progress, and it was after that when the writer's block showed up.

Now I think I know why. One of the ingredients of a proposal is a chapter-by-chapter outline of the story. Some writers do their best writing from an outline--what I would call a "constructed" writer. Other write their best by letting the story grow--what I'm calling an "organic" writer.

Long story short, I think I'm an organic writer. I find my best writing happens when I let the story grow as it grows. I may prune it, train it, re-pot, graft bits onto it, but basically, it is what it grows to be. For me, that seems to result in a story that feels like it's being told by someone who was there.

My problem this summer? I had an outline! I've always been taught that a good writer "should" create and write from an outline. So, I was trying to be a "good" writer, and write the story the way the outline said it was going to go. What does an outline know? My characters and I decide what's going to happen next! That's what makes writing fun and interesting for me (and I think for my readers).

So, I've decided to ditch the outline. Oh, I'll stick it in a drawer and refer to it for general guidelines--sort of. But I know where the story started from, and I know where it's going. (The ending is already pretty much written.) I'm excited to see how it grows.

You're welcome to come along for the ride.

P.S. I'm coming to believe that all of us tend to naturally live our lives more one way or the other—constructed or organic. There's no right or wrong. Asking which one is right is like asking, "Which is right, an oak tree or a house?" There's a place for both. The problem comes if we can't flex enough to use the other approach when necessary. Which way seems to work better for you?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Spoon! - another sample

Eva had awakened that morning with a song running through her mind. She tried to remember where she had heard it; whose song it was. After a few moments' thought, she remembered—it was the song of the mountains, rising to the east beyond the garden. The melody soared and plunged, with clear, high notes, followed by a deep thrumming, almost too low to hear. As it repeated itself in her head, she felt a sudden inspiration. She could combine the various songs to make a symphony of praise!

Eva began to search through the melodies she had stored in her memory for other parts of the song . . . a tree! A towering evergreen, its shape mimicking that of the mountain and the whispering swish of its needles a delicate counterpoint to the mountain's song. Next she thought of a small, clear mountain stream, glittering in the sunlight and tingling its way downhill toward the center of the garden. The next part she thought was a meadow filled with the low humming of bees, interspersed with the varied chimes of an assortment of flowers, finishing with the grace notes of butterflies, flitting here and there through the composition.

  Eva breathed a sigh of satisfaction at the arrangement she had thought of. If she could think of it, it must exist somewhere. Humming the song she had put together, she set out to find the place where it existed.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Prayer for Troubled Days

Ii have yet to share my insight about myself as a writer, which I will do soon, I promise.

I just felt that, with all the bad news lately, it was time for another printed prayer. So many people are feeling harrassed, attacked, overwhelmed, etc., etc. Here is a prayer I wrote, based on Psalm 142:

A Prayer for Troubled Days

O Lord hear my cries
O Lord show me mercy
I ache to the depths of my soul
Guard my spirit
As I walk through this valley
Of traps and snares
This valley that feels like death
O Lord you see
There is no one beside me
No one holds my hand
Or protects me
Or encourages me
As if to them I have no soul

But I cry out to you O Lord
You are my hiding place
My shelter
My fortress
You are the core
The reason for my life
O Lord
You have heard my desperate cry
You will spare me from my pursuers
That they will not overpower me
You have freed my soul from its prison
And I will give glory to your name
O Lord
Gather your people around me
And I will declare
Your blessing
Your mercy
Your unfailing love to me
All of my days


(based on Psalm 142)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Author in Training - "Know Thyself"

If you  hadn't guessed, I've been in the doldrums lately with my writing. Sitting, staring at the computer screen. Lots of time to think. And if something's not working, I analyze it. I (figuratively) disassemble it. In the process this time, I've come up with a couple things.

The first one is about me, as a person. A while ago, someone did something that hurt me very deeply. They said they were sorry, but to me, they didn't really seem to "get it"—they weren't sorry enough to suit me. And I developed a lousy attitude toward them. It colored how I perceived everything they said or did. It was part hurt, part anger, and part fear that they would hurt me again.

Then, to top it off, we had a major disagreement. About something I consider important, and so do they. My attitude got so bad, I felt on edge whenever they were around. And they picked up on it, which influenced how all my words and actions got interpreted.

Then the other night, I had an insight. Me having that attitude is not pleasing to God. I needed to change. I looked at my old excuses. "They aren't sorry enough. They're wrong in what they believe about ________. They don't "get" how badly they hurt me. They have a lousy attitude." Then I took a long hard look at what was on the other side of the scale: God calls me to have a good attitude toward everyone.

 It doesn't matter if they have a bad attitude, if I believe they are wrong in our discussion, if they are just plain rude and don't "deserve" my kindness. The fact is, God is kind, and He calls me to be like Him. I can still disagree with the other person, even stand up for what I believe in the discussion, but it must be done with kindness and a good attitude. It isn't a question of whether or not the other person deserves my kindness. It is a question of whether or not I will obey God—and He "deserves" my obedience.

Well, that's it for the first insight. The second one is about my writing . . . and it will have to wait until tomorrow. Hey, that's the breaks! See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

An Author in Training - Conspiracy Theory

Come here....
Yeah, you.
You''re a faithful reader, riiiiiiight?
I thought so.
This message is written in special ink, that can only be read by faithful readers.
I've got a secret message for you....
(Cue "Pink Panther" music)

A crack team of investigators have uncovered evidence that there may be forces, operating behind the scenes, which are attempting to squelch the publication of Serpentine. The leader of the group whose nefarious plans will be exposed in this tell-all book, is repotted to be "walking around, roaring like a lion," and making claims that he is a "perfect angel," but a spokesperson for the opposition has issued a statement saying, "our adversary was a liar from the beginning."

This writer is determined to see the project through to publication.

Check back for more details, as this story unfolds!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Long Time No See - Another Sample

Eva sat on the gentle slope of a small rise and munched a carrot. She wiggled her toes in the soft grass, trying to burrow them down to the cool, moist earth beneath. A curious rabbit hippetted closer to find out what was going on in his meadow, and Eva offered him a bite. The rabbit sniffed it carefully for ripeness, then took a dainty nibble. Eva wiggled her toes again, and caught the rabbit off guard. She couldn't help laughing when he stopped eating and sniffed at the toes. "Nope. Sorry, bunny, but those are not some rare wiggly carrots." She leaned forward and reached out caressing the rabbit's small, round head, smoothing his ears beneath her hand as she stroked down his back to his haunches. The rabbit sat quietly relaxing, carefully tucked in, his eyes closed, a twitching nose his only movement.

"You're so quiet, Rabbit." Eva was halfway talking to herself. "You're completely silent. Do you join the song of praise?"

The rabbit opened his eyes and looked directly into hers, as though issuing a friendly challenge. Eva quieted herself, growing as still as the rabbit. in the silence, she began to hear faint, distant-sounding music. Just as she picked up the melody and rhythm, the rabbit began to thump the ground with one of his fuzzy, oversized back feet. He started with a simple rhythm that obviously coordinated with the song that Eva heard, but as it went on,the rhythm he tapped out became more complex and beautiful, weaving itself like a rhythmic lace around and through the melody.

