On Walking and Autumn

It’s the loveliest time of year here. Last night’s rain brightened the colors, making today perfect for a walk into the countryside. But if you trek down our front steps, beware!

While I long for a several-mile hike, my regimen of icing my leg after very short ventures may remain for some time. Someone who remembers her own post-surgery frustration reminds me, “The doctor said inflammation and swelling is actually a good sign…it means there’s healing.”

I wish this knowledge automatically made me more patient with the process, but something I read recently gives me food for thought. Soren Kierkegaard, a nineteenth century Danish philosopher, wrote:

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day, I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, & the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.”

This has been my m.o. for decades, and I doubt I’ll ever lose the desire to walk. But right now, I’m stymied. The one thing my doctor advised, “Walk, walk, walk!” and which I really want to do, brings considerable pain.

With the weather so gorgeous, venturing out for brief periods helps, knowing my ice awaits me. Viewing the golden/persimmon/chartreuse/scarlet-orange spectacle all around our home helps, too. Normally I’d be out there raking away, but this is my year to sit back.

We’ve all endured some “sitting back” during 2020, haven’t we?

Meanwhile, one Danish philosopher’s life instructs me . . . he lived to be only forty-three, yet contributed to the world of thought long after his passing. Things may not be exactly as I wish, but lovely day of life can take first place on my gratitude list.

Middle-Grade Sci-Fi on Deck!

I’m happy to welcome Carole Marie Shelton, an award-winning writer. She’s the author of middle grade novel, Cosmic Chaos (Ashberry Lane, 2015), and the author of a soon-to-be-released picture book, Sasquatch Loves Bacon Day!(Clear Fork, 2021). She and her four children live in the Pacific Northwest where they enjoy hiking and seeking new adventures.   Carole is giving away TWO COPIES of Cosmic Chaos to commenters–great Christmas gift for a middle-grade child!

Our world was suddenly turned upside down. I was in the process of writing two separate middle grade novels, while also researching an idea for a sci-fi novel when I received a call that urgent help was needed. My extended family had an emergency, which resulted in my young cousin coming to live with us.

We knew it would be temporary, we just didn’t know how long. We welcomed him with open arms and enjoyed having him in our home. And through each day, every moment of his time with us, there was this quiet fierceness emanating from him with determination to get back to his mom, no matter what. 

It occurred to me that this was the same goal of the main character, Logan, in my science fiction story idea — to get back to his mom. And Logan is close to the same age as my cousin. I decided this was the time to write Cosmic Chaos, not later.  I needed to write while I could see and experience the intensity and longing coming from this young man so I could accurately apply it to my story.  

I finally completed the first draft about two years after Logan returned to his mom and the book was published just a few years later in 2015 by Ashberry Lane. I’m so thankful for my cousin’s stay with us; otherwise, that science fiction story idea may have never been written. 

Cosmic Chaos is a sci-fi middle grade adventure novel intended for older elementary kids:   

Twelve-year-old Logan lives inside the Luna Biodome on the moon. Not only is the moon dust making him sick, it also sets him apart from the other kids. While Logan is inside his new robot’s interactive program, his illness disappears and mysteries occur that he can’t explain. 

When Logan meets an annoying, yet undeletable program character named Amy, their misadventures awaken him to a glitch — a secret that could return him to Earth to track down his missing mother. But only if Amy will cooperate before the moon’s lockdown and before the new robot destroys him. 

Connect with Carole 

Website and blog: www.carolemarie.com 

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCaroleMarie/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CaroleMarie55 

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/carolemarie55/ 

To order Cosmic Chaos on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Cosmic-Chaos-C-M-Shelton/dp/1941720250/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=cosmic+chaos+shelton&qid=1601147968&sr=8-1
See More from Gail

To Everything A Season

The word Rambunctious first appeared in print at a time when the fast-growing United States was forging its identity with optimism and exuberance. That era, the early half of the Nineteenth Century, also birthed words like  rip-roaringscalawagscrumptioushornswoggle, and skedaddle. Did Americans alter the largely British rumbustious because it sounded too stilted? Rumbustious, which first appeared in Britain in the late 1700s just after early Americans signed the Declaration of Independence, was probably based on robustious, a much older adjective that meant both “robust” and “boisterous.”

