The Perils Of Wit

Welcome to Ruth Buchanan, who writes FUNNY STUFF -my hat is off to you, Ruth…easier said than done. And oh, how our serious old world needs to laugh! Besides her gift of humor, Ruth is offering a commenter a digital copy of Collapsible (U.S. only).

The Four Perils of Wit

I write comedy because I love laughter. It’s a gift from God, and sharing that gift with others is immensely satisfying. There are, however, some distinct downsides to writing humor.

Peril 1: Making jokes nobody understands. 

When you make jokes nobody understands, you’re impressing nobody but yourself. The key is to know your audience and think of what they’d enjoy rather than seeking to highlight your own wit.

Peril 2: Feeling that you must meet expectations. 

Sure, you can deliver droll dialogue in books and plays, but that doesn’t mean you can do the same thing in real time—or that you should even try. In attempting to be “on” all the time despite dips in mood, intermittent personal struggles, or a sluggish mental state, you may wind up trying too hard and displaying a grotesque parody of humor that delights no one.

Peril 3: Encountering the assumption that you don’t think too deeply. 

People tend to equate seriousness with depth and laughter with flippancy. Although there’s some truth at the core of the assumption, it’s still a dangerous over-generalization. Yes, it doesn’t cost much to be flippant, but not all humor is flippant and not all earnestness solemn. There is a type of joy that is serious and a type of humor that is actually quite sad.

Peril 4: Allowing wit to trump all other considerations. 

One of the worst perils of wit is the danger of letting the words fly without first considering the ramifications. When we write, input from early readers and editors can help us temper our impulses in subsequent drafts.

In conversation, however, it’s another matter. Those with quick wits will often allow their tongues to run ahead, speaking first and considering the consequences later.

This is perhaps the greatest peril of wit, and one not easily remedied.

Fortunately, there is hope.

Combatting the Danger

The best way to combat the danger is to fill your mind with things worthy of being said. That way whenever you do speak, you have a significantly lower likelihood of saying something foolish.

In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul sets the standard: “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Let us think on worthy things so that we may speak worthily.

In this way, we combat the worst perils of wit.

About Ruth

Ruth Buchanan is a Christian freelance writer who holds degrees in ministry and theology. She writes fiction, non-fiction, plays, and sacred scripts. She’s an eager reader, an enthusiastic traveler, and the world’s most reluctant runner. Ruth loves Jesus, family, church, friends, and coffee. She lives and works in South Florida. You can learn more about her and her books by visiting RuthBuchananAuthor.comor following her on social media.

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Check Out Book 1 in the Collapsible trilogy!

Rachel Cooper has life under control: good job, good friends, and good plans for the future. All of that collapses one early morning when she falls and breaks her ankle. Now she must face the horrors of preparing for an upcoming move and handling her tenth year of teaching while clomping around on crutches. Worse, somewhere in the shadows, the Memento Killer lurks—a serial murderer who stalks women with four anonymous gifts before moving in for the kill. When unexpected presents begin arriving on Rachel’s doorstep, she fears that she’ll soon be crutching for her life. Check out Collapsible: A novel of friendship, broken bones, coffee, shenanigans, and the occasional murder.

NO SMALL MOMENTS

Stacey Pardoe has such inspiration to share…enjoy.

There Are No Small Moments

I’m on my knees, camera lens inches from a dwarf ginseng, its tiny snowflake head bobbing in the breeze, when I realize we’re not alone.  “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” the khaki-clad elderly gentleman greets, and I’m drawn from my small moment with the ginseng.

“Sure is,” I say, somewhat embarrassed by the black dirt on my knees and elbows.

“Did you see the trout lilies?” he asks, and I notice the camera strapped over his neck.  I’m less embarrassed.

We talk for a long while about trillium and bluebells, and he finally meanders off along the path. Returning to my photo shoot with the ginseng, I remember the way I once looked at thirty-somethings with cameras and wildflower books.  At twenty-two, I kept track of miles logged and elevations reached, not dwarf flora, like violets and ginseng.  At twenty-two, I mostly lived for big moments – summit moments, and the thought of bending low for small moments seemed nothing short of condescending.