Abruptly, the rabbit was still no longer! As if suddenly propelled from his place by an unseen force, he raced from the spot where he had been sitting and began to perform a leaping, tumbling dance, incorporating the sounds of his thumping feet into the rhythm of the dance. He bounced and jumped in the vegetation of the meadow, dropping down into the tall grasses, only to pop into the air again, a little way from where he had disappeared. As Eva watched, it seemed the music grew stronger, and she began to hum along.

Suddenly, the rabbit wasn't dancing alone! There were at least a dozen other rabbits of all ages and shades, dancing with him. Eva sat mesmerized, watching the furry dance troupe popping in and out of view—jumping, flipping, and twirling, and all the while hearing the intricately patterned thump and rustle of furry feet, celebrating the life bestowed on them by their Creator.

Unexpectedly, in the midst of the dance the lead rabbit dropped to the ground, hunkering silent and still, his ears at the alert, listening for a repeat of the concerning sound. Immediately, all the rabbit clan dropped and huddled like their leader, ears twitching alertly.

Eva heard nothing, but it was clear the rabbits did. Their leader bolted from his shelter and shot across the meadow, heading for the forest, and in an instant the entire clan was hot on his heels, moving so quickly, they appeared to be competing in a race. In a moment's time, they had all disappeared, leaving Eva alone in an empty, silent meadow. Silent, except that somewhere off in the distance, she could hear a soft, melodic chiming.

She mentioned the incident to Shaddai later that day, when they were walking through the garden. "Something made them all want to run," she told him, "and it wasn't happy like the jumping and dancing was."

"I have been expecting this day. There is one who has come to the garden, who does not sing the song. It was from him that the rabbits hid."

Friday, July 05, 2013

Homeward Bound

My best friend is coming home today!

Before you ask, "What's her name?". . . It isn't a "she", it's a "he"! And before you get all worried, my best friend is also the father of my children, the love of my life, my husband. There! Now you've got something to talk about!

(gasp) "She said she's in love with her husband!"*
*Side note to all young(er) wives: It is possible to grow continually more in love with the man you love—for at least 34 years. (I'll let you know about 35 years next year.)
Knowing my baby's coming home today makes me want to straighten the house, cook dinner, get my hair done, play some of our songs, and wear a dress. Talking about a certain Hollywood star, one of my friends once said, "That's the kind of man I'd shave my legs and paint my toenails in winter for!" (Any woman who lives where the winters get cold knows how much that is saying!) Well, Lloyd Woodard, you're the kind of man I'd shave my legs and paint my toenails in winter for!

We've both had so many adventures in the past two and a half weeks, I can't wait to hold his hand, talk for hours, snuggle inside the curve of his arm, kiss him, . . . (fade to black).

And to anyone who's feeling a little "Victorian" at the moment—DEAL WITH IT!

Lucky I'm in love with my best friend 
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be comin' home again. 
Lucky we're in love in ev'ry way
Lucky to have stayed where we have stayed
Lucky to be comin' home today. 
Welcome home, baby!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

An Author in Training - one more postcard

In the dark of night, the clouds had settled down into the valleys, and the travelers awoke to the trees veiled in fog and mist. The rising sun kissed the peaks and the rims of the clouds, gilding them with morning light. As the morning sun burned off the fog, a glacial lake came into view, glistening and sparkling in the brightening day.

The clouds rolled and curled in great sheets over the mountaintops, making threats of precipitation which remained unfulfilled, leaving the mountaintop remnants of snow to dwindle further.

The track cut through a stand of trees, and into the shade, then suddenly plunged into a tunnel, only to emerge a few seconds later into the brilliant daylight. Then into another tunnel, then back out into the light, where the track ran along the drop-off cliff bank of the turbulent, blue-green river.

An Author in Training - Spoon!

That's "Spoon!" as in "'Here's another sample—another spoon to lick!"

"You're so quiet, Rabbit." Eva was halfway talking to herself. "You're completely silent. Do you join the song of praise?" The rabbit opened his eyes and looked directly into hers, as though issuing a friendly challenge. Eva quieted herself, growing as still as the rabbit. in the silence, she began to hear faint, distant-sounding music. Just as she picked up the melody and rhythm, the rabbit began to thump the ground with one of his fuzzy, oversized back feet. He started with a simple rhythm that obviously coordinated with the song that Eva heard, but as it went on,the rhythm he tapped out became more complex and beautiful, weaving itself like a rhythmic lace around and through the melody.

Abruptly, the rabbit was still no longer! As if suddenly propelled from his place by an unseen force, he raced from the spot where he had been sitting and began to perform a leaping, tumbling dance, incorporating the sounds of his thumping feet into the rhythm of the dance. He bounced and jumped in the vegetation of the meadow, dropping down into the tall grasses, only to pop into the air again, a little way from where he had disappeared. As Eva watched, it seemed the music grew stronger, and she began to hum along.  

Suddenly, the rabbit wasn't dancing alone! There were at least a dozen other rabbits of all ages and shades, dancing with him. Eva sat mesmerized, watching the furry dance troupe popping in and out of view—jumping, flipping, and twirling, and all the while hearing the intricately patterned thump and rustle of furry feet, celebrating the life bestowed on them by their Creator.

Unexpectedly, in the midst of the dance the lead rabbit dropped to the ground, hunkering silent and still, his ears at the alert, listening for a repeat of the concerning sound. Immediately, all the rabbit clan dropped and huddled like their leader, ears twitching alertly.

Eva heard nothing, but it was clear the rabbits did. Their leader bolted from his shelter and shot across the meadow, heading for the forest, and in an instant the entire clan was hot on his heels, moving so quickly, they appeared to be competing in a race. In a moment's time, they had all disappeared, leaving Eva alone in an empty, silent meadow. Silent, except that somewhere off in the distance, she could hear a soft, melodic chiming.

She mentioned the incident to Shaddai later that day, when they were walking through the garden. "Something made them all want to run," she told him, "and it wasn't happy like the jumping and dancing was."

"I have been expecting this day. There is one who has come to the garden, who does not sing the song. It was from him that the rabbits hid." 

Monday, July 01, 2013

An Author in Training - another postcard

Smiling eyes shine in crinkled settings—living jewels in a face expressing experience, wisdom, friendship.

Man of battle...and peace.  Man of pride...and humility. Man of strength...and gentleness.

Understanding — that the way to stand tall is to stoop and help others...that creativity shared is a gift to both creator and recipient...that our uniqueness shines brightest in our unity.

Student's mind. Poet's spirit. Teacher's heart.

Keith Bear

Saturday, June 29, 2013

An Author in Training - continued

Since I rarely had internet access on my quest, (remind me to get my next iPad with G-whatever-number), i'm finally back to blogging. i have some catching up to do, so tonight, I'm sending a blogging postcard from the California coast.