This week Lance sent me some shots of a normally rambunctious animal, but right now, cold has settled over our area. This plump specimen seems ready to rest. Our courtyard, our best attempt at an English garden, provides ample place for that, especially this year when I cannot get out there to trim and haul away summer’s faded bounty.

In more rambunctious seasons of my life, I might’ve run out and clapped my hands, yelling “Shoo! Shoo!” to avoid having to deal with a passel of baby bunnies next spring. But now, I look out the window in search of beauty, and find incredible creatures like this hidden away.

Tales of Texas

Linda Street-Ely is sharing with us her story of writing something she wasn’t used to…and receiving a big surprise. I have read this story and it really touched me–I would never have thought it was fiction! Here’s some encouragement for us to “give it a try” when it comes to new challenges. Linda is offering a commenter a free signed hardback copy.

Writing “The Memories Room” – My Tale in the Tales of Texas

By Linda Street-Ely

When Houston Writers House (now merged with Writespace) announced open submissions for their second volume of Tales of Texas: Short Stories, I thought, why not give it a try? The only rule was that the stories must have some relationship with Texas. I am mostly a nonfiction writer and have never written a novel or novella. As is common among nonfiction writers, I had written poetry. But this was also a contest, and I am a highly competitive person. It was the temptation of competition that kept taunting me. Could I write a short story? Yes, I would give it my best.

I dug out a writing lesson from a weekend class I had taken at Writespacethe previous year. The assignment was to create a character from the point of view of other people. I thought a person who cannot describe themselves, someone with special needs, would be a good character candidate. And with that, I completed the assignment. Here was the unfinished story, the character around whom I would build it, that I was driven to write for the contest.

“The Memories Room” is about a family and community dealing with the decline of the matriarch suffering from Alzheimer’s. I know “Small Town, Texas” well. I live in one where everyone knows everyone. My goal was to write a piece that was compassionate toward the subject matter and shed light on the closeness of small towns.

The competition was open to anyone, not just members of Houston Writers House, and I knew some gifted authors would be submitting stories.

After finishing the story, I needed to decide where it would take place. I wanted to pick a real place in Texas, and not where I live. As I perused a list of small Texas cities, my eyes fell upon Junction. The very name spoke of coming together. 

My husband and I are both pilots, and we have an airplane. So, I flew out to Junction to meet people. I met the mayor, the director of the Chamber of Commerce, the sheriff, and several others. Junction was the perfect place for my story. In fact, as we sat at the Chamber office listening to their personal stories, I realized I had already written about Junction. Everything fit so perfectly. From that visit, I added a few bits, and sent it off. 

“The Memories Room” won first place. 

You may connect with Linda online here:

Email:linda@paperairplanepublishing.com

Paper Airplane Publishing, LLC

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Tales of Texas: Short Stories, Volume 2, published by Houston Writers House, December 13, 2018.

Perfect Shot

Sometimes, a little maneuvering provides a gorgeous perspective. My husband does this all the time with his photography. Behold:

Here, he squatted down, I think, to snap a photo through the leaves of the pin oak sapling in our courtyard. His long-range objective? To capture an outrageously adorned tall maple on the north side of our house.

Ah….perspective! I find myself writing about this often. Perspective can make all the difference as we go through life. In times when we’re limited by physical or emotional boundaries, seeing things differently comes in so handy.

What may seem a limitation can open up whole new worlds of thought and ingenuity. Suddenly we understand the way someone reacted in similar circumstances, or grasp a fresh nuance in a person’s choices.

Ah…perspective!

Christmas In September

Welcome to Diane Tatum, who writes in several genres. She’s here with her Christmas novella, Dreaming of a Wedded Christmas, and offering a free copy to a commenter.

Dreaming of a Wedded Christmas is my tenth book but my first free-standing Christmas story. This tale begins in the boardroom of Wycroft Booksellers. Grandpa Jay is cleaning his glasses while the young people around the table argue over the future of the company. I wrote this much at a writer’s conference. Then it sat in my journal until I was interested in writing the full story when I received the opportunity from my editor to write a Christmas novella.