We walk farther down the trail, kids running ahead in search of toads and moths, and I consider these changing seasons.  When did small moments begin to take on such an authentic kind of glory?  It must have been before I dug the wildflower books out of the dusty boxes in the attic of the garage.

I remember when I started taking pictures of tiny mushrooms and sphagnum moss.  I believe that was the moment.  The moment I pulled out the camera and committed to capture the miracles I miss every day when I brush past in all my hurry, with my large-moment focus and my desire to prove something.

What if we could all live like we have nothing to prove?  What if we never again needed to prove our worth through demonstrating our intelligence, beauty, humor, and talent?  What if these things were simply gifts with which we blessed others, and we were fully content to live in the midst of our quiet moments in utter contentment?

Have I really learned the secret of being content in any and every situation?

What if there really are no small moments – just quiet moments . . . And what if the quiet moments are worth every bit as much as the loud moments performed before the multitudes?

I think long on it, while the kids build castles along the sandy creek, and I’m sure of it: These quiet moments of walking with children in the woods, baking cornbread, stirring scrambled eggs with a rubber spatula, folding tiny T-shirts, and wiping down dusty furniture are the moments that will make up the bulk of our lives.  There may be loud moments, platform moments, and moments that are broadcast before the world, but these big moments won’t make up the majority of our lives.

So what are we doing with our quiet moments?  Because the quiet moments are the ones that seem small, but they’re really the ones that comprise the essence of our lives.

Sitting along the water, I commit to live with more gratitude.  I commit to recognize the gifts that surround me and magnify God through naming them: dwarf ginseng, blue phlox, garlic mustard, and wild geranium; sandcastles at the creek, lunch on a hilltop, holding hands along the road; the mounds of dirty laundry that remind me of the gift of my family, the meat simmering in the crock-pot, the green crayon on the living room wall.  I won’t write these things off or roll my eyes.  I’ll embrace them and give thanks.

I commit to speak life.  I commit to ask direct questions and bite my tongue when I’m in a bad mood.  I remember to tell the kids that I love them just because they’re mine, that their mistakes will never define them, and that they make my world a better place.

I commit to live intentionally.  We role play the whole way home from the creek, and Bekah thinks of responses to every playground dilemma I can conjure up.  We read Bible stories before Caleb naps, and I pray specific prayers over each of them before he sleeps.  We turn off the TV and dive into imaginary play on the carpet with our assortment of mini characters.  I make some calls and send some cards.

When the sun sinks low that evening, Bekah and I put together a pocket guide of wildflowers from our sanctuary at the Wolf Creek Narrows Natural Area.  We find Latin names and study the history of each plant. It all feels a bit small, but when she looks at me with dancing blue eyes, filled wild with life and passion, I know for sure that none of this day was small at all.

Bio: Stacey is the wife of a handsome lumberjack, mother of two blue-eyed beauties, a freelance journalist, mentor, and certified special education teacher.  She writes weekly at www.staceypardoe.com

 

 

 

 

 

A New Release at Eighty!

Let me introduce author, editor and writing instructor, Mary Ylvisaker Nilsen. I had the privilege of taking a class with Mary and learned SO much. What a joy to have her visit, and to hear that she’s still writing, octogenarian or not! Please leave your e-mail if I don’t have it already, because Mary’s offering a free copy of her memoir to one fortunate commenter...I think we’re in for a treat. 

I’ve never been one to hide my age—unless you call hair coloring an attempt to age alter—but since October 1, my birthday, I’ve noticed a strange clutch in my gut, a catch in my throat, a little stammer in my speech when, for whatever reason, I have to say, “Eighty.”

Eighty! It’s crazy. My parents died at 49 and 69, a brother died at 64 and a sister at 68. Cancer all. I’ve lived with the intensity of one who assumes her days are numbered, and the number would be below the national average. Also, this Annie Dillard quotation has driven me: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Spend. Time is like money. My supply is limited. Better make careful choices on how I spend it. Better not waste a minute.

But here I am. The celebration’s over. The shock settling in. And the existential question, “Why?” now haunting my sleep. Insurance predictors tell me that by living this long, I have dodged all the big killers and will likely live to be 98. That’s almost two more decades of days!