Leaving Santa Barbara the coast is rocky and irregular. Dotting the shoreline are a multitude of small, carved-out niche-harbors, their tiny, crescent-shaped  boulder beaches isolated from each other by jutting stone promontories and peninsulas. Here and there, an irregular, saw-toothed rock formation rises from the water, erosion's effect on ancient land strata.

The train runs along the edge of the cliff now, on one side a rock wall so near, i could reach out and touch the sandstone cliff, on the other a drop-off so near, so sheer, I can hear the surf pounding the shore–can see glassy green waves, curling and foaming toward the sand, before shattering into millions of shards of liquid sea glass.

Sprinkled along the sand are tiny humans, dwarfed by the grandeur of the sea and the shore. In pairs, groups, or solitary bliss, they swim, splash, and fish. Here and there, an occasional child or adult pauses in their activity to wave at the passing travelers. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Another Sample

  Wait! What was that sound? She heard something that sounded faint and far away, but at the same time bright and clear. She tried to locate its source, but it appeared to come from everywhere, and yet nowhere in particular. It seemed to have different components, some humming, buzzing, and whistling, some chime-like, others booming, swishing, or rasping. It all combined into something immense that flowed through her and made her feet want to move. What was it?

Suddenly, he was there—Shaddai, radiant and glorious, shining brighter than the morning sun. "You hear it." His words were not a question, but a statement. Eva nodded.

"I hear it, but what is it?"

"It is the music of the universe." He made a sweeping gesture with his hand that seemed to include all of creation. "The earth and everything in it, the heavens with the sun, moon, and stars, all worshiping me for who I am, and all praising me together for creating them. They rejoice with exuberance the fact that I spoke them into being."

"So everything in creation has a song of praise to you, and they all sing together?" Eva considered this for a moment. "Do I have a song, too? Can I sing with creation?" Eva shifted slightly. The song of creation still made her feet want to move.

Shaddai nodded. "Yes, your song will be added, and you will dance to the music of the universe, as well."

"Dance?" Eva was puzzled by this new word.

"Dance," Shaddai repeated. "Your feet want to move at the sound of creation's song, do they not? And your voice wants to burst forth. This is 'dance' and 'sing'! Follow their leading in the song and dance of worship."

Eva stood for a moment, still and listening. Then her feet began to move, and she ran, jumped, and stomped. Her entire body joined in, and she twirled, swayed, and flung her arms wide. Now a song bubbled up from the depths of her being, and poured from her lips, soaring high and clear, dropping to a low growl, chirping, whistling, and clicking her tongue. The song and dance built in intensity—faster and faster, higher and higher—until it reached a crescendo, and with one last, highest note, she dropped to her knees before Shaddai and pressed her forehead to the ground.

An Author in "Training" - I'm Baaaaack!

Hi, folks! Sorry about being MIA for a couple days. Amtrak has very limited internet services, so I had to grab a server for a few moments as we'd pass through a station. Not much time to be profound.

Then, when I got here,  I'd had 2 nights of little to no sleep before I left home (excitement) and 2 nights of "sleeping" on the train. I don't remember falling asleep here at my friend's house on Thursday night.

Now after a couple good nights' sleep and a day of  R&R, I'm going to post a couple pictures and an excerpt, and then I'll be ready to get to work. A few things that will be informing my writing:
a lighthouse
a cemetery
a debate
natural wonders
several conversations

Uploading a few photos and an excerpt, and then back to writing.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Where are we? If it's Wednesday, this must be Kansas....

Wednesday, June 19, 2:43 am

We're somewhere (in Kansas?) and we're stopped near some place with wi-fi.

On the move!

(Footnote: I was right! It was Newton, Kansas!)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

An Author in "Training" - 'Next Stop"

Galesburg, Illinois has free city wi-fi!

Just spent some time talking with a couple from Australia.

On the move!

An Author in "Training" - Almost Out

I'm at Union Station, Chicago. I finally found wi-fi. I'm almost out of battery power (5%). I'm almost out of time before I board the next train (to LA). I'm almost out of familiar territory. More later. My sister, Cindy, will be posting for me if I can't.

Gotta run! iVaya con Dios!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Daddy's Girl

Tomorrow is Father's Day, and I don't know if the day will ever get any easier.
The ads about "Buy Dad this," Give Dad that," hurt! I wish I could give him a gas gtill, or a silly card, or an ugly tie. But most of all, I wish I could give him a hug. Just a hug. Just one more hug. There are times my arms almost ache to wrap around him.

But I've been thinking the past few days, and I've realized that a couple of things I inherited from my dad (besides my narrow jaw and my terror in front of a crowd) are his love of travel and his enjoyment of a good story. Hmm...sound familiar?

And he loved his family.

And he loved God.

So I've decided that tomorrow I'm going to honor my dad by going to church and honoring God. Then I'll honor Dad by loving and enjoying his grandkids and great-grandkids (and his son-in-law).

Then, Monday, I'll honor him by getting up and packing for my train trip, and Tuesday, by going on the trip. (He loved trains, too.) I'll honor him by soaking up the sights and taking pictures and making friends and helping people in need.

But most of all, I'll honor him by finishing the book. Because another thing he loved was seeing me stretch to reach my potential.

So, Happy Father's Day, Dad!

This year, for your special day, I'm giving you a busy,motivated, happy, helpful, friendly, accomplished, confident woman—me! I know it's just what you've always wanted.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

An Author in "Training" - 'Til the Storm Passes By

Sometimes, you just need to find bedrock to hook your anchor into. Sometimes, for me, that bedrock is an old song. Last night, sitting in my basement, listening to the wind, the rain, and thethunder, two songs kept playing through my head. Today, as I look out on a fresh-washed world, I offer them to you, with any help you might find in them as you face whatever storms may be heading your way.

O, God Our Help In Ages Past

O, God our help in ages past
Our hope for years to come
Our shelter from the stormy blast
And our eternal home.

Beneath the shadow of thy throne
Still may we dwell secure
Sufficient is thine arm alone
And our defense is sure. 

Safe 'Til The Storm Passes By

In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face 
While the storm howls above me and there's no hiding place 
'Mid the crash of the thunder, precious Lord hear my cry, 
"Keep me safe til the storm passes by."   

'Til the storm passes over 
'Til the night is no more 
'Til the clouds roll forever from the sky 
Hold me fast, let me stand 
In the hollow of thy hand 
Keep me safe till the storm passes by. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Countdown

Less that a week to go now, and I'm getting butterflies. Mostly just excited butterflies, but still—jumpy tummy. My packing is mostly done, except for the things that I'll be using up to the last minute. I'm still paring my packing. I'm hoping to get it down to two bags and a purse. (So there, Mark!)

II'm not going to write much this evening, because we're battening down the hatches for what they say is going to be a doozy of a storm—sort of a straight-line hurricane—kind of a "tie down your cows" sort of night! (It's called a derecho, which is "right" in Spanish, but I don't see anything very right about it....)

Anyway, I'm including another sample to nibble on, and I'll be giving a small  "thank you" gift to the first ten people who comment on here after the storm has passed through Grant County. Let's see who's paying attention. :)

Now, "on with the show":

As she peered through the half-light that she would learn to associate with early morning, she heard Shaddai speak: "Sea life!"