This story is part of a set available this Christmas, called MISStletoe Romances. Each story is centered on nearly missing something. My story is a triangle love story. Jaymie is engaged to Dave Garrett. During their search for a house, Jaymie meets Kyle Mason, their real estate agent. Literal sparks fly. The closer they all get to Christmas, the more stress they experience and the more Jaymie feels confused about the wedding.

I write romantic fiction in several genres. My first book is Gold Earrings, an historical novel. I’m writing a Main Street Mysteries series. The next installment of Dorie and Ross’s story is called DNA Secrets, and my Colonial Dream series is historical fiction. The fourth book in that series will be A Time to Create. I have two other free-standing novels: Mission Mesquite, and Oxford Fairy Tale, part of a set Romancing the Billionaire.

I began writing in elementary school. My first degree was in Accounting so I could support myself while pursuing my dream of writing. God intervened by bringing my husband into the picture. I finished my degree and we started our family. I started writing youth Bible curriculum for Lifeway and articles for magazines in the early ‘90s and finished Gold Earrings, my first novel begun in high school. After finishing a master’s degree in teaching Language Arts, I taught full time for eleven years. My husband asked me to “come home and write my stories” in 1989, so I did.

I’m living my dream and enjoy my novels. God inspires my stories and gives me the opportunity to publish them. I’m giving away Dreaming of a Wedded Christmas to one reader of this blog. Please leave a review on Amazon for me.

Website: www.dianeetatumwriter.comAmazon page: amazon.com/author/dianeetatum

blogs: http://tatumlight-tatumsthoughts4today.blogspot.com/http://tatumlight.wordpress.com/   email: tatumlight@gmail.comFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/tatumlighttwitter: @DianeTatumPinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tatumlight/
Gold EarringsMission MesquiteColonial Dream: Book 1 A Time to Fight,                            Book 2 A Time to Love                           Book 3 ATime to ChooseMain Street Mysteries: #1 Kudzu Sculptures                                    #2 Gemini Conspiracy                                    #3 Attic VisitationsOxford Fairy Tale
Watch for:Colonial Dream: Book 4 A Time to CreateMISSletoe Romance: Dreaming of a Wedded Christmas

Dad’s birthday

I’m a little late, but a week ago was my dad’s birthday.

During WWII, he served with the Army Air Force in North Africa, and after four years returned to his father’s Iowa farm. He was still hitching up horses when he left, but after training in Washington, D.C., spent three years sleeping in tents and driving Army trucks.

Like most veterans, he rarely spoke of his experience, but once he described an airplane loaded with soldiers headed back to the States. Something went wrong and the plane exploded on the runway. Who knows what else he witnessed?

After the long trip back across the Atlantic by ship, coming back to the farm must have seemed like heaven to him. No more freezing in the desert at night, no more standing in line for rations or meals if he was lucky, no more waiting days for a shower.

Thanks for your service, Dad.

Fictionalizing History

In her novel Lainey of the Door Islands, Judy DuCharme brings history to life. Here, she shares the ins and outs of staying true to historical facts while using literary license to give fiction readers a great read. She has agreed to give a free e or paperback book to one commenter.

Lainey of the Door Islands uniquely tells the history of Door County in the late 1800s. I live in this huge tourist area, host to approximately three million visitors every year. Before I wrote Lainey, my seventh book, it just seemed time for a local book set in a place so many people love. 

I pondered and prayed and then one day the beginning dropped into my spirit and I sat down and typed the first several thousand words in one sitting. I said to my husband, “I’m writing and I can’t stop.”

Then began the research. I had already visited the islands at the tip of Door County and several lighthouses, but now I revisited with notebook and camera (phone) in hand. I doublechecked stories I heard, talked with those who knew the history and acquired books that told about the lighthouses and shipwrecks.

I believe I did thorough research, but chose to not be bound to getting every single detail into the story. While being accurate, I allowed myself to embellish and weave the history into the story. Hopefully I didn’t info dump or drag through tons of background. It’s a tricky walk at times, but that’s where practice and critique groups help. Be sure to join critique groups – you need their eyes and instincts.