Two years ago, I had a health event that for a year left me in pain sliding from a brusque “I’m OK. I’ll be fine,” to a wordless gasp. During that year, assuming it might be my last, I began a practice I had never before attempted and wrote every night, wrote what I called “my Marvel,” wrote on small things and close to home things, on fragile thoughts or fleeting observations. I followed Jesus’ suggestion that we “consider the lilies of the field.” So, noticing what I noticed, I planted it in my mind, allowing it to take root and grow, considering what it had to teach me. Writing about it became my daily purpose.

For a year, I tended those thought seeds. And then for the better part of a year I pruned—trimming, shaping or cutting those daily writings. Consider the Marvels: Writings from My 79thYear is the result. The project filled the two years leading up to my 80th. Now, here I am, potentially looking forward to two decades of days, and my pain-free self, which has lost the passion for daily writing, wonders what of value I can spend my time on now. A question I will need to think about, to ponder, to consider….

Calling all Octogenarians! I need help! Tell us all about the marvels in your days.

Find more information about Mary Nilsen at
www.Zionpublishing.org

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard

Zetty

I’m so pleased to welcome the winner of the WILLA award, Debra Whiting Alexander. Debra is giving away a print copy of Zetty, a novel that goes deep into loss, deep into the power of friendship, and deep Into joy. Deb is offering one free book to a potential fan who leaves a comment here.

  1. Please tell us a little about yourself.

I was raised on the warm sandy beaches of San Diego and grew up on a steady diet of western movies and musicals. My debut novel, Zetty, takes place in Windansea, California, a little beach community in San Diego. Like the main character in the story, I grew up with a love for the ocean, cowgirls, neighborhood dance shows, pianos, golden retrievers, and art. Friendship and motherhood are the central themes in my life, and in my characters’ lives as well. I miss the San Diego coast, but our home in Oregon backs up to lush green fields, horses, stunning sunsets, and hazelnut orchards. Southern California was the inspiration for my first novel, but it’s here in the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest that I’ve found my vision for the next one!

  1. Do you have another job aside from being an author?

I do, and I love my day job as a mental health therapist and clinical supervisor. I hold a Ph.D. in Psychology and am a Licensed Marriage and Child Therapist. I’ve specialized in post trauma treatment for over 30 years and only recently cut back my hours to allow more time to write and care for my granddaughter.

  1. Tell us about your award-winning, debut novel, Zetty. What inspired you to write this book?

Zetty is the story of a mother lost to a rare form of Schizophrenia, and a daughter’s quest to find her. It begins in 1963 when Marjorie McGee suddenly disappears from her home, leaving nine-year-old Zetty motherless and confused. In alternating points of view, the story follows the lives of both mother and daughter as Marjorie’s mental illness progresses, and Zetty’s hope for her return diminishes. But at seventeen, Zetty wants answers. She finds herself in a circle of unconventional women—opinionated, endearing, courageous and keen-eyed women—who offer Zetty their heart and backbone. As unexpected friendships form, Zetty begins an emotional, psychological and spiritual journey in search of her mother—never imagining the joy and tragedy yet to come, the undeniable power of early childhood bonds, and the secret that will change their lives forever.

Inspired by my grandmother who died in a psychiatric hospital at the age of 41, Zetty blends personal history with my professional background. It was important to me to shine a light on the stigma of mental illness, especially in the 1960’s and 70’s. My grandmother’s life experience was a powerful one; she suffered the consequences of a stigmatizing mental illness in the 1940’s. And even though the story isn’t about her, she was important inspiration that kept me going as I labored over this book for fourteen years! It was also important to me to write about the challenges of despair. Trauma is a part of life, but not all of it. The idea that joy can coexist alongside tragedy is a message we don’t often hear or believe. I wanted Zetty to address this idea and other points of view that empower us. That’s what keeps me uplifted and excited about writing.

  1. Tell us about the awards Zetty has received.

Zetty was recently named the 2018 WILLA Literary Award Winner in Contemporary Fiction by the Women Writing the West organization and the 2018 Winner in Women’s Fiction and a Finalist in Regional/West Fiction from the National Indie Excellence Awards.