Immediately, the sea began to roll and churn, as if the very water itself were coming to life. In the seeming chaos, Eva caught glimpses of bright and dull colors, flashes of silvery scales, a seeming tangle of fins and tentacles, skin and fur and membranes. Gradually, the confusion began to sort itself out into schools of salmon, pods of whales, clusters of ballooning jellyfish. A giant squid stretched and curled its arms before, with a slow, silent twirl, it gradually sank down into the water and out of sight. She caught only a momentary glimpse of the strange angler fish, with its huge mouth full of long, thorn-like teeth, and the odd, fleshy lure dangling between its eyes. Then it flicked its tail and dove straight down, headed for the dark landscape of the ocean floor where it would find its home.

In the dim light before sunrise, the surface of the ocean glowed with expanses of phosphorescent krill. Eva heard a loud splashing approaching from a distance. As she watched, hundreds of dolphins and sea lions appeared on the horizon, swimming through the sea of krill toward her, their bodies aglow with a film of the microscopic creatures. Breeching and diving, the warm blooded sea creatures seemed to perform an aquatic dance expressing a primitive joy and gratitude for their place in creation.

As the dancing water mammals passed beneath her and vanished in the distance, Eva heard Shaddai speak again. "Birds!" She couldn't have told you how it happened, but instantly the air around her was filled with hundreds—perhaps thousands—of birds of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Hawks and swallows swooped and dove over and under her, circled around her head, and swirled off into the distance. A flock of seagulls and a pair of eagles glided across the sky, rising and falling on the invisible streams of air. Several pelicans and a lone albatross flapped ungracefully past, somehow managing to avoid a collision with the couple dozen dainty, jewel-toned hummingbirds hovering inquisitively around her face.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Traveling Light

Last night at a graduation party, I saw a friend whom I hadn't seen for close to 10 years. She was very excited for me and had we talked for several minutes, when the topic changed to "Luggage," and I mentioned that I would be living for close to two weeks, out of two carry-ons. Shawn then told me about an article she had read, on a woman who attempted the challenge of living for a month on seven articles of clothing. Seven!

  • pair of jeans
  • pair of shorts
  • long sleeve shirt
  • short sleeve shirt
  • dress
  • sweater
  • jacket

That got me wondering about how light I could travel while I'm "in training," and I came home, took a look at the clothes I had laid out as potentially packable, and started "thinning the herd." I knew all along this day would come. After all, I have no checked luggage. As of last night, when it comes to outer wear (as opposed to underwear) I have no more than three pieces of any one item (ie., 3 tank tops. Today, I plan to see how it all fits.

That whole thing got me thinking about emotionally "traveling light." How often do I carry excess baggage?—Things that are uncomfortable? Things that don't fit anymore? Things that make me look old and tired? That's something I need to think about. Maybe it's time to jettison some of my emotional baggage.

How about you?

Friday, June 07, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Training at Home (part 4)

I have to say, you meet the nicest people when you're "training'! Tonight, it was Laura. Somehow, my Amtrak reservations had gotten garbled, with one ticket being sent to one email address, and the rest being sent to another. Laura (with her smiling voice) talked us through getting everything sent to one email address. Then she found me a direct dial number to the internet support department, so tomorrow I can call them direct (no computerized routiing system—thank you, Laura!) and see if they can combine the various emails and reservations into one coherent account.

So, thank you, Laura! If all the Amtrak employees are as nice and as helpful as you, I'm going to have  a wooonnnnderrrrfulllll time traveling by train. Like I said, you meet the nicest people on the train!

OK, a little business to take care of, then it's time for another sample. Here's the deal, agents, editors, and publishers like to hedge their bets. In other words, they want—if at all possible—to have a guarantee that a book is going to sell, before they ever offer the writer a contract.

So, here's how you can help.... If you are enjoying these samples, and you think you would buy the book if it were available, pleeeeeze leave a little note in the comment section where you say, "I'D BUY THE BOOK!" and your first name and last initial. And if you live in the U.S. or Canada, please include your state or province, or if you live elsewhere, the name of your country. No commitment. No obligation. Just that it's something you''re willing to consider. Thanks!

Now, on to the sample....

By the time they reached the tree line, Eva realized that this skill—walking—was something she could conquer, and she began to push herself to master it quickly. When they reached the edge of the clearing, and Aidan turned her to walk back the other direction, she gently pulled her hands from his and began to walk alone. Once or twice she fell, sitting suddenly with a soft flump on the cushion of grass, but she rapidly developed skill and confidence. Her steps lost their shuffling hesitancy, maturing into an energetic stride.

When Aidan saw her determination to learn, he began to show her variations on walking. He walked backward, hopped on one foot, jumped across the stream. Eva copied his moves, nervously at first, but with growing courage. Her favorite “trick,” though, was running. From the first time she saw Aidan flash past her, something responded deep inside. She wanted to move like that, too! Her first attempt at running brought a rush of pure joy she could scarcely have imagined. The air brushed her face as she rushed past it, and she could feel it lifting her long, copper-colored hair, making it flow and flutter behind her as she ran. The drumming of her heart and the impact of her feet on the ground connected her to all of creation around her in a manner she couldn’t explain, and in some way she felt even more alive.

The dogs charged from their places in the circle and bounded after her, tails waving and tongues lolling. They caught up with her, circled around her, rushed off the the stream for a drink, before racing back to her. They settled into a companionable trot, one dog on either side of her, as she jogged around the edge of the clearing.

Several pairs of birds, hawks and swallows included,  joined the impromptu procession, swooping, and diving, calling to their mates and to the other birds as they rode the air currents, their circle and curves weaving an intricate pattern in the sky over her head.

The entire family of cats—from calicos and civets to lions and cheetahs—sprinted from their places around the clearing as if to join the pursuit, although in reality they were grasping the opportunity to race madly around in circles for no apparent reason, ducking and dodging around each other and veering off inexplicably.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Angel Count (and Sample)

I want to take a moment to say "Welcome!" to my latest Angel in "Training", L.D. Thanks for letting me know you believe in what I'm doing.

And now, without further ado, another nibble:

+ + + + +  

Once again, Eva found herself soaring. This time, however, she was so high that, other than the unrelenting blackness around her, the only visible object was a small, blue and green disk. Since the focal point of all this so far had been earth, she assumed that this was once again true, and the disk must somehow be earth. From this distance, her planet glowed like a huge jewel. Eva sighed, overwhelmed by its beauty.

Gradually, as she hovered in the darkness, her attention was drawn to an interruption, visible in the corner of her eye. She turned and squinted into the darkness, trying to interpret what was taking place. With her back turned to the glowing earth, and Eva's eyes beginning to adjust, the objects reflected back just enough light from earth that she could make out what was happening—barely.

From every direction in the blackness, debris, particles, dust was drifting purposefully toward a collecting point near where she waited. When the material reached the gathering spot, it joined with the other debris in a slow, spiraling dance. More and more dust and debris collected, adding to the growing spiral, now winding itself tighter and tighter, drawing in every last particle.