It’s important to realize that sometimes a line or two, a quick reference in the dialogue, can provide a great deal of information of the history and the setting. When I write first drafts, I often neglect the setting description as I just want to tell the story. I then must go back and provide that. I still need some reminders, but am much more aware than when I began writing fiction.

Remember, in your author notes, you can inform the reader that you changed a few dates, adjusted a bit of the setting. I don’t know if it’s a term, but I say I fictionalized it. You want to keep the spirit of the story, the strength, hardships, and joys of the people.

An added benefit to a local historical story is that it encourages travel to the area. I have friends who loved to go to Prince Edward Island because that’s where Anne of Green Gables took place. Hence, I made Lainey a tour guide and did 30-60 second videos of the places where she spent time in the book, posted them on Facebook, and encouraged people to also visit those places. 

Here’s my advice: do the research with enjoyment, physically visiting the places, then embellish and weave those facts into your story. I think you’ll like the result and others will too.

Judy DuCharme grew up with Lake Huron next to her back yard and has always loved the water. She, her husband, daughter, and son moved to Door County in 1984. After teaching 5th Grade at Gibraltar School for 22 years, Judy followed the calling that tugged at her all her life to write. Lainey of the Door Islands is her 7th published book and she is the recipient of numerous awards. She also writes for Guideposts Magazine. If you visit Door County, you may find her hiking in the woods, jet skiing on the bay, worshipping at her church, teaching a Bible study, cheering for the Green Bay Packers, playing with her amazing grandson, or sitting outside enjoying the beauty around her.

Connect with Judy here:

https://judithducharme.com/https://www.facebook.com/judy.ducharme.18https://www.facebook.com/Judy-DuCharme-Author-1360359084069983https://twitter.com/PackerJudy,                        https://www.instagram.com/leejudyducharme/

History All Around Us

Sometimes a the most humble of objects can be used to great advantage. This proved true during WWII when kapok became unavailable to stuff the U.S. Navy’s life vests. Thinking outside the box led to using milkweed floss for this purpose.

Across the Midwest, counties launched campaigns for schools to compete for the most floss picked. I have met some of former students who vividly recall school letting out so they could scavenge the fields and ditches for this valuable white stuff.

A couple of years ago, with milkweed becoming scarce, I stopped along the road so our granddaughter could enjoy the feel of this fine, shiny floss.

Of course, we discussed the need for more milkweed for our monarchs, and the unique role its floss played during World War II. History lies right around us every day!

From Behind the Walker…

Having surgery leads to all kinds of insights. The challenge is in finding the energy to post them! But here are a few for you, introduced by some beauty that came my way from our rural parish friends.

Hospitalization alters your perspective. We’ve all been reminded lately of the invaluable services and care our health workers provide. Well…seeing this firsthand drives that realization even deeper.

Thanks to everyone at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN who transformed me into a bionic woman. Trustworthy, competent caregivers make all the difference. My husband has continued this kind of thoughtful, proactive interaction here at home–here you see his latest innovation. I can’t thank him enough!

Before surgery, our friend Heidi took extra time to instruct me on shower-taking…I haven’t found the courage for that yet, but will soon. She also brought an ingenious sock-putter-onner which works wonders!

Rodding around with my walker adds yet another view of the world. It’s a simpler world than when I left, with some new mobility limits. LIVE SIMPLY, my flower container says, and I really have little choice. But it’s been freeing to be able to transport my tea cup and other small items to and from the kitchen…one small spark of independence!

It’s always good to get a new view of things, don’t you think?

Lots of time for reading this past week. Ane Mulligan’s IN HIGH COTTON has kept me in the company of some incredibly strong Southern women, and now I’m reading Susan Count’s middle-grade fiction,THE FIREFLY WARRIOR’S CLUB. I also was able to share about my WWII characters with several readers in the hospital, an unexpected gift. And of course, fodder for future novels lay all around me!

So many friends and authors I’ve never met face-to-face (yet) have sent messages of prayers and encouragement. Saying thank you seems such a small token, but it’s what I humbly offer.

So here’s my view from behind the walker. We truly are not in charge at any point, although we may think we are. But new experiences like this increase awareness of this fact. It’s my opportunity to gratefully embrace the divine love that comes my way from so many directions.