  1. Zetty is your debut novel, although you have written non-fiction. How has this experience been different from when your other books were published?

After years of writing nonfiction books related to post trauma recovery, I finally gave birth to fiction. People ask all the time why I made the switch. The answer is easy: I couldn’t wait to make things up! It’s fun to lie for a change.

When I was nine, I read the poem, “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died”, by Emily Dickinson. That little poem stirred something in me—a desire to capture on paper compelling moments of life in a simple way. So I wrote little books of poetry from then on. But non-fiction was a natural place for me to start with my writing career. At 31, a publisher in New York offered me a contract to write two series of books for children and teens healing from trauma. My nonfiction career took off from there.

One of my most meaningful projects, The Emotional Recovery Resource Kit, was created at the request of my publishers in response to 9/11. Writing it was an honor and deeply satisfying. But I never lost the desire to venture into fiction. Writing Zettywas equally rewarding, but in a different way. I tell my clients all the time how important it is to our brains to engage in activities we feel passionate about and interests that are new and unfamiliar, but meaningful to us. So, for me, writing Zetty was a great aerobics workout for my brain because fiction is so different than non-fiction. I had to learn, study, read, receive critiques, hear a wide range of feedback, take risks, and revise, and revise, and revise.

I relish the opportunity to write about women, friendships, motherhood, mental health, and to do it with spiritual substance —matters of the heart and soul. It’s important to me to write about issues I feel inspired by and care deeply about. Women’s fiction allows me to do that. I’m hooked!

Debra loves to hear from readers! Contact Info:

www.facebook.com/TheAuthorDebraWhitingAlexander

To learn more about Debra’s books:

https://www.amazon.com/author/dwaamazon.17

Part of a book club? Consider asking Debra to join you for a discussion of Zetty!

 

 

 

 

Spinning…

Look closely at this photo of some fall veggies sitting on my counter to see a metaphor for the writing life:

On the top tomato, do you spy a whitish, fuzzy object? It’s hard to get a good shot of this. Let me have my husband try. 

 

Hmm… maybe a little clearer. Or not…

When I picked that top tomato from our vines sprawling wa-a-a-y out of control, this small caterpillar attracted my attention. Spinning away, in the business of transformation. 

That’s how my days pass–spinning stories, except when I surface to instruct a class, facilitate a writing workshop, or attend a grandchild’s ballgame. On September 10, 17, and 24 this year, I have the joy of interacting with an incredible group of writers at an Iowa State University OLLIE class. Such fun discussions–wish I lived closer! 

Spinning, spinning…that’s my task, weaving the threads of characters’ lives together. Or in the case of the WWII nurse I’m writing about now, discovering how the actual threads of her life carried her through the horrors of war.  Five long years she gave to the effort–the best of her twenties.

This past week, I had the privilege of hearing this incredible woman’s voice in a DVD as she spoke to a group in her later years. Oh my! What a memory she had…what a lovely, intriguing woman. I’m indebted to her daughter, who sent me that video presentation, along with photos and information.

In November, I get to meet this daughter, and possiblly her brother as well. I’ll be facilitating a writing workshop at the Joliet, IL library, and be able to walk the streets Dorothy walked during her post-war life, see her photo albums, touch the many campaign badges she earned…

And it will all center on spinning. 

Interesting that I’m a disaster at sewing, and after several knitting lessons, never did master that precise art.

But I am spinning, always. 

Writing From the Trenches

Now, here is a fabulous concept – I know many of these authors, and if you need a self-help book for your writing, here you go.

How Writing from the Trenches was Born

By MaryLu Tyndall

Who in their right mind would attempt to create a writing instruction book with nine other authors? It’s hard enough to co-write anything with two different personalities. But nine? Especially because most authors—well, how do I put this gently?—we are an eccentric bunch. It goes with the creative territory, I suppose. We all tend to hear voices in our heads, and most of the time we aren’t even present in this world, but drifting in another time and place, constantly creating worlds and characters in our minds. Try to corral ten people like that and get them to focus on a single task!  Honestly, I don’t know what came over me.