Now the spiral began to spin faster and faster, shaping itself into an orb. The orb drew tighter in on itself, continuing to pick up speed, until it spun faster than her eye could register, and appeared to be standing still. Eva kept watching and soon, she noticed the center of the orb beginning to glow. While it spun faster and faster, and glowed brighter and brighter, Eva held her breath, awaiting...what? Just as she reached the conclusion that there was nothing more to see, a rumble and a roar came from the center of the spinning mass, and without further warning, the orb burst into flame.

The sun! Eva shaded her eyes and backed away from the intense heat. She glanced over toward the earth. It had glowed before, but now it was positively radiant. On the opposite side of the earth, the furthest possible from the sun, glowed a bright white disk—the moon, reflecting back the light the sun bestowed. Eva glanced around her at the unrelenting blackness, and found it relenting; surrendering to millions of tiny, pinpoint stars. She looked once more at earth. It was slowly revolving! As the globe rotated, every area of the planet received its share of the sun's light and heat. She watched as an area rotated from light to dark, and back to light. Evening and morning...the fourth day.

An Author in "Training" - Training at Home (part 3)

Yesterday, I stopped by the office of my friend, Mary Alice, just as she decided to go to lunch. So she took me with her. We went to the K Bistro, in Marion, since it's someplace she enjoys and I had never been. Good choice! It was easy to see why Mary Alice likes it. The food was delicious, with a lot of thought and creativity put into the making and presentation. one example would be the "S'more-tini," a dessert of (I believe) chocolate syrup, chocolate bar pieces, graham cracker pieces, and vanilla ice cream, served in a martini glass!

But what made the meal was our waitress, Robin. She was attentive without being obtrusive. She made suggestions without being pushy. She was friendly and conversational, without making it seem like she was butting into our conversation. And I loved her hair! With cornrows on the sides and curls on the top and down the back, I almost thought of it as a hairstyle inspired by the mohawk, but with a pretty, feminine attitude the mohawk could never have.

So if you go to K Bistro, ask for Robin. With her cute hair and cheery smile, someone should inform the chefs that it they want to get the most "presentation mileage" from their creations, they should always have Robin deliver the food to the table.

Thanks, Robin! I'll be back—with or without Mary Alice (although I doubt she'd turn it down)!

Saturday, June 01, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Training at Home (part 2)

I'm not giving a lot of details today, but the past few days have seen a group of individuals go above and beyond the call.

Thank you to:


Remember - pink is the new black!

An Author in "Training" - Oops!

Oh, no! I forgot to list my 18th angel! Sorry, M.D.! I haven't forgotten you! Love you!

Friday, May 31, 2013

An Author in "Training" - "I hear that whistle blowin'...."

Just a couple quick notes:

1. The train reservations are made. A slight change of plan. I leave on Tuesday, June 18th, so if someone can find it in their heart to take me to Lafayette to the train station, I'd be forever grateful.

2. The "Angel in 'Training'" count now stands at 17! Welcome, (another) J.B., and D.A.! There's a funny thing. I was quoting Matthew 6 (he feeds the birds, and he'll feed you) and I was thinking about Elijah being fed by ravens. So, the first person who donated after the cost of the ticket was met knew they were donating for meals, and they have something "bird-like" about them! I think they know who they are.

OK, one more thing. You've been very patient, so here's another sample:

She sat on the edge of the rock, her feet just brushing the flowers and grass that grew around its base. She hadn't noticed while they had been walking—probably because of Shaddai's brightness—but something had happened to the bright sunlight. It had dimmed. Dusk had fallen. She felt the comfortable heat radiating from the sun-warmed stone surface where she sat, and noticed the pleasant contrast it made with the cool evening breeze. She looked back out across the meadow where they had walked, and found herself charmed by the sights and sounds of the evening. Only later would she learn the words to describe the scene.

The first stars of the evening were just beginning to twinkle into sight in the sky above them, while all across the meadow, thousands of fireflies created a constantly changing display of twinkling, earth-bound constellations. In the woods behind her, she could hear the soft, high pitched croaks of the tree frogs, and all across the meadow was the call-and-response song of the crickets.

Into the peace of the moment, reached the gentle, penetrating voice of Shaddai. "In the beginning, before there was time, before the sun burst into flame, before the earth was spoken—when there was only darkness, emptiness, nothingness—We were there; moving, nurturing."

"We?" The word flew from Eva's lips before she could stop it.

"Yes, We." Shaddai smiled softly. "Shaddai. The Three'd One. God."

For some while after He made the statement, Eva struggled to get her understanding around the thought that, although Shaddai was One, He was Three, but He was One. Finally, she decided that knowing him was more important than understanding all the complicated concepts, and she settled back into listening to the story of how earth came to be.

Shaddai told the story in pictures so vivid, Eva felt she was there, watching creation take place. She could see now, how Aidan could feel as though it was his story to tell, as though he were an eyewitness. In her mind's eye, Eva saw the oppressive darkness, then a burst of light. With the birth of light came also the birth of shadows, although she could not have said what the shadow-casters were. Not all the shadows were equal, as well, with some of the darkness soothing and restful, while in other places, the dark seemed looming, threatening. The picture closed, and Eva knew the first day of creation had come to an end.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Training at Home

So there I was sitting in the Anderson, Indiana, Red Lobster, thinking about this blog, and the upcoming trip (always about the upcoming trip). I was thinking to myself about how I want to document interesting people and highlight excellent service on my trip, and it suddenly struck me, there's absolutely nothing wrong with affirming excellent service at home, too!

So here's to Tim, our server tonight! He introduced himself to us by saying, "I'll be taking care of you, this evening." And that's exactly what he did. He was so attentive to my husband and me, you'd have thought he owned the restaurant, or we were having dinner in his home. The coffee and iced tea were promptly topped up, the menu suggestions were right on the money, and Tim put in an appearance to check on us just often enough.

At the end of our dinner, he wrote on the check, "It was truly a pleasure to serve you," and I believe it!

So, the next time you get hungry while traveling on I-69 near Anderson, Indiana, my recommendation is to get off the interstate at the Highway 9 exit, walk into the Red Lobster there on Highway 9, and asked if Tim is working. I don't have a last name, but he's tall, dark, and helpful—you can't miss him!

Thanks, Tim, for a very enjoyable dinner!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

An Author in "Train"ing - Third Serving

Posting another (shorter) excerpt today. If nobody has anything to say, then it may be the last one posted.

But in the middle of the meadow, in the very center, was a sight that took Eva’s breath away. There were two trees, standing side by side. One tree was barely as tall as Eva with gnarled trunk and branches, which bore half-hidden, nondescript fruit. Next to it stood the most beautiful tree she had ever seen, this one stood about two Aidans tall, with multiple trunks that fanned out from the base like a bouquet. The leaves were large and heavy, glossy and dark green, and their weight bowed the topmost branches down, so the tree looked like a giant living fountain. As she came closer to the tree, Eva could smell a flowery, fruity scent that was almost hypnotic, and she realized it was the fragrance of the tree, whose branches were overloaded with a crop at every stage of growth, from flower to ripe fruit.

Her eyes widened as she slowly approached the tree. Its flowers were iridescent: golden, with a pale blue shimmer in the bright daylight. The unripe fruit was pale yellow, with a modest pink blush. The ripe fruit, though, was what held her attention. It was a deep transparent red, with skin and flesh so clear, she could see the seed nestled in the center. Round and smooth, the perfect size to cradle in her hand, they dangled easily within her reach, glowing like living jewels in the late afternoon light.

The tree seemed to draw her, inviting her to know more, and she reached to pluck a ripe fruit as she took a step toward the tree. As if from far away, she heard Aidan calling to her.

“Eva, stop! That is the Tree of Knowing! It is not ours to enjoy! Stop!”

Soooo, let me know what you think. Anyone? Anyone?

Monday, May 27, 2013

An Author in "Train"ing - Angel Roll Call

OK, I think it's time for another Angel in "Training" roll call/thank you. There are fifteen angels now, so "Thank you!" to:

G.O., S.M., L.W., A.H., C.C., K.L., A.F., M.H., T.G., M.A.T., K.O., J.B., P.T., D.R., and  (the other) T.G.!

If you have given, or told me you were going to, and you don't see your initials here, please contact me--I may have forgotten to write you down. Some of you later arriving angels may not be aware that I have some plans to show my appreciation more publicly and/or tangibly.

If you don't understand what I'm talking about, go back to "The Adventure Begins"

And now, another excerpt from Serpentine:

Eva had never experienced sleep, and it  had crept upon her unrecognized. Her first awareness of it came as she awoke, and her inarticulate thought was that she was experiencing again the first moments of her life. She turned toward Aidan, expecting to find him watching her. What she saw instead was her mate, sleeping. He lay on his back with his hands behind his head, his chest rising and falling with each breath. His eyes were closed, and he smiled faintly in his sleep. Intrigued by his closed eyes, Eva reached out with one fingertip and gently stroked the lowered lids, ruffling the dark lashes. It must have tickled, because Aidan twitched and snorted, startling Eva in the process. He stretched and looked around, reorienting himself.

“Did you sleep?”

His words had no meaning for her, and she stared blankly at him, trying to decipher what he wanted. Aidan tried the question again, this time aided by an impromptu pantomime.

“Did you...” he pointed at her, “sleep?” He closed his eyes and mimicked sleep, curled up, with his cheek resting on his folded hands. He held the pose for a moment, then opened his eyes and tried the question once more. “Did you sleep, after....” His voice trailed off, at a loss to name the event.

The wordless reference to what had taken place between them stirred shared memories, and smiled at each other. Eva was lying on her belly in the soft grass, propped up on her elbows, while Aidan had rolled onto his side again: the same posture as when she had first seen him. Eva reached over and traced the length of his nose with her fingertip. She allowed her finger to trail down Aidan’s top lip, pause for a moment on his full lower lip, then trail on down his chin and neck until she came to his torso. She pressed her hand against his chest, spreading her fingers wide. Holding still, she could feel his heart beating against her palm.

“Hmmm....” She closed her eyes to focus on the rhythm.

“Ahh....” Aidan sighed contentedly.

Eva felt Aidan’s hand resting gently on her back, just below her shoulder blades. It glided along the furrow of her spine until it reached her hips. She sighed contentedly and relaxed even more, resting her head on her folded arms.

Urrr...gluck, gluck, gluck!

What was that? It didn’t sound like any animal she’d met so far! She looked at Aidan, who was watching her thoughtfully.


Eva felt as if her middle was twisting and turning in on itself. She placed her hand over the empty-feeling spot in the center of her torso, just in time to feel the vibrations made by the next sound.


Those noises were coming from her! It was her body making those sounds! Astounded, Eva stared down at her belly, then looked at Aidan with the question in her eyes, What’s happening to me? Sudden realization dawned on his face, and his mouth flew open.

“Oh, no! What was I thinking? You’re hungry!” He scrambled to his feet and held out his hand. “Come with me.”

She recognized the gesture now, and grabbed his strong brown hand. He tugged her to her feet, and immediately started briskly down a nearby trail, still holding her hand. Eva trotted along, trying to keep up, as all the while her midsection continued its odd monologue: Gurmmmm...blup. Blup. Blup. She wondered what this new word, “hungry,” meant, and why her middle felt all twisted.

Suddenly, the path widened, bursting from the shadowy canopy of the trees into an open, brightly lit meadow. Roughly circular in shape, it seemed to be divided into wedge-like portions. In each section was a different type of bush, and each bush appeared to be covered with small, brightly colored ornaments. Most of the decorations were round, or a cluster of smaller rounds. The late afternoon sun shining on the ornaments seemed to light them up with an internal glow in a wide variety of colors—flame-bright red, brilliant green, golden yellow, and a blue-purple so deep, it was almost black.

“Ooh,  Aidan! How beautiful!”

Eva clapped excitedly at the view before her. She was still exclaiming over the scene when Aidan plucked one of the ornaments and, to her surprise, popped it in her mouth! Her teeth instinctively closed on it, and she felt a burst of juicy sweetness, followed by a pleasant, subtle tanginess. It puckered her lips and squinted her eyes and she gulped, startled. The thing—”berry” said Aidan—slid down her throat and stopped at the twisting, turning spot in her middle, which gave another complaining growl. Aidan paused and grinned at her.

“Hungry,” he said. “Your stomach is hungry.” He picked a small handful of bright green berries. “Eat,” he told her, popping one into her mouth. “Eat. Eat. Eat.” He popped another berry into her mouth with each repetition of the word.

Eva chomped enthusiastically on her mouthful of berries, and was rewarded with a gush of tart juice, flooding her mouth and overflowing her lips to drip from her chin. She gulped rapidly: trying to keep up, trying to master the flow that threatened to make her cough and splutter. The delicious, fruity mass slid down her throat, settling in that hungry spot. Eva laid her hand on her belly again. The twisting and turning had stopped, and she could feel the food softening the loud, angry growls to quiet, contented rumbles.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An Author in "Train'ing - Licking the Spoon

When you were little, did your mom let you lick the spoon when she was cooking or baking? I always wanted that little taste ahead of time. In some ways, it made the wait for the finished product a little easier (and a little harder). Well, today you get to "lick the spoon"!

I've been thinking about doing this for several days, at least, and it seems only fair. I'm asking all these people to believe in me and support me (emotionally and financially) and listen to my incessant chatter about "the novel, the novel, the novel" with nothing tangible in return. So here's a little something. Here's the spoon....


Her initial awareness—a drumming in the darkness. Her own heart beating for the first time. She sighed, returning the breath which she’d been given. Her lungs filled again, this time on their own. Warmth, life, spread from her core outward, down her arms and legs to her hands and feet, until even her fingers and toes tingled with life and sensation.