The truth is, I’ve read many writing instruction books over the years from many different authors, and I’ve learned a great deal. But I noticed that everyone’s advice, style, and instruction was different. Sometimes they even contradicted each other. So, I thought, why not get a bunch of fabulous authors together to give their own advice on a variety of writing topics and put it in one book? A one-stop shop for the best advice out there on writing!

Hence, Writing From the Trencheswas born. Then, to gather the authors, which ended up being much like gathering and leading cats, I might add. I wanted to get a variety of authors—some successfully published in the traditional market, some who’d made a success as Independent authors, some who did both, some with name-recognition, some without a whole lot, but ALL great writers who had won awards or been on best-selling lists. Those were my criteria, so I went about sending out recruitment emails!  Surprisingly nearly everyone I contacted was excited to be a part of this book.

Working with nine other people is never easy, but I was fairly surprised at how great this group got along, how quickly we came up with the topics we wanted to cover and who wanted to write which ones. We divided up the tasks we needed to accomplish—writing, editing, formatting, printing, cover design, marketing, etc—and then set a timeline. I have to say, everyone has been wonderful to work with, everyone got their chapters done on time, and everyone is contributing to the final product. Truly a miracle has occurred!

Since I was the one pulling all the chapters together and creating the book, I had the privilege of seeing how it was all coming together through the entire process, and the more I saw, the more excited I became. This book is like no other writing book out there. Nowhere can you get ten different authors’ advice on how to write a best-selling novel. No other book provides you with ten different perspectives on the best way to plot or what marketing techniques work the best. We start the book with plotting your novel and end up with marketing, including a section on whether to traditionally publish or go Indie. Each chapter is written by an author who is an expert in that particular area. This is a rare jewel in the writing instruction treasure chest, and not one to be missed by any writer serious about taking their writing to the next level!

ABOUT THE BOOK:

TEN-HUT! Gear up for your writing with tried-and-true tips from the trenches. Ten award-winning authors share invaluable tips and secrets they’ve gleaned the hard way, offering a broad range of insights and opinions on the best way to tackle subjects such as the following:

Plotting Techniques
Research
Characterization
Villains We Love to Hate
Dynamic Dialogue
Sigh-Worthy Heroes
The Right Heroine for the Job
Hooking Your Reader in the First Chapter
Scene Endings to Lead Your Readers On
Creating a Movie Set
Making your Readers Cry
Deep POV
Copyediting your Manuscript
Indie Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Marketing for Those Who Hate Marketing

At last … a writer’s tool that provides the experience and expertise of ten authors who’ve been on the front lines of publishing and lived to teach about it: Connie Almony, Lynnette Bonner, Hallee Bridgeman, Louise Gouge, Michelle Griep, Julie Lessman, Elizabeth Ludwig, Ane Mulligan, MaryLu Tyndall, and Erica Vetsch.

 

 

 

August activities, and…comparing

My FB page report for the week says activity is up by 1,450 percent. That sounds great. The trouble is, I have no idea why.

I traveled to Ames this week to meet potential students for my September OLLIE memoir writing class, and had fun chatting with some writers. Ahh…my favorite folks–looking forward to getting to know them and their stories better in a few weeks!

Friday night we saw “Annie” performed by Cedar Summer Stock. All of their 2018 performances featured incredible voices, choreography, costumes, and scenery…what more could anyone ask? Watch for them next summer.

On Saturday, we went to a cousin’s house for a family picnic. Oh my, what a spread. My gluten-sugar-lactose free offering turned out fine, but compared to the other great fare, well…actually, another one of our granddaughter’s quotes says it best: Comparison is the THIEF of joy. 

So there you go–why compare? And that brings me to flowers: observe.

Specimen one, an amazing geranium.

Specimen two, Gerber daisies in full spread.

And last, but not least, this year’s spectacular yellow begonias. I can’t get over how from delicate pale yellow clamshells (lower right), such incredible blossoms emerge.

So what’s to compare, right? Three lovely floral beauties, each with so much to offer. Yet, we compare things…and people… constantly.

Merriam-Webster defines compare as to examine the character or qualities of especially in order to discover resemblances or differences or to view in relation to.