Her eyelids fluttered softly, but did not open, as she took in the tapestry of sound that nudged into her consciousness. The soft trickle of flowing water harmonized with a chorus of other sounds. Chirps, clicks, purrs, whinnies, and soft growls blended together in what sounded to her like a wordless hymn of thanksgiving. Then, in the symphony of voices, a new one, sweeter than all the rest.
“Eva.... Eva. Eva?”
A soft warmth brushed gently against her cheek. The tender touch seemed connected somehow to the voice. A desire to know more sparked inside her, and her eyes flickered open, taking in the first images of her world.
She was lying in a clearing surrounded by trees. Although evidently part of a young forest, it had an orchard-like quality, as if every tree were cared for individually. The clearing itself had a thick carpet of grass, and the soft, feathery blades cushioned her and brushed softly against her skin, providing even more sensory input to process.
From its starting point somewhere in the stand of trees, a small stream wandered melodically across the clearing, its soft gurgle and splash sounding like dozens of tiny, liquid voices, before it disappeared again—burbling away into the dimness of the forest on the opposite side of the clearing.
All around the perimeter, just inside the line of trees, were animals—sitting, standing, lying—all kinds of animals, and all in pairs. Stallion and mare, tom and tabby, ram and ewe, rooster and hen, each with its mate, and all with a wise, knowing look, as if they had just witnessed a miracle.
The dogs sat alert, with heads cocked quizzically, as if trying to puzzle out what had just happened. The horses nodded emphatically, seeming to agree that this was, indeed a good thing. The cats, being cats, busily groomed themselves, pretending disinterest. As she watched closely, though, she saw both cats repeatedly pause in their routine to flick a curious, sideways glance in her direction.
The voice which had fallen silent spoke again, and she felt the gentle touch again, this time brushing against her arm. She turned toward the sound....

So, did that make the anticipation better or worse? Will it make the wait harder or easier? How about you check back for another spoon on another day? What day? Hmm, I guess we'll just have to wait and see....

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

An Author in "Train"ing - Quick Update

Just a quick update. I'll write more later.

(drumroll, please)

I now have FOURTEEN Angels in "Train"ing! Thank you, JB, PT, and DR!

By the way, a bit of housekeeping. If you've offered to be an angel, please look for one of two things (probably both). I will either acknowledge you publicly by your initials, or thank you privately (phone, email, facebook). If you haven't heard from me one of those two ways, please contact me again. I have had one instance where the person sent me a message that they wanted to help, and I didn't find their message for almost a week!

And finally, WOOHOO! More than half way! I should make my reservations soon, before the trains fill up. I guess if I can trust God to provide several hundred dollars, I can trust him to provide a "chair"!

Monday, May 20, 2013

An Author in "Train"ing - Angel Honor Roll

Time to acknowledge my Angels in "Train"ing!! Thank you to GO, SM, LW, AH, CC, KL, AF, TG, MH, MAT,  and KO.  I think that's everybody.... With all the things swirling around in my head, I'm sooo afraid I'll forget someone and then they'll feel unappreciated. If you have said something about giving me money and you don't see your initials,  please contact me. I will apologize profusely and add your initials to the list.

One of my angels made a discovery the other day. You can email money! If you have a PayPal account, and so does the other person, you can go to your PayPal account and send whatever abount to the email account they have regisetered with PayPal. Within a matter of seconds, their PayPal account will register the 50¢ or $5 or $5 mil you gave them.

You know, I've really struggled with having angels (technically donors) pay for me to travel. But the purpose of the traveling is getting the book done and out there. But then I struggle with "Why it so important that MY book get out there?" A couple days ago, I felt led to go back and look at my book proposal again. Here's what I saw.

One of the things that is suggested when you write a book propossal is that you answer the question, "What is the take-away you hope for your readers to discover?" What I came up with for an answer helps, I think, to explain the importance of getting the story out there. I hope you'll see it, too.

I want my book to help my readers see that not only sin hurt the sinner and the one sinned against. Our sin has consequences for those around us, the bystanders we care about. The other thing that I think all too often we don't see is the wounding and loss that our sin inflicts on God. Sin isn't just about "getting in trouble with God." We were created to have a relationship with Him as his children, and our sin rips His children from His arms.

Now that's a message that needs to get out there!

So I keep telling the story of the story, anad the story of my quest. I have not asked anyone for money, and I WILL NOT DO SO. My part is to tell the story. God will prompt who He prompts.

To all you angels whom I don't see regularly.... I will be contacting you today with my contact info. If you'd like to try the PayPal route, let me know. When we tried it the other day, it went off without a hitch.

Here's an old song to follow you through your day....

Sunday, May 19, 2013

An Author in "Train"ing - They That Wait....

Just patiently waitiing for the next thing God's gonna do.

"Patience is not the ability to wait, it is the ability to have a good attitude while you wait."

The do-it-yourselfer in me wants to "do something"—to make something happen.  But renewal of strength is not promised to do-it-yourselfers. It is mentioned when the conversation is about waiting on God. So, I wait.

While I write, the song has come on:

All I know is I'm not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not whete I belong

So as I wait for my pitifully insignificant thing, this post is dedicated in honor of all my brothers and sisters who eagerly waiting to go Home, and in memory of my brothers and sisters who are already Home—with special love for Susan Riley. May God comfort you, as you patiently wait to see Gary again, and to see Jesus for the first time..

Yep, with examples like that...I can wait.

Friday, May 17, 2013

An Author in "Train"ing - Where Do You Want To Go?

I realized this morning that the travelling motif is very appropriate for a writer. Just as a traveler on a train, a writer has to know the station where they're starting. Also, like a traveler, they need to know where they want to be at the end. And it both cases, the knowledge of a starting point and an ending point will help determine the route to get there.

I've had that happen in the past few days. One of the questions I tried to answer in the book proposal was, "What do you want the take-away to be for your readers?" As I thought, I came to the conclusion that I want the reader to remember the widespread damage that sin does—not only to the sinner and the one directly sinned against, but the collateral damage as well. The choices we make affect those around us.

Most importantly, though, I think we forget what our sin does to God. We think God is untouchable. After all, He is all-powerful and all-knowing, right? What we forget, what I forgot until I saw myself write the words, is: "...the wounding and loss that the heart of God feels, when our sin separates Him from us. He created us to be His children, and our sin rips His children from His arms."

"...Rips His children from His arms." What an image. I went back and looked at my manuscript. Did it say what I wanted it to say? Did I arrive at the station I had planned to reach? When I looked at my arrival point, as compared with my desired destination, I realized I still had a little further to travel. I rewrote one section. I think the message is much stronger now.

The moral of today's blog post: 

In writing or in life, if you don't know where you're going, how will you know when you get there?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

An Author in "Train"ing - Hello, It's Me, Again

The donation count now stands at ELEVEN!

And I've met someone who has traveled a part of my route, and is happy to advise me.

Stay tuned....

The Mama's Prayer

Dear God,

Thank you for this child.
Even though they about drove me nuts today,
They are a gift from you.

Lord, I tried to do my best today,
But I'm sure I screwed up somewhere.
Please make up the slack for me.