I’ve been comparing the manuscript I’m working on with its predecessors. Why would I do this? Maybe because this story  has given me lots of challenges from the get-go. The research  leads me deeper into comprehending the vast effects of World War II…but how can I possibly do this topic justice? Does comparing help? Not so much.

I’ve grown as a writer since the last one, so maybe I expected the process to be easier this time. Yes, maybe that’s it.

Yet this is a whole different flower. Yes, it’s that THIEF at it again! Just get back to this story unfolding right now. Forget about the others…seize the joys and frustrations of this one.

It’s healthy to have little self-chats like this from time to time, don’t you think?

So I Wrote This Book…

Lisa Lickel, an encouraging online writer-friend, describes her novel Requiem For the Innocents. I read this story a couple of months ago, and highly recommend it if you like to read hard-to-put-down tales that make you think. And…Lisa is giving an e-book away to one of you who leaves a comment.

So, I Wrote This Book…

In 2008 I met my first agent. We had recently signed a contract for my first published book for Barbour’s new cozy mystery book club supposedly releasing later that year. I had signed up for one of those luxury writing conferences, the kind where you have to take a plane, then a shuttle from the airport, and eat food you don’t recognize served in tiny portions and try to find people and classrooms and stand in line for an hour to get an autograph. I came prepared with four story concepts to pitch, one of them I titled Innocents Pray.

I’m not great at titles which you must have in order to explain your book to potential publishers, even when you know they’re going to change it. The theme of this story was who does God answer when people offer fervent opposing prayers? Like, if you’re a Cardinals fan, and your friend is a Brewers fan, and the teams play each other for the league championship, and you both pray really hard for a win, does God like your prayer better if the Brewers win? Or did it matter?

I liked the irony behind “innocent” people praying with all their hearts for a particular answer. The same title had only been for a nonfiction book several years earlier, and since it wasn’t heavily used, I kept it, even though informal surveys of my writerly friends had strong mixed feelings. Since no one could come up with anything that strongly said, “this is it!” I worked with the cover artist and did it my way.

Sales tanked. Actually, they never launched. I had trepidations about the whole thing and trembled over the release. You see, I signed or was offered contracts with three successive agents using this novel as my audition. None of them could sell it, and one agent withdrew the offer of representation. At first I was told it was a denominational issue, then it was a “sorrow” issue; there was always some divisive issue about this story. But I loved it. I had worked on it for six years, and when self, or Do-It-Yourself publishing became slightly less objectionable and horrifying for traditionally-published authors, I went all-in and used the imprint of my publications business to publish this book completely on my own.

My writing buddies endorsed me. My book club picked it up for discussion, and I garnered a few good reviews, but book stagnated. I had to do something. I’d researched cover concepts and felt the art was good. The teaser was good, according to more desperate surveying: “One wants her to live, one wants her dead, and one wants her cells.”

The title still puzzled readers. Here’s the back cover copy:

Justice, mercy, and humbleness collide when four people pray for different answers to the same situation. How will God answer all of them?

What is wrong with trying to cure cancer? Brother Able, hospice chaplain, asks himself that question every day. His boss, Dr. Rich Bernard, performs closet genetic experiments at Paradise House. He blackmails Able into keeping his secret. When a grieving husband asks Able to pray for his dying wife, Able finally breaks his silence.

Libby Davis might be prepared to accept death, to sacrifice herself for Rich’s greater cause but fails to comprehend the love of a husband who cannot let her go and the son who’s a whisper from the edge of reason. Brother Able wades into battle for those innocents in her life. If he wins, it won’t be only Libby’s family he saves.

Like many authors, I needed to get out of my own way.

Just because I liked the idea of my characters’ not-so-innocent actions translating into a play-on-words title that would hopefully drop jaws of potential readers didn’t mean I would get my way. And I didn’t. So I changed the title about two months later.

What I am learning is to be flexible and find surer footing in presenting my books. I am confident that my stories do touch readers, but finding that beautiful key to unlock the adventure for readers is a continuing challenge to meet and overcome.

Where to buy the book and book info:

Print ISBN 13: 978-0-9904281-0-7

ISBN 10: 0-9904281-0-9

$14.95

6 by 9 inches, 340 pp

 

Ebook ISBN-10: 0-9904281-1-7

ISBN-13: 978-0-9904281-1-4

$4.99; some sites have a $.99 sale

 

Library of Congress Control Number: 2016908998

Key words: healing, cancer treatment, family drama, Christian fiction, Catholic, hospice, genetics, book club books

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/requiem-for-the-innocents

Apple iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/innocents-pray/id1120384134?mt=11

BN shortlink http://bit.ly/2bMI9Zx

Kindle shortlink: http://amzn.to/2d0nr9R

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/664454

Lisa Lickel, a Wisconsin writer, lives in the rolling hills of western Wisconsin. A multi-published, best-selling and award-winning novelist, she also writes short stories and radio theater, is an avid book reviewer, blogger, a freelance editor, and sometimes magazine editor. She is part of Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp and Writing Retreat, Inc., mentoring writers from across the US and Canada. Visit http://www.LisaLickel.com.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lisalickelauthor

Goodreads: http://www.facebook.com/lisalickel

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lisajlickel

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2bPxi2X

April Surprises

April fools came a couple of days late this year, and yes, I snapped a picture of these birdie prints just outside our door. Maybe a sparrow seeking sustenance between the cracks in our deck.

I consider myself fortunate. My husband shoulders the work snow brings. Early this morning, he was out creating walkable paths for the likes of moi.

 

Why so bundled up? Try seven degrees F.

He also takes amazing photographs of the flora and fauna around here–we used to comment that we’d know when we’re old when we started watching birds. Weeel…

A humble sparrow, fluffed against the cold. She thought she’d be building her nest and laying her eggs by now.

But April or no April, expectations or no expectations, iNature dumps a snowstorm when she pleases. These days prove perfect for researching.

As usual, I’ve been studying WWII history, and am so impressed by British citizens’ tenacity. They took hit after hit after hit, long before we Americans even entered the war. Entire towns leveled by the Luftwaffe…thousands of lives lost. Attacks foiled, with unbearable losses.

But those losses would mount far higher…the war had only begun, and words like unbearable would take on new levels of meaning.

Yet in the historical annals, photo after photo attests to ordinary British citizens’ pluck. It seemed that as suffering and challenges increased, so did people’s stamina, endurance, and proactivity: in a word, their pluck. 

We don’t use this word much any more, but pluckiness will get you through a lot. Yesterday I came across a picture of two women emerging from the rubble of their bombed out homes, each with a houseplant in her hands…and they both wore a smile. 

There’s a lot to be said for pluck…it’s fluffing out your feathers in the face of a storm. It’s picking up your shovel and starting in…or keeping on. It’s that indefatigable hope dwelling inside that keeps you going, no matter what.

On Being Away…

That’s what I’ve been – away. We had company for a week, and went to see the beautiful Red Rock country around Sedona. Oh my…such glorious natural beauty.

The weather has been far too dry for safety up under the Mogollon Rim, but yesterday the rain came. Ahh…blessed relief. I’m so grateful, and also thankful that it came before and after I drove up the mountain from Mesa, where I met with a group of women intrigued by words.

Older women like me: I know I ought to label us mature women. But right now, only the magic of words matters. Oh, how words bound us together! Phrases and word-pictures enveloped us in shared wonder, reminded us of our moorings and our deep connection, and urged us forward in our private pursuits.

As in reading fiction, we allowed words to spellbind us, original words straight from the heart. Two members created incredible metaphors that still linger. One depicted life as an onion…being peeled, chopped, sautéed, and in the process, coming alive to one’s unique personhood. The other painted life as a sailboat gracing turquoise-blue waters, feeling warm wind wrapping one’s face and freedom bracing one’s heart.

Mmm…there’s nothing like gathering around words, working with them, playing with them, embracing them. Yesterday, we allowed words to infiltrate our consciousness and tie us to each other, or to unlock  memories.

This coming weekend, I get to embrace words again, with an eclectic group of writing retreat participants. I’ve been remiss at posting photos lately, but surely will after getting to know these seventeen other word-lovers better. We’ll see you then.