And when this child messes up,

Help me to remember
That even You, the Perfect Parent,
Have children who sometimes choose wrongly.

Thank you that Your mercies will be new again tomorrow morning.

I pray in the name of the only Perfect Child,
Your Son, Jesus.


An Author in "Train"ing - The Cares of This Life

One of the catchphrases in the business community is "work-life balance." In other words, knowing when to stop doing your job and start living the rest of your life for a few hours. Right now, I'm struggling with work-life balance. I feel like the daredevil kid from my playground days. You remember him, don't you—the one who stood on the pivot point of the seesaw while two other kids were riding, and attempted to keep his balance, leaning one way, then the other, as first one rider, then the other shot quickly up, stopped with a jolt, and sank back down.

For starters, how do I define the line between work and play? I love what I do. Writing brings me a  satisfaction and a joy unlike anything else. But if I like it that much, doesn't that make it play? If  it's play, then do I have to stop? If I stop "play-working," what do I do instead, for balance? Something I dislike? Mucking out stables?

Line-drawing is particularly difficult right now, with planning for the trip. I'm so excited, I want to talk about it all the time! But then, when do I do everything else? Plus, right now, just about everything is exciting! Laundry? = I need to decide what to pack. Houscleaning? = I really want the mess around here to leave before I do. Cooking? = I need to make sure I have enough to eat on the trip. Eating? = Maybe I should take snacks with me. Driving? = .... Well, you get the picture.

Ahh.... There's the work-life balance issue for me! I need to be careful not to get so caught up in the peripherals of the trip that I forget the reason for the trip—writing, finishing my book. And I need to be careful not to get so caught up in writing that I forget Who I'm writing for.

So here I stand, the daredevil kid, standing at the pivot point—leaning, shifting, teetering, balancing, tilting wildly with arms flailing—and having the time of my life!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Author in "Train"ing - More Good News

I am now at TEN donations! and all without asking for a dime! Whoohoo! Looks like I'd better start making a packing list!

More info when it comes in....

Author in "Train"ing - The Adventure Continues

It's now day two of the Author in "Train" ing venture. When we last left our heroine, she had 4 donors, and a book proposal that was nearing completion....

Today, I have good news and good news. First, the good news. The book proposal was emailed out bright and early this morning—all 61 pages. 😱 I don't like doing book proposals. I think they are the root canals of the writing world. Have I mentioned that I don't like doing book proposals? But that one is done. Now we watch (the inbox) and pray, as we patiently wait. *paces and drums fingers on table*

And the (other) good news is...I now have 9 donations! I'm over a third of the way there! Yaaaay!

Now I'm going to go have lunch with my friend, Tina.

TTFN (ta-ta for now - Tigger)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Author in "Train"ing - the Adventure Begins

OK, so I've got this manuscript I need to finish. I need time. I also need acccess to the "three 'S's" when I want them. What are those? Socialization. Solitude. And snacks, of course. I found a lot of places that offered two, but all three? It seemed like the impossible dream. Then I found the answer...become an Author in "Train"ing! I'm going to write while I ride the train!

Here's the plan....  About a month from now, I'll be getting on a train in Chicago. Then, for the following 7-10 days, I'll be seeing America by rail! Sometime during the last two weeks of June, if you live along a route between Chicago and Seattle, or between Chicago and L.A., or between L.A. and Seattle, I may be passing in your vicinity. Crazy, you say?  Quite possibly, but it's a harmless, fun kind of crazy—also known as eccentric. It'll give us all something to talk about.

Why am I telling you all of this? To facilitate your involvement, of course! How can you be involved? Let me explain:

1.  During my time as an Author in "Train"ing, I'll be blogging. If I meet someone interesting, I'll blog it. If I get severely motion-sick, you'll hear about it. If I find myself in awe of the beauty I see out the window, I'll try to describe it so you can see it, too. TEASER ALERT: There's a good possibility that I may post excerpts from the novel!

2.  As a travel my yet-to-be-unveiled route, I will post in advance the times and locations where the train will be stopping, hopefully, 24 to 48 hours in advance. That way, if you want, you can stop by to say "hi," or interview the eccentric writer, or bring me homemade cookies! Seriously, though, if you live anywhere near the route and you want to meet me at the station, I'd love for you to. All I ask is, if your station is a middle-of-the-night stop, give me a little advance warning (let's say before sundown) so i can be awake to greet you.

3.  The whole initial purpose, if you recall, was to get my book finished. My set-in-stone deadline is June 30, but ideally, I'd like to finish it a few days earlier, while I'm still "in 'train'ing" and have less interruptions than at home. I'll be trying to blog each day, if I have internet access, and plan on including on my progress with the novel, each time I post—a chapter finished, a current word count, possibly even an excerpt now and then!

4.  Here's the most eccentric of all.... You can invest in the book—literally! Here's what I mean. When I first started looking at this idea, it felt cost-prohibitive. Granted, it's not that much, but as a writer, my income is sporadic, and my husband's  goes pretty much to cover the basics of life. But the train kept calling to me, and while I was puzzling how to afford the whole thing, the thought came to me.... If I can find 25 people who would each give me $25, I'd have enough! That doesn't seem so hard, does it?

So far it hasn't been! In less  than 24 hours, I have 4 donors pledged. (Thanks, G.O., S.M., L.W., and A.H. you're all angels!)  Obviously, I want to find a way to say "thank you," so here's what I'm thinking. Out of all my donors,  I'll hold a drawing (done by an employee on the train). First prize will be an autographed copy of the book, when it's published. Second prize, an e-copy of the book. Third place will be a collection of my short stories, or The Metamorphs children's story. And everyone who gives will be included in the acknowledgements of the book, in a special thank you section, exclusively for "Angels in 'Train'ing."

So. there you have it. If you decide to help me out, I can't promise you fiscal accountability, except my own integrity, but I can promise financial responsibility. If you're interested, or have questions, or want to donate, feel free to leave a comment here, with your contact info, and I'll get back to you. The comments are moderated, so it won't be broadcast on the internet.

Well, I guess that's about it for now. I look forward to having you join me on my adventure as an Author in "Training"!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Passions vs. Promises

I'm facing a struggle.

I have a passion I want to follow, but I have a promise I've made, that I need to keep.

DON'T WORRY! IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MY MARRIAGE! (It has to do with writing.)

I have a writing project that has really caught my imagination. I find myself thinking about it aaallll the time. It feels like fun. I get to look back and see progress right away.

Then, there's the writing project which I've promised to do. If I got it rolling, it would probably take not more than a day or two. There are a lot of people counting on me. but I don't get the immediate "payoff." It could result in a bigger payoff than the passion project--or not.

So, I plan on keeping my promise. I keep it because I look forward to the possible payoff. I keep it because I care about the people who are depending on me to finish. Most of all, I will keep my promise because God keeps His promises, and I want to be like Him. I believe He will bless my commitment and integrity. I don't know how. It may not be the way I expect or hope. But He will. He promised. And He keeps His promises.

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;And confirm for us the work of our hands;Yes, confirm the work of our hands.
Psalm 90